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Arteles Creative Centre, Finland

Arteles Residency

Arteles Residency

Here I am, looking out at the dark night now, the sun sets at 4pm. This current residency focuses on the use of text, and brings together artists and writers using a range of mediums.

“Arteles Creative Center in Finland is one of the largest and most international creative residencies in Scandinavia. Welcoming over 100 selected visual artists/ musicians/ writers/ performance artists/ photographers/ designers / architects per year. It is an inspiring place to produce original work and collaborate with other energetic and ambitious artists & creative professionals for a concentrated period of time from 1 to 2 months.”

View website here

See all the current residents and be introduced to their projects here

Some images from the area:

cult house

cult house

lake

lake

IMG_2621 IMG_2649 IMG_2703 IMG_2748

 

benign one

benign one

birch 2

birch 2

birch girl

birch girl

 

 

 

 

 

the wood for the trees

Some trees have strong presences

I’m continually drawn to certain trees and visit and re-visit them. I’ve always loved trees. When I lived in the city I would gravitate to the parks, to the botanical gardens, and the massive Moreton Bay Figs of Sydney, with their fleshy limbs, their strange indentations, their hairy aerial roots. Trees are sacred in many cultures, especially in Aboriginal culture.

In the bush, the Angophoras reign, for me a favorite tree, their bark like flesh, ‘bodies’ graceful as dancers.

flesh

flesh

Trees have their own characters, revealed by ways of looking. In writing this blog, I discovered that there’s a whole ‘wood spirit carving’ community – carvers of totems, walking sticks, strange tree-men, who say they are releasing the wood’s ‘spirit’.

the scream I’m not necessarily talking about ‘beautiful’ trees. A favorite poet, Robert Gray sometimes writes about pines – from his poem The Pine:

The rhythm amongst these
such
a music, all
by chance.
Alone
in the back paddock
in the yellow grass

innocence

innocence

Some trees have bark like flesh, like skin, especially the Angophoras and the Scribbly Gums. From Judith Wright’s poem, Scribbly Gum:

I peeled its splitting bark
and found the written track
of a life I could not read

map

map

black mood

black mood

These intriguing designs, like a kind of writing, are caused by the larvae of the Scribbly Gum moth, Ogmograptis Scribula. Read about the facinating life-cycle of these rarely seen moths here.

Wright says, ‘Words are not meanings for a tree.’ This is true – I am imposing my own meanings upon the tree. In Gum-Trees Stripping, she writes:

Wisdom can see the red, the rose,
the stained and sculptured curve of grey,
the charcoal scars of fire, and see
around that living tower of tree
the hermit tatters of old bark
split down and strip to end the season;
and can be quiet and not look
for reasons past the edge of reason

smell the flowers

smell the flowers

scars

scars

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

wound

wound

Trees are sacred in many cultures, including in ancient Europe, which was once covered by great primaeval forests.

Trees are an important part of Aboriginal culture.

Watte Wanne & Dhunghutti Aboriginal Elder and artist, Aunty Kerrie Kenton writes, ‘Since time began trees have held significant value to Aboriginal people. Trees are not only culturally and spiritually important, but their importance also forms part of everyday life.’ Aunty Kerrie Kenton writes about the Parramatta area – see the full text of her article and see some of her artwork here.

Aboriginal poet and activist Lisa Bellear’s poem, Beautiful Yoroke Red River Gum talks about the survivors of genocide watching over the remaining Red River Gums along the Yarra in Melbourne. Read the full text of her poem here.

hooded

hooded

slit

What has the water seen?

What has the water seen?

Michael McGirr Selects series launch

‘Flying Foxes’ is to be launched on July 25th 2015 as part of the Michael McGirr series of digital long stories.

Print

‘The Michael McGirr series’ stories may be purchased individually, when available, or as a set. Click here for details. See best-selling author Michael McGirr’s bio here.

The series is being launched by the fabulous Walter Mason writer, spiritual tourist, lifelong dilettante and author of Destination Saigon and Destination Cambodia. As well, Carmel Bird’s new short story collection, My hearts are your hearts, will be launched on the night by queen of Australian fiction Gabrielle Lord. Read an interview with Carmel Bird at a bigger, brighter world blog here.

Bird_McGirrLaunchwebThe 12 stories in the series were finalists in the Carmel Bird Long Story award, and includes ‘We’re all Travellors Here’ by award winner Marjorie Lewis-Jones.

‘We’re All Travellers Here’
by Marjorie Lewis-Jones – See more at: http://shortaustralianstories.com.au/ebooks/esingles/michael-mcgirr-selects-series/#sthash.7Rddkl4f.dpuf

Should be a good launch! Come along from 5.30pm and enjoy readings, book signings, refreshments and meet the authors. RSVP: info@australianshortstories.com.au.

 

 

 

fun with fungi

emerging

emerging

After the rain, fungi are everywhere, breaking through the damp soil. The part we see above the earth is only the reproductive structure, the fruiting body. The rest of the structure is underground, and can go for kilometres.

size matters

size matters

earth star

earth star

These strange eyeball-like protubences have suddenly appeared in the mulch in the front garden. They are called Geastrum or ‘earth stars’, due to their star-like frill. I like to think of them as eyes – the eyes of the earth? They are a kind of puffball, shooting spores through the central pore in the middle of the ‘eye’.

blue one

blue one

A patch of tiny, brilliant blue fungi. This is an uncommon one. It’s Entoloma Virescens.

citrus

citrus

Omphalina – a gilled fungi.

Literary mushrooms. I don’t know of a more famous evocation of ‘mushroom essence’ than this poem by Sylvia Plath, which captures the insistence of a humble survivor. Click here to listen.

And the there’s the novel Puffball by Fay Weldon, which uses mushrooms as a metaphor for nature and fertility. Read a review here.

golden one

golden one

 

 

 

‘Flying Foxes’ finalist in Carmel Bird Award

My story ‘Flying Foxes’, a finalist in the Carmel Bird long story award, is to be published in 2015 as a digital story.

Twelve stories, including award winner Marjorie Lewis-Jones, will be published from June this year as the series Michael McGirr Selects, by publisher Spineless Wonders — host of the Carmel Bird Award.

Publisher, Bronwyn Mehan, said Spineless Wonders’ mission for the 2014 competition was to find the best Australian long stories between 4,000 and 10,000 words. The competition had drawn an unprecedented number of entries, she said, and Mr McGirr told her reading and judging the stories had been ‘a real pleasure’.

Michael McGirr is a well-known Australian writer whose books include Things You Get For Free (Scribe), Bypass: The Story of a Road (Picador) and The Lost Art of Sleep (Picador).

Carmel Bird is one of Australia’s leading authors of short stories with a new collection to be released by Spineless Wonders in August 2015.

 

grey headed flying fox and baby

grey headed flying fox and baby

‘Flying Foxes’ is the story of a relationship between two brothers, one suffering from schizophrenia. Flying foxes are a persistent presence in their lives. I will post details about how to purchase ‘flying foxes’ when available, later this year.  I look forward to reading all 12 stories.

Louise Kerr’s ‘Threads through the Landscape’

Louise Kerr’s tribe of hand-sewn soft scuptures, these subtly-painted dingos of coiled twine, cotton, paint and clay, evoke mythic animal characters. These sculptures have a double-edge, a darkness. They are also reminiscent of nailed-up carcasses, exposed innards, genitals, holes. Their faces are mask-like, but with glimpses of ‘human’ expression. They are “revealing masks.” Like dogs, and not like dogs. These are not only dingos but mirrors of us.

2014 Louise Kerr 'Lost near Blinman'

2014 Louise Kerr ‘Lost near Blinman’

Lousie Kerr recently exhibited at King Street Gallery on William St, Sydney.

See more of Louise Kerr’s work here

 

 

Little Fictions at Knox St bar – March 9th Sydney

My short story, ‘the cradle arms of strangers’ (an edited version) will be read by a professional actor at Knox St bar in Chippendale, on Monday March 9th at 7.30pm. ‘Little Fictions’ is held on the second Monday of every month, and should be well worth a look. It’s a small space, with an intimate and enthusiastic audience. For more info click here

 

Up the river

wraiths

wraiths

Mists rise off the rippled skin. A fish leaps and smacks the surface. Smell the river, the green-brown water, the hint of diesel from our boat.

IMG_3499Further up the river’s a mirror. It seems we’re floating in the sky.

IMG_3508Alongside these mirrored lands

IMG_3509These fractal islands

IMG_3514

riverbank1IMG_3511From the scrub, a tntinnabulation of bellbirds; a pelican flaps over like a Pterodactyl.

I recall Judith Beveridge’s poem, River Music: ‘The bird’s song reached us, then it sharded into the river’s cold glass.’

 

 

 

Being a tourist in your own city

Sometimes its great to do touristy things in your own city – the stuff you don’t normally do. Stay in a hotel at the harbourside, have a ‘rear window’ experience. You are anonymous – try a fake accent!

a 'rear window' situation

a ‘rear window’ situation

threads of light

coloured baubles

looking out of windows into other windows

inside, blurred shadows, half-glimpsed

A leanfaced young man with steel eyes and a thin highbridged nose sat back in a swivel chair with his feet on the new mahongany-finish desk. His skin was sallow, his lips gently pouting. He wriggled in the little chair watching the little scratches his shoes were making on the veneer. Damn it I don’t care. Then he sat up suddenly making the swivel shriek and banged on his knee with his clenched fist. ‘Results,’ he shouted. (John Dos Passos, Manhattan Transfer)

Luna grin

Luna grin

the window perspires raindrops

Annette Messager's intestines, body parts like plush toys

Annette Messager’s intestines, body parts like plush toys

From Tabaimo's exhibition at the MCA in Sydney

From Tabaimo’s exhibition at the MCA in Sydney

Annette Messager's heart

Annette Messager’s heart

 

smoky city

smoky city

the iconic scene

the iconic scene

the coat hanger and the insect

 

 

‘The Wasteland’ evoked in Delhi portrait – Dasgupta’s ‘Capital’

Rana Dasgupta dedicates Capital to “the unborn”. Capital is not just a portrait of a city – it’s a vision of the future. Delhi is portrayed as “hypermodern”, not striving to catch up with the West, but a truly modern city, a megopolis, a place where “…people all over the world can find their destiny most clearly writ”. This is a layered city, its shopping malls and fly-ways, its apartment blocks and ticky-tacky built upon the red bricks of the Mughal forts. The river here is the sacred Yamuna, now a sludge of sewage, plastics, rubbish and chemicals, all the city’s waste freely flowing into it.

Dasgupta invokes T.S. Eliot’s The Wasteland, and here, March is “the prettiest month”, and the flowers are the flawless frangipani blooms, placed strategically around the gated and guarded communities, the glass mansions of the moneyed elite.

Through a series of interviews, Dasgupta non-judgmentally reveals the attitudes and hopes of Delhi’s rich, the new Indian “middle” classes, not really in the middle, but living at the top, in glassed-in worlds. These people are Dasgupta’s orphans, products of a place born out of invasions, migrations, massive disruptions and upheavals. They are the warriors, fighting for what can be gained, before it is taken. These orphans, “bred out of the baked land”, carry the legacy of immense trauma, of the Partition, that great global event, its effects seeping out across the world. Delhi’s super-rich, like the global super-rich in every country, live rootlessly, without real connection to the land or rivers, or the wider community, keeping money off-shore in Swiss bank accounts, sending their children to American schools. Delhi is a resource that can be exhausted before moving on.

For Dasgupta, Delhi is an example of what we are all heading towards. It is a Dystopian view, but toward the end of the book Dasgupta offers hope. This is a vision of the great Yamuna before it reaches the city, flowing clean and vital, under the infinite sky, and the knowledge that it was always here and will endure after the city is gone. Along with this, the certainty that new insights and visions will also be produced in the global world, and that this creativity can be a precursor to Utopian, rather than apocalyptic futures.

This is a disturbing, though beautifully written work. An important book for our times; I really recommend it.

Capital