Arts and Letters Report – April/May 2016

By Jennifer Ann DAVIES

NCWQ Arts and Letters Adviser


Funding and Policy influencing Arts/Letters

Information relating to funding and policy making or policy changes from a State and/or a Federal level, is invariably included in the Newsletter compiled by our National Adviser, Mrs Eva Court. Eva lives in Melbourne and is a member of NCWV as well as being our National Co-ordinator.

Looking back…..

…to move Forward….?

Much discussion has flowed in recent times about the lack of ‘newness’ in contemporary literature! There continues to proliferate an abundance of ‘self help’ literature – ‘this happened to me’ – and, sadly, ego centric writing that does not seem, truthfully to advance the human condition, the human mind, the psychological insight one would, perhaps, desire. Curiously, those promoters of ‘looking for the positive’ in all elements, events and conditions of everyday life, are, tragically DEFINED by a particular event; or by particular events!!! Because life IS a blend of all things – all elements – this is ……a curious condition, generating curious results and avoiding abundant truths.

A number of writers, researchers and critics have, then, revisited the literature, myths and legends of yesteryear, one of whom is Rebecca Swift, who introduces six conversations about Women Writers, with A.S.Byatt and Ignes Sodre. ‘IMAGINING CHARACTERS’ is posited as ‘…a celebration of reading…’! It hopes to “…provoke, suggest, stimulate and ignite (or re-ignite) the love of the written word which so many people share and which, despite increasingly abundant alternative forms of communication, remains so vital and unique…”

Imagining Characters: Vintage:Random House, London: 1995.

Authors Byatt and Sodre and Editor, Swift, all agree that really successful novels have elements in common, including the archetypal structure, which echo the fairy tales and myths with which we are all familiar! Both authors, also, agree with the conviction of George Eliot, that ‘ART is the nearest thing to life…’. Ignes Sodre, furthermore, believes that we actually need stories as we need to dream – to function successfully as human beings!

The authors and books chosen by this interesting trio are as follows:-

  • Jane Austen Mansfield Park
  • Charlotte Bronte Villette
  • George Eliot Daniel Deronda
  • Willa Cather The Professor’s House
  • Iris Murdoch An Unofficial Rose
  • Toni Morrison Beloved

Byatt and Sodre discuss fiction and a parallel world in dreaming…..noting that a dream is different from a work of art, as it emerges spontaneously, its meaning is intensely personal, and it tends to disappear almost instantly…..yet, it could be argued, “…it must come from the same ‘place’ in the mind…”

Robert A. Johnson in ‘She’ She:Understanding Feminine Psychology: Harper Collins: California USA:1989 –

highlights the role of the Myth, which he cites as a rich source of psychological insight. “Great literature,” he writes, “…like all great art, records and portrays the human condition with indelible accuracy.” He continues, however, to state that the ‘myth’ is not singular or individual, but that it is produced by the imagination and experience of an entire age and culture….. “gradually…certain motifs emerge……(and)…people tell and retell stories that catch and hold their interest.”

Happily, there are currently Women Writers, Poets, Artists, Script-Writers and Performers, as well as our Musicians, working on the myths and legends of yesteryear, who will tell and retell stories for today’s people, with new voices, new eyes, fluid language, real experiences; weaving, as one does, throughout their works, the marvellous archetypes who have shaped, flavoured and grown WITH us, in our chaotic, changing, yet still, very, very human world!!!! Including the archetypal components in any of the arts does NOT mean repeating and repeating old stories, necessarily! – it means that the Writer understands the underpinning forces at work in a community, but that she/he creates wonderful NEW stories, plays, poems, novels and visual presentations that are both stimulating and meaningful to us, in the world of today!!


…and I too, am Psyche, Aphrodite, Venus…

Monroe, Cupid, Jew and Negroid.

…and I too, am Japanese and Chinese sage…

Indian Master, Soldier and Mother.

…and I too, am Starveling and Maimed…

Guinevere, Eve and Tatiana.

…for, in Every Woman …

there is a little of

every other…

…that is part of the delicious mystery

that is Woman




Jennifer Ann DAVIES c 2016

Charlotte BRONTE – Happy Birthday! – 200 years…

This year, lovers of English literature celebrate the birthday of Charlotte Bronte – 200 years after her actual birth.

Charlotte wrote novels under the pseudonym Currer Bell…..her sibling, Emily, used the pen name ‘Ellis’ and Anne used ‘Acton’!!

The Brontes lived at the parsonage in Haworth, Yorkshire and the revelation of their gender – FEMALE NOVELISTS??? – caused as great a series of sensations

as the novels themselves!

Actual lives, however, of these talented, creative Women, seem bleaker than the lives depicted in ‘Jane Eyre’ or ‘Wuthering Heights’….

Visitors, today, cite the fact that the atmosphere overtakes the artefacts, when visiting the home of the Brontes, and one wonders about the arrogant, cruel,

bigoted and patronising patriarchial social mores of the time, that forced these young Women to pen their social histories, passions, secrets and realities – a

bequest to our world?

Thusly, we continue our work!!!!

A Feminist?

Dale SPENDER once wrote: “Feminism has fought no wars. It has killed no opponents. It has set up no concentration camps, starved no enemies,

practised no cruelties.

Its battles have been for education, for the vote, for better working conditions…for safety on the streets…for child care, for social welfare…for rape

crisis centres, women’s refuges, reforms in the law.

If someone says ‘Oh, I’m not a feminist!’ – I ask – “Why, what’s your problem?’”


With deep sadness, the NCWQ would like to add its voice to the acknowledgement of the passing of the warm, dedicated and revered Artist, Ray Crooke.

An extract from the eulogy by long-term friend and agent, Phillip Bacon, was published by The Cairns’ Regional Gallery.

“…It is hard to imagine how we could look at the landscape and the people of North Queensland and the Pacific except through the eyes of Ray Crooke, surely one of the most renowned and loved artists of his generation…”Art Dekko:

#64 Members’ Newsletter: Mar-May 2016: p.4

Ray returned to Cairns in 1951, with his wife, June, to weave the threads of a more diverse, colourful and changed social history. This history and his depictions were infused with and made explicit, very real connections with the differing social mores, symbolism, beliefs and practices of our Pacific neighbours and their cultures!

Laughter, angst, appraisal, robust political debate and deep friendship was shared in the workplace, at Holloways Beach, where I edited and typed many publications, and screen printed, for the late Ron Edwards, larrikin, friend and contemporary of Ray Crooke, Dick Roughsey and extraordinary visiting artists and writers, breaking briefly for grain-bread salad sandwiches, black tea and casting the bait net in the ocean! – Salut, mes amis!


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