Arts and Letters Report, October 2018

By Jennifer Ann Davies

NCWQ Arts and Letters Adviser


A profoundly moving and momentous decision was made by the Norwegian Nobel Committee, in awarding Nadia MURAD and Denis MUKWEGE the NOBEL PEACE PRIZE for 2018!

The prize was for their efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war. Potent, poignant platforms existed to help each of the recipients voice their experiences, via print, photography, poetry, performances and paintings; in the realm of Arts and Letters. NCWQ congratulates the recipients, who are immeasurably brave and who have never veered from the clarity of their purpose. Tragically, our own newspaper, The Weekend Australian, published a headline which diminished the honour, the event and language itself. Sex slave, medic win peace price p.13! (No typing error – this is exactly as it was printed and positioned.

INDONESIA continued….                Sejarah, scooters, sirens, steam;

Salutations! Students dream.

Scents of spice, sagacity, song;

Sacred stones, silent, strong.

Salamat pagi!


Scribbles of smoke by the ream

Stupendous beauty to be seen.

Scholars study Sanskrit origin

Some scrambling, some foraging

Salamat siang!


Wait! Hear that “Karangrejo” song?

Deep, rhythmic – surely I’m wrong…

Beautiful memories – so much to tell

Thank you for looking after us so well!

Salamat malam!

c Jennifer Ann Davies/sejarah = history/salamat pagi = good morning/salamat siang= good afternoon/salamat malam=good evening. Indonesian language not Javanese*


Delegates’ visit to Yogyakarta, Indonesia, has been an exceptionally interesting one. Threaded through all events, welcomes, visits from dignitaries and varied cultural experiences, was a warm, living, throbbing ‘thread’ of connection, joining so many women of the world, as children, in work, unity, song, dance, action, myth, legend, prayer, tree-planting, tears, laughter, eating, planning and not just Hoping, but as a connected group of ‘designers of Hope’ – for the Future! Huge Welcome signs were hung throughout the busy city of Yogyakarta, with the first to greet us, at the airport.  The city buzzed with the  words: “The 35th ICW-CIF General Assembly” and “Transforming Society through Women’s Empowerment”. Our Conference room buzzed with words of discussion, debate, reports from National Councils, United Nations, results of voting, and Regional Council reports; and the Australian delegates were involved in the Council of the Pacific region – APRC – Asian Pacific Regional Council.

Robust debate, discussion and planning was involved in the development and adoption of all Standing Committee Action Plans for the next three year term and huge efforts were invested by the remarkable Elisabeth Newman, of Australia and Christine Knock, of New Zealand, who worked long and hard, into the wee hours of several mornings, to develop and present plans which were broad and open enough to allow success in every community, culture and country. The ICW-CIF theme for 2018-2021 is simple but all embracing: “SOCIAL PROTECTION FOR ALL WOMEN AND GIRLS: SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT FOR THE WORLD”.

My homestay, with our African and Italian delegates, was in KARANGREJO Village, in the MADELANG Region, Central Java Province, North-West of Yogyakarta, surrounded by hills. BALKONDES is one of the state-owned Enterprises programme, wherein the villagers run small business enterprises and homestay, as the incubation for local business. Via a range of organisational hiccups, and numbers of us not being included on transport or homestay lists, meals, entertainment and transport were much later than anticipated, and tropical rains deluged our tracks! We had a spectacular Police Escort to guide us through the deluge, traffic and winding roads, as we had also the night we visited the very beautiful Pramabanan Temple.

At our home-stay, sipping our ginger tea, however, we applauded the Gambyong Dance; Karangrejo Song – Telanjengang and Cipat. Graceful and ancient Cipat dances were accompanied by the Gamelan – traditional musical instruments. In this ‘hatchery’, LIMASAN, the sharing or performances by local ‘small-medium’ enterprises, included: – Batik workshop, Patchwork Painting, Bamboo Carving and Basket weaving. After a breakfast of traditional foods, we traipsed out, across freshly turned, mineral-rich soils and furrows to plant a ‘food-providing’ tree – one for each country. I particularly chose a JACK-FRUIT Tree, which was tall and healthy, because its produce may be thinly sliced as a vegetable before it is ripe; and it may be eaten as a delicious fruit when it has ripened!

Retro VW jeeps drove us through the villages. Our interesting, active African contemporaries, the sage and wonderful Daphne Hansen; the elegant and observant Alison Bell and I waved to all enroute to the Karangrejo Elementary School. Our welcome was warm, and the children excited; yet never, at any moment of our visit, was I as aware of the contradictions and anomalies, dividing female and male, that exist in Indonesia; largely because of the elements presiding in one dominant religion. Many had co-existed for eons in this culturally and historically rich country. The kids sang for us and I was able to touch most of the tiny hands reaching out, congratulating them on their language English and thanking them for their songs, welcome, smiles and touch!  We left behind books, memories and hearts.

Then, the famed Borobudur Temple, which is built to represent many layers of the Buddhist theory, in the shape of a traditional Buddhist mandala. A mandala is central to most Buddhist and Hindu art. According to Buddhist cosmology, the universe is divided into three major zones, and the Borobudur Temple represents these zones in its rising layers: Kamadhatu, Rupadhatu and Arupadhatu. I have information available on these formations, representations and their purpose if anyone would like to be more informed.



Queensland major and regional Art Galleries are busy hosting creative workshops largely for children, throughout the holidays and beyond. For most, bookings are essential and details are on websites, at local galleries and libraries, and in newspapers.  Most now offer workshops for a wide range of ages, with those in Cairns beginning with the group: 6 – 9 years, for puppet making, drawing and painting the good and bad characters in traditional stories, and then plasticine to imagine those characters in 3-D form, for the 9 – 14 year olds!


PAINT YOUR PET’S PORTRAIT has become a favourite with the kids, for which the 5 – 8 year olds bring in an A4 sized photo of a pet or favourite animal, and inspired by Hendrik KERSTEN’S exhibition works, learn how to paint in a traditional portrait style but with a contemporary twist!


INSPIRATION FROM NATURE with YIXUAN RUAN, ARTIST invites children aged 8-11 years old to collect leaves and look at patterns in nature, before returning to the gallery or education room, to use them as stencils, while also incorporating an image of a favourite little critter to celebrate World Animal Day.


MASK MAKING with JOHN EATON, Artist and Educator, invites those aged between 8-10 years to create his/her own interpretation of what is beautiful, absurd, tragic, fake or real! Eaton’s workshops are based on the inspired exhibition of David GRIGGS. For the 11-15 year olds, Eaton then encourages the budding artists to design a LARGE MASK that could change the way people see or think about each other.


In the DARLING DOWNS area of Southern Queensland, the TOOWOOMBA ART SOCIETY promotes Galleries, Theatres, Museums, Attractions and Tours for the entire area. There are some beautiful and interesting attractions for those interested in a different social-history, as well as lovers of the Arts! The website for the Toowoomba Art Society is really informative, and all-embracing and any further information is linked for easy access.  For any queries in this oft-forgot area of our huge State: –


Much of the regional Art on offer is different and beautiful. Often

 content makes visible a close connection to Nature, Earth, flora and fauna.

 Other works display utterly different life-styles and values. Works have potent

congruence and messages….

To borrow and insert some of Emily Maguire’s words, used in the August AGM report:

The ART of Women and Girls in 2018 has become ‘wild, brave

and moving.’ It is also, like the text to which Maguire alluded:

‘intensely, vividly sad and wildly, gorgeously hopeful…’

It is different and beautiful. Bagus! (=good)


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