Way back when, Wednesdays

History in pictures

If you are driving along Montague Road at Modbury you might notice a very large, distinctive mural painted on the wall of the Karadinga Recreation Centre, which is situated opposite the City of Tea Tree Gully Civic Centre. Formerly a YMCA facility, Karadinga is now run by the Uniting Church of Australia. According to the Karadinga Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/Karadinga-Sports-and-Recreation, its name is a corruption of the Kaurna name for the Modbury area ‘Kirra ung dinga’. This means “the place where the red gums grow by the creek”.

IMG_4520 Mural

So what is this artwork about and who is responsible for its creation?

The Karadinga mural is a visual record of our local history since European settlement. On page 28 of the edition dated 28 January 1987, the Leader Messenger reported on the mural, which had been completed in December 1986.  It was painted to commemorate the Centre’s tenth birthday and the 150 years since the State of South Australia was founded. The project was designed by artist Stefan Twaine-Wood and subsidised by the State Government and Watyl Paints. School children and members of the local community helped to paint the mural.

Karadinga mural article

Karadinga mural with children

The mural takes us across time in its depiction of local icons, which are based on historical photographs. The City of Tea Tree Gully area is painted as being expansive, verdant and fertile. In the foreground, Tea Tree Gully’s farming heritage is celebrated. The image on the left of the mural is taken from a 1910 photograph. Behind the hay paddocks are the Tea Tree Gully Hotel (circa 1886) and to the right, the Greenwith Methodist Church, built in 1863.

In the background, we can see a representation of the Hope Valley Reservoir, constructed between from 1869 to 1861. Behind the reservoir are the more modern edifices of Tea Tree Plaza (which opened in 1970) and the Modbury Hospital (which was opened in 1973) alongside the former nurse’s home (now operating as the Torrens Valley Institute student residence).

Behind all of these works of human history lies the timeless beauty of the bush and the hills of the Mt. Lofty Ranges. Overhead, the mural features a huge sprig of the native tea-tree, the popular name for Leptospermum lanigerum, after which the suburb and the City of Tea Tree Gully were named. It is said that when the first colonists arrived, after being so long at sea, they were delighted on seeing beautiful thick growth of the tea-tree growing over and covering the bed of the River Torrens, (Page 118, Settlement to City, third edition, Auhl, Ian, 1993). It is reputated that they used the plant to brew a tea, (Page 6, Tea Tree Gully Sketchbook, Auhl, Ian and Millstead, Rex, Adelaide, 1975).

If you would like to find out more about our local history why not reserve these books online or enquire next time you visit the Library?

#waybackwhenwednesdays

Classic Graphic: The Moomin stories

moomin_history_tove_jansson-cfb36ad907e5b10ec440f2105589c600                               pee-hoo

Today is the birthday of Finnish author, artist and cartoonist Tove Marika Jansson. Tove was born in Helsinki on 9 August 1914 and died on 27 June 2001 at the age of 86.

Tove Jansson was a member of the Swedish speaking minority in Finland. She was raised by bohemian artist parents, who encouraged a love of nature and an appreciation of diversity in their children. Tove studied art in Helsinki, Stockholm and Paris. Her siblings also grew up to become artists.

Tove Janson is the most widely read Finnish author outside her own country. Shemoomin_by_marzymarrs-d8wj23y received wide recognition for her short stories, novels, picture books, plays and a comic strip. Tove also exhibited paintings and graphic art and was commissioned to create public art works. Although Tove wrote for both children and adults, she is best known and loved for her Moomin stories.

230px-Finn_FamilyIn 1945 Söderström & Co published Tove’s first Moomin story The Moomins and the Great Flood in Swedish. This was followed by Comet In Moominland in 1946 and Finn Family Moomintroll or The Magician’s Hat in 1948.

Tove continued writing about the adventures of the Moomin family throughout the 1950s and 1960s. In 1966 the International Board on Books for Young People awarded Tove the Hans Christian Andersen award, which is the highest accolade that can be given to a writer or illustrator of children’s books.

Following the translation into English of her books Tove was approached by a British publisher to transform her Moomin stories in a comic strip format. In 1954, the famous London newspaper The Evening News started to publish it. In order to allow his sister more time for her visual art projects, Tove’s brother Lars Jansson took over drawing the comic strip from 1960.  It ran up until 1974.

In 1970, Tove ceased writing Moomin stories with the publication of her ninth and last Moomin book Moominvalley in November. She later published a somewhat eerie children’s picture book called The Dangerous Journey in 1977, which is about different characters but takes place in the world of Moominvalley.

Tove went on to write an acclaimed novel for adults, which focuses on the relationship between a young girl and her grandmother who are living on an island. The Summer Book (1972) is her best known work of fiction which has been translated into English. Throughout her life, Tove produced six novels and five books of short stories for an adult audience.

Tove Jansson’s Moomin stories have been adapted for film, the stage, television series, an opera and a theme park. Her books have been translated into several languages.

You can reserve books about Tove Jansson’s life through the One Card Network online. Visit the official Tove Jansson website at http://tovejansson.com/

_________________________________________________________________

CharactersA friend asked me to post about Tove Jansson, so I decided to explore the world of the Moomins, to discover why both children and adults are still captivated by them.

So you may ask, what exactly is a Moomin? Are they really trolls?

Fear not, the Moomins are not your average ugly, stupid trolls lurking in the mountains or under bridges, lying in wait to catch their next meal. The Moomins are cute, kindly fairytale characters who are plump and white and resemble hippopotamuses! They are intelligent, literate and make their home in a tower in Mooninvalley, living alongside a host of eccentric characters.

Tove’s stories are full of lighthearted humour. Her simple and colourful ‘retro’ style illustrations will appeal to children. She cleverly parodies many different concepts in her Moomin stories, from becoming famous, vanity, the theatre, the legal profession to buying unnecessary modern kitchen gadgets.

Young Moomin or Moomintroll, as he is known in the original Swedish version, is a sweet-natured, brave and somewhat naïve character, making his way in the world. Moomin lives with his close knit family, his mother Moominmamma, father Moominpappa and girlfriend Snorkmaiden.

Moomin familyThe Moomin family is always ready to embrace new experiences, meet new people and welcome them into their home.

Moonminpappa enjoys reading and philosophising. Moominpappa’s romantic view of himself leads to all sorts of grand plans such as moving his family to a lighthouse so he can write a grand novel. The more practical Moominmamma takes pride in her home and loves her garden. She prefers to live simply but comfortably.

Moominmamma is skilled at making others know that they may not have made the best decisions, without making her family feel bad about themselves. Her serenity helps us to realise that everything will eventually turn out okay. However, Moominmamma is not immune from falling into the trap of keeping up appearances and competing with her neighbour Mrs Fillyjonk!

Pretty Snorkmaiden is a dreamer. She and Moomin are devoted to each other.  However, she can be insecure, overly concerned with her Snorkmaidenappearance and with getting Moomin’s attention. The adopted Little My causes chaos in the Moonmin household but she is perceptive and brings other characters down to earth with her sharp observations.

Tove Jansson’s work is original and surrealOn their numerous adventures, many of the characters that The Moomin family encounters are of indeterminate species. For example, at first glance Too-Ticky appears to be human, until you notice her strange birdlike feet. The fearless Little My is so small she can fit incharacter_mymble_familyto the pocket of her half-brother Snufkin. She looks remarkably like her mother, older sister Mymble and her seventeen younger siblings. A ghost who haunts a lighthouse resembles a sausage with legs!

The Moomin books teach us about the importance of family and friendship and about accepting others for their uniqueness. They value living a simple life, staying close to the beauty of nature and just being happy. The Moomins are always ready to help other characters, as everyone is important and needs a purpose.

You can borrow the Moomin stories and graphic novels (which comprise episodes from the Moomin comic strip) across the One Card Network. Tove Jansson’s work has also been adapted to bring her characters to younger readers, through a series of new picture books. Search the catalogue online, or enquire next time you visit the Library. Why not also visit the official Moomin site: https://www.moomin.com/en/

And yes, I could be hooked.

A Keane eye

Margaret Keane, The First Grail, 1962

Margaret Keane, The First Grail, 1962

You might remember seeing faded prints of sad, haunting, waif-like children with overly large eyes, displayed in charity shops or in houses during the 1960s and 1970s. However, did you know that the works by American artist Margaret Keane, though derided by art critics and dealers, hung in the mansions of major Hollywood stars and in European museums? Or that her paintings were praised by artists such as Dali, Picasso and Warhol?

Through mass marketing, Margaret’s work became was incredibly popular with the general public. It sold millions of copies, when reproduced in affordable forms such as wall sized posters and cards, which you could buy in supermarkets and gift shops. Margaret’s waifs influenced the style of other painters and graphic artists. Unfortunately, Margaret never received the money that she earned from sales of her paintings, nor received the recognition that she deserved until recent times.

Produced and directed by Tim Burton, the movie Big Eyes stars Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz. It is based on the true story of how Margaret’s husband Walter Keane created an elaborate deception, fooling the world by claiming credit for his wife’s art.

The film opens with the statement that the 50s was a great time if you were a man.

Fleeing a bad marriage in the mid-1950s, shy suburban housewife Margaret Hawkins flees to San Francisco with her young daughter, where she makes her living painting motives on furniture. She supplements her income at an outdoor market, painting children’s portraits in her distinctive style because “The eyes are the window to the soul”. It is there that Margaret meets the charming, ambitious landscape artist and real estate salesman Walter Keane. When Margaret’s former husband attempts to declare her an unfit mother and secure full custody of their daughter, Margaret accepts Walter’s offer of marriage.

Amy Adams plays Margaret Keane in Big Eyes.

Amy Adams plays Margaret Keane in Big Eyes.

Margaret Keane, Little Ones, 1962.

Margaret Keane, Little Ones, 1962.

Always the opportunist, Walter seeks out new ways to sell their art. He rents out wall space in a popular club. When patrons of the club start to notice only Margaret’s paintings of children, Walter takes credit for her work. The lie builds in intensity, as famous identities come to the club to see buy the pictures and the media takes an interest in this latest trend. It is not until Margaret watches Walter selling the paintings at the club does she realise what is happening. Although she is disturbed by Walter’s behaviour, Margaret has so little self esteem that she reluctantly goes along with the charade. She loves Walter and tells herself that she is doing the right thing. Remember, this was an era where women were expected to defer to the judgment of the head of the household, to their husband or father.

Big Eyes handles serious themes such as violence towards women, but Tim Burton’s quirky influence comes through. Sets are beautifully designed and there is a sense of otherworldliness to the look of the film. Burton uses warm lighting, bright colours and intense pastels in the cinemaphotography and he depicts suburbia like a model village, reminiscent of Edward Scissorhands. The film has elements of a fairytale. Margaret’s character is Burton’s usual blonde protagonist. She is the innocent woman imprisoned in a tower, living a nightmare. In in her attic studio, she is forced by her evil husband to paint magical pictures for up to 16 hours a day.

Christopher Waltz plays the deranged Walter Keane.

Christopher Waltz plays the deranged Walter Keane.

Burton’s brand of comedy comes through in both his characterisation and in his presentation of peculiar situations. For example, the exceptionally sweet Jehohavah Witness ladies arrive at Margaret’s door and change her life. An art snob who runs a fashionable modern art gallery rejects the paintings of waifs as kitsch but tries to sell splotches of paint on canvases to wealthy customers. Christopher Waltz expertly plays the egotistical Walter Keane, depicting his flamboyance and over the top mannerisms. Yet we are never in doubt of how sinister and deranged the character really is.

Big Eyes is also the story of Margaret’s triumph. As society starts to change for women throughout the 1960s and 70s, Margaret will find the courage to take control of her life and fight for her reputation as an artist.

Margaret Keane, San Francisco Here We Come, 1991.

Margaret Keane,
San Francisco Here We Come, 1991.

Margaret Keane aged 88 with Amy Adams

Margaret Keane aged 88 with Amy Adams

You can borrow the DVD or blu ray of Big Eyes through the One Card Network. Reserve it through the online catalogue or enquire at the Library. Find out more about Margaret and her work at: http://keane-eyes.com and http://www.margaretkeane.com/

A Trail of Tales…photo album

Tea-Tree-Studio

Have you seen our 2016 Adelaide Fringe Festival event: A Trail of Tales?

It’s a colourful and whimsical display put together by local writers and artists – a mutually inspired installation of words and art at Pine Park, just behind Gallery 1855 in Tea Tree Gully.

Writers used Pine Park, Anstey’s Hill and Tea Tree Gully as locations to pen their stories, poems and fairy tales, while the artists used the stories to create the artworks.

All of the stories and artworks have been spread throughout Pine Park, adorning trees, turning the fragrant space into a colourful, magic storyland.

Local schools have also been enjoying the display. Several school groups have made excursions to Pine Park for a special fairy story time, held beneath the fragrant trees.

It has also been a popular spot for families to wander through during this year’s Fringe Festival.

Don’t miss it – head to Gallery 1855, at 2 Haines Road in Tea Tree Gully, and it’s just a short walk up to Pine Park, behind the art gallery.

Thanks go to our writers and artists who collaborated together on this massive project. They include: The Tea Tree Gully Writers’ Group, Gallery 1855, Off the Couch, Tea Tree Studio, Tea Tree Gully Green Army, Paddock’s Creative Writing Group, SpecFic Chic, Carole Simmonds, Michael Sneyd and Tea Tree Gully Youth.

To see what people have been saying about A Trail of Tales, read this review by Helen Meyers

 

Libraries in Art Galleries

Sometimes an art gallery’s library is just as interesting as the artwork.

Many contemporary art galleries often have a library on site, so visitors can sit and enjoy reading books about the artists and the permanent art collection in a particular gallery. An art gallery library also serves to provide a greater insight into featured artworks by hosting a strong collection of literature and relevant documentation.

On recent trip to Hobart one of our staff discovered a Library in the depths of the extraordinary MONA art museum; a collection of 5,000 books on art and ancient cultures housed in a quiet, beautiful modernist chamber. It wasn’t quite the lively hub that we have here at Tea Tree Gully, but goes to show that organisations everywhere still like to collect fascinating books for people to read.

MONA

Artworks at MONA in Hobart, Australia.

Across the world, many significant art galleries have amazing libraries as well. Naoshima Island, off the southern seaport of Oyama in Japan, is dotted with art galleries and their libraries. One of these galleries, Benesse House, features contemporary art works from artists like Andy Warhol and Yayoi Kusama, which dazzle in the mezzanine style layout that provides views of art and the surrounding seaside. In the middle of the gallery, right behind an unremarkable corner, is a library nook filled to the brim of Japanese and English books regarding artists’ work. It’s particularly helpful for those seeking a more detailed explanation of the art works they have seen, particularly when the captions are in a foreign language.

Naoshima

Benesse Museum on the Japanese island Naoshima

Benesse House

Benesse House – yes there is a library inside, which soaks up this amazing view.

History buffs can get lost in the books at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art Library, which has items in its collection dating back to the 1300s. The Archive is also particularly rich in papers relating to art and artists in Scotland.

Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art Library

Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art Library

The National Art Library in London’s Victoria and Albert Museum is a major public reference library of fine and decorative arts of many countries and periods. It is a major source of reference for curators, journalists and artists worldwide.

National Art Gallery - Victoria and Albert Museum

Library in the National Art Gallery – Victoria and Albert Museum

Please see one of our staff if you would like to see our collection of art and craft books, which are located in the non-fiction 700s section in the Tea Tree Gully Library.

Street Craft – the next step from Street Art

STREET-CRAFT-EDP-8631910This cute book is soon to join the collection. Street Craft, by Rikka Kuittinen is a collection of art works, including street sculpture, yarn bombing, ‘urban crochet’, light installation and more, which are transforming tiny corners of cities around the world.

28 artists are featured, each providing a short bio and then what inspires them, followed by some glorious photographs of their works. Works range from the dark to bright and cheerful and are all emotive.

Street Craft

Street Craft is becoming a cultural phenomena, you’d be hard pressed to find a populated area that doesn’t feature some ‘guerrilla art‘ – not always legal, sometimes unappreciated, but always making a comment.

This and other street art books are available at the Library.

A book for artists, bird watchers, or anyone who just likes birds

Reviewed by Tea Tree Gully staff member Adrienne

I remember standing on grass surrounded by pelicans preening their feathers, while I tried to draw their beaks and feet for a biology assignment at university. My task would have been easier, had I been in possession of this excellent book. Capturing the Essence, Techniques for Bird Artists is worth reading if you are an artist, an art student or anybody who likes birds.

Capturing the Essence, Techniques for Bird Artists by William T. Cooper

Capturing the Essence, Techniques for Bird Artists by William T. Cooper

Experienced bird artist William T. Cooper provides the reader with a comprehensive understanding of the physiology of birds. Do not be overawed if you are a beginner – he starts with the basics, then shows you how to fill in the finer details to create a realistic image and background. The author examines the different materials and tools you can use, considers artistic perspective and provides direction on how to sketch tame or wild birds, at the zoo or in the field.

Cooper’s book is filled with many beautiful colour and black and white illustrations of his work, which in some ways reminded me of the anatomical drawings and watercolours of Beatrix Potter. You can reserve Capturing the Essence, Techniques for Bird Artists online through the library’s online catalogue here