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In the earliest stages of the Great War, before British casualties began to assume their calamitous scale, measures were taken to meet the needs of imperial troops, above all ordinary soldiers of the Indian army who were wounded in France. For this purpose the Royal Pavilion in Brighton was turned into a military hospital, and arrangements made there to accommodate the different dietary and other requirements of Hindu, Sikh and Muslim patients.

Sir Thomas Stamford Bingley Raffles, 1824 by James Thomson

I have just finished reading Victoria Glendinning’s excellent recent biography, Raffles and the Golden Opportunity (2012). By a strange coincidence, having lately read James Pope-Hennessy’s Verandah (1964), I was struck by how very alike the two subjects were: Sir Stamford Raffles and Sir John Pope-Hennessy were both self-made and limitlessly ambitious...

Angkor Wat

Nothing quite prepares the first-time visitor to Cambodia for the scale and grandeur of the monuments of the ancient Khmer civilisation of Angkor—certainly the largest pre-industrial city on earth. The enclosure of Angkor Wat, for example, is five times larger than the Vatican City. Its moat measures more than a kilometre square. Yet the smaller temples, tucked away in the jungle at the end of little dirt roads, tend to be the most beautiful.

Angus Trumble and Brownie
Early last week I received a rather unusual request from the Australian Financial Review. The question was, “Tell us about the most special present you have ever received. Why is it so special?” After much rumination overnight I realised that the correct answer was literally staring at me in his quiet way from his spot on the chest of drawers. This is what I wrote: “Many years ago, probably at around the time I was born or very soon afterwards, a beloved aunt of mine knitted for me in Geelong a very handsome bear. His name is Brownie. She also knitted for Brownie a stylish pair of fire-engine red shorts with knitted suspenders, and a matching short-sleeved cardigan."


Reflections on portraiture

'Postcards' are reflections on portraiture by Portrait Gallery Director, Angus Trumble, and others.