Last week was my birthday, and I turned 29! So I decided to treat myself to an artsy afternoon, visiting some exhibitions in the city. Arboria at Fed Square and the NGV Triennial.
I think installation art is really fantastic for public exhibitions. I feel like it has a lot more appeal to people who otherwise wouldn’t consider themselves to be artistic, or to have knowledge of art. Even if they’re not completely aware of the themes or ideas of the piece they can still experience it and engage with it.
First I went to Arboria. It’s an inflatable structure, parked in the middle of Fed Square. It was created by Alan Parkinson, and is a series of connected rooms and spaces inspired by nature. The light from outside shines through the plastic walls, and creates the colourful environment inside. I loved this installation, there was such a sense of wonder. You almost felt completely transported into a fantastical world. Words don’t really do it justice.
Then next was the NGV Triennial. It’s a huge exhibit across all four levels of NGV International. There are over 100 artists involved from all over the world, exploring different themes and ideas. There’s such large variety of artwork, and on such a big scale. I can’t believe that the NGV didn’t charge an entry fee. I thought it was brilliant that these artworks were available to be enjoyed and experienced by anyone and everyone. A lot of the works in this exhibit are interactive, and you’re able to fully immerse yourself in the experience.
By far my favourite part of these exhibits was how child friendly they both were. It was wonderful to see lots of kids experiencing the artworks. I like the idea of showing people that art is something to be enjoyed early in their lives.
To finish up my birthday, I drew a few little pictures to give out to people on my Facebook page. I really didn’t expect anyone to want one, but they went so quickly! It always feels special to give artworks as gifts, and I’m grateful I have such lovely, supportive friends who like receiving them!
A couple of weeks ago I heard about the project ‘All We Can’t See’.
It’s a not for profit project to raise awareness of the conditions of refugees detained in offshore processing facilities. In 2016 The Guardian published a series of leaked incident reports from Nauru. There are over 2000 files including cases of assault, abuse and self-harm. The aim of ‘All We Can’t See’ is to illustrate the Nauru files and use visual language to engage people in reading the files.
I decided to illustrate two incidents.
[redacted] was walking out of IHMS towards the bus stop. SCA case manager [redacted] witnessed [redacted] picked up two or three rocks from the decking and swallowed them. Whiskey1 and another officer restrained [redacted] to prevent him picking up any more rocks; [redacted] calmed once restrained.
On morning bus run [redacted] showed me a heart he had sewn into his hand using a needle and thread. I asked why and he said “I don’t know”. I notified [redacted] as soon as I got off the bus at CPC1 and she proceeded to take [redacted] to IHMS. [redacted] is [redacted] years of age.
I’m not the most vocally political person. I’m usually not confident expressing my opinion about certain issues because I don’t feel informed enough on the facts.
I think Australia’s current policies toward asylum seekers who arrive by boat are awful. It’s terrible that people are held for years, and even if they are found to be genuine refugees are not resettled in Australia. Australia’s policies have been criticised by the United Nations numerous times, criticisms our politicians have ignored. The harmful impact of offshore processing on vulnerable people is shown time, and time again in the Nauru files.
The use of images when we’re talking about issues like this can be incredibly important. Photographs, cartoons, and images, can add to our understanding of an event, and help us to empathise with other people. One of my favourite examples of this is the picture book ‘The Journey’ by Francesca Sanna.
It’s a story about the experience of a refugee family. I adore this book. She manages to tell a story with distressing subject matter, and presents it in a way simple enough for children to understand and empathise with. Her illustrations are gorgeous and add so much depth to the story. My favourite page shows the children’s impression of their mother while they’re hiding in the forest. The children feel safe enough to sleep because their mother is so brave, yet the illustration shows their mothers fear while they sleep.
If hearing about these experiences makes you want to help out, I’d suggest donating to the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre. They’re a support organisation and provide aid and legal assistance to refugees.
There are lots of ways we can all contribute. Donating money, writing to your elected representative, and continuing to talk about these people and their experiences. Every little bit helps.
Chris and I spent the first week of the new year down at my family’s holiday home at Walkerville. I love coming down here. Hearing the ocean, and birds in the trees. It always feels so quiet and secluded, and I feel like I can get away from the world. I spent a bit of time practicing some drawing. Realistic drawing definitely isn’t my strong suit, but it was fun to work on it without any pressure to make a finished piece out of it.
We also went and saw the Alison Lester gallery in Fish Creek. She is such a big inspiration to me. I loved reading her books when I was a little girl, and I love them even more now. Her illustrations are so full of life and funny little details, they’re wonderful to look through.
Visiting the gallery is always a really lovely experience, especially seeing her original sketches and artworks. It’s a beautiful little gallery, with a reading area, and prints and books for sale. Alison Lester also does regular book signings at the gallery, unfortunately the next one was the day after we came home. However, seeing her sketches, and how she worked on her books was still a lovely way to occupy our morning.
Walkerville was the inspiration for some of her beach scenes, particularly for the book Magic Beach. It’s really interesting and exciting, to flick through her books and see familiar places.
Chris also bought me one of her books, Kissed by the Moon, as a belated christmas present! It’s such a lovely gentle story. My favourite line is the ending.
May you grow sleepy at sunset, sing to the stars, and drift into dreams.
And may you, my baby, be kissed by the moon.
It was such a lovely way to start off the new year by getting away from the city for a little bit. Hopefully 2018 will continue to be full of inspiration and sunny days!