Monday, February 08, 2010

Dulcie's toaster house

Spring in Port Chalmers - Dulcie Kirk*, felt-tip pens on paper, 2002


Dulcie draws a toaster house. 

Outside, a web of copper wire 
weaves windows into walls, ties bricks 
to fascias, laces gutters to roof 
to chimney to fly-away
chimney smoke. 

She sends a charge 
across the facade
singes the white sky 
blue, flashes red 
onto the front doormat. 

Inside, there are no lines 
in sight. Breath settles 
into shadows, thought hovers
underfoot. There are shivers
of sound, the invisible murmur 
of magnetic fields waking. 
They shift and fold the paper 
        envelope of home. 
Dulcie walks us down her street. 

Beneath the double light of moon 
and sun, she draws electricity, trees
and bees. Her felt-tips ripen
fruit, coax flowers to open. She understands 
the secrets of dragonflies, seeds germinating 
in silent underground places. 

You can tell 
she knows that ink 
dreams in water. 

* I recently learned that Dulcie Kirk has died. I did not know her well but on the few occasions we met, was touched by her refreshing transparency and lack of compromise when it came to her art-making. She was remarkably prolific. 

Whilst sifting through boxes and files from my past, I came across this poem I'd written for Dulcie eight years ago in response to her Port Chalmers drawing. She was in her late seventies when she drew this house; well into her eighties at the time of her passing. 



  1. Dulcie's house is vibrant. Don't you like the sun and moon!

  2. I do like the fact they're both there and shining, Mim, yes, I do.

    She drew the truth, didn't she? It is not unusual to find ourselves inhabiting day and night/light and dark at one and the same time.

    Turning to the North, I find myself wondering what happens in South Beach now that the football match is over? It looked like so much fun - and there you were out in the thick of it all, camera at the ready and not the faintest whisper of temerity!

  3. I got this. Ink does dream in water in Port Chalmers. How do you get there Ms Claire?

    And I laughed. I have a painting I did as a 14 year old with two figures and their shadows going in different directions! Chortle. Now I know why! One was a moon child, one was a sun child. (not a painter any more though I sketch from time to time and go goodness me my arthritic fingers are still speaking to my soul). And now, back to the cricket...I kind of love its rhythm, even Tony Greig. And yes, the super bowl result was superb! Made the news in Oz too.

  4. I love the way your poem and Dulcie's picture are hand-in-hand. I've really enjoyed seeing these two companions again. She'd be happy to know her picture ad your poem were up on the web. (The ways that we live on..) x

  5. I'd love to see your moon-child/sun-child painting, lmrb. You were an insightful 14 year old (of course you were!), painting these two figures and their different shadows into the same space.

    Any further thoughts re; starting a blog?

    Ink does dream in water, doesn't it? (As much in a glass as in Port Chalmers!) I love to drop a single splash of colour into a tumbler of water and then to watch it making its slow-motion journey...

    Cricket, lmrb? I do like the genteel nature of the game and its players, although I must admit I seldom watch sport on television. My old set only gets one channel without snow (dodgy reception out here) so I'm more a radio person, I guess. Good on you for watching, though - and Tony Greig? He was something, wasn't he? 6ft 7 and born in SA (I didn't know that, oops). Apparently his father gave him a bit of a hard time, but perhaps that's what gave him the oomph and muscle to take on the world?

    Take care of your all-important hands. And hooray for sketching...

  6. Thanks PamelaMM - I'd quite forgotten this poem till the day I posted it here.

    Reflecting back on how prolific Dulcie was, I wonder why I've had no urge to draw or paint these past few weeks. My studio looks more like a garage or storage space than an art-making space at the moment - which is okaaaaay, I guess, but I wouldn't want it to stay that way for too long.

    The steps in there are ones I like to climb. I've been so head-down with 'other projects' that I've almost forgotten the loft... thanks for jogging my memory!

    L, C xx