NCWQ Arts and Letters Report: Oct-Nov 2020

By Jennifer Ann Davies, NCWQ Arts and Letters Adviser (

Wise words from Professor JOLANDA JETTEN, School of Psychology: Faculty of Health and Behavioural Sciences: University of Queensland, reviewing closures and restrictions throughout our COVID crisis…

“We have to be mindful not to introduce a false dichotomy: do we want freedom or health? There is no freedom without health, and it is only by staying healthy that people can have freedoms,” UQ CONTACT Alumni & Community News Aug/Sept 2020 SDGs 3/4/17

THEATRE – TROPICAL ARTS have September selections for actors, crew members and volunteers for an October performance of Shakespeare’s Sonnets. Action is at The Tanks Centre, in Cairns. The performances are always lots of work and lots of fun for the audience and performers alike! – Contact: SDGs 8/10/12

QAGOMA brings us an exclusive once-in-a-lifetime exhibition ‘European Masterpieces’ from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (June-Oct 2020). This fine collection rarely leaves the permanent display in New York and includes treasured masterpieces by Fra Angelico, Titian, Raphael, Rembrandt, Turner, Van Gogh and Monet. SDGs 3/4/17

Clay/Ceramics/Cloth/Canvas/Creativity – New and Old

As the calamities, cruelties, changes and curbing of activities continue, to cope with the cursed COVID, a cascade of creativity creeps in to our communities! Like a beautiful waterfall, this cascade of creativity and activity calms, clears and retrieves some of yesteryear’s simplicity, creating newness, reviving the core, the soul, the quintessence of humanity! I am assured this is occurring all over our big, big state of Queensland! Salut!

CLAY PLAY WITH ASTRID ELIKA is great to “…come together and create useful art for your home or personalised gifts…” I watched the kids learn the skills of wheel throwing and hand building in a relaxed environment, in the old, old Cairns Potters Club. ASTRID offers a range of courses for all, with great skill, enthusiasm, support, clay, colourful underglazes, tools and firing all provided. Enjoy! 0406566227 Astrid

CAIRNS MUSEUM presented a wonderful school holiday programme which included:

  • Sea-Riffic Science Workshop
  • Museum Super Sleuth Challenge
  • Guided Tours for Kids
  • Let’s Go Surf Life Saving
  • Surf Slime & Sand Dough Workshop Traditionally, major cities with large museums have such programmes but regional Queensland has not always had them*

CREATIVITY AT THE BEACH is a shoppe where one must leap around the ‘gnome spotty-dot mushrooms’ to view the unique gifts, local Artists, Queensland suppliers’ goods and see what is offering in forthcoming Arts & Crafts workshops. Peta Smerdon who greeted me in this fascinating little hub, is also the facilitator of Yorkey’s Knob Workshop Hub offering workshops in: Resin Art, Macrame, Mosaics, Terrarium building, Painting and much more… …then one can pop across to CAFÉ YORKEYS to be greeted by Tim or Riki for a cuppa, coffee, chai and/or delicious snacks, breakfast or lunch! Whilst enjoying the beach aura, one can also swap a book or two in either shop. SDGs for all of the segment above: 3/4/8/17


LETTERS! Literature – New and Old

This was on the wall of Cairns State High School when I presented Sophia Baines with her Certificate for her Bursary!

“Books give a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and Life to everything.” Plato

Our own wonderful JANE SMITH has invited members of NCWQ to a Facebook launch of her new book. Members will be aware of this prior to publication of this report I believe. The Carly Mills’ books are short and simple with historically interesting characters and action! The October launch of Carly’s second book “Emergency” will stream live on Facebook so women can enjoy both a celebration of women’s achievements and a celebration of letters/literature! This book is about Queensland’s first female Doctor, the remarkable Dr Lilian COOPER. A small group of guests will gather at Jeremy’s Book Exchange in Toowoomba Queensland, on 16 October 2020. The group will include people Jane sees as “modern-day Caroline Chisholms” – for example, invitee Genevieve Allpass is founder of Peaceful Humans and Rojin Rash is a young immigrant, interpreter and promoter of education for all!  CONGRATULATIONS to Jane  on her continued success as an author and historian! Salut! SDGs 3/4/5/10/11/17

KATE GRENVILLE returns to the territory of The Secret River with an unforgettable story about courage, truth and the mystery of human desire; a novel that brilliantly turns historical fiction inside out!  A Room Made of Leaves is out now.

“If there were a Nobel prize for storytelling, Archer would win.” Daily Telegraph Jeffrey ARCHER’S ‘The Eleventh Commandment’ is not only full of twists and turns, but makes visible and audible truths that many fiction writers are able to make glaringly obvious. Chilling.

“…An almost Shakespearean study in the nature of evil – horror in its purest form.” Spectator. Explosive tension and palpable menace, yet again infuses the well-known David BALDACCI’s ‘Absolute Power’. This is another riveting thriller that dares to explore an unthinkable abuse of power and criminal conspiracy.

Patricia CORNWELL has now brought us ‘dust’ A Scarpetta novel newly in paperback. With unparalleled high-tension suspense and the latest in forensic technology, Cornwell once again proves her exceptional ability to surprise, and to thrill, in this electrifying Scarpetta novel. An intense book.  SDGs 3/4/11/16 for all of the above*

Harriet EVANS’ compelling and heartbreaking, “Love Always’ is a powerful tale of lost love, family secrets and those little moments that change your life forever. “ ….effortlessly readable…” Marie Claire Wonderful settings along the wild Cornish coast and then back in London continue to engage the reader, as the main character’s life reaches a turning point. SDGs 3/4/17

“WHERE does history begin?” asks critically acclaimed author Richard North PATTERSON. From this compelling novelist comes the mesmerizing story of a trial lawyer who must defend the woman he loves against a charge of conspiring to assassinate the Prime Minister of Israel. “EXILE” is a grand read, continuing the trend of exposing truths, within fiction. Mark Lawson wrote: “Balance of Power and Protect and Defend stand as a remarkable project in popular fiction: an extension of the genre of the legal thriller to explore the morality and strategies of the “US’s greatest civic controversies.” Guardian. Our ethics, defence counselling, legal systemics and politics differ little from those of our American contemporaries. SDGs 3/4/8/10/11/12/16

“Ashley Bell” may well be Dean KOONTZ’s finest and most personal novel to date. Bibi Blair is a fierce, funny, dauntless young woman – whose doctor says she has one year to live.

She replies: “We’ll see.”

This is an astonishing, super-interesting novel.

 Michelle RICHMOND, author of “Golden State” wrote: “Readers will fall hard for Bibi Blair, the fierce and dangerously smart heroine of (this) mind-bending thrill ride. Koontz delivers a sharp, unsettling, philosophically stimulating examination of consciousness, memory, and the intense power of story. He doesn’t just ask the big questions, he turns them inside out.” SDGs 3/4/17

Inspirational Australian, Turia Pitt, explores the idea of happiness, interviewing myriad people, to view how everything from money to our relationships has an impact on how happy we can be. “Happy (and other ridiculous aspirations)”

“Bush School” is from Peter O’Brien who started work in 1960 as the only teacher at a bush school in Weabonga. Interesting charm and struggles!

“Sam Bloom: Heartache and Birdsong” Sam’s captivating true story, written by her close friend, and featuring extraordinary photographs taken by Sam’s husband. Humbling, heartbreaking and uplifting are the elements that will capture the reader. Samantha Bloom, Cameron Bloom, Bradley Trevor Greive.

“One Last Lunch” is a heart-warming collection edited by Joseph Heller’s daughter, in which dozens of contributors imagine one last lunch with someone they cherished. Erica Heller.Pattie Lees and Adam C. Lees have produced “A Question of Colour”, which provides a first-hand account of Pattie’s experiences during Australia’s assimilationist policy era. It is a deeply moving and powerful testimony to the resilience of a young girl, her identity and her journey to belong.

“All Our Shimmering Skies” is to be released at the end of September 2020. Trent Dalton is an interesting Aussie writer to watch and has already won awards in journalism and for his debut novel, “Boy Swallows Universe”. His new novel is about gifts that fall from the sky, curses we dig from the earth and the secrets we bury inside ourselves. This is an odyssey of true love and great danger, of darkness and light, of bones and blue skies. This author has returned with an amazing new novel! (all of the above new publications are available at or stores near you)

Minette Walters has written yet another “…tour de force…” writes the Observer, of “The Shape of Snakes”. Wonderfully interesting and intriguing from a psychological and historical vantage point, this novel will engage instantly.  “November 1978. Britain is on strike. The dead lie unburied, rubbish piles in the streets – and somewhere in west London a black woman dies in as rain-soaked gutter.”

“Probably the most unsettling and complex in the whole, extraordinary Walters canon…The drama stays taut until the last page, which may, by the way, make you weep.” Frances Fyfield, Daily Mail. SDGs 1/2/3/4/5/10/11/16

Never to be diminished – always celebrated – sadly missed – greatly mourned

Champion of the Sex Discrimination Act and more – a colleague in the 1990s

She would NOT have “…gone gentle into that good night…” Dylan Thomas

Bless – Senator SUSAN RYAN…. Au revoir…

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