Last week Tony and I were invited by Richard Neville (Mitchell Librarian, Director Engagement) to the vault at the Mitchell Library to film and talk about 3 extraordinary artifacts associated with Newcastle’s history. Firstly, Macquarie’s Chest, one of two commissioned by Commander Wallis in 1819 to curry favour with Govenor Macquarie, such a gorgeous and wacky thing. Built entirely by convicts including original paintings by Joseph Lycett and purchased for $1.4m over 30 years ago. To quote our University of Newcastle’s own Gionni Di Gravio OAM “It’s like a mini museum”. It felt very ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ getting to see it in the flesh (or in wood and brass). Next we checked out Lycett’s Corroboree, one of only 4 Lycett oil paintings that survive. The detail in this painting proves that he must have had a close connection to the traditional custodians and the fact that Nobby’s is in the background connects us all. This painting is one of the most important pieces of art in this country and it was such a privilege to see the original up close.
Finally, Richard whipped out The Wallis album. Essentially this $2m book is Commander Wallis scrapbooking his time in the early colony. It contains originals by both Wallis and Lycett and gives us fascinating insights into the early colony and traditional Aboriginal life. All three of these objects are so unique and without rivals anywhere in the world. I’m so glad institutions such as The Mitchell Library, University of Newcastle’s GLAMx Lab, Newcastle Art Gallery and our own Newcastle Museum and Newcastle Library are preserving these precious objects. I can’t wait to show it all off in the next storiesofourtown.com film which will hopefully be finished by early November.
We thank everyone who is helping to make these films possible. They are beautiful works and we hope will inspire and bring joy to people as we collectively course our way through these challenging times. Documentaries available below
Signing off ’til our next update
Glenn Dormand – Collaborator, ‘Stories of Our Town Project’ aka Chit Chat Von Loopin Stab