Tuesday, September 10, 2019

All This | Elizabeth Brooke-Carr



          All this


          Winter beach, desolate. Wind-whipped, exhilarated, salt
          air stings our faces. Sand, marshmallow-soft winkles
          out our toes. A gull swoops low, querulous, edgy,
          screaming at us, this is mine! We throw back our heads,
          laughing, tease, it’s ours! But we know all this
          is only ours to care for, our kaitiakitanga, as we pass,
          pressing footprints into the wild, southern afternoon.

          You see it first. A lumpish, static shape on the shoreline.
          Kelp? Driftwood? An old jacket, lost long ago, returned
          by the tide, hunched shoulders, bunched lining, seams
          split by a careless shrug of sea? Our footsteps track to
          the hump. Collars up, we huddle into curiosity. A pup
          shark, dark biscuitchip eyes glazed with ancient fog,
          leafbud ears. Kneeling, I whisper its beauty.

          Perfect parabola, black velvet shading to ashy grey,
          white belly curve stained with a blush of weeping pink.
          Did the waves carry you here to finish your struggle,
          lay you out on this cold sand slab, for us to marvel at,
          as if wonder was a last rite we might perform for you?
          Far out, at the edge of my spindrift mind you swim
          again, intrepid, in a school of gliding fins.

          Elizabeth Brooke-Carr [1940 - 2019]





"... Our harbour and peninsula held a special place in our friend Elizabeth’s heart. When we first met I was living in an old villa in Ravensbourne; the house stood - still stands - directly opposite the Lone Soldier. Many of you will be familiar with our harbour sentinel. I was intrigued by him – took to painting and photographing him in all-weathers and waving to him from my bathroom window. Then one morning in early 2009, a poem landed fully formed on the page, as if the soldier had somehow called it forth. It was a love poem. I took it along to our next writing meeting and read it to the group. 

Fast forward several months - possibly even a year or two - and out of the blue, Elizabeth sent me a letter. 'I'm not sure how to tell you this,' she said, 'but the soldier has written a response to his poet.' She'd attached a Word document. As was her way, she had meticulously followed the same stanza- shapes and line- lengths as in the original poem; the voice of the soldier echoed back at me from his hill across the harbour. His words brought me to tears. And to laughter. I wrote straight back to her saying, ‘MsLiz, we have to do something with these poems – this pair, their relationship’.  And so we wove the two poems together, stanza by stanza; I added visuals and a music track and turned their conversation into a small film. Our mutual friend Paul Sorrell agreed to read Elizabeth’s soldier’s lines. 

Elizabeth was a relationship-builder with a fierce sense of justice. An open-hearted warrior woman in a tiny physical frame, there was something utterly solid and reliable about her –

'If you call, I will answer'

— which is essentially the same reassurance - and invitation - the characters in these poems extend to one other and to each of us."*


Ms Liz

Writing Group: Maxine, Jane, Paddy, Kath, Elizabeth, Martha, Claire, Carolyn, Huberta 
(Penelope, Eva, Beatrice, Shirley and Jenny weren't present for this pic)

*excerpt from A Tribute to Elizabeth. Her memorial service was held in Dunedin on Saturday 7 September.


Sunday, September 08, 2019

Love Liberates



"[A person] does not think with [her] hands, but the intellect of a painter certainly thinks in [her] hands, so much so that, in moments of manual inspiration, an artist can sometimes let the hand do its job without bothering too much about what it does." Etienne Gilson Painting and Reality (1955)



ANK
 Rest in peace, dear woman

29 January 1932 - 31 August 2019








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Sunday, August 25, 2019

For the Sleepwalkers


          Tonight I want to say something wonderful
          for the sleepwalkers who have so much faith
          in their legs, so much faith in the invisible

          arrow carved into the carpet, the worn path
          that leads to the stairs instead of the window,
          the gaping doorway instead of the seamless mirror.

          I love the way that sleepwalkers are willing
          to step out of their bodies into the night,
          to raise their arms and welcome the darkness,

          palming the blank spaces, touching everything.
          Always they return home safely, like blind men
          who know it is morning by feeling shadows.

          And always they wake up as themselves again.
          That's why I want to say something astonishing
          like: Our hearts are leaving our bodies.

          Our hearts are thirsty black handkerchiefs
          flying through the trees at night, soaking up
          the darkest beams of moonlight, the music

          of owls, the motion of wind-torn branches.
          And now our hearts are thick black fists
          flying back to the glove of our chests.

          We have to learn to trust our hearts like that.
          We have to learn the desperate faith of sleep-
          walkers who rise out of their calm beds

          and walk through the skin of another life.
          We have to drink the stupefying cup of darkness
          and wake up to ourselves, nourished and surprised.

          Edward Hirsch



Image CB
OIl on paper (detail of larger work) 
2018


Friday, August 23, 2019

HAPPY MANDARINS







Some years ago, I was Artist-in-Resident for a week in the Caselberg Trust's cottage on the Otago Peninsula. In the kitchen cupboard were two old, pale and slightly brittle egg cups. A pair of hens, as you will see. Before leaving the cottage at the end of my stay, I photographed the egg cups on the kitchen windowsill along with my two last mandarins. Something about those photographs always made me smile -- and so this truly odd little vid. came into being.

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The world is - quite literally, in places - on fire. We're daily tasked to somehow gather the bitter and the sweet together and to hold all manner of uncertainties and extremes alongside in the same oddly-shaped basket.
I'm posting this quirky wee vid. as a gift (and with just the faintest flutter of trepidation). My hope is it will bring joy, a moment's reprieve, some welcome lightness. It's not attempting to say or reveal anything about anything - nope, it's as simple and innocent as can be; two mandarins in two egg cups dancing in sunshine on a kitchen window sill. That's it. It's also not intended to be in any way 'flip' or irreverent - especially given current world realities. I know for myself (with my inborn 'PFI '- Propensity For Intensity) that there's something immeasurably uplifting about laughter. 

It's often said, isn't it, that joy and sorrow stand back-to-back; each can spin/give way/allow us access to the other.