Born in Mogneville, Oise, France, Claux became a furniture maker prior to World War I, to which he was a Conscientious objector. During the war, Claux escaped France and its conscription laws by moving to England on a false passport and living at Whiteway Colony, a Tolstoyan-communist anarchist project in the Cotswolds, Gloucestershire.
At Whiteway Claux gained an interest in nudity, sensible clothes and vegetarianism and met Molly, who would become his life partner. They travelled to London in 1926 when she was heavily influenced by the gymnosophists. In 1929 they moved to Australia to help found an anarchist community near Cooktown in northern Queensland.
The family stayed at the commune until 1931 when they moved to Sydney, where Claux ran a fruit and vegetable stall in Liverpool Street. The Claux's soon became notorious in Sydney for their uninhibited ways, with Claux founding the first nudist colony in Australia and his family all following the naturalist lifestyle.
Claux had a huge beard and wore shorts and sandals, even in winter, which made him a recognisable figure in Sydney, and led to him being cast in numerous films, including Eureka Stockade and Kangaroo.
Claux's behaviour and attitudes to sex and nudity scandalised 1940s Australia. In 1947 Claux’s 16 year old daughter Moira was caught appearing nude in short films confiscated by Sydney police. Moira stated that like her father she was a nudist and found nothing wrong with appearing naked in films or photographs, as long as it wasn’t in seductive poses.
In 1948, a female journalist visited the Claux's and was equally shocked to see naked family portraits around the house and by Claux's admission that he and his wife allowed Moira to bring boyfriends over for the night, a taboo issue in 1940s Australia. The journalist’s resulting article, in Woman magazine, was the first article in a mainstream Australian publication to seriously examine nudism.
Claux retired from his barrow in May 1956 and in 1958 travelled to England as Australian delegates to the World Naturalist Congress.
Claux died in Marrickville, Sydney in June, 1971, aged 78.
- Cockington, J. (2005) Banned, ABC Books, Sydney, ISBN 0-7333-1502-X.
- Sayers, A. (1985) 100 years of Australian drawing, Bay Books, Adelaide. ISBN 978-0-85835-860-7.
Footnotes and citations
- Cockington p. 74
- A FRENCH ANARCHIST, KLEBER CLAUX, http://www.takver.com/history/aia/aia00018.htm
- Sayers, p. 88
- Cockington, p. 75
- Internet Movie Database, "Kleber Claux", http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0165373/ Accessed 19 November 2009
- Cockington, p. 74
- Cockington, p 78
- Cockington, p. 75
- Cockington, p. 77