State Library Victoria > La Trobe Journal

No 86 December 2010



THIS ISSUE of the La Trobe Journal is an eclectic one, certainly in a chronological sense. It opens with a survey of the Burke and Wills Papers in the State Library of Victoria and closes with a short biography of the recently deceased Melbourne cartoonist William Ellis Green, better known to thousands of Victorians as WEG.
In between there are eight interesting articles. Wayne Caldow writes on the early cattle trade between Port Albert and Van Diemen's Land while Gareth Knapman provides a stimulating long essay on the recently discovered 'lost' bust of George Augustus Robinson, the 'pacificator' of the Tasmanian Aborigines and later Protector of the Victorian Aborigines in the time of the Journal's name sake, Superintendent Charles La Trobe. His article is followed by a memoir by Laurie Hergenhan, foundation editor of Australian Literary Studies, on his near fifty years of researching and writing on the great Melburnian Marcus Clarke, himself a one-time employee of the (then) Melbourne Public Library. The impressive Melbourne Cup paintings of Carl Kahler are detailed by Andrew Montana while Andrew Dodd writes on the child prodigy architect J. J. Clark, designer of the Old Treasury building in Melbourne and also of a prize winning design for a free public library in Sydney to rival that of Melbourne's, but which was never built.
Benjamin Thomas provides a detailed survey of the Sedon Galleries, a long running and influential gallery owned by W. R. Sedon that promoted traditional Australian art and Chris Elmore details the activities of the Universal Sciences Group, some middle-class Melburnians who sought spiritual enlightenment and harmony through a quasi-eastern philosophy in the immediate post-second world war era. Then there is a short article by Walter Struve on a wonderful natural history plate book, Aroideae Maximilianae, published in Vienna in 1879 and donated to the State Library the following year by another of the great nineteenth-century Melburnians, Baron Ferdinand von Mueller.
Two of the articles (the ones on Burke and Wills and the Melbourne Cup paintings of Carl Kahler), indirectly commemorate their subject's sesqui–centenaries, but if there is a theme to this issue, then it is the State Library of Victoria itself. In addition to those dealing specifically with items or collections in the library, three of the articles (those by Caldow, Dodd and Thomas) are the direct result of specifically funded library research fellowships. These allow scholars to spend focussed time in the Library working on the study of a collection and/or a designated research project.
Being able to publish the fruits of their research along with the other articles in this issue, all of which focus directly or indirectly on the collections of the State Library, make it a pleasure to be closely associated with this major cultural institution that Redmond Barry, a great nineteenth-century Melburnian if ever there was one, envisaged over one hundred and fifty years ago for his adopted home town.
John Arnold