It has been a bit more than one year now, since June Perkins contacted me to illustrate Magic Fish Dreaming, a series of poems describing, with softness, mystery and humour, the beauty and richness of a region of Australia: the Far North Queensland.
This project immediately appealed to me for four reasons.
June’s approach suggested a rich and elegant personality which, I felt, I would have a lot of pleasure to work with.
I like poetry especially when it targets children. It is a wonderful way to tell things, and a book of poetry is full of stories to be read and listened to. Words play with sounds and images play with words.
I love Australia, a country I discovered 5 years ago. This is one of the few countries that still offers completely wild and pristine areas. A country in which we can be easily and…
To those who follow my blog regularly you will know pets figure strongly in my children’s lives, but it’s not just pets – all animals they come into contact with interest them.
This photograph is of a gecko with my daughter – my kids just love them, especially the mini ones with lovely patterns on them. One day I spent a whole day in the library reading about all the different types and looking at pictures.
I’ve heard some people say how much they loathe geckos for the little trails they leave lying around, and even that they swat them just like flies. I remember someone visiting us and even being scared of them, I kid you not. This makes me sad.
Animals in the wrong habitat become pests. Yet, in their own habitat they are needed, wonderful, and a neccessary part of the ecosystem. Asian house geckos are not natives and yet they also love the Queensland environment. I am not sure if they are considered pests. Yet even the most endangered species when a threat to your local village is something to be avoided – ie think of human eating tigers.
However canetoads and mynah birds are considered pests ! Dilemma my kids own an Indian mynah bird. In the natural Queensland environment it is a destroyer, we keep it in a cage, and the house, and stop it from wreaking havoc, rather like people who own cats (who even though I love them tend to destroy so much native wildlife.)
Our mynah bird thinks it is a kitten and is quite a character, but I often think of people who have taken animals not native to a land and created environmental havoc out of their love for that creature that reminds them of home or was good tucker at home. Hmm let’s see rabbits!
Still the mynah bird did not choose to be here, and the measures to control outbreaks of ‘pest creatures’can be complex and even cruel in some cases. It is a massive topic this idea of balance, preserving wildlife, and seeing it as an issue so close to home can even be unsettling.
So much contention – the cuter something is the more we want to preserve it, or save it – the less obvious the more ugly a pest the easier to actively stamp out, it is so easy to hate the cane toad! Yet, in the right space, and place they should not be destroyed.
We are so lucky to have so much at our door step. This beach is a bit changed in shape since cyclone Yasi but it’s coming back ! Much harder for the people who had houses near it, with many of them having to leave.
I wonder how they are doing? I know how some of them are, and even though they have left they are strong, thriving and have good memories of days at the beach.
What is the most beautiful thing at your doorstep?
Please feel free to post a link in the comments section of this post to a photograph, or a post on this topic.
The scars include stinking dead fish on the beach – and trees alternating between neatly piled to chaotically strewn around depending on where they are in relation to the access road.
My children rolled hoops along the beach as I thought about the circle of nature’s distruction and renewal, the circle of life, a circle of weather patterns and a circle of recovery.
Looking forward I could see that the national parks would recover and that it would take ongoing patience to see a beauty in their stark branches which allow one to see the sky so clearly.
The day before our trip to Edmund Kennedy my eldest son presented a personal knowledge pursuit project on physics of guitar. He was so nervous. Yet he had enjoyed the study of the year and his control of his time immensely. He likes to know everything about his guitars and spend a lot of time with them. I have a photograph of him playing his guitar the day after the cyclone as he walks down the road outside our house. I will always remember him playing it in the candlelight as the storm began to build up.
I wrote a post for abcopen about guitars and their part in our cyclone experience Legend of Five Guitars but the funny thing is we now have more guitars, as a friend Omid gave a bass to my eldest son (which was also used in his PKP project.)
Early this week I went to visit Pam and Joe Galeano to do some more work on the video story series I am doing on them. Pam took me for a drive around their property. We had a great time looking through her old albums too. This bought up so many more stories.
I think Pam and Joe could write a very interesting memoirs but they are pretty modest people.
As we drove to the very end part where they have a little patch of rainforest she related how usually there were thicky leafy overhangs from the canopy that cross over the road and in a high 4wd they would crash into you.
However now there is no canopy. I looked up to the sky and could see the tufts of green on the end of peeled trees and – it was then that Joe’s words from earlier in the day came to me.
”nature will recover, it always does – it’s people that mourn when it is damaged.”
Although he does think Yasi was a particularly tough cyclone and it make take many human years for that recovery to fully show itself to locals.
Thinking of photography I know I like to take portraits of people that come with a story. I admire people who can do weddings and families that they don’t know and can build an easy rapport with the people involved quickly.
Yet for me intimate storytelling photography which requires longer to pull off holds special appeal. I like to know that story behind the face I photograph and to have the time to hear it, retell it and convey it with an image.
Interesting faces which say something in every crease or twinkle of the eyes, or locations where the people usually reside (not studios) then hold special appeal.
I took several pictures of Pam and Joe in their country – environment and was very happy with quite a few of them.
My circles of recovery come from conversations that lead to these photographic moments – and writing them reminds me of how far myself and others have come.
I was delighted to learn one friend yesterday finally had her roof back, but sad to learn another has to wait until January 2012. Other friends are having watershed years where special amazing things are happening. They take on new jobs and challenges and have already been able to leave Yasi behind. Yet not everyone can.
I’ve been having interesting facebook chats on the recovery process too. Thanks to all those who take the time to chat and understand that some of us still need to unpack the recovery process.
Yesterday we had an amazing end of year surprise – we won the Christmas shopping vouchers that all the small businesses sponsor with the Tully Times. You fill out a form everytime you shop with a local business and go into the Christmas draw – it is an amazing prize.
It’s such a variety of vouchers – the butchers, bakery, seafood, photographic stuff, and the uniform shop and hairdressers. Amazing as I have been cutting the whole family’s hair to save money. I wonder who will use that voucher. It could be me?
Another surprise was having a blog with ABCopen make it onto another abc site for North Queensland. Originally it was featured here and of course the video is on vimeo.
I love making mini documentaries and taking photographs that tell stories – it feels like a vocation. Now I need to find more stories and more teams of people to work with. Heck maybe even a career path. Time for ebook and documentary bootcamps!
(c) Words and Images June Perkins, all rights reserved.