Spring has sprung

Spring has sprung
Roses at the Cottage

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Pastor Sir Doug Nicholls

I was interested to read in The Age last week of the proposal to add a statue of Sir Doug Nicholls (1906 - 1988) to the Australian Sporting Legends that surround the mighty MCG (see  earlier post 26 September 2012) 
Pastor Sir Douglas Nicholls (wikipedia)
I had never really known much of his history and was surprised to learn that he was a famous footballer.  I'm an old Adelaide gal and I remember Sir Doug when he was the Governor of South Australia for a short period in 1976 (he retired due to ill health in 1977). He was the first Aboriginal to be knighted and and is currently the only indigenous Governor of this country - it's time that changed!  

With the AFL Indigenous Round just completed last weekend it was an appropriate call that this famed - but in many ways - forgotten citizen to be included in the Sporting Legends statues. Sir Doug originally joined the Carlton Football Club but did not play a game due to the racist attitude of his fellow players. He then played for Northcote Football Club until he finally joined the Fitzroy Football Club in 1932 and was third in the Brownlow Medal Count in 1934. He was the first indigenous player to be chosen in the Victorian State Team in 1935.
Doug Nicholls the footballer - bottom 2nd right - 1929 (wikipedia)
A member of the Yorta Yorta tribe Pastor Doug, as he was often referred to, was a Church of Christ Preacher. Among his other 'firsts' he was the inaugural Chair of the National Aboriginal Sports Foundation, and an officer of the Aborigines Advancement League. He was named Victorian  'Father of the Year' in 1962 and 'King of Moomba' in 1973. 

Pastor Sir Doug Nicholls and Lady Gladys Nicholls
Currently you can find a marvellous statue of him by Louis Laumen which was unveiled in 2007 in Parliament Gardens (Corner Spring and Albert Streets in the city) with his beloved wife Gladys (the widow of Pastor Doug's brother). The were married for 39 years.
The beautiful Parliament Gardens on the edge of the city
Did you know about Pastor Sir Doug Nicholls?

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Monet's Masterpieces in Melbourne

What a treat we Melburnians have here on our doorstep. Impressionist painter Claude Monet has come to Melbourne (well not literally - he died in 1926!) for the annual National Gallery of Victoria International (St Kilda Road) Winter Masterpieces. And what an exhibition his Monet's Garden is. So much will be familiar to Monet fans and garden lovers in particular.
The bridge over the waterlily pond 1900 (NGV exhibition)
I was privileged to attend an after-the-public-viewing so the crowds were 'down'. But however up or down the crowds are it is an absolute must see particularly as it's not travelling elsewhere in  Australia. The majority of the works have come from The Musee Marmottan Monet in Paris and it runs until 8 September. This is going to be a blockbuster so avoid the queues by booking online
Waterlilies (NymphĂ©as) 1916–19 (NGV exhibition)
Claude Monet outside his house at Giverny c.1921 (NGV exhibition)
I love his comment -My garden is my most beautiful masterpiece.” And it shows!

Have a quick preview of the key works here - I'm sure any doubts about whether to visit the exhibition will be removed and you will be 'persuaded' to visit! And the scene on arrival at the NGV is beautifully themed. Stone walls, gorgeous flowers, a Giverny cafe with blue and white gingham tablecloths and bright yellow bentwood chairs - and the food displayed on tiles - replicating his home kitchen. And do give yourself time to relax before leaving the exhibition with a film of the Giverny garden - it's wonderful.
The 'Giverny' Cafe with its 'stone walls' at the NGV
While you're in the Monet Mood - take a walk through the Fitzroy Gardens and visit the Observatory - I wrote about Melbourne's Petit Giverney 16 October 2012 - the current autumn 'floral' display is not quite as vibrant as the Spring display but with the Monet bridge it evokes the same feeling.
Spring in the Fitzroy Gardens Conservatory with its own Giverny Bridge
This is a must see exhibition. Take your time and savour the talent of this very productive Frenchman.

Bowen Cottage client comment: Thank you for providing such an excellent base for us. We could walk to the city and there were lots of good parks nearby for the dogs. It was a great place for Melbourne relatives, family and friends to catch up with us.

Monday, 13 May 2013

Look up!

Richmond has such a diversity of architecture - from warehouse conversions, to the converted grain silos (see earlier post 13 November 2012), to the hideous modern blocks of 'trendy' apartments, to gorgeous old Victorian and Edwardian homes and shop facades. The juxtaposition of all of these makes for interesting and often challenging viewing. 
Such pretty tops - such ugly 'bottoms'
No perfect Haussmann's Paris here. I could go on about the ruination of the suburb (and parts of the CBD - just think of the so-called Paris end of Collins Street - you need to visit with an imaginative eye these days!) but in some ways this eclectic mix of architecture makes it more challenging to the eye!
Grandeur above - no comment below!
Just a stroll up and down Bridge Road near the Cottage gives an idea of the history of the area.

Simple elegance - even below isn't bad!
Sadly I don't think there is one photo that doesn't have tram lines or electricity lines - what a mess. How is it that European cities far older than Melbourne have underground cables?
Keep looking up!
Such a pretty floral and shell design - if you can fight you way through the lines!
And perhaps this is the piece de resistance - a set of gargoyles laughing at the lines, the crassness and the developments all around them.
And just in case you can't see them for lines - below is a detail!
No wonder his hair is standing on end!
What a pity - and all so close to the City of Yarra Council Chambers where they would have the ability to at least try and preserve some of the beauty of this suburb......

Bowen Cottage client comment: As soon as we go we want to turn around and come back!

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

The Nylex Sign

Overlooking the Punt Road Bridge (not surprisingly named for the punt that used to cross the Yarra River before the bridge was built!) is one of Richmond's, and probably Melbourne's, most iconic and familiar neon signs. Created in 1961 it was erected on top of the old malt storage silos. It's in a prime position - facing the city and at the entrance to the Monash Freeway. The clock on top of the sign has had a stop start existence and is currently in the stopped position! The parcel of land on which the 20 x 12 level silos sit has also had a stop start life in the many proposed redevelopments of the site. It's also currently in the stalled postion! Even the Nylex company has gone - it's now a delisted company - although you'll still find hoses/fittings at your local hardware store.
The iconic Nylex Sign atop the silos (Herald Sun)
In the meantime Melburnians are so familiar with the site as it is that I wonder if we will ever accept that one day - some day - the site will be flattened and redeveloped and all but the now heritage listed sign and clock will disappear. Another piece of history gone forever.

The Nylex sign incorporated in our History on a wall
The marvellous mural of Richmond and Melbourne history (see earlier post August 2012) which is currently under 'wraps' on the old Dimmey's building (see earlier post May 2012) which is being re-developed shows how important this sign is to Melbourne.

A Nylex sign designer cushion
Still it's always nice to be reminded of what we had and as is the fashion these days there are some stores selling Nylex Sign cushions. If you want to take a little slice of Richmond home with you then I recommend a visit the quirkily named Lily and the Weasel - a great gift shop located at 173 Swan Street - 9421 1008. You'll find Skipping Girl and Nylex Sign cushions and even Metro Melbourne train map cushions (will that make the trains run on time?!).