The Jetty Mermaids ©2019 (Watercolour, 55 x 56.5 cm.)
On a delightful day in 1942, 17-year old Kaula Kolantgis and cousins Katina Kokkinou, Lena Souris and Helen Souris travelled from Bellingen and Bundagen in northern New South Wales to Coffs Harbour.
Their excursion included a visit to relatives in the area and a stroll along The Jetty, a long and bustling pier of rail lines, freight and passenger steamships…and a lot of men!
Kaula, in a pretty red dress she’d made herself, asked a crew member of one of the ships in port if he would take a photo of the girls on the deck of a steamer – just for fun – which he begrudgingly did.
By the early 1960s Kaula Kolantgis – now Mrs ‘Kath’ Capsanis, was hanging washing on her clothesline in suburban Sydney when the unfamiliar face of a middle-aged man peered over her back fence and introduced himself as Toby Delmar.
Toby was the son of Kath’s elderly neighbour, Mrs Marguerite Delmar who lived in a Victorian mansion bordering Kath’s backyard. Marguerite often babysat Kath’s toddler daughter, Maria.
In those days Kath, her husband Jack Capsanis, and Kath’s brother Tony were busy running the popular King’s Theatre Milk Bar in Ashfield up until it was eventually demolished in the early 1980s.
And in that fateful over-the-back-fence conversation, it turned out that Edwin Chisholm ‘Toby’ Delmar was in fact the merchant mariner who took the photo of the girls at The Jetty all those years before!
Sadly, Toby Delmar passed away in 1964 at the age of 58 not long after he and Kath met that day over the back fence.
Kaula Capsanis née Kolantgis is the last of the lovey Mermaids. Now in her 90s she told me this story when I became fascinated with a small sepia photo of four Aussie-Greek Kytherian mermaids aboard a ship’s deck on a lovely day long ago: rest in peace – Katina Aroney née Kokkinou, Lena Lahanas née Souris, Helen Paspalas née Souris, and Edwin Chisholm Delmar.
The original artwork is on high quality heavy-weight French Arches paper, comes with certificate of authenticity and is tastefully framed with navy blue mount, gold beading, and burnished gold frame with non-reflective glass. Also available as museum quality giclee print on paper or unstretched linen canvas to your preferred size.