Welcome to the blog of the Tasmanian branch of the Children's Book Council of Australia!

Sunday 13 November 2011

Discovering Peter Gouldthorpe - by Patsy Jones

Scientific interest in the Antarctic and Arctic areas was strong in the first years of the twentieth century, with expeditions mounted to attempt to reach both poles.

The British National Antarctic Expedition of 1901, led by Robert Falcon Scott, was forced to return in 1904 having been unsuccessful in the attempt to reach the South Pole. A United States expedition under Robert Peary’s leadership reached the North Pole in 1909, but Peary’s claim to have been the first person to reach the North Pole is not universally accepted.

Then on November 1, 1911, a few days over a hundred years ago, Robert Scott’s ill-fated second expedition to the South Pole set out overland for the Pole, having spent most of that year at their base at Cape Evans.

Peter Gouldthorpe’s latest work, No return : Captain Scott’s race to the Pole, recently published, tells the story of this expedition, accompanied by many full-page illustrations in Peter’s realistic style. Enjoying it reminded me of other work of his, so I spent some time recently revisiting these particular landmarks in Hobart and in Oatlands.

The Oatlands Community Library, which shares the premises of the Oatlands District High School, has an amazing collection of Peter’s work – for any of you planning to visit Oatlands, please ensure you will be there when the library is open (2.00pm – 5.00 pm Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and 10.00am -1.00pm Friday) so you can call in and visit this display.

The material in the library actually consists of some faux books attached to one wall in the library – very realistic indeed, and some even interactive! The Callington Mill at Oatlands is well worth a visit too, while you’re there.

His other works in public display are the trompe l’oeil murals in North Hobart (on the veterinary surgery on the corner of Tasma and Elizabeth Streets, and in Tony Haigh Walk, off Elizabeth Street) and in South Hobart (on a warehouse wall at the bottom of Denison Lane, off Macquarie Street). Perhaps you could arrange a class or family visit to a few of these places and tie it in with polar exploration, Peter’s published books, or just as an enjoyable excursion.

I have often wondered at the story/stories behind all this fascinating public art – can anyone enlighten me? And I wonder if the Hobart City Council has acted to preserve the Hobart examples?

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