Saturday, February 27, 2016

A bone of fact

David Walsh, creator and owner of MONA (Museum of Old and New Art) in Hobart has written this memoir, A bone of fact. Each chapter contains observations about a snippet from his life which together provide a partial insight into the mind of the author. There are references to his early life, the illness of his brother, Tim, his grade five teacher and the poems he taught the class, his gambling and how this helped him create his fortune, early upbringing in the Catholic church and schools plus the creation of his museums to house his collections as well as to give something back to the community and his views on collecting. Don't expect a chronological narrative. The 368 pages of the book provide short glimpses into an unusual mind which together provide a partial introduction to the life and interests and sense of humour of the author, The book contains many photographs. I did not read this book from cover to cover but rather dipped into it and read isolated chapters. This book can be read as a companion book to The making of MONA.
Car spaces at MONA reserved for the owner and his wife Nov 2015

Saturday, February 6, 2016

The Vandiemonians: from penal settlements to Marvellous Melbourne

Ian Morison has used his family story to record part of the early history of Australia. The story starts with the arrival of the first family members, James and Anne Hortle, who travelled with the Third Fleet arriving at Port Jackson in 1791. James was a member of the New South Wales Corps and he and his growing family decided to settle in the colony. In 1804 James and his family accompanied Lieutenant Colonel Paterson to found the new settlement at Port Dalrymple (Launceston). Around the same time another expedition was being organised from London to create a settlement at Port Phillip. This expedition was led by  Colonel David Collins of the Royal Marines. Richard Pitt applied to travel with the party as a free settler. His wife and eldest son decided to stay in England but Richard and his three younger children left England at the end of April 1803. The ships arrived at Port Phillip in October 1803 where unsuccessful attempts were made to establish a settlement. On 30 January 1804 most of the settlers were relocated to a new settlement on the Derwent River - Hobart Town.

Ian Morison describes what it was like living in the two settlements at the north and south of Van Diemen's Land over the ensuing years. The two families are united when Elizabeth Hortle and Philip Pitt marry and settled at Green Ponds. Attempts were again made to settle Port Phillip in 1835 and many from Van Diemen's Land took up land across Bass Strait. The Gold Rush of the 1850s saw many changes in the new colony. Salome Pitt, daughter of Elizabeth and Philip, married Alexander Morison in November 1851 Alexander was a preacher with the Colonial Missionary Society until becoming a minister of the new Independent Church in Melbourne.

The time frame of the book covers the period up to 1880 and, as well as telling the family story, the book provides good background information on what it was like living in the various settlements. There are citations for notes in each chapter at the back of the book as well as well as a bibliography and index.