Friday, July 21, 2017


One of the many  attractions of  Cairns is  the  Cairns City Library Literary Trail  which  honours  26 authors, who either wrote about or were residents   of North Queensland , with  a range of artworks . One of those featured  is  the late  Xavier Herbert (1901-1984) , above , who  wrote  the  Australian  l938 Sesqui-Centenary Award  novel  Capricornia,  about  the Northern  Territory .

 It  is in  a prominent  position against  a  wall  near the drive through   book  returns slot.   Designed and executed    by  Sarah Austin  , it  is white  stoneware  clay cut to incorporate  the design , using  underglaze  colours fired to 1220 degrees  Celsius.
Austin  explained  the  artwork  combined neo-classic elements  of the library building   and the almost classic  nature of  Xavier Herbert's writings. It light-heartedly  depicts  the reading public  catching the words and messages  contained  in  his books .  Issues such as nationalism, Aboriginal land  rights  and other social issues . An owl in a  tree  represented   his "wiseness",  parrots repeating  those  wise words . 

 Books depicted  are  Capricornia another novel set in the Territory  Seven Emus  ,  his part autobiography  Disturbing  Element, a collection of short stories  Larger Than Life , Dream Road  illustrated  by Ray Crooke   and  the epic  Poor Fellow My Country , winner of  the Miles Franklin Award   for  Australian  literature , at the time said to be the largest novel  ever written in the  nation.  Not included   is  the novel  Soldiers' Women which  Herbert  said  was  inspired by his observations of liberated  women  in Sydney   during  WWll.  
The Cairns  libraries  website  includes   an alphabetical  guide to the  Literary Trail in which  his   first name ,  Xavier ,  is  presented  as  his  surname , so that he appears  to  be   Herbert   Xavier ,  before  William Yang  and Desmond Zwar .  More  posts  about  the  Cairns  Literary Trail  authors to come , including  the  well known Territorian  whose memorial was  stolen .