Monday, November 30, 2009

Farewell Cam

from w
This morning was a sad farewell for one of our elderly gentlemen from East Geelong Uniting Church. Cam was a beloved member of our faith community, a laughing, smiling delightful man who was interested in people, all kinds of people and really meant it when he said, 'How are you going?' I played the music - some hymns on the organ, some Mozart and Saint Saen on the piano. It was a good but tearful send-off for this man who reached the age of 89. During the war Cam was a prisoner-of-war in Changi, later a farmer, a missionary in Korea with a sheep farm, a parent in a boys' home and a pastor, a friend of the local Aboriginal people, everyone he knew. Peceli and I visited him four weeks ago when he phoned to give us a box of his books.
I took photos of the people in the hall after the memorial service as they shared in refreshments, mostly people known to us, but some coming a long way today.

We have a very good 'tea' ministry, not only for church members but in association with a nearby funeral director. It's not fund-raising but is a kind of pastoral ministry providing a lovely supply of food for the guests. Today my offering (as I don't really like cooking) was a large platter of kiwi fruit, melon, strawberries, cantelope and watermelon.

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Thursday, November 26, 2009

One magnolia

from w
Not much drawing this week as the pre-Christmas functions have started and by the time Christmas Day really comes we will be tired of fabulous meals. Anyway here's just one magnolia in various poses and variations from a photo taken near Deakin University Waterfront campus.

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Monday, November 23, 2009

Darwin and 150 years on

from w
Last evening I went to the Geelong Botanical Gardens to hear a lecture by Professor David Cantrill, Professor of Botany and Director of Herbarium Royal Botanical Gardens Melbourne, to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the publication of Charles Darwin's 'The Origin of the Species'. He spoke mainly about Darwin’s five weeks in Australia – in summer, and only based on NSW, Tasmania and West Australia. David Cantrill’s expertise is in southern hemisphere plants, even Antarctica - well, a long time ago.

Today is exactly 150 years since the book went on sale to the public. It took Darwin 20 years to get it to this point, speeded up at the last minute because another guy, a kind of adventurer was coming to the same conclusions.

Though I couldn’t understand a lot of the Professor’s language, one thing I was interested in was that the classification has changed – at least 20% of the old classification is wrong as proved by DNA testing. For example earlier they looked at the appearance of a plant, now they examine the DNA and find that quite different looking flowers such as the water lily and the protea, are in fact from the same family of plants.

So what do I think of the theory of evolution, since I am a Christian? Okay, like many people I do not find there’s a problem – we are kin to animals and all creatures and deep ecology appeals to me. I guess we are even related to the mongoose and the iguana!But there’s something in humans that is different – the spiritual or religious sensibility. I don’t read Genesis literally – in fact I read it as a brilliant myth so Darwin’s views don’t disturb me. Here’s an article I raked up in google.

Darwin's disciples
BARNEY ZWARTZ March 2, 2009 On the Origin of Species was published 150 years ago. Barney Zwartz examines the social legacy of Charles Darwin's seminal work and asks, must faith and science always collide?

PHIL Batterham has built his life on two books. Some consider them mutually exclusive, but the Melbourne University geneticist finds them both compatible and inspiring. The first is the Bible, the second Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species. "I am a Christian. I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. I believe in the virgin birth. I believe that the influence of God is pervasive in this world and in my life," he says.

"I am also an evolutionary biologist. Darwin's theory of evolution via natural selection is the foundation upon which my research is built. Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution."

It is widely believed that after Darwin, religion could never be the same. Did he not disconnect man from the image of God and reinvent him in the image of apes? It is certainly true that, after Darwin, science could never be the same. But the relationship between faith and science, then and now, resists simple certainties. And, from Darwin's day until now, his teaching - like Christianity's - has been distorted and used to justify all sorts of evils (of which more below).

(some bits deleted here) "Before that there was no science of biology," Byrne says. "There were little bits of science, people studying animals and behaviour, but Darwin brought it all together and said `here's a way you can understand the world'.
"It worked, and it still works, and it worked when it didn't have a mechanism. It took Mendel working in his monastery and Watson and Crick with DNA to provide a mechanism."

(bits deleted here) So can faith and Darwinian science coexist? Impossible, say extremists and ideologues in both camps. Six-day creationists reject evolution, insist on a literal reading of the biblical creation account, and reject some claims of science - and they are powerful enough in the United States to affect funding for scientific research, though they have little purchase elsewhere in the West.
Atheist crusader Richard Dawkins, the creationists' fundamentalist mirror image in the science camp, insists that Darwin disproved God. It is an article of faith (for the evidence is against him) that science and religion are such polar opposites that a Christian cannot be an adequate scientist, which would undoubtedly be an unpleasant surprise to such giants as Isaac Newton or Francis Collins, decoder of the human genome.

For the vast majority of Christians, evolution provides no challenge to their faith. They distinguish between the theological doctrine of creation, emphasising God's goodness and purpose, and the scientific doctrine of origins. The Vatican accepted the theory decades ago, while last year the Church of England, somewhat bizarrely, officially apologised to Darwin for having misunderstood him. Dead for 126 years, doubtless he was deeply gratified.

According to Bishop Tom Frame, author of a new book on Darwin, Evolution in the Antipo-des, evolution and theism are easily harmonised. "God works with and within natural processes because, after all, they are God's processes, so people should not be afraid of what empirical observation and the application of reason might show."
Science, of course, deals with the material world, with the marks that matter makes upon matter, whereas religion is more concerned with the spiritual realm. As it is often, somewhat simplistically, put: science deals with what and how; religion deals with why.

(part deleted here) Creationists and militant atheists have both distorted Darwin's own religious position, attributing to him beliefs he never held, Frame says. Darwin abandoned Christianity but never renounced it and refused to be called an atheist. "He remained agnostic all his life, and his reasons for not believing were not because of science but theology and philosophy."

(section deleted here) Both science and faith are experimental. Just as scientists test ideas with experiments and reflect on them, so Christians put their religious ideas to the test in their daily lives, he says. And both science and faith should admit the limits to their knowledge.

With a little goodwill they can coexist quite happily, especially as the boundaries are once again blurring with the rise of quantum physics. Science and faith, it is evident, are both still evolving. Batterham is not sure that the evolution of the genome can keep pace with the evolution of culture. "One of the things that gives rise to stress and symptoms is simply that our biology is not keeping up. Our lifestyle has changed so much in two centuries, which is a very short time frame for DNA. So there's a disconnect between the pressures put on us and the time our bodies take to respond."

But, if the future of humanity is uncertain, Jonathan Marks is certain that while we endure, so will both science and faith. He says: "The blending of spiritual and material is as unlikely to change as bipedality."
And I wonder if dogs can think, or have empathy for other animals in trouble. I drew this after I was watching the documentary 'The Weeping Camel'.

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Sunday, November 22, 2009

Art is open spaces

from w
Sometimes outdoor art or sculpture is more interesting than framed pictures in a gallery. Glenn Romanis, born in Geelong is a community artist who does very interesting work with large-scale installations working in textile design, mosaic tiling, paving, murals and painting. His Aboriginal heritage informs his work which has a strong environmental focus and he often works with groups of children.

On Saturday the Age ran a story about Glenn, particularly about an outdoor work he made at the Buddhist Centre in Melbourne.

My space Glenn Romanis
November 21, 2009
The Maribynong snakes its way through a valley in Braybrook, far below where Glenn Romanis has created his own rocky replica. In an installation rich with cultural and topographical meaning, Romanis has crafted a river-shaped dragon from rocks and stones at the Quang Minh Buddhist Temple. Laid out near the construction site of a huge new temple, the installation uses Vietnamese and indigenous imagery to tell a story of belonging.

What is the story being told here? Everything I do is about trying to communicate someone else's story. This contains all of the (Vietnamese) symbolism — the dragon and the lotus flower — but I've tried to create it in a site-specific format so that the lotus flower points directly to where the temple is in relation to the Maribyrnong. You've got the Maribyrnong running through, the dragon holding the myrnong, which is like an indigenous yam daisy that was quite prolific around here. It is created in basalt because this is basalt country. In the larger basalt rock, there is engraved water, which represents the sea and how they (the Vietnamese) have travelled to get to here. It was conceptualised through the community, and the kids (from the Vietnamese youth group) came down on Sundays and put in their two bob. The whole community got behind it, especially the women in the (temple) kitchen. It was fantastic having lunch every day with them and having workers stop by and have a yack.

What have you learnt here? How strong the community is, especially working here on a Sunday and seeing the preparation that goes into every Sunday's feast. I think that's the centre of any community, to get together and have a meal and a yack.

Have you found parallels between their sense of place and your own? From what I've grasped from the conversations I've had, it's very important to respect their culture but still have an understanding of where they're residing, sitting within the Maribyrnong and its surroundings, and to respect that.

What was your impression when you first saw the site? It's very much a work site; a lot of the tradies were just as interested as the community in what was happening. I've had a lot of questions asked along the journey. It's not until the last couple of days that it starts to come together, so a lot of people weren't quite understanding what the heck was going on. Down below, it doesn't really read as a dragon. I want it to read as topography, as basalt and river, so you get a sense of the place. It's not until you get up above it that you read it as a map. Topography is important in your work.

Where do you think that comes from? Probably from doing a lot of community art and everyone wanting to tell a story but wanting something that's different to the next town. A lot of the work I do is in smaller towns, and I've found it a good way of creating something unique because every bend in the river is different . . . people know that this is their area on the river. It doesn't matter whether you've been here for a million years or if you just got here yesterday, topography's always going to be here, so it's a really good tool to use as a starting point and then tell the community's story through that. I'm slowly creating my own little version of the Melway . . . they can be read as individual works and also as one larger installation that covers the whole of south-eastern Australia.

Does your indigenous background give you a particular perspective on that? Unless I'm working with a particular mob from that specific area, I wouldn't say it has too much cultural relevance. It has more relevance to the topography and the land. It's inspired by place, and I'll bring particular stories from whatever individuals I'm working with within that space, whether it's the Vietnamese or Sudanese, trying to tell their story.

Have you had a sense of being part of the community during the project? I don't think you can ever be part of it, but the more you get a sense of their stories, the stronger your work will be. In a lot of communities, people can be wary. It's like, "who's this clown coming in, and what's he about?" You have to build some rapport.

What do you hope the local kids who worked on the project will take from it? Like any kid between 12 and 15, at first it's "what the heck are we doing here?" And secondly, I'm saying each rock has its place and you've got to get the levels right. It's a hard thing to communicate. They were very interested in learning, but they're like any kids . . . I'd be standing over each rock and they'd be like, "just bloody put it there", you know?

How difficult was it to keep a sense of the work from down on the ground? It wasn't until it was nearly finished that I got to come up here (the temple's top level). I'm saying, "oh yeah, I'm happy with that", but see (the dragon's) arse there? He's real skinny. One of the tradies pointed out, gee he's a skinny-arsed bugger, isn't he?

Glenn Romanis' installation is one of a series of projects exploring home, migration and dispossession in the Big West Festival, running until November 29. The temple is at 18 Burke Street, Braybrook.

A multi-media presentation on Glenn Romanis appears at on Monday.

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Friday, November 20, 2009

It's so hot and dry

from w
The grass which was very green four weeks ago is now going white and many of the trees are shedding their bark. The weather is atrocious as it's so hot and it's not even December yet. Apparently two nights ago it was the hottest night for a hundred years. This talk about climate change certainly has some meaning. It slightly cooled in the afternoon so I went to town, despite the wild winds to see the Geelong Quilt exhibition at the Deakin waterfront campus. It was lovely and I took a few photos of details. Most of the quilts were symmetrical and very formal but one caught my attention as the artist had used the theme of bushfires. And of course quilts are the last things you need in this weather.

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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Looking at succulants close up

from w
Yesterday I took three photos of succulants in the front garden and then cropped the pictures etc. to make abstract kind of shapes that look like a Paul Klee painting. Well, not quite.

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Sunday, November 15, 2009

In stitches, a one-eyed cat and a question about copyright

from w
Once upon a time when I had not much to do in the cold evenings, I stitched a 'House that Jack built' picture of a rooster cat and mouse. A bead eventually fell out of the cat's eye. The naive kind of tapestry hung on the bedroom wall for a while. I photographed it and then did a reverse colour with Microsoft photo-edit, but I think the original warm colours suit it best.

Now the question about copyright:
what if I scan someone's photo from a magazine,
crop a corner of it,
manipulate it with a photo-editing program until it's barely recognizable,
and now want to use the altered image in a book,
do I have to acknowledge the original photographer?

(later) I did a google search and it seems that this is a no-no if I want to use my 'version' for more than just a picture in my scrapbook, and I should request permission from the original photographer to 'mess about' with his or her picture.

And here are a few bits and pieces from photographs I took in recent days.
later - Tuesday, Dec 1. I made a coloured pencil picture of the 'House that Jack Built' based on the stitched one, and then changed one slightly to cooler colours. It might be good in a children's room.

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Thursday, November 12, 2009

Finding words to go with pictures

from w
This morning I was doing my office work up at the church when I decided to pull down many of the out-of-date flyers, photos, maps and so on from the two pin-boards in the narthex. So then we need something else to go up. I found one picture in a very old scrapbook that might be okay if I put a text with it. Here it is... then I'll print it out maybe A3 size. Actually I think the words are too large and I need to do it again with less intrusive print.


Melbourne No 1 Sports City?

from w
They were talking about this on the radio yesterday and some people phoned in to argue that perhaps it's about huge events not kick the kick in the street or amateur sports in the suburbs. Too many watchers, not enough doers. Anyway someone voted Melbourne as the No I Sports City, but wait, look at the criteria.
from a website - -
Melbourne, the state capital of Victoria in Australia, is the best location in the world to hold a sports event according to an industry analysis of sports cities globally, compiled by London-based consulting and research company
ArkSports Limited.

The analysis sought to determine which city in the world is the ‘Ultimate Sports City’ in terms of hosting international major events. Twenty cities made the initial cut based on their history of hosting sports events and were then ranked according to ArkSports by a range of criteria, including the number of annual sports events held, major events held or won up until 2010, facilities, transport, accommodation, government support, weather, legacy, public sports interest and quality of life.

Recent Commonwealth Games host Melbourne came out on top, beating France’s capital Paris and Australian rival Sydney, which are tied in joint second place. Berlin, Germany came fourth and London, England, fifth.

The top 10 cites are listed below:
The Ultimate Sports City Top 10
Rank Cities Points

1 Melbourne, Australia 341.5
2 Paris, France 312.5
2 Sydney, Australia 312.5
4 Berlin, Germany 292
5 London, UK 287.5
6 Madrid, Spain 284.5
7 New York, USA 275.5
8 Beijing, China 262.5
9 Tokyo, Japan 255.5
10 Cape Town, South Africa 244

Source: ArkSports Limited
And of course Tiger Woods is in town and thousands and thousands are there at the golf course watching every stroke. I watched a bit this afternoon - on TV - didn't see birdies or eagles only a few missed puts! Peceli got two birdies yesterday and two birdies the day before - in Geelong, in fact won on the day when he played with Rev Richard. Must be a bit of prayin' did it! No way, that's not how it works!

I asked my son if the name Tiger is his real name and he said it's always been Tiger, but when I looked it up on the internet his real name is Eldrick!
Born Eldrick Tont Woods on December 30, 1975, in Cypress, California, as the only child of an African-American Army officer father and a Thai mother. His father began calling Woods by the nickname "Tiger" in honor of a fellow soldier and friend who had the same moniker.

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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Ambling along upper Moorabool Street

from w
The weather was a bit more tolerable this morning so I went into town to see the photographs at the Wintergarten Cafe and the paintings upstairs - kind of abstracts but mainly interesting blobs. The black and white photos were from a calendar made by the women of the Harmony Choir, nude but very modest, as the curves were almost hidden by rocks and trees in the landscape. There were lots of older women there and I met one of the U3A writers I once knew and we recalled the time when we were students together with Avis Hart, a brilliant teacher of creative writing in the year 2000. She is into photography these days and we talked about Picasa and such like.On the way back to the bus I ambling along Moorabool Street browsing in the lovely shops there such as Fyans Cottage and Little India. I ignored three golf shops but bought picture frames at a very neat Vinnies Op Shop. Fyans Cottage has lovely Edwardian kind of pictures, cards, pottery, etc. that decorative art that started with Toulouse Lautrec much earlier. Examples here are from a diary with pictures by Erte and Rachel Bishop's Moorcroft Peacock.
. So who on earth is Erte? Apparently he was a Russian artist and he says, "Not Only do I do what I want to do, but I do my work in my own way and never have been influenced by another artist. The sole influences on my art, through the course of my entire career, were the Persian and Indian Miniatures and Greek vases I saw in my childhood at the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg (Now Leningrad). I think that these influences have stayed with me to this day, although they were assimilated long ago." (Excerpt "At Ninety") There's a website about Erte.

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Monday, November 09, 2009

Remembering anniversaries

from w
There's lots of talk this week of it being twenty years since the breaking down of the Berlin Wall. Yes, I remember that time and the excellent consequences. Also of course it is a birthday of something equally (?) significant - that magical TV program Sesame Street which children have loved for two generations. It was ahead of its time with its inclusiveness and mix of real kids and puppets. Now that started forty years ago!

It's also Remembrance Day tomorrow - 11th of 11th month and Peceli remembers his older brother Laisenia who died in the Solomon Islands.(reposted from an earlier babasiga blog posting: from Peceli) I was thinking of my older brother Laisiasa Masidugu who died in the battlefield in the Solomon in 1944. I only discovered by using the internet that my brother Laisaisa is listed in the Rabaul War Cemetery in Papua New Guinea.
Rabaul War Cemetery Roll of Honour includes:
MASIDUGU, Private, LAISIASA, 1336. 1st Bn. Fiji Infantry 13. A. Regt. Fiji Military Forces. 29th March 1944. Age 22. V.
I was about seven when the District Officer and a Fijian came to our house to tell my father that Laisiasa had died. The story was that there was a valley and three young soldiers kept on fighting while the others in his platoon of the First Battalian were told to retreat. Later on someone came to our house to give us his belt and water bottle. There were bullet holes in the belt. A few years ago I saw an honour scroll in my cousin’s house in Naseakula and it was a tribute to Laisiasa and I have it now.

from Wendy again: And I remember forty years ago, waddling around, very delighted, due to give birth to my second son on 11th of November. And yes, we remember Rob's life was ended when he was 30 in an accident in 2009. So today and tomorrow we have plenty to remember.


Sunday, November 08, 2009

Suddenly it's summer

pic from last year.
from w
Yesterday and today have been so hot - more than 34 degrees and it's only into November, not summer at all. Apparently records have been broken already - it hasn't been so hot in early November for a hundred years. Our lovely vegetable garden will suffer if this keeps up, and the flowers will wilt too. A year ago some of the rather ordinary looking cactus plants suddenly burst into lovely red and pink flowers, but they wilted within a week. This has happened once again. Several flowers emerged and then within three days they were rather sorry. Perhaps my photos of one of the wilting flowers ought to be called 'After the ball is over'.

And suddenly the bouganvillea which had no flowers two weeks ago is ablaze with small buds and flowers.

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