I love having a car. It could be any car really, although I’ve loved a couple of them more than the others. I can still feel the thrill of that first drive alone. The potential to go anywhere I want, as far as I want, without relying on anyone but myself.

The yellow pop-top Kombi was my favorite. Pull out the back seat and it became a portable studio or art transporter or removal van. After a family trip I could just sweep it out. And in summer it was cool and airy.

We called it Kate and made up bedtime stories about her and her friends. But the engine died and I sold it to my neighbour. It sat in his back yard for a long time.
Copy of DSC08347

I want a van again. You’ve got to be able to sleep in your car. Sedans just aren’t the same. I had a station wagon in between – an old Toyota Cressida. Pretty easy and comfy, until the suspension fell out and the seats fell in. She ended up in my mechanic’s back yard, and then at the wreckers. Poor old girl.

Mum is one of those lovely people who are funny without even meaning to be. She loves her car too. Soon after she bought a Suzuki Baleno someone asked her what type of car it is. She answered, after some thought, “I think it’s a Mitsubishi Baloni.”



April 21, 2010

Having returned a few days ago from my trip to Melbourne and Gippsland feeling satisfied with the many short visits I made to family and friends, I lay down with a migraine. It crept up on me after the long hours of driving and the long hours of email catchup the next day.

A few years ago I discovered that if a migraine isn’t too severe, the only thing I can do to use some of the many unproductive hours is draw. I set myself up in a dark room, paper and materials at my fingertips. With eyes closed I begin making marks with movements that cause me the least pain. Sometimes the drawing becomes a frustrated explosion of coloured crayon, but mostly they are quiet odes to pain, but not to suffering.

migraine4Dad was a migraine sufferer. We often had to creep around the house, just as my children have so graciously done for me.

migraine5It’s a complex business. Stress, diet, hormones, sleep, coffee, air pressure, genetics, posture. Many years ago when alternative medicine was rare here, Dad found a doctor who taught him self-hypnosis, to help manage his stress levels. I remember his gratitude for a little help. It was a kind of filter, a thin shield between heart and life.

Time and distance

April 13, 2010

I’m off to visit Mum tomorrow. When I stay for a few days we settle into an easy companionship, having slipped through the time and distance that hardens like wax between us.

Copy of wax vases 1I’ll draw some more objects from her life. And maybe some quiet moments from her face, hands, movements – as I’ve done before. And record stories as she tells them.

mumwatchinginsprex1(Is there a recording somewhere out there of Dad singing?) It’s good to have these stories from Mum – the sound of her contralto voice and girlish laugh while she remembers.

Holding it together

April 11, 2010

An osteopath once told me that the tension I carry is mostly in the fascia, or connective tissue, that holds everything in place. This tissue surrounds, separates, protects, stabilizes and generally holds everything together. It’s all about control. It does this whether I try to help it or not. It does its job. I’m grateful for that.

A few years back I asked Mum what was the most significant thing she has learned in her life. She said, “to let go”.


Soft steady rain

April 6, 2010

In Dutch there are many words for rain. The cousin who told me that, didn’t tell me what they are, so I’m left to imagine. Rain, shower, sheet, drips, plips, drumming, rushing, drift, spots, curtain, wet, buckets. In English,  ‘rain’ is added to the end of a description – driving rain, pouring rain, heavy rain, soft rain, soaking rain.

My father’s birthday has just passed. It’s raining, as it did when he was buried. When I first began work in my current studio, he came to mind – my first creative ally. I made a series of small drawings in watercolour – quietly weaving patterns like the ones he wove on the loom that he made.

Copy of dot weave 2It was the seventies. Mum was a spinner and she knitted and crocheted. Still does. Dad loved the sheep, the wool, the shearing. Together they went searching for plants and bark to boil up dyes and then made things with the freshly spun and dyed wool.

Hands ought to be productive. And if beautiful things come from it, all the better for the world.

Sensory input

April 4, 2010

My father was a musician. My earliest memory is of lying against his chest feeling comforted by the vibration of his voice – warm baritone hum. I also remember his voice when it filled the house and either thrilled or scared me. And the long hours I spent immersed in the smells and sounds of his wood-work shed.

My mother worked long each day to run the household. I remember the fabric of her coats, her apron, the doilies we crocheted together, the vegemite toast she brought me when I was home from school with my annual cold, and the smell of pea and ham soup. And I can see her reading and writing, pulled between the English of her second life and the Dutch of her first.

And many many other things come back as I write.

coats in diary