30 April 2011

Day 14 - The baby

Then my sister was born and she was a real Aussie. Now our family had a solid connection to this new country, because no matter where else we might go, my sister's place of birth would always be Australia.

She was just beginning to learn to talk when I started school. Each day when I got home, I proudly showed off the English I had learnt, although I often mixed up the two languages. I was working through my 'David, Sue and Wendy' book at school, and sometimes I cried because Wendy was such a difficult word that I thought I would never in my whole life learn to spell it.

But my baby sister was immersed in two languages from the start and she just absorbed them both with an impish smile.

29 April 2011

Day 13 - Fish in the pan

Our next home was closer to the sea again. Although this neighbourhood lacked all the little 'continental' shops of the inner city, it more than made up for it with beaches and headlands and bushland. It was a lovely suburb for going for walks and we often went to the beach to make sand castles and to play in the waves.

I think we had very little money during that time, so sometimes when my father came home in the afternoon, he would go rock fishing for our dinner. All four of us went on these afternoon fishing excursions. While my father fished, my mother watched my brother and me as we played with toy boats in rock pools or climbed on rocks.

Some days my father caught a big fish, but mostly they were pretty small.

My parents didn't want relatives in the old country to know that things were a struggle for us. To reassure the relatives that life in Australia was simply perfect, my mother and father asked me for my dolls' cooking set. My father had caught three little fish that day. He and my mother artistically arranged one of the fish in the dolls' frying pan, with a few mini tomatoes alongside to give a sense of scale (they were supposed to look like big tomatoes).

When our relatives received the photo in the next letter, they marvelled that my dad caught fish that were too big to even fit in the frying pan!

Day 12 - The old quarry

Berlin and Melbourne are flat cities, but Sydney has lots of steep hills. Each day, my mother took my brother and me on a walk up and down the hilly narrow inner-city streets near our house.

We walked to the post office to buy aerogrammes and to post letters back to family and friends far away.

We walked to the little deli that sold 'continental' groceries which you couldn't buy in 'normal' grocery stores back then: things such as dark rye bread and olives and gherkins and liverwurst and cheeses that weren't cheddar.

We also often walked to the little park with the swing. The little park was at the high end of a street and it had a sort of rock cliff that dropped down to the streets below. I wonder if the area down there may have once been a quarry. My mother didn't like us going close to the edge, but I loved it because from there, the houses down below looked like they were a sort of toyland.

Once my brother rolled a big glass marble over the cliff edge. I hoped that it would bounce all the way down to the miniature-looking houses at the bottom, and knock them all down. But instead the marble just disappeared.

My brother was very sad that he had lost his precious marble. I was sad that I had missed out on seeing the demolition of toyland.

26 April 2011

Day 11 - No noise please

The first place where we lived in Sydney was
an inner-city terrace house on a narrow street.
It was quite a change after having lived close
to the sea in Melbourne.

My family shared the house with a man who
was a student. Although we almost never saw
him, we knew he had a lot of important work
to do because the sign on his door said that
we must be very quiet.

I had a feeling the sign really meant that the
man didn't like children very much. Maybe my
parents had that feeling too because we found
a better place to live before too long.

25 April 2011

Day off

Dear readers,
I have decided that if I am going to do this for 60 days, I need to have one day off each week.
I will have a new story and a new linoprint for you tomorrow.
I hope you understand :-)

24 April 2011

Day 10 - Easter Egg

After a couple of years in Melbourne, we moved to Sydney. Something to do with my father's work but I didn't understand what.

Our old black car had recently been replaced by a new green VW beetle which was very nice even though it was a bit of a squeeze with all our luggage. We headed out on the long road north on Easter Saturday.

The adventure of moving to a new place was so exciting that I almost forgot about Easter. Anyway our usual Easter tradition was to paint hard-boiled eggs, and there wasn't much opportunity for that on the road. We camped in our tent on Saturday night, pretty much in the middle of nowhere.

It turned out not to be so bad to be in the middle of nowhere because apparently that is where the Easter bunny lives.

On Sunday morning, my brother and I just could not believe it when we crawled out of the tent and each found a big Easter egg. Beautiful, shiny,colourful and made of chocolate!

23 April 2011

Day 9 - Forest trance

My favourite fairy tale; the one I always asked my mother to read, was Snow White and Rose Red. These sisters were named after rose bushes and they were kind and gentle and so beautiful. I wished I were Rose Red.

I didn't really care for the fairy tale ending of their adventures, but I loved that when Snow White and Rose Red were children, if they should happen to forget to come home from playing in the forest before it got dark, they would just curl up against one another with the moss as their pillow. There they would sleep safely through the night in the forest and go home the next morning. No wild animals harmed them, for the wild animals were their friends.

When we went on family walks in the old forest near Healesville, sometimes the late afternoon sunlight filtering through the enormous trees made me imagine I was in Snow White and Rose Red's forest. I could believe that I had glimpsed a deer or a bear or a dwarf in the distance.

But then a wallaby would hop past and break my trance.

22 April 2011

Day 8 - Raven

We had an old fashioned black car. Sometimes we would go for a drive to the mysterious old forest near Healesville.

One day as we got out of the car at the forest, I saw a big glossy black raven looking down at us from a tree.

It was very hot weather but walking beside the little creek and under the shade of the giant trees was lovely and cool. We saw lots of other bush animals along the track. Lizards, birds, butterflies, wallabies and also a snake.

I noticed that the raven followed us on our walk, appearing every now and again on a nearby tree. Sometimes it would disappear and then I would catch a glimpse of its black wings swooping through the air. Next moment, it would be sitting on a high branch just ahead of us. It patiently stayed with us whilst we had a picnic and stayed as our strange guide all the way until we got back to our car.

I didn't know what it was trying to tell us, but I liked that raven.

21 April 2011

Day 7 - Time changes

My parents had planned that we would
only stay in Australia for a two year
adventure, and then return to the family
and friends left behind.

That was a long time ago now.

Things change.

And so does time itself.

20 April 2011

Day 6 - Lost Snail

On an outing to the city one day, I got lost in the crowd at Flinders Street station and I didn't know enough words to ask for help to find my mother.

My mother searched for me and she asked the ticket collector if he had seen a little girl with green eyes and brown hair in plaits, but he couldn't help.

Well, there are lots of little girls with green eyes and brown hair in plaits, so it was no wonder he couldn't help her. I told my mother she should have asked him if he had seen a little girl with two spots on her nose that looked like retracted little snail tentacles.

But she said that the two little freckles on my nose were not really my most distinguishing feature. I didn't believe her.

Luckily she found me anyway.

19 April 2011

Day 5 - More milk please

After a few months when we had settled into life in the new country, I went to kindergarten three mornings a week.

I liked to sit on the swing there.

When it was morning tea time, all the children sat at a long table and we were given biscuits and milk. Whilst the kindergarten ladies were pouring milk into each child's cup, we had to sit with our hands on our heads. When everyone had their milk, we were allowed to take our hands off our heads and morning tea began.

"Hands on heads" and "More milk please" were the first English sentences I learnt at kindergarten.

18 April 2011

Day 4 - Tropical Paradise

At the beginning, we lived in Melbourne. Above a shop, next to a petrol station.

The entrance to our place was through a back door and up some dark stairs, I remember that. I have forgotten most of what the inside of the house looked like but I remember that on Sunday afternoons, we used to look out of the front windows which overlooked the wide street and the awning of the shop below. From there, we could watch the Salvation Army band as it marched up the street. On very hot summer days, the marching music floated up the street long before we could see the band and it sounded like the heat of the day distorted the music.

Our Christmas tree for our first Christmas in Australia was a palm tree. My father took photos to send to our relatives in the old country, so they would see that we lived in a tropical paradise.

Nothing at all from those times seemed real to me. It all seemed like a hazy, brightly-lit dream which mostly pleasant but always confusing.

17 April 2011

Day 3 - Tall Tales

My father didn't read us bedtime stories when we were little. Instead, he told us very very tall tales.

My father's escapades in dangerous and difficult situations would have made Baron Münchhausen and Till Eulenspiegel blush with envy.

He told us his tales very earnestly and we almost always believed that they were true. Anyway, it seemed to hurt his feelings if we didn't believe them.

16 April 2011

Day 2 - Bedtime stories

Each evening our mother read us a bedtime story.

But a story at bedtime was not enough. So during the day, I spent hours and hours looking at the big old illustrated volumes of Grimms Märchen and other books.

I might have been still too young to read, but I could make my own stories from the pictures.

15 April 2011

Day 1 - Across the sea

Across the sea to a land far away.

Everyone speaking a language that was strange.

I loved the books which we had brought with us because even though I couldn't read yet, I knew they were in the language I understood.

New print challenge begins today

Portfolio with print exchange was finished last night. A nice way to share work with other artists.

And today I begin my 60 day print challenge, in preparation for exhibition at Sheffer Gallery in July/August. Comments and support will be greatly appreciated.

(Artists names in photo of portfolio blurred for privacy)