It is probably the most infamous radio broadcast of all time: Orson Welles’ Halloween 1938 dramatisation of H.G. Wells’ “The War of the Worlds”.
Welles transplanted the story from England to Grover’s Mill, New Jersey, and told it as a series of news reports, keeping the tension and hysteria of it all steadily rising. It terrified audiences at the time – like a hell of a lot of Welles’ work it is arguably a great work of art, and an enormous prank at once.
Whether or not there was panic during the broadcast, there was considerable outrage afterwards – how that has to do with the alleged ‘cruelty’ of it, and how much with people just hating to be fooled is an open question.
One of the greatest of Australian painters, Albert Namitjira was 36 when his first solo show opened. It ran for about a week, at a gallery in Melbourne – far away from the rugged landscapes of the Flinders Ranges that Namitjira loved to paint. It was the first solo show by a painter of indigenous origin in Australian history, and it was a harbinger of bigger and better things to come.
Namitjira’s work blended European painting styles with the artistic traditions of his people, in a harmonious blend that showed Australians of all kinds a new way to look at their country. (And its gum trees. Namitjira loved to paint gum trees.) He died in 1959, mourned by a nation and after a too-short career that changed Australian art like no painter before or since has done.