Showing posts with label Jack Ricketts.. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Jack Ricketts.. Show all posts

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

More notes on scenic design by Jack Ricketts.

All question marks are mine- some of the handwriting is worn and illegible.

Fifty years of scenic painting in Australia.

Now that Australia is about to celebrate the hundred and fifty years of its existence I think that the last half century of one of its minor industries the art of scene painting may be of interest to the many readers of the Sydney Morning Herald. Theatrical scene painting has two uses first as a background to plays operas and theatre presentations and secondly as an art education to the masses who nightly gather together in the various theatres. The art of scene painting in Australia is as high and has a standard equal to any part of the world. The reason for this is that the early nineties had a combination of actor managers who in their endeavours  to equal each other in merit had to import their scene artists. Fortunately they selected England and from there brought a brilliant coterie of painters Harry Lynid? W J Wilson, George C Gordon, then in succession came W B Spong, Hedley Churchward, Fred Kneebone, John Brunton Phil W Goatcher, George Dixon and W B Coleman. All these great painters are dead with the exception of Mr George Dixon who is now painting at the Theatre Royal Sydney.

 Fifty years ago when I joined the theatre on the scenic staff and before the imported painters mentioned above had arrived, Australia had competent resident scenic men. In Melbourne, Mr John Henning, Mr John Fille, Mr Habbe, Her Von Vennenmark? Fred Edmunds W Massey, Geo Kelly, W Pitt. In Sydney W J Wilson, William Kinchella, G W Perriman, Alfred Louis Tischbauer who painted under the name of ALTA, Mr Richard Seligill? Mr Alfred Clint, Mr Geo Campbell, Mr Feda? Williams and Mr Edward Vaughan,  It was wonderful in the gas lit crudely filled theatres as those drops, what wonderful artistic illusions these painters could create. The history of the theatre in Australia for the last fifty years is really the life story of the various actor managers, the deaths of JC  Williamson, Arthur Garner, Brough and Boccicault , Charles Holloway, Dan barry Graham... Wybert Reeve, D ogden? B N Jones, 

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Amazing theatrical travels with Jack Ricketts, scenic designer

Being a lazy human being I can barely manage to walk a couple of kilometres some days, but our theatricals in the 19th and early 20th centuries were people of adventure and travellers extraordinaire.

Take for example, Jack Ricketts. Jack was born in Orange NSW in 1864 and was apprenticed to an illuminator and painter in Sydney when he was 16. His apprencticeship was over after 3 years and then he was left to fend for himself as a painter, scenic designer and illuminator.

Jack painted back cloths, wings and scenery for various theatre companies.He wasn't employed by the larger entrepreneurs and so had to travel with smaller companies to earn money. Often he combined his painting duties with minor acting roles. His diary of 1899 tells the story of an amazing man who travelled far and wide to make a living.

He began the year in New Zealand with the Alfred Woods/ Maud Williamson dramatic company.On 2nd January they were in Greymouth, then they travelled to Nelson two weeks later,and arrived in Blenheim on the 19th. He worked in Wellington on the weekend of the 21st and proceeded to Wanganui the next Tuesday 24th.They spent February in Napier and Hastings and then returned to Wellington on the 25th. After that, Jack left the Woods company to pursue a project back at Greymouth with the Opera House Company.

The people of the Greymouth Opera House Company were generous and gave him a 15 pound bonus after he finished the job. Jack bought new boots, a new coat and a new hat with the money. He also gave some to his mum.

In June he took ship back to Sydney and painted a drop cloth for Mr Ward's skating Rink.

That job finished in August and Jack once again hit the road and ended up in Brisbane, back working for the Alfred Woods Company. He stayed with them as they travelled around Queensland, finally leaving the irregular paying manager in October, when they reached Toowoomba.

He arrived back in Sydney later that month and started to work for the Commonwealth Fair. A celebration held in Sydney later that year. Jack managed a quick holiday to Pearl Beach in summer before starting work for Harry Plimmer at the Standard Theatre in Sydney.

1900 was equally as strenuous, but I will spare you the details. Suffice to say that Jack was willing to travel far and wide to get an irregular wage. He was an artisan with no respect and no income except that which was grudgingly given by stingy managers. His livelihood depended on his skill as an artist and his skill as a negotiator. It was a hard life and Jack had no time to start a family until much later when he found steady employment with the unreliable but loyal William Anderson at Wonderland City.

But that is another story....