Donlon on Thake

Castlemaine poet, Ross Donlon, responds to Eric Thake's linocut An Opera House in Every Home, with his poem The Architect and the Mozzie.

This poem was first published in Donlon's volume written in response to the art collection, Awakening: Poems from the collection of the Castlemaine Art Gallery, Ross Donlon, Mark Time Books (2014).

Eric Thake's masterful array of drying dishes was hugely topical when it was produced in 1972. A response to Jørn Utzon's iconic Sydney Opera House, the seeming casualness of Thake's image is in complete contrast to the precision of Utzon's design. One might be tempted to see it as entirely satirical, were it not for the delightfully hidden inscription on the back, "Dear Kay, Even the Great Diva could never have known one like this. Best Wishes for Xmas & 1973, from Eric & Grace."

Donlon goes one step further and imagines that this common kitchen scene really did provide the inspiration for one of architecture's most daring and sophisticated designs.

Erick Thake, An Opera House in Every Home, 1972, linocut. Collection: Castlemaine Art Museum

The Architect and the Mozzie, by Ross Donlon

After the linocut, An Opera House in Every Home, by Eric Thake

Once upon a time a tired mosquito rested on a set of dishes which were neatly arranged in a drying rack but with some, as can happen, facing the other direction.

The mozzie stretched and preened itself upon the edge of the uppermost shining plate, quite gull-like, so it seemed to the young Danish architect. He pondered the way the slant of kitchen light sliced across the dishes the way a close hauled sail would slip in and out of the sea's reflection.

Suds frothed at the edge of the sink. Højvande*, he mused. Tea towels waved above the plates like clouds.

Impractical perhaps, he considered - but such a skyline near the sea would shine like fresh snow all year, and when the sun struck the 'sails', as one might call them, it would be a miracle.

*High tide

Ross Donlon

Ross Donlon is an award-winning poet. He was the 2010 Varuna Dorothy Hewett Flagship Fellowship recipient, and won the The Wenlock Poetry Festival Competition and Melbourne Poets' Union International Poetry Competition. Ross lives in Castlemaine.

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