Sunday, September 17, 2017

Ruins of The Grove, Glenorchy

Marcus played soccer at Grove Road, Glenorchy yesterday. He needs to arrive 45 minutes before kickoff, and my usual drill is to walk around the neighbourhood for most of that time and arrive warmed up and ready to run up and down as a linesman or just sit and watch with a little bit of circulation going.

On my walk yesterday I went down a random side-street and found this ruin. It's on the property of McKay Timber. I have since looked it up, and its a massive block of land, 27 acres, dotted with stacks of drying timber. The white building in the background is a timber kiln I think.

Still from the above StreetView
So after a quick bit of digging this morning I found this note from the Glenorchy Planning Authority. They had asked the owner for consent to add it to the heritage list, and they had refused.
The ruins are in a bare setting with timber yards to the west. The former house is clearly visible from the end of McKay Street. The house was built by Captain John Briggs in c.1840 and later acquired by Stephen Wright in 1868. Under the Wright family The Grove became an iconic Glenorchy property with a large orchard and extensive hop grounds which provided seasonal employment for local residents. By 1890 the Wright’s were the colony’s largest fruit growers. By 1933 the Wright’s glory days had been eclipsed and the house and fine gardens were subsequently abandoned. The property became part of a timber yard after World War 2 and the dilapidated house was subsequently destroyed in a fire in c.1992.
I could tell by the ornate arch that this was probably a residential building and had been built with a lot of care, but I would have guessed 1890s.

This photo is from the excellent and moving blog post about the house, by Warren Dent.
I took the photos below with my crappy phone; these will have to do until I get back there with a proper camera. McKay's planned to demolish the ruin after the fire in 1992, but their permission expired before they accomplished this. I assume they are now just waiting for the weeds and weather to do it for them. GPA would like to to a survey and explore the area to learn more about the orchard and the family who were such a prominent part of early Glenorchy – I hope that before it's too late the current landowners choose to cooperate.

This corner of Glenorchy now a mix of residential and warehouses. Very quiet on a Saturday. There is early-spring snow on Mt Wellington.
Looking back towards Grove Rd, and beyond it the Brooker Highway and Montrose Bay. The old house's upper storey would have had pleasant water views over the orchard.
This neighbouring warehouse takes a stern view of… something.
Entropy by Anon [timber sleeper chunks, car body, 2017]

Mountain history, hairdressers

I was just searching through some local history and came across this nugget about huts on Mount Wellington.
The original Blue Bell Hut was built in 1891 (Cornish photo text 11) and was rebuilt in 1898 by a group of hairdressers, including Messers Salter & Abbott. This second hut burnt down soon after completion. Forest Hut 1 was built on the site of the Blue Bell Huts. There is however a major inconsistency…
I am imagining Messrs Salter and Abbott and their colleagues working hard all morning then breaking for lunch, and perhaps listening to some Beyoncé on the portable gramophone.

[Image above of another similar hut is courtesy of]

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Hame hooks

I was snuffling around a site I visit every now and then, OzWrenches, when I came across their "modest collections of Horse Hame Hooks". (Hame hooks are a part if a working horse harness; a pair of metal strips which take the full force of the pull, padded by the horse collar.)

This "modest" collection includes 74 different hooks. Even the "hooks with kangaroos on them" department has 13 examples. Here they are, with one or two non-macropod designs. Thank you OzWrenches for everything you do.

Friday, August 04, 2017

Footy art

I have some work in an exhibition in Mildura coming up. I need to write a little spiel about why I "as an artist, love football and football art work". So I am going to write it here.

When I grew up on Tasmania's northwest coast, football was a big part of life. Around 1975 I started swapping football cards at primary school and the world of black and white footy replays was suddenly in colour. I think I gravitated to Richmond because they had the same colours as my hometown Burnie Tigers.
I started doing these design inspired by footy cards in 2012, for t-shirts. Footy is an emotional game and the feelings stirred by seeing your team's guernsey (and others) are strong and complex. I love being able to celebrate an overlooked or under-appreciated player.  Footy art makes public the sporting passion of the artist. It could be a key moment from a big game under a turquoise sky, or a couple of your favourite players in full playing gear dropping in for tea and cake. By its nature footy art appeals to a wide audience - so it brings people together. 
These 5 pieces are all recycled designs. Four are t-shirt designs while Dustin Martin was an illustration for a book project that has been canned.

The illustrations are all done digitally, with some scanned textures overlaid. I haven't used watercolour texture before the book project; I was delighted with how it came up so I have brought some into the backgrounds of Sonny, Maurice and Mitch for these prints. I had them printed on high-quality paper then worked into them with coloured pencil for some extra texture and to lend uniqueness to each print. There is a limited edition of 10 of each; three of each have gone to Mildura.

If anyone is interested in one drop me a line – each print is $65 + postage unframed.

Some other footy artists

Two images above by Kate Birrell

Noel Young

Susan Sutton

Nick Howson

Monday, July 31, 2017

Wirksworth House, Bellerive

Wirksworth House, some time between 1960 –1971.  [State Library of Tasmania]
 Marcus and I went to the footy at Bellerive Oval the other day. We parked along the beach to the east a little near the South St reserve. Getting away after the game with 14,000 other people was a bit of a business, and as we sat in motionless traffic for a while we observed a grand old house with spacious grounds which I have never laid eyes on before.

It is called Wirksworth House, and it belongs to the Education Department. It is opposite Clarence High school. In the news last month there were plans to turn the site into an early-aged care facility.

The fence and trees shown in the old pic above are gone now, so the house is easy to see from the street. In the last few years it has been extensively renovated and returned to its earlier glory, without its 1960s-era weatherboard additions.

Guilty admission: I love the weatherboard additions. I have no building engineering, architecture or history qualifications at all; but I actually love to see how a building has been adapted, sometimes misguidedly, through its lifetime.

Dining room [State Library of Tasmania]
The dining room appears to be within the extension shown above. Possibly because I am the son of a state school teacher I have a distant fondness for the sheer Education Department-ness of it all. Those chairs were ubiquitous in the days when I tagged along with Dad to Burnie High. By the time I was a student there it was all blow-moulded plastics.

From the photos online it was used for Phys Ed camps, and training Phys Ed teachers.

Photo from Miss Chicken on Flickr
Above is how it appears now, and I am sure it is a very fine restoration by BPSM (more photos on their site here). I don't really like the garish stone central tower. And I do miss the weatherboard add on.

Let's just go back to a simpler (and more glarey) time shall we?

Dover school group [State Library of Tasmania]

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Bone for the dog

I was at the South Hobart butcher, and I asked if he had any good dog bones. He gave me a huge articulated thing, a backbone with some ribs coming off it that may have belonged to a wallaby. (Yes we can get wallaby meat at the butcher, we had a wallaby curry for dinner tonight in fact).

We don't often give Winston bones but after 2 weeks of school holidays he was going to be left outside on his own on Tuesday, and it would give him something to keep him busy.

I gave it to him at the front door. After holding this massive great chunk of beast for a few seconds he dropped it and looked at me, very concerned.

I am pretty sure he was thinking "last time they gave me a big bone they disappeared for 7 weeks".

But I also thought I could see in his eyes "hey, we've got to get this guy to a doctor. He's very sick".

Sunday, May 28, 2017


Please join me for a moment and let us immerse ourselves in the World of Twill.

Some of my highlights;

Twill weaves can be classified 4 ways
  • According to the stepping:
  • According to the direction of twill lines on the face of the fabric
  • According to the face yarn (warp or weft)
  • According to the nature of the produced twill line

The technical face side of a twill weave fabric is the side with the most pronounced wale.

Twills can be divided into even-sided and warp-faced

Even-sided twills include foulard or surah, herringbonehoundstoothsergesharkskin, and twill flannel.

Warp-faced twills include cavalry twill, chino, covert, denim, drill, fancy twill, gabardine, and lining twill.

What's your favourite twill?

Friday, May 26, 2017

Bree's funeral

Bree's funeral was last Thursday, 18 May. I wanted to see heaps of our former EOAO work colleagues there, but I couldn't bring myself to ring around and tell anyone the news. There was a big crowd there, but only one workmate, Ian Pirkis. Note to self: someone has to do this and next time you have to step up.

Bree's brother Christoph played guitar and sang. Bree's sister Camille, her father, and her husband Geoff spoke beautifully, with humour and strength. 

Mr Farrell told us that the day was all about gratitude. He quoted former Richmond footballer Dan Jackson, who wrote in Letters of Love - "be grateful, appreciate the little moments, as they're what you'll treasure most."

Camille (who's a bit of a hippy*) spoke about how Bree loved dressing up, and fancy dress sixties parties. "She'd borrow the clothes I wear every day which is ... weird".

Lastly Bree's close friend Jenny spoke about their years together, and the last months since her terminal diagnosis with breast cancer in February this year. Jenny accompanied Bree to Melbourne for chemotherapy and they laughed and shopped in between bouts of treatment.

Jenny told how she was worried they had too much carry on luggage. Bree said "Just pile it on my lap darl, I'm in a wheelchair, they're not going to stop me!"

At the end Straight Lines by silverchair came on. Bree's girls Hayley and Jessie, who are aged about 8 and 5, were dancing in the aisle along with some of the other kids. I couldn't see very well from the back but I have since watched the video of the service that's online. There's a bit of commotion then over the music Geoff announced "Jessie's lost her first tooth!!" 

And that's where I lost it, at the thought of so many milestones in her girls' lives that are going to happen without Bree. But – I am comforted by what Jenny said about their shared spiritual beliefs. Bree had no doubt she would be a continuing presence in the girls' lives, and its not for me to impose my own dry rational views on that relationship. What do I know?

It was the most beautiful funeral of the (fortunately) few I have attended. Goodbye Bree and thank you for your friendship.

* Sorry Camille.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Bree Farrell 1972 - 2017

Bree came to the ad agency where I worked in the mid 90s, to work on reception. She was so sparky and intelligent and full of ideas that she didn't stay on the front desk very long. She got on well with everyone, she was easy to talk to and muck around with, and we became good friends.

She moved to Sydney after a few years and was doing great things there in the advertising/public relations world. Then she had her first cancer diagnosis, non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. She moved back to Hobart to stay with her step-mother Connie, and underwent radiation treatment.

Bree's mother had died of cancer when she was still quite young, and she always knew that it was something that might be waiting for her and her siblings too. Treatment seemed endless, and was painful, tiring and boring. I visited her once or twice to just talk and read to her - she thought my choice of reading material (I had just discovered Saki) was terrible.

The awful treatment worked. She got better. She had new wavy slightly crinkly hair. She moved back to Sydney and we kept in touch. She mentioned she was going to travel in India for a couple of months with her friend PJ who was coming from London. I thought about that for a few days then asked her if could come along, and she very generously said yes.

And it was an amazing experience. PJ and Bree were great friends who had missed each other a lot so I sort of paddled along in their wake and did my own thing quite often.

After the trip Bree stayed in Sydney and again we kept loosely in touch. About 10 years ago she was back living in Hobart with a new husband Geoff, and a baby on the way, Hayley. I met Hayley, and couple of years later bumped into them with another new baby, Jessie.

Our neighbour Sharyn sometimes gave us news via her sister Jenny, one of Bree's best friends. I was really shocked to hear from Sharyn that Bree's cancer had returned, and she had died on Tuesday night. Jenny had helped look after her.

She was a terrific person who brought joy and fun to a lot of people and I am very glad to have known her well for that time in our lives. Peace to you Bree.

Bree’s workmates in Sydney made her take some plush kittens under glass; some kind of office tradition. She had to take photos of it everywhere. I took my Tigers sponge bag for the same reason; it was much less cumbersome.

This is at the Taj Mahal. These ladies surrounded Bree and asked her
to be in their photographs. Note, Bree is not particularly tall.
Some lads who were roped in to hold the trophies, with Bree and PJ.
We had a rickshaw race back to the hotel from the Taj.