Sunday, 30 March 2008

Big Fish

I watched a movie today called Big Fish. Chicky Babe Said it was a comedy. It was a movie about a young man trying to understand his father who always stretched the truth, every tale of his life was mythologized. The young man who was about to become a father himself was frustrated with his father and had not spoken to him for several years. He returns home when his father is dying and sets about trying to find the truth in amongst the tall tales. The ending got me. I wept and wept. My friend Tim called to say hi and I could not speak to him on the phone, he thought something was really awry, until I managed to make him understand that I had just watched a DVD and it had made me cry.

I don't truly know what it was that elicited such a response. I was touched by the way the young man spoke to his father at the end of the story.... I'm sorry if you haven't seen it I'm going to ruin the ending, so don't read anymore if you intend to watch it now.

The way he finally came to understand and recognize his father and helped him to die as he had lived with a great story to end his life. I felt for the young man because as he told the story he was narrating his father's death. I felt a little envious at the connection the seemed to have come to in the end. At the funeral of the father in the story we see a lot of the characters that peppered the tall stories he told his son. The son was called on to question his beliefs about his father and it was moving to see how this one man had touched the lives of so many others.

In some respects it reminded me of my own father who was in my eyes larger than life and in some respects legendary. I still miss him enormously. In the few months before he died I got to know him quite well, he was not at work because of stress and I was pregnant with Bantam Boy ( he was so looking forward to becoming a grandfather ). He spent a bit of time helping me fix up the place that my husband and I had just bought, so we got the chance to spend much time together, it was more him coming to know me really - two of his closest friends told me later that he had told them he had misunderstood me and that I was not the person he thought I was he had underestimated me. He thought that I was interested in material things. He thought I was more like my mother but I was more like him than he'd known.

At my dads funeral and many many times after people have referred to my father and how he touched their lives, he was instrumental in encouraging and mentoring several people in their artistic careers. He worked with the children from Rocky Bay, inventing special easels to help them paint more easily with their mouths. (This is a point I will return to later) Last year I was at an exhibition of children's art work, the special guest artist who had been invited to open the exhibition was one of dad's students he made reference to dad in his speech as he spoke he saw me in the crowd and pointed out the connection. I felt myself becoming overwhelmed with sadness. You know the little chin wobble starts and you bite the inside of your mouth to distract you from the emotion you are feeling, to no avail. He felt terrible I felt embarrassed! It is nice to hear nice things said about your dad but I was not prepared for it and had been in a low place at the time. I was not teaching art at that point and I had stopped seeing someone who was an artist and kept me connected with that world, I had let my own work take a back seat and felt a sense of self disappointment.

Now for the confession, I also felt jealousy and resentment. My father had encouraged and mentored these other people yet he had actively discouraged me. I struggle with this constantly and I know I should let it go. I felt I was not good enough and that is why he didn't encourage me. (I know it is really the fear of the uncertainty and financial difficulty it would entail to follow that life path, and his own demons of self doubt that he struggled with that led him to actually ban me from attending art school when I was 19) but I felt it was because I was no good, or rather not good enough, that I was a disappointment. I suppose that is why the fact he had told his friends that he had seriously misjudged me was a great thing to know, I wish he could have told me himself.

(Ummm...... maybe that is why I had such a big reaction.)

Having said all this, I do love teaching and it is a big part of who I am, ( although if I could go back and give my 18 year old self some advice, I'd say study art then do 1 year extra to become a teacher!) . Being a teacher has given me a very stable financial base and has meant I can raise my kids on my own with my contact working hours and holidays that fitted with theirs. It enabled me to buy a house and give both them and myself a sense of stability and permanence after the separation. And importantly has enabled me to put myself in a position to get them into the school that is the best one for them.

After all they are my life's work, my most important creative endeavor. I am not too old and they are nearly fully grown and then there is no reason why I can't go back and study art again. Maybe I'll go back to art school with Bantam Boy, I'm sure he'd love that, having his mum along.

I loved art school! I went to Claremont Fine Art School the year after I left my marriage. The kids were 2 and 3 and a half! I loved that year, I felt truly at home and hopeful.
I must remember to truly make time for art in my life.

Tuesday, 25 March 2008

Paisley and Pizza

I didn't get the shopping bag done but I made this skirt instead last night while the kids had their friends here. I used a length of old fabric that I'm guessing is from the 60's or 70's I haven't seen this kind of fabric quality or weave for years. It was in amongst all the pieces of fabric I found at the same garage sale that I found the vintage patterns at.

Oh no I just looked at the photo again and I noticed the packet of biscuits lying on the floor. Chicky Babe was having a snack when I asked her to take the photo. Lucky it was not taken in the other direction to show the assortment of bedding and pizza boxes from last nights party. Which I recall someone saying they would clean up after, but I am the only one who does remember!!!!

Sunday, 23 March 2008

Easter sunday leisurely breakfasts and Work in Progress

It was just Chicky Babe and myself for breakfast this morning, Bantam Boy went to a party and stayed the night. Funny thing was my mum & step dad went to the same party! Small world when your grandparents go to the same party that you are going too! They didn't stay the night though.

We had a leisurely breakfast before we went to pick up BB. and had lunch at mum's. I love this tea set, my friend Tim found the pieces at various garage sales and op shops for me knowing I am very partial to blue and white china. This evening I went to see Brick Lane with a friend and after stopped for a bite to eat at a new organic cafe in Fremantle. It was delightful. I really enjoyed the movie apparently the book was really good too. I read another by the same author and found it most disappointing.

I've been so busy I've kind of neglected catching up with friends. It has been too easy to curl up and be a bit reclusive at times. This particular friend has been busy too with a new job but even so I have tended to avoid 'going out' of late. I tend to go through phases where its all a bit much and I feel I've not that much to offer, my life being so ordinary and it's easier to curl up with a good book or DVD. Other times I think that being able to create an ordinary life for my two delightful children is actually something quite extraordinary especially being confronted in my job with so many children whose lives are far from ordinary and not in a positive way.

I spent 6 hours working at school on good friday and another three and a half yesterday and I was looking forward to a couple of quiet days for the rest of the easter break and hoping to make a start on those skirts I have in mind and now a jacket too for my trip to Melbourne (I'm thinking red corduroy lined with paisley that I found at the same place I found the vintage patterns!) A friend knitted me a delicious red beret style woolly hat with a big rose on the side so I'll make the jacket to match it. Maybe I need some red leather shoes too.

Anyway the quiet aspect of the next couple of days has certainly been threatened, the kids were going to have a sleep over with the drama kids at someone else's house- lovely a night of me time! but no there has been some kind of mix up and the girl who was hosting can no longer do so and we now have the pleasure of doing so. I've said yes with the understanding that it will be quiet time after 12 and that there is to be minimal giggling and no screaming and chasing each other around the house at 2 or 3 in the morning. It's times like these I wish I had a bigger house and I hope and pray that my studio can be saved!

I've started a shopping bag, green corduroy with paisley pieces appliquéd and then crocheted around. Maybe I'll get that done.

Friday, 21 March 2008

Plans,dreams and wishful thinking

Chicky babe wants to go to Melbourne to see Wicked. Now, just any ordinary ticket is not good enough for her, she particularly wants to have the super duper cocktail tickets with the extra special treats like drinks and nibbles at intermission. She does not suffer her mothers general mantra of making do and going for the cheaper option! She values herself and believes she deserves to have the best not that she is spoiled, rather that she does not undervalue herself or sell herself short. I actually admire her self assuredness!

Hopefully we will be able to make the whole thing come together , ie flights, tickets and hotel. We found a hotel that looks quite nice on the net which is I believe in the Bourke Hill precinct. It is called the Punt Hill on Little Bourke St. On the net I discovered it is nearby to many eating places including one called Piadina Slowfood which sounds quite interesting. Especially since I suffer from allergies to preservatives, colouring and flavorings used in food at many restaurants. This makes traveling and eating out a bit tricky. Luckily there is a move away from using prepackaged stuff. The hotel appears to be close to tram lines and public transport.

The kids and I are quite keen to see snow while we are there if it is possible. The net has provided me with some information about Lake Mountain, it tells me it is about 2hours from Melbourne and makes it a good place for a day trip and that there are bus tours that operate etc. But I cant find out where, when or how much they cost. We don't want to ski, sorry, I don't want to ski. Chicky babe would give it a go! Bantam Boy might too. But if we are going to splurge on the theater tickets there is not a huge budget available for the rest of the trip. (Especially since Bantam boy is off to Sydney to compete a sporting comp soon too.) Anyway I have never seen snow and would like to if there is the opportunity to do so.

It is funny really everything else has been so easy to plan and explore on line!
There are no pictures today. I've spent 6 hours cleaning up my art room at school today (this is the first chance I have had to get into it.) I have to go back and finish it tomorrow. The two skirts that are whirling around in my head along with some silver jewelery are just going to have to wait!!! Plans are being drawn up for the studio to be "retro submitted", so all is not lost yet!

Friday, 14 March 2008

Highs and lows

The day started on a terrific high. We had an assembly today at school and for the first time we recognised the traditional owners of the land. This is something that will be done at all assemblies from now on. The kids in the year 7 class had been looking at Australian history and talking about Sorry day and why it happened. The music specialist was singing a song called 'Sorry song' especially for the occasion and asked if I could do something with the kids in art to go with this theme.

I decided to have the kids each make a hand and decorate it and place them in the garden in the middle of the school and invite parents and the growing list of 'important' people who were being asked to attend to make one to add to the art installation. The most important people who were invited and came, were two aboriginal women one a local elder and the other one of the stolen generation.

They were both moved to tears by the whole day and listening to their stories made me very emotional ( yes I cried too!) It felt really good to have done something concrete to make a difference, just a small thing, even if it was for two individuals. I also think that it was great for the kids to see the human side of the words 'The stolen Generation" it is now real to them in that they have met and spoken to someone who had been there. Along with that they got to see the impact that the arts can have in conveying a message and they saw how it can evoke emotions.

It was beautiful. I even sang the national anthem again after several years of silent protest against the government and it's archaic attitudes. I was embarrassed by the flag and anthem and what it stood for. Today I felt a bit more hopeful.

Then the low.....
I got home today to a letter from the council. I didn't have approval for my studio. I had it for the pergola but not for the bit enclosed. A grumpy neighbor has complained to the council about a privacy screen I added from the pergola to the fence(because they raised the land on their side and looked into my kitchen every time they drove past) The council came to inspect and now I've been ordered to remove it all! I will have to try putting in retro plans I think it is called. Cross your fingers for me! Hopefully it will work out and the neighbor will finally sell his house, he has already moved.
It has been a very emotional day.

Thursday, 13 March 2008

Bridge of Glass - Museum of Glass

I'm not sure what I'm doing here but I think I am putting this onto my blog. Saw this on Flick-r isn't it absolutely beautiful? too much work to do to be doing this.
I am getting organised to do a whole school installation art work for a sorry day and acknowledgment of the native land using a sea of hands decorated by 250 kids that will be put into the garden in the morning. I have another 100 or so skewers to glue onto the hands so they can be stuck into the soil.

Sunday, 2 March 2008

Viruses physical and cyber! And a place for me!

Getting back to work after the long holiday was kind of hectic. Then just as things were starting to settle down I was struck down with a nasty virus that resulted in high temperatures and a shockingly sore throat. Then pretty much simultaneously the computer was infected with a Trojan virus and a back door virus . These have taken some time to resolve. Am now on the mend and the computer is happy again.

I have thoroughly enjoyed being back at school.I have two and a half days in a year 3 class and I am back teaching as an art specialist and loving it. When I decided to transfer from my old school I finally decided that in order to be able to make a move I would have to take a job in the mainstream class. I did not realize how much I would miss teaching art. I think that not having a space in my life for art took its tole.

People at work have commented on how happy I seem this year. I also prefer teaching the little kids. They have loved Dusty the dog and are mostly keen to be at school (also having a change in bosses has gone a long way to improving my working conditions- the last one told outright lies to cover his mistakes and you never knew where you stood he also didn't like to be disagreed with and as many people have said he would stab you in the back if he got the chance. The new fellow seems nice he's friendly and supportive and above all he seems genuine!)

Last year I did not have a studio at school and I didn't have a studio home. Well in the last couple of weeks I have had a studio built at home....

This is the beginnings of it . It has windows on two sides and two little french doors opening out onto the patio that comes off the house through glass french doors from the lounge dining area.

Here it is with walls!!! Isn't it cute. The glass door you can see through the french doors opens out onto a little paved area this will become my private courtyard, or secret garden.

The next step is to install the sink and the storage cupboards and then I'll have no excuse for not doing some art work. It has made the whole house seem so much bigger having the outdoor entertaining area and the studio kind of completes the whole place.

Mind you the kids are having another "sleep" over and I wish that there were a few more doors and perhaps soundproof walls between them and me. That is what you get when you encourage your kids to be involved in the arts especially drama. They sing and perform all the time and when a bunch of them from the same drama group get together it is somewhat noisy!

Last weekend I had 12 people (my sister and her family, my mum and step dad) for lunch in the new entertaining area. It was very comfortable with plenty of room.

About half an hour before they all arrived my friend Tim turned up with a pile of booty from a garage sale. He found an old footstool very cute with little metal legs and a bag full of very nice old fabric. It was very exciting. Its just down the street he said and there is masses of stuff. So off I went with instructions to the kids about what to do with the lunch.

When I got there I grabbed a few more pieces of fabric and a lovely old cardboard case. There was another case full of pattens but I didn't have time to look through them properly. The lady said they would be going the next day as well so I decided I would come back the next day to have a proper look.

So the next day I went back and looking through the patterns 10cents each I discovered some patterns from the 1930's!!!!!! among a whole lot of others spanning 6 decades. I was gathering up those I wanted and found I was running out of hands. The lady said why don't you take the whole lot. $5 including the case. DONE!!
Look what I found!

Unfortunately most of them are for stick figure people! I will have to put my pattern drafting skills to work and perhaps put more effort into losing weight!