Monday, January 16, 2017

Raising awareness about migratory shore birds: the work is never done!


A fine morning spent in the company of remarkable people including the Hobsons Bay Conservation Rangers (Libby and Andrew), Birdlife Australia (Sean and Caroline) and The Connies (tram conductors, performers, educators, ecologists and nature lovers).
 
The Curlew, sculptured by John Kean in our back room, was ceremoniously passed over to Birdlife's Caroline Wilson for educational and outreach programs. The event 'Dogs Breakfast' is an annual social gathering organised by Council, to awaken the responsibility we all have, especially dog owners to the continuing survival of migratory shore birds.

Sean Dooley from BirdLife Australia gave a moving talk about the plight of our shore birds. He spoke at length about how common these birds and other migratory species were in Hobsons Bay (where I live) as recently as the the 80s. The statistics are heart-breaking and the decline is happening before our eyes. Yesterday this life size sculpture of a Curlew was formally handed over to BirdLife Australia, to use in their outreach and educational programs. Currently there is one Curlew in our vicinity, where once there were thousands. Its beyond sad.

It takes a team!

Monday, November 28, 2016

Behind the Label


In full flight - telling 'Tales from the Flyway'
WHEN: December 1st
TIME: 7.30 - 9.30pm
WHERE: Cromwell Studios 136A Cromwell, Street Collingwood
Bookings: HERE

I'll be one of a line-up of speakers talking about telling stories in schools and festivals and the complexities and delights of rummaging around in culturally complex spaces.  But the passion at the moment is in using my  skills to bring people closer to the natural environment. I'm a 'birdo' and live by the urban wetlands in Hobsons Bay where I work to raise awareness of the plight of the migratory shore birds.

I've also received a couple of gongs for my two children's books and adult short stories. That's another passion!

Behind the Label more info HERE

Monday, October 31, 2016

'Singing from Country' launched at the Maldon Folk Festival

It has been with pride and pleasure I have had a place on the Singing from Country steering committee representing Storytelling Australia Victoria. Any project that aims to deepen connection to the land through understanding is a winner in my book.
 Uncle Rick Nelson: Welome to Country
This event was the pilot project; the goal is to eventually roll the idea across Victoria. Almost two years in the planning, it was wonderful to see the hard work come together in a day of workshops and a powerful and joyous concert.

The pilot Singing from Country was launched on Dja Dja Wurrung Country  bringing together traditional knowledge holders, ecologists, naturalists, singers, songwriters and choir leaders.

Workshop: Rebecca Phillips, Djali Balag (Langugae Group on language and culture)
Two months ago, four of Australia's celebrated songwriters were immersed in full day of presentations and stories to assist them in the task of writing two songs each, to be arranged for community choirs.

Neil Murray (songwriter)
These songs were revealed at the Maldon Folk Folk Festival as works in progress (still to be arranged and polished) at the concert. I am still smiling and savoring the delight of the day. To hear a hall full of people singing about Allocasuarina, swathes of wildflowers, skin and bark, to hear a welcome sung in Dja Dja Wurrung - powerful and memorable. A wonderful beginning.

 Songwriter Eva Popov (left) with the help of friends
Hats off to the Dja Dja WurrungCommunity Music Victoria, Victorian Aboriginal Corporation of Languages, Connecting Country  

So many people to acknowledge who have contributed to the project so far. I suggest you visit the Singing from Country website, join the Facebook Group and follow the journey.

Songwriter Kavisha 

 
Songwriter Carl Pannuzzo

Friday, October 28, 2016

'Tales from the Flyway': Sunday 27 November


click on poster to enlarge
Sarah and I will be performing some of our Tales from the Flyway during an exhibition curated by visual artist Kate Gorringe-Smith.  Kate shares the passion for migratory shore birds, their plight and the metaphor their epic journeys gives to our lives.

FROM A HOME TO A HOME: A STORY OF MIGRATION seeks to raise awareness of the migratory shorebirds that travel the  East Asian Australasian Flyway and their habitats and raises empathy for people who have migrated to these shores looking for sanctuary.

The exhibition includes works from seven of the twenty-three Flyway countries. Artist include: Kate Gorringe-Smith (Curating artist), Cui Xiao Hua, Kyoko Imazu, Nakarin Jaikla, Vicki Kinai, Andrej Kocis, Helen Kocis Edwards, Khue Nguyen, Minh Phan, Ema Shin, En En See, Pamela See, My Le Thi, Pimpisa Tinpalit, Haily Tran, Rebecca Young.



Exhibition details
FROM A HOME TO A HOME: A STORY OF MIGRATION
Friday 25 November – Thursday 8 December
Opening: Friday 25 November , 6.00–9.00pm
Brunswick Street Gallery, 322 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy
Gallery hours: Tues–Fri 10am–8pm; Sat–Sun 10–6pm

Here's one of the Tales we may tell. Will be hard to choose, we love telling them all.
 


Sunday, October 9, 2016

House Concert: C.J. Dennis The Songs of the Sentimental Bloke

Its been a quiet few months as I've been recovering from a broken arm. Miserable as it is,  I have been enjoying the chance to focus on writing. I love writing, once I get started, but if if the sun is shining I'm easily distracted. So.. not able to drive, ride my bike or work in the garden, one hand typing has been my thing for the past eight weeks.

I like to think I'm not superstitious but I do have a streak of superstitious caution when it comes to talking about projects that are still waiting for that contract that says - 'its a goer'. So I won't reveal too much, suffice to say I have been immersed in mid 19th century to early 20th century Australian English.

This culminated in a House Concert: C.J. Dennis The Songs of the Sentimental Bloke. My friends Alan and Dave Davies created a 30 minute piece around 4 poems from The Bloke a while ago, to celebrate the 100th Anniversary since publication. Dave has been memorising and reciting verse for over 60 years and his son Alan is a dab hand at the art form as well. The poems were linked by Australian Bush tunes, selected and played by Nicola Johnson. I had the pleasure of being 'The Narrator'.

My friend Alex Kharnam arrived with a truck load of camera gear and lights and filmed the event for posterity. The results will be available for all to enjoy.

Dave, Alan and Nicola are friends from the Newport Fiddle and Folk Club, a great caldron of creativity in Melbourne.

I love House Concerts and aim to host a few every year. They are a great reminder that houses are not just for eating and sleeping.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Celebrating the Edithvale Seaford Wetlands Bird Hide

One of the many things I love about storytelling, is being asked to deliver stories into places where they might not normally be heard.

Collaborator and musician buddy, Sarah Depasquale, and I were invited to bring our story of 'Tom, the red-necked Stint' to the re opening of this beautiful bird hide.

Right by a busy road, you step across a small wooden bridge, through the Melaleuca trees to a small two story wooden structure. The hide feels damp and dark, full of atmosphere; the strip windows allow shafts of light to piece the gloom and offer a magical view of the lake teeming with bird life.







The Friends Group have kept the handmade signs and information panels, so there is also a sense of the history of the hide.











There is access for for those using wheel chairs and walkers and a mezzanine platform for those who don't mind the stairs.
















I hesitate to use the word, as its not my sort of word - but this place really feels like a 'sacred space'.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Travelling the Western District with the Story Peddler

The idea of taking stories on the road, outside of mainstream venues and events is close to my heart. I remember reading about how in Shakespeare's day, plays might be performed on the back of carts and in courtyards. When I was living in the remote Central Desert and a circus found its way across hundreds of kilometres of sand, I was impressed. So being invited to travel about country Victoria with the Story Peddler, is a little dream come true.

I've worked with the The Story Peddler and his story tent before but this time and we were booked to travel to the Woolly West Fest, a festival in the Western District of Victoria that celebrates the wool industry with craft and art works, literature, films ... all things with a woolly theme.

Mr P. Eddler arrives in Hamilton. The weather was wet and cold so the tent was set up in school sheds and, in this case, a shop.















Mr P. Eddler (aka Patrick Verdon) has designed and built the tiny tent to pack away in a trailer which, if the destination is not too distant, he can ride to. Otherwise he loads the box and dice into a bigger trailer (like nesting dolls) and hitches it up to the car.
 
Clever Mr P has designed the tent so it has no central pole.


Within two hours the tent is ready and an old auto shop is transformed.


Mr P manages 'backstage': lighting, sound effects and music. He also likes getting up and joining in with the stories.



At each location the tent was positioned so when the children walked into what they thought was a familiar space, they were in for a surprise.

Penshurst PS


Filling the tent with stories.


I love the freedom of this kind of work, the independence; the need to to think on my feet and adapt  to the different set-ups; the sense that I'm working now from a reservoir of 20 years experience with the oral tradition. I love the fact I'm totally accountable for what comes out of my mouth, the stories I tell and how I tell them. I love the simplicity - no giant props, fancy sets or costumes, I like employing my agility with language, fresh words, not recited. I relish the challenge of quickly establishing a relationship with those who have come to hear the stories. I love the exchange of stories that happens on the journey, both inside and outside the tent.

A huge thank you to Jacinta Wareham and Naomi Turner for their warmth and vision. 

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