‘An auction, one hot summer’s day in 1983, caused me to meet up with Cuthbert, and Cuthbert was to intrude himself into my thoughts and into the life of the cottage for some time to come.’
So begins this unusual and fascinating exploration into the life of Cuthbert ‘Ismir’ Clarke, one of the nineteenth-century artists on the goldfields of Victoria. The story follows Clarke from his birth in Turkey to his travels in New Zealand and Australia.
Clarke came to Australia in 1852, and from his first sketch, ‘The Commissioner’s Camp’ in gold-rich Castlemaine in Victoria, to one of his last, ‘The First Cricket Match’ played on the Malbourne Cricket Ground in 1862, he provides us with a record of how things looked, how they were done and the events of the day.
Sheila Box adroitly weaves the story of Cuthbert Clarke with more of the cottage tales and anecdotes that delighted readers in her earlier work Big Smoke to Cat Country. Slowly the mystery of what happened to this little-known painter unravels bringing a romantic and elusive figure out of the shadows.