Thursday, June 6, 2013

a time for all things...

Firstly ... something so easy to overlook when not spending time here... I want to thank new visitors coming by ... those who have joined the 'Visual Eclectica' community and friends popping back in.

Its been a time of renewing friendships and making new connections lately. The other night when putting together a slideshow about my work and wanting to give some context I dug up some old photos... like the ones below.

I'd just moved from London, via a stay with family for a few months in Brisbane to catch my breath, when I relocated to Melbourne (in south-eastern Australia). It reminded me a little of small version of London... cooler weather during winter and tending to grey days and old buildings in abundance. Culturally very lively too... it seemed to perfect choice for one sad about tearing oneself away from London in the later 1980's.

Going though my photos I was reminded of the living situation I'd chosen... opting for the slightly leafier part of the city that was almost country-like with its proximity to the river, bushland and green spaces. In the first year or two I went often to the river. As I became busier I seem to go further afield exploring. But looking at the photos the other day what struck me was the thought it was almost as if i was choosing a country existance.

musings on my time here...

I loved the wisteria covered greenhouse. The photos I had to take with my iphone from old photos.
There are many more photos that need such documenting as the colour is fading or they look worn.

This shot was taken after a weekly visit to the Vic Market for our produce and deli items, which meant frequent shared tables during this era with people coming and going thought the wonderful old house. This great old kitchen epitomised home for me... especially for a world-weary soul, tired after 2 years of intense travelling and living and working in London. 

I'd had two live-in London placements ...without a work permit, par for the course. However, they were unusual 6 months stints... the first with a family with three bright-eyed little children, the mother of whom was bed-ridden and in treatment for a brain tumour. My role was far more extensive than the job description had advised... the children came to love doing all the arty stuff I set up for them and the family enjoyed the cooking which was a volunteer undertaking as it was an enjoyable task during those long 12 hour days.

The second home the following year after summer travels started well... but the lovely mother of two whom I had taken on cooking and cleaning for to help whilst she recuperated from an operation died on my second week there. Shocked, I later found it had been on the cards and that my arrival and warm relationship with her children had given her faith she had done all she could to prepare for the inevitable. We'd sat on her bed and talked two days before she'd gone to hospital. So philosophical at the time, keen to know my story and see my travel journals... she seemed comforted that I was had only been a week I'd lived there. Which remind me we never know what role we play in someone else's life. By chance it was my unknowing gift to be there at that time.

These two experiences were more critically challenging and informing than much of what I saw in my entire two years abroad. If my life was going to be a response to questions that would invariably arise from time to time then the period living with families in grief dealing with unknown futures certainly made their mark... and ushered in some large questions which needled me till I took time back in Australia to process all that.

So when I say I arrived in Melbourne tired and feeling burdened it was true... yet at this fading grand old house I found a home of the kind I needed for the next 5 years.

There were two spaces to work.... this small corner room with lots of windows was claimed for my studio. All the furniture was already in the house. Next to this room was a long closed in verandah where I could spread out when necessary.

This studio I spent hours upon hours, reading, listening to music and radio, drawing, painting, printing.
Its where I really forged many of the ideas that have since informed my work and evolved further during changes and fresh departures over the years.

Its interesting to look back and make the connections between the desires and hopes of those years and the direction my work took... things that came about much later.

The book "Honey from a weed" is an all time favourite. During the time preparing the slideshow last week i tracked down further articles about this writer's life which I must come back and share here.

As for recent weeks ...its been an unusual time with a trip away for 4 days in Melbourne then for a few days and onto an excellent 4 days spent up the coast at a Conference. Life went from several insular months focused on home-front details around selling our home and finding another. Just as things had fallen into place other things were emerging.

The recent post I did for Rohan was written the week before his passing. This took me south to join with his family and friends in Melbourne to celebrate his well-lived life... shortened at 29 by a heart-wrenchingly tough illness lasting over 8 years... dealing constantly as he did with life-threatening developments in his illness. Friends spoke at the memorial who'd clearly felt the impact of seeing this journey into unknown from their vantage point of wellness and careers unfolding. Profoundly beautiful and articulate speeches for someone they so admired. His family were so gracious and calm through all.
The entire period, staying with another old friend, moving around the city, visiting old familiar spots, was somehow disorienting ... time was liquid... past and present dissolving. It was however so  timely to have made this trip ... to be alongside old friends.

Only home a few days from there my bag was packed to go north to attend an International conference Balance-Unbalanced 2013...

conference poster

 This poster was of the friday evening event.

Photo: Can't make the whole Balance-Unbalance conference next weekend but want to experience some of our great presenters?  Check out the Pecha Kucha Night program for the evening of 31 May.  Tickets for the evening event, for the one day on Friday or the whole conference are now available.
Petchakucha evening
The program featured regional and international speakers. Friday's Keynote speakers were both energising and sobering given the nature of this conference to examine how climate science is being negotiated by artists in inter-disciplinary practices with science, ecology and technology.

The fact of it being a smaller group of around 300 people in attendance led to the most amazing conversations happening all over the place. Instead of standing in the corner people were making a point to connect and so tonight just working my way through the papers I picked up with business cards and notes scrawled in my diary.

Somehow the last couple of weeks seems to have converged into a really special time with people... new and old... deeply engagements with others.. and sharing the most poignant range of human experiences.

Its very late and I've not even begun to translate this experience... but I'll say good night! You can read about the artist's talk I gave at the conference at the Studio blog and soon I hope to put together thoughts from the whole weekend. I've tentatively started this at the Homage to the Seed blog yesterday.



Anonymous said...

Hello Sophie,

This post reminded me of how moving from one home to another can be such an introspective process. I adored seeing the photos of you at your last home. In many ways, it could have been my story and me in the photos.

Here's to a lush, and abundant future. Your posts are a balm. Wonderful expressions, and insights.



Roberta said...

Thank you for sharing so much of yourself here in this post. I feel like I know you a little better now.

Mary Helen-Art Saves Lives said...

What a beautiful heart memory...beautiful post. Thank you! Peace, Mary Helen Fernandez Stewart

Sophie Munns said...

Valerianna has left a new comment on your post "a time for all things...":

Does sound like a very rich and rewarding time for you! Love seeing the photos of your old home and garden under wisteria. The conference sounds amazing, hope you'll post some of your experiences some time. Happy June!

well somehow I deleted Valerianna's comment... so now it is added! S

Sophie Munns said...

thanks everyone...
this morning I noticed the mistakes made when falling asleep writing late last night. I signed off without an edit.

Thanks for your warm thoughts Mary... the photos were of me when a young thing... 31 ... over two decades ago now. This old house was part sanctuary and part laboratory. Really spacious and highly conducive to experimenting with how many ways the spaces could be used... there was always something going on there.
And that is something I would like to bring to my next place! I lived at about 16 places after this one and now..! Ready to feel settled I can tell you!

Thanks Roberta ... there's a tendency to keep a comfortable line between public and private here... thinking one is always revealing oneself anyway. So it was nice to read your message!

Lovely to hear from you Mary-Helen. When starting this post I was surprised by how full this past two weeks felt and why it was so dream-like. Very enriching time... and terribly poignant moments.

I'll certainly post on the conference Valerianna. Very keen to think more about that. Still working my way through all the cards and things collected over the weekend... so much to reflect on... the endlessly varied approaches people take to similar themes and ideas for one thing.

Its good to step back and take in just that alone... a few days of really purposeful and open sharing... so many stories and much to allow in.

Cheers everyone!
S x

Blue Sky Dreaming said...

I can easily repeat what others have said...thank you for sharing your history in words and photos as it makes me feel as if I know you better. Your writing is very thoughtful with clear insights...welcome to a new chapter in your new home!

Anonymous said...

Great post Sophie.. held my attention and had me reflecting on my own experiences of Melbourne... and a time in Sydney working with a family who's Mother also passed away within a short time of me being in their lives.. The Boyds.. long story, but an interesting memory for me to revisit.

I also had a visit to Melbourne for the passing of a dear friend in recent times... parallel lives.

Love your way with words and what you choose to share.. you are very gifted in many creative arenas and add joy to our world.
x x Robyn

Sophie Munns said...

Hello MaryAnne.
Its lovely to be well received after posting reflections on the past. I must admit to being at times torn over disclosing things online. I don't balk at others doing that though ... there are moments when I am more candid and other times when I feel as though I may be standing in front of an audience prepared to throw tomatoes if they don't like where a post is going.

I wonder if that is a hangover from teaching adolescents here and there over the years as a substitute teacher... or simply an inward push-pull thing.

I like to write but it terrifies me much more to be read than to hang a painting that people might not like. I'm prepared for the artwork to be disregarded... less for the words to be seen to gush out randomly or plain jar or annoy.
Thanks for the good cheer!

So lovely to have you back in the blogosphere Robyn! Interesting that we've had these kinds of parallel experiences.Interesting you speak of your memories resurfacing.
I am struck by how returning to a former home where memories are abundant can take quite some processing. A lot of information and details, impressions and feelings vie for attention and can sink you into a deep space for a bit just to be reintroduced to the old story and familiar turf.

I guess this is what getting older is in part very much about... past experiences can be like rooms that are still living and dense... not even because of unresolved or sad things but simply because time can feel so fluid and non-linear... so it can feel like yesterday that you walked a certain street or saw a particular person etc etc.
Thanks for your delightful warm thoughts,
S xx

Anonymous said...

Your posts are always so informative- love what you do ! Xo Robyn

Sophie Munns said...

Great to hear from you Robyn.
So miss visiting the blogosphere like I used to and staying in touch.