NCWQ Arts and Letters Adviser Report

By Jennifer Ann DAVIES
NCWQ Arts and Letters Adviser



Old Friends! New Year! New Beginnings………!!

Amidst the potent mix of celebration and chaos which birthed the New Year, Language itself, was again an inherent element, socially, nationally and internationally!!

In symbiosis, a new publication – a thick, beautifully illustrated Magazine: WOMANKIND, popped itself upon the bookshelves across the country! This delight was Issue 2: November 2014 – January 2015 ….Editor, Antonia C ASE, invites readers to use the online ‘portal’ for welcome stories, ideas, competitions and/or documentaries! ……

There is a wonderful depth of Intelligence in the written and visual art in this magazine!

“The Art of Mindfulness” is particularly interesting …and there is an intricacy in the way articles, comments, ideas and the written word interacts with the unusual art – particularly that of MONICA BARENGO… and the extraordinary woman-artist, ANDREA KOWCH

I believe you will find, somehow, that this unusual magazine, designed, written, edited and published by Australian Woman, will grant each of us a glimpse of ourselves….!! As Derek WALCOTT wrote in “Sea Grapes”…………..

“The time will come when, with elation, you will greet yourself arriving at your own door, in your own mirror, and each will smile at the other’s welcome.”

EMILY DICKINSON was beloved, for her occasional verses and poems, which she often enclosed in letters. Sadly, it was only after her death, in 1886, that her sister found a mass of manuscripts written by Dickinson…….

In this wealth of written material, even sensitive and sympathetic critics, like John Crowe RANSOM, were unsure of Emily’s “….eccentric dashes – (which)…….cannot be translated to commas, semicolons etc. without deadening the wonderfully naked voltage of the poems.”

“ Speech – is a prank of Parliament –

Tears – a trick of the nerve –

But the Heart with the heaviest freight on –

Doesn’t – always – move –

Emily Dickinson: Faber & Faber: Poems selected by Ted Hughes, London, 1968.

Emily DICKINSON was, assuredly, Mistress of Language and Letters – with a dash! –



Some smile and suppress a supercilious sigh, and snort both oblique and direct allusions……snail mail!?

However, throughout my recent (late 2014) experiences in research, in Holland, Germany, Switzerland, France, Spain and England, I have most happily, re-discovered the simplicity, joy, beauty and efficiency of genuine communication via the humble LETTER!

Simultaneously, a very odd book popped, as they do – “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society”!

This is a first novel for 70 year old MARY ANN SHAFFER – tragically, though, this Woman’s health declined; and her book was then edited by her niece, ANNIE BARROWS.

The novel presents an extraordinary history of war experiences – composed entirely of a series of LETTERS – distributed by ‘snail-mail’!

The author, herself, acknowledges that this novel required years of research and writing and patience from family……

When serious ill-health befell her, Mary-Ann SHAFFER thanked Annie, and wrote:-

“If nothing else, I hope these characters and their story shed some light on the sufferings and strength of the people of the Channel Islands, during the German Occupation. I hope, too, that my book will illuminate my belief that art – be it storytelling, painting, sculpture or music – enables people to transcend any barrier man has yet devised…” December 2007.

A wonderful read!


Yet another decidedly enjoyable read, entwining writing, art, research, maternal love, relationships and loss, is the hypnotic and moving ‘THE LOST MOTHER’ written by our own ANNE SUMMERS!

“…My mother…” Anne wrote, “…had just turned ten in mid-1933 when a young woman approached her as they were both leaving Mass at St Joan of Arc’s in Brighton…….The woman was an artist…..and she would like to paint her portrait…”

This book is woven as curiously as a Celtic symbol; is a gripping narrative and has threads of art history, detective like pursuit and is a meditation on the relations between mothers and daughters.

Anne’s research reveals, or even, perhaps, ‘rescues’ Australian Artist CONSTANCE STOKES, from obscurity!! Wonderfully interesting!!


A variety of Artists in the Far North Region were invited by the Board of Trustees of the Cairns Regional Gallery and the Director, ANDREA MAY CHURCHER, to display their works until 1 March 2015, in an exhibition already enjoyed by many: – CAIRNS EMERGING CONTEMPORARIES: 2015.

Another interesting exhibition, open until 8 March, 2015, is the beautifully stark and graphic: IN-HABIT PROJECT ANOTHER COUNTRY – Artists are Alfredo Joan AQUILIZAN and Isabel GUADINEZ-AQUILIZAN.



A range of beautiful performances have also been both viewed and recorded in Sydney, during their Festival, with one commentator/artist presenting some poignant yet energetic dance movements, inside a large sculpted ‘building’, stated that the DANCERS were used as NARRATIVE DEVICES, mobilised to engage the fascinated audiences…….Beautiful, unusual…….newness?

Great Beauty is evident in contemporary times, despite political and social chaos, growing naked violence, and fear making threats and actions…. The Beauty and Energy invested in performances seems to intensify……saving….

Sharing…..peace-making, perhaps? …….. narrative devices…..?



Last but not least, at my local JUTE theatre, there are February performances of TRANDGENDER SEEKING

March – STEWED     I will bring you reports on these when I have seen same…

I am working on a new Tablet, so still some features in experimentation…thusly and bravely, one soldiers on………



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