Tuesday, November 11, 2014

How life in a small country town turns out to be BUSY!

Yes...I know...It's been quite a while.  But I promise you, I haven't been lounging around in my PJs and ugg boots in front of the fire all winter (just some of it).  I've been BUSY!

Big things are happening.  Firstly, there's this...probably the biggest.

We have bought a small slice of paradise, two and a half acres to be exact, and are now in the midst of getting shed quotes, fencing (pulling out old and putting in new), water tank arrangements, and house designs, and all that goes with building from scratch on a blank canvas.  Not something we've done before, so it's all a bit scary.  But exciting.  At this stage, we're planning on a strawbale/mudbrick combination, but nothing is settled.  It's going to be a BIG couple of years.

Then there was more music as a student at Tech, more gigs, even some recording.  I even got to play a shiny black electric guitar and pretend to be a rock chick for about 5 minutes (though, sadly, I think those days are long past for me really!).  

And for the last few months, I have been busy making a book.  A book of maps, though not ordinary maps.  More maps of the mind, of the imagination, maps of thoughts.  As part of the 'Brave New Works' arts festival held here in Denmark every year, an exhibition titled 'Everything is a Map' was held, and so, silly me, I decided to create a book of maps.  I didn't realise quite how much it would take over my life, and for the last couple of weeks I've done not much other than live, breathe and (not) sleep maps.  Indeed, I didn't actually sleep at all the night before it had to be handed in, which was actually a week and a half AFTER the deadline, but thankfully, I was granted a special dispensation and allowed to let that pass by, and I scribbled the last few words on the last page before rushing into town to drop it off as the exhibition was being set up, to open the following day.  Yes, just a little tight! So tight in fact, that I didn't have time to take any photos.  So I have a few 'teaser' pics that I took of some of the first pages, but I promise to post photos of the whole book when the exhibition is over and the book comes home.  But, PHEW! what a job!

There were also walks along the glorious beach at Greens Pool, looking for maps in rock and sand and sea, as the sun sank down in the west, and where, it seems, 'X' may actually mark the spot.

As part of my music assessment, and as an extra submission for the map project, I recorded a song version of a poem I had written a few years ago.  My friend and fellow student played lovely cello.

And last but not least, as I remembered that today is Remembrance Day, I have posted a song I wrote about my own Granddad's experiences in the Great War, and my feelings when I visited the battlefields in Belgium where he fought.  It took me quite a few goes when I first recorded this, to get through it without having a bit of a blub, so it is very rough (I will try and record it again when I have time).  But I managed to sing it at a Spirit of Peace community event held in town last weekend, and my mum was in the audience to hear it.  And I didn't cry.  It's called 'Passchendaele.'

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Lost swans and tiny twigglings

I got a bit bored last week, so I made a little book.  And a hat for a very small, new person, which is in the post as we speak...snail mail post, that is.

I've had maps on the brain for quite a while now, and as ideas lead to other ideas which often tend to send me down obscure little side tracks that really aren't going in the direction I thought I was heading in, I got thinking about the maps that exiles and wanderers might keep in their heads, of places they love but cannot return to, and who might these exiles be?  Well, perhaps we are all exiles in one respect, don't we all carry mud-maps in our heads with oh-so-familiar landmarks...of places that we cannot return to?  Like childhood.  The house we grew up in, our grandmother's backyard, the streets or patches of bush we haunted that either no longer exist, or we cannot go to.  And then I got to thinking about the exiles of myth and legend.  Like Suibhne the mad king.  Or the Children of Lir.

The Children of Lir is a story I've been fascinated by since I was a teenager.  I'm not sure what it is about it, but I think it has a lot to do with the deep longing and yearning that I felt in the story, the desire to go home.  Perhaps it just struck a chord with a teenager who felt she wasn't in the right skin, or the right place, or the right country, or century, or something just not quite definable, and longed to go 'home' even though she didn't know what this 'home' she longed for was.

So I wrote a little poem.  And then I looked up collectives nouns (because I was sure there'd be something as interesting as 'a murder of crows,' for swans), and discovered that a flock of swans is known as a 'lamentation'.  How absolutely perfect.  So then the poem became a little book because I wanted to experiment with a bit of 'bookmaking' in different ways, in preparation for the map book.  AND because I wanted to just do something that was for me and not for a deadline (as much as the deadline was imposed by myself).

Tea bags, calligraphy, pencil lettering, a little feather in ink on canvas, a real feather (though not a swan's), and then I got a bit lazy because I wanted to finish it, and I redrew an old drawing of mine that appeared in this little book.  So now it's done, and I'd better get back to the real business in hand...maps...and songs for my music course.  Hmm, maybe this will become a little song too.

Oh, and not forgetting the hat for a tiny twiggling!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Busy June...

June has turned out to be a bit of a whirlwind, no slowing down and turning in for Winter here, though I am hoping July may be a little calmer, with a little more daydreaming by the fire!

I don't have a studio, or even a room of my own here, though I do have a small and very messy desk in the corner of the living room, right next to the wood stove (good in this weather) and opposite the TV (not so good, though at least it's only the occasional dvd).  But I've found that I've been doing most of my recent 'visual' stuff curled up on the couch by the window, balancing my sketch/notebooks on my knee.  I've haven't done a lot, but I've started a project, which is part of a larger project, and there is another in the wings too.

This community down here is small enough that you bump into people you know every time you go out.  Yet it is filled to bursting with creativity and vitality in the arts.  In November this year, something called 'Brave New Works' will happen, as it does every year, and one of the projects launched for this year is an art exhibition called 'Everything is a Map'.  A lovely friend (and fellow music student, she plays cello...swoon!) is organising this and as a lifelong mapfan, I couldn't resist, so I'm working on ideas for a Curious Book of Maps (working title only).  So far only scribbles, but I'm hoping a quieter July might yield some serious work for this, I just love, love the idea.  There may also be a Map Song (which started life as this poem), but I'll see how we go!  Another project for BNW is waiting for funding, so I won't say anymore about it yet, but I've put my hand up for that one as well, it will take me back 20 years to my Theatre studies at uni, and so I'm keeping my fingers crossed!

As well as that, I'm just about finished my Music Certificate II course, and our final assessment included 3 gigs at local pubs.  Very new experience for me, and we did our final one last night and I have to say, it's the most fun I've had at a pub for a very long time.  We performed at the local 'open mic' night at our local 'watering hole', and it's such a lovely night, there are so many great and talented performers all squeezed into this little corner of Western Australia.

So, a few pics of bits and bobs that I've been up to!

Some early 'mappiness' from an old visual diary, July 2009.

Not the best photo, I'm afraid, but gives an idea of proportions.

Closer in and you can read some of my weird and wonderful (I hope) ponderings on the notion of maps.

The lovely little book I made in January with Trace Willans.  Now I know what to do with it!

Title page.  Slightly off-centre, but that's part of it's home-made charm...well I hope it is!

Some tangled tracks across the page.

Right from the start these pages reminded me of a slightly mad map.  Very appropriate for me then.

I'm looking very serious because I'm concentrating hard...this IS a test!

As well as that, the school celebrated its Winter Festival, with storytelling, fairy lantern walk through the night time bush, bonfire and pumpkin soup and song.  Oh, it was lovely!  I felt like I was 5 again on the lantern walk, it was magical.  The senior class (biggest munchkin's class) had spent a great deal of time and care setting up fairy houses throughout the bush along the river.  When night fell, the path through the bush became a flickering, candlelit fairy wonderland, as we all, students and parents, snaked our way quietly in contemplation along the riverbank carrying lanterns or candles, looking into each little candlelit fairy house along the way to the sound of students singing and playing on their recorders.  We had storytelling, a Noongar story about fire spirits, then the senior students quietly paraded in carrying torches to light the bonfire with song and fire invocation.  It had been wet and windy all day, but the sky cleared and the stars came out, and the bonfire roared.  Then it was homemade pumpkin soup (a myriad of different recipes from every family) and fresh bread and butter, and apple crumble around the fire.  Wondrous!

A barely discernible littlest munchkin with the lantern she made in class.

Mmmmmm, toasty warm!

Littlest again.  Biggest was off running amok with friends!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The People's Poet is dead....

I'm not ready for the icons of my formative years to die.  RIP Rik Mayall, too, too young.  I, and many others I know, spent happy hours as teenagers in the 80s watching The Young Ones, doubled up in stitches on the couch and unable to breathe because we were laughing so much.  Phrases from the series still pop up in conversations and we laugh because of 30 years of shared memories.  I'm not sure if posting a video like this might be considered disrespectful, but it's how an entire generation will remember him...with great fondness, and with great respect.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Moving to the country for the 'quiet life'.......

...it seems I've ended up busier, at least in some ways!  Still, there are worse ways to be busy than being at Tech studying music (and playing at the local pub as part of our assessment...EEEK!), getting involved in upcoming local arts projects, wandering all over town listening to music over the Denmark Festival of Voice weekend (fantabulous!), getting munchkins ready for school hikes on the Bibbulmun track, school busy bees and busking, making bonfires and roasting marshmallows (or, my favourite, bonfire toffee apples!)...and rather a lot of driving.  The driving is unavoidable, but I'd far rather drive 60kms along tree lined farms to Albany, than sit in traffic jams trying to get the 15kms into Perth in less than 45 minutes.  My drive to tech and back is about 40kms round trip, but the actual drive is so lovely I still feel like I've got a silly grin on my face for most of it.

Consequently, my Bone Woman puppet has not gone a lot further, and I think she's supposed to be finished this month!  Oh dear.  Well, I shall plod on, perhaps she'll be finished for next June!  But suffice to say, Winter is upon us now, and I'm still loving it here and cannot even begin to imagine why I'd ever want to move back up to Perth.  And once Autumn got itself into almost full swing (it's still drier and warmer than it should be), we were able to indulge in the simple pleasure that I was REALLY looking forward to.  A bonfire.  Well, only a small one, a campfire really, but there is something just really special about being able to have a nice roaring fire in your own backyard.  And once fire ban season was over (usually lasts between October and April, though it was extended into May this year because of the unusually late rains) we wasted no time.

Biggest munchkin is justifiably proud of her expert fire building.  Mmmmm, and Honey Liqueur from the Meadery (conveniently just 5 minutes down the road!) for the grown-ups.

She's in her PJs because she was a bit under the weather after a VERY BIG adventure (further news on that in another post), but perked up at the thought of a fire and toffee apples.

A big stick and a campfire...more fun than TV!

The clouds rolled over, but didn't rain on our parade.

The Big Guy gets into the act.  From this angle it looks like he's expecting Flynn to jump through a fiery hoop.  Flynn declares she wouldn't be that silly.

Yep, even grown-ups can have fun.

I think this might be my favourite pic of the evening.

Littlest Munchkin.

Biggest munchkin.

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