18 Fixed Addresses

Friends struggled with my decision to leave. What they perceived as an impulsive decision, I knew to be a wonderful opportunity. I was moving to the Great Southern. I was determined to be new in town.

18 Fixed Addresses

What on Earth has gotten into you? Why there? So far away? Grey gloomy skies, rain and icy winds straight off Antarctica await you.

Take a little time, for the children.

Dreaded locals. If you’re not born and bred there it’ll be 20 odd years before you’re considered one of them. A stayer.

I know it’s a sea change you chase, but the kids can’t swim down there. Great whites all the way up to the beach even at the safe swimming pontoon and you do realise there are snakes everywhere there.

No. You should stay.

Hey? A suburban block? Under an acre? Your neighbours will be privy to everything. Arguments, flushing toilets and forget wildlife. Feral cats everywhere. No. This is where you belong .

Actually, I had never belonged. In a small Wheatbelt town stricken by drought, I was an exotic fish out of water.

The naysayers’ ominous predictions did nothing to alter my resolve. I didn’t feel fear. I felt exhilarated anticipating a new life in the Great Southern.

Brand spanking new in town. Like a child reading a choose-your-own-adventure novel I was highly excitable. A certain courageousness comes with the initial anonymity. Being alien lends itself to skinny-dipping, full moon drumming and dancing with wild abandon. Being new in town is a vacation preceding a rich new life.

My advantage? I was no virgin. I had history as the outsider, the newcomer, the chick who waltzes in but not long enough to set roots. Dad’s employer was fond of plucking us from a town. Three well-worn family calendars of activity, inevitably cued the arrival of removalists and a road trip thousands of kilometres to the latest in GEHA housing.

These early lessons have served me well. An efficient chameleon, I harmoniously settle in. Joyfully learning the lingo, exploring the terrain, discovering unique things in nature to feather my nest.

The well-intentioned fearmongers could not have been more wrong about this place. The exaggerated risks they perceived were a justification for their continued existence in a dry and dusty town. They felt me disloyal. A deserter.

I’ve considered carefully my lack of trepidation regarding this move. I knew something they could never know. A lifetime with one postcode does not uncover this wisdom.

Herein lies the key: you have to find your people.

Not always apparent, they’re uncovered in a wonderful treasure hunt. Happened upon in the most unexpected places. There’s no room for complacency, you have to seek them out. Daring to speak meaningfully with strangers perchance they should offer a clue.

Discovering one of these rare spirits is the ultimate reward. Finally airs and graces are abandoned, you relax completely into your untidy self. Your people enrich you, letting you know beyond doubt you add colour and life to their world.

I fondly reminisce about being new in this coastal town. Here, I have found my people. This exquisite place is my first real home.

18 Fixed addresses  was published as part of the ABC’s Open Project in response to the theme:  New In Town.

Photo Credit: Jillian Anne Photography

An award was not made for this category. TishTashTosh responds.

Thank goodness the powers that be made the wise decision to move and rebadge the Centennial Art Prize. The former chook shed style of accommodation could not have been more disrespectful of the art presented or the artists involved. Moving the exhibition out of the drafty and decrepit rusty tin shed located at Centennial oval and relocating it to the classic building of the Vancouver Art Centre has lifted the profile of this event considerably and made its viewing a delight.

However, the 2013 Great Southern Art Award has not been without controversy centered around the decision made by judges Joan May Campbell (a nationally revered local artist ) and Philip Gamblen ( a scientist and cutting edge sculptor) to not make an award within the 3D category.

The entry form brief for this category was limited to: 3D artwork. Plinth/ free standing/ wall hung/ any medium/ any subject. The prize money attached to the award was $1000.

There were several entries in the 3D category representing various abilities and subject. I imagine all of the artists entering the category spent considerable time arriving at a concept, pondering execution and investing a great deal of creative energy in their construction process.

These same artists would have submitted their entry form, paid their $20 entry fee, nominated a price for their artwork (taking into account the 30% commission that the Vancouver Art Centre and therefore the City of Albany would lay claim to should their creation sell), have possibly gone to the expense of delivering their artwork to the VAC from somewhere other than Albany (for arguments sake let’s say Esperance), all with the understanding that their artwork would be exhibited, judged in its own right and against the other 3D artworks and that an award would be made to the artwork deemed most outstanding within the category.

The 3D artists were understandably insulted and outraged in response to the decision made by judges to not make an award in this category. The judges’ comment “This was very thoughtfully discussed and the decision was made with the intent to encourage future development in this category. While we appreciated the diversity and potential of entries, we felt that it wasn’t to the calibre of the other categories in the Great Southern Art Award. We encourage the entry of more challenging work in the future” would justifiably upset anyone being leveled this assessment.

My concern is that not awarding and making comments to the effect that the 3D artworks presented were not of the same “calibre” as other artworks presented in the exhibition,  sends a clear message to the community and the individual artist that their contribution does not measure up comparatively and is of a poor standard. It is not an issue of not winning, it is an issue of being deemed unfit for judgement.

I have visited the exhibition three times since its opening and some of the 3D entries in this category were very well executed. The artists demonstrated their ability to interpret the visual material they have chosen as their subject and have executed the crafting of their artwork with a fine level of skill . These were not merely sculptures that copied something from the world with no more meaning then say a picture in a magazine, the artists interpreted their chosen material and showed vision in the fashioning of their creation.

While social commentary may not have been obvious in these works, does all art necessarily need to question every aspect of our existence? Surely sometimes it can celebrate our surrounding environment and the beauty in our world, which is after all such a big draw card for people choosing to live in the Great Southern and certainly provides an limitless source of inspiration to those with a creative bent engaging in artistic pursuits.

I was fascinated by Darrel Radcliffe’s Feeding in the shallows. This pelican carved from a grand piece of Sheoak is beautiful to behold. Only in a subsequent visit did I discover the baby pelican tucked discretely under its broody mothers wing. The grain in the piece of wood chosen is exquisite and by allowing the imperfections in the wood to remain,  I was reminded of the aged jetty pylons these majestic birds so often perch upon while undertaking mindful observation of the world passing them by.

Lance Reid’s stainless steel and sheok sculpture The Eagle 014 is very clever. Its reference to the eagles timeless powerful position in the food chain and the depicted habitat, reminded me that urban landscapes are mostly constructed of steel with diminishing amounts of natural materials such as wood and this in turn has a  flow on effect to the rest of nature. I love that the eagle looks down, as if from a vast height, challenging its steel leaved habitat with the promise to remain in flight. It made me consider the enduring spirit of the eagle soaring high above us.

Jason Wooldridge’s Humpback captured the movement of these wonderful grandiose marine mammals. More importantly though, the fact that you can see through this sculpture delivers a message about ecological conservation. Watching these animals is not the only reason for their safe keeping. While their beauty is to be enjoyed there is more at stake. We need to see past the form of the whale itself and better understand its importance in the ocean. I am glad I had the opportunity to see Wooldridge’s humpback before it was withdrawn by the artist in response to the judge’s decision.

When interviewed by the Albany advertiser Joan May Campbell stated “if you offer a prize and don’t feel that (any piece) deserves it then what are you encouraging. ” I would suggest that not only are you discouraging those who have entered the 2013 Award, but you are also discouraging those who may be contemplating entering in the future. I fail to see how not making an award ” encourages a broader approach to the 3D section in the future.” Furthermore, I am concerned this controversial decision may cause developing and emerging artists to question entering future GS Art Awards.

Campbell’s comments in Thursday’s Advertiser that “In the sculpture category, yes it was Phil’s decision (to not give an award) and we were transparent about that,” simply diverts responsibility. Campbell was also a judge and could have expressed the opinion that an award should be made, should she have believed that the case. Equally, where is Gamblen’s response to the criticisms being leveled and why does the City of Albany consider these judges neglecting to award a 3D prize so acceptable?

Could it be that this decision was in fact a case of cultural snobbery. Reading Gamblen’s biography, my mind meandered and remembered back to when I was studying at WAAPA and later working as a dancer/ choreographer. Certainly this type of snobbery existed between those creating work that would sell full houses and was of great appeal to the public and work that was more challenging and won the approval of the 20 people in the arts (as my father refers to them). There was a definite celebration of the latter by the arts fraternity and snide criticism of the former in the realm of dance, admittedly I was as guilty of this as any of my peers, so surely it is possible that the same can be said of the visual art world also.

While it is true that the art entered in this award and under the previous Centennial art prize has been of an ever increasing high standard,  it is not an award with a specific project brief, it is not an award calling for cutting edge art that pushes boundaries and challenges the status quo; though many of the artworks in this exhibit do achieve this, nor is there a selection process and herein lies some of the exhibition’s strengths. It therefore not only appeals to the full spectrum of artists at varying stages in their creative journey, but a broad spectrum of the community are attracted to attend.

Albany already has an elite art award in the form of the Albany Art Prize which is known for attracting high end art from all over Australia and offers lucrative prizes. So let’s keep the Great Southern Art Award as an exhibition that all artists can participate in, presenting the public with the full spectrum of diverse art being created within our community.

I challenge the City of Albany to always award a prize for each section and brief their judges of their joint responsibility to award every category. They are after all judging on behalf of the City of Albany, representing its residents and rate payers .

On a final note, I often hear people say that they don’t have a creative bone in their body. Decisions like the one I speak of do not aid the community in engaging with artistic pursuits,  nor are such decisions helpful  in the promotion of art as a worthy undertaking. Artists are generally their own harshest critics and often in their formative years timidly shy away from sharing their gift for fear of humiliation and rejection. The creation of art is the presentation of the individual’s interpretation of the world around them, injected with their personality, values, opinions, dreams, and  hopes. It is the exposing of their soul to the public. The courage shown by an artist bravely exhibiting their creation should ultimately be celebrated.

I would like to invite other artists and community members to comment here, sharing their thoughts about this issue openly and honestly. How did you feel about this decision?

Photo Credit: humblenicks photostream

The comments made herein only represent my personal interpretation of and personal opinions about the artwork exhibited. They should not be mistaken for an expression of artistic statement by the artists mentioned. My intention in discussing artwork within this blog is to open a broader community conversation,  beyond the  limiting discussions of what is deemed “good” and “bad”, instead focusing the conversation upon how art is seen and interpreted, representing various points of view.

Great Southern Art In Albany

The 2013 Great Southern Art Award is a pleasure to behold.  Showing at the Vancouver Art Centre until Sunday 28th April, 145 Artworks are on display (originally 146 however one was withdrawn amid local controversy which is fodder for a later blog post) and most show considerable and unique interpretation of their subject matter and theme.  Many are well executed, showing a good understanding of their craft and the injection of personal style in their mark making is evident.

Take a closer look

It is worthwhile taking a closer look at many of the artworks that did not receive the judges accolades in this exhibition. Of particular note are the ten artworks by artists; Anne North (#96), Joanne Francis ( #43) Anne Christine Johnson (#60), Peter Lawson (#68), Carmen Sharmen (#120), David Edgar (#36) , Mim Wells (#135), Teresa Barry (#9), Christine Baker (#4) and Jolie Marchant (#79).

Anne North's Protea and Banksia

In Anne North’s oil on canvas Protea and Banksia  (Pictured/ $720), Australian wildflowers form part of the fabric of the room bringing the bush indoors. The foreground flowers are radiant and the lemon background with its hints of pastel pink make this painting visually delightful. Moving downwards from the top of the canvas, I was struck by the suggestion of youthfulness and aging flowing through the work in this direction. At the top of the painting, look for the tree like landscape in the yellow and ballet pink rear wall of the room. It is subtle and quietly peaceful in its beauty, it is the bush from which these flowers would have been plucked.  Moving further south, this theme flows through to the lower flowers, gracefully wilting away in the decaying red vase water. Bold paint strokes head towards the grounded earthy looking table on which the vase sits,  in much the same way a decaying flower past its prime would drop to the forest floor.

Equally fascinating was Joanne Francis’s Acrylic  JJ ($3600). Admittedly,  I  spent considerable time sitting against the far wall of the gallery considering this painting. The subject is a sage- like world weary woman, who appears draped in years of burden, though ironically satisfied and content. She appears to effect her environment and it appears to have made its mark upon her. Francis has incorporated an abundance of texture in this painting that is a vital addition to its drama. The more time I spent with this painting, the more I sensed a message. I came to suspect that this wise woman may in fact not be as old as she initially appeared to me. The longer I considered JJ, the more endearing I found her. How wonderful to view a painting that so honourably portrays its subject and successfully lures its audience to hunger for the full story, revealing  more of her timeless layers.

Contours of the Earth by Anne Christine Johnson ($395) also explores the idea of layers of being and hidden parts. An acrylic and mixed media on board, the hot orange at the top of this painting with its mountain like distant landforms,  meet the earth with an outpouring of emotion. Words are written subtly upon this grounded part of the painting. They are incredibly personal  but would sing true to many. There is an outpouring of emotion beneath (and perhaps behind) these words. Descending lower into this painting we are privy to an oozing organic sustenance that flows beneath the surface. The rich paint colours interconnect and the raw viscosity is almost tangible.

Peter Lawson’s palette knifed oil painting Walk in the gums ($2500) has the heat of a spring walk through a eucalypt forest,  alive with the pulsating energy of the Australian bush.  I could happily walk into this landscape. I hope a foreign visitor buys this one because it so beautifully captures the uniqueness of our ecology,  that which sets the Great Southern of Australia apart from the landscapes of other continents.

Fragile remnant of nature is the title of Carmen Sharmen’s oil on canvas ($ 3000). There is a real feeling of calm before the storm in this painting with an encroaching sense of caution. A natural waterway with an elegant yet timid water bird looking into the tranquil depths is at its centre, then beyond the trees a field of wheat or other farmed crop are depicted. I would love to know if the artist was making precautionary commentary about  agricultural practice and its effects on nature, or if something completely different lay at the heart of Sharmen’s intent. If my interpretation is correct then it is beautifully and gently juxtaposed by the peaceful tone that is equally conveyed by this piece.

As a self declared fan of David Edgar’s oil paintings, I enjoyed contemplating Limpet Shells ( $435). His still life paintings seem to tell a story and transport me to the place of conceptualization. True, my overactive imagination most likely plays an intrinsic part, however for me, Limpet Shells evokes crisp quick moving water gently entering and exiting a rock pool in which three limpet shells have marooned themselves. The variation in textures and blobs of old dried paint that look as if they’ve been scraped from a well loved palette and serve this painting well. These shells are never without their knarly imperfections and actually this is what attracts us to study a somewhat plain appearance in nature  more carefully.

In an entirely different treatment of nature, Mim Wells’ acrylic on canvas Birdlife ($920) brings vibrant birdlike energy to a tree. Full of the rustle of the wind and the shimmying of branches,  Well’s has painted the foliage of the tree in the form of birds on the move.

Teresa Barry’s Secret Shores ($980) is an interesting abstract acrylic. Her colour choices are appealing and I can only imagine what shore they depict. Is it Albany at night across the harbour as seen from Little Grove? Or, as the bold colouring and moody stillness of the water suggest, a more dynamic harbour rich in culture and nightlife such as Hong Kong?

Gazing at the myriad of extremely fine brush marks and the in and out undulation of Christine Baker’s untitled work ($1200), I was entranced. This large square acrylic on canvas is reminiscent of some of the art made by contemporary Australian indigenous artists. I know nothing of Baker’s heritage but enjoyed viewing this abstract for its well conceived patterns and composition.

The spirit of play and youthful exuberance leap out of Jolie Marchant’s  Momentum ($130). This lino print possesses the energy of an excited child. I loved the eagerness of the wheel of hands reaching for kites,  paddles or boat shapes and water, within the circular confines of a bicycle wheel. I was drawn from a distance towards this artwork. The clarity and simplicity are to be applauded.

Award Winners 2013

Much has already been eloquently written by the judges of the 2013 Great Southern Art Prize. These comments are available at the venue alongside the exhibition catalogue and have been published in the local print press so I will not repeat their views here. Many of these views I share, other than the decision not to award a 3D prize .

Susan Merli’s  (# 87) mixed media artwork  Unleaded Distillate ($840) deserved its high commendation. The humour in this piece make it very appealing which  is somewhat unexpected given the primary image  is a fuel bowser. My son Jordan challenged me to take a closer look at this painting, questioning why the petrol pump had eyes.  Upon closer inspection I realised the eyes emanate from a  Ned Kelly style head, propped upon the pump complete with not one, but two large price labels. Porongorups is playfully written in the top left of the work and Ned Kelly’s eyes gaze up towards it in a sheepish manner.  The remainder of the painting is playfully littered with whimsical wildflowers and the overall feel of the work is cheerful. I can only imagine the underlying theme may be that the price of petrol in the Porongorups is highway robbery. Wouldn’t you love to ask the artist?

Renee Farrant’s creation One people, One place, One paper (#38) is a busy hand cut paper sculpture ($1970).  A cacophony of birds and flowers are encapsulated by a honeycomb- like surround that exudes all the effervescence of spring. There is so much to see in this intriguing paper sculpture. Notable is that the human imprint upon this landscape mostly takes place in the background rather than the foreground of the compositions layering.

Meleah Farrell’s Careened (pictured) is another of my favorite picks. Awarded this year’s Photo Media Award, at first distant glance  it appears to be a sparse coastal landscape. Salt effected vegetation, sun saturated colours, sandy beach and the tide gone out, all appear to be the subject matter. On further closer inspection the photo reveals itself to be an extreme close-up of a dry docked boat. I love Meleah’s work because it appears very painterly and she has a wonderful eye for finding and interpreting the details and beauty in everyday objects and moments. Meleah sees what so many of us take for granted as part of a whole and in capturing these moments exposes us to a more sensual experience then just the image before her. This really is photography as art.

There are a good many more artworks worth taking time to explore as part of the Great Southern Art Award. I am sure that many interpretations and reactions will result from this exhibition’s audience and I would love to read about other people’s experiences of viewing this exhibition.  I invite you to comment, so please feel welcome to do so.

The comments made herein only represent my personal interpretation of and personal opinions about the artwork exhibited. They should not be mistaken for an expression of artistic statement by the artists mentioned. My intention in discussing artwork within this blog is to open a broader community conversation,  beyond the  limiting discussions of what is deemed “good” and “bad”, instead focusing the conversation upon how art is seen and interpreted, representing various points of view.

War, Peace & Hope Eternal.

A devastated landscape remains in the wake of the ravages of war; within our environs,  the human psyche and our collective conscience.

Tiny black seeds laid dormant through prolonged battles miraculously germinate. Synonymous with peace and remembrance, scarlet field poppies dramatically contrast their obliterated environs, spurned into life in early Spring by virtue of destructively churned soils and the warming of seasons.

Hope eternal that our world may soon know a peaceful future for all. Peace that best honours those lost, those returned, those who remained and those who survived.

War, Peace & Hope Eternal.
Tash Rolfe 2013.
Oil and Acrylic on Canvas. 550mm x 650mm
Exhibiting in the Great Southern Art Award.
Vancouver Art Centre. Albany, Western Australia.
Friday 29th March – Sunday 28th April 2013.

Pondering Poppies

Reclining lazily against a greying jarah bush pole, upon my rustic bush ensconced deck, cup of tea in hand, I rested this cup of quiet on curled knees, while breathing in the heady scent of hot pink boronia,  made all the more potent by the unseasonably humid weather we have experienced this summer in Albany.

Between painting, writing and entertaining two year old Eden, every afternoon I have experienced great joy and tranquility sitting in this very spot, absorbing the sun’s rays, drinking hot tea from a fine china cup and allowing nature to wash over my senses.

pod2TTTThis summer, I have found the emergence of red Flanders poppies particularly inspiring. Their home is the lurid green ceramic pot upon the broad steps leading up to our deck. The appearance of their modest slouching lime green buds littered with micro fine red hairs, heralds the appearance of bold scarlet flowers with dramatically dark contrasting centres. The fragility of the large petals and eventual reduction to a sculptural blackened seed pod make them not merely an annually short lived pleasure, but a true example of the art in nature.

It occurred to me while languishing in this moment of wonder, that beyond referring to these flowers as Flanders poppies and recalling a vague relationship to the end of a war and my mother-in-laws birthday, I knew little of the origins of this flower’s connection to Remembrance day and that this may be worth researching, especially since I was emphatic that these poppies serve as subject for my next painting. It all seemed quite timely given their is so much discussion here in Albany regarding the development of the ANZAC interpretive centre and Albany’s associated forthcoming commemorations.

Googling Flanders Poppies, I was rewarded with a bevy of information about red field poppies being synonymous with Remembrance day in Australia, a memorial day observed since the end of world war 1, calling upon us to remember those Australian’s  who lost their lives while serving in battle under an Australian flag. For the most part, this I already knew.

poppy  TTTAn annual plant, red poppies appeared randomly in obliterated wartime landscapes not just in France and Belgium but also Turkey, hence the connection to the World Wars and the ANZACs.

Interestingly, the devastation of war effected ecologies provide the ideal circumstances for the germination of poppy seeds that are carried upon the wind and lay dormant for prolonged periods, until their growth is initiated by soil disruption and the warming of the season.  How amazing that something so fragile and of such dramatic beauty should rise from the ground under such tumultuous circumstance.

Gazing again at my own poppies, I couldn’t help but perceive them with a certain reverence, not only by virtue of their association with Remembrance, but also as a symbol of hope for a peaceful future.

Collectively, this wealth of information and imagery served as inspiration for my painting War, Peace & Hope Eternal. If you would like to see this painting and my interpretation of this subject matter, it will be hanging in the Vancouver Art Centre in Albany as part of the 2013 Great Southern Art Award, from Friday 29th March until Sunday 28th April.

Photo Credit: Tash Rolfe 2012.  Poppies on my back deck steps.

At the heart of it.

At the heart of it (I) & (II) are artworks I created in 2011 for the Vancouver Art Centre’s annual Inhouse exhibition.

I reflected upon the sentiments of these works today.

At the heart of it (II)

When the heart is old, we feel heavy in mind, body and spirit. Our dance in life is burdened by the “bad run”. Until we let the energy flow, accept and lighten our minds, regardless our age, our heart is old.

At the heart of it (I)

At the heart of it (I)

When the heart is young, everything in life feels alive and in tune with everything else. Love, happiness, health and good will are the dances of our life and attracted to us. This in turn feeds back to our core and the result is a body and state of grace that is light. Regardless our age our heart is young.

At the heart of it (I) & (II) both sold during the exhibition, but I still like to revisit the photos that I have documenting them.

At the time I created them I was a prolific expressive art journaler and that influence along with my dance background are inherent in the work. It never ceases to amaze me how grounding I find looking back on these works and my art journal in terms of remembering the life lessons I have learned through expressive art.

Thoughts along a beach

Today I walked along Goode Beach towards Mistaken Island. I adore this walk. The warmth of today, the gentle breeze and the tepid water, all make this such a pleasure. Pure white sand between my toes so fine it squeaks. The waves undulate at my side in a roar that fizzles as it simmers underfoot.

The waters were crystalline today and I could see clearly the ocean floor all the way to the point where turquoise translucency gives way to deep marine blue.

For a moment upon arrival I considered turning around to Frenchman’s bay in avoidance of the boulders of seaweed I initially confronted when heading down the steps to the beach.  It was easy enough to navigate around the mountains of weed and  I am pleased to have rethought that initial instinct because amongst the paper thin spaghetti like weed were the treasures of a distant reef, in all manner of colour. Not being a diver the lurid orange and cadmium red sponge I happened upon,  I would otherwise never have seen.

As I strode the length I thought how lucky I am to stroll a beach where rarely I see another footprint and how exciting that is. I can be my uncensored self on this walk, playing, imagining, talking, singing, moving as I please, without conforming, in even the smallest of manners,  in the way we do  in the company of others. It is truly freeing. Here I am my most authentic self.

I do this walk often, this being my favourite beach in Albany, so I feel I can say with some authority that it is often deserted but for a few like minded souls and their families, who I occasionally pass with a nod and a shared understanding of how precious this piece of coastline really is. How lucky we are to live in a place where not only are our beaches free to all, they are not eclipsed by a backdrop of high-rise high density housing. The waters are clean and clear, free of pollutants,  the dunes are mostly touched only by nature and the sand is so fine and powdery white,  it makes for a picture perfect scene.

To keep this for my children is something I would fight passionately for should it ever come under threat. Every visit we make to this beautiful place knits itself into our family history and our sense of connection to where we live, who we are, how we spend our time and the community we are a part of.

This got me thinking about the Kimberley Coast. Vivid turquoise waters and bronzed beaches stretch  for miles along undulating rocky outcroppings, that glow with golden warmth like a sunset, in stunning contrast to the deep earthen- red sand of the pindan. Anyone who has ever graced this part of the country knows how awe inspiring this isolated coastline can be.

Broome Coast sml TTT

Having spent part of my childhood living in Broome I feel a deep connection to the Kimberley and wholeheartedly believe the Kimberley coast to be one of the last great majestic coastal wildernesses of the world. It should be a National Treasure and have  its indigenous people, who uniquely still have traditional language, culture and  law, protected as an ancient people rather than displaced yet again.  There are whales and dinosaur footprints and endangered animals and quite frankly there are other solutions for the Kimberley Coast that are well thought out and should be considered. The argument that James Price Point is a piece of coastline rarely visited by only few,  does not make the plans for a gas hub OK.

If we allow this to happen,  we are responsible for placing a massive, ugly muddied mark on a pristine part of our land and destroying it for future generations of Australians. We can’t get back what has been lost,  so protecting this for the people of Broome and preserving this for all Australians should be seen as more vitally important then rushing ahead in pursuit of the next dollar.

There is a political party committed to preserving the Kimberley Coast, however if  this election weekend you cannot support that party, please make it a personal crusade to support the people of Broome beyond the election in preserving our magnificent Kimberley Coast.

Follow this link to Save the Kimberley Coast and learn more about what is at stake.

My hope is that in my future trips to Broome and the Kimberley,  I and my children and their children will be able to look out to sea and dream and imagine and hope for our world and take in the breathtaking coastline, without gazing upon a massive man made mistake that could have been avoided, will destroy the unique ecology and yet again dispossess an ancient indigenous people.  We would want this for the Great Southern coast so its only fair that we support the small communities of the Kimberley in retaining the beauty and heritage of their land.

Image Credit: “Kimberley Coast”  Oil on Canvas. Tash Rolfe 2013.

Lighthouse Exhibition Illuminating

3808735967_fe02ff68deMix Artists explore the idea of the Lighthouse in their exhibition currently showing at the WA museum Albany.

I was able to visit this space on a couple of occasions during the Great Southern Festival, absorbing the various interpretations of the Lighthouse theme.

I enjoyed walking through the gallery which is befittingly situated above the grand old lighthouse lamp in the  main exhibition space of the museum.  The dimly lit space evokes the quiet of being marooned upon a distant island as would have been the case for many lighthouse keepers past. I attended this exhibition alone and the resulting silence in the room made for a very calm- before- the- storm ambience . A pleasant coincidence adding to the experience of viewing the twelve interpretations of the theme.

Kate Campbell Pope’s contribution Falling Sky/ Rising Sea was a particularly engaging piece of art. Essentially, the somewhat sculptural 3D artwork is made of assembled carved cuttlefish, I imagined lovingly collected while undertaking many beach walks. For me, Falling sky/ Rising Sea has a nurturing feminine quality to it and instantly reminded me of a book I recently read by M.L.Stedman titled The Light Between Oceans.

Like the book, gazing at this artwork, made me consider the ways that lighthouse keeping families might have  found to while away the hours, given the few materials available and their long periods of isolation from the mainland.

Kevin Draper’s sculpture Maquette 2012 was another particularly memorable piece on display and interestingly, is the model for a much larger piece that may one day grace the southern marina here in Albany. Draper’s artist statement suggests that he was inspired by the Albany  lighthouses of Breaksea and Point King. The lighting incorporated into Maquette 2012 has an ethereal quality, emanating from bellow the welded and painted steel  sculpture,  It drew my eye up and along the tree trunk,  seemingly suspended off the ground,  that is confined within the black and white lighthouse. A sense of hope and safety came to mind as I observed Maquette 2012.

The other artists exhibiting as part of this collective include Lynley Campbell, Kate Hooper, Anne Copeman, Jennifer Crisp, Annette Davis, Renee Farrant, Meleah Farrell, Jillian Green, Serena McLauchlan and Paul Moncrieff.

All of the interpretations and the accompanying artist statements are well thought out and insightful, delving into what a lighthouse represents.

Lighthouse will conclude on Monday 4th February. Feel free to share your thoughts on this exhibition here by leaving a comment.

Photo Credit: Light House Light by DJ KING

A Night of 5000 Words

http://www.flickr.com/photos/49719980@N02/Last Friday evening, Albany’s Liberte wine bar was the venue for 500 Words Out Loud,  an event featuring ten ABC Open online writers reading aloud published stories,  as a Write in the Great Southern event.

Champagne bubbles fizzed before us in elongated glasses as we gathered in Liberte’s rear parlor.  We sat  comfortably upon antique furnishings , surrounded by plush burgundy velvet drapes and opulent gilded mirrors enjoying the intimate subdued ambience.

The full room buzzed with anticipation as writers conquered last minute nerves contemplating how best to deliver their story to full effect and listeners chattily wondered aloud at the evenings’ mysterious agenda.

Rarely do grownups come together for the purpose of sitting quietly and listening to the stories of others. Outside of the theatre, this is something usually reserved for the story time of children. How old were we when we lost the pleasurable opportunity to listen to a story aloud together?

With an air of sophistication the evenings hostess Suzannah respectfully introduced each writer,  musing on their motivations for writing, briefly profiling their biography, sparking our interest in the story about to be told.

Each writer expressively delivered their words, their diverse stories taking us on a collective journey.  Together we laughed and cringed at Jeannie Steed’s dealings with Attila the Librarian, related to Kate Myors tricky dynamics involving the family  matriarch, audibly anguishing Ian Alexander’s loss of a treasured childhood keepsake, we were touched by gentle ponderings in  Life Before Children and reminded of our childhood road trips singing along with Michael Lloyd’s story Boom, Boom! Ain’t it great to be Crazy?

Listening was delightfully relaxing.  The writers creatively engaged my imagination as their words washed over my passive being. In some strange way the experience of listening, was akin to both an old world recital and a modern day meditation.

Actually hearing the voice of the writer,  afforded glimpses of a life beyond the story being told, somehow assembling a more detailed portrait of them, arousing our curiosity for their other life stories.

My turn arrived to stand behind the mike and give voice to memories of being caught out in Provence. A deep breath inhaled, I began the well rehearsed tale my loving family and the seagulls of Goode Beach are now well familiar with,  having served as audience in preparation for this evenings proceedings.

This however was different. As I addressed the gathering of supportive strangers, I happened to glance a vision of white haired elegance nodding as my story unfolds,  I hear the sigh of recognition as young women relate to my embarrassing moment, I spy others too, various generations leaning into laughter and eyeing me with knowing recollection,  absorbed, enjoying  the words I have strung together and the journey we now share as I read. This is an incredibly validating experience.

It was then that I realised I was not alone in wholeheartedly embracing the night as something quite unique. The faces gazing at me were reflecting my own wonder at listening.  Completely at ease and thoroughly entertained.

Photo Credit: (TOM81115’s) http://www.flickr.com/photos/49719980@N02/