I first met Robyn Emerson at a dinner at the Snout in the Trough. I think we talked a lot. Such a joy to discover someone so into living an artistic life so fully. It was months later when I had the chance to attend the series of creativity workshops she was offering. So over a month a small group of us participated in a range of artistic activities, reading, meditation and most importantly sharing our own creative ideas. The most valuable thing of all for me (and I know others felt this too) were the other group members, some of whom were known to each other professionally, others not at all, but each of us driven by that insistent creative force. There are many things I loved about launching ‘Small Acts of Purpose’, but having that group of now friends there, as well as members of previous Creativity workshops was one of the highlights. There is so much of the creative act including the self doubt that occurs in solitude that makes the public response to the final creation so valuable to the artist. The Corangamite creative community is one of the most supportive and enabling I have encountered in all my years. May we treasure that.
Nellie Plummer’s cello playing is a highlight of funerals, book launches and some Sunday artistic events. The cello is one of my favourite instruments, so to discover that one of our employees is a fine cellist was a true joy. Nellie’s performances are always pleasurable but her willingness to play at my launch recently was a true highlight. Have Loure and Ave Maria ever been played so poignantly?
I’ve been a fan of the Artists’ Date long before I read anything by Julia Cameron. Whether I head to a gallery or a beach for an hour or wander up into Central Victoria or along the coast for a day, I feel it invigorating my soul. An added dimension is when I share the day with a creative friend. Catherine Brennan and I have been sharing our creative passions for 30 years, so I was particularly pleased when she opened a second Salt & Pepper Gallery just outside Jan Juc. It’s a wonderful gallery, first of all because it’s a working gallery, secondly because Catherine is such a talented, passionate artist and thirdly cause she is such a genuine and beautiful person.
Catherine has embraced her seaside lifestyle to create beautiful work from the oceanic world where she now lives. I’m happy to come home from a day urgently wanting my pen to be working as well as her paintbrush. Occasionally we come home with something more tangible. Her scarves brighten my winters. her cycle of life sculpture adds harmony and beauty to our funeral home. One of her paintings graces my hallway. It’s bright and vibrant, full of movement and colour. Every day I love it.
All images: Catherine M Brennan Salt & Pepper Gallery
Words in Winter has been a bit of a favourite over the years for me but this year’s event had two added joys. I was commended in the inaugural Venie Holmgren environmental poetry award for my poem Hygrocybe at the Terang Market and, I was invited to read and speak at Trentham, one of my favourite places on this earth.
The topic is one I am most often invited to speak on: Variations on the idea of doing death better and as usual, I use my poetry to say some of what I want to say. A fantastic interested and engaged audience. I love it when there’s way too many questions for the time frame.
It was fun to meet some of the new faces around town and a delight to meet quite a few from my days of living in Central Victoria. So thanks to Karen McCrea and your team for your hospitality and interest and for Mary and Tom Walsh for further hospitality and sharing your wisdom and experience in this field. Br B’s Bookshop was not there in my time but what a joy to discover it and sitting there waiting for a home was an Estonian novel by Sofi Oksanen When the Doves Disappeared.
I first encountered Estonia through the Funeral Industry. In my work as a Celebrant, I was invited to create a funeral for an older Estonian woman. The family was keen for me to create a ceremony that honoured the whole of this woman’s life particularly her harsh childhood and youth in Estonia and the passion for that country that stayed with her for as long as she lived.
I began researching; listening to the music, the poetry and the stories of Estonia. I became obsessed with this country and its story of triumph through terrible adversity. I was inspired by the passive, musical resistance that characterized the Singing Revolution. In 2013 I travelled in the north of Estonia, listening to the recollections of older people and the exuberance of the young.
I learnt about the beauty and traditions of the textiles and ceramics and the astonishing technological lead this country has taken. I sat in buildings older than I have ever been in and walked through kilometres of villages and wetlands. In this photo I am walking through the wetlands near Haapsalu; a beautiful way of encountering the locals and appreciating the reclamation work that has occurred here.
It’s the year of the blog for me. As I move to less time working, I move to more time writing – a quieter place for me, both metaphorically and literally – a space for reading, writing, being.
……. All week,
squalls, tattered mists:
alder, who unfolded
before the receding glaciers
first one leaf then another,
won’t you teach me
a way to live
on this damp ambiguous earth?
Kathleen Jamie ‘Alder’ The Tree House (2004)