Marcus has previously described the Bruny Waste Transfer Station (aka the tip), and even as I write, he’s loading up for a trip. It is a very well-run operation and has the added benefit of a ‘treasure table’ which encourages recycling. Even if you’re not in the market for anything, it’s always worth a look and I’ve noticed that most people give it a quick once over. To date I have managed to ‘step away’.
I have very recently (and unexpectedly) had an Antiques Roadshow moment based on the adage of ‘one man’s trash is another man’s treasure’. Let’s roll the camera back to the summer of 1972. I have always loved a ‘tip trip’ and so was only too happy to accompany Dad to the Orange Rubbish Dump (or whatever posh title it had in those days). He was ‘depositing’ but I was intent on making a ‘withdrawal’. Even then scavenging was frowned upon, and so Dad kept watch while I retrieved a framed picture. I had been immersed in decorating books and magazines which focused on repurposing and was in search of picture frames; what was behind the glass was of little interest. Once home I set myself up on the front lawn and hosed off the layers of dirt revealing a very prettily carved wooden frame. I prised the picture out and pushed it to one side admiring my treasure.
Mum, meanwhile, retrieved the discarded the picture, a watercolour of a harbour scene which she convinced us was of Newcastle viewed from Dad’s home suburb of Carrington. And so it became the ‘Newcastle’ picture. In time the frame would indeed be used in a decorating project and the watercolour would be framed and hang in Mum and Dad’s home. Following their deaths the picture passed to me and when we moved to Tasmania it formed part of a grouping of ‘Newcastle’ works in my studio (for those who don’t know I was born and raised in that City and have a strong interest in its history).
Last weekend I was standing looking at the ‘tip’ painting while waiting for the kettle to boil. Examining it again I realised that the artist’s signature was very clear and, taking note, I hopped online (a luxury not possible in 1972!). ‘M Snape artist’ immediately returned results and I was confronted with very similar works and an identical signature. My man and his subject choice was revealed – not Newcastle NSW but Gosport on the south coast of England.
An email to Richard Martin, an expert in Snape’s life and work, was duly dispatched with a response within hours ‘Indeed, your picture is a watercolour by Martin Snape (1852-1930). He was a very prolific artist working at the latter part of the 19th century until shortly before his death in 1930. He was not nationally known but as a local artist made a living out of painting views in and around his (and my) home town of Gosport.’ Further discussions ensued and the Snape was mailed to England and a new home yesterday. I always liked it, but part of its charm was the story behind it, not necessarily the work. Given that we still have a bedroom of framed works in bubble wrap awaiting hanging space, sending it off to begin a new life seemed smart.
As you probably realise in many of my stories there is a library connection, and so it is with Gosport. In 2009 I undertook a study tour of public libraries/galleries and museums in England which were co-located. I visited Gosport as part of that project. It was one of my favourite integrated facilities and many library friends will have seen photos of different components worked into some of my presentations. Who would have thought?
So what’s taken the place of the ‘tip’ paining on my wall? A Monte Luke photograph of Stanwell Park gifted to us by our friends Sandra and Jeffrey; and yes, there’s a story there too! So it’s now the Newcastle/Wollongong wall which is fair enough as that’s where we moved when we left Newcastle and where I/we spent many happy years.