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Johnny, 2006

by Sean Hobbs

National Photographic Portrait Prize 2007 Finalist

Vera Butcher was born on Wednesday, April 5, 1916. She has lived through two World Wars and the Great Depression, and as a young woman walked across the Sydney Harbour Bridge when it first opened. Her parents, Adelaide and James Lett, who both had Chinese ancestry, would often cook San Choi Bao, a traditional Chinese meal, for Vera and her six older siblings. However, references to the meal were anglicised and so, if asked, the Lett children would tell their classmates they ate 'johnny' for dinner. When Vera married and had three children of her own she cooked them 'johnny'. Her youngest daughter Verella, who is my mother, would cook 'johnny' also. It is only recently that Vera has begun to acknowledge and even celebrate her heritage. Earlier this year she attended my wedding to Stephanie who is half-Chinese. We served San Choi Bao to all the guests.

National Photographic Portrait Prize 2007

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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders past and present. We respectfully advise that this site includes works by, images of, names of, voices of and references to deceased people.

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