Sunday, November 30, 2014

Show yourself

At the dogleg turn on Trenerry crescent near Dights Falls in Abbotsford, a group of artists have created a makeshift gallery.  As you drive into the turn you face a stretch of wall that extends the length of the road and the freeway, presumably to block out sound. 

Months ago I noticed the first small offering, a portrait in the centre of the first section of the wall, soon followed by another couple of works, a treescape, a landscape, and a splodge of colour. 

More recently the number of pictures has trebled.  

There’s one that stands out: a take on an old classic, with a view of the harbour where a dark skinned and naked aboriginal man with spear in hand looks over the water to an approaching eighteenth century vessel and curses, ‘Bloody boat people’. 

There’s also a large photograph on paper of a native tribeswoman from somewhere like Africa. 

There are more scenes of trees and water and several portraits, mostly in oils, though there’s also one that looks to be a lithograph, judging by its texture and colour and a tiny piece on tin.

Some pictures are small, most on plywood canvases and some take up more space than others, but each nestles comfortably alongside its companion, as if this gallery were planned and arranged by some thoughtful curator.  Though that’s unlikely. 

I reckon this gallery has sprung up in the wonderful way these things do when one person inspires another to add to their own inspiration, and now we have this evocative, albeit temporary, gallery on Trenerry Crescent.

Temporary only in so far as the natural elements, the rain and sun and wind, will eventually destroy the images over time but they have been standing up to the worst of the weather for several months now and maybe as one dies – certainly the photograph of the tribeswoman on paper will disappear soon – maybe others will take their place.

This type of installation gives me hope in human nature at a time when the world seems grim. 

We have a state election to vote in today and without getting too caught up in local politics, it’s suffice for me to say my world seems to be leaning in a far right direction that’s terrifying. 

I heard on the radio today that our government had turned back a boatload of some thirty seven-asylum seekers from Sri Lanka, including six children.  Sri Lankan government representatives then intercepted these asylum seekers and took them into custody while they await trial for 'falsely leaving the country' or some other such crime. 

I don’t understand all the ins and outs of it but it makes me wonder about this business of being forced to stay in an unbearable situation, because no one else wants you, and the powers that be don’t want you to leave from under their auspice. 

I have been finding it more difficult to write about my life lately.  Some internal silencer whispers in my ear, you can’t say that. You can’t talk about that.  In case someone reads and is offended, in case someone reads and decides I have violated their privacy, in case someone reads and disagrees with my version of events. 

If I listen to these voices for too long, I am paralysed into silence. 

That’s another thing that seems to happen in the things I read.  The extraordinary pressure on people to say the outrageous, write something new, give us something to get excited about, but don’t go too far.

If you do, the naysayers will be out in droves and crucify you.

Has it ever occurred to readers that the writers who dare to put their writing out there have stuck their necks out, have exposed themselves, so why not tread gently with their critiques? 

I was once friendly with a woman many years ago and I realised too late that she enjoyed listening to me speak about all the things she could not/would not say, but she did not reciprocate. 

She did not offer any self-revealing versions of her own vulnerability.  It was up to me to provide the grist, on which she could chew and then she could spit it out or do with it as she pleased. 

I know that people are different, some are more out there and others prefer to keep things close to their chests.  I don’t have a problem in either case but when the quiet ones get their rocks off listening to the noisy ones and then condemn the noisy ones for saying things they should not say then I reckon the quiet ones need to take a turn on centre stage and declare their views, so that they too can take a turn at exposure. 

The joy of the gallery lies here.  

I have never thought before to write under a pseudonym.  It has always been important to declare myself, but lately I have wondered what would it be like, to throw your words out there into the ether under a pseudonym, so that no one will know who you are, even if they believe they do.

To take up the name of a man, for instance, and see what type of response I get.  To be able to write all the things I fear I cannot say here and get away with it because the person of the writer does not exist, except as a fantasy, like those anonymous artists who put up their pictures in Trenerry Crescent.  

And how’s this for a treatise on the notion of thought, another antidote to my grim thoughts, from Brevity’s blog?

Quinn Norton writes:
There is more than one kind of thought. There are thoughts you cannot complete within a month, or a fiscal quarter, just as there are thoughts that can occupy less than a vacation period, a weekend, or a smoke break. Like the spectrum of photonic behavior, thoughts come in a nearly infinite range of lengths and frequencies, and always move at the exact pace of human life, wherever they are in the universe. Some thoughts are long, they can take years to think, or a lifetime. Some thoughts take many lifetimes, and we hand them off to the next generation like the batons in a relay race. Some of these are the best of thoughts, even if they can be the least productive. Lifetimes along, they shift the whole world, like a secret lever built and placed by the loving imaginations of thousands of unproductive stargazers.

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