Marking time

Marking time in September 2011

Thursday 22 September 2011

The real face of White Australia

I’m a fan and follower of Tim Sherrat through his discontents blog. Today I read about his Invisible Australians project. The website explains:
The White Australia Policy was about people - people whose lives were monitored and restricted because of the colour of their skin. This experimental browser enables you to explore the records of the White Australia Policy through the faces of those people.

These portraits were extracted from a range of government documents using a face detection script. We’ve tried to weed out the mistakes, but you may still notice a few oddities. Many portraits are duplicated, as multiple copies of the forms were often kept.
Part of a certificate exempting from dictation test recording that on 4 March 1907 Willie Sum was exempted from the provisions of paragraph (a) of Section 3 of the Immigration Restriction Act 1901-1905, and that he returned to Australia on 15 May 1908. [National Archives of Australia: ST84/1, 1907/141-150, page 39]

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Tuesday 20 September 2011

Cairns Railway Red Cross Guild

My grandfather John Victor Marquis-Kyle (1897-1981) believed in doing volunteer work for the common good. During the Sec­ond World War, working at weekends and evenings with a small group of men in a workshop under his house, he made crutches for the Red Cross. I can remember him talking about this, and it sounded like he enjoyed both the companionship of working together and the feeling of ‘doing something useful’. Making a pair of crutches for an injured soldier was a very personal and practical help.

Ten men and one boy with chairs and crutches
Photographic postcard of a group of men and a boy with wooden crutches and folding chairs. The sign reads cairns + railway equipment guild.

I recently collected this postcard that tells me that setting up volunteer ‘guilds’ to make equipment for the Red Cross was an established practice in Australia during the earlier Great War. A newspaper search turns up many stories.

hand-written message on postcard
The back of the postcard, with Fred’s hand-written message, transcribed below.
My Dear Stella
Here is another photo perhaps you will wonder what is come next This is the railway Guild they make all there things for the Red Cross in there spare time you will see an x over one young man second from the end well Stella that is my Boy + the only one + now at the front I have only one of his or you should have a better then this these men have done a lot of work for the Red Cross + I am pleased to add the best Guild in our state + Cairns is but a small place + more men have gone to the front from the North then any other part of Aust to the number of people. Please except best thanks for your lovely cards also for x what a debt we owe one another + I am wondering which will be paid first
Best wishes
x xx xxx xx x

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Friday 9 September 2011

Chelsea Physic Garden

Roger Dean, London photographer and partner of Penny, an old friend of my sister’s, compiled a list of places we should see while in London in September 2010. Chelsea Physic Garden was on the list, and Roger and Penny took us there for lavish cakes, tea, and a wander around.

Beds of medicinal plants arranged by use - for opthalmology, parasitology, and anaesthetics and analgesics.

This garden was founded by the Worshipful Society of Apoth­e­car­ies of London in 1678 for training apprentices in the me­dic­i­nal qualities of plants. Such gardens were the precursors of systematic botanical gardens.

Rhubarb growing in the area of the garden devoted to culinary plants. The larger label notes Rubarb forcing: The forcing of rhubarb in order to produce earlier & more tender stems is thought to have been dicovered at the Chelsea Physic Garden around 1817. The small label identifies the plant: Solanaceae: ‘Culinary rhubard’: Rheum Rhaponticum: Asian USSR.

Roger is the creator of the Esoteric London blog. Each day he presents one of his photographs of London, paired with a piece of historical text. This is delightful, quirky stuff that expresses his deep connection with the richness of the city. I start each day with a quick look. The picture and the words don’t have to match exactly​—​rather, the two play a kind of counterpoint. I was prompted to look back at my photos and to write this piece about Roger’s blog by his entry for today​—​a photo of lichen at the physic garden. Did he take that picture the day we were there together? I photographed exactly the same subject that day.

A specimen of lichen growing on a wooden board in the garden. The label reads Xanthoria Parietina: ‘Common Orange Lichen’: Teloschistaceae: Before modern chemical dyes, many lichen were used as dyes. This species was prepared by steeping & soaking the cloth in urine. This gives a pink colour which turns blue when dried in the sun. Lichen are rarely used nowadays as they have been replaced by chemical alternatives.

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The real face of White Australia
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