Research has taken me in several directions that somehow have influenced my work. While you don’t get to see finished pieces, I will share research and thought process that I have used.
I have become hooked on visiting Trove, the National Library of Australia web site where I can trawl through old papers. www.trove.nla.gov.au/newspapers. There you can select your choice of state and a whole lot of newspapers come up. Because of the time line that I’ve been researching, I’ve been looking at three: Brisbane Courier (1864- 1933), Moreton Bay Courier (Brisbane 1846 – 1861) and in particular, The Queenslander (1866-1939). It is a fascinating way to pass a lot of time. I can find births, deaths and marriages, a whole lot of classifieds and some interesting articles. I even found one on earth closets (Saturday 10 Feb 1866 pg. 11) I have been caught up in looking at page one and births deaths and marriages.
A look at The Queenslander for 3rd March 1866: page 1, Family notices, provides a typical style of presentation. I don’t always find listings for this area. It’s a bonus when I do.
Please take note of the wording. It can give an insight into the status of women. It also reinforces the perception of the invisibility of women in the mid 1800’s, a theme that I began in the October post.
Births. These are two notices that follow a standard format.
Strachan- on the 26th February, at Cleveland, Mrs JW Strachan of a daughter.
Grenier- On the 26th February, at her residence, Mrs G A Grenier of a daughter.
And then here’s another standard format one that really reflects on the importance of women. It is not unusual that “the wife of Mr………………..” is used. But this one also lists what he does.
Smith- On the 23rd of February, at her residence, Duncan’s Hill, the wife of F. T. Smith, builder of a daughter.
Here’s one for my area:
McLeod-Gray On the 24th February at Cleveland by the Rev Lacy H Rumsey, M.A., Edward McLeod, Esq of Cleveland, to Hannah, widow of the late Walter Gray Esq of Ipswich.
There were 6 deaths listed: 4 children and 2 women. Again here are 2 typical formats. Sometimes the wife gets listed in the death of a child, while at other times there is no mention of the mother. It is sobering to read of the child’s age in the mid 1800’s.
Bartley- On the 1st March, James Norman, youngest son of James and Mary Ann Bartley, aged 12 months.
Hawkers- On the 1st March at the Military Barracks, Emily, infant daughter of Sergeant Hawkes, 12th Regiment, aged 22 days.
And then one contemplates how life has changed. Thank goodness for improvements in medicine and medical practices. Thank goodness for improvements in the status of women and thank goodness for the things that have made daily life that much easier. Progress indeed!
When I first started spending many hours in the Cleveland Library I came across old maps and references to roads.
Early white explorers often followed aboriginal tracks that later became roads. The current Mt Gravatt- Capalaba Road is one such example.
Before there were roads into this area, supplies had to come in by boat, a very treacherous undertaking. There were many instances of boats being stuck or overturned. At one stage Cleveland was identified as becoming a port. Squatters coming from Warwick area through Cunningham’s Gap were keen for it to be a place to ship wool from, until there were one too many mishaps. An early explorer, Alan Cunningham had an 1829 sketch that showed a “road”.
This 1861 map shows both “Old” and “New” Cleveland Road and identifies the “road” as being “a line of trees marked on either side of the Road- being one chain long”. Both roads are still in existence. Over time roads were improved. Bridges built over creeks that needed to be forded especially in times of flood. Drays, mail coaches pulled by horse and bullocks were replaced by early cars. Early settlers required roads.
This drawing of early roads came from a publication “The Cleveland Roads to 1900” and shows how Cleveland was connected to Brisbane.
The roads of course brought more settlers to the area. Progress came.
Of recent time there has been much discussion in the news about development in this area and the need to allow for growth of more people and the ensuing impact on the environment.
And again one reflects on what we call “progress”.
What can I use to symbolise progress? What can I use to symbolise “development” and to identify the mark that both early development and those who came after have left on the land? There seems to be a link between progress, roads and thereby tyre tracks. Tyre tracks are also impermanent: they can be washed away or covered up by whatever comes next.
Then the fun began! For inspiration, I collected images of tyre tracks and played with printing tyres. Sometimes one just has to play to incubate ideas.
Bike tracks on the beach with a delicate pattern made by a small crab.
Car tracks in dried up mud.
A print from a car tyre. My son just shook his head over what his mum sometimes gets up to. It was his tyre.
This led me to thoughts of developing profile drafts using the word “progress” and to use this to replicate a tyre print format. This is some developmental work.
This is detail of the woven profile using two tie unit weave or Summer and Winter. It’s such a great structure for weaving imagery. How this sits in the whole piece will be unveiled later. At this stage it’s very difficult to identify the word, progress. I guess you sometimes just can’t go back in time.
Lastly, another bit of experimentation. This again links in with where I live and it is in a very physical way. The Redlands is named that for a very good reason. It has red dirt. Originally all this area was productive farming. What was once prize agricultural land is now covered in housing. Now there are just a few isolated farms in the middle of suburbia.
I have been experimenting with mud dye. It might be interesting to add this to my story. Here it is applied to a sample of woven shibori and then undone. Fresh soy milk was used as a binder.
Isn’t it a glorious red brown? Base fabric is a cotton warp and linen weft.
Eventually all these separate threads do come together. All will be revealed in March.
An exhibition celebrating 20 years of woven shibori with Catharine Ellis. 10th March- 14 April 2019, Redland Art Gallery.
Classes begin in the New Year. In just a couple of weeks there will be Linen and Lace. Check out the rest of year’s classes here.