Saturday, December 18, 2010

Conversations with the sky

Putting on the dusty coat of my neglected blog and shrugging the load of unsaid thoughts into my hands to throw skywards.

On reflection I see the year has hurtled by. So much has been spent in angst about getting projects up, paid for and attempting to pool as many elements together to create rich and meaningful times at sea. Both in a cultural and scientific sense. Lovely time has also been spent growing my daughter up. Following her journey through 2nd grade, watching her friendships, sometimes struggling to help her make sense of separated parents. But always sharing, talking and doing lots of things together.

The next Pelican project Two Bays starts up again in January and most of the last two months has been spent in frenetic activity to get all the pieces together.

But I found myself lagging a little behind the tasks I had set myself. Starting to stare at screens rather than reeling off e mails or making the important phone calls.

And perhaps the antidote to a niggardly sense of leaving something of importance behind is to give a few more moments to cloud gazing. Waiting and letting a quiet repose attempt to shuffle this unquiet mind.
This year has flown by and it is also incredible to reflect that this time last year my sister was dying. She held on for Christmas and passed just two days later. She is all around me at the moment, illuminating her absence.

I want/need more absent mindedness to give me a space to have the presence of mind to reach under/ behind the curtain of the daily tumult. And then perhaps I can gather the leaves of the year and throw them skywards and watch them fall ever so slowly.

Monday, November 01, 2010


My daughter lies curled up on the trampoline of Pelican,
She is tired after many days at sea, sun and constant movement.
So she curls up and rests.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Posting with posterous on Pelican- Cape York

I am off on a Pelican project and most of my posting is at this point through the active expedition posting site of posterous here,

but here are some photos so my good old blog doesn't feel quite so neglected...

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Conferences, conferences, conferences---

Leonie Sheedy presenting at SNAICC conference

IPMEN delegates with Fijian school children at Taqage District school.

I have just been through a bit of a presenting binge starting with the Healthy Parks Healthy People Inaugural Congress in Melbourne, then IPMEN conference in Fiji and finally SNAICC conference in Alice Springs.

The three conferences managed to cover topics ranging from Parks Management, community engagement in both management and study of Marine parks, marine science (particularly water quality), sharing knowledge about Caring for Sea Country, Traditional Knowledge and social justice issues.

I am not quite sure how I have got myself entangled in these terrific themes. I think my job description must certainly be Generalist by now. The years of studying fine art, putting brush to paper or canvas and always feeling a deep uncertainty about my Art stuff has resulted in me branching out a little.

Perhaps it is also due to being the child of a young colonial nation with Ancient underpinnings which have called me from any path I could have predicted within my particular framework of schooling and social environment. Just goes to show what can happen if you have an open mind.

But it also means that the path is not smooth on a personal level. I now move with more surety in the world, feeling that what I am doing is the best way to respond to the incredibly complex times that we live in. And that I am blessed to be able to have the freedom to work in the way I do and learn.

I sometimes wish that the illumination and determination I feel in relation to my actual work could be translated into certainty around some of the major painful issues in my life. My heart is becoming a strange soldier, standing on guard, watchful.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Grandmother's gaze

My grandmother as a child, in an unknown backyard with unknown woman.

Self portrait by my grandmother, Shirley Nicholas.

I am lucky to possess quite a few things that have been passed down from my grandmother (Mum's mum) to me. Some are books that I treasure but most are photographs and film. These two pictures have held a real fascination for me as they both seem to articulate the mystery of self. I look at them now and see my grandmother as a young girl and woman and wonder who she is and was. The photos also have the powerful quality of trapped time and seem to offer some clues to her real identity. And yet at the same time they are held in an endless bubble of that moment, never to be repeated.

My love of photography was inspired very much by Shirley (who I called Nangy all her life as when I was introduced at a young age to say "Hello to Granny" I said "Hello Nangy" and it stuck). She was the chronicler of the family and also had a talent with the lens which has meant that many of her pictures are interesting in themselves.

Sometimes I take a photo today and wonder if my daughter's daughter would still have access to the pictures or interest.

Anyway I leave you with these pictures and hope to post more about the mysteries of image making and pay homage to more photographs of my grandmother.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Man and fish

The first time I scuba-dived,
a fish swam nearby
and oggled me,
swam a bit closer
and oggled me again.

Another darted past,
pretending not to notice.

On surfacing I realised I would never
think of fish in the same way again.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Suddenly I remembered..

...that I had a blog.
Scanning old pictures of mine and thinking my obsessions or interests really haven't changed much.
I have only really changed what I am doing.

So here are some cartoonish sketches from the time when I used to sketch a lot.

Saturday, April 03, 2010


Easter is upon us again though it was only Christmas yesterday. My daughter was born on an Easter Sunday eight years ago and has just had her birthday and tomorrow is Easter Sunday. I travelled with my ex and daughter up to my Mum's farm to celebrate her birthday. This was a wish of my daughter as she wanted to share it with all of us in a place we love. We all obliged and as we have always managed to get on pretty well, we had a peaceful and happy celebration day.

The exercise was not totally painless as even though I instigated the split from my daughter's dad, I still find myself embroiled in many conflicting emotions when we all get together. My ex's father died only a couple of weeks ago and I was pulled back into the orbit of his family for his funeral. This began the process of revisiting old strong connections. I loved his Dad and treasure all the time in his company. I know in his way he did too and also that he was upset and angry when left his son. I feel guilty about the impact that this decision had on his parents and his death certainly made me feel it all the more keenly.

Interestingly my ex is moving forward now and has perhaps found someone new and I know this has exacerbated my own strange chemistry of regret and need. It is not a very pretty picture and I wish I could be freer and less tangled.

Which leads me to the pictures above.

My daughter had a rough night last night with ear pain and we ended up at a local hospital till all hours. Things have sorted today and her ears are much better. So I thought we should make a fun excursion into the wilds of my Mum's place. Her Dad has returned home so at this point it is just the three generations of female family here. So we packed some crayons and took of to explore the 'wild'.
Mum's property is really an environmental project and she has spent much energy restoring the land to original health, particularly the riparian areas along the creek. So we meandered through very tall grass and soon found ourselves in the 'wild'. As we clambered over the areas photographed above I marvelled at the writhing tangle of vines and the extraordinary mesh of left over branches and debris from a recent flood. My daughter wanted to get deeper into the 'wilds', so we stumbled and slipped and giggled our way into the tangle till there was no sky to see.

And I realized that it is all right to feel the messiness of life. Things are never perfectly ordered. We are always slipping up, losing our way and finding it in a different way.

It is hard to accept sometimes and I know I lose a lot of sleep struggling against the tangled order of things. But there it is...

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

The Archivalists

Inside the Library of the Cairns Historical Society.

The Skipper of Pelican had flown back to Melbourne after our meetings in Cairns with Hope Vale Elders and Balkanu about this year's project. I was due back in Brisbane as I had planned to visit my Mum and hopefully meet my brother in law, Mark with my daughter for the weekend. But I just could not get on the plane. My Mum had warned me that things were flooding near her and advised me to stay an extra day. My brother in law was not able to get time off work and my daughter had to stay in Melbourne.

I did not need much prompting to stay for some extra time on my own. Solitude is a rare and to be treasured thing. It is the reason I had time to wander in Cairns. During this time I found the Historical Society of Cairns and its Library and ended up spending the afternoon researching Sea Country and looking up information about Cape York. A lovely older gent took all my slips of paper and diligently searched as I found more and more material. Some of the material was from anthropologists, one of them being Ursula McConnel, who worked up the Cape in the early part of last century.

As I buried myself in the piles of materials I had to reflect on the riches that were saved and archived by these wonderful volunteers working in the Library. You could see they had no money, surviving on the tuppences they get from the entry fee to the Museum. The main guy had worked there for 24 years following his retirement as a paid librarian. I just wanted to post a huge thank you to all those passionate volunteers in all walks of life. Our world would be impoverished without the dedicated work of these mainly unsung diligent people.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Falling averages

Think it is time to get a bit of a move on here, or the old Wild Dog road will curl in on itself. I think the scarcity of posting only attests to the fact that I am not getting the breathing space to meander in blogland. So to give my averages a lift here goes with some pictorial reflections of the last month. They are taken on or in the water during the Two Bays project.

I had blogged directly but often obliquely about my sister's illness last year. It was a terrible year for her and for us to watch her go through so much both mental and physical pain. She managed to shine through all the time which always astounded me. As she was hammered by the cancer; her sense of herself only seemed to grow, to catch up with what was happening to her. She died on the 27th of December, beating the odds to get that far. We held her funeral a week later and four days after that I was launching a 24 day community project on Pelican. I really did wonder if I would get through it. Having witnessed what my sister had been through it also made me more determined to make a good shot of it.

So the first month of the New Year has passed. Now over a month since my sister died. And it is still impossible to let go.

I can only float when I have the opportunity to immerse myself in watery moving worlds. Enjoy watching the way light travels through water and catches the myriads of gardens that are normally out of sight.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Underwater waterfall

Crossing the Rip

I wonder what is the unconscious motivator for the things that we end up doing. How is it that I start out studying how to paint (or think) and end up working in the marine world? I will answer this conundrum when I have had a little bit more sleep. Till then I will leave you with a pic from midway through the Two Bays program and write up a bit more soon,