The exhibition Not Without a Trace combines a selection of works from two collections held by Devonport City Council, the Kathleen Cocker Collection and The Homes of Devon Collection, which through paintings and photographs trace the history of the dwellings of North West Tasmania.
Kathleen Cocker, born in East Devonport in 1901, was a self-taught artist who began painting in 1969 at the age of 68. Cocker was a member of the National Trust North-Western Regional Committee. After only a few years she had produced several hundred watercolour paintings of the homes of North West Tasmania.
“Kathleen Cocker’s collection of watercolours and their accompanying stories provide an alternative history to that presented in more formal historical books and documents. The story of the North West, as captured by Cocker, is an unofficial, nostalgic and personal history of a region since changed,” said Devonport Regional Gallery curator Erin Wilson.
Many of the buildings captured by Cocker are now demolished and many others were already gone when she painted them, using photographs to aid her memories of these structures.
The Homes of Devon photographs were first commissioned in 1982. Over the following 10 years, 10 photographers; Brian Allison, Don Carter, Rex Direen, Allan Francis, Paul Griggs, Rod Hamilton, Bob Iddon, Peter Lord, Greg Mace, Peter Manchester, each uniquely captured the homes of the region.
Together, these collections have traced the history of the homes of the broader Devonport region over a period spanning more than a century, creating unique lasting records both of homes since lost, and those still standing.
“These collections reflect a resurgence of interest in local histories and a recognition of the significance of localness, regardless of the size or location of a town. Not only do local histories allow us a deeper, more genuine insight into the people and places that culminate in broader national histories, they also acknowledge the significance of geographic regions to the makeup and individuality of communities.
“These works are a lasting visual record both of homes since lost, and those still standing, and a unique insight into communities that have since vanished or evolved,” Ms Wilson said.
This is the first time the Kathleen Cocker Collection will be displayed in its entirety, with over 250 watercolours on display, along with a selection of photographs from each of the 10 Homes of Devon series.
Not Without a Trace has been curated by Erin Wilson.