Monday, February 7, 2011


One of the most dated-seeming aspects of Australia is the way in which school children still wear school uniforms - the girls in plaid skirts or striped dresses (and white ankle socks and clunky black shows, which gives the older ones a decidedly unusual edge), and boaters or straw hats, and the boys in shorts and blazers (and, in the case of the Christian Brothers school in Adelaide, some black or navy hats straight out of around 1890, too).   These boys, from the King's School in Parammatta, founded in 1831, and - according to its web site - then "the most significant school for young gentlemen of its time in the colony" - has a uniform that includes some very striking red epaulettes, and looks suspiciously as though it mightn't have changed a whole lot since the school's inception.   This group were being marched at a fast pace through the Art Gallery of New South Wales.   The one on the right appears to have morphed, in the process, into a rather futuristic sculpture ... itself a counterpoint to the Archibald Fountain (1932) just a few minutes' walk away, with Apollo surrounded by various mythical figures.   By Francois Sicard, it resulted from a bequest by J. F. Archibald (best known for founding the Bulletin) and supposedly commemorates the co-operation between Australia and France in WW1 (Archibald was a great francophile).   It can hardly be a surprise that the area round the fountain was for a long time a gay cruising area - supposedly in the 1930s and 40s the figures here, and on the nearby war memorial, were the only male nudes on display as public statuary in Sydney ...

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