Sunday, March 29, 2009


from w
A few k south of Ballarat is a pretty little town of Buninyong (website here) and driving towards Geelong we stopped up a lane for me to make a couple of sketches, one looking back at the mountain.

And here are two more pictures of the cast iron trim on the Macdonalds in Ballarat.

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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Recovery of trees and plants after fire

from w
Although we were devastated by the loss of life and tragedies of the bushfires in Victoria a month or so ago, fire is a natural phenonema in our Australia bush and it takes the heat of such a fire to open the seeds of many species such as hakea and banksia, and for some plants to actually grow again. Tiny leaves form on the bark of trees or at the base, and the grass trees grow quickly. Even lilies grow again after a fire. Here are some photos of recovery after bushfire. We would not be so presumptuous as to drive to the blackened areas this time, but I remember Ash Wednesday we drove to Anglesea and Angahook forest because Peceli was a scout chaplain at the time and we needed to see the Euramella camp. When we drove that way three months later the recovery of the bush was remarkable, the gum trees green with new growth. The photos in the mosaic above are not mine, but 'borrowed' from the internet.

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from w

Some days when I get the ‘blues’ and the noise of people gets me down, I need time out to re-focus and to breath deeply again. Lately we’ve been negotiating this line between helping other people with chaotic lives - who might turn against you later on, who say thanks but then forget quickly... and spending time with ordinary intelligent people who have got on with their lives with grace and humour. Thank goodness for time spend with them as well! So I’ve been thinking about the contradictions we have and how we need to intentionally make a balance in what we do in our daily life.

Personal life
Rich cake and coffee - cool clear water
Blown by the wind – intentional planning
The grit of everyday life – religious experience
Time with the unstable – time with serene people
Indoor and the internet – walking the suburbs
Sitting – exercising
An obsession with family and kin - watching out for the stranger
Art and music - planting and nurturing a difficult garden in drought
Mixing it with the city people - driving in the country
The concrete pavements of city streets - walking along a surf beach
Fears in the night – enjoying the sunshine of the day
Listening to people who tell horrendous stories - being positive about life
Sharing the pain of life – enjoying the good moments
Looking back with nostalgia - living in the present moment
Fear of illness – learning from the saints
Painting as escape - painting as being real
Listening to the laments of a stranger – appreciating your own family

A week ago Peceli and I attended a Uniting Church seminar in Hoppers Crossing about 'Off the map' with stories of new churches that are in the burgeoning housing estates and growth suburbs such as Sanctuary Lakes.Most of the stories were about the ministers and church people spending time in welfare, counselling, mixing with the people 'out there' who are lonely, confused, sick, unstable, poor. It seems to me that soon there will be 'burn-out' if you spend most of your time this way. There's a need for a steady focus on worship, congregational health, and personal well-being if you are going to attend to the 'un-holy' mess of the city. I sometimes feel that the Uniting Church gets the balance a bit skewed with too much emphasis on social welfare and not enough about religious experience!

So here are some of my ideas about balance in the local church;

Reading the 'reality' stories in the newspapers - reading the best parts of the Bible
Going out where the people are - nurturing in worship and groups
Caring for others – caring for self
Mixing it with the mentally unstable - time with those who feel okay
Healing those injured by life - being refreshed by positive teaching
Wanting to change the world – accepting some of the chaos and confusion.

Well, that's my two-bob's worth at 5 a.m. in the morning as I drink my Earl Grey tea!

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Monday, March 23, 2009

Ballarat Macdonalds

from w
Yesterday after a difficult pastoral matter to solve, we were hungry and looked for a Macdonalds in Ballarat and found this quaint recycled old building with the cast iron trim verandah. Inside there were even tiffany lights. Ballarat is a city built on gold from the 1850s and the streets are curly and wobbly and quite strange and it's good to see some of the very old buildings recycled to suit the present time.

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Sunday, March 22, 2009

Geelong Cement Factory

from w
I made a simplified painting of the Geelong Cement Factory before they knocked down part of it. I found the picture yesterday and did some more work on it, then some variations. I wanted to keep the picture shapes flat rather than realistic and play mainly with colour variations. Click on a picture to see larger. And two photographs taken in different years look quite different from my simplified version. The towers have been knocked down by the way and there have been plans for housing but I don't think that has happened.

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Linocut of Owls

from w
I found a brownish-orange print of a linocut I made of two owls, added a little purple and black then scanned the picture. These are some of the results as I used photo-edit to change the linocut look to lines. I find owls both fascinating but very scary. I really don't like birds too much unless they are far away! Something from childhood I think - a dozen turkey gobblers chasing me when I was about four years old!

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Rockpool at Torquay

from w
The photographs I posted of the North sculptures at the Geelong Waterfront reminded me of a paint/oil pastel picture I made of a rockpool at Torquay beach, so I found it, scanned a coupe of sections of it as it is about A3 in size, and then messed around with variations. Not a tranquil sort of beach it seems.

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Saturday, March 21, 2009

Sculpture entitled 'North'

from w
Mark Stoner is the sculptor responsible for the excellent group of pointed sculptures on the Geelong Waterfront. Here's a sample of photographs, mainly from flickr of this group. The change in light and colour is interesting in the photos.
I've taken pics of these sculptures but can't find them - one was used on the cover of a book we published a few years ago.

And there are some fine photographs of Geelong on the Geelong Throng website and go to Gallery.

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Friday, March 20, 2009

A near neighbour's very old cottage

from w
Four doors down is this house that was built about 150 years ago they say. It was neater until a storm blew some of the verandah down. I've made drawings of this house in various stages of disarray. And below are some pics based on a sketch of a very old fig tree in a manse garden in Williamstown - a drawing I did some time ago.

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Monday, March 16, 2009

St Patrick's Day today

from w
May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face;
the rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again,
may God hold you in the palm of His hand.

traditional gaelic blessing


Sunday, March 15, 2009


from w
The word 'Avalon' conjures up magical places connected to the King Arthur legends, of a blessed isle, a quiet place. Avalon -probably from the Celtic word abal: apple; a legendary island famous for its beautiful apples, the place where King Arthur's sword Caliburn (Excalibur) is forged and where the king is taken to recover from his wounds after his last battle at Camlann. The concept of such an "Isle of the Blessed" has parallels in other Indo-European mythology, in particular the Irish Tír na nÓg and the Greek Hesperides, the latter also noted for its apples.

Not far from Geelong there was a quiet little settlement on the beach where an Anglican retreat centre was occasionally used. We went there a couple of times for a retreat and it was a beautiful peaceful place. Earlier on, it had been the home of pastoralist, James Austin. Avalon is also a centre of salt production with the Cheetham company operating a system of saltpans. The wetlands in the area attract a wide range of birdlife, some among the rarest in the world. Part of Austin's property was sold for smaller farms in 1910. A small primary school operated from 1911 to 1950.

In 1949, much of the Austin property was sold to the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation for a jet plane test field and assembly plant. In 1960, the Austin homestead and grounds were given to the Brotherhood of St. Laurence as a temporary shelter for those experiencing hard times.

In 1992, the Commonwealth Government's corporatised Aerospace Technologies of Australia Ltd (ASTA) took over the 1,750 hectares of the Avalon airport. Another milestone in the airport's history came in 1997 when Linfox acquired the airport from the Commonwealth to become a functioning airport for passengers.

But hoorah for the local Avalon these days! (I am being sarcastic.) It's the place where for the past five days, bombers and massive macho airplanes have been hogging the airspaces and burning up petrol in the skies over our quiet suburbs. It's the International Air Show with scores of war machines on show for those who love noise, mayhem and wars. Okay, I'm a misery guts. Half a million people went there, many at $50 a pop, to have a sticky-beak. As for today, the road from Melbourne was clogged one way in the morning and the other way this afternoon. I wouldn't cross the road to see those kind of planes! Okay?

So the name 'Avalon' has such contradictions to me, and perhaps that is life - nothing is as it seems and there are layers of oppositions, serenity and chaos, in so much of our human experience and in our spiritual path there is such a mix of rough stones and polished gems.

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Saturday, March 14, 2009

Harvest Festival

from w
Here are three photos of the decorations organised by Pat and Janet up at East Geelong this morning. The goodies will go later on to Concern and Foundation 41. Some churches don't call it Harvest Thanksgiving anymore but Earth Day or something about ecology and greening. I didn't stay long, just gave my cake mix, jelly, and other items and left quickly as Peceli and I had to go to Dandenong. (See babasiga for photos of some of the Fijian people at the Trinity church there today.)

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Friday, March 13, 2009

Dance as if no one is watching

from w
I really love qawali music and first got to know it when we lived in Fiji and some of our neighbours sang this kind of Indian music. It is mainly associated with Muslims such as from Pakistan. But there is a religion from Turkey where men dance to this kind of music, the whirling dervishes from the Sufi mystical branch of Islam. If I wasn't a Christian, this is my kind of religion perhaps! They sing, they write poetry, they dance! In Melbourne one group perform occasionally. I haven't had the opportunity to see them though. So far I only have seen them on TV. Anyway I did a drawing today of the dancers, then added watercolour, then made a few variations. They spin as the music sings the names of God and trance-like they keep on dancing and dancing.

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