Monday 26 April 2010

Magpie 11 Fascinator

I went to a great exhibition at the Queensland Art Gallery yesterday. An exhibition of hats. It's on a world tour from the Victoria and Albert Museum (London).
'Hats: An Anthology' wasn't my first choice for an afternoon out on Anzac Day - Australia's day to remember and honour the men and women who have fought in world wars and regional conflicts. If we all wore funny hats would we have the time or the inclination to go to war?
So there I was fascinated by the fascinators.I am in a room
of subdued light
surrounded by hundreds of women
and a few men.
He says
'I'll meet you at the cafeteria'
She says
'Have you had your fill already?'
and smiles an understanding smile
turning her gaze to the glowing cases

In this room of hats
women stand transfixed by
master milleners
and their creations
full of whimsy
full of flair
and feather fancies for one off occasions,
face to face with celebrities
and their indulgences.

Elegance for Queen Mothers
dash and daring for leading ladies
a head of fluffing feathers
to distract from ageing features
Mick Jagger's swagger in a hat

And hundreds of kids
making their own creations
from the simplest of materials.
Kids' imaginations
every bit as wild
as Stephen Jones and
Can't tell the real from the unreal

The centre piece is a workroom
of scraps and wooden block heads (no offence)
works in progress, drawings
and there in the furthest corner
a beanie from the local Brisbane football team
milleners have a sense of humour
and place.

and on a twenty foot screen
Maurice Chevelier
in a top hat.

I was sure he'd have a cane.

Stephen Jones and hats
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Sunday 18 April 2010

Magpie 10 - Lorenzo

through muddy paddocks
for your headstone.
whom I never knew
born in a place no one can trace
died with a name no one recognizes
buried on a boggy flood plain
marked by fragments of faded stone.

in your portrait
you wear your best hat
vest trousers tie.
a Venetian timepiece for you and
one for your son.
a fob watch secured by a chain
a tenuous link to home.
a reminder of the passage of time
and a journey from
a country not yet named.

in black lace and
a skirt of heavy cotton
hand sewn and hand stitched
stares down the camera.
too hot
for this climate this
brown bone-dry country.
a mantilla of mourning
a portent of things to come.
this life in the antipodes -
enough to kill
your spirit.

it was Maria's idea this portrait
your shoes are working shoes
not shoes for church or studio.

these clues
these remnants of stories
rescued and
half remembered,
guessed at and
glued together like an old photo.
all that remains.

on the verge of despair
i find your grave,
headstone prone
in six large pieces
washed by 100 years of
Richmond River floods.
the letters no longer
marked by metal.

i run my fingers over marble
trace your name

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Youth Week - Brisbane

Youth Week in Brisbane. There were activities across the week and this was the finale - The Youth Arts Showcase. A day of performance. Over 300 young people descended on the city centre to show the world their stuff.

From the top: The Macbeth hip hop dance crew; 'Circa' training program members; Circa performance.

Friday 16 April 2010

Kangaroo Island Photos

There's a sense of isolation on Kangaroo Island. The island was booked out for the Easter weekend but mostly the beaches and streets were deserted. Even when the crowds gathered at the tourist highlights they were gone again if you chose to turn left instead of right and got off the beaten track. The port at Kingscote has seen better days. This would have been buzzing when the sealing industry was in full flight. Accommodation on the island is limited but not so much so that every venture succeeds. This is the abandoned motel at the American River settlement.

Monday 12 April 2010

Magpie 9 - Pancake

my mother at her mirror

me lying on her bed


her lips pursing curling pouting


at the ruddy love stick

sliding across her face

tracing a perfect curve

her powder puff and compact

the finishing touches to her make over

one last inspection an angled glance

into a palm sized oval mirror

ready for the bus driver

American River - Australian Harvest

Easter turned out to be blindingly good and strangly weird. North America stalked us. On the iconic Kangaroo Island off the coast of South Australia we stayed at the backwoods' settlement of American River. It is nither a river nor American but did have a fleeting northern hemisphere connection when a group of sealers arrived over 100 years ago and spent a season skinning seals and building a large ketch before sailing on to further exotic destinations. They were probably Canadians though the details are lost. Their harvest and that of those who followed almost wiped out the sea lion and fur seal colonies but miraculously these beautiful creatures are still resident on this island.

On a wild blustery day we left our cabin early to seek out these survivors. At Seal Bay we watched as exhausted sea lions surfed waves to the shore only to collapse in the shallows exhausted from a 200 kilometre swim to and from their feeding grounds. Big 200 kg bull seals kept the young male aspirants away from the girls. Poor little fellas mature at two years but have to wait another six or eight years before they get big enough to compete in the mating stakes.
That night we too were exhausted and shelved our plans to visit the fairy penguin colonies of Kingscote choosing to get a steakburger from the local fishing clubhouse - 'The Shed'. A band was scheduled to play. The "Nearly Youngs', a group who have played the same set for 40 years arrived. The singer/guitarist was grossly overweight and slid, seal like, on to his stool where he sat and performed to his fishy mates. His backup team were much more mobile but every bit as locked into the 60s. We got the whole 'Harvest' album. Nearly but not quite Neil; and definitely not Young.
The next night we splashed out at a local winery. The food was hopeful verging on hopeless. Eerily the solo singer/guitarist seranaded us with 'old man, look at my life'. I felt a dejavu coming on. Oh my god it didn't stop. 'I caught you knockin at my cellar door'. 'I have a friend I've never seen He hides his head inside a dream. Yes, only love can break your heart'. This man was channeling Neil Young where the other one had been strangling him.

Kangaroo Island - seals, penguins, vineyards, kangaroos, wallabies, fabulous coastal landscapes and depressing covers bands.

Highly recommended.