Friday, May 8, 2009

SA Greats 1 - Dame Roma Mitchell, Robert Helpmann, Hans Heysen

Well, I have to say South Australia punches above its weight. You South Aussies have an awesome list of greats! Here we go:

The link in the title takes you to a biography of Dame Roma.

Dame Roma became in 1962 the first Australian woman to be appointed Queen's Counsel; she became in 1965 the first to hold office as a judge of a superior court [Supreme Court of SA]; she became in 1983 the first to be elected as Chancellor of an Australian university [University of SA] ; and she became in 1991 the first to hold vice-regal office [Governor of SA]. 1981 Dame Roma became the founding Chair of theAustralian Human Rights Commission....

.....Dame Roma remains an inspiration to many Australian women and particularly those in the legal profession. ....I think it is also important to record that Dame Roma was also a particularly nice person. While in her professional roles she brooked little nonsense and was something of a stickler for the proper formalities, she was, when away from her official duties, warm, generous and funny."

There is also a short transcript of an interesting story by George Negus on the abc website - it includes comments from Dame Roma and others who knew her and an insight into Dame Roma the person.
..and then there's the transcript of the interview with Dame Roma conducted for the Australian Biography project.

I think the information provided on the website for the Helpmann Awards does Sir Robert Helpmann best justice, so please follow the link in the title above.

Helpmann's name was chosen to be honoured in the naming of the awards which "recognise distinguished artistic achievement and excellence in the many disciplines of Australia's vibrant live performance sectors, including musical theatre, contemporary music, comedy, opera, classical music, dance and physical theatre." The awards are described as "similar to the Tony Awards on Broadway or the Olivier Awards in London".

The 100th anniversary of his birth was celebrated by the Royal Opera House in London just recently, with an exhibition devoted to his time with the Royal Ballet, reported in the Australian.

There is a full biography of Sir Robert on wikipedia.

Hans Heysen (ie Sir Wilhelm Ernst Hans Heysen)

Hans Heysen is one of the greatest Australian landscape painters. He was "an outstanding draughtsman" with "superb control over line". He won the Wynne prize nine times between 1904 and 1932, the Crouch prize in 1931, and the Maude Vizard-Wholohan prize in 1957. He was knighted in 1959. Heysen was absolutely passionate about gum trees and a conservationist ahead of his time. "The whole nation came to see the gum tree as he saw it".

A major retrospective of Heysen's work assembled by the Art Gallery of SA and sponsored by the Australian Government is currently touring regional areas. See the SA Gallery website for a program of dates and places where you might be able to take advantage of this marvellous opportunity to appreciate and learn about Heysen's work. The exhibition is currently in Victoria, before heading to Tassie, Canberra, Brisbane and Newcastle.

Visitors to Handorf may like to visit Heysen's property The Cedars for walks or a tour of the house or studio. Details, including some interesting commentary about the artist, are provided on the Hans Heysen website. This will certainly be on my list of must dos when I'm in the area.

No comments: