The Lost Art of Whitework

Parents of newborn babies today know that zipper onesies are very practical, especially those in bold colours and printed patterns that hide the inevitable spills and stains. But spare a thought for previous generations, when it was expected that babies be dressed in multiple fancy garments like those in this layette set, which were traditionally […]

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In Memory of Bridget

In 1873, when shepherding in a lonely valley at Mulla Creek on Kamilaroi Country near Tamworth, 17-year-old Bridget Coleman (1856-1873) was assaulted and strangled. The lock of hair shown here is Bridget’s. Bridget’s brother Thomas, who was minding the sheep with her, discovered Bridget’s bloodied body lying face-down. Alarmed at the sight of her lifeless […]

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Child’s Play and Women’s Work

It may surprise you to learn that dollhouses were not originally intended as childhood playthings. The first examples of European dollhouses, or dockenhaus in German, come from the seventeenth century. Meaning ‘miniature house’, these were intended for adults and served as a physical display of wealth, class, and privilege. In Mother (Dolls House), artist Michael […]

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Sew Like Mother

Imagine her excitement as Narelle Kemp, a young girl from the mining town of West Wallsend carefully unwrapped this Vulcan Toy Model Featherweight sewing machine in the 1950s. It was a gift that brought her much enjoyment, and one that also had an important purpose. On this miniature version of the classic Singer sewing machine, […]

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Up and Down

Drought is not a foreign concept in Australia, particularly for our outback communities. The lack of rain and water leads to more than just issues for the land. Societal, communal, and personal conflicts arise, and are often left unresolved, leaving the taste of dust in the same way that a hot wind during drought does. […]

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Time for Change

In small communities, multi-use spaces are common. Fields become sporting ovals on the weekend, town halls host markets and meetings, and basketball courts double as a learning ground for bike-riders, scooters, and skaters. Art photographer Michael Cook (1968-) has managed to capture this balance of order and chaos in his image Mother (Roller Skating), combining […]

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Wild Horses

Iconic images of the Australian outback or bush conjure up dust, heat and the thunder of wild brumbies. The strike of their hoofs echoing across vast plains and down mountain sides, the epitome of true freedom. In Mother (Rocking Horse), artist Michael Cook (1968-) evokes this same feeling in a comment on family, connection, and […]

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In Memory of Maurice O’Shea

When speaking of his uncle, Maurice O’Shea, the Sydney-based  artist Garry Shead (1942-) shows great admiration. According to Garry, his childhood memories of annual visits to O’Shea’s renowned Mount Pleasant vineyard in Pokolbin in the Hunter Valley recall ‘a cultured man who loathed pretension and arrogance’.  Along with his thick glasses worn to rectify severe […]

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Merry Go Round

The sundial, the earliest device for time-keeping, indicates the time of day by the position of cast shadow from a vertical object. As the sun moves across the sky, the shadow of the object moves, marking the passage of time. In Mother (Merry-Go-Round), artist Michael Cook (1968-) has utilised the placement of the Mother offset […]

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In Memoriam

Against a strikingly empty, yet occupied Australian landscape, art photographer Michael Cook (1968-) has managed to capture the heavy, solemn weight of both motherhood and memory in a poignant moment—looking forward but also static, with the past still in easy view. In Mother (Pedal Car), it is easy to see Cook’s own personal journey reflected. […]

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