Darwin, Australia, Exhibits

weird, wonderful, wild…

Dream Menagerie opening night

painting by Sonia Martignon

Here are a few photos of the Dream Menagerie show opening last Friday night! Amazingly, although we all ended up working in isolation towards this show, everything came together wonderfully on the white walls of the DVAA’s main gallery. It was lovely to catch up with my fellow artists from this show and see the works gathered together in one gallery, thanks to Ingrid Gersmanis’ thoughtful curating of the pieces.

Did you miss opening night? Not to worry! The exhibition runs till the 5th of July, and gallery hours are 12:00 noon- 5 pm, Wednesdays to Fridays, 10a.m.-3 p.m. on Saturdays.

The artists themselves sit the gallery on Saturdays, so come by on a weekend and say g’day!

Dream Menagerie opening night

Mermaid Boat by Ingrid Gersmanis, row of animals by me, painting in the corner by Marita Albers

Dream Menagerie opening night

ceramic sculpture with miniature animals by Ingrid Gersmanis

Dream Menagerie opening night

found objects sculpture by Karen Roberts

Dream Menagerie opening night

ceramic sculpture by Ingrid Gersmanis

Dream Menagerie opening night

three works on canvas by Ailsa Leibrick

Dream Menagerie opening night

painting by Sonia Martignon

Dream Menagerie opening night

Root-tootin’ cowboys by Ingrid Gersmanis. Driftwood sculpture.

P.S. I hope to get back to the gallery some time this week, and focus on documenting ALL the work properly. These were just a few shots before the crowds starting pouring in.

Darwin, Australia, events, Exhibits

You are invited…

This Friday night…

dream menagerie invite

an opening with all the most fun artists and friends I know! I’m looking forward to an evening of nibbles and glasses of bubbly, all sorts of animals, a separate room for the always wonderful work of Sandra Kendell and Marita Albers (I’ve written about Marita here, and here)  great stories punctuated by lots of laughter, and a big recharge on hugs. I’m so excited, I feel quite giddy. (You can tell I don’t get out much…)

The Capricornian Emporium of Curious Curios and Marvellous Oddities


This Sunday…

ETSY Pop Up JuneJune’s ETSY Pop-Up market at the George Brown Botanical gardens…sure to be even lovelier, now that the dry, cool weather is here. The theme is Moroccan (though not limited to that) and there are many more stalls participating this time around. For the scoop on who’s going to be peddling what handmade wares, head over to the ETSY Territorians facebook page, where Fleur and Isabel do a marvelous job of posting Territory talent and Top End handmade treasures regularly.

paints and pens, stuff i've made

Lace on the skin

A Night in MoroccoInspired by North African henna deigns, I put paint in a fine-tipped squeeze bottle and applied it to a painting of hands in exactly the same way that one would apply real henna. then I stamped the dark blue background in gold acrylics with a small hand-carved wooden printing block from India, and picked out the petal shapes in a lighter perriwinkle blue. So simple and quick, but very satisfying. I love intricate ornamental patterns. Very happy with this finished painting: romantic, feminine and it looks like lace from across the room.

All in all, a good way to have spent the day! :)

Darwin, Australia, life

Lonely Point of Departure

Life is so short, we must move very slowly.
aThai saying (also attributed to the Talmud)

Three car pile-up at the junction of Stuart Highway and Woolner this afternoon…a massive wreckage, one person dead. Traffic jams spread out from the epicentre like spider arms…people were sitting in their cars for probably 30-45 minutes (though to hear them talk about it, you’d think they’d been stuck for four hours).

Lots of customers arrived just before closing time to Jacksons, complaining about how long they’d sat in traffic. Amazing. Three-quarters of an hour and someone horribly dead, and they were whining about the traffic.

No point sitting in that, I told Sharon as we locked the shop, and suggested a few beers at the Railway Club. At 7:20 we left, and I cycled my usual route home: crossing the Stuart Highway at Woolner. Emerging upon the Highway I found it deserted…like a scene from a movie about the apocalypse…they’d sealed Stuart Highway off from Parap lights to Ross Smith, and the streetlights were out. I crossed the empty 6-lane highway, staying well away from the dozens of police and emergency vehicles, the cranes and other trucks, and the circle of blazing halogen lights that surrounded the crash scene.

It all looked so desolate and empty. I thought “what a dreadful place to step off the world; what a last thing of this life to see before it all rushes away from you, and the darkness floods in.”

I also thought “Car drivers are mental.” They are so careless and complacent on the road…road rules are viewed as unpleasant restrictions that the government makes up to ‘cramp one’s style’ and ‘spoil one’s fun’, instead of as safety measures to save lives and prevent tragedies. Often, if they think they can get away with breaking a rule, they will. Like petulant children. They can be arrogant…they think that because they are in their coccoons of steel, and because their seats are so soft and comfortable and curve around their bodies, that they are somehow invincible. Also, they will gleefully break a rule that could result in killing someone else…snuffing out another person’s life, shattering that person’s family and friends, creating this huge expanding cloud of loss and grief, because they couldn’t bear the thought of sitting for 5 fucking minutes at a red light, and had to go straight through it.

Screen shot 2014-06-12 at 9.30.17 PM

The irony of a Toyota advertisement on the news page about the accident. Oh what a feeling, indeed.

I don’t drive because I hate the very idea of cars, what they stand for, what humans have become because of them. There’s laziness, and often there’s bad health and corpulence; there’s the demand for fossil fuel at any cost to the planet, the consumption of resources, the idea of being wrapped in a mass-produced bubble and cut off from the world around you, the noise, the way the air smells at rush hour, the irrational impatience and constant need to be rushing somewhere (you think a car saves time? How much television do people watch? Don’t try to tell me that folks value their time if they can spare any for television…) the selfishness of drivers who believe that being in a metal box moving with great force is an instrument of power instead of a great responsibility. It’s like walking around in public, casually swinging a gun around…you should have to pass seriously strict psychological and IQ tests before you are allowed to have either.

bookbinding, paints and pens, stuff i've made

A pigsty of one’s own

moroccan journals

What was in that candle’s light
that opened and consumed me so quickly?
Come back, my friend.
The form of our love is not a created form.
Nothing can help me but that beauty.
There was a dawn I remember when my soul
heard something from your soul.
I drank water from your spring,
and felt the current take me.

—Rumi (translated by Coleman Barks)

Not everything about Kris’ sailing off in the general direction of Mozambique a few days ago is sad. I must admit that—for a few months, at least—it is awesome to have the entire boat to myself. Until I start to seriously miss his conversation, his tenderness, his boundless energy, his complete competence in running our household, I usually enjoy the first few weeks of living like a bachelor-slash-bohemian:

An apple, a knob of rock-hard dried bread, or a fried egg, on its own, for dinner (usually because there’s nothing else to eat…Kris did all the groceries, Kris made sure we ate healthy balanced meals, Kris made sure there was always orange juice in the fridge for my breakfast, real coffee in the pantry, bars of chocolate at the ready during my periods!) Art materials and projects spread wildly across all the tables, floors, shelves. The pile of dirty dishes in the sink gamely trying to keep up with the pile of dirty laundry in the hamper (Kris did the dishes. Kris did the laundry. Kris made sure there was always fuel for the outboard. Kris bought cat litter…Kris held my world together, and every time he goes away I realize that what I thought was the wonderful life WE’D created was really the wonderful life that my wonderful man had created FOR US. Doh!)

I stay up late, smoke too much, live on pots of coffee, rummage through the dirty laundry to recycle something to wear, sleep on a bed without sheets because they’re in the dirty pile, too, and the cat isn’t speaking to me because Kris always bought kangaroo steak for him on weekends, and I’ve got him on a Spartan diet of cat nibbles and water. But! I’m not a complete wreck…look! I am making Moroccan-inspired journals for the next ETSY Territorians Pop-Up Market…and I’ve just ordered stacks of postcards of six weird animal illustrations (four shown below) I did for the Dream Menagerie group exhibition that opens on the 20th of this month. After the show opening, I’ll have these postcard sets in my ETSY shop and at the monthly craft markets, as well. The colors are a bit over-saturated in this picture…they won’t be so harsh in printed form…part of the mysterious loss of luminance that every RGB-to-CMYK conversion entails.

Pictured below are (clockwise from top left) Coddled Salmon (he’s wearing a sweater), the Spangled Jerboa (pink desert hopping mouse with sparklies), the Pack Alpaca (for obvious reasons), and the Panzer Wombat (a.k.a. Armoured Wombat, in Galapagos tortoise shell)
animal postcards collage

So what do you think of these? Which one do you like best? (there are another two, but I’ll show you closer to the exhibition date).

aboard the M/V sonofagun, life

Don’t let go of that thread…

what ships are built for

The Way It Is

There’s a thread you follow. It goes among
things that change. But it doesn’t change.
People wonder about what you are pursuing.
You have to explain about the thread.
But it is hard for others to see.
While you hold it you can’t get lost.
Tragedies happen; people get hurt
or die; and you suffer and get old.
Nothing you do can stop time’s unfolding.
You don’t ever let go of the thread.

By William Stafford, from The Way It Is, 1998

Besides my creative life (which keeps me sane and relevant to myself) there is only Kris, really. Everything and everyone else can fall away and I might suffer a period of regret or pain or loss, but I would get over it quicker and with less trauma than you’d expect, because he stands opposite the sorrow, and balances me out. He is my ball of thread: that wonderful fairytale device that the heroine lets unwind before her, and that leads her through the world. I was an insufferable goose when he met me…I owe him for who I am today. He gave me both the space I needed to open fully, and a scrupulously honest mirror with which to see myself. And because I wanted so much to be worthy of him, I pushed to go beyond the garden-variety mediocrity of my early self.

Today he set sail for South Africa…a dream that’s been in the works for two years. When he gets there, and as soon as I’ve tied up a few of my loose ends here (two exhibitions, and my citizenship, basically), I will fly to catch up with him in either Durban or Brazil (depends on how long my loose ends take).

So my lover, my greatest teacher and my best friend all left together on one sailboat. The ball of thread is out of sight, and stretching ominously. The pull to be with him is tremendous. Things that I thought were important, last month, or felt I couldn’t possibly leave undone, suddenly seem like so much insignificant mucking around. Over the next few months I will slowly cut myself free of the ties here, and let him reel me in.

I didn’t get any pictures of Kris leaving, this time, so have re-used some shots from two years ago, taken the morning he left for S.E.Asia (he was gone four months).

swallowed by the fog

He was intentionally vague about his departure…didn’t want any parties, last minute well-wishers, or the generally curious trying to catch up for one last handshake, lame joke, or to ask the same dozen questions he has answered, over and over again, since he first built his steel Chinese-junk-rigged sailboat and started sailing around without the usual engine, GPS, EPIRB, digital charts, radio, solar panels, water-maker, or toilet. As you can imagine, some people find it hard to grapple with that, or with the idea of man at the mercy of the sea and no thing to rely upon but himself. But getting away from mankind is what attracted Kris to sailing, in the first place, and he goes out there to be alone with the great ineffable force that some call The Universe, Being, or God.

On his Monsoon Dervish website, Kris bids you all farewell:

“I’ll be turning 60 later this year. I’ve been working for a living for the past 40 years and I am tired of working. Humans are the only animals who work for a living. All other creatures live for a living. And I still have five years to go till my old age pension. I have decided I am going sailing for those five years. I will live for a living, like all other creatures in the world.”

Bon voyage, my love, and I’ll see you in Durban…or Paraiba!