Saturday, August 13, 2011

in the wash...

Thoughts from my stint as arteest-in-residence at BBWF...

the good, the bad, and the ugly

the good

I loved the people (especially the school kids on school kiddie day, the festival crowds, the volunteers and the workers). I meet some truly astonishing people (and only a couple of those were the invited guests). I enjoyed the self-imposed challenge of creating various ephemeral pieces both on- and off-site and I particularly enjoyed quietly sitting and binding my long book for the masses.... intrepid festival goers would press forward and eventually ask "what ARE you doing?" - to which of course I could start talking about the history of books and book binding, the value of craft and slow work, the future of the printed word and books as objects, recycling and what happens to old books, the rise of the internet and the fall of the reference book and all things booky,

and so much more...

the bad

At one stage when I was setting up an ephemeral book work I looked up - there I saw 6 (count 'em) helicopters, 2 light aircraft, and 2 bigger jets high overhead.... the low flying helicopters, one after another, all in a row, seemed to be such an incredibly costly and pretentious waste of energy and resources. And talking waste - I would have liked to see waaaaay less of it (so much wasted paper, so much bloody plastic everywhere, so much unnecessary packaging, so much CRAP!) I would have liked to see more green waste disposal units (apparently there was one green waste compost bin on site... but I never found it...). And what's wrong with bringing your own cup? (I was given a strange look in the green room when I rolled on in with my caravan park cup...).  I really feel that festivals and indeed large (or small) events need to address their environmental impact and being carbon neutral should be standard practice.

(in the burnt banksia on whose branches I strung garlands of book hearts I enjoyed the chorus of five magpies....
an antidote to the less joyous noise of abundant aircraft

the ugly

Wellllll I promised all that I wouldn't talk about the one-legged mastabating man......
so I'm not going to go into the ugly details....


 and the winner is....

I can certainly understand why any arts residency is so attractive - my goodness but you can be productive when you don't have to think about all the things that make your little world go around (what to cook for dinner, paying the electricity bill, the dental appointment, the next committee meeting, what to put in the kids lunch box...)

and if your job involves interacting with the public - my goodness but the ego is stroked! ahhhhh how delicious to be the constantly told how 'brilliant' and 'amazing' and 'fabulous' you are (mmmmmmm I can feel myself basking in the warmth of my own wonderfulness!) Gosh it's seductive.

But I can see how if you lived your whole life this way you'd become a cardboard cut-out egomaniac!.... I feel terribly sorry for Hollywood and hip-hop stars - what an unreal world they populate.

give me my creek reality any day!

so would I do it again?

I don't know, I just don't know.... I really enjoyed my stint - far more than I thought I would (at 10 days, this is the longest time I've left my Sams Creek home since 1995, and the longest time I've EVER been away from our young kidlets... homesickness threatened to overwhelm me at times). Despite being dreadfully nervous that I'd make a total tit of myself, or that I'd be run out of town for crimes against books, or get lost trying to navigate the route to Byron Bay or.... ( insert any other silly worry here) - I quickly found the opposite to be true.


I suspect that I'm far too rooted to one place to be a happy wanderer. Not everyone is cut out to trip the light fantastic. Some of us are simple creek girls. Quite frankly, I'd be a different, not necessarily better artist, if I was constantly on the move. I'm not shutting the door to another residency, but I will, like this time, be looking at the opportunity closely and thinking about it deeply before committing.

Oh and unless absolutely necessary - I will continue to avoid the airport.

(ps I am finishing off a few arty 'bits' from my residency - expect to see at least one small zine, a very small photographic series, and possibly a blurb book or another 'surprise' in the next while... I'll keep everyone posted!)


  1. I love your honest appraisal of it all, Ronnie. I must admit I'm a bit surprised at the not-very-greeness of it all and I would have thought it might be more eco-conscious... shame. But a wonderful chance for you to get out there and show people what you do! Sara x

  2. I loved reading about your adventure, Ronnie, and most of all I loved reading "Not everyone is cut out to trip the light fantastic." I grew up in a family that venerated travel but married a man who was very rooted to our "creek reality." I have also grown deep roots by our California creekside and can become anxious when away for too long. So from one creeker to another, welcome home and keep on makin' great art! Thanks for posting.
    All the best,

  3. It's wonderful to hear the insider's view on this experience. And your conversations on books sound so engaging. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Thanks for sharing your experience with us. I always remember one of my lecturers at RMIT who had done a number of residencies pointed out that they are often not about what you expect. There is always a huge part of a residency that is about being away from home, from your familiar environment and people. It sort of opened my eyes and did make me question whether they are for me.
    I admire your ability to honestly acknowledge the strength of your attachment to "your place". I always feel somewhat pressured to be a wild and carefree traveller. And while I'm not actually very attached to Brisbane, or even my home here, I'm not a happy wanderer either. I think I could settle somewhere and rarely, if ever leave, but not in Brisbane. (More later).

  5. "I feel terribly sorry for Hollywood and hip-hop stars - what an unreal world they populate."

    And I understand they like going to airports too!

    I like biking to places, and you meet the most interesting people on buses. I met a man from Kenya recently while on the 75 to Hollywood (another one without the stars). I suppose one could do that as well on a plane or at the airport, but buses are far less stressful and promote a better engagement.

    You will of course REMIND the organizers of your next residency to have proper compost and recyclable bins as a minimum condition to your acceptance of a residency? Never mind the planes and helicopters of the elite. They do not know what they are missing.


thanks for all your lovely comments - your words are greatly appreciated xx