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Roger Scholes - Tribute

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Thursday, 16 June 2022

Tags: Arts, Condolence

Ms O'CONNOR (Clark - Leader of the Greens) - Mr Speaker, I rise tonight to honour the life of a most beautiful and wildly creative Tasmanian soul, one of our greats, film maker and artist Roger Scholes.  My heart felt so heavy when I read news of his premature death at the age of 71 a little more than a week ago.

Roger Scholes was an extraordinary and rare man.  He had this incredible intelligence and this bottomless well of empathy and humanity, and sometimes I know it completely overwhelmed him.  The world did.  People did.  Their circumstances.  The state of the natural world.  

Roger Scholes was a film maker of international renown.  He produced that incredible film The Tale of Ruby Rose which captured the haunting and harsh beauty of the Tasmanian highlands.  He was also an historian, a recorder of histories, and he made the 1982 documentary The Franklin River Blockade and captured so well that important history of our island.

Many people feel so sad.  I will just quote from Breath of Fresh Air Film Festival Director, Owen Tilbury, who worked with Mr Scholes over the years.  He said, 'He was a man fully dedicated to his craft'.  Mr Tilbury said, 'Mr Scholes is one of Tasmania's most iconic early auteurs who shaped the film making scene of his time'.  He said he would remember Mr Scholes as a 'film maker with a strong social conscience and empathy for outsiders and a willingness to suffer for his art'.  'He was more than happy to suffer physical privation, financial challenges and electoral battles with various people for his art', Mr Tilbury said.

He will be very very much missed because this is the passing of a true icon and a giant of the Tasmanian film industry.  One of Roger's defining characteristics was his deep identification with Tasmanian Aboriginal people and he burned, not quietly but gently, but he burned with a sense of injustice about what happened to Tasmanian Aboriginal people over the last more than 200 years.  He was always trying to do something to make it a bit better. He did that incredible installation at William Crowther's statue in Franklin Square, which was an acknowledgement that Crowther was obviously a complicated man, but an acknowledgement of the terrible travesty of Crowther's treatment of Aboriginal man, William Lanney.

He also was working with Aboriginal Tasmanian people to understand better cultural burning practices.  I sat down with Roger last year about this project where he was going out on country and looking at those cool burning practices.  This great film maker and wonderful artist did not have a lot of money and he needed a bit of help to buy a film camera.  Last July, Roger, and his beautiful and clever wife, Katherine, who is a renowned author in her own right, came to dinner with Dr Woodruff and I here in the dining room.  It was a wonderful conversation and his curious mind and his big heart took us all over the place.  His wife, Katherine is a delight with the most fierce intelligence.  I send my deepest condolences to his wife, Katherine, and his sons, Johnny and Linden.

I am sure you know, Katherine, Johnny and Linden, that your husband, your dad, your friend, was one of the great, great Tasmanians.  He was so well loved and his was a life of giving and sharing, of teaching, of loving and curiosity and kindness.  Mr Speaker, there is a song going around in my head and it is Don McLean's beautiful song, Vincent, and this reminds me of Roger:

I could have told you, Vincent, this world was never meant for one as beautiful as you.

Mr Speaker, vale the wonderful, wonderful Roger Scholes.

Dr Woodruff - Hear, hear.