We came across this great image of Ozzie and Myrtle on their block probably toward the end of 1923. They're on the settlement block in Red Cliffs, Victoria. Oz stands legs apart, hands to hips at the back door of the home he's been building on the block. Myrtle appears to be reading, she is wearing a beautiful white dress, stockings and shoes - they appear so pristine given the unsealed ground around her.
Myrtle had remained in Melbourne for several years while Oz built up their block. In many of the letters he wrote to her about the challenges of being on the land, his loneliness and longing for the time they would finally be together in their home.
Here are some excerpts from a letter written to Myrtle, from Oz in March 1923:
"I have ordered a 1000 gallon tank. I don’t know if the commission will grant me the money but in any case it is absolutely essential that we have one. We cannot afford to lose a drop of rainwater. Forgive me for being cross in my last letter. I felt very off colour, had a bug & full head for 3 days & quite a queer feeling came over me. I tried to work but trembled all over & felt so weak so I had to stop. I am feeling much better to-day although I have still a touch of the headache..............................................".
"This is all for the present sweetheart. If I only had you with me tonight. Im such a lonely bird. Goodnight beloved. Yours ever xxxxxxxx Oz xxxxxx"
Again, I am so grateful to the family of Oz and Myrtle for allowing the contents of their letters and related ephemera to be shared.
Katy Mutton is a Canberra based, Australian Visual Artist whose practice is informed by an ongoing concern around trauma and warfare and how these relate to our cultural identity and history. For more information on her artwork visit www.katymutton.com