Friday Poem:Dancer

A couple of weeks ago, I visited the Australian National Gallery in Canberra, with my daughter, her partner and little Juniper. We went through the splendid Asian section, where we saw a beautiful Natarajah – Lord Shiva in the form of Lord of the Dance. I was very impressed with it. Since then, it has been revealed that the dealer from whom the Gallery purchased it -at great expense – was  not all he seemed. The Shiva who danced in pride of place in Canberra had been -ah- removed illicitly from a tiny temple in a village in Southern India. The gallery has now said the image will be returned. I hope it gets back eventually to it’s proper home, because it’s devotees really miss it…a shiva 2

Wrist bones and hip bones
Dancing for me
Ribcage and spine bones
Dance in the dark.

Dance, dance for me
Thigh bones and ankles!
Collar-bones, skull bones
Come dance for me;
The flame of life flickers
Dancing the bones.

Bound up with muscle
Wrapped in the skin
With a sweet crown of hair
Spirit dances within.
My bones and your bones
Dance in the dark:
Spirit, our spirits
Dancing the bones.a shiva 3

I wasn’t actually thinking of Natarajah when I wrote the poem – after all, he is dancing the universe into being, not just having a good time -but it seems apt. Nor are the Shivas in these photos the one in the NGA; they are much smaller (and legally mine) but the posture (asana?) is the same. I’m not a huge Bruce fan, but how can I not add this song to this post?! shiva

Weekly Photography Challenge: Reflections II

It was such a dull, grey morning I decided to light some candles for cheeriness in our lounge room. They looked so good, the soft light reflected in mirrors and shiny gold frames, that I spent a good half hour (or more) trying to capture the effect. The low light meant using a tripod, which meant I had to stand it on something steady etc, etc…….. So, having gone to all that bother, I had to post some of the results!

The interior of one’s home is a reflection of one’s own ‘interior’, the self, mind, personality – choose your favourite tag  – so these photos are a reflection of me, as well as being full of images of reflective surfaces, and things reflected in those surfaces.

Creativity: Artists Scrapbook 8

“The creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect but by the play instinct acting from inner necessity. The creative mind plays with the objects it loves.”


Well, I love green, Nirvana, flowers, seahorses, poetry…also pink, and Jesus images, amongst other things. And string. Mustn’t forget string…as23as24

Tucked inside a receipt for Nevermind is a paragraph about the poet Robert Graves, and his ideas on poetry, poets and creativity. The poet, he says, is not responsible for the poem – the poem itself comes from another place. The poet is taking dictation from the goddess as muse, and the poet’s job is to become a clear channel for the poetry to come through. So, says Graves, poets must not take responsibility for their work, since it comes from the goddess herself. I wonder if he would say the same for all forms of creative endeavour?

The child in the old photo is me- aged about two, I think, and running as wild and free as a small child should.as25On the reverse of that page, I stuck a timetable from the Big Day Out in Melbourne. I’m not sure of the year, but Coldplay played at 2.30 in the afternoon, so it’s been quite a while…I made a pocket with a photo of a rose (Fragrant Cloud, originally released as Duftwolke) printed on vellum, and tucked a photocopied photo inside. There are tiny images of 3 “Kurt shirts” cut out of the back pages of a music mag glued on the top right hand corner of the timetable – like a postage stamp.

More next week!

Memoria ( Kurt Cobain)

I wrote this in a note book, a stream of consciousness, and I’ve just edited it a bit… a pencil portraitIt’s coming up to twenty years after Kurt Cobain died. Twenty years ago he was trying to pretend that there was nothing wrong, while everyone around him panicked for  various reasons. Even the ones who saw him as a cash-cow on some level must have had concern for the man he was. Most of them loved him at least a little bit. However, no one could salve his terminal sadness, not even Frances. (She’d be better off without him, he believed). Courtney was no more self-aware than he was, so not much help in the crisis. I’m pretty sure that he wanted/expected her to come and rescue him after he fled back to Seattle, but she didn’t get his calls (he forgot the secret code she’d given him), so she stayed in LA. And he gave up, and died alone.

Everyone has to make the final exit fundamentally alone, but a witness or two is a comfort on the journey. A witness or two might have anchored him in this life. Who knows?

Their nanny, Cali, thought he was a dream, Courtney didn’t get his calls. He must have felt as invisible, unwanted and irrelevant as when he was a little boy and his parents divorced – not at all amicably. Just because so many people suffer these wounds doesn’t make them any less dangerous. “Is yours a sad story?” asked Michael Azzerad. “……..No…….” said Kurt. Lots of people have the same story. But, Kurt, they all have a sad story, they are all suffering, many of them will medicate away the gnawing sadness at the core of their being; many will die, like you, too young. Or just stagger through life in a haze of alcohol and misery. That sadness needs to be acknowledged and addressed if the wound is to heal. Not enough people seem to be managing that, if the great plague of anxiety and drugs is any thing to go by. Maybe childhood wounds are what drive all the paranoia and fear in the media? And that feeds into the anxieties of the public, so that it is magnified in a feedback loop.

A few years ago, the news in Victoria was full of report of people carrying knives – and guess what?- more people started carrying knives to “protect” themselves from the other people whom they believed to be carrying knives. Hence more problems with knives as anxious, fearful people “protected” themselves from each other. Frightened people with weapons are always dangerous. Police who are required to carry guns should also be required to learn to live without fear – Vietnamese Buddhist monk, Thich Naht Hanh teaches mindfulness courses for police and other emergency workers. Then they might be able to calm the frightened child with the knife instead of killing him. I wandered a bit there, but that is what Kurt Cobain has done for me. I see the world differently. And for that I am grateful, even as I wish fervently that he didn’t feel the need to do it, that he was still with us, an old fart having reunions and exhibiting his paintings, maybe selling the recordings of outsider artists out of the boot of his car in little towns that don’t care who he was or know what “insider art” implies. They are all outsiders…a pastel portrait

Is that it?  King of Grunge, Top of the Pops, known, imitated, desired by millions, in his head was he still the little kid whose parents betrayed his love and need, the boy who didn’t really feel wanted anywhere and didn’t fit in. Whether he ever slept under the Young St Bridge  or not, he couch surfed for much of his adolescence, sleeping in a cardboard box in someones porch at one stage. All the money and adulation in the world couldn’t make up for those years as the undesired rat-kid, a role that itself went back to the great divorce. Did no one ever say – we’re so sorry Kurt, it’s not your fault, we just don’t get along but we still love you and Kimmy, and we’ll look after you both, just not us together. Too late now. It didn’t help either that Wendy fought for custody of both children, but passed Kurt on to his father when the little boy was hard to manage.He only needed love and reassurance (don’t we all!), but Wendy had her own issues. As did Don. As do most of us.

There’s our problem.The issues of the parents are visited on the children, even unto the umpteenth generation, unless someone is able to break the chain. Some folks prevent the passing on of issues by having no issue. Drastic but effective. Most of us barely know we have issues, and our unconsciously driven behaviour causes us endless trouble and grief. Becoming conscious is the only proper solution. So simple, yet so difficult.a stencil portrait
Kurt Cobain is my “Favourite Subject” in more ways than one – here are three of the art works I’ve made over the years. Capturing a person’s facial expression, and something of the essence of their personality is a constant and provoking challenge.

Weekly Photography Challenge: Reflection

My first inclination for this weeks challenge was to look for photos of reflections on water, or maybe on glass – a window, or  mirror. I have such pictures in my files, and I found some of them, but I felt like making something new, just for the challenge.

Taking tea, especially in the context of the Japanese tea ceremony, is an occasion for reflection. Tea reflections 1

I made a pot of T2’s “Passion” tea, which is pink in colour, and quite delicious.Tea reflections

The table top is reflective, as is the old epns tea strainer, and the glamourous gold glaze on the darling cup and saucer.Tea reflections 3

I had made a batch of sturdy, seedy scones and slathered them with orange marmalade. Served up with pink tea, what could be better! This is not much like the Japanese tradition (wrong colour tea, for starters), but a solitary cuppa, served up with some ceremony, is a fine context for reflection of the spiritual kind.

Or it would have been if I wasn’t so busy composing lovely pictures for my blog! So tricky to press the button with my left hand…Who knew?

Friday Poem:Morning Song

So, Friday again already. I woke up early last Sunday morning in Melbourne, to the songs of birds…morning branch

In the morning
Magpie’s liquid songs
Poured in libation
To the rising  sun god
Are spilled on the damp earth.

A scientist may say
It is a song
Only about territory
But to my poet’s ears
It sounds like joy.

morningI couldn’t find a photo of a magpie, let alone a magpie in Melbourne in the morning – so I’ve chosen some ‘morning’ pictures instead. They are all taken around home, not in the metropolis. I might have enjoyed the dawn chorus last weekend, but I didn’t get out of bed to try to document it in pictures!


We haven’t had a frost yet this year, but no doubt we will have some in time. We’d better get the chimney cleaned before then…not that Canadians or Alaskans think our frosty mornings are all that chilly!

Weekly Photography Challenge: Inside II

This time a more miscellaneous collection of ‘Inside‘ images. A cat is an ever reliable subject for ‘inside’, since they just can’t resist getting into a box, a cupboard, a suitcase, or even a plastic bag.morgen inside a bag

My second image is of one of Melbourne’s now famous laneways, with it’s ever evolving walls of street art. One youngster is adding another layer, while a younger boy – his brother, perhaps – looks on. Graffiti brings welcome bursts of colour inside many little laneways that are otherwise rather grey and forbidding in the city, and is now a popular subject for photographers. Not that everybody loves it!Union Lane

Lastly, butterfly eggs laid on a leaf, embryonic caterpillars tucked up safely inside. Is it just me, or do they look like little green Pokeballs? With cabbage-eating monsters inside…eggs on a leaf

Creativity: Artist Scrapbook 7

This on the back of the last page from last week, a sheet of plain old Kraft paper, but embellished with a piece of beautiful orange hand made paper, and one of my photos – which is actually upside down, now I look at it again! Oh well, perfection is dull and rules are for bending, especially in an artist journal of any kind. A quote from the Dalai Lama makes a commentary on the Kurt Cobain clippings, and I encircled them with words to live by – Peace, Love, Empathy, Justice, Compassion, Kindness, Respect, Warmhearted, Affectionate – written using a wonderful pencil which has all the colours of the rainbow in one lead. There are other colour combinations available. if you don’t have one, seek one (or more) out -very rewarding to draw with, too!as19

The next page is a postcard advertising an art exhibition, to which I have added an image from a magazine and an inspiring quote (from a book catalogue, I think). You never know where you will find some piece that will be just what you wanted – if you see something like this that you know you’ll use, cut (or tear) it out and add it to your stash immediately. Otherwise you’ll waste a lot of time trying to find it again…as extraI liked the text on the back of the postcard, but stapled an old family photo over the rest, adding a few fairy stamps, just because. Stamps of all sorts are an excellent tool in the artists stash, although they can be quite expensive. I’ve bought some fancy ones at fancy prices, but it’s worth haunting the ‘craft’ aisle in “cheap shops” (you know the kind I mean) as they sometimes stock  useful things like sheets of clear stamps – flowers and bugs never go astray – and the clear acrylic blocks to attach them to. Cheaply!as20

And always remember, when making your personal artist scrapbook out of your stash of bits and pieces, using anything and everything from your stash of art supplies…as21


Except “have fun with it”.

Weekly Photography Challenge: Inside

I had to wait until late Sunday night to find out that this weeks Challenge theme is Inside, because I was travelling with no internet access. So it seems appropriate to share some travel pics from The Trip Of A Lifetime – the beds in all the hotel rooms we stayed in for our month in the lovely Pacific Northwest. At last I have a reason for taking them!

Fundamentally, a hotel room (or other accommodation), is just a place to sleep and keep your stuff inside while you explore the area and see the sights. But without that little place of refuge inside your room, the joys of travel would be very much diminished. If only American hotel rooms had a kettle inside them, as well as or instead of the coffee machine, a person could enjoy a nice cup of tea! In Portland, in a moment of reckless desperation, I tried making tea by running water through the machine, sans coffee. It sort of worked, but the resulting tea had a taint of coffee, which was…interesting.

Friday Poem: Late Afternoon

After a good day in the City of Melbourne, I was heading up the hill toward Southern Cross station. The sun was dropping toward the west, playing hide and seek with the office towers and stately old bank buildings. I loved the way the light bounced along the empty street, but I didn’t have a camera (or time to stop and take pictures – train to catch!). So instead, I wrote this poem.late afternoon

Sunday in the city
5 pm
Everything is closing
Shutting down for the day
Staff thinking of going home.

The slanting sunlight
Bounces from window
to wall
Amongst the canyons.

Sunday in the city
5 pm.

late afternoon 2Both these pics were taken in Melbourne and late in the afternoon – just not the same afternoon. I think the city is particularly lovely, in a melancholy way, late in the day when dusk is just beginning, and for whatever reason, the streets are almost empty.