Thursday, June 6, 2013

a time for all things...

Firstly ... something so easy to overlook when not spending time here... I want to thank new visitors coming by ... those who have joined the 'Visual Eclectica' community and friends popping back in.

Its been a time of renewing friendships and making new connections lately. The other night when putting together a slideshow about my work and wanting to give some context I dug up some old photos... like the ones below.

I'd just moved from London, via a stay with family for a few months in Brisbane to catch my breath, when I relocated to Melbourne (in south-eastern Australia). It reminded me a little of small version of London... cooler weather during winter and tending to grey days and old buildings in abundance. Culturally very lively too... it seemed to perfect choice for one sad about tearing oneself away from London in the later 1980's.

Going though my photos I was reminded of the living situation I'd chosen... opting for the slightly leafier part of the city that was almost country-like with its proximity to the river, bushland and green spaces. In the first year or two I went often to the river. As I became busier I seem to go further afield exploring. But looking at the photos the other day what struck me was the thought it was almost as if i was choosing a country existance.

musings on my time here...

I loved the wisteria covered greenhouse. The photos I had to take with my iphone from old photos.
There are many more photos that need such documenting as the colour is fading or they look worn.

This shot was taken after a weekly visit to the Vic Market for our produce and deli items, which meant frequent shared tables during this era with people coming and going thought the wonderful old house. This great old kitchen epitomised home for me... especially for a world-weary soul, tired after 2 years of intense travelling and living and working in London. 

I'd had two live-in London placements ...without a work permit, par for the course. However, they were unusual 6 months stints... the first with a family with three bright-eyed little children, the mother of whom was bed-ridden and in treatment for a brain tumour. My role was far more extensive than the job description had advised... the children came to love doing all the arty stuff I set up for them and the family enjoyed the cooking which was a volunteer undertaking as it was an enjoyable task during those long 12 hour days.

The second home the following year after summer travels started well... but the lovely mother of two whom I had taken on cooking and cleaning for to help whilst she recuperated from an operation died on my second week there. Shocked, I later found it had been on the cards and that my arrival and warm relationship with her children had given her faith she had done all she could to prepare for the inevitable. We'd sat on her bed and talked two days before she'd gone to hospital. So philosophical at the time, keen to know my story and see my travel journals... she seemed comforted that I was had only been a week I'd lived there. Which remind me we never know what role we play in someone else's life. By chance it was my unknowing gift to be there at that time.

These two experiences were more critically challenging and informing than much of what I saw in my entire two years abroad. If my life was going to be a response to questions that would invariably arise from time to time then the period living with families in grief dealing with unknown futures certainly made their mark... and ushered in some large questions which needled me till I took time back in Australia to process all that.

So when I say I arrived in Melbourne tired and feeling burdened it was true... yet at this fading grand old house I found a home of the kind I needed for the next 5 years.

There were two spaces to work.... this small corner room with lots of windows was claimed for my studio. All the furniture was already in the house. Next to this room was a long closed in verandah where I could spread out when necessary.

This studio I spent hours upon hours, reading, listening to music and radio, drawing, painting, printing.
Its where I really forged many of the ideas that have since informed my work and evolved further during changes and fresh departures over the years.

Its interesting to look back and make the connections between the desires and hopes of those years and the direction my work took... things that came about much later.

The book "Honey from a weed" is an all time favourite. During the time preparing the slideshow last week i tracked down further articles about this writer's life which I must come back and share here.

As for recent weeks ...its been an unusual time with a trip away for 4 days in Melbourne then for a few days and onto an excellent 4 days spent up the coast at a Conference. Life went from several insular months focused on home-front details around selling our home and finding another. Just as things had fallen into place other things were emerging.

The recent post I did for Rohan was written the week before his passing. This took me south to join with his family and friends in Melbourne to celebrate his well-lived life... shortened at 29 by a heart-wrenchingly tough illness lasting over 8 years... dealing constantly as he did with life-threatening developments in his illness. Friends spoke at the memorial who'd clearly felt the impact of seeing this journey into unknown from their vantage point of wellness and careers unfolding. Profoundly beautiful and articulate speeches for someone they so admired. His family were so gracious and calm through all.
The entire period, staying with another old friend, moving around the city, visiting old familiar spots, was somehow disorienting ... time was liquid... past and present dissolving. It was however so  timely to have made this trip ... to be alongside old friends.

Only home a few days from there my bag was packed to go north to attend an International conference Balance-Unbalanced 2013...

conference poster

 This poster was of the friday evening event.

Photo: Can't make the whole Balance-Unbalance conference next weekend but want to experience some of our great presenters?  Check out the Pecha Kucha Night program for the evening of 31 May.  Tickets for the evening event, for the one day on Friday or the whole conference are now available.
Petchakucha evening
The program featured regional and international speakers. Friday's Keynote speakers were both energising and sobering given the nature of this conference to examine how climate science is being negotiated by artists in inter-disciplinary practices with science, ecology and technology.

The fact of it being a smaller group of around 300 people in attendance led to the most amazing conversations happening all over the place. Instead of standing in the corner people were making a point to connect and so tonight just working my way through the papers I picked up with business cards and notes scrawled in my diary.

Somehow the last couple of weeks seems to have converged into a really special time with people... new and old... deeply engagements with others.. and sharing the most poignant range of human experiences.

Its very late and I've not even begun to translate this experience... but I'll say good night! You can read about the artist's talk I gave at the conference at the Studio blog and soon I hope to put together thoughts from the whole weekend. I've tentatively started this at the Homage to the Seed blog yesterday.