BEECHWORTH artists Nina Machielse Hunt and Alan Phillips on Saturday led a public art class ‘en plein air’ in Beechworth’s historic Town Hall Gardens – a feature of Beechworth Arts Council’s month-long Spring Arts 2018.
The pair helped to guide participants to translate in contemporary media a photograph of Beechworth’s Margaret Trim taken in 1891 by leading colonial-era photographer James Bray in his Camp Street studio.
Bray was highly regarded for the quality of his work by which he documented much of Rutherglen’s development after 1866, and Beechworth’s after 1870, and its people, including many associated with the Kelly Gang outbreak.
He was one of four photographers at the Glenrowan siege in June 1880, when Ned Kelly was captured and the other three in the gang killed.
The image of Margaret Trim – modelled on Saturday by Beechworth Burke Museum Friends’ committee member Kate Sutherland, and Mrs Trim’s St Bernard hound, modelled by Max the brown labrador – was one of a series taken by Bray in 1890-91 to record the women and society organisations advocating for women’s suffrage, or the right to vote “on equal terms with men”.
Mrs Trim was one of 30,000 women throughout Victoria who signed what became known as the Great Petition, tabled in Victoria’s Parliament in September of the same year with the support of Premier James Munro.
The petition also played an important role in Federation in 1901, when Australia became the first nation in the world to give women both the right to vote and the right to stand for Parliament – although women did not achieve the right to vote in Victorian Parliamentary elections until 1908.
Bray took the Trim photograph in his Camp Street studio against a painted backdrop of a forest glade or garden, the Arts Council’s inspiration for setting Saturday’s class in Town Hall Gardens.
Artists Kay Hampton, Tania Sutton, Jill Keith and Daren John Pope and photographer Pamela Thomas participated, their workings across the morning attracting the interest of passers-by in the park and on Ford Street.