An amusing story has it that Ian Milliss met his now-wife, Wendy, because she was a keen art historian rummaging through the archives at Sydney University’s Power Institute. Wendy was researching the legacy of conceptual art in Australia, and found a few traces of this rather elusive character, who seemed to have disappeared from the art scene in the mid 1970s. Wendy somehow found some contact details for Ian, and went to visit him, digging through his piles of paperwork for a more detailed version of his role in (and out of) the Australian art world.
Besides the very narratable fact that all this librarianship led to romance, one of the things that tickles Ian the most is that a whole lot of his dishevelled paperwork ended up in carefully coded white cardboard folders, like the one pictured above.
I’m working my way through this, the “IM 1975/Yeomans” folder (aka Pr198.436-444) right now. As to what that complex code could mean, I have no idea, but it does seem to lend some authority to the scraps of paper, carefully wrapped in glassine, inside. (Ian has referred to some of these scraps in a previous post).
For the moment, I just want to draw attention to this one letter addressed to “Mr Melliss”, from Jeff Moss, the Managing Director of Random Writers. It is unclear as to what kind of arrangement Mr Moss might have had with Mr Melliss.
Our only clue: “I will be very interested to discuss the Yeomans project with you but will not be in Sydney from Thursday, September 18 to Sunday, October 12, inclusive. My wife and I are taking a trip to Malaysia”.
Who was this Jeff Moss? (The use of the word “inclusive” in the letter suggests he must have had a secretary to help him “put pen to paper” with his typewriter.)
Anyway, the answer surely is not hard to find. Up in Wallewerang, on t’other side of the Blue Mountains, sits Mr Melliss himself. I’m hoping my posting of the letter here will prompt him to reveal all.
If, that is, he can recall! (If not, perhaps Wendy can jog his memory).
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[ps - you can read Wendy Carlson's essay about Ian, entitled the invisible artist, here.]