Come and Gone in Twenty-Nine Hours
I continue to come back
eight times in thirteen years.
I am more tired
and this tiredness is beginning
to feel familiar.
It is harder to be here alone
and I sense this may be the last time.
I have opened myself to this country
in a deep private and personal way.
But this time I feel the loneliness
quietly seeping in.
I am more a foreigner
than I had hoped for.
Australia has not lost its magic.
I am older
and the vision for that magic
is somewhat diminished
due to a combination of age
and awareness of time
that have more or less
besieged me on this trip.
And I am here
on this precious soil
just twenty-eight hours.
I think I am feeling the loss
of this country before I have left it.
Australia feels like an old dear friend
that I am seeing slowly turn away.
Or am I shifting my gaze
toward the comforts and familiarity of home.
Is it becoming time
to give up the adventure
and content myself with memories
of what we used to be to each other?
I am feeling the loss
with each Eucalypt I see
as if for the last time.
I miss it already.
I wrote that in the year 2011. I was alone staying in an unfamiliar Bed & Breakfast near Fitzroy Gardens. There were blisters on my feet from walking to Gertrude Street. I was having a cold beer in the gardens and thinking I was old. Eight years later and six more trips down under I am even more aware of my age…within a few months of seventy-five.
I am not saying good-bye to this country. This is not the last time to be stopped in my tracks by the sheer beauty of a Eucalyptus tree. I will be back, if not next year then the year after.
It is not just the beckoning call of the landscape, the outrageous birds who can’t be quiet and inconspicuous, nor the endless distances that lure you into their horizons. It is more likely the generosity of the Australian people and the way they make you feel like you could belong here.
About that landscape, outrageous birds, and endless landscape.
These are the some, very few, of those who make the trip worthwhile. They are students who were with me again this year in a master class titled, Seeking the Visual. Each of them received the gift of a glass hour glass with brass compass on each end. My words to them, “Pick a direction and be aware that you might be running out of time.”
Their work was outstanding as usual…..
This was each of them finding the visual of something that mattered to them. So wonderful to be part of. So thank you very much to Judith, Jane, Jenny, Andie, Mem, Anne, Kaye, Margaret, Lorraine, Patsy, Madeleine and Alex.
I mostly worked on my sketchbook with the abundance of flora laying around.
I started a piece of work using scraps of old Japanese fabrics and sashiko threads on paper. I was challenged to make curves with my stitching and to use a proper needle. The gift of a beautiful silk hand sewn Eucalypt leaf with the perfect needles attached and a finger pin cushion was a perfect way to start.
Thank you Jan.
Later, after traveling from the Grampians to Baldessin Press to work on lino and contact prints, this became my favorite image of the entire trip to Australia.
I can finish the panel of stitching while sitting with Lee…then I think I will have it framed…all four plus feet of it.
Here are additional images of my trip starting with Tasmania.
Early flight to Melbourne.
Then off to the Grampians and Halls Gap.
And the dispersing of the Waterhouse Exhibit leaves from Fatal Shore.
And then off to leave some at Baldessin Press.
Quality time with other internationals.
Influenced by the work and book of Dianne Fogwell. We went back to the city for the opening of her show.
From the magic of Baldessin to Ocean Grove and a two day workshop on white line print making.
A final trip back to Melbourne before heading home to see a Bea Maddock piece at NGV and have a final flat white on Degraves St.
Thank you all for the inspiration, the gifts and most of all your hospitality.