Category: Metro Arts

Easter Sunday. A day of celebration. It is the first Sunday following a full moon after the March equinox…symbolic of rebirth and renewal…a celebration of the goddess of Spring…Easter to me is a day of reflection…of embracing what is to come even though in this minute I have no idea what that is.

In Sostrup garden there stands a crucifix...

In Sostrup garden there stands a crucifix…

Sitting in the old beautiful library on the first floor of Sostrup Castle I have been researching, preparing for an intense new creative development of EVE2, a play that had a brief season called EVE in 2012 in the delicious Sue Benner Theatre Metro Arts downtown Brisbane. EVE had a beautiful creative team with Leah Mercer in her usual role of director/devisor, Anna Molnar as Producer, Gabby Castle as Stage Manager (with Johnny Castle as ASM), Amy Ingram as Executive Producer and Stace Callaghan playing the role of Oscar, the storyteller, matched by Moshlo Shaw who played the musician/husband. Aaron Barton created a magical set and his partner Gen Trace designed the lighting while Travis Ash was sound designer. Daniel Evans was co-devisor as well as co-ordinator of the Independent Program at Metro Arts. Because of force of circumstance, the untimely death of Moshlo, we decided to return to Eve and do it differently, wedding some of the character of the Man in the third show of The Belonging Trilogy, “He Dreamed a Train” with Eve’s voice. This idea was an offer from Travis and when he suggested this I knew it was the right direction. Travis will now devise and play Musician/Storyteller/Man and Benjamin Knapton will direct/co-devise this new version with Freddy Komp and Nathan Sibthorpe creating visual magic. We have a decent task ahead of us these next ten days.

The library at Sostrup where I am working

The library at Sostrup where I am working

Being here, half way round the world in a town where I know one person apart from my partner Bill, provides an opportunity to reflect on what it means to be in relationship with the world. What it means to connect to others. What it means to live deeply. I see this residency as a pilgrimage of sorts.

So today my research focuses on what pilgrimages are for…I believe every artist is required to take a pilgrimage, not to achieve anything overtly, but simply to find the time to discover what they already know. A time to step out of my ordinary life in Brisbane, full of people and artists and homes and studios and rehearsals and plays and meetings and walks and galleries and…and…and…and to STOP. What is it that I long for? And if I understand this, then I will understand what it is that EVE2 longs for: in the original script she writes that she longs to be loved. But it is far more than that. She longs to belong though she does not express it in those terms. Yet.

My Muse accompanies...

My Muse accompanies…

David Whyte, the poet who writes about the soul’s journey talks about our ” longing to belong” and I think that this pilgrimage is the perfect occasion to discover what my longing is…I know I have a longing for story in order to belong. But is it more than that?

an image of EVE...always longing to belong

an image of EVE…always longing to belong

In my search, I came across this poem that sat well with me as I read it:

The Spirit of Longing
Tell me, men of learning, what is longing made from?
What cloth was put in it that it does not wear out with me?
Gold wears out, silver wears out, velvet wears out, silk wears out
Every ample garment wears out–yet longing does not wear out.
Great longing. Cruel longing is breaking my heart everyday
When I sleep most sound at night longing comes and wakes me

Excerpt from old Cymric (Welsh) poem
Cited in The Mist Filled Path by Frank MacEowen

If we see longing as a good thing, as a way of guiding us towards what is real, what is true, what is our calling, then I can hold it closer. And if I take on board what Phil Cousineau (http://www.philcousineau.net/_i_the_art_of_pilgrimage__the_seeker_s_guide_to_making_travel_sacred__i__18018.htm) suggests:

“The call to the sacred journey your secret heart longs for won’t come by expectation, will not arrive in a logical way. If you imagine that something is trying to call to you, try to practice stillness for a few minutes each day. Be still and quiet and you may be surprised what you start to hear”.

If I take this on board I listen, slow down. I reach for my phone less. I turn off my computer. I hear more. I change my posture: I am alert. Awake. Present. My two feet are planted on the ground. And I walk. For all creative thoughts can come from that step after step.

Sometimes its hard to step forward

Sometimes its hard to step forward

Phil Cousineau also quotes Bruce Chatwin. When I first arrived in Brisbane I worked on a piece of theatre directed by Doug Leonard and our primary texts were Bruce Chatwin’s Songlines and Eve Langley’s Pea Pickers…and here I am 26 years later still working through this material. Doug had a way of selecting the most potent texts and bringing them to life.

So Chatwin is quoted in Cousineau’s book:
“I have a vision of the Songlines stretching across the continents and the ages; that wherever men have trodden they have left a trail of song (of which we may, now and then, catch an echo); and that these trails much reach back, in time and space, to an isolated pocket in the African Savannah, where the First Man opening his mouth in defiance of the terrors that surrounded him, shouted the opening stanza of the World Song “I AM”.

I AM

I AM

“I AM LONGING TO BELONG” is the cry for millions of people displaced, lost, or superficially surfing this thing called life. It’s as though many of us are caught up in a net not of our own making. We follow others rather than lead ourselves. And we do not know what our personal mythology is…that is what a pilgrimage can awaken…there is time to reflect on the stories, poems, journeys, relationships, dreams that make up our lives.

As I walk down the stairs in my house back in Brisbane I have written above the doorway in black “Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin now. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it”. We all know Goethe’s quote. We see it on people’s fridges, magnets, shop windows, gyms, bookshops. We see it, but do we take action? Do we begin what we dream? Some of us do and others of us put it off till it’s the right time, or the right place…I sit somewhere in between. I sometimes take action and other times I wait. I wait. I wait until I cannot wait anymore. I step out.

So I have stepped out. I am longing to belong in this new play, working title EVE2.

So I have stepped out. I am reminded of Joseph Campbell’s “mythological symbols touch and exhilarate centres of life beyond the reach of the vocabularies of reason and coercion” (cited in The Mythic Path” (KIndle edition). I am here to rewrite my personal myth: to ‘weave the raw materials of daily experience into a coherent story” (The Mythic Path). To create and re-create the map of belonging.

I am quoting David Feinstein and Stanley Krippner:

“A personal myth is a constellation of beliefs, feelings, images, and rules–operating largely outside of conscious awareness–that interprets sensations, constructs new explanations, and directs behaviour…your personal mythology is a lens that gives meaning to every situation you meet and determines what you will do in it. Personal myths speak to the broad concerns of identity (who am I?), (where am I going?), and purpose (why am I going there?)”.

Margi talks at Metro Arts Launch

Metro Arts Launch and Fundraiser, Gallery Space, Metro Arts downtown Brisbane Australia

Metro Arts Launch and Fundraiser, Gallery Space, Metro Arts downtown Brisbane Australia

It was a great night. Art, artists, conversations, drinks, nibbles by Verve Restaurant, our local downstairs and of course some speeches. Here is mine, representing the artists in the building…this is a slightly extended talk, I delivered a shorter one on the night:

“RULE 17
OMIT NEEDLESS WORDS.
OMIT NEEDLESS WORDS
OMIT NEEDLESS WORDS” (Will Strunk)…

But Mr. Strunk (of The Elements of Style fame) cut out so many words that he “often seemed in the position of having shortchanged himself—a man left with nothing more to say yet with time to fill…he got out of this predicament by a simple trick: he uttered every sentence three times… He leaned forward over his desk and, in a husky, conspiratorial voice, said “Rule Seventeen. Omit needless words! Omit needless words! Omit needless words!” (Strunk, White, Kalman, 2007, X1V)

So I shall follow suit.
Metro arts
Metro arts
Metro arts
The old broad
The old broad
The old broad…

I came to Metro Arts one warm autumn day in May of 2002. I had just been to see the divine Barb Lowing in her solo Mary Magdalene by Alison Cotes at the great Cathedral in town. I sat next to Sue and conversation regarding studio space grew. Within a month I was in studio 3.7 with my friend visual artist Bev Jensen. We painted (no, she painted I coached from the side) it pink and yellow. We furnished it with odds and sods, and our Metro Arts journey of now 13 years, began. We cooked scones in the microwave, we entertained in the large hallway:

Sometimes we spill out of our studio into the Great Hall on Third Floor and away we go, with artists watching as they go back and forth to the kitchen

Sometimes we spill out of our studio into the Great Hall on Third Floor and away we go, with artists watching as they go back and forth to the kitchen

We performed ridiculous experimental pieces that we thought were fabulous at the time but looking back had a weirdness that has no name.

I have lived in six different studios throughout the building always believing that the latest one was ‘it’. I have had an open door policy: people come and go, we drink tea, sometimes champagne. All of these years have been rich. Rich with friendships, with artmaking.

Metro Arts has been my second home. Since the 90’s I have watched four CEO’s come, place their print on the building, growing it into something that no other city in Australia has: a true home for independent artists.

In 2003-4 the first incubator began on the first floor. Liz Burcham was imported from down south to teach us how to become vibrant business women/men as well as artists. It was a fabulous program. By then I was on the first floor in the huge corner office. The incubators would come to visit my studio, we would lay out collage material and away we would go, growing our business ideas through art making:

Where our Incubators would create collages in order to grow our businesses

Where our Incubators would create collages in order to grow our businesses

Lots of things have happened at Metro Arts: lots of fabulously exciting things. All of my own works have been birthed here, most importantly The Belonging Trilogy: EVE, HOME and He Dreamed a Train. Metro has supported my works in multiple ways, through space, funding, opportunities, love:

My most recent studio where we meet, drink tea and discuss how to live a sustainable and always creative life.

My most recent studio where we meet, drink tea and discuss how to live a sustainable and always creative life.

This year I have been company in residence. Because of metro I have been able to give free counselling and coaching to the arts community. I have lost track of how many people have walked through the doors on the third floor, at all hours and all days of the week. We sit, have a cup of tea and talk about ways of being in an industry that does not make it easy.

All of us have walked up the stairs.
All of us have walked up the stairs.
Puffing at first.
Puffing at first.

But the more we visit the old broad, the easier it gets.
WE need metro more than metro needs us.
We need metro more than metro needs us.
We need a home.
We need to know that there is a place in our town that opens her arms for the artist in need, the artist who has much to say and no place to say it.
We need her more than she needs us.

Lets be generous tonight.
Lets dip into our pockets and demonstrate how essential The Old Broad is to us. How it has grown our work, how it has supported and nurtured our soul.

There is an office, originally on the first floor, then when times got hard, moved to the second floor. Lets not have it move to the third floor. It would cramp my style.
That office is filled with dedicated, deliciously alive and constantly working individuals who care. Who want this place to thrive. Who are always up for a laugh. Who always make me smile.

Cheers to the office
Cheers to the office
Cheers to the office

And cheers to you.
$100.00 per step. Share the step if need be. But buy you a step. So that Metro Arts can stay in step with her community who loves and adores her.

Her community who loves and adores her.
Her community who loves and adores her.

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