There are numerous accounts of the experiences of Australian men serving in WW1, from their diaries and letters sent home. But what of the women?
Mothers, wives, sisters and girlfriends who were left at home to carry on the minutae of daily living, to eagerly wait for news of those so far away, to live in fear of the death of or injury to those they loved, to offer the only support possible via their letters and home made items like knitted socks, jam and fruitcake, plus cigarettes and personal items of comfort lovingly sent in parcels to the Front.
Edie Digby kept a record of daily life at home in Sydney, inviting us into the world of an ordinary woman whose husband and two sons served in the Great War defending King and Country, and anticipating the glorious return of their gallant menfolk from, in Edie’s words, ‘this cursed war’.
We witness her capacity to do extra – ordinary things in extraordinary times. She, along with so many other women at the home front, kept the heart of the family beating.
100 years later, how do we view the actions of those in a time of such immense social upheaval?
What is the price of War on families and those whose responsibility it was to ‘keep the home fires burning’?
”I hope you enjoy hearing about the lives of these people, and that it may encourage you to write down your stories” – Penny Bristol Jones
Readings from the WW1 Diaries and letters
of Edie Digby
collated by Penny Bristol Jones
read by Maureen Hartley and Clare Larman
Installation curated by Brisbane visual artist Penny Bristol Jones
Original music by Nadine Budge (The Stetson Family)
Visual projection by Phoebe Hartley
Performance Times: Sat May 25 at 3pm & 7pm; Sunday May 26 at 3pm Auslan Interpretation on Sunday May 26 at 3pm (TBC)
Stay on at Reload Espresso Bar for refreshments and a chance to chat after the show
‘We stood on the cliff top yesterday, waiting.
Look! Look! A ship.
We waved madly to them, laughing and crying, making great
flourishes of farewell with the tablecloth, leaving our picnic
scattered across the rocks.
The ship disappeared into the growing gloom.
This is such a dreadful time for Mothers everywhere’.
(from Edie’s diary, 1916)
Melbourne -based Clare Larman & Maureen Hartley, as Violet&Rose productions, are creators of theatre and unique events from social history. Their long-term association and performances have included Vice & Virtue In Little Lon, the original Chocoholics’ Walks and St Kilda Cemetery mobile performances/tours. Most recently they presented their show This Thread Is Strong with an accompanying exhibition Opening Maggie’s Trunk at Stonnington History Centre, Northbrook Pop Up Gallery, Malvern.
Penny Bristol Jones is a visual artist and teacher who has exhibited her work across Australia. She has worked in theatre, and curated exhibitions for arts festivals, the Benalla Regional Gallery and co-curated at the NGV. She has been researching her family history for many years and has developed a website of stories. Last year she was invited to Ireland to participate in their Heritage week with a presentation on Sharing Stories, Making Connections. The Installation, ‘Til The Boys Come Home brings together the many aspects of a previously untold woman’s story using evocative visuals and music that give power and meaning to the words of a woman during WWI.