Chance and beauty

This blog has swung for weeks now between spring, nature and art (with a little bit of community thrown in), and this week it’s art once more, to report on some beautiful pictures made by Liz Hetzel, and showing at present in the gigantic interior (that’s also the name of the exhibition) of the Convention Centre. I’ve been thinking about them since I saw them, a couple of weeks ago now, and heard from Liz earlier that same week about how they are made. She explains this process in her artist statement, which I photographed fairly badly, but it’s still easy enough to read…

Liz's pics 4

This has had me thinking about how we are in the world, and it is in us. We are marked by the environment that surrounds us as it is marked by us. There is this constant interplay between us and the world that is easy to forget or ignore. These pictures are made in part through chance – how the paint flows over the surface of the canvas as it lies on the ground and settles into the shapes of dips and pockets in the earth, traces itself, rubs itself on the earth – and in part through the imagination and deliberate effort of Liz herself. Liz’s explorations – travel, sense of place, awareness of light and colour, the physicality of doing art, and also the ideas, thoughts, dreams and inventions of her interior world are combined in these lovely pictures that are a bit like topographical maps or excerpts from google earth, or the earth seen from space. Or maybe they are a kind of picture of our gigantic unknown interiors. Or a kind of map to the way we live in our heads and also in a place. Or who bloody knows! But the chanciness and the beauty seem to say something afresh to me about life and I am really grateful to have had the chance to see the work and think about it since…

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My own little farewell to Holden

It’s been everywhere in the news this week, as the last car manufacturing factory in Australia closed at Elizabeth. It has been a big part of the local economy for many years, and so its closure means a lot to many people, particularly the workers, current and in the past.

Growing up, we always had Holden cars – dad had a Ute back in the day – I can just remember it – then we had a brown station wagon, then another station wagon (rego number REO-504!), then The Commodore, which we had for many years. No doubt all of them made at Elizabeth (though there were plants in other states, so who knows really). So my thanks to the people who put in the work over all the years, and all the best to one and all…


Me in need of a haircut, Helen and Richard standing next to the Commodore in 1979 outside the shop in Auburn. Not a fantastic photo of the photo, but best I could do…

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‘Birds’ (part 3)(imaginary)

The strelitzias continue to bloom all over the suburbs – I am like a twitcher, I notice them out of the corners of my eyes these days, their perky eager ‘heads’ glowing from gardens wherever I look. If you don’t look out for them though, it’s easy not to notice they are there – like so many things that we get used to, they become the wallpaper of our lives, there but almost invisible.

I have been imagining what it would be like if they were real birds of paradise, and that they migrate to us each spring, arriving in flocks and taking up residence in gardens everywhere like the flowers do. Wouldn’t that be a sight? We would take notice then I daresay…

Here are some photos of the real birds from the internet (click to enlarge):

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Creativity and imagination

I had a great time earlier in the week at the opening of an art exhibition put together for World Mental Health Day by Sarah and friends at the South West Community Centre (which has featured here before also) in the city. Mark, whose art work has also appeared previously in this blog, was one of the featured artists, along with Michael and Hali. I really love the way Mark just keeps going with his art – he draws and draws, every day, and he has been exploring more colour of late, including using glittery pens. His work is really imaginative and creative, and has a strong beauty that I really like. It’s also funny and quirky. Mark has never had many opportunities to take his work further, but he has just kept going, and kept enjoying making the work. The launch really was terrific. It was great to meet the artists, all of whom have had different challenges, but still had the guts to put their work out in public. Mark did a great speech and I felt really proud to know someone so creative and imaginative. It’s a big thing to allow others to see your work – it puts you in quite a vulnerable position, but Mark and the other artists showed a lot of panache, and Mark for one really really enjoyed the day. The exhibition is on till next month, so if you are around town and can get to Sturt Street and the South West Community Centre, go in and have a look!

I took a few photos of the event – not as good as I would have liked, but it gives a flavour of things.

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‘Birds’ (part 2)

Once you start looking out for something (in this case strelitzias), you see them everywhere. These bird of paradise plants are flowering all over the place at the moment, and I couldn’t resist a few more snaps of them to follow up from last week’s post. I think they have migrated from the north somewhere, and have landed in gardens everywhere for the season.

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Una mujer feroz

Today I went to a celebration party for Megan, my dear friend who has had treatment over the past 18 months or so for cancer, and has come through now to a place of remarkable health and vitality. It is amazing and wonderful to be at this point, as pancreatic cancer, which she had, has a very poor prognosis. The party was held at the Community Centre at Aberfoyle Park, with a great band – The Cherrypickers – fantastic food, lovely company and a wonderful opportunity to reflect on the power of love and friendship, solidarity through hard times, and the precious amazing mystery of being alive.

Chris and Megan both made great speeches – Chris taking some time to reflect on Megan’s many wonderful qualities – in particular that she is Una Mujer Feroz (they walked part of the Camino de Santiago trail in Spain a few years ago, hence the Spanish) – a fierce woman – “that is to say, she is bold, exceptional, full of zeal, furiously active, devoted and determined. She takes her friendships and relationships enormously seriously; she feels deeply and she loves fiercely.” What a wonderful way to live! She is also kind, warm, insightful and funny.

Megan for her part spoke about us, her family and friends, and the difference it makes to have people around to hold us when the going is hard. I know this too from my own life, but I also know that when things are tough, it’s not always easy to reach out, or to ask people for help. It often feels simpler to close ranks and draw inwards, so the grace and generosity of Megan and Chris’s rallying of us, and openness to us, really meant a lot.

It was a wonderful afternoon, with wonderful people whom I am very grateful to have in my life. Here are some pictures…



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Bird-watching (sort of)

Spring has definitely arrived, and I am a bit obsessed with all the gorgeous colours and flowers that are in gardens, on verges, everywhere you look at the moment. In previous years with this blog, I have featured wisteria, jacarandas and flowers generally. This year I have been on the hunt for strelitzias, or Bird of Paradise plants. They are so striking, with flowers like alert birds, on guard in gardens all over the place. Once you start looking out for them they’re everywhere… Here are a selection taken on my morning walks, or out of my car window sometimes, or sometimes I park the car and walk to the garden to get a better shot. And I have found them on walks with friends, and when I am out on home visits at work. We even have one in the garden here at my place. And there are a couple in pots at the office too (not pictured below as I forgot to take a photo during the week).  And in neighbours gardens. (Don’t forget to click on the picture if you want to see a larger version)

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