Wild at art



David Lynch first came to my attention via a profile in The Weekend Australian ahead of the release of Wild At Heart

It spoke of his interest in settings of urban decay, as well as the mix of brutal realism and surreal fairy tale-like moments in his films.

A few months later I was a 16- or 17-year old at the cinema using a borrowed ID to buy a ticket to the R-rated film.

It didn't change my life but I think it did change how I see the world, at least a little.

Wild At Heart remains a favourite film and I like the way it presents romantic love as an antidote to all the evils of the modern wold.

It's a theme that continued in Twin Peaks but became complicated in films Lost Highway and Mulholland Drive, where unreliable narrators use romantic love to try and keep a handle on their increasingly unbalanced lives.

I like the way Lynch keeps audiences unsettled and, while there are many aspects to his storytelling that are remarkable, there's something about the way that he reconciles all the varying viewpoints without compromising their individuality.

It's not without judgment but it recognises the richness they add.

It's a richness that I think distinguishes David Lynch's work.

Hung trolley

Some curators say that hanging a piece can change the context in which it is viewed

Found myself admiring this particular shopping trolley more than any other I've known.

How to Avoid Mixing Your Metaphors

Securing an open relationship

I’m noticing a theme in my reflective posts: they often start with the phrase “a friend posted on Facebook…”

It’s a statement that much of our interactions are undertaken in that highly-managed medium.

Obviously much of my reflection happens here and recently I’ve been pondering the increased interest in polygamy.

It’s surprising who likes the posts about open relationships that I share and I’m also surprised who shares posts of their own.

Yesterday a friend commented on how she’d decided an open relationship wasn’t for her while growing up with a view of her unhappy parents’ open relationship.

Now she’s just entered an open relationships and was explaining that polyamory isn’t the same as polygamy.

Her point was that being open to being more than a couple isn’t the same as being open to everything that could be a part of that relationship.

It brought to my mind recent conversations with my partner and how the notion of an open relationship isn’t a notion like open borders.

Our relationship is probably a bit more like I imagine it is in the European Union, where passports are checked prior to crossing boundaries.

Neve's new canvas

Yesterday I noticed this strange design on my daughter's ankle

She began drawing a wristwatch on her arm last year and has been branching out onto other limbs with various images and logos.

This one wasn't obvious to me but I later heard her explain that it's a diamond.

"Everyone needs their diamond in the rough," she said.

The way she said it made it sound like the rough was a place, either mental or physical.

So I began imagining it like 'sleeping rough' to mean outdoors.

Like one might paint a diamond on their ankle when camping to avoid mosquito bites.

Anyway, I'm going to encourage Neve to consider a career as a tattooist.

Tracking The Seven Sisters

Last year I had an idea to photograph the stars one morning and noticed a clump of stars to the north. 

My partner saw this picture I’d taken and identified them as the Peliedes.

She later directed me to an article that discussed how in various parts of the world these were known for being a group of women (sometimes a mother with daughters) fleeing the Orion group of stars, viewed in places as a man but elsewhere as a bear.

It was fascinating to learn a similar story seemed to be told all around the world about the same cluster of stars. This Nexus article argued the story appeared in Denisovan societies, which places it very early in human migration around the world.

So when the National Museum of Australia started promoting their Songlines exhibition, I was curious to learn how various Australian Aboriginal groups shared similar stories.

The exhibition builds on the stories from the lands of the Anangu, Pitjantjatjara, Yankunytjatjara and Ngaanyatjarra peoples, which cover three deserts in an area of 600,000sq km.

The story of the Seven Sisters fleeing a shape-shifting male character varies in different parts of the continent but there is a unifying theme in recognising the threat men pose for women and girls.

In some versions the male Wati Nyiru tries to ingratiate himself to the women but is unable to control his lustful impulses. For example, in one telling the penis has other ideas and tries to interest the women by pretending to be a carpet python so they will eat him.

Other parts of the story vary in the details of which waterholes the women dug in their travels, or where the water course becomes hidden. In this way the story serves to instruct on how to survive in the outback.

In some places some women are interested in the man pursuing them, elsewhere they are frightened. In some stories they trick him and at least one telling involves them weeing on him. It was interesting to sense how the tone shifted but unclear whether that was a result of particular storytellers or the cultural traditions they recounted.

The exhibition illustrates the story of the seven sisters in a variety of ways, including video of dances and animations, as well as paintings, pottery and woodcarving.

It demonstrates the complex nature of representation in Aboriginal art, which combines symbolic and geographic representation to link nature and culture.
Songlines embody the stories of the ancestors’ creation of country itself. They are a belief system. But they are also akin to maps – stories about the land that, understood, spoken or sung, can be used to navigate on foot or even by vehicle. Given that this continent’s Indigenous populations represent the oldest continuous civilisations on earth, the songlines can even be seen as foundation stories of the cosmos.

The central role of art in this exhibition makes it feel as though it might be better placed in the National Gallery than the National Museum. I understand the exhibition developed from an Anangu initiative and the result doesn’t attempt to draw too many connections or boundaries in each telling of the seven sisters story, which frustrated me a bit as I didn’t have the time to compare and contrast them while shepherding my kids through in under an hour.

My kids had mixed reactions but when I began to joke about the magical penis, they became more interested. This fantastic phallus is acknowledged in varying tones by the different artists and elders involved and, again, is interesting to sense the different morals and sensitivities involved.

In hindsight I can see that my expectations for the exhibition were somewhat shaped by the cross-cultural comparison in the Nexus article. Songlines is fascinating for the glimpses into various cultural traditions and was a bit surprising in how it uses contemporary art to show these, but it left me hungry to learn more -- which isn't such a bad outcome.

Image above shows Seven Sisters Songline (1994) by Josephine Mick, from the APY region

Grandy Dawn shows grandkids her photos

Old landscape

You might've noticed I've returned to keeping a sketchbook diary

It was interesting that when I grabbed an old sketchbook, I was surprised to see recognise a landscape on the pages.

It's an old quarry site opposite Pindari. You can recognise the S-curved track on the hill.