I havent written here for some time now, because we have moved from Newcastle to Melbourne. I truly love Melbourne life. After living in regional Australia, being in a modern, cultured and 'happening' place is just such a blessing. A friend of mine visited and we took a road trip via Broken Hill to Melbourne. I must say that I had some preconceived ideas about Australians because of living in Newcastle and a lot of it has been rather unfair. We drove through some towns where the people were so delightfully friendly, even when they get a seriously bad wrap because of the Aboriginal communities living there. I think it's mostly the case of a small percentage of people that would do others wrong, and that would then shape the general perception of a place because people will surely go and tell many many people about this. Sadly, most criminals would be rather dumb and unable to comprehend the implications of their deeds. Most criminals don't even realise that they are criminals, and would easily justify their deeds as a compensation for a society that has done them injustice.
Anyway, I'm way off the point now. So we drove far, and I'm beginning to develop a sense to appreciate the outback. I must admit that on our first outback trip, i found it boring, yet pretty in a strange way. But now I started seeing the subtle changes and there are in fact many changes and interesting aspects to the landscape as you move through the regions. So also the culture and attitude of people. I cant say that Tamworth did itself much justice, but that would again have been based on a handful of people that we interacted with in our 1 hour there. Of course in every town and city there would be nice and nasty people.
So here we are in Melbourne now. The winter isn't nearly as cold as everyone said it would be (as usual). We are getting ourselves settled and trying to get back into the swing of things. Cities are different to regional towns as people here aren;t likely to pick up a conversation with you. I guess thats just the way larger cities are because there are so many people. But people are nice and friendly, and it shows.
We are so happy to be here and I will be back producing art next week. I havent been doing a great deal of Art lately as we renovated our house in Charlestown over the past 3 months. I'm glad to have my lovely wife by my side in all of this, and Jesus as my saviour and my rock.
I new chapter... a new horizon
I have a rather controversial view on this. It is obvious that people has such guilt regarding racism that you aren't even allowed here to distinguish between races. It's a bit ridiculous, so I am going to speak up on this. It is not wrong to recognise that people have different races, and to talk about it, but you should not look down on other races. We all have reasons for our behaviour. Immigrants, do however need to adjust themselves to the Australian culture. I believe tolerance and acceptance is part of the Australian lifestyle, far more so than in most countries around the world. Most Immigrants do accept the Australian lifestyle ,but some don't, and that becomes a problem in some cases. For example, when you see a person cutting across 4 lanes to exit a highway at 120km/hr, you would be correct to expect that to be a malaysian driver, or when someone cut cue in a shop, you could expect them to be Indonesian or Argentinian, or when someone shouts loudly at their phone in a packed train, you could expect that to be a Chinese, or an Indian lady speeding at 90km/hr is a 40 zone, the list goes on. I'm just giving a few examples here, but I'm sure that you know what I mean. I feel confident to comment on this since I have been to all of these countries, and I know that such behaviour is acceptable where these people came from. But isn't that why they made the life changing move to live here, to get away from these horrible habits? I think so. Living in a respectable way towards others is something that makes Australia a wonderful country. Racial discrimination is never good, but respect should prevail when you enter someone else's house (country)
Needless to say, there are a small percentage of crazy people around that would always create a bad impression of a nation. Recently there were the 2 radical Racist Australian men who wanted to throw a french woman off a bus because she sang a french song. There are crazy people in every country, town, so lets not shape our opinions based on their actions. Australians are peace-loving and kind people.
So why do people not change for the better once they move to Australia? Well, why don't drug users stop using drugs, or criminals stop spoiling society? Nobody is perfect and like I said, we all have reasons for the way we behave. I do believe that people are inherently selfish. I know for one, Asian culture is driven by materialism in a huge way. Some see the light, realising that your Mercedes and big house won't make you happy, but others chase after money at any cost. In fact the Chinese government is teaching their people exactly this, and this was just last year. 'Go out in the world, and earn money, no matter what'. Mindsets like this are hard to break.
I know that the majority of Immigrants, including myself love the Australian lifestyle. People are really nice and I would be so happy if this can attitude can be conserved. People are responsible for their own attitudes, and whatever small actions we take, does make a difference. Don't ever let people tell you 'Oh what difference do you make?'
On the flipped; Australians need to step up in terms of productivity. It's a known fact, especially amongst Immigrants that Australians don't work hard. Of course I have to generalise for this topic sake, but I know there are many exceptions. The world is becoming more globalised by the day. The fact that labour is being out sourced to India by Australian companies to increase their profits is simply wrong. They still charge us in Dollars... I believe this should never have been allowed and it's rudely unfair to the Australian public. But back to my point; We need to compete with the world. Yes we have mining that made things easier, but it won't last forever. Australian is indeed a lucky country. Just be aware that people like myself and other Immigrants are willing to work twice as hard as some Australians, and we don't even need to boast about it. We will just do it because we need to build up our lives here. It's a tuff senario. I have done my best to slow down and become more Australian, but inherently, I'm used to working hard, so I don't mind it. People from China and India will work twice as hard as anyone else regardless of the consequences to others. We have to be aware of this.
Lets adopt the manners of the house that we enter, have respect and be tolerant to our differences.
There is an ongoing debate amongst Sydneysiders and Melbourians. May I say that I have a completely subjective view, since none of these cities meant anything to me until recently. We first visited Melbourne on our first trip to oz, about 5 years ago. I remember feeling that the people were really friendly. Subsequently moved to Newcastle, 1,5hrs from Sydney. We spend a lot of time in Sydney, since it's near to us and Newcastle is pretty boring.
Recently, I had an exhibition in Melbourne again and managed to be there for longer. I feel that I have the right to have an opinion about these 2 great cities now. Here is my opinion;
Sydney is a more beautiful city. I recon its the fact that it's quite hilly that helps. It's perhaps a bit more lush. NSW is overall a bit warmer than Vic, so that may be the reason for that. Melbourne CBD, road systems and general layout makes much more sense than Sydney. Sydney seems to have happened as independent little villages (hence called City of Villages?) but Melbourne was planned and therefore works pretty well. To give you an example, it took me 5 to 6 hours on foot to have a good grasp of the CBD of Melbourne. After being in Sydney for perhaps 20 visits this year, I still don't understand it very well. Make no mistake, Sydney is big, but like a maze.
Weather in Melbourne is known to suck, and I agree. The beaches arent very nice either. You can't compare NSW beaches to those in Melbourne. I don't surf so I can't comment on that, but I got a feeling that Sydney will win hands down in this category. Scenery, I recon Sydney has the upper hand as well, but I might add that I stil need to see more of Melbourne to truely comment on this.
So why do people love Melbourne then? Melbourne has culture, European culture. People are friendly and sincere. It is said that Sydney has an American culture. It's a business culture in Sydney. This is not so much my opinion but a majority verdict by everyone I spoke to. I did talk to many people about this, because it matters greatly to me. Some people are quite insulting about certian aspects of either city. Fact remains, both cities has great attributes and they are both great to live in, I'm sure. Let me give you this analagy; I was born in South Africa. There we have Johannesburg and Cape town. People from Johannesburg thinks that Joburg is just the best place ever, Gansters paradise, business mecca and financial hub. Then there is Capetown, and that just tops up everything that you could dream of in Joburg. Capetown aren't for everyone. Some people like the concrete jungle of Joburg, but others love the beaches, the cozy European nature of Capetown. Perhaps this isn't the best example, but I'm sure you get what I'm saying. Both places are cool, just depends on what you like. Wherever you live, you can make a difference and that is what matters most.
I feel dismayed. I have always steered clear of politics, because it bores me. As I am maturing, I feel the need to know what is happening for the sake of our future. As you might know, I grew up in Africa. Boy, what amazing stories we have to tell about the most outragious things that our politicians do and get away with. Lately, Australian politics has become equally outragious. Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott arguing like two siblings over a toy. We all know it. We are all ashamed and fed up with it, yet, it continues daily. I heard an interesting debate yesterday about Capitalism. The one guy, spoke about our 4 year cycle Western political system;
1. An election is won by a certain party based on promises made.
2. The following year policies are changed to suit them and gain more profit for themselves, not necessarily having to reflect the promises made.
3. Excuses are being made why the policies didn't work, promises broken and subsequently criticising others.
4. Campaigning for the election in the fourth year.
Of course this repeats over and over again. Is it just me that feels that governments forgot that they are serving the public, not extorting them? This is not only in Australia, but America and most of Africa too. This goes for local councils as well, whom in Newcastle think that they are in charge and we need not know what they are doing, sucking the people dry. The system is only working for those in power, and screwing the rest of us, knowingly. Yet, it does not change. Why would it if the people whom it's benefiting is in power, making the decisions? In all logic, it won't unless we can actually get someone in power that is ethical. He/ she would be hated by other politicians in the first place for pointing out that they are at fault, and thus never be elected in the first place. Even if elected, he/she might get the Kevin Rudd treatment as served by out current prime minister. So, fat chance...
We all have to be so diplomatic in life now. Lawyers has gotten the system to a point where you can't even distinguish between races or sexes without the risk of being called a racist. These rules does not apply in the parliment of course, where insults, slander and disrespect is at the order of the day. Our Government sets this example, and yet is hoping for us to behave and repect others? Today most of the important politicians of Australia are in Bali for the Bali bombing rememerance service. Why? That is where they will telly the most publicity and votes. Do you think they actually care about it? Australia is labeled as a christian country. Yet we are not willing to pray at any public meetings (unless in church itself) in fear of offending others. How strange is that. If you believe in God, and pray to Jesus, believing them to be true, then how does that justify abandoning them when it suits us? Or do we only believe in parts of God, when it's convenient? If God felt that way about us, He would not have had Jesus on the cross I can assure you.
This is where i want to draw the similarities between America and Australia. We are very similar in many ways. Personalities of the people are very differnet with Ozies being much more reserved. Yet our political and spiritual status is very similar.
How are we ever going to get out of this cycle that does't seem to make anything any better? I heard a friend of mine form Taiwan said how proud she is of her country. I honestly find it very hard to say that. In Africa, Malaysia and now Australia, politicians has made me ashamed of what they do. They are in charge of a country, with a big responsibility, and yet seems to be more concerned about themselves. What is there to be proud of in that? I pray that this will change, soon as we are all losing hope, slowly...
I wish I never knew anything about politics!
Ida Lawrence in Ran-Ta U
Last wekkend we had an euphoria of theatre performances with the annual TINA festival in Newcastle, Australia happening over 3 days. It was a strange event with hardly anyone attending, and apparently that is what the organisers want, to be somewhat of a closed insider's group. That seems to be the way Australians want Australia to be as well. I saw a bumper sticker last week, saying with some curse words that everyone else should 'get out, Australia is full'. I was wondering if he ever took a drive inland. Unfortunately you get people with primitive mindsets wherever you go, but perhaps more so in rural areas.
About TINA. We saw some real touching performances that almost brought tears to my eyes, not because it was sad, but beautifull and emotional. There was some absolute rubbish as well. Some people just arent very creative or original, so they shock you. Shocking people by being immoral and crude seems to be a form of entertainment as people will be forced to experience their lack of manners or simply immoral behaviour. The worst was Mark Wilson that is suppose to be a woman, who ends up having sex with his/ her dad on the stage, just as an act, by himself. Very distastefully done. Of course he would welcome any publicity, as I recon someone who behaves in such a disgraceful manner on stage, must be very desperate. This scene bothered me very much. I am a Christian, and I would like the world to be a good place. I honestly don't know what this guys think would happen if such behaviour becomes acceptable. It should not be acceptable, ever, it should be shunned and disgarded. The idea of having age restrictions on movies and shows are quite strange by itself. Partially I can understand that scenes of violence would be more disturbing to children. Somehow, we are allowing ourselves to be exposed to immoral and sinful scenes, and seem to think that we can handle it because we are adults? It's a strange concept and we need to think of the consequences it has on our psyche and spirit.
Plays such as Ran-Ta U, Mothlight and the The Dysfunctional Project was the highlight of my festival. These were touching works that did not require foul language or obscene acts to entertain, but emotion, and good acting made it magical and truly touching.
I think we need to look at what influence we have on those around us. Ultimately there are those that don't care much, steal, rape and plunder. There is a calling in all of us to help others, to uplift and make the world a better place. I feel strongly to be part of the second group and that is why I do art. The fact that I am a reborn Christian is not the objective here, although it enforces my philosophy. Immoral behaves, violence and destructive behaviour such as drugs, should not be promoted. It should be rather obvious that the majority of our everyday problems worldwide sprung from factors such as these. For those working in the entertainment industry; We have a responsibility towards society to have a decent and positive influence. To entertain with cheap vulgar crap should never be acceptable. What will you be remembered for?
Cecilia Giménez is the 80year old lady who defaced the artwork 'Ecce Homo' (Behold the Man) by Elias Garcia Martinez. It has held pride of place in the Sanctuary of Mercy Church near Zaragoza for more than 100 years, but residents of the small Spanish town are said to be very sad about the incident.
The responses about this has been so very mixed. Those who don't care about Jesus, finds it so amusing and obviously mock the religious aspect. I read an Ozzie male punk said that it looks heaps better... Art lovers are of course enraged. Others said that the lady did a good deed. I'm not sure just how good her intentions were, but perhaps she wasn't of a clear mind to do such a dumb thing. She even made areas that was lighter darker, and simply smeared his mouth. All that said, I believe that it was a valuable religious artefact, and it has now been destroyed forever. The hype about it is merely the fact that the event has been outrageous and tragic. Any bad news sells.
The latest news is that Cecilia is demanding royalties for the thousands of people now flocking to see this childish artwork. So much for the good deed the lady was trying to do.
Point is, how crazy is this world. I have much to say about how absurd most of the politics and individual behaviour has become. Governments doing people in and knowingly destroying our living environments for temporary benefits. I'm talking about Coal seam gas mining happening in Australia whilst we are being charged the highest carbon tax in the world, and exporting our coal to the biggest polluter in the world.
I don't mean to complain, but please live with love for others. It seems like everyone is so suspicious of others and people have so many agendas. Life would be great if we could just chill, do good and love eachother. That goes for politicians as well.
How strange is it that the trafic authority have to warn us that they are allowed to put up a speed camera. Does this mean that we don't know that there are laws regulating society? Do they need our permission to enforce this law? I honestly don't get it. As far as I understand, this is because of greedy lawyers who look for loopholes in the system and then exploits it for their benefit, making money out of our misery. There I am complaining again. I'm just not feeling the love!
3 Magnificent Black Cockatoos in our backyard in Charlestown, NSW
I find myself sitting comfortably inside our lounge room, watching National Geographic programmes, reading, and listening to talks on both the radio and internet. This is of course done in isolation, with my butt firmly on the couch. Is this life? Some might think so, having a superb surround sound system, ipad, internet, big tv, macbook, iphone and any gadgets that I could possibly want.
The programmes are certainly amazing, but this is all fake life experiences. It's a second hand experience that is indeed out there to be experienced. At least it's not as pathetic as some watching soap opera (days of our lives, bold and beautiful) due to the lack of having their own lives. I know that sounds a bit cruel, but if people were to get out, and focus on actually doing something with their lives, there wont be any need for these type of time-wasting programmes.
Now, I admit that I don't see myself going to Antarctica to witness the seals giving birth any time soon, so I recon at times it is surely justified. These programmes are absolutely amazing. Yet, the sun is shining beautifully outside, birds are sining, flowers are blooming. Usually I would be outside most of the time indeed. I have flu, and I'm quite enjoying the time to be inspired. It has been a very productive time in terms of Art.
On the topic of fake lives; I have been becoming more disillusioned with Facebook. It seems to be the ultimate of fakeness. What a life? How often nowadays do you see people together at a dinner table staring at their phones reading what is happening to their 'friends'? At the cost of actually having a life, it seems. Put down the phone and have a life.
God calles me to slow down at times as I can certainly be a bit of a workaholic. Glory be to God!
It's time for new life, new beginnings and hope. Mostly, for me it's Landscaping season and I'm having a bit less time for art than in the Winter.
I have something bothering me. The fact that the world is turning more anti-governmental. Now I know that there has been problems for long periods of times, and mind you, I'm no Historian either. But it seems obvious that Politicians arent making choices based on the good of the people. They aren't stewards of a Nation or town anymore. Politicians or Councilors are making decisions based 98% based on votes, and votes alone. if they happen to be helping to get a road built, and it happens to help someone, then they should be voting for them, and that is the basis of decision making in our modern politics. I think that there was a time when working as a public servant was done with pride, and it was a respectable job. But if at this point in time in Newcastle, Australia, you tell someone that you work for council, you will be almost hated. Everyone feels that our money is being wasted. Everyone knows that is't an absolutely cushy job for lazy people and that your career will stagnate from there onwards. It's common knowledge that it's the most unproductive sector of our society at present. Yet, with the biggest responsibility. The government and councils are running a country, organising life almost, yet with such apathy.
I believe that Australians are born with a feeling of anti-establishment because of the convict heritage. You can hear most Australians calling the police 'Pigs' openly and for no apparent reason. That made me wonder until someone explained it to me.
Governments and councils are run as businesses. Perhaps not always very well, but they are. The government obviously knows how much money we have, where is our limits and how far can they push us. This is all due to our technological world where statistics and facts will be avaliable to governments at the tip of their fingers. Banks are pushing us as well, grabing as much profit as they can. New on the scene is Electricity companies. Next is supermarkets, Coles and Woolies having an absolute monopoly in deciding how much profit they want to make.
I fear that this is just the beginning. Nobody seems to be on our side, other than for the odd journalist who dares to speak up. the media is now just a puppet used by corporations to spread their propaganda. So who can you trust? We can't even trust ourselves now can we. We can trust God. God never changed, and His word is true. Why build up treasures here on earth where the moths and rats can eat it? Build up treasures in heaven. I wasn't planing on writing about God, but ultimately, everything else seems rather bleak really. I do believe that if our leaders feared God, that things would have been different. Australia is sadly not a christian country and I pray that God will change the hearts of leaders, not only in Australia, but all over the world, to not be selfish and power hungry. I pray that in South Africa the groups instigating violence will realise that there is a better way. I pray that America will stop to bully everyone else as they have been doing for more than 30 years now, and that Australia will stop to help them in doing so. I pray that you have a good day and that we can look beyond all these problems and see the sun rise every day, and hear the birds sing, and know that we can make a difference.
I took part in a Plein Air event at Terrigal last weekend with 21 other artists. It was an amazing experience. I created a crime scene at Terrigal beach, produced on a gorgeous day in collaboration with the 5 lands walk. Do look at the Youtube video linked below.
Thanks for looking and feel free to make contact. I always love to know how people perceive what I do, or don't do.