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Archy Wyld Art Award

The Principality of Wy sponsors The Archy Wyld Art Award.  The judge is Prince Paul of Wy assisted by Archy Wyld, a Ring Tail Possum, who lives in a well appointed hollow log at The Principality.  Archy grew up with art. In 1885 an Impressionist artist left a 9  by 5 inch cigar box lid painting in the Wyld hollow log home, never returning to retrieve it.   Here is a drawing that the prince has made of his friend and fellow art judge.  Like all possums in Australia, Archy Wyld  is nocturnal and sleeps during the hot Sydney days.  Archy  prefers to be drawn under soft lighting. He is a frequent visitor to the studio of Prince Paul.  When he sees a work of art that he likes Archy rings the little bell on his tail.  He is very proud of The Archy Wyld Art Award  

In the daytime Prince Paul has visits from very tiny native Australian birds; exquisite Silver Eyes, Finches and Wrens.  They complain to the prince of the predations of larger birds. He is pleased that they find safe sanctuary in the dense prickly shrubs around his Studio. An old shaving mirror (See Why Wy? – below) provides much entertainment for the Prince’s feathered friends and they spend a great deal of time preening, which gives the prince opportunities to sketch them.     Equerry

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I don’t want to be a Swiz Kid


When I was working in New York in the mid-1980s, I read a piece in the New York Times about the swizzle-stick. It said that the swizzle-stick was invented in Townsville in the middle of WW2. At that time Townsville was a staging post for American troops both as a point of departure for Macarthur’s Pacific campaign, and also as an R&R destination for American GIs. The article said that at that time the Yanks were mad about cocktails but that Townsville lacked supplies of the traditional cocktail ingredients – gin, vodka, whiskey, etc. The only alcohol readily available in Townsville was rum, distilled by CSR from Queensland cane sugar. And the only-known cocktail based on rum was a West Indian concoction called a “Swizzle” So that became the favourite drink in Townsville during the American presence. To stir the Swizzle, local bartenders used a piece of split sugar-cane. And this became known as a “swizzle-stick”. Hence the name of the now ubiquitous drinks accoutrement found in bars around the world.

This used to be one of my favourite stories for Australia is not renowned for being the origin of many of today’s essentials of life (let alone is Townsville, which is in sore need of some sort of notoriety) so to have been the birthplace of such an international object as the swizzle-stick seemed something to be marked, if not celebrated.

I even entertained visions of retiring to Townsville one day and opening The Big Swizzle Stick. To compete with other national attractions, such as The Big Banana, The Big Avocado, The Big Merino, or Paul Delprat’s Big Magnifying Glass of the Principality of Wy, and so on.

The Big Swizzle Stick would serve cocktails and other drinks, and tourists from far and wide would flock to it. But when I tried to check out this story on the Internet, I found that it was, alas, a furphy. According to Google, the swizzle-stick wasn’t invented in Townsville. In fact, in the long and tortured history of the swizzle-stick, there is no mention of Townsville, nor Australia, nor CSR. The actual origin of the swizzle-stick is shrouded in mystery (if not in an alcoholic haze) One source has it that the swizzle-stick originated in America in the 1930s, when someone invented a gadget for removing bubbles from sparkling wine (why anyone should want to do such a silly thing is an even greater mystery) Yet another authority – John Mariani’s Dictionary of Drink – claims that the first mention of the Swizzle, as a mixed drink, was in 1879 though there was no accompanying swizzle-stick cited in that source.

Another, and more credible, story is that the swizzle-stick was invented in the West Indies around 1930 where it was used to “swizzle”, or mix, ice and rum together in a glass or jug. Bartenders apparently employed the dried stem of a tropical plant to do this and this became known as a “swizzle-stick”, and the resulting drink a “Swizzle” (ie, the drink – according to this derivation – was named after the implement, as the paella and tagine were, not the other way round)

Yet another story has it that a Swizzle was not invented in the West Indies at all but was already a popular drink in the USA well before Prohibition (which tends to give some credibility to the 1879 dating) Originally, the Swizzle consisted of any alcohol, mixed with lime or lemon, plus sugar, soda and perhaps a dash of bitters, made in large pitchers and served with ice in a highball glass.  Indeed, modern-day Swizzle recipes seem to require a number of standard elements…alcohol (preferably white rum, but anything potent will suffice); sugar (or other sweetening agent); something tart (lime or lemon juice); bitters (of one sort or another); soda (or other diluting non-alcoholic liquid); plus ice and, of course, a swizzle-stick It can be served in any sort of glass, but tall thin ones are usually preferred (it is hard to get a swizzle-stick to stand upright in the regulation cocktail glass) The purpose of the swizzle-stick, incidentally, is not mere decoration. It is intended to be functional for this type of cocktail is meant to be stirred, not shaken, and so needs a stirring implement for its composition

Contemporary swizzle-sticks come in a multitude of types, not just the red or green plastic ones we are only too familiar with In fact, they come in so many different shapes and forms that people collect them, as if they were stamps, or teddy bears. One lady in America claims to have amassed a collection of more than 50,000 different swizzle-sticks, from every corner of the globe. Today, however, swizzle-sticks are not only to be found in bars, or drinks.

LATE NEWS: My ongoing research, on your behalf, has now taken an interesting new twist for it turns out that the Swizzle, and its stick, go much further back. To 1586 to be preciseI. It seems that the Swizzle is in reality a more-recent name for the much earlier Mojito which itself was originally a concoction called a Daroque pronounced “darroch” (now you think I’m kidding you, don’t you? – but I assure you that I am not) And this in turn was named, not after one of my ancestors who were, coming from Islay, more into malt whisky but after a chap called Richard Drake who helped his namesake (and perhaps kin) Sir Francis Drake harass the Spanish Main in the 16th century on behalf of Good Queen Bess. On a visit to Cuba in 1586, so the story goes, Richard Drake came across a local drink made from a primitive form of rum which was mixed with sugar from local sugar-cane, with lime-juice added, to produce a potable drink and which was called a Daroque (apparently after the Cuban pronunciation of “Drake”)

However, it gets more interesting than that. For have you ever wondered where we get the name “cocktail” from? No? Then let me enlighten you. The Daroque was originally stirred into action with a wooden spoon to which the local Cubans, to give the exercise a bit of a flourish, attached a feather the tail feather of a cock Hence “cocktail”

And it is this implement that is the real precursor of the swizzle-stick.

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Why Wy?


Artistic origins of The Principality of Wy

Vanity , vanity, All is vanity.

It is a question for reflection

I have been drawing since I was a child.  I didn’t know that what I was doing was drawing. It was just something I did.  Most artists start that way.  Here is a pencil self portrait made when I was about 16.

Why Wy? you ask?   The artistic “Principality of Wy” commenced with a long look in a cracked shaving mirror in 1959.  A tiny painting of a slender 17 year old,( illustrated below), was the result, rendered on a ceder panel.  It was painted in my second last last year at Sydney Grammar School.  The following year, influenced I suppose by the self portraits of Rembrandt,  I dressed up as ” The Prince” and experimented, battling with the oil paint, to make this picture work.   I lived then, as I do now, by Wy ar gine Point, in Sydney Harbour which was my playground as a child.

This was the first major “Wy” painting to be entitled “The Prince of Wy”  and was completed in 1960.  A year later I started at the Julian Ashton Art School as a night student of the great art teacher, Henry Cornwallis  Gibbons.

The self portrait has many guises , whether it is on the majestic scale of Shakespeare’s complex autobiographical character “Prospero” in “The Tempest” or Rembrandt’s theatrical tableau’s involving himself decked in elaborate costumes as an eastern potentate or a Dutch/Greek God – or an equivalent in music:  Beethoven’s passionate opera “Fidelio”.

It is the cry for help of Vincent Van Gogh. Michelangelo carved himself as a slave emeging from the marble. Leonardo Da Vinci drew himself as inscrutable, as the bearded sage. In Australia George Washington Lambert saw himself as a very superior gentleman with not a trace of humour whereas William Dobell. an equally fine draughtsman showed himself disarmingly whimsical and casual.

Prince of Wy aged eighteen in 1960

In my grandfather’s library was an art book illustrating the work of Anthony Van Dyck.  I remember being impressed, when I was very young, by the palpable energy reflected in the self portraits of the highly strung  Dutch Master.

The artist is grounded by his self portrait.   This fine fellow in front of you will never let you down.   He understands.  But who is this strange person in the mirror today?   Is it me?   Have we been introduced?   Who is “me” anyhow?   This “me” changes all the time.   Given fluency of technique in any one of the arts and the time to indulge in a little soul searching, this is a lifelong journey of surprises that any creative spirit can make.

It is not a good idea to try to go back to rework on a old self portrait.  The subject is no longer there.  You have  grown and changed.   See – this face is making expressions.  A smile a frown – but who is it there?   It is a riddle that is only explained by doing it.

It would be wrong to tell the artist creating a self portrait that he is -“infatuated with himself”,  The reality is that, “This time, it is the real thing”

My own early attempts at the genre were variously self entertainment or soul searching.   Costume or catharsis, sometimes both.  The model has left or didn’t arrive.  It may be five finger exercises,  waiting for the arrival of the portrait sitter.  A dawdling brush, a nearby mirror.

It might have been the effect of love  –  Has anyone else ever felt like this?

A painting is like a worm hole in space/time. Scientists have postulated that this is the way the time traveller may enter another time scale.  Every painting is a worm hole for the artist who created it, especially the self portrait.

Ah yes!   You are entering this other painting from your youth now and what is it that you were thinking?.   You called it – “The Sorrows of Young Werther” from a poem by Goethe.    The picture says it all.

Enough about self portraits.  The actor, Charles Laughton portrays Rembrandt in a  black and white motion picture portraying the life of the Dutch Master.  In the last scene Laughton, who has been entertained by one of his flamboyant students who has been showing off to some pretty girls, turns to the camera and adopts a pose reminiscent of his late self portraits. He looks quizzically  into the lens as the final scene closes and says, “Ah,  Vanity, Vanity ………  All is Vanity”.




The Serene half century in 2010

The iconic 1960 self portrait by Paul as The Prince of Wy is the first creation in the continuing journey of The Principality of Wy and reflects a unique provenance in Micro national History in Australia.

The Artists’ Principality is celebrating, in 2010, its fiftieth year.

Members of The Court of Wy and The Serene Family have great pride in Formally Commemorating this Anniversary.

The Prince modestly accepted the Serene Toast and thanked all those present and around the world who believe that both courage and humour were the way forward and that all disputes between nations large and small should be solved with art competitions.   Equerry

Ex Municipalis Vincit