Who is Francis Webb?

Francis Webb was born on 8th February 1925 in Ross Park Adelaide. His full name is Francis Charles Webb-Wagg, through his career he shortens it to Francis Webb. At the age of two, his mother passed away, and his father admitted himself into a mental hospital. Webb and his three sisters moved in with the grandparents, in Sydney. At seven he wrote his first poem it was a birthday present to his grandmother.

After school, Webb got a scholarship to Sydney University, but he deferred due to WWII. He enlisted in the Royal Australian Air Force in 1943. Webb trained as a wireless air gunner in Australia and Canada, though never saw any action.  After the war, he went to do his university course, which he never finished.  He worked for Angus & Robertson for a time. In 1949 he travelled to Britain but was put in an asylum for a suicide attempt. This was the first of many times. When he returned to Australia, he was admitted to a mental hospital and diagnosed with schizophrenia. He spent most of his life in and out of the hospital and wrote many of his poems while there.  Sadly he died on 23rd November 1973 at Rydalmere Psychiatric Hospital.

The Tapestry

When I look at the tapestry there are several well known icons of Sydney in it . The tapestry reminds me of a postcard of Sydney. It has the Harbour Bridge in the background of the picture and the Opera House positioned on the left. It has Luna Park under the bridge. There are flames of fire around Luna Park acknowledging the accident that happened on the 9th June 1979 that sadly killed 6 children and 1 adult.

The tapestry attracts your vision with its use of bright colours. It invites you to look harder at the little details in the picture like the landing of the first ship “The Endevour” which landed at Botany Bay in 1770. It subsequently went on to navigate around Australia later on that year. The main feature is the Southern Cross depicted as fireworks over Sydney Harbour on New Year’s Eve. There are also pictures on the tapestry acknowledging the first Australian with picture of Uluru, a dingo, a hand print, birds and fish.

Martin Sharp designed this artwork on the poem “Australia” by Bernard O’Dowd which is on the frame around the tapestry. The tapestry was donated to the NSW State Library in 1988 where it hangs on the wall, it is 3 metres wide and 6 metres long.

Art Gallery Experience

I had a fantastic time visiting the Art Gallery of NSW, it was my first time there. I had fun learning about the Australian paintings from the early 19th century to the late 20th century. I loved the painting called “Still glides the stream and shall for ever glide” by Arthur Streeton. It was like the painting invited me in. With my imagination I could see myself sitting on the hill over looking the valley.

Still glides the stream, and shall for ever glide
Arthur Streeton

The scenery that is before me is in the late afternoon on a summer’s day. There is a beautiful greenery and a lagoon blue river that flows througtout the whole painting. I can see this because of the way that its dark and overcast in the lower front of the painting. The painting is still bright with the sun as it seems to be going down over the hills in the background at the top of the painting.

Streeton made the river stand out by making it the main focus of the painting as it winds down into the valley and how it looks so peaceful and relaxing. There are cows getting herded across the river to get to the fresh grass on the other side, In the background there is a small town you can tell this for you can see a church tower. The church tower stands out to me becasue of how tall it is and how it is centured within the middle of the painting. If you focus long enough you can see the magpies swooping something in the long grass. I’ve enjoyed looking at this painting for it makes you look at the finer details in the picture because it makes you feel like you’re really there.

Streeton painted this painting with a lot of details. The colours make it look as if the sun is going down and the tones that he has used on the painting makes it look as though the river would just flow on forever. Even after the sun goes down this instills in me the feelings of peacefulness and also makes me relaxed into thinking things are ok as if life still goes on around you.

Dame Mary Gilmore 1865 to 1962

Dame Mary Gilmore was born on 16th August 1865 in Goulburn NSW. She grow up in the country of NSW near Wagga Wagga. At the age of 16 she sat her teaching exam and became a school teacher at Wagga Wagga Public School.

Gilmore involved herself in the Burgeoning Labor movement and there she met William Lane and in 1893 she moved to South America with 200 other people that followed Lane where they tried to start a new colony called New Australia but it was unsuccessful. Gilmore and her husband William with their son Billy moved back to Sydney in 1902.

Gilmore was an Australian writer who wrote both prose and poetry. In 1908 to 1931 she found work as an editor for the Australian workers doing a women’s section in The Sydney Morning Herald and The Bulletin.

In 1910 she published her first book of poetry and for half a century she was the most popular poet in Australia. Gilmore involved herself in the Australian Workers Union. She was the first women member to help with white and aboriginal Australians for better working conditions and for children’s welfare.

In 1937 she was made a Dame by King George VI. She was the first person to be given this award for services in literature. From that day we know her as Dame Mary Gilmore. In WWII she was a morale booster “no foe shall gather our harvest”. In 1954 at the age of 89 she published her last book of verse. In her latest years she enjoyed her growing status as a national literary icon and in 1962 she died on the 3rd December at the age of 97 and she was given a state funeral by the state of NSW.

Due to the great societal contributions made by Dame Mary Gilmore, she was granted the prestigious honour of being placed on the 10 dollar note in 1993. Gilmore was also admitted the privilege of having a city in the state of Canberra due to her massive significance within the Australian community.

Charles Harpur

Charles Harpur’s poem ‘Mid-Summer Noon In The Australian Forest, this poem describes the bushland in the town of Windsor, NSW. In this text the author goes into detail about how the bush is calming, peaceful and a quiet place. Harpur shows this through explaining that there were no birds flying in the sky, no grasshoppers singing and how there weren’t any ants scavenging around for food on the ground.

In this poem Harpur finds a tree where it is shady and cool, it’s an area to rest underneath while the big branches on the tree provide protection from the beaming sun rays and gives the man a place to rest. Out of nowhere he starts to hear a slight humming noise from the bushes around him, so he tries to see what it is and with excitement he discovers it is a beetle type creature.

Harpur realises the creature is a Dragon-Hornet as it flies towards him with all its beauty, grace and bright beautiful patterns. Harpur became fascinated when the beetle started fluttering its wings because as this happened due to the sun rays, the beetle seemed as if it had fire surrounding it and this was quite the extraordinary spectacle to Harpur himself. This poem was at times difficult to read due to the old English style of writing but once you adapt and get used to the language, you can understand and imagine that you are there with Charles Harpur in the Australian bush due to his strong use descriptive language.

First Day

When I was a girl I was mentally abused by a teacher at my high school.

She told me I’ll never pursue anything in my life,

I proved her wrong by becoming a wife

 Raising three children to be kind and nice.

Things got hard, but we made it alright.

Now I’m 50, things were tricky.

Spelling and words were hard I never really felt smart.

I wanted to open up doors, I was so sick of being bored.

I decided to go back to school,

I was nervous and scared.

I felt unprepared,

I was aware I needed to be a good thinker

 A brilliant listener,

So I encourage my sister to come with me.

It was my first day, I woke up calm and sane.

So many thoughts were running through my brain.

Who’s my teacher? Will it be tough?

My family all wished me good luck.

As I got out of the car and walked up the path.

My body began to sweat,

I felt every drop run down my chest.

No one could see,

I tried keeping myself from seeming like I was nervous.

My smiling and hiding kept them all

Convinced that I wasn’t shy in the midst of people.

I felt like I couldn’t raise my hand

Because I didn’t quite understand

About the paintings and poems of the people who were first on this land.

Until my teacher read with emotion

About this young girls devotion to her mother.

She was taken away from her when she was only a toddler.

This opened up my eyes and made me realise,

Despise how I feel, I can rise up and try to be a person I want to be.

My teacher is wise

 I will take his advice,

To be a confident woman at school for once in my life.

Heather Broomham