Alice Marble and the locked box.


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This story is now published as part of the anthology ‘Loyal and True’.

Alice Marble discovered it’s amazing properties during a high school science class.
Alice was an athlete and it quickly dawned on her that if she kept it a secret it would help her achieve her goal of becoming a world-class tennis player.
She kept the secret well but occasionally enthusiasm got the better of her as you can see in the photo above.
It was 1939 and Alice had become the top ranked women’s tennis player in the US. 
Unfortunately for Alice, by the time WW2 ended she was too old to continue her career and even Hypercillium could not stop the ageing process.
She did not want her secret to become public so she concealed her discovery, but as we all know, nothing stays buried forever.
When Alice died her estate was put up for auction.
The various lots included a locked wooden box.
The box had been sent to Alice by an Australian soldier who was stationed in Palestine. The box was exquisitely inlaid with brass and ivory but the key had long since gone missing.
Miguel bought the box unopened for the princely sum of five dollars.
When he managed to get the box open without doing too much damage he found a set of papers that looked like they had been written by a teenage girl, as well as a sealed Petri dish containing what looked like mould.
It looked like ordinary mould.
The kind of mould you get when you leave a pair of sports shoes in a bag for a year or two, but it was anything but ordinary.
Miguel Shreckengost was the first to understand it’s potential.
Miguel had long been an admirer of Howard Florey. Florey was the scientist who developed Penicillin. He understood what Fleming had stumbled over but had failed to recognise.
Shreckengost did not discover Hypercillium but he did develop it into what we know today.
Without it we would not be able fly.
Imagine not being able to fly, it seems silly I know.
Once upon a time there were no electric vehicles either, but not being able to fly?
Photo credit

Tiffany Bishop and the Pianola Rolls.


We were in Belgrave for the annual Busker’s Festival. An excellent chance to get the camera out. There is a laneway that runs down the back of the shops and parallel to the railway line and it was here that there was a young lady singing her heart out. We stopped to listen and to get some photos. This was all happening at the back of the Tiffany Bishop Collective and the back door to her workspace was open. I had heard a bit about this community arts project so I wanted to have a look.

It’s an amazing space underneath the healthfood store in Belgrave. From the street a long line of wide steps leads down to a multi chamber art space that is lit by a series of skylights. Every surface is painted white and this works amazingly well as it shows the art in it’s best light.

The first thing that struck me was this long continuous strip of white paper mounted on the wall. Several artists had contributed to a linear narrative piece which has you walking the length of the room to see what happens next.

The first thing I thought of was pianola rolls.

Getting a single continuous piece of paper to work on must be quite hard and I’m guessing, quite expensive.

I was lucky enough to speak to Tiffany. She is petite and full of energy.

I suggested that old pianola rolls might come in handy, and that I had a heap of them and Tiffany went into full on excited creative mode. She had half a dozen ideas going before I had finished speaking! I promised to drop some in this week and that is where I have just come from.

In the intervening couple of days there had been several discussions as to how to best use this new resource. She asked me lots of questions and asked if I would like to be a partner in this project.

A partner?

I’m not an artist, I just take photos and I happen to have a heap of pianola rolls that I would like to go to good use.

I did run a business restoring pianolas and music rolls in partnership with my late father, and I do have a mountain of useless knowledge to do with pianolas and rolls and I guess it might be fun for the young artists to know a bit about the medium they are working with.

In any case it looks like I’m a partner.

I was just giving away some rolls and all of a sudden I’m in the middle of something else.

You just never know when you get out of bed in the morning what the day will bring.


Used as a stencil.
The artist stood out side the studio and recorded the colours of the cars going by and transposed the data onto the pianola roll………….. pretty cool!