Australasian Convention 13 – 15 July 2001 in Adelaide, SA

   Posted by: Julia Redlich   in

The biennial  meeting of the branches of The Richard III Society in Australia once again proved the value of getting together with like minds and the exchange of ideas.  In July 2001 the venue was in Adelaide and the South Australian branch did a wonderful job in making us all feel welcome as well as organising an informative and entertaining programme.

Most of the NSW branch members arrived at the venue, the Country Women’s Association, on the Friday.  The association is housed in a heritage building not far from Adelaide CBD.  It is delightful, comfortable and highly recommended!  And many of us ended up at the pub up the road for a substantial and delicious dinner with other Ricardians.

Saturday started the weekend’s proceedings.  We were welcomed by Roy Rhodes, Chair of the SA Branch, and then split up into groups of four for a challenging mediaeval  quiz compiled by SA secretary and weekend mastermind, Margaret Collings.  It was good to be in a group, as our individual lack of knowledge in some subjects didn’t show up so much!  Then, winners clutching their bookmark prizes, we settled down to hear Helen Hardegen from WA enlighten us on the de Veres, in particular John, a family that has played a significant role in history.

Morning tea and we all swooped, with scones and slices in our hands, on the sales table and came away much the poorer after purchasing from the great array of Ricardian-connected items.  Raffle tickets were also on sale and we all subscribed wholeheartedly if only to help out with the last minute high and unexpected insurance fees for the weekend.

Back to Matters Mediaeval and Queensland’s Blair Martin gave a wonderful talk on whether Richard III was a Machiavellian Prince.  We were all totally absorbed in this serious approach. 

Hazel Hajdu from the Victorian Branch was in lighter mood for her portrait of Jacquetta Woodville.

After our lunch break SA member Meredith Whitford’s talk was entitled “If this be Treason, make the most of it.”  And she did – particularly as her novel set in the time of Richard III called Treason had just been published. Writers talking about their approach to their books are always worth listening to, and Meredith’s knowledge of the times, and her research, made us all long to read it.

Meredith’s talk was followed by one of Jenny Gee from WA, who spoke on the Herberts of Raglan.  WA members seem to have a gift for research and were not afraid to stand up and tell what they know. 

After the tea break, Julia Redlich from NSW spoke on Richard III and the Media, and how he has always been presented on stage, in books, on film and as opera, and quoted Maxwell Anderson’s play Mary of Scotland “’Tis not what happens that matters, no not even what happens that’s true, but what men believe to have happened…”

And the final talk of the day was an entertainment from Margaret Collings and Jenny Binnie entitled “That Soliloquy”.  Suffice to say here that the contrast between the quill and the laptop is splendid…

The spare time until the evening’s banquet was taken up (for us) with rehearsing our play-reading, all together at last.  And we were grateful to David Green who was a last minute attendee from NSW and Helen Hardegen from WA who took over roles at the eleventh hour.

Now for the banquet.  And what a feast it was!  The tables cloaked in white damask, rows of candles casting flattering light and Ricardians galore in mediaeval costume.  Pre-banquet liquid refreshment was hippocras, warm and potent, and South Australia’s traditional candle-lighting ceremony set the special atmosphere for the evening.  The banquet was beautiful – and abundant!

First we were read advice about table manners and grace was spoken by the founder of the SA Branch before we were let loose on the souppes and pyes, fyshe and poultry, pork and beef, apple tartes and peares in red wine followed by a more modern offering of coffee and mints.  There seemed to be no end to the bottles of wine on the tables to enhance the meal.  Toasts were drunk to the Queen, King Richard and Richard’s Friends and the hubbub of conversation was continuous.  Most of us managed waddle off to our respective rooms by midnight or just after. 

The second day started with the NSW’s presentation of Elizabeth Woodville’s Revenge and ended up being more of a comedy than the author intended, including an oblique hint that “the Butler did it”.  This was followed by Robyn and Roy Pidcock from the Victorian Branch talking about mediaeval costume and props.  It was beautifully illustrated and inspired a lot of us to go out and hunt down patterns and fabulous fabrics.

After the coffee break Carol Carson from WA spoke on Contagion and Cure, and her research into the treatments and medications of the fifteenth century was fascinating – and rather luridly illustrated!  This was followed by the SA Branch’s presentation of Getting the Hump, an hilarious play-reading which had us all rocking with laughter.  It was a superb ending to a memorable gathering.

Before we left after lunch the raffles were drawn and NSW Branch was definitely the winner here.  Our extensive investment paid off and Kevin Herbert, Irene Peacock and Patricia Tomkins all won prizes and Julia Redlich managed to walk off with two, as well as winning the lucky badge prize (no 33 for those interested in lucky numbers).

However, we were ALL winners.  South Australian Ricardians gave us a wonderful couple of days and were warm and welcoming hosts.  Many thanks to all of them, especially Margaret Collings whose organizational skills were at their height.

Now for 2003 – Queensland here we come!

by Julia Redlich (NSW)