OTHER LIVES - ALLISON & HANNAFORD
Dael Allison, ‘Fairweather’s
Hannaford, ‘Curio’ (2014)
putting poetry to the task of exploring other lives, other events. With ‘Fairweather’s
Raft’, Allison looks at the life of iconic Australian artist Ian Fairweather (29
September 1891 – 20 May 1974); while with ‘Curio’, Kristin Hannaford
pays homage to the history of women working as taxidermists, naturalists and
exhibitors in 19th Century Australia – in particular, to Jane
Catharine Tost and her daughter Ada Jane Rohu who established and ran ‘Tost and
Rohu’, a taxidermy and curio shop known affectionately at the time as ‘The
Queerest Shop in Sydney’.
‘On the cover
of Fairweather’s Raft a toy-like sailing vessel is adrift
on a glassy ocean, its sail reflected as a shadow beneath the surface – and
beneath the surface is where the reader is led by Dael Allison in this fine
collection. Based on extensive research and a strongly empathic response to
her subject Allison guides with skilful passion through a key period in the
obsessive, turbulent and estranged life of Ian Fairweather (1891-1974) ‘one
of Australia’s most iconic and enigmatic artists.’
Gillian Telford, ‘Mascara Literary Review’, June 2013
'Taxidermy isn't such a daft subject-matter for poetry after all, when you're reminded what metaphor lets us do. But to what degree do we want to compare our poems to museum specimens? At the time, the strange creatures that Jane Tost and Ada Rohu assembled were more than loot: they were intended to encourage a sense of awe and wonder in people far away from the Antipodes, and doubtless they did just that. Now many of them are only a reminder of our own flaws. Are the awe and wonder gone forever, or can we go somewhere else to find them?'
Mary Cresswell, 'Plumwood Mountain', Volume 2 No 1, 2015.
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