Academic journal article Hecate

A Woman's Place

Academic journal article Hecate

A Woman's Place

Article excerpt


For a century

none of the women in the caretaker's cottage

of the Cataract Gorge in Launceston

made much of a stir - unless it was to tend soup.

Maggie and Martha, Alice and Rosie

were helpmeets in the Biblical sense.

While their men tended the public paths outside

they birthed babies, kept the fireplace stoked

wrote thank-you letters to the council about improvements

(washing tub 1910; kitchen sink 1950)

and swept the twenty-one stone steps to the footpath below.

And so it went through icy winters, floods and bushfires

until the council decided that a caretaker-couple was no longer


The hearth fell cold

the oak step to the kitchen wore down no more

possum families took over the eaves

delinquents smashed bottles on the roof

and vines began their work.


In the spring of 1991

Sieglinde Karl, earth artist in search of a 'space', peered inside.

German war baby, a jeweller by trade, she'd turned her back on metal

work -

Up Yours Mining Industry! And as for selling ornamentation -

Down with Bourgeois Signifiers of Wealth!

Siegi Karl installed wattle in bloom

a photograph of an Aboriginal queen

and bundles of casuarina needles.

Pinned up a handwritten statement: this work is about experiencing the

earth. …

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