Thursday, June 9, 2016

Music!


Well, THIS happened over the last weekend.  My, this little town can put on a party!  Possibly the thing I love most about this (and after two and a half years living here, the novelty hasn't worn off yet), is that so much is local, homegrown talent.  On the last night, I danced for longer than I can remember dancing, ever, all to local musos, then tottered (and I mean tottered, my knees were NOT happy by then) on to the Festival club to catch the final fling, with local (as in, here in this town), sort of local (as in, here in this state) and national artists of widely differing styles.  Heaven on a stick!  And this year, I was in it, in a trio (called 'Widdershin') with two lovely friends!  A small, nervous start, but we've got plans!  Three years ago, I would never have dreamed it possible.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

First day of winter....

So long, so very long since I last wrote here.  Lots has been going on, but much of it has been of the practical, everyday sort; moving house, getting children settled in to the new school year, trips up to Perth and back again bringing belongings that have been sitting in boxes at my parents' house.  And turning over a new year, my half century.  Gosh, where did the time go?

And it is interesting too, that I find that much of what I'm doing down here in this beautiful little corner of the world, is about being out and involved in the world, not so much being a hermit hiding in my little studio and making pretty things to show and tell.  Being part of a community full of such wonderful people and art and music making, has given me delusions of grandeur I think.  Floating dreams and vague ideas that once had no chance of ever seeing the light of day seem now to be...possible.  For example, this weekend I am performing in a trio at our local annual Denmark Festival of Voice.  An event that I used to come all the way down from Perth to SEE, and day dream about being up there singing on stage like all those REAL singers and REAL musicians.  And this year, I'm IN it, with two lovely, lovely friends.  And it's not because I've suddenly become an amazing, professional musician, because I haven't...but rather because this sort of thing is happening all around me in this little town, and it's easy here to just put up your hand and say, hey, I could give that a go.  Something I would never have done up in the big smoke.  So how we'll do, I don't know, all three of us are a bit nervous, but we're having a go.  Which is the most important bit, isn't it?

But on to the moving house.  We are in our 'shed', though truly, it is a house really, with a shed attached!  Cosy and comfy and, once I have a kitchen anyway, will be a lovely home.  We have lots to do, but we love it already.

View OF front

View FROM front.

Panorama of inside downstairs (this makes it look huge, it isn't really!)

Panorama of inside upstairs before painting the floor and end wall

Front door

Munchkin helping paint the floor upstairs

Upstairs BEFORE munchkins put all their stuff in

Upstairs AFTER.  

View from front door.  Note missing kitchen sink/cupboards (but at least I have a stove).

There's the back wall.  The 'shed' half is through the door.


Bit messy...still moving in.

Back round to front door again.

The 'office'.






Monday, January 4, 2016

A walk...and first work of the new year.

While much of the rest of the country has been sweltering, fighting terrible fires, and surviving drought, it's been cooler here, and even a little wet.  Though here too, on the wet south coast among the dripping Karri forests, the climate is changing, becoming hotter, dryer.  The long time locals tell us that once, you could be sure of rain in summer, and that rain water tanks would overflow every winter.  Not so now.

But on a cool morning in the last days of the year, I went for an early ramble along the firebreak that surrounds this old estate.  It's a lovely walk, and I regret that I haven't walked here more often, as we get closer to moving into our shed/house.  We'll not be far away, just over the hill and up the road, but too far to walk along here.  There is a beautiful tree at the bottom corner, a Karri with a hollowed heart and I can imagine a dryad, or perhaps Merlin, curled into its base.  It's got quite a lean on it, so will come down eventually in a storm, across the firebreak, and will need to be chainsawed into chunks and taken away to leave the way clear for the firetrucks.  But for now, it stands, and sometimes I want to curl myself into its hollow and sleep, dreaming of deep roots and branches reaching higher than it seems possible.

Looking down the firebreak.

And back up.

At the bottom, the path to the left, which heads off onto private property...though I've wandered up a little way in the past.

The Karri with the hollowed heart.



One day she will come down, but not today.

The path to the right, the one I follow.



The farm next door.  A new veggie garden planted.  They sell their produce at a stall just up the road. An honesty system.  Beautiful veg, just down the road, what more do you need?

I once saw a fox running across this field, as big as a dog.  I thought it was Flynn.


I love this view, the tree ahead framed in the centre.  Like a gateway leading somewhere altogether different.


These giant sentinels reach up and up and over.  These ones are quite young.  A mature Karri can reach 90 metres.

Then suddenly there is a small pine plantation.  A reminder of another land, another entire hemisphere.


The path leads on, neighbour's property on one side, pine forest on the other.

Looking back.

Then I came upon this.  A reminder that, as stunningly beautiful as they are, it's not a good idea to build a house right underneath a Karri.  They do just suddenly drop branches...big branches...without warning.





Jewelled treasures.

Wet Karri bark.  There is no colour quite like it.  I keep bringing bits home because I'm utterly beguiled by the colour, but they fade as they dry.

Seed pod.

After rain, the leaves shine with almost luminescent tones.  I spend a lot of time head down and bum up looking at the marvellous colours nature has so carelessly scattered over the ground, each one a semi precious gem.



And so I come back to my desk and try and recreate them.  My old visual diary, which started to fall apart after Flynn decided to chew the spine years ago, has been dragged out, repaired, and after nothing new for 5 years, now a new page, a new day, a new year.  Part 2 - Denmark.  I think I'd better try and use it a bit more often, poor thing.  I started it 10 years ago, and am only half way through.  Perhaps I should set myself a challenge...see if I can fill the other half in this next year.

If you're wondering what the words in the background are, they're the lyrics of a Vashti Bunyan song, "Window Over The Bay".  I used to listen to her Diamond Day album over and over when I lived in the city, trying to block out the sounds of planes and traffic, and dreaming of my own place far from the madding crowd.  I hadn't listened to it in ages and I put it on the other day.  And as I listened to this song, it occurred to me that I either have, or soon will have, almost everything in this song (even if the horses are actually next door!), or a very close substitute (rain water for well water).  It made my day.  So have a listen.


And a final, and very bad (apologies) photo of some of the cheeky little fellows who hang out on our deck.  They'll hop up right next to you as you're sitting there, but just try and get a close-up pic of them!

So, I wish everyone a wonderful new year.  I hope with all my heart it comes with glad tidings, and hopeful news for a better world.


Tuesday, December 22, 2015

The Creation of Now...the wonder of community arts (warning, long with lots of pics!)


A few months ago, littlest Munchkin and I attended some writing workshops that were intended to generate ideas and speeches for a big upcoming community arts project, a dance/theatre/music/animation extravaganza directed by local director and choreographer, Annette Carmichael, and produced, essentially, by the whole town.  Meanwhile, my big Munchkin attended animation workshops to create moving images for the show.  The theme was the 'creation of now', as if 'now' was some kind of mythical, magical place that we were asked to try and explain and define in any way that seemed right to us.  In stories funny and serious, in poetry, in visual ideas, even using plasticine to make little sculptures of whatever popped into our heads.  All this material was taken and curated by Annette and writer Linda Bradbury (lovely friend and wonderful cello player!), and woven and twisted and plaited and shaped into a story about an eternal child who must make one more journey, one more quest to find 'what is now?' before he can take his final rest.


A couple of months later, the audition notice went up.  It's been very long time since I did any theatre, not since I left uni waaaaaay back in 1998.  So I plucked up some courage and went along, looking for a little role that I could do, so I could be involved in some small way.  My little Munchkin also auditioned.  As it turned out, my 'little role' was a lot bigger than I was originally looking for, a member of the core dance group.  Oh My, here I am, most definitely NOT very physically fit, and in my 50th year to boot.  I said Yes...I don't know what I was thinking, and if I'd had an inkling of the hard work and the aching muscles involved, I probably would have chickened out!  Just as well I didn't realise, because despite the aching muscles, the bruises (lots of 'floor work'!), and the constant worry that I really wasn't up to the job, I doggedly stuck with it, and my oh my I am SO glad.


The show went up on the 6th of November, as part of our annual 'Brave New Works' arts event (a miracle of community arts involvement in itself).  What a thing to be involved with, what an amazing experience, what a wonderful chance to be in a show with my daughter, to perform words that I had written, to hear beautiful words my little munchkin had written, to see her dance with her friends, to dance with the beautiful artwork my big munchkin created, to be able to dance (an accomplishment in itself for me) with friends and make new ones, to watch the performance grow and to be able to say that I knew almost everyone involved, everyone a friend or a neighbour, a fellow parent, a familiar face, none of them professional performers, but every one willing to put in long hours of hard work to create something marvellous that we could share as a community.


Brave New Works program 2015.  Lots of arts for a small town!

The shows sold out so quickly many people missed out, so we had to open our 2nd dress rehearsal up to audiences as a preview, and that show sold 150 tickets in 3 or 4 hours on the day they went on sale.  For the 3 main performances people paid a reduced price to be able to stand at the back.  The word had spread!  And the word was that the show was awesome, spectacular, moving, delightful, and a gorgeous expression of our town and its people.

This is what I moved here for.  To be involved, to be part of a community of people who did things a little differently, who embraced arts as it should be, as just part of the fabric of life, like eating or sleeping, no standing back and letting the 'experts' do it all.  A place where life is NOT a spectator sport.  In the follow-up 'de-brief' we were asked what benefits we felt we'd gained, personally, and for the community.  Over and over it was about being a PART of something, being able to challenge yourself, in a place where you don't have to be a professional actor, or dancer, or musician, or lighting operator or stagehand to be able to express yourself and your passion.  Where you don't have to be young and beautiful to be onstage and the centre of attention, a place where the elders are just as involved as youngsters, and together they weave together the ends of the circle that is community.  I have been here two years now, and in those two years I have been involved in more art, performance, music and just BEING part of community, than in the 18 years since I left university.

So here is a few snippets, a little look into the marvel that The Creation of Now was.  There is a dvd in the works, but it won't be ready for a while yet.  I'm very much looking forward to seeing it, it will mean I get to see the show as the audience saw it (almost) and can enjoy all that amazing animation that was projected onto the floor so we could dance through and around it.  Bit hard to take notice when you're rolling across it!

Front page of local newspaper.

Littlest Munchkin is in shadow on the far right, top picture above. 


Yours truly right up the back...I'm not actually that tall though, I'm standing on my tiptoes!

Below.  Lovely photos taken during the first dress rehearsal.
Warm-ups...a more frantic version of the hokey pokey!

Annette with the 'Timekeepers'.  Their awesome costumes were made by a neighbour of mine.

Timekeepers in action.  They spent an hour and a half walking to a set beat heard only by them through earpieces, removing one egg at a time in a countdown from 360 to 0.

All the music was composed by Jude Iddison and her talented violin students, ages ranging from 11 to 13 (and friends of my munchkins), and also performed by them, perfectly, every night.  It had to be perfect, because the entire show was timed so at the end, the Timekeepers had one egg left.

The 'monochromatic frame', or core dance group.  I'm very cleverly hiding behind the lady on the far right.

Mono Frame doing our 'cascading' movement.  Me at back left in short grey dress.  It's so hard to tell what something looks like when you're inside the action, but apparently this looked amazing!

The ancient child, Omo, in the centre of the MF.

The 'clock'.  These are the 'seconds'.  Littlest Munchkin's school teacher is airborne at the back right!

'Minutes' in the centre with Omo.  Biggest Munchkin's Drama teacher is on far left.

Omo lifted skyward.  Me at back, doing my best John Travolta impersonation...actually I'm an 'hour'!

The Elders, who set Omo on the quest for Now, with Chronos (centre), arguing about just what 'now' might be.

Storythreads.  
All those little bits of writing from the workshops, woven together into stories and performed to different sections of the audience.  I am a moving body in this one, actions to describe the story being told.

Storythreads.

The children, as Destruction and Creation, make their exuberant entrance.

Creation kids.

The Destruction kids...guess where littlest munchkin wanted to be?!

Littlest Munchkin right in the centre.

Littlest Munchkin looking out from the centre.

The 'blood' dancers, connected by cords resembling veins and arteries, symbolising the connections between us all.  This is where the mother and baby danced together, and the audience all held their breaths in amazement.  This is where my littlest munchkin's words brought tears to my eyes every night.

I think this little lad stole the show!

The Edge of Nothing, threatening to swallow everything before Omo can find Now.

Edge of Nothing skaters.  That's my neighbour in the middle, looking freaky.  He's a lovely chap, really!  The whole family was involved.  Wife was the administration contact, daughter one of the violinists, and son was on set construction and follow spot.  Where else could that happen!?




Phew!  The show ended with the entire cast taking the stage for an exuberant 'village' dance.  I don't suppose I'll experience something like it again, and I am so glad I had the chance to be a part of it.










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