Problems and Solutions
Chapter 24

“It may not last,” Rachel said when she got home.

“What may not last?”

“Al and Sayuri. She’s very Japanese. She’s quite demure about everything.”

“That may be just what Al needs. Eddie was very aggressive. And that really pretty one from around here. Maybe he just needs to finish his degree, get a job and set up housekeeping. Sarah’s not like me; he doesn’t need to be like you. What are the pop-psychology theories about second children?”

“I don’t know. Maybe I’ll Google later. How was your day?”

“Not bad. Sean says that his informant told him that the NNTT offices are in turmoil trying to establish justificatory documentation. I had a sausage for lunch and bought stuff for dinner. Oh, and I did about four hours of editing.”

“Sounds busy. I’ll look in the fridge and decide what I’ll be cooking.”

“How about a kiss first?”

“Just a kiss?”

“See how aggressive you are?”

Wednesday morning, Patrick went off to the Law Library. Rachel sat at her laptop and plugged away at the Dupain section.

Max Dupain (1911-1992) is Australia’s most celebrated photographer. Born in Sydney, he lived there all his life. “Dupain began photography at school with a ‘Box Brownie’ and while still in his teens exhibited with the New South Wales Photographic Society. His early work was fairly conventional pictorial imagery, but by the mid-1930s he had completely broken away from that mode and taken up a Modernist, realist style. He began experimenting with light and formal composition, trying to reflect the industrious spirit of the age rather than the romanticism of the previous schools. These were ideas that were trickling down to Australia from Europe and the United States, by publication and description.

Few photographs from the Modernists in America or the Bauhaus School in Berlin were actually seen by the Australians, but Dupain and his more adventurous contemporaries were hungrily consuming what information they could, and reflecting the imported ideas into an Australian setting. In the early Thirties Dupain was making surreal double exposures and floral studies using the solarisation technique that Man Ray had popularised. His studies of industrial buildings and machinery echo the quality of imagery being produced at the same time in the US by Margaret Bourke White.

By the late 1930s Dupain was working as a professional photographer, with fashion and portaiture work as a preference but taking anything else that was available. Outside work he was making the documentary images that are outstanding in his work, often recreational subjects like his swimmers at Bondi and life-savers. During the war, Dupain, who was a pacifist, worked for the camouflage unit of the Royal Australian Air Force and the Department of Information, leaving his studio under the control of his first wife, Olive Cotton, herself a noted photographer.” (obituary in The Telegraph 1992-07-31)

That was where she’d talk about the New Guinea photos, Rachel thought. It was wonderful that Gordy had noticed them in Canberra. And that Williams, too. Then she’d write about the pictures of Sydney: “From the Fifties Dupain specialised in architectural photography, which is easily the finest of his professional work. He developed a particularly close working relationship with prominent architects like Harry Seidler, Philip Cox and Glenn Murcutt.” (Telegraph obit).

Of course she’d need a paragraph or two and a reference to the history of photography. And she needed some of those quotes from Dupain himself. But she could see this section/chapter falling together.

This could all be done. And a baby, too. More than ever, Rachel was sure that the next few months were when that should start. And there would be another Hollister in the spring. They should move then. This flat wasn’t right for two adults and an infant. Or should they wait till the infant was a toddler? That meant a serious conversation with Patrick. Would the Serpent care where they lived?

She Googled “second children” and found that “Second-born children are more likely to be rebellious in later life than their more conservative older siblings, according to research.” (The Telegraph, 2009-04-29). That made more sense for Sarah than for Al. So much for pop-psychology generalizations! But what about Sayuri? She had an older brother. But she hadn’t seemed to be adventurous or rebellious.

Rachel made tea and had a fruit and cheese snack while thumbing through Dupain’s Sydney [Chapter and Verse, 1999], one of her favorite books of her subject’s photos. She intended to go to the other, Max Dupain’s Australian Landscapes [Viking, 1988], in the afternoon.

Her cell interrupted her plans. “Hi, Al ... Yes, several hours yesterday ... I liked her a lot. I’m a bit worried about her subservience ... Oh, you noticed that ... You’re that serious? ... Yes, it might be a problem ... Ask mom ... I’m quite serious. She’s the daughter of a Japanese, after all ... No, who else might you talk to? ... Well, dad’ll certainly be at home tomorrow through Monday, so if you want mom, call as soon as you get off. And call me after you’ve spoken to her ... Right.”

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