Arts & Letters Adviser Report

Jennifer Ann Davies
NCWQ Arts & Letters Adviser



A very Happy New Year to Everyone!

This is becoming, I believe, an era in which Women are not only producing, performing, promoting and presenting ideas, issues, Beauty itself and action; but also one in which Women have all but become curators of the productions, the performances, the promotions and presentations of ideas, issues, actions and Beauty itself, through Arts and Letters!  In symbiosis with the boldness, open-ness and importance of content, the curatorship and preservation of all that IS Beautiful, seems, to me, to be global, national and regional. In the historicity of the Arts, this, then, is a WONDERFUL and interesting era for Arts and Letters!

WALES! “The Davies Collection” – National Museum CARDIFF

One of the largest, and perhaps the best collection of Impressionist art works outside Paris was bequeathed to the nation of Wales by the Davies sisters.  Their father, David Davies, was the great rival of the Marquess of Bute – an unusual man, who built railways and Barry docks in the 19th century!  Art lover, conservator, former First Minister of Wales, Rhodri Morgan, promotes Cardiff as a ‘…modern city of Europe…’. Rhodri met the younger sister, Margaret, in 1963 – This was not long before Margaret’s death, and they had met to confirm details of the bequest of the art collection to the city of Cardiff.  Rhodri described the willowy Miss Davies as being “…almost a throwback to the characters of a Jane Austen novel…”. CARDIFF The Essential Guide: Cardiff Council p.8  The wonderful Davies collection is now housed in what was an old abandoned High School, and has now become the Chapter Arts centre.  Rhodri effusively states: “…I don’t believe there is a better community arts centre anywhere in the UK!” CARDIFF The Essential Guide: p.7



Global Literature: “The Art of Learning by Doing”……… true life experiences of children in East Balinese villages, who have been given the opportunity to help improve community life in some of the most primitive and isolated parts of Bali.  These children have been supported in this by the East Bali Poverty Project.

This delightful book is illustrated by children in four villages, published by Saritaksu Editions, Bali, and translated into English by Kadek Krishna Adidharma, in 2005.

Trying to encourage increasing numbers of Australian children to come to school, listen, follow rules and instructions, occasionally learn, and equally occasionally, submit required assignments, is a challenge, a chore and contestably, a very sad-making nonsense!!

Being able to travel after the years of child rearing; experiencing the sheer joy of new people, places, pastimes, politics and the past, it was with the grandest pleasure that I was able to purchase, for a minimal, forgotten price, this indelibly interesting book, which Sarita Newson introduces with these unforgettable words: – “…The miracle of learning brings light and opens up worlds to young lives…..retelling these stories from families… (who had)…never had the privilege of education…..the wonder of this, above all things, shines….”!

Poverty and a high incidence of mental retardation, alleged to be due to iodine deficiency disorders, challenged survival, created struggle and simultaneously, open a door for change!


One door opened in 1999, and a new atmosphere of excitement and hope permeated the villages!  New possibilities presented, for the children could now have opportunities to be educated; for a promising curriculum; practical training; reading, writing and arithmetic!!!!!!

This blend was planned to forge a pathway out of poverty, so it also included a range of life skills, nutrition, hygiene, sanitation, creative arts and organic farming.

If anyone would like to borrow this publication, please contact me on: – – You are most welcome to borrow “The Art of Learning by Doing”!


Whilst we are reading about children, a slight shift away from the seriousness, intricacies and burdensome and unpalatable politics and philosophies of our adult worlds, is possible, created by children’s author, Kym Lardner. One of Australia’s most popular story tellers, Kym performs live in schools and festivals all around Australia!

Kym’s delightful fantasy, “The Sad Little Monster & The Jelly Bean Queen” is illustrated with stunningly original pictures, in glowing colours, and is about a sad little monster, who sits alone, unloved and unloving, until visited by the fair princess, looking for someone to share her jelly beans!!!!

First the little monster learns to smile – then to laugh!….Ultimately, his dark house wills with light and friendship!This delightful fantasy is published for the ABC, under licence by Harper Collins Publishers Australia.



LA BOITE! – Dynamic creative institutions like LA BOITE and the North’s JUTE, provide grand encouragement for Australian playwrights and actors! The 2014 season in Brisbane, at La Boite, will include PALE BLUE DOT – a play by Brisbane’s Kathryn MARQUET, about an alien abduction, set in Toowoomba!

“…Toowoomba,” says Marquet, “…is a real hot spot for UFO sightings….(They) have a very active UFO society…” Courier Mail Wed Jan 1 2014:p52

Artistic Director, David BERTHOLD, promises the public an unusual season, with a symbiosis of national artists and interesting themes!

Productions you may enjoy as the new year unfolds: –

    • COSI – Jessica Marais and James Stewart
    • COCK – Set to ARIA award winning music by Missy HIGGINS
    • A DOLL’S HOUSE: Henrik Ibsen – retold by gifted playwright and theatre lover, Australia’s Lally KATZ
    • MACHINA by local playwright, Richard JORDAN
  • And….to begin the new year – Roald DAHL’S “ Revolting Rhymes and Dirty Beasts” – for the whole family.  This production will have been performed by the time this Report is released – however, I thought this was worth reporting.
  • Live Theatre is the ‘place’ where Women not only reveal, promote and discuss huge issues, but it is also the ‘place’ where Women writers and performers in particular, demonstrate their high levels of Intelligence, Linguistic skills and Literacies! – As these elements of humanity become more and more relevant because of their sheer diminishing in our society, the Theatre then, primarily and Women’s voices and issues are being taken very, very seriously, facilitating some extraordinary mixes and sometimes odd symbiosis between subject matter, performers and audience.  This, then, is an arena, where Women’s voices are vital and welcomed!



As the effectiveness of high stakes testing is explored and debated, concerns continue to be expressed over “…growing political emphasis on high stakes testing as a key tool in education reform…” Independent Education Issue 3/Vol 43/2013  Internationally, the legitimacy and the accuracy of the USE of core skills tests, such as NAPLAN and PISA, is being questioned.

England reports “…inherent problems in ….testing…reporting and interpretation of data…” Independent Education Issue 3/Vol 43/2013: pp.10-11. Professor Harvey GOLDSTEIN, Social Statistics of Bristol University, has, for many years, recommended to the OECD, that longitudinal data should be integrated with existing captured data; however, to date, this has not occurred.

High performance education, such as that in Finland, does NOT use literacy and numeracy testing in high stakes ways – however, for all those interested in Language today, there is information available on material submitted to the Senate Inquiry into the Effectiveness of NAPLAN, in our schools.

As a lifelong lover of Language, I grieve over the loss of Language and the continued dilution or abortion of the skills necessary to become literate in the basic elements of listening, speaking, reading and writing.

I have noticed an increase, however, in the incidence of children of many ages, looking at, loving, reading and asking for BOOKS!!!  Contemporary research also begins to indicate that the genuine, hard-copy, non-electronic, ‘old-time’, language-rich BOOK is much kinder to children’s EYES than electronic media!

At a local Op Shoppe, I became known as ‘The Book Angel’, for I would buy a minimum of 50 books per visit, to give to kids who have NEVER had a book at home!  Often a child would come to me to ask for another book for a brother or sister…..sometimes kids will let me know about a new word, or an old one, now understood, as it now has a context……sometimes, kids will posit a new idea…..generated from a book or story….

Perhaps it has been forgotten that handling, touching, seeing, smelling and reading a book, is a fully sensual experience, directly connected to many necessary (developmental) stimulating results….and assuredly, directly connected to the deep engagement, critical thinking and creativity that is missing in the overemphasis on testing underdeveloped ‘cornerstone skills’???



We don’t have books at home, she said….

but, please, can I take this home, to bed?


….and later, I’ll read it to my brother…

then, please, can I have another?

Jennifer Ann Davies 2014


FILM – Based on an original novel by Australian author, Markus Zusak – THE BOOK THIEF!!

Another time; another place; another Child, hungering for a book!….for learning, for knowledge of Language and for the literacies derived from this Language learning – ‘THE BOOK THIEF’ is based on the novel written by Australian author, Markus Zusak, and is a stunning revisit to Nazi Germany, with an extraordinary, courageous, alive and humane heroine, interacting with the illustrious Geoffrey RUSH. “The Book Thief” includes in its ‘weave’ of themes, the quintessential power and magick of words and imagination, in overcoming chaos, loss and grief.  Simultaneously, it celebrates not only the life-affirming traits of these two elements of humanity, but most deftly, beautifully and simply, celebrates the resilience of the human spirit.

I have not had recent contact with the author – however, I have noted that reviews, comments and publicity, here in the Far North, rarely mention the author of this international bestseller.  I trust this is not so further South!

I am going to apologise right here for these lines – I am typing at home and had inserted 3 dot points, which became the lines and I have not been able to delete same! – Sorry!

WOMEN IN ACADEMIA! –The University of Queensland: Summer 2013

I am sure that many members may have enjoyed this publication, however, for those who have not, there are a number of celebratory snippets and articles about wonderful, wonderful Queensland women, who, again, like those in theatre, actively promote important issues and Women’s Rights!

Amongst the ‘Distinguished Young Alumni Aware’ recipients, is Julie McKAY, who is the Executive Director of United Nations Women Australia – Julie works to promote Women’s Rights and states that she is “…inspired by women who, despite facing poverty, violence and lack of access to opportunities, continue to want to play an active role in making….societies stronger for future generations…..” UQ Contact: Summer 2013, p.22

Author and Alumna, Madonna KING, provides an intriguing ‘cameo’ of bonny, contemporary Scottish-born Australian immunologist, Professor Ian FRAZER, promising an extraordinary story, in her new biography: “IAN FRAZER: The man who saves a million lives!”  For information or purchase:


The UQ Art Museum, open daily from 10am to 4pm is hosting two important exhibitions of contemporary ART during this summer break.


HISTORY FOR KIDS!  Throughout the early part of 2014 there will be a series of workshops for kids in the RD Milns Antiquities Museum, on Greek, Egyptian and Roman History!  Kids will be able to handle ancient objects and learn some of the secrets of the ancient world.



Arts and Letters Report February 2014

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