What I learnt from Pottery Class

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This was meant to be a tray, but the side on the left broke off!

When our children went to home school classes run by Casula Powerhouse, we would gather at the coffee shop. Some of the parents would seize the opportunity to do their work on laptops. Some brought their textbooks along and studied. Some would sit and chat over coffee, and some would walk by the river. One of our group organized for anyone interested to go to pottery classes whilst our kids were in classes. Brilliant! Here is what I have learnt.

  1. It requires more focus than you first realize. You have to work the clay with your hands, deliberately and with intent.
  2. Ladies who gather around a mound of clay talk about a wild myriad of subjects, and it feels like sharing your soul with your tribe.
  3. Things go awry, and it’s okay. Legs wobble, bowls are misshapen, and dishes crack when fired.
  4. It is nerve-wracking to send your baby to it’s first firing. You also learn the fine art of surrendering when you relinquish your object to the kiln after glazing. You have no idea if it shall survive. Indeed, you have no idea what colours it shall be, nor the depth of those colours.
  5. The image of what you wish to create often differs from what is done!
  6. Scooping up your pieces of pottery-which cracked in the kiln-you are awestruck at their beauty, and imagine what you can create with them.

Pottery is a metaphor for life. We start off with an idea of what we can create, and do our level best to make it happen. Circumstances change, people have their turn shaping the clay and there is mess. We put the rearranged piece in the kiln and hope for the best, knowing we have done all we can. We read the colour on the bottle of glaze, and try to imagine how it shall look, before spreading it on in liberal strokes. Whatever we end up with, we take pride in having created it with our own hands, however wonky it may be. Life is pretty much like that. If we wanted cookie-cutter perfection, we would have to look to mass-production, and life shouldn’t be like that.

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Brain Week, University and Hope

We have had a dizzying week, filled with grace, learning and love. We had a mum and her son come to stay for a little while. They have been on the road for almost a year, and are finding it difficult to locate permanent housing. One day we shall look back with horror that a single mum and her children found it so tough to secure housing. I could think of nobody with such a vested interest in being the perfect tenant. They are travelling South, and I pray that they find what they are looking for. Everybody deserves a permanent home.

My daughter attended a robotics lecture and tour at Sydney University this week, and also went to a Brain Week Open Day at UNSW. She loved being on campus, and was fascinated by all she saw.

IMG_6521This is a picture of her exquisite and beautiful brain activity! I love the violet!

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Casula Powerhouse, Paul Trefry, 'Homeless Still Human.'
Casula Powerhouse,
Paul Trefry, ‘Homeless Still Human.’

My daughter felt emotional as she observed this sculpture, looking deep into his eyes. Everybody deserves permanent housing.

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I attended dinner for a dear friend’s birthday and was delighted that Hannah Erika Music were playing. It was a sublime night. I met a designer, who disclosed that she is dyslexic, and her dream is to empower young people who have dyslexia. I can’t wait to see the glorious clothing she produces after she sets up her business. It is important that dyslexic kids hear of such adults, and have the chance to tour universities, attend workshops and see all the opportunities that are available to them. By ten, most have had deflating experiences and had trials beyond what an adult could comfortably endure. My child loves science, art, music and drama among many other interests. I know she will succeed in whatever she chooses to do in life, not in spite of her dyslexia, but from it. She already thinks outside the box, is extraordinarily creative and curious. These qualities will hold her in good stead.

We also saw a beautiful performance at the Seymour Centre, of Huang Yi and Kuka My daughter asked if the performers had fun coming up with the choreography between themselves and the robot (Kuka). Huang Yi answered an emphatic yes, and went on to tell her that he believed in his dream, and found others who did too. He told her to never let go of her dreams. It was lovely advice to give a little girl with a bucketful of hope.

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Lastly, I had to share the recipe for these fruit balls that my friend made. They are amazing! Mix Coconut, Almond Meal, Honey, Vanilla Essence, Lime juice and peel and Chia seeds together and roll into balls.

 

The Weekend

My daughter and I were delighted to attend The Love is Huge by artist Jodie Whalen. We had no idea what to expect. We discovered the following on our seats;  a pink flag, a party popper and instructions. We were asked to surprise a man called Heath by waving the flag and cheering when he arrived in the theatre. We certainly did, and he blushed and laughed, before sitting on the stage. Jodie came sauntering out in a gorgeous gown, and took us through a thirty minute performance. It was her declaration of love to Heath, and was intimate and profoundly moving. Much to my surprise, I found out that it was Jodie’s first time singing in public. During the finale, we set off our party popper’s and applauded as scores of pink balloons (with Heath’s photo on them), were released from the ceiling. My daughter was enchanted by the performance, even though she posed like this for my photo. “Romance, yuck!”

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We then made our way to the 21st Birthday party of Casula Powerhouse  (as a designated art space). It is an extraordinary place; large and filled with hope. David Capra did a splendid job of curating this event. There was techno music, a huge birthday cake, photo booth, karaoke, performers and more artists than there are angels spinning on the eye of a needle.

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Artists are the dreamers, the visionaries and the ethereal of this world. Stepping into their realm is akin to splashing iced water on your face and falling asleep under the coercion of a fairy potion.

To our delight, on Sunday, there was a Blessing of the Animals at Ashfield Uniting Church with Bill Crews. It was organized with WLPA, the World League for the Protection of Animals. It was a service which greatly resembled an episode of the Vicar of Dibley. There were cats and dogs, ducks and guinea pigs. If I had known it was on prior, I would have brought our pets along! It was a very moving service, and we said a prayer for a lady who had lost one of her little dogs to old age that very morning. The hardest part of having animals is found in the dreadful day that they die.

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It was a beautiful service, filled with love, for both the humans and animals. A majestic Police Rescue Dog made his voice heard by the end of the service. Bless the animals of this world. They have a lot to teach us, as my canary taking on an Indian Miner bird (from behind the safety of the window), can attest.

30 Day Challenge, Day 30! Anything I want to Write about!

I have a myriad of wondrous things to write about today!

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Firstly I want to tell you about Tiny Notes. My daughter and I discovered a pink post-it-note on the window of the train carriage when we sat down. Beautiful people place them around Sydney, and the recipients Instagram the notes upon their discovery. It certainly gave us a lift this morning!

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‘I am Jack’ by Susanne Gervay was inspired by her son, who had been bullied at school. It resonated so widely that it was turned into a play by The Monkey Baa Theatre Company. My daughter and I were thrilled and stunned by the performance. It was funny and heart-wrenching. As a parent, it offered a window into life from a child’s perspective. Get along and see it if you can. We had a great talk afterward, about how important it is not to bottle things up, and the need to share your worries.

We found an extraordinary room at the Casula Powerhouse, filled with chandeliers offering an eerie light.

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I finished reading ‘Here comes the sun,’ about an Australian band called The Sunnyboys and singer and guitarist Jeremy Oxley’s battle with schizophrenia. He and his wife Mary overcame a great deal and managed to thrive. It is an inspiring love story and study of a talented man regaining his health.

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We also saw a koala, frogs and many other animals at Wildlife World. It has been a great few days in my household!

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We are going to have a little break away to go camping. We will be staying at a place filled with Koala Bears, parrots and dolphins. I look forward to sharing the experience with you late next week!

Mourning and Death Exhibitions

Death exhibition, Casula Powerhouse
Death exhibition, Casula Powerhouse
I heard last week that a friend had passed away. She was a mum of three and had fought cancer with grace and might for a number of years. I had only seen her recently, giving her a hug at a local fair. “I would love to catch up soon,” I said, and she smiled her radiant smile. I felt numb with shock when I heard the news. I wanted the world to stop spinning for a little while, but it refused. I had to take my daughter to an art workshop early the next morning. After I had ordered breakfast at the art space, I turned around and saw a hearse. Here I was, trying to distract myself with business, and death was all around. I couldn’t escape it.
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A death exhibition had just opened. I couldn’t avert my eyes, so decided to embrace it. This feared wild state called death… The cessation of all that was and all you were prior, leaving lasting memories and the love you carried in your heart. A gift to those who love you.
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"Grief" by Helen Shelley
“Grief” by Helen Shelley
I viewed the exhibition, the works using a myriad of mediums. Photos of those who looked asleep, a TV set to distribute white noise. It was peaceful. It wasn’t morbid or frightening, just silent and respectful. I don’t understand why people die, particularly the young. Two women I adored have died the past six months, and I have raged and wept and reminisced. I now found myself ensconced in a death exhibition, as though it were a preview of coming attractions. It is my duty to live a good and full life, in tribute to those who only had half of their expected years on earth. When I pop off, I want to leave my daughter enough wondrous adventures and memories to last her all her days.

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My daughter decided to dress up in one of her classes as a pilot bride. Just before the actual wedding, she leapt out of her plane and parachuted to earth. I thank God for each day I get to spend with this exquisite little girl.
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On behalf of my late friends, I promise not to take this painful, ecstatic gift of life for granted. Just a few weeks ago, my friend was working, helping an elderly lady in her home. She wasn’t dying. She was living to the end. Every second was accounted for and respected. Now is all we have. Let’s make it count.

  

Gnome Conventions and Life.

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Can you believe that we are in February? January leans in, digging its elbow into the tender parts of our psyche. People struggle with big issues. Finances are depleted after Christmas, relationships are in turmoil, people you love are in pain. At the same time, you are attempting to plot the year ahead, and work ramps up for another year. January can be pressurised. What do you do to escape? We went to Casula Powerhouse to see the Mind the Gap exhibition.

Mind the Gap
Mind the Gap

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A wondrous affair, resplendent with model trains grafted into sculpture.
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I felt my hair, barreling down my shoulders, tired and splintered. I sought reparation. I usually do a haphazard job of trimming it myself, but as I had pledged to take better care of myself this year, I had it done at an actual hairdresser.

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I had a fortnight of no sleep, due to my bulging spinal discs. I lay awake with a pillow between my legs, my hands attempting to force the discs back into place. I tried to rest, my back brace tightly bound around my spine. It was hard, particularly when life demanded that I partake during the daytime. On Australia Day, I went to the annual Gnome Convention at Glenbrook. I had to go. If one can’t find escape from one’s pain at such a do, then I don’t know where one can!
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Feeling entirely restored, I celebrated my birthday. Now birthdays have always been a weird dark night of the soul for me. Melancholy, renewal, taking stock and everything in between. I ran away to Sydney with my daughter. We looked around, rode on public transport, and came home to a glorious delivery of flowers.

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Friends took me out for lunch in the coming days, and I was humbled by their thoughtfulness. I was driven to a birthday dinner last weekend and had a lovely time. It was an occasion where you imbibe with good wine and company, and can be silly and free.

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Another friend had a party, Superhero themed. I adore this lady. So far, we have celebrated space, feet, the first letter of our name, and now heroes. I was the Queen of the Rainbow.

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I also confronted a park containing many memories of Serena. The number of times we have sat at the seats below, watching the children play and drinking coffee… I expected her to come along at any moment. There were tears, and my little girl hugged me. She knew. She felt it too. After the sorrow, we smiled, recollecting the parties, festivals and many joyous times we had experienced there. At the end that is what remained. Above all the strife in January, that is what we shall hold onto.
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