Magnolias

It's been a treacle-slow week, and one I've spent much of in bed. Happily these magnolias are unfurling out the front of the building near the little white shed that houses the rubbish bins. It's a pleasure to shuffle out to the letterbox, check for mail, and glance at the sky for the minute I can really see it.

Portrait: Owen (on his Birthday)

Here is a blur of a child with a solemn, blurry face. Here is a child who streaks past faster than a photograph. There is a piece of Lego in each hand; there are trucks that go 'brrrrm' and hammers are always for banging.

There is Texta all over the tabletop now that I scrub off as best I can at night. There are scribbled drawings and green fat cheeks and fingers the colour of Vegemite. There is a bite out of each of the apples in the fruit bowl, and bananas snuck out to keep the bananas in his fruit book company.

Here is an unfurling seed pod of a child. Here are rare sticky kisses. Long walks down the hall on tiptoe and back again, sultanas snuck out of the second drawer down, and always Bunny dragging along behind him. At the playground I lose him in the tunnel, my heart in my throat until I see a tiny shoe. How does time seize and yet go by so quickly?

 

Soft psychedelia

Mike and O at Heide
Heide

We went out to Heide about a month ago, coincidentally on the day the Mirka Mora show opened at Heide II. I had mostly wanted to show Mike the building itself, its rough-hewn beauty, but wound up captivated by the work of Mora and her co-exhibitor in Heide III, Emily Floyd.

I've never known exactly how I've felt about Mora's work. To me it is so entwined with Melbourne in the early '90s, with trips to Southbank to get a gelato and visit Angel, with Ken Done T-shirts and ribbons and thick white stockings that I've never been able to see it with clean eyes. Possibly the fact that I associate her style with my childhood has made me think it's juvenile; walking through Heide II, I was struck with its intimacy, its folk rhythms and clever allusions. 

I was also taken with the call and response the two galleries took up; soft fabrics vs hard woods, streaky paint vs flat prints, figurative dreamscapes vs radically modern abstraction. To stand in the echo space between them was to be immersed in a softly psychedelic reimagining of the world and of 'women's work' within in.

As I get older I lose my grip of art history and find myself going back and back again to my first response, the emotional response. I'm sure that this is something that Clement Greenberg endorsed, but I may be making that up. Standing in the in-between, mediating quick visits to each gallery with whirlwind runs with Owen in the sculpture garden, I felt content, an anchor to which the whir and click of each artists intentions could loop themselves. There is value in being an anchor, I think. 

 

Camellias

I passed by your garden, saw you with your flowers
The camellias, magnolias and azaleas so sweet
And I stood there invisible in the panicking crowds
You looked so beautiful in the rising heat... 

(That would be Nick Cave, always tagging along when I cut a bunch of camellias.)

Self-portrait, tram

I'm getting an embarrassing amount of pleasure from indulging in cliches with this project. I'm terrified of finding them in my writing - though I do - because it's the thing I am supposed to know how to do. But photography is purely amateur, and so here is a portrait I took of my reflection on a scuzzy Melbourne tram, pinky up like I'm at a tea party for one.

Louisa

Louisa

I wanted to find a house I used to spend time in, back when I was eighteen and nineteen and sometimes twenty - my ex-boyfriend's house in the heart of Brunswick. I haven't really crossed the river much lately, but I was visiting a friend nearby, and so I tried to remember the shortcut, but it wasn't in my body anymore. The house I could see so clearly, with its grapes growing over the side of the carport that the old Italian woman down the road would take for wine. One year we had a harvest party and I wove a wreath for my long hair, which my ex-boyfriend brushed out early in the morning, hairbrush batting at the knobs in my spine.

There was frosted glass in the house, and sometimes frosted windows too. We could afford it so it was always too cold or too hot. As I was walking down the wrong cobbled alleyway I reconstructed it brick by brick, populating the backyard with milk crates, lighting the stove in a corner that wasn't quite level and stringing the garage with fairy lights.

When I finally made it around the right corner, of course, the house was gone. Its art deco bones were good but its lino floors must have looked too cheap; besides which it wasn't using all of its frontage, growing vines where a garage could have been. I tried not to stand and stare like a creep, laughing at my own nostalgia, and photographed the new house  to remind myself that even if the old house were there, I still wouldn't remember the name of the cat.

In the Act

In the Window

I looked up yesterday and saw this man working quietly in his window, his yellow hat punctuating a blue and misty street. Then I raised my camera and he lifted his head and for a moment we were perfect equals, each of us catching the other in the act.