As a veteran and oft-disappointed haunter of art shows of Canberrans painting and photographing Canberra subjects, we can testify that there is an extreme rarity about Jess Cochrane's joyful photograph Sophie.
See if you can guess what that rare thing is while we report that Cochrane's work is part of the new Now! Representing Canberra exhibition of work by Faculty of Arts and Design students of the University of Canberra.
So, have you worked it out? Yes, correct! It's that the artwork depicts a Canberran kissing another Canberran! Canberra art about Canberrans has always been eerily, presbyterianly passionless and prudish. Even portrayals of people dancing together have been as rare as sightings of unicorns at the Arboretum.
Talking to us, photographer Jess Cochrane emerges as overjoyed about the way the picture, taken in the late afternoon/early evening light at some lake foreshore event in 2012, turned out. She's so happy that it's somehow captured exactly the personality of her dear friend.
''Aesthetically in works like these I'm trying to capture a person's personal style and with this one everything, what Sophie's wearing, her pose, her posture, the light behind her … it's her. It's Sophie. She's a ball of fun, she's captivating, and all that shines through.''
Now! Representing Canberra, is at Belconnen Arts Centre at Emu Bank.
Education in the great outdoors
Of course, all school infrastructure ages and falls into disrepair eventually but there was something novel about the school the administrator of the ACT was so worried about in February 1914.
He wrote urgently to the director of works in Melbourne, advising the school was ''perished beyond repair and will not stand wind'' and that the ''fly of its canvas [is] unfinished and without eyelets''.
Yes, the administrator was agitated about the state of the marquee that was about to become the Cotter Junction School at an encampment too temporary to justify the erecting of a school building. Here is a circa 1914 photograph of that very marquee at the Cotter Junction where, from 1912 and for the next few years, work was under way on the Cotter Dam. The school served the remote riverside place from 1914 to 1917.
Alastair Crombie, co-ordinator of the forthcoming Present at Birth. Schools and Teachers of the Capital Territory, 1913 explains that the Cotter school (opened on April 6, 1914) ''missed the 'cut' as a '1913' school only by a few months'' and so is not in the exhibition.
But he thinks we should respect and acknowledge it anyway because ''it is obviously of the period and one of a number of tent schools we know of.
''The railway fettler gang's kids seem to have had their schooling in tents - for example, along the line in from Bungendore to Queanbeyan.''
Those of us who went to bricks-and-mortar schools will feel a pang of envy of the 32 breeze-swept children in the picture at the top of this article. What fun it must have been (like school, but like camping too) and what a feather in one's cap in old age to be able to reminisce to, perhaps, disbelieving others that one had been such an olden days pioneer that one's school had been a tent.
Did Mr S. Marshall, the teacher at the Cotter school, perhaps use the pupils' unique accommodation to make the history of the First Fleet come alive for them?
Did he tell them how the fleet arrived in January 1788 carrying 600 tents and that almost everyone at Port Jackson lived under canvas for the first two years of the settlement?
There was tent-dwelling at the Cotter Junction Camp. It became the biggest such workers' camp in the territory at that time and, by 1914, there were 122 people there, including 42 females. As well as the school, there was a post office.
Historian Jim Gibbney tells us that ''The married men's huts, all with gardens, were at the junction of the two rivers on a site carefully selected for soil quality''.
The Cotter school didn't quite make the ''cut'' for Present at Birth. Schools and Teachers of the Capital Territory, 1913 exhibition but lots of others did, including the 16 one-teacher bush schools operating in the territory in 1913.
The exhibition, at the Hall School Museum, Victoria Street, Hall, is launched and opened at 4pm this Friday, October 25.
Launch details and opening hours are at museum.hall.act.au