Arts and Letters Report, February 2018

By Jennifer Ann Davies

NCWQ Arts and Letters Adviser

 

Belonging …. People love to ‘belong’. Humans, one observes, respond to the symbiosis that exists between change and continuity. Creators in the fluid worlds of arts and letters enthral readers, listeners, viewers, observers and involve audiences, by linking the communal spirit of past, present and future. Most people have a sense of ‘belonging’, somewhere, in this continuum.

Welshman, John Sunderland, created a unique attraction, ‘Celtica’, telling the story of the Celtic people who emerged from the crucible of European history 3000 years ago.

The Celts were both heroic and inventive; full of boldness, restless creative energy. Sometimes ferocious, sometimes gentle, they were always resourceful and innovative. Exhibitions, story-tell, and 3D dramatizations informed visitors journeying into the Celtic world and otherworld, and a theatrical presentation led them into the future. Survival of the LANGUAGE was a critical element of this man’s remarkable work; and that propelled the Celts into their future. Montgomeryshire, Mid Wales, SY20 8ER. 1995 onwards.

 

GINNY MOON

A novel by Benjamin LUDWIG

HQ Fiction: Harlequin Enterprises (Aust) P/L Sydney NSW 2017

Ginny Moon wants to belong.

This debut novel allows an extraordinarily engaging look into the mind of a curious and deeply lovable character. Ginny is autistic. She starts every day with exactly nine grapes! She really, really wants to belong.

Brave, challenging and firmly grounded in real life experiences, Ludwig’s touching novel, which mightily impressed Graeme Simison, author of ‘The Rosie Project’ , nudges existing notions about resourcefulness, reasoning, love, emotions, attachment and detachment. A grand read!

 

Cairns Regional Gallery continues to thrive. The gallery had been one of the remaining two left, which charged an entry fee.  It was decided that the gallery would no longer charge this fee, but fears remained, that members may no longer see any benefit in renewing their memberships.  However, all have been wonderfully surprised at the continuing success of this gallery, significant in propelling numbers of acclaimed artists into grander arenas, and in supporting fledgling artists in the Far North to continue to follow their creative spirit and their professional dreams!  Memberships continue, as does the significance of this gallery as an important regional institution.

Members receive a number of discounts as well as reciprocal benefits at Queensland Art Gallery and the Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane.

 

Surprises abound in Art Galleries!

These are the ‘homes’ of beauty, wonders, surprises, symbols, historicity, boldness, new visions, hope – and reminders of WHERE and WHY we belong!

 

Francesco TROMBADORI L’essenziale verita delle cose – until 11th February 2018 in case you are visiting Rome, Italy. Galleria D’Arte Modernia, Via Francesco Crispi, 24.

 

Sometimes we sense that perhaps in each Gallery there are works of art….where nothing is quite what it seems…..

Lle nad oes dim yn ddu a gwyn Celtic/Welsh

Unravelling the mysteries is such fun!

 

I’ve no wish to chisel things into new shapes.

The remnant of a mountain has its own meaning.

Judith Wright THE WAY OF IT – Blanks From The Other World: Stefanie Bennett. 2017.

 

Amelia survives change via yesterday’s visual art and artists…

BEFORE YOU FORGET

Julia LAWRINSON hails from the outer suburbs of Perth and writes for children and young adults. She loves dog beaches, Jack Russells, New York, visual art and Life! Penguin Random House Aust. 2017

Year 12 student, Amelia, is having a really tough time.  Humane, clever author, Lawrinson, blends everyday reality, pathos and multiple facets of Art History, to take her readers through the lives, loves, anomalies, silliness, pain, intensities, the mundane, symbology, eccentricities, humour, reflections and vanities of an intriguing range of the world’s visual artists and her main character.  Author and main character link past, present and future!

“…art gallery – again Brett Whiteley – self-portrait – a room – intense blue – Sydney Harbour – (same blue?)

Coffee table, chairs, twisted nudes, mirror

Whiteley utterly miserable – mouth turned down – mournful…

Then…

A tiny painting.

Woman

Jungle

Cat

Monkey

Hair wound up on top of her head – scarf – two white butterflies, sitting very still on top of her head. A chain of thorns around her neck and what looks like a dead bird as a pendant! p.29

The woman isn’t pretty. She has a mono-brow and faint moustache.

…this woman looks like the suffering of all generations has passed through her.”

Amazing, said Amelia, after – she went back inside to look at the self-portrait of Frida Kahlo. p.30

 

WE ARE HMONG

Earth history says that we lived in southern China

And parts of south-east Asia for many centuries and

Who among you is sure of his or her own clan origin?

Some say we lived in the basin of the Yellow River

Hwang He, and that we arrived in Laos and also in

Vietnam between two and four hundred years ago.

Most of us were born in Laos and our memories are

Of hard work, of cutting rice plants with sickles and

Big round bamboo sorting trays, family and birth.

We are Hmong.

 

Our Language is tonal – rich and beautiful! Very old.

Seven tones in all. In the late 1950s there were some

Missionaries who decided we should have our own

Written language and they made up an Alphabet, as

Well as a Laotian script. Our Language bonds and

Binds us; interlaces with movement and heartbeats

And understanding and patterns, Alive! Just like the

Earth’s plants, we reach out towards Life, using tone,

Sound, our beautiful Language, silence and signs.

We are Hmong.

 

In south-east Asian places we farmed with shifting

Cultivation, clearing warm, lush forests of big trees

Burning cut timber and planting crops among the

Stumps. This has been our way, as we understand

Earth and her seasons and her plants and animals

Weaving this understanding in fabric and jewellery

And story-tell, dance, song and ceremony – aged.

We are Hmong.

 

Our history, though, is not as simple as some would

Like to think. Woven through the fabric of traditions

Of our clans of red, white, blue/green, black, flowery

Is the pain, violence, and renting of persecution and

War – tearing at the fabric of culture and family – guns,

Death, fear, starvation, isolation and abandonment-

Quietening a little baby, forever, to save precious lives.

We are Hmong.

 

‘Yellow Rain’ was used to contain and cull us, so we fled,

Walking, using Earth’s sticks and trees for bows and arrows

And her mountains, rivers and bushes to hide. On our big

Journey, we took Hope and Courage. On bamboo floaters

We crossed the Mekong River to safety, freedom, poverty.

Australia offered us new hope; opportunity to rebuild, live.

Our people were settled in Hobart and then some moved

 

North to South Johnstone, Innisfail and up to Cairns.

We are Hmong.

 

We still work hard and still with the Earth – continually

We plant and harvest and wash and pack and market

Wholesome, fresh produce. Some say we are an intact

People without a country – but like you and your clan

We are an old people in a new country! Like you, we

Laugh and celebrate our traditions and cry salty tears

Of memory and know they are the tears of all humanity.

We are Hmong.

Jennifer Ann DAVIES 2002. Published Book Five: Always Becoming 2010. Copyright.

This poem was gifted to the Hmong people of Cairns and District at a Hmong New Year celebration. Quintessentially, it embraces the notion of ‘belonging’ – of having been torn from the basic elements of ‘belonging’, but also links the past, present and future, which then allows the rebuilding that is vital for people to ‘belong’. Embedded, also, is the critical importance of Language, which, like the Celts- the Welsh, and many other communities, continues to connect, bond and bind people. These people are grand examples of those who have lived with and through change and continuity.

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