I feel Ike I haven’t really progressed much this week in terms of my 21 things. I didn’t do any cooking so I didn’t make a new vegetable recipe (thing 2) and I didn’t start a new chapter in the Change Journal (thing 4). I had planned to do some work on my resume (thing 18) and link that with the chapter on strengths but it didn’t happen. I’m still working through the habits chapter, including the pre-work routine (thing 20).
We went away for the weekend so I didn’t have my regular time to work on the undone things (thing 5), the vegetable garden (thing 6) or Kramstable’s videos (thing 8).
I did, however, find myself in one of the unexplored areas I wanted to photograph (thing 14). I had an hour on Tuesday night to wander around a suburb I don’t usually go to. I didn’t have my camera, so I just took my phone and made some ideas for a future photo walk in the area.
I took the film from my SLR to get developed (thing 16) and they scanned images came back on Friday afternoon. The pictures look like they were made on a trip to Great Lake in May 2012. The photos that I made last week to use up the film didn’t turn out at all, so I need to talk to the camera shop about what might have happened to them; whether it was the film being so old or whether there might be something wrong with the camera. I hope it’s the fomer!
There are several things on my list that I have made a regular commitment to doing in the hope that this will be more likely to make me do them. I worked on these ones this week.
Thing 9: Write my mother’s life story.I went to see my mum and we talked about how she met my dad.
Thing 11: Complete the Compelling Frame course. I commented very constructively on some photos people had posted in the class Facebook group, and on my adventures into unexplored territory I made some photos for the lesson 5 exercises but I’m not sure how close to the mark they were.
Thing 17: Brainsparker gym*. This week I finished Module 3.
21 for 2021 week 10 summary
Things completed this week: 0
Things completed to date: 1 (1)
Things I progressed: 7 (4, 9, 11, 14, 16, 17, 20)
Things in progress I didn’t progress: 6 (2, 5, 6, 8, 13, 18)
Things not started: 7 (3, 7, 10, 12, 15, 19, 21)
What else did I achieve this week?
This week the Ten Days on the Island festival has been running across Tasmania and I particularly wanted to see Julie Gough’s exhibition, Fugitive History, at the Ross Town Hall. This was part of the “If These Halls Could Talk” series of events that were held in community halls across the state.
We decided to make a weekend of it and go to Launceston for the night.
The works were deeply moving, showing us “the often-unrecorded atrocities perpetrated against Tasmanian Aboriginal people by the colonists of Van Diemen’s Land”.
It made me think a lot more about some of the things I’ve been learning and reading about recently, and I’m glad we went.
It was raining by the time we got to Launceston, so we spent the afternoon at the QV Museum & Art Gallery looking at some of the new exhibits. Last time I was there in October, there was a lot being prepared and not a lot to see. This time there was a lot to look at.
Nest, by Alastair Mooney, looks at “the resilience and beauty of Tasmania’s native birdlife in the face of human consumption and destruction”.
Lost Landscapes, by Anne Zahalka, gives new life to old museum dioramas, reflecting the way these displays contain “powerful messages about the way institutions privilege particular narratives about the environment”.
Skin showcases Garry Greenwood’s leather sculptural works that include musical instruments and masks.
And finally, Herself, which celebrates the range and richness of art by women in QVMAG’s collection. It includes works from female-identifying artists from 1820 to 2020, including Julie Gough, whose work we saw earlier in the day. So that was a nice way to round off the day.
Blast from the past
Following on from my 10-year review of my blog, here’s another one of my favourite posts from 2011. This one is from 5 June 2011, where I got to hang out with the wonderful gardening guru, Peter Cundall, who is now 93 years old.
This week, I signed up for the Understanding Dementia MOOC, which is run by the University of Tasmania’s Wicking Dementia Research and Education Centre. Through this, I learned that dementia is not a disease itself. Rather it is a condition that is caused by a variety of diseases, the most common of which is Alzheimer’s disease. It is a terminal condition that involves the progressive loss of mental and, ultimately, physical functions, which results from the ongoing and irreversible death of brain cells.
I’m finding it very interesting and am learning a lot.
What was the best thing about this week?
Going away for the weekend.
What I’m reading this week
The Summer Island Festival by Rachel Burton
The INTP: Personality, Careers, Relationships and the Quest for Truth and Meaning by A.J. Drenth
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
Days I did my morning planning routine at work (Goal = 4): 4
Days I did my post-work pack up routine(Goal = 4): 4
Days I worked on my art (Goal = 2): 4
Days I read a book (Goal = 7): 7
Days I did yoga stretches (Goal = 7): 7
Days I had a lunch break away from my desk (Goal = 4 work days): 4
Days I went for a walk or did other physical activity in the afternoon (Goal = 7): 5
Days I shut my computer down before 10.15 (Goal = 7): 6
Week 06/2021: week of 8 February 21 for 2021 update
I did a thing!
I had my exercise physiologist appointment (thing 1) on Friday. I didn’t really know what to expect, walking into a gym to meet someone who I imagined would be super fit and super motivated and having to explain how I had got to be a middle aged sloth with back and neck issues from years of a sedentary lifestyle wedded to my computer. You might be able to understand my reluctance to do this and have put it off for 18 months.
However, there was no need for me to be worried or feel bad about my lack of fitness, which I am very grateful for! After me explaining my predicament, we ran through a few tests of my strength, because that’s a key area I said I wanted to focus on. Apparently, my grip is strong enough to gain me entry into the police force. I doubt any of my other results would satisfy the criteria, but at least I could hold on to . . . whatever it is cops have to be able to hold. It’s probably an easy test that they do first that most people can pass so you don’t feel too bad about your lack of fitness that’s revealed elsewhere as you go through the rest of the tests.
I say “tests” like it’s a formal assessment, but it really wasn’t like that. It was more like a session with my physio, where I had to twist and turn to see my mobility limitations, of which there are quite a lot, and some assessments of my core strength. That didn’t take long, primarily because my core strength doesn’t exist.
I came away with a very small exercise program that I have eight weeks to put in place before I have to go back. I think I can do this!
I’m still working on the pre-work routine (thing 20) through the Change Journal(thing 4) and I think it’s almost time to pick up a new habit. Maybe next week.
I also did some behind the scenes work for my website (thing 13).
Vegetable of the week
Thing 2 is to choose a different vegetable every week from the book In Praise of Veg and make a recipe from the book using that vegetable.
This week’s vegetable was zucchini and I made Alice’s Summer Slice, which is like a frittata that you’d make to use up a glut of zucchini. It was pretty easy to make and really nice with a side salad.
There are several things on my list that I’ve made a regular commitment to doing in the hope that this will be more likely to make me do them. I worked on these ones this week.
Thing 5: Spend an hour a week working through my annoying undone things list. I offloaded a bunch of recyclable plastic that had been breeding in the kitchen for months, maybe years.
Thing 8: Spend an hour a week working on Kramstable’s videos. I did this for my allocated hour on Sunday afternoon. Who said I can’t stick to a schedule?
Thing 9: Write my mother’s life story. I had my regular visit with my mum on Thursday for the next instalment, and I found out where my grandfather went to college. Then in a fabulous bit of research, after locating the uni that the college is now part of (University of Western Sydney), I found some of his records online, including photos of him in the college rugby team.
21 for 2021 Summary
Things completed this week: 1 (1)
Things completed to date: 1 (1)
Things I progressed: 7 (2, 4, 5, 8, 9, 13, 20)
Things in progress I didn’t progress: 4 (6, 11, 17, 18)
Things not started: 9 (3, 7, 10, 12, 14, 15, 16, 19, 21)
I learned that being irrationally irritated by the sound of someone’s tapping keyboard at work is actually normal for people who have a noise sensitivity like I do. I also learned (after a follow-up hearing test) that I’m not making this up and I’m not being a big sook when I say I can’t stand the noise. Having a low noise tolerance is a real condition, and the audiologist says that it really does affect people’s quality of life. So all this time when I thought I was being overly sensitive and needed to get over it, I’ve actually been blaming myself for something that does make my life miserable at times, and it’s something I can’t talk myself out of.
What was the best thing about this week?
I went to TMAGthis week to see David Keeling’s exhibition, stranger, which was intriguing and thought-provoking, especially the gallery with the “Contested Sites” artworks, which show David’s impressions of the Midlands of Tasmania, “scarred by perennial battles over custodianship and management”.
I also loved seeing David’s selection of sketchbooks.
I also visited the exhibition of the finalists in the Frank Hurley Photography Awards, which was an amazing collection of photographs that celebrate Frank Hurley’s legacy. Until recently I had only known him as the photographer who went to the Antarctic, but his work is much broader than that, and he has a fascinating story.
What I’m reading this week
The Tea Room on the Bay by Rachel Burton
The INTP Quest by A J Drenth
Personality Hacker by Joel Mark Witt & Antonia Dodge
Burning Out by Katherine May
Days I did my morning planning routine at work (Goal = 4): 4
Days I worked on my art (Goal = 2): 2
Days I read a book (Goal = 7): 7
Days I did yoga stretches (Goal = 7): 7
Days I had a lunch break away from my desk (Goal = 5 work days): 5
Days I went for a walk or did other physical activity in the afternoon (Goal = 7): 6
Days I shut my computer down before 10.15 (Goal = 7): 7
Continued from part 1, in which I write about the origins of this blog in 2011.
After blogging every day in 2011 and then limping through 2012, I tried to reignite the blog in 2013 because I did enjoy blogging and interacting with the people who read it and took the time to leave comments. So I was keen to get back into blogging more regularly. I realised that daily blogging wasn’t for me so I set myself a goal to blog at least three times a week in 2013. I intended to set some regular things to blog about to make it a bit easier. For example, Monday was going to be the day I was going to write about my journey to quitting sugar, and as the year went on, to improving my diet in general. Sunday was going to be scrapbooking/memory keeping post day.
I also thought it would be fun to participate in weekly blog linkups like “Wordless Wednesday”, “Thankful Thursday” and “FFS Friday” that I’d seen on various blogs around the place. I don’t recall that lasting very long either.
Later in 2013, I started a 12 of 12 project, which was to take 12 photos of your life on the 12th day of every month.
I blogged about trips away, unusual things and challenges I was doing, more scrapbook layouts and random issues like dealing with imperfection (that was a good one). I ran a semi-regular feature for a while called Find Me Friday, where I would post a photo of part of a building in Hobart that I would challenge my readers to identify. I also did a 30 days of lists challenge, which foreshadowed a much bigger project I’d take on a few years later. The blog was still alive, but it wasn’t a regular part of my life any more. And I never did those 100 things in 2013. Or in 2014. Or in 2015 . . .
You can read about where my thinking was around this time, my initial idea for the blog and then the revamped one, here, which is on Blogger, the original platform I used. I moved over to WordPress in September 2013, which is why the formatting of the early posts on here is all over the shop.
This was around the time I renamed the blog to stepping on the cracks. As I explained in this post.
“The 30-days project” doesn’t have much of a ring to it. So thinking about some activities I did and some a-ha moments I had at a retreat a couple of weeks ago, I came up with the title “stepping on the cracks”. I realised that whenever I try to draw something, it tends to be straight lines, and that I colour within within the lines and that this art could be seen as a reflection of my personality. I once, when asked to do a doodle drawing, observed the following:
The idea was to draw a shape and split it into sections and doodle or make our mark. I noticed everyone else did round shapes – spirals, circles, ovals, abstracts. I did a triangle. Perhaps that says a lot about me – straight lines and angles. Left brain rules. It also included the words “Don’t step on the cracks” and “Stay within the lines”.
I think I was very dryly reflecting on myself with those two phrases rather than seriously instructing myself to comply with those rules. Anyway, very long story short, being straightlinesgirl is all perfectly OK and isn’t something I need to “fix” BUT there’s nothing stopping me drawing curves or swirls or colouring outside the lines or making a mess. So I think what the project is all about is being who I am, but not letting that prevent me from doing anything else – and seeing what happens when I step on the cracks and colour outside the lines.
This project kind of worked and kind of didn’t.
Some of the challenges were ideally suited to a 30-day format: 30 days of no alcohol, for example. This was because I had a clear idea in my head of what I’d be doing (or not doing in this case) over the 30 days, and my progress was easy to track. I either had 30 days free of alcohol or I didn’t.
Some of the other challenges were more vague and I didn’t have much of an idea what I needed to do over the 30 days. 30 days of clarity, for example. WTF?! I didn’t have a plan or anything to measure my progress by in those ones. And I think I took way too much on for the time I actually had to work on these things. As a result, things were very stop-start over this time and I didn’t stick with several of the challenges I had initially intended to do. So that part of the project was less successful.
After that project ground to a halt, I tried a few other things over the next year or two, including using the blog as accountability for making healthy habit changes by making commitments to a healthier lifestyle and posting weekly updates, but even that didn’t last very long. I also wrote about taking part in Care Australia’s Walk In Her Shoes challenge for a couple of years.
Finally, at the end of 2018, I decided to take on the 19 for 2019 challenge, which was a list of 19 things I wanted to accomplish in 2019. (Not 100, which I’d aimed for in 2013). I got the idea from Gretchen Rubin and Liz Craft’s Happier podcast, as they were doing 18 for 2018. Finally, some success! I had an achievable list of 19 things to do, of which I did 14 and I updated the blog a lot more consistently, which kept me on track with the list. I carried it over into 20 for 2020 (and now 21 for 2021) and over time have gradually expanded it to include keeping up to date on habits I want to develop and little things I want to improve.
I’m feeling comfortable with where it’s at now and I have a nice little routine for writing the posts each week and keeping track of everything I’ve done.
It’s been an interesting process to look back on where I was ten years ago and to see how, in relation to some things, not much has changed at all. I thought I’d share my favourite post from each month over the next few weeks, to commemorate the tenth anniversary, beginning with this one
8 January 2011: Tweetup, in which I overcome my fear of meeting people and bravely turn up to a BBQ with People From Twitter Who I Don’t Actually Know In Real Life.
Now on my blog’s tenth anniversary, I’ve been starting to wonder whether its format and title is really what it’s all about or if it needs a bit of a reboot, given the last reboot was in 2016. In particular, acknowledging that there’s nothing stopping me drawing curves or swirls or colouring outside the lines or making a mess but that, when I think about it, I don’t actually want to make that type of art.
Susannah Conway’s Unravel Your Year 2021 workbook asks you to describe the year just gone by in three words. It’s left open to you how you interpret this: you could, I imagine, choose three words that describe the year from a global perspective, from a personal perspective or anywhere in between. There’s one word I’ve heard more often than I care to remember that has been used to describe 2020 that I never want to hear again and I have no intention of using it. It starts with unp . . . .
And that is the last I will say about that word.
I’ve chosen three words to describe the year from my own isolated perspective from the bottom of an island at the bottom of the world. They are:
Unexpected because I didn’t in my wildest dreams imagine that the world would be thrust into a pandemic that shut everything down, took so many lives, and shook everything up, leaving people jobless and causing so much worldwide despair, uncertainty and confusion. On a personal note, I didn’t expect the issues I was having in my workplace with noise to be (temporarily) resolved by having to work from home. There were other unexpected things too, not all good, and not all for this blog.
Inconsistent because, while I made a lot of progress in some areas I wanted to work on and I achieved a lot, I didn’t do as much as I’d hoped in other areas. I completed my uni course, and I had some good results at work but, there were other areas I was less successful in developing (no judgement here, just stating a fact) and they continue to haunt me. A lot of that is connected to me not being able to stop procrastinating and giving into distractions. And not getting into an exercise routine that works for me.
I struggled to find a third word but I chose Introspective because I started to work on some long standing personal issues in my head that are preventing me from being the person I want to be. It was hard work but rewarding, and I think I am starting to discover small chinks in the façade I’m trying to break down.
I would also add interesting to the mix . . .
I started the year with beautiful sunny Sunday morning photo expeditions, a couple of times with a good friend and other days by myself. It seems like so long ago now . . .
A major focus of my year was my uni program, of which I had three units to complete. The first one was intense, involving a lot of self examination and analysis, which left me feeling drained but also with some very clear ideas of what areas of my life I specifically needed to work on. I finished the course in October and received my qualification in December and am very glad that’s over but also grateful for the opportunity to have done it and learned so much.
I managed to keep reasonably healthy in 2020, not least because I have now gone for nine months without drinking alcohol and, as a formerly very regular moderate drinker, I’m particularly proud of my efforts to do this. I read the book The Alcohol Experiment by Annie Grace, and it totally changed the way I looked at alcohol. I’m not saying I will never drink again but for now I’m very comfortable with my decision not to.
I had a potential issue with my eyesight that I had to have checked out a couple of times during the year but it all seems to be okay for now and the professionals are monitoring it. I got a hearing test at the start of the year, which revealed I have a low noise tolerance, which makes sense of all the issues I’ve been having at work and in other situations. I’m not sure what we do about this but a retest later in the year showed that my sensitivity had increased and I still don’t really know how to manage it. I kept up with my dental checks and my physio visits to resolve long-standing neck, back and posture issues.
I’m grateful there was never a time during the lockdown that I wasn’t able to go out on my regular morning walks. That would have made it a lot more unbearable.
I started riding my bike to work, which became a whole lot easier when everyone had to stay home because of the pandemic and, as I said at the time, while I didn’t love riding in the traffic, I didn’t necessarily want the roads to be clear because no one was allowed outside. I stopped doing it as much (at all) as the weather got colder, the buses stopped charging fares and, eventually, when I was working from home full-time. It’s something I will start to pick up again when I go back to work after the holidays.
Another habit that I actually stuck with was reading, and there were a couple of things that made this possible. First, my goal was to develop the habit, rather than to set a number of books I wanted to read, which the pressure to read a certain amount off and allowed me to just focus on doing it. Second, keeping my no alcohol month going the whole of the year led to me going to bed earlier, which meant I could read in bed before I went to sleep. As of today, I have finished 34 books, which is 13 more than in 2019 when I set myself a target of only 12 books to read and never really stuck with it after I’d finished the 12th book.
I didn’t do as much work on learning Photoshop as I had intended at the start of the year when I signed up for a bunch of courses. Even though my uni work took up a lot of time, I still had a lot of free time that I could have done this work and I’m not sure what was stopping me. It’s not like I have to do the courses all at once or that there’s a time limit. I can do them in my own time, and maybe that’s the problem. I’ve worked well to deadlines where there is a clear assignment to complete but with these courses there are no assignments, just instruction and it’s up to you to play around with what you’re shown and see what you come up with. This is one of the areas I’m disappointed that I didn’t achieve very much in, and I want to do more in 2021.
I completed the major photography project I wanted to do this year, which was to spend 50 days making a photo a day with my 50mm lens. I’m really pleased with that project and it’s made me appreciate and understand that lens a lot better. I certainly won’t be keeping that one stashed in the bag again!
I had a couple of exciting moments in my photography in 2020 too. In January, one of my photos was published in Australian Photography magazine.
I was equally chuffed when the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court asked if the court could use one of my photos of the court in their Christmas cards this year.
And just before Christmas, I found out that one of the photos I had taken of the Hobart Magistrates Court at the Open House Hobart weekend had been chosen as a winner of their photo competition, which was a lovely way to end the year. I’ve really enjoyed my photography this year.
I was lucky to be able to get away for a couple of short breaks during the year. We had a trip to Bridport in the July school holidays. I hadn’t been there since I was a kid and couldn’t remember it at all, so it was great to be able to explore a part of Tasmania I wasn’t familiar with.
In October we had a night at Port Arthur, a place I am always somewhat reluctant to visit because of the many sad layers of history held by the area. And then, as a reward for finishing my uni course, I took myself off to Launceston for a photography retreat and I had a wonderful time photographing some of my favourite buildings and walking all day.
Kramstable adapted really well to online school and I was impressed with his commitment to his work, his ability to self-direct and to manage his workload. The schools did a huge amount of work to ensure that kids could continue learning during the lockdown and I have nothing but admiration for them for what they achieved. Thank you seems like such a lame things to say to convey how grateful I am for what they did. It has been wonderful watching Kramstable learn and grow this year, and for it to start to become more obvious what his strengths are and where his passions lie. The high point of his film work was his nomination as a finalist in one of the categories of this year’s My State Film Festival. It’s also exciting to watch his work and interests develop outside of school. Seeing his dedication sometimes makes me wonder how my life might have been different if I’d had such a passion as a teenager and had been supported to pursue it in the same way I hope I’m supporting him.
Sadly, Bethany the Australorp chicken and Rex the rabbit died earlier in the year. Two new chickens joined the flock in November, Dorothy and Shirley, who are black copper Marans and are very cute. After a month in a cage in the chook yard, they are now finding their feet with the big girls, some of whom are none too pleased to have them there.
Aside from the working from home, covid didn’t have a massive impact on my life. I don’t like going out much, I detest shopping, I don’t play or attend sport and I don’t enjoy being around large gatherings of people. I spend a lot of time at home anyway, and I love it. So I pretty much did what I always did, it’s just that I didn’t have a choice any more. Regular Friday night dinners at the bowls club were replaced with trying out various takeaway and home delivery options from local restaurants and pubs. I actually reversed my no caffeine strategy and started getting takeaway coffees from my local cafe (I am sorry for the plastic, but they weren’t allowed to use keep cups). I’m not sure why. One day I felt like a coffee and it was a valid reason to get out of the house and one day tuned into a couple of times a week, turned into every day. And when they were allowed to reopen, it because my go-to place to write. And a place to work when I needed a change of scenery.
I realise that I am incredibly lucky that this was my experience when so many others suffered greatly and many continue to do so. I am so grateful for having the job I have and that the Tasmanian Government did what it needed to do to keep our state safe. I haven’t stopped being grateful for being in the position that I’m in this year.
It was, indeed, an unexpected year.
Unravel Your Year asks you to consider what the gifts of 2020 were. I know for many, this would be difficult. I offer the following.
2020 brought me the gift of afternoon walks. Instead of being at work all afternoon, packing up and catching the bus home, I packed up my home office and went for a walk every day. I watched the afternoon light dance on trees, rocks, water and the opposite shore, and I made photos of what I saw. I would never have been able to do this if I hadn’t been working at home.
2020 brought me intense self reflection and the deep inner work that I need to do to start to heal myself.
2020 brought me a confidence boost that tells me maybe I do have an artistic side.
2020 brought me a brain that is no longer befuddled by alcohol, and the clarity and health benefits that go along with this.
2020 brought me respite from a work environment that was becoming increasingly stressful and difficult for me to cope with. My stress and anxiety levels are lower than they have been for a long time as a result.
You were not the year I expected you to be. I know the challenges you have presented, both on a global level and to me personally, are not going to disappear when the clock ticks over to 2021. In reality, the date on the calendar is just an arbitrary thing anyway. The sun is going to come up tomorrow, covid is still going to be here and I’m going to have the same struggles I have today. The climate emergency hasn’t gone away and there’s a lot of work to do. However, the end of the year is a good time to have a bit of a reset, to re-examine my priorities and goals, and make sure the course I’m on is still the one I need to be on.
Thank you, 2020, for the gifts and the opportunities you have offered me. I ticked 18 things off my 20 for 2020 list. I haven’t made the most of everything, but I think I’ve made some progress and I have learned a lot. I intend to continue to learn in 2021.
One thing I know, 2020, is that I won’t forget you in a hurry.
Why is that photographer coming back from the beach with a giant lens? Ohhhh! There’s a giant pink full moon out there! Why didn’t I bring my camera out?
We got the reading material for our final unit of the uni course (thing 8) on Monday. I spent a couple of hours organising the material and making a study plan so I know what I need to do over the next 11 weeks. I’m trying to be more organised with this unit so that I can get more out of it than I did the last one.
I have three weeks to work through the first three modules (there are six) before our face to face workshop. I thought that working through a topic in each module a day (most of them have five topics) would be a good pace. That would mean I’d need to set aside roughly an hour a day to work on it.
That sounded fine in theory, but finding that hour wasn’t as easy as I thought. I found myself drifting through my days without a plan and finishing the day without having done any of the work, so by Saturday morning, when I wanted to have completed the first module, I’d done exactly no readings.
It’s amazing how easy it is to not do the work when there is no real consequence of not doing it. I found with the assignment in the last unit, I could focus on that all day because I had to do it, there was a hard deadline, and there were major consequences of not doing it (i.e. failing the unit). Whereas with the course reading material, it’s all self-directed and you are responsible for doing it: there’s no one to check up on you, nothing to hand in and no mark at the end.
Clearly, if I want to get something out of this unit, this isn’t the way to do it, so I made it a priority on the weekend to complete the first module and to schedule regular time each day to work on the material. This fits in nicely with the work I am doing to better organise my workload at work and to try and prevent my role of being that annoying person in the branch who manages all the coordination requests (I mean, being my branch’s coordination superhero) leaking over into the rest of my day and affecting my ability to focus on the projects I’m supposed to be doing.
That’s a whole other story and perhaps I’ll write a post about it one day, once I get it worked out.
The other thing I need to do for uni is to decide on a workplace project and get started on planning that so I can hand in my draft project plan next week. This project will decide my final mark so there is a real consequence of not doing that. It’s been something I’ve been thinking about since the start of the course back in September 2019 but now it’s time to take my thoughts and put them into something that I’m actually doing to do. I have ten weeks to plan it, do it and report on it. No pressure, then.
Spring started to spring . . .
I didn’t hear back from the sewing machine people (thing 2), so I’m not sure where that’s at.
I had a conversation with one of my workmates this week, which turned into a conversation about our art (she’s a proper artist who has actually had shows). I was telling her about my Photoshop work (thing 7) and a vague idea for a project I want to do but how I feel a bit overwhelmed about getting stuck into it because it’s all so new and there is so much to learn. She said the same thing to me as I’ve heard and read so many times that it should be ingrained into my mind and something that I just do. That is, it doesn’t matter what you do, just do something. Make a commitment to do just one thing every day. She said for her it might be something as small as making a decision on the thickness of a hem. And she said that sometimes just doing one thing will lead you to do something else and something else and, before you know it, you might have completed a piece. Which is great. Or it might not, which is fine too because you’ll still be one step further than you were before you did it.
That’s the point of my 15 minutes a day creative habit. Just like my uni work, I need to schedule this and then actually do it. I know I can’t commit to doing huge chunks of the Photoshop course during the next ten weeks. I’ve already agreed with myself that I can’t possibly take on two huge study projects at the same time and that the Photoshop work is going to take a back seat for now. But 15 minutes a day, I can do that if for no other reason to reinforce to myself that I am creative and that I make art. Even if it’s bad art. To quote photographer David duChemin, everyone starts ugly. But without the ugly start, you’re never going to make anything beautiful.
I went back over my monthly review and picked up on the things I didn’t quite get through when I did it last week. In particular, I wanted to set some goals for August:
Complete all of the readings for Unit 4.
Decide on a workplace project and submit the proposal.
Commit to 15 minutes a day to creating something.
Finish two chapters of a book I’m working through.
. . . and winter hit back
I also decided to ask myself three questions at the end of each week:
What did I do well or what did I achieve this week?
I can’t think of anything.
I need to pay attention to small wins and accomplishments to remind myself of the good things I did. And knowing I’m going to be writing about it each week is going to inspire me to think of at least one thing I did well . . . it’s going to look like I’m pretty down on myself if I only write about what didn’t go well!
Actually, now I think of it, I did do something well. I overcame my fear of speaking in meetings and contributed to a national meeting of about 40 people, most of whom I’ve never had anything do with, on a subject I am not very familiar with.
What didn’t go so well?
I’m still struggling with going to bed on time and getting up with the alarm instead of lying about in bed for half an hour or more. My Fitbit sleep scores are mid-80s. I want this to improve.
What do I want to do better next week?
Start packing up at 10.15. Set a reminder for this.
Schedule time to create something every day and actually do it.
Summary for the week
Things completed this week: 0
Things completed to date: 11 (1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 10, 14, 15, 16, 18, 20)
Things I progressed: 2 (8, 22)
Things in progress I didn’t progress: 5 (2, 7, 11, 13, 17)
In my quest to find a regular time to sit down and focus on my creative work for longer than 10 or 15 minutes snatched here and there, I thought Tuesday afternoons might be a good time. Except for the Tuesdays when I have appointments in town, which, for the next couple of months, is every second Tuesday. Not really a routine I can get into at this stage. But this week, I did have a free afternoon on Tuesday and I figured I should take advantage of the time rather than talk myself out of doing any work because I couldn’t do it every week at the same time. (That is really scraping the bottom of the barrel for excuses not to do something, isn’t it . . . ?)
Macquarie Street, Thursday morning
It was time to get back to the Photoshop course (thing 7). I had a look at the exercises and realised I’d forgotten most of what I’d seen in the videos because it had been so long since I’d watched them, so I went back and watched a couple of them.
That went well, and I went to do the work, but . . . Photoshop wouldn’t cooperate, which meant I had to spend time googling how to fix what wasn’t working. Adobe and my computer don’t really get on very well.
Once I finally got it working, I was able to run through some of the exercises, reminding myself that (a) I was working on a copy of the file so it didn’t matter what I did to it and (b) this is all just experimenting and learning and there are no mistakes or failures here. I would call the afternoon’s work a moderate success.
Cementing my bedtime reading habit (thing 14), I finished reading the book Down the Dirt Roads by Rachael Treasure, which I got for Christmas a couple of years ago.
Down the Dirt Roads
It was a fascinating story of a Tasmania that I, a lapsed suburban gardener, am only vaguely aware of. In the book, Rachael gives her account of learning about better land management and reconnecting with feminine principles in an attempt to restore the land from the practices of generations of intensive farming practices and big agri-business that have depleted the soil and provide us with food that is nutritionally deficient. It made me disheartened to read of consequences, some of which I was already aware of, about what our culture of “bigger and more” means for the food that we eat and the land we live on and, ultimately, our future and our ability to survive in a changing climate. How we have wiped out tens of thousands of years of sustainable land management in just a couple hundred years and the reluctance of most people to question ingrained habits, practices and assumptions.
But it also encouraged me to know that there are people like Rachael who are quietly going about promoting better ways to do things and there are people who are starting to listen. Her philosophy resonates very strongly with me, and reading her words made me want to find out more about what I can do as a consumer to make a difference besides my boycott of big supermarket chains.
Our first post-moult chicken egg
Unlapsing my “lapsed gardener” status might be a good start. I should have put that on my list!
I emailed the sewing machine people to arrange for them to repair my machine (thing 2). This was a thing on my 19 for 2019 list and I had emailed them last year but it hadn’t happened. I was waiting for them to let me know when they’d be in the area and hadn’t realised it was almost 12 months ago I first made contact with them and hadn’t followed up!
Conscious that I keep saying I need to get back into the book Indistractable (thing 13) but don’t do it, I picked it up again on Saturday and reread chapters 20 and 21 which are in the section about getting rid of external triggers. I’m already doing some of the things Nir Eyal talks about in these chapters, but I have a bad habit of seeing articles and blog posts and leaving them all open in browser tabs, which creates a lot of clutter on my phone and on my computer. So I decided to try Nir’s suggestion of using the app Pocket to keep articles I want to read in one place and making time to read them rather than leaving them as open loops on my devices. The result of that was that I closed more than 20 tabs on my browser on my phone and about ten on my computer. And I listened to several webinars and interviews I’d never got around to listening to.
Fun fact: Patrick Troughton, the second Doctor Who, appeared in one of the stories and Gary Russell, who played Dick, was a massive Doctor Who fan (weren’t we all in the 1970s?). He’d been told not to talk to Patrick about Doctor Who but he said he couldn’t help himself and after a few days on set asked Patrick to sign a copy of one of his books. He said Patrick then sat down and talked to him about the show for more than three hours. Gary Russell went on to have a long involvement with Doctor Who both in the spin-off work throughout the years after the original show was cancelled and as script editor on the new series.
I’m all nostalgic about the TV of my childhood now. Grange Hill, anyone?
Summary for the week
Things completed this week: 0
Things completed to date: 11 (1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 10, 14, 15, 16, 18, 20)
Things I progressed: 3 (2, 7, 13)
Things in progress I didn’t progress: 4 (8, 11, 17, 22)
A weekly review of things that came through my inbox that I found interesting and want to remember.
Perfectionism has been the major theme in the things that have caught my eye over the last couple of weeks and I think I’m calling an uneasy truce with it now that I’ve come to understand what it is. After much thinking and writing, I thought I was done with it and that it was time to move on to other things that were grabbing my attention. To put it in the words of a friend who I’d been talking about this with recently, I thought I had kicked that shit to the kerb.
But perfectionism isn’t done with me yet and so the lessons keep coming. It’s probably good that they do, because I don’t think you ever truly “recover” from perfectionism. You have to constantly be on your guard that its voice doesn’t start speaking to you again and that, if it does, you don’t start listening to it. And one way of doing that is to have the message that perfect is the enemy of the good (or done is better than perfect, whichever way you want to look at it) constantly reinforced because reinforcement is how the old pattern of perfectionist thinking got entrenched in the first place.
So, the first thing on Monday morning I saw was this article by Lisa Byrne on perfectionism, in which she says that she sees perfection as being the opposite of excellence. This rang a bell with me because I see my pursuit of perfection as a misguided pursuit of excellence. That is, where I thought I was seeking perfection I was really seeking excellence. I’m still processing my thoughts on this so that might not make too much sense, but I was interested to see what Lisa had to say.
Lisa says that perfectionism leads us to compare ourselves with somebody else (real or imagined) and that when we do this we’ll always come up short because we are not them. (There’s a theme emerging in these posts, isn’t there?)
In her post, Lisa writes of an interview she did with the shame researcher Brené Brown. Brené observed that we are all unique. We’re made up of different parts and we’re all many different things: mother, father, sister, brother, partner, worker, volunteer, writer, gardener, cook, artist, singer, teacher . . . whatever we are. There is no exact replica of us in the world and, therefore, no one to directly compare ourselves to. So instead, Brené says, she (we) (I) compares one part of herself to the “perfect” version of that part. So she might compare her writing to the World’s Best Writer’s work, her volunteer work to Mother Teresa’s work, her research to the World’s Best Researcher’s work, and her photography to the work of the Artistic Genius I referred to last week (no, she doesn’t, that’s what I do . . .).
And guess what? She concludes that she’s falling short in every area of her life because she compares each individual part of her life with the “top” parts of several different people’s lives.
The “comparee” might be a full-time artist who has spent their whole life learning their craft, and has been doing it 12 hours a day, seven days a week, for the last 25 years. They might have devoted their entire life to the service of others. They might be at home full-time with their kids . . . and so it goes . . .
And hopefully you begin to see that you can’t be the Artistic Genius AND the World’s Best Researcher AND Mother Teresa AND the Gardening Guru AND be home looking after the kids all day because you don’t have 48 hours in a day or 14 days in a week to put in as much effort to each one of those things that you’d need to put in to reach the standard of one of those people in one of those areas. Even if you never slept, you wouldn’t be able to achieve at the level of all of those people in all of those things.
This reminded me of a time I was reading blogs about whole foods and trying to eliminate as much processed junk as I could. I thought I was doing pretty well until I read an article from a homemaker blogger, who said she milled her own flour because flour starts to go bad as soon as it’s milled and the fresher it is, the better.
My first thought was: Are you fucking kidding me? I make my own chicken stock, I am learning to bake bread, I buy hyper-expensive organic yogurt, I don’t buy packet sauces or tinned baked beans or frozen meals anymore, and I have my own chickens and now you’re telling me I have to Mill. My. Own. Flour.
At the time, I felt hopelessly inadequate beside this “homesteader”, who did absolutely everything from scratch, and wondered why I was bothering even trying because I could never achieve this level of food nirvana.
This week, as I reflected on how that had played out, I thought, hang on, if Brené Brown, world-renowned researcher and author, is comparing herself to others and finding herself falling short, then what hope is there for me in getting off the comparison hamster wheel?
And it hit me that maybe there isn’t. No matter how skilled I get at something, there will always be someone who is “better” than me, who knows more than me and who has been doing it longer. If I reach a level that I consider equal to theirs, then they will have moved forward too and I’ll still feel inadequate in comparison.
Comparison is a game we can’t win because the goalposts are always moving. Therefore, it’s a game that isn’t worth playing.
It’s a trap.
We compare ourselves unfavourably to other people because we’re comparing one part of ourselves to the only part of them that we see. When Brené Brown compares herself to the World’s Best Researcher or Barb compares herself to the Artistic Genius or the Homesteader Blogger, Brené and Barb are always going to feel inferior because they’re comparing a small part of their identities to what they perceive as being the whole of that person’s identity—that is, the part of that person’s identity that they show in public. (That was the only time I’m ever going to be mentioned in the same sentence as Brené Brown, so let’s just take that in for a moment . . . )
And you know what, if Brené thinks she comes up short against World’s Greatest Researcher, then I bet that the people I look up to have moments where they feel inadequate compared to someone else too. After all, they are human too. Homemaker Blogger might look at Artistic Genius the same way I do and feel like giving up her art because it’s not as good as theirs. World’s Best Researcher might look at Homemaker Blogger and feel terrible about their own food endeavours. Hell, Artistic Genius might sometimes feel totally incompetent in their own field because they aren’t Van Gogh or Ansel Adams. But they’re still in the same comparison trap that I’m in. They’re comparing their whole self with only a part of the other person’s identity.
One of my favourite expressions about this is that you can’t compare your cutting room floor footage with someone else’s highlight reel (thanks, Kendra). We don’t see the crap that the “comparees” made first, the struggle they’ve gone through to produce what they show us, the things that went wrong. We only see the finished product. We also don’t see the World’s Best Researcher pop in to Macca’s for drive-through on the way home every second night because they don’t have time to make dinner. We don’t see Homemaker Blogger’s pile of unfinished art and we don’t see Artistic Genius’s overgrown garden.
And that’s the way I have to deal with these comparisons whenever I hear that nagging little voice in my head tell me that what I’m doing isn’t as good as what . . . is doing.
So, after the initial guilt for using potentially tainted flour had worn off, I told myself that Homemaker Blogger devotes her entire life to raising her family, making a home and preparing the absolute best food she can. I am not this person, I am nothing like this person and my life is nothing like hers. For a start, I work outside the house. I have to, to pay for it. Therefore, doing home stuff is a much smaller part of my life than it is of hers. Just like I have less time to spend on my art than the Artistic Genius has and Brené has less time to volunteer than Mother Teresa did.
So rather than looking at World’s Greatest Researcher or Artistic Genius and thinking I’m useless in comparison and feeling deflated and defeated, I need to learn to acknowledge that someone else’s personal best is their personal best, not mine and that I should be striving for my personal best from the place I’m at, not that person’s personal best.
Rather than allowing it to make me feel inadequate, I can then use comparison as a motivation to do my own work and to get better. To shine my own light, not someone else’s. I can look at what it is I like about what they do and see if there’s something there that I can learn from. Perhaps I can buy better quality flour in smaller quantities and store it differently. If like the way the light falls in this artwork, maybe I can look for opportunities to incorporate that into my work. When I noticed that a writer has used words that flow with a certain rhythm, I can experiment with doing this and see if it works for me.
Comparison is a two-edged sword. When it inspires you and moves you forward, it’s a useful tool. When it deflates and demotivates you, it’s time to stop. Get off social media, stop reading blogs, take a break and focus on your own work. Forget about what everyone else is doing and go out and do what makes you happy.
And stop I will because that’s long enough to spend on one article from my inbox (which, incidentally, is still not at zero).
I had a couple of other strong messages grab my attention too this week. First, was an article from James Clear called Stop Thinking and Start Doing: The Power of Practicing More, which is a great reminder that you don’t get better at something by reading about it and thinking about it; you get better at it by doing it. The second theme that I saw in a couple of places was the importance of learning, which at first seems to contradict the message in James’ article, but this wasn’t as much about learning new skills as it was about broadening your world view through reading, exploring new ideas and getting out of your comfort zone. Here’s one of them by photographer David DuChemin, The Greatest Misconceptions in Photography.
Welcome to another instalment of my (hopefully) weekly posts on the things that came through my inbox that resonated with me this week. (Week 1’s introduction post is here.)
First up this week is an old post that I had saved from Ali Stegart’s blog Alphabet Soup and somehow stumbled on again this week. It’s in my extensive email library*, which as we learned last week, is something I never look at so I’m not sure how I found it again.
Ali’s post complements what I was reading about perfectionism last week and echoes the direction my own thoughts have been going. Ali refers to “toxic perfectionism” and says
. . . perfectionism, like most traits, has pros and cons, a light side and a dark side. It can be helpful and harmful.
Perfectionism may well be the superpower that got you where you are. Be proud of your commitment to excellence. The world needs your people of your calibre and standards. However, high achievers and perfectionists are not the same. The former strives for real excellence, as in a personal best, or the best on the day; the latter pushes for an ideal, unattainable perfection. To the perfectionist, ‘almost perfect’ is the same as failure.
Ali says we should “strive for excellence, but make GROWTH [our] aim”.
I agree and think there is a whole world of difference between excellence and perfection, which is unattainable. Photographer David duChemin refers to perfection as
the bastard love child of a protestant work ethic and the fact that we celebrate the work of artistic genius but never acknowledge the process responsible for that work. We are told, if not by others then frequently by ourselves, “Unless we can create that brilliant thing, and unless we can make it perfect, don’t bother.” And we forget that any good thing is almost always a result of a long, slow refinement of something that almost always starts ugly.
I think some of my quest from perfectionism comes from comparing my work to that work of the artistic genius David refers to. I will compare my beginner level work to that of someone who has been working for many years and feel bad because mine isn’t as good, so I give up instead of striving to make my work better.
However, as David has pointed out, that person’s good thing is “a result of a long, slow refinement of something that almost always starts ugly” but you don’t see that in the finished product and you don’t see everything that the person has done, their years of training and practice and mistake-making they needed to do to be able to create their brilliant thing. David puts it like this
Perfectionism is a childish response, itself imperfect, incomplete. It pouts in the corner when it can’t get something done “right” the first time and so it never learns the lessons of craft and character that come from wrestling the muse to the ground and making something of nothing.
(Speaking of putting in the work, I also enjoyed this articleby Charlie Moss on the Digital Photography School website.)
David’s comment reminds me not to compare my ugly starting point with the beautiful end-product of someone who has been around a lot longer than me, knows a lot more than I do and has spent years mastering their craft. It reminds me that my ugly starting point is not my finished product, so the comparison to any finished work, let alone that of someone else, is completely invalid. And it reminds me that if I don’t start at that ugly starting point because I’m overwhelmed with feelings of inadequacy that arise from my work not being as good as that of the artistic genius, I will never achieve a beautiful end-product of my own.
In the interests of embracing imperfection, here’s an imperfect photo of a beautiful sunrise on Friday, taken from the bus window
As one of my favourite people, Kendra Wright, says “comparison kills creativity”. I love this expression and I try to bring it to mind whenever I start to feel like this.
Other things I read this week reminded me that it’s also important not to feel down on myself when I’m in this state of mind. Talking about comparison, Ali’s post says
If you find yourself struggling with feelings of inadequacy, jealousy, and bitterness, it’s time to pause. Remember, these aren’t “sins” or character flaws; they are common human feelings that simply indicate how strongly you want something you don’t yet have.
Acknowledge the feelings without judgement. “Hmm. Interesting…” Then move on! Ruminating on it or shaming yourself or poking yourself in the eye do no good.
Acknowledging negative feelings without beating ourselves up about having the feelings was also a theme in an email from Cassandra Massey, who says
Feeling the bad emotions is not a bad thing. In fact, it’s a healthy thing to do. But most of us believe that when we feel bad, we should do something to make ourselves feel better.
But feeling the negative emotions, along with the positive emotions, is what creates a deep and fulfilling human experience.
When someone dies, it’s normal to feel sad and to experience grief.
When you don’t get the promotion or the house, it’s okay to feel disappointment.
When someone betrays you, it’s okay to feel resentment (at least initially).
The problem arises when we try to resist or avoid the emotion by doing something to make us feel better. Trying to get rid of the emotion with food, wine, or even by trying to stay positive, is very disempowering.
And often times, the emotion grows. Emotions don’t like to be ignored. We have them for a reason.
When you call allow yourself to process the emotion fully, you become empowered.
My takeaway from her post is to use these negative feelings to motivate you to take the actions that will get you to the point you want to be rather than doing things to numb the feelings with self-destructive behaviours.
That’s a lot to think about!
*Actually my Evernote files, which I refer to just as infrequently as I do to my extensive email library.
One of the things I try to do on Saturday mornings is to go through the backlog of emails in my inbox that I haven’t read or dealt with during the week. I’m a slightly flawed follower of the inbox zero regime and I don’t often get to inbox zero but I do like to only have a small number of emails there that I can see all at once.
But I’m not here to talk about emails.
I’m on more email newsletter lists than I really need to be, many of them because I signed up for one thing and then never got around to unsubscribing from the list. Some of them I usually delete without opening unless the title of the email really grabs me, like one did this week. Some of them I glance through and some of them I read in more detail if I have time. Those are the ones where I often find little snippets of wisdom or inspiration. They often appear just at the right time when I’m grappling with an issue or a problem, which is kind of cool. (Still talking about emails . . . )
Sometimes I save the email in my extensive email library—but I’m not really sure why, because I never browse through my extensive email library. I usually file it away and never look at it again.
Sometimes I copy and past a couple of quotes into my journal so when I re-read it I’m reminded. But I wondered if there might be a better way to keep track of everything and I thought it might be fun to make a weekly blog post of quotes and information that I found interesting over the week.
What interested me about this was talking about how we procrastinate because we can’t do the job perfectly or because the perfect conditions aren’t in place, so we don’t get the job done. And then we feel bad and try to do something to make us feel better, which is normally something that isn’t productive, like binge watching TV, endlessly scrolling through social media, having another glass of wine.
The podcast says that what to do instead of giving in to the bad feeling by “buffering” with one of these “false pleasures”, is to begin to tell yourself that you’re going to do the thing anyway and say, “I am not supposed to feel great about this right now. I am not supposed to be experiencing a positive emotion.”
Maybe it’s something that you haven’t done before. Maybe it’s a big project that you’ve been putting off for a long time. And so you’re experiencing a negative emotion and so just reminding yourself that that is okay, that that is part of the human experience.
When you can train yourself to allow that negative emotion and to do it anyway, you’re really building up a new skill and so the more that you do this, the easier it is going to be for you to follow through on things that you don’t feel like doing even though you know that they are going to lead to the result that you ultimately want.
I’ve been experiencing a lot of negative emotions this week and I think that reminding myself that it’s part of being human to feel like that is a good thing to keep in mind on the bad days. And linking it to procrastination, a thing that I am a master of, like this isn’t something I’ve heard of before.
One of this week’s photos from @hobartstreetcorners on Instagram
This one is from photographer Dan Milnor on the Blurb blog, which also served as a reminder for me to stop procrastinating because whatever I want to do won’t be perfect and just do it anyway.
Art is what you want it to be. A way of seeing the world, a way of thinking, a way of making something as pure expression, or something that has meaning.
Art is pure freedom. You can create and make anything your mind can dream up, and this acts as a counterbalance to many of the less than savory aspects of being human. Art also works as a translator, connecting people with varying opinions through the filter of light, shape, color, form, or concept.
The best way is to just start. Remember, there really is no right or wrong, only how you see the world, or an individual piece you are creating. Create as if you are the only person who will ever see the work. That way you allow for your real vision to shine through and not the vision you think people want to see.
Making art for art’s sake is a GREAT way to breakthrough creative plateaus. When left alone with no strings attached, you will create work that is pure you, and often times, this is the best work you will ever create.
And finally this week, some words from one of my favourite writers, James Clear, on the importance of showing up every day and mastering the fundamentals of whatever it is you’re trying to do.
It is so easy to overestimate the importance of one critical event or one “big break” while simultaneously forgetting about the hidden power that small choices, daily habits, and repeated actions can have on our lives. Without the fundamentals, the details are useless. With the fundamentals, tiny gains can add up to something very significant.
Nearly every area of life can be boiled down to some core task, some essential component, that must be mastered if you truly want to be good at it.
Mastery in nearly any endeavor is the result of deeply understanding simple ideas.
For most of us, the answer to becoming better leaders, better parents, better lovers, better friends, and better people is consistently practicing the fundamentals . . .
PS. I wasn’t going to post this at all because I didn’t have a snappy title for it. But I talked myself into it because if I’d waited until I had the right title, I’d still be waiting this time next year. Done is better than perfect.
I often say I’m going to revisit something and never end up doing it but this time I felt I really had to. I don’t know if it was the lure of the virtual reality “Orbital vanitas” exhibit that I didn’t see on Friday because Kramstable was too young or whether I wanted to get more fully absorbed in the works by Jhafis Quintero and Ali Kazma in the Bond Store, but this time I went back and took my time.
I’m glad I did.
I went to the Bond Store first and was the only person there.
As I noted on Friday, the low ceilings of the basement gallery added to the feeling of being imprisoned. The ten videos by Jhafis Quintero were looping so I could hear different parts of them at different times as I was watching them. This time I watched all of them. I was especially moved by the video “All the way” which depicts a journey from prison to a hospital and is one of the only ways a prisoner could get to see the outside world.
Being alone in here with these videos felt very creepy and, adding to this claustrophobic atmosphere, I could hear footsteps from the people in the gallery above me, as well as the music from Janet Biggs’ piece “Carpe Diem”.
I don’t know if this was deliberate, to be able to hear the strains of Pachelbel’s Canon alongside Jhafis Quintero’s pain at being incarcerated, but I found it very moving and it added a different perspective to the videos.
Janet Biggs’ piece, juxtapositioning a tethered eagle against an American football team, was interesting and the vision of the eagle was one of the most disturbing pieces for me. It clearly wanted to fly away.
The remainder of the exhibits were in the main museum building, which I had seen on Friday but this time I had the chance to take my time. I experienced the “Orbital vanitas” virtual reality exhibit, which was very cool but kids under 13 weren’t allowed to see it so we hadn’t done it on Friday. The artist, Shaun Gladwell, says, “You are placed inside an enormous human skull that is orbiting above the earth. The atmosphere reflects my current mood in both political and philosophical terms — which is very dark indeed.” The content wasn’t anything that I’d consider unsuitable for an under-13 year old so there must be some technical reason younger kids can’t see it.
“It is still nightfall” (C’est encore la nuit) by Mounir Fatmi was a series of photographs of the underground Qara Prison in Morocco. The photos were of the ground-level air vents that were the only source of light in the prison. It was disturbing to think that such a complex held thousands of slaves in the 18th century who were shackled and forced to work on building projects.
It is still nightfall
Closer to home was the “Prison cell” exhibit by Jean-Marcel Pancin, which was a cell door from Risdon Prison mounted on a concrete slab the same dimensions as the original cells. Jean-Marcel Pancin has made other versions of this work in other places, and its aim is to “draw attention to injustice and suffering caused by confining people behind prison walls”.
It was positioned alongside Sam Wallman’s wall of drawing, which included commentary on detention centres, convicts and prisoners, as well as the statistic that imprisonment rates have increased by 39 per cent in the last ten years. “Some people,” it says, “consider prisons holding cells for the poor.”
Ricky Maynard made his series of photos of Aboriginal men in prison, “No more than what you think” in response to the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, which noted, among other things, that Aboriginal people are 15 times more likely to be imprisoned than non-Aboriginal people. He says the photographs “carry messages of our survival, not only of man’s inhumanity to man, but a feeling of what it’s like to be born black”.
A journey to freedom by Rachel Labastie
It was very thought-provoking. The exhibits were moving and powerful and made me reflect on how fortunate I am to live where I do and not be in a situation where I’m likely to have my freedom taken from me. I’m glad to have taken the time to go back and revisit it.
What becomes of the broken-hearted by Robert Montgomery
The exhibition is open until 29 July so you still have a few days to see it. I highly recommend it.