Yesterday CRACA, Tully’s local arts centre, hosted an afternoon tea for some women visiting from Papua New Guinea.
They have been building ties with the local community and the plan is to make it possible for them to return here for seasonal work which will help support their families and projects back home.
All of the women were very accomplished, and within the group there was a farmer, business studies student, and a woman with a background of politics, as well as this they all had traditional handicraft skills.
They visited the arts centre to share some bags they made, and make connections with local artists. They have also visited local schools and a banana farm.
The afternoon tea was attended by writers, artists, gardeners, potters, weavers, the ladies’ hosts, and members of CRACA, the local Tully Arts Centre.
The women were given a warm reception and invitations to dinners and exchange handicraft skills were made for their return.
A fabulous afternoon tea was put on by CRACA, and some friendships forged.
There will no doubt by a write up in the local paper, as a local retired reporter who often writes for the paper was busy talking to the host and to the ladies.
It was a beautiful day, especially for me, as I come from Mekeo background (PNG Indigenous group.)
The women, although I have never travelled to my mother’s homeland were very kind and want to make me a bilum with Australian flag on one side and Papua New Guinea flag on the other.
As for me I am working on a photo book in return, as I am no good at handicrafts.
I joked that this skill has skipped a generation and made it into the hands of my daughter.
There was a lot of laughter and some skill sharing.
A memorable afternoon, and everyone looks forward to their return.
The first time I wrote this post it had more overtly personal family stories in it, yet I backed away and thought I can’t write that post yet because I am grappling with a deeper question.
Which is truer, fact or fiction?
I have responsibilities to those I am going to write of, or be inspired to write characters for.
Do you remember the first time you learnt that history might be biased in the telling, that history told from the ‘victors’ point of view will usually portray them without critique? Growing up none of us wanted to be native Americans in cow boys and Indians, because they always died. That was the story around when I was a child.
Do you remember the first time you learnt of the enforced silences of cultures, women, countries, the disadvantaged, the non-canon,caused by the lack of publication or shared words, shared spaces to bring their stories into the open?
Do you ever worry about the authentic self? Who do I write as? Me? A narrator nothing like me? A narrator a little like me? A narrator who is an amalgam of all I know and can imagine and research as well. Are my stories real? Are they imagined? Will I stay in my comfort zone? Will I push beyond that and take you the reader with me? I am not traditional. I never can be?
I set about the story of fictionalising the real to approach a deeper emotional truth, to see the signifiers of my own life and of those in my life more universally and my story genre slips between real and not real, fiction, and non fiction. It is apparent that research is going to be needed to understand this story.
Is it as a simple as fact, non-fact? What do facts tell us? What is the deeper story? What are the secret stories? Are all tellers of tales true reliable? Why do they hide things? Do they demand of us change of names, and exact locations to ‘protect the guilty’?
Are there some stories I will never tell? How much disguise will I have to put on to ‘protect the innocent?’
This is more than theory, this is the story of second generation migrants, looking for home in heritage, space and story. This is the story of those whose new identity is made up of an environment where several languages are spoken at home, and sometimes there is no translator, Who want more than the simple definition of ‘she had to go home to understand,’ What is home?
Diaspora – it’s a long time since I thought about that word.
It’s the story of not knowing if you will ever decode the mysteries of those close to you who grew up in other languages, with other cultural codes, that you struggled to understand as you were encultured in their new homeland.
What are the dangers and perils of making a connection of becoming obligated? Will you think less of me if I never go into the birth land space, and why should that be so?
I am not confused, down-trodden, silent – I am seeking for the writing light, where I can present you the stories that have made me, and yet is that really me you might wonder?
They dance culture just for one night
my daughter accepted in
where I never felt welcome
why did I never feel that
and she smiles
as they dress her in the costumes
of culture they have reinvented
when they don’t have the right materials nearby
Is this copy real
All I know is I am happy for her
that she has a taste I was not given in this way
and is the making a journey to her bubu’s homeland
and yet I ask
Why did my mother never take us to her home?
Is she taking my daughter there now in the only way she can now her parents have passed on?
What is your idea of home or your authentic writing self?
I am your first Kodak camera, capturing the Kodak moments of your Life. I point and take the image, I am uncomplicated to love, but
You have to use me sparingly and can’t take too many pictures for
Films are expensive and your parents won’t let you waste film
They yell at you if you cut off heads, take images only of feet saying “What On earth are you up to can’t you take what’s in the frame” not realizing this is your first foray into art and that this is your frame and one day you will take images like,
Feet and hands, walking every texture of earth, stone, gravel, and Soft soft grass, hands scooping up water, scooping up sand and Sifting it through fingers, your models are your children whose first Cameras are digital see they can snap and snap away at feet, flowers, soft toys in elaborate poses and then edit them However,they like on computers and they even do stop animations of
Dinosaurs eating robots on the lounge-room floor.
30 years later I am your latest love, Digital SLR,
I am your sepia, colour and black and white eyes and your dream to Capture Cairn Bird Wing butterfly perched in fingers before it feeds on Nectar of a vibrant red plant. I can Take still like frames of every
Movement of your daughter on a trampoline, your son Bowling to his Poppy and his Dad and I capture sunrise and sunsets
Better than you ever did before. Oh how Monet would have loved Me, dawn and noon and night, and Vincent even too, who I imagine Would send me to capture poverty and Crows out in the fields. Now Everyone can capture snapshots of family and sunrises and sunsets But the tool is not the be all and the end all, because there is still the Choice in the subject, what you put in backgrounds, and capturing Images in raindrops the back of a helmet, or in a mirror and even now The Artist calls to you to push the Image to the envelope in the first Choice, and says,
“Come with me my love. Take a top hat for a walk in the sunset and Make it a story about a lost groom in the sand, watch out for crab Holes and ripples and lie down on your stomach to be the insect Scampering on the sand.”