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Blood Tree Rd and the Art of Inheritance.

May 28, 2012

You have to be very unlucky not to have had a great-aunt or two in your life. I have had quite a number. My mother did too — the ‘aunts’ of Mangrove Mountain were often mentioned in my childhood. The said aunts (actually my mother’s great-aunts) bought a property (‘Towrie’ on Blood Tree Rd) in 1915 and it has a charming history of flowers, passionfruit and lemons, kookaburras, an Exmoor pony, expert bee-keeping and comfort (not that sort!) for troops in WWII. My mother went there as a schoolgirl for holidays (late ’40s, early ’50s) and I always felt a little envious of her tales of her times there. The aunts (Grace and Claudia Hull) were retired schoolteachers (they had had their own private girls’ school where young girls were trained to be ‘women, wives and mothers’) and were plainly very gentle in their ways. Claudia (b.3rd August 1867) had been a student of Lucien Henry, at the Sydney Technical College (now the National Art School). Henry was a Frenchman who had trained at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris. A family history states that Claudia’s talent for painting when young was ‘outstanding evidence of the inheritance of artistic ability’ without explaining in any way what this means or to whom it refers. (And the inheritance has not come to me). But anyway Claudia could draw a horse and a flower. I don’t know who now has the painting of two horses at play that once graced a wall at ‘Towrie’ but numbered among my mother’s possessions is an oil painting of chrysanthemums by Claudia. The red dust of many years has perhaps dulled the work a little but it still pleases the eye, I think.We like the painted-out bits as a sign of the artist’s struggle.

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