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We don't so much write the meaning of a period, as the history of some possible meanings; we study what was able to emerge within, and against, what seems to at first glance at least, to be a dominant field of social perception.
It has been observed elsewhere that Queensland, as a self-governing colony, did not ‘arise like the sun at an appointed time’ within an Empire on which the sun never set. Rather, to paraphrase British historian E.P. Thompson in another context, ‘It was present at its own making.’ December 1859 was only a moment of disjuncture according to certain political, administrative and fiscal effects. As a society, as a culture, Queensland was already in full and exuberant existence, having carved out a sense of its own intrusive perpetuity over a preceding period of some 35 years from both the lands of others and the labours of mostly convict, emancipated and indentured men and women. And these in turn marked the Antipodean sequel to ‘blue water’ Imperialism – trans-oceanic nomads drawn by the hazy promise of land on foreign shores or projected unwillingly there by the logic of their metropolitan transgressions. People of many nations, of ‘interacting, sometimes colluding, sometimes colliding cultures’, from its generative convicts, soldiers, penal commandants and manifold Aboriginal peoples to its waged workers, squatters, selectors, merchants and administrators, were in effect this colonial society in embryo, both formed and in process of formation. Only a name for the place was now lacking. Although small, isolated and stunted, this was nevertheless a multi-faceted, diverse and unequally graded social order, cloaked only one-dimensionally in the mantle of Britishness and Christianity. What follows are some observations about this conceptually unstable sense of consonance and divergence and the coincident business of simultaneously being and becoming.
The personal and political styles of leaders have long fascinated historians, biographers and political scientists eager to unravel the intricate nature of leadership and its impact on history. While some subscribe to the ‘Great Man’ theory that alleges that leaders' individual characters alone determine events, others believe in a ‘materialist’ conception where the prevailing socio-economic forces of the day shape history. The truth is probably a combination of the two. While leaders and events are primarily a function of environments, it will undoubtedly be leaders' individual characters that determine the finer details of history.
From their foundation at the turn of the twentieth century, the remoteness from large population centres of Queensland's reserves for Aboriginal and Islander people was a key factor in maintaining them. Activism by the people themselves, reports and commentary by journalists, and research by historians like Charles Rowley, Raymond Evans, Henry Reynolds and Ros Kidd have raised the public's awareness of past and present reserve conditions. Although important in itself, the tide of events may seem to be of only marginal professional concern to students of literature, yet a question worth considering is whether textual analysis can contribute usefully to the reform process. In this essay I demonstrate a form that such a contribution might take, by examining an unofficial canon of texts associated with Palm Island. In some respects a representative place of confinement for Aboriginal and Islander people, Palm Island has been described as ‘the largest and historically most punitive of Queensland's reserves’ (Watson 1993: ix). I explore the texts for the insights they provide into the changing attitudes and understanding of whites and blacks, as the forces of repression and resistance have wrestled for dominance. My aim is to contribute to the conversations among Indigenous and non-Indigenous people that are presently shaping Palm Island's future.
Worldwide, 25 January 2009 was celebrated as the 250th birthday of the great Scottish poet Robert Burns (1759–96). The anniversary celebrations will continue all through this year, however, as the Scottish Parliament has proclaimed – in recognition of Burns' powerfully unifying significance – that 2009 will be a ‘Year of Homecoming’ for all those Scots, or Scottish descendants, who compose the great intellectual, economic and social diaspora that has emanated from this tiny, harsh and indomitable country over the last 300 years.
Yet in time to come the individual will fade into oblivion, and
the work will stand or fall by its abstract power or its lack of it.
— Ian McKay
In 1983, more or less mid-career as it turned out to be in the light of his early
death, Ian McKay summarised his intentions as a potter:
I try to make simple pots that people will enjoy using. The traditions
I draw on for inspiration are mainly Japanese and what could loosely
be called ‘the Cardew’ tradition. In practice for me this amounts to
forms that are a clear statement of the pot's function, and very simple
glaze recipes using the maximum of hand collected local materials – so
that the pots may speak for themselves and give pleasure unspoiled
by too much intrusion of the potter's own personality.
Lance Fallaw was born in Gateshead in the north of England in 1876. He graduated in Arts at the University of Durham, developing a deep love of English literature which he carried with him for the rest of his life as an itinerant literary journalist. In 1900, after working for a few years in Newcastle-on-Tyne, he took his leave of Britain forever, first going to South Africa, where he worked as a journalist, mainly in Durban, for about six years, thence to Rockhampton in 1906.