Saturday, July 31, 2010

Mitchell Art Show

Last night's Mitchell Landmark Art Show Opening was a great success with a huge variety of quality exhibits (paintings, mixed media, sculpture, children's art and photography) tastefully displayed in Mitchell's Maranoa Gallery. The judge, Bill Morton presented the awards and commented on the high quality of the works on display. Mitchell's Marimba Band entertained the crowd of over 300 people who spilled from the gallery out into a spacious outdoor area where drinks and food were served. In balmy 25° temperatures people discussed art and caught up with friends and neighbours.

In colourful dress, the Marimba Band captured the mood of the crowd with its happy, rhythmic beat and melodies. Afterwards, I had to marvel at the large number of people I'd greeted by name and talked to. Never before have I been to an occasion where I've known so many people. This is quite a revelation, as I've lived in many other country areas and cities as well.

The local baker Kyle Mansfield won two prizes for his charcoal drawings; Rowan Douglas' stunning ring sculpture was awarded a first prize, and our neighbour and good friend Richard Malpass won second prize for his large cross sculpture. This work is based around the issue of man's use and abuse of animals. The large timber cross (with burnt extremes) displays words from Genesis, written as if in blood. Graphic black-and-white pictures show scenes that most of us look upon with shame. The message is both confronting and thought-provoking. The sculpture itself is skilfully built and created.

This piece created much controversy and conversation. But isn't this what art is supposed to do?

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Outback plants, art and marimba music

Two weeks ago a friend gave me two tiny bottle trees that had self-seeded in her garden. I had a vacant bonsai pot in the cupboard so planted them and put them in a sunny spot in our living area. They are at the four leaf stage, with cute bulbous trunks. Today a new leaf unfurled. Bathed in sunshine its tiny veins stood proud.

On my walk today I paused in parkland to play a booming drum and musical cattle grid. A pleasing sound echoed down to the river, there to settle. Similar to a marimba, the sound urged me on my way, for tonight, between six and seven is our marimba practice. There are 12 of us in the Mitchell Marimba group, aged mid-20s to mid-60s. I am the oldest in the group -- a dubious privilege, and one new to my experience. Our teacher, Joy is one of those rare people: a truly great teacher. Through her we learn to achieve coordination between three parts, while maintaining a joyful beat. The plan is that we perform at the opening of the Mitchell Landmark Art Show on Friday night.

The Mitchell Landmark Art Show attracts exhibits from locals as well as from artists living all over Queensland and interstate. Encouraged by friends, I entered a long, narrow silver frame in which I'd placed pressed ooline leaves and flowers, a spray of black orchid blooms and Antarctic beech leaves. Titled "Intertwined", my entry (in the mixed media section) shows Gondwanan plant refugees in pressed plant form. I have a passion for plants and a keen interest in art.

Living a double life

Summer on Phillip Island and winter in outback Queensland, Australia, gives me home environments and a lifestyle rich beyond belief. It's this lifestyle I'd like to share with you.

At present, Doug and I are living in the small sunny town of Mitchell, in outback Queensland.

Our animal family consists of two German shepherds, Katie a 13-year-old Siamese cat, and a 38-year-old stumpy-tailed lizard called Stego. Del is Doug's dog, a beautiful short-haired gold and black shepherd. Major Mitchell is my dog. He was born and bred in Mitchell (hence his name), is predominantly black and has a glamour coat. Major is an old-style German shepherd, meaning he's huge for a 12 month old dog, very solid in structure and very stable in temperament. Every afternoon we walk along the Maranoa River and over the bridge and back.

Doug and I have been married for 43 years. A love of animals and the environment are common passions, but we have differences too. Doug has a keen interest in restoring old motorcycles and I have a career as a writer, with 16 books published to date - mainly about animals and chemical free living. I'll let you into the secrets of how Mitchell 'ticks' in future blogs.