Despite the poor pay and long hours, there are wondrous gifts for us artistic beings who never switch off. All week I’ve been dreaming about my new wearable art creations then trying to work out viable ways of marketing them in my waking hours. I’ve had clay and glazes up to my armpits all month. Paint and canvas are in recess. Going back to France to continue my photographic project has slipped off my immediate list of Things To Do. Instead I’m playing with tactile materials. Hanging out with potters and having a deja vu ceramic experience. It’s been years since i left a decomposing kiln and a former life as a ceramic sculptor so I am totally surprised to be here again… back in the potting shed and having fun. I’m working on a new enterprise, Being Creative. Life may be unpredictable but there is one thing for certain, being creative is a full time job.
My car window is askew and it’s raining. This is the third time I’ve had to lever a screwdriver beneath the window winder then prise off the cover that conceals the mechanism in the bowels of the door. Each time I struggle to reinstate the glass to its rightful position between the rubber seals and carefully wind it home, I think this is the last time. My car is cute but it’s use-by date is rapidly approaching. There’s the thud thudding when I drive over uneven ground and the scratched window tint on the passenger side that reminds me of my ex’s nonchalence about objects that are unable to stand his idea of normal wear and tear.
We had a wonderful relationship. Eight years of romance and adventure. Then there were the moments that didn’t quite work for me. Like the day that Pip decided to build a cage to house field mice. His train of thought was impeccable. We were cat-sitting in the mountains. Strictly speaking, cats don’t belong in Australia. They were introduced to a continent where native animals are unable to survive the onslaught of the stealthy hunter. A recent article in Australian Wildlife Conservancy suggests that cats kill 75 million native animals a night. Small mammals, birds and lizards are consumed like popcorn during a particularly intense scene at the cinema. Then there are the creatures just killed for fun.
So there we were in the midst of a precious forest ecosystem exchanging free rent for feeding the cat. For a year. It was going to be a challenge. We began with the standard cans of cat food and crunchy dry croquettes that the owner had provided but quickly graduated to buying fresh meat from the supermarket to reduce processing and packaging and the possibility of the cat getting cancer from food additives. Ah, the life of the ethically driven is peppered with such decisions. As the months in this idyllic retreat passed I took over the one room cabin with my paintings while Pip was left to ponder the cat food question. He began by trapping wild mice in the hope that they would do what mice do best. Eat and breed. I threw more paint on canvas and tried to ignore the impending situation. I was even happy that my man was nailing bits of wood together. Until the two metre long cage was finished. In my mind the new rodent prison would stand in a dry place, outside. But Pip had other ideas. When he began measuring up the cabin for a suitable spot I snapped. My creativity was not going to be enhanced by the aroma of mouse piss.
I live in the city now and Pip lives in another. The cat is still on the mountain, eating packaged food again. Today I’m ready for another adventure. A drive down to the coast to savour the summer heat and clean ocean beaches. But first i need to fix the car window!
I’m high. On the edge of a mountain range where I can almost touch the full white clouds on cerulean blue. Shadows creep like giant amoebas across the landscape. Silence broken by bird calls, by my heartbeat. It’s been a journey to get here. Two years of tiny steps. Now I am dancing in the wind like a wild thing. Bare feet on solid rock.
El Eco is strumming The Smiths, stridently. This is a noisy house. When the blender isn’t running hot the conversation is. La Dina and Jewelpunk are discussing fruit bouquets in the kitchen. They want to convert carnivores to vegans by spearing pineapple, strawberries and kiwifruit onto kebab skewers. El Eco and I just dissected the agroforestry business and decided that ecologists working within the system aren’t going to change the world. Once someone is in they aren’t going to jeopordise their career by strategically spitting the cherry pip. So how do we find a positive outcome? Will we survive beyond climate scepticism? We can’t expect the next generation to mop up our mistakes along with the ants on the kitchen bench.
I’m brought back to the jam in the loungeroom. Jewelpunk is passing us watermelon and grape kebabs for a taste test and El Eco is still strumming ‘I am human and I need to be loved.’ I have hope. it might not be possible to do it all but we have the seeds of change.