Freeing The Captive Creative Soul

We all have a need to create. Whether we are a writer, artist, photographer, musician, decorator, gardener, programmer, cook or athlete, we all feel the joy of seeing something that has come from us. It feeds our soul and lightens our days.

But what if you couldn’t create?

What happens to the writer who is jailed because of his words? What happens to the musician who is shunned by her community because of the style of music she chooses to play? What happens to the artist who is locked away and told “You must do nothing”?

The writer may continue to write in the hope of regime change. The musician may move to another community in the hope of bringing awareness to the restrictions placed on others. But what does the captive do?

A young man held in immigration detention for many years said the worst thing about being locked away was not the lack of freedom of movement or the indignity of security measures but being able to do nothing. With nothing to do, there is only time to think. “You are useless, Mohammad.” “You are worth nothing, Mohammad.”

Last weekend I had the privilege of attending an art exhibition of works by those currently or formerly held in immigration detention in Melbourne. A small band of volunteers had supplied the asylum seekers with art materials and encouraged them to express themselves. The works were amazing and often heartbreaking.

Screaming Freedom

‘Screaming Freedom’ and ‘Freedom’ by Sina Pourhorayed

Guards

‘Guards’ by Mostafa Deilami

Shamans Wand

‘Shaman’s Wand’ by Mostafa Deilami  Constructed from objects found around the detention centre grounds.

Nimsay Mask

‘Nimsay’ by Mostafa Deilami (L) and ‘Mask’ by Sahar (R)

Mudslide

‘Mudslide’ by Leila Hamidavi

 

“I found I could say things with colour and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way – things I had no words for.” – Georgia O’Keeffe

 

Over The Fence

My thanks to the artists from the Melbourne Immigration Transit Accommodation centre, the volunteer visitors and Lisa Stewart (originator and curator of the exhibition) for an enlightening and moving event. Thanks also to Elly McDonald for the photos.

 

 

 

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The Friends That Scare You

I have the unerring ability to attract a certain type of person. Like flies to a cowpat. Okay, that’s not very savoury. Like bees to honey. Well, that’s just ridiculous. Bees are attracted to pollen in order to make honey. Like moths to a flame. Well, that’s a bit derivative. Like goats to a cabbage. Better, but it’s a bit early for Chinese New Year. Like…

You know what? Forget the analogy. Just trust me that it happens.

There is, within my psyche, a need to draw to myself Button Pushers, Gauntlet Throwers, Challengers, Comfort Zone Destroyers…. you get the picture.

Press Here

These are the ones who say “You should run a half-marathon”, “Come along to this songwriting circle and write and perform your own songs”, “I want you to play a part in this play and you’ll need a Yorkshire accent”, “You’re a great writer, you should start a blog”.

In response, every shy and insecure cell in my body (which is, let’s face it, most of them) starts screaming, “NOOOOOOOO!”

But the reckless, unthinking, adrenaline junkie who lurks in my dark corners, always gets her way.

“OKAY!” she says while I try and work out how that happened.

One of the Button Pushers had her way with me a couple of weeks ago. We were due to catch up and in response to the question of what we should do, having been stuck at home with three teenage boys for a very long, long summer holidays, I said, “Something girly. And creative.” More fool me.

A plan was hatched and I was not to know what it was, only that I was to dress respectably but with comfortable walking shoes. That’s the other thing they do, you know. Spring it on you so you don’t have time to back out.

Setting off together, all was revealed. I was handed a small knapsack that contained a selection of art supplies – paints, pencils, pens, sketch paper. We were going on an urban art excursion.

“You’re gonna make me draw…. in public??!

Well, I did ask for something creative.

You know those teen horror flicks where the friend dares the other friend to walk in the creepy forest or sleep in the haunted house? This was like that, only more cultured.

The first stop was our State Library, a grand old building with a breathtaking domed reading room. I don’t know if it was the permeation of decades of higher learning but I found the experience intimidating and I was depressed by my efforts.

Art Excursion 1

This is not what left the library. At the Boundary Pusher’s insistence, I added the middle bit with the arches and gave it a bit of watercolour after the event. It made me feel a little bit better. Maybe.

The next stop was beside the river. Maybe it was the open air, or the gently flowing water, or maybe it was the boathouses across the river and the scullers going past that made me feel more in my element. I was happier but still not convinced.

Art Excursion 2

There was to have been a nature element to our excursion with a visit to the extensive Botanic Gardens but by then the temperature was into the 30s and tea and cake sounded more appealing. This was the girly part. Tea in china pots and teeny cakes served on white tablecloths at the swishy little café attached to the Art Gallery.

The table had white paper overlaid on the linen tablecloth. And this was an art excursion. (I like to carry a purple pen. I feel like Harold and his crayon.)

It has taken days to prepare this post and quite some measure of nerve to bring myself to make my art pieces public. I am yet to be convinced I possess any real artistic ability.

But that is what the Button Pushers are for, aren’t they? To believe in you more than you believe in yourself. To push you out beyond the view you hold of yourself.

And so, despite my fears, I am truly grateful for the friends that scare me because I would achieve nothing without them.

But I’m not sleeping in a haunted house.

 

 

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Colouring With Einstein

Why do you keep looking over at me? What am I doing that is so odd to you?

You keep staring. I’ll have you know that Einstein approves of this wholeheartedly.

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And Picasso.

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So there.

You’re just jealous. You’re wishing you’d remembered to bring your own, aren’t you?

It’s not weird, you know. Stop looking at me like I’m crazy.

What was I doing? Well, for a start, I was sitting innocently enough in a café with a large cup of coffee and a haloumi and salad foccacia for my lunch. Nothing odd about that, right? (Well, okay, haloumi is not to everyone’s taste but it’s not that weird.)

While I ate my lunch, I was using a present a friend had just given me for my recent birthday. That may have been it, I’m not sure. Is this odd to you?

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It’s okay to sit in a café and do colouring in with textas. At least, I’m pretty sure it is. I mean, they’re Connector Pens.

Actually, first I drew flowers.

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The two on the right were already there. The ones that look like scientific experiments are mine.

I didn’t think what I was doing was all that strange. Mind you, one of the waitresses came over to ask what I was doing. Then she went and got the other waitress to come and have a look.

Was it really that odd?

Are you not allowed to do colouring in whilst out in public when you’re a grown-up?

Oh.

Ah, well, see that’s where the get-out clause is then. I’m not a grown-up. Old, yes. Up, not so much.

I can’t wait to get stuck into some of the other pages.

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See you around. Next time, bring your own textas.

 

 

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