As I look back at passing year, I am aware that I have changed. I have spent the last 12 months doing the things that are important to me: writing about belonging, re-mounting and dreaming on “HOME” (Queensland Theatre Company) one of our Belonging Trilogy plays, performing for Brisbane Festival in ‘Prize Fighter” (La Boite), a play about a child soldier from Democratic Republic of Congo, playing with the contemporary dance company Phluxus2 and co-creating The Paratrooper Project (The Judith Wright Centre) which focused on war and home life. One of my directing gigs was at Queensland Academies of Creative Industries (QACI) where I worked with 22 fifteen year olds, and along with my colleagues Ben Knapton, Simon Tate, Stephen Matthais and Travis Ash, created a version of the Belonging Trilogy which we called “Coming Home”. You can read about our experiences in older posts.
All of these projects began with small beginnings: some grew while sharing a coffee, some while engaging in creative developments for something entirely different. Other projects grew out of emails, meetings and some just happened. All with small beginnings.
I am listening to ABC Jazz and sipping tea in a favourite cup with the inscription that seems so apt: “Big things often have small beginnings”.
Presently we are negotiating big things from another small beginning and this has created conflict within. A question always comes into my consciousness whenever I am about to embark on a big project:
“Why do this?” and “What is it about creating art that nourishes and nurtures the soul?” So I am pondering these questions today, particularly the first one.
My first port of call is the collage table.
I collect magazines and spread them around me, hold on to a glue stick, listen to good classical music (some of you may prefer jazz or contemporary). My dogs sit at my feet, Russian Caravan Tea in my cup, pastels and cartridge paper in front of me. I am ready to begin.
Today I am using the back of Frankie calendar as the base on which to build a collection of images that will help me understand what/why I am embarking on this new project. I trust this process infinitely, for there is always something that surprises me, that awakens me, that alerts me to reasons why. It is a direct route to meaning making.
I begin to “rip and stick” and sometimes use scissors to cut out images: one that I cut out is a woman, a painted woman, looking into the collage rather than out of the images. She leans on a painted horizon. The other image I cut out is a chair, wrapped in fabric, like a rag rug but it is a rag chair, a beautiful chair. I have stuck it on a very textured walls and floor. I am embracing enormous amounts of texture and bright colours as I build the layers.
My confusion begins to clarify as I place an image of a pair of scissors, balancing on a rock, and holding in the air a crane in the area of the collage where a brain could be. It took time to understand the “scissor/rock/paper” representation that’s going on inside my own head. Paper is winning, that is good. Paper is beautiful. That is good.
The Crane is known as a symbol of peace, of longevity (they live for 1000 years in the legends). A symbol of hope.
The Legend of the Crane (cut and pasted from (out of the darkness community walks http://www.sos-walk.org/sos/crane.htm
Throughout history, birds have been viewed as animals of special value and have been ladened with meanings often derived from legends and stories that have survived over many generations. The Crane may conceivably be the oldest bird on earth; there is fossil proof that they existed over 60 million years ago. Greek and Roman myth tended to portray the dance of cranes as a love of joy and a celebration of life. The crane was usually considered to be a bird of Apollo, the sun god, who heralded in Spring and light. Throughout all of Asia, the crane has been a symbol of happiness and eternal youth. In Japanese, Chinese, and Korean tradition, cranes stand for good fortune and longevity because of its fabled life span of a thousand years. …The Japanese refer to the crane as “the bird of happiness;” the Chinese as “heavenly crane” believing they were symbols of wisdom. The powerful wings of the crane were believed to be able to convey souls up to paradise and to carry people to higher levels of spiritual enlightenment. Over time, the crane has also evolved as a favorite subject of the tradition of paper folding – origami. It is said that a thousand folded cranes, one for each year of its life, makes a wish come true.
Shortly after the end of World War II, the folded origami cranes also came to symbolize a hope for peace through Sadako Sasaki and her unforgettable story of perseverance. Diagnosed with leukemia after being exposed to radiation after the bombing of Hiroshima, Sadako became determined to fold 1,000 cranes in hopes of recovering good health, happiness, and a world of eternal peace. Although she completed 644 before she died, her classmates folded the remaining 356 to honor her. A statue was raised in the Hiroshima Peace Park to commemorate her strong spirit.
Today this practice of folding 1,000 cranes represents a form of healing and hope during challenging times. After the events of September 11, as a gesture of support and healing, thousands of cranes were folded and linked together in chains and sent to fire and police stations, museums, and churches throughout New York City.
Traditionally, flocks of 1,000 cranes are offered at shrines or temples with prayer, based on the belief that the effort to fold such a large number will surely be rewarded. Chains are often given to someone suffering from illness, as a prayer for their recovery, as a wish for happiness, and as an expression of sympathy and peace. A prayer often spoken over time by mothers seeking the protection of cranes has been:
“O flock of heavenly cranes
cover my child with your wings.”
With these values floating throughout the collage, that of hope, peace, happiness and eternal youth, I am feeling as though good things are at hand. One thing I take note of though is an awareness that the scissors are in balance. If they stay in balance all is well. If not, the crane comes tumbling, could even be cut in two, could fly away and turn into Icarus. So much to think about. So much to write about.
But I will leave it there: it is enough to ponder the question “Why do it?” and see how these values influence my answer. The project has happiness and peace surrounding it. It is also capable of being threatened. Someone just needs to roll that rock and it can come tumbling down. Or can it?
I look more deeply and find other stories that could provide other outcomes. For another time.
Don’t forget the humour.
Never forget the laughter.
Always tell the joke
again and again and again.