Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Beachcomber Basking

These were pictures taken by Peter Medling while Beachcomber was in Paynesville. The sail over there began as a sedate meander before the wind, but became quite interesting as the wind increased when we were into Lake King. She carries a lot of sail for a centreboarder, but we managed the entire trip with just two gybes. Both were deliberate, but there's only one  I'll own up to; as to the other  I won't mention it because she swiftly rounded up (a good thing really as it gave me time to catch up to what was going on...)

Friday, November 10, 2017

Women fishing, Lake Tyers Gippsland, 1860's

c 1867 credit; Carl Walter

Finding a photo like this is very exciting for so many reasons. Of course any photograph from this period is special from a technical point of view, as well as sociological and historical points of view. This one was taken around the time our boat 'Beachcomber' was built, in the same district.

The world at the time was in several sorts of turmoil, particularly the bitter divisions in North America where communities suffered from the colossal bloodshed of civil war. It was a period of rampant exploitative trade bullying and drug (opium) pushing in India and China by the East India Trading Company and subsequent involvement by the British Government.

The vast colonial experiment was being felt by First Peoples all over the 'discovered' world.

But this is a picture of dignity and serenity; women going about the business of living co-operatively and productively and in ways that had worked very well for them for tens of thousands of years. Some of the great great grandchildren of these women are probably judged harshly nowadays, for not fitting in or maybe for appearing to  lack motivation, but only by those who haven't really considered the things that have been endured by the generations between then and now.

Their 'wealth'- culturally, linguistically and in access to all that they needed- had been energetically translated into Pounds Sterling and stashed in colonial and British banks, at least until our colony was mature enough to attempt to govern what was left of their lives- but that in itself began paternalistically and in a culturally self-serving way.

By then the damage was so severe that governments ever since have had to face the shame of being impotent to the needs of a really  important part of our world community.

I wish that  our communities could look more generously at the state of some of the survivors now, with a little more understanding of the context of their situation.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Rifling Paradise; a review of the novel

Rifling ParadiseRifling Paradise by Jem Poster
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The beginning of this story is quite dark, as our central character reveals attributes that might make for a sordid sort of tale, but the writing was crystal clear and the quality of the prose led me to keep reading. I'm very glad I did.

The novel is really well paced, somehow suggesting very complex plot development, but delivering a trim and precise tale that ends more quickly than seemed possible. It is scattered with moments of real tension as the author uses the story to contrast several different character types, all responding to the cultural paradigms of the time- some characters stuck within them and some managing to grow through them. A very satisfying read.

View all my reviews

the blurb on Goodreads says:

A gripping thriller set in the wilds of nineteenth-century Australia by the critically acclaimed author of Courting Shadows
When past indiscretions catch up with Charles Redbourne, a minor English landowner, he is propelled from England to Australia, where he plans to make his mark as a naturalist. There, his life begins to change dramatically, not least when he meets his host's wayward, artistic daughter. But it is on an expedition in search of scientific specimens in the Blue Mountains that events take a terrifying turn. Vividly conveying the unspoken codes of Victorian society, this is a gripping tale of emotional and psychological reckoning that offers an inspired meditation on the relationship between humankind and the natural world.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

the pleasures of a busy workshop

Some recent pictures of work being done by the workshop group. Sharing tools, ideas and techniques with this collection of enthusiasts is an on-going joy.

A low lamp tells a lot about shape by casting strong shadows across a form.

we have inside and outside holds for different processes

a set of bindings ready for gluing

beginning the neck shaping at the heel

finnessing a bottom edge joint

top bracing and doublers

trimming the newly glued back plate edges