Sunday, December 27, 2015

Ame Bale: Her Art and Life by Peter Perry.

Ame Bale: Her Art and Life by Peter Perry. Hardcover book published by Castlemaine Art Gallery and Historical Museum 2011, 151 pages with colour illustrations (art works) and a few black and white photographs and illustrations.

Alice Marian Ellen Bale (1875—1955) is one of Australia’s most significant painters of flowers. She is also known for her subtle and sensitive portraits and for her many evocative studies of interiors and landscapes. She had a strong sense of independence and a firm belief in her own considerable talent, and her life was completely devoted to art. This book, the first monograph, is a valuable new source of reference on the life and work of this noted Australian artist. It contains an authoritative chronology, exhibition list and bibliography. It traces Bale’s formative influences, including that of painter and teacher Max Meldrum, and assesses her achievements and her position in the early twentieth century Melbourne art world. This publication provides a pictorial survey of wide appeal to art admirers and collectors. Of the numerous works illustrated in colour, many have been selected from private collections and have not before been on general view.”

A “painter of flowers” is not a bad thing to be remembered as. But Ame Bale didn't just paint flowers, she painted other stuff as well, all of which is quite stunning.  For some reason it is her flowers that have stuck in the art appreciating publics appreciation... and this booksellers mind... as being something quite special... and it's not as if i'm a passionate fan of the painted flower as such, it's just that she seemed to have figured out how to paint flowers in a way that was quite simply, beautiful. I'm tempted to go out on limb here and even say that there is a peacefulness and tranquility in her paintings that grabs and entrances the viewer into a state of mind that would make the Dalai Lama blush.

This book was published by the Castlemaine Art Gallery (about an hours drive from where I now sit) to accompany an exhibition of Ames work. I didn't see the exhibition, but I now wish I had of.... although I most likely wouldn't have as the name didn't ring any bells with me previous to finding this book. Yes it's true, bookselling has broadened my horizons once again and Ame Bale is now on my horizon.

Reading through a brief biography of Ame, there are a few things that have caught my attention:

She came from a family of botanical appreciators, which more than likely infused her with an interest in flowers.
She had a house in Kew and another in Castlemaine, which is probably why the Castlemaine Art Gallery had the exhibition and published this book.
She never left Victoria, which I guess is not that unusual for someone in the era in which she lived, but is something that I find a bit strange, particularly considering her creative output. (Why this is strange, i'm not so sure about... I just think it's a little odd as most other creative types of that and other eras, tended to travel.)

I was talking to someone here in Clunes recently and they informed me of their interest in Australian female artists, particularly their interest in books about Antipodean ladies of a creative nature. I think this book might fit the criteria of this persons interest and if there's one person interested, I'm sure there are others... even people like me.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Huc & Gabet: Books of interest NOW OPEN by appointment.

There's been some changes here at Huc & Gabet: Books of interest. A few months back and after a few months before that of careful consideration, work began on the new Huc & Gabet storeroom/showroom/bookotorium*. That work is now finished. Yes, Huc & Gabet now has a physical presence, a place where one can browse and if one wanted too, even hold a book. That's right, a place where books are on the shelf awaiting the fondling bookishly inclined book buying public... and yes, we are still in Clunes.

Before anyone gets too excited... No, I haven't opened a shop and Huc & Gabet's main focus of on line sales and presence remains as it is. Over the last 12 months it had become very clear that storage had become an issue as was the desire of some of my more regular customers wishing to physically browse the Huc & Gabet on line stock. With some of that careful consideration I mentioned above, I figured that I can easily kill both birds with the one stone and here we are with a bookotorium ready for anyone wishing to have a browse.

The Huc & Gabet bookotorium is not retail as most of us know it. Among many small differences, Huc & Gabet will only be open by appointment. There are a number of reasons for this, the main reason being, time. Anyone who wants to look/browse/buy is more than welcome, they just need to contact me via phone or email, and arrange a time that is mutually appropriate for all concerned. You're probably wondering how much notice is necessary. Despair not, if you're here in town (Clunes) call me and if i'm here and available, I can open in a few minutes.

Phone: 0437 444 212

* Still looking for a title for the new premises... bookotorium will do for now.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

An English Affair: Sex, Class and Power in the Age of Profumo by Richard Davenport-Hines.

An English Affair: Sex, Class and Power in the Age of Profumo by Richard Davenport-Hines. Hardcover book published by HarperPress HarperCollins 2013, 400 pages with some black and white photographs.

Published to coincide with the fiftieth anniversary of the Profumo scandal, An English Affair is a sharp-focused snapshot of a nation on the brink of social revolution. Britain in the early 1960s was dominated by the legacy of two world wars. Prime Minister Harold Macmillan, the Edwardian stalwart, led a Conservative government dedicated to tradition, hierarchy and, above all, old- fashioned morality. But the tide was changing. A breakdown of social boundaries saw nightclub hostesses mixing with aristocrats, and middle-class professionals dabbling in criminality. Meanwhile, Cold War paranoia gripped the public imagination. The Profumo Affair was a perfect storm, and when it broke it rocked the Establishment. In An English Affair, the masterly biographer Richard Davenport-Hines introduces us to the key players and brings seedily glamorous Swinging London to life, The cast list includes familiar names such as louche society doctor Stephen Ward, good-time girls Christine Keeler and Mandy Rice-Davies, and Secretary for War John Profumo himself.

50 years!!! I guess we're all getting older, even this humble bookseller can feel the years behind him when he realises that he was alive at the time that John Profumo and his comrades were poncing around in 1960s London. Sure, I can't remember it, as I was only a babe in arms at the time, living in a completely different country and in a completely different social environment. (This means that I was a newborn, living in Australia as part of a migrant family... as apposed to living in London and moving (?) and poncing in the diplomatic circles of the time.) Nevertheless, despite my lack of years, foreign upbringing and social background, I am aware of what this book is all about. Why this is, is a little unclear to me at this point in time. But I've got a fair grasp of the story. The question is, does any one else here in Australia has a grasp and if they do, do they really care enough to buy a book about it?

I'd like to think that the answer is yes, but if you ask anyone under 30 here in Australia who Christine Keeler was, I'm fairly certain that 99% of the time you would get a complete blank as an answer. So how do we get people to pick up a book such as this. Well, the answer is very simple, put a picture of someone who looks like, or rather, dresses like, John Cleese on the cover, and then people will pick up the book. It's not John Cleese on the dust jacket, but my first thought upon seeing it was that here was a book about Mr Cleese or Monty Python. It isn't. But it did get me to pick up the book and figure out what it was and hey presto here we are in Blog land writing about a book that I don't think the kids will go for. Let's hope i'm wrong.