intensity and harmony make for beauty

Sometimes there are collections of words offered, as a gift. Perhaps the giver doesn’t realise the gift they have given.

They have a thought or see something that caresses their soul or they feel the beauty of the moment they are in and describe it so perfectly your heart feels large in your chest and you smile in that way that makes your whole body glow.

Sometimes there are collections of words offered that are delicious and you feel suffused with reds and golds.

And you feel lucky to be alive, to feel beauty, to love.

Let’s Dance

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Mau Power is a lyrical storyteller

Mau Power is the first rapper to have come from the Torres Strait region of Australia and he considers Thursday Island his home. His latest album, The Show Will Go On, is autobiographical, with each song representing a step on his own journey.
“This is music for the free spirit, inspiration for those who really need it, not those who listen but those who really feel it.” For Mau Power, the survival of his culture is the reason that he wrote this song; to pass on knowledge and empowerment to enable future generations to take hold of their culture and identity and to do so with pride.
A passionate storyteller, Mau Power sees a powerful alliance in combining hip hop and indigenous cultures. He comes from a culture with an oral tradition. Knowledge is passed on from generation to generation through music, dance and storytelling. Mau Power sees hip hop as also providing that platform; a way to spread the stories and pass on the knowledge.
Mau Power explains, “I will become a knowledge custodian in my lifetime to be able to keep this tradition going and pass it on to those who come after us; the way our elders did to my generation. That’s what I want to be able to do.  That’s why I tell stories and it’s important to have stories to tell.”
For Mau Power, being a knowledge custodian comes with age, wisdom and experience. However, he is quick to point out that wise people are not necessarily the oldest people in the community; they are the ones who have had life experience. Part of being a knowledge custodian is about being able to access and store the knowledge of the elders now, so those who take on this role are able to document this and move it forward. Within the indigenous community, there are certain people or families who take on particular roles and that’s where their strength and expertise lie: hunting and gathering, running community events, facilitating processes and protocol. The custodians come from these areas of experience and pass on what they know.
Who is the Mau Power’s message for? He says it is for everyone. When he wrote the album, his mind was was focussed on those who are to come, the next generation. He wants them to know about identity. He wants them to understand their own identity in the world and he also wants them to know that the future is whatever they lay out for themselves. He tells me that if I had met a young Patrick Mau, I wouldn’t have thought he would have been doing the things he is now doing.
One of Mau Power’s biggest idols is Bruce Lee because of his philosophies.  One of his quotes was, “To hell with circumstances, I create opportunities.” That’s basically it, he says. In the seventies, Bruce Lee broke the mould of what an Asian looked like and he created a whole new genre for do-it-yourself entrepreneurs and minorities. Mau Power feels as though he is in a similar position to Bruce Lee, “That’s what I really want to pass on to the next generation. Forget what your circumstances are, you can become whatever you want to be. “
Freedomhas been described as a song of protest, yet it has such a positive feel to it that is more like a call to action. Mau Power says that there are different ways to protest. There are peaceful protests, positive advocating. Freedom is about self-empowerment. When he sings about emancipation of the mental slavery, he is referring to the situations he found himself in. “If I had held onto all those things, I wouldn’t be here. I could have been dead a long time ago.” Instead, he was willing to unhook the chains. “It is hard to unhook your own chains,” he says. “It means you have to be true to yourself and be really reflective. You need to be at a point where you can see all your flaws and really acknowledge them, take ownership and then once you have done that you are able to change and that’s what I was talking about in the song, freeing yourself from mental slavery to be able to be self-empowered. This is something I’m going to be doing for the rest of my life.”
Mao Power’s lyrics are powerful and also very succinct. When asked whether it is easy for him to write like that, he explains that there are times when he gets really overworked trying to construct lyrics, but Freedom just flowed.
“I think the stars and the universe aligned and connected, the beat just came out. It was one of the quickest songs I wrote for the album. It’s just that energy that was there. That’s just how it happens sometimes.”
Working with Archie Roach on the song has also had a big impact on Mau Power. For him, Archie Roach is the one who laid the foundation for young people like him to come through. When Mau Power was 14 years old, he did an English essay on Archie Roach’s album Charcoal Lane and came across his song, They took the children away. That was his first introduction to the stolen generation. It forced him to learn about the history of Australia. Something, he says, they didn’t taught in schools. That’s how powerful the stories and messages can be through song. He finds it remarkable to think that some day an eleven, twelve or thirteen year old might be listening to one of his own songs and taking something away form it.
“Being able to pass on my knowledge through the storytelling in my songs is like a dream come true really, it’s an honour.”

Freedom Mau Power feat. Archie Roach

things that made me smile today

* the barista drawing a cute picture on my coffee lid
* getting sent a snatch of a song from someone wonderful, loving it, and immediately making it part of the November Soundtrack To My Life
* hearing about my 6 year old nephew camping in the backyard overnight and telling his dad that it is something he will remember and tell his kids about
* looking out my window at sunshine on green trees
* designing and ordering a business card that says I’m a writer
* writing

Hope Springs Eternal

Love. We yearn for it. We delight in it. We cry over it. We wonder about it. Auguste Blackman has picked up the idea of love and its reality, held it in his hands, turned it over, felt its weight and produced an exhibition which reflects his exploration of what love is for him.
 
Through The Love Story, he confronts his feelings about his own marriage now that the last of his six children has left home and he and his wife, Andrea, are left facing each other in an empty nest.
I think it is important to start a consideration of this exhibition with the portrait hung in the window of the gallery. A pensive young man stands alone, clutching a bunch of flowers. His whole being exudes the ‘Hope’ for which the portrait is named. This is Auguste before he entered the couple.
From this outside-looking-in introduction, we cross the threshold into Auguste Blackman’s soul. This is a man who wears his heart on his sleeve. All the emotions that form part of the journey of a 20-year marriage are there in full colour on the wall with the paintings themselves hung in haphazard, family-photo style on the wall. Most of the works feature the couple in various attitudes of first love, nervousness, bliss, love, angst, jealousy, and devotion. Nothing is held back. But, far from feeling as though I was some kind of voyeur peering in through the blinds, there is a brave candour here. Auguste wants to share his journey with us through the highs and the lows and the wondering to the beautiful conclusion that he is very much in love with his wife and “he wants to stay married.” In fact, Auguste credits Andrea for teaching him to love well.
He did have other role models which would have added to his questions around love. His father, renowned Australian painter, Charles Blackman, and his writer mother, Barbara, had an extremely passionate relationship, which ended after 27 years of marriage.
The tenderness of Auguste’s examination of love is palpable. You cannot stand in the middle of the room surrounded by this homage to the many facets of love and emerge unmoved.

 
The Love Story is testament to Auguste’s poetic and passionate personality. A beautiful colourist, we can see his verve and life force. Through his expressive, delicate painting style he shares personal experiences of love and union.