Readings refresh poet’s legacy

INSIGHT: Beechworth Secondary College former English teacher Jean Memery reads ‘Enlightened age’, a poem by Ada Cambridge published five years after she came to Australia in 1870.

BEECHWORTH Arts Council next year is looking to establish a permanent honour in recognition of writer Ada Cambridge and her contribution to Australian literature and colonial life in Beechworth and Yackandandah.

The words of the poet and gender equality advocate and descriptions of her times were recounted in the town’s historic Christ Church on Friday (July 6).

The English-born writer between 1885 and 1893 lived in Beechworth where her husband, George Cross, was Christ Church priest and rector.

Reverend Cross had earlier held ‘livings’, as church pastoral appointments were known at the time, in Wangaratta, Yackandandah and Coleraine.

The 44 people attending the readings – hosted by Beechworth Arts Council and Christ Church priest Thomas Leslie and parish council – heard that a deal of Ms Cambridge’s well-regarded literary work was written during her husband’s Beechworth posting.

The appointment coincided with the approach of Australian federation when women, in a changing political climate, were agitating for the right to vote.

Arts Council president Jamie Kronborg read an extract from a July 1887 Ovens and Murray Advertiser editorial in which then-editor Richard Warren wrote that “such a revolution should not be attempted without much more general consideration…”.

“Women are, undoubtedly, well-fitted to succeed in all the ordinary walks of life, but we very much question whether the arena of politics is suitable to their nature, their habits of thought, or their idiosyncrasies,” Warren said.

Ms Cambridge in 1891 was one of almost 30,000 Victorian women who signed ‘The Great Petition’, by which the colonial parliament in Melbourne was asked to give women the right to vote “on equal terms with men”.

Artist, printmaker and former Indigo Shire arts officer Chris Dormer described Ms Cambridge’s life and work to the audience before she introduced readers who included Wangaratta High School English domain leader Lesley Milne, artist and teacher Valerie Crosse, former Beechworth Secondary College teachers Helen McIntyre and Jean Memery, college current principal Patricia Broom, historian Jacqui Durrant, and Indigo mayor Jenny O’Connor.

Fr. Leslie said Friday’s readings were the start of what he hoped would be an ongoing collaboration between the Arts Council and Christ Church to develop the 1858 building as a centre for cultural activities and events.

Take sherry with Ada on Friday

WARMING WORDS: Enjoy sherry at Beechworth Arts Council’s Ada Cambridge readings in Christ Church on July 6. Image: Jamie Kronborg

HEAR Beechworth and Stanley women in the arts, education and community advocacy bring to life the works of Ada Cambridge – Australia’s first significant colonial-era woman poet and Beechworth resident – in the town’s Anglican Christ Church on July 6.

Teacher Lesley Milne, teacher and artist Valerie Crosse, former Beechworth Secondary College teachers Jean Memery and Helen McIntyre, printmaker and former Indigo arts officer Chris Dormer, historian Jacqui Durrant, Indigo mayor Jenny O’Connor and poet Jill Keith will read poems they’ve selected from Cambridge’s literature: some of them in the very place where they were penned.

The English-born writer, poet and keen social observer lived in Beechworth between 1885 and 1893 during her husband’s tenure as vicar of Christ Church. She was in her 40s at the time and was considered avant-garde by some of her peers for her views on a woman’s role in marriage, sex, gender equality and suffrage.

EQUAL RIGHT: Ada Cambridge’s signature, using her married surname of Cross, among those of Beechworth women who signed the 1891 Great Petition. Image: Parliament of Victoria

Cambridge was one of many women in the North East who signed the 1891 ‘Great Petition’ to Victoria’s parliament in which almost 30,000 throughout Victoria sought the right to vote “on equal terms with men”.

Chris Dormer said Cambridge’s writing was widely read in Australia, England and the United States. “Her work was extremely modern in addressing the conditions of women and the social issues of her time,” she said.

Williamstown Literary Festival annually awards prizes named in Ada Cambridge’s honour for biographical prose, poetry and young writers’ work. She moved with her husband from Beechworth to Williamstown in 1893 when he was appointed rector in the bayside western port. She died in 1926. More information about her life and works can be found in the Australian Dictionary of Biography.

Event information
Where: Christ Church, 27 Ford Street, Beechworth Victoria 3747
Date: Friday July 6, 2018
Time: 7:00pm
Ticket: $10 includes refreshments: book now

 

Reading Beechworth’s Ada Cambridge

Ada Cambridge at about the time she lived in Beechworth. Image: National Library of Australia

COLONIAL Australia’s first significant woman poet —who expressed thoughts on the ‘limitations of sexual love’ and concern for the underprivileged in a book of sonnets published while she lived in Beechworth in the late nineteenth century — will be celebrated with readings in the town’s Anglican Christ Church on July 6.

Beechworth Arts Council has joined with Christ Church to present readings from the works of writer Ada Cambridge, who lived in Beechworth between 1885 and 1893 where her husband, George Cross, was vicar.

It was from these parish experiences and Cambridge’s keen observations of colonial society that she wrote Thirty years in Australia, which was published in 1903Her earlier ‘rebellious book of poetry’, Unspoken thoughts, was described by academic Margaret Bradstock in 2006 — in a new introduction to a reprint of Thirty years — as ‘evincing a strong social conscience and investigating a freeing-up of sexual mores and religious conventions’. Publisher George Robertson said that Unspoken thoughts when published in 1887 placed Cambridge ‘among the immortals’. It was later republished in 1913 in a curtailed, toned-down version as The hand in the dark.

The Australian Dictionary of Biography’s Jill Roe wrote that Cambridge began writing with purpose during snatched leisure in 1873 ‘to add … to the family resources when they threatened to give out’. ‘Her fluent and unpretentious work attracted attention at once: Up the Murray which was published as a serial in the Australasian in 1875, the first of several to appear in the next 15 years in those pages, gained her passport into the society of the Anglo-Australian aristocracy which she found so congenial and portrayed repeatedly in her novels.’

The Arts Council readings will take place almost 92 years to the day after Cambridge’s death in Melbourne in 1926. She was 81.

Event information
Where: Christ Church, 27 Ford Street, Beechworth Victoria 3747
Date: Friday July 6, 2018
Time: 7:00pm
Ticket: $10 includes refreshments: book now

Take tea and talk with ‘Vincent and me’ artist

FERTILE FIELDS: Artwork by artists and filmmaker Michael Rubbo. Image: Michael Rubbo

BEECHWORTH Arts Council is pleased to support Quercus Beechworth’s morning tea on Thursday – April 12 – with brothers Michael and Mark Rubbo.

Michael is promoting his book ‘Travel with my Art’ – an amazing life told through Michael’s gorgeous paintings. Mark is Readings Bookstores’ managing director.

The talented and creative brothers were featured in the The Age Good Weekend in ‘The two of us’ on January 27 this year.

Quercus and the Arts Council would love you to join us for morning tea at 11am at what will be a delightful excursion through story telling, art and conversation in the garden at 30 Ford Street. Please let Quercus know if you’ll be attending by calling 03 5728 2386 or email. You might also forward this post to others who could be interested.

Go to Michael Rubbo for more information about Michael and his work.

‘Art Roads’ series heads to Benalla

SINUOUS: Brett Whiteley’s ‘Marulan bird with rocks’ circa 1980. IMAGE: Art Gallery of NSW / Wendy Whiteley copyright

Beechworth Arts Council is encouraging members and friends to take to the tarmac and join the first of its ‘Art Roads’ series on March 18.

These self-drive, shared vehicle journeys are being planned across the year and will be led by Arts Council vice president and fine arts creative honours student Daren John Pope.

The first Art Roads drive will take in Benalla Art Gallery’s Brett Whitely exhibition ‘West of the divide’.

Participants will depart Beechworth post office at 9:30am for Wangaratta Art Gallery and Christine Johnson’s ‘Voyages Botanical’ exhibition and a spot of morning tea.

The ‘Art Roads’ caravan will then drive on to Benalla where the Whiteley exhibition features works from the late Sydney artist’s enduring connection with country west of the Great Dividing Range. Daren is hoping to organise a discussion about the Whiteleys with Benalla Art Gallery director Bryony Nainby for Art Roads’ travellers. He will also provide commentary on the works.

Benalla Art Gallery has a lovely cafe for those who want to lunch. Alternatively, the adjacent Benalla Botanical Gardens offer wonderful options for picnicking.

Car-pooling is encouraged. If you’d like to join Art Roads #1 or can offer seats in your car please email Daren by March 12.

Writing the new world

AmalgaNations‘ author and travel writer Doug Hendrie. Image: University of Melbourne

Travel writing has a well-known skew towards exotica. That’s understandable – if everywhere is the same, why leave home?

But globalisation has brought cross-pollination – and Melbourne nonfiction writer, teacher and author Doug Hendrie reveals you can now go everywhere and see traces of home.

In his Beechworth Writers, Readers and Poets’ Weekend workshop on February 11, Doug explores the possibility and promise of writing travel in a globalised world.

His AmalgaNations: how globalisation is good found a series of unexpected – and bizarre – cultural mash-ups, from StarCraft videogame superstars of South Korea to the Clash-loving punks of Indonesia; from gay power in the Catholic Philippines to the street filmmakers of Ghana.

‘A whirlwind world tour through surprising subcultures told with subtle humour,’ said publisher Hardie Grant, ‘AmalgaNations picks up where Louis Theroux leaves off.’

 Doug has a longstanding interest in cross-cultural issues and emergent subcultures. He is working on his second book.

Saturday, February 11
Doug Hendrie workshop | George Kerferd Hotel, Beechworth | 10:00 – 11:30am
Participation: $50 book it | presenter information

Write into the ways of the world

Writers, Readers and Poets’ Weekend will explore gender, diversity, feminism and power in great opera, with Richard Wagner’s Brynhildr examined by Australian Book Review editor and opera performance critic Peter Rose.

Beechworth’s seventh annual Writers, Readers and Poets’ Weekend is just 15 days away.

Street works and readings, discussions and workshops, together with word-directed art projects, will be staged February 10-12 in Beechworth’s heritage-listed main streets and at George Kerferd Hotel in the grounds of the 1864-built Mayday Hills former lunatic asylum and its extraordinary gardens.

Headline participants include Jerilderie-born Rosalie Ham, author of The Dressmaker – the source of a major Australian film released in 2015, Melbourne-based activist poet and writer Hayley Louise Singer, who will delve into women’s histories, journalist and author Doug Hendrie, poet Eddie Paterson, Australian Book Review editor and opera performance critic Peter Rose and garden historian and writer Anne Vale, a former chair of the Australian Garden History Society Victorian branch.

WRAP is also building awareness of North East established writers, including Yackandandah’s Kate Rotherham and Beverley Lello, and emerging writers, such as Wangaratta world-building and fantasy writer and graphic designer Chris Febvre. Challenge yourself by helping to create a new fairytale and develop an anthropomorphic creature with a twist – like a crocodile whose dream is simply to bake bread?

Poet and surgeon Paddy Dewan and singer-songwriter Marisa Quigley will host ‘Bookends’, a words and music workshop for children, and Beechworth Arts Council president Jamie Kronborg and vice president Daren John Pope will bite into lively ideas about North East artistic and cultural endeavour over lunch.

The program also features ‘Cereal words’, a writers’ breakfast at which all participating writers can take the opportunity to read from their own works, and a work-in-progress screening of ‘Potholes’, a collaboration between Kate Rotherham and Brendan Hogan to turn a short story into a short film.

See full program information and booking opportunities. Tickets sell fast.

Enquiries: Jamie Kronborg 0409 912 967 or email

Inaugural Spring Arts Show takes to the valley

November 11-27 2016 @ Old Stone Hall Art Space, 7 Church Street Beechworth.

Official Opening Friday November 11 @ 5.30pm

A group exhibition showcasing the work of artists from Beechworth and North East region:

Chris Dormer, Tina Fraser, Inga Hanover, Kay Hampton, Judy Hawking Burnett, Nina Machielse Hunt, Therese Shanley, Catherine Stewart, Barbel Ulrich, Rose Wedler.

Gallery Opening Hours: Thursday to Sunday, 10.30am – 3pm.

nina-and-her-artwork

Also don’t miss the workshop:

Abstracting the Landscape

A day in the bush with local artist, Nina Machielse Hunt

Hosted by The Beechworth Arts Council this workshop invites artists and novices alike for a day of gestural painting and drawing en plein air in the beautiful Woolshed Valley.

Along with tuition from celebrated local artist Nina Machielse Hunt, participants will enjoy a sumptuous picnic lunch and the bon amie that can only come with like-minded creative spirits.

  • Bookings essential (strictly limited places)
  • $80 per person
  • Bring your own arts materials lunch provided
  • 10.30 – 3.30pm, Saturday, November 26th
  • Bookings: Daren John Pope, 0474 351 240

Artist statement: Nina Machielse Hunt

“I have always been intrigued by the Australian landscape, the romance and the spirit of the bush, flora and fauna, Indigenous art and culture. I enjoy learning how others have personally responded to a sense of Place through art, literature, film and song I do love the bush; walking, sitting, thinking, feeling and then returning to my studio to absorb the experience. Then after preparing my materials I work through the challenge of adding and removing colour, shifting shape and line until eventually the final composition reveals itself.”