Saturday, September 1, 2012

from My Australia, a collection of photographs by Hal Missingham. Published in 1969. A lucky op-shop find.

I don't think I've mentioned how much daughter # 2 (Annabel to those in the know) hates school...this is not the time or place to discuss the reasons why, but let's just say that when I found this photograph in Hal Missingham's  My Australia, I knew it would strike a chord - she loves it, and wants it framed and hung in her bedroom.

If My Australia wasn't such a wonderful old book it would be hanging in her room as I type. As it is, I'm seriously considering a humane way to remove just that page (would that be so bad?) because I know how much this image speaks to Annabel, despite the fact it dates from the late 60's.

(Some things never change, do they? Although when I was a kid, our anti-school grafitti was more likely to read "School Sux! And so does Sister _____!")

I'm quite fond of this home-made sign, which was obviously crying out for that crudely added 'with' don't you think...

Hal Missingham was born in Western Australia in 1906 and died here in 1994. He trained as a painter, but began a life-long interest in photography in 1933. He was also a cartoonist, print maker, illustrator, teacher and the Director of the NSW Art Gallery from 1945 - 1971.  
Some people do it all and do it well, clever buggers! Sounds like Hal was one of them.  

He describes the photos he chose to include in My Australia like this:

There are no skyscrapers or splendid new bridges in My Australia; no monuments to politicians, no aeroplanes, great ships, railways or giant telescopes... 

They capture what Hal called the small details, that are unique and memorable to Australia. 
Some of the images in his book are quite moving, this one, in my opinion anyway, particularly so.

Curtained window of a beach shack at Era, NSW, long dis-used.

Bill-board for the Lyric Theatre, Glenn Innes, NSW.

Starting to understand why I'm anxious about going near this treasure with a pair of scissors?

What would you do?

I'll end with a couple of lovely illustrations drawn by Hal, from Australian Alphabet, published in 1942

(for the life of me I cannot remember where I found this cover pic, sorry)

P is for Platypus - it's also for perfection.
image via 

Thanks for reading x 

Btw, it makes me feel so much better to know that I'm not the only one who thought Cathrineholm was a pretty Scandinavian designer. You know, I really thought I would be. Thanks for being honest and fessing up x   


  1. Its always a struggle to know what to do with old books - to take out pics or not! Love the photographs, especially the graffiti ones.
    Liz @ Shortbread & Ginger

  2. This book is fantastic, Kylie! Exactly my sort of photography - real things, little things not everyone notices - I'd definitely be getting onto eBay in search of a second copy for Annabel :-) The book defacing is a weird one for me, I adore books but also love to use book pages in craft bits so tend to keep a deliberate watch for already falling-to-pieces books with pages missing as I feel like these are fair game. Silly I know!

    Jem xXx

  3. Can you not scan the photo and print it out rather than cut it up?

    I do love books that show the small, forgotten and hidden little things that make up life rather than the grandiose and loud and obvious.

  4. I was going to make the same comment as Wendz when I was reading the post. I'd also scan it - (or take it somewhere that can do a better quality scan perhaps than I could produce) - and then have that framed and hung on the wall. Unless the book is absolutely falling to pieces I don't think I could bring myself to cut something out!

  5. I had the same dilemma with some plates from an old musical score which I wanted to frame. I had made the decision to take them out, since the score was no use to me and would never be looked at, but the picture framer dissuaded me, and did great quality scans which he could then be framed, plus the bound score is still intact.
    I didn't feel good about spoiling the book so this was a good solution for me.
    Love the photos and illustrations. Like you, I think the photos of disused buildings seem sad and wistful.
    Tell Annabel she's right, school DOES stink, but it isn't forever, she just has to hold her nerve, and her nose, till she gets what she needs from it! xxxxxx

  6. would have LOVED to encounter the man behind such a truck load of creativity and vision, i kind of really dig him, and certainly what you show.
    if i were you, which i am not, i'd make a terrific scan of the photo and let annabel frame that. two minds rest assured, or well, at least yours...

  7. Since i've got all confused about which post im commenting on i'll mention here that i too assumed catherine holm was a woman who cool scandivdesign house we'd see featured on a blog someday! I have a blue and white casserole dish that i think is cathrineholm but its not a patch on that glorious yellow x

  8. Ahhh, what photographs! A great diversion for me on my break from work today!


  9. Yes you should get it professionally scanned/ photocopied. They come up really well. Maybe from somewhere like Camera House.
    Australian Alphabet illustrations are lovely.

  10. I often have the 'cutting' dilemma with old children's books Kylie, I just love some of the old pictures and would like to do other things with them!

    The photo of the window and curtain is moving...the stories it could tell? An interesting and entertaining post as always x

  11. I'm no purest, barbarian if you will! Is the book going to sit forgotten on the book shelf in due time? Or is it going to make the coffee book stack to display to your luncheon pals? Give the kid, her page! I too think school stinks and I'm paid to be there but could you send me a scanned copy b4 it gets loving framed! :)

  12. Lovingly framed I mean't, dam u fancy iPad!

  13. I would try and scan it first, if it doesn't look any good, chop it up. You will forget it's even there in a few months and stumble upon it when it's too late for your daughter to enjoy now.

  14. Totally agree with the scanning/copying suggestion. Surely in this era of printing technology it would probably look better than the original? I am struggling to dismember a 50 year old version of Red riding hood to frame for miss Liongirl.Just goes against every bone in my body. melx