This week

By Vita Forest


This week I have been

WRITING Crow

READING my old novel in preparation to rework it.

LISTENING to an inspiring interview with Tim Smit on Radio National (he instigated The Lost Gardens of Heligan and the Eden Project in Cornwall).

VISITING

  • with my old high school gang for a lovely meal and great conversation.
  • with Saskia and friends for another lovely meal and great conversation.
  • with family – to see my cousin up from Victoria.
  • a local national park with an Indigenous guide.

DANCING in the school hall for a very fun Zumba class.

MAKING 3D whimsical flowers with my class (potted up in strange receptacles in the style of Shaun Tan’s Eric).

STARTING our senior dance group’s rehearsals.

PREPARING for Parent/Teacher interviews next week…

 

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This week

By Vita Forest

Where does the sea end and the pool begin? South Curl Curl


This week I have been

READING

  • Eric by Shaun Tan to my class at school (how lovely!)
  • A structural report by Sui-Sui on an old novel I wrote – she has taken the time to really analyze it and come up with suggestions to rework it into something better – Thanks wonderful lady!  You will make a great editor some day!

WRITING Mobile Tales 6: A rainbow of reading (Further adventures of Christabel La Mouse)

WATCHING

  • A Strategic Plan at the Griffin Theatre Company (another intense night of theatre)
  • Please like me Season 3 (I particularly enjoyed the scene where Arnold practises coming out to his own Dad by singing Sia’s Chandelier to Josh’s Dad – just gorgeous!)

VISITING

  • Observatory Hill for a spot of sketching
  • Curl Curl for a wild swim in the rock pool and a cliff top walk with Saskia and Rowdy.

    CATCHING UP with lots of lovely people including Sui-Sui, Saskia and Vastra.

    REALIZING that Saskia’s, Vastra’s and my child-free weekends coincide… what adventures lie in store…

    This week

    By Vita Forest


    This week I have been 

    WRITING Mobile Tales 4 – a fishing expedition

    READING Farenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

    MAKING 

    • Bookmarks for my class
    • Florentines with my Mum, Lucy, Saskia and Laura (must remember to be careful with the chocolate…)

    CELEBRATING

    • My birthday!
    • Thanksgiving with our American colleagues at work.

    WATCHING Fantastic Beasts and where to find them (how fab to visit the world of Harry Potter again – albeit many years earlier).

    VISITING Echo Point at Roseville Chase with Lucy, Sui-Sui, Alessandro, Saskia, Laura and Rowdy for a lovely picnic, a walk along the beach  and a game of Sardines (climbing rocks and trees barefoot).

    MEETING up with Vastra for a coffee while Lucy practised dancing.

    DRAWING peonies on a paper tablecloth and eating a favourite desert (Flan Catalan with blood orange) with Lucy and Max at a lovely local restaurant.

    REQUESTING  some fast-finishers in my class to sort dirty dance gloves from clean ones (I did not suggest they sniff each one and yet they did…).  The grimy gloves are currently soaking in the laundry, soon my clothesline will look like we live with a company of mimes.

    Seeing Henry

    By Vita Forest

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    Reclining Figure: Angles 1980, by Henry Moore

    Joan Didion said, “I don’t know what I think until I write it down.”

    To this I would add, “I don’t know what I see until I draw it.”

    Today at sketch club we fanned out to find a subject from the steps of the Art Gallery of New South Wales.  The weather forecast was iffy – rain was predicted, but the sunny skies contradicted that certainty.  The art gallery is a good standby – lots of scenery outside, and easy to duck inside if the heavens open.

    Some artists went straight for the interior, borrowing the handy stools that the art gallery will lend a sketcher and searching for a subject in the cool inside.  The sun was shining, the breeze was gentle, so I decided to stroll around outside and see what I could see.

    I didn’t walk far before I came to the large Henry Moore sculpture on the lawn of the gallery.  It’s a female figure sprawling casually on a rectangular plinth, like a sun bather on a beach towel, or one of the many picnickers you will see in the parklands around the gallery.  She leans back on her elbow, glancing over her shoulder, feet bare.

    I have always liked the monumental solidity of it, the way the folds of the skirt are captured in the hardness of bronze.  I have walked by it a million times.  But when I started to draw, I realised there was a lot I had never noticed.

    If you stand close (which I did to do a study of the face) you can see the imprint of Moore’s tools leaving scratched lines in what I took previously as smooth metal.  As if he sketched over the whole body.  You can see how the weather has streaked the bronze with green, so again, that smooth colour that you register from a distance, is fact rather painterly, with contrasts of icy mint green and deep chocolate brown.

    I moved from the shade of one tree and into that of another – a new vista appearing.  I could now see that the figure, rather than being a bulky simplification of forms, had some quirky character details – there were toenails on the feet, and the left foot was turned in, slightly pigeon-toed, with the toes raised from the solidity of the plinth.

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    She is wiggling her toes.

    I could record the lines of the hair pulled back off the face, the eye peering behind as if in surprise, the thin indent of the lips and again the patina of the weathered bronze which suddenly made the face so vulnerable.

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    Detail of her face – notice the lines of her hair

    I guess that is what happens when you spend an hour or two looking at the one object, unpicking it, discovering its secrets.  You learn how it fits together, how the light and shadows move over it, you appreciate the way the parts make up the whole.  So, as various sightseers stepped in for a quick photo and were then on their way, I stayed with her, luxuriated in having one focus, and made a friend out of an old acquaintance.

    Later, I moved back to the steps and tried drawing some passer-bys and a fellow sketching pal who was across the road.  (He caught me at the bottom of his sketch too – hat and all!)  Then I turned and saw another bronze sculpture – a gallant soldier on a horse and began doing some quick sketches of the pair.  This time I noticed that despite having on a rather solid looking helmet, the soldier had bare legs and bare feet!  I wonder how he fared in the battle…

    Soon it was time for our Show and Tell, we trickled back to where we first met, crossing the road, walking up the hill, back out into the light after the dimness of the gallery.  We compared and praised and marvelled at our different styles and what a range of subjects caught our attention in the same place.  It’s comforting to realise how individual we all are.  And what secrets are illuminated if we take the time to stop and look.  Thanks Henry!

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    The folds in the fabric of the skirt is the main feature that I used to notice.

    This week

    By Vita Forest


    Pelicans at Merimbula.

    This week I have been

    EXPERIENCING my own disaster – the flooding of my apartment while I was away in Merimbula (over 500km from Sydney….)

    RUSHING back to Sydney to the aftermath (thanks Alessandro and Sui-Sui).

    FEELING very touched and grateful  to the tribe of people who helped with mopping, moving furniture, cat-minding and offering accomodation and other support. A big shout out to Saskia – you are a champion! 

    CAMPING out at my parents’ place.

    READING small snatches of Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta (comfort reading late at night, Marchetta always makes me feel better).

    WATCHING the DVD of As it is in Heaven after a lovely dinner made by Saskia. 

    REMEMBERING it could have been worse…

    Z is for… Zone

    By Vita Forest

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    The shoes!  The shoes!  What was she thinking? How did people stand up in them?  Let alone walk.  Let alone dance.  They had to come off!  Pip pushed her way through the people, and the thudding music, which seemed almost a physical presence, and left the lounge room.  She blinked in the brightness of the hallway and bent down to wrench off those high heels.  Those stupid sexy shoes she had been talked into buying in a moment of weakness.

    “Sitting down shoes,” her sister called them.

    Indeed.

    Pip found her jacket and hid her fabulous sitting-down shoes beneath it.  She wriggled her toes and arched her feet.  Much better.  She would simply go barefoot.

    Pausing just beyond the doorway, Pip let her eyes adjust to the dark again.  The room was full of dark shadows, dark figures lounging around the perimeter against walls and windows, the centre full of bouncing, flailing dancers.  Her hips starting moving again.  Then her shoulders.  Then Pip’s arms flew above her head, and in the next instance she was dancing in amongst them again.  Who knew where her friends were?  At this point it didn’t matter.  If you were dancing, if you were in the zone, you could dance anywhere, with anyone.  So she did.  She did her hip hop moves.  Some salsa.  Joined a conga line.  She was up for anything.  Any song that came on was her favourite.  Was the cause of whooping and cheering.  She was in “the zone”.  She found her friends again, held Sophie’s hand, mirrored her moves.  Led Sophie through her own.

    A searing pain in foot.  Burning.  Pip’s eyes widened and she fell to the floor in a heap.  Jonny lifted her up and carried her out of the dark into that blinding light again.  Through to the kitchen.

    They all groaned as they looked down at her foot.  A red welt slashed into the skin above her toes.  A hole.  Purple around the red.  Pip stared at her foot and felt the pounding of her blood through her whole body.  Her vision began to blur and whiten, she stared and stared, as if falling back into a tunnel.

    “Let me through!” someone shouted vaguely from a distance.

    She felt someone lift up her foot, her poor fragile foot and slap something cold over the top of it.  Pip breathed out through her teeth and felt the whiteness retreat.  Felt her mind return from that tunnel.  Come back to her.  The hot burning was fighting against the cold burning.  It was spluttering.  The fire was going out.

    “What is that?”

    “Just peas,” someone said.  “Mint peas actually.  Shelled and snap frozen.”

    “Do you want to go home?” Sarah brushed Pip’s hair out of her face with gentle fingers.

    “No.  I’ll just sit with the peas.”

    They carried her back into the darkness (Make way!  Make way!)  and found her a place on a couch.  Sarah piled up the cushions behind her back.  Jonny nursed her legs.  Mira held her feet and draped the peas over Pip’s foot, now only dully thudding.  Sophie brought her a cold glass.

    “Just water,” but who knew “Just water” cold from the fridge could taste so good.  Pip leaned back and peered out into the dance.  From the friend zone.