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?

Friday Poem: Birthday Obituary

I was eight-and-a-half when my sister was born. There were two brothers in between, so it was good to have another girl around. I remember Mum sneaking into my room in the middle of the night to kiss me goodbye when she went to the hospital. After school the next day, I came home to  a kitchen that was strangely clean and tidy (Mum was never into ‘housekeeping’ – we had skinks living on one of the benches for a while, and she put them there…). My maternal Grandma, and Dad’s Step-Mum occupied the space, having spent the day cleaning and reorganising while Mum was safely out of the way.

In 1964, babies were kept away from’germs’ and relatives for as long as possible, so we kids didn’t get to cuddle her the way my kids held their siblings within 24 hours of birth. She was safe behind glass, in a crib that was tilted slightly so she could be seen.

It’s her birthday again in a couple of days. She would have been 51, which I can’t really imagine, because she was only 27 the last time I saw her – in the same hospital as where I saw her first.DSCF5120 (Large)

 

I remember the pink and white bundle behind the glass,
I remember my sister at my mother’s breast;
I remember the last time I saw her, too.
Her head, bald from chemo, tied with a scarf;
Her dangly earrings, her grey-goose eyes
That were almost empty,
But she squeezed my hand
As I drank her face for the last time here.

I remember the first time I saw her, and the last;
And in all the years since she left,
I have learned to miss her less.
But I have only dreamed of her once,
When we climbed a hill together
And I planned to cook a meal.anniv5

I don’t seem to have a ‘baby’ photo of her – there are hundreds of Juniper, but times, and cameras, have changed. This photo was taken when we were on holiday at the coast – Dad never wore shorts any other time! I’m guessing Merrilyn was two-and-a-bit, and not happy about being sat on the bonnet, for some reason. I vaguely remember the photo being taken – it’s around 50 years ago  (groan).DSCF5121 (Large)

I made this quilt as a memento of her – there’s an outline portrait of her as I last saw her in the quilting. The quote is of Kurt Cobain, and a good summary of my sister’s approach to life and art.

 

Creativity: Art Away From Home II

Here I am in Canberra, our nation’s “bush capital”, staying with my daughter and her partner and their two-year old daughter, Juniper. I’m fitting in a little bit of creativity, in  between hanging out with Juni and her mum…

Juniper is busily creative herself – that’s a very good pencil grip for only two! We went fabric (and thrift/op) shopping today, so I can finish a cot quilt for Juni’s cousin-to-be. Juni wore the dress I made for her birthday, with fabrics from KimoYES and Addicted to Fabric in nearby Philip. The cute-as Japanese children’s print at the centre of the quilt is also from KimoYES.

Creativity: It’s what You Make It

I had a friend who was always making things, and had a house (and shed) full of materials for making things, and who regularly declared that she was not at all creative. Nothing I or anyone else could say would shake her conviction that because she was German and used patterns, she was not and never could be creative. Yet everything she made, despite the offending pattern, was quite obviously her work and no-one else’s. Her home was full of unusual and beautiful handmade objects, including a lizard made in a class with Mirka Mora many years ago. She told me more than once that Mirka had admired her work, but still could not acknowledge her own creativity, which I think is an enormous shame.

Whatever we make, we are creating that thing, whether it is a quilt, a cup cake or a garden bed. Creativity is part of being human, and can be a great source of joy for ourselves and those around us.

Recently, I have been making an Eye-spy quilt for my grand daughter, who turns one next month. The point is to have lots of pictures of things on the blocks, and half the fun is collecting bits of suitable prints. I had a pattern, but I didn’t follow it very closely – but doing so would have saved me a lot of bother!

“Creativity is the ability of a person to respond to visual and other sensory stimuli in an original way, and then share this response with passion, individuality and spirit.’

Gerald Brommer.

My friend was most definitely an original, and Juniper’s quilt is too, even if I did use a pattern!

Friday Poem: Midwinter Poem

We’ve just passed the winter solstice a week or two ago. The days are short, the nights are long. The weather has been cold and wet (as it should be), and the weeds are growing thick and rank. It’s a good time to stay inside, and contemplate…IMG_0811

My heart
Contains your death
And many other deaths
The prospect and promise
Of my own death.
They are all in my heart
And full of light
Full of life

Out of darkness
Light will come.still life 2

The quilt you can see on the wall in the top photo was made in memory of my sister, Merrilyn, who died more than 22 years ago, aged 27.

Memoria Merrilyn

me'n'mez 66

It is 21 years ago today since my sister Merrilyn died. She was 27, a bright, creative woman, an artist who loved animals and birds of all sorts. She died 5 weeks after her husband, Den, who died on their first, and only, wedding anniversary.
me'n'mez '69

I was eight and a half when she was born, the surprise extra child, making four of us, two boys, two girls. She was not yet ten when I got married, and , consequently, left home. I was just getting to know her as an adult when she, and Den, became ill, in the late eighties. A lot of people had become ill in the late eighties. It was the time of the Grim Reaper ads on TV.mez

At the time, HIV/AIDS was thought of as a disease of gay men (probably from San Francisco) and intravenous drug users.  It was not a disease of fairly ordinary heterosexuals from country Victoria. Or so we imagined.

Talk about the passion.

Den wanted to go public with their story, to make people aware of the possibility of heterosexual transmission of the AIDS virus, but he was too unwell, and died before it could happen.

The image above is of the quilt I made some years ago as a kind of memorial. There are three poems written on the back of it.

Birthday Obituary

I remember the pink and white bundle behind the glass,

I remember my sister at my mother’s breast;

I remember the last time I saw her, too.

Her head, bald from chemo, tied with a scarf;

Her dangly earrings, her grey goose eyes

That were almost empty,

But she squeezed my hand

As I drank her face for the last time here.

I remember the first time I saw her, and the last;

And in all the years since she left

I have learned to miss her less.

But I have only dreamed of her once,

When we climbed a hill together

And planned to cook a meal.

quilt detail

Missing Mez

I don’t see you any more

But in my thoughts

You are not so far away;

In many ways

you are nearer than before;

But I still miss you.

Remember

I’m glad that you were born,

I’m sorry that you’re gone;

Your life enriched

So many other lives,

And people don’t forget

That you have been here.

You might have done

So many other things,

Enriched more lives,

Enlightened other minds,

If you had stayed here.

But God reclaimed you

Although you were so young:

I’m sorry that you’re gone,

But I’m glad that I

Remember you.

quilt detail 2

The quilt was completed on the 12th of May 2000. I have dreamed of her again, though not often.

She never heard that Kurt Cobain quote -he must have said it after she died – but she would have wholeheartedly endorsed it if she had.

So it’s on her quilt, along with a lot of colour, and some beautiful fabric she’d bought to make a skirt and didn’t get the chance to finish.

“Death is not extinguishing the light:”

wrote Rabindranath Tagore,

“it is only putting out the lamp

because the dawn has come.”

I just read this essay by a boy from Belarus – maybe you’ll like it too-

http://www.goipeace.or.jp/english/activities/programs/2012/winners/winner_c01.html