weve moved!

Okay, so it’s not quite the huge job that moving a house on land would be, but still, this is a big change for us! From being moored right in front of the yacht club that we use as our “landbase”—with mangroves on one side, the wide open Darwin Harbour and a flat horizon in the distance on the other side—the F/V Sonofagun was towed almost to the top of Sadgroves Creek last Wednesday. We’re now one-and-a-half kilometres away from the yacht club, and the trip ashore is five times what it used to be!

Despite the huge distance I now have to go to get to work (and the nasty new outboard motor that I have had to learn how to use, because rowing ashore would take over an hour) I am loving it here. The spot is deep among the mangroves of a National Park. Sheltered from the Southerly winds and choppy water of the Top End’s “Dry Season”, I’ll be able to work in peace and quiet all through this windy time of year. The mangroves here are denser, deeper—hemming us in on both sides, and no horizon line to rest one’s gaze upon—and there are so many more birds moving through the foliage…not just the usual sea eagles, kites, terns, gulls, pelicans or cockatoos, but little passerines, small and brilliant blue kingfishers, rainbow lorikeets by the hundreds, frog mouths and maybe even night jars. There’s much more activity in the water, too…fish (and lord-knows-what-else) constantly splashing, gurgling and boiling the surface of the green, glass-smooth waters of the creek. We are also just two boats away from the floating crocodile trap that sits at the intersection of the Sadgroves’ headwaters, so I guess we’ll be seeing many more of those big lizards, now, too. Hoo boy.

The nights are darker, and we can no longer see the lights of the city—the stacked Lego towers of illuminated units or the blazing halogen lamps from the industrial wharves—nor hear the constant rumble of bulldozers and forklifts. Almost no traffic on the water where we are, as most yacht people live along the bend where the creek opens up into Francis Bay (you can see the dense lines of white boats in the satellite image)…the only dinghies that go past us are Captain Seaweed’s (he’s at the very top of the creek, and spitting distance from the croc trap) and a few weekend fishermen. It’s like we’ve moved to a sleepy little town in the mountains, after the hustle and bustle of living in Francis Bay, where a fishing ramp unloads speedboats all day, most days of the week, and the big fishing trawlers, work boats, and tugboats come and go, creating huge bow waves in their wake that used to send us rolling like a barrel.

I’ll try and get some pictures to do the place justice! I really hope to capture what it’s like to live up a quiet, green, serpentine creek…surrounded by crocodiles and miles of tangled mangroves.

aboard the M/V sonofagun, Darwin, Australia, life

We’ve moved house! (boat)

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Kakadu wildflowers

I got very little in the way of creative work done this past weekend. I took my bicycle to town for serious repairs. From there I walked to the optometrist to get my eyesight checked (and she confirmed that my perfect vision is, alas, a thing of the past) SO I then got fitted for my very first pair of glasses…the cheapest frames they had, and still the bill came to 350 smackeroos…which stung, I tell you…OUCH!!!). On another day there were trips—on foot—to post offices, to the bank, and an all-day lunch with a friend…

Tomorrow, it’s off on foot again to pick up my bike, and another visit to the bank…don’t forget that I must take the tides into account, and this week the lowest tides are smack in the middle of the day, so if I want to be ashore anytime before 3 p.m., I have to leave the boat at 11:30 a.m., and find ways to kill all that time. *sigh* Where did my weekend go?

BUT! Look what I found in my flickr sets! Never-before-seen photos of a trip Kris and I took to Kakadu in late July, some years ago. Can’t believe I never posted about the trip, or shared these. Some gorgeous wild country out there…and lots of small wildflowers, as I discovered once I started looking for them.

a prehistoric home overlooking the wetlands

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Kakadu wildflowers

Kakadu wildflowers

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Darwin, Australia, Inspirations, photography, travel

Snapshots of the Northern Territory

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aboard the M/V sonofagun, Darwin, Australia, life

Happiness is an unmade bed

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On my days off, our pussycat, Dude, crawls into bed as soon as Kris gets up…4:30 a.m. on work days. Dude likes to sleep on Kris’ pillow (like many single pets, he thinks he’s human) beside me. When I get up a little later I don’t have the heart to disturb the warm ball of golden fluff lying so still and contented in our bed, and so let him be. The virtues of a neatly made bed are overrated, and I would much rather enjoy the sight of a small lion with its head on a pillow, dreaming a small lion’s untroubled dreams.

As February gives way to March, and time rills on irrevocably, I have been taking more photographs, doing more sketches, and spending more pampering time with Dude, in general. I am making the most of what time is left before we have to say goodbye to this sweet-tempered and gentle cat…the best cat we’ve ever had.

Kris and I have got a big 5-year trip looming…by sailboat to South Africa, and then to South America…that we’ve been planning and preparing for, for years. We’re nearly ready and when we go in 9 months’ time, we won’t be able to take Dude with us (the good news is that a lovely older lady has already asked to take him, so he’ll go straight to a loving home) For one thing, the boat’s not cat-safe…we would probably lose him during an ocean passage; secondly, if he does survive all of South Africa, the Amazon, the Caribbean, and return with us, Australia’s draconian quarantine laws wouldn’t allow him back into the country.

The trip, of course, will mean leaving so much more than Dude behind. But I am focusing and steeling myself for this little one, I think, as practice for the bigger partings to come. If such a tearing apart can be practiced.

2014 is shaping up to look like The Year of Letting Go. It’s a hard lesson, and doesn’t ever seem to get easier with each loss or loosening.

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Darwin, Australia

Viva la Pussy!

just what I needed...

Just what I needed for the busy Christmas season (and hey, Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, too!) I was given a ticklish pink bar of Viva La Body’s Pussy Wash soap for Christmas. On the back of this lovely wrapper were these heartening words:

Say good-bye to a dirty Pussy! Our creamy Pussy Wash soap  will leave Pussy smooth, fresh and silky soft with every wash.  Purrrrrrrfect for sensitive Pussies too!

To think, I unwrapped the present in public, at a table in a restaurant, surrounded by workmates and their partners. Lovely. Nobody else got given a bar of Pussy Wash soap. *Note to Self: Must stop telling filthy jokes at work!*

But seriously, I feel nothing but admiration for this amazing little company, Viva La Body. They are an award-winning Australian business, based right here in Darwin. They makes oodles of other beautiful (and less racy) soaps, cremes, perfumes, and some lovely 50′s-inspired frocks and skirts, as well…

Although I have to tell you that you can also get Cock Wash soap:Thinking of showing your cock at the next Royal Show? Make your cock the envy of the show & wash it with our Cock Wash soap! It turns an average cock into a  champion morning glory each & every wash!” (this is for your favorite Bantam rooster, of course) and Ass Wash soap (for that sweet little donkey you, no doubt, have got stabled in your backyard.)

Cock Wash soap

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Darwin, Australia, Exhibits

wrap up

Throwing Stones opening

A big thanks to everyone who dropped in last Friday night (and the following Saturday, as well) to see our marbling show, Throwing Stones for Fun and Profit.

It turned out to be a huge weekend…we never expected so many visitors over the two days, nor such an enthusiastic response to the things we made. I left Kris to handle the sales (less confusing if just one person does the accounting) and it seemed to me as the night wore on, and I stood talking to visitors and pulling on my drinks, that the walls around me were breaking out in a severe case of Yayoi Kusama red dots!

Yayoi Kusama's "I pray with all of my love for tulips."

Yayoi Kusama’s “I pray with all of my love for tulips.” photo by Samuel Mark Thompson, 2012, in Osaka.

Of a dozen marbled Bananafish there is one left…ditto one handmade card out of 60, and one embroidery out of the six I managed to finish in time for the show. The mind reels!

Still incredulous at the success of the exhibition, and glowing all over from contact with all the lovely people who came and showered us with love, friendship, and affirmed the belief that when one does what one loves and enjoys, others can feel and appreciate it.

Throwing Stones openingThese few desultory pics are from Wednesday, when we set up…I didn’t take my camera to the opening, because neglecting friends who’ve made the effort to drop in while you are busily trying to get good photos is just plain rude, and distances you, besides, from the special environment of art and artists that is unfolding all around you.

Throwing Stones opening

That was so much fun, and turned out to be profitable, too, so Kris’s title for our show worked like a self-fulfilling prophecy! I have a couple of group shows locked in for next year, but other than those, this was the last exhibition Kris and I planned to mount before leaving Darwin next year…though we’ll be back after we’ve re-stocked our creative wells with some travel and new experiences!

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Darwin, Australia, Exhibits, Inspirations, music + film, my friends

Sunday

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Last Sunday I sat the gallery at Tactile Arts for Marita Albers’ most recent exhibition, The Last Chance Saloon.

With six hours to kill, I took along a grocery bag of paints and small canvases (just painting backgrounds at this stage) and my camera and tripod, to document Marita’s work (at her request).

Six hours is plenty of time to walk round and round the white walls, getting to know Marita’s paintings intimately. She is one of my favorite painters, and I believe that I would have been a fan of hers regardless of whether I knew her personally or not. Her paintings are both playful and a little bit strange; she also makes the act of painting look so confident and effortless. It’s a lot of work, I’m sure, but looking at paintings from up-close it’s impossible to find signs of a struggle.

She’s also incredibly prolific and I suspect that she lives and breathes this art: I can see her stealing a bit of time to paint a flower or bird onto the canvas during the day’s all-too-few free moments, and then painting more intensely deep into the night when everyone else is asleep. She inspires me so much.

These were my favorites:


Stepped outside for a ciggy break at some point, and heard the loud live-band music coming from the Ski Club across the way. Boy & Bear’s Blood to Gold came on, and I remember thinking “Wow, that’s a really good rendition of the song, that band’s totally nailed it.” Found out later that it had, in fact, been Boy & Bear singing their own song, and tickets to see them at the Ski Club were $70. Wowowow.

Locked the gallery up at four, and went to the Stokes Hill Wharf with my friend (who is also my current boss) for dinner and a few beers. We traded stories of adventure and spirit, and watched other people throw hot chips (er, french fries) to the plump seagulls. I always find myself wondering whether all that starch and saturated fat affects the health of these birds…

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The Cat in the Hat

books + poetry, Darwin, Australia, life

;)

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Darwin, Australia, my friends

Manta rays

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Kris has also been working with plasticine, molds and models the past few months…on a much grander scale than my altoids-tin-sized rowbed: a meter-high brain-coral, rocks, 3D maps, life-sized manta rays, museum-grade stuff for upcoming World Heritage Center, Ningaloo Reef in Western Australia.

The company that makes these lifelike reproductions is Natural History Productions, and Ewan Wood is the mad genius behind it.

Originally posted on Art of Kris Larsen:

For the past four months I’ve been working on a project: a mate of mate got a contract to refurbish a visitors’ center at a Ningaloo Reef in WA. So we’ve been building brain coral, fake rocks, manta rays and whole heap of other things. Just the two of us. A welcome change from swinging hammer in a boat yard. Today I started loading them all  into a container for the long trip to WA, and I realised that I have no record of any of that work. Frantically running around with a borrowed camera I snapped some of it.

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Brain coral took three months of work. Shame that photo does not show a greater detail: all the squiggly convolutions are stippled, weeks of patient work. The whole thing is over a metre high.

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First we inflated a metre diameter beach balloon and covered it in plaster. Puncturing the ball…

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