The Friends of the University Book Fair and Charles Martin Exhibition
A Mini Book Fair and an Exhibition of exquisite watercolour paintings with all proceeds going towards supporting our University students was launched on Thursday 27 April 2023.
It is a community collaborative initiative of the Friends of the University of Newcastle and the Estate of the late Charles Martin (1945-2023).
How They Support Our Students
The Friends provide student scholarship funds through the sale of books in their University Book Fair.
The family and colleagues of the late Charles Martin, with the help of our UON Curator Gillean Shaw, have organised an exhibition and sale of sixty of his favourite watercolour works, with all proceeds going to the Vera Deacon Regional History Fund.
Charles Martin (1945-2023)
Charles Martin, architect, artist and creator of the digital 3D model of 1825 Newcastle, created in collaboration with the UON’s Hunter Living Histories.
He was a remarkable, yet unassuming, watercourist, and highly regarded as one of the Region’s best, despite never having an exhibition during his life time.
The Making of the 3D 1825 Virtual Newcastle Model
Charles began work on the model in November 2012.
He worked with many historians, surveyors, scholars including the late Russell Rigby, to bring together hundreds of years of records and research documentation together.
By the end of that month (i.e., November 2012) his first attempts made front page news! With a two page major spread in the Newcastle Herald. See: https://hunterlivinghistories.com/2012/11/29/virtual-newcastle-circa-1800-1830-ad/ And the Herald here: https://hunterlivinghistories.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/nch001nher__01dec12.jpg
From August to December 2013 he was employed 2 days per week continuing to add detail and features to the landscape, with special attention to the years 1818 to 1830.
Despite beginning work with two cataracts growing across his eyes, he still managed to create a beautiful and enduring 3 dimensional 1820s landscape model of Newcastle in its colonial period, accurately synthesising thousands of historical images, maps, charts, descriptions and other surviving evidence into a visual splendour.
In February 2014, he provided a presentation on his work to date to the UON’s Coal River Working Party, and provided Mrs Vera Deacon, whose Fund helped provide the financial support of 34 days to get the work done. See: https://hunterlivinghistories.com/2014/02/16/34-days/
Charles made a book for Vera to explain the methodology used in putting the 3D model together from a myriad of historical sources: https://hunterlivinghistories.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/completenewcastle1818-1830.pdf
Charles’ Work on the International Stage
Staff from the UON’s Cultural Collections delivered a presentation at an international digital heritage conference in Brisbane in 2017, and Charles provided us with a set of films which were edited into the “Newcastle in 1825” film on YouTube, the presentations are all on this page here: https://hunterlivinghistories.com/2017/04/17/newcastle-in-1825/
His work again made the Herald Front Page news!
Stories of Our Town
Charles always made his work available to anyone that needed it, the latest was its use in the Wallis and Lycett Stories of Our Town film which recently screened nationally here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ktcu06sy3b0
He was the only person who could have developed this with the funds available because it drew on his architectural training, his artistic talents and his accumulated knowledge of the history of Newcastle.
Charles’ Future Vision
Charles had a vision for this model to be developed further into a 4 dimensional model. That is, to add time so viewers could enter a Time Machine and watch the progressive emergence of the town to a city, as well as recreating what this place looked life prior to the arrival of Europeans, and during the thousands of years as home of Aboriginal people.
However, ironically, time was his enemy. Charles passed away this year after a few years of poor health.
Charles’ Final Wish
In the last weeks of his life he sorted through his paintings to create this collection of some 60 that he considered his best.
His purpose? To offer them for an exhibition with the profits to go towards protecting and enhancing the 1825 digital 3D Newcastle model maintained in the University of Newcastle’s Hunter Living Histories.
This digital 3D model is remarkable. (https://hunterlivinghistories.com/2017/04/17/newcastle-in-1825/)
The Exhibition and Sale was Charles’ last wish; thinking more of how he could support our students through the Vera Deacon Fund, over his own medical care, which was critical and physically exhausting for him.
That is the measure of the man.
Who knows whether his vision can be realised, but for now it is essential that the preservation and enhancement of the model be funded and each purchase of one of Charles’s beautiful paintings will support that as well as providing the purchasee with a wonderful collectable art work and an enduring and tangible memory of this find artist and gentleman.
Charles’ family were citizens of the world and Charles was a proud Novocastrian. Both are reflected in his work.
It was made possible by the cooperation of his family, represented by his first cousin, JOANNA PICKFORD, and her daughter ABRA, and his close friends represented by MERV LINDSAY who supported him right up until the end.
The Vera Deacon Regional History Fund was formally established in 2008 to honour the generosity of the late Dr Vera Deacon OAM and her supporters, to the employment of our students to work on the Hunter Region’s archival treasures through Special Collections, and its GLAMx Lab in the Auchmuty Library. See: https://uoncc.wordpress.com/vera-deacon-fund/ and https://veradeacon.donate.newcastle.edu.au/
We are forever in his debt. He was a wonderful generous and immensely creative man. We will miss him.
Gionni Di Gravio, OAM and Merv Lindsay, Friend of Charles Martin