The Works of War

This was a hard day. I had not seen this work for some time and reading the letters brought so much of the sadness back. But tomorrow the final bundling of War will be over.

This first one is one of the letters I sent the reporter for USA today and then his response back to the original letter I wrote asking about one of the victims he reported on, a young girl named Marianne.

These are copies pasted to the outside of the small coffin that holds every single newspaper image of those suffering in the Bosnian war….over four years of collecting them because I simply could not throw them away.

Here is the coffin.

The wild flowers were still in there with the pictures.

Here are the four coats with the grave blanket.

They will be bundled in the quilt titled, “Lost Peaces”.

The large photo will go into the bundle as well. I actually turned the quilt over before folding the coats in. Here is the quilt, now removed from our office wall.

Other letters I wrote, some to President Bill Clinton and his response.

And a letter to leaders in the former Yugoslavia.

Also wrapped today was a gourd with the first busload of children taken out of Sarajevo. My work of collecting started with these children.

And finally all bundled up is this small hand tied quilt of dry point images and lino prints of the story one Chechnyan woman surviving the war and finding her son on the battle field so she could bring him home. Nothing left for her but memories. I was struck how the mothers went to the Russian generals and asked for permission to reclaim the bodies. There was a brief cease fire to comply with the mothers’ wishes. In undergraduate school I made this small piece while learning various ways of printmaking.

It is physically hard to wrap this work up so I will finish wrapping tomorrow and then take a break before digging into all those specimens from Expedition to Elsewhere: the Expedition.

That will certainly be lighter in mood. But looking at how this is all stacking up, it is going to be one heck of a hole!

Til later.

 

This is Absolutely the Last of the Men/All About Masculinity

Finally the last box of those men! These poor navigators had the burden of boats that would sink if ever put in water. Their phallic forms made of silk are covered with the text of what accounts for “masculinity”. They drag their own testicular anchors along with them through a sea of feminist text.

Here are a couple of details.

And really the best part after twenty years is how true the feminist text is. So good to read that I copied it off from the silk waves and put most of it below. Definitely worth the read. I wish I had kept track of the authors as well, but they are all somewhere in my research books on masculinity….and some of those are long gone.

I will wrap all these “boys” together with their bags. But their boats would be better served given to one of our window washers who does amazing art works with old metals.

Feminist text

“Women of today are still being called upon to stretch across the gap of male ignorance and to educate men as to our existence and our needs. This is an old and primary tool of all oppressors to keep the oppressed occupied with the master’s concerns.”

“Accepting a version of female experience that sees us solely as victims, as the dupes of men, enables us to ignore both the violence we do to other women and children and to less powerful men.”

“What made Friedan’s book a best seller was her detailed and sympathetic documentation of the malaise of the middle-class housewife, a woman who had been educated to expect, if not a career, at least something more challenging the search for a matching mitten.”

“Decisions to cut aid for the terminally ill, for the elderly, for dependent children, for food stamps, even school lunches, are being made by men with full stomachs who live in comfortable houses with two cars and umpteen tax shelters.”

“At a time when women, with good reason, are asking men to make known their most guarded feelings, when we want them to love and raise babies and remember our birthdays, it is also required that they be the ones to rescue people in a burning building. And startle the dragons when they are heard in the dark.”

“Considering the extent to which masculinity as it is socially constructed within patriarchy encourages males to regard woman’s words, woman’s talk as without substance or value, or as a potential threat, individual women cannot hope to effectively communicate feminist thinking with male relatives, companions, etc. without carefully considered strategies.”

“Feminist works that focus on strategies women can use to speak to males about male domination and change are not readily available.”

I find the fourth one down so true as I watch a Republican dominated Senate force their choices on women…..some things never seem to change.

Anyway, I am off to wrap these poor fellows up so they can compare notes and their struggles for survival in perpetuity.

Til next time when I tackle war with loads more sheets and shellac.

Catching Up With Trimming Trees And Sewing

Over Easter I trimmed all the Japanese maples and opened up the yard for it to be re-mulched and more pine straw added.  Things are growing fast!

Also back to stitching and finishing the Meditation Journal.

All eight pages sewn on both sides. They were turned into a book with a wrap tie. Making folios out of each “page” was too cumbersome. So here are some of the pages opened up.

Now I will finish up the long paper/cloth/stitch scroll of going to Australia and back. Here is the start of sailing off.

Then the land of sun and trees. Followed by seeds of ideas teaching workshops.

From there it goes to Tasmania and basket makers.

Into the outback of Uluru and Olgas.

And more of the Outback where Burke and Wills died.

And the final section of the return home.

A lot more stitching to be done on some sections with emu tracks meandering all through it and then it is finished. I still have some of these old Japanese scraps of cloth and might do something else with them….who knows?

I will photograph it when it is finished and before it goes to a framer.

Also need to get back to bundling the patriarchs. Almost all of them have been dug out but I need more wrapping materials.

Til later.

The Latest Trip to Australia

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

of solitude

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.       

S. Webster

 

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.

Til later.