Down to the river

Yesterday Steve and I got to the Bathurst Regional Art Gallery late (Steve getting his clothes off the line so Bertie wouldn’t trash them) to find the place packed, art gallery as festival. Crowds and crowds of people, the sound of chanting, couldn’t see a thing. I passed my video camera to a tall man, who held it up high over his head, pointed down – this worked – two or three of us peered into the tiny flap screen, seeing what the Tibetan monks were doing. They were sweeping up the mandala, destroying it in deft strokes. Impermanence. They put their hats on, those yellow hats that look like 1980s punk hairdos, and rang their bells, clashed their cymbals and generally created a spectacle. They walked out of the gallery, followed by their fans, all the way through the streets of Bathurst to the Macquarie River. We went past Ellie’s cafe, the ANZ bank, past Red Rooster, past the old people playing bowls, and across the expanse of green grass. I kept darting out in front to get footage, way too much footage; all we’d ever use is a few seconds here and there, but I find it impossible to stop recording in situations like this – Just in Case. Down at the river, we photographers and videoists took our shoes and socks off and rolled up our jeans and went into the shallow water to get a better vantage point. It was a wonderful scene in the autumn sunshine: the horns, the cymbals, the chanting, the men in robes, with a big crowd of curious and swept-up Bathurstians behind them. Geshe Sonam Thargye poured the sand mandala (actually bits of coloured, ground-up marble – I called it “sandala” by mistake – I quite like that word – it takes in the sandals, the sand, the mandala) into the river. Then it was over and people started walking back.

At six o clock, the opening of the new exhibition at Warpstanza Gallery: Marinka Kordis and John Lethbridge’s The Art of Saying Sorry. With an exhibition title like that, I’d been expecting something more explicit about John Howard and the stolen generations, but there was nothing immediately obvious in the work itself. When I interviewed him for WARP TV yesterday, John Lethbridge said his work was in tune with the spirit of Aboriginal art, it was concerned with the “ground” and a connection with the idea that we all come from the primordial slime of nature, we are not above it in the Christian imposition sense. (Very rough paraphrase). His most striking work was a massive red and black Mambo-like piece (painted in the 80s before Mambo) which he said was referenced by Leger, only pointier. One of Marinka’s paintings was of a “black boy” (grass tree) with the image of a white woman sensuously reclining behind it – to her, a reconciliation image. The most beautiful of her paintings was “Vanishing Point”, a long landscape going all the way across the back wall of the gallery. Bathurst Regional Art Gallery director Richard Perram was there, and said the monks had attracted 2000 visitors through the week and 1000 people came into the gallery for the mandala dissolution ceremony. I ran out of battery before I could get footage of Marinka and John talking to each other. Steve had to stop making spag bol and come out on a rescue mission with battery.

Back at home finally having the spag bol with Helen, Ray & Dominic. Renovations are driving them mad. Pongo, their rabbit, apparently likes to play. I didn’t know pet rabbits played with humans. Dominic gets rabbit books out of the library and is quite an expert in rabbits. He wore a handsome set of red Mickey Mouse pyjamas which looked even more striking against Bertie’s glossy black fur.

1 thought on “Down to the river

  1. Anonymous

    Marinka passed away this week. In Loving memory Marinka of the life that I never got to know through you, and the one that I was privalaged to be part of,

    Cath- 3-7-09

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