Harold Herbert’s Corner

April 23rd, 2018 | C. J. Dennis, Sunnyside, Web Gilbert

The Australian poet C. J. Dennis completed the writing of ‘The Songs of a Sentimental Bloke’ in a tram car (strictly speaking a horse-drawn omnibus) on the property of Garry and Roberta Roberts, ‘Sunnyside’, in what was then South Sassafras, but is now known as Kallista.

The Roberts created something of an artists’ colony at ‘Sunnyside’. Robert worked for the Melbourne Tramway & Omnibus Company. Both he and his wife, Roberta, were keen patrons of the arts, and encouraged many writers and artists to visit their weekend retreat. When the homestead proved inadequate to accommodate them all, Roberts arranged for horse-drawn omnibuses that had been rendered obsolete by the new cable tram technology to be taken to ‘Sunnyside’ and placed in the paddocks around the house. It was here that Dennis lived – and wrote – for a period of time.

Among those who visited were Hal Gye, who illustrated most of Dennis’ books, the cartoonists David Low and Percy Leason, the sculptor Web Gilbert, the etcher John Shirlow and, amongst many others, the artists Alick McClintock and Harold Herbert.

Looking for information about ‘Sunnyside’ amongst the digitised newspapers on the National Library’s ‘Trove’ recently, I was both stunned and charmed to find this beautiful series of sketches of cathedrals, churches and schools by Herbert. They were published in a newspaper I had not heard of before, ‘The Australasian’, under the heading ‘Harold Herbert’s Corner’. They appear to have been published, on a more or less weekly basis, in the last year of his life. (Herbert was born on 16.09.1891 and died on 11.02.1945.) ‘The Australasian’ ceased publication in 1946.

All of the sketches are accompanied by a few explanatory sentences. In a few cases, there are the words only, and no sketch at all. A few were published following his death, though in these cases the headline ‘Harold Herbert’s Corner’ was not used. Herbert was best known as a watercolorist. He also became a highly acclaimed war artist. I expect that these sketches are regarded as a fairly minor part of his overall artistic output, but I thought they were fascinating in their own right. No doubt the collection I am posting here is incomplete.

St James’ Old Cathedral, Melbourne (15.04.1944)

St Paul’s Cathedral, Melbourne (06.05.1944)

St Patrick’s Cathedral, Melbourne (13.05.1944)

St Peter’s College, Adelaide (20.05.1944)

St Francis Xavier’s Cathedral, Adelaide (27.05.1944)

St Andrew’s Cathedral, Sydney (03.06.1944)

St Mary’s Cathedral, Sydney (10.06.1944)

St John’s Cathedral, Brisbane (17.06.1944)

St Stephen’s Cathedral, Brisbane (24.06.1944)

Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, Bendigo (08.07.1944)

St Patrick’s Cathedral, Ballarat (22.07.1944)

All Saints Church of England, Bendigo (29.07.1944)

St Mary’s Cathedral, Perth (05.08.1944)

St David’s Church of England Cathedral, Hobart (12.08.1944)

Wesley Church, Melbourne (02.09.1944)

Independent Church, Melbourne (09.09.1944)

Christ Church Cathedral, St Arnaud (16.09.1944)

St Paul’s Cathedral, Sale (23.09.1944)

Church of Christ, Melbourne (30.09.1944)

Holy Trinity Cathedral, Wangaratta (07.10.1944)

St Mary’s Cathedral, Sale (14.10.1944)

Baptist Church, Collins Street, Melbourne (28.10.1944)

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