Friday, March 21, 2014

Puppets, challenges...and Puppet Challenges!

I've been very quiet here, I know.  And the truth is, I don't have a lot to show, but I have been doing lots of creative stuff, and some of it seriously out-of-my-comfort-zone too.  As part of my 'moving to the country' master plan, I wanted to do something serious about music.  So I had a rush of blood to the head at the end of January, and enrolled in a Music Certificate II course at the local TAFE (Technical and Further Education).  I also thought it would be a great way to get myself out into this new world and meet people with similar interests.  I know myself far too well, and it would be very easy to become a semi-hermit here, in the beautiful bush 15kms from town.

So far, I am having a wonderful time, learning something new (and challenging) every week.  This week I sat at a drum kit for the first time in my life and had to co-ordinate left hand, right hand, and right foot to each do something different (but stay rhythmically consistent!).  Drummers make it look so easy!  I'm also facing up to the challenge of playing with other people.  I've sung in a group before, but I've really only ever played my guitar and sang, to myself on the couch.  Now, I have to stay in time with other people, fit in with what the group is doing, and that's hard too.  But it's so rewarding.  When you can actually play a whole song, as a group!

As for other challenges, well, I've signed up for the Puppet Challenge over at Clive Hicks-Jenkins' blog.  The theme is Mythology/Folklore, and any kind of puppet you want to have a crack at.  I hesitated at first because, though I love puppets, I have no puppetry skills, and also I thought it might be a bit too much with the Music commitment.  But the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to have a go.  And, I thought it was high time I finished a puppet I started making years ago, in a workshop run by the wonderful Sandy McKendrick, in Fremantle.  This is a video of Sandy's gorgeous performance "Cry of the Seadragon".  I may have posted this before, but it's so lovely here it is anyway.  So you can see how beautiful her puppets are.

So, I haven't got very far, but here are a few pictures of where I'm at.  I want to make a 'Bone Woman' puppet, an old shaman character, possibly with a drum, who sings the life back into the bones she finds.  I don't want to design her though, I want to see how she evolves.  She's one of those elemental beings that seem to have a special significance for me, I'm not sure why.  Perhaps because I feel that events in my life, or one particular event (going back almost 13 years ago now, can it be so long?) made me feel indeed as if I had been stripped back to the bone and needed to be reborn, remade.  I'm not sure how I might use such a puppet, but that's a task for another day, first make the puppet!

Papier Mache head.  Moulded onto an old tennis ball, as a solid head would be far too heavy.

So this is as far as I got in Sandy's workshop.  Head, and rough body made from a bit of 'pool noodle' and rope.  I'm not sure if I'll use this, I'll see how it goes.

Head sanded and gessoed...and sanded and gessoed...and so on.  Still not quite smooth, but patience is a virtue I haven't quite mastered, and I think she's an old woman anyway, so some cracks and wrinkles are ok.

From the side.  The tape is wrapped around a piece of rope that will become the neck.  Hmmm, she looks a bit pouty.

I sketched some rough facial features on, so I could see how she looked, and work out where her eyes should be.  I'm thinking of using some dark brown oval beads for the eyes, set in a little, so they'll catch the light and hopefully look real-ish.  I've also gone back in with a knife and tried to smooth and refine the nose a little.  I now have a band-aid on my thumb thanks to the knife!

'Bone Woman' inspiration.  These are two little plaster masks I painted several years ago.  The pale one on the right is a 'Bone Woman' incarnation, the red one on the left is a kind of 'fox woman' character.  I think the puppet may have facial tattoos/paint similar to this 'Bone Woman', but I'll let her decide later on.

The two mini masks.

And speaking of challenges, today my munchkins' school held their Autumn Festival.  A combined Harvest and Michaelmas celebration, all about facing your fears, meeting challenges head on and overcoming your own personal 'dragons'.  This is our first year at a Steiner school, and so far we are all loving it.  A wonderful harvest display, Autumn songs and stories, and lots of fun activities (and a great lunch!).  Yesterday was very wet, but today dawned sunny and bright, so it was perfect all round.  One of the 'challenge' activities had me holding my breath a little, a rope bridge over the creek.  But my two munchkins went across as if they'd been doing it for years (and then showed off to Daddy when he came to pick us all up, by doing it again, backwards and sideways!)  When you face your fears, and overcome them, you know you can do anything!

Biggest Munchkin goes first.

 Littlest stops for a big grin to camera.

Quite high!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

March in March, Australia 2014

I don't very often get political here.  But I wanted to share this.  And really, it goes beyond political.

Yesterday, I did this...along with over 100 000 other Australians around the country, in cities, and in small towns, in a grass-roots protest with no political affiliations, organised entirely through social media and word of mouth because the mainstream media would not touch it.  Elderly folk and new age hippies, children and mums and dads, doctors and lawyers, firemen and women, from all walks of life, all races and all creeds.  If anyone reading this has been wondering what the heck is going on with Australia in the last seven months, please understand that large numbers of us emphatically DO NOT agree with this government's policies on Refugees, the Environment, and on Climate Change (and too many other issues to list here).  Many who actually voted for this government are beginning to understand just how deeply we have been lied to and manipulated, and marched too.


If you feel inclined to share this video, please do.  And any links to international media coverage would be might not have happened at all for all the notice the mainstream media in Australia took of it, and it would be good to know if it did make any international news, and how it was presented.  Thank you everyone.
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