Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Grandad's portrait.

it's that time of year and the jacarandas are in bloom again. Those mauve trees are so good that if they didn't exist we'd have to invent one. A print of this one is mounted on our wall:

The original was painted in 1903 by R. Godfrey Rivers, a significant figure in the history of painting locally, and is in the Queensland art gallery. This one is across our street:

Apparently it's descended from the one in the picture, because "ALL of the jacarandas carpeting Brisbane come from a single tree planted in the City Botanic Gardens by superintendent Walter Hill in 1864." ( article last year in the Courier Mail). "It is considered to be the first jacaranda planted in Australia and is featured in perhaps Queensland's most famous painting..."

The jacaranda is not indigenous to Australia, so how did the one in the painting get here?
"Wheat was exported to Argentina, Brazil and Chile in those days and the ships would come back empty except for gneiss ballast rocks," gardens curator Mr McKinnon said. "Hill got the rocks for the gardens and also got a jacaranda seed from a ship's captain. The rocks are still used widely around the gardens."

The tree alas was blown over in a storm in 1980. Mr. McKinnon keeps a slab cut from its bough in his office.

For many years, now-retired John Massey, the gallery's canny senior education officer, would have baskets of blossoms picked up from the park and deposited on the floor in front of the painting, as though they had fallen from it overnight. He would show school children around, exciting them with the mystery of the spring blooms.



Blogger spacedlaw said...

That guy is a poet.
Those trees are so beautiful.

14 October 2008 at 02:42:00 GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The wife of my man-boob still gets faintly nervous when the jacarandas bloom, because it means school exams are just around the corner. She left school a number of years ago but some feelings linger...

14 October 2008 at 04:24:00 GMT-5  
Blogger drjon said...

He would show school children around, exciting them with the mystery of the spring blooms.

That's the most wonderful thing I've read all week.

14 October 2008 at 22:37:00 GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The jacranda's are in bloom here as well, here being Southern California. Yoga Gal geri

15 October 2008 at 19:13:00 GMT-5  

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