The Light in Winter.Posted: June 3, 2012
I’d say you make a perfect
Angel in the snow
All crushed out on the way you are
– Elliott Smith, ‘Angels in the snow.’
Winter is here! I will be turning 28 at some point during this season, and I am starting to feel my age, in a good way – feel comfortable and at ease in my own skin. The inner critic that tortured me for so many years has been silent in the last month. The tree outside my bedroom window, whose leaves were a brilliant golden hue for the duration of May, now stands bare yet still beautiful. My favourite DKNY trench coat is getting daily wear/love. And I am spending my holidays working on projects (of course) and continuing my self-education in the Theatre (last play attended: On The Production of Monsters at MTC). This is a new path I had not planned on travelling, but have been pulled to serendipitously. It is the strangest thing: when I make no plans and surrender all with an open heart, I somehow get what I need, I have found. Ironically, being a free spirit is how I find security. It is hard to be unhappy with this lot in life.
My beloved hometown Melbourne is usually avoided and derided in winter, but I enjoy it at this time of year – there are so many arts and cultural events, and ways to warm up. That being said, I will be getting away to the Murray briefly before semester starts. Nonetheless, Melbourne to me is a soulful city in any season, and there is always something to do, see, or participate in (or EAT!). An art festival I would recommend is ‘The Light in Winter’. Now in its sixth year, ‘The Light in Winter’, 1 June – 1 July, brings together local and international artists, designers, architects, filmmakers and multicultural groups in a free, month-long enlightening program of light sculptures, talks, events, workshops, performances and the much-loved Solstice Celebration.
This year’s program is inspired by the National Year of Reading. It will celebrate the enlightenment that reading sheds on our lives, through shedding “new light” on literary texts, oral traditions, calligraphy, music, body art and braille, along with imaginative light sculptures, and surprising collaborations from top international and local artists, designers and architects. I heard Robyn Archer, the 2012 director, giving props to my associate Emeretta on Radio National’s Drive program with Waleed Aly on Thursday. Emeretta is a passionate climate change campaigner. Her homeland of Tuvalu is expected to be one of the first nations to be completely destroyed by rising sea levels. Emeretta believes that making the cultures of the tiny island nations that will be lost more visible, making their presence felt in the adopted countries of those in exile, is the only way to remind people of what will be lost.
So, In Rise of the Backbone on the 16th June, the Pacific Islander community will show and read from ancestral tattoos on the body, with a live tattooing that marks one woman’s entry into wisdom – Emeretta’s. She will be tattooed live in Fed Square. This ceremony, as with many ceremonies in traditional indigenous cultures, is usually shrouded in secrecy, but, as she says, unless these rituals are carried out in such a way as to allow others to understand them, indigenous peoples will not make their presence felt – they will be overlooked, as they so often are in a world consumed with its own ends, growth, and financial gain. I have a writing thing on the 16th, but this is going to be a great day in the festival program – check the WEBSITE for details.
Another fascinating exhibition is cBraille, a light exhibition for people who are blind (yes, blind). By Rob Caslick, cBraille is located in a shipping container along River Terrace. It focuses on emotions as the direct link between visitors and a visually impaired person. Caslick explained that he was inspired to create this exhibition after an interesting experience he had overseas. He went to see an exhibition in a large warehouse, which was completely blackened out. Everyone walked from compartment to compartment, led around by a woman who was blind. The woman had no light perception, but often talked about light. It seemed like a contradiction – why would someone who was blind need light? Caslick later discovered that 90% of people who are blind can see light. He wanted to create an exhibition that showcased this. cBraille incorporates backlit Braille displays and a soundscape of stories from vision impaired participants, aimed at leaving you with a sense of what it’s like to lose your vision, to never have had vision, and the common bond shared as human beings.
That there is a tiny, tiny taste of what is happening in Melbourne at the moment, so no complaining about how shit this city is in the winter 😉 And though it does not snow in Melbourne, I did spot a Winter Angel, on the first day of June – an unusually beautiful sunny day. I was on my way to my local west suburban shops to pick up some supplies for the weekend, when I came across a young mum in her trackie dacks and her two little children – a little girl of about six and her little brother of pre-school age. The angel in question, however, was their mum. As I strolled behind them I observed her carrying a rubbish bag, picking up litter on more than three streets as she walked along, and encouraging her two little ones to help her – which they did. Eventually I caught up to them and had a friendly exchange with the mum, who was delightfully cheery and upbeat.
I was inspired, seeing this woman quietly practice what so many preach. Inspired enough that I will be doing the same now whenever I go to my local shops. We hear so many stories about irresponsible parents and careless kids. It is worth remembering, though, that there are awesome people in the world quietly setting a terrific example not only for the children they are rearing, but everyone. Being the change they want to see. Some I have the privilege of calling my friends.
That is all for now. Forgive this meandering post – it has been a while since I last wrote here, and my brain has been blissfully occupied in that absence, so I need to readjust to this blogging thing! I will post again in a week or so.
In the meantime, I am excited about an upcoming promotional photo shoot for a Melbourne Fringe Festival visual art show I am fortunate to be co-curating.
A night time shoot. In winter. Potentially with costumes.
This is going to be fun.
Here is a clip of the song quoted above, ‘Angels in the snow’ by Elliott Smith (1969-2003). Still pretty. I do listen to current music, but for some reason the beginning of winter brings this song to mind: