Sir F. Chook, Inventor of Leopard Oil

Likeness captured upon a daguerrotype machine in Japan, July 1891


Wherein the Author reflects upon certain topical & personal issues of the Day.

Beauty is Life on the Birrarung

Penned upon the 24th of December, 2009

The 20th was our semi-anniversary (our sixmonthniversary, as we’ve taken to calling it,) and, while we did amuse ourselves in the evening by reading of gifting traditions (the wiki claims that the 13th anniversary is the barometer anniversary. Barometers? Really?) our celebrations of the day were directed elsewhere. The star of the day was Katie Roberts, whose exhibition – The Yarra Story – Drawing from the Birrarung – opened at Montsalvat artists’ colony.

This exhibition – the culmination of a series exploring the landscape up and down the Yarra – showcases landscapes traditional, formal and spiritual, and I must say I found it simply fascinating. I’m a Melbourne lad, born and bred, raised by the river all my life – and, in particular, I was struck by the images of the area around that fascinatingly spooky landmark Willsmere, and of the southwest, where my volunteer work has taken me, and its melange of industry and ornament. Katie’s collected depiction of the natural and built environments cements, for me, the unity of the two; all our power and progress is, after all, a product of, and addresses the needs dictated by, universal natural laws. Nature so defines all we know and all we possibly could know – the transcendental force, to which all other knowledge is a path. That’s my take on it, anyhow.

The Yarra Story is on display until the end of January, and I’d highly recommend a visit. Incidentally, I’d not been to Montsalvat before – I’m told it’s popular among the goth crowd for its, well, gothic Great Hall, but what we found most charming were the barns, the cottages and outbuildings – still beautiful, with fountains and statuary, but less imposing, more organic. And, naturally, with the farm comes the creatures – ducks, geese, chickens and a number of peafowl. We met two cocks, showing off their finery, and two hens taking a tiny wee baby for a walk around the grounds! So. Adorable. Never take peacocks as a symbol of empty vanity – scientifically, their display is entirely justified by their strength; they are life generating beauty. Ah, and to layer the serendipity on yet thicker, there was a couple getting married there that very day – best of luck to you both, whoever you were!

Oh, speaking of serendipity – a fun moment was meeting some of Katie’s friends… and bumping into my own cousin Ms Helle, not seen for… more than five years! ’twas great to see you!

(As you might have guessed, we have moved – more or less – and I hope to resume regular FrillyShirt operation as best as the season permits. Cheers, all!)

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Commentary upon “Beauty is Life on the Birrarung”

  1. Miss Crystal Bell was heard to remark,

    Upon the 18th of January, 2010 at 3:00 am,

    My dear Sir Chook,

    Why thank you, kind sir, for you eloquent and informative letter. Having happened upon this skillful penmanship by accident I wonder what other treasures may be hidden in this, the realm of intangible wonders. I am delighted to have featured in such a well regarded journal of the times, and look forward to further explorations of all matters you deem deserving of our cultured yet insatiable attention.

    With warmth and gratitude

    Miss Bell

Further remarks are not permitted.