Keeping it real

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It’s true, cities are not places for wild goats. It’s difficult to reflect amongst the chaos of a human built landscape, unless it’s on our generation of narcissists. This is not personal. Who hasn’t taken a gratuitous selfie once in a while? I’m right in there, fudging the edges with art in my heart. You know me, I adore a good self-portrait, usually without clothes.

Now that I have a backpack instead of a room and a bank account that dives gracefully toward the abyss, I’ve crossed borders and fallen in love with a number of foreign places. All on the cheap. Hitch-hiking. Sleeping in my tent. Washing under greek waterfalls or in post-soviet sauna houses. Wherever I find myself, there are people with smartphones. We Insta and Facebook, Gab, Google+, MySpace, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Reddit, Tumblr, Twitter, Viber, VK, WeChat, Weibo, WhatsApp, Wikia, Snapchat and YouTube. Sometimes we even email friends who are detoxing from social media overload. Then we write blogs.

Yesterday I went to The Winter Place of Peter the Great. Yes, I’m in St Petersburg where people rarely smile, unless they are really happy. That can be infuriating but somehow, in a world of manufactured happiness and political turmoil, perhaps it is a good thing.

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The Squeeze

 

I’m about to squeeze this hulk between solid stone buildings that have withstood two world wars and four hundred years of seasonal change, love and laughter in the Aveyron. I’m not the first. This is the through road between wheat fields on high and the ancient moulins along the river that ground the grain to fine flour for the communal bread ovens. Tractors, horses, wagons, and more recently cars and the occasional truck have traversed this route. Today I’m driving the old Mercedes.

I’ve been in Europe for six months now. Hitching my way around France and Greece, meeting the strange, the interesting and the humorous along my way. Striding with backpack or pedalling the tiny trails that connect villages. I don’t drive cars. I’m on the wrong side of the road, the wrong side of the car, and I’m trying to brake with my right foot on the pedal. Sure I have been granted a temporary French permit to drive, but do I really want to exchange a life of adventurous travel for the easy option? I will decide after I have safely parked the car on the wild and wintery hill-top back at my friend’s house.

 

 

The Rush

TheRush(sm)

I have no idea if the French Consulate will approve my long-stay visa, apart from an inkling that the rendezvous was positive. In a reckless sort of way, I’ve been preparing to leave anyway. At least for three months. If my application pleases the administration I’m off for a year, with the option to renew. Holy shit! there’s a mountain of ends to tie off.

Being a visual artist is heart-poundingly beautiful. I spend my days soaking up images then pouring my passion onto canvas, computers and sketchbooks. I get to run around in the forest, chase clouds down the coast and occasionally throw my clothes to the wind. But there are some drawbacks. Stuff. The walls are disappearing behind mountains of artwork. Fortunately my housemates are tolerant.

I was dreaming up possibilities for art shows when there was a loud knock at the door. I assumed it was another parcel for New Housemate but the floppy plastic envelope looked oddly familiar. It was only a week since my interview in Sydney and I expected to wait two months. Was this a quick refusal or the long-awaited ticket to Europe? I opened it up… and I haven’t stopped smiling!

PS I really do need to move my paintings. Stay tuned.

 

 

 

Wild hearts and appreciation

I’m feeling lazy today but I want to write something before I step into the grey-skied world beyond this room. So this is probably a good moment to thank everyone who has been reading my blog. Your sharing, appreciation and collaboration has encouraged me to write regularly and to create new artworks. Thank you so much.

wild heart

Jeni McMillan

‘wild heart series’, photographic collage.