Monday, February 4, 2019

World Wetlands Day 2019

It looks like, where I live is going to get a dedicated building that will provide focus for our local environment: the Hobsons Bay Wetlands Centre.

I had a splendid day with my like-minded buddies participating in the inaugural event to raise awareness for this terrific project.

We created a pop-up flock of shore birds! My little video tells the story.

And Sarah Depasquale and I performed an edited version of Tales from the Flyway; perfect location and full house. This time we were on the back verandah of a cottage a couple of hundred metres from the sandy flats where shore birds gather to feed in Altona.

Many thanks to these wonderful people who contributed to the success of the day:
Kate Gorringe-Smith, print maker, educator and brilliant advocate for the shore birds.
Diver Matt, marine ecologist and one who never fails to get people excited about the wonders of Port Phillip Bay.
Loraine Callow, all round top person who knows a lot about paints and what to buy and lots of other things besides.

Friday, December 21, 2018

The Online Story Swap

Every year it seems there are more opportunities to connect with storytellers around the world and it doesn't always mean jumping on a plane and traveling thousands of miles.

The Federation of Asian Story Tellers is hosting regular online story swaps. These story swaps are FREE and you can either tell a story or tune in and listen.

I joined the November Story Swap and had a great time.

It's easy to participate. Once you've registered you're sent a link that asks you to download the ZOOM software which is simple to install and use. While being very enthusiastic about technology, I can be a bit phobic, so simple is good.

Roger Jenkins and Sheila Wee host the Story Swap from Singapore and you can see people popping up on the screen from around the world. Apart from the storyteller and Roger, participants are muted but they can still chat. I took a screen shot of Meenu Sivaramakrishnan in action. (Thank  you to Meenu for allowing me to use this image). This will give you a bit of an idea. You can see the dialogue box in the corner. The chat has options so you can share your comments publicly or message the tellers privately.

Its all excellent fun I have to say.

This is a You tube video of the first Swap held in September. Roger's introduction is enthusiastic and no wonder, over 50 people checked in! Have a look. Sometimes the audio struggles to stay in sync but if you move the cursor along, you'll get a good feel for what it's all about and the variety of stories and storytellers.

For more information visit FEAST's website. And maybe at the next Swap, I'll see you there.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Music, stories, art, movement and nature

Taking music and stories into 4 year old kindergarten with Sarah Depasquale. These children are part of the Bush Kinder program run by Hobsons Bay’s conservation rangers. Already switched onto the natural world, the children were engrossed by the story of our migratory shore birds. And how I wish the naysayers could see the response children have to Sarah’s playing. Music in schools ... pleeeease!!!!

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Sharing the space: artists and scientists

I've just returned from Hobart where I had the opportunity to present and tell a story at the Australasian Shorebird Conference: Losing their habitats - conservation and management strategies for migratory and resident shorebirds - University of Tasmania Sandy Bay campus.

This was my first venture into the science space and when I tossed my hat into the ring and was accepted, I suffered a bout of imposter syndrome. However that was fleeting as I couldn't have been made to feel more welcome and relevant.

The conference was preceded with the opening of the Overwintering Project Exhibition at the Moonah Arts Centre (Tasmania). The Overwintering Project is an environmental art project designed to bring visibility to Australia's most endangered group of birds - migratory shorebirds.

The project is the brainchild of print maker and curator and now friend, Kate Gorringe-Smith.

These are some examples of Kate's beautiful work.

It was pure joy telling the story of the migration of the Red-necked stint at the opening to a room of birdos. Very vocal reactions from the crowd!

Kate also had a presentation accepted and the two of us were programmed on the first day. I was disappointed that Sarah couldn't make it to the conference as she is part of the team but she was with me in spirit.
 Kate and I felt well pleased with ourselves and our contribution. We learned a LOT and met extraordinary people and heard many inspiring stories. The overall impressions I was left with was the ability of scientists and citizen scientists to work together in a space of mutual respect and the role artists can play to support the environmental message.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Melton Botanic Gardens Celebrates 15 years

I have friends who tell me that they would rather chew off and eat their own leg than tell stories in environments where the setting and elements are out of their control. I might have thought the same once but over the years, I've embraced the challenge of taking work out side of performance venues and into all kinds of spaces. I think I've become hooked on the challenge.
The Melton Botanic Gardens is the perfect fit for our stories; it is a place that celebrates and provides habitat for birds, including the migratory Latham's snipe as well as many spectacular plants and remnant bush.

The big flowering West Australian eucalyptus flower this time of year and if you missed me and Sarah, you can still see these wondrous plants blooming.

Once the environment is embraced, the relationship between listeners is re-calibrated as well. We love the informality and fun we have with the people who come to hear our stories. 

 Thank you Melton for inviting us to part of your celebrations. We had a top time!

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Tamar Valley Writers Festival, Tasmania

While I could hardly be called a prolific writer of children's books, I'm passionate and particularly interested in non-fiction picture books for upper primary.

My two titles were published a while ago and are still in print and I meet readers, and convert new ones, wherever I go.

I was fortunate to be invited to the Tamar Valley Writers Festival as part of the schools program. Thanks to Paul Collins and the Creative Net Speakers' Agency for tossing my hat into the ring.

I couldn't speak highly enough of this festival, located this year at the Swiss themed resort, the Grindlewald, a few kilometres out of Launceston.

And while speaking highly and offering thanks, a HUGE ALMIGHTY thank you to Petrarch's Bookshop. Their pop-up shop at the festival was quite extraordinary and I, for one, found my wallet opening all by itself on numerous occasions.

My sessions were for middle and upper primary and years 8 - 12. I believe that what I have to share with students (my 'point of difference') is that I come to writing stories through telling stories. My mantra is: speak, write, read aloud.

It was great fun acting out stories with the young ones and introducing the older ones to stories told.

The Tamar Valley Writers Festival is every two years. Its a ripper!!!

CHENNAI: Under the Aalamaram International Storytelling Festival

What a treat to be invited along to tell stories as part of Under the Aalamaram International Storytelling Festival.

With Storyteller Craig Jenkins from the UK and Giorgiana Elena from Romania
The festival takes place across ten days, primarily in schools in Tamil Nadu, born of a dream of the organisers of Kathai Kallatta, a storytelling organisation founded to '...address the benefits of storytelling for children, adults, teachers and parents'.

From the 23rd August to the 2nd September it was nothing but stories, stories and more stories. The team was a mix of local tellers and guests from the US, UK, Australia, Indonesia, Singapore and Romania.

During this time, it was estimated that between us, we told stories to over 8,000 children from kindergarten to middle high school. In addition, we ran workshops for the older students and teachers, and there were two public storytelling showcases.

There were times when we told stories to small groups and on other days, we were greeted by a sea of students.
It took a pano shot capture the numbers of students in this session

So many highlights during the ten days, but if I boil it down, the essence for me was the hospitality of the festival, the schools and the local storytellers and the good will of the international storytellers who supported each other as we adapted to the heat and the traffic.

The public concerts were a huge success and it was wonderful to see storytellers from different countries telling stories from their place with such warmth, polish and passion
Craig Jenkins (UK), Jeeva Raghunath (Chennai), Diane Ferlatte (US), Giorgiana Elena (Romania), Ariyo Zidni (Indonesia), Jackie Kerin (Australia), Lindy Mitchell-Nilsson (Australia), Roger Jenkins (Singapore).
This is how storytellers are greeted in schools in Tamil Nadu.


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