Weekly Photography Challenge: Collage

I thought I might make a new collage to photograph for this weeks challenge, but yet again, the week has run away from me (or with me?). Anyway, I made this little book some years ago, and it’s full of collaged elements. I cut words and definitions out of an old dictionary to illuminate the quotes I used in it.

Click on the images for detail.

Making collage out of a collection of miscellaneous scraps can be great fun, and I’m often amazed at how meaningful random juxtapositions can be. I think it’s about time I assembled a hodgepodge pile of bits and pieces and made another little book!

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Weekly Photography Challenge: Underneath the Bridge

When I read this week’s challenge theme (a week that is nearly over…) there was only one bridge  I was thinking of. I did take some photos while crossing a bridge over the Murray recently – only there was no card in the camera…we’ll have to go that way again sometime, and try again.

We have plans to visit Aberdeen, Washington again someday, and if we do, we will certainly visit the famous bridge again. It must have been a great private spot forty years ago, now not so much…it’s a place of pilgrimage instead. Someone had carved “KURT” in giant letters on the mud of the bank, and every accessible surface was embellished with graffiti –  messages to Kurt, and quotes of Nirvana lyrics, mostly. All that will have changed by now.

Bryan insisted on taking a photo of me standing under it. I’m the photographer in our family, which means I don’t get in many photos. This was August 2011, and about halfway through our month in the Pacific North West.

Weekly Photography Challenge: Heritage

My Dad was an inveterate collector, obsessed with the rich heritage of Regency England’s gunmakers. He was famous amongst the arcane circle of gun collectors for his encyclopedic knowledge of the guns, their makers and their wealthy, titled owners. As a boy he loved pirate stories, and tales of derring-do, which morphed and grew as the years went by. He always excused his expensive habit as “investment”, which has proved true. Most have them have been sold now, which is rather sad, but inevitable.

I didn’t inherit Dad’s  passion for “Old Guns”, but I definitely have the collector gene, if there is one…None of my collections are going to realise much fiscal value in years to come, but that’s not the point. I like tracking down and looking at this stuff!

Some things I collect become parts of mixed media art – such as the wind-chime I made from a bit of  a broken coffee plunger and a lot of detritus. Then there’s vintage orange plastic (sometimes I buy green, too, but mainly orange), coloured glass (seen alongside a Russian samovar, which was Dad’s, not sure why he bought it!), vintage textiles, which I actually use, eventually, and a shelf of books about Kurt Cobain/Nirvana. Oh, and fake plastic (and ceramic) cacti, because…why not?

Vale

a-pencil-portraitHey Kurt,
today was your birthday.
You would have, should have, been 50 today. But you are forever 27, a magic age, neither boy nor man, suspended there forever.
No grey hairs or paunch for you: the girls will always think you’re cute – girls who weren’t born when you died declare their undying love for you. If only you could have known, would you have felt validated by that?
I kind of doubt it. I remember seeing a video of Courtney telling you she thought you were “really cute”, and the doubt in your face. You really believed you were ugly, didn’t you?
People believe strange things, like the conspiracy theorists who insist you were murdered. It might be comforting, I suppose, to think that a clever criminal did it, and not you, despite your reckless drug use and suicidal ideation that pointed to a deep and corrosive despair at your core.
Lets not dwell on the bitter end, not today. Let’s remember you as caring, generous and sweet, a bright and beautiful young man loved by your friends, and by the punk rock community that took you in and released you into the unsuspecting world, adored now by fans the whole world over; a world the breadth of which that boy from Aberdeen Wa could not imagine…
Peace Love Empathy
lets remember and cling to them.
The world needs them more now than ever.
Rest easy, sweet Kurt,
wherever you are.you-could-do-anything

Friday Poem:Spread My Wings

a-poppy

It is 21 years this week since I sat down on an ugly-but-practical brown couch and watched a Rage TV special – Nirvana Unplugged in New York. I’d heard of the band, I knew how the singer died, and I wanted to know what all the fuss was about. I know it’s cheesy, but it’s also true – that record changed my life.

I wrote this poem during the following year, expressing frustration with the constraints of my ordinary life. Nirvana fans might notice the influence of “Sappy”, but there’s a dash of Hank Williams in there, too.

cologne-s

This jar is far too small.
There is no room for my wings;
There is no room to fly;
I want to spread my wings.

I’m not a moonbeam in your jar;
I’m not a pretty toy;
I need to move, I need to breathe;
I want to spread my wings.

These air holes are too small.
You must not smother me;
I want to take the air,
I want to spread my wings.

Let me loose, what’s the use
Of keeping me in here.
I might not fly away,
But I want to spread my wingsa-collage-2

One of the things I did as I escaped from the jar of proper lady-like behaviour, was to stick anything that appealed to me on my wall. Nowadays, that’s an “Inspiration Board”, but twenty years ago, it was weirdly adolescent for a forty-year old woman with 5 kids…At some point, the collection came down, and was upcycled into a series of collages, of which this is one. There’s an apt quote on there-

“Our lives improve only when we take chances – and the first and most difficult risk we can take is to be honest with ourselves”

Walter Anderson.

I also got rid of the brown couch, and as much other ugly-but -practical-with-kids brownness out of my house, and started surrounding myself with things that I actually liked.

After ordering and waiting patiently for “Nirvana Unplugged in New York (on cassette), I expanded my music collection, my library and my stash of art supplies. I now have the Melvins “Gluey Porch Treatments”, and  I’m reading  Bessel Van der Kolk’s ” The Body keeps The Score”, about the ongoing effects of trauma. When Micheal Azzerad asked Kurt, “Is your’s a sad story?” , he hesitated, and said “…No…”, going on to say that the events of his childhood were commonplace, which, unfortunately, they are. But it is a sad story, they are all sad stories, which Dr Van Der Kolk and his colleagues are learning to address with proper treatment – too late for Kurt, but there’s hope for another generation to have more than numbness – they will be able to spread their wings.

Weekly Photography Challenge: Admiration

The photography challenge this week – admiration– I had to check the meaning of ,  before I could make any choices. I was thinking of admirable people who I have no chance of photographing, but checking the dictionary, I realised I didn’t need to produce a picture of Mohondas Gandhi – just lovely things I approve of. Oh, I’ve got photos of those…
verb
  1. regard with respect or warm approval.
    • look at (something impressive or attractive) with pleasure.
      So – here is a gallery of things I regarded with respect and warm approval – and photographed -when I was on The Trip of a Lifetime in Seattle in 2011. First – Seattle, of course, then a Stellar Jay, the pink’n’orange siding of the Experience Music Project building,

       a seahorse at the Aquarium, a famous musician (my watercolour painting, from a photo of a torn poster. I know!), a detail of glassware at the Museum of Glass in  Tacoma. Lastly, a person whom I admire – photographer Charles Peterson – who was working and just hanging out. I snapped him as he was sharing his camera with a little kid in their group. I thought that was an admirable thing to do with a proper camera ! july-aug 2011 085editsmall

      I’m not sure if admiration is the right word for my feeling whenever I glimpsed the ghostly presence of Mt Rainier. We just don’t have mountains like that in Australia.

       

Friday Poem: I +II

IMG_7961 (Large)

This week marked twenty two years since Kurt Cobain’s untimely death, an event that sent shock-waves around the world. I wrote this pair of poems months later, after my boring life had been “changed forever”, thanks to seeing Nirvana Unplugged on TV. These were the first in a flood of poems and art that came after…IMG_7956 (Large)

I

A soul hung out to dry
Hangs tattered in the wind:
A song grows ragged
As the voice wears thin:
These slender hands
Knew tenderness and sin:
No sunbeam shone:
There was no hope for him:
And all alone
He let the darkness in.

II

His life and soul
seem tangled into mine
He robs my sleep
He fills my head with songs
And he is dead.IMG_7962 (Large)

I don’t lie awake at night wondering why Kurt did it any more, but my life is so much richer for all the songs he (posthumously) led me to. Also, I don’t think I would have gone to Washington State on The Trip of a Lifetime, if it wasn’t for the Taking Punk To the Masses exhibition (featuring Nirvana) that was at Experience Music Project in Seattle – let alone to Aberdeen and the Muddy Banks of the Wishkah (and yes, they really are…).

The images are of an Imperial White butterfly, which I found dead and took home to photograph, a detail of a lamp-shade I made from wire and eucalypt-dyed silk tulle, and wax-coated photo of a pre-school Kurt Cobain, resting in a vintage cup amongst my jewelry.