Frank Rees George, was a government geologist around the turn of last century and took part in a number of explorations in the west and north of the state. In the summer of 1906 Frank was in an exploring party in the Peterman Ranges area when they were attacked by aborigines and the leader of the group was speared through the eye. Frank George took over leadership of the team and managed to get them all safely back to Alice Springs but after a day or so Frank collapsed and died – he was in his early 30s. – it is assumed from peritonitis. He was buried in the cemetery at Alice Springs and a road is named after him. It’s a sad story but there is a particularly poignant element to it. After his death the team’s camel driver, George Edginton, wrote a long letter to Frank’s mother in which he detailed the events leading up to Frank’s illness and then describes Frank’s final hours. It’s a beautifully written letter, sensitive, heartfelt and moving – an extraordinary achievement especially given that the writer was a camel driver.
Photo taken on expedition by Frank Rees George. I assume the person in the photo is George Edginton who wrote the letter to Frank’s mother on his death.
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Item in THE ECONOMIST, Christmas Special, entitled “Gleaning. The return of gleaning in the modern world. How much can an ancient practice do to alleviate hunger?”
AT THE SALON in Paris in 1857, Jean-François Millet exhibited a painting called “Des glaneuses” (“Gleaners”). It caused a scandal. Millet had long made a point of painting peasants at their labours, but this big canvas was his strongest provocation. Into a decorous world of silks and parasols it introduced rough women, plump in their homespun skirts, rumps in the air, grubbing for ears of grain dropped after the harvest. One critic complained of “ugliness and…grossness unrelieved”. Another said it made him think of the scaffolds and pikes of the Terror of 1793.
Millet had seen the women differently. He found them dignified, doing their work in a sanctifying late-summer light, companions to his peasant “Angelus”. In this, as well as their humble roughness, he caught the essence of gleaning.
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