To sit or not to sit

Art, music, love, life and loss: a novel that weaves these themes together falls into a favourite genre for me. And obviously for many others, given that Heather Rose has won the Stella Prize for her 2017 novel The Museum of Modern Love.

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I love it when I discover something new that I had never heard about before, and I confess that I had never heard of the artist Marina Abramović before reading this novel that is inspired by her work.

The Artist is Present was an amazingly popular artwork that Marina performed at MoMA in 2010. For seventy-five days Marina sat while individuals sat across from her one after another. 1,554 people sat while another 850,000 observed from the sidelines, many coming back.

Here is a video clip from the last day of her sit. And here is another astounding video of when Ulay came back to see her after their epic parting on the Great Wall of China years before in 1988.

Heather Rose writes:

The days had been fields of faces, bright, unique, vivid, strange. …Every face told countless lives and memories and part of humanity she had never glimpsed, not through all the years of seeking.

But it is the intertwining story of Arky Levin that gives this work of fiction life and opportunity for exquisite prose.

His hands ran up and down the keyboard…He heard the theme that would run in and out of the film, threading the scenes together. Raindrops falling on leaves, a moon in the sky and this lovely melody.

He is a sad, reserved, composer of film scores: a private man who is reluctantly drawn into this temporary and unusual life that surrounds Marina Abramović as she sits and gazes into the eyes of strangers at MoMA.

Rarely do I give a 5-star rating on GoodReads. Thank you Heather Rose.

Live & Local

IMG_7833It has been a busy week for me as I have organised the local events to celebrate National Library Week.

We kicked off the week with the Sydney Writers Festival.

This year’s Sydney Writers Festival was live-streamed across the country, and it was my job to liaise with the organisers to have it broadcast at Frankston Library.

The quality of the live stream was excellent and it really felt as though you had front row seats in Sydney. Andrea Louise Thomas was the MC for our local event and she had prepared questions for audience discussion after each talk.

IMG_0446I was fortunate to enjoy these wonderful sessions on the Friday:

The ‘live and local’ sessions continued on the Saturday and Sunday, at the library, and these were very much appreciated by those that attended.

National Simultaneous Storytime was celebrated with much hat wearing fun by lots of children who took part at our libraries. We also offered video versions on our Facebook page.

IMG_7848The current Miles Franklin Award winning author Sofie Laguna spoke eloquently to an eager crowd mid-week; The Eye of the Sheep a source of much discussion.

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_7842A local pianist Yani played our old possum-painted plunka during two lunchtime periods. She competed bravely against dodgy piano keys, seagulls, crows, traffic noise, wind and rain. I sat contentedly listening to her imperfect renditions of Beethoven, Schubert, Chopin and others.

We conclude our busy week with a live music concert with Sympatico.

A competition is yet to be concluded. We posed the question: ‘When was the first free library provided in Frankston?’ The answer is on display in our libraries.

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The note that holds you

The world is so loud. Keep falling. I’ll find you.”

Kate Bush~ what can you say? She is a creative artistic genius. She listens to and expresses her own creative heart. She is unique. Some people love her while many don’t.

She is one of the very few artists that I will buy without having listened to the music. I trust her implicitly and respect her creative choices without doubt. I don’t love every piece she creates but I am always won over by most of what she produces.

Her new album 50 Words For Snow is melancholy, understated and enchanting. A surprise duet featuring Elton John Snowed In At Wheeler Street is a sure winner. You can see much of her work here

Snowflake is sung by Albert McInstoch who is Kate Bush’s son. His choir-like vocals are amazing and send shivers up my spine.

As an art student I remember “dancing” and “singing” Wuthering Heights in a field of green as another student captured it on video. No music though and I am no singer or dancer but it gave us some laughs.

She has a gift for melancholy tones and sustaining the note that holds you. The unresolved motif has the ability to transfix your attention making you wait and listen wanting more, holding on for what comes next. There are also recurring images in her lyrics: rope; under water; women rising; on the roof; an old woman, and the spiritual world interlaced with elements of domesticity.

Her music sways you with a gentle lull then startles you awake with discordant surprise.

I loved her previous album Aerial too. Sea of Honey seduces and encapsulates your senses with reassuring warmth. By contrast 50 Words for Snow evokes a chilly winter’s theme. I will need to listen to this again when our Summer is over.

In search of lost time

The wind howled in from the sea angling the rain across the grey landscape. Undeterred by the rattling old theatre the young musicians played on absorbed in their efforts to revive the talented masters of old.

Kristian Winther on violin and Anthony Romaniukon piano gave an inspired live performance – In Search of Lost Timeat the Reardon Theatre as part of the annual Port Fairy Spring Music Festival. Reliving the Flaneurs of Belle Epoque Paris, they wove an intricate musical tapestry: Poeme by Chausson; Rhapsodie d’Auvergne by Saint-Saens; Carmen Fantasy by Sarasate; and Sonata by Ravel.

The melancholy flavour of the selection was perfect for such a day and a real treat for those of us huddled in the dark warm shelter of the theatre on a wild spring Sunday in wild south –west Victoria.

You can see some of Kristian Winther’s work here. You can see some of Anthony Romaniuk’s work here. Here are some other versions of these pieces that I have located online: Poeme played by Stephen Waarts; Rhapsodie d’Auvergne played by Emily Pei’En Fan; Carmen Fantasy played by Sarah Chang; Ravel’s Sonata(this is really beautiful and well worth listening to).

Leave your Leonard Cohen hat on

Under a moonlit sky, with Hanging Rock illuminated in the background, Leonard Cohen held the thousands spellbound as he recited A thousand kisses deep.

It was a magical performance. He and his support band are a class act, with undoubtedly world-class talent. The obvious gap between their musical ability and those of the support acts of Paul Kelly and crew, Clare Bowditch, and Dan Sultan perhaps accounted for their apparent stilted performances. I expected much more from these great Australian talents, but their contributions were brief and lacking in enthusiasm. Leonard Cohen more than made up the shortfall, but I wonder at Paul Kelly. He is a seasoned performer and haled in this country as one of our greats. Was the mastery of Leonard Cohen and ensemble just so superior that it even made the likes of Paul Kelly feel inferior?

The day was perfect with no rain and the first warm day of the summer season. So it was hot standing in the queues waiting to get in and then as the day grew long the sun took its toll. You definitely needed a hat and the Leonard Cohen style was dominant. The break between Paul Kelly and Leonard Cohen hailed the opening of the gourmet picnic hampers and we were surrounded with tempting Master Chef creations. We had not been organised and so joined the queues again to buy hot samosa’s and ice creams.

Crowd behaviour is amusing to watch, don’t you think? There is a self-organising aspect but it only goes so far before chaos takes over. Maybe it can be defined using the Chaos Theory? So the guidelines stated that you were allowed to bring in a camp/deck chair, food, only sealed bottles of water, no glass, no umbrellas, no alcohol but it would be for sale in the venue, and no SLR cameras. And these rules were made to be broken it seemed, or perhaps many just didn’t read the guidelines on the website.

So of course there were SLR cameras about, and glass brought in, and I saw an umbrella. So people choose and stake their spot on the grassy hill and then place their chairs, rugs, eskies, etc. Then as the crowd grows and more people come in, what was a somewhat organised pattern of rows now gets crowded in as other people squeeze in between the generous territories already staked. Then there is the problem with the chairs. Seasoned Port Fairy Folk Festival people will try to exert their traditional PFFF rules relating to low chairs (folkie chairs) and the higher camp chairs. They will shoo anyone away who dares try to set up their higher chair in front of them. And will also try to wave people to sit from 3 or 4 rows back so that they get an uninterrupted view of the tiny ant-size humans on the stage far down at the bottom of the paddock. Thank goodness for big screen technology.

At full capacity the crowd had no sensible traffic flow in and out of any “spot”, or any way to identify this spot when returning from buying food or alcohol or a lengthy trip to the toilet queues. The coffee queues were just plain silly. It became amusing entertainment seeing people navigating the crowded mishmash of the audience, and not being able to find their way back. They would stand with the sun in their eyes lost and forlorn, often holding bottles of wine and beer, talking on their phone to their mates in some attempt to find their spot. You couldn’t even identify groups by their hats because most were like Leonard Cohen’s hat.

Leonard Cohen made it all worthwhile. He was generous with his time and attitude and gave us everything. His backing singers, the Webb sisters, have voices like angels and contrast perfectly with his ruff croon. His guitarist, Javier Mas, is a master in his own right and one guitar solo in particular provided another spellbinding performance. It is a fine lesson in how to tame a fidgety uncomfortable bunch of people and quieten and hold them still and focussed for a few precious minutes.

By the end of the night I was shivering and waiting for Leonard to finish so I could go home. We made a dash for it and crowded into Phil’s blue Landrover that stood out in the car-park amid the more popular styles of car. It was a special and unique experience that I am glad I had despite my dislike of crowds of people.