The terror of the Maltese Terrier

One of our enduring favourites over here at Wakefield HQ is Dogs in Australian ArtEven the cat-lovers agree: it’s a brilliant book. From Ivor Hele’s sketch of a great dane to Lin Onus’s painting of a dingo surfing, there are some real Aussie icons in the mix, and a lot of them have a great sense of humour. The same could be said of Rodney Pople’s I feel so pretty, so witty (2004), and yet, it’s equally likely his painting of a Maltese Terrier will give you nightmares! Steven Miller delves deeper in this extract —

Maltese terriers in Dogs in Australian Art

Rodney Pople (1952–)
I feel so pretty, so witty, 2004
Image courtesy of the artist

The influence which artists have had upon dog welfare, grooming and breeding is rarely acknowledged. In the nineteenth century Edwin Landseer changed the fashion in Newfoundlands with his painting Distinguished Member of the Humane Society. Before this, the Newfoundland had always been considered a black dog, but Landseer’s celebrated image brought dogs with black and white colouring into vogue, and even today Newfoundlands with this colouring are known as ‘Landseers’. More important were his efforts on behalf of the Maltese Terrier. This breed became so rare that Landseer painted a portrait of one entitled The Lion Dog from Malta – The Last of His Race. This had the effect of encouraging British breeders to import and promote the dog. It has not looked back since. One of the most influential dog books from the nineteenth century even proclaimed, ‘of all the canine pets this breed is the most lovable, being extremely animated and sagacious, full of natural tricks, and perfectly free from the defects of the spaniel, viz., snoring and an offensive breath’.

Maltese Terrier in Dogs in Australian Art by Steven Miller

James Guppy (1954–)
Between us, 1991
Image courtesy of the artist

The Maltese Terrier included in these paintings by James Guppy belonged to his mother-in-law. She had three of them and they often featured in his work. He even used them as models for a fierce Cerberus, the threeheaded dog that guards Hades. Guppy’s art is rich with symbolism and this work is no exception. The narrative suggested in the work developed from a series of photographs taken by the artist of his wife, a friend and his mother-in-law’s dogs. It clearly deals with the difficult spaces between people and what binds them together. Many elements in the work signal separation and, between individuals, it seems to suggest, there exists a great divide. Even the canvas is divided into two panels. However, a painted horse in the background, which introduces an apocalyptic intensity to the painting, and a Maltese dog in the foreground manage to bridge both worlds. In art horses have traditionally been used to denote unbridled passion and dogs, fidelity. The red horse here contrasts with the detached and cool couple, but at the same time it also connects them. The dog also bridges both halves, but points in the opposite direction.

For more about Steven Miller’s Dogs in Australian Art, click here.

The real health benefits of almonds

Do you eat your almonds raw or ‘activated’? Do you swear by them as a hangover cure? In her book Willunga Almonds Helen Bennetts discusses some of the real and imagined health benefits of almonds over the years. We’ve also included her delicious recipe for Smoked trout, almond and potato salad. Perfection!

Willunga Almonds by Helen Bennetts

Since ancient times various health benefits have been attributed to almonds. Greek physician Hippocrates and his followers used almonds to treat coughs, as an aphrodisiac and for weight gain.

Along with other medicinal uses of almonds inherited from the Greeks, the Romans believed that bitter almonds could counteract the effects of wine. Plutarch wrote of a well-known heavy drinker who would eat five or six bitter almonds and avoid drunkenness. This was attributed to the bitterness of the almonds that ‘dries the inside of the body and keeps the veins from being overcharged’.

An ancient Chinese medical text, Materia Dietetica, lists many uses for almonds including bringing down Qi, relieving coughing, reducing acute pain in the heart and lungs and removing intestinal blockages.

More recent studies claim that almonds help to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease and diabetes and to reduce cholesterol, facilitate weight loss and inhibit cancer cell growth – little wonder that they are promoted as a ‘superfood’.

Almonds contain protein, carbohydrate and concentrations of calcium, phosphorus and magnesium, as well as vitamins from groups B and E. They also have a high content of fat (both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated) and the highest fibre content of any nut or seed. In the last decade the connection between almonds and health has been an important aspect of the promotion of almonds and has been linked to a dramatic increase in consumption, and plantings, of almonds.

Almonds are included in many specialised diets. They are a source of protein for vegetarians and vegans; almond meal and almond flour can replace wheat flour in gluten-free diets for coeliacs and people who wish to avoid gluten; and almond milk is a common substitute for cow’s milk for people who are lactose intolerant.

Almonds have a low glycaemic index (GI) and are often recommended for people with type 2 diabetes, or who want to control their weight. Studies have shown that snacking on raw almonds can help control blood sugar levels and moderate appetite. This may be because of their crunchiness and the need to chew them well but also because almonds are a rich source of magnesium, which is important for carbohydrate metabolism.

The so-called Paleolithic diet popularised the idea of ‘activated’ almonds – almonds soaked in water for at least 12 hours and then dehydrated. Proponents say this process removes phytates and allows nutrients to be absorbed. Others maintain there is no basis for this claim and that phytates have anti-cancer and anti-oxidant properties that are lost in the process. Debate and research continues.

Despite their health benefits, some people are allergic to almonds. There has been an unexplained growth in the number of allergic reactions to different foods in the last 20 years. Allergic reactions to tree nuts (a group that includes almonds) are not as common as reactions to peanuts. However, care should be exercised when introducing almonds to young children and they should be avoided by people who have experienced severe reactions to peanuts and other tree nuts.

Smoked trout, almond and potato salad

Trout and almonds are a classic combination made famous through the French dish Trout Amandine: pan-fried trout garnished with flaked almonds browned in butter. This salad is a delicious combination for lunch when the weather warms up.

Serves 4–6

8 waxy potatoes (such as Bintje or Nicola), cut into chunks

1 smoked trout, skin and bones removed and flaked into pieces

1/2 bunch flat leaf parsley, finely chopped

2 spring onions, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, crushed

1 tbsp capers

Zest and juice of 1 lemon

2 tbsp olive oil

Salt and pepper

3 radishes, finely sliced

80 g chopped almonds

Place chopped potatoes in saucepan of boiling water and simmer until just cooked. Set aside to cool.

In a bowl place flaked pieces of trout, parsley, spring onions, garlic and capers. Mix through potatoes, oil and lemon zest and juice and season to taste.

Garnish with radish slices and chopped almonds.

For more about the health benefits of almonds and more delicious recipes, check out Willunga Almonds here.

Willunga Almonds cover.6 CE.indd

An easy cupcake recipe for friends with allergies

It can be difficult finding recipes for friends or family with allergies, which is where Linda Bosnic’s wonderful One Bowl Allergy Free Baking is such a help. She explains the reasons for the book best – or just bake the chocolate cupcakes and see for yourself!

One Bowl Allergy Free Baking, perfect for friends or children with allergies

All of the recipes in this book are nut-free, dairy-free and egg-free and there are also many recipes suited to those with a wheat allergy or gluten intolerance. I hope One Bowl Allergy-free Baking will encourage people (whether affected by allergies or not) back into the kitchen so no one need miss the delights of freshly baked treats warm from the oven.

Chocolate cupcakes

This simple but decadent ‘wet and dry’ recipe is always a hit. The gluten-free version makes denser muffin-like cakes, best baked on the day of serving.

Preparation time: 15 minutes
Servings: About 10–12 cupcakes

1 and a 14 cups SR flour (or gluten-free SR flour)
12 cup caster sugar
14 cup cocoa
12 cup dairy-free, nut-free chocolate chips
13 cup vegetable oil
23 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla essence

Preheat oven to 170ºC and grease and line a 12-hole cupcake/muffin tray with paper cases.

1. Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl.

2. Make a well in centre of dry ingredients and add wet ingredients.

3. Mix together until they form a batter (not too much mixing).

4. Spoon into prepared pan, filling close to the top of each case.

5. Bake for 15–20 minutes or until a skewer inserted into cupcake comes out clean.

6. Cool in tray for 5 minutes before turning out onto wire rack.

7. Once cold, ice with chocolate icing (see below) and decorate as desired.

Chocolate icing

Preparation time: 5 minutes

1 and a 12 cups icing sugar (or gluten-free icing sugar)
2 tablespoons cocoa
2 to 2 and a 12 tablespoons boiling water

1. Place icing sugar and cocoa into a medium bowl and mix.

2. Add water and stir until smooth and well combined.

3. If icing is too watery, add more icing sugar. If icing is too firm, add more water.

For more recipes perfect for those with allergies (or anyone who likes baking), read more about One Bowl Allergy Free Baking here.

The Subway System

‘The Subway System’ is a poem from Bel Schenk’s groundbreaking verse novel Every Time You Close Your Eyeswhich is set across two blackouts in New York. The first is the famous blackout of 1977, when this excerpt is set, and which was remembered for widespread looting and arson. The second blackout, in 2003, forms a counterpoint – but you’ll have to read the book to find out more!


The Subway System

People on the platform recall the location
of the exit light’s glow and follow the sound
and energy made by the movements of others.
If you’re a reliable sort you give directions
to anyone who will follow and anyone who will trust.
The rats are hushed.
There seems no need to scurry under the railings.
The A train is somewhere under the city.

There, deep beneath earth and concrete,
under grass and overhead footsteps,
people are stuck inside the carriage.
They hold things, feel their dirty way.
Shit, yes, it’s dark. No sir, you can’t see. You can’t see.
Inside the people, blood rises and falls,
breathing grows faster. Shallow.
Deep inside is exactly what you are thinking right now.

Read more of Bel’s beautiful verse in Every Time You Close Your Eyes here, or Ambulances and Dreamers here.

'The Subway System' from Every Time You Close Your Eyes by Bel Schenk

Torrens Island Internment Camp

In October 1914, after the outbreak of World War I, Torrens Island off Port Adelaide was turned into an internment camp. It is a lesser known impact of war in Australia, but it is an ugly chapter in our history. Thanks to the diary kept by Frank Bungardy and the photos of Paul Dubotzky, historians Peter Monteath, Mandy Paul and Rebecca Martin have been able to recreate the conditions of the camp in Interned: Torrens Island 1914–1915. Here we learn about the beginnings of the camp.

Interned by Monteath, Paul and Martin

Torrens Island is a low-lying island in the Port River estuary, isolated by its geography but within easy reach of Port Adelaide. Long and narrow, the island runs north–south, bordered with narrow beaches and mangroves. It had been the location of a quarantine station since the mid-1850s, and in October 1914 it became the site of Torrens Island internment camp. Initially located adjacent to the quarantine station on the north of the island, the camp was moved in early 1915 to the southern part of the island.

Life inside the camp was documented by two internees, photographer Paul Dubotzki and diarist Frank Bungardy, a boxer who was working in the mines at Broken Hill when he was arrested and interned. It also generated official records – notably, the evidence given in a series of enquiries into events on the island. While these accounts do not always agree, there is enough common ground to be able to draw a general outline of camp life.

Prisoners travelled by train to Port Adelaide, were taken under guard from the station to the wharves, and then by boat to the island. As Bungardy put it: ‘Ones the gate closed behind us, we wher inside of the barbwire fence, our future home’.

Prisoners and guards alike referred to the main compound as ‘the German lines’. This area housed most of those interned. Officers, including August Strycker, former captain of SS Scharzfels, were held in a separate part of the camp. Guards also lived on site, occupying available buildings or living under canvas.

‘The German lines’

In the main compound, seven or eight prisoners were allocated to each tent. Each prisoner was issued a waterproof sheet, two blankets and the makings of a mattress. Bungardy, who recorded that he was not issued with any straw to stuff his ‘sack’ and form a mattress, described how the men in his crowded tent ‘layd hudled together like Pigs in a stye during the nights’.

Days were punctuated by roll call and the distribution of rations at three o’clock each afternoon. Rations were distributed by tent, and consisted of meat, potatoes, coffee, sugar, bread, jam, salt, pepper, and some vegetables. Those who had the funds could order extra stores through the quartermaster, as well as tobacco and clothes. Prisoners were also issued a cooking pot, tin plate, tin mug, fork, spoon and knife. They used kerosene tins purchased from the quartermaster to fashion other items – Bungardy mentions a coffee kettle, frying pan, water bucket ‘and various other cooking utensils’.

The men in Bungardy’s tent took the role of cook by turns, for a week at a time. They rigged up both a ‘kitchen’ and ‘dining room’:

Owing our tent being small, and very inconvenient to use it as Bedroom, Kitchen and Dinning Room combined, we wher forced to procure bags at 4p a piece, old Potatoe Bags. Went out into the Bushe under guard, procured some sticks, and we soon had a rough and ready Bush Kitchen and dining room. Our Kitchen contained a fireplace, made out of a few stones and mudd, to which a few Iron Bars wher addet, for the Pots to stand on, a rough bench for the Pots to stand on when not in use. The Dining Room contained two rough Benches, around a ditto table, with a Butter-box in one corner as a safe. Our cooler, owing the hot season, being another box wich we procured through the officer in charge for wich we paid, sunk into the ground.

The sandy conditions made cooking difficult. Bungardy complained that ‘the Cook only had to lift the lid of the cooking pot, when a hand full of sand wher laying on top of the stew, instead of the necessary pepper’.

Sanitary provisions at the camp were rudimentary. The prisoners dug pits in the sand into which they emptied waste water. Urinals and latrines were also pits, screened on one side with corrugated iron sheet. Prisoners covered old pits and dug new ones each day. Soap for washing, including clothes, was issued every three weeks. Bungardy noted wryly that those who could not afford extra soap were prey to vermin, ‘in fact the quantity wher almost equall of Germanys fighting force’.

Marking time

Those men who were not occupied doing tasks around the camp such as collecting wood, digging latrines and cooking, had empty days to fill in bleak surroundings.

Prisoners were not allowed books or newspapers. Correspondence was permitted, and prisoners could send two letters each week. Letters in and out of the camp were censored, an exception to the general rule that the Commonwealth censor was not concerned with mail within Australia. Bungardy wrote that ‘anything written, stating of our ill treatment, or us asking for money, never wher passed, but went into the wastepaper basket’. Prisoners were required to pay for postage, which rankled, as they were aware that this contravened the Hague Convention. Prisoners were also permitted short visits from their families. The visits took place on the jetty, under guard, and lasted only as long as it took to unload from the motor launch whatever it was delivering to the camp.

Those interned on Torrens Island found ways to relieve the monotony. Bungardy wrote of gambling, cards and two-up being played from ‘morning until late at nights’, until a notice was issued banning gambling of any sort. After this, two-up ceased, but card-playing continued – including poker. Bungardy noted that although raids and arrests of tentfuls of men for gambling were frequent, the prisoners were permitted to purchase as many packs of cards as they could afford.

In June 1915 the prisoners produced three issues of a handwritten and illustrated newspaper. Der Kamerad included advertisements for businesses within the camp, including Electra tattoos and the Kaiser Café. Paul Dubotzki’s photographic studio offered portraits as well as photographs of the camp in cabinet or postcard format.

Interned by Monteath, Paul and Martin

Music provided amusement and consolation. Prisoners organised a choir and more than one band. Bungardy wrote of a sailors’ band, with two accordions, several mouth organs, and improvised triangle, kettle drum and big drum. He also observed:

… later on we had also a Brass Band. Many a long weary hour during the hot evenings we amused ourself, laying in a circle in the soft sand enjoying German Ballats, dittis, Soldiers and National songs. If it hadnt been for this their would have been a few more driven mad.

Celebrating the Kaiser’s birthday

Kaiser Wilhelm II’s birthday, 27 January 1915, provided a distraction and outlet for ingenuity for weeks. Prisoners who were German reservists drilled for the parade march. Bungardy wrote of the uniforms:

The rifles used wher made out of sticks and broom handles. Every Soldiers wher dressed alike. Blue trousers, white shirt, white cap. The caps were made out of white handkerchiefs.

That only left the problem of how to outfit the prisoners who would play the emperor, the high officials, and the ladies.

We made the spiked Helmets out of kerosine tins, soldered together. Swallow tail coats and evening frocks cut off at the bottom part, with yellow painted buttones, suitable brocade and tin medals galore, substituted, the smart Officers jacket. White trousers made into Riding breeches, seaboots and spurs, borrowed from some civil interned boundary Riders, completed the Uniform.

Six prisoners were transformed into ‘nice and handsome’ ladies with dresses cut by an internee who was an ‘expert cutter’ from material purchased through the stores and hats made from fencing wire, cloth and paper flowers. The final touch was long hair, made out of dyed rope.

Interned by Monteath, Paul and Martin

On the evening of 26 January, the German band led a procession ‘according to German custom’, through the camp, carrying torches fashioned out of broken bottles and candles. After breakfast the following morning was the parade. Then followed sporting competitions, with cash prizes, and, that night, singing and dancing.

Bungardy recalled:

We fancied ourself holding a curtlady in our arms and walzing around the emperors palace untill the haevy sandy ground remindet us, that we wher on Australian soil, the handsome lady, a fellow sufferer like ourself.

To read more about the Torrens Island internment camp, click here