As the inaugural director of Heide Park and Art Gallery, I knew Sunday and John Reed along with many of the artists who are now collectively called the Heide Circle. Sunday and John had lived at Heide for almost fifty years when we started the task of turning Heide II, the property and house they had sold to the State of Victoria, into a public museum. Meeting with them both at Heide I, I witnessed not only their passion for the arts in Australia but also the great love they had for each other. I do not see the Sunday […]
On the last day of a week’s holiday in Berlin, I took the U-Bahn to Hackescher Markt, a shopping neighbourhood in Mitte, the soulless commercial centre of the otherwise culturally verdurous city. In the tourism literature, Hackescher Markt is a kooky hub of local designers and boutique stores, but in practice it’s a cluster of chain stores, construction sites and dingy malls. There are better, nicer things to do on a fine sunny morning in Berlin than visit the German equivalent of a strip mall, but I wanted to redeem myself after too many nights in a row of scream-talking with […]
She might have said she couldn’t go. Might never have clambered into that car. What shoes was she wearing. There must have been a radio. Cigarettes. Bacardi. Joints. The smell of hair gel. Night wide open. Somebody driving them into it. Her neck her hands holding on. Always they conked out on Willunga Hill. Tonight the same. Cars tooting braying offering threatening. She stood in the shadow swish of pine trees making herself raise her head and stare at unnameable constellations caught between premonition and memory. The pines were the halfway mark between home and escape until someone said some […]
Maybe I’ll start playing the saxophone again. I’m on the way to the markets this morning—I am sweating in the shade. I left years ago. It’s my first full turn of the seasons on wulna and gulumoerrgin since. I am alive in its stillness, in its muggy clouds. I am here as the thunder shakes my tin house, and I decided to stay so I could see the haze of sunset and smell a dry breeze.
Now that I’ve crossed the biblical finish line (three score and ten), I thought it timely to share a brief overview of my life with my family and friends. For my family, my history is your history. For my friends, a personal exposé.
There are three parts to my piece: prose, poetry and proof.
One of my earliest memories is in the kitchen at our house in West End. I am standing on a little stool making pesto with Mum. Plucking basil leaves from their stalks with great care and munching on toddler-sized fistfuls of pine nuts. There’s a photo that marks this occasion as the birth of Mum and Rosa’s World’s Best Pesto recipe. To this day, when Mum comes down to Melbourne to visit, we make a big batch for me to freeze and slowly chip away for the months that follow.
Nana Myra would sometimes pick up little shiny tektites off the ground on the Nullarbor, and this is one of the first memories I have about beautiful Nana Myra. She could find small pieces of black space that fell through the sky landing on Nullarbor desert country. Our matriarchal country of love and imagining.
Note: this essay discusses Aboriginal people who are deceased Embrace Australia’s finest writers: subscribe to Meanjin Subscriptions start at just $5 a month — which goes directly towards our writers’ fees. SUBSCRIBE
Late in 2021, I attended a conference in Tarntanya (Adelaide) organised by a collective of thinkers called Reset Arts and Culture. I listened particularly closely to a panel about labour and the arts that was chaired by Vitalstatistix director Emma Webb. I’d been writing about these issues, and against the backdrop of the ongoing pandemic, discussions had taken on a new urgency.
The water is the temperature of blood. Under a white-hot sky the swimming hole at Dalhousie Springs is fringed with thick reeds and creamy-flowered, paper-barked Melaleucas. Long-billed corellas on drooping branches watch me float. Slightly saline, a whiff of sulphur suggests the decades, centuries, the millennia that this water has been seeping through aquifers of the Great Artesian Basin. After days of dusty driving the relief of bathing in silky warmth lulls me to thinking that there’s plenty of water after all. Trickling emergences of water in the desert remind me of the importance of an inner life, something beyond […]
breunloch dangerous sinking bog that may be bright green and grassy Gaelic brochan miry soft ground (literally ‘porridge’) Gaelic Embrace Australia’s finest writers: subscribe to Meanjin Subscriptions start at just $5 a month — which goes directly towards our writers’ fees. SUBSCRIBE
You rock up to the emergency department of your local hospital with a jagged piece of bone protruding from your leg. Despite seeing the inside of your body on the outside, the medics who made an oath to do no harm tell you to practise mindfulness, exercise for endorphins and see a therapist. You point to the bone and politely describe the impact the situation is having on your life, somehow finding your manners while in blinding agony in the hope that you’ll be treated better, but they speak over you and repeat the same nonsense over and over. You […]