Friday Poem: For Sandra

It’s not Friday anymore…my Friday this week was super-busy and my internet was too sloooow for a quick post, but I wanted to share this old poem. A few days ago, because of a series of coincidences, I spent maybe twenty minutes catching up with a man I hadn’t seen for almost forty years – back when he, his wife Sandra and my husband Bryan were very young teachers in Terang, Victoria. I wrote this when Sandra and Iain’s first child, a daughter, was born. I didn’t think to ask him if he’s a Grandpa!fonz

I thought of you.
I thought of you in your bed of pain,
Brought to bed of a child;
Brought to bed of a daughter.
A daughter to suffer as we have suffered:
In travail to bring forth,
To bring forth a child again.


DSCF6756 (Small)I don’t have any photos of Sandra from back then (or later), so here is my daughter and her daughter, a few days after juniper was born last year. The Fonz does date back to the 70’s in Terang, though (actually, that’s Simon, aged about 15 months). We were young folks, and we made our own social lives in a small country town. One of our themed parties was a “Fifties” night, party inspired by a current TV show called “Happy Days”- maybe you’ve heard of it!

While I was working on/prevaricating over this post, I came across this series of mixed media pieces I made a few years ago, called “Pattern Making”. It was inspired in part by an extract from a Victorian book which advised that little girls should be encouraged to play with dolls in order to learn to look after babies, do the laundry and generally make themselves useful. Which annoyed me. I have five children, and I absolutely understand the human drive to ‘bring forth’ children, however, I am not at all taken with the idea that girls should be given dolls in order to be made “gentle and useful”, nor with the notion that doing laundry will give her “the most intense delight”, as if that were the be-all and end-all of life for a female.

Creativity: Escape IX

Escape 27

A curious coincidence – When I painted over the text on this page of my altered book, “Escape”, I left a few words uncovered, then decorated around them with flower stamps, plus a hummingbird. The artwork of the added page is by Melbourne artist Kim Hoa Tram – I saw an exhibition of his work at the National Gallery of Victoria, including this work, “Awakening”,  which depicts a live sparrow grieving over a dead one. It seemed a good complement to the redacted text on the opposite page, and it’s beautiful.Escape 28

Behind the flap, a photo of Nirvana cut out of a magazine, and hand-coloured and stamped over. I kept the word “smiling” uncovered from the original text, even though no one is in the photo…

Escape 29


With a concert DVD and a few watercolours and/or a pen, one can explore doing ‘life’ drawings, such as the one here. It’s possible to cheat a bit, and pause the DVD, or work really quickly form a fleeting image. I’m not sure where the piece of paper came from – I liked the words, and added the girl’s face. I have never physically made a bonfire on a beach , but it’s a favourite mental exercise of mine to imagine a beach and a big bonfire of drift wood, onto which I toss whatever it is I need to remove from my life. A Sense of Duty is a regular for this – it gets in the way of art, far too often. It’s good to “draw in the margin of your days”, but it’s possibly even better to draw in the middle of them as well!

Weekly Photography Challenge: Angular

The challenge this week is ‘angular’, and as usual, the theme is open to interpretation. One could choose an unusual POV for an odd angle on a subject, find multiple angles in architecture, or simply a street corner.


A couple of weeks ago, I walked along this lane in Ararat – it’s behind the shops and hotels of the main street, and in thirty years, I’d never found occasion to go there, although I crossed it many times to visit my friend in Banksia Street. The back-ends of perfectly respectable and ordinary businesses show a quite different angle of the town…I particularly liked the little old toilet building – not sure what it’s behind. I went there on a Sunday afternoon to check out a new enterprise called “Back to Cool” which has opened, selling old wares and collectibles in the lane, and I was so taken with the novel views that I pulled out my camera. You can see in the second photo , that the lane running down from Barkley st, past the Court House Hotel, is itself on a steep angle! A good fitness challenge to hurry up there!

Friday Poem: Discourse

I had a bit of fun with this poem (a lot of fun, actually). I once heard someone on the radio say that “Just because it didn’t happen, doesn’t mean it isn’t true”, which I found quite profound. I’m fairly sure it was on The Coodabeen Champions, a lighthearted and lightweight show about AFL “footy”, not known for being deep and meaningful.IMG_2066 (Small) However, that jokey insight helped form this poem.

Are symbols real?
Although a symbol
Is not really
What it symbolises
It may be
A real symbol-
A symbol of a real thing
Or real concept-
So although the symbol
Is not really what is symbolised
By the symbol
It is in fact real
Insofar as that
It really symbolises
The idea, concept or thing
Which is real.
In this way
A myth is a true story
Because although the story
May not be literally true
In the sense of historical events,
What is symbolised in the story
Is true and real and actual
In another sense.
Anything at all can function
As a symbol,
And stand for something else
Which is true;
And that’s a fact!laneway 5 (Small)

I’ve picked out some recent photos that include symbols, or objects that are symbolic representations of something real…IMG_2181 (Small)I bought this symbolic snowflake last year at the Bodhi Tree Bookstore Cafe in North Perth, during my three month stay there after my grand daughter was born. I enjoyed a lot of coffee, and chai, and the occasional Portuguese custard tart. And some books. So all of that is symbolised for me by this pretty white tissue paper frippery!

Creativity: Escape VIII

Escape 24 (Medium)

This  page from my altered book “Escape” was first printed with a hand-carved stamp, which didn’t come up very well – so…I painted over parts of it with bright pink and orange Peerless watercolours, for a start. A piece of text – incorporating some song lyrics to produce life advice – curls around  the centre of the page, where I stuck the word ‘precious’, from a sheet of scrapbooking stickers. Another from the same sheet appears on the facing page, which is an advertising flyer for the wonderful film of that name. ( I think it may have been released under a different name in the States). I also added flowers and a butterfly, and more advice for making your spirit soar. Escape 25 (Medium)

I had glued the flyer to a half-page, leaving some  of the original text visible. You can’t see it in this photo, but I wrote “Sabine women carry swords and know how to use them” along the outer edge. I redacted a few words of the book page, and painted it with more of the Peerless colours.

The text on the opposite page is a play on the title of Jeannette Winterson’s memoir – something her unhappy, well-behaved mother said to her. I much prefer my version!Escape 26 2 (Large)

I wrote the text first – with a big fat Sharpie – and then crossed out the original text, working around the letters. Colour was added later. Very simple for a simple message!

Weekly Photography Challenge: Achievement

Another tricky theme this week for the Weekly Photography Challenge – Achievement! I certainly haven’t run any marathons, but I do have five (grown) children, which is probably tougher. It certainly takes longer – I’m not sure where the finish line would be…I didn’t choose motherhood for my photos this week, though.

In February this year, our iconic local Hall celebrated it’s centenary, with a lot of help from us, the tiny, hardworking Moyston Hall Committee. The building was erected by the local community – much larger back then. One of the first functions was to farewell local lads who were off to join the ANZACs, not that any of them had any idea what they were in for…1914 committee (Medium)

This is the 1914 committee, and it wasn’t even Movember!

Our Hall has a proper raked stage and proscenium arch, even though it is quite tiny, and the acoustics and dance floor are excellent – some achievements of the original builders. The original bench seats are still there. Some of them are not the best, but it seems wrong to part with them after all this time. Thousands of cups of tea and coffee have been served from the kitchen (not the original, which was a dark affair with a copper in the corner – less than thirty years ago). The new kitchen is another achievement of our community! One wall is adorned with portraits of early settlers, some of them wrongly named over the years. They were researched as much as possible in the lead-up to the Centenary, and that information, along with a history of the Hall and some photos we managed to track down of events over the years, went into a book which was printed with the help of a grant and sold to everyone interested.

The weekend of the Centenary saw the Hall packed for the book launch (and afternoon tea – I think we made another hundred or so cuppas). All the memorabilia we had gathered was on display all weekend, and on the Saturday night, we had a Ball. A popular local duo – Parso and Dave – provided the music, everyone dressed up and had a really good time. I think the last few guests left around 2 am, with us old people waiting to lock up and go home to bed. The whole weekend was a major achievement for a small rural community!

Friday Poem: Visitors

galleryOne of my jobs as volunteer at Ararat Regional Art Gallery, is to keep a count of our visitors. I would have had no hope of counting this group myself, but fortunately Kris, their teacher, wrote the number in the visitor’s book…paperblooms

In the gallery this morning
32 children
32 four and five year olds
Noisy, colourful and curious
a crowd, a flock, a swarm
Like a flock of lorrikeets
as noisy
as colourful
as curious
as that
Darting from work to work
Looking not touching:
Then they are gone.crobot

I don’t have any photos of the surprise visit from Jack and Jill Kinder, so I picked three that seem to fit. The one of the Gallery entrance, I took after completing a yarnbomb to celebrate the Gallery’s fortieth birthday. You can see me reflected in the glass of the door. That’s the door the Kinder kids came through (with 12 adults, I should add!). The paper flowers are on the office desk in the gallery. We were making them for Children’s Week – school children made hundreds for an installation in the Ararat Library. The arigurumi crobot (that’s ‘crocheted robot) is just a curious and colourful little character.

The children looked at (but didn’t touch!) an exhibition of quilts by local and regional artists ,”Integrate/Separate”,  “Organic Intimacy”, featuring works from “ten women artists working with a range of textile related processes”, and a small selection of works from the Gallery’s permanent collection. Hopefully some of those youngsters might have acquired a taste for art and art galleries, and come and visit us again!

Creativity: Escape VII

Escape 21


The first page of my “Escape” altered book this week is wildly multi-coloured, breaking away from the pink and yellow colour scheme of most of the book. Because variety is the spice of life. The text is a piece of opinion by me – I could go on (and on), but I won’t, for now.The  original text was obliterated with white acrylic paint, which I then went over with Inktense pencils, drawing out the colour with a wet brush. The thicker the Inktense goes on, the more colour you get from wetting it, which can get messy fast – best to practice on something like a journal page!

Escape 22


On these pages,I’ve pasted appealing images from advertising, and added colour (and an extra clock). Like nine out of ten interiors in decorating magazines, the room was white – how dull. I painted it orange – much better! I’ve been drawing that heart design for years – a symbol for me of peace love empathy.

Escape 23


Lastly for today, a detail of the Julia Cameron quote. For fun, I stamped the ‘A’ in an out-size capital. For journaling, altering books and mixed media in general, it is not possible to have too many alphabet stamps! There are so many – different sizes, different fonts, different price points, and you can find a use for them all. You just have to know where they are…

Weekly Photography Challenge: Minimalist

Fortunately the Photography challenge this week is to produce ‘Minimalist’ photos, not to actually become a minimalist around the house, because, although I admire minimalism and find it to be beautiful, I am constitutionally incapable of it…

“Minimalist photography is characterized by a large portion of negative space, a fairly monochromatic color palette with good contrast, and an interesting subject that is able to stand on its own to capture the interest of the viewer.”

I think I can do that…

Focusing on a single flower is a fairly simple way to achieve minimalism in a photo. The native violet was in the Grampians National Park, and the poppy in my garden. The best thing about those poppies is that they self-sow readily (not necessarily where you want them!), and they also hybridise freely, so every year it’s exciting to see what colours appear. And then it’s irresistible to take more photos…  The glowing sphere is a glass marble. I have quite a collection, and I put lots of plain coloured ones in a large glass vase, with a smaller glass beaker in the centre. A candle in the beaker lights up the wall of glass spheres magically. I took a series of photos, but this is the minimal one! Gleaming faceted ‘crystals’ hang in every sunny window of our house – here’s one of them. The forks may not quite fit the brief – there is no single subject framed by negative space – but it is a very simple image and I like it.

Friday Poem: Query (and Query II)

I wrote the first of this pair just on fifteen years ago, and the second years after. I could probably add number three, and address it to politicists*….glass ring

Do you ever wonder
You scientists
How much there is
That you do not know?
Do you ever think
What tiny, teeny, little,
Very little fragments
Your theories are built from?
Does it ever occur to you
Once in a while
That maybe you are wrong?blue


Do you ever wonder
You  theologists*
how much there is
That you don’t know ?
Do you ever think
What tiny, teeny, little,
Very little fragments
Your dogmas are built  on?
Does it ever occur to you
Once in a while
That maybe you are wrong?IMG_2042 (Medium)

*No, these are not ‘real’ words. However, my Poetic License, which I have held for approximately forty seven years, permits me to make up words in the service of the Muse.

I chose three recent arty photos to go with the poems today. They are my favourite kind, I think, both to take and to look at. The top image is of a gogeous dichroic glass ring I bought from The Glass Menagerie at White Rabbit Collective (coolective) in Brunswick. A blue marble in the neck of an antique bottle needs no explanation, but the rose is one of  the flowers from my mother-in-law’s funeral service – we were invited to take home some of the beautiful flowers as a memento of her – they would be thrown away otherwise.