Image care of the fantastic Picture Australia
We went to the wonderful National Library of Australia to see the National Treasures exhibition. As always, they put together a fascinating exhibition filled with many historical treasures. From Captain Cook’s exploration journals, to a video of 1974’s Cyclone Tracy, to 1960’s flight brochures (“Apart from take off and landing, you are welcome to smoke cigarettes to your heart’s content. We ask you to refrain from cigars or pipers however as their strong smells may upset other passengers”) National Treasures is an eclectic collection of Australian life. I love NLA is recording it all.
My favourite pieces:
The above picture by Alfred Ducote which was used as propaganda to encourage women to emigrate to Australia to even out the gender imbalance. It features the English women turning into butterflies to fly over to Australia. Men are all along the coastline awaiting them, saying such gentlemanly things “Oh! I spot a fine one! I shall make her mine!”
It is a delightful and sensitively drawn piece with such amusing, almost absurd overtones. It made me smile large, and I just dig how those women in evening gowns have butterfly wings.
Banjo Paterson‘s shirt, detached collar inscribed in poetry and stubby ink pen. This man wrote iconic stories and songs in poverty. It was cool to see his tiny, broken pen held together with string. Made me remember I don’t need the perfect pen or brush, I just need to create.
Eddie Mabo’s handwritten speech, and felt pen drawing to indicate land rights on his island.
The diary of a POW written in incredibly miniscule writing (I couldn’t read it) due to the scarcity of paper. Another diary written on a toilet roll.
A letter from Patrick White and handwritten manuscript in an exercise book. I was mesmerised by the below portrait of Patrick White by Brendan Hennessy:
Also care of Picture Australia
This exhibition made me remember my heritage and become more intimately acquainted with the iconic Aussies I dig. I was amazed at how these people used what they had to create – whether it was highlighters, an exercise book, a stubby pen or a toilet roll. Don’t wait for it to be perfect – just create. Plus the cutesy kitsch drawings made me itch for my pen.
If you’re a Canberran, check it out before February 13.
National Treasures is off on tour around the country after then.