Category Archives: art and photography

Sorry, it’s Shmith – not Smith

I wonder how may times the above had to say that during his lifetime?


I reckoned I purchased it sometime in the early 70s at OBMs, a book emporium on the corner of Collins and Elizabeth in Hobs. I remember purchasing novels there too – Graham Green, Andrea Newman, Margaret Drabble, Françoise Sagan. It’s long gone now, replaced by an Angus and Robertson and now it’s a chemist franchise. Lord knows where the book is now, but it was my first. As my confidence grew, others followed – but, being my first, it was a bit special.

athol smith stamp

The recent release of a set of stamps by Auspost – Mid-Century Fashion Focus, featuring the cream of the local photographers of the genre at that time, took me back there. One such, Helmet Newton, went on to great world-wide fame and presumably, fortune – renowned for his fine art nudes as well as his fashion portfolios. The others had local renown only. One, Athol Shmith, dabbled in nudes as well. And it was his book of beautiful women I forked out for, probably placing it amidst some other volumes to lessen the embarrassment, back in my uni days. I remember thinking how classy it was compared to Playboy and the other glamour magazines around then. As for the models – he went on to marry three of them whom he captured for public perusal. An extra allure was that they were local lasses. To me the emphasis was on ‘art’ rather than ‘nude’ – or, at least, that’s my excuse. Such publications, I recall, were quite rare back then on the shelves of genuine bookshops.


Today there’s some glorious beauty to be had at the helm of a keyboard, but Mr Smith – sorry, Shmith – introduced me to eye-opening bewitchment, which I engaged with some more on one of my recent trips to Melbourne where the State Library had an exhibition of his fashion prints. Like OBMs, Athol S is long gone. But one can still view his images at various sites on-line – and now we have a stamp in his honour as a lasting tribute.

More images here –

Miss Manhattan

You can find an image of her, in the ether, from when she was in her glorious pomp. She’s there, proudly, daringly and completely naked, arms outstretched, posing for an artist at his easel. Her present day chronicler has called her the world’s first supermodel – a term as applied to her not strictly adhering to our modern definition. But she was famous, her name on everyone’s lips around the equivalent of the water cooler back then. Her propensity for nudity and the depictions of her being so enough to set most male pulses pumping. At the height of her fame one of her city’s daily rags tagged her ‘Miss Manhattan’, an indication of how her star was burning so brightly in the years leading up to and during World War One. There was none brighter in the firmament – yet she went on to have the longest crash and burn of perhaps any celebrity in history.

It wasn’t the aforementioned photograph that first attracted me to her, but one I came across on an Instagram feed called ‘all_thats_interesting’ – photos with intriguing stories attached. Bit of a goldmine, actually, for someone like me. There I found a more demure picture, a portrait, but it took my eye just the same, along with its caption, that ‘World’s First Supermodel’ business. I was immediately most taken and resolved to dig deeper. What I found was a ripping, if ultimately sad, yarn.


Of course the largest statue of a woman in the environs of NYC is ‘Liberty Enlightening the World’. It’s a symbol of freedom and womanhood, better known to us all as the ‘Statue of Liberty’. The sculptor’s mother was reportedly the inspiration. But the second largest is to be found attached to the municipal buildings in Manhattan. It was modelled for by one Audrey Munson and is sheathed in golden robes. Another prominent one sits atop the Pulitzer Fountain in the forecourt of the Plaza Hotel. It features an unclad depiction of the Roman god Pomona and it’s again Audrey. It is estimated that, of the 1500 statues that graced the Panama Pacific Exposition in San Francisco in 1915, a goodly 200 or so supposedly were posed for by, yes, you guessed it, Miss Munson, in various stages of undress. But ultimately, it could be said, that it was the West Coast, not her home in the East, that led to her downfall. Had she not gone West, well, who knows?


After an unsettled childhood Audrey and her mother moved to the Big Apple where the fifteen year old soon found work in the risque chorus lines springing up in entertainment venues all over the city; the novelty being recently imported from Europe and going gangbusters, as exemplified by the Ziegfield Follies. No, she wasn’t plucked from those, just being one of the alluring young lasses all hoping their ‘hoofin’ and ‘bump and grinding’ would lead to fame and fortune. That they would be the one plucked from obscurity. Yes, she was indeed the lucky one, but it didn’t come from her stage work. And she certainly ended up gaining plenty of the fame, if not the other hoped for commodity. Her finding was an even more a clichéd story than that.


Felix Benedict Herzog, it was, who discovered the young Miss Manhattan-to-be. Audrey and her mum were out and about, doing a bit of window shopping, when she was spotted by the inventor, electrician (back in those days the equivalent of being a start-up whizz in these) and camera fancier. Felix, in his fifties, excitedly introduced himself to the pair, engaged in some small talk, complimented Audrey on her looks and deportment before asking if she would consider tastefully posing for him. With her mother’s permission and agreement to act as chaperone the proposal was accepted. For her first session the girl was tastefully draped and Herzog was soon discerning she was a natural, so he introduced her to his circle. It wasn’t long before mother and daughter were being asked to consider Audrey being less well draped. A smooth-taking sculptor asked her to disrobe completely for a work he was planning portraying the Three Graces. He rabbited on about artistic purity and so on to the degree that the mother and daughter agreed. Once that step was taken she was on her way to the notoriety she later achieved. She was soon in high demand and the fact that she charged peanuts (around $15 in today’s terms) for a session aided her popularity.

Herzog knew the traps such a young and vulnerable lass could fall into once she went down the path of posing nude and despite the age difference, he was willing to marry her in order to protect her from those that might take advantage of her. Had this occurred her journey may have been entirely different, but he suddenly passed away in 1912.

When she posed for a fully-armed replica of the Venus de Milo, ordered by Queen Wilhemina of the Netherlands, she cracked the big time as far as being a celebrity of the age was concerned. She was now fodder for the media of the time – her ample figure and vibrant good looks ensured she was destined to be continuously in the public eye, her every move filling the gossip columns. It is safe to say it went to her head a bit. She now determined that she would find the perfect man who would be a suitable fit for her perfect body. That led to an interest in the science of eugenics, well and truly discredited now, but all the rage then.

And then Hollywood, or its pre-WW1 equivalent, came calling. The film industry hadn’t entirely migrated to the area around LA then, still being active on the East Coast. Of course the attraction of Miss Munson was obvious and she was soon participating in the first silver screen nude scene. Pornography had already found moving pictures a vehicle for the salacious, but Munson’s ‘Inspiration’ was meant to be for the general public. But various American church organisations had other ideas, with the movie soon being shut down all over the country. The template was set though. Henceforth the modelling community would be a breeding ground for future stars – and so it remains today.

To get away from all that Audrey Munson decided to make a move to a fresh start on the West Coast. Here she used her fame to become an early advocate of ‘wellness’, also a fad of the age, associated with the fascination for eugenics. Movie offers came in, but it soon became apparent that, although she looked a million dollars on the big screen, she actually couldn’t act. When her film, ‘Purity’, tanked at the box office work, full stop, started to dry up. It was then Munson lost the plot.

Audrey Munson 03

The first indication that something was badly amiss was when she wrote to the US government accusing many in her association of pro-German sympathies because they failed to give her, being of English descent, on-going work. The newspapers had a field day with her when a doctor, living in the same apartment block as she and her mother, committed suicide over his infatuation with her. The infatuation that was unrequited.

It was all too much. Mother and daughter, now struggling financially, fled the city for a small town in upstate New York. There mum went out to work daily, now supporting her daughter who was recovering from her own suicide attempt. She’d thought she’d finally found her ‘perfect fit’ in a man. He rejected her. She took poison. Audrey then seems to have retreated into her own mind, with delusions regarding her past and her present straightened circumstances, making her difficult to live with. Her new community came to regard her, at best, an eccentric, at worst a serial pest stirring up trouble in all quarters. Eventually it all became too much for her ageing mother, so, on the former artist model’s fortieth birthday, Miss Manhattan was committed to a lunatic asylum out of harm’s way up near the Canadian border. There she lived, once the talk of the town, with her horizons now so narrow. She died in 1996. She was in her 104th year.

She would have faded completely from view after that had it not been for investigative journalist James Bone. He cottoned onto her story. With the assistance of some family members and the public record, he pieced together her quite sorry saga for his 2016 publication ‘The Curse of Beauty.’

audrey m

It’s a salutary story, this one of Audrey Munsom. She flew so high but the wrong turns led her astray. But in the ether she remains, as well as on the pages of a book. Consider her tale, be in awe of her beauty and let that take precedence over her troubled mind during her steep descent.

When Amy Met Bryan

Dear Amy. You will be missed forever. All my love.’

She was a troubled rock star. And those troubles saw her join the greats of the 27 Club. Her woes beforehand are well documented and known to those who followed music in the noughties. A friend played me one of her albums back in the day – ‘Back to Black’ I think. It was obvious she was talented, but I didn’t rush out to buy it the next day.

He’s sold 75 million albums in a long career and I certainly shelled out for a couple of them. For me he was second tier – not up there in the stratosphere like Springsteen, Clapton or Morrison (Van), but down a notch with guys like Seger, Petty, Mellencamp and the Eagles. Nowadays, I suspect, to admit you’re a fan of his would be akin to saying you’re a Phil Collins devotee – but I’m old and have no qualms in saying I admire both of them. If others figure they’re naff, I don’t give a toss. And he’s still active in the music world despite now pushing beyond sixty. Why, he even played the AFL GF a few years back – and made a better fist of it than Meatloaf. But this is also one guy who has reinvented himself.


Initially this scribbling was never to be about his music but that reinvention when he entered into the world of a highly professional photographer. And it was that, rather than musical collegiality, that led to what could be considered an unlikely relationship. So unlikely it triggered my curiosity and spun this piece off into another direction.

From the eighties on Bryan Adams was huge musically, but behind the scenes he was working on another passion. His interest in camera-snapping predates his advancement to the top of the charts worldwide. He photographed everything around him as a teenager in the seventies – local scenery, the concerts he attended, even his girlfriend in the bath. At around the same time he was cracking it musically he was honing his skills in this other artistic field and as his star waned entertaining the masses in vast arenas, he realised that he was getting pretty adept with this other string to his bow. So much so that he would never have to rely on the millions he was making from the royalties for ‘The Summer of ‘69’ and his other classic ditties. Of course, his name would gain him access to celebrities willing to pose before his lens – Morrissey staring moodily at his camera in a Rome hotel suite, Dustin Hoffman relaxing on a Malibu beach, Jagger strutting or Pink and Kate Moss happily prepared to pose topless for him. Vogue, Vanity Fair, GQ, Harper’s Bazaar, Esquire have all lined up to commission him for images. Converse, Guess Jeans, Hugo Boss, Jaguar have employed him on print media campaigns. He founded the on-line fashion mag Zoo and has received prestigious gongs for his output. He has published a number of glossy books of his product such as ‘Exposed’ and ‘American Women’. And, just in case you’re thinking he’s a one trick pony, there’s also his poignant take of the damage war does on the bodies and minds of soldiers with his tome on those injured due to the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. It’s titled ‘Wounded’.


There is nothing to suggest the musician/photographer’s connection with Amy Winehouse was anything more than friendship, with perhaps his perceived desire to see her live a better lifestyle thrown in. Adams had a taste for her music and obviously took a liking to her. He captured her unique beauty in several shoots from 2007 on, although it’s a bit of a mystery what drew them together and how close they actually were as mates. Although Adams has never married, he has had long term relationships and has kiddies with his current partner. He is also very reluctant to give too mach away about his connection to the departed singer. In 2008, peeved at being asked the question, he retorted, ‘I don’t even know, truthfully, how anyone knows I know her – other than the fact I photograph her. I don’t really talk about it. Because it’s her business. You know what I mean?’ Later on he had softened a tad. In another interview, when quizzed on the unlikeliness of it, he responded, ‘I think she trusted me. The photographs really show her having fun…I think I was closer to her than many people.’

But They were drawn to you like a moths to a flame

Nobody saw the tears in your silk n’lace

Or the scarred little kid behind your face

She’s an angel, but that’s all right’

Adams could not but help know of Amy’s demons – her battles with alcohol and drugs; her fractured personal life. ‘Amy wasn’t kind to herself,’ he’d later say. In 2007 he wrote ‘Flowers Gone Wild’, a song to purportedly warn her of where she could end up if she continued on without tempering her excesses. That same year he persuaded her to spend some Christmassy time with him in the West Indies sunshine at his digs on the island of Mustique. It was speculated that the invitation was extended as much to help her come clean as it was out of friendship.

bryan adams amy

I’d be sitting in a villa and hear what sounds like a bird flying by, then I’d look out the window and it’s Amy, singing in falsetto, just playing around.’ It seems she was happy there. Adams took her scuba driving and tried to teach her how to drive – thus the image of her peering out from the window of hs Jeep. ‘The concept of braking wasn’t something that Amy could quite grasp.’

In 2010 the photographer shot Amy W for a spread in Harper’s Bazaar. The Canadian songster, a vegan for years, tried to get her to eat some of his variety of tucker. ‘I need protein Bryan.’ was her answer and she sent out a minion to seek some out, asking him/her to bring back a cucumber, as well, to ‘…to hit Bryan with.’


An interviewer had also booked some time with her after she had completed her tasks for Adams. He observed her demeanour throughout and noted that she was very professional and confident to start with, but by the end, had become less obliging and just a tad fractious with the shoot. By the time she got to him she was ‘…distracted and vague. My most straight forward questions confuse her.’ When asked if she had any unfulfilled ambitions she airily responded, ‘Nope! If I died tomorrow I would be a happy girl.’ She didn’t last much longer.

At one stage in her career she informed NME Magazine that, ‘I’ve learned to appreciate simple things, like the beauty of nature. It’s taught me to face my fears…I’ve come to the realisation that life is short, so I want to make sure I live every minute of it.’

She passed, of alcoholic poisoning, in 2011. A posthumous album, ‘Amy Winehouse Lionness – Hidden Treasures’, was released later that year. It went straight to No.1. A Bryan Adams image of her graced the cover.

Dear Amy. You will be missed forever. All my love. RIP. Bryan Adams’

Bryam Adams Photography =

The Manly Sisters

There’s frustration. It’s not overwhelming, just niggling in the background. Events in 2019 have made my usual trips to the mainland not possible. It doesn’t weigh heavily, although there’s people there I’d love to see. Hobart provides ample attraction – but up, up and awaying has been a constant in recent years.

To Melbourne and Sydney, I love those journeys, especially if accompanied by my lovely lady. But this year they just haven’t happened.

In each city I have my favourite galleries. Naturally there are the biggies – the two NGVs and the Art Gallery of NSW. The winter mega-shows at each have been highlights of my forays over time, but I have discovered some lesser venues, in each, that also offer very fine viewings of prominent, if not great, practitioners. It is my habit to wander around these, notebook in hand, to jot down the names of those who catch my eye; that are perhaps worth an excursion to the ether for further investigation.

One of these locations, in Harbour City, is the Manly Art Gallery and Museum. On a sunny day – for a sunny day gives this place extra allure with panoramas from it out across the harbour back to the towers of CBD – it is a joy. The bonus that a trip to there is that it means a crossing on the iconic ferry to the suburb behind North Head – always an adventure, especially if there’s a little roll in the waves. Of course, the whole shebang may well involve a meander up the Corso as well, a beer in a beach side pub and maybe some time watching the passing parade on the golden strand rimming the Pacific. On weekends there are markets too. But I divert. To get to the Gallery involves a turn left as one exits the ferry terminal. Then it’s just simple. Follow the little cove around and the destination will soon be spotted. Usually there are several exhibitions on at any given time to peruse, many featuring members of the art community of the Northern Beaches.

annie day kity-and-klimt-29073362annie day

An example, last year, was the ‘Natural Collection’, featuring the efforts of many print makers from the Warringah Shire. The two names I jotted down from this were Annie Day and Robin Ezra. Their product obviously stood out from the rest for me. To my surprise, when later I went on-line to garner more gen about them, I found out they were sisters. Now I’m not up with printmaking techniques, but maybe some reading this may have a notion as to what waterless lithography entails. The duo are experts in it. It certainly gives stunning results. Both – and they often exhibit together – conduct workshops in the process around the country and further afield.

robin ezrarobin ezra-birdrobin ezra-boobook-owl

Annie has been involved in art since her graduation from the National Art School in Sydney in 1974. She has mostly engaged in portraiture and she’s captured such luminaries as Nancy Wake and Max Dupain in the art form. Bob and Blanche had her on the walls of their former harbour side home. Robin’s lovely stuff tends to focus on the natural world. She delves into painting and graphite drawing as well as her printmaking. Ms Ezra, as opposed to Ms Day, began her career much later and is self taught. Together the two travel to the UK and Italy most years to teach and enhance their skills.


Take a journey through the ether yourself to the sister’s joint website. There are reminders, I think, in their work of some of our local artists here in Tassie. Perhaps that’s another reason my eye was drawn to them that Manly day.

The sisters’ website –

A Thing of True Beauty

You could tell by the slight tremor in his voice, a hint of extra gleam in his eyes that he was excited to be showing me; see how much pride he took in his thing of true beauty. As a whole it was gorgeous; individual items exquisite. It was obviously put together with the utmost of care and respect for each post-carded image. I was gobsmacked and felt very privileged that he took each display panel out of its protective wrapping to show me. I was so entranced by his thing of true beauty that I couldn’t complete the viewing during my first visit. I had to come back another day to see the last couple of captivating sections.

He, like me, is a collector – turning his passions into a business. But with what he showed me my efforts paled into insignificance. Whereas I’m all over the shop, he, in this instance, is specific, narrow and specialised. Therefore his knowledge of the subject is, on the other hand, broad.

I’ve been visiting David’s premises now for several years and it is, as I’ve told him many times, a cornucopia of delights. Philately is my interest but my approach is scatter gun. Nowadays I receive my joy by buying for grandchildren in the hope of encouraging their interest. So far, to my delight, it seems to be working. Over this period of time I have gradually realised that David and I share some interests. He too thrives on beauty in art, relishes an historical tale, particularly involving our island, one often semi-lost with the passage of time. He’s widely read and enthuses about his recent tomes. He’s always up for a chat about my latest interest and confides his to me.

Not sure, though, if the subject matter of David’s thing of true beauty fits the category of being lost in the mists of time. For Raphael Kirchner has left the globe with a lasting legacy. He is well known to collectors with his best, or rarest, fetching a goodly price – and justly so. His product was sublime, appealing to the senses and to one’s notion of muted sensuality. In the Golden Age of Postcards he designed over a thousand of them. His Art Nouveau works, featuring charmingly clad women, were slightly risqué certainly, but tasteful to our eyes. They radiate emphasis on beauty rather than sexuality. Some reflected the Japanese influence on the period in Europe leading up to World War 1. There were representations of women at leisure or engaged in the joys of Parisian life, Kirchner moving to the city after a period in his native-born Vienna. Many of his cards featured, or were based on, the looks of his muse, wife Nina.


Born in 1876, Raphael Kirchner was reportedly influenced by Beardsley as he trained for his future work. He moved to the City of Light around 1900, illustrating for magazine La Vie Parisienne, leading to a lucrative side-earner in postcards.

In 1914 he decided that the Continent was not the place to be for a German speaker and he moved to the USA, quickly establishing himself as a source for the little rectangles soldiers took to war, reminding them of just what they were fighting for, particularly once America entered the bloodshed in 1917. For the purpose Kirchner amped up the eroticism a tad, but sadly he passed away before the guns fell silent, the death having a devastating lasting effect on Nina.


But he’s left us a legacy – and so has she as his inspiration. The term ‘a Kirchner girl’ has been, ever since his demise, a reference for feminine beauty and subtle allurement. As well, his influence on the development of the art of the pin-up was and still is immense. And it’s those wonderful postcards that David at some stage decided garner. Now that his collection is extensive enough he has put together a compilation of panels representing all the stages of Kirchner’s career. These are for exhibition around the country. Viewing them piece by piece in his shop was perhaps not the best way of getting the overall effect, but they still had impact. Putting it together; taking time and patience, would have no doubt been a labour of love. The little he couldn’t do himself he outsourced.


I visit David and wife Kim every couple of weeks at ‘The Coin and Stamp Place’ (Trafalgar on Collins, 110 Collins), often toting in a list of postage items. Rarely does he not have at hand what he needs to service my wishes. I thoroughly enjoy my engagement with what he sells; my engagement with the man himself. I was blessed to see his thing of true beauty. See you soon David.

And you can view his thing of beauty here :-

Fernande of her Time

She’s a bit of an enigma – there’s so much we do not know. But transport Dita von Teese back to that era and that’ll give you a hint of her. It is difficult carrying her life story through in the ether. We are not even certain that what you, hopefully, are about to read is of the one woman, so lost in time are the facts. But below is what I’ve pieced together about Miss Fernande/Fernande Barrey from what there is on-line. She does intrigue and she had a profound effect on the men of her era. As Miss Fernande she tantalised the troops in the trenches during World War One. Then, an erotic postcard of her gave many a soldier a certain kind of warmth as the Hun’s bombs rained down from above. Each picture they surreptitiously passed from one to the other as they fixed bayonets and prepared to go over the top may have been the last glimpse of beauty these guys would see before they headed into the teeth of German machine guns. They probably would not have noted the JA signature in the bottom corner of the card, but JA gave the girl her start. Later, as Fernande Barrey, she rubbed shoulders with the greats of Paris when it ruled the artistic planet. Of course these days access to acres of bare flesh can be garnered with just a few clicks on the laptop, but before the digital age it was not so readily available. One had to go into a newsagent to attain a Playboy or Penthouse. Anything more extreme would be housed in a plastic bag. For something that actually moved on a home screen one had to send away to Canberra or the Northern Territory. But before Hefner, Guccione and the rest, what was the go?

Agelou25 frenande

The advent of the camera in the C19th changed the world of erotica forever. Illustrated likenesses gave way to real women in poses. It was quickly deduced that some real money could be made if a photographer could persuade a young maiden to dispense of her clothing. The likenesses could be printed off in their dozens and sold on the street. It was initially thought that it was mainly prostitutes who posed, but research has shown it was usually the ordinary working class girl who was being cajoled to make some easy money on the side. Then came the post card – and the industry boomed. And the French, including Fernand’s capturer JA, were marvels at it. They turned it into an art form that today’s collectors, with a taste for exotica, are prepared to pay far more than the few centimes the punters of the first decade or two of the century before last forked out for them.

So who was JA? It took a while for us to find out, from what I read, but eventually he emerged from obscurity. JA was Jean Agélou, whom we now know had already established himself in a studio on the Rue Armand Gauthier by 1908. Now that was the same year that the French Government, somewhat taken aback by the proliferation of images of naked female bodies openly available on the streets of France in postcard form, yielded even their reasonably liberal views on the subject and made life a little tougher for those engaged in selling that product. This is despite the fact that it was still legal for girls as young as fourteen to pose in the nude. Many photographers, just to be on the safe side, kept their identities closely guarded by signing just their initials to their work. This now became commonplace because of the new law. And it was the same year, or thereabouts, that Fernande, we presume Barrey, moved from Picady to the capital. If she was the Fernande of later in the story she may have been in dire straits on her arrival as it is recorded she quickly moved into prostitution to get by.

By the end of that year the girl of the night, aged 15, and the photographer, just turned 30, were lovers. It is not known how they came into contact – on the street as she pedalled her wares, in a house of ill-repute or in one of the many cafés for the bohemian set in which working girls circulated, attempting to find a ‘gentleman’ to attach themselves to as some form of security. Whatever, she was soon his bed partner and willing model. Those in the know state that she was with him long enough for them to chart the changes in her body as she moved from youthfulness to a fulsome, mature woman in the years leading up to the Great War.

Agélou had already made a name for himself with his pictures of beautiful women, tastefully arranged in the nude, with his photographs for the periodical ‘L’Étude académique’. Designed initially for artists, with a subscription of over 20,000, it obviously appealed to many more in the community.

But the laws of 1908 saw more explicit material, even if tastefully presented, go beneath the covers – akin to the plastic bags of our lifetimes. Magazines couldn’t carry nude depictions and genitalia had to be erased or covered.


By the war’s end the photographer had moved on to landscapes. His brother, formerly behind the scenes doing the accounts as Jean recruited the girls and photographed them, took over behind the lens. It had all changed. Why? Was there greater money to be made in more family-friendly fare? Did Jean have a change of heart about the nudes now that distribution was effectively underground? Or was there a marked change in his personal life? Fernande continued to step out of her garments for brother George’s camera, so JA was replaced by GA – or was this just another cover? We can speculate, but it’s doubtful we’ll ever know. The brothers did not last long after the armistice in any case. They died, together, in a road accident in 1921.

But we do know that, assuming Miss Fernande is indeed Miss Barrey, that in 1917 she took a new lover. It was a whirlwind romance. She and he met in one those aforementioned boho cafés and married after thirteen days of infatuation. As we are now coming at it from this new fellow’s angle, we do not seem to be certain that this was the same woman who posed for the brothers.

But we’ll assume that it is. Fernande and her lover were decidedly out of step with their times, but certainly not with their clique. Europe of La Belle Époque was most taken by Japan. It was opening up to the West and the West was definitely besotted with it. That is reflected in the art and popular culture of the time. So what could be more with-it than to take a Japanese lover? And Tsuguharu Foujita could paint as well. He was not one who achieved fame after his death. He was no archetype living in a garret. He had it all then and there. His forte of applying Japanese techniques to Western style works caught on – so much so that he could afford to bankroll trips to the South of France for all his mates. There they could paint and earn a pretty centime or two from the burgeoning tourist trade. He associated with all the to be greats – Modigliani, Soutine, Gris, Picasso, Léger and Matisse. Isadora Duncan taught him how to dance. He’d painted Man Ray’s lover, Kiki, in the nude – posing brazenly for him in his courtyard in Montparnasse. The result was a sensation. He was made. Why, he could even afford to install a bath with hot running water, so no wonder lesser lights flocked to be around him. With such largess, he was a catch.


Initially, at that café, she didn’t see much in him. She, on the other hand, left such an impression that he asked for her address. She obviously gave it as he was there on her doorstep the next morning bearing flowers. Fernande invited him in for tea – and in the bat of an eye they were hitched.

But convention wasn’t their thing. The Tokyo-trained dauber and his new muse had what we would term today an open marriage. Both were free to cuckold the other. And they did.

She was still posing for the artists in her set. She did so for Amedeo Modigliani and became close to the Italian’s wife, Jeanne Hébuterne. When her common law husband died prematurely Jeanne was distraught. It was Fernande who did the most to try and comfort her; to attempt to get her through her grief. She was shattered when the young woman committed suicide soon after.


Shadows were gathering over her own relationship. Fernande overstepped the mark when she commenced an affair with her hubby’s cousin, Koyanahi. Taking an unknown new bed partner was one thing, family was another. Foujita fled from her in response like the wind to his own current squeeze, Youki. Knowing nothing of this and fearing the worst, his wife scoured the morgues of Paris for his body. His body was in another not-so-cold place entirely. When he re-emerged, both parties realised it was over. She shacked up with her new Japanese beau; one who turned out to be a stayer, supporting her for the rest of her life. She, too, began dabbling in artistic pursuits, even doing a little exhibiting. Her former husband went on to more fame and adventures around the world, best known these days for his ‘Book of Cats’. Check it out. It’s one of the world’s most expensive tomes to own. A copy will set you back around $80,000.

For the later years with Miss Barrey we draw a blank. We can only assume, perhaps with her looks fading, that she withdrew to a quieter, less flamboyant existence. Her days of posing nude were over, but for her time she was the epitome of the liberated free spirit..

She gloriously lives on in the paintings and the Brothers Agélou images of her. Just as those WW1 soldiers secreted the latter away close to their hearts, we too can view them, if we desire, with a simple Google search. They are charming and of their time – but delectable all the same. With the other women, like Kiki (Alice Prin) and Youki (Lucie Badoul); ones who moved in her orb, there are probably other fascinating stories to be had of lives well led; lives refusing to conform. Then along came wars, power-crazed dictators and hard times to blow it all away.


Inge, the Llama and Marilyn

Sometimes, down a rabbit hole, cruising the Net, you do stumble on stuff you least expect, given your starting point. When I saw the llama, who’d have thought it would lead me all the way to Marilyn? And also to a great love story – not hers, but she’s a part of it.


I hadn’t stumbled across it before, the image. It’s not unusual for me to find a commencement point for a scribbling with an image. Evidently this one, though, is quite iconic in its own right, but it was new to me and caused me to chortle when I saw her. I thought that some contemporary camera-snapper had struck it lucky, but on closer inspection I discovered it had been taken way back in 1957. I didn’t recognise the photographer’s name. Perhaps I should have, for she has since achieved some degree of fame. And it wasn’t a fortunate snap. Inge Morath had set it up as part of her assignment for ‘Life’ magazine.

Seems as though, back then (I can’t imagine that it would be allowed to happen today), there was a whole menage of exotic animals living in the brownstones of NYC. Biggish mammals, like Linda the Llama, were co-inhabiting New York apartments with their trainers. Together they would eke out a living hiring out the trained beasts to movies and television shows. Of course they had to be transported to the various sets around town. Linda’s human did that in the rear seat of his car, with her head poking out the window, taking in the view. ‘Life’ honchos had cottoned on that this unusual arrangement was occurring in the Big Apple; these animals with unusual lifestyles. They commissioned Magnum member Inge Morath to put together a photographic essay of their days in an urban environment. Thus this image caught my eye down the rabbit hole. The story does get juicier, but let’s spend some time with Inge first. How did she come from an Austrian upbringing to be standing in Times Square, with a camera, waiting for a llama?

Born in Graz in 1921, Morath moved to Berlin to study languages, becoming fluent in French and English. That ensured some of her early years were dominated by the Nazis. She saw many horrors that influenced so much she did in later life, being reflected in her product – both with pen and camera. In the immediate post-war years she encountered Ernst Haas, noted fellow countryperson, who was earning a crust with his photojournalism. He, too, as a Jew, suffered under Hitler’s regime. He used the young woman to write the essay accompaniment to his commissioned images. That in turn led to contact with Robert Capa and an invitation to join Magnum, in Paris, as an editor. One of her roles there was to assist Henri Cartier-Bresson as a researcher; he mentoring her growing fascination with the camera. Her writing, she felt, was being hampered by reactions to her German-speaking background. Behind the lens she felt no such hindrance. Initially she used a man’s name to market her product, assisted by the connections she had built up working with a stable of talented camera pointers. Eventually she gained enough confidence to stand up for her gender and market under her own name. So successful was she that, in 1955, she was handed the holy grail – full membership of Magnum. She was one of its first female image-makers. She continued to be in demand, particularly for the photo essay with which she excelled.

All this I found out because of my encounter with Linda the llama. But what came later for this pioneering photographer? A visit to her on-line site allowed me into her world and its many delights. It was liberally laced with haunting images of both Audrey H and Marilyn M. I marvelled at their intimacy. I was especially taken with one of the irreplaceable MM in bed. Further investigation as to its genesis took me to the set of ‘The Misfits’, a film, made in 1960, that promised so much but delivered seemingly only sadness. As well as the blonde superstar, Clark Gable, Eli Wallach and her mate, Montgomery Clift featured on the cast list. Little were the participants aware that it would be the last movie for two of the aforementioned. Clift, Marilyn’s buddy as well, was never the same after it. Marilyn described him as being in worse shape on set than she was – and she was struggling; handicapped by depression and filling her body with chemicals to cope.

morath marilyn

But she was still radiant. Morath describes her as being ‘…marvellous to look at: there was a shimmery, mother-of-pearl quality totally her own…’ Her friendship with with Clift and director John Houston gave her and Cartier-Bresson unfettered freedom on set – but Inge took that to the limit. She soon had Marilyn’s trust, thus the up close and personal snaps we see on-line. Also on set was the great Arthur Miller, writer of the screenplay for the production. Inge thought that the famous playwright would be, on the evidence of a number of his plays that she’d seen, forlorn, distant and austere. She found that he was more the opposite – ‘… a very funny figure.’ Marilyn, of course, was also married to him, but all was far from rosy with their love life. She would disappear for hours to have deep and meaningfuls with him. Inge photographed them doing so in a car on one occasion. The situation could not have been more fraught with Ms Monroe playing a seductive innocent, expected to engage in love scenes with several of her fellow actors.

marilyn misfits

Rebecca Miller, Arthur’s daughter (and wife of Daniel Day Lewis), commented in an interview that Inge’s ‘…pictures are particularly empathetic and touching as she caught Marilyn’s anguish beneath her celebrity, the pain as well as the joy in her life.’

But was there even more going on behind the scenes on ‘The Misfits’? Did the images tell the whole story? It has to be asked for in 1962 Inge Morath married Arthur Miller, not long after he and MM divorced. She, Marilyn, died a few months later. Morath and Miller were together for, from what we can gather, forty largely happy years. She passed in 2002, he three years later. They had two children together, Rebecca and the mysterious Daniel. He had Down syndrome and Miller disowned the little fellow almost immediately, having nothing to do with him for the rest of his life. This placed a strain on the couple as Inge did her best for him. But that is another tale in itself. Apart form that, in their years together the couple had many adventures, either together or as a result of their separate talents.

miller and morath

And Linda led me to all that. Many know Arthur M mainly through Marilyn and certainly nobody could possibly outshine her – back then, even today. Inge was not her and so remains largely in the shadows, but hers is a story worth recounting. From her escape from the Nazis and her dalliances with the stars, she has been accorded a smattering of legendary status as her star ascends in recent times. Just track down the lovely YouTube montage (just enter the two names) of her breathtaking images of the screen goddess on the set of ‘The Misfits’ and you can see why. Thank you Linda, the llama that led to all this.

Inge’s website =

YouTube of Inge’s images of MM on ‘The Misfits’ set =


I found her as I was ambling around an Australian art site on one of my journeys into the ether. She has to be related, doesn’t she? Just hang on a sec while I check out her bio….Yep, she is.

I’ve come out to a few who know me well, but now it’s time to come out to everybody. Yes, I’m one of those throwbacks. I’m owning up to it. I’m a philatelist; a stamp collector. Many would find that sad and shake their heads in derision – that’s why I keep a low profile about it. But I relish my affliction. It’s been in my DNA ever since I was was old enough to first hold my mother’s precious album in my little hands. I was enthralled way back then in the fifties – and now still am. At times, especially in my uni years, I tried to disown it as I perceived it to be a totally uncool diversion, but I soon gave up. I realised I was hooked for life. I’m not sure about making it public but beautiful daughter, I think, has a bit of the bug too and I have great hopes for my granddaughter, the amazing Tessa Tiger. My lovely Leigh’s grandson, Brynner, seems fascinated too. I love buying stamps for them – as they are released from AusPost or from the knowledgeable, affable David at Hobart’s Coin and Stamp Place (110 Collins St).

It will mean much to have someone enthusiastic to pass all those folders of stamps on to.


Now if someone ever asked me what my favourite ever single issue of a stamp was I’d have no hesitation in saying the ‘The Blue Dress’ release of 1990. For some years I used its depiction of a painting featuring a young lady on a beach as a teaching tool with my creative writing students. A large poster of it graced my teaching room. My inspiration for that came in 1991 when prominent author Libby Hathorn edited a collection of stories from some of our country’s leading YA writers – Brian Caswell, Gary Crew, Sophie Masson etc. She asked them to commit to print their take on the girl on the stamp. I used a couple of the stories to motivate my classes before asking them, ‘Who is she, do you think? Tell me about her. What’s her story?’

Turns out writer Libby had more than just an inking about the girl in the picture. It was her own daughter, Lisa, posing for it. The fact that she was on a beach to do so was another selling point for me.

Of course back then I was keen to find out more about the creator of the delightful image. I discovered that the prominent artist of the piece at times hated his job. His love was working on figurative studies of ‘The Blue Dress’ kind, but to fund this he received commissions for portraits, becoming so competent he was even asked to paint the Queen. He turned in quite a beautiful and unusual completed product for this, easily found on-line. His sumptuous figures, mostly gorgeously robed but occasionally nude; sometimes in a home setting, sometimes in the great outdoors, are all quite luminous. His work is instantly recognisable. He was popular with art-lovers from almost the time he took up a brush and had a long career, culminating with his death in 2009.

bd self_portrait

So when I encountered Sophie Dunlop in my wanderings, I did wonder if she was akin to the great Brian – but you already know the answer to that. She was one of his two daughters.


Although Sophie cites her father as one of the great influences on her own artistic endeavours, the Adelaide dauber has chosen not to follow in his figurative footsteps. Still life is the road she travels, having achieved a great deal of success with it as you too may discern if you check her work out on her site. ‘It’s the beauty I see in fruit, the flowers of my local marketplace and in nature that inspire me. I am attracted to distant lands and the exotic. I relish the intricate details and the uniqueness of the subjects I paint.’ I was almost as drawn to her oeuvre as I am to her father’s.


So finding her on-line drew me back to Brian Dunlop as well and that special stamp. I know fully well my darling daughter and the extraordinary Tessa will treasure my collections too when the time comes. It’s a part of me that I’ll be passing on.

Brian Dunlop’s website =

Sophie Dunlop’s website =

Coin and Stamp Place, Hobart =

Peter of the Bay

The exhibition wasn’t shouty shouty like the seasonal masterpieces at our nation’s great galleries, but it did make my in-flight mag as I flew my way to Harbour City. I took note and duly visited. It was, on reflection, somewhat more ‘how’s your father’ to those curated within-an-inch-of themselves behemoths of the annual arts calendar of must sees. But I’m glad this more cobbled together affair I went to on Virgin’s recommendation at the dusty Sydney Museum was on, for I loved it – the possibly deliberate cobbled togetherness being part of its charm for me. Maybe the SM’s curators knew something after all.

It was centred around a couple of in your face canvasses by Brett Whiteley, that raucous demon child of the Australian art scene for a couple of decades late last century. We all know him and his precocious talents, his oeuvre ranging from the bombastic to the banal, the latter coming more to the fore as he sank further into his drug induced stupor.

Lavender Bay has a lovely ring to it, doesn’t it? It’s a small indentation in the Harbour, close to Luna Park and the home to Wendy’s Secret Garden, on my wish list for another visit (Wendy being Brett’s wife who managed to drag herself up out of the abyss of drug-taking – something hubby could never manage).

The Sydney Museum, despite its lack of interior grandeur, is a delightful venue for any showing. Last time I’d spent an hour or two perusing a showing about the criminal underbelly of the city in times past, far grittier and greasier than the tele series based on those same felons that was popular a while back. And now there was this one.


Lavender Bay. It’s not up there with Heide or Heidelberg as an instantly recognised centrepiece for artistic endeavour and the shenanigans of Australia’s art legends – but perhaps it should be. Those curators, at the Museum, did their darnedest to make it so. And yes, Whiteley was the star turn, but it was a lesser known figure whose work fascinated me. He partook of the fun and games at Whiteley’s, but also lived to tell the tale. All gravitated to that rowdy home back in the 70s and 80s – Australian celebs, overseas names wanting a taste of the local wild side of life; as well as the usual hangers-on and wannabes hoping a bit of Whiteley’s bad boy rep would rub off on them.

But, on quieter days, the area and closeness to the icon attracted some with real and lasting artistic chops – Tim Storrier, Gary Shead, John Firth-Smith and Tom Carment. Some of those I encountered for the first time on that balmy Sydney day.

I could do an unhurried ramble around this showing unimpeded by the crush that infects the big galleries when a major is on. There were only a few other souls viewing and I liked that. I could even get up close to the BWs. But for me the day belonged to someone more subdued – almost the antithesis. His name – Peter Kingston.


There was a goodly range of his works there – sketches, drawings and what can only be described as cartoons, as well as paintings. He had a whimsical eye for his corner of the metropolis and its denizens, even including the four-legged variety. There was a focus on the harbour too, with special attention given to the little wooden ferries that once serviced Lavender Bay. I was to read later he fought long and hard to keep these old boats running after the bean-counters demanded they be scrapped. To help remember them by, in their hey-day, we have a hokey film that Shead made with a youthful Kingston starring as a Phantom-like figure engaged in daring escapades, some of it set on one of the venerable ferries. I watched a little of it that day, but it was pretty ordinary. There also remains, though, his lovely drawings and paintings of the small vessels.


Today he is still a feature of the city’s art scene. He has an affinity with Luna Park nearby. He was part of the design team working to refurbish it up until the horrific events of 1979 occurred when six children died in the Ghost Train Fire. It still weighs heavily

Made in Plasticine and cast in bronze, the artist now has turned his hand to making unique chess sets on various themes. There’s one based on Popeye and another, an Aussie comic set with Magic Pudding, Snugglepot, Cuddlepie, Ginger Meggs and Blinky Bill to the fore. There is, too, an ssemblage that he keeps close to his heart in a functioning Ghost Train.


So do go on-line and Google in Peter Kingston’s Artworks, click on images and I assure you that you too will be entranced. The results you’ll find are not flash nor reeking of colour like his mate Whiteley’s. His are toned down, more subtle and detailed. For you see his Lavender Bay wasn’t as brash as that of the more famed dauber. As much as I admire the departed famous one, I’m thankful for that.

More of Peter’s art works =

Sylvia, Charlotte and Aley

I wanted this to be about them, but in the end it was about her. The ether didn’t deliver – and perhaps, for Charlotte and Aley, that’s how it should be. The photo stands for itself.


The State Library of NSW delivered up many pathways to investigate during my visit last year. A winning photograph, on display there for the 2018 Nikon-Walkley, certainly stopped me in my tracks as I perused the entries on show at the august institution. ‘Trapped in the Wrong Body’ was challenging to look at, but that was nothing compared to the challenges in setting it up. In turn, the image-sitters, Charlotte and Aley, were courageous, beautiful and ultimately, compelling.

The shooter, Sylvia Liber, graduated in fine arts in 1994 and began her career in photo-journalism at the Illawarra Mercury. She’s won other awards before, doubling up with two wins for this prize, the second being ‘Deep Love for Dance’ in the Community/Regional section. But let her tell the story of capturing the winning image for the Portraiture section:-

sylvia liber b deep love of the dance

For “Trapped in the Wrong Body”, I hoped to gain a greater understanding of the lives of transgender people. To most, someone’s sex is something determined by biology and gender is entirely separate. For many transgender people their gender identity is the way they feel they should fit into society, and does not align with the sex the doctor put on their birth certificate. I wanted to tell a story in an intimate way through the raw passion and love Charlotte and Aley share for each other. I wanted to push social boundaries in a way that would challenge and educate our community.

The biggest challenge for “Trapped in the Wrong Body” was my lack of understanding. I found I needed to educate myself on the subjects and gain their trust. The girls thought I was gravitating towards tired transgender tropes. I had to try and emphasise how that didn’t ring true in their lives.

It makes me proud to know these stories have the potential to open minds or inspire others in some way by pushing the boundaries. Being able to document these stories in time forever also gives me a deep sense of pride.

sylvia liber

The photographer’s website  =