Spending time at Mayday

February 11, 2014

Spending time in a place, drawing painting looking listening touching, you’d think it would make you feel as though you’re getting to know it.

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But knowing takes a long time.

In the meantime I’ll borrow the shapes and colours and lines of this place, an old asylum with a garden of trees that have seen everything unfold for one hundred and fifty years.

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Prompted by a recent exhibition called Sacred Land by Barbel Ulrich, I got thinking about my relationship with where I live. How do I connect with the land? For one thing, I look for a hill or mountain nearby as a point of reference – to know that I am home.

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I have always lived in towns, so contact with the land from day to day is either intimate in the garden, or public in parks. (For a time I also had a secret life along the magic corridor on Beechworth Road, in the evenings, before the drought.)

And then when the drought broke last year I was compelled to paint the sky. The sky is always with me. A free gift every day that requires only my attention.

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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.
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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.”