Sea of Compassion

aka Keep Your Feet on the Ground and Your Brush on the Page

*thank you to last fortnight’s 3 poets

Last week, politicians stirred up a nasty brew of disruption and destabilisation in the nation’s central cauldron.

I was blessed with downtime. I kept my ear to the radio, my feet on the ground and my brush on the page. Still besotted with my near-new ‘Brilliants’, I self-soothed in the pleasantly safe, contained space of a small Art Journal. I followed the brush, the play and flow of watercolour. I did not plan my pictures. I stayed open.

I had a cuppa and chanced upon a Hugh Mackay article about compassion as a form of love. Compassion. Possibly a missing ingredient from the approaches and actions of the country’s main destabilisers. He says,

‘It is normal for humans to show compassion towards each other, because, in the end, we are each other.’

compassion sea art creativity

Sea of Compassion
with Heartfish
Sally Swain © art

Hugh Mackay is not the first or the only person to express such a sentiment. Poets, philosophers, religious guides have said the same thing countlessly. However, his words spoke to my bruised brush, my ailing spirit. His words spoke to my dismay that those who dehumanise and brutalise innocent asylum seekers are those who ruthlessly engineer to rule a country.

‘Although we like to think of ourselves as independent, we are more like islands in the sea – separate on the surface but connected to each other deep down.’

We are each other
Sally Swain © art
inspired by Hugh Mackay’s words

My bruised yet bountiful brush, my ailing yet

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Between a Rock and a Soft Place

The Opposite of Anxiety

I’m breaking my own rules. Best kind to break.

Who wants to make a spinifex mandala in the desert sand within view of Uluru, Kata Tjuta, a sunrise and a moonset?

Instead of waiting an entire whole year to share another ‘Late Middle-Aged to Early-Old Crazy Art Lady’ adventure, here’s a tale for you a mere two weeks since the last episode.

It’s because I can’t resist shouting from the rooftops about Uluru and Kata Tjuta. I simply must extol the beauty, the majesty, the mystery.

Uluru shape form

The Rock close up has infinite shapes, folds, rifts, caves, dips, portals, layers….each of which tells a story.

I shall attempt to do my rooftop shouting quietly, however, with the minimal word-count induced by awe. 

{By the way, if you wish to peruse a previous Crazy Art Lady story, click here: ‘Late Middle-Aged to Early-Old Crazy Art Lady Goes to the Beach’}

desert colours Uluru

Once you’ve seen the desert colours, you can’t un-see them. They are in your fibres.

Let me just say, my first experience of spending time with Uluru (formerly known as Ayers Rock) and Kata Tjuta (formerly known as the Olgas) was transformative. I felt that my Field of Vision was expanded.

And that

once you’ve seen this place,

you can’t un-see it.

Generally, I love lushness. Luminous green trees, ferns and waterfalls are my idea of gorgeousness. So I resisted the Red Centre, but now I am a convert.

Kata Tjuta (many heads) brims with bulbous body-like sacred formations. Powerful. Oh dammit. My words do not do it justice.

The rock has rocked me.

Both rocks have rocked me.

Uluru beauty

Exquisite Uluru ahhh

And hey. I happened to be there on the morning of the blood-moon-plus-long-lunar-eclipse, with a dash of rare planetary alignment on the side. How special is that?

Uluru sunrise glow beauty nature

It truly does glow. No human hand has performed colour mishmashing here.

The sun rose

wonder awe rock

Uluru Sunrise Slice

while the just-post-eclipse moon set over Kata Tjuta.

nature beauty awe wonder

Just. Post. Eclipse. Blood. Full. Moon. Becoming. Crescent. Setting. Over. Kata. Tjuta.

Spurred by beauty beyond words, I suddenly spontaneously gathered loose strands of amazing, hardy spinifex (Tjanpi) and made a mandala in the red orange glowing desert sand.

In those moments, I was not anxious, fearful or stuck in my head trying to solve nitty-gritty problems. Believe me, I know the Art of Worrying inside out. As a friend said, in these moments, my softness of being, my presence and expansiveness was the Opposite of Anxiety.

creative ageing Swain

Late Middle-Aged to Early-Old Crazy Art Lady Goes to the Desert

The funny sun-dial type sand and spinifex mandala?

Twas an offering of gratitude to the elements and to all who allowed me to be there. 

I wish to close by expressing gratitude and deep respect to the Anangu traditional owners of this country – to Elders past, present and future.

with love, art and soul from Sally

You are the One

warm wishes for solstice

bird heart solstice art

The Bird in the Heartwood
Sally Swain © original art
Is it finished? Not sure

Night and day

You are the one

Only you beneath the moon

And under the sun

 

gold thread connection

Resurgence
Art and Soulstice
Sally Swain © original art play-in-progress

I begin this blog with an ancient, yet fabulous Cole Porter song. It’s the sort of song I play at work in the nursing home

to get the enlivenment going;

the joyful recognition and creativity flowing.

Today, I taste the lyrics while musing on the solstice, the moment when day and night are poised in equal balance.

I get all deep and meaningful.

‘You are the one’ could be a cosmic phrase as much as a personal sentiment. Night, day,

moon, sun,

dark, light:

You are One.

Together, you polarities make up the one great gersplunking totality.

And if that’s the case, that it’s all part of one gigantic whole (Gaia, I guess), then on my microscopic insectudinal level, I can feel less timid about posting

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Tree Fern Woman

Wishing you peace, art and healing

for Easter,

Pesach,

Just-Post-Equinox,

Full Moon

and

Blue Moon.

I fell over in New Zealand. In February, I fell over in New Zealand Aoteaoroa outside Piha General Store. Just a little fall, but a pulsing ankle resulted.

How might I heal? How might any of us heal?

tree fern radiate art

Heart of the Tree Fern
Waitakere greenness

Rest,

ice,

arnica

and….Tree Fern Woman.

A bit of art and

a bit of nature didn’t do any harm.

It helped.

It helped that I was staying in a cabin amongst the treetops, able to gaze softly into the heart of the fern.

It helped that I was able to ponder the spine of the kauri.

That ankle eased up in no time.

art healing fern NZ

Tree Fern Woman
Waitakere Ranges

Finally! I

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Do you have good memories

of a poetry book from childhood?
I am lucky enough to say YES.

The Golden Treasury of Poetry
by Louis Untermeyer

illustrated by Joan Walsh Anglund

formed a substantial,  sumptuous part of my young self.

 

I confess I remember pictures and rhythms more than words. Images found their way into the innermost part of my make-up. I can’t recall specific details, but I know in my core the colour essence, the flavour, the sensory delight that fed me from age dot.

I wish to introduce to you…

A Boat of Stars.

childrens poetry book

A Boat of Stars cover

I got to experience the Sydney launch of this delicious anthology of poems. True to form, my visual artist self has mostly imbibed the illustrations, but hey – the poems are pretty damn fine too.

Margaret Connolly and Natalie Jane Prior are the esteemed editors.

kids poems

A Boat of Stars
back cover

A heap of writers and illustrators contributed.

They range from extremely experienced children’s book creators

Julie Vivas

Illustration by Julie Vivas
detail

Kerry Argent

Illustration by Kerry Argent

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Second Hand Rose

They call me Second-hand Rose….

Swain painting

Using up the Leftover Paint
acrylic on calico
Sally Swain

I never get a single thing that’s new.

Even Jake the plumber, he’s the man I adore

He had the nerve to tell me he’s been married before

Everyone knows that I’m just

Second-hand Rose

From Second Avenue.

{Lalala deedoodeedoo}

Where did that song-burst come from? 

Some quirky corner of my brain stores lyrics from 1920s and 30s songs and pops them out at appropriate or inappropriate moments. Gosh. Maybe I’m more like my clients with dementia than I realised.

There is a reason.

There is a reason the Second-hand Rose fragment emerged holus-bolus.

It’s because

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Who knew?

I didn’t.
But I do now.
What do I know?
(Read on for Art and Soul Queen Sally’s Creative Christmas Message….)

I now know that Brian Eno is elegantly, eloquently wise. He recently rocked my paint-splattered world. He speaks with both divinity and great ordinariness of the value of creativity and the arts.

fabric swirl

Fabric Swirl by Sally
just the ordinary beauty of clothes soaking in the bath

I recommend

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