My maternal grandfather, Charlie, introduced me to the mystery and hard work of the backyard vegetable patch. He and his wife, Doris, had lived through the Great Depression, a time when even the smallest effort toward self-sufficiency made a huge difference to what was brought to the family table. The couple lived in the same house all their married lives, the veggie garden still being worked and producing up until when Charlie died from lung cancer in 1967.
I remember, during a family visit when I was young, being fascinated, and in the way kids are, a little disgusted, to see my grandfather out on the street with bucket and shovel, scraping up manure left by the milky’s horse. This precious commodity he then dug into the veggie patch, adding nourishment for home-grown food. Years later, during school holidays, I spent time with my grandparents in West Coburg, helping Charlie weed, turn the soil, and picking the sweetest peas I’ve ever tasted.
Coming up to Remembrance Day, Charlie is on my mind. As a teenager, he served in World War One, celebrated, if such can be said, his twenty-first birthday on foreign soil, possibly knee deep in mud in a trench, and was one of the fortunate service men and women to return home. I’m grateful he survived, to go on and marry, be the father of my mother, and produce in me some wonderful memories, and an appreciation for the backyard veggie patch. Though, right now, when I have so many other tasks on my plate, he’d be shaking his head at my one lonely snail-munched silver beet plant amongst the weeds.
About the Print
There are times I find producing a black and white print more challenging than a coloured reduction print with umpteen layers. I tackle reduction prints in my own odd way, as if I’m painting with brush and acrylics, but instead using cutters and ink. With the black and white prints, I often struggle to translate the nuances of shading of an image into varying cut marks, and balancing the white space against the black ink. While doing this little print I also struggled with holding myself back from adding too much detail, in the garden and background, in a small block. I tend to set myself up for additional challenges, but this time, I tightened the reins, and am pleased I did.