Well here goes another attempt at blogging. I am possibly, no definitely, the world's worst blogger. Which is odd considering I like writing, I like telling stories, and I like to share my thoughts.. maybe too much some times. As we head into 2019 at full speed, I just wanted to share a bit about my maternal grandparents and Goodooga. This is the house my mother grew up in, in a little town called Goodooga, in north west NSW. If you have been to Lightning Ridge, you may have seen the signs to Goodooga. No one really goes there anymore unless they are visiting friends and family, as the roads are not all bitumen, and most things have closed or burnt down. No shop, no pub, no petrol. They have a post office which does a wonderful service for the community with take away food, groceries, plus all the other post office things, as well as extended hours. There is a medical service with a nurse (or 2?), and health care workers. The doctors fly in etc. There is a small school too. So much different to when we were younger, and definitely different to my parents and grandparents days. My grandparents house is now gone, but I still have lots of other family there. For a town which appears to have nothing, to me it has everything. It has space, it has fresh air, it has a river (well which could do with a lot more water!!!!!), and it has the history of both my families, my ancestors, all embedded into the country. Driving the last part of the trip from Brisbane, is on a dirt road from Hebel, to cross the border into NSW... and once my car hits that dirt I feel like I am home. And on the return journey, I feel like I am leaving something behind. A little piece of my heart.
The first weekend in June saw me head to Melbourne courtesy of the Australian Defence Force! The ADF Aussie rules connection because of the jersey I designed, gave me the opportunity to go to the Richmond Football club and help present a framed jersey to the club. The ADF and the RFC have a strong partnership and this was honoured with the presentation. Some of the ADF AFL indigenous players also came for the weekend, and we watched the Richmond womens team play and then we went to the MCG to watch Richmond play Essendon play!
SO! I am done in our nations Capital and have been here for the last 2.5weeks at a catholic primary school as their artist in residence! I drove down via Sydney so I could catch up with my best friends there, and then onto Canberra where my sister and her family live! So lucky to have the opportunity to paint stories in another school, and to work with every student. A staff member had seen my work at another school and approached me to come to them as well - word of mouth is amazing! So I have even working with years 3-6 doing their family stories, and sharing some of mine. For kindergarten to yr 2 we have created a huge canvas together for the meeting room near the office, representing the school mission. I have just completed another free standing cross for the foyer which can be moved wherever it is needed in the school, and in the process of completing 3 works of art for the walls, using the school vision. I have 2 days remaining so things are getting tight!!!! Remind me to write again will you?
APRIL 27, 2017
What is a failure? When you can’t ask for help, or when you do?
I just looked at the date of my last blog. March 2016. I recently went to a “how to use social media” seminar night… and blogging was up there amongst the to-do’s. Mainly because if you are someone like me who shares the stories on Facebook alone, (or instagram etc)… those platforms are not owned by me, so they can easily disappear. Whereas my blog, is mine, and will always be here. Unless we blow up all computer devices/internet. So it’s best I start here again. I have bought a number of journals/books to write in… and they too, are sitting there with one or 2 entries.
I am supposed to be doing an assignment, it’s due on Monday. I am supposed to be packing up my rental townhouse, I am moving out, and want to be gone before the new rental prospects are bombarding with visits, and I will have to tidy up.
I am “supposed” to be a lot of things, and be doing a lot of things. So why am I writing this now? Oh I am good at procrastinating for sure. The queen.
So much has happened since last March, well, so much as happened since last week to be honest. I went back to nursing (casual) briefly, and have resigned from that position just recently. I have decided to move back home to my parents house, it suits all of us for a number of reasons. It makes me sad though that this means my children no longer live with me (well they can but it is a bit far from their lives etc right now, it doesn’t help them like that). One of my daughters left home to study a couple of years ago, she still lives locally thankfully, and it’s just been me and my eldest daughter. It’s kinda like I kicked her out, well that’s how I feel, even though that’s not what was meant. I am sure she will blossom on her own, finding her path, instead of cleaning up mine. I continue to paint when I can, do workshops, tattoo designs and commissions. I also do art with a lady who has dementia, on a weekly basis to provide a social setting for her and her passion. I have returned to study and am 1.5units off finishing a diploma of dementia care (I am not continuing with the Bachelor).
Am I a failure for returning home at 47?
Am I a failure for succumbing to stress (I diagnose myself with stress related physical pain, since the Drs cannot find a diagnosis). I don’t usually feel or exhibit stress (unless the assignment is due and the internet is down!!!… then there is noise, drama and things get thrown). But now the pain from 2 yrs ago is coming back, the swelling of my hands and feet, and the pain down my left side). It’s not as bad as I have recognised it sooner… however it’s bad enough to change things I have to do, need to do and would like to do. And the sense of failure. That has returned.
I actually asked for help recently, it felt like I was tearing apart my pride. Then when help was offered that went beyond what I asked for, I felt like I had sunk to the depths of uselessness.
Am I a failure as I don’t exercise anymore, that I have put on so much weight since study began and I started eating everything that was in the house, including the furniture possibly.. even if the food was healthy, the moderation part of eating went right out the window with the empty packages and banana skins. So now not only do I feel like a failure, I feel like I look like a failure. I chose to remain single after my divorce, as I couldn’t trust anyone, and didn’t want anything more to hurt my kids. The one time I let my guard down and let someone into our lives, he dumped me by text as I was… and I quote.. “too independent and needy”. Yep you read that right. That was about 5yrs ago. And I have sworn off that nonsense ever since.
Am I a failure because I have sworn off dating, but still feel lonely? Don’t get “lonely” confused with “bored”… I am never bored and always have a million things to do, or in my head to do. And I enjoy that. Am I destined to die a lonely, fat, crazy, manic woman, who never let it show that she felt like this?
Am I a failure as I am not going to re-read this and correct anything, or actually plan out what I wanted to say, I am just saying it? If it appears as ramble, rest assured it probably is.
In recent times I have been going to church. I have felt very welcomed and loved by the people who go there, and while I am there, I feel very peaceful. I am trying to bring that peace home with me, and so I am studying the Alpha course in a small group, hoping to find some answers. Don’t get me wrong, I am not so depressed I am thinking there is no way up, and I am fully aware there are so many other people far worse off than me. This is not a pity party, this is just confusion.
I am not writing this to ask for anything. I am writing this to get it out of my head, and to just say, behind a smile and the appearance of a strong woman, is the internal fight and ongoing negotiation to make my self get out of bed, to just keep going, and to find my purpose. I joke about not knowing what I want to do when I grow up… and to be honest, it’s both a joke and the sad reality. I am at a loss as to the purpose of my life, apart from bringing 2 gorgeous, talented, smart and kind daughters into the world, and raising them to adulthood. I am proud of that. To me, that is all I have done right. I feel all my decisions must have been wild silly ones. Those decisions have brought me to where I am right now. But what is that? Who is that? And why am I here.
Mum n Dad says:
April 27, 2017 at 8:45 am
“A failure ‘….. no way! You have made us proud since the day you were born. Excelled at school and uni…. you became a brilliant nurse. You’ve had personal issues along the way but out of that you’ve got two beautiful daughters. What a brilliant job you have done raising them into amazing, caring, loving young ladies. The compassion you have shown to the elderly people while being a community nurse is second to none. On to your art…..you have an amazing talent….you paint with a passion…you have so much more to offer this world. Love you.❤️
MARCH 8, 2016
Why I paint what I paint.
I look at the work of lot of indigenous artists, those long gone, those mid career, successful or not, and the many many emerging artists. I can’t even tell you all their names (memory is my weak point as my children will tell you!!! Names don’t seem to leave a mark, but what I see does).
I love the work of the desert artists, their colour and their history tell such amazing tales.
I love the work of many artists (not just indigenous of course), and have been pondering what makes someone buy a particular piece, and how much are people willing to pay for it.
Your work is only worth (in monetary terms) what someone will pay, really, at the end of the day.
I don’t paint traditional stories, as I was not told them by my mother or grandmother. I don’t even know if my grandmother was told them herself. My grandmother told us ghost stories about things and people she knew and superstitious beliefs that would scare the pants off you… nothing to do of course with telling us them when we are outside in the dark yard, barely a street light on…teh weight of all the stars in the great expanse of sky, as the main source of light…. you could just make out where we sitting… on chairs in a circle, or on the old shearers beds…. its too hot and too small to sit inside her corrugated iron house….
oh and she taught us some words, mainly body parts, in her language…
I don’t paint political themes, as I can barely understand the story myself. I have opinions, but I usually keep them to myself as my opinions are only based on what I read fleetingly, or see or hear… I don’t research or belong to anything to create such a political passion in myself. That doesn’t even make sense to me, so good luck with that.
I sometimes have to ask myself…what is your passion? What do you really think? Feel? Why do you paint what you paint? Why don’t you paint more statements? Politics? Causes? Belief? If you were to die tomorrow, what do you want people to remember you by, or your art by?
I come from a low-middle income upbringing. But we never went without. We never went on beach holidays, had fancy things etc as children. But we never went without.
Our holidays were going back to Goodooga, where we could roam and play with our cousins and friends, in the dust, the river, the cemetery, wherever…. or when it was just too hot… laying under verandas in our togs (swimwear) with towels drenched in rain or river water.. trying to find a breeze in 45-50C heat…you could not find 4 more excited kids that night before we would leave… trying to get to sleep and waiting for that shake of the shoulder in the middle of the night from Mum…”its time to go to Goodooga”… I will never forget that shake!!!!
From one income, one car, housing commission home after moving around renting (I was in 3 schools in 3 years)… but we never went without.
As a young adult, married woman, young mum.. I certainly didn’t do without material things, or love for that matter.
Fastforward to the emerging stages of my “canvas” art career ( as I always did something..but painting on canvas started briefly around 2003/4)…. and then to 2005/6/7 when the downward spiral of mental health, traumatic personal stuff, marriage breakup and the resettlement of my kids into a new home and new lifestyle… having to retrain to find work that suited the kids school hours etc…with money so tight and dependent on welfare, child support and what little I could earn even though my hours were long….not a lot of art work then…
But we never went without… (I could make 3 sausages last 3 of us for 3 days by adding different ingredients each night)…
What didn’t we do without? Love. Hope. The sense of family. That tomorrow is a new day. The knowledge (however selfish it sounds), that there are people worse off, so get on with it, get over it, and go for it.
I don’t know if thats what I paint. I hope to paint from a place of love, of peace, or hope for a better day, of thankfulness and graciousness of what I have.
Whether its a painting of a sunset… its something I saw and at that moment, I felt peace and love….
… or its is a painting that looks like a jumble of dots and pretty patterns… well in my mind, I was happy, hopeful, and grateful.
Really bad stuff happens to really good people… People leave your life for lots of reasons, and sometimes its so not fair (yes sometimes its welcomed!!!)… Life is not always fair, and I don’t know what I can do about it sometimes (if anything). I wish I had the passion and the drive to join causes, to fight for the rights of XYZ…. (after all, they are always last)… but I don’t… maybe I am self absorbed, maybe I am lazy, or maybe I just hope that I can support the people who are the brave fighters, by just providing them with love, hope, peace, a friend, and a piece of art that they can look at and think those things too.
Thank you for reading, and thank you for helping me work through my own question to myself… Wendy, why do you paint, what you paint?
DECEMBER 20, 2015
When the going gets tough….
Its not the end of the year quite yet….but I have a moment to my thoughts right now…
Just sitting here with my nut head dogs… who managed today to squeeze a foam dog bed through the metal panel bars on their pen while i was out…wtf and why? Can I increase their prozac? OMG.
…. and catching up on FB as I do quite regularly…nah…yeah you know it….
.. and I saw this post on my mate Jono’s page, and i clicked play… well crikey if I didn’t start to cry… fair dinkum swell of emotion and outpouring of tears… and then reflection of why.. as you do…
… what an amazingly incredible year.
Bear went back to YWAM and commenced her leadership training and the 20mths of living in…. co-leading a team of students to Calcutta, India, for 7 weeks… at 18 and the youngest of the group. Seeing her ever increasing happy face after years of darkness, she is a constant source of inspiration and maturity beyond her years. I wonder where she will go next June-Aug on her next overseas outreach…given it was Russia and China when she was 17! Her love for helping others and seeing goodness where others see failing, poverty and dark, I am so proud to be in her life. I fall in love with her again and again every morning I wake up.
Hannie completed her acting course, and I had a daughter old enough to have finished uni! WOW I am an old person. Seeing her on stage in her element, I cry just thinking about it! You can imagine my mascara disaster when I am in the audience. Watching her in the 2 festivals she has been a part of this year since she graduated, I know she is destined for great things. Spending more time with her on a more regular basis now I am not full time nursing… its a creative hub in our little digs. Her writing new plays, working on ideas, talking through all that goes with that… its really really cool. I fall in love with her again and again every morning I wake up.
My sister Katrina has finally received the recognition she deserves and worked so hard for all these years, as a primary school teacher. She IS the epitome of what a teacher is and should aspire to, of that I have no doubt. She is the kindest and sweetest person you will meet…she is the nice sister. She works really hard at work, and at home, and being the glue that holds her household together, with 2 teen/pre-teen daughters and all that entails, and an army officer hubby Piers, and all that entails!!! I just wish we could live nearer one another, as she is my best friend.
My brother Brad who continues in tough job, not only as a police officer, but one in charge of the station, and in a remote locality as he does. But he is more than that… from all accounts and from the accolades he receives professionally and personally, he and his amazingly tireless, energetic and gorgeous bride Heidi have bridged a gap in a community with all their extra curricular support for sporting teams etc. With 2 young children with an array of interests as well, I often wonder when they sleep.
My youngest brother Fats, Matt, has been following his passion within a corporate career and this has finally paid off as he has just become the first national indigenous careers manager for a major bank. His beautiful bride Tanya continues to grow from strength to strength in her role in the bank (opposition banks lol)… and is awarded accordingly too, so cool. With their little dude in tow, they are a super trio.
My parents Owen and Lorraine are happily travelling around in the retirement… just separately!!!!! Mum travels between kids/grand kids, and Pa just loves his yearly sojourn to Cloncurry and helping out with lots and lots of jobs up there! Was really great that I was able to do trips with each of them this year – a month on the road with Ma touring NSW and visiting as much of the mob as we could… from Woolongong, to Canberra, to Mt Kosi to see snow… to sydney, to Bathurst, orange, parkes, Dubbo, Bourke and Goodooga…and then a couple of weeks out in Goodooga with Pa testing out my new caravan. I couldn’t be who I am, disregarding the obvious, without my parents and their support.
To my family and friends, who have gone through so much grief this year, with loved ones passing, struggling with illness and still smiling, I salute you. I cry with your sad times, and I cheer in your triumphs.
And me, well nothing much has happened. EEHEHEHHEHEHEH…. from a full time nursing career, juggling an emerging art career, and many years as the sole carer of my kids (Yep there was help, but at the end of the day, it was me)….. I crashed physically. I guess at some point you have no choice but to listen to your body. I may not “exhibit” stress (apart from what these crazy dogs do to me)…but I have to acknowledge it does manifest somehow in your body…. and being tested for MS because of my symptoms, and a scare with some sort of benign spinal tumour (apparently its nothing so I am happy about that)…. but never getting a formal diagnosis….selling my house, quitting my full time job… just all seemed to make sense. I am not going to lie… I am scared financially… starving artist is not just a cliche lol…. well I could do with some starving and I could live for a while on my bakery (more than a muffin top here)… but yeah, I can honestly say I am scared, and there are days, when physically, and emotionally, I can barely get out of bed. But I do because I need to pee.
I am no different to any of you, lovely friends. I have met so many more new people this year, who have inspired me to keep going. I have so much love from my old friends and my family, who even if you don’t realise it, make me smile every day. I know so many who struggle, so many who have sad and tragic stories, so many who lose loved ones far before their time. Those stories give me the nudge to get out of bed on the days I struggle, because I should.. because I can.
To my old and my new friends, to my family and all the extended mob, I truly wish you a merry Christmas, in whatever shape or form your celebrations take place…. I wish you health and happiness for 2016, and I wish to remain a part of your lives, even if its just as a Facebook stalker.
Enjoy the clip, thanks Jono… because when the going gets tough, the tough get going. ( I used to think it said “you can go and get stuffed”).
Billy Ocean – When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get Going (Version 2)
Billy Ocean’s official music video for ‘When The Going Gets Tough, The Tough Get Going (Version 2)’.…
4 THOUGHTS ON “WHEN THE GOING GETS TOUGH….”
NOVEMBER 17, 2015
Contemporary Experiential Artist – Indigenous, Story Telling, Healing, Connecting to self
I really don’t like labels…as I really don’t think I actually fit any….. however sometimes you have to answer a question succinctly and with as much accuracy, about yourself, as you can….
I have had lots of reflection time in the last couple of days plus good old artistic girly talk with my actress daughter…lol…. we were discussing what I REALLY like to paint and portray…to come up with some sort of definition of “my style“…as I feel I am not “just” an indigenous artist…or maybe not “enough” of an indigenous artist…. we came up with something a little different and I don’t even really care if its not a proper word for describing art …but its more “CONTEMPORARY EXPERIENTIAL ART…. sometimes drawing on indigenous roots, always telling a story, and always based on a feeling or experience.
…. I really want to appeal to people who are attracted to a story or feeling or experience…not just someone buying something as it “goes” with their furniture.
Does that make sense?
…. I have turned to art to find myself again…after many years of being something to everyone else…. to heal with time and experience, and sharing stories.
My next exhibition at Aspire Gallery, in December, is called “Connecting“.
Can you connect to your own story?
Would love to share this story with you in Dec!
Invitations out soon, the gallery is free entry and the opening afternoon is 12 Dec, 4.30-6.30pm. (Galley otherwise is open Wed-sunday 10.30-4.30)
Come share your story with me 🙂
And feel free to buy my art if it goes with your furniture
NOVEMBER 8, 2015
Doors of opportunity
Got my fruit and veges done at the markets just in time to for Bear to drive us to church… today we heard from Pastor Kathy about doors of opportunity…. asking for them to be opened…asking for help in choosing…and having the faith to walk through them…knowing that on the other side, is not guaranteed an easy ride…there will still be obstacles and nothing comes easy… and understanding what stops us from walking through those doors, why we hesitate….
Well I feel I have walked through those doors…I believe the door was actually opened and I fell through when I succumbed to whatever the illness that struck me down earlier in the year….I was forced in a way to take stock of what was, what is and what could be….and then having the faith in following through…well I crawled through that door…and I am pretty much still on my knees…health wise days are getting better more frequently, and the really bad days are getting further apart… I know they are lurking though…and some days its an effort to keep going…but gee when I get going its on for young and old..lol….
….Financially, its not a wise decision to give up a steady job to go to such a sporadic income that bills are paid from savings…but its a decision I made based on faith and a dream….and because I could barely move faster than a crawl anyway…nevertheless….
I pray the doors of opportunity open for my daughters, that they can follow their dreams and not be tied to the roundabout life of “one day”….that they continue to work at being who they are and what they do, they inspire me beyond words those 2 beautiful girls…
I pray that we may be blessed with enough abundance to live comfortably, to help those in need and to continue to inspire others to follow their passions and live healthy, happy and helpful lives.