“Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson
The last time I wrote about my remarkable friend Marita Albers, I didn’t include many pictures of her amazing, varicolored home because I was too shy to turn the visit into a photo opportunity (it was my first visit, I didn’t want to be intrusive!) But when Marita read my post, here, she laughed and invited me over a second time, this time inviting me to snap whatever I wished.
It would (should) have been a lighthearted and inspiring shoot of a fun and whimsical artist’s personal and creative space…had some sad news not surfaced in the meantime: in a month’s time, Marita and Ginger would be leaving Darwin.
The already-inflated prices of real estate in this small city have gone through the roof this past year, thanks to landlords anticipating big bucks from an influx of gas plant employees (and Darwin will be playing toady to a U.S. armed forces base here, too, WTF?!) The insane rates are driving Darwin’s long-term residents, and anyone who isn’t engaged in full-time moneygrubbing and avaricious acquisition—such as our artists, our greenies, our hands-on and quality-time parents with small children, our elderly and disabled, our young dreamers, our single mums, our FRIENDS, dammit!…and GOOD PEOPLE they are, too!—to other parts of the country. It has become nearly impossible for ordinary people to make ends meet and still have meaningful lives. It’s gut-wrenching to see the folks we love and care about tormented by fear for their futures, forced to give up the homes they love, to leave their friends, to uproot their children from the neighbourhoods they grew up in, all because a landlord has decided that he wants more than $2,000 a month for his ramshackle house of prefab and tin…there is a shortage of residences in Darwin, and even a concrete apartment box designed for The Sheeple will yield $500 a week, these days.
These two are so deeply beloved of Darwin’s art and family scene that for a few weeks after Marita told me the news I didn’t really believe it would happen. Leave this coconut town that’s crazy about you? Leave all of us? Surely something will come along…a solution, a godsend…someone will see that Darwin, more than ever, also needs its fabulous, vibrant, fun painters, its wacky single mums and precocious eight-year-old redheaded daughters? Surely someone with influence will decide that he is making enough money, as it is, and that losing one of our happiest Poets of Color and Childhood would deprive this town of so much more than the $$$ he stands to gain?
But nothing happened…mother and child were pushed out of their home, and I put my arms around Marita and Ginger for the last time today.
And what would have been a post full of wonderful stories about these photos from The Funhouse on Pandanus Street is just a rant, now, because I don’t feel like saying much else…