There is so much about the world we know about and if we didn’t, we certainly have resources to find out. But how often do we reflect on what lies within? How do we explore that unknown terrain? At what point in childhood did we hear a voice that said certain doors will remain closed and inaccessible? Somewhere in memory, I have retained this because I often feel, I’m incapable.
As a child I had a burning desire to be an airline stewardess (terminology of the day) or a surgeon. I was not a beauty queen but my lofty and incompatible ambitions resembled those heard from the most ‘beautiful’ women in the world. My ambitions were crushed when I was told (in that era), women could not be surgeons. So I focused on joining the airline only to be dissuaded by my mother because I did not meet the subjectivity of glamour associated with the profession. Decades later I was on a plane with a frightened child behind me who was travelling alone. Hearing her squealing in fear at take off, I reached over and held her hand. I asked the crew if she could sit with me and spent the whole flight drawing with her. I have never enjoyed a six year old’s company more than I did that day. We engaged in a game of guess my drawing. As I disembarked the crew thanked me warmly. They asked me if I was a teacher or nurse. I am neither. When I told them my profession, one of the ladies said, “Oh! that’s what I wanted to do at university but found out I could not get the grades I needed”. I smiled and told her, she was doing what I wanted to do, decades earlier. She was tall, slender, beautiful, charming. I am not. Yet, we had both found what lies within.
I’ve always regretted not having the skills to be a painter. I woke this morning and realised it is an odd regret. I really don’t know if I can paint, or not. I’ve never tried. But, I have the urge to pick up a paintbrush, swirl it through colour and apply it to canvas. I usually feel this way when I am in the north of the State. Yet, I know from experience, painting what you find there, is an audacious act. Even for skilled and talented artists. They never capture the true vibrancy of colours. When they come close to it, their attempt looks garish. Almost cheap. The canvas you pick up randomly at market stalls. But I have found some with talent who paint the still life of gorges, wildlife, birdlife, and portraits of people who live here. Perhaps, they too have come to realise, sunrise and sunset is best left to Nature to put on her canvas.
Indigenous artists take a different approach. They do ‘dot’ painting. It is abstract. It is interpretive, for artist and art lover. But then, isn’t art interpretive? Finding meaning. Finding connection. Between artist and subject. Between artist and viewer. Like my little companion on the flight. She did not draw a tree. She drew a Christmas tree. One with coloured baubles and stars that didn’t shine, except in her words. And, presents, big presents under the tree. People are creative spirits. We seek to connect. We seek to dream. It is in human nature to do this. It is survival. Whatever the choice of medium.
Photography is instinctive and interpretive as well. I have a visceral response to almost everything I see on Cable Beach, Broome. The russet pindan cliffs are a perfect backdrop to the sea. They ignite at sunset. The early morning sun rises behind them and highlights a colour palette in the rocky outcrops. It takes your breath away. The iconic camels languidly walking back home with keeper, blend in and yet, distinctive too. For an unattractive creature with asymmetrical features and cranky disposition, they certainly have a sexy, slow rhythmic walk! They are mesmerising to watch.
I’m planning a few days of rest up north in the coming weeks. I need to be in a natural art gallery again.
For now, I’m headed back on the road. Until we meet again …
a dawn bird