2022, so sad to read an early poetic mentor, John Sprot Ryan (University of New England) died (3/7/22). John was an early academic supporter of my poetry, and for this I owe him an immense debt of gratitude, as expressed in the following tribute:
John Ryan and I
(John Sprott Ryan, Emeritus Professor of Folklore and Heritage, University of New England)
While others would be in a much better position to talk of John Ryan’s academic work and expansive scholarship, I am in a unique position to reflect on a poetic mentorship from him over five decades.
I had first met John Ryan in 1968, as an emerging poet with a New England connection, having been a student at Armidale Teachers’ College (1960 -1961), to return there (as lecturer, Science Method), 1968 – 1971 inclusive.
My first wife was studying English Literature at the University, and part of a John Ryan fan club (of female students). The young male students, perhaps out of envy had called him ‘Jungle Jim’ (I had assumed in a ‘me Tarzan, you Jane’ sense), in fear of him swinging down from the tree tops on a jungle vine to sweep away their girl, and as a young man I was very conscious of the magnitude of his attractive field. John Ryan, however, was much more articulate than Tarzan. He told me the more prosaic story of this nick-name on (a 2002) car trip from Armidale to Lismore (for his Southern Cross University launch of my Anthology).
Another delightful story of his impact on north coast lads (at Wright College, where he was some form of resident tutor) in the early days was old to me by the lady who ran the Belleview Riverside Motel at Macksville (and previous student of John Ryan).
He had apparently given some farm boys a concentrated blast on language and grammar and the like, implying they were lacking in this department. During the night these practical young men had built an internal brick wall outside the (internally opening?) door to his College room (with no details of the foundations of said wall supplied). I can only assume there was some considerable surprise in the morning when John Ryan had opened his door.
* * *
I had been introduced to John Ryan at some social function (most probably by Gwen Kelly). My first impression was that he talked incredibly fast, as if there was so much he wanted to say about so many things. There was no doubt he was a remarkable and a ‘different’ man, truth-telling, eccentric, intense and passionate, whom I had later dubbed as ‘master of the lost phrase and obscure chapter’, as he’d read so many books and seemed to have remembered all of them, and had an incredible collection of dictionaries (standing from floor to ceiling) in one of the main rooms of his house.
Sometime later I had been talking to him of poetic flowering in a corridor at the University, while waiting for my wife to finish a lecture. It was a cold night, and he had invited me into is book-lined study to continue our talk, when at one stage he had slumped back in his chair sighing, ‘I wrote sonnets as a child’. His study was incredibly intimidating for one who’d grown up in a house without electricity or books at East Wardell, and all of his ‘books/heavy with words/lurched from the shelves/that I should dare to write another line’.
I was later to learn John Ryan was first-generation tertiary educated (from the Otago region in the South Island of New Zealand). He did his first degree at the University of Otago, New Zealand, followed by a MA at Merton College, Oxford, under the supervision of JRP Tolkien (and had walked in those hallowed grounds with the creator of Middle Earth).
He may have sensed some kind of poetic spark in me, as he had been kind and encouraged me in those early days. As part of his early ‘support’ he had recommended a version of one of my early poems, ‘The Flowering Cherry’ (that became ‘The Cherry Tree’), be published in The Northern Daily Leader (Tamworth), 21 November 1970.
At a subsequent function at Wright College he’d shown me some of his Melanesian art treasures, including one containing images of missionary’s umbrellas. When I showed him my ‘Eileen’ poem he was concerned my reference to ‘blue’ treasures was not to be interpreted as something less savoury, but I assured him it was a reference to the colour preference for collecting of the male satin bower bird (as spelt out in my notes in New Collected Poems (Kardoorair Press, Armidale 2012).
When he’d arranged for Judith Wright to talk at the University I went along in great anticipation, to be disappointed she did not talk about poetry, but some new-fangled notion of ‘conservation’, an awakening for me. The scion of far north coast pioneers had been raised with the adage that ‘if it moves, shoot it; and if it stands still, ringbark it’, in the belief that the wilderness went on forever, and magically regenerated like the ‘magic pudding’.
* * *
Back in the Big Smoke and without networks, I was having considerable trouble having individual poems published. A psychologist friend had seen an advertisement calling for submissions to a proposed Anthology of Female Verse. Had I suggested bringing out an Anthology of blue-eyed poets (or vice versa) there would have been justifiable screams of outrage. As one who had recently worked on gene mapping of the chromosomes of Drosophila (fruit fly) at university it was my understanding that both eye colour and gender were phenotypic expressions of an inherited genotype (and I suspect my later critics, if not influenced by dogmatism, may not have even understood this scientific argument).
My ‘Eileen’ poem, deemed to be sufficiently androgynous, was duly dispatched (as a kind of social experiment, as Henry Handel Richardson had done with Maurice Guest, to see if they could distinguish between male and/or female writing). When Kate Jenning’s Mother I’m Rooted finally came out in 1975 (with my ‘Eileen’ poem in it), what had been perfectly OK for George Sand and Henry Handel Richardson was suddenly not OK, and a very bad career move at the time for a live white male trying to become a poet, and I was sin-binned (cancelled) in certain quarters for two score years and more, before my poetry ‘career’ had even got off the ground.
John Ryan was overseas when my ‘Eileen’ poem was published, but was later to publish my essay, ‘The Botanic Verses: and Problems of Sexual Tolerance, 1789 to the Present’ (that covered this and other matters, from the time of Erasmus Darwin and the romantic poets and forbidden words), Australian Folklore, No 10, July 1995.
* * *
He had responded positively to my first book of poems, Banyan (Woodbine Press, 1982) when it came out, and had later included me in a Seminar on the ‘Poetry of New England’ (early 1980s), where one of his students, a young man called Robert James Smith (of Yarrahappini, later Associate Professor, Southern Cross University), spoke ‘positively of my poetry’. I had been unable to attend this seminar at the time, because of extreme overwork at the Gardens, but Gwen Kelly had been there and had reported back to me.
John later wrote an effusive ‘home town’ review (The Armidale Express, 18 April 1986) on the publication of my first novel, Liberty, Egality, Fanternity! (Woodbine Press, 1984). When I had called in to pick up a typed version of this review (before email), he had given me a guided tour of his second two-storied brick house built on his town block (just along from Elm Avenue, on the way to the University) to help house his ever-growing collection of books. He positively reviewed subsequent books as they came along (in Education, UNE Convocation Bulletin and Alumni News, Australian Folklore and other outlets), and he and his wife, Susan Mason, reviewed Cedar House (under the title ‘If I were a Carpenter and You Were a Lady’) in Australian Folklore, No 17, November 2002).
He had earlier asked me to write a piece on the plant lore of the far north coast of New South Wales, resulting in my essay ‘Paradise Lost: Plant-lore on the Far North Coast of New South Wales’ (Australia Folklore, No 9, July 1994), the first of a series of essays as published in this Journal: including ‘Lord Nelson’s Daughter and her possible descendants in northern New South Wales’’, No 11, July 1996), ‘Oliver Bainbridge: an Unacknowledged Casualty of the Death of Empire’, No 13, September 1998, ‘The Poetry of Place: Poetic Foci in the Sydney Gardens and Domain’, No 15, August 2000, and ‘Chincogan: Muse and Mountain of a Mullumbimby Childhood’, No 16, October 2001).
At my Armidale (2001) launch of Lionel Gilbert’s biography of Gardens’ Director, J.H. Maiden, The Little Giant, I had acknowledged John Ryan’s support over many years, and he later told me this had helped him navigate some local politics of that time. He then wrote an expansive Introduction to my Anthology (Kardoorair Press, Armidale, 2002), and officiated at both the Armidale and Lismore Campus (Southern Cross University) launches of this book (and at Lismore one of his ex-students had failed to grasp this was John Ryan doing the actual launch).
His Tales of New England came out (2008), under my imprint (Woodbine Press). Sadly my second book of poetic memoirs, The Melancholy Dane (Woodbine Press, 2006, with its Armidale interludes), had not then impinged.
His last act of kindness towards me was to write an Epilogue for my New Collected Poems (Kardoorair Press, Armidale 2012), and I owe him an immense debt of gratitude for his early academic recognition.
John Ryan was the Real Thing, and an incredible man and I am so saddened to hear of his death, and pass on my sincere condolences to Susan and his boys Thomas and Matthew, and would like to finish with a reference back to his days as a young university don in the ‘Eileen’ Poem:
JR, bachelor, PhD,
(whom I grudgingly admire)
Professor of Literature, traveller,
master of the lost phrase
and obscure chapter, collector
of old books and young women,
entertained me in his bower
in the glory of his plumage
and the scatter of blue treasures,
when he slumped back and sighed –
‘I wrote sonnets as a child’.
The books, heavy with words,
lurched from the shelves that
I should dare to write another line.
Edwin Wilson (Poet and Painter), 10 July 2022
2022, July, received my copy of The Nelson Dispatch (Journal of The Nelson Society (UK)), Vol 14, Part 6, Spring 2022, with reference (p. 381) to my posting of a summary of my Oliver Bainbridge work on this Website (and of [our] family’s [purported] connection to the Nelson family, subject to ‘his fascinating 2017 book ‘Lord Nelson, Uncle Oliver and I’, [as] reviewed [The Nelson Dispatch] in Vol 12, Part 12′.
2022, June, as part of an on-going attempted consolidation of my poetic legacy, I posted an updated and tweaked electronic edition of Long-Distance Poet II (with Index of Names) on this Website (for future scholars who may wish to study the Australian Poetry Wars (and Gender Wars) of the late 20th Century).
2021, 24 December, article posted by David Lowe on electronic version of Echo, ‘Poet’s Tree at (East) Wardell Recognised’ (with some photographs).
Ballina Council (on a proposal introduced by Councillor Sharon Parry at her last meeting) supported the erection of [the] bronze plaque for my Poet’s Tree at East Wardell, subject to the tree being listed on (Council’s) Significant Tree Register. It is my hope that this tree will become a place of visitation for family and friends, and a wider circle of people who like my poetry, and as such become an important part of the local community.
2021, December, while still very much in ‘plaque mode’, I have now installed separate plaque (for Oliver Bainbridge) at Oliver Bainbridge’s grave at Rookwood Cemetery in the lead-up to the Centenary of his death (10 April 1922).
2021, August, plaque (for Poet’s Tree) at hand, looks slightly larger than it is in reality as closer to camera.
2021, July, in an attempt to try to consolidate an artistic (poetry and painting) legacy I had commissioned a small brass plaque, 24 cms x 30 cms, to attach to the northern most banyan tree (my Poet’s Tree, planted (1968) at the historic site of the first wharf built by my great grandfather at East Wardell, before there were any roads), now squeezed between the river mangroves and the widened road, and could be accessed by boat one day.
The tree may be found growing close to the road (on the RHS of Blackwall Drive (old Pacific Highway)), about 1.8 kms south of the Wardell Bridge. Now that the highway has been moved to the western side of the river it is much safer to stop and view this tree.
Q: Why did my great grandfather not cross the road at East Wardell in the early days?
A: Because there were no roads at the time.
I had first seen the Lord Howe Island banyan trees at the end of 1962, and my tree was planted in 1968.
My first book of poetry (1982) was called Banyan.
My (2020) Family History, Family Tree: Old Friends, Rich Relations, had the same image of the banyan tree on its cover as had been used for Banyan, symbolic of my ‘family tree’ (with a photo of myself in front of this tree in 2004 on p. 60, and one of Jim in front of his tree).
As part of my ‘Last Tango at Wardell’ (between ‘legacy’ and ‘oblivion’) I had commissioned (from Beckinsales Monumental Masons, Lismore, now completed) a black granite stone (To match Tidge’s stone, for my ashes, see image below) for the ‘Wilson’ line of the Wardell Cemetery, next to my uncle Jack (John Thomas Wilson), from the only serious poet to have come from East Wardell. A smooth river stone has been selected to be pinned on top of this stone, after the style of the ‘Toches ‘Touch’ Stone’ in Tockholoes Cemetery (Lancashire), where my mother’s father’s people come from. It is my hope that the Wardell stone (and this banyan tree) may be visited by family and friends, and people who like my poetry.
Before he died my brother Jim had told me he wanted a stone at the Wardell Cemetery, but didn’t do anything, so I have included him (plus my first child, James Richmond Wilson) on my stone. I organised my stone to save my family the worry and the expense, and to have some input into the design, and to increases the odds that it actually happened.
My epitaph is a slight variation on one published on p. 55 of New Collected Poems:
WALK SOFTLY IN THIS SCENTED SPHERE
A POET’S ASHES SCATTERED HERE,
THAT WE COME FROM THE DUST OF STARS
AND NATURE IS GOD’S AVATAR –
TO CALL A KINDRED SPIRIT HOME,
AND BLEST BE ALL WHO TEND THIS STONE
Ballina Council have approved the details of this stone, not to be erected until I have actually died.
Gag by Bill Stott, whom I met on a plane once coming back to Australia.
* * *
2021, had letter published in Sydney Morning Herald (on the topic of ‘What school did you go to?’) to give a subliminal reference to ‘Mullumbimby’ while the exhibition was still on: ‘As a gum leaf in Sydney in the 1960’s I was frequently asked ‘what school did you go to?’ by young women at parties, wqho, clearly considering me not Mosman material, usually walked away when I said ‘Mullumbimby’. So after that my answer had always been Lower Wombat Rural School’, 15 March 2021. My writer ancestor, ‘Oliver Bainbridge’, had been born at Upper Copmanhurst, just down from Wombat Creek. In fairness to Mullumbimby the ‘Lower Wombat’ was more probably East Wardell (with no wombats there when I was a child). An alternative answer to the original question was ‘the University of New South Wales’, to send them away with a flea in their ear.
2021, Solo Exhibition, ‘Mullumbimby Revisited’, at Artarmon Galleries Sydney (20 February – 13 March), opened by Art Critic John McDonald, 23 February 2021 (and extended to 20 March, after the John McDonald review, with twenty (20) paintings sold).
2021, very positive review on ‘Mullumbimby Revisited’ (in the context of the closing of Artarmon Galleries) in the Sydney Morning Herald, by John McDonald, 6 March 2021 (see ‘Ripper Reviews and two Literary Blunders’).
2020, December, copies of Family Tree: Old Friends, Rich Relations received.
2020, 18 November, my episode of Hard Quiz (as a poet and painter, special topic: Australian Native Epiphytic Orchids), was featured on ABC TV. My story of catching a fart in a vegemite jar as a child is told in more detail in The Mullumbimby Kid.
2020, September, copies of Stardust Painter Poet II received.
2020, 18 September, deferred Investiture OAM, NSW Government House.
2020, 20 August, a very positive mention by Bruce Daniel, artist, in his Blog ArtistsonArt (attached):
2020, 26 February, submitted what I thought to be a powerful ekphrastic poem, ‘The Scream’, to ‘The Shadow Catchers’ (Red Room Company) to be potentially read as part of an exhibition at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, written on viewing ‘The Photographer’s Shadow’, by Olive Cotton and thinking about Diogenes (as one does, in the context of my recent cancer diagnosis), now posted on this Website. This poem was passed over (early April) for a poem of apparent Feminist Orthodoxy, ‘I Grew Up A Shadow Girl, With A Man Outlined Inside Me’. How can a mere male possibly compete with that?
2020, 19 February, received my inscribed copy (by courier) of my ‘Big Brass Mug’ from Melbourne (to prove it was not all a figment of my imagination). Photo below (of self, losing weight, with Mug and T-Shirt from Hard Quiz episode, ‘I Caught a Fart in a Vegemite Jar’)
2020, 26 January, listed for an OAM for services to the ‘visual arts and the community’. In 1980, from the time I first went to work at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Sydney, I had built up the Division of Community Relations, starting from scratch.
2020, 15 January, phone call from Kate’s father, who did not seem to be too nervous about costs, to say the ‘Lake Eyre’ matter would be raised at a committee meeting in a couple of weeks time. It would seem that a time for action on this matter had arrived (that now all seems so long ago, and swamped in world-wide Covid 19 Pandemic Wave).
2020, meanwhile I had expanded my piece to more than 2000 words to make it slightly more ‘literary’ and reflecting on ‘climate change denial-ism’, and submitted it to an essay competition at the Australian Book Review, with a slightly revised title, ‘Real Action to Help Mitigate Australia’s Climate Problems: God and the Gift of Rain’, sent 10 January 2020.
2020, when out daughter came back from the fires in early January she read this Lake Eyre piece, and sent it off the her friend Kate (who had been with them on New Year’s Eve) in Canberra, as her retired politician father was to set up a committee to look at ways of mitigating climate change. One potential big plus for such a scheme would be the potential of future employment of displaced coal miners, as our country (the world)
2019, New Year’s Eve, with our daughter and her family trapped down the South Coast (with two other families) I declined to watch the Sydney fireworks and sat at my computer and belted out a piece, ‘Real Action to Help Mitigate Australia’s Climate Problems’, about digging a canal from Spencer Gulf to Lake Eyre (having first transported all the salt to the coast for future sales) to flood this area and help increase rainfall in south eastern Australia (something discussed with Alex Ritchie and Mary White in the 1970 when I worked at The Australian Museum (Sydney)), suggesting the Federal Government set up an expert committee (of geologists, hydrologists, metereologists and the like) to map, review and report on this proposal (fully aware that it would cost zillions, spread over many yeas but the cost of inaction would be even greater). As evidence of increased rainfall Mary White had recent fossils of Brachychiton leaves, and the fruit of eucalypts and casuarinas from the Lake Eyre region. Rainfall in western NSW could be checked against the times when Lake Eyre had been flooded (from northern innundations from cyclones). This piece was sent off to the Sydney Morning Herald, ‘Opinion’ (1 January 2020), with no results.
2019, as a sort-of ‘distraction’ I flew to Melbourne last Friday (6 December 2019) to film an episode of ‘Hard Quiz’, a TV blood sport mixing humour with (special subject) erudition. As a joke I had originally requested the special topic of ‘The Poetry of Edwin Wilson’, saying tongue-in-cheek that I was an authority on the subject (which I am), and being prepared to suffer a degree of ritual humiliation in an attempt to raise the profile of my verse. The production team must have liked my application as they emailed back to ask if I could go with my second choice of special topic, of ‘Australian Native Epiphytic Orchids’ (something I had been interested in since childhood). I had also suggested ‘The Life and Death of Oliver Bainbridge’, but we settled on orchids. Several months ago I went to the Sydney auditions, where a group of about 30 was cut back to about 16 people. It was a night of mayhem and ‘Tom Foolery’. I had done a fair bit of swatting and did not embarrass myself too much, and as about three people will read this ‘post’, for what it’s worth I actually won! The show (Series Five, Episode No 34), has been rescheduled to go to air on the evening of Wednesday 18 November 2020.
2019, 21 November, following some on-going health issues, the results for a Prostate biopsy came back positive. A subsequent pet-scan has revealed that the cancer has spread to the pelvic area, an into the lymphatic system (and the blood), and one cluster is too close to the lower aorta for radium treatment. I have decided not to have hormone treatment or chemotherapy, opting for ‘quality’ rather than ‘quantity’ of life, as my brother Jim died of prostate cancer, aged only 69, and suffered chemotherapy (chemocide), which knocked him out for three weeks of every month, for a few more months of extra life.
2019, 7 November, opened ‘Small Treasures’ exhibition at Artarmon Galleries, with three of my own paintings hanging in very good company (including Julian and Will Ashton, Roy Crooke, Donald Friend, James Gleeson, Elioth Gruner, Fred Jessup, George Lawrence, Thea Proctor, Lloyd Reese, Roland Wakelin, Brett Whiteley, Eric Wilson, and many more), and read my ‘Psyche (Poem) Fragment’ as part of my presentation. Philip and Julie Brackenreg had asked me to talk of growing up in Mullumbimby after the war, and Where did the Art (both Poetry and Painting) come from?
The actual talk was a much shorter more colloquial version of the following posted ‘essay’, with a couple of jokes:
Edwin Wilson, ‘The Mullumbimby Kid’: Where Did the Art Come From?
I was a posthumous ‘nowhere’ child, born during the war into an isolated farming community (near the hamlet of East Wardell, consisting essentially of the one shop), on the far north coast of NSW, who grew up against the odds to be a painter and poet.
We had lived a solitary life in a fibro cottage in a sea of weed, with no running water or electricity. My father had died unexpectedly before I was born. His ‘rank or occupation’, as listed on his death certificate, was ‘tractor driver’. Not an auspicious start to an artistic life. My antecedents had been soldiers (Rum Corps), a First Fleet Sailor (from the Sirius), a Danish absconder (Boat Person), an Irish Potato Famine orphan, and convicts, who went on to become emancipist farmers and fishermen, and not big on high culture, as the local French farmers had not understood why Monet had planted flowers at Giverny instead of cabbages.
There was one exception on my mother’s side of the family tree, a mysterious ‘wandering bard’ who wrote under the pen-name of ‘Oliver Bainbridge’. I’d grown up with tall tales of this man, billed as ‘traveller, explorer, orator, writer, lightning-sketch artist, self-styled ‘anthropologist’ and Ambassador for Empire’, who had come to a sticky end. There is no doubt however that this man had been a role model, for so totally unintimidated by the weight of literature I had had to gall to imagine that I too may become a poet when I grew up (not even properly understanding what this meant, when before the electronic age I was more likely to be kicked to death by a mule back on the farm than be a published poet).
My mother had remarried when I was five, and I started school at Brunswick Heads at the end of October. The following year (after having spent about a month in Kindergarten) I had been moved into a composite class, with grades 1,2,3,4,5 and 6 all in the one small room, with the one teacher, where we wrote on slates. The big kids absolutely hogged the show, and I don’t remember learning very much at all.
We then moved to Mullumbimby (or Mullum) for the formative decade 1948 – 1958 (from the age of 6 to 16). Mullumbimby was also isolated in those pre-TV days, but incredibly beautiful with luxuriant rainforest pockets and lovely female hills (after the flatlands of East Wardell), with its own guardian Muse and ‘mountain’, Chinny or Chincogan.
At the age of eight my mother nearly died and was in Lismore hospital for three months on a drip, and took a couple of years to recuperate, when I ran wild and free, which severely disrupted my early primary schooling. Not that I was unhappy as a ‘Tom Sawyer’ barefoot child in hand-me-downs as I knew nothing else, and was close to nature, and captivated by the beauty of wild parrots and the native orchids hanging from the trees, and went on to become a mad-keen orchid enthusiast.
As part of my survival in this ‘urchin’ phase I had become a fisherman, and caught mud crabs in the river and cooked them in a pot on the old fuel stove, and sold them at the local pub (in the 6 o’clock swill) for 3 shillings (30c) each. This taught me resilience and how to graft, and I learnt the art of haggling at the local fruit mart to get a week’s supply (of fruit and vegetables) for ten shillings (one dollar).
There was not a lot of ‘art’ in all of this, however, with no original paintings hanging on the walls of friends or relatives, and I had no idea of the existence of Art Galleries or art shops.
That is, apart from my Wilson grandmother, who had an original oil painting (by local artist Clarrie Leeson) hanging on her farmhouse wall (that she’d won in a school raffle, and this same grandmother had kept some of my early pre-school pencil drawings). In an era of very few colour images, this painting (most probably Mitre Peak, New Zealand) had absolutely fascinated me. I’d originally thought it had something to do with Denmark and my sailor great grandfather, not knowing that Denmark, like East Wardell, was rather flat.
* * *
In upper primary school there were some coloured prints of Australian paintings on the walls. I particularly remember ‘Spring Frost’ by Elioth Gruner, because the man with pink ears going out to bring in the cows reminded me of my grandfather.
These prints had been produced by a certain John Brackenreg (of Artarmon Galleries, Sydney, and painting companion/friend of Gruner), who had married a girl from a farm near Kyogle (near Mullumbimby), and must have distributed these prints on one of his trips up north. When I first saw the original (1962, Art Gallery of NSW) I was amazed at how large it was.
In 1953 I went with my mother by bus to visit her aunty who lived in Brisbane. At the Queensland Museum I had run around like a mad thing, and saw New Guinea clay-mummies and Bert Hinkler’s plane hanging in a void. Done that! What next?
The Queensland Art Gallery just happened to be next door. The kid who had no idea of the existence of Art Galleries was overwhelmed by a glowing radiance. In hindsight I believe I had stumbled upon the travelling Art Exhibition, ‘French Painting Today’ (that I later read had inspired a young William Robinson), a big turning point in the direction of my life as well.
So totally unaware of all constraints, and the crushing weight of a world of art, I now thought I’d like to be a painter when I grew up (as well as a poet, having written my first poem, ‘My Bike’, the year before).
And if I was going to be a painter I assumed I’d need to paint, so with an eye on the longer game I used some crab money to buy a posh watercolour paint set for 8 shillings (80c = x3 crabs less 10c), much to the admonishment of my mother who said it was a terrible waste of money.
Undeterred, and with no tuition whatsoever, I started to paint, including a profile of the young queen in her Coronation year, which I put in the window of my room, facing out, so the neighbour could see, to my mother’s second admonishment.
Art classes in upper primary had consisted of the most basic of instructions, with a vase of flowers plonked on a front table, when I went on to paint Chincogan (many times), as Cezanne had painted his beloved Mont Sainte-Victoire.
There was a local myth that Chincogan had been surveyed during the war, and was 999 feet high, and needed to be 1,000 feet to be a proper mountain. In that same Coronation year, after the conquest of Mount Everest, I climbed our beloved molehill (with two friends) and built a pile of stones twelve inches high on what was now the mountaintop. And from these new-found heights I saw the limitation of my lovely little town, and knew I’d have to leave one day to work and grow.
Part of my painting ritual was to include the one remaining fire-blacked stump on my mountain’s nose, as a blackhead/pimple waiting to be squeezed. With my brush still charged with paint I dashed off a profile of my beloved mountain with the one long gesture, like Picasso painting the outline of a bull on a piece of glass. The student teacher, no doubt a fully paid-up member of the Meldrum Tonal School, admonished me now, to tell me the mountain didn’t have a black line around it. What would he know? There had been other issues with our mountain too, mixed up with hellfire, spermatogenesis, pyroclastic flow, and pillars of salt from looking back. I understood instinctively that Chincogan was part of the caldera of the greater Mount Warning crater formed from liquid rock, and felt the new mountain had to be appeased. How could this stranger, this outsider, understand the ring of fire we were living in?
At home I’d sent off a couple of offerings to The Courier Mail Art Competition, and against the odds won (twice), at ten shillings a pop (twice), thus paying for my painting box two times over, with a florin (2 shillings, 20c) change (to my mother’s non-response).
At the end of sixth class (1953) my grades were OK, but Bill Bouveret, headmaster, said I was too young/immature to go to high school and should repeat. The next year, when Bill asked the same questions at the same time in the same (repeat) lessons, I was anticipating them, and answered one question one day before it had even been asked. Bill called me aside, saying ‘what are we going to do with you?’ An enlightened resolution was that Bill (who liked my paintings) let me sit up the back of class each day and paint, using school materials. So I happily paddled in colour for the rest of the year, and did not answer any more anticipated questions. One work from this period, my ‘Optimistic Boat’ (Mullumbimby Dreaming p. 50), as painted into the Autograph Book of Helen L’Orange (nee Alidenes), was given to me years later.
At the end of that year (1954) I spent time at Wardell Public School. Two paintings from this period, ‘Mitre Peak’ (a copy of my grandmother’s painting), and ‘The Brown Boat’ (Mullumbimby Dreaming pp. 51 and 52), had also been saved by my grandmother.
At the Wardell School Christmas Tree Party I had the audacity to stand and recite some of my verse. My grandmother was in the audience, looking equally proud and embarrassed at the same time if that were possible, for at that stage my painting was better than the sometimes blatant coupling in my bush poetry (rhyming ‘start’ with ‘fart’ in one stanza about the Jacaranda Festival as I recall).
In 1955, at high school I could not study art, as it was ‘only available for girls or dummies’ (that’s precisely what they said). I continued to paint in my history book, see ‘Queen Boadicea’ and others (Mullumbimby Dreaming, pp. 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9), and won the Intermediate Certificate Book Cover Design (submitted independently, 1957), and went on to write, design, and publish books.
Some prints of modern paintings then materialised on the school walls, including Salvador Dali’s ‘Persistence of Memory’, much derided by some, the same crowd who had taunted the ‘reflective’ child for being ‘different’ (a badge of honour to me now), when the ‘boy-scientist’ had won a bet (of £5, a lot of money in those days) with my step-father for catching a fart in a bottle (by the ‘displacement of water method’), but he’d not paid up. Back on the farm I’d contemplated time’s passing (on looking up at the insignia of the bull-nosed corrugated iron on my grandfather’s farm veranda), so felt some affinity with melting clocks, and especially in the subtropics.
* * *
My ‘First Flowering’ (and ‘escape’ from small-town limitations, as seen from the mountain top) came with a scholarship to Armidale Teachers’ College. Here I had been inspired by the Howard Hinton Art Collection and A. E. Housman’s The Shropshire Lad (part-genesis of my (2000) book, The Mullumbimby Kid, with a lino-cut of one of my Chincogan images for the cover).
At College I studied Art as an elective subject (‘Mixed Media’, under Wal Placing), with only two sessions on oil painting (theory and practical, with a fragment of my first oil paintings, ‘Cotoneaster’, published in Mullumbimby Dreaming, p. 54). It was love at first daub, with the soft buttery texture of the oil paints, and the capacity to paint over mistakes!
1962, in that first January out of College I purchased a set of ‘starter oils’ at Tweed Heads, and painted my first self-portrait (Mullumbimby Dreaming, p. 54). At the end of January I was appointed science teacher, The Forest High School, Frenchs Forest, where Geoff Tyndall, art teacher, gave me my first formal lessons (in Colour Theory, Composition, and Anatomy, and took me to Life Drawing classes).
The Gum Leaf had been lost in the Big Smoke in those early days. I’d come on my own to Sydney Town, with only $50 in my pocket, with no one to meet me, no map of Sydney, and no idea where I’d sleep that night, and apart from some good luck I would have starved. City girls looked down their long noses at me (at parties) and asked ‘what schooool did you go to?’ Whenever I answered ‘Mullumbimby’ they’d deem me ‘non-Mosman Material’ and walk away.
One day, quite spontaneously, I’d answered ‘Lower Wombat Rural School’, and later the ‘University of New South Wales’ (that usually shut them up). Lower Wombat was certainly not based on Mullumbimby (more East Wardell, but no wombats there!), and most probably coined because Oliver Bainbridge had been born at Upper Copmanhurst, just down from Wombat Creek! I drove through Wombat (near Young) in later years, with a sign listing the population at less than 200 (plus or minus 5, to account for post-sign births/road kills).
* * *
In 1963, I had started a part-time science degree (University of NSW, finished in 1967), which on top of a full-time teaching job for the first three years had severely cut into my painting time (as the laboratory hours were crippling). Along the way I took a unit in ‘The History of Fine Arts’ (as part of my studies) under Lorna Nimmo, another turning point. In 1966 or 67, while at Philip Baxter College, I was part of an Art Exhibition in Goldstein Hall, and sold three paintings: ‘In Search of Truth’, ‘Convent Garden’, and ‘The Flower That Has Bloomed Forever Dies’, with visions of studying Art at what was then East Sydney Tech, except that I fell in love and wrote bad verse (when to write poetry at 20 proves you are 20).
More anti-painting pressure came in the form of my first marriage (1968). Not having a dedicated painting space, or the time or nervous energy, I had sublimated my creative impulses into word-pictures (poetry), as this was something I could do on the bus, or in the bath, or at boring meetings.
In 1972, on the breakdown on my first marriage and my return to Sydney, as I fell out of love my poetry improved, and I kept on at it beyond the age of 30/40/50/60/ and 70, to prove I was a poet. And in my late twenties (when I still knew everything) I had pulled together a Poetic Treatise, Falling Up Into Verse (not published until 1989), which made some critics rather sniffy at the time.
I had started painting again (in 1972), working on my (very 1970s earth’s curvature) ‘Perception and Magnitude’ (Stardust Painter-Poet pp. 56, 58, 59, 60, 61), unaware of what Brett Whiteley was doing at that time.
Sometime after, through my friend Andrew Bray, who with his partner Vicki was building a boat at the old North Sydney Gas Station, I was introduced to a ‘mad artist’ (who just happened to be Brett Whiteley). A visit to his nearby studio was both wonderful and intimidating (Stardust Painter-Poet p. 57, as from The Melancholy Dane, pp. 255 and 256). How could a ‘Sunday Painter’ compete with that, so I hung up my brush for nearly 30 years, to focus on my pen.
The accidental death of my first child (1974) caused me to burn pain into productivity. My poetry career had effectively stalled before it had even got off the ground (in 1975), through having had a poem published under the female pseudonym (of ‘Eileen’) in Mother I’m Rooted, an Anthology of Female Poetry. What had been perfectly OK for George Sand and Henry Handel Richardson to do was suddenly not OK for males, in the highly political world of Australian poetry. Yet if after the style of Jonathan Swift I had suggested I’d bring out a book of blue-eyed poets (and something that Hitler conceivably could have done in Germany in the 1930s) there would have been screams of protest, when gender and eye-colour are both genetically determined.
So one who believed in equal pay for equal work and all of that (but not in quotas, that some sould be ‘more equal’ than others, after the style of Animal Farm), was sin-binned in certain quarters (not for 10 minutes as in Rugby League, but coming up now for 45 years, as long as Oliver Bainbridge had lived on this world).
Not that there are not cliques and fashions in the painting world (and two negatives do not a positive make), but I tried to remain aloof and kept on doggedly producing books, in the hope of some revision when the new wave-set comes. And if you don’t understand the power of words to kill careers the Scottish Martyr and Barrister, Joseph Gerrald (buried in the Sydney Gardens) had been transported on sedition charges (1790s) for using the once taboo but now quite innocuous word of ‘citizen’, equivalent to being called a ‘comrade’ in McCarthyist America in the 1950s, or ‘chauvinist’ in the 1970s, or ‘jihadist’ in the naughies.
* * *
In 1982 I had met up with Dick (Richard) Edwards (of Edwards & Shaw, Publishers), who was to become an important friend and mentor, who helped me set up Woodbine Press (in 1982, a subsidiary of Edwards & Shaw) at the time of their retirement, with himself and Rod Shaw as silent partners. My first beautiful book of poetry, Banyan, printed with hot metal and dedicated ‘for Chinny’ (Chincogan), was taken down a dark alley and strangled to death by some ideologues (through the oxygen deprivation of no/bad reviews), and like the Cultural Revolution that had recently convulsed China, a New Gender Order stalked the land, with their new lists of taboo books and taboo words.
Dick Edwards had been friends with the art historian, Bernard Smith, whom I’d met on two occasions. Bernard Smith had been appointed as an Education Officer at the Art Gallery of NSW (in 1944), where he’d arranged travelling art exhibitions through regional New South Wales, but his career had suffered because of his earlier communist affiliations. More significantly Bernard had been illegitimate, a big spur to his creativity.
In a letter to Vincent Buckley he had written that ‘many illegitimate children who do not succumb to self-pity experience a kind of distancing from society … [and became] … witness figure.
In subsequent discussions with Dick Edwards we had noted that many artists, like Leonardo Da Vinci and Albert Camus, had been illegitimate, or ‘orphaned’, or somehow ‘wounded’ when they were young (as Clive James had lost his father at a tender age), leading me to postulate my ‘Jane Eyre, Cuddlepie, or Bastard Theory of Art’ .
Parental absence generates a ‘shock of vision’ that can penetrate social pretentions and middle-class buffers, and catapults the child into adult life as nothing else can. It can sometimes crush a developing psyche, while at other times ‘it tempers, and ultimately stimulates [and can even be liberating], as the individual, [in] trying to avenge bad fate or destiny, may compensate for crushing loss by trying to make a mark on life’ (and you can’t expect to make a mark without getting blisters, and you also need some steel in the spine, and some ice in the soul as well).
Some 54 years after my father’s death, the following verse fragment (my ‘Psyche’ stanza, as later to be incorporated into my ‘Wanderer Poem’), just fell into my head:
The psyche is a tender shoot
that may be burnt by wind or truth,
parental loss may singe or crush
or permanently bruise the heart,
or be a spur to garnishee
some good poems from bad destiny –
to be remembered/noticed/saved
and not grow in another’s shade.
* * *
From 1972 I had been appointed as an Education Officer at The Australian Museum, Sydney (the ‘House of the Muses’, with professional links to the Art Gallery of NSW), where I’d organised travelling (natural history) exhibitions through regional New South Wales), and attended Museum and Art Conferences all around Australia and overseas (an important part of my Adult Art Education). There had been lost for a week (in 1977) in The Hermitage Museum (in Leningrad, now St Petersburg), and I yearned to paint, ‘Now I am grey my body hurts/to squander life on work’ (‘Remembering Things Past in The Art Gallery’).
On my return I had met Robin Norling (Painter, and Head of Education, Art Gallery of NSW). We both worked in similar fields (and developed joint programs after I started working at the adjacent Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney, in 1980). And like Bernard Smith I spent many lunchtimes researching in the State Library of NSW (for my books about the Gardens and Domain).
* * *
At the end of 2002, on my retirement from paid work, I enrolled in art classes at the Royal Art Society of NSW (teachers Judy Pennyfather and Leyla Spencer). My Anthology was then savaged by some poet of thin volumes (an academic from Adelaide, the same coordinates of Swift’s Lilliput).
I switched all my energies into painting then, and put in my 10,000 hours in seven years, and was mentored in parallel by Robin Norling and Jocelyn Maughan (with art theory and critiques, and took copious notes and asked question when I did not understand).
As a self-funder painter I have loved my retirement, and not having to paint ‘commercial works’ I’ve been able to do exactly what I liked, and have enjoyed the good times when everything ‘flowed’, and worked through the bad times and the creative blocks.
My true ‘Late Flowering’ started in 2009, with the acquisition of an art studio, followed by: the RAS Medal of Distinction (in 2010, judge Philip Brackenreg); group exhibitions at the RAS and the Sydney Herbarium; a joint exhibition at Artarmon Galleries (in 2010, with Bruce Herps); a 2014 exhibition, ‘The Mullumbimby Kid’ (at the Tweed Regional Gallery, Murwillumbah) with very good local publicity (as far less happens up there, as compared to Sydney); and a 2016 RAS Retrospective, ‘Stardust Painter-Poet’ (at the Lavender Bay Gallery).
The Royal Botanic Gardens to me had been a bit like Piccadilly Circus, for if you stayed there long enough then almost everyone walked past. I had met the art critic John McDonald at the Gardens. He had liked my poetry, and this was probably why he had launched my book, Stardust Painter-Poet at the opening of my 2016 RAS exhibition (of the same name), and gave me a (very positive) joint review (with William Yaxley) in the Sydney Morning Herald (14 April 2016). During his launch he had said I was a better poet than the English painter Turner (which was probably true), but not the reverse alas, please note.
* * *
In looking back now, from my Seven-Up age (of 77), I return to the important question, ‘Where did the art (both the poetry and the painting) come from?’
From a lifetime of observations I would say most artists (and scientists) tend to be obsessive personalities. I certainly inherited the ‘obsessive gene’, along with a good memory and logical and symbolic brain, and am probably ‘on the spectrum’, as they say, and was so lucky to have found a niche in taxonomic institutions in my working life (like the Museum and the Sydney Gardens, full of other nerdy people just like me).
Some of my poetry would have come from the Irish, to be sure, but I now provide an interesting twist.
For Oliver Bainbridge’s father, Andrew St Clare Nelson, headmaster and bandmaster of South Grafton had been a true remittance man (and paid at times to stay away), who claimed illegitimate descent form Horatio Nelson and Emma Hamilton (not something I talked much about in middle life, and my 2017 book on this subject Lord Nelson, Uncle Oliver and I, took 49 years to research).
The purported Nelson link has been a sustaining myth in my own life (as told to me as a child by my great aunty Nina from Grafton), who didn’t frequent libraries, and well before the Internet had a head full of stories about Lord Nelson and Lady Hamilton (as told to her by her mother and grandfather), as if they’d lived in a house just down the street.
DNA testing (after so many generations) was inconclusive, but Ray Aldis, Vice Chairman of the Nelson Society (UK), in his review of my Bainbridge book (in The Nelson Dispatch) had commented on ‘an uncanny resemblance [of photographs of my younger self and current relatives] to the Admiral, his daughter Horatia, and even his brother William’, providing a tantalizing link with the art historian, lesser poet and man of letters, Horace (Horatio) Walpole, godfather and cousin of Horatio Nelson (after whom Nelson had been named).
And parallels run deep, for Walpole had written social histories (when I had written a social history of the Sydney Gardens and Domain); he’d written about art and gardening (as have I); he’d set up the first privately owned printing press (at Strawberry Hill) and published his friend Thomas Gray’s poem ‘Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard’, with its ‘mute inglorious Milton’ reference (when I had set up Woodbine Press); and he’d written The Castle of Otranto, the first Gothic novel in the English language (when I had written my own Gothic novel, Cedar House, as published in 2001). My skin creeps at the thought, that in middle life I’d been oblivious to all of this, and what might I have done in life with sinecures like old Horace?
Emma Hamilton was also musical, with a gift for languages and an interest in gardening (and a political friend of Queen Maria Carolina of Naples, who had delivered the Queen’s last letter to her sister Marie Antoinette in prison in France). Emma’s visa (enabling her escape from a shady past) had been the great beauty of her youth, which expired in later life when she put on weight, and took to drink. When young she had been painted many times by George Romney, and the fashionable French painter Elizabeth Louise Vigree Le Brun (not a great fan of Emma Hamilton).
And without wishing to lay it on too thick, Andrew’s wife, according to oral history had a purported link to the English Cleric and Poet, George Crabbe.
* * *
At the end of 2018 I was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Art Society of NSW, with much more success in painting than in the faction-ridden world of poetry. It has been one hell of a ride. I see myself as a naïve artist, with my own style (and collectors have not quite caught up with me yet).
I certainly believe in ‘cause and effect’ (much easier to see in retrospect), but not in absolute determinism (from inelastic collisions at the molecular level). No doubt Sydney had become my destiny, in the hope of becoming at least a footnote in Australian arts and letters.
For cities, according to Lewis Lapin (heard on Radio National so unsure of spelling) can bestow ‘the gift of loneliness and privacy [on the ambitious … where they could] escape from the [taunts and] tyranny of small-town majority … at the cost of a blank canvass, on which to discover [the] true portrait [of themselves, and to seek] heights of excellence [that may be] taboo in [their] small village’.
What happened happened, and looking back I am sometimes amazed at what I have done, given my farm boy origins (with thirty books to my name as of this year (2019, not all through Woodbine Press, and whose counting you may well ask?) and quite a few paintings along the way as well).
A quarter of a century ago, in the old British Library in London, I had come across a beautiful quotation from Oliver Bainbridge (in his Rambles in Thoughtland, Cranton and Co, 1914), that:
‘Nothing but success redeems the poet from the charge of intolerable conceit’.
Ouch! And the greater irony is that had my father not pushed ‘delete’ I may well have become a ‘tractor driver’ too, some ‘mute inglorious Milton’ of the Wardell cemetery, now that I have an ‘enemy within’, with malwlare coursing through by blood.
* * *
To die, in the art world, can be a good career move (from the collector’s point of view), as the goose is not able to lay any more golden eggs. But the quandary (from the artist’s point of view), is that you need a little profile first.
‘Small Treasures’ has a number of painters who are no longer with us now. It is rather gratifying for me to be listed here with my ‘cousin’ Eric, Brett (joke, for even thought I was deadly serious with the Walpole and Crabbe references, I know I am not related to Eric Wilson), and a number of other players in the Australian Art scene (see Exhibition Catalogue and/or list on the back of Invitation).
Over the years I have enjoyed many visits to Artarmon Galleries, and spirited talks with Philip and Julie about artists and their styles of art. These two are the Real Thing, with a great knowledge of and a love for painting, and I thank them for inviting me to open this one (and to cause me to pull all these strands together).
This Gallery is a bit like Piccadilly Circus too. So many things have happened here, with so many artists represented: including William Dobell, Russell Drysdale, Donald Friend, Margaret Olley, Fred Jessup, Norman Lindsay, Godfrey Miller, Hans Heysen, Lloyd Rees, Sali Herman, Lloyd Rees, and Albert Namatjera, and that is why Julie must finish her book on her father’s legacy, so future art historians shall know these things.
Lloyd Rees, suffering one time from jet-lag had slept right here before opening an exhibition. In opening this exhibition I would like to read you one of my poems entitled, ‘It Happens If You Wait’, written after hearing my friend Robin Norling give a talk on Aesthetics.
Edwin Wilson, 8/11/2019
2019, 16 September, went to Stanton Library to read a reasonable mention (with a pleasing reference to ‘some engaging reproductions of [my] artwork and the elegant covers of [my] long list of publications’, for full extract see ‘Ripper Reviews and two Literary Blunders’) by Dr Ivan Head of Long-Distance Poet in Quadrant, Vol 63, Issue 9, September 2019.
2019, 8 March, the same night as the Queenstown incident, at the RAS Autumn Show (‘Thora Ungar Memorial Award’), my painting, Cat No 68, ‘Angophora’, received a ‘Commendation’. In her citation Judge Jocelyn Maughan (exhibition judge) had said: [In] ‘Angophora’ [Edwin Wilson] extracts from nature those shapes and patterns that he combines well in this square format. His use of discordant colour scheme, close tones and broken [surfaces] convey a shimmer of light’. In a subsequent email Jocelyn had told me the painting had ‘glowed’.
2019, 8 March, choked at breakfast, Queenstown, New Zealand. Could not breathe and was blacking out when Glen Guilbault, a Canadian on our Tour Group saw what was happening and applied a Heimlich maneuver, partly dislodging the offending item and giving me partial breath. Had this not happened I am fairly sure the second-last line of Long-Distance Poet, as amended, would now have read: ‘Edwin Wilson choked to death at breakfast at Queenstown, New Zealand, on the morning of Friday 8 March 2019’. As it transpired I lived to breathe another day.
2019, received delivery of my third book of Poetic Memoirs, Long-Distance Poet: a Portrait of the Poet as an Old Fart, 24 February, with review copies sent out on 25 February. I see this book as a primary-source reference for future scholars who may wish to study the Australian Poetry Wars (of the late 20th Century), less ‘a day in the life of …’ (after the style of Ulysses), but more ‘the days in the life of …’.
2018, a PDF of the Monthly Judging Results, Sutherland Orchid Society, indicate a flowering plant of Dendrobium Edwin Wilson was tabled at their society in December (so this plant is getting out into the world).
2018, Jon Wilson’s panorama photograph (of me working in my studio) was included in the RAS December e-Newsletter, No 443.
2018, picked up Fellows Certificate at RAS Christmas Meeting, 30 November.
2018, read my revised (27 November 2018) ‘Pumpkin Girl’ poem at Live Poets, Don Bank, North Sydney (and gave a plug for Anne Butt’s soon-to-be-published memoir, Pumpkin), after thanking Jennifer Maiden for her (13 August 1983) review of Banyan in Sydney Morning Herald, evening of Wednesday 28 November.
2018, dropped off photograph, letter, and my painting for the ‘Fellows Collection’ at the Royal Art Society. For my painting I had selected the framed ‘Homonculus Fragment’, salvaged from the lower RHS of my large (2m x 4m) 1973 Whiteley-esque ‘breakthrough’ work (being totally unaware of Brett Whiteley at the time of its conception) entitled ‘Perception and Magnitude’ (see Stardust Painter-Poet pp. 56, 57, 58, 59, 60, 61, including a follow-up chance meeting with Brett Whiteley, which put me off being a Sunday painter for almost the next 30 years), 9 November.
2018, had an email from Christine Fehey, Secretary, Royal Art Society of New South Wales to say I had been elected as a Fellow to the Society (that may well have been triggered by the studio photograph), and that a letter from the Society was in the post, 29 October.
2018, placed a poem (see Poetry) to the old Crows Nest Derro (Graham Elder, who had recently died), written on a piece of white cardboard held down with double-sided sticky tape, along with some flowers at the place where he last slept close to my studio, 27 October.
2018, spoke about Oliver Bainbridge at Live Poets, Don Bank, North Sydney. Not a big crowd, but in better voice than my February talk to State Library of New South Wales, evening of Wednesday 24 October.
2018, our son Jon took a Panorama photograph of me working in my painting studio, that may well become a definitive shot, 18 October (as later published in the December e-Newsletter of the Royal Art Society of New South Wales No 443).
2018, read my poem ‘Vale Lucian my Friend” at the grave of my sculptor friend Lucian Michalski, at Mona Vale Cemetery, on a special walk, 17 October.
2018, review of Lord Nelson,Uncle Oliver and I by Caroline Anne Butt in the Spring edition of (the Fellowship of Australian Writers) Writers Voice #261, September 2018, p. 25.
2018, read my (acrostic) poem ‘Epitaph II’ (more in the style of ‘cast a hard eye on life, on death’) at the funeral service for my friend Warren Walker (met at Philip Baxter College, University of New South Wales in 1966), Tamworth, 16 July.
2018, mention in review of ‘Salon’ in ‘Spectrum’, in which John McDonald, speaking of ‘Boogarem Falls’ had said, ‘For artists such as Edwin Wilson, a tireless striver in the fields of art and literature, the Salon represents an excellent opportunity to bring his work before the general public’, 30 June.
2018, spoke at S.H. Ervin Gallery, ‘Salon Des Refuses’ Exhibition, on ‘Boogarem Falls’ landscape, of the escarpment behind Mullumbimby, 3.00 pm, Sunday afternoon, 10 June at 3.00 pm.
As a child I had collected orchids at the base of the escarpment of Boogrem Falls, behind Mullumbimby, as described in The Mullumbimby Kid: A Portrait of the Poet as a Child (posted on my Website, edwinwilson.com.au).
In the pioneer days massive logs were hauled to the edge of escarpments, to be flushed out during periodic floods. One bullocky, working in the high grounds had been hauling logs when they became stuck between trees. Try as he might he could not free these logs so he took his trusty axe and cut the logs free, saying ‘Boogarem’ (that is ‘bugger them’), thus giving a name to the mountain and the waterfall.
(This story was told to me by my cabinet-maker step-father, Henry Forbes, of pioneering stock, who knew the said bullocky, and am sorry I did not write down his name as I can’t remember it now. This same story has been recorded by Margaret Henderson in one of her compilations of far-north-coast place names)
2018, my painting, ‘Boogarem Falls’, of the escarpment behind Mulllumbimby, has been accepted to hang in the Salon Des Refuses, opens 12 May.
2018, received hardback copies of Synthesis (Woodbine Press, pp. 141), a selection of my poems set to a complete set of the pencil drawings of the Late Elizabeth McAlpine, Anzac Day, 25 April.
2018, Cheryl and I went on a bus tour of north west and south western Tasmania (in the steps of Oliver Bainbridge),in March. On 21 March I had my photograph taken in front of the Gaiety Theatre, Zeehan, where Oliver Bainbridge gave a talk on the evening of 23 February 1899.
2018, gave a free talk entitled ‘The Life and Death of Oliver Bainbridge’ at the State Library of New South Wales, 11.00 am on Tuesday 6 February 2018, to a good crowd of about 80 people (now posted on U-Tube), as part of their ‘Scholarly Musing’ Series (still in relatively poor voice, because of my 2017 pneumonia). This talk was derived from my biography of my great-great-uncle Frank Nelson (aka ‘Oliver Bainbridge’), Lord Nelson, Uncle Oliver and I (and a purported Nelson connection).
The video of this talk:
2018, received (16 January 2018) from Sue Morris, Secretary, The Nelson Society (UK), an electronic copy of a review of my Bainbridge biography by Lt Col Ray Aldis, Vice-Chairman, The Nelson Society, as published in the Autumn (Northern Hemisphere) 2017 edition of The Nelson Dispatch (also placed in chronological sequence in ‘Ripper Reviews and two Literary Blunders’):
Whilst not widely known in this country, Edwin Wilson is a prolific and much published writer in his native Australia; his work ranging from poetry and fiction to biography, history and travel. This book, however, documents the extraordinary life of his great uncle Oliver Bainbridge (born as Frank Nelson but changed his name after falling out with his father). Bainbridge was one of that genre of Victorian/Edwardian travellers who made the world their oyster. The difference with Bainbridge, however, was that he didn’t come from a privileged background such as a Lady Jane Digby or a Sir Richard Burton. He was the son of a lowly colonial schoolmaster, yet his travels led him around the world and into the company of European royalty and American Presidents. A story wonderfully documented in this book and supported by plentiful maps, photographs and illustrations. After a life of travel and excitement Bainbridge, a strong advocate of Britannia and her empire died, it is believed by the author, at the hands of the IRA, an organization whose aims he vehemently opposed.
It is, however, the author’s (and Uncle Frank’s) ancestry that perhaps will be of most interest to members of The Nelson Society, for his family claims that their roots go back to the great Admiral himself. Most of the readers of this august journal will be aware of the hypothesis that Nelson’s daughter Horatia was one of a pair of twins (see ‘Horatia Nelson’ by Winifred Gerin) and that the second child had been given to the Foundling Hospital by its mother and Nelson’s mistress, Emma Hamilton. It is author Edwin Wilson’s claim that this twin child not only existed, but survived and went on to grow up, marry and produce the family from which he is descended. The book contains photographs of the author and present relatives who, it cannot be denied, bear an uncanny resemblance to the Admiral, his daughter Horatia and even his brother William [post publication DNA tests have proved inconclusive. As a painter I had always seen ‘Nelson traits’ in some family members, and these observations (by Aldis) give me more heart to claim Nelson lineage].
Whether this book is read for its contribution to the history of the family of Admiral Lord Nelson or for its remarkable account of an adventurer in a world now lost, it is a more than worthwhile undertaking and highly recommended.
* * *
2017, my (mostly hardcover) ‘Creative Journals’,1966 – 2017, taken by State Library of New South Wales, for access ten years after I have died, 20 December.
2017, the following Mullumbimby poems (plus Mullumbimby lioncut and detail of painting of ‘My Brother Jim’ with shanghai) were published in the Nimbin Literary Magazine, Beyond the Rainbow, No. 93, November-December 2017: ‘Homage to a Mountain’ (Chincogan, Mullumbimby), ‘Chincogan (Chinny) Dreaming’ (‘Mount’ Chincogan/Chinny), ‘Pink Rock Lily’, ‘Mullumbimby Revisited’, ‘Strangler Fig’, ‘Then God Invented Weeds’, and ‘Big Brother’ (My Brother Jim), received 17 November.
2017, follow-up piece (with video links to Nelson cousins) by Tim Howard, Daily Examiner Grafton, ‘Colourful tale links local families to Lord Nelson’, Thursday 12 October.
2017, gave a talk on Oliver Bainbridge at Grafton Library (with more local references, that served as the Grafton launch of the book, as Grafton/Soputh Grafton was Bainbridge’s old stomping grounds), with a considerable number of Nelson cousins in the audience, 10.30 am, Wednesday 11 October 2017 (not in good voice because of my recent pneumonia, now posted on U-Tube).
2017, phone interview with Joanne Shoebridge about the Bainbridge book, ABC Radio Lismore, 9.20 am, Wednesday 11 October.
2017, article by Tim Howard, News 3, in Daily Examiner, Grafton, ‘Author claims link to Nelson’, Monday 9 October.
2017, mention of Lord Nelson, Uncle Oliver and I in Press Reader, The West Australian, 22 August, in the context of ‘Good things come in small-press works’, ‘Full of interesting historical details and painstakingly researched with comprehensive reference notes, this is more than a story of an interesting life, it is a social history of his times as well’.
2017, Photo of the cover of Lord Nelson Uncle Oliver and I, plus blurb, was mentioned by the Royal Australian Historical Society on their Posts/Facebook, 29 June.
2017, my considerably expanded biography (from the 2013 Monograph) of my great-great uncle Oliver Bainbridge, Lord Nelson, Uncle Oliver and I: the Life and Death of Oliver Bainbridge, coming in at 402 pages, and over 1,500 Endnotes, Timeline, and other Appendices was received (16 June), and the first lot of Promotional/Review copies were send out.
2017, contracted pneumonia during our bus tour of France (May 2017), and ended up in hospital (in Singapore, early June) on the way back (with severe oxygen deprivation). Responded to antibiotics andrecovered sufficiently to come back to Australia (horizontal) by plane, where I took several months to get back to painting again.
2017, gave a plug for my projected book on my writer ancestor, my great-great uncle Oliver Bainbridge at Live Poets, Don Bank, North Sydney, and read the Bainbridge poem ‘A Coup D’Etat’, on Wednesday 26 April.
2017, featured for the month of January in the Mullumbimby High School Ex-student’s Association ‘All Stars’ Calendar, 2017.
2016, a longer version of my obituary piece to Lionel Gilbert was published in the Armidale and District Historical Society, Journal and Proceedings, No. 59, 2016.
2016, read my quintessential Sydney Poem, ‘Kissing Catholics at the Opera House’, at Live Poets, Don Bank, North Sydney on Wednesday evening, 23 November.
2016, read ‘London Eye’ at Live Poets, as part of a London-themed evening, 28 September.
2016, my poem ‘Pumpkin Girl’ shortlisted for ‘Poetry at Sawmilllers’ in conjunction with Sculpture Exhibition. Read poem at Sawmillers Reserve, 24 September.
2016, spoke at Lavender Bay Gallery to a fundraiser group of the David Stead Foundation, on the afternoon of Sunday 17 April.
2016, shared a very positive John McDonald review of Retrospective Exhibition (along with Retrospective of Bill Yaxley), in Spectrum, Sydney Morning Herald, Saturday 16 April.
2016, feature by Kate Crawford (with photo in studio with book) in Mosman Daily, entitled ‘Obsession returns to enthrall painter’, 14 April.
2016, conducted a Gallery Talk, Lavender Bay Gallery, 2.00 pm, on Sunday 10 April (captured on video by Paul Sheaffe and posted on this Website).
2016, mention of exhibition in Spectrum Planner, Visual Arts, Sydney Morning Herald, Saturday 9 April.
2016, my Retrospective Painting Exhibition, entitled ‘Stardust Painter-Poet’, Lavender Bay Gallery (Royal Art Society of New South Wales, was opened by John McDonald, Art Critic, Sydney Morning Herald, on the evening of Friday 8 April 2016, which doubled as the launch of my Art Catalogue, Stardust Painter-Poet. During the opening John McDonald said I was a better poet than the English painter Turner (not so difficult as it transpired as Turner was a rather ‘ordinary’ poet). The exhibition ran until 1 May.
2016, as a prelude to my Retrospective Painting Exhibition I was Guest Reader at Live Poets, Don Bank, North Sydney, on the evening of Wednesday 23 March.
2016, advertisement in Look, Journal of Art Gallery of New South Wales, Autumn 2016.
2016, mention of Stardust Painter-Poet and Royal Art Society Retrospective Exhibition in The Journal of the Foundation & Friends of the (Sydney) Botanic Gardens, The Garden, Issue 108 (Autumn 2016), p. 6.
2016, mention of Stardust Painter-Poet and Retrospective Exhibition in e-newsletter of Mullumbimby High School Ex-students Association, February.
2016, mention of Stardust Painter-Poet and Retrospective Exhibition in the Blackwall Bugle, Issue 40, February.
2016, my poem ‘Scara Brae’ was published in Northerly, The Northern Rivers Writers’ Centre Magazine, January-February 2016.
2015, mention of Exhibition in association with a heavily edited version of an obituary on the late Lionel Gilbert in ‘Friends of the Old (Armidale) Teachers’ College’ newsletter, Lionel Arthur Gilbert, 1924 – 2015, ‘Armidale Teachers’ College and the Plant Connection’, December (see 2016 for publication of expanded version).
2015, interview for Stardust Painter-Poet with Riddhi, ‘Bay FM – The Bohemian Beat’, Byron Bay, November.
2015, Janine Kitson review of Stardust Painter-Poet, Education, 26 October 2015, Reviews 27-28.
2015, elected an Associate of the Royal Art Society of New South Wales, October.
2015, first mention of my projected Retrospective Art Exhibition in the e-Newsletter of the Royal Art Society of New South Wales (August 2015), and in the February, March, and May (2016) editions.
2015, my ‘Brunswick Heads, 1940s’ poem’ was published in a very attractive format (with a photograph of Harry’s Hill and the river, and even spacing for stanzas of equal lines) in the Byron Shire Echo, 29 July, p.12.
2015, ‘channelled’ Henry Lawson at Live Poets, Don Bank (having let my mustache grow droopy, and shaved off the rest of my goatee), with chat and repartee, and a reading of ‘Australian Bards and Bush Reviews’, ‘The Uncultured Rhymer to his Cultured Critics’, and ‘Up the Country’, on the evening of 22 July.
2015, my glossy art Catalogue, Stardust Painter-Poet, Edwin Wilson Paintings and Poems, was printed in Hong Kong, with two advanced copies arriving 27 May, and the bulk of copies being picked up on 17 June (Henry Lawson’s birthday).
2015, a repeat reading at ‘Lawson’s Cave’, Naremburn, Sunday 14 June (for Lawson’s birthday , 17 June).
2015, a copy of my book, Mullumbimby Dreaming, was taken to Padua, Italy, in April, as an exchange gift to a local school by a visiting group from Mullumbimby High School.
2015, my poem ‘Pilgrimage to Laugharne’ was read (14 February) on Riddhi’s program on Bay FM – The Bohemian Beat, as part of an interview with Kathy and Ray Thomas about ‘An Evening with Dylan Thomas in Mullum’ (in the old Drill Hall).
2015, read my ‘Man on the Ten Dollar Note’ poem at ‘Lawson’s Cave’, Naremburn, 8 February.
2014, my ‘Flowering Trunk’ poem (along with a mention of the Tweed River Exhibition) as chosen by north coast poet, writer and musician Barnaby Smith, was featured in Verandah Magazine (for November), in which he referred to me as one of the most ‘notable poets’ to have come from the far north coast.
2014, Phil Spence confirmed he has named one of the Latouria Hybrids (from our 2003 – 2006 project, see our joint paper published in Australian Orchid Review, February/March, 2006) Dendrobium Edwin Wilson (Grex), from the hybrid of Dendrobium tapiniense x Dendrobium johsoniae, a significant event in the life of an orchid nut from Mullumbimby, as registered with the Royal Horticultural Society (UK), on 4 September 2014.
2014, my ‘Phaius Orchid’ poem was published on p. 25 of the Little Book of Australian Orchids, National Library of Australia.
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2014, the opening of my painting exhibition at the Tweed River Gallery, ‘The Mullumbimby Kid’, received good publicity in a number of outlets: including feature articles (with photograph) in The Northern Star (Saturday 2 August 2014, entitled ‘Artist’s quest for lost paradise’) and The Casino Times, 5 August 2014, an electronic article (with photograph) in the Echo net daily (4 August 2014, entitled ‘Mullumbimby childhood celebrated in poems, art’), Verandah Magazine (Byron Bay and Beyond), Spring 2014, a mention on local ABC Radio (Lismore) on the morning of Tuesday (5 August 2014), a feature in the Tweed/Southern Sun (Thursday 7 August 2014, entitled ‘Exhibition explores artist’s life as a Mullumbimby kid’), a mention (with photographs of ‘Rock Lily’ painting) in the Mullumbimby High School Ex-Students Association e Newsletter (August 2014), an advertisement, p. 31 in the Byron Shire Echo, 12 August 2014, and a follow-up mention in the Mullumbimby High School Ex-Students Association e Newsletter (September 2014).
Edwin Wilson – ‘The Mullumbimby Kid’
This was the title of my Mullumbimby-themed painting exhibition (to help raise the profile of my first book of poetic memoirs, The Mullumbimby Kid), held with a display of my published books in The Macnaughton Focus Gallery, Tweed River Art Gallery (Murwillumbah), from 8 August to 12 October 2014.
The Exhibition was opened 6.30 pm, 8th August by my teaching friend Paul Roberts, from The Forest High School, with the following:
Honoured guests, distinguished artists, thank you for coming. I welcome you tonight to the opening of Edwin Wilson’s exhibition, ‘The Mullumbimby Kid’. I particularly wish to welcome the artist, Edwin, and Mrs Wilson.
I have been a close friend of Ed since teaching with him in the early sixties. He taught science while I taught English and History at The Forest High School, French’s Forest, and my first exhilarating experience with Ed was being driven along the Wakehurst Parkway at 100 miles per hour in his open top MG. Ed is like Mme Curie’s beaker of radium, a repository of dangerous but exciting ideas. He visited our family often in our rented unit by Manly beach.
At the time, he was a fan of Picasso’s painting, The Old Guitarist a print of which hung respectfully on the wall of his unit in Balgowlah. I swear that, if we handed Ed a guitar right now, had him take off his shoes and socks, dump his jacket, roll up his trousers, close his eyes and drop his head at a right angle, he would look a dead ringer for the original model.
A perfect companion piece to that moving portrait would have to be Wallace Stevens’s poem, ‘The Man with the Blue Guitar’. The poet puts words to Picasso’s belief that art is the lie to help us see the truth. Stevens wrote: ‘You have a blue guitar, / You do not play things as they are.’ / The man replied, ‘Things as they are / Are changed upon the blue guitar’.
It is also key to Edwin’s creativity where life’s ambiguities are best explained when translated and transformed into art, so do look for them in his poems, his prose, his art. Take his painting, ‘The Stilt Walker’. There is a Wilson poem of the same name and the lines, ‘For what is art but private agonies, / so neatly packaged for the world to see? / An open house for fowl-yard pickings rendered, / along with all the meanings never intended’.
By the end of the sixties, my wife and I escaped the city to teach Visual Arts and English at Wauchope High School. This gave us our one and only opportunity to visit Murwillumbah because a young music teacher from this town, Robyn Worthington, took us to her home and led us up Mt Warning with her younger brother, Peter. Inspired, we planned to visit you again so – here we are staying courtesy of another of Robyn’s brothers, Father John Worthington. Meanwhile, Ed had moved from teaching into lecturing in New England and botanical research at The Australian Museum and finally specialising in community relations at the Botanical Gardens in Sydney.
My wife and I find Ed a fascinating man. He is the ultimate neo-Renaissance multi-tasking, triple-talented guru. He produces an astonishing volume of work in poetry, art, autobiography and fiction. Our book shelves groan with his mighty tomes, whereas we chortle with delight in admiring his impish humour and deft insights into life and science.
Edwin has a formidable and abundant intellect, immense energy and creative ability. To give you some idea – in his recently published New Collected Poems, there are 561 poems on 568 pages, followed by nearly 100 pages of reference notes.
But we’re here about his art. Edwin certainly is an artist. His draftsmanship is mature and his vibrant colour, whether in academic style, fauvist celebration of tone, pointillist paint-plopping, lascivious delight in the female form or lyrical rhythms of luscious landscapes redolent of his and your hills, valleys, rivers and landmarks poignantly re-created.
The mark of all talented and mature artists, poets or painters, is a distinctive style. Edwin sure has it. Down the track, people will say, ‘that just has to be a Wilson’. Your Mullumbimby Kid grew up to be a mature champion worth celebrating. I congratulate Edwin on his dazzling exhibition and declare it open now for your appreciation and interpretation. You will find ‘private agonies … neatly packaged’ in this ‘open house … with all the meanings never intended’.
An associated publication, Mullumbimby Dreaming (of Mullumbimby paintings, poems and notes, and images of some of my other paintings), has been produced to double as a Catalogue that may be downloaded here ‘Mullumbimby Dreaming’ in PDF for free.
Copies may otherwise be obtained through Woodbine Press .
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2014, my poem ‘Flowering Trunk’ was featured (‘Spring’ 2014, along with a photograph of my painting ‘The Mullumbimby Kid’) in and article by local poet, writer and musician, Barnaby Smith, in Verandah Magazine (Byron Bay and Beyond).
2014, read ‘Mullumbimby’ and ‘East Wardell’ poems at a talk about the exhibition at the Tweed River Gallery, on the afternoon of Sunday 10 August 2014.
2014, presented a paper on the theme of ‘Mullumbimby Dreaming’ and read some poetry at the ASLEC – ANZ Conference in Canberra, 19 – 21 June 2014.
2014, a ripper review of Mullumbimby Dreaming (with photograph of book) by Janine Kitson in Education , 2 June 2014.
2014, very positive ‘In Short Non-fiction’ review of Mullumbimby Dreaming by Fiona Capp in Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, 24 May 2014.
2014, review by Michael McDonald, The Byron Shire Echo, 29 April, with a mention of the Tweed River Gallery Exhibition, under the banner ‘The Mullumbimby Kid continues his dreaming’.
2014, Mullumbimby Dreaming (Mullumbimby Paintings and Poems), the Catalogue for my painting exhibition at the Tweed River Gallery (opening 8 August 2014), arrived from Hong Kong (1 April), and promotional copies were sent out by mail.
2014, my painting ‘Mullumbimby Dreaming’, received a ‘Commendation’ at the RAS Autumn Show at the Lavender Bay Gallery, 7 March.
2014, picked up two advance copies (sent from Hong Kong) of Mullumbimby Dreaming (Mullumbimby paintings and poems), that will double as a Catalogue for the Tweed River Gallery Exhibition (August to October 2014) at Bruce Welch’s place, 4 March.
2014, my poem ‘Wild Orchid’ was published in Caleyi, January/February, 2014, p. 3, the electronic journal of the Australian Plant Society (Northern Beaches Group).
2014, January, my Modigliani-inspired portrait of a young girl with orange hair hanging as part of RAS show at Lavender Bay Gallery. Also in January my ‘Circular Quay III’ (large dot painting of Dinosaur Bridge and Plates Draining on the sink (for the Opera House)) was displayed in the front window of Artarmon Galleries, Sydney, facing the Pacific Highway.
2013, posed (from October) for a number of sittings for a portrait by Yve Close.
2013, The Australian Writer, Issue 382, December 2013 – February 2014, very positive review by Alica Bee (p. 15) of New Collected Poems, in which she said that ‘in his most refined poetry [Edwin Wilson] … creates flowers with words that may be treasured for centuries … [which] … combined with pencil drawings by now deceased friend Elizabeth McAlpine … made opening New Collected Poems one of the most beautiful gifts I have ever received as a reviewer of poetry’.
2013, Blackwall Bugle, Issue 26 (for October), photo of father’s grave and mention of upcoming exhibition (2014) at the Tweed River (Regional) Art Gallery.
2013, invited to officiate at the official launch of the ‘Paintings Inspired by Poetry Exhibition’, Royal Art Society of New South Wales, Lavender Bay Gallery, 7 June.
2013, Oliver Bainbridge – Lord Nelson’s Great Grandson?, was mentioned in the Newsletter of the Clarence River Historical Society, Issue 132, 27 March, p. 8.
2013, Oliver Bainbridge- Lord Nelson’s Great Grandson? (with research assistance by Patricia Wightley) was published (Woodbine Press) in 2013.
2012, Peter B. Adams (University of Melbourne), made reference to Songs of the Forest and The Botanic Verses and Other Poems (and the pencil drawings of Elizabeth McAlpine) in a review entitled, ‘A fusion of art and science’, as published in the Australian Systematic Botany Society Newsletter, 153, December.
2012, review of New Collected Poems, ‘Collected Work from A Lifetime’, Daily Mercury, 8 December.
2012, Edwin Wilson, ‘A Poet Made by New England’, Australian Folklore No. 27, 2012 (pp. 229 – 236).
2012, Helen Hawkes, The Northern Star, Saturday 8 December, Relax:Read/Watch/Listen, p. 39, ‘A Must Read: Collected Work from a Lifetime’ (re New Collected Poems), and a reference to my Website.
2012, Robyn Gray, Secretary Mullumbimby High School Ex-Students Association (electronic) Newsletter for December, mention of New Collected Poems.
2012, The Gardens, Journal of the Foundation & Friends of the Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney, Issue 95 (Summer 2012- 2013), mention of New Collected Poems.
2012, Blackwall Bugle, Issue 21 (for December), mention of my Wardell visit and tree planting, with reference to New Collected Poems and details for this Website.
2012, my dot painting of ‘Balinise Woman’ (after Arthur Fleishmann) was hung in an exhibition ‘The Figure in Focus’ (16 November – 8 December) at Artarmon Galleries Sydney (along with Ann Cape, Robert Hannaford, Jocelyn Maughan, Godfrey Millar, Robin Norling, Wendy Sharp and others).
2012, read at Live Poets, New Tattersalls Hotel, Lismore, on the evening of 14 November.
2012, interview on ‘Mornings’ with Joanne Shoebridge (about New Collected Poems and The Mullumbimby Kid) on 2NR (ABC Radio Lismore), on 14 November.
2012, interview with Tony Bennett (about poetry) played on 2NVR, Nambucca Valley (Community) Radio, 13 November.
2012, Education, 29 October, Reviews 33, ‘In brief: a Lifetime of Poetry’, with cover of New Collected Poems and reference to PDF posting on Website.
2012, Live Poets, Don Bank, North Sydney, 24 October, launch of New Collected Poems by Danny Gardner and Tony Bennett.
2012, The Byron Shire Echo, Vol 27, Issue 20, 23 October, mention of New Collected Poems on ‘Backlash’, p. 56.
2012, Kate Crawford, Mosman Daily, 18 October (News 28), a mention of projected launch of New Collected Poems at Live Poets, Don Bank, North Sydney (24 October).
2012, Kate Crawford, Mosman Daily, 13 September, ‘Poet’s Craft: A Constant Companion’, a feature article on New Collected Poems with a photo of myself with the Modigliani nude (not used at the time of the Artarmon Galleries Exhibition).
2012, The Queensland Times, mention of New Collected Poems with photo of cover, 12 August.
2012, PDF of New Collected Poems posted for free download (in the Poetry section of this Website).
2012, New Collected Poems (Kardoorair Press), with and Introduction and Epilogue by Professor John Ryan, published in 2012.
2012, PDF of Cedar House posted for free download on this Website.
2012, PDF of second edition of The Mullumbimby Kid posted for free download on this Website.
2012, good mention of second edition The Mullumbimby Kid, with cover, in Education, 28 May.
2012, a sniffy notification of the second edition of The Mullumbimby Kid, with cover, in Sydney Morning Herald, In Short, 19/20 May.
2012, Blackwall Bugle (e-newsletter of Wardell Historical Society), Issue 18, mention of second edition of The Mullumbimby Kid (with cover illustration).
2012, Mullumbimby High School Ex-students Association, mention of second edition of The Mullumbimby Kid in their e-newsletter, with cover photo, May.
2012, The Byron Shire Echo, 3 April 2012, mention of electronic second edition of The Mullumbimby Kid on Backlash (their back page).
2012, second edition of The Mullumbimby Kid (Woodbine Press) published in 2012.
2011, Edwin Wilson, ‘Old Friends, Rich Relations: Early Days on the Richmond and Clarence Rivers’, Australian Folklore, No. 26, 2011 (pp. 206 – 218).
2011, featured as a ‘Writer for 2011′ at the Byron Bay Writers’ Festival, 5 -7 August.
2011, Jenny Dell, re Byron Bay Writers Festival, The Northern Star, 23 August.
2011 , the unveiling of renovated Charles Dickens ‘ Statue on his birthday (7 February 2011) in Centennial Park Sydney, was related to my book, The Wishing Tree. Gaenor Vallack, a volunteer at the NSW Library (and Member of The Dickens Society) was leafing through The Wishing Tree and came across a photograph of the Dickens Statue, removed in 1972 because of decapitation, which started a chain of events that resulted in the old statue (with a new head) being returned to Centennial Park.
2011, Martin Stevenson, review of New Selected Poems, The Examiner (Launceston) 15 January 2011, p. 37.
2011, Paul Hetherington, Westerly Magazine 56:1, positive mention of New Selected Poems in his essay on ‘Aspects of Current Australian Poetry’, 2010/11, July 2011.
2010, joint Painting Exhibition (with Bruce Herps) at Artarmon Galleries, 22 July to 10 August.
2010, Caroline Glen, electronic review of New Selected Poems, Gold Coast Writers Association (2010).
2010, New Selected Poems (Woodbine Press), dedicated ‘to Cheryl Lillian, sheet anchor, goad and ballast’, was published in October 2010. It was turned into an electronic format (and posted for free download as PDF on this Website) in early 2011.
2009, Guest Reader at Pottsville Writers Group, 21 November.
2010, won the ‘Medal of Distinction’ (first prize for my painting ‘Church at Berrima’) at the Royal Art Society of New South Wales Spring (Painting) Exhibition, September.
2009, met with Mullumbimby Writers Group, 15 June.
2009, readings at Mullumbimby High School (organized by Librarian Janice Edwards), 16 June.
2009, my essay ‘Poetry and Art: An Evolutionary Biologist’s Take of the Selection Pressures in the Arts’, was published in Five Bells, autumn/winter 2009 (and subsequently republished in slightly variant forms in later books)
2009, Daan Spijer, a good review of Banyan, The Botanic Verses, and My Brother Jim in The Australian Writer (Newsletter of FAW Victoria), March-May.
2009, Fay Knight, ‘Star story led to a brother’ (relating to My Brother Jim), The Northern Star, ‘Weekender’, 28 February.
2009, My Brother Jim, February 2009, was (also) dedicated ‘to Edwin James (Jim) Onslow/Wilson, 1939 – 2008’.
2008, Jim died (of prostate cancer), 12 September.
2008, Peter Bernhardt, in his book Gods and Goddesses in the Garden, Rutgers University Press, 2008, introduced his Chapter Seven with the first six lines of my poem ‘Nepenthes’ (putting me in such good company as Ovid (Chapter 1),Oscar Wilde (Chapter 2), Hesiod (Chapters 3 and 4), Andrew Marvell (Chapter 5 and Epilogue),and William Shakespeare (Chapter 6).
2008, John Ryan, ‘Poems, Plants and Post-modern Australian Men and Women: or ‘The Boy form the Bush’ in Sydney Town’ (relating to The Melancholy Dane), Australian Folklore No. 23, 2008, pp. 59 – 70.
2008, repeat of ABC Radio National ‘Poetica’ program, ‘A Stroll Through the Gardens’, 26 January.
2007, Peter Pierce, Non-Fiction review of The Melancholy Dane (as part of a large batch of books), Westerly, Vol. 52, November.
2006, Guest Reader (with Geoff Page and Iggy McGovern (Irish poet)) at the 35th Montsalvat Poetry Festival, 10 December.
2006, a joint paper (with Barbara Briggs), ‘The Making of Mount Annan (Australina Native Botanic Garden)’, was published in Australian Garden History, Vol 18, No 2, September/October 2006 (the aim being to document the early stages in the chosing of the site and early developments. Sadly this paper had been severely edited back. a longer version, ‘Birth of a Garden: Mount Annan Botanic Garden, near Campbelltown, south-west of Sydney’, had been posted on the Website of the Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney (October, 2006), but seems to have been lost in cyberspace.
2006, The Melancholy Dane, September 2006, was dedicated ‘to my brother Jim’.
2006, Nikki Barrowclough, ‘Edwin Wilson & ‘Jim’ Onslow’, an interview for the ‘Two of Us’ with reference to The Mullumbimby Kid, ‘Good Weekend’, was published, Sydney Morning Herald, 26 August 2006.
2006, my mother died, 18 May, at Mullumbimby.
2006, Christine McNeill, ‘Edwin returns to his Garden of Eden’, on talk to the Bryon District Orchid Society (having been a child member in the 1950s), with reference to The Mullumbimby Kid, Byron Shire News, 13 March.
2006, spoke to Byron and District Orchid Society on the Latouria breeding project with Phil Spence (having been a child member of this society in the 1950s), 13 March.
2006, posed for Jenni Mitchell for a portrait (as part of her ‘Poets of Australia’ series) at Eltham, Victoria, 2/3 March.
2006, a joint paper published (with Phil Spence), entitled ‘A New Direction with Dendrobium Hybrids’ was published in the Australian Orchid Review, February/March 2006.
2005, ABC Radio National ‘Poetica’, ABC Radio National, ‘A Stroll Through the Gardens’, talking about Poetic Foci (plus poems, with some of my own) in the Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney and the Sydney Domain, 3 December (repeated January 2008).
2005, my article, ‘Related to Lord Nelson?’ (on Andrew St Clare Nelson and his prported links to Horatio Nelson), was published in the Nelson Yearbook.
2005, Guest Reader at ‘Dangerously Poetic’ (Bangalow), 12 March.
2005, Guest Reader at Canberra (organized by Geoff Page), 2 March.
2005, ‘The prickly problems growing in our parks’, article derived from the Poetry of Place, Sydney Morning Herald, 26 February.
2004, Poetry of Place, launched Maiden Theatre (RBG) by Hon. Bob Debus, Minister for Environment and Attorney General, 14 October. This book was (also) dedicated to Kathleen Wall, 1915 – 2003′
2004, John Millett, review of Collected Poems, Five Bells, Vol. 11, No. 4, Spring.
2004, New York based Sharon Olinka, very positive review of Collected Poems, as published (electronically) in Australian Poetry Book Reviews, March.
2004, Guest Reader (with Norma Balzer, and my brother Jim came along for the experience), ‘Lismore Live Poets’, Rous Hotel, 18 February.
2003 , discovered by my half brother, Edwin James (‘Jim’) Wilson/McGuire/Onslow (Jim Onslow), my brother Jim, following the publication of my piece (in The Northern Star, 1 November 2003) on the centenary of our father’s birth, 1 November.
2003, read at ‘Writers at the Rail’ (Byron Bay), 2 November.
2003, Guest Reader at ‘Molly Blooms’ (Victorian FAW, Melbourne), 29 September.
2003, Steve Evans, sniffy review of Collected Poems for Online Network Review of Books, Perth, Australian Public Intellectual Network, August/September 2003, in which he failed to grasp the subtle message of my ‘Binary Poem’. For once in my life I had a chance to respond to criticism, and posted a reply while my blood was still hot.
2003, Guest Reader at ‘Live Poets’ (North Sydney), 27 August.
2003, my obituary to Kathleen Wall (botanist and friend, 1915 – 2003) was published in the Sydney Morning Herald, 2 June 2003.
2003, listed as ‘Senior Poet’ in ‘Silver’/Winter edition of Five Bells, Vol. 10 No. 3, 2003.
2003, read at ‘Closet Poets’ (Canberra), 10 May.
2003, Guest Reader at ‘Friendly Street Poets’ (Adelaide), 6 May. Kathleen Wall died at the precise time I was having lunch at the National Library of Australia, Canberra, on my way back from Adelaide.
2003, Guest Reader at ‘Poetry at the Pub’ (Newcastle), 21 April.
2003, Guest Reader at ‘Poets at the Parakeet’ (Katoomba, organized by Denis Kevans), 10 March.
2003, Joe Weston, ‘Wide ranging poetry collection’, review of Collected Poems in Education, 17 February.
2003, Peter Bernhardt, article on my ‘botanic poetry’ in ‘The Last Word’, in London-based Plant Talk 31 January.
2003, ‘Gardens’ historian, poet &storyteller retires’, with mention to recent books, RBG News, 30 January.
2002, planted two White Beech trees (an increasingly rare lowland rainforst tree from north eastern New South Wales, from seed collected at Boatharbour Nature Reserve, near Lismore) in Bed 1 (near entane to Education Rooms), and Bed 33 (between the Wollemi Pine and the Macqurie Wall).
2002, ‘The Botanic Verses on sale now’, relating to Collected Poems, RBG News, 25 November.
2002, ‘Déjeuner sur L’Herbe’ (or ‘Lunch on the Grass’), advertised luncheon and readings from Collected Poems, 16 November.
2002, ‘Wilson collects his poems’, reference to John Ryan’s Lismore launch (at Southern Cross Co-op bookshop) of Collected Poems, Byron Shire Echo, 5 November.
2002, ‘A poet’s plant paradise’, article on retirement and reference to proposed ‘Déjeuner sur L’Herbe’ (Lunch on the Grass), a luncheon and reading from Collected Poems at Lion Gate Lodge (on 16 November), North Shore Times, 1 November 2002. Other references to luncheon and reading appeared in The Gardens (Friends of the Gardens), p. 6, Spring 2002, and What’s on in the Gardens Spring 2002, the Daily Telegraph, ‘Homes’, 9 November 2002, p. 4, and Domain 3 ‘Events’, Sydney Morning Herald, 14 November.
2002, Collected Poems, launched Moore Room (RBG) by Anne Deverson (on my 60th birthday), 27 October 2002. This book was dedicated ‘to Gwen Kelly, colleague and friend who assisted me at a critical stage in my pathway towards verse’.
2002, John Ryan, Introduction to Collected Poems (used in reduced format in New Selected Poems).
2002, my essay, ‘Reflecting the City’s Rites of Passage’ (adapted from The Wishing Tree, and promoting my ‘Lunch on the Grass’ poetry readings at Lion Gate Lodge in association with my Copllected Poelms), was published in The Gardens (Journal of the Friends of the Gardens), no 54, Spring, 2002.
2002, Joe Weston, ‘Poetic prose sparkles in this yarn’, review of Cedar House in Education, 2 September 2002, p. 24.
2002, Asteroid Belt, June 2002, was dedicated ‘to Elizabeth McAlpine, who graced my early books of verse with her delicate pencil drawings’.
2002, Susan Mason and John Ryan, very positive review of Cedar House – ‘If You Were a Carpenter and I Were a Lady’, Australian Folklore (University of New England), No. 17, 2002, pp. 249 – 253.
2002, Phil Spence and I were made Honorary Research Associates of the Herbarium, Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney (not sure of actual month, but it would be in the minutes of the RBG trust), in the lead up to the start of our Latouria Breeding Program (on a Hermon Slade Grant, obtained when the submission was made less ‘commercial’ and more ‘scientific’).
2002, the transcript of my 2001 Armidale launch of Lionel Gilbert’s The Little Giant was published in the Journal of the Armidale and District Historical Society, No 45, pp, 99 – 104, May 2002.
2002, Edwin Wilson, ‘Mullum Dreaming: Life of a Young Poet’, as posted electronically on Thylazine No. 5, ‘Australian Arts and Literature on Landscape and Animals’, electronic publishing, March 2002.
2002, my essay, ‘Chincogan: Muse and Mountain of a Mullumbimby Childhood’, was published in Australian Folklore, March, 2002.
2002, an Australian Wuthering Heights? – review of Cedar House in RBG News, 14 February.
2002, my play (with some dialogue assistance from Melissa Haminton), ‘The Batanic Garden’ (the Mel and Ed show), a conservation saga based of a conversation between a Bat (Eric, Steve Paul) and a stupid Ibis (Fatima, Debbie Lennis), was used as Live Theatre for Royal botanic Gardens Twilight Walks, permormed in January 2002 (with an erlier world premier at our love-in (planning meeting) at the Police Academy complex at North Head).
2002, ‘Shades of Bronte on the north coast’, and article on Cedar House, Byron Shire Echo, 8 January.
2001, my article, ‘Green Lungs of the Inner West’ (on the association of Charles Moore, Director Royal Botanic Gardens with the plantings at Callan Park (as part of a campaign to oppose a developmen proposal), was pblished in The Gardens, (Journal of the Friends of the Gardens).
2001, two of my poems were included in Ten Years’ Live: Ironic, Sardonic Humorous Verse, Live Poets’Press, 2001, edited by Sue Hicks and Danny Gardner.
2001, Cedar House, came off the presses November 2001. This book was dedicated ‘to Kathleen Wall OAM, renaissance lady, mentor, critic, feminist and friend, who assisted with the re-education of the not-so-young-Edwin, and made me far less of a chauvinist’.
2001, my essay, ‘Chincogan: Muse and Mountain of a Mullumbimby Childhood’, was published in Australian Folklore, No. 16, 2001 (March 2002), pp. 211 – 214.
2001, review of The Mullumbimby Kid, Richmond River Historical Society Bulletin, Vol 12, No. 178, September 2001.
2001, mention of The Mullumbimby Kid, in Book Reviews, Outback Magazine, Issue 17, June/July 2001.
2001, ‘Poet’s pilgrimage to old stamping ground’, story about the Armidale connection with my books, on the occasion of my launch of Lionel Gilbert’s biography of J.H. Maiden, The Little Giant, Armidale Express, 26 April.
2001, read thematically appropriate ‘Phaius Orchid’ at my Armidale launch of Lionel Gilbert’s biography of J.H. Maiden, The Little Giant, at Kent House, 12 April.
2001, my Introduction to Songs of the Forest was reprinted in Vegan Voice, No 5, March-May 2001.
2001, Mark O’Connor, ‘This portrait of ‘poet as a child’ almost as grim as Les Murray’s’, review of The Mullumbimby Kid and Cosmos Seven, The Canberra Times, 17 February.
2000, my essay, ‘The Poetry of Place – Poetic foci in the Sydney Gardens and Domain’, was published in Australian Folklore, No. 15, October 2000, pp. 123 – 132.
2000, my poem ‘Judy’s Chair’ (as used in virtually all her portraits) and a photograph of this chair featured in the University of NSW Senior School’s English Competition, 2000.
2000, Joe Weston, ‘Memories of Armidale last century’, review of The Mullumbimby Kid, Education, 11 December.
2000, James Cockington, ‘Tall Stories’ (stories of important Sydney trees), reference to the Coolibah Tree, Royal Botanic Gardens (from The Wishing Tree), Weekend 6, Metropolitan, Sydney Morning Herald, 18 November.
2000, ‘Child poet’, review/article on The Mullumbimby Kid, The Daily Examiner (Grafton), 13 November.
2000, Michael McDonald, ‘Memoirs of a Mullum kid’, review of The Mullumbimby Kid, Byron Shire Echo, 24 October.
2000, Elvira Sprogis, mention of The Mullumbimby Kid, Books, The Newcastle Herald, 21 October.
2000, ‘The Mullumbimby Kid’, review of The Mullumbimby Kid, RBG News, 27 September.
2000, Jennifer Somerville, ‘Edwin’s poetic journey’, feature review of The Mullumbimby Kid (with photograph and insert) in Saturday Review, The Northern Star (Lismore), 23 September.
2000, The Mullumbimby Kid, whose working title had been ‘The Orchid Boy’, was launched in the Education Classroom (RBG) by Kathleen Wall, 18 August. This book was dedicated ‘to ‘Tidge’, Edwin James (‘Tidge’) Wilson, 1903 – 1942′.
1999, my ‘Zen and the Art of Orchid Culture’ talk was published in Towards a New Millennium in People-Plant Relationships (contributions to the International People-Plant Symposium, Sydney, July 1998), pp. 243 – 351, as edited by M.D. Burchett, J. Tarran, and R.A. Wood, University of Technology, Sydney, Printing Services, 1990.
1999, Bettina Cummins, review of Cosmos Seven, Writers Voice, No. 164, June – July 1999, p. 17.
1999, Wendy Wilkins, review of Cosmos Seven, this Month in Books, Muse (The Australian Museum Society) April – May 1999.
1999, ‘Poet latest addition to school’s wall of fame’ (with photo of Wal Wardman, old English teacher), on being inducted into Mullumbimby High School’s Hall of Fame, Saturday Star (Lismore), 29 February.
1999, induction as fifth member into the Mullumbimby High School ‘Hall of Fame’, where I gave a talk on Chincogan, ‘Muse and Mountain of a Mullumbimby childhood’, 22 February.
1999, Bruce Copping, ‘Illuminations of ourselves’, review of Cosmos Seven, The Newcastle Herald, 30 January.
1998, a second joint paper on family history (with Patricia Wightley, following on from No 11, 1996), ‘Oliver Bainbridge – An Unacknowledged Casualty of the Death of Empire’, was published in Australian Folklore, No 13, 1998, pp. 77 – 93.
1998, Wayne Crawford, ‘Ideal chance to feast on quality poetry’, review of Cosmos Seven (and some other books), Sunday Mercury (Tasmania), 6 December.
1998, Hamesh Wyatt, ‘Wry, haunting, amusing poems with plenty of grit’, review of Cosmos Seven (and three other books), Otago Daily Times (New Zealand), 4 November.
1998, lecture and readings at National Women’s Register Group, Maiden Theatre, Royal Botanic Gardens, 24 October.
1998, Jennifer Somerville, ‘Homecoming for poet’, on the publication of Cosmos Seven (with photograph) and a projected reading at Mullumbimby High School (1 September 1998), The Northern Star (Lismore), 1 September.
1998, my essay, ‘A Passion for the Epiphyte Transferred: The Genesis of Woodbine Press’ (on the establishment of Woodbine Press) was published in Biblionews, 319th Issue, Vol 23, No 3, September 1998 (University of Sydney).
1998, reading at Mullumbimby High School, 1 September.
1998, my ‘In Memorium, Eric (Dick) Edwards, Poet, Printer, Publisher (1916 – 1998)’ was published in Five Bells, September 1998.
1998, Joe Weston, ‘Radiant Harmonic Verse’, review of Cosmos Seven in Education (Journal of the New South Wales Teachers’ Federation), 31 August.
1998, my obituary to Dick Edwards was published by Harriet Veitch in the Sydney Morning Herald, 28 August 1998.
1998, Hetty Cislowski, ‘Well Read’, review of Cosmos Seven, Inform (New South Wales Department of Education), 26 August, p. 19.
1998, Ben Smailes, ‘The perfect read for a rainy day’, review of Cosmos Seven, The Daily Examiner (Grafton), 14 August.
1998, Sue Hicks, ‘Getting in touch with the nature of things – cultivating a WAR of words’, review of Cosmos Seven (with photograph and insert), ‘in Style’, Mosman Daily, 13 August.
1998, endorsement of Cosmos Seven, RBG News, 10 August.
1998, delivered a paper on ‘Zen and the Art of Orchid Culture’ at the International People-Plant Symposium, UTS Sydney, 12 – 22 July 1998.
1998, Guest Reader at ‘Live Poets’ for the launch of Cosmos Seven, at Don Bank by Shirley Colless, Deputy Lord Mayor North Sydney (with whom I had worked on Discovering the Domain), 24 June 1998. This book was (also) dedicated to Dick Edwards, pig-farmer, philosopher, printer, publisher, poet, mentor, friend, and silent partner Woodbine Press before the electronic age’.
1998, my poem ‘Judy’s Chair’ was published in the Sydney Morning Herald, 14 February.
1997, Linda Conn, ‘A Mature Reflection’, review of Chaos Theory, Biblionews (University of Sydney), December, pp. 168-9.
1997, Poetry Walks (for Botanic Verses) in the Gardens, 28 October.
1997, Bettina Cummins, review of Chaos Theory, Free Xpres Sion, October, p. 18.
1997, David Kelly, mention of Chaos Theory with ‘illustration’ of ‘No-Yes Crystallography’ poem, The Book Page, Five Bells (Poets Union), July, p.12.
1997, my joint paper (with Kathleen Wall), as delivered at the Volunteer Guiding Conference in Bathurst (6 – 8 November 1996), was published in Volunteer Matter/Volunteer Matters, Volunteers & Volunteer Managers in the Arts, tourisn, Environment and Heritage, July 1997.
1997, ‘Chaos, compost, creativity, and the craft of verse’, talk to Friends of the Gardens, 15 July.
1997, Joe Weston, ‘Poetry in motion’, review of Chaos Theory, Education, 21 April.
1997, ‘The botanic nurses’, talk to the Colonial Science Club, 14 April.
1997, Cathy Bajelis, ‘A theory crops up with words’, review of Chaos Theory (with photograph), North Shore Times, 11 April.
1997, Chaos Theory, dedicated ‘to my reader’ (in the form of a poem), came off the presses in April.
1997, my article ‘From the Barn on the Hill to Edwards & Shaw’ (on the publication of the Edwards & Shaw book) was published in Biblionews, 313th Issue, Vol 22, No 1, March 1977 (University of Sydney).
1996, From the Barn on the Hill to Edwards & Shaw, a limited edition of 350 deluxe copies of the late Harry Stein’s book (on the publishers Edwards & Shaw), was published by Pot Still Press (for the State Library of NSW Press). Harry had died in 1994, I helped edit his manuscript, obtained sporsorship, and steered the project through to publication (and spoke at the evening launch of this book (by Jack Mundey) at the State Library of New South Wales).
1996, my article on ‘The Wishing Tree’ (Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney) was published in Australian Garden History, Vol 8, No 3, Nov/Dec 1996, pp. 8 -10 (Journal of the Australian Garden Historical Society).
1996, presented a joint paper (with Kathleen Wall), ‘Guiding in the Garden: the Need for a Creative Approach’, at the Volunteer Guiding Conference (for Volunteer Management in Cultural Institutions), held at Bathurst, 6 – 8 November 1998.
1996, my joint family history essay (with Patricia Wightley), ‘Lord Nelson’s Daughter: and her Possible descendants in northern New South Wales’, was published in Australian Folklore, No. 11, 1996, pp. 164 – 181.
1996, posed for a portrait by Judy Cassab (in Danish flag T-shirt, a detail of which was used for the cover of The Melancholy Dane).
1995, my follow-up essay ‘The Botanic Verses – and Problems of Sexual Tolerance, 1789 to the Present’, with reference to Erasmus Darwin and the ‘Eileen’ incident, was published in Australian Folklore, No. 10, 1995, pp. 187 – 198.
1995, Meg Stewart, ‘Where magic is carved in stone’, article about creativity in the Gardens with reference to my poetry and The Wishing Tree, Sydney Morning Herald, 29 December.
1995, taped first batch of readings of poems to be used on ‘The Science Show’, Radio National, 12 May.
1994, my essay ‘Paradise Lost: Plant-lore on the far North Coast of New South Wales’, was published in Australian Folklore No. 9, July 1994, pp. 104 -113 (University of New England, as edited by John Ryan).
1994, Graham Croker, ‘No curses on botanic verses poems’, review of The Botanic Verses, UNIKEN (University of NSW), 4 November.
1994, taped interview and reading with Sophia Hendel, (Paddington) community Access Radio (projected to go to air in early February), 21 January.
1994, John Ryan, review of The Botanic Verses, New England Review, No. 2 1993/4.
1994, Phil Brown, ‘Not Enraging, Stirring’, review of The Botanic Verses and one other book, Australian Book Review, No. 157, December/January 1993/4.
1993, Guest Reader (with David Malouf and Rhyll McMaster), ‘Writers in the Park” (Harold Park Hotel), 5 October.
1993, Guest Reader (with Mark O’Connor), ‘Environmental Poets in the Park’, Gardens Restaurant, 26 September.
1993, The Botanic Verses, dedicated ‘for the Banyan Trees at East Wardell’, was launched in Maiden Theatre (RBG) by Professor Carrick Chambers, with advertised Rainforest (Poetry) Walks in the Gardens, 20 August.
1993, ‘botanic verses’, reference to poetry walks in the Gardens in association with the launch of The Botanic Verses, Arts Section, Sydney Morning Herald, 26 July.
1993, Evan Jones, review of The Wishing Tree, The Australian Garden Journal, August/September.
1993, Chris Betteridge, review of The Wishing Tree, Australian Garden History Journal, Vol 5, No. 1, July/August.
1993, ‘Gardens’ forgotten statues find a place to rest in pieces’, feature article (with photographs) on statues in the Gardens (from The Wishing Tree), Sydney Morning Herald, 5 March.
1992, two of my orchid poems (with photographs) were publilshed in Lionel Gilbert’s biography, The Orchid Man: The Life, Work and Memoirs of the Rev. H.M.R. Rupp, Kangaroo Press.
1992, John Ryan, review of The Rose Garden, New England Review.
1992, Kathleen Wall, review of The Rose Garden, The Australian Garden Journal, December.
1992, Robert Boden, ‘ACT’s botanic links with Sydney’, expansive review of The Wishing Tree (with photograph), The Canberra Times, 30 December.
1992, Susan Parsons, ‘An old wishing tree remembered’, mention of The Wishing Tree, The Canberra Times, 13 December.
1992, Pamela Jane, ‘books to suit the festive season’, mention of The Wishing Tree, Home, Sun Herald, 6 December.
1992, Leo Schofield, review of The Wishing Tree in ‘Leo at Large’, Sydney Morning Herald, 5 December.
1992, ‘Wishing Tree Walks’ in the Gardens, Events, Telegraph Mirror, 4 December, the launch of The Wishing Tree the day before featured in the Sydney Morning Herald, 1 December.
1992, The Wishing Tree launched in Maiden Theatre (RBG) by Frank Sator, Lord Mayor of Sydney, 30 November. This book was dedicated ‘to Tony (Antoinette) Jeans, for many hours spent following up leads and footnotes, and for her continuity is a sea of interruptions’.
1992, advertisement for ‘Wishing Tree Walks’ in the Gardens, Sydney Morning Herald, 28 November.
1992, Pamela Polglase, ‘Wishing Tree Walks’ in the Gardens (in association with the launch of The Wishing Tree), Garden Style, Manly Daily, 26 November.
1992, Valerie Swane, mention of ‘Wishing Tree Walks’, Sunday Telegraph, 22 November.
1992, ‘Spring fever hits Sydney’, photo of Botanic Gardens ‘worker’ Ed Wilson under peach tree in blossom, Sydney Morning Herald, 17 August.
1992, readings at Nutcote, 17 January 1992 (on occasion of May Gibbs’ birthday).
1991, three poems published in Live Poets’ Society Litmus Suite, edited by Sue Hicks (Live Poets’Press).
1991, Tony Scanlon, review of Songs of the Forest, Northern Perspective (Northern Territory), Vol. 14, No. 1.
1991, read-in for ‘Nutcote’, Maiden Pavilion, Royal Botanic Gardens, 1 November.
1991, David Kelly, review of The Rose Garden and Falling Up IntoVerse, OZMuze, Vol. 1, No. 13, October.
1991, Martin Langford, review of The Rose Garden, Muse News (Newsletter of the Poets Union of NSW, University of Sydney), 4 October.
1991, The Rose Garden launched at Country Kitchen, Mullumbimby, with Byron Poets, 2 July. This book was dedicated ‘to my critics’ (in the form of a poem).
1991, Jennifer Somerville, ‘Poetry comes to life’, an article relating to the Mullumbimby launch of The Rose Garden (2 July 1991), The Northern Star, 29 June.
1991, review of Songs of the Forest, Adelaide Botanic Gardens Friends Newsletter, Vol. 14, No. 2, April – May.
1991, readings from Songs of the Forest to Friends of the Gardens, Maiden Theatre, 21 February.
1991, Guest Reader at L’Orangerie (precursor of Live Poets) after the publication of Songs of the Forest.
1991, readings (of ‘Rainforest’ and ‘Thunalgunaldin’) on live radio in Gardens Restaurant with Sirocco, ABC –FM, Songs and Stories of Australia, 17 January.
1990, ‘The Saga of Peter Hibbs’, a joint paper with Tom Richmond on our First Fleet Sailor ancestor Peter Hibbs, was published in Hawkesbury River History: Governor Phillip, Exploration, and Early Settlement (Dharug & Lower Hawkesbury Historical Society), edited by Jocelyn Powell and Lorraine Banks.
1990, Shirley Stackhouse, ‘Reading to the rescue’, to help save May Gibbs’ home, ‘Nutcote’, with reference to Songs of the Forest, Gardening, Sydney Morning Herald, 30 October.
1990, ‘Reading for Nutcote’ (to help save the gumnut home), reading in Gardens with Alex Buzo, Robin Williams, Shirley Stackhouse, Marion and Neil Shand, Short Black, Sydney Morning Herald, 23 October.
1990, Dan Byrnes, review of Songs of the Forest, Education, 24 October.
1990, readings at Quorrobolong, met Pytor Patrushur and gave Peter Minter a lift home, 23 August.
1990, Tim North, mention of Songs of the Forest, ‘Reviews in Brief’, Garden Journal, June/July.
1990, Wal Upton, review of Songs of the Forest, Book Review, Australian Orchid Review, June.
1990, Susan Parsons, ‘Of loomed blooms, Tut’s tomb’, mention of Songs of the Forest (‘Tut’s tomb’) and ‘flowers of the Loom’ walks in the Gardens, The Canberra Times, 11 May.
1990, Roland Robinson, very positive review of Songs of the Forest (not long before he died), The Newcastle Herald, 21 April.
1990, Peter Pierce, ‘Wide-ranging themes in our recent poetry’, review of Songs of the Forest (along with five other publications). Pierce did not like my ‘Kangaroo’ poem (when the poets Roland Robinson and Mark O’Connor – in a typed 1983 review for radio – had seen its merit), The Canberra Times, 30 June.
1990, Pamela Jane, ‘Averse to rape of the forest’, review of Songs of the Forest, Sun Herald 18 March.
1990, Michael McDonald, review of Songs of the Forest, Byron Shire Echo, March.
1990, Songs of the Forest launched in the Gardens with advertised Rainforest (Poetry) Walks (plus inspection of the new glasshouse being built), 3 and 4 March. This book was dedicated ‘to ‘Mac’, Miss K.M. McIllrath, Banora Point’ (orchid grower and mentor).
1990, Bettina Cummins, review of Falling Up Into Verse, Writers Voice (FAW NSW Bulletin 109), February/March.
1990, Pamela Polglase, ‘A walk in the rainforest’, mention of rainforest walks and poetry readings and inspection of new Arc Glasshouse (under construction) in association with the launch of Songs of the Forest, The Manly Daily, 1 March.
1990, ‘Love affair with things botanical’, article about Songs of the Forest (with photograph of Kathleen McIllrath, to whom the book was dedicated), Tweed Gold Coast Daily (Murwillumbah), 21 February.
1990, John Ryan, ‘The Survival of a Poet from Down Under’, review of Falling Up Into Verse, Education, 12 February.
1989, Bev Roberts, review of Falling Up Into Verse, Australian Book Review, No. 113, August.
1989, Falling Up Into Verse launched with featured reading at the Poets Union, 19 May. This book was dedicated ‘to Dick Edwards, pig-farmer, philosopher, printer, publisher and poet’.
1989, Yasuko Claremont, article on Australian poets published in Japanese source in Japanese (received 28 April 1989), with photos of Henry Lawson, Les Murray, and myself under the banyan tree at the Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney (with reference to a Sydney poet).
1988, my Introduction to Songs of the Forest was published in the Australian Orchid Review, Summer 1988 (prematurely, as the actual book (Hale and Iremonger), was not published until 1990).
1987, the Royal Botanic Gardens Visitor Survey, commissioned and coordinated by me at the Gardens (throughout 1987), was published by The Department of Leisure/Tourism, Kuring-gai College of Advanced Education.
1987, Letter to Editor re Statues of Seasons in the Royal Botanic Gardens, with reference to The Wishing Tree, Sydney Morning Herald, 19 November.
1987, Denis Kevans, review of Wild Tamarind, Education, 26 October.
1987, ‘The Story of the Domain’, reference to Discovering the Domain, Manly Daily 16 October.
1987, Dan Byrnes, review of Wild Tamarind, Education, 14 September.
1987, mention of Wild Tamarind, Australian Book Review, No. 94, September.
1987, John Ryan, review of Wild Tamarind, UNE Convocation Bulletin and Alumni News, August.
1987, Featured Reader at Poets Union, Neighborhood Centre, Newtown (with Pam Brown and Thomas Shapcott), 7 August.
1987, review of Wild Tamarind, Byron Shire Echo, April.
1987, my article, ‘The Garden Palace: Its Rise and Fall’, was published in Gardenscene, February 1987 (Graham and Sandra Ross).
1987, mention of The Dragon Tree, Australian Book Review, February/March.
1987, Judith White, ‘Pat and the Wild Tamarind’, mention and endorsement of Wild Tamarind, and reference to its launch by Pat O’Shane in the Gardens Restaurant, Sun Herald, 22 March.
1987, spoke to Phillip Adams about Wild Tamarind, Radio 2UE, on morning of its launch, 18 March.
1987, Wild Tamarind (no dedication) was launched by Pat O’Shane in the Gardens Restaurant, 18 March.
1987, taped reading of ‘The Garden’ (Poem), for Steve Rapley, Radio National, early January.
1986, letter to Editor about extending the Harbour Tunnel, with reference to Discovering the Domain, Sydney Morning Herald, 12 December.
1986, Tim North, review of Discovering the Domain, Garden Journal, December.
1986, Jane Burgess, review of Discovering the Domain, Heritage Conservation News, Vol. 4. No. 1.
1986, John Ryan, reference to Banyan, The Dragon Tree, Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney, and Liberty, Egality, Fraternity, UNE Convocation Bulletin and Alumni News, October, pp. 35 – 38.
1986, ‘Read, walk and discover the Domain’, reference to free guided ‘Domain’ walks to be offered in the week after the launch of Discovering the Domain by Lady Rowland, wife of the Governor of NSW (25 August), North Shore Times, 27 August.
1986, additional mentions of ‘Domain’ walks (to be offered after the launch of Discovering the Domain), Sun Herald ‘Dates to Remember’, 24 August, and Daily Telegraph, 24 August.
1986, Bettina Cummins, review of The Dragon Tree, FAW Bulletin, No. 88, August.
1986, Discovering the Domain (no dedication) was launched by Lady Roland (wife of the Governor of NSW) in a marquee at Fleet Steps, Mrs Macquaries Point, 25 August.
1986, reader at Voice Prints, Performance Space at 199 Cleveland Road Redfern, 13 July.
1986, read in Open Section at ‘Writers in the Park’ at Glebe, 6 May.
1986, conducted workshop and readings, ‘Poetry in the Bush’, Quorrobolong, April.
1986, John Ryan, ‘A Modern James Joyce or Henry Lawson for NE’, feature review of Liberty, Egality, Fraternity! in The Armidale Express, 18 April, p 2.
1986, Keith Russell, ‘More than a cultural afterflow’ (some Recent Australian Poetry), review of The Dragon Tree (and other books), Quadrant, January/February.
1985, Barbara Aylott, ‘Champagne Breakfast with a Dragon’, on the launch of The Dragon Tree, FAW Newsletter by Bettina Cummins, December.
1985, ‘Special tree for a grave’, review of The Dragon Tree, The Northern Star, 7 December.
1985, Denis Kevans, review of The Dragon Tree, Education, 2 December, p. 22.
1985, ‘Mountain’ artist illustrates book of verse’, Wentworth Falls Feature, about illustrations by Elizabeth McAlpine in Banyan (with an illustration from the book), photocopy sent to me by Elizabeth McAlpine (Wentworth Falls), (sometime in 1985 of unknown source).
1985, Pamela Jane, review of The Dragon Tree (with art work of cover), Sun Herald, 3 November.
1985, The Dragon Tree launched with a champagne breakfast under the Dragon’s Blood Tree, Lower Garden, followed by a ‘real’ launch in the reconstituted ‘Liberty’ boat at Mrs Macquaries Point, 28 September 1985. This book was dedicated ‘for the Dragon Tree, Lower Garden, Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney’.
1985, John Broomhall, review of Liberty, Egality, Fraternity, Education, 9 July.
1985, Jennifer Somerville, ‘Geography puzzle in first novel’, review of Liberty, Egality, Fraternity, Northern Star, 6 July.
1985, Frances McInherny, ‘Hypocrisy in Australia’, review of Liberty, Egality, Fraternity, Australian Book Review, June.
1985, Andrew Bray, ‘Model Yachts from Foam’, an article on construction of the self-steering sailing ship used to launch Liberty, Egality, Fraternity from a hired ferry at Sydney Heads (Brian Mundy had retrieved the boat near the edge of the continental shelf and returned it to be ‘recycled’ for the launch of The Dragon Tree from Mrs Macquaries Point), The Cruising Skipper, No. 12, p. 94.
1985, Dan Byrnes, review of The Dragon Tree, Northern Magazine (Tamworth), week commencing 18 May.
1985, ‘Unknown puts down his pen for the road’, review of Liberty, Egality, Fraternity, The Macleay Argus (Kempsey), 23 March.
1985, Bettina Cummins, review of Liberty, Egality, Fraternity, and Barbara Aylott, ‘A Genuine book Launch’ (on the ‘real’ launch of Liberty, Egality, Fraternity in a self-steering model sailing boat at Sydney Heads), FAW Newsletter.
1984, publication of ‘First Contact’, the Bulletin, 25 December.
1984?, M.A. Smith, LinQ, vol.14, No. 2, review of Liberty, Egality, Fraternity.
1984, ‘…ten about the Bush’, review of Liberty, Egality, Fraternity, Adelaide Advertiser, 17 November.
1984, Dan Byrnes, Showcase ‘It just had to be written’, review of Liberty, Egality, Fraternity, The Northern Daily Leader, 6 November.
1984, David Myers, ‘Warning: keep an eye on the blood pressure’, a real put-down review of Liberty, Egality, Fraternity in The Age, (?) November.
1984, a ‘real’ launch of Liberty, Egality, Fraternity in a painted self-steering model sailing boat from a hired ferry at Sydney Heads, 15 September 1984, featured on Channel Ten evening news, 15 Setpember. This book was dedicated to James Joseph Wilson (my grandfather) and James Richmond Wilson (my first child).
1984, Gwen King, ‘Visit to North Shore by Poet, Edwin Wilson’, FAW Newsletter.
1984, reading of ‘Man on the Ten Dollar Note’ at Henry Lawson’s statue in the Domain, as part of a reading of Lawson’s poems on the occasion of his birthday, with John Derum and Chrissie Shaw, April.
c 1984, read all the poems from Banyan (in two sessions) for Ryde (Community) Radio, 2RRR.
1984, Andrew Bray, ‘Lost In (Sydney) Harbour with all Stanzas’, about the launch of Banyan in a small boat from Mrs Macquaries Point, Shorelines, Australian Boating, February.
1984, Ban Byrnes, ‘Author knows poetry has no gender’, review of Banyan, Northern Daily Leader, 22 January.
1984, Dan Byrnes, feature on Banyan, ‘Wilson Takes a Journey Through Time’, with reference to the publication of ‘The Cherry Tree’, Northern Daily Leader, November 1970, Northern Daily Leader, 21 January.
1983, reading at the wake for Edwards & Shaw (read ‘Education Officer’s Lament’ and ‘Thunalgunaldin’) and Rod Shaw taped the proceedings, 2 December.
1983, edited Drawn from Life, an exhibition catalogue of an exhibition of Australian floral art of the same name.
1983 , Mark O’Connor, typed review of Banyan (projected for radio?) received 1983 (outcome unknown).
1983, John Baxter, ‘New Garden Books’, review of Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney, Your Garden, November.
1983, Guy Weller, Bookbox, very good review of Banyan by Betty Cummins, Artlook, September.
1983, Jennifer Maiden, very positive one-sentence review of Banyan, Sydney Morning Herald, 13 August.
1983, Edwin Wilson Profile, Australian Horticulture, June 1983.
1983, Michael Kindler, sniffy ‘political’ review of Banyan, Education 27 June.Followed u with him years later with New Collected Poems.
1983, ‘Australia’s Flag’, letter in the Bulletin (15 March), reflecting on the new Canadian flag.
1983, review of Banyan, This Australia (Melbourne), Autumn.
1983, Barbara Giles (a Mother I’m Rooted poet) , nasty dismissive review of Banyan, Booknotes, Australian Book Review, No. 50, May.
1983, Kerrie Kerans, ‘Mountain was gateway to world of poetry’, feature about Banyan, North Shore Times, 16 February.
1983, my article, ‘The oldest Garden in Australia’, published by Tim North in his Australian Garden Journal (his upgraded ‘Cuttings’), Vol 3, No 2, 1983.
1983, Tim North, review of Banyan, Garden Cuttings, Vol. 2, No. 4, January.
1983, mention of Banyan in Ecologist’s Diary, 1983 (photocopy, details unknown).
1982, mention of Banyan, FAW Bulletin, December 1982/ another review by Bettina Cummins received (FAW North Shore Regional).
1982, Maurice Kelly, ‘Local interest in poem book’, review of Banyan, Armidale Express, 24 December.
1982, Pamela Pollglase, ‘Just the presents for keen gardeners’, mention of Banyan, Manly Daily, 9 December.
1982, Mark Gallagher, Book Reviews, ‘botanical imagery in love of nature’, review of Banyan, The Northern Star, 14 November.
1982, Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney (my ‘Blue Book’ or Guide to the Gardens), was received 15 October.
1982, function for launch of Banyan in the Gardens Restaurant, followed by ‘real’ launch at Mrs Macquaries Point, 15 October. this book was dedicated ‘for Chinny’ (Chincogan, guardian mountain of a Mullumbimby childhood), unaware that Henry Kendall had dedicated his third and final book of poems was dedicated to a mountain too.
1982, Garden Cuttings (Tim and Keva North), Vol 1 No 8, May, article on the Sydney Gardens entitled , ‘A Walk through Paradise’.
1981, construction and launch of papyrus boat, Ra III, into Sydney Harbour (at Mrs Macquaries Point) as the launch of a campaign to construct more display glasshouses at the Sydney Gardens, proceeded by a dance at the site of the Pyramid Glasshouse by students of Summer Hill OC School, and the procession through the gardens to transport a model of the Sun God Ra to the boat, prior to the launch (11 April) that received saturation coverage on evening TV news.
1981, my survey, ‘The Australian Museum Visitor,No 2, 1979’ (a study of two travelling exhibitions in the outer suburbs of Sydney in 1979), was published by The Australian Museum Trust.
1980, ‘New era starts for the Botanic Gardens’, interview with Director Lawrie Johnson (Sydney Morning Herald, 11 November 1980), with mention of the appointment of a new officer, Edwin Wilson, whose job ‘is to organize programs, tours, displays and exhibitions, and … redeveloping the gardens along more thematic lines’.
1979, my follow-up article, ‘Moving Experiences: The Australian Museum’s Travelling Outer Urban Exhibitions’, was published in Kalori, No 57, 1979.
1977, my aticle, ‘The Australian Museum Dinosaur Appeal: Dead on Time’, was published in Kalori (the Magazine of the Museum Association of Australia) No. 52, March 1977.
1976, three poems published in Poetry Australia, the first of many poems published over the period 1976 – 1993 (not included in this compilation).
1975, photo of ‘Mr and Mrs Wilson’ at the Dinosaur Ball, Australian Museum, in the Social Pages, Sun Herald, 7 December.
1975, James Richmond Wilson, aged four years and two months, accidentally hit and killed by a motor car at Redland Bay, Queensland, 20 January. Threw myself into my writing and my work to help ease the pain. Oversaw construction of the ‘Stegomobile’ (cut out hanging model of a Stegasourus) at the Australian Museum, at the start of the Dinosaurathon, the selling of ‘shares’ in dinosaurs to purchase replica dinosaurs from America, featured (as a photograph) in The Australian Encyclopaedia, The Grollier Society of Australia, Fourth Edition, 1983, construction started 6 May 1975. The Dinosaur Appeal attracted considerable publicity, including a mention in Education and The Financial Review, and I spoke on the Super Flying Fun Show (TV), and sang our ‘Dinosaur Song’ (with others) on ABC radio.
1975, Ian Moffitt, Perspective, ‘Verse reversal’, an outing of my literary hoax, the Australian, 20 March (to outrage in some quarters).
1975, my poem ‘Eileen’ (with reference to my having met John Ryan, University of New England) was published under the female psuedonym of ‘Eileen’ Wilson in Kate Jenning’s Anthology of Female Poets, Mother I’m Rooted.
1975, ‘Boy killed’, less than one column inch reference to the accidental death of James Wilson, Redland Bay, on 20 January, Queensland, Brisbane Courier Mail, 22 January 1975, resulting in my throwing myself into the manuscript of Liberty, Egality, Fraternity!.
1970, read ‘Homage to a Mountain’ at Tony Bennett’s ‘Poetry Club’ when lecturing at Armidale Teachers’ College (c. 1970). Tony later published my Anthology and New Collected Poems through his Kardoorair Press (2002 and 2012).
1968, planted two Lord Howe Island banyan trees at East Wardell, between the northern tip of Cabbage Tree Island and Meaney’s Lane, between the river and the road. The northern-most tree (‘Ed’s tree’, with a brass plaque containing an etched poem (1990s) several metres up its trunk) was planted opposite the fibro cottage where I spent my first five years (where the original pioneer ‘log cabin’ homestead had been built, of vertical split slabs of the stems of cabbage palms), then in the ‘middle of nowhere’, when the river was the only road. An original wooden sign (1968), had long since rotted away. The southern tree was christened ‘Jim’s tree’ in 2004 (on our trip up north).
1967, part of an Art Exhibition Goldstein Hall, when at Phillip Baxter College, University of New South Wales (sold three paintings, ‘In Search of Truth’ (to Joe Cassidy, Philip Baxter College), ‘Convent Garden’ (to someone in Psychology department, UNSW) and The Flower that Has Bloomed Forever Dies (to Professor George, Physics Department UNSW, purchased back, and later destroyed)).