Takver's Initiatives. P.O. Box 1078, Brunswick M.D.C, Victoria, 3056, Australia

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Kleber Claux (aka Ramon [Ray] Insa Lleo)

His birth certificate, dated 22 March, 1893, shows he was born at Mogneville, France to parents described as 'free thinkers'. Little is known about his life before the 1914-18 War, at the beginning of which he met Gaston Marin in Belgium, possibly on an anarchist colony said to have been in existence at least since 1903. Marin knew of Whiteway Colony, originally a Tolstoyan-communist anarchist project in the Cotswolds, Gloucestershire. He helped Claux get to England, on a fake passport, and to obtain refuge from French conscription laws in the Whiteway home of a Bea Adams who hid Claux, eventually taking up with him in preference to her chemist husband.

Whiteway, established in 1898 as a realisation of the Croydon Brotherhood Church, had quickly abandoned any pretensions the early settlers, middle class idealists in the main, may have had to radicalism and had settled into the farming of individual allotments. They did not take too kindly to an influx of philosophical anarchists, mainly from France and Belgium which occurred around 1914-16. Although Claux, for example, was at the Colony for 13 years approximately, the authoress of probably the only book on the colony, Nellie Shaw, never refers to him by name or to any of the other Continental arrivals except Marin and to one who became her 'free-union' companion, Francis Sedlak, a Czech.

Although photographs and a Certificate of Merit attest to Claux's skill and determination as a furniture-maker Shaw's only references to his time at Whiteway are trivialisations ('harmless eccentricities') or throwaway remarks about how 'the rest of us' know better. His interest in nudity, sensible clothes and vegetarianism appear to date from this English sojourn. He met 'Molly' with whom he was to travel to Australia in London in 1926 when she was heavily influenced by the gymnosophist movement, a mixture of theosophy and a love of 'natural' living.

A Document of Identity was issued to Claux in June 1929 when he requested permission to travel either to Brazil or Australia. It appears that a group of colonists (all associated with Whiteway?) thought to settle near Cooktown (Qld) as an anarchist community. Claux, Molly and some others sailed on the Jervis Bay in 1929 and from their landing port travelled immediately to north Queensland where they stayed for only 12 months (approx). Wet weather, unexpected difficulties and the impending birth of their second child, Moira, meant that the Claux entourage returned south to Sydney in 1931. Others of the failed community returned to the northern hemisphere via Tahiti.

In Sydney, Kleber and Molly settled down to a life which provided some matching of their need for personal freedom, reasonable diet and a cash-flow, he became a barrowman selling fruit and vegetables to the city crowds in Liverpool Street, while she concentrated on the children.

Because of his physique and facial features and because of his pioneering work for nudism in Sydney he became well known and much written about. He modelled for sacred paintings, appeared in historical documentaries ('Hargreaves'-1938) and processions, and feature films ('Eureka'-1947.) It appears he made no attempt to propagate anarchism in I Australia.

Their family, particularly their artistic and 'uninhibited' children were also well known and reported on by the popular press. Kleber retired from his barrow in May 1956 and 2 years later he and Molly travelled to England as Australian delegates to the World Naturalist Congress where they met the Duke of Bedford and a suitably outraged press. They re-established close contacts with Whiteway colonists and with their families.

He died in Sydney on June, 1971.

Notes from Interview with Moira Claux, Melbourne, 1983-84, by Bob James.

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Last modified: February 2, 1998

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