Words and Pictures Reviewed by Renee Hills

Review of June Perkins’s Words and Pictures Tour (Queensland Art Gallery, Sept-November 2018)

French artist Edgar Degas (1834 – 1917) famously said ‘Art is not what you see, but what you make others see’.

This was truly my experience when I joined June Perkins’s tour of Words & Pictures. June’s interactive journey through the Australian Collection features poetry and micro stories inspired by 12 different artworks. Her responses are written for visitors of all ages, with particular appeal to children and families; a delightful glimpse of art through the eyes of a poet and children’s author.

Words & Pictures is part of an ongoing project to increase engagement with artworks in QAG. Local artists and writers are invited to respond to artworks in the Australia Collection. June was thrilled to be commissioned to do this work. ‘This was one of the best emails in relation to my work I’ve ever received,’ she said.

June had complete freedom over her choice of artworks. Each response was limited to a maximum of 80 words and everything had to be completed in three weeks with a couple more weeks for editing! She spent a lot of time in the gallery, finding works that appealed to her, thinking of a child’s perspective (choosing works above and below their eye level and in a variety of media) and developing a concept for her poetic responses. The result is engaging, inspiring and easily accessible to children and adults.

June’s poetry appears in a display adjacent to author information beside each artwork. Each poem carries a delicate feather motif. This is a reference to an imaginary character that June created – Perceval’s Angel, inspired by John Perceval’s Herald Angel, a richly glazed sculpture.

John Perceval, Herald Angel, Queensland Art Gallery

June imagined the tour like a giant picture book with Perceval’s Angel guiding viewers through the pages. June was delighted to tell John Perceval’s grandson, a friend from her university days, that she was using the angel in her creative pieces for the gallery. Some of her poetry pieces begin with a quote from Perceval’s Angel who speaks directly to the viewers, guiding them to the next artwork or helping them interact with it.

‘Hop on board’ the angel invites viewers of Yvonne Koolmatrie’s Hot Air Balloon, and June adds:
‘Take yourself to the balloon’s edge,
Feel the breezes, through the sedge’

Yvonne Koolmatrie, Hot Air Balloon, Queensland Art Gallery

This is an enticing invitation to adventure and travel,  and lets the imagination ride free in this sedge grass, coil woven work suspended in space.​

On a time travel wall displaying different artists’ approaches to the Australian landscape, the angel says:
‘Listen to the music of landscapes
through the portal of Australia’s artists’

One of June’s choices on this wall is Rosalie Gascoigne’s Lamp Lit, a large work made up of letters and shapes from cut up road signs. June’s response draws on the personal experience of destruction and loss wrought by Cyclone Yasi in 2011 when a road sign ended up in her front yard; or as angel says: ‘But the real question is what will you design in response to loss?’ ​

Rosalie Gascoigne’s, Lamp Lit

And so, the adventure in art continues, stopping by at Ian Fairweather’s Epiphany, Sydney Long’s romantic and ethereally beautiful Spirit of the Plains, Sonya Carmichael’s colourful Baskets of Culture, Fred William’s vivid Echuca Landscape, Irene Chou’s suggestive Universe within Our Hearts, William Delafield Cook’s amazingly detailed and skilfully toned A Haystack, and Ray Crooke’s Woman with blossoms, reminiscent of Gauguin. June said she saw her identity in this particular work.


Woman with Blossoms, Ray Crooke, Queensland Art Gallery

Our tour ended as it had begun with an invitation to travel on in the imagination, this time on a representation of Ian Fairweather’s ramshackle craft; the one he used at the age of 60 to make a potentially suicidal 16 day crossing of the Timor Sea from Darwin to a remote coral island west of Timor in 1952.


The gift (from ‘Argonauts of the Timor Sea’), Michael Stevenson, Queensland Art Gallery
Kudusur, Alick Tipolti, Queensland Art Gallery

June’s verse reads:
‘You can do anything, be anything
travel anywhere…’


​The child in her poem makes the sacrifice necessary to travel to Kudusur – a reference to the dramatic mural visible through the hole in the craft’s sail. Painted by Torres Strait islander Alick Tipoti, it references paddling a canoe, seasons, ocean currents, journeying between islands and spiritual ancestors – the universal journey through life.

Don’t miss this Words and Pictures journey. Grab a child or find your inner child; help yourself to the drawing board, paper and pencils, and create your own responses.

You can take yourself on a tour anytime between 10 am to 5 pm, until the end of November.

June’s final in person tour will be on November 17th 2 pm (contact gumbootspearlz@gmail.com for more information).

You won’t regret it. All those attending on 17th Nov are invited to sponsor Magic Fish Dreaming books to go to PNG.

Pdfs of POEMS UNTIL END OF NOVEMBER

Renee Hills 2018-11-06

June with a tour group

Dr June Perkins is a Brisbane-based poet, blogger and children’s author, of Indigenous Papua New Guinean and Australian background, raised in Tasmania by Baha’i parents. She utilizes multiarts and multicultural stories to inspire an enriched sense of belonging and compassion in those who encounter her work. She was recently invited to share Magic Fish Dreaming at the Asia Pacific Triennial, Summer Program 2019 and became a member of Mana Pasifika research Institute. She maintains an interest and dedication to promoting diversity in the Australian literary landscape. Her first children’s book was the award-winning poetry collection, Magic Fish Dreaming (2016) illustrated by Helene Magisson.

​June Perkins’s Website
Ripple Poetry Blog

Renee Hills has always loved words and writing. A founding member of Write Links, she writes picture books (Turtle Love was published in 2017); flash fiction (Proof was published in Short and Twisted,Celapene Press 2017); and a short fantasy is to be included in the Rainforest Writing Retreat Anthology 2018.

Renee Hill’s Webpage

This review originally appeared on the Write Links Blog as curated by Lucy McGinley

(Photo credits: June Perkins, Renee Hills, Rebecca Sheraton and Maria Parenti-Baldey)





Quiz mastering the inner

Frangipani dreaming – June Perkins

We’ve come along way from the ink blot and skull personality test, or have we?

Today I was surfing the internet, checking mail, facebook,doing writing research wanders on an artist I am developing as a character in a short story and decided to do some quizzes.  You know the ones that tell you ‘your inner self.’

There are some funny ones out there, like ‘what breed of guinea pig are you’, and some more classical ones like ‘Which Greek Goddess are you?’ and for literary types what character you are in particular books.

What is the purpose of these quizzes?  I first came across them in Women’s Magazines whilst waiting at the Doctors or Dentists. I saw them as something to entertain the reader and a partner to astrological charts. I later did some more  serious ones whilst a first year psychology student, and then my children did various ones when being tested for academic giftedness or assessed for counselling to cope with bullying and social situations.

Personality tests were developed in the 1920s, and were a set of questions designed to reveal the psychology and character of a person.

But their origins go back to the psuedoscience phrenology where the human skull was used to determine a person’s personality and propensity to criminality and later proven to be ridiculous.

Science came along and tided this up and now they are used for army entrance, occupational health, employment testing and it’s a billion dollar industry.

One of the challenges with the tests is that participants can choose what they think is the best response, rather than what is an honest response of their true personality. I remember my son absolutely hating all of them and saying ‘it’s so obvious what you should write to be perceived as normal, and someone really strange could just pick all of those without any worries.’ (He is I should add quite a ‘normal’ person (whatever that means), if somewhat shy unless with guitar in hand.)

But along with the serious tests developed by psychologists and social scientists, which try to scientifically collect the data with likert scales (strongly agree to strongly disagree per topic) there are the popular pop quizzes you see pop up regularly as apps, on facebook, and online.

These are presented in a fun way, without scales, and often with a visual basis. They are usually quite short!

From a creative writing point of view I think they would be useful for characters in a novel to do them in waiting rooms, and let the reader know about themselves that way.  Or a scene with two friends discussing their results would be fun!

Playbuzz  has several of them that seem especially popular with my friends.  People seem to love sharing something about themselves after playing these games, especially if they like the results and feel that somehow the quiz really did show them for who they are.

So here are my results for today.

What Greek Goddess are you?

“Goddess of Marriage (Queen of the gods)
You have a very patient and motherly disposition. You look after all of those you care about in one way or another. Your patience is made of steel and you hardly ever get angry. Many say you are gullible but you actually see more than they think…however sometimes you have a tendency to let people step all over you anyways even when you know they are doing just that!”

Which Iconic Character were you born to play?

“You were born to play Princess Leia from “Star Wars”! :You are a real independent, funny, and smart person. You have tons of charisma, you are lovable, talented and people are just drawn to you. Basically, you’re BADASS. You’ll be the perfect princess Leia!”

What is your inner tree?

Cypress Tree: Your friends say you are an old soul. Like this ancient Cypress, you have seen the sands of time wash over the word, and as a result know all of the world’s mysteries. Some may say you are stuck in the mud, others admire your steadfastness and large amount of heart. Keep up the good work Cypress, but don’t forget to shake things up when they start to get to normal for even your old-fashioned tastes.

What genres should you read next?

You got Paranormal! You are interested in something supernatural and interesting! Maybe some mystery and unexplained occurences Recommendation: The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting

**

One of the challenges of some of these quizzes is if you know anything about what is in the quiz when given a choice.  I attempted the ‘What Muso Type are you?’ but didn’t like or know most of the music listed, so I am not going to bother to do or share that one.  But then there are so many you can just find one that you feel like doing.

The type of quiz you choose may say more about you than the actual quiz.

Are you more Frodo than Sam? (Would someone who hasn’t read or seen or liked Lord of the Rings take this one?)

What kind of gun suits you (really would a peace loving person take this one?)

What Avenger would you marry? (Fictional character)

I am  sure my daughter would do any quiz with guinea pigs or dragons in it.

My eldest son would avoid them all like the plague while my youngest would sit on the fence and do some with his sister for fun.

So what are your favourite personality quizzes, what did they teach you about yourself and have you ever constructed one?

So signing off,

It ‘s June who has discovered she is – Hera, Princess Leia, with inner Cypress, and about to read more paranormal.

The days of porridge – draft1#

I am setting myself a challenge of working on a piece over the week and sharing the drafting to redraft process. I thought I’d apply this to pieces posted on my memory /memoir blog.

Following the Crow Song

handrocks2sat Rocks for Art and Dreams – June Perkins

The first draft of this piece is the outflow of the emotion of memory.  Next I want to write it  more in a way that shows not tells.  In this draft I like the way the porridge motif works and will think about metaphors and myths around magic porridge pots perhaps.

 

Remember the days when we survived on porridge and rice

and friends sometimes bought us groceries unasked

to make sure we didn’t go hungry

both of us students

with young children

striving for our qualifications

to move ahead with our lives

under thirty we were.

 

We even spent short stints living with friends

and family

as we searched for affordable accomodation

who only asked that one day

when we were better off

that we passed it along

and shared that they had once

lived in the days of surviving…

View original post 330 more words

Writing and Creativity Rituals

 

DSC_4990
Looking for the light – June Perkins

My quest for stillness continues and part of the journey is to find a ritual that will help my daily creativity.  

I am at a workshop in Sydney with an Indigenous Canadian, and she is talking to me about ritual and centering when one engages in any creative act, be it dancing, writing, poetry.  She asks us to do physical things as part of this ritual.   I need to take more deep breaths before and during my writing.  I woke in the night last night, took deep breaths as if I was just about to run  a long race.

I am centering myself before I write like a martial artist doing exercises to keep fit.  To do this I am having a break from social media, which is becoming far too distracting.   I need to be in that space less, but when there be ever caring and gracious and find the pools of light that settle and sing to me that they will be the power in my day.

It’s time to draw a line in the sand and I want my family to spend more time with each other and less on our computers and facebook.  I love the sociability of the online but sometimes I don’t want to spend all day with hundreds of friends in a mind space, I want to  be with my family and friends in physical space, or to surrender to the Divine and just pray.  Yet what are these spaces when we look to the inner realities.

I am thinking about the book Sifting the Dust, and all the stories that Marjorie Rose shared there.  I can’t even write about it just yet, as I am sifting through it like Marjorie sifted through the challenges of fear and the power of love.

Blogs help writers like me sift their –  stories, identity,  landscapes, memories, inner, dreams and outer realities and communities –  for stories.  Books like Marjorie’s encourage me to look for how each of us even though connected to a world of family and friends, and faith, must also make individual journeys to walk with the Divine.

I am recalling a lady called Agatha, with Corgi dogs, who used to drive one of my brothers and I when were children to camps and our family stayed at her beach house sometimes and had a basket full of simple old fashioned toys and the beach to walk along.  When we walked along the beach we drew with sticks in the sand, and I remember drawing a large clock face.

I am opening letters that meant a lot when they arrived, including one from Agatha who wanted me to visit her  and yet I was unable to go and see her and that makes me sad now to think I didn’t see her on her island home, although  I heard lots of stories.  They were of a kind woman who helped with baby sitting and educating children and was gracious to everyone on the island.  I met her son once and wonder if he knows how kind his mother was to so many people like me.  I wonder if those letters are still somewhere.  I think of special letters that are like giving wings, and how sometimes I receive emails like that.  Sometimes I might even print them and place them on the wall.

I am thinking of taking the I out of more of my sentences.

The other morning I told my husband about three stories and unpacked them.  They had been dormant in my head waiting to have just the right amount of conflict, narrative drive and underlying mythology to make their way into being.  They are ready to be written and I must answer that call.  I had been thinking about them even whilst they weren’t making it onto the page,it was amazing to see when another big project was finished how my mind was freed to go on new creative journeys.

I am sorting and collating photographs for illustrations for books that are almost complete.  I want a jump out at me photographs, or collages with layers to interpret like you do with short intense poems that can mean much more than could be said in volumes of words.  I like textured abstracts that seem to me to speak of the things we can’t represent in images or easily in words.

Abstracts speak to me of spiritual realities. Abstracts allow me to take a deep breath and write of the power of spiritual insight.

 

(c) June Perkins

 

 

 

Mother’s Day Inspiring Stories

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Violinist bats (sculptures in the park), goannas and ducks attract the attention of my children. We all enjoy the reflections of the late afternoon.

The ducks pose.  Birds feed on the flowers. Sound of Music classics from the band’s free concert fill the park. ‘Climb Every Mountain’and ‘My favorite things.’We all like different songs from that one.

The garden is so full of green, colour and people.  A mother walks past and says, ‘if you just stay calm I’ll give you chocolate when we arrive at the car.’ Friends meet and the Dads tell each other’s children to be excellent to their mother, not just today but everyday. I store the day in photographs, poetry and this blog.

I like days like these as stores for future short stories.  Perhaps I will have a mother with curious children trying to make her away around the garden. She learns to be patient and see the world through their eyes again.

Perhaps however the children are impatient, and it’s the mother who wants to stop and look at everything with her brand new digital camera. Perhaps I could write a story about a bat who wanted to join the orchestra and went in search of a violin maker. They are sick and tired of being in photographs, but are happier if they can take photographs just like Mum.

Now, I am seven again, watching the ducks – writing a poem.  I am a child with my mother walking under a bridge as she tells me tales of ancestors and bridge spirits who will look out for me.