Wide windows and a wet, wet spring – Creativity flowering in Braidwood

November 16, 2022 at 8:16 pm | Posted in art, arts and health, Australian novels, creative cross-fertilisation, creative synergy, creativity, gardening, Inequality, media negativity, optimism, Simplifying, sustainable living | Leave a comment
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Why garden? Why write? …

‘Set wide the window. Let me drink the day.’ American writer Edith Wharton said that and I think of it often since moving to the country. These days, still in La Nina, our well overflowing and the creek rushing and rising as rain continues to fall, drinking the day can take on a literal sense!

The garden is jungly and a deep, glossy green, with everything flowering in this wet, wet spring. Some plants flourish but it’s hard to keep others alive if they don’t like their feet wet, yet must stand in waterlogged soil. Then again, as Edith Wharton’s compatriot May Sarton reminds us: ‘A garden is always a series of losses, set against a few triumphs, like life itself.’

Writing too is like this, with many rejections to set against one’s few triumphs. With the uncertainty, rejection and loss, why do we garden, why do we write? – For the joy of creative expression. While submitting my novel (A Late Flowering) I’ve been working on a new one – to dive into during my next writer’s residency in Nov-Dec. 2022. Just after the last OS writing residency we plunged into Covid lockdowns. During the subsequent enforced lack of social life, and therefore writing on a deeper level than ever before, I made a discovery: how to structure a novel. A Late Flowering is the result, and this new one will also benefit. Structure was the weakness in my fiction writing (and I sometimes wondered if it was related to the same neural short-circuit or shortcoming that also deprives me of a sense of direction).

Structuring non-fiction books is reasonably straightforward. Structuring a novel is so much more elusive. And it’s vital. Structure is to novel-writing what location is to real estate. It’s not simple. Except for genre novels, which I don’t write, there’s no template since each novel is different, but I’ll go to Ireland again with this new understanding, so can anticipate achieving exciting things.

Stimulating creativity

And travel is so stimulating. I don’t even feel guilty for the air miles – for a couple of decades I couldn’t afford to go overseas, at a time when many people I knew were going once a year. When I return I can also incorporate some new ideas into another series of Kick-Start Your Creativity workshops (late Jan. to Feb. 2023). See https://www.bragart.com.au Continue Reading Wide windows and a wet, wet spring – Creativity flowering in Braidwood…

Gently altering the world – the arts

March 30, 2020 at 11:24 pm | Posted in art, arts and health, Common Good, creativity, humour, humour as medicine, rural Ireland, Stand-up comedy - Australian, stress management, value of the arts, writers' health | 5 Comments
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Returning from a writing residency in Cill Rialaig, in Ireland’s County Kerry – https://cillrialaigartscentre.com/residencies/ – it was weird to be back yet not be able to hop on my bike and see friends, go to tango lessons, films, cafés and libraries or walk around the lake.

I watched that ingenious ABC program You Can’t Ask That and this time it was on nudists. I thought they would just answer the questions in their clothes.

But no – there they were, all shapes and sizes, in the nude. It reminded me of an unusual art exhibition I heard about in Cork.

Near Kilkenny I stayed a week at the fabulous Shankill Castle – https://shankillcastle.com – home of painter Elizabeth Cope and her husband Geoffrey. I have one of her beautiful paintings, pictured above. You can see her work here – she does landscapes, still lifes and portraits. She had an exhibition in Cork of only her nudes. A group of nudists asked if they could view the exhibition in the nude. The gallery said yes. I suppose it wasn’t winter. Continue Reading Gently altering the world – the arts…

Powerful and uplifting – Magic Happens: The Story of Painting with Parkinsons by Nancy Tingey

February 5, 2019 at 2:18 am | Posted in arts and health, Australian memoir, Parkinson's, Winston Churchill, Yoga health benefits | 1 Comment
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Artist and curator Nancy Tingey was the first person I interviewed for my history of the Churchill Trust, Inspiring Australians (2015) and it was a wonderful story to begin my research with. Nancy founded the group, Painting with Parkinsons in Canberra in 1994. Her husband Bob had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s a few years before when he was 46.

Nancy Tingey began the group she called Painting with Parkinsons ‘just [as] an idea for a fun thing to do’. Her beautifully produced book, Magic Happens, outlines the journey of Painting with Parkinsons, with insights of some class members, teachers and facilitators. Nancy Tingey’s own professional and personal journey gently threads its way through this powerful and moving book.

Continue Reading Powerful and uplifting – Magic Happens: The Story of Painting with Parkinsons by Nancy Tingey…

Swimming, dancing, writing – or What I Did on My Summer Holiday

March 27, 2018 at 4:49 am | Posted in Argentine tango, arts and health, creativity, social capital, writers' health | Leave a comment
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Swimming

Swimming every morning in the clear turquoise water, surrounded by trees – oaks, chestnuts, London planes and gums, with swallows and parrots flying about and ten ducklings following their parents across the grass – plus coffee on the deck afterwards with a group of convivial co-swimmers: is it any wonder it’s been a long time since I posted a blog? It didn’t take all day but it did consume some morning writing time and I wouldn’t have traded talking and laughing with simpatico people for any number of blogs written.

My local swimming pool – see www.dicksonaquaticcentre.com.au – has a Lap Legends club where you write down the number of laps you do, aiming to get above 77 kilometres by the end of the season. That is the figure beyond which you’re in the running for some great prizes.

No, I didn’t win a prize (and I wasn’t really on holiday – it just felt like one) but I got up to 123 kilometres, the maximum I’ve ever done from October to March. It gave me a sense of achievement, the loss of some kilos and a heap of other health benefits.

Continue Reading Swimming, dancing, writing – or What I Did on My Summer Holiday…

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