Wednesday, March 7, 2018


International Women's Day 2018  Special
Crying out  for  publication  in a  special  pictorial form  are  the  photograph  albums of  the now almost forgotten  New Zealand  born  international  identity  who was  both  applauded  and condemned- activist, author, playwright and environmentalist  Jean Devanny-stored  with her personal papers   in  the  Special  Collections section , Eddie  Koiki  Mabo  Library ,  James Cook University , Townsville .
Part of  the  Devanny  collection , above,  includes  her banned early novel ,The  Butcher  Shop , which presented marriage as a state of slavery , and Sugar Heaven , another novel, about North Queensland , where  she spent much  time . One of  the  photo  albums is  opened  revealing , bottom , right , Jupiter Mosman  , the Aborigine   who at  the age of 11 , a  horseboy,  found traces which  led to the  fabulously rich Charters  Towers  goldfield  in  North Queensland, Townsville's casino  said to have been  named after him ( now called  The Ville ) ,  in a group with  Australia's 10th  Prime  Minister, Joseph Lyons.    The  photo  above it  is  of  Torres  Strait  Islanders   dancing .  
By  Peter Simon
While some of  the  photographs appeared in  Carole  Ferrier 's  1999  excellent  biography , Jean Devanny , Romantic Revolutionary ,  a wide selection of them, in large format , with   associated ,  expanded  text   would explain  the  courage , travels  and far reaching  influence  of   a   battler  who  was  shamefully  made  use of  by  the  Communist Party  and others , her  health  suffering  as  a result , until  she   died   from  cancer  in  Townsville .  
 The  suggested pictorial treatment  could  cover distinct  parts in her action packed  life: New Zealand , becoming  increasingly  involved in union matters  with activists  who would  become  members of  a  Labor  government  and part of her early days  in  Australia , including  speaking  at  the Domain  in Sydney , at one stage  during the Depression, locked up  in Long  Bay Jail   along with her daughter , Patricia ,  and   husband    for   protesting about people being evicted  from  houses because they   could not  pay  rent .
Another  segment could  cover   her   involvement    in      international      gatherings  in  Berlin  and Russia   where  she was  regarded as  a  fighter for the rights of women . This could  be followed by her  activities during WWll which involved mixing with "Negro" soldiers and a  prominent  American  literary figure,  Army Sergeant  Karl Shapiro . Covered pictorially are a fascinating range of  people, places and  events   in  North Queensland , from  Magnetic Island to  the Torres Strait .
An  album  deals  with  life in occupied   Japan . Not all photographs are captioned . One which jumped out at me was of author Bill Harney at Victoria River Downs   in  the  Northern Territory.

Other  subjects include crocodiles, one 22ft long , which could not be pulled out by seven men ; a 1944 snap of  Jack Corbett on Green Island  with a  cod weighing 310lbs ; Methodist Overseas Missions  pilot Reverend  Cliff Lanham; Jimmy Kanaka, first white man  to cross the Archer River ; Townsville mackerel and barramundi  fishermen ; the north side of Lizard Island  with  ruins of tragic Watson home in background ; Jean Devanny in pith helmet with Mrs Motlop and son beside campfire on bank of Norman River , Gulf of Carpentaria ; Innis Bogle with giant kangaroo  skin in Cloncurry district; close up of a  wrecked large  vessel ; musicians  Dulcie, Heather and Sophie Pitt  ; canecutters ; camera enthusiast and inventor  Bruce Cummings  with  special  bathysphere ; a view of  Townsville  from Melton Hill  circa 1921;the owner of Townsville's Mount Saint John Zoo boxing with a kangaroo ; Dr Flecker  with Torres Strait Pigeons ; an unclear  mention of Alice Springs and a  long  walk.  

 The overseas   album  covers   Singapore, Ceylon, Geishas  in Japan ,Tashkent.

It is almost certain that Jean  Devanny and  her  activist     daughter   will   not  be  mentioned   in  Townsville by  the media  on  this  day .