OG Bettina Savage (Class of 1947) Shares her Thoughts

"It was the best of times; it was the worst of times (not my original words but Dickens')".

We are honoured to be able to share with you some special insights provided by Old Girl Bettina Savage (Class of 1947) in her reflections at this difficult time. 

Image supplied by Somerville House Archives and depicts students in 1952. 


"Things do coincide. Reading 2 of my emails today prompted these thoughts. In the sense of the times bringing out the best of (some of) us, I'm wishful of adding another thought, putting together your bright suggestion of help to Old Girls, & my own daughter-in-law's email to me below: (my own management of our English language was aided & abetted by Early Somerville teachers, Ruth George & Inez Morgan, as well as a lifelong almost familial connection to our Old Girl and our music mistress, Marian Morrison.

The first prompt comes from my autobiographical writing re my late world famous brother (no time to mince words) known to numerous Old Girls possible no longer here as Donald Percival Savage - & to the fashion and art world in his later life as Mr Ab Fab, Percy Savage.

I'd gathered into a small paragraph some of the factors illuminating his successful 1947 introduction to Paris instead of taking up that year's sole NSW Art Scholarship to Slade School in London. cf below:

Factors coalescing to enable Percy to grasp life & become a world figure - they need explanation which follows in the text. The young Donald used his second name Percy or Percival overseas.

This was just post WW2, with a juxtaposition of events that could only happen then. Brookfield newly had the telephone, & my brother's voice saying goodbye to me (now a high school student) tore at my heart, showing the inadequacy of the instrument. There was availability of flight across Australia, availability of shipping crew employment so he could work his passage on a French ship; then finding London incredibly bombed down & horrid for artistic eyes, such that he couldn't bear to stay with Slade's school & his Scholarship, & fled to Europe, to a city whose people, language (had he picked up up the wrong patois aboard ship?) & culture he hadn't properly experienced yet greatly admired), where already post-war the US Marshall Aid Plan existed, & where Dior's NEW LOOK originated - all these singular events conspired to create an opportunity, a competitve race in which Don all on his own was then one to pick up the baton and run - & win! 

May I add D-i-l's words today: (darn I've somehow lost them - to paraphrase).

Nicky Maruch said she's received another artists action to set up site for anyone to go for a walk & add 'one day's found pieces' put into an art form. For Nikki one such double entry occupied her mind a whole hour. She's home not doing much interior decorating. My other d-i-l Wendy Lewis is a writer fully occupied at home but 'with a house now so full of people!' 3 others. I got their video of 4 people last night, now there's another idea for th present schism.

With the very best of luck & health to all my (I can't say 'co-freres') my sisters XXX"

Bettina (Betty Majorie Savage)


What a special surprise it was to hear from Bettina at this most difficult of times.  We can't help but speculate that whilst the current circumstances present such difficulty for so many, what new journey might this set our Old Girls and future Old Girls on?  We can take heart and inspiration from Betty's insights that sometimes a change in journey not always apparent at the time can in fact lead to favourable outcomes.  We wish good health to Bettina and all of her family as we do to all of our Old Girls. 

If you would like to share stories/insights with us please contact us at connect@somervillehouseoga.com.au.




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