Monday, July 30, 2007
The landscape of the Monaro region, the snow country of southern new south wales, haunts and fascinates me.
I fall silent as I pass through it, watching the pale sun reflected off bleached grass and the piles of stones erupting, cairn-like, from the rolling plains.
Sheep flock the pastures, rugged as the silver fields, enacting Les murray's poem, in which
"sheep trotted and propped, and shook ice from their wool"
Feral dogs lurk on the fringes of the clearing, their dingo-ness makes them invisible enough to creeep down and steal sheep.
Eastern grey kangaroos sit on the periphery, shaking thir ears.
The sensuous hills wind all the way to the bottom of the Snowy Mountains, where they regain their very fine attire of silver tussock grass and eucalypts.
Currawongs calling, culla wong cullawong, culla wooo
Despite my love and fascination for this place, it is a site of duality: I love the open hills, but am repelled by the knowledge that they were scraped bare by human hand, tamed and exposed.
The piles of stone were once nestled between trees, before the settlers came to battle with this recalcitrant and strange land, felling the trees, splitting stone in a battle with the elements on which the settlers' survival depended.
A landscape of erasure.
This is a site where much nationalistic identity is forged, the man from snowy river, rides here in blundstones and RM Williams, splashing through the river, rounding up the wild colt. Recently, this image was re-addressed in the film jindabyne,however the landscape here seems to rupture, shifting and grating against the senses, in its alienness and its contorted wildness. Images are overexposed, glary. A girl is taken from those open plains, her pale corpse later floats on those icy waters, and this pivotal act is never addressed, only all the different responses to it.
This landscape is testament not only to those settlers, those landed pastoralists who tried to erase the possum-cloaked tribes back into the mountains, but of those sons of the Baltic, lonely Latvians and Poles, who, with the promise of a new life, toiled and scraped, to create the Snowy River Hydro Scheme. Breaking rocks, digging, constructing.
It is the history of lonely blond brides, taken from small German towns, and told to wait, until the better life arrived.
The colossal dam required the flooding of the entire valley.
They say you can see the church spire now, in this drought, of the old town of jindabyne which lies beneath the water, but i have never seen it.
Rainbow trout poke around the old windows, I imagine, and they belong there as much as a church belongs at the bottom of a dam, erased and drowned.
Friday, July 27, 2007
Here is some winter water, cold but clear as glass.
The baby flathead are completely visible as they stare up from the sandy bottom.
But really, I wanted to share an environmental "tip" with y'all. Olive Oil.
The use of oil-based art materials need not be the source of tears at clean-up time.
Rather than turpentine, or any other solvent, a generous serving of olive oil,
rubbed onto all surfaces, hands, blockprints, tables, rollers or any other thing,
will do the trick.
Mop up the excess, and finish off with a quick wash with shampoo and warm water.
No nasty smells, no nasty chemicals absorbed into your skin or respiratory membranes!!
Here is the fish and bird.
Winging their merry way to Canberra as we speak...
Monday, July 23, 2007
The babster is as baffled as I am, as to what is going on in this blockprint. I redrew the image so many times, that it will be blind intuition that drives the outcome from the resulting mess of lines.
I have been carving it for three days, including a saturday night sleepover of 6 very loud 13 year old girls, which is when the thing began to go horribly wrong. Can't really create serenely amongst all that, you know.
But there's nothing like a deadline to make you drop everything and get serious with small sharp knives, so I pressed on with it. The thing with printmaking is that you never really know how it will turn out until you make a print.
Lucky I have my assistant.
Now, if I could "do" lolspeak,
I'd have made a lolcat title,
Sunday, July 22, 2007
Look at this, it is a caddis fly larva.
It has been removed from its original cocoon, and placed into an aquarium laden with treasure.
Pearls, gold, turquoise.
From these things, it makes itself a new protective home, fit for a Byzantine saint. A grand reliquary for itself.
The insect enacts the idea of the project, in this process.
Look how it orders them into such pleasing patterns, feeling with its little insect legs to assemble such a grand home.
This was made by Herbert Duprat. I read this on Extreme Craft, which is just the best.
I love how the handmade is so often used to subvert the paradigm of the way we see things.
The article appeared in Cabinet Magazine.
click to http://extremecraft.typepad.com/extreme_craft/
Click to www.cabinetmagazine.org/issues/25/duprat.php
To a caddis fly larva, there is no difference between a pearl and a stone.
I love this "collaboration"!
Arcturus has been instructing me in the art of linking.
If he could just SHOW me, being the fount of knowledge, I'm sure I'd get the hang of it in no time.
Still, I feel rather silly. I want those little highlighted words, rather than all that very unseemly clunk. Bah!
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
The sea blinds me with its hard glitter, and has cranked itself down to a very unfriendly temperature.
The headline today was
“Sydney Has Another Cold Night”
I find this funny.
The Old Blokes down by the water watched me approach.
Where’ve YOU been? They asked.
I told them I had been up in the Snowy Mountains, and they all smirked.
You’ll be used to ice, then.
Just as I was about to dive in, I turned, raised my hand then patted my wrist.
Time me. I haven’t a watch. I can’t count.
Ole Mal nods in the distance, still smirking. Pats his watch.
The cold is like being squeezed. As I surface, a loud involuntary shriek whoops out of my mouth, the water burns. Time to move.
I cannot hear them laugh, though they are all watching from a distance.
After eight laps, I can’t feel it anymore. My head is buzzing lightly, and I spin through the clear green.
Thoughts come. I dream. I am a fish.
Pale green light enters my soul, finding the spaces, filling them up for this short while.
Mal raises his hand in the distance.
The wind is ice on my skin as I stand dripping on the edge.
Thirty laps, he says, but my body knows that, secretly.
Today I am making a Lino-print of a fish with wings.
I am thinking of somebody far far away.
Sunday, July 15, 2007
There was the fox, one paw raised, silent in the snow. Her eyes golden, legs black-stockinged, she looked back at me.
You don't belong here, I said.
She slowly blinked, and twitched her ear.
I am descended from the First Red Fox from England, she answered,
And unless I am mistaken, that is not a possum-skin cloak you wear. You belong here no more than I.
She moved into the trees, a shadow against the blue light of the night snow.
The Eastern Grey lay by the side of the road. His kangaroo face, pretty black-fringed eyes closed, seemed as part of the land as the rocks and trees. the snow blew into his fur, and I heard the voice,
You don't belonga here, no, you dont belonga here.
The Dusky Antechinus ran out from between the wooden boards of the hut,straight towards my armoured feet. A brown pompom covered in sugar, it gleefully darted about.
What are you doing, here in broad daylight? Should you not be curled up in your nest?
I'm hungry! I'm hungry! he squeaked, and seizing the remains of someones's lunch, sat happily and oblivious between my feet, stuffing his face.
I went off to search for the wardrobe, the exit point from Narnia, and begin my journey back to the sea.
"DANGER, Will Robinson...!"
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
Life continues here in Narnia. The sun has made an appearance today, the landscape is sparkling and white.
It is a good thing to be so tucked away here, with no driving, shopping or cooking.
I have no idea what is going on in the rest of the world except for fragments on the radio, when I can hear it. Mostly it seems to be stuck in the 70's, with Supertramp on high rotation, and local news. An accident in Berridale, or water in the dam.
More snow has fallen in the last ten days than in the whole previous winter, it was lovely to watch the fat flakes fall, and see the mountains draped in euro-snow.
At home by the sea the days are temperate, and winter is so subtle. I like to be here, the days so short and the sense of an extreme season, so different from home. When I return to the sea I feel reborn, the colours and the noise and the smell.
The world comes to me here: friends from all over the northern hemisphere, from the snowiest pockets, spend a season here. I have learned that it was a bad season in the Czech republic for snow, that the Red Hot Chili Peppers did a great concert in Slovenia, and that Sun Valley USA had a bumper season.
The Bear has abandoned his mother and has ventured of on his own with a gaggle of other children, and is currently trailblazing the peaks. I should clarify the fact that he came about 40th out of about 60 kids in his race. Considering that some teams had handlers and personal coaches, this is some achievement. In fact, I was chatting to a lady who told me that her boys were also competing. They live on the snow for 4 months a year, they bring a ski instructor and a schoolteacher, train every day, and in summer they go abroad for a few months, to the States or Europe.
I remarked that the children must be very good at skiing, and she laughed and said "well, they'd WANT to be!"
Anyway, Mr Fifi has arrived now, specifically to boss me around, but I have managed to give him the slip . I am heading back home to read books in the sun and gaze at the mountainside while the sun goes down. I am glad all you northerners are enjoying your summer. I am going to be in the UK in October and am looking forward to it.
I wonder what the weather will be like?
Sunday, July 8, 2007
Thursday, July 5, 2007
Tuesday, July 3, 2007
The not-so-woolly lamb is in a race, actually, two races: downhill slalom and Moguls.
He is representing his little suburban Public primary school, in its inaugural appearance in the Interschool Ski Races
Today I felt a little apprehensive about this fact, when I saw the race teams from The Kings Scool and Tudor House go by. They looked like a demonstration event at the Lillehammer Winter Olympics: they all had lycra race pants and the school name on their matching outfits. Their coaches all had accents. Not Australian ones.
The woolly lamb watched them pass. We have a scruffy old club coach with a voice like gravel, lives on the Snowy River and talks like Steve Irwin. I looked at the little lamb in his little yellow coat, probably more interested in playing snow-dinosaurs and throwing snowballs. I asked him if he was nervous.
He said: "I am an Armoured Bear. I might come last, but I won't fall over."
Lets just see how he goes. I'm hoping for unbroken bones, bugger a place in the race.
If Ganching is reading this, she might consider a novena for the cause, or a quick appeal to the patron saint of Hopeless Cases. Everything will help.
The weather is very changeable. here is yesterday, not sunny like today. But very evocative.