Diary Extracts

Betty, Tim and John Perceval. Murrumbeena, 1950.

I asked John Perceval about the new Contemporary Art Society. Had it any life?  ‘Life,’ he said.  ‘Ooh there are a  few good-looking women and I suppose there’ll be a few parties. Artistic life? … Theorising? … No. The original Contemporary Art Society had seven or either painters:  Nolan,  [Albert] Tucket, Arthur me, Bergner, Counihan … ‘ This one had one:  Blackman. John said, ‘I’m not what I used to be then.’  Did he mean just as a painter?  It had a strange, laconic, half-self-conscious sound, coming from him.



Dan at the window, 1954.



Sunbathed all morning again, and went round to the dam with Dan who was trying to catch frogs in the bullrushes. Roy and Vera arrived straight after lunch, and John, Michael and Andre Yachounsky (who just called in for a minute) left about four. We went for a drive before tea along the Old Warrandyte Road looking for some rock exposures that could perhaps be chopped out for facing the terrace, but there weren’t any. It was nearly all mudstone.




Had a row with Betty over the bathroom that night…  In the course of the argument Betty said:  ‘What’s so precious about your time anyway?  Look at this weekend. It’s not as if you’ve spent it writing. You’ve chopped me some wood and helped with the garden, but otherwise you’ve done nothing but lie in the sun. (Not that I mind – I wouldn’t want you to spend it any other way.) But I don’t see why you couldn’t change round the door next week.’ I was furious. What it amounted to was that I must be writing all the time or I couldn’t call my time my own.




On Sunday I cleaned up the pottery and threw my first pots. Late in the afternoon Hal and Jim Buckley had a shot on the wheel. John and Jeanette turned up. Jeanette was joining the army and going to Japan as an anaesthetist. She was to have entered as a major on £1500 but as she’d just failed in a postgraduate exam she’d sat for, she’d probably have to go in as a captain on £1200, she said. […]



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