Faces of Townsville

Graeme and I are writ large in the lightboxes, back to back in Flinders Mall, Townsville CBD as part of the Faces of Townsville, a partnership between ABC Open and Perc Tucker Regional Gallery. I couldn’t resist the temptation to poke some fun at myself.

Lynn pointing her finger as the Faces portrait of herself.

 

Graeme in the Faces of Townsville

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Faces of Townsville: Locals feature in outdoor exhibition

ABC Open Faces

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Portrait photos of Graeme and I, larger than life, are back to back in the Flinders Mall lightboxes, Townsville.

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Write Cafe Residency Program

As you can see from the poster, I’m one of the writers hired by Townsville Writers & Publishers Centre to take part in their Write Cafe Residency Program. They were funded by a Copyright Agency Cultural Fund grant. To find out when I’ll be ‘in residence’ at the Tumbetin Tea Rooms follow Townsville Writers & Publishers Centre.

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The Self-Inflicted Tribulations of the Artist

Come the Raw Prawn  is on display at the Museum of Tropical Queensland in the Colours of the Coral: Reef Art Exhibition until 31st August 2014

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Whilst cursing myself and wondering what on earth possessed me to elect to create a gigantic paper mache prawn for an exhibition, I pondered the fact that in the throes of creative passion, many artists throw all caution to the wind. Creative passion cares little for reason, or so it seems. How much does this ability to disregard reason drive the artistic instinct?

 Why was I putting so much time, energy, and precious resources into creating a four metre long prawn in a studio space that was way too small? Why was I going to so much struggle to shape bits of paper and bamboo? As I worked, I pondered on what motivated me to make it so large.

 I knew I was endeavouring to create a sense of wonder in the viewer, yet I was aware that just making a big prawn would be seen as clichéd and boring. Then I remembered the marvellous sense of wonder I felt as a child when I saw displays of dinosaurs, or whales, or even biplanes, suspended from museum ceilings. Were these childhood emotions behind the apparently irrational desire to create a gigantic creature? Was this why ceilings often looked so inviting to me?

 As the artwork’s five segments continued to take shape, in the process occupying much of the lounge and the kitchen, and making our living conditions difficult, my sense of futility, despair, and failure grew.

 It wasn’t until, instead of aiming to create a realistic looking prawn, I let my emotions and the materials themselves dictate the process, that I achieved a sense of satisfaction. I finally felt I was starting to achieve my aims when, instead of gluing the curling bits of paper fully down and flush with the body, I let them twist upwards and out, using them and bamboo twigs to suggest the spikes on the head of the prawn. Similarly, I felt far more satisfied when I attached bamboo ‘sheaves’ to the side of the prawn to suggest the ‘armour’ on the legs.

 My aim, then, is to capture the essence of a prawn, and to trigger our innate response to one. By allowing the imagination space to ‘finish’ the artwork, I hope to avoid setting off the ‘ho hum, seen it before’ response, which often stops us from enjoying an artwork. I want to set the child in all of us free to imagine, to wonder, and to feel. I believe it is the failure to allow room for the imagination that makes Queensland’s many big objects, such as the Bowen’s Big Mango, seem clichéd.

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The making of The Mangroves film

ibis among the mangroves

Recently those of us fortunate enough to have been involved in the ABC Open, Umbrella Studios, and the Great Barrier Reef Orchestra collaborative project to create a video of the mangroves as a backdrop for the Barrier Reef Orchestra’s performance of Peter Sculthorpe’s Mangrove composition have been blogging about the experience. The links to these blogs at ABC Open are: Graeme Buckley (The musicians)  will also take you to links for blogs by Sabine Carter (The community orchestra), Nathan Morris (The Sculthorpe composition), Danielle Berry (The collaboration), Jesse Joseph (The performance), Alan Junior (The achievement), and my blog (The artists).

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Crazy Tired

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I’m ready for bed but can’t go to sleep, again. So the dogs are growing gooseberries or is that mulberries, or maybe I am just seeing in purple in a field of tiredness. Where does the mind wander when it’s alone in its bed? Where does the mind wander when it’s alone in its head? Can it see the haze stretching out across the acreage and into tomorrow? Can it see me? Can it find me, that unforeseen unknowable being who got lost in the surfaces of thyme and swum through the mirror to the underworld. No Isis of fable, but having more veils.

She dances on tables, just like my dad did. If the cap fits, jam it on your head, else the wind will blow it all away to float on the sea of forgetfulness where a dog swimming is swindled into retrieving a stick. Untie the aquamarine from your eyes and let me use it as a ribbon to bind my hair, that a road into forever is forbearance and introduces formidable knots. If I tried dancing on tables, the veils would tear and down would come Humpty, table and all. But all that’s for another day, on a pinhead, stuck in a pink cushion of silk, hanging from a cobweb of the yellow orb spider that spinner of caraway crazy-eyed dreams. Now don’t you go wiping the window clean for who can see through a clear pane of glass; that way there is naught but the dog still swimming in the sea, carrying my hat over wave and dip and tallow to wash up on the morrow with his head band intact and his feathers down and standing back in the traces

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Townsville: a portrait.

The unkind call it Brownsville. They forget the sound of the rain drumming on the roof, the water running down the footpaths, streaming along gutters, gurgling down drains. They forget how it rains day after day and how the plants grow, swelling upward with a rapidity that stuns. The detractors complain of the heat, the humidity, the mossies, the cyclones, the grass growing too fast, the possums, the flying foxes (fruit bats) that drop mangoes on the roof. Loudly, and unendingly, the city’s detractors express their desires to go south, or to flee overseas, to be anywhere but here.

Yet the believers call it paradise. They remember the blue winter skies, the sparkling seas, the welcoming beaches and the perfect weather. They remember catching the ferry across calm seas, hoping for a glimpse of migrating whales, watching coral bommies beneath boat keels. They remember diving the reefs, snorkelling, swimming among colourful fishes, over velvety clams, counting starfish, watching in wonder as the school of curious coral trout follows the boat, tantalised by the sight of toes bobbing in the water.

We are all of us right. In the dry season, in the lead up to spring, the time of no rain, the leaves turn brown, the grasses die, the mountains lose their purple haze and we sigh and wish for the summer ‘wet season’.

Once the rains start and the land floods, the whingers have a new cause to bemoan. Roads become impassable, there are food shortages when the highway closes, shoppers have verbal stoushes at supermarkets over who will get the last bottle of milk or the last can of baked beans and bewail the lack of lettuce. We who have never experienced attempting to walk along an icy footpath have our own slippery travail on sidewalks slimy with mould, moss, or mud.

Yet, there is a certain magic about the roar of a heavy downpour on a tin roof, even when television volumes are increased and then increased again, accompanied by complaints that ‘we can’t hear the flaming TV’. There are times when it seems you must run frantically to catch enough raindrops to get wet, other days when a single drop drenches you. It’s all part of living in the tropics.

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