GET OUT OF THAT 'RUT'

by Ian Smith
(Dunedin, New Zealand)

When I look around my friends and art acquaintances, I tend to see a factor, which is all-too-common. Most of these people, to put it candidly, are in 'ruts' of their own making, mostly due to the financial side of their various 'crafts'; invariably, the need to reconcile personal ambition, with earning a living.

Whatever we may say about 'artistic-freedom', this luxury and the need to survive in the marketplace seem to be mutually incompatible. I think it is also fair to say that many of my artist friends are unaware of their plights in this respect; the old analogy of 'the woods and the trees' comes to mind.

The simple fact is, that there are many other things to be getting on with, some of them equally rewarding, or perhaps even more so. From a wide range of interests, including aerodynamics, trout and salmon fishing, film and video, music and a recently discovered interest in New Zealand's unique and fascinating geology, I have selected 'video' and 'music' to receive my attention during 2009.

'Painting' simply doesn't figure in my plans, for at least twelve months. I have a partly-completed 'Piano Concerto' written, (payback surely to my late parents for the twelve years of music-lessons they inflicted upon me from the age of six).

My ambition, to video-tape the complete coastline of our Province and make a 'Documentary' is a year behind 'target', and that too will receive some attention. The music project is awaiting a bit more expertise in handling the orchestra's 'brass' and 'woodwinds'; 'strings' in view of my having been a string-player myself, present no problem.

During that year, if I have an irresistible urge to take up my brushes, for a few hours at a time, I intend to do so; but art will have to take its 'place' in tandem with other interests.

This is an approach I recommend to all artists, especially those who feel jaded after years of conscientious application to their craft. We all need to stand-back at times and 'take' stock of our situation.

A period of economic downturn would seem to be the ideal time for some re-evaluation plus, also, some soul-searching about what has been achieved. I've done this before, and I think it is fair to say, the outcomes have always been beneficial to me. Twelve months is sufficient time to make a break with the past should that be needed, and to make a 'new-start' with a re-kindled enthusiasm and fresh perspectives. Who would not benefit from that?

Comments

Happy days!
by: Jill

Ian, many thanks for taking the trouble to share your thoughts on the life of an artist - as you say, there are so many interests and fields of endeavour to explore. It's hard to fit it all into one lifetime. May you return to your painting refreshed and re-energised.

Click here to post comments

Click here to return to Your articles.

Adventures With Video Part 3

by Ian Smith
(New Zealand)

S.A.R. to the Rescue

S.A.R. to the Rescue

Then, there was a sudden commotion, and a helicopter flew directly overhead. My small day-pack is red, but I could not locate even the smallest gap in the overhead forest I could possibly be seen-through. The helicopter was doing 'sweeps' on a pre-plotted grid in any case, and the next 'sweep' was too far away from
me. I picked up my gear, and the camera-tripod I was carrying and resumed walking. I had even put the two muesli-bar wrappers in my pocket, as I never leave litter in the bush. I might have left more 'clues', had I simply thrown them away, but I always bring my rubbish out again with me.

Finally, about 2pm, I had a fall, backwards into a stream-bed. It happened in slow-motion, and I didn't hurt myself, (in fact, the whole escapade resulted in only a single small bruise, on my right shoulder, whereas my arms and legs had lawyer-scratches galore). I lay in about an inch-and-a-half of water and burst out laughing,
untangled my legs from the 'souple-jack' which had tripped me and reached out to retrieve my tripod which had fallen in with me. I glanced at the stream-bed and it suddenly occurred to me that the rocks there hadn't got there by themselves, they'd been placed, by hand. It was the foundation, or part of it, of the old original
logging route, so I began to follow it westwards as I knew it led back to where I had entered the bush. I set out along that route, hollering loudly about every ten minutes or so, in case someone could hear me. The second time I did so, there was a return shout from about 100 metres away, and 'Humpy' Hurring and his
mate came into view, from over on my right. We had a hasty conference, during which we discussed the merits of his up-market GPS, compared with my four-year-old one, and began the rest of the walk out.

My only request had been for water and someone radioed for some to be brought in, while another searcher gave me the biggest Cadbury 'Moro' bar I had ever seen. It was sickly sweet, but I managed to eat it all, despite the fact that I found it so rich that I thought it would come-up again. The energy of that, plus almost a
bottle of water, set me right again, and we, (by that time about six of us), walked the 400 metres back to the roadway again, arriving there at about 3.30pm. Under my own steam, I would have been 'out' by 4pm in any case, but getting badly dehydrated. A medic saw to it that I was OK, checking pulse, blood-pressure, (which
was only slightly 'up') and a number of other things. Then it was off to the debrief at the Cathedral Caves car-park, newspaper interviews, and to be greeted by my daughter Geraldine and her other 'in-law' Bruce, who had been brought down to drive my car home. That proved, to be unnecessary, as I was quite
OK, just a bit stiff and sore. Needless to say, on my arrival home, Judith was mightily relieved.

The debrief proved, if it needed proving, that the S-A-R procedures worked well. There was no note of criticism from anyone. Everything I had done, apart from straying out of GPS range to dodge a boggy patch and becoming misled by illegal markers, had been by-the-book. There was no case for simply staying put, as
they would have preferred if I had had no bush experience, as I intended to get myself out of a situation, which, through nobody's fault, really, I had got myself into. I was always going to be out by nightfall, but would have been extremely thirsty, by then. There was never the faintest doubt in my mind, after I heard the police
siren, that I would be OK, it was merely a matter of time. I had experimentally squeezed any moss I had seen as I walked through the bush as sources of water, but most of it was so dry, that it crumbled away in my hand.

The upshot of it all, was that I have provided a wealth of 'profiling' information for the benefit of 'geriatrics' who might be lost in the bush in future. A lady had become lost in much the same area towards the end of last year, and had tried to rely on a cellular-phone. That was plain ridiculous as coverage is non-existent. However, for Judith's peace-of-mind, I have invested $1050 in a Garmin 'Oregon 450' GPS, with a NZ topographical map
built-in. Geraldine also bought me an onrienteer's magnetic compass as back-up for missing GPS signals. The new GPS is so sensitive and accurate, that it likely will be needed as simply that, 'back-up', but it's there if needed. I have a beautiful brass Army-officer's prismatic compass right here, but its almost an antique and too good to risk losing in the bush, besides which, in its original leather case etc, it's probably worth a mint. With the topographical map built into my new GPS (it's not yet fitted, but its due shortly), I will be able to know if I have strayed off any route, very quickly. The track I intended to take, could have been programmed into it very easily. Geraldine has inherited my old GPS-60 and uses it on the long 'keep-fit' walks she does daily
to get herself back into-shape after young 'Jack', and to walk her 'Kelpie' dog 'Tess'.

I still have some serious 'bush-bashing' to do in the Catlins, but I intend to modify my plans and make them a bit less ambitious. There are only a few kms to go, now, to the Southland border, where my trip finishes, but I intend to approach them along the beach South of Cathedral Caves ford the mouth of the Waipati River
Estuary, (at low tide) and come back on the next tide. That will likely involve a single very long day. Land south of 'Chasland's Mistake' which is my final major obstruction, is the scene, at present of controversial logging of Maori Land, and I don't want to blunder into a 'Wild West' situation not of my own making. The only
danger along the shoreline is the occasional larger-than-usual tidal surge from the Pacific and those only occur as 'rogue waves', usually, when there have been storms out-to-sea. meanwhile, my next trip south will be to check-out the mouth of the Waipati, for fording safely, (without going across), which involves a walk of
some kMs down a flat beach. I'd prefer, when I finally go to Chaslands, to have someone else with me, several of the Owaka-based SAR people have volunteered, so I will not go short of helpers.

So, on Tuesday of this week I drove to Owaka, with Judith, and handed over a very large bottle of 'Black Douglas' overproof Scotch-whisky which will bring down the curtain on the next SAR meeting, Judith was informed by the Police liaison officer who visited her for 'details', that these people are the 'crack' bush-unit in the country and it was reassuring to have more than 30 of them, plus police, tracker-dog 'Edge' (who had picked up my scent), handlers, helicopter crew, incident-centre mobile headquarters, 50 people in all, involved in th search. While there, we visited the brilliant little 'Catlins Museum', which is well worth an hour or two of anyone's time, projecting, as it does, very strong images of what it was like living in a 'frontier' sawmilling district from almost 200 years ago. The Palmer family, go back eight generations to he original Edward Palmer, whaler, who had three Maori wives, and something between 65 and 75 offspring by them.

If anything was learned from it all, it was to carry more water than I did; otherwise there wasn't much I did which could have been called 'faulty judgement'.

And, of course, I did have an accident recently, which resulted in a bruised kidney, two cracked ribs and a large internal swelling behind my rib-cage, and a badly gashed leg which called for six stitches, and that was the result of slipping while climbing out-of-the-bath.

So, in my experience, you're safer in the bush!

Click here to post comments

Click here to return to Your articles.

KATRINA

by Ted E. Mueller
(Addison, IL. USA)

Katrina is/was a tragic occurence on the US mainland. A hurricane devastated New Orleans, the dykes that protected the city from the Mississippi River were breached and flood waters covered the whole area.

Homes were destroyed, thousands were homeless, their homes either completely under water or washed away by the torrents of river water.

Can you imaging your whole life, home and all its furnishings, your automobile GONE?

This was a few years ago and the efforts to rebuild have encountered so many obstacles.

Then a group formed - the "MAKE IT RIGHT FOUNDATION". Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie became part of it if not actually the creators.

So, here in Suburban Chicago, a group of artists formed themselves as "IArtists". Their goal was to assist with the rebuild program. 30 artists made/created about 60 canvas paintings depicting pleasant street scenes of New Orleans, relaxing landscape scenes, some abstracts; each artist using self expression as their guide for their brushes.

The result is a collection of beautiful paintings which will be available as a present to the people as they are able to inhabit their newly reconstructed home.

This gesture is the element that helps turn a house into a HOME!

On Friday evening, all of the paintings will be displayed for one evening only, and the artists will be available for commentary and autographs at a local historical museum at a gala event prior to their sending the paintings to New Orleans.

Since we are talking about a thousand homes, electronic scanning and canvas reproductions will be the ultimate gift to those devastated residents.

Hopefully, the evening will also generate generous financial gifts to help this worthy cause .

Comments

Katrina
by: Sheryl (Ultra)

Mr. M you truly inspire me through you work! Continue to share your gifts with the world. You never know what God will bless you with. Today I was blessed by your Lighthouses.

Eternal Thanks

Question
by: Anonymous

I would have loved to see your submission.

Since New Orleans is noted for music, I can imagine your painting had something to do with music.

I would love to see your canvas.

Artists do have a soft spot
by: Anonymous/Yddet

This group of artists seem to have the god given attitude. Their gift is to be shared. All that we have is his alone, not ours, and since Jesus gave of himself all his earthly life, even the utmost gift of his life, why not share their gifts for others to see.

God loves a cheerful giver.

Blessing to those fine artists. Would like to see a collection of these generous gifts. Is such a posting available?

They must be a humble group to share so willingly

Painting exhibit success
by: Anonymous

The paintings exhibited by Artists in Bloomingdale museum was a success. The guests kept arriving all evening and a considerable amount of donations were received.

And as a bonus, two paintings were also sold.

Next stop for the paintings will be New Orleans, as the intent was to donate paintings to Katrina victims as their home is rebuilt. This small gesture is hoped to help make a house into a home.

home is where the heart is
by: Anonymous

Looks like there is heart in artists world wide.

Click here to post comments

Click here to return to Your articles.

Adventures with Video Part 2

by Ian Smith
(New Zealand)

Bush Composite

Bush Composite

We have few, if any, 'nasties' in the New Zealand Bush, no snakes, bears, scorpions and only one poisonous spider, the 'Katipo', which I was unlikely to strike here. So, in essence, I couldn't have been safer in any rain-forest region of the world. Nor was the pitch-blackness all that unnerving. Deer possibly passed quite close to me during the night, and I heard the snuffling of a wild pig some distance away. 'Morepork' and other native owls sounded off at intervals during the night, some distance away from me and the unnerving sound of a possum carried on only a short distance away, some frogs croaked, and at about 10.30pm, I heard the sound of a distant police-siren, the barking of a police-dog, and a sound which I took to be an ambulance, but which, in fact, was the Search-and Rescue' mobile operations centre being driven into position. The sounds would have come, judging by their intensity in quiet bush, from about 3kms away, no more.

However, while I lay there feeling a bit guilty about what Judith must have been thinking, a party of searchers had already (11pm), set out down the correct route, followed it to the coast (these people knew the details of the track, well enough to follow it with only headlights and torches), and finding nothing there, had returned by 2am without a 'result'. I hadn't expected that a search would begin until first-light. Every fifteen minutes, I had called-out, but a strong breeze had got-up about 11pm and the constant roar of the wind through the trees would have made any shouts go unheard.

However, the breeze moved the cloud on overhead and through the largest gap in the canopy above me, I could see one star at-a-time; no more than that. It was a long night, but, amazingly, I dozed-off several times and actually had some sleep; my ponga-frond bed was quite comfortable under-the circumstances.

Dawn finally took a long time to break, even the dawn-chorus of native birds was not until 6.30am. I just lay there until things began to warm-up a bit, had a muesli-bar for breakfast together with about a few table-spoons of water, and prepared for the walk 'out'.

With the sun overhead, I decided to walk with it on my back at least until 11am, that way, I would walk in an arc, which would gradually veer south-west which would mean that I would, sooner-or-later encounter 'Pratt Road' which led to 'Cathedral Caves' a popular tourist draw-card. If I struck a line which carried me too far north, I would have a formidable trip right out to the main highway, much of it parallel to Pratt Road, but a pointless waste of effort, especially when running low on water. Pratt Road' was a substantial target if I simply kept on deer-trails westwards, and took every south-leading option as it presented itself.

In good daylight, the 'going' wasn't too bad, although there were lots of fallen trees and other obstructions to negotiate. I even got back onto my track 'in' and followed a series of ribbons tied to overhead branches for the best part of a kilometre, but took a wrong turning and got off the track again. Usually, ribbons tied to over-head branches are meant to be seen from one to the next, but in this thick bush area, it was pure guesswork, combined with the most viable route across ground, which brought up the 'next' ribbon each time.

It was almost inevitable that I would veer off-track again. I even picked up sets of footprints, someone had been through the patch of bush in the last few weeks accompanied by quite a young child. Like myself, they had become confused, as by following the prints I became aware that I had passed the same fallen log twice,and so I reverted to my original plan, left the track and struck-out west again. Apart for the trouble I was putting everyone through, it became quite enjoyable at times.

The land was 'Triassic', which is to say 250m to 200m years old and the large inclined slabs of exposed basalt rock I had to sometimes scramble from one to the other of, were ancient seabed very likely, as world-wide, the seabed, away back to the time of the earth's creation, was basalt. The only other rock at that time, was granite, very much a 'moonscape', as it is made up of basalt and granite, to this day. However, most of the bush was so rotten, that nothing could be relied upon to provide a hand-hold.

By midday, my water was running very low, down to less than an inch in the bottom of the bottle. I paused for a minute or two, had my last muesli-bar, and sipped the rest of the water until I was all done. There was a stream not far away, and I took a bottle-capful of water from a clean-looking part of it. I had hardly swallowed
it when, within seconds, the inside of my mouth turned to dust, almost, and I had a raging thirst. Still, it was 'water' and no-matter what; I might need it in a dire emergency, so I refilled my bottle by scooping up water with the cap and tipping it in. That took about 20 minutes.

Click here to post comments

Click here to return to Your articles.

Australian mobile website directory.

by Chris Dahlberg
(Wonga Beach)

qwe.com.au front page.

qwe.com.au front page.

qwe.com.au front page.
Click on Festivals.
Click on Go troppo.
Go troppo programme.

The Australian mobile website directory is found at www.qwe.com.au

It is a website designed for mobile phone screens and is a local product.

The address is easy to remember because it is the first three letters on a qwerty keyboard.

It can be accessed by typing in the address or quick response code. It can then be bookmarked or saved to the phone screen for later use.

Click here to post comments

Click here to return to Your articles.

Adventures With Video Part 1

by Ian Smith
(New Zealand)

Maps of Caitlins

Maps of Caitlins

In the process of obtaining footage for my current video series and after almost a lifetime of going into the New Zealand 'Bush', I recently contrived to get myself 'lost' and became the subject of a 'Search-and-Rescue' call-out.

I had previously walked down Tautuku Beach to the Peninsula of the same name at the end, (right down on the bottom of the South Island's East Coast), and taken some video of a spectacular rock formation called 'Frances Pillars'. It was a walk of several kilometres each way, and it wasn't a particularly warm day, but it was good for walking, so I got to the foot of the beach, found a safe
crossing place to ford the Fleming River, which flows into the sea at that point, then headed a bit inland to Lathyrus Bay, which has the 'pillars' on its far side.

The shots I took of the South Coast were excellent, and it was while I was uploading my GPS route to the map, that I saw a track which approached the 'pillars' from the south. I decided to drive to the Catlins district on the first available good day, and walk down that track, which was listed on the map as an 'old-logging road'.

However, my GPS readings did not tally with the information I had got off Google 'Earth' and there was a bit of a discrepancy on-the-ground as to which of the two tracks in the vicinity was the route I wished to take. As it happened, I chose the right one and set off on what was, initially, a good track into the bush, which was quite thick around me.

For a start, I followed the correct route, but when about a kilometre 'in', I took a wrong fork in the track; it was easy to do, as the route ahead was by no means obvious at any time (see composite of photographs); in fact I had already passed through areas which wouldn't have been out-of-place in the Amazon, by my reckoning. Unbeknown to me, I was off on a route marked by illegal hunters in the area, and that route followed an ancient bulldozed roadline which had once been used for dragging logs out-of-the-bush during a 20 year period when the Government had confiscated the land from the Maori owners, who had had to resort to the 'Maori Land Court' to have ownership reinstated.

During that time, the bush was cut-over three times and only rubbish remained. The fastest-growing species, blackberry, vicious 'bush-lawyers' with their backward-facing spikes, and 'souple-jack' interconnected vines which grow into a network had all colonised the old bulldozed track, as it had become overgrown. It was hard-going, but I stuck with it, despite several falls and having gone up to my thighs into deep bogs in a couple of places, because I thought myself to be on the correct track, seeing it was 'marked'. What I couldn't understand, was the lack of a 'foundation' for what had been described on my map as a 'metalled logging road' during the 1950's.

However, my GPS information was becoming a bit thin and I was down to just a few satellites, due to the thick and almost unbroken canopy overhead. It didn't help that the day was overcast and quite dark, with no sun visible, and hence, no shadow to give me a sense of direction. I had set out at 11.45am, approximately, and it was approaching mid-afternoon. I criss-crossed the area several times trying to pick up an extra satellite or two, but could only manage two signals at any one time, so my GPS couldn't be relied upon. However, I had a trail of previous waypoints to back-track along, if only I could reach a clear area.

However, all of my previous GPS 'waypoints' were, apparently, 0.27kms from where I had turned around to head back, (obviously incorrect, as they were strung-out behind me), and I had no 'compass' function on the GPS available so couldn't determine, in the flat lighting, which direction was South-West. I had a single bottle of water with me, already 2/3 empty, a couple of muesli-bars, and a squashed banana from one of my falls. Otherwise, it was me, the bush, and visibility of just a few metres in any direction, and that was in the clear bits.

I had left a list of my intended GPS readings with Judith, 'just-in-case', and my instructions were to wait for darkness, and if I hadn't shown up by then, phone the police, on '111'. I looked around the tiny clearing where I was, decided to make camp for the night, and make use of what advantages I had. My arms had suffered badly with scratches, and the 'lawyers' had almost torn pieces of skin away, so, being on blood-thinning medication, as most 65 year-olds plus are in NZ, I had bled a bit and it was running down my arms at one stage and dripping from my fingers.

It's amazing how much damage you can do, without really being aware of it. I was more concerned about the lawyers which stuck out of the bush at eye-level, than the ones which scratched my arms; so I simply let them bleed, until they finally stopped. I was wearing my kangaroo-hide bush-hat and I was glad I had its brim for eye protection.

I made a comfortable little 'couch' of dried 'pongas' (tree-ferns) and organised everything for a night-out. It would be pitch-black with no moon; in any case, the skies were still overcast. I was lightly clad, with shorts, action-knit shirt and a cotton pullover. My boots were saturated and muddy, and my socks were wet. However, on the plus side, it wasn't cold and the forest was bone-dry.

So I spread everything I was remotely likely to need around me on-the-ground within easy reach in pitch-darkness, wrapped a towel around my thighs, my only exposed part, and 'went-to-bed' at 5.30pm, because cramp had set-in and I couldn't risk drinking too much of my precious water to try and 'get-it-out' again. I scooped the fleshy part out of the skin of my squashed banana with my fingers and that was my evening meal taken care-of. Strangely, I didn't feel particularly hungry, not was I in a 'flap' about it all, in fact, I felt mildly 'pissed-off' more than anything else.

Comments

'The Catlins'
by: Ian Smith

People may wonder how a district, far down in the bottom left-hand corner of New Zealand's South Island came to be known as the 'Catlins'. I grew up with knowledge of the 'Catlins' since my father was born there and my great-grandparents had seen out their days there also, at the small settlement of 'Romahapa'.

Captain Cattlin was a whaler, in the days before the signing of the 'Treaty of Waitangi' between Europeans and Maori in 1840. There had been a
presence of Europeans, mainly sealers and whalers,
in the region since about 1800. Cattlin's services had been co-opted by the Government of-the-day, to find a site for a seaport in the deep south, and he had settled upon 'Port Molyneux' within the southern 'Koau' mouth of the Clutha River, then known as the 'Molyneux'.

Cattlin, realising the potential prosperity of an area rich in natural forest made overtures to the paramount Maori Chief in the area, Hone Tuhawaiki, and purchased, for 30 muskets, 30 pounds in cash and sundry household items, much of the bottom corner of the South Island, a vast tract of land extending 28kms each side of the Catlins River Estuary (in the middle of the area) and 93kMs inland, which he intended to log extensively.

With the signing of the Treaty it became known in Wellington, (soon to become the the country's Capital), of the obscene amount of land which Cattlin had conned local Maori out-of. Central Government took a hand, and he was made to relinquish all but a small portion of the land he had purchased. What wasn't returned to its original Maori owners, was divided up into blocks and settled by immigrants from the British isles.

However, these people had little knowledge of how to break-in bush and there were huge hardships
as many of them set about doing-so. Gradually, over most of 200 years, the land was logged, cleared and turned into farmland. Much of the Catlins has been cleared, but substantial amounts of native podocarp forest remain, and many of these are available to be visited.



Ian Smith.

Click here to post comments

Click here to return to Your articles.





Would you like to be the first to know about Arts matters in Tropical Australia, free stuff, painting tips and so on via my bi-monthly e-newsletter, 'Perspectives'?

email

name

then

Your e-mail address is totally secure.