Darcy Howe visits the John Oxley Library

It was a great pleasure to meet Mr Darcy Howe yesterday when he came up to level 4 with the Australian Active Artists group. The group were looking  at a selection of artists' books held in the Australian Library of Art Collection. While chatting with one of the group's members, Mrs Joan Cooper, about the Essence of Australia From Desert to Sea exhibition she and her husband Len have on out at Roma I said that I had passed through Roma many times on the way to Blackall where I have family connections. Sue said I might like to meet the accomplished painter Darcy Howe who was also from Blackall and a grandson of the legendary blade shearer Jackie Howe. Jackie Howe famously set the record for the most sheep shorn in one day with 321 sheep completed in 7 hours and 40 minutes at Alice Downs Station on the 10th October 1892.

As a child I would stay with my Grandparents in Blackall who lived next to Darcy's cousin in Rose Street.  When talking with Darcy about Blackall  I remembered we have a collection item that he would be interested in...TR2001: Jack Howe Scrapbook which contains clippings relating to Jackie Howe's career and other items. Also included in the scrapbook is a letter written in 1910 to Jack Howe from his son's boarding master at Nudgee College telling him how well regarded his son was among teachers and students. Darcy was intrigued to find employee references written for his father John in the 1940s and other items of great personal interest to him. Darcy spent some more time after lunch in the John Oxley Library Reading Room looking at the scrapbook and also chatting with Senior Family History Librarian, Stephanie Ryan who had already carried out a lot of research into the famous Howe Family.

Looking at the photo of Darcy and I it is interesting to note in the background Anthony Alder's beautiful painting Homeward Laddie from 1895. A work which depicts a flock of sheep at Glengallen Station on the Darling Downs and a time, 3 years after Jackie Howe's record, when Queensland's economy rode on the sheep's back.

Simon Farley

Manager, Arts Portfolio

State Library of Queensland

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