An ordinary person's thoughts on the complexities of art & life ...

An ordinary person's thoughts on the complexities of life ... or just ramblings from the mind of a working Mum with far too little time to think!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Flowers feed the soul

“What if you slept
and what if in your sleep you dreamed
and what if in your dream you went to heaven
and there you plucked a strange and beautiful flower
and what if when you awoke
you had the flower in your hand?
Oh, what then?”

~ Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Today, I finally downloaded these flower images taken some time ago and left forgotten on my camera while I negotiated my way through a stressful few weeks.  As I watched the bright, happy images appear one after the other in the filmstrip on my processing screen, I felt an instant calm pervade my mind.

There is something so uplifting about gazing upon the visage of a flower ... something that is so tangible yet at the same time so difficult to explain.

I guess that is why I spend way too much time wandering through nature reserves, flower markets and gardens to photograph these magnificent subjects that link us to the earth and allow us to witness the miracle of creation over and over again.

Right from the tiny bright green shoots pushing their way up through the earth in the Spring and maturing into glossy green buds that open and unfurl, revealing their exquisite flowers …

… through to the magnificent orange, gold and red hues of the Autumn leaves falling from the trees to make way for the delicate blossoms of the new season, there is always something magical in the floral world to feed the soul.

Among the many joys I have found in photographing flowers and plants is the anticipation of the changes in light, colour and texture that each new hour, day and season brings.

On the occasions when I have returned the next day to a favourite location, I have found everything to be totally different from the day before – the flowers that were just buds the day before were gloriously open the next morning; the slight breeze that arose overnight gave a new sense of movement and dance to the images from that day; a softer light, filtered through the few gathered clouds played with the bright colours of the petals and imparted a tender, more sensitive feel to the resulting images; and a dull overcast sky the next day deepened the colours and brought out the finer textures and patterns of the plants.

This is the magic of the floral world for me – watching as nature reveals her secrets. Somehow all the stresses and concerns of my everyday life fade into the distance and for a short while I feel incredibly alive, aware and totally in the moment.

Flowers have always been valued for their inspirational beauty and soul-enriching properties and have been depicted in art, literature and music in all religions and in all cultures since the beginning of time.

In Greek mythology, Roses were supposed to have been created when the tears of Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love, were mixed with the blood of her wounded lover, Adonis. On the other hand, the Romans believed that the rose was created from the blood of Venus.

Henry David Thoreau, American artist, naturalist and essayist believed that we should measure our own health by our sympathy with nature. “If there is no response in you to the awakening of nature – if the prospect of an early morning walk does not banish sleep, if the warble of the first bluebird does not thrill you – know that the morning and spring of your life has passed. Thus may you feel your pulse.”

In another excerpt from one of his journals, Thoreau reminds us that “Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads” and we should take the time to make our acquaintance with nature, to know her moods and manners. He said often that "one of the most attractive things about flowers was their beautiful reserve".

And perhaps we should all take a little advice from Kahlil Gibran who said:
"Be like the flower. Turn your face to the sun."

Friday, August 19, 2011

Pictures from the EKKA

It’s Exhibition week in Brisbane - once again! The chilly westerly winds have begun to blow and we are experiencing the last blast of winter before summer arrives with a vengeance. 

Wednesday was a public holiday – ‘EKKA day’ as all Queenslanders refer to it - created specifically to allow families to have time off work and school to attend the yearly Exhibition at the Brisbane Showgrounds.

Many Queensland families save all year to be able to go to the EKKA in August, only to spend exorbitant amounts of cash on entry fees, junk food, Pluto pups, strawberry sundaes, funfair rides, balloons, candy floss, and of course - showbags!

We managed to avoid the yearly pilgrimage to the EKKA for quite some years while the children were very young until the year they were old enough to learn about showbags from their school friends.

We found them one day huddled over the Courier Mail EKKA pullout, excitedly looking through the hundreds of showbags listed and compiling a list of the ones they could not live without. 

We could no longer pretend that the EKKA did not exist ... We had no choice but to make the trip along with our three excited little girls!

After that first harrowing experience as a young family trying to keep track of three highly spirited children while working our way through the jostling crowds from the baby animal petting zoo, the dog shows and the horse jumping events, to the Showbag Pavilion and the fireworks, and at the same time attempting to distract the girls while we tried unsuccessfully to avoid Sideshow Alley, we vowed NEVER AGAIN!

However, the next year when the showbag pullout once again circulated around the classrooms and we found ourselves back at the EKKA, we agreed that after that year we would go only every two years, a solution that seemed to be much more tolerable.

Somehow, the girls still managed to go each year, convincing their grandparents, their older brother and Uncle and Aunt to take turns escorting them!

This week, for the first time in many years I caved in to pressure from two of my now teenage daughters to join them for a day at the EKKA.

We decided to go on Monday, a so-called off peak day when everyone was meant to be at work or school. As we disembarked from the train and entered through the gates we could see that the showgrounds were saturated with humanity, which increased steadily throughout the day and by the time we got to the Showbag Pavilion there was an unprecedented 30 minute wait to get into the building. 

I could not believe that my 19 and 16-year-old daughters were still that interested in showbags that they were prepared to wait for all that time in the sun!

It turned out to be a great day with the girls. The weather was magnificent with a perfect blue winter’s sky and a warm breeze. 

We spent a long time watching the show jumping events in the main arena, followed by glasses of divine fresh homemade lemonade and the best Greek baklava I have ever tasted!

We dined on wood-fired pizza at lunch in a quaint little Italian outdoor café that played tinny arias over megaphones and had Venetian hanging lantern replicas in plastic - complete with price tags left on - pegged to the corners of the striped umbrellas.

We visited the animal nursery - more for nostalgic reasons and because I insisted – but this time the girls were not at all keen to get their hands dirty by feeding or petting the animals. A far cry from all those  times when they were little and we had so much trouble pulling them away from the animals!

I was entranced by the patience and intelligence in the eyes of the young Llamas, sitting completely still like statues in their cages, only their eyes moving slowly as hundreds of children shrieked around them.

I spent ages wondering through the colour and fun of Sideshow Alley with my camera while the girls went on rides and spent far too many dollars trying to win one of the oversized stuffed toys by throwing darts at balloons or balls into hoops or fishing with magnets … all to no avail.

The best they could come up with for all that exertion was a miniature bright red stripey tiger and a tiny green gecko!

Will I be going back again next year? In truth I think I could probably survive many, many more years without feeling the need to visit the EKKA again!