Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Geelong West Walking Trail continued

Near Mercer Street there is a sculpture that looks like spiked grass and the artist is Tania Virgona.

I ended up my walk at the Virginia Todd Centre where there is a small garden designed when the place was once a kindergarten.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Geelong West Walking Trail

from Wendy
Yesterday was a lovely sunny day so I followed the Geelong West Walking Trail from Drumcondra area, along the shoreline, then to Mercer Street, crossed the walk bridge over the railway lines, then walked into Geelong West ending up at Pakington Street and the Diversitat meeting rooms where I went to the Interfaith Women's group.

The Walk West trail was designed about four years ago after local activists demanded an improvement in landscaping the area and access to the sea for Geelong West residents.

One is of a very colourful gum tree overlooking the bay.

After crossing the bridge I found two more sculptures.

Drawing of two women

from Peceli
Here's my attempt at drawing two nurses.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Barwon Heads sketch - garden gate

from Wendy
A fussy little painting emerged after I did a sketch while waiting at the Barwon Heads Post Office for the bus to return to Geelong the other day. I might do something with it using Photoedit later today.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Uniting Church goes Pacifika

Yesterday we attended the opening of the Synod of Victoria at the Melbourne Town Hall and sat upstairs in the Gallery amidst numerous choirs, the 80 Tongans in the opposite balcony dressed in black and mourning mats. Choirs were from migrant groups - Fijians, Samoans, Tongans, Chinese, Indonesians, and Korean. It was a lovely multicultural and cross-cultural program of worship with song and prayers and the induction of a Tongan, Rev Jason Kioa as Moderator (leader) for the next three years.

When we saw numerous friends in the crowd and up on stage we were thinking of the connections over the years. Even the liturgist, another Tongan, was once a young boy making a lovo in Geelong for a choir visit at our local church. The pipe organ in the Town Hall is a brilliant one and the controller let out all stops at times. It was a grand religious gathering in a secular building. A few hours earlier we had been part of a closing down gathering where a church has been sold to become a kindergarten! Anyway our little Fijian church group will be welcomed into a different suburb next Sunday!

Rev Jason Kioa's story
From detention to church leader
By Lorna Edwards (in The Age newspaper)
September 28, 2005
Photo: Angela Wylie

WHEN Jason Kioa, a former Tongan public relations officer, was arrested and thrown in the Maribyrnong detention centre in 1983, he made a bargain with God that if he got out of there he would serve the church for the rest of his life.

Two decades later he has made good. Yesterday he was elected Moderator of the Uniting Church synod of Victoria and Tasmania, making him the first Pacific Islander to lead an Australian church. Currently the minister at Melbourne's Wesley Uniting Church, he said yesterday those 11 dark days in detention had made him more understanding as he rose through the ranks of the Uniting Church, the nation's third-largest denomination.

"I tell you, I'm very passionate about those who struggle, because I have struggled through processes and through government departments and through the processes of the church," he said yesterday. "Through the journey from Maribyrnong Detention Centre to now I have learnt to actually feel my gut feeling, and my heart aches for those who are struggling on their way, whether they be asylum seekers, illegal migrants or indigenous people."

Back in 1981 when he arrived in Australia with his wife and two daughters to do a management course for the Tongan tourism board, Mr Kioa admits he was a "loose cannon" alienated from the church of his father, a Methodist minister.
After a cyclone devastated his family's property in Tonga, he decided to stay and work in Australia, leading to his arrest in a Bulleen factory as an illegal immigrant.

The five-year court battle that followed was lauded as the most important immigration case of the decade, with a High Court ruling that established the right to appeal against deportation.

During the case, he was unable to leave the country to visit his dying father in Tonga, and had to tell him through taped messages that he would follow his wishes and become a minister. Mr Kioa said he still felt the need to serve the community, partly to justify the $1 million it cost Legal Aid to keep him in the country.

In the age of global terrorism, he believes the biggest challenge in his new role will be to encourage people to accept diversity within the Uniting Church, which has been divided in recent years by a fiery debate on gay ordination.

His family, including three adult daughters and a son, were delighted with their father's achievement, said his wife, Fheodolina.

"I feel humble about it, and thank God for this chance," she said.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Barwon Bridge No 2

from Peceli
There is a lot of discussion about this bridge as it is so old and in need of repair. There's a plan for a new bridge upstream, but the local people are putting up posters to say no, and to save the bridge. This is my effort at drawing the bridge and it's a naive style.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Bus Ride to Barwon Heads

Yesterday we took a busride to a small coastal town at the estuary of the Barwon River and did sketching for an hour. The first one was of the Barwon Bridge linking Ocean Grove and Barwon Heads little town. It's a lovely town, with lots of tea trees and nature strips and bush land intact. A very tidy town. It's a 30 minute bus ride from Geelong.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Steve Irwin - Memorial

from ABC today:
The memorial included tributes from international celebrities, family friends and colleagues, as thousands attended the hour-long public memorial. The crowd rose to their feet as John Williamson performed his trademark tune, 'True Blue', while Australia Zoo staff spelt out the Irwin's catchcry, "Crikey", in flowers.

Bindi delivered the most heartfelt message of the memorial, describing her father as the best in the world."My daddy was my hero. He was always there for me when I needed him," she said. "He listened to me and he taught me so many things. But most of all he was fun. I know that daddy had an important job. He was working to change the world so that everybody would love wildlife like he did." She vowed to carry on his legacy.

The tributes flowed from around the world from a list of celebrities, including Hugh Jackman. "Steve's not here with us in body, but in spirit he'll always be here," he said.

Kevin Costner said: "I think where he was most fearless was he let us see who he was."
I watched it on TV from 9 a.m. till 10 a.m. a Memorial planned for television with numerous film segments of Steve Irwin, as large as life, as energetic and exuberant as ever, and some great Australian songs. Lots of irony too, as the poor guy had died but there was no real sense that an awful thing had happened. His charming little daughter spoke so fluently, now that was amazing.

I did not like the CRIKEY written in yellow flowers - that was .. well, a bit off because Crikey is a euphemism for a religious figure!

The finale though was moving - with a guy packing up the ute with Steve's camping equipment and driving the ute out of the amphitheatre. I always reckon that the most moving part of a funeral is when the coffin is lifted up by sons and brothers and friends. Now, there was no coffin here as the family had completed that ritual a week ago. But the ute moving out slowly with many guys in khaki bush clothes as a guard of honour, well that was very fine.

Monday, September 18, 2006

A different kind of line drawings

Here are a few small poems - some poncy, some practical. They are not strictly haiku which requires a strict syllable count etc - just some observations on life.

Line Drawings

Hibiscus flares red
In the succulence of life
Then close to grey

Frangipanis fall
On fresh mounds, pegged,
Remembered by sons

Walking, a shadow
Of remembered robust days
Now a metallic clang and shuffle

A man sells newspapers
Against the traffic
Candling in the wind

Stolen or bad biros
Get more attention
Than stolen children

A white statue moves
Halting a leaning mother
Then her child smiles

The bulbous trunk
Of the gingko reveals
history’s cracks and strains

The merry-go-round circles
As black suits cluster
Over square files, iced water

The magnolia spreads herself
Like a bridal gown
after the womb of winter

Softly bent and languid
Agreeing with all views
She’s a lemon grass woman

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Assimilate! Please explain...

Our current politicians are talking about border control and newcomers and the word 'assimilate' comes up once again - that multiculturalism has not worked well and has led to pockets of unassimilated ghettos in our cities, inappropriate behaviour and lack of English. So migrants are asked to 'assimilate' - blend in, be one of the mob, find the norm and mimick that.

Well, if someone arrives in Melbourne and is shown around our city icons they will of course be shown Federation Square. Okay, now how to assimilate based on that one? Make your little cottage look like the diamond walls of Federation Square? Okay, is that what you mean by 'assimilate'?

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Contents of a shoulder bag

A young American female blogger from Bahrain listed the contents of her handbag - oh what joy, perfume and the pleasures of the young! I looked at my chunky Fijian masi design bag and checked out the contents. Oh, sobosobo! No lipstick or comb to be found!

Not so joyful - too many bills, timetables, junk. Here is a sample. Yes, even the stones, but they were in a bag - $3 for these polished stones. The knife - well, that's now safely back in the kitchen. I couldn't find a pencil sharpener at the time. The Cherry Ripe wrapper - Peceli ate most of its contents! The coloured leaves - I'm a bowerbird, picking and collecting.

The music - I played this morning. Music by Rod Boucher. Words, that lovely Irish blessing -
May the road rise up to meet you,
may the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
and the rain fall soft upon your tracks.
And until we meet again,
may God hold you in the palm of his hand.
An elderly woman from Belfast first told me these words and now I've found some great music to go with it.


Friday, September 15, 2006

Border Control and Aussie values

from Wendy

Our political leaders are currently yacking about Aussie Values and Border Control by suggesting that migrants/visitors/students who come to our bonny shores need to sign up to Aussie values. Whatever they may be. Beats me what that means. Does it mean a fair go, a day’s work for a day’s pay. Acknowledging our convict heritage? Well, only some of us. Acknowledging First Nations and their rights. Oh yeah! Singing that Billabong song? Respect for yourself and others - biblical stuff? Be a mate, be sociable, but allow others privacy and space if they want it?

Here’s the ad that looks at ‘us’. The Fosters Ad
I don't have a kangaroo for a pet
I don't wrestle with crocodiles
And I don't wear a cork hat
I fight wars
But never start wars
I would rather make peace
I can wear my country's flag with pride
I am a rock
I am the island continent
My brothers are the Smiths, the Wilson's, the Santerellis, the De Costis,
The Wong's and the Jagamarras
I play football without a helmet
I like beetroot on my hamburger
I ride in the front seat of the taxi
I believe it's a prawn not a shrimp
I believe the world is round and down under is on top
I believe Australia is the best address on Earth
And Australians brew the best beer.

And the song we love to sing:

By Judith Durham – once a Seeker

I came from the dreamtime from the dusty red soil plains
I am the ancient heart, the keeper of the flame
I stood upon the rocky shore
I watched the tall ships come
For forty thousand years I'd been the first Australian.

We are one, but we are many
And from all the lands on earth we come
We share a dream and sing with one voice:
I am, you are, we are Australian.
I came upon the prison ship bowed down by iron chains.
I cleared the land, endured the lash and waited for the rains.
I'm a settler.
I'm a farmer's wife on a dry and barren run
A convict then a free man I became Australian.

We are one, but we are many
And from all the lands on earth we come
We share a dream and sing with one voice:
I am, you are, we are Australian.
I'm the daughter of a digger who sought the mother lode
The girl became a woman on the long and dusty road
I'm a child of the depression
I saw the good times come
I'm a bushy, I'm a battler
I am Australian

I'm a teller of stories
I'm a singer of songs
I am Albert Namatjira
I paint the ghostly gums
I am Clancy on his horse
I'm Ned Kelly on the run
I'm the one who waltzed Matilda
I am Australian


I'm the hot wind from the desert
I'm the black soil of the plains
I'm the mountains and the valleys
I'm the drought and flooding rains
I am the rock, I am the sky
The rivers when they run
The spirit of this great land
I am Australian.

And an article ‘Just how Aussie do we have to be?’ by an Australian Muslim, Salam Zreika.

Variations on paintings at Botanical Gardens

Using fragmented sections of the small paintings I made at the Geelong Botanical Gardens I tried some variations. I'm not happy with the colours though and also I need to use heavier paper to stop the cartridge paper warping. The pics here are close to the original size.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Geelong Botanical Gardens sketches

from Wendy
Yesterday Peceli and I went to the nearby Botanical Gardens and I drew the pond and some of the grass trees. I made the sketches into three A4 size paintings, scanned them and then transformed them somewhat using Photo-edit. Instead of photographic detailed illustrations like those of a botanical artist, I tend to exaggerate, manipulate shapes and textures to find new compositions often by chance.

Workshops are being held at the Geelong Botanical Gardens by Margaret Muffet. Her paintings can be viewed here.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

When you sneeze, someone is thinking of you

from Wendy
Well, people tell me that when you sneeze, someone is thinking of you. Well, Monday I must have had a few thousands of them!

Sunday, September 10, 2006

A scanned bag and a Customs Officer at Nadi

Customs Officer: Now what have we here sir? What are those bottles?
Traveller: Five bottles of kura.
Customs Officer: And what about these?
Traveller: Four cakes of soap.
Customs Officer: And these?
Traveller: Three rolls of film.
Customs Officer: And?
Traveller: Two strings of beads.
Customs Officer: And? Now, that one is banned.
Traveller: Only one pair of scissors!
Customs Officer: Take that out. The rest are okay. We’re in Nadi and you're going to Melbourne, but if you were going to America, the kura would have to go.

Three kinds of Australian magpies

One, I like. That's the kind in the front garden that carols at 5 p.m. in the morning - a lovely sound.

Two, not likeable at all. This one swoops on people in springtime. Peceli played golf on Saturday (the first time in over six weeks) and some maggies at the golf course were swooping on him. He needs a hat with huge sunglasses painted on them.

Three, the Collingwood Football club - are known as the magpies - you either love or hate 'em. They got done for a dinner this weekend by the Bulldogs. One memorable incident for the Magpies was when an Aboriginal player, who was being harassed by the crowd, pulled up his shirt and pointed to his brown skin, proudly. A great gesture.


Definitely not my favourite thing!

from Wendy

A fruit bat!

My favourite things

from Wendy

My favourite things - from Movies, Books, Music
My list is not the BEST, but perhaps just the memorable, often just for the context in which they were seen, heard, read, etc.

Death in Venice, Shawshank Redemption, The French Lieutenant's Woman, Black Orpheus, Dr Zhivago, Diva, Jesus Christ Superstar


The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, A Town like Alice, To Kill a Mockingbird, Gone with the Wind, A Bend in the River - Naipaul, Poisonwood Bible, East of Eden - Steinbeck, Alexandria Quartet - Lawrence Durrell

Kinds of Music

World music - e.g. Indian, Fijian, Irish
Fusion - Ry Cooder, Sirocco
Alleluia - Cohen

Classical Music

Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No 2
Katcheturian Violin Concerto
Sibelius Violin Concerto
Debussy - piano music
Chopin - piano music
Saint-Saens Organ Concerto
Verdi - Song of the Exiles from Nabucca
Faure - Requiem
Prokofiev - Alexander Nevsky
Vaughan Williams - various

Song to the Moon, Rusalka by Dvorak
Ebben? from La Wally by Catalani
Some from La Boheme and Madam Butterfly

Friday, September 08, 2006

The colours and aromas of Footscray Market

from Wendy

Shopping in Footscray Market

Yesterday we drove to Melbourne in driving rain and decided to park the car near Footscray station and market because the car park there is only $3 a day. It’s one of the best places for buying fruit, vegetables, fish and meat. I find the fascinating array of food there more interesting than going shopping for shoes or jewellery! Tropical fruits and vegetables were all shapes and sizes and aromas, but, bananas were still $12 a kilo!

We had Combination Chinese soup for our lunch - $5 each, then took the train into the city for an appointment at Southbank with Radio Australia (which I will post about on babasiga) then we caught another train back to Footscray.

The western suburbs are not the elite of Melbourne but there is a lot of life there. Footscray is absolutely multicultural, with Barclay Street full of Vietnamese shops. Many Sudanese people also go there for shopping and we talked with a Sudanese - Dinka family on the train.

While Peceli bought some fish and pork, I sketched a few people eating, including two Samoans. I didn’t have time to draw two little Chinese boys eating buckets of chips.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Steve's Call of the Wild, and then wild words from Germaine.

from Wendy

Steve’s Call of the Wild, and then wild words from Germaine.

Everyone is saddened at the death of a young man with a wife and small children and Steve Irwin’s untimely death has led to a massive response because he was the famous ‘Crocodile Man’ with a boyish love of adventure with wild animals. He was not typical at all of Australians though, as most of us live in cities and don’t ever go near snakes, crocodiles or stingrays, but he was an icon of how we could be, - adventurous and up close to danger with a child-like wonder.

One response to his death that has caused outrage was from the expatriate Oz feminist Germaine Greer who lives in England mostly, but has a property also in Queensland. Her article first published in Britain’s Guardian was a barbed sting indeed, regarding Irwin as disrepectful to animals who needed space. ‘Every creature he brandished at a camera was in distres... The animal world has finally taken its revenge on Irwin,’ she wrote.

I saw her interview on television and she seems like a demented woman, shouting out her accusations. The next day I read the written article, which has a little bit of substance, but what awful timing it was! You just don’t write like that immediately after a death! Have some respect Germaine! But hey, you’re never been good at that. You had a go at David Beckam, you had a go at the trilogy ‘Lord of the Rings’ and often had scathing things to say, often erroneously, about Australia!

Adapted rom the Herald Sun, September 6th.

Federal Tourism Minister Fran Bailey said, "This article, as well as being so offensive, very firmly plants her as a cultural elitist who is completely out of touch with the average Australian," Ms Bailey said. "This article is an absolute disgrace. I think Australians would be absolutely offended by such a vicious and ill-informed attack on such a genuine Australian who, in all of his work, constantly stressed care of the environment and care of the species."

Ms Bailey said Greer was little more than a bitter woman who said only negative things about Australia, while Irwin educated children on the need to respect animals and environments.

Victorian Principals Association President Fred Ackerman said anyone calling Irwin a bad influence on children had little idea of how they learn. "For someone to say that, they have an insufficient understanding of the sophisticated way in which even little kids can view the world around them," Mr Ackerman said. He said there was no doubt children learned by example but they understood Irwin was such a rarity, and his behaviour so extraordinary, that they linked him more to inimitable figures such as Santa Claus than a real person.
We even had an email from our nine-year-old grandson, telling us about Steven Irwin. He's a hero even to little kids in Fiji.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Gerard Hoffnung, my hero

This is a continuation of my theme of music. In the late 50s I was teaching classes of forty teenagers about music and they weren't too keen on serious stuff, so I used Hoffnung cartoons and recordings. Perhaps I spoilt their love of classical music forever or at least gave them a twisted view. I recall one piece of music was about playing a vaccuum cleaner. I found a few pics of his cartoons (and pics by others)and also a blog which gives his bio.


Friday, September 01, 2006

Billabongs and Coolabah trees

Once a jolly swagman camped by a billabong
Under the shade of a coolabah tree.

So goes the most wellknown of Aussie songs, ‘Waltzing Matilda’ but when you ask even us, many people just don’t really know what a billabong is! It’s a kind of cut of part of a river, a pond, a meander that silted up, so the water isn’t flowing.
Anyway, I reckon lots of us writers and artists tend to camp by billabongs for too long, and don’t get the pure water flowing by. We just muck about beside the stagnant pond. A billabong could be a metaphor for many aspects of life – it certainly feels like it at times.

From Burarra Gathering website - A billabong ('bill-a-bong') is a body of water, like a large pond. A billabong forms when a river changes its course, leaving a section cut off from the new river. When the river floods every wet season, the water in the billabong flows again as it connects up with the main river. Because of this the water stays fresh and supports an abundance of life. Eventually the river breaks through the base of the loop and the extra bit that detaches forms a billabong. Billabongs can also be formed when a pool of water is left behind when flood or tidal waters recede.

The word billabong comes from the Wiradjuri ('weir-add-jeer-ee') language of south western New South Wales: bila meaning 'river' and bang meaning 'continuing in time or space'. Billabong is now in common use throughout Australia.

The picture of a billabong is from and it reminds me of the location of the film Ten Canoes.

The coolabah tree is a kind of gum tree, and the red wood is excellent for carving from the burls.