Monday, March 13, 2017

About me - working for Val Morgan's and three other Adelaide women artists - 1960s 1970s

A 'forgotten' art.
Remembering 3 women artists from South Australia.
Chasing my memories, and finding out things that have a 'wow' factor.
In my late teens I went to a 'commercial art' course for one term at Norwood Technical Collage. It meant a long travel by bus from Grange. But was the closest that I imagined having a career in art my teacher was Marjorie Hann.
She was in her 50s and already a noted artist in many ways. I never imagined that this choice would lead me in to a unique part-time job doing 'commercial art'.
She was needing someone to fill in for her while she went on vacation, and chose to put my name forward, and I was accepted. $2 an hour seemed like a fortune at the time.
Because of the uniqueness of the position, I was mentored by her and her best friend - Vanessa Smith. They knew each other affectionately as 'Fish and Lamb(e)' - they had met at the Adelaide School of Art, and were firm friends right up until Vanessa's death in the early 2000s, living just one street away from each other.
Vanessa was an incredible artist, and known for her own expertise - as a glass artist and considered the best of the best. Both were watercolourists, which is where some of my charm of watercolour comes from (other than from Sir Hans Heysen, whom my grandfather sat next to in Primary school in Norwood/Maylands in the late 1800s.
While I loved his art, as it was on every school room or government building wall, the fact that grandpa knew him, and loved getting the Christmas cards from him in some of my early years.
Marjorie is known well enough to be on Wikipedia:
I couldn't find much on Vanessa, and was asked by Marjorie at one stage to write Vanessa's story, as she believed her stained glass designs and work to be truly exceptional. Her work is acclaimed as treasures.
The third artist I worked with is/was Jenny Gore. I 'found' her today. I knew she had become an enamel artist due to her effort in winning an exhibition I was part of organising in Salisbury in the 1980s. While not totally surprised, I see she was awarded an Order of Australia Medal - for her extraordinary enamel artwork.
So the fact that 4 of us worked together almost makes me pinch myself. Incredible! While we were part-time and worked from home, we crossed paths and I kept in close contact specifically with Marjorie and Vanessa. We always exchanged Christmas cards, through the years.
Where did we work?
Val Morgan's - theatre advertising. Most were for drive-ins. I loved the work, and did it for 2 years before leaving Australian Shores for England.
Quite a unique process. Long gone now.
Here is a 'colour rough'/'submit' which we would do based on a clients requirements - submitted to client for approval prior to doing the final art, from that time. I have 9 of these. I'll talk more about the process in later posts.
Just amazed that this was all part of my life.
More to come ...

About me - My art aspirations - Grange Primary School, Henley High School 1950s 1960s

Cleaning out cupboards certainly bring back memories. So it's story-telling time.
I've always been an artist.
I attended Elizabeth O'Grady Kindergarten in Grange, South Australia from about age 3 until 5. I most enjoyed poetry and listening to books being read and showed the illustrations. But the main fascination was with the finger paints (powder mixed with water), where we stood in front of an easel and painted. For me, the feeling of 'belonging' was so overwhelming.
I also remember the shock when my art was called out as an example, and hung in pride of place. From memory I was the one who did not do 'stick figures'.
From Kindergarten I went on to Grange Primary School (7 years - until age 12). For a while the most art we did was in geography - where we used the flat side of a 'lead' (graphite) pencil, to smear over the back of a parchment (cooking) sheet, then trace maps into our books. I hated the mess. So hid the fact that I didn't do this - I hand-drew my maps instead - and the teacher never seemed to know the difference.
A big influence was a teacher named Mrs. Churchill. She really cared about teaching us to draw. And I found it fascinating. And draw I did! Pencil and biro (ball-point pen). I had a great many drawings, often doing them in classes when I should be doing something else. Or at home, on my stomach in the living room in front of the radio (big cabinet and yes, we would look at it when on!). I loved coloured pencils, rulers, rubbers (erasers), and collected as many as I could.
Then devastation struck. Mrs Churchill died 'unexpectedly'.
And - our classrooms burned down in a fire. I lost all my drawings, and supplies.
We had to fill out insurance forms. I had my losses questioned. It seems that 12 rulers, 124 coloured pencils, etc. was not the 'norm'. I'd only counted them the day before and we used to sit 2 to a desk, so fortunately my desk-sharer could vouch for me.
I lost heart for a long while. I was in grade 5 at the time, I think. But then became fascinated with mapping pens - very fine nibbed pens. I think up until that time we were still using inkwells and nibbed pens to write with. i think in grade 3 we changed to fountain pens, which I still love. While biros existed, they weren't allowed to be used in school for a while, because of the mess they made when they leaked (if you have clothes ruined with this ink - use hairspray! I didn't find this out for decades!)
I drew a lot in Sunday school at St. Agnes, in Grange. The rector at the time encouraged me - and I loved the church architecture (1800s), the stained glass windows and more at the time. So a lot of what I drew were religious scenes. I started to see a future in art when I drew a crucifix scene, and a school pal offered me a shilling (1/- - 10 Au cents), and after I got over the shock, agreed, only to get orders from 3 other children! I probably was around 10 years old?
When I was asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, my choices would include 'artist' even though, to me, it wasn't an occupation. Then I learnt that a 'commercial' artist was an occupation. So said that.
At age 12 I graduated through to High School (Henley High School, Henley Beach - a new school - perfect for baby boomers! post-war boom!). Graduation for most was 3 years (Intermediate Certificate), 4 for skills to get into things like Nursing School, and 5 years before graduating to University for professions like becoming a doctor, scientist, etc.
To my amazement you got to choose which subjects you wanted to take - between 'boy' subjects, and 'girl' subjects. Reading over the list, the only course for 'Art' was in the 'boy' list. Yup. Got my parents to sign so I could do that.
Maths I, Maths II, Science (later became Physics, Chemistry), Latin, English, Home Economics (wasn't allowed to do woodwork), and Art.
Girls did Bookkeeping, Typing, English, Basic Maths, Home Economics, and Dictation/Secretarial, I think.
SO glad I got to do boy's subjects! I wouldn't have survived the 'girl's' subjects!
I was expecting Art to teach how to do art. But it turned out to be 'commercial' art - lettering, and more lettering (sign-writers were in demand!), design, and history of art. Our classes were about 50 kids - of these 45 were boys. Art was a low-demand class so only had 5-10 kids. I was the only girl.
We had a young teacher who was often absent with illness, and an older European woman (Mrs Tornoff?) who knew a lot about artists (history of art). What was strange was with absences, I would take over the teaching aspect of the class from time to time.
I had decided to leave school with my Intermediate Certificate - I wanted to go to the Adelaide School of Art in North Adelaide, which was the thing to do at the time. My education books and such were paid for by the Repat (Repatriation Department, due to my father being T.P.I. - Totally and Permanently Incapacitated due to contracting T.B. during WWII), so I presumed they would pay for art studies.
I sat for my Intermediate exams. Our art exams were not marked by our teachers, they were actually sent to the Art School in North Adelaide.
My art teacher came to me after the exam, and told me that I had done the worst work she had ever seen me do. I was nervous, and it probably was.
The results would come out in the newspapers. (The Advertiser). We would know when they were being released, and go into the city and wait in laneway outside the newspaper office, to grab them hot off the presses to see our results. Very emotional. Some crying because they passed, others crying because they didn't. Way past our regular bedtime.
I was astounded to find I'd gained an 'A' - the very top grade available (95%-100%)!
This actually was a 'pass' to get into the School of Art at the time. Like a 'diploma'.
But therein was a problem. My parents didn't see art as an appropriate occupation, and my father's condition was deteriorating - and then there was the Repat.
They had to approve.
I remember very clearly ... going to the city, being in a dark room with 7 men, sitting at the end of the table, while they questioned me. Quite intimidating to 15/16 year-old me!
And they made me feel stupid and bad for wanting to do art. They proposed to me that since my grades in other subjects were good, I should continue on at school.
But with my Dad's T.B. progressing I only stayed at High school another 6 months. He would scour the newspaper each day for jobs, and he found one I applied for and left.
I never received the schooling or art degrees I needed to get jobs or progress with my art.
But still I did much, all in my own way, and still love graphic (commercial-type) art.
But have always found myself feeling like a 'lesser' artist through not having gained a degree or certificates.
In rather astounding ways at times.I'll share more with you soon ...

This drawing done with mapping pen is from when I was 11 or 12, no older. I signed it, and my signature changed when I was 12. It's not accurate, I did it from a blurry newspaper photo.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

My Dad. WWII soldier. Harold William Capon

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Can I tell you a story? I was thinking about discrimination, and how horrid it is. I’m sure all of us have been subjected to us all at one time or another. For some it is a constant happening and common place, to some, it’s rarely thought about. But it does unbelievable damage to so many.
Even age discrimination can have a lasting effect. Yet is is barely considered at times, but this was the first type that came to mind. I can always remember my dismay at seeing signs ‘Children under 12 years of age not admitted to wards’ on doors of the Daws Road Repatriation (service members - VA) hospital (‘repat’) in the 50s.
My Dad contracted TB in Middle East during WWII and very much of my life was spent being told ‘Your Dad’s gone to hospital, and might never come home’. Sometimes it was short times, sometimes a long time. Visiting hospital was a farce for me, as I was banned. Goodness only knows why. But also I saw the effects of war, even though a decade or more gone, by peeking through windows (as a child will do, of course). And while I tried to peek through to see my Dad, I never found him, no matter how many windows I peeked through.  Dad came home each of these times, despite me not being able to visit with him, and see him. I loved him very much.
I was left unsupervised, as kids often were. I found other kids to play with at times, and grew intimate with the old buildings with remnants all around from WWII. I loved the beautiful gardens. They even gave me comfort in 2001 as my Mother lay dying – looking at wonderful lavender outside her window.
But over an above that it bought a unique view to a child. The soldiers that were well enough would often sit outside. Many smoked hand-rolled cigarettes, held in boney, shaky hands, stained yellow/brown. They usually sat with elbows on knees, looking down. Lost in thoughts. I talked to many of them. While they didn’t talk of war, they did talk of coming home to lives lost, how ‘mateship’ was what got them through. Many had nicknames, bestowed in the trenches, and they would quote them with glee. My Dad was ‘Al’ (Capone), as his last name was Capon (no e). Some of them even taught me how to roll cigarettes, or how to fill pipes. But I don’t remember them smiling very much, unless it was to speak of their fellow servicemen.
So while I was anxiously waiting for the age of 12 to arrive and annoyed at the ‘discrimination’, I certainly learnt a lot. I don’t like war. I don’t think it fixes anything much at all. I do have the greatest of respect for those that serve in their country’s military. So many don’t, or can’t, or wouldn’t think of it. I learnt that mateship can help one survive almost anything (practice love, don’t hate!).
My father died when I was 18. He was given a military funeral, and even today I can’t bear to hear ‘taps’ played on the bugle, without crying my heart out.
For a while I thought I might join the Air Force. I can’t remember why I didn’t. Whether height restriction, or the fact that I would have been too much of a rebel against such rigid rules. So perhaps it is even stranger that at 24 I left London to go work for the USAF in Germany. It was still the ‘Vietnam era’. Cold war, and all that kind of stuff. Sure, a lot of crap goes on (heck, I belonged to a motorcycle gang at the time so saw a lot of ‘off base’ stuff going on), but also, even as a ‘third national’ I knew that I might even have to possible fight for my life should the air base be attacked. I again gave respect for all the servicemen that served as a service to their country. I worked to make things better, and re-wrote USAF manuals, and helped sort out computer stuff – some relating to first intercontinental links (early internet days). And married the man who walked up to me on my first day of work and introduced himself, then got off work early just so he could offer me a lift home. He surprised me, coming up to my bus stop with such a wide grin on his face … under his motorcycle helmet … how could I say no? (Turned out not the best idea to say yes, as my mini skirt was not the best to try to mount the back of a 750 Honda, with ‘sissy bar’ – lol.)
So while this may not sound like it is about discrimination, it still is. And even though so many good things came from it.  I still don’t understand why I couldn’t go in to the wards to see my Dad. 12 years. That seemed like forever in a child's eyes. And any one of the many times he went in to the Repat, being allowed in, might have been my only opportunity to see my Dad before he died.
Thank you for reading/listening.
Photo: Mum & Dad, date unknown. Harold William Capon, born 26th December, 1908, Camberwell, London. Joyce Constance Capon (nee Lill) born 27th Ocober, 1912 South Australia.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

WWII photos of Japanese from my Uncle's 'Darwin' photos.

There should be a law against NOT putting comments on the back of photos.

This one is a total mystery.

It is from my uncle's collection of photos - he was stationed in Darwin (N.T.) during WWII.
(Walter Williamson - see wikipedia - footballer.)

This photos I've only just now gotten around to scanning it. It's tiny. About 2.25 long by about 1.25 high.

I was totally amazed to see that it was of Japanese soldiers. I remember stories I was told when little. First of Uncle Wally not really being in WWII as he had a 'cushy' post up in Darwin. But later heard stories about bombings and Japanese. How much is memory, how much is fact, I don't know. I will share some of the stories, if someone is interested. I wrote to the war memorial people, but heard nothing back. I have quite a lot more photos of Darwin during WWII. I'll post when I get a chance.

If anyone can shed any light on this one, I'd appreciate it. Thank you.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Grange Bowling Club - Speech by Mr Hughes (approx. 1923?)

This is from my Auntie Dulcie's album. I believe it to be around 1923, based on previous photo posted. Because of my mother's (Joyce) age. I also believe that my Grandpa (F.W. Lill / F.W.R. Lill) was president 1924 and vice-president 1925 due to some research in the 'trove' newspapers. I took some time to edit these old articles, and hopefully made it easier for those researching the GBC. It does have a list of most of the founders, and also some great photos. But it takes some looking.

Auntie Dulcie was Dulcie Lill, married to Wally (Walter) Williamson - captain of West Torrens when they won premiers in the early 30s (1933?). He also played for the State and for a short time was with Hawthorn (Vic) FC. See Wikipedia.

At first I thought the speech might be from the Prime Minister, but a Mr Hughes played a BIG part in the beginnings of the "Grange and Henley Beach Bowling Club" (later "Grange Bowling Club"), so he is probably the one who is making the speech, even though I don't specifically know who that might be from this photo. I believe I came across photos of Mr Hughes when researching. I have one more photo of this occasion. And will post it after scanning.

I circled 2 people - Nan and Grandpa. I was able to tell by the clothes on Nan (previous blog photo), but also thought it looked like Grandpa, anyway. So they were obviously part of the 'official' party.

I don't know when this building was demolished. But from my child brain, I seem to remember it. The kitchen upstairs, the dark wood floor that creaked so much, men smoking - pipes, cigars, and drinking. Women with urns, cakes, and constantly washing dishes in aprons. If anyone one knows the year it was demolished, I'd love that information, to see if my memories fit.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

"Style" At Grange Bowling Club - 1920s - South Australia.

Sharing a personal photo from the early 1920s at the Grange Bowling Club. (Please do not copy or use without seeking permission.)

From the personal photo album of Dulcie Elizabeth Williamson (nee Lill), my aunt.

The woman in the middle is my grandmother, who's home I grew up in, on Seaview Road. Mrs F. W. R. Lill - she and her daughters often helped with fund raising booths and are mentioned a lot in old newspapers. She is Florence Dulcie Lill. My grandfather was a lifetime member of the club.

My mother (adoptive) is the child to the right, in the background. She is probably around 10 years old so that would make this photo approx. 1922? - Joyce Constance Lill - later Basford and Capon, born October 1912.

I have scanned this in hi-res, and is delightful to see the 'youthful', freckled face of my grandmother (Nan), rather than the interesting face with 'cracks' in it. :)

You can click on the image for a slightly larger view.

Old photo Wellington punt on River Murray, South Australia 1920s.

I previously posted this on my blog here:

But did not include the buildings. I have a larger scan of this. Please do not use without permission. Please contact me. This is from an old photo album of Dulcie Elizabeth Williamson (nee Lill). I LOVE that the scan shows the 2 gentlemen on the punt.

Clicking on the image will give a slightly larger view.