Monday, July 18, 2011

Tuesday Poem - IT IS ALL ONE WATER*

This time nine months ago, I was working towards an exhibition titled Waters I Have Known. Wanting to share the process and the motivation behind that body of work (a response, initially, to the Deepwater Horizon crisis) I created a companion blog where I could post pics of what was taking shape in the studio along with related texts and web links. Not long before the opening, I felt prompted to open up what had been a more-or-less solo endeavour to you, my wise and generous blog friends.  A magical dialogue ensued: moved by the texts you contributed, I asked permission to incorporate your words in a series of paintings. . . We embarked on an unexpected collaborative journey - a potent and satisfying one. The process did not end there; indeed, our initial exchange (an exploration into our world's oceans and the nature of web communities) illuminated the mysterious nature and multi-fold currents of conversation that pass between us all in the blogosphere and quickly became one of the central themes of the conference paper I presented in Phoenix in May. (*Marylinn Kelly and Penelope Todd agreed to my including their lines in the subtitle and opening paragraph of that presentation. . . ) 

One thing always leads to another and, well. . . the words you contributed to Waters I Have Known have been on another adventure since October 2010 - and since Phoenix.  Some weeks ago The Pachamama Alliance announced a film contest and invited entries from across the globe for their Possible Futures initiative. There are four categories in the competition - Peace and Freedom, Fair Societies, Sustainability and Beyond and Human Fulfillment.  Happily, my 5min film - It Is All One Water - was accepted into the Sustainability and Beyond category. It draws on more of the underwater footage I collected with my friends in Explorers Cove, Antarctica and highlights one of Christina Bryer's exquisitely fragile porcelain forms, one of my humble bamboo boats (right way up, some of the time ; )) and a balletic sea star, Adamussium colbecki.  

Since submitting the movie, I've been caught up in a bunch of other things and have quite forgotten that part of the contest involves entrants notifying their friends on the web (1) that the contest is a-happening and (2) that Voting is open!  In fact, voting closes tomorrow - 19 July - which means willing participants have only a matter of hours in which to rush over to the Possible Futures website and cast their votes. EEK. . . ! (The deadline explains why I'm posting my Tuesday Poem a day early). 

I'm not much good at canvassing and those sorts of things, but am going to be bold for a moment and invite you please to watch It Is All One Water and - if it resonates with you - to follow this link and give it a 'thumbs up'? Thank you


This is the introductory paragraph I submitted with the vid. . . 

"Painterly and metaphorical in its approach, It Is All One Water addresses the wonder, power & fragility of our world's oceans. 

The ocean is a mighty equalizer – it wraps us around, drawing our continents together. During these times of global disruption, social change and environmental vulnerability, the arts have a key role to play as agents for peace, advocacy and transformation.  This short film carries within it an ethos of 'many as one' and incorporates contributions from a global network of writers, artists, scientists and musicians.'


Timothy Cahill recently posted a thoughtful piece about this film on his blog, Art & Document.

And here - posted with huge thanks to you - is our collaborative poem as it features in the vid. -


In the wide sound of the sea
the song of a vast adventure

a music that follows 
flight paths of blood 
rushing through veins.

And the roar 
of the sea is the roar
of our planet - salt, 
spray, ice, sand, 
each wave a limb 
of the earth. 

The oceans are hoarders 
of holy mysteries, generous 
to a fault; all heaving movement, 
energy and gorgeousness;
life packed into every inch 
and drop of it; ah, its secrecy! 
The way it carries so much 
of the past, the future 
and present in itself… 

Dream of the sea
and from its edge, gaze 
out to the pencil thin 
line of the horizon 
where sky and water are one 

And the sea? 

How it murmurs. 
How it murmurs. . . 

It is all one water. 
A finger in a tide pool 
brings our shores together.

A collaborative poem by Marylinn Kelly (USA), Therese Clear (USA), Pamela Morrison (NZ), Elisabeth Hanscombe (AUS), Kay McKenzie-Cooke (NZ),  Scott Odom (USA) and Claire Beynon (NZ).


For more Tuesday Poems, please click on the quill - 

Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Clearest Way Into The Universe - for RachvB, who understands rivers

". . . Wild rivers are earth's renegades, defying gravity, dancing to their own tunes, resisting the authority of humans, always chipping away, and - eventually - always winning. And wild rivers bring out the renegade in us, enticing us to leave behind all that we've been taught and to let ourselves surrender to their special symphony. When I was in high school, I would climb out of my bedroom window for midnight canoe runs, or say I was at a slumber party when I was off rafting for the weekend. The river was a kindred spirit. I shared a secret with the river, a knowledge that the clearest way into the universe was downstream. . . " Richard Bangs

Riroriro, Korimako, fly me a line. . . CB - pastel on paper

Thursday, July 07, 2011

And the Sea. . . how it murmurs, how it murmurs


". . . Look how upright they are these three; how their faces shine even while the light is dimming. Hear their voices, the lilt and lift, the tumble of words. Watch their stride all in keeping; see how the sand flicks and settles with each one’s footfall. And the sea at their right hand, how it murmurs, how it murmurs. . . " Pam Morrison

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Tuesday Poem - Everything In Time

              EVERYTHING IN TIME
                      (orOne way to dispose of a failed painting)    

                      The day the passionfruit ripened, she decided 
                      it was time to free the waterfall. For years 
                      she’d kept it hanging – all rage and thunder
                      bolted to the wall, one foot two inches
                      above her rimu floor.  She’d ignored the water 
                      protesting behind glass, turned her back 
                      against the rocks, denied the plight of moss 
                      and lichen suffocating inside
                      their conservation-friendly environment.

             Wood pigeons had long since flown
             or fallen from branch to ground, wings 
             of feather and bone turned to compost, 
             cicadas petrified, mid-crawl. 

             There was no more air in there, 
             nothing left for birdsong or insect flight, 
                                                            only brittle spray
                                                                                  in mid-air        


                                                                                      It was time.
                                                                                She let it loose
                                                            over the claw-footed bath
                                                                        watched the weathered schist
                                                                                loosen its grip
                                   and with loud splitting and splashing
                                                            drench the thirsty spears
                                                                                         of lancewoods, ferns
                                                        and ancient cabbage trees.
                                                                             From the corner of her eye
                                                        she swore she spotted eels
                                                                             where there’d been no eels
                                                                                    before. If you’d arrived
                                                                                      at the house just then
                                                               you, too, might have caught them 
                                                              clambering over the cast-iron rim
                                                                     making a bee-line for the mud
                                                                        in her freshly soaked garden.


For more Tuesday Poems, please click on the quill. Dunedin-based poet David Howard is this week's TP hub editor, with the poem Cloud Silence by Graham Linsay

Sunday, July 03, 2011

What do you see?

. . . and what might you make/do/wear with these? 

(Thank you, Susan xo)

Saturday, July 02, 2011


It's 4.24AM - at least, it was when I started this. One eye opened at 2.01AM; the other at 2.07. I've been awake (though pretending not to be) for hours. There's nothing too unusual about this; middle-of-the-night wakefulness has become something of a pattern in recent months.  Can you tell?

My home and I are adjusting to a repertoire of different energies and activities at the moment - three Leo women are currently sharing the space; my daughter (25), her best friend (32) and moi (50). The younger lions are living downstairs on the harbourside of the house. I am sleeping in the loft above my studio. Ordinarily my meditation/reading/retreat space, I love it up here and have a quasi-seasonal habit of making this my nest-of-choice during the winter months. Every so often I'll spend a night up here in the summer but that tends to happen when I'm immersed in a project and want to wake and sleep close to my work. (Unlimited hours in the studio have definitely not been a part of this year's script, although this week I started gessoing up boards for a new series of paintings in which I want to explore the mercurial and interchangeable nature of reality and illusion. . . )

Friends and family have been a rich part of this home's life since I first moved in here; nonetheless, it would be true to say I've lived here more-or-less on my own these past five or six years. As is inevitable, there have been both pleasures and complexities around this. Today's little disclosure. . . solo living has a number of excellent - and sometimes quirky - compensations. For instance, I have at different times enjoyed a little game called MBMusical Beds. (Realizing the ambiguity of this statement as I set it down, let me hasten to add that MB does not necessarily imply what some might think! Ha ha. What it has meant is that for a time, I was thoroughly - absurdly - spoiled for choice. . . Where will I lay my head tonight? I could choose to sleep in one of the two front bedrooms (where the windows frame trees, bird feeders and a view of the harbour, and I knew I'd be woken either by a train trundling musically along beside the water, or by birdsong) or I could tuck myself away in the loft. . . 

Up here in the loft, I feel closer to wind, stars and birds than I do to earth, beetles and roots. The distinct difference in atmosphere intrigues me, esp. given the ladder (actually, it's more like a set of steep wooden steps) I climb to get into the loft can't be more than five metres in length. . . (A daring beetle could scuttle up here in the blink of an eye). My daily rhythm of small ascents and descents brings to mind our biblical friend, Jacob. How many of his mortal cares did he leave behind him as he clambered, rung by rung, towards the heavens? 

(Speaking of 'biblical friends', I've been thinking a lot of the story of Lot and Sarah lately, and about the resounding truth in their tale. . . it is in looking back that we run the risk of turning into pillars of salt. . .)

If it were practical (and by way of balancing the elements), I would happily flood my bathroom with candles and sleep in my claw-footed bath every once in a while. I'm ever-so fond of my bath, in part by association and in part because there's something so sumptuous and enduring about a cast-iron bath (I think often about 'bath as boat' - especially here, where rudder and toe-taps are turned to the harbour.)

When I was a child, my father used to tell us stories about a man named Abracadoo who was innocently having his bath one morning when it - the bath - decided to take off down the city streets with him in it; after his initial shock and chagrin - such audacity! And, well, he wasn't exactly prepared, was he? - Abracadoo surrendered himself to the unexpected adventures that ensued. I grew up thinking 'why wish for a magic carpet when you can go pretty much anywhere in a claw-footed bath?' And, too, 'being prepared is not necessarily a pre-requisite for adventure.')

My ex-husband used to rib me about having PMM - Permanent Move Mania -, a harmless (tender, even) affliction that had (and still has) nothing to do with hormones. . . rather, the acronym refers to a long-term penchant I have for re-arranging my living spaces. The impulse comes upon me without warning and when it does, I roll up my sleeves and respond. Are others of you similarly afflicted?

My understanding of PMM is that it's something that occurs when furniture, paintings, beds, stones, books, objects, the piano, etc. . . are welcomed as sentient. Sentience implies that they - like we - appreciate being engaged with in an ongoing, relational way. The things and people we live with (whether they be many or few) are deserving of our loving attention; a gesture that need have little - if anything - to do with possessiveness or ownership.  How often do we look past (instead of to) the things and people most familiar to us? Given how easy it is to do this, how can we go about re-energizing/re-animating our relationships? I can't help thinking that in the same way we respond to warmth, affirmation and touch, so too will a lamp, a chair or egg cup send out shivers of delight when picked up, noticed, set down again? Do you wonder about these things, too? PMM not only builds muscles, it keeps me on my toes and engages me in all manner of new conversations with the things in my immediate surroundings. The simple act of picking something up refreshes my relationship to it; I see it with new eyes and appreciate it again. In that moment of re-encounter, the object becomes freshly imbued with life and meaning.

I'll stop here. Time to go downstairs to make a pot of tea and roll up my sleeves. A person is at risk of prattling fancifully in the pre-dawn hours. . . . Oh, before I go though, let me go back to the word at the top of this post; 'acronym'. The other two lions and I were talking about names last night. . . things got amusing. My new title is TNITT, aka The Nun In The Treehouse. (You'll agree it has the percussive sound of DNA and the ditsiness of a Dr. Suess creature with a cranky style and a steady heartbeat?)  

What 'fitting-for-now' acronym would you give your self/yourself/yourselves?  ; )