History is one of those fickle things that is like a constant reminder of how to and how not to do things. The struggles of the past are not the same as what we now face but it always amazes me how people used to live back 150 years. Imagine stripping away all the electronic ware we have, all of the modern technologies, all of the infrastructure, all of the modern vehicles or modes of transport. We are immediately back in the day where horses or walking were the only ways to get from A-B. I bring this up simply because I have been reflecting a bit more about some of my ancestry and the life that they led when they first emigrated to our great mother land.
Charles Blomfield emigrated to New Zealand at the young age of 14 together with his 9 siblings and widowed mother in 1862. The siblings ranged from 24 years down to 9 months old! Imagine the poor mother.. widowed, firstly, and left with 9 children to raise. The choice to leave her home and the safety of the known must have been such a scary step without the support of a husband or any elder family members.
The voyage on the ‘Gertrude’ proved to be an enjoyable adventure for Charles. Every chance he was able to, he would draw and the drawings he produced were varied between detailed and simple line drawings. After 97 days at sea, all the passengers aboard the Gertrude vessel finally touched land again when they set foot on New Zealand Soil. Take yourself back in time. England was an established colonized country. Its infrastructure was in place and roads, vehicles and some of the luxuries we consider mundane now, were available. New Zealand must have seemed like such a wild bush land in comparison.
The Blomfield family found that upon their arrival, the Maori wars were in progress in the regions of Hamilton and Auckland, and were presented a rifle and a bayonet side arm for protection. What a welcoming gift. Welcome to your new home, here arm yourselves from the natives. The injustices done to the Maori people are indeed very awful, but are not part of this story. Perhaps another time and another blog.
Now, I know you will be wondering, this is great but how does this tie into your cartooning? Well fine sir/madam, my point of this is to tell a story. To weave in the intricacy’s that enabled the artistic legacy to trickle down to me.
…. to be continued next week with Charles adventures around New Zealand as an artist…