Get a Wriggle On: WPC

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This week’s Photo Challenge is reflecting.  The stainless steel facade of the Len Lye Centre, opened in 2015, does just that. This landmark building, part of the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery in New Plymouth, celebrates Lye’s artistic aim ‘to create an art of motion.’

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Len Lye was ‘a highly original photographer, poet and theorist.’  He also created kinetic sculptures, paintings and experimental, animated films – all from an unusual angle. He left New Zealand and worked in England, as well as New York. Just before he died, in 1980, bequeathed his works to the people of New Zealand.

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In 1941, with his life-long friend, British writer Robert Graves, Lye wrote a wartime manifesto for they were ‘deeply disturbed because they felt the Nazis were winning the propaganda war. Winston Churchill and other leaders were not explaining clearly what the Allies were fighting for.’

This recently discovered, 76 year old, manuscript explains an artist’s perspective of what freedom and democracy really mean. Now published, it is available from the Govett-Brewster Gallery/ Len Lye Centre shop entitled  Individual Happiness Now.

Better ‘get a wriggle on‘ before it’s too late.

Reflecting

All text, except quotes, and photos by Meg

Story Twigs the Imagination! by Meg Philp is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Up Against the Odds

It’s always interesting to spot another person taking photographs. My curiosity gets the better of me. What are they looking at?

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Yes. I was there to see the wooden lighthouse at Katiki Point, still standing on the edge of the wild Southern Ocean since 1878. But I had to keep an eye on that photographer.

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Couldn’t catch the birds flying past + the waves breaking!

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My Zoom wasn’t as big as his.

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What are the odds he’d get this close to a big seal? Just look at the expression on its face. What is it thinking? Get back. You’re too close? Oh my goodness, not another nosey beak!

I’m reminded of something that happened on an earlier trip to New Zealand over twenty years ago –

My friend and I expectantly trotted down the track, through low scrub towards the beach on the edge of nowhere. We couldn’t see the sea but we could hear it. It was a beautiful, clear day and the sign had said that the rare Yellow-Eyed Penguins could be sighted at this time of the afternoon.

On this driving holiday of New Zealand’s South Island, we were free as birds to stop, explore and move on when we felt like it. We were having a good time. We didn’t need binoculars. This landscape was large.

The Hide which ended our trek was small and dark, but with a step up and a viewing gap where we might scan over the low trees to the beach below. I swung myself up and in, surprised to find another person already inside.

Arms folded, she was leaning against the wall with a cigarette in her right hand. We said hello. She raised her eyebrows in a nod, and exhaled. I stepped up to the wide view. She sat down on the plank, along the back wall. When asked about any sightings, she replied that no, she hadn’t seen any. We waited. She lit another cigarette.

We waited. I was happy just to watch the sea move. Time passed. She suddenly stepped up beside us and looking out said, “They’re late!” I was speechless.

“The sign said they get here at 3.30pm every afternoon, and it’s past that now.”

My ‘compadre with total recall’ sprouted some of what we’d read on the sign – the hundreds of kms adults swam every day to bring back food for their young, how small the colony was, the size of the birds, how much fish they caught …

She sat down again. We waited in silence: motionless; just smoking.

“I’m not waiting any longer,” she suddenly muttered, as she screwed the butt into the ground with her boot. Relieved to see her go, I said, “Hooray!” ( No …truly, it’s an Aussie way to say “Cheerio!”) and settled back into the chin-on-hands position and stared down at the surf crashing onto the shore.

No ‘parcel of penguins’ landed on that golden crest. But we did, finally, spot one dark shape flounder thru the foam – only to be hurled unceremoniously onto the beach. This solitary Yellow-Eyed Penguin, picked itself up and, after staggering a little like a drunk waiter, made its way up the steep sand, head down. It was awesome to watch each determined, tiny step. The bird was gone in about ten seconds. We stayed on for a while longer but saw no more penguins.

……

Today, these “rarest of penguins in the world” are more endangered than ever. The latest challenge has been outbreaks of avain diphtheria … amongst other things. For more info see the highlighted link.

Nature really is up against the odds. We humans are the oddest creatures.

Now, having written this down, I wonder what that woman was really looking for.

—-

All text and photos by Meg

Story Twigs the Imagination! by Meg Philp is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Scanning new horizons: WPC

In 2017, let me really appreciate where I live, decide where I’m heading, and take more memorable photos.

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I reminder snapping this on the wall of  the Grille Cafe, Transport World, Invercargill, New Zealand …

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 Here’s to a peaceful, respectful and creative New Year. Thank you for reading my blog posts.

New Horizon

All text and photos by Meg.

Story Twigs the Imagination! by Meg Philp is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Calm Crossings

There are some timeless places, where we can escape the often harsh reality of the world. Fine weather can help. We caught the ferry across Loch Linnhe from Corran to Ardgour one autumn Saturday.

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I could give all to Time except – except
What I myself have held. But why declare
The things forbidden that while the Customs slept
I have crossed to Safety with? For I am There,
And what I would not part with I have kept. (Robert Frost)

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Worth revisiting – Frost’s poem I could give all to time.

  • The moving novel Wallace Stegner wrote, aged 78, his last – Crossing to Safety, reviewed on the ABC’s ‘Tuesday Bookclub.’ (Click the green link for the 11 min segment)
  • A.B. Facey’s unforgettable autobiography, ‘A Fortunate Life‘ is a much-loved, Australian classic about hardship and loss, friendship and love. Published in 1981, when he was 87, it shows his extraordinary attitude, despite terrible times, not so very long ago.

Sea and sky help remind me that I lead a fortunate life, in a world where so many, millions?, cannot cross to safety.

It’s good to have time to relax and read and think about life … but of course, it’s actually what I do that makes a difference … so I better get on with it.

………….

Relax
All text (except quotes) and photos by Meg

Story Twigs the Imagination! by Meg Philp is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Edinburgh Revisited: To see ourselves as others see us

I visited Edinburgh with friends recently and have revised my knowledge of part of its history. The Old Town looked the same…

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As ‘unofficial tour guide,’ in the Thistle Chapel of St Giles Cathedral, I pointed out the defiant, Latin motto of the chivalrous Order of the Thistle which means,  Who dares meddle with me! (Such fighting talk! I had to put such defiance into a historical and military context – See Sources at the end of this post)

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I regularly had to explain signs or spoken expressions or customs that I have long taken for granted. Not only the Scots accent, but words themselves baffled my American friend. However, songs often work where speech fails, so I sang a favourite Burn’s song ‘John Anderson, My Jo’ and explained what it meant.

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Brought up surrounded by Lowland Scots vernacular, at school I had to be careful not to use it. The Scottish Education Board insisted that children like me, from a working-class family, had to  be taught to speak, read and write ‘Proper’ English. It wasn’t till high school that I was given my Lowland Scots dialect in print, to study.

Robert Burns (1759 – 1796) was one of the significant literary figures of 18th & 19th century Scotland. He wrote literary forms, crossing his local dialect with English – a ploughman with more education than most and a way with words. He reinvigorated our Scots’ national identity at the time and continues to do so. A contemporary of Voltaire, Goldsmith and Goethe, he wrote poems and songs which became, and are still, a expressive part of Scottish culture.

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Here’s my friend Naomi striking the pose in The National Portrait Gallery. (She too has a prodigious memory for songs from her childhood.) The success of Burns’ first compilation, Poems, Chiefly in the Scots Dialect, made him the darling of Edinburgh society in 1786. He lived here for two years before returning to his native Ayrshire.

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Before he died in 1796 aged 37, Burns had written hundreds of songs and set many to old tunes. These made him even more feted across Scotland and internationally. He was the ‘Pete Seeger’ of his day and thought, for example, ‘There is a certain something in the old Scots songs, a wild happiness of thought and expression.’ (Letter to Mrs Dunlop of Dunlop 1790)

Many of the poet’s ‘pithy’ phrases had that certain something, are still used like proverbs. I’ve heard conversations closed with a summary quote from Burns like “Aye – the best laid plans o’ mice and men …!” Auld Lang Syne is sung the world o’er.  Many think of Burns still, as ‘Everyman’: a typical Scot, working-class, humanist, lover of Nature and Freedom: a champion of common sense, astute and yet romantic: always imagining a better world.

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One of the bard’s gentle rejoinders comes from the poem To a Louse“Oh would some power, the gift to give us, to see ourselves as others see us.” (i.e. The first line of the last verse in English … for the complete poem in Lowland Scots, click here)

As a saying, it pulls me back to reality. It’s a hard phrase to beat – as is my fellow traveller’s blog post about her Edinburgh experience.  Please click “A Guid Crack” to read Naomi’s impressions of a first visit to Scotland’s capital city.

Blogs really are a good way to express different points of view and entertain readers at the same time. They are a gift that can help us see ourselves as others see us.

Thanks, Naomi. Here’s to Wild happiness and more singing!

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All text (except links) and photos by Meg

Story Twigs the Imagination! by Meg Philp is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Sources : For more info, click these links

The Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Thistle ( Wikiwand)

Mull, Brett, “Construction of Culture: Robert Burns’ Contributions to Scottish National Identity” (2012). Undergraduate Honors Theses. Paper 271. University of Colorado.

Nemo me impune lacessit ( Wikiwand)

Robert Burns“. Poetry Foundation. Chicago, 2016. Web. 14 Nov. 2016.

Scots Language (Wikiwand)

Todd J. Wilkinson, Robert Burns and Freemasonry. Alexandra Burns Club, 14 November 2016. Web

Allan Woods, Robert Burns – Man, Poet and Revolutionary . 22 January 2009. Socialist Appeal International Marxist Tendency 14 November 2016 Web.

Eye Spy: Weekly Photo Challenge

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Some mornings, this plant on my kitchen windowsill has droplets of water on it. Is there a whole world in there? What do you see?

There be dragons …

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All text and photos by Meg.

Story Twigs the Imagination! by Meg Philp is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License

 

 

Jubilant Days: WPC

Of all the photos I’ve ever seen, my favourite is a b&w image taken by Henri Cartier – Bresson in Paris, on the Rue de Mouffetard in 1954 – a scruffy, small boy carrying a large bottle of wine under each arm, gets the admiration of others in the street as he struts home, head held high, jubilant. For a long time, I had this poster.

At an exhibition of Cartier-Bresson’s work at the Queensland Art Gallery in 2011, I copied down his quote on the back of my ticket stub.

Life isn’t made up of stories that you cut into slices like an apple pie. There’s no standard way of approaching a story. We have to evoke a situation, a truth; this is the poetry of life’s reality. H.C-B.

Perhaps this is a ‘jubilant’  image – this photo of a Scotsman at a wedding. He had just  piped the couple out after the ceremony. Here, he is heading for the Wedding Reception.

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This photo isn’t one of mine: the camera was. Does there need to be more people in the frame to make it jubilant?

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I did ask the piper what was the purpose of those drones in a set of bagpipes – after all, they make such a dismal noise. He replied that without the drones he might as well be playing the piano.

“You just have to live and life will give you pictures.” – Henri Cartier-Bresson

All text (except those in italics) by Meg. Photo by G. McQueen

Poster sale http://www.ebay.com/itm/RUE-MOUFFETARD-PARIS-1954-16×20-/321696915618

Story Twigs the Imagination! by Meg Philp is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License

Jubilant

White Samite, Mystical, Wonderful

 

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This abstract image reminds me of a scene in the Grail legend, when the vessel, covered in white samite, is reverently carried aloft through the Great Hall.

The words, ‘Clothed in white samite, mystic, wonderful,’ come from Tennyson’s poem Morte d’ Arthur , and was a line I heard but couldn’t see: something not of my time and wasted on me in high school English class.

Many years later, on a raw, winter’s day in Cornwall,  I stood at the edge of Dozmary pool, listening to Canadian Ed Kylie telling the story of King Arthur’s death based on Tennyson’s poem. This was the  place where Excalibur was said to have been returned to the Lady of the Lake. In my minds’s eye, I did see the glittering sword flung, turning, end over end through the air. The arm I imagined coming up was pudgy and chilled pink.  All I could see of the ‘samite’ was a draped, white, sodden bedsheet. I couldn’t see more of the story for the cold.

Wikiwand can give me interesting facts about samite. It was the most important silk weave of Byzantium, reserved for kings and church leaders. But, clothing is such a personal, fragile artefact. I like to feel fabrics. Mostly, it’s the colour and patterns, the warp and weft that draws me in. I have only poured over many fascinating remnants under glass in museums – from christening gowns, to shawls and mummies.

Visualising the colour and texture of fabrics and matching these to the clothing characters wear helps make them, and the story, more visual, more believable, more memorable.

The ‘fabric’ in this image might not only be white Samite, but also

  • a cloak for the wicked lead in Andersen’s ‘The Snow Queen.’
  • the stone horse’s hide in the Asian folk tale about a magic brocade, when the horse is magically brought to life.
  • Sleeping Beauty’s coverlet
  • the magic tablecloth Mannannan spread before Cormac when he was in the Land of Faery
  • a dress for the woman in the moon
  • What do you imagine?

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This week’s Photo Challenge was to turn the concrete and familiar into something new and mysterious.

Sources: Poem – Morte d’Arthur, http://www.bartleby.com/42/637.html

Wikiwand entry’Samite,’ https://www.wikiwand.com/en/Samite

All text (except that in italics) and photos by Meg

Story Twigs the Imagination! by Meg Philp is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Inside a Circle: Weekly Photo Challenge

This week’s challenge about circles had me determined to look from a different angle. I ended up on the floor, looking at a light fitting!

There’s an invisible, inspirational net inside a circle.

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Look closer.

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more circles inside a circle. This reminded me of a story –

An ancient Hindu myth tells of the all-powerful god Indra, the greatest creative force in their mythical world, how he lived in a magnificent place in the heavens. Stretched above him and reaching out into infinity, was hung an exquisite net, skilfully crafted. At each node, a multi-faceted jewel sparkled. Since the net was infinite, the jewels were too. And each jewel reflected all the others. Thus the smallest movement flashed throughout the net, glittering like stars across the heavens,  and on into infinity.

The first time I heard of Indra’s Net was at a workshop on “Science and Stories” at a National Storytelling conference in USA in the 90’s. It’s been at the back of my mind for a long time. My search for stories about sustainability have brought it forward again.

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As an storyteller, the story I choose to tell needs to have caused a similar net of connections in my thinking, to be meaningful to me, before I make a commitment to it.  As I tell it, later, orally, the listener can be making their own private connections. One image of a character, one action, can set off a chain of reactions in their imagination.

Now I see why it takes me so long to find a great story to tell. It happens when it makes lots of flashes of connection in my imagination!

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The story of Indra’s net reinforces the interconnectedness of all things, in nature, in this world and beyond, even in circles and especially in stories.

All text and photos by Meg.

Reference sources:

The Indra’s Net :What is it? Downloaded 01012016 by M.Philp

RAMSDEN, Ashley. Jewels on Indra’s Net in GERSIE, Alida et al. (ed.) Storytelling for a Greener World: environment, community and story-based learning. Stoud, Glos. Hawthorn Press, 2014.

Story Twigs the Imagination! by Meg Philp is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Circle

 

 

 

 

 

I Spy Plovers

Cyclists hate the nesting season here. One speeding past with a magpie in hot pursuit once yelled out to me in passing,” Why do they pick on me?” He was in black and white lycra at the time. Get too near magpies, or plovers, and they’ll dive bomb you! Kids often learn this the hard way.

Plovers don’t build nests … just scrape the ground and lay their speckled eggs there. They are, however, the most protective of parents.

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A pair of Eastern Plovers live locally. I’ve been paying attention to them for a couple of years. Their territory includes a bowling green and a soccer pitch across the road from each other. When I got a better camera, I was able to follow them more closely … they always kept an eye on me.

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This green keeper goes out of his way to let the faithful plovers raise their chicks. He doesn’t cut the grass too close, leaves ramps out so the hatched chicks can get out of the sunken green, led under the fence, encouraged across the gravel road, down the slope, under another fence and out onto the large field by their careful parents.
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This past year, though, in Nov and June, two sets of chicks didn’t make it past the puffs of grey, fluff stage. Saddened, I blamed nearby cats or butcher birds. Not a sign was left of them. I thought the pair would give up … but was delighted to see this in August.

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Walking along the fence line every time,  I finally caught a glimpse of three fluffy chicks, in the early morning. As soon as the adult spotted me, she called them back, under her,  with a clicking sound. I got to know what the different calls meant  like Come back quickly / Move out slowly / Don’t go too far / Hide – danger!

Eventually I was able to stop and photograph them.11092015c

A week later, they had moved their home into the middle of  the soccer pitch.

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Though, one chick had gone, the parents were never far away. One acted as scout, the other as shepherd. Soon I could get close enough to see how much they’d grown.

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They started ranging further afield and seemed to get used to me, this strange bird with a black beak and a green cap.

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They roamed together. Now, as big as their parents, the younger birds haven’t got their yellow wattle fully developed. I wanted to get a shot of them flying to finish the story.

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Months later, I’ve been willing them to fly. Several times, they’d wait till I’d given up with my camera, was walking away, and they’d suddenly fly past me, dodging like Spitfires. I noticed that the leader /scout would give three short screeches. (“Fly!”) then the family would follow. Sometimes, they’d been dive-bombed by other birds like Magpies (and one Noisy Miner here).

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Three short screeches … and I caught them taking off as a family, following the scout parent. That’s it. They’re on their way.

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The plover, also know as the Masked Lapwing, has many names in different Aboriginal languages. There’s an ebook called Pitthirrit the Plover for 9 – 11 year olds, available as an app on iPad / iPhone. Produced by the Victorian Aboriginal Corporation for Languages, it’s a traditional story of the Gunitjmara people, the Traditional Owners of southwest Victoria, Australia. Available for $2.99  –  Updated 22 November 2015.

  Click or more info on the plover

This Australian site is a great help – http://www.birdsinbackyards.net

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All text and photos, except where highlighted,  by Meg

Story Twigs the Imagination! by Meg Philp is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.