CY O’Connor tribute

A  RIDERLESS horse rears up in the sand dunes near Robbs Jetty, fear in its eyes.

Unseen in Jo Darvall’s painting are the tragic circumstances where celebrated engineer CY O’Connor rode thehorse into the ocean and shot himself.

In another work, O’Connor’s wife and daughter stand in the shallows united in grief, unable to attend his funeral: “Because back then women didn’t go to funerals,” Darvall says.

The artworks are part of Brilliant, Home at Moores gallery, and were inspired by the artist’s move from Victoria to South Fremantle, where she was intrigued by the O’Connor story.

• Artist Jo Darvall

“As a newcomer you go to Mundaring Weir and it blows your mind,” she says of O’Connor’s Kalgoorlie pipeline.

Keen to find out more about the man, Darvall stumbled across his daughter, artist Kathleen O’Connor.

Studying in France, she was on the last train out of Paris as the Nazis invaded. Returning to Fremantle in 1948, Kathleen’s art was deemed foreign, and she faced a crippling import tax.

She was left with no choice but to destroy many of them, and legend has it the shredded remnants were tossed into the sea.

The thought of fragments washing up on Fremantle beaches is at the heart of Darvall’s paintings.

Her works will join those of 25 local artists in the exhibition Brilliant, Home.

You can check it out at Moore Gallery, until April 9.


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