American Modernist painter Georgia O'Keefe wrote about the importance of taking time to see. I have particularly enjoyed this quote as it reflects my own thinking about the time it takes to draw, and the value in taking that time.
Recently I have spent much time in the bush here in Central Victoria in search of indigenous flowers that have edible roots. They are all plants that flower in the Spring, and many have been nominated by the local Dja Dja Wurrung people as important to them. Most of the flowers are incredibly small. They take time to find and are easily overlooked by those of us not attuned to their importance and the bush generally.
I have been researching for an exhibition planned for November 2018 (part of the Regional Centre for Culture and supported by a grant from Creative Victoria) that explores the early history of the building that we now call Dudley House in Bendigo. This 1858 brick building is one of the oldest public buildings from Goldrush era Bendigo and was built as home and residence for Surveyor Richard Larritt - the man responsible for the layout of central Bendigo.
On learning about the history of the building I wondered who washed Mr Larritt's socks? If it was his residence there must have been a woman somewhere? Sure enough after a little research I found that Mrs Larritt did indeed live there too. All but forgotten and no doubt dismissed as not having any role Mrs Larritt is almost entirely absent from the history of Bendigo. Her story at Dudley House is one of optimism. As a new bride Maggie Larritt was establishing a home and also gave birth to the first of five children (a daughter) in June 1859. While there is much of her story I can never know (such as why the birth notice was listed twice two weeks apart) I am sure there would have been the usual shock and excitement that comes with a first child.
Yet Maggie's is also a migrant story. Sandhurst as it was then known, would have been muddy and rough. Maggie's transition to motherhood would have been tainted with sadness as her own mother was on the other side of the world. Dja Dja Wurrung land was not home - it's people who did understand the land and its rhythms were misunderstood by the new migrants.
From the vantage point of 2017 I wonder if Maggie enjoyed the local 'wild flowers'. Was she aware of them? They are so small. And it seems most of the new migrants didn't give the flowers time.