Thursday, August 20, 2009

last day in Alstonville, Cabbage Tree Island, Tide Pools, Cedar

Alright everyone - I'm so excited to post I'm just going to post. Check back soon for more editorial comments.
Alrighty! (posted on Sunday, for about an hour and a half - so not much editing): So much has happened since these pictures, but I'll have to save that for a post for tomorrow!
I left Alstonville (sadly) on Wednesday morning. The evening before there was a beautiful rainbow. It's sad to go because I had such an amazing time up here. It's a small quaint town, but has so much to offer. On my way out of town, Julie took me to Cabbage Tree Island.
This is an island in a river which is home to Aborigines. The other gallery Julie works for, had an exhibition of their fabrics, clothes, and paintings. A film maker saw the show and wanted to make a documentary about it including interviews with Julie.
When we arrived, there was no one around. It seems that things move along at a different pace. Even though appointments had been made, everyone had gone shopping. Which frustrated the heck out of the film maker. Finally two women came up and let us into the workshop. Slowly things started getting set in motion. You have to imagine this place: a large tin structure with huge sliding doors right in the middle of sugar cane fields. It is so quiet.
And their fabrics and designs and screen prints are... well, they are just mind blowing. So beautifully considered. The use of color is amazing.

I bought two dresses because I couldn't help myself! But that was epic as well. No one new the prices, the artist set her own price, no one could contact her, I didn't have enough cash, had to go get some, no one seemed in a hurry to help me out, Julie was trying to impress on them that I need to get on the road because I had a huge drive ahead of me.... and of course, there was filming to be done, and on and on. But, as these things do, it all worked out. When I came back with cash, another lady had shown up, and prices were found. Once the prices were set, the artist showed up:(sorry, I don't know why there are two pictures up, and I can't seem to erase either of them)

Leeanne Anderson explained the prints to me, one is a grub and the other is a spirit sign. And the red dress she is holding in her hand has fantastic flowers on it.
As we were waiting for things to finalize, and for the film maker to re-set up his set, we stood around and talked. The ladies were very reserved at first. Here are the sisters, Priscilla and Vivienne:
We had a fortunate miscommunication: We were talking about the clothes which fit amazingly well, and I asked if they had patters for the clothes. Vivienne misunderstood and thought I was talking about the patterns they silk screened onto the fabric. Priscilla pulled out that brown envelope she is holding and look what came out! These are all silkscreen templates, designed by the women, cut freehand!
Look at the Echidnae and the Kangaroo!

Here Priscilla is showing Julie a peacock pattern she designed for her daughter's curtains. She described them to us: A bright blue bird printed on yellow tie-dyed fabric. It must be really beautiful. We ask if she has some to show us. No - she just made it for her daughter, that's all. She won't make any more. Too bad.
The other fortunate part of the mistake was that we actually go the women really excited to be talking about their work. While they had been stiff and reserved for the film maker, they were smiling and relaxed and excited to be showing us the designs. The film maker knew a good thing when he saw it and grabbed a hand held camera. I hope it's good footage.

Said a quick farewell to Julie... and hopped on the road. My plan had been to go to Nundle to a Woolen Mill and get some Aussie wool, but I think the experience on Cabbage Tree Island was far better. By the way, a cabbage tree is a palm tree, that's what the aboriginals call it.
Then it was a 6 hour drive back down to Newcastle (and that is the correct spelling of it!).
I checked into a hotel that practically overlooks the beach, and zonked out.
Thursday I met up with Anne-Maree again.
We decided to do a collaboration. We were going to give ourselves a set time to make a book in her studio, then switch them and work the same amount of time. Well, our plans got a little fuzzy but we did work, and I can't wait to post our books. I'll have to figure out the card reader situation tomorrow. I think Anne-Maree and I work really well together. We like similar colors, have similar ideas about books... and have similar needs of down time and space. And we had so much we wanted to do, so after our first part of our collaboration, Anne-Maree made lunch.
Every thing's bigger in Australia. This is a BLT.
And it was delicious!
Then we went down to the tide pools for shell collecting and wildlife looking. I've never seen anything like it. This is what Laguna Beach must have been like. There was so much life in the pools!
This is the first find: A brittle star. It was not interested in being on our hands and pretty darn quickly for all those tangly legs scooted itself off of her hand back into the pool.
We turned over another rock and found a ton of little critters that we weren't sure what they were:

Every little bowl held it's own world. This one is about the size of a soup bowl.
From far away, Anne-Maree spotted this bright red thing. It's something laying it's eggs. that shell is as long as my hand, and those egg sacks were so bright they looked like extruded plastic. Shell Highway:
What I did not get pictures of was when we thought we'd found the mother load of a certain shell I was keen for. Anne-Maree stepped into a pool and stated handing me tons of shells - faster than I could put them in the bucket. I don't' know how I discovered it, but I picked up one from the ledge it was sitting on, and felt a tiny jerking snap within the shell. I turned it over to see if there was a rock clattering around inside of it, and I saw two green little legs peeping over the edge. The mother load had already been claimed by a herd of hermit crabs. So we went through the pile on top and put all of the ones that had the little movement, back in the water. I still ended up with three stow-aways. Two I discovered in time, but sadly one was too clever at hiding and we found him two mornings later. I still feel guilty about that.
After the tide pools, Anne-Maree had parenting duties. We picked her younger son, Cedar up at school, then she was off to meet with her holder son Heath's teachers.
Cedar and I were on our own for the afternoon. Cedar patiently waited for me to organize all of the shells I had collected - by size. Talked my ear off, proceeded to show me banana flowers and how they worked, pulled two of the petals off for us to use as boats in the creek. He also caught a little pigeon in the hen house and showed it to me. Before we went inside to play a couple of games of pocket tanks. A riveting game - let me tell you!
Here are the boats. Look at 'em go! There is no current in the stream. When Cedar went down the next day to see how the race was progressing they had just spread apart a bit.
Just another shot of the beautiful poppies Anne-Maree has growing in her garden:

Think I'll have to plant some of these next year as well.

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