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Pearls and Wisdom

October 17, 2011

“Losing an illusion makes you wiser than finding a truth”

Ludwig Börne

Last week was another crowded week, juggling work commitments, book interviews – I am writing a book on hats – and attending four most enjoyable events.


Wednesday 12 October:

One of the outstanding shows this week was the Gareth Samson Exhibition at John Buckley Gallery. The inimitable Gareth Samson demonstrated his masterful control of his medium – peppered with his incredible youthful edgy vigour. His paintings brought the gallery alive with his extraordinary vibrant palette of colour and what an amazing group of people attended the opening.
I spoke to fashion designer Jenny Bannister who told me that Gareth in the early 70s had bought a leather mini skirt from her for his wife the same coloured pink as in his paintings. At the time Jenny thought she would never sell a skirt in that colour.

Speaking of colour, a wild Scottish poet by the name of Grant, made a splendid entrance kitted out in black and silver studded bikie leathers with the Ferguson tartan at his waist and the royal Scottish tartan on his shoulder.

Grant told me that just two months from completing his art course he had had enough of art school. He walked past Gareth’s open door when Gareth was Dean of the School of Art at the VCA and Gareth convinced him to stay the course.

At 7.15 pm on the same night we went to the opening of Julia Anderson’s sculpture exhibition in the foyer of 101 Collins Street in the city. This is her second exhibition at 101.

The exhibition attracted a huge opening crowd including many of Julia’s ardent supporters. Julia spoke about her passion for the natural world which is clearly embodied in all of her art works. Stylish actress Suzy Cato-Gashler wore a stunning blue hat by the Parisian milliner Marie Mercie.


Thursday 13 October

Thread of Pearls

Hanging from the branches
Of a green willow tree,
The spring rain
Is a
Thread of pearls.

Lady Ise, c. 875 – c. 938) was a Japanese poet in the Imperial court. I was reminded of the poem Thread of Pearls when we were invited to a pearl night. The Directors of Mossgreen one of Melbourne’s leading Art Galleries had invited us to Broome Pearls by Will Hannigan. We already knew the stylish Will and his lovely barrister mother Robyn.

Will was born in Broome, the son of a master pearler and through his mothers side related to the Walman Yawuru tribe the traditional owners of Broome who often used pearl shell in their rituals and tribal ceremonies. The large, luminescent shell was collected from coastal reefs exposed during low equinox tides.

It’s hard to believe that prior to WWII 80% of the world’s pearl shell came from 400 pearling luggers working out of Broome. Much of this shell was exported to Britain to be made into pearl buttons for the textile industry. We know throughout antiquity that pearls have always been associated with wealth. During the Roman Empire, Roman women would always sleep in their pearls so that on awakening they could be reminded of their wealth.

It was good to see such an interesting crowd particularly Will’s lovely Uncle Dave from Broome – we were the only two wearing a hat.

On Friday night October 14 we had an invitation from Hybrid Publishers to the launch of Robert Hollingsworth’s latest novel Smythes Theory of Everything. The novel was inspired by the diary of 62 year old J J Hyland who resided in a nursing home.

The Hon Peter Garrett AM MP officially launched the book at Melbourne’s beautifully restored, historically significant, Trades Hall. Garret describes the author Robert as a “renaissance man” who he had known back in his own music days with Midnight Oil. He went on to say how important it was to “maintain a connection to people over time”. He described Robert as not only an “assured writer” and “gifted story teller” but he has also had a successful career as a visual artist. In fact in his early life as an artist he had painted Peter for the Archibald Prize.

Garrett described the novel “as a ripper book for the boomers generation- a meditation on age and aging. There’s a lot of heart and soul in this tragic comedy… There’s a motif throughout the book of hope and meaning and making most of the moment”.

Peter Garrett describes being creative as “incredibly hard work and its gets harder and harder as you progress in your career but that for many visual artists and writers they seem to get better with age”.

Quote from Smythe’ Theory of Everything by Robert Hollingworth.

“The bottom line, Craig, is that time is no more than a measuring device based on the revolution of the planets. And it works very bloody well. But it goes awry on one important occasion: when it comes to sizing up the true nature of the universe. Come to think of it, it goes awry on another occasion as well: when it comes to sizing up the true nature of people; that is, judging them by their age.
Jack Smythe.”

All pictures:

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