A Biography of Place: The Unknown Craftsmen at Everglades c1932-35 #1-3 – Artist Statement

Vivienne Dadour: Biographical Note

A Biography of Place: The Unknown Craftsmen at Everglades c1934 #1-3.
Mixed medium- Digital prints on Hahnemuehle photo rag paper, collage, hand written text, photography by Vivienne Dadour, digital photographic reproductions from Harold Cazneaux 1933-36 photo album, Blue Mountains City Library collections and Paul Sorensen papers, Sydney Living Museums, Caroline Simpson Library collections.
Written Text #1
“During the depression of the 1930’s cheap labour was readily obtained…the number of men employed, or who the individuals were, is uncertain owing to a lack of information in the surviving time sheets…nor is it known where they came from” National Trust report c1963

 

The central component of A Biography of Place: The Unknown Craftsmen at Everglades c1932-35 #1-3 is to uncover and work with public and private archives concerning the complexities of the conditions and forces surrounding life during the Great Depression 1930-36 in the Blue Mountains. These art works  consider some of the social and political concerns that were pertinent then and remain so today- Identity, survival, resilience.

  • Who were the Craftsmen at the everglades c1932-35? Migrants, relief workers, unemployed, skilled or unskilled, age, address, family ties, religion?
  • How did they survive? What were their working conditions like?
  • What was required to keep working in the face of despair?

 

A Biography of Place: The Unknown Craftsmen at Everglades c1934 #1-3.
Mixed medium- Digital prints on Hahnemuehle photo rag paper, collage, hand written text, photography by Vivienne Dadour, digital photographic reproductions from Harold Cazneaux 1933-36 photo album, Blue Mountains City Library collections and Paul Sorensen papers, Sydney Living Museums, Caroline Simpson Library collections.
Written Text #2
“The dry- packed ironstone walls were built from specially selected and hand shaped stones, most of which were the locally collected iron rich sandstone. The walls exhibit an extremely high quality of workmanship: in their massive stability, the skillful introduction of tubular stone foundations and in their aesthetic result. The physical labour required to create the walls and planting was daunting. Fortunately for the Everglades, the depression was at its height and manpower was readily available.” National Trust report c1963

Reports from the National Trust archives Everglades booklet, 1963 states that ‘The Unknown Craftsmen at Everglades’ hired by Van de Velde during the Depression to work on his house and garden came from cheap labour that was readily obtainable, from the large number of unemployed… the number of men employed, or who the individuals were, is uncertain owing to a lack of information in the surviving time sheets and to the possibility of Van de Velde having paid some of them cash in hand…nor is it known where they came from…

A Biography of Place: The Unknown Craftsmen at Everglades c1932-35 #1-3 aligns with the political sub-texts often found in my artwork where I incorporate documents, photographic archives and contextual materials to reveal important social and political issues that may be obliterated, ignored, hidden or obscured by the passage of time.

 

A Biography of Place: The Unknown Craftsmen at Everglades c1934 #1-3.
Mixed medium- Digital prints on Hahnemuehle photo rag paper, collage, hand written text, photography by Vivienne Dadour, digital photographic reproductions from Harold Cazneaux 1933-36 photo album, Blue Mountains City Library collections and Paul Sorensen papers, Sydney Living Museums, Caroline Simpson Library collections.
Written Text #3
“A team of 14 Scottish master stonemasons constructed the exterior stonework under Paul Sorensen’s supervision, a French tradesman manufactured the wrought iron onsite, piano makers were engaged for the house joinery, and as many as 15 or 20 labourers were employed at any one time in the gardens.” National Trust Report c1963

 – Vivienne Dadour

 

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