View Finder

Tim Bonyhady in his fascinating book The Colonial Earth writes about artists needing to clear space to get good vistas in the landscape.

He tells the story of Eccleston du Faur who was obsessed with creating and preserving the landscape around Sydney for all to see. So obsessed that he regularly invited photographers to take photos of Govett’s Leap. He wanted to tell the world about this beautiful spot.

In 1875 du Faur was preparing for the arrival of his artists. He discovered the area was too overgrown for the artists to appreciate the cliffs. Painter Piguenit got painting for the next ten days. Then du Faur returned along with a party of senior schoolboys from Sydney Grammar and the King’s School to create new views at the junction of the Grose River and Govett’s Leap Creek. Lots of axe work.

I suppose when E.O. Hoppé got to visit Govett’s Leap it had been prettied up to the hilt.

| E.O. Hoppé, Govett’s Leap, Blue Mountains, New South Wales, 1930 |

E.O. Hoppé wrote in his autobiography ‘Never until these later years of my travels have I come to think of a wood as “timber.”… Trees are meant to live their stately life in undisturbed tranquility, to grow old gracefully, and at last when they are decayed and tired, to fall and die. That they should be lopped, cut and hacked, should become in fact timber, to serve the purpose of man, seemed to my romanticism a terrible and cruel thing.’

Here’s another use for a tree.

| E.O. Hoppé, Dance sign, New South Wales, 1930 |

Julia Ritson

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