Helena Rubinstein (1872‒1965) was the first self-made millionairess of modern times, and created the first publicly-listed global cosmetics corporation. That business began its life in 1902, in a rented upstairs room at 274 Collins Street, Melbourne. Two of Helena Rubinstein’s uncles emigrated from Krákow to Victoria in the 1880s, and established a mixed business in Coleraine. She followed them, unaccompanied, in 1896. She seems to have become convinced that lanolin from local fleeces might be used to improve and adapt the twelve pots of her mother’s face cream she brought with her from Poland.
I remember seeing a self-portrait photograph of Warwick Baker aged in his mid-twenties seven years ago. He was standing on the bank of Canberra’s Molonglo River, near the hospice where his mother had passed away.
As for me, I think that this photo looks as though Vy has received some sad news about a loved one and she has sought out some space to process it. There’s a sense of freeing airiness in the bush location – I can imagine the bird sounds, the leaves rustling.
Several years ago I came across this curious painting on the racks in a distant, dusty corner of the store room in the basement of the Johannesburg Art Gallery in South Africa. Since then the mystery surrounding it has never been far from my mind. According to an old label on the frame, the painting purports to be “Mexico from the Palace painted by ‘Maximilian Emperor’.