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Hello, and welcome to my art blog from Tasmania, Australia. I've spent time as a plant geneticist, teacher's assistant, painter, glass artist and book illustrator. I'm usually in the studio, the classroom or the lab. If you'd like to see more, please try the links to my folio page or email me at silvergumstudio@yahoo.com.au. Thank you!

Friday, September 27, 2013

Nutcote

Nutcote
Last weekend I was in Sydney and was lucky enough to visit Nutcote, the former home of Australia's beloved author/illustrator May Gibbs (1877-1969).

May is best remembered as the creator of the gumnut babies Snugglepot and Cuddlepie, as well as Bib and Bub and a host of other botanically-inspired characters such as the big bad banksia man. Visiting the house gave me an insight into her character, boundless enthusiasm and work ethic.  She was a prolific artist who produced magazine covers, political cartoons, children's comic strips and numerous books. Unusually for her time, she smoked, drank, drove a car, didn't marry until she was 42, supported her husband financially, and remained childless - although she had a succession of dogs, mostly Scottish terriers. Her home was a plain, no-fuss affair designed to maximise space for creativity and chat and minimise cleaning! She bequeathed the royalties of her Snugglepot and Cuddlepie creations to two charities, who have benefited greatly from them, as the books have never gone out of print.

How to get to Nutcote
Bib and Bub by Peter Kingston
If you want to visit Nutcote, the easiest and nicest way is to catch a ferry from Circular Quay, cruise past the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge, hop off at Neutral Bay and walk for about five minutes. There's no parking at the house. I wasn't allowed to take photos inside, but here are photos of the exterior of the house and Peter Kingston's sculpture of gumnut babies Bib and Bub in the garden. The sign on the kennel reads: 'Bark and come in.'

2 comments:

  1. Gay, you were so close to Newcastle!
    I too loved the May Gibbs stories as a youngster and the illustrations are wonderful but like many children 's book authors such as Enid Blyton, there was a less well known side to her. Nut cote was where she entertained members of the New Guard, the right wing paramilitary organisation led by Captain De Groot the man who pre empted the opening of the Harbour bridge. You illustrators are an interesting lot. :) thanks for your kind words about Buster by the way.

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    1. Carole, I was going to say that perhaps spending so much time writing about gumnut babies had an adverse affect on May's political judgment, but your comment piqued my curiosity and I looked up the latest on Enid Blyton! She certainly has been 'bashed' for decades. Her daughter Imogen's autobiography painted her as malicious and self-serving, and her work has been reviled as well as revised to erase race and gender stereotypes (and even references to spanking) that were quite typical of her era. Given that people tend to devour books and films that confirm their own views of the world, I often wonder why popular authors come in for such a bashing when the world moves on - I'm sure there's an element of glee in their downfall. And I've noticed that our society seems to judge female creators of children's literature (as well as mothers) particularly severely for failing to be squeaky clean, morally and politically. So I guess I'll stand up for them instead and say they were imperfect human beings - but what did we really expect?

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