Video transcripts

A Portrait of Drovers

My name’s Noel Stallard, I’m a bush poet and a member of the North Pine Bush Poets and this morning we pay tribute to the Australian drovers and this art exhibition. This is a poem that I’ve written for this occasion and it’s called

A PORTRAIT OF DROVERS

 

Two thousand four hundred Boss Drovers,

two thousand four hundred he drew.

This artist named Robert MacPherson,

but these would be only a few

of drovers who opened the outback,

drove stock from the west to the east.

The beef cattle industry founders,

those legendary drovers of beast.

 

With plant and with packhorse they travelled,

six months they'd have hooves on the routes.

The Murranji route was a nightmare,

along with the flies and the droughts.

Their tucker was simple but hearty,

with camp-oven damper and stew.

The cooks that were good, were a God-send.

The bad, they were sorry they knew.

 

Each drover depended on others,

so mateship pervaded the crew.

Horsetailer provided fresh horses;

the ringers, these horses they'd shoe.

The cook went ahead to the campsite,

preparing the meal for the night.

When drovers arrived it was ready

to eat, by the camp's fire light.

 

Real danger a constant encounter,

from nature and cattle that rush.

A rush is when cattle were frightened

and charged through the scrub's underbrush.

Then drovers on night-horses galloped,

down wings till they got to the top;

then wheeled the lead back on the others,

until the mad rushing would stop.

 

Perhaps, through this art, there'll be interest,

so Aussies, who don't have a clue,

might learn of the drovers' achievements;

respect, what those drovers went through.

The courage and skill and the mateship,

that drovers displayed, come what may,

embodied that true Aussie spirit,

a spirit, still with us today. 

Art of a Nation

Hello, my name’s Kay Gorring and I’ve been asked to write a poem about this wonderful exhibition by Robert MacPherson called Boss Drovers. My poem I have named Art of a Nation.

 

Do you see the soft clouds of red dust in the distance?

the movement of stock through the stead-fast persistence

of bosses and drovers and dogs on the track,

through the droughts and the floods where there’s no turning back.

Of the men and the women, skin leathered by sun

and driven by hardship to get the job done.

It’s etched on their faces and written on pages,

it’s there in the drawings yet lasts through the ages.

No matter connection, no matter relation,

for history lives in the art of its nation.

 

 

[Boss drovers]

 

I went to see some drawings, there’s two hundred all in all,

a little slice of history now hanging on a wall.

They’re drawn by Robert Pene who is only ten years old

yet each and every mark reveals a story to be told.

 

“Boss drovers” written proudly with a bold and childlike hand

evokes the distance echoes of an unforgiving land.

Those tough resilient stockmen and the women who rode west

with names like Mabel Cole, Sam Gibson, Bluey and the rest.

 

I see the sun-hard faces and I let nostalgia flow

as I imagine droving on the stock routes long ago.

For children find their heroes in the ones they wish to be

while grown-ups find connection in the art-works that they see.


Thank you.

North Pine Bush Poet's brunch

Ok. Good morning everybody. 

If you would like to take your seats that would be fantastic. 

My name is Melissa and I have the lucky job of being the Venue Supervisor here

at our beautiful Caboolture Regional Art Gallery.

Before we begin, I would like to respectfully acknowledge the Gubbi Gubbi and Undanbi people

and the traditional country on which this event takes place.

And I acknowledge elders past, present and emerging.

I also recognise those whose ongoing effort to protect and promote

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures will leave a lasting legacy for future elders and leaders.

And we do a little thing for kids, which I think is actually a really nice way of encouraging you to also think about it.

So if you could repeat after me

Here is the land

Here is the sky

Here are my friends

And so am I

And we respect the traditional custodians of this country

on which we learn, play and come to beautiful exhibitions,

so thank you very much for joining us.

So this morning, we have our first event in 5 months at the gallery.

Thank you very much for joining us.

You may have seen the news this morning that Brisbane and surrounds are going into some more restrictions

based on some COVID information that has happened.

We are a COVID Safe business.

We have all of our COVID safe practices in place, so we are not limited to the 10 people

limit that has been announced from 8 o'clock this morning.

Ok, so I trust that everyone has their COVID safe forms.

We need to make sure that those details are collected,

and we keep you and everyone else all safe.

And if you could just bear in mind that social distancing as we progress through the event today,

including for when we go upstairs for brunch,

is to just keep that 1.5 meter distance between and other people so that we can continue

to have the beautiful events like we are having this morning.

To say that I'm excited is a little bit of an understatement

because not only is it the first event we've had for a long time,

but it's the first time we are presenting a collaboration between us

and an organisation where original works have been created inspired by the exhibition.

So we're kinda creating a new style of events, Creative Collaborations,

where brand new poems have been written in response to this beautiful exhibition.

So that's really exciting and I couldn't have imagined that we would have gotten here.

Originally, we were just going to video these beautiful poets and put them up online

because we didn't even know if we could have events,

so the fact that we're having an event and we've got everyone here is just goosebumpy.

So thanks so much for joining us.

The event proper is going to go for about an hour and a bit,

and then we'll go upstairs to level 1 for brunch.

We've been listening to the beautiful sounds of Doc and Summer in the foyer there.

You'll hear a bit more from them later on.

The first part of the morning we're gonna listen to some amazing poems by the North Pine Bush Poets,

and then the second part we're going to have a really casual discussion

about the intersection between visual art and poetry.

So relax, enjoy and I'm going to pass over to the North Pine Bush Poets

for the debut of original poems written just for this exhibitions

Well good morning folks.

My name is Noel Stallard and I'm a member of the North Pine Bush Poets,

who this morning for some time are going to entertain you.

The assignment we were given was to write a poem of about 2 minutes duration about the display.

So this is just called “The Boss Drovers”.

Two thousand four hundred Boss Drovers,

two thousand four hundred he drew.

This artist named Robert MacPherson,

but these would be only a few

of drovers who opened the outback,

drove stock from the west to the east.

The beef cattle industry founders,

those legendary drovers of beast.

With plant and with packhorse they travelled,

six months they'd have hooves on the routes.

The Murranji route was a nightmare,

along with the flies and the droughts.

Their tucker was simple but hearty,

with camp-oven damper and stew.

The cooks that were good, were a God-send.

The bad, they were sorry they knew.

Each drover depended on others,

so mateship pervaded the crew.

Horsetailer provided fresh horses;

the ringers, these horses they'd shoe.

The cook went ahead to the campsite,

preparing the meal for the night.

When drovers arrived it was ready

to eat, by the camp's fire light.

Real danger a constant encounter,

from nature and cattle that rush.

A rush is when cattle were frightened

and charged through the scrub's underbrush.

Then drovers on night-horses galloped,

down wings till they got to the top;

then wheeled the lead back on the others,

until the mad rushing would stop.

Perhaps, through this art, there'll be interest,

so Aussies, who don't have a clue,

might learn of the drovers' achievements;

respect, what those drovers went through.

The courage and skill and the mateship,

that drovers displayed, come what may,

embodied that true Aussie spirit,

a spirit, still with us today.

Thank you. It's my pleasure to introduce Kay. Kay Gorring folks.

Kay: Heheh. Hello, my name is as you heard, Kay Gorring

and I joined the North Pine Bush Poets back in 2013.

At the time I was actually working on a collaborative art exhibition myself as a writer of original rhyme.

So for me it is particularly to be challenged wit the writing of a short poem that draws its inspiration

directly from these wonderful art works that we see here today.

I've called my poem “Art of a nation”

Do you see the soft clouds of red dust in the distance?

the movement of stock through the stead-fast persistence

of bosses and drovers and dogs on the track,

through the droughts and the floods where there's no turning back.

Of the men and the women, skin leathered by sun

and driven by hardship to get the job done.

It's etched on their faces and written on pages,

it's there in the drawings yet lasts through the ages.

No matter connection, no matter relation,

for history lives in the art of its nation.

I would now like to welcome Doc Bland to the microphone.

Doc is going to present a poem by another North Pine Bush Poet

who unfortunately couldn't be with us today, and that poet is Mick Martin.

So Mick Martin has written this poem,

enlightened by the fact when the artist was drawing all of these beautiful portraits,

he took on the aspect of a 10-year-old called Robert Pene.

So Mick has written this poem as the 10-year-old Robert talking to his teacher,

a dialogue between the two of them.

The teacher says

Now Robert tell your story all the class are keen to hear

Of drovers and the stock routes, speak up now and tell it clear

And share your lovely pictures of the bosses on their horse

And don't forget those ladies, well I know you won't, of course

Well Miss, I spose I orta start with what “boss drovers” are

They're rough and tough and firey and they come from near and far

They sign a piece of paper saying they will bring the stock

From far away to places near, as many as they've got

They have some hardy workers, well they call them drovers too

They're strong and quick and clever and they know what cattle do

And teacher, did you know this? It's a secret you can keep,

Boss drovers only close one eye on camp when they're asleep.

They camp out in the open, not a bed to keep them snug

And share the ground with spiders, ants and every sort of bug

And in the night or morning when it's cold and dark and clear

They take their turn at riding round each cow and calf and steer

They must get mighty lonely when they miss their wife and kids

But through the big depression they were never on the skids.

and sometimes crossing rivers or a flooded water course

Some drovers die of drowning by a frightened drover's horse.

The mickey bulls are mongrels and the cows with calves are worse

The boss must think that droving is some kind of lousy curse

I'm sorry teacher, truly, and I did not mean to shock

It's how the drovers talk rough when they're outback droving stock

Teacher says

Thanks Robert, now these pictures, tell us all about them too

I see you've done your homework there are really quite a few

Who rode the different stock routes where they took the cattle through

Who fed the stock and watered them and fed the drovers too?

Well miss, those are good questions and the answers might surprise

They're in the faces pictured, in each wrinkle, and their eyes

So take some time to see them, there's a story in each one

I have to keep on drawing till I've captured every one.

Mick Martin

And now it's my pleasure to welcome to the microphone, Mr Mal Beveridge.

Thank you. Well, good morning ladies and gentlemen. 

Melissa Western asked us to write some bush verse to highlight this exhibition

and connect the artist, the artworks and the poetry.

When I first saw the full formal title of Roberts MacPherson's work,

1000 FROG POEMS: 1000 BOSS DROVERS (“YELLOW LEAF FALLING”) FOR H.S. 1996–2014

and attributed to the boy, Robert Pene,

I immediately saw the artist's interest in, and sadness at,

the passing of a way of life; a yellow leaf falling.

So I wrote this poem in two parts.

The first part, The Auction, examines the end of the droving ways of life.

The second part, The Resurrection, examines the artist's ability to bring the old drovers

and their almost forgotten days back to life again

and his artistic empathy for a past era; a yellow leaf falling.

Yellow Leaf Falling

The Auction

Just a pound!  A pound! A pound I say

Just a pound for the Drovers Boss!

Oh who will bid me a quid today

with never a fear of the loss!

Ah, but who am I kidding?

Now, there's never a bank note that once was a pound.

Now, the drovers are laid to their rest.

Now, their night watch has passed to relief from their round

to the camp at the end of their test.

Can you see a faint star in the boss drovers' eyes?

Has the artist there captured the cross

as it turns on the wheel of the great southern skies

and it marks off the hours of their loss?

Look, their eyes hold a sadness at loss of their trade

that the artist considered from age

then redeemed through the eyes of a scrap from fourth grade

and preserved on the gallery's stage.

For the sake of the Canning or the grim Murranji

will there be not a bid? Not a wave!

At the end of the track where the dead drovers lie

is there naught but a sad lonely grave?

The Resurrection

Yet, the drovers are roused from the longest ‘night camp'

to a sun that shines down from the holiest lamp

as the artist attends to their eyes.

With the tip of his pen or the paste of a clip

he can grant them their sight with a stroke or a snip

and they gaze on their god with surprise.

They are back and alive in the saddle again

all the drover explorers, the women and men,

as they breathe with a nudge from young Rob.

They are crossing the plains and they're turning the rush.

They have gambled their plant, they are broke or they're flush,

they have beaten the odds and the mob.

He has given them back, with his blessings, a name,

for the honest the bent and the crazed, all the same,

and they pray to their gods youthful hand.

But deep down in the heart of the marionette

lies the pen of the artist much steeped in regret

for the big mobs that once walked this land

Ah, but who am I kidding?

Just a pound!  A pound! A pound I say

Just a pound for the Drovers Boss!

Oh who will bid me a quid today

with never a fear of the loss!

Mal: And now it's my very great pleasure to welcome back to the microphone,

Kay Gorring to perform one of her wonderful award-winning poems.

Thank you Mal. My next poem is one of three poems I wrote exploring the bond

that formed between the men of the Australian Light Horse and their mounts,

which were known as Walers.

These mixed breed horses were strong, versatile,

and uniquely suited to Australia's harsh climate.

Their calm and willing nature made them particularly valuable

for moving of stock across the vast expanses of the stock routes.

Unfortunately for the Waler, these same qualities made them a perfect war horse.

When Australia declared war many drovers signed up and took their horses with them.

This poem imagines the life of one such horse and is told from the horse's perspective.

I call it “The Stockman's Choice”.

I was born a horse on a mountain ridge with a savage storm in sight

when the thunder roared and the lightning flashed and the day turned into night.

And I heard the call of the wild horse mob as my mother pawed the ground

and she urged me up on my shaking legs as the brumbies gathered round.

Then we turned and ran for the snowy tops high above old Jindabyne

through the deep ravines and the fallen logs as we scaled its steep incline.

And the valleys rang with a thousand hooves and their thunder matched the skies

as the sparks threw light from the flinted stones like the fire in our eyes.

With the blood of Walers and station studs running strong within our veins

we knew every inch of those alpine slopes and the fragile frost-swept plains.

And I grew up proud and I grew up strong where the snow gums brush the sky

and I learned to thrive on the brittle grass and the dew when times were dry.

But the mountain riders were toughened men and they knew that country well

as they chose the best from among us all with an eye to buy and sell.

So when old enough, that's the way it was, I was captured in a pen

and I met the likes of the breakers there and I learned the ways of men.

Then a stockman bought and he trained me well with a firm and gentle voice

and a bond was forged in a rugged land for I was the stockman's choice.

Then a war broke out on a foreign shore and the Anzac spirit rose

and the stockman rode as a soldier now and I was the horse he chose.

And the rifles roared like the thunderstorm and their muzzles flashed with light

while the thick black smoke and choking dust quickly turned the day to night.

But we fought with pride for our southern sky, for the country of our birth,

though the guns spat pain and an early death and a life held little worth.

And we rode the length of those arid lands as we viewed the gates to hell,

‘til we felt the sting of the bullets bite and on foreign sands, we fell.

And I heard the calls of the wounded men and I heard the stockman's voice

as he urged me up on my shaking legs for I was the stockman's choice.

And I went to him on those blood drenched sands and I got him to the line,

but the price I paid made the stockman curse – his life for the cost of mine.

So he leaned in close with his whispered words when he knew what must be done

and his eyes grew moist as he stroked my side and he sadly aimed his gun.

So I died a horse on those desert sands while the soldier stayed to fight

when his rifle roared and the muzzle flashed and the day turned into night.

Now my spirit roams on my mountain home and I listen for his voice.

Then I'll go to him and I'll bring him back for I was the stockman's choice.

I would now like to welcome our North Pine Bush Poet's President, Ian McDonald to the microphone.

Well good morning ladies and gentlemen.

Before I start I would just like to thank Melissa for inviting us here today and

making it so as we can perform in front of you some of my very favourite poems.

There have been many poems and stories written about our early explorers,

adventurers and bushrangers, but with few exception,

very little was ever written about the womenfolk and

all the hardships they had to endure in those very early years of settlement.

The poet, George Essex Evans helped rectify this with his poem called, “The Women of the West”. 

They left the vine-wreathed cottage and the mansion on the hill,

The houses in the busy streets where life is never still,

The pleasures of the city, and the friends they cherished best:

For love they faced the wilderness -the Women of the West.

The roar, and rush, and fever of the city died away,

And the old-time joys and faces-they were gone for many a day;

In their place the lurching coach-wheel, or the creaking bullock-chains,

O'er the everlasting sameness of the never-ending plains.

In the slab-built, zinc-roofed homestead of some lately taken run,

In the tent beside the bankment of a railway just begun,

In the huts on new selections, in the camps of man's unrest,

On the frontiers of the Nation, live the Women of the West.

The red sun robs their beauty and, in weariness and pain,

The slow years steal the nameless grace that never comes again;

And there are hours men cannot soothe, and words men cannot say

The nearest woman's face may be a hundred miles away.

The wide bush holds the secrets of their longing and desires,

When the white stars in reverence light their holy altar fires,

And silence, like the touch of God, sinks deep into the breast

Perchance He hears and understands the Women of the West.

For them no trumpet sounds the call, no poet plies his arts

They only hear the beating of their gallant, loving hearts.

But they have sung with silent lives the song all songs above?

The holiness of sacrifice, the dignity of love.

Well have we held our fathers creed. No call has passed us by.

We faced and fought the wilderness, we sent our sons to die.

And we have hearts to do and dare, and yet, o'er all the rest,

The hearts that made the Nation were the Women of the West.

George Essex Evans. Thank you. And now we will hear from Doc once again, Doc Bland.

Hey, so I'm Doc. This is my daughter Summer. 

We're gonna sing about one of the most well-known of the drovers,

Clancy of the Overflow. Now you probably all know the poem, written by

Summer: Banjo Patterson.

Thank you. Banjo Patterson. Who could ever forget.

What Banjo didn't realise was that he should've put in a little bit more excitement into the poem.

So that's what we've done. It's not only been put to music by others that we're gonna do.

But also we're gonna include some sound effects just to liven it up a little bit

and that's where you come in.

We need a volunteer, if only there was someone with cabaret experience who could volunteer

to come and h … oh look (laughs), Melissa. 

Give her a round of applause everybody! 

Okay. So. Very easy. What we want, yes put the hat on …

Not gonna fit on my hair I'm afraid.

Okay, so, we'll have these call cards.

So what Melissa is gonna do, which she has no idea she was gonna do.

She's gonna use these … these are the sound effects, right,

that Banjo should have used when he wrote the poem.

So when we mention anything about Clancy,

Melissa's gonna raise this and you'll all say G'DAY!

And when it's droving and cattle and stuff then there's MOO

and if it's sheep and shearing, BAH,

and there's a few other little sound effects in there for good measure.

So, (directions to Melissa) see they're all numbered.

So if you pop those there, alright, and there's the words, so you can follow.

Yeah, pass them over to Summer. Right.

Melissa: I'm just not as tall as you Doc.

Who said that? Oh, hello. (laughter)

Alright so, Clancy of the Overflow, the way it really should have been done.

I had written him a letter which I had, for want of better

Knowledge, sent to where I met him down the Lachlan, years ago,

He was shearing when I knew him, so I sent the letter to him,

Just "on spec", addressed as follows, "Clancy, of The Overflow".

And an answer came directed in a writing unexpected,

(And I think the same was written with a thumb-nail dipped in tar)

Twas his shearing mate who wrote it, and verbatim I will quote it:

"Clancy's gone to Queensland droving, and we don't know where he are."

In my wild erratic fancy visions come to me of Clancy

Gone a-droving "down the Cooper" where the Western drovers go;

As the stock are slowly stringing, Clancy rides behind them singing,

For the drover's life has pleasures that the townsfolk never know.

Try to keep up!

And the bush hath friends to meet him, and their kindly voices greet him

In the murmur of the breezes and the river on its bars,

And he sees the vision splendid of the sunlit plains extended,

And at night the wond'rous glory of the everlasting stars.

I am sitting in my dingy little office, where a stingy

Ray of sunlight struggles feebly down between the houses tall,

And the foetid air and gritty of the dusty, dirty city

Through the open window floating, spreads its foulness over all

And in place of lowing cattle, I can hear the fiendish rattle

Of the tramways and the buses making hurry down the street,

And the language uninviting of the gutter children fighting,

Comes fitfully and faintly through the ceaseless tramp of feet. And the

You take a break here. There's nothing in this verse. Just relax

hurrying people daunt me, and their pallid faces haunt me

As they shoulder one another in their rush and nervous haste,

With their eager eyes and greedy, and their stunted forms and weedy,

For townsfolk have no time to grow, they have no time to waste.

And I somehow rather fancy that I'd like to change with Clancy,

Like to take a turn at droving where the seasons come and go,

While he faced the round eternal of the cash-book and the journal —

But I doubt he'd suit the office, Clancy, of "The Overflow".

But I doubt he'd suit the office, Clancy, of "The Overflow".

Thank you. Well done.

Is that mine now? Can I take that?

The hat? No no. I need that for next time.

Thank you. Thank you. Thanks Doc. My role here is to pay tribute,

Mal and I, to a legendary bush drover Bruce Simpson.

Bruce was a local he lived at Upper Caboolture for the last years of his life,

and I was honoured and privileged to befriend him during that time.

If you don't have his works, I have copies of Songs of the Droving Season for $20.00

and Where the Outback Drovers Ride for $25.00.

The money goes to his daughter who is still alive and a resident in Brisbane.

This poem that I wrote, I actually did for Bruce before he passed away.

He was born in 1924 and he died in March last year, 95 years old.

He's a legend not because he was a drover.

He's a legend because he captured droving so vividly in both his poetry and prose.

Very humble, unassuming sore of person and when I wrote this poem,

I titled it originally “When I listen to a legend”.

I read it to him and he said “You're embarrassing me!” and I said

“No. Where's your name in the poem Bruce?” “Aargh, everyone knows it's about me!”

I deliberately didn't put his name in but since he's passed away,

I've changed it and his name is in the poem.

So if you hear a rumbling during my recital, it's just Bruce turning over in his grave.

I changed the title to “When I listen to Bruce Simpson”

On occasions I would visit and I'd listen to Bruce speak,

of his way of life of droving, way of life that was unique.

And for city-dwelling-folks like us, we didn't have a clue,

but it's us who need to understand what drovers had to do.

Bruce was sitting in a soft chair at the age of ninety five,

and his window view was all there was for him to stay alive;

for he looked at Woodford's cattle yards, their smells, their sounds their sights,

and his droving days came flooding back, those outback days and nights.

He would say to me, “Enjoy your life and make each minute great,

for in time you could be sitting here in need of help me-mate.

'Cause its when you're young you've time to spend just like a millionaire,

and it's lavishly you'll spend it for when young you just don't care.

“But then later when you realise the sands of time are few,

then you value every minute, every minute left to you.

And I hope you leave a legacy of mates and times behind,

for our legacy to droving is out there for all mankind.”

“It's a legacy of mateship, one of courage, skill and trust,

through those stockroutes like the Murranji with scrub and holes and dust.

Where your knowledge of the Southern Cross told you when dawn was near.

And then only when the tally's done would you toss down a beer.”

So I listened and I learnt about an outback droving day;

how important was the night horse when the cattle raced away.

And how Yanks call that a stampede but for Aussies it's a rush,

where the night horse tries to wheel the mob before the timbered brush.

And this legacy meant team work you depended on the cook,

you depended on the horsetailer, Head Drover's tally book.

You relied upon your stockwhip and your swag was waterproof,

and a ringer who would listen and knew how to shoe a hoof.

It was not his own achievements that Bruce Simpson did proclaim,

but achievements of the industry, its rightful claim to fame.

Its significance to heritage, Australia's history;

so that future generations know their droving legacy.

And Bruce said, “Yah know me real concern's with Aussies still to come,

will they understand and value what these droving blokes have done;

how their epic drives with cattle forged an Aussie dynasty

and provided food and finance, our beef cattle industry.”

And this knowledge that Bruce shared with me confirmed what he had said,

about living every moment be it now or what's ahead.

How some lifestyles are significant; those lifestyles that we choose,

like the contribution droving's made. A thing we shouldn't lose

And if what we do is thoughtful, has some meaning, helps the earth;

then perhaps, just like Bruce Simpson, what we leave will be of worth.

Bruce Simpson. It would be very remise of me not to do a Bruce Simpson poem.

The one I've selected is one that Bruce valued very much.

The Night Horse was a very important companion for the drover

because when the cattle were in a rush, your life depended on your night horse.

And Bruce knew that so well. So this was his favourite night horse,

and he wrote this poem called “Farewell Old Chap”. [Goodbye Old Chap]

You may rub your head on my coat, old chap,

As you stand by the gate in pain,

While I loose the know in the greenhide strap

That you never shall wear again.

You may nudge my hand as you've done so oft,

In the days that have gone for aye,

For you'll carry me never again on watch, 

Round the mob at the break of day.

You will draft no more as the grey dust swings,

From the camp on the blacksoil plains;

You will prop no more by the stockyard wings,

When we yard for the cattle trains.

No more you'll wait for the mob to splash,

By the light of a storm lit sky;

Mid the thunder's roar and the timber's crash,

Round the camp in the Murranji.

Ne'er again by the nighthorse break you'll doze,

In the chill of a winter night,

When the south wind moans and the back log glows,

and the stars wink cold and white.

We may find another with swinging gait,

To hack through the trucking town,

And there'll be others to quietly wait

By the break as the sun goes down.

We may find another to match your pace,

Through the scrub when the fireworks start,

But never another to take the place

That you hold in a horseman's heart.

Your mates have stood on the camp since dawn,

You are watching alert and keen;

The packs are on and the girths are drawn,

But the fence stands there between.

The plant is off on the road again,

And here by the paddock gate,

In the days to follow, and all in vain,

You'll whinny and watch and wait.

And often out on the Wave Hill track,

When the evening shadows falls,

Our thoughts will turn to the gamest hack,

And the best nighthorse of all.

Actor, farewell! Till your last long sleep,

May never the creek run dry,

May the grass be whispering fetlock deep,

Forever, Old Chap, Goodbye.

Bruce Simpson.

Now to continue the tribute to Bruce Simpson,

please welcome Mal. Mal Beveridge

Thanks Noel. As Noel just said, one of the most important things,

or the most important horse in the drover's plant was the nighthorse.

And this poem by Bruce Simpson tells the short tale of a drover riding round the camp at night,

at the last watch of the evening. And the last watch was called “The Daylight Watch”.

The daylight watch is a graveyard shift,

From three till the dawn comes stealing,

While a billion stars in the heavens drift

To the planet's steady wheeling.

The cross hangs low in the southern sky

As the last watch slowly passes,

No bullock stirs as my horse goes by

Hooves quiet on the dew-damp grasses.

I ride on watch with a loose-held rein,

My tryst with the darkness keeping

Round the cattle camp on the narrow plain,

Where the big store mob is sleeping.

I ride and sing lest the mob take fright

And rush like a torrent flowing,

To smash forever the calm of night

In the wake of the frantic going.

I watch and wait for the glow of dawn

That will herald the coming morrow,

But night holds sway and the curlews mourn

Like souls in the vale of sorrow.

It's an eerie shift for a man alone

Ere dawn when the night is dying,

A chill wind blows and the gidees moan

As ghosts of the past come sighing.

That's the daylight watch by Bruce Simpson.

Now ladies and gentlemen when I first was invited to this particular event,

I knew there was one poem by Bruce Simpson which draws together the artist,

the artworks, the drovers, the end of the droving days

and puts them all in a wonderful package for you.

It is now my pleasure to present to you

“And Yet Sometimes…” by Bruce Simpson. 

Now the droving is done and no more from the scrub

Come the drovers to camp by the Newcastle pub.

They are gone from the routes with their horses and packs

And the tall grasses blow o'er their deep trodden tracks.

Noe there's never a campfire the stockroute along,

For the transports have silenced the night-watcher's song.

And yet sometimes on nights filled with thunder and rain,

In my dreams I am back on the stockroutes again

With a wild restless mob ever ready to rush,

On a camp mid the ant beds and dry underbrush.

‘Twas a grim hundred miles down the Murranji track

Where the night camps were bad and the scrublands were black,

A vast wasteland unwanted that seemed without end

From the scrub-covered jump-up to t Bucket Creek bend.

Then we prayed for fine weather - a clear autumn sky

When we entered the scrubs for the grim Murranji.

And we doubled the watches and cursed long and plain

When the Murranji met us with thunder and rain,

For when big mobs rushed there, there was little recourse,

Save to trust to your luck and to trust your horse,

And there many a drover when things went amiss

In the Murranji scrublands face grim Nemesis.

And the big bullocks knew, for they gave us no rest

As the grudgingly walked from their runs in the West,

For they sulked and they pined for their far distant hills

And they scorned the long troughs at the Murranji mills.

They would moan soft and low for the pandanus springs

And they watched us like hawks from the lead and the wings.

But they'd ring in rebellion and baulk in dismay

When the Mitchell grass plains stretched ahead and away.

Now there's never a campfire the stockroutes along,

For the transports have silenced the night-watcher's song.

There is bitumen now where the big diesels roll

And the dead men grow lonely by the Murranji hole.

Now the shy curlews wail and their sad chorus swells

As though missing the music of Condamine bells,

For the droving is done and the drovers no more

String their mobs to the lake by the Newcastle store.

They have hung up their whips and like me settled down

In a job that's secure mid the comforts of town,

And yet sometimes on nights filled with thunder and rain

In my dreams I am back on the stockroutes again,

With a good horse beneath ? with the timber a-crack

‘Round a mob of wild stores on the Murranji track.

Thank you Bruce Simpson. Thank you Melissa.

Ladies and gentlemen, Melissa Western

How about another round of applause for the NORTH PINE BUSH POETS.

Now I'll just invite the gentlemen, you're more than welcome to take

some of the vacant seats for the panel discussion or you can sit exactly where you are.

Wasn't that wonderful? Now we've actually recorded this today.

So hopefully we'll have it up on the website and you can share it with people who weren't able to come.

But fantastic original poems and so very wonderful to work with the wonderful group of the North Pine Bush Poet's.

So we're running a little bit over.

If you do need to take a rest break, please feel free.

But we're going to have about a 20 minute panel discussion with some other visual artists

that we've invited here today to talk about the connection between visual art and poetry.

We have three artists plus Kay who you've already heard from

and we've got them to bring in their artworks today and also,

they're going to read some poems that they wrote for their exhibitions.

Conversation starter

(Leanne Kelly) Good morning, everybody. Thank you for coming. We're all well separated aren't we, but it's lovely to see your faces this morning, thank you for joining us. We've got a couple more that are coming, but we're going to get underway. My name is Leanne Kelly. I have the wonderful job of being the coordinator of galleries and museums for the Morton Bay Regional Council.

This one that you're in today is one of our three museums and three galleries. So if you haven't been to any others, I'm sure the ladies will give you a brochure. I want to start today most importantly, by acknowledging the traditional owners of the land that we're meeting on today. I want to pay my respects to their elder’s past, present and emerging and acknowledge that their stories and their life are continuing in this region to this day.

We're doing research at the moment for a project that will be realized in a couple of years, but it came up in that research that not far, literally just down on the river, which is very close to here, you could walk down. Was one of the main encampments North of Brisbane. And I didn't realize that. And so when, European settlement first started to move through this region in just after Brisbane became not a penal colony, there were number of camps down on the river, which is actually quite beautiful. I didn't know that about that it was so close to where we are. So they're the kind of stories you're going to see here in coming times. I'm here to introduce our wonderful guests today, this conversation starter series, for those of you who've been here before, is our way of having conversations where the past informs the future. And as a heritage museum, we tell lots of historical stories. We have lots of fantastic photos, and we also tell lots of amazing stories that when we talk about them, they really resonate today. Earlier this year, we had an exhibition called Making Do, and it was focused, but continued on from the idea of a hundred years ago, believe it or not in the great depression, ironic where we find ourselves now, the whole idea of making do wasn't maybe a political thing or a personal choice, it was actually how you survived. So whether it was making do with what you owned or what you ate or what you wore, it was actually an ethos of life, and so we kind of explored that, you know, we have some amazing things and out of that came the predecessor to this conversation, which Jane actually hosted then as well. So today is a follow on from that pre isolation, pre another world was a conversation starter about supporting local farmers and it was quite a profound morning. Actually, I'm not ashamed to say I shed a couple of tears at some of the stories that were told that morning because they were actually very moving and profound.

So it's wonderful to invite Jane and two new guests to be with us today. Jane has an Instagram account, like all the cool things do these days, even I do and I'm not that cool. So, if you follow Jane, she is a conversation starter, that's who she is, and I was really excited that she's joined us again today. I almost think of you as a friend of our museum now, because I love, we love having you here. Jane's here to start some more conversations today. We have two guests today, a little bit of Jane's background. She is a communications professional, and I think you kind of still are, aren’t you? That will probably follow you your whole life.

She grew up on a farm. She studied agricultural science. She worked for decades in rural journalism. Again, starting conversations and she was also in communications advocacy, running public awareness campaigns so, she's a past president and life member of the Royal press club and, Queensland's 2010 runner up. Good grief. Who won it? That's what I want to know. The runner up of the rural women's award. After completing her postgraduate leadership study, Jane set up textile beat, which is how I've come to know Jane in 2013 to share an appreciation for natural fibers and slow clothing philosophy. She's wearing her workmanship today.

So that's how I now, in the beauty of 2020, the gift that keeps on giving Jane's here with us, but she was meant to be the other places a long way from here. And she'll share a bit of that story today. Her two guests we're going to actually ask them to tell their own story. We've got Peter Kearney, who's joined us today.

Peter’s connected to Mill and Farm in Samford Valley. He's the founder of that farm, and he's going to tell us a little bit about his life in the Samford Valley for the last 23 years. And Jane's got lots of great questions. Jacki's going to tell us about a really fancy salad. That's what I want to know about. That's what I've honed in on. But apart from the really fancy salad she has a fantastic story about Blue Dog Farm. So please join me in welcoming them and for this conversation today and thank you for coming again today and being beautifully socially distanced. I really appreciate it. We can let some people sit down just before we start, come on in and again, so thank you, I'm going to hand over to Jane.

(Jane Milburn) Thank you so much, Leanne. It's wonderful to be back at Pine Rivers Heritage Museum for our conversation starter Conscious Consumerism, closer, fresher, better and  Leanne was mentioning the making do exhibition, I was really proud to have what I call my history skirt as a feature in that museum and it was because of that I used it on the front cover of my book, Slow Clothing. So anyway, I was back here in February before our world turned upside down with the global pandemic and that challenged the way we live and exposed vulnerabilities and how we source food, clothing, personal protective equipment, and many other things as you'd be well aware.

A recent report from Deloitte ‘A Shock to the Food System’ was its title, suggests flaws caused by long rigid supply chains that disconnect producers and consumers and result in a lot of food loss up to 30% and value distortion. Public health experts suggest COVID-19 is just one of a line of pandemics in our globalised world caused by ecological pressures and population growth and other things.

So, you know, this is our future. The link between food and health does seem obvious, but what we eat or don't eat is actually a leading contributor to non-communicable diseases that affect our quality of life and drain health care systems. Two thirds of Australian adults are overweight and I'm ashamed to say I'm actually in that category and at higher risk of chronic diseases, such as type two diabetes, heart disease and some cancers, and that also makes us more vulnerable to coronavirus. So food security became an issue early in the early stages of the pandemic, as you'd know, people stockpiled, supermarket shelves were emptied and that caused the National Farmers Federation to actually issue an assurance to Australians that, we do produce enough food for 75 million people, more than three times our population, but localism is arising. We know that there's some food out there, but we're actually today looking talking about closer fresher food sources, that are literally in our own backyard and how we can support and grow nutritious local nutrient dense food for preventive health. So my name is Jane Milburn, I'm a Churchill fellow actually, but I'm untraveled. So, I'm currently doing a permaculture design course at Northey Street Farm, and I know Jacki has also done a PDC as well, learning about ethics and design principles that enable resilience, regeneration and abundance. We've got these fabulous local food producers and educators here today, Jackie Hinchey from Blue Dog Farm and Reco Ring, Dayboro, and also Peter Keirney from My Food Garden in the Samford Valley.

So they're going to be talking across a range of topics, sourcing and using local produce, advice for achieving self-sufficiency in backyards and small gardens, as well as the exciting potential of urban agriculture. So instead of actually introducing them, I'm going to get them to give you a two-minute elevator pitch, not that we're going to necessarily time it just so they can say in their own words, who they are and what they do. So we'll start with you, Jacki.

(Jacki Hinchey) Hi, I'm Jacki from Blue Dog Farm, and I have a small market garden, it's 10 by 20 meters, so it's about probably three times the size, maybe not three times the size of this room and I very intensively grow about 15 different crops. Some of them, which you might know, a rocket and lettuce and baby kale and then there are many that you wouldn't know. But I throw them all into a salad mix together and it includes petals and herbs so that it's something that is interesting and a bit fancy and very diverse.

So the leaves are from many different families, so they've got very different nutrient capabilities. So they're better for your tummy than having a bit of spinach, and what else do they, spinach and lettuce? I think that’s what they call a salad mix down at the supermarket. So, I mixed, I grow them, my word for it is that I grow them thoughtfully. There is no way that I would use a chemical fertilizer, fungicide, pesticide, or herbicide anywhere on my property. And my plants are all just nourished through mostly a lot of it is processes and just applying nutrients or instigators of nutrients at the right time throughout the growing cycle.

My salad is available only locally, so I don't want it that supply chain to get long and complicated. I'm only growing it for my own community, here in Morton Bay and around the Northern suburbs of Brisbane. So there I can make a living and I have to say that I'm not responsible providing all of our families income, but I can make a living for myself from my little garden and also a little bit more from the grass fed beef that we grow and same thing sell direct to our customers. That's Blue Dog Farm. Oh, I should explain that Blue Dog Farm is called Blue Dog Farm because we've got a very loud and bossy blue dog who thinks that it actually says Blue Dog’s Farm, and that she is the Boss and that I am her employee.

(Jane Milburn) And it's a fabulous place to visit too, I came out there recently.

We'll get back to more of that soon, but Peter, perhaps, can we hear your two minutes spiel, please?

 

(Peter Kierney) Did you say two minutes?

(Jane Milburn) I'm not timing you.

(Peter Kierney) Well, you mentioned backyard before so, my journey into urban food growing started in my backyard in Melbourne when I was 10 years old and that's a very long time ago and in having moved to Queensland about 30 years ago and out into Samford Valley, 24 years ago to send our children to the Samford Steiner school. We, we've been on an acreage ever since, and I significantly increased my food growing and started to sell food and began to study organic and biodynamic growing methods. And really we, we as a family, decided that we would only eat organic food and we had four children, we have four children and, just, I needed to grow a lot more food to, to stick to that ethic really that we chose for our family so, and I'd realized quite some time before that having been involved in quite intellectual work in software design and, accounting and stuff that as soon as I got my hands in the dirt, I started to get healed, it was like this beautiful rejuvenation process. So, I had this higher purpose in a sense for growing but when, when we made that decision to, to eat organic food, it really started to and to grow more, it opened my eyes a lot more to the dysfunction of our food system and the weaknesses that were evolving in it. And that there's so many wicked problems in it that you could look at it and say, well, what can I do? You know, it's just all, it looks all too hard, but I think it really does start in your backyard and so for me, I started our business, my food garden 14 years ago. And now we run lots of organic and biodynamic food growing workshops. We have a lot of clients who we coach and design, I just come from a food garden job this morning. My son, who I was working with said to me, dad, why don't you go in your grungy gardening gear, but yeah, I did change, and we also do consulting on larger urban agriculture projects.

So I'm very, very, very interested in the transformational potential of getting small scale intensive food growing into smaller spaces. I have a patch the same size as yours, and I'm always experimenting with intensification of production and I teach that in our workshops too. So. Yes. Is that enough?

(Jane Milburn) Yeah, that's great. (Jacki talks to Jane) Yes, that was exactly what I was going to do. Just to check in with our audience. Who's already gardening? Who's already growing a lot of their own food? So maybe half of you. Yeah.

(Jacki Hinchey) One parsley plant is a garden. It's okay.

(Jane Milburn) That's all you need to start. Isn't that Jacki? So, nutrition density of your salad, I mean, your salad is very beautiful. I know from having tasted it. And in fact, you motivated me to diversify the range of little plants that I've got growing in my, my little green space there. And I'm self-sufficient now, which is fabulous, but the nutrient density of these things that are leaves that are grown in a non-broad scale situation.Can you give us some info on that?

(Jacki Hinchey) Scientifically I can't. And it's a shame. I think Peter and I both, we know that our plants and our food are better for you than what you can get from the supermarket. But a leaf test is about $130 per leaf, and I've got 15 crops, I would love to get them all done and then take an average of the nutrient density of my crops, just so that I can prove that my salad is better, but I tell you what a better measure is when mums say that their kids are eating the salad. Now this is it's not as sweet salad, it's quite bitter. You know, it has a lot of rocket and mustards and sorrels. Probably the children are enticed by it looking really interesting, diverse colors and petals, and really unusual shaped leaves in a bowl on a table. And often I say to mums, just put it out on the table and you eat a leaf at the time, it might not be the best table manners, but just eat and consider what you're eating. And the children copy, they especially eat the leaves of the salad that's got the flowers in it.

I believe evolutionarily that we would go walking along a track, possibly as these people did down to the river and they would take leaves off plants and try them. Some of those leaves might be poisonous and they'd get a tummy ache and they wouldn't go back to it. But otherwise subconsciously their bodies would be working out if this is really good for me, if it isn't medicine or is it really, really dense food? The next time that they come past that bush, they would have it again. I 100% believe this to be true because when I'm harvesting rocket, now, I don't know if you know, but a rocket is associated with liver health, I don't have a liver problem, but I'm really drawn to rocket. I love the bitter and when I'm harvesting, that's what I go for again and again, I'd love to know why. So if you just, step back and don't try to listen to your body, just do what you need, I think that you end up being drawn to what you need. That, that is all that I can say about nutrient density, because I can't prove anything. I know, I'm sure Peter's going to have an opinion on that.

(Jane Milburn) Yes Peter, what's your opinion?

(Peter Kierney) Yes. So I think the, with the plants, if they are, if they're looked after in the right way, then their nutrient density will be high, and what I have observed in our food growing spaces is I don't have issues with insects and I don't have issues with animals eating my crops, and I have no covering whatsoever on anything on anything and so, what I know about the science in relation to that is that the, the sugar level that is in the leaves via the photosynthesis process can be measured, but when it gets to a certain point, the plants become unpalatable to the insects and the animals, but they're perfect for human consumption.

So, so there is, and without, without measuring, you know, scientifically you can know that that is, that your plants are at the right level. I mean, the, the, the insects and animals won't be attacking them, but you can, you can know by their form, like if their shape and their form is really, really strong, their aroma and their flavor. So they're the three things which you can really determine with your senses is the, from sight, you know, the form of it, the aroma from the nose and the taste with your emails. So I think it's really important to, to try to work with your senses as much as possible because you know, science, the science of soil and plant is very complex and I think it's a lot better and it's worthwhile, but for most people you can garden really well by relying on your senses.

(Jacki Hinchey) relying on your gut feel.

(Peter Kierney) Yes.

(Jacki Hinchey) You know, yeah, just trust your gut and, and take it.

(Jane Milburn) It’s intuition isn’t it? Intuition plays such an important part. And I'm fascinated really Peter that you’re organic, kind of just because you can be. Whereas, you know, corporate large scale would be using chemicals and obviously upsetting, the natural balance that's in the soil and, and in, in your little, in your garden. So, it really, are you totally supportive of organics or some people say that the nutrition is not much different between, not exactly supermarket leaves, but you know, like the tests have been done to show that there's not a great deal of difference between organic and non-organic.

(Peter Kienery) Okay. Well, I don't believe those tests for a start, but I use organic practices as a platform. And then I potentize all of those with biodynamic methods, which use these prepared herbs and manures. And I also work in time with planetary movements and I also recognize that the consciousness of the gardener within the patch effects the quality of the plant. So I work with those three things of, you know, potentize in the organic processes, timing with planetary movements and really, really concentrating when I go into the garden to have this feeling of love for the patch, trying to clear my mind of everything else, and every day I sit at my garden, I’ve got a special contemplation chair that I use and have a bit of a meditation and I think about all the life that is in the garden and the birds that are around the garden and how, you know, we can all sort of work as a team. Yep.

(Jane Milburn) Very old school in a way appropriate to be talking about this at the Heritage Museum, really that everything old is new again, as we find that we, you know, we need to be producing more food locally. And, can you talk a bit more about the Millen Farm and the idea of more urban agriculture systems.

(Peter Kierney) Okay. So, so Millen Farm started out of a really interesting community process called Samford Futures and it was really driven by the, the Samford Parklands area, which is a large piece of land that was a CSIRO research station and then it was subdivided, and there was a portion that was for public use. And some master planning had been done by the council but then this, this was about 10 years ago, I think and Woolworth's wanted to take over Samford and the Samford community rose up and stopped Woolworth's doing that, which was fantastic, but our local counselor, Bob Miller said to us, so you've all got to get, we had, there was a group of about 300 of us, he said, you've all got together to say what you don't want in Samford, so how about you use that energy to say what you do want for Samford and in particular, the Parklands area. So that then triggered this, three-year process of surveying the Samford community and finding what they wanted. So, one of the areas was food and they wanted local food and yet there was all this land, but there didn't seem to be a nexus between there's land and we want food, but you know, nowhere near enough was being grown. So, there was resources there, but not a way to achieve it. So that was the point of Millen Farm.

So I led that group and we got, we got the land negotiated with the council and formed the organization and raised money and got a big following, and then eventually the farmer came along. And the point of that, the, the key philosophy of that organization was to create, a duplicatable method of commercially sustainable, urban farming.

So, it's still striving towards that. And it's really an interesting thing because around the world, this, that very question is being pushed in virtually every country, about how do we, how do we create an environment or, or opportunities for people to make a living growing food around cities. And I think, what I've learnt from that process and also where our business has been doing work on some property developments as well and planning work with Morton Bay Regional Council on more urban agriculture in the area, is that compared to sort of the conventional farm where it makes all of its money out of selling food the urban farming model needs to incorporate a very strong focus on the cultural aspects.

So you have education, you have, you know, visits, you have volunteers coming, so there's this whole engagement of local people in your, in your process. So it's sort of, to me, it brings back the culture that, you know, the word is agri-culture, and yet it's become agri-business, so there's a real beauty in that. And I've seen it so many times with people coming to our gardens and workshops and in going to all sorts of urban agriculture venues around the world, because I travel quite a bit in this space. So. It's yeah, it's really wonderful to see how people join together over food.

(Jane Milburn) That's fabulous. Isn't that like? And it shows you how far we've drifted away or that, that difference between agri-business and agri-culture, which is around community and, and feeding ourselves and healing ourselves through growing food is exciting. So, what proportion of land do you feel in Morton Bay Shire has got potential or Morton Bay Council I should say, has potential, like how much could we contribute to the needs of the community by growing it locally?

(Peter Kierney) Well we, in the planning work that we've done with the council there’s been 70 hectares of land identified, but then that excludes all private land. Which, and in other parts of Australia or indeed in other parts of the world, there are ways for counc…local governments are figuring out ways to, to help landowners to make land available for urban farming. So there's thousands of hectares of land in the region that could be used it just, but the public land, there's a lot of public land available and how much has grown just depends on the intensity, but you know, like, I mean, I've got a patch of 200 square meters and I can produce, 10 kilograms of produce per square meter, of organic produce.

(Jane Milburn) How much time does that take you though? Because that's often the limiting factor, isn't it?

(Peter Kierney) Probably a day a week at the moment.

(Jacki Hinchey) About an episode of Master Chef every day.

(Peter Kierney) Yes.

(Jane Milburn) Yes. It's just where we direct our time and energy that makes the difference, isn't it Jacki? Just before we move back to you, Jacki, and hear more about your story I'd just like to keep going with you, Peter, about, the concept that I know Richard Dennis in his book Affluenza says that lawn is the biggest irrigated crop in America. So, I imagine in, in Morton Bay Regional Council area, there'd be a lot of irrigated lawns that maybe needs to be, you know, re-designed and cultivated to grow food instead of something that's a burden.

(Peter Kierney) Totally. Yeah, I totally agree. And I remember when I did a presentation to the Samford community at the community hall there was about 500 people there. And we were, this was the pitch to the community for the whole farming thing. And, and I said to them, Samford used to be an agricultural area and now all that land is used to feed ride on mowers and horses. And a lot of the food we eat is imported, how does that make sense? Like we have this incredible asset and this beautiful climate here that allows us to grow food every day of the year.

(Jane Milburn) And I think that needs to come from the ground up though. Doesn't it. In terms of building community and change, Jackie, what views have you got there?

(Jacki Hinchey) That is spot on. It comes from us. We are so anti big ag and so anti the supermarkets, they're just responding to our demand. So, does anyone have a bit of a veggie garden and they're growing a bit of food? Yeah. Do you ever give a bit of what you grow to your neighbors over the fence? Do you give it to your children or yeah. Could you imagine them growing something and giving, what the excess of what they grow back to you and then possibly you've got a fence between you and your neighbor that you could put a passion fruit on. There you go, taddah! You're starting to feed Moreton Bay, it doesn't have to come from a government policy. It can come from you. If it comes from you, it's, it's a lot more, well, it's demand driven. Isn't it? It's you’re leaning over the fence and saying, can I swap some pumpkins for cabbage and then just stop buying it from the supermarket.

(Jane Milburn) So it's the outsourcing, isn't it? We outsource a lot of things because, you know, and looking back at previous generations, I mean, I come from a farming community and everybody grew food. You know, you didn't really buy a whole lot in and do you feel we can never get back to that though? Or are we into an outsourcing culture?

(Jacki Hinchey) And I look remember when Covid had happened and the supermarket supply chain failed, and everyone thought maybe there's going to be a food revolution. Did anyone hear that? Or, you know, maybe everything's going to change, it didn't last for long enough, and we weren't poor enough to really suffer. What was that, making do? We didn't have to make do with eating holey lettuce and the second-rate food that we might've had in our vege, not from my garden, your garden. We didn’t have to make do with eating what we had in our own gardens, we could get back to the supermarkets within three weeks. If things had been a bit tougher, maybe a few more 20 something year olds would have gone I'm going to dig up mum and dad's backyard and start, because they'd lost their jobs, start a business selling potatoes. I actually, had a whole lot more volunteers turning up at my house, in through April/May, and they've got some beds around the periphery, which used to be wild, and now they're, they're still turning up, I feel like I'm managing their gardens a lot, but they're, they're growing crops that I'm not growing, in the edges of my market garden. So, I think that it, it comes from the community, whether it be demand for the fruit and veggies or if it is from the aspect of a young person or anyone wanting to do, to be a young grower.

(Jane Milburn) Mm. And, so, the pandemic influence, do you think it's evaporated or are we still, you know, do feel that we're on a journey somewhere?

(Jacki Hinchey) Yeah, I think we're on a journey anyway. And I'm, I know that when you're in a sphere such as Peter and I are and you are Jane, where you are surrounded by good stuff, you know, making do, and, and just eating good food that you've grown yourself or that has…

(Jane Milburn) Being resourceful.

(Jacki Hinchey) being normal thing, being like our granny was, I'm sorry, what was the question?

(Jane Milburn) Oh, just the pandemic influence.

(Jacki Hinchey) That's right. You know, I did have a bump from it, but I think in general, a lot of people have just gone back to their old ways very quickly. It would be really nice if we could just see people knuckling down for a bit longer.

(Jane Milburn) Hmm. And where do you think the entry point is? Like what, I mean, personally, I, during the pandemic, I was doing a lot of walking in the neighborhood and gathered seeds and I was really grateful for people who you had verge gardens, because, you know, you could find some parsley seed and I've grown it and now it's ongoing so, I think, you know, perhaps that’s the starting point is growing your greens, your herbs, perhaps, is that something that everybody can do?

(Jacki Hinchey) One parsley plant, parsley and chives and just enjoy it and put it somewhere where you can reach it. That might be a permaculture principle there of having things….just have them at the back steps or have it on your window sill so you can use it and only, only build a garden that's as big as what you can manage. If it's, if it's, if it's only this big, go for it and don't spend a fortune on buying some fancy manufactured, imported garden,

(Jane Milburn) A lack of confidence. Do you think that's part of it?

(Jacki Hinchey) Confidence and time. And we're so distracted by doing techie things, you know, you know that you're tubing how to grow a garden instead of growing a garden.

(Jane Milburn) Mmm. Because, they kind of almost grow themselves, some things don't they? But water's a really limiting factor.

(Jacki Hinchey) No.

(Jane Milburn) Not in our climate. You don't think?

(Jacki Hinchey) I would like to go back to what Peter said about how he's got a meditating chair in his garden. I've got a stump. Same thing though, if you just spend time out there, I don't know how it is, but stuff grows and it's growing because of your intent. It's growing because you're spending time there and you're noticing what's going on and you might happen to throw a packet of seeds out. You may happen to, harvest something, process it, like harvest your basil, turn it into pesto and wallah!? Sometimes it comes back again, and you get twice as much just doing, spending time. Thinking about what you're doing, observing what's going on with insects and all the little things that grow in the soil and enjoying your garden and just enjoying being there really helps.

(Jane Milburn) Peter your insights. I know organic matter holds a lot of water. So in some ways that's a key for getting going in your garden. So maybe I should ask you too. how do you think people can get going and growing more of their own food?

(Peter Kierney) I think that they, yeah, they can start on a small scale, let's say if you've got a yard, then, I would usually, not start in a structure, I would try to, you know, use the grass and dig it up and not buying soil. But to, to learn from someone or learn how to transform it because otherwise everything is guess works. And the key to growing food well is to be able to manage the soil. That's the most important priority so, if all we ever do is bind soil, you'll never actually learn how to manage soil. So, I think it's better to, to start by, improving it like we are the garden job that I just came from this morning in Albany Creek and we built a garden for clients on this space and which is in their front yard. And all the neighbors are all stuffing looking at it saying what's going on. And there was this area that had all, you know, fairly messy native and non-native plants, but it actually had good soil. So we just we cleared it and then put some timber edging down, use the native soil and grew we've planted a crop to feed the soil. And I think, I think this is a really key thing is that when, and even if you buy nursery soil, it's better to assume that it's not what they say it is. And to start growing a crop into it that feeds the soil, not yourself. But to be patient, you know and just hold…

(Jane Milburn) And what would that be?

(Peter Kierney) So say this time of the year, it would be good, I mean, it depends on the season, but always, usually, always start with a legume crop, which is..

(Jane Milburn) Name them specifically?

(Peter Kierney) So we were planting mung bean this morning. But you could plant cow pea, you know, there's lots of legumes you can buy. The process is called green manure and that's where you grow a crop in the soil and you let it grow to a point and then you cut it down and then it just breaks down into the soil. I mean, I had to give you an example in our, our patch, which has 200 square meters. And I always put most of the area into green manure between January and March, because it's a bit hot to grow a lot of things then. But I leave one bed for vege and I put that under the shade cloth, but I had all cow pee in there, which is a legume. They all grew to about this size. They take two months to get to that height and then they cut down, laid on the bed. So they become mulch.

And within one month they completely gone into the soil. I don't dig them out at all. I just let the natural process draw them down into the soil. So it's really, really easy to do it. It costs virtually nothing to do it, and it puts all of these beautiful, you know, minerals and living nitrogen into the soil and the plants love it. So, I would, I would always start by trying to understand how you can improve the soil in a simple way.

(Jane Milburn) And do you, you run courses on this Peter?

(Peter Kierney) Yeah I do.

(Jane Milburn) Yeah, so can you tell us a bit more about them and their availability?

(Peter Kierney) Okay. So the, I run a four part organic gardening course, which the council sponsor one series that's full this year. And I also run another one that isn't council sponsored, and that's also full there's 20 people in each. And that usually runs, twice a year. So I've got two sets of both of those, and I'll be announcing the, the dates for both of those later in the year. And then I also run a two-day, biodynamic food growing workshop three times a year and I have one of those in November on the 14th and the 15th. So, we've still got a few spices remaining. So you can, if you interested in that, you can have a look on our website at myfoodgarden.com.au on the workshops tab.

(Jane Milburn) Great. Thank you. And, can I ask you to choose your favorite crop to grow? Or one that's perhaps the easiest to grow.

(Peter Kierney) Oh, look, I mean, my favorite, I think it is in this climate are peas and it's interesting. Cause peas can be a cool season crop, but really, they're very easy to grow. They're radically productive if you put them on a climbing frame. And the growing season is quite long, like compared to, you know, other, crops of the similar family, like beans, beans are much more fussy with the season than peas are so I started planting peas in April and I planted a batch in my last batch, about six weeks ago and they're fruiting like crazy now. And I know they're going to finish in about, you know, a month and a half, and that's why they're flowering so much, which is good. So, yeah peas. I love every time I go to in the garden, I eat peas every time.

(Jane Milburn) Yeah. Mine are going well too. What about you, Jacki? What's your favorite thing to grow?

(Jacki Hinchey) Well my favorite thing to grow isn't in the fancy salad mix, I love ginger. I, love the plants, the little flowers. I love that they're perennials so that they grow just in a corner of the garden where they can stay forever. I pull them up. I run down to the garden and pull out a piece of ginger whenever I need it. I never store it in the fridge, or I never saw it in the house. Just run and get it fresh. I just love the scent of fresh ginger. And it's so fat and plump compared to the ginger that you can buy at the shops.

(Jane Milburn) Yeah, it's exciting, isn't it? And ginger is actually grown locally. Like it's a lot of food, isn't it? Hmm. So, what would success look like for you, Jacki? Where, where do you think we can go with this?

(Jacki Hinchey) Success would be all the front yards in Wharton. I ripped up and turned into food garden. It would be fantastic. It happens, you know, it in Canada, there are a lot of front yards being ripped up and turned, you know the fence is taken down and people are growing food. I have a fellow who used to volunteer on a farm that Peter is associated with called Loop Growers, closely associated with, one of their volunteers works for me. So, for two days a week, he comes in, on my 50th birthday, I gave myself the gift of getting a young guy to come and do all the digging well, me, that's Brady's job. Brady is now looking for some land in Brisbane to rip up and turn into a food garden himself. So I'm a little incubator of farmers. It would be wonderful if teenagers got together and you know, it took out the fences between the houses and, and started farming in the suburbs. And it's easy to do council, pretty easy on you. I'm not so sure about getting out on your verge on your front road, but you know, you can have a little, um esky under a tree, have an honesty box, or you just say inquire at the front door and have just have your neighbors exchanging food. I love it.

(Jane Milburn) And, we haven't talked about the reco ring. Can you tell us a bit more about that, Jacki?

(Jacki Hinchey) Well, this isn't so much about growing food, which you've been speaking about, but if I can explain how this has start, this phenomenon that has hit, that we have put into Dayboro and Samford, and now Red Hill, when Covid had happened, when it happened. My sales dried up by 50%. And we had to, I had to find another way to get the salad to the people. So I had seen a video in February of a system, an online farmer's market in Scandinavia where farmers have set up, local farmers, so let's say in this instance that would be Millen Farm, Loop Growers, Blue Dog Farm, maybe some honey growers or beekeepers, What else? A few people who may know, who are bakers of good goods, get together as a Facebook group and customers comment on their posts. So I say, I've got Blue Dog Farm salad for sale $12.50 a bag, pick up is on Saturday between 11 and 12, customers then comment to order, they might say one please and then they transfer money into my bank account. And then on Saturday morning, between 11 and 12, I will be in a car park in Dayboro, lined up with all the other vendors. We all, we don't have any signage, we don't have a store, we don't have Zippy, Zippy credit card, payment thing. Customers just drive past us and we put the items through their back window, into their esky and they keep driving and take it all home. It's really, really simple. And it's a fabulous way for farmers to distribute their product because we're only there for an hour. It's not like going to a farmer's market where you have to go if it's raining and no one turns up and you've there all day and you miss out on the good sport. And it's wonderful for customers because they're just able to order from the couch while they're watching Netflix on Facebook and then they drive through and pick it up. So that has saved us. We've got one in Dayboro and one in Samford, and we're just starting one in red Hill in the city now. And we'll see how that one goes as well. But that's been really nice for, commercial growers, local commercial growers, and also backyard growers who might have too many limes or.

(Jane Milburn) So that's kind of revolutionizing the farmer's market contact. Do you feel?

(Jacki Hinchey) Much more accessible than a farmer's market? We actually hope to open one in North lakes before Christmas.

(Jane Milburn) Mm. So you're expanding, on a roll.

(Jacki Hinchey) Look, it's not, it's also, it doesn't have anything to do with me. I'm just one of the vendors. It's just that I've had a little bit of practice now at helping set them up. So just, it's just loosely associated groups of growers. Anyone who wants to be a vendor, having a Facebook group and then selling their produce through that. So, the one in North lakes will be started by a fellow who is a paleo Baker, and he's going to find some eggs, pork, chicken producers.

(Jane Milburn) So it's a distribution system. Isn't that?

(Jacki Hinchey) It is, so it's, it is a rebel supply chain. Yeah. Rebels supply getting rid of the middleman.

(Jane Milburn) Ah, very good. So, Peter, what does success look like to you?

(Peter Kierney) Similar to what your, what we've just been talking about is, getting more and more people who are working on their own little patch or whatever size it is, and having, you know, spaces where it's, I guess, more possible for people if they wanted to go commercial at whatever level is there, there are technology platforms existing now that will help with that and there's more evolving no doubt. So the, and I think with the covid thing, you know, what I've noticed is a really big increase in people wanting to grow their own food. A really huge increase in inquiry for me, which is good, but I mean, I must admit that I would prefer people to be, to be motivated, not out of fear, but out of, you know, what is the ideal of what this, you know, seeking with their own health and to heal the earth, which we all need to do. So, but I know it's not, you can't all happen at once. And I've always felt that growing food is the most profoundly democratic thing that you can do. So, you know, every little step taken is worthwhile. So how however long it takes is however long it takes.

(Jane Milburn) So what's your one piece of advice for living well in a post COVID world?

(Peter Kierney) Awe, grow your own food of course.

(Jane Milburn) It's hard to grow it all though. Isn't it?

(Peter Kierney) Oh, look, you can never really be self-sufficient in our society, but that's okay. Is grow as much as you can and use your garden as a place of healing for yourself, because it's really easy to become toxic in this world.

(Jane Milburn) So do you talk to your plants?

(Peter Kierney) Sure.

(Jane Milburn) Good on you. We won't ask you what you tell them now Jacki, what's your one piece of advice for living well in a postcode world?

(Jacki Hinchey) I don't have any advice. I just, I hope you will enjoy your gardens today. I don't, it doesn't matter if your garden is just a two-liter milk bottle with a bit of chives in it, just enjoy it and, and share them with someone else and, and swap them. And, and a whole conversation has actually been about growing veggie gardens, but there is a lot more to eat than vegetables. One thing that is really difficult is not knowing where you can find things other than vegetables. Where can you get ethical, local meat and eggs, and honey. Okay. What else do we eat? Grains? Yeah, well, yeah, grains are a big one. Where do you get them? I think that that is something that is really, really lacking in the whole scene. All you can do I think, is go searching, go to your local farmer's markets, come to reco, but go to your local farmer's markets and meet the farmer that is behind the store and ask him, you know, if, what else he grows, how can he deliver to your home? Can you visit his farm? And this is a tough one, but don't be deterred by what you might perceive as a big price to pay for the kilograms that you might get. Because I believe that we are all eating too much and we are eating too much because the food that we are eating is not nutritious. I'll give you an, a quick example, pasta. That stuff that comes in the packets that's in the middle rows of the supermarket is not very nutritious. You've got to have a huge plate of it because you feel like you're still hungry when you're eating it. I bought some pasta that was made by a cafe and Italian cafe in queen street mall. And they're selling it through Brisbane bulk buys and discounts, $16 a kilogram, but it's fresh, it's wet pasta. That is some just beautifully made.

You only have the tiniest portion, honestly, about as much as what's in there, that of water. You don't want any more because it's a heavy pasta with your sauce on it. $16 a kilo. I would say that you would be getting a meal for two, maybe $2. So it's, it's worth it. And it's the same with meat. I grow grass fed beef, and I make sure that it's packaged in small portions because you don't need to have a great big rump, which will cost you $30 a kilogram. You don't need it. And that way you are able to support your local farmers, they have an income, you're eating less, you'll be getting just as much nutrition as you were eating a huge amount of factory farmed food. What about crickets? We haven't met crickets mentioned crickets. Someone needs to go into cricket farming.

(Jane Milburn) So what other opportunities are there? Cricket farming? Yes. Any others, Jackie you’re a font of wisdom in this?

(Jacki Hinchey) I don't know. Moreton Bay council isn't represented here are they?, Oh, what about, what about quail farming? You know, you don't have to pluck quails. You just take the whole skin off and then throw them in the fry pan, it's easy and you can eat their eggs. Fish?

Well, you know, you can't Oh, I don't know. I can't just eat vegetables. I need eggs. You can all have eggs. Who's got chooks. Good on you. Do you have to buy eggs as well? Or do you have enough? That's awesome. Duck eggs are a thing. Does anyone here, would anyone here like to eat duck eggs? Great. Do you know this lady? She has duck eggs.

(Jane Milburn) So you're building community aren’t you Jacki, as you go. That's very exciting. Well we do have, local food, to share. So, any concluding remarks you'd like to make Peter before we close and spend half an hour building community?

(Peter Kierney) No other, thanks for the opportunity to do this.

(Jane Milburn) Well, thank you for bringing your, you know, your insights. And I think that healing aspect is going to be very significant into the future as well. The healing through the food that we eat. Just one thing for you to finish on Jacki is talking about how you're regenerating your land and measuring that. Can you finish on that?

(Jacki Hinchey) You know, we have financial accounts and we know what everything costs. One thing to think about is the environmental cost of everything we do, so, we are using something called environmental accounting on our farm. We are measuring our water quality, carbon, soil health, and our commercial health, our social health. And then there is a formula that can be used to give us a number of, they're not carbon credits, but the accounting for nature credits. And that is that value is going to be measured, it was measured in May and it's going to be measured next May. And the increase in that number is well, the difference is going to be traded on an accounting for nature exchange in Chicago because European corporations have to invest into, environmental, improvements.

It doesn't have to happen in Australia, but I will say that the Queensland government has given us a rebate to be able to do this. So they are very supportive. That means that we will be monetizing the improvements that we make on our land. So, I'm making sure that our waterway is clean and as healthy as possible by having, natural ecosystems all around it. We only use, non-synthetic fertilizer in the garden, so I would never want anything to wash down into the waterways, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. And all of that is going to be measured and monetized, which is very cool. And we're hoping that in the future, community groups will be able to do the same things. So, possibly you would have a, a local area, not as big as Morton Bay, but just say the Petrie accounting for nature group people, individuals would band together and you would manage at, sorry, you would account for the improvements in your gardens and to be able to sell that collectively on the accounting for nature exchange in Chicago. Isn’t that cool?

(Peter Kierney) That's, that's amazing. I mean, I think in a way what sits behind that is striving to, to balance the, the ecology economy and community, because, you know, we really, that's what we're really need to do in urban agriculture. And there is actually, there is one more thing I want to say is there, there are some really large urban agriculture initiatives evolving through Morton Bay Regional Council, which will be made public reasonably soon so, we have some connection to that, but it's still, I can't really say much at this point in time, but there's, they're very supportive. They're all up. The, the council, the Morton Bay Regional Council council is very supportive of urban agriculture initiatives. So that's, that's great. So, I think we're in the right place to be able to do that.

(Jane Milburn) Yeah. That's exciting. And you know, clearly we've got a lot of work to do to change the system. When you look at what's happening, you know, fires, floods, all of that disaster, you know, we, we need to change the way that we're living and perhaps starting with local urban, agriculture is a big step forward.

(Peter Kierney) Sure. Yep.

(Jane Milburn) And just to finish off, I'd like to say, well, look, we've talked all about food, which is actually 20% of our carbon footprint is what we eat. But the other thing, our skin is our largest organ and our clothing and fiber like local fiber to me is the it's the next big horizon. I'll make that point, I'm wearing wool. Cotton. And this is silk, none of which, even though I've died at all with local plants, it can't be really, the wool definitely from Merino country can be sourced locally and I know there's one line of cotton called full circle fibers, which is fully Australian cotton, but basically we've got globalized fiber and clothing. And, and so that's the next frontier that we can talk about another day, so..

(Jacki Hinchey) We need a sheep and some silkworms.

(Jane Milburn) Yes. So thank you very much, Jacki and Peter, and thank you to Morton Bay, Regional Council, particularly the pond rivers, heritage museum for making this possible. And I think we have Rachel now to conclude and wrap up.

(Rebecca Piper - Pine Rivers Heritage Museum) Thank you everyone for joining us today for our conversations on a conscious consumerism and a big thanks to our host, Jane Milburn and our guest speakers, Peter Kierney and Jacki Hinchey. We are very grateful to have you here today, sharing your knowledge with us and really inspiring change in the way that we source our food, sustainability, urban farming, it was really interesting. And I know I'll definitely go home and look at my little garden and see how I can change it. As the museum continues to navigate its way through this difficult time, we're really hoping to continue to provide small events like this for the community. So, if you'd enjoyed today, please share with your friends, keep an eye on our social media and a website.

We've also got a new Instagram account just for galleries and museums and coming up to Christmas, we'll have a lot of events. So yeah, definitely keep an eye on those. On that note, we'll have Melissa, serving some refreshments. our food today has been locally sourced from Grey's at Samford, Jane and our guests will be here for a while so please, do you want us to continue the conversation? Thank you.

Droving

My name’s Mick Martin.

This poem was written in response to the exhibition Robert MacPherson: Boss Drovers. The poem is written as Robert Pene who was a 10 year old student snd it’s called “Droving”.

 

The teacher says

Now Robert tell your story all the class are keen to hear

Of drovers and the stock routes, speak up now and tell it clear

And share your lovely pictures of the bosses on their horse

And don’t forget those ladies, well I know you won’t, of course

 

Well Miss, I spose I orta start with what “boss drovers” are

They’re rough and tough and firey and they come from near and far

They sign a piece of paper saying they will bring the stock

From far away to places near, as many as they’ve got

 

They have some hardy workers, well they call them drovers too

They’re strong and quick and clever and they know what cattle do

And teacher, did you know this? It’s a secret you can keep,

Boss drovers only close one eye on camp when they’re asleep.

 

They camp out in the open, not a bed to keep them snug

And share the ground with spiders, ants and every sort of bug

And in the night or morning when it’s cold and dark and clear

They take their turn at riding round each cow and calf and steer

 

They must get mighty lonely when they miss their wife and kids

But through the big depression they were never on the skids.

and sometimes crossing rivers or a flooded water course

Some drovers die of drowning by a frightened drover’s horse.

 

The mickey bulls are mongrels and the cows with calves are worse

The boss must think that droving is some kind of lousy curse

I’m sorry teacher, truly, and I did not mean to shock

It’s how the drovers talk rough when they’re outback droving stock

 

Teacher says

Thanks Robert, now these pictures, tell us all about them too

I see you’ve done your homework there are really quite a few

Who rode the different stock routes where they took the cattle through

Who fed the stock and watered them and fed the drovers too?

 

Well miss, those are good questions and the answers might surprise

They’re in the faces pictured, in each wrinkle, and their eyes

So take some time to see them, there’s a story in each one

I have to keep on drawing till I’ve captured every one.

Conversation starter

Julie: Good Morning everybody, thank you so much for joining us here today. Before we start, I would just like to acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on which we meet today and to pay my respects to elders past present and emerging. So, it is my pleasure to introduce our host and panelists for today. First up we have Mel Brady, she's a fabric obsessed crafts person yeah and a long-term collector of vintage fashion. Over this side we have Migelly Shaw, he is a tattoo artist and has a studio at Mango Hill. His special interest is mandalas and sacred geometry. And our glamorous host, Jared Mifsud, he’s a performer of musical theatre amongst other things. He's a self professed lover of makeup and heels as we can all clearly see, so thank you everyone for being here and I'll pass it over to you.

Jared: Fabulous, thank you so much Julie. Oh, it's just so wonderful to be here this morning with you all. When I was contacted about this exhibition opening and this event especially, I just got so excited. I think it's such a fabulous concept and such a wonderful thing to be here talking about this morning. When we were going through it and I was looking into the exhibition “It’s Personal” and what it was all about I was having a look on the website and there was this one little excerpt that Julie had put on there that I really resonated with. So, I just wanted to read it before we dive into the conversation today. “Everyday men and women alike apply lotions, groom their hair and carry out hidden beauty regimes to present themselves to the world, but have you ever considered why and how technology, social attitudes, and politics have shaped the products that we use.” And even as we were all just walking through the exhibition and looking at how over the time certain situations, scenarios have influenced, fashion, the things we use, how we express ourselves, they are all now coming back today in a very big way. Julie and I were just talking before, what I found so fascinating is that it's coming back in a way that we're choosing to bring it back. It's not something that's being forced upon us or it's not something that we have to do it's because it's in ways that we are now choosing to express ourselves and have those discussions and so what better way to continue this conversation then with two fabulous people with me here today, Migelly and Mel; who, both in their own ways help people express themselves and who they are and things like that. So, before we dive into the conversation, I will just give you a little bit more of a background about me; I have been working in the entertainment industry for over 12 years professionally now. I've done a lot of travel, I worked on cruise ships for many years and I lived in Japan for a couple of years. So, I've been very grateful to experience so many different cultures and different things that we now are so lucky to be able to because of the world we live in and have here with us in Australia as well. So, before we get started, I'm going to just quickly have a chat with each of our panellists here today so we can get to know them a little bit more. So Migelly, I'll start with you, just tell us a little bit about yourself, a little bit about the tattoo industry, what got you started and a little thing like that so hand over you.

Migelly: I've been tattooing for about 13 years and I come from a background of a tattooed family. This sort of got me into artwork or freedom of speech with my body and how I wanted to display myself but that’s basically about it.

Jared: So, you said you’re from a family of tattooists, so your parents both do it?

Migelly: Most of the people in my family have a couple but yeah, my parents were quite heavily tattooed. When you think of heavily tattooed back in the 80s and 90s you know, more than 10 was heavily tattooed. Where my father has both arms, chest, legs and my mother had more than ten which, for a female, you know back then was considered quite heavily tattooed. Nowadays someone like me would be considered heavily tattooed and 10 tattoos… really, if you can count them you don't have enough in some respects.

Jared: Absolutely and so I guess when you say back in the day for your parents what was it like when you would be out with your parents and people would see their tattoos especially back in the day when it was I guess something that was more taboo.

 Migelly: Yeah well I remember when it was something like Wet and Wild going there with my father at a young age and everyone would stare at him with his shirt off and just, he was the freak show or playing rugby league he was called moving pictures 'cause when he ran it was just be a blur of colours. To then going there you know as an adult myself and now trying to spot someone without a tattoo is yeah, it's the way the world's coming now and it's getting more accepted which is great for us, but I guess it's great for everyone who wants to display themselves how they wish.

Jared:  Yeah absolutely, I'll come back and follow up on that I'll just quickly say hello to Mel, Hey Mel, how are you?

Mel: Hello I'm very well thank you.

Jared: Wonderful, so just give us a little bit of background about yourself, your interest with Gin Rummy, the vintage store that you have as well just tell us a little bit about and what got you into the world of vintage and all things fabulous.

Mel: I think like my first memories and impressions were of fabric and pattern so it's been like a lifelong thing of just dressing up you know, even growing up on an orchard I would have to dress up to go out into the paddock to do my chores and things like that. So um, it's always been a part of me to dress to do anything and I guess my grandmother was a dressmaker and my mum is an accomplished sewer as well. I do OK on a sewing machine but sometimes I think my grandmother is like looking down and going “unh-unh” with all the corners that I tend to cut. So yeah and being born in the mid 70s I sort of missed that era, but I think that's the era that I most identify with. So, op shopping as a teenager I would find all these incredible vintage clothes and just started collecting from there.

Jared: Absolutely yeah and so you're saying your grandmother was a sewer, did your mom so as well?

Mel: Yeah, she actually taught me how to use my grandmother’s old Ellner.

Jared: Oh fantastic.

Mel:  Which weighed like half a metric ton. Compared to the modern sewing machines it was a real elephant.

Jared: Yeah, my mum is a massive sewer and also a massive lover of all things vintage, she has the most ridiculous collection of fabrics it's insane! She just keeps buying, there's all those Facebook groups now that you can do your fabric de-stash and there's always people buying and swapping.

Mel: There's ones that you buy to use and then there's fabric that you buy just to have it. I think anyone, anyone who sews knows exactly what I'm talking about.

Jared:  Absolutely, my mum, she also sews and taught me a little bit how to sew, I've got quite lazy with it because there’s people to do that for me now. But I also know her she still loves her old sewing machine that she's had since she was oh goodness and she was twenty I think was one of the first things she bought when she moved out of home was her first proper sewing machine and she still uses it, every time she takes it into the sewing shop to get fixed, the ladies always like “oh they don't make them like this anymore” which I love.

Mel: You can't kill those old ones like they just keep going it's incredible.

Jared:  Absolutely, so I wanted to talk a little bit more about the exhibition “It’s Personal” so looking at the exhibition specifically and the inspiration behind it and in being how that we express ourselves,  Migelly,  I'll start with you what are some ways that I guess that you find that you express yourself as an individual and also are there any specific artists that you draw inspiration from when it comes to your tattoos and things like that?

Migelly: Yeah well with the world it is now with social media I can be anywhere taking inspiration from other portfolios from artwork around what I the style of work that I do is a lot of sacred geometry and it comes sort of stems from a lot of organic stuff, so you know nature is a huge part of the artwork that I sort of get my stuff from. But with Instagram and Facebook these days honestly you can look up to these big-time artists who I guess mainstream these days with the more followers you have that you sort of start believing that that's where you want to go with your artwork but trying to just create your own individual style from that and that's sort of where I draw my inspiration from, I guess. Sort of following in the footsteps of the greats but sort of putting my own mark on it so people can look at it and go “that's Migelly’s work” not something that's copied textbooks like anyone with any sort of creative stuff.

Jared: Yeah, absolutely and I love that you said that 'cause it is so cool as artists as creatives I guess we all do find a niche and something that you know it must be so cool when someone can see a piece on someone's body and go all that's Migelly’s Shaw piece that must be a really cool feeling.

Migelly: That's exactly what we try and aim for you know there's no point copying something else or mimicking someone that you might like, you gotta have your own flair and creative into it.

Jared: Absolutely, and it is something that you would help your shop stand out from the rest cause when you are getting a tattoo, that’s something that’s on your body forever that’s something you would want to be an individual piece.

Migelly: Yeah and that's what we'll try and aim for stand out from the crowd to open up my opportunities to where I'm traveling and more people coming to me for me not just coming to me for sacred geometry, they like what I do individually not just the style.

Jared: So yeah absolutely that's fascinating and Mel what about you same question what are some things that are I guess we've talked about we talked about your style and your fashion but are there whatever some people or things that you draw inspiration from and just looking at the commentary of what we use to express ourselves in society today, that’s a big question.

Mel: There’s so many like, so many parts to that really, I think like um, I’m just inspired by everyday like this there's always something in nature in the media the 60s and 70s definitely a huge inspiration like not the era for people so much but definitely for like bright colours and patterns and sort of you know stepping out of that dark time of after the wars and kind of just going just like throwing everything at it. I really love that and it’s like an endless source of thought for me, especially like florals. I know that’s really specific but that’s something that is like a long-term plan to explore on a much deeper level so yeah, I could literally go on about that for days, um yeah, inspiration.

Jared: Let’s talk about the florals of the 70s what is it that I guess about that that draws you to it and I guess what is it that differentiates it from other floral patterns that we are seeing today is there something specific that you see in the 70s that is a like a repetition or something like that?

Mel: Um, I think it's it was just a really interesting reaction to the limitations post war and discovering new methods of making fabrics with all those polyesters and stuff, they really hold the sweat and the smell, and you know as a vintage collector it's like some fabrics you can smell all the people who wore those clothes before you got to them and you know it's never coming out. And I think just the way that florals from say the 1900’s onwards when like there was a whole language of flowers, um sort of taking that but then turning it up to 11 with the sort of psychedelic aspects of it and sort of making it really like trippy and visually compelling rather than just being like a pretty kind of thing and yeah I mean I could go on and on  about it. 

Jared: No I love it, I guess that’s the fascinating thing, that it was such a change in the ability to make things more accessible, so I guess they were able to do more things like that which I love. Um Migelly, I wanted to talk more about tattoos cause it’s something that has always fascinated me. Um but I don’t have any yet, it’s just I know! So, this could be the day ladies and gentlemen, it could change today (exactly), um we’re going to have a live tattoo showing right here on this stage. Um but I guess what, how does one even train to become a tattoo artist?

Migelly: Um, it’s quite a traditional trade, um it is still, I guess an ancient trade, we still have a master, you still go to studio, you still dedicate all your time and you effort those it’s very much like barbering, where like if you’re not working, you’re not earning money, so my apprenticeship started 2008 in a studio, um with a couple, just 2 other people, um and I basically for the first 6 months worked for nothing. So, it was just drawing, showing them what I can do, producing more drawings, basically being their shop pet. Um, getting, getting lunches to looking after their kids one afternoon. And this was all around my personal life and my second job so I can keep food on the table and living with my best friend’s grandmother to supporting me to really getting through those hard times to become someone or the possibility of becoming someone, so each individual has a different take on it.

Migelly: I mean I know I’ve had about five different apprentices and each one of them are different whether how fast you learn and stuff- it’s very much from competency so I’ve had a artist that I could’ve qualified in two years and I’ve had artists that I probably wouldn’t qualify after 10 just because they just don’t have the initiative or they’re just a bit slower in the learning, they just don’t have the drive in tattooing you really need to have that drive you’re marking someone’s body permanently and you know it’s not a hairstyle you can change it’s not a clothing item you can take off, it’s permanent, it’s the only thing that we take to the grave um besides gold teeth or fillings

Audience: [laughs]

Migelly: you know it’s really going to mark you and you know can display how you are for the rest of your life so that’s why I find it so special as well.

Jared: Absolutely! It certainly is and I guess for a lot of people they are coming to you for a specific reason so what uh how do you first practice doing the tattoo like obviously you don’t just start practicing on human flesh.

Migelly: Well

Jared: Yes?! You do!?

Migelly: Look some people do I- I did.

Jared: Wow!

Migelly: They are not great. Let’s just say my close friends uh still like me um but the way correct way um these days I had my apprentice yesterday practicing on honeydew melon, bananas, stuff like that, it’s just like fleshy fruit that you can start gaining weight training with your hand on a machine that’s vibrating and putting that seven bolts it’s not the easiest thing in the world but with a bit of a steady hand and guidance you can get that. People used to pig skin. My friend a butcher used to give me slabs of pig skin it was just a bit gross after a while so.

Jared: [laughs]

Migelly: honestly the best way is to try to find that friend of yours to give you a thigh and um just supplying the pants for the rest of his life don’t hide them.

Jared: Oh my gosh that is that I just find that so fascinating that is really cool. When you’re going into I guess uh I guess when you have that first meeting with a client about a potential tattoo and things that they would like what are some of the first steps I guess that you go through  with a client discussing about a tattoo?

Migelly: These days usually everyone would just contact social media, it’s the most easiest way um but we at our studio offer consultations one on one. You come in you sit down it’s a private little space with just myself and me, the client, we discuss what they want, where they want it, how big, a budget, style, everything that they can- basically we just spit ball back and forth and I take notes- notes that they don’t really make sense to myself or them, we gather reference pictures of stuff that they like and then I create a unique piece based on all of the above. A lot of my stuff comes down to body placement as well because not every piece is going to fit each person, just like a dress or anything like that you know you can have a thousand dollar hat made for but if it’s not going to fit your frame- so these tattoos that I create are very much based on your arm or your leg so that’s where it’s really important to have that one on one. It’s a bit harder for my clients who are flying interstate or overseas and stuff but we try and take lots of photos, get them to send photos, with what I can do these days with digital, an iPad now we can zoom in, enhance, check for any blemishes around the skin and make our design really around each person’s body.

Jared: Absolutely, I think technology is such a fascinating medium with what it allows us allows us to do you said with social media and with being able to research now the different eras and the seventies and that kind of thing we have such a wealth of knowledge available to us now which now.

Migelly: It’s all in our pocket now.

Jared: Yeah, it’s literally it’s right there which is just amazing so do you, obviously before COVID, did you get a lot of international visitors and clients.

Migelly: So if you broke it down um to that fifty-fifty between my studio and overseas or interstate - so I like to do a lot of conventions either interstate or overseas to build my reputation, unfortunately I leave my wife and child behind, but these things build not just my portfolio but our business and stuff then allowing us to network around and it gives us a chance to break up the work habits at home and these clients start coming us to as well so we’ve had people from all around Australia and a few from places like Canada coming over so it’s awesome.

Jared: Fantastic. Oh, it’s just so interesting. Mel, I just wanted to have a bit of a chat because I did a bit of a social media stalk of both of you, before today.

Mel: So did I! I was just going to say I gently stalked you both just a little bit um Migelly those breast tattoos number 1, how!? Like that’s like…

Migelly: I mean I don’t personally have breasts, but I do tattoo a lot of breasts and everyone says they are a lot better than they did expect them to be. I’ve done a lot of mastectomy scars to areola tattoos to full chest coverage. I think ninety percent of my client would be female and that’s where my body placement has to be individual you know I can’t just draw one of those tattoos for a girl who might have a bit D cup and then it’s going to be way too big for a girl who’s got an A cup that’s why it’s so important for us to have everyone in or at least measure them up and stuff.

Mel: Absolutely.

Migelly: Thank you so much.

Mel: Jared, the dancing! Wow! In heels, in those heels, dancing in those heels! I can’t even walk in shoes like that.

Jared: It’s quite interesting how I came into heels. I have always had a love of heels. Last year, I actually did a cabaret on the Brooklyn stand which is a venue in the city and one of the things I wanted to talk what I wanted to touch on in the cabaret was how my love of heels has influenced my dance and also influenced my career. I told this story that I remember when I was 12 or 13 and my mum’s boss at the time had just come back from a trip to Paris and she gifted my mum the most beautiful pair of heels I think had ever seen and still to this day - they were this black velvet stiletto that had these really intricate black rose petals in velvet on the front of them. And I remember sneaking into my mum’s wardrobe one afternoon when she was out and I took them out and I put them on and I remember walking around in the heels and I was like “this is the best feeling in the world!” Like, I was just so excited, and then obviously within the performing arts industry and I think this is what’s so fascinating about the fields that we’re in because they are very open and they are very much about expressing individuality but there is always still this sense of taboo surrounding it and especially as a male dancer I was always told no you can’t dance in heels, you’ve gotta be masculine, you’ve gotta be strong but what I love about now is what is happening in society today is there’s actually quite a masculinity and a strength that I feel when I’m dancing in a pair of heels, and when you look at the history of heels it was actually men who wore heels to start with. They wore them in court, there was a sense of stature, there was this strength and so it’s very interesting to see how that fashion is now changing and coming back in and now I put on a pair of heels and I’m ready to go for the day. But dancing in them definitely took a bit of practice and training, it’s all about that balance and that weight placement, but back to you, I love this, this is why I love an open panel discussion.

Oh that’s a good sign, there we go, see, looking after us here at Pine Rivers Heritage Museum. Everyone’s taken their chairs now, but I guess we’re good. It’s all good. Yeah so I was just looking at your Facebook and your Instagram and seeing that you are a lover of all things vintage, I’m just reading my questions just to make sure I word it correctly, but looking at how fashion is absolutely repeating itself and coming back in such fabulous ways and it also seems to be the younger generation that is quite a strong driving force of that I guess what are your thoughts on that and what have you seen in the workshop space, you do workshops and what are the things that you see that are influencing the change that we’re seeing today?

Mel: Well my kids are 15 and 17 and I can definitely tell you the 90s has made a big comeback, initially I realised it was happening and I was not ok with it because I saw the 90s fashion the first time around and it was not kind, those low rise jeans… umm, no. They do not love women; they do not love anybody. Yeah but they, kids have so much more access to, with social media they can really look into style trends and how to do it, and they’re just so much more put together than what I was like at 15. I think I was just running around in a circle at 15 and I see some 15-year-olds and I’m like “whaaat!?” But yeah, with the workshops maybe not so much because I tend to focus on very sort of simple crafts and things like that you know, the basics of sewing or embroidery, or how to make a pom-pom for example, and they’re sort of timeless like, in my eyes, you can take such a simple thing and put your own sort of spin on it so it’s definitely less stylish and more just more personalised I guess.

Jared: Yeah Absolutely let’s talk about your workshops, when did you start doing them, what was the kind of idea behind them and your reasoning for wanting to do them?

Mel: So I guess by my mid-thirties I had a pretty massive collection of vintage clothes and started selling them online and I saw that the Caboolture hub had studio spaces available for like $50 a month so I jumped in for a 6 month lease with them and I stayed 2 years and that was amazing because as well as selling clothes I got to teach people all kinds of different things just whatever I was interested in really and just met a lot of people that became friends and also got myself sort of known in the gallery and museum world and they started to ask me to do workshops sometimes in conjunction with exhibitions and things like that so that was always just like today a bit of a shock when someone says “can you come do a thing” and I’m like “what, me!?” because I’m a bit of a shy home body really. And so it grew until I was doing series of public programmes and things like that, but also doing large scale installations in the gallery and yeah so getting my face and skills out there a little bit.

Jared: Yeah wonderful, I love it. It is cool, sometimes I guess like you said you kind of just found yourself falling into it because it is something that’s just always been your world and it’s amazing how sometimes you don’t realise you’ve been doing something for so long and then all of a sudden you’re like “uh, yeah actually look I can put this out to the world” and I think that’s just such a wonderful gift to be able to give people.

Mel: I’m always really surprised when anyone else is interested. Like I’m just happily doing my thing, but then other people will say “What is that?” so yeah, I guess it’s that thing of never assume you know what the totality is of what you’re doing.

Jared: Yeah absolutely and you never know what people want and sometimes you just have to put it out there to see and then there was always going to be someone that resonates with that and finds that interesting which I love. Ah, Migelly what is something, do you have any I guess, were there any specific projects or tattoos that you’ve worked on that I think have really stuck with you or resonated with you?

Migelly: Usually it’s a combination of maybe a piece or a client because with tattooing it gets quite personal and you start to get a connection with your client because you’re spending hours on end sort of finding out who they are and what they’re getting. I guess one that would stick out for me is a now I would call friend Bianca, from Canada she flew over, spent about two months here got her whole back tattooed and then I ended up doing a convention in Montreal that she got tattooed at so it’s sort of one of those opposite sides of the world client-friendship that you now get with connecting with people and creating something for her. And it was, for her it was a huge movement in her life you know coming to Australia and getting over a bit of a dark past, giving herself something to be proud of to show off, to you know, make her feel really good in her own skin so it was a really cool project to work on something large scale and someone so far away. Things like that, you know I do a lot of large-scale work and you really get hours upon end with this one individual in your corner of your room yeah, so it’s projects like that or ones with meanings, a memorial tattoo or something that really helps people get by from semi colon tattoos that take me literally 10 seconds to a full sleave maybe dedicated to love ones, they’re all, it’s crazy what putting a mark on someone can mean to them.

Jared: Absolutely, I guess that’s where it comes back down to about the way we express ourselves and I do I think it is such a such a beautiful thing. A very dear friend of mine, whose dog was her entire world, the dog passed away last year, and the dog’s favourite toy was piglet. And so she had a little piglet tattooed on just the side of her body and that for her was such a special moment that she was like “that’s there for the rest of my life” and she says that every time she sees it in the mirror in the morning she says that it just makes her smile and feel good.

 Migelly: Yeah, and I guess that’s the satisfaction of being a tattoo artist some days is you can give that person something to take with them forever. You know unfortunately pets and loved ones won’t last for ever, so to give them that piece that they can look at every single day or even the semicolon reminder is so powerful for that person too who has had a hard time you know mental health is a huge thing, to look down and realise that I’m going to be ok, to help them out you know. They, the funny thing with a tattoo too is they’re going to look down and they’re going to see that and they’re also going to remember the person who did it where they come up to me in the street and say “thanks, you did my tattoo and…” sorry I don’t actually remember you at all you know, head down and doing my work. But it is really becoming now this sort of fad and you know spotlight with artists that are sort of becoming a bit of a Rockstar persona with some of them where a lot of artists are just happy to stay in their lane and just create their artwork and which is awesome.

Jared: Absolutely and I think that’s sometimes where you see some of the most meaningful, I guess, products come through and come from. Ah, what would be the piece that’s taken the longest to do?

Migelly: Well, some people try and achieve what we call a body suit which is two full arms, two full legs, chest, back you know these projects they originally came from the Japanese culture, you know, everyone’s seen the Yakuza, you know, and these full, beautiful ornamental body suites full of dragons and Samurais and cultural tattoos are I guess where it all came from. You know if we look back, I think it was 3100 B.C. they’ve now discovered Otzi the iceman who had the first tattoos.

Mel: Yes, there was a woman, a mummified woman from 5000 years ago, and they zoomed in on her reindeer tattoo and that’s exquisite.

Migelly: yeah, reproducing it and mummified skin with, you know… and back in, I believe the Romans used to mark their soldiers with a certain amount of dots and that was their I guess regiment numbers and stuff like that. The Romans also started marking their prisoners and their criminals too to stand out from the crown which I guess started making people believe that this was me marking myself as a criminal, look, the pirates and the goons and all that stuff you know derived from that but you know there’s so much meaning behind it too. I believe the Egyptians used to use tattoos for medical procedures to mark people with certain diseases to surgery things to make other people aware of things like that so yeah. Tattoos that take the longest are going to be, I do a lot of dot work so it’s individual dots with a single poke of the needle so you know creating a sleeve, it takes hours and hours and hours, just like the aboriginal paintings with the dot work you know, it’s not just a machine that creates these dots, it’s the design part, and people do forget that you know, sometimes a tattoo might only take 5 hours but it took me 8 hours to draw it. And so not going to sleep until 2.30 in the morning, tattooing at 8, people see that they were in the chair for 6 hours, where that tattoo really took 12, 13 hours so, that’s the beauty behind tattoos.

Jared: Wow, it’s so fascinating, I’m learning so much today I love it! Mel I wanted to talk a little bit about obviously when you do op-shopping and the vintage and that kind of stuff, I guess the importance of upcycling and to talk a little bit about upcycling and why it is so important I guess going into the future I guess and where we are now today as a society with the environment and everything.

Mel: Absolutely, yeah it’s really exciting to see online platforms like Depop which have sort of made selling used clothes look cool again because I think it sort of for people who don’t really get it, it sort of has a bit of a daggy, gross connotation but I think it couldn’t be further from the truth because some of the items are designer label stuff and often they’re impeccable because people really look after them and sort of respect what they, what they stand for as well, so you know you’re not  going to throw around a Gucci bag like it’s an old canvas sack or something you’re going look after it and you can sell it for basically what you paid for it which is really interesting and yeah I just think on a global sort of scale it’s, I mean, we throw away billions of billions of kilos of clothing and textiles into landfill every year and it just sort of sits there and it’s killing the planet and so I think on a much bigger scale, popping into the Vinnies just to have a quick look and you know if you’ve got an event coming up you can get really creative with it rather than just buying something that you wear once and then throw away.

Jared:  Absolutely, I can’t encourage people more and it is becoming so more readily accessible today there’s now op-shops and vintage shops for literally every single decade that you can think of and that’s the wonders of google and I absolutely agree when it comes time to your next event or your next outing I do encourage you to go and have a look online and try and research your local op-shop and vintage shop so we can do our bit for the environment and really recycle and reuse because there is so much fabulous fashion out there that we have right at our fingertips. Before we jump into the open session time for our lovely audience here to ask us some questions, my final question was, you know, the exhibition “It’s Personal” has items that range from time periods from the early 1800s through to now, so how do you think the conversation has shifted or is still shifting when it comes to freedom of expression and what do you think still needs to happen and change going forward? I might throw it to you Mel for that one first.

Mel: I tend to think if we look at things in an intersectional way, you know making space for the nuances of gender identity and also like cultural appropriation, if people can just you know, chill out a little bit and think about these things and talk about them calmly it makes a really beautiful space for everyone to safely be themselves and I think that could only make the world a more beautiful place. I mean it’s such a simple thing when you think about it, if you’re not hurting anybody then where’s the problem really.

Jared: Absolutely I love that, what about you Migelly?

Migelly: yeah well I mean if you look at cultural tattoos everyone seems to accept them instantly, if a gentleman walked in here with a full face of Ta moko no one would even bat an eyelid to think about his background, what he’s done as a teenager, if he’s been to jail, but if I walk into this room full of face tattoos people instantly assume, and the hardest part with tattoos is people automatically assume what you’ve done or where you’ve come from with the way that you express yourself for clothing to tattoos so I guess what would be, you know, tattoos are becoming more acceptable through the generations and the 70s especially they became more mainstream and it’s still taking you know, 30 years later 40 years later to become more accepted to now the point where I guess I, even myself feel as though I have seen the shift I mean I was only born in the 90s so I’ve only seen that sort of shift but even now I know when I was say 18, fresh, full of tattoos getting ladies in the shopping centre grabbing their purse to now, them accepting that the world is going to become tattooed and each person is just expressing themselves through colour or the way they dress or their hair or whatnot so yeah I think it just needs to keep moving that way and let people be people, let people express how they want.

Jared: absolutely, I think it is so wonderful to see the change and the growth already just in the last 5 years, because I spent a lot of my time overseas and I’ve only really been back in Australia for about 3 years now and even 5 years ago I would never have felt comfortable walking down the street with my make-up and my heels on but now there is such a change and a shift and I just encourage everyone to keep that open mind and that open heart because it is just such a wonderful way to see where we are going. So just before we finish today I wanted to open the floor to all of you lovely people here. If anyone had any questions for people here for Julie or Mel or Migelly or myself…

Audience Member (AM) : So I’m a nurse and my, when I’ve attended patients, because I’ve been a nurse 45 years, so that once upon a time when I’d be attending someone, a male with tattoos it would have only been a sailor, or a seaman of some sort, you know  a merchant sailor you know the proper seamen would have beautiful tattoos but the merchant seaman they were, I think they done them after a bottle of rum or something, but very real, and if you ever saw a woman with a tattoo it’d be like you’d call someone and be like “come and see, she’s got a tattoo” you know, so that’s how it’s culturally changed enough and that’s even from the 90s you know.

Migelly: well there was a gentleman, Norman Collins who goes by the name Sailor Jerry and now become a sort of household name with an alcohol brand or clothing brand, and he was tattooing all these sailors out of Hawaii, and when I went to Hawaii I visited his shop and his gravestone and he was part of the Navy and he was tattooing them all and it sort of become mainstream then it’s funny how you mention that now, nowadays if you’ve started seeing the shift to women now becoming the most popular with the tattoos but if you look back in history it was only the women who had tattoos, sort of the Egyptians used to only allow the women to have tattoos and now it’s sort of doubled back on itself again.

AM: was that an ownership thing?

Migelly: No, it was, I believe it was a beauty mark and a medical procedure and then yeah, then it became the Romans using it for their soldiers and whatnot.

AM: Thank you.

Julie: Can I just add something about that note about the acceptance of tattoos, I’ve actually got quite a large back tattoo but there have been so many times I’ve been standing in queues or in groups and especially older ladies have tapped me on the shoulder and said “oh, what a beautiful tattoo” so when I was younger like in my 20s, really tattooing was not like you know, in the 80s and early 90s tattooing especially for women was really quite out there, so I didn’t get my first tattoos until I was in my 30s and then going into my 40s so I just thought it was wonderful there must be a whole generation of women older than me in their 60s and onwards who just wished they’d had that beautiful tattoo you know but it just wasn’t available to them.

Migelly: It happens quite often I think couple of weeks ago the lady who I tattooed she would have been about 85, 90 and her excuse behind it was her husband had passed and she you know, finally going to get that tattoo that I’ve been wanting to get you know, and I’ve also tattooed a 95 year old ladies breast with her son’s name and the funny story behind that was her son got “Mum” written on his chest and she came in saying, “who tattooed my son.” “Oh sorry love, that was me” and she said “well I want the same” and I was like “ok, no worries, and where do you want it” and she was like “I want it the same”… You know she was super sweet, I remember her going “alright well it’s going to be on my breast” I was like “ok no worries” and she lifted up her shorts and we had a bit of a joke together and you know it’s, those are the things that I love about tattooing is it’s quite cute, it’s fun, every day is different so yeah.

AM: …. Older skin, like I’m talking 70s 80s on the skin

Migelly: definitely, so you’ve got to stretch that skin, the real key to tattoo is really stretching that skin out, so the older we get the more our skin stretches so, it’s a living organism so you really want to be able to get that line straight and the tissue becomes softer and we’re getting a needle that’s pushing a fluid in a needle in so it can spread out so it is harder in a sense of that, but it’s rewarding.

AM: You see some older tattoos where it looks like they’ve melted.

Migelly: Yeah, so the pigmentation will essentially bleed underneath the skin over time, like you said it’s a living organism, moles become bigger freckles become bigger pigmentation was never meant to be under our skin so it’s foreign, it will try and make its way out eventually, come to the surface, you’ll see some tattoos will raise in the heat, or I know when I play rugby league after every single game my arms are all raised form the scar tissue so yeah, it’s a foreign matter in our body.

Jared: I have a question for you Julie, just before we wrap up, what was I guess just, what got you into the world of curating and collecting and all that kind of stuff.

Julie: Well I think that started, my father was an upholsterer and a collector of antiques and we would always go to garage sales and rummage through old houses that were being demolished and things like that as well as things like that as well as growing up with my father’s workshop full of furniture and full of fabrics so I think I didn’t have a chance and then when I was a teenager in the 80s I wanted to be different, mainstream fashion didn’t really do it for me and so I hit the op shops and back in those days, there was a lot of 1960s stuff in the op-shops so you know I think all that vintage collecting and then the interest in fashion history really kicked off then yeah.

Jared: Yeah, I really did love the collection and just the different items that you brought together is just fascinating.

Julie: Thank you. I think we just have a treasure trove in our collection here and I’ve been in the position about 4 years and it’s taken me that long to sift through everything we have, and we are starting to see some themes emerging and some stories that need to be told through the objects.

Migelly: I guess I don’t really know, to put it this way, the stuff that I saw in that room if I was to name it, I guess I would name it barn finds. For myself you know if I have a 1966 mustang and there’s this sort of taboo about keeping it just how it came out of the factory but then now, I’m putting my touches on it. With tattoos I know that a lot of individuals come in and say that I want the same tattoo as my dad, but a little different… does it work with vintage clothing? Do people now take exactly what’s going on there but are now modernising it either with materials or styles or are we keeping it exact, would someone wear exactly that stuff, today or would it be modernised?

Mel: I think there is definitely the purest- and you can’t miss them, because they are the epitome of the 1950’s. They will set their hair the way they use to do it in the 50’s and wear the hat, gloves, shoes, bags and they are impeccable down to their underwear, you know. And other people like me, will take the spirit of it and maybe have one piece that is a vintage piece, or even something I’ve made out of vintage fabric, cause I find there isn’t many great vintage dresses that fit me. I don’t know what they were eating…     

Julie: Nothing…         

Audience:  laughs      

Mel:  My grandmothers wedding dress- I couldn’t get a leg in that when I was like 12…. So, I don’t know, did they eat? It’s like this whole beautiful spectrum - where it goes from the purists who just eat, sleep and breathe it, to people like me who, just kind of  for want of a better word, kind of  bastardise the whole thing and take what pleases me and leave what doesn’t.

Julie: I got to say I do a bit of both, there is occasions where I am fully researched, authentic, head to toe, to the way I set my hair. I haven’t quite got right down to the underwear yet, but it’s a matter of time. But today I am wearing a vintage inspired dress and my mothers 1950’s bracelet. You can definitely mix it up or go full authentic when the occasion demands it.

Jared: Absolutely.

Migelly: How old does my underwear need to be before I call it vintage?  

Audience:  Laughs         

Jared: That’s a good question…. Depends how many holes are in it.

Migelly: Well I have a lot of vintage clothes then.    

Audience:  Laughs

Julie: Well, 90’s is now considered vintage.  

Mel: I’m personally insulted by that. 

Audience:  Laughs         

Jared: Well, we are just nearing 12 o’clock now, so we will wrap up, but I just want to say a very big thank you for coming out here today. Let’s give Julie a massive round of applause for this fabulous exhibition.       

Julie: And to our wonderful host and guests, thank you.     

Jared: Thank you very much. 

Yellow Leaf Falling

 “YELLOW LEAF FALLING”

A poem by Mal Beveridge in two parts: THE AUCTION and THE RESURRECTION

 

[THE AUCTION]

Just a pound!  A pound! A pound I say

Just a pound for the Drovers Boss!

Oh who will bid me a quid today

with never a fear of the loss!

 

Ah, but who am I kidding?

 

Now, there’s never a bank note that once was a pound.

Now, the drovers are laid to their rest.

Now, their night watch has passed to relief from their round

to the camp at the end of their test.

 

Can you see a faint star in the boss drovers’ eyes?

Has the artist there captured the cross

as it turns on the wheel of the great southern skies

and it marks off the hours of their loss?

 

Look, their eyes hold a sadness at loss of their trade

that the artist considered from age

then redeemed through the eyes of a scrap from fourth grade

and preserved on the gallery’s stage.

 

For the sake of the Canning or the grim Murranji

will there be not a bid? Not a wave!

At the end of the track where the dead drovers lie

is there naught but a sad lonely grave?

 

[THE RESURRECTION]

 

Yet, the drovers are roused from the longest ‘night camp’

to a sun that shines down  from the holiest lamp

as the artist attends to their eyes.

With the tip of his pen or the paste of a clip

he can grant them their sight with a stroke or a snip

and they gaze on their god with surprise.

 

They are back and alive in the saddle again

all the drover explorers, the women and men,

as they breathe with a nudge from young Rob.

They are crossing the plains and they’re turning the rush.

They have gambled their plant, they are broke or they’re flush,

they have beaten the odds and the mob.

 

He has given them back, with his blessings, a name,

for the honest the bent and the crazed, all the same,

and they pray to their gods youthful  hand.

But deep down in the heart of the marionette

lies the pen of the artist much steeped in regret

for the big mobs that once walked this land

 

Ah, but who am I kidding?

 

Just a pound!  A pound! A pound I say

Just a pound for the Drovers Boss!

Oh who will bid me a quid today

with never a fear of the loss!

Box Brownie, bumper pool and baked goods

Introducing the 'Collections of things' showcase. Our museum collection is made up of thousands of wonderful objects. For every object on display there are many others carefully packed and stored away. This showcase is dedicated to the treasures usually hidden behind storeroom doors. It currently features our collection of cameras. Who knows what will be next?

In 1938 an amusement arcade was built on the second Redcliffe jetty. The arcade was situated halfway along and proved to be very popular. It stayed in operation until 1973.This bumper pool table from the 1940s-50s is thought to be from the halfway house amusement arcade. Unlike conventional pool, there are only two pockets, one for each player. Bumper pool is played without a cue ball, the ball being shot directly into the pocket. There’s also the bumpers or obstacles that give the game it’s name. Do you remember playing bumper pool at the halfway house?

Marle Juster used to have a string of bakeries on the Redcliffe peninsula when I was growing up. The main bakery was in Margate and he would ferry his pies and pasties, bread cream buns and other bits of loveliness, to his other shops in an old Morris Minor van. It was driven by Mr McAdam, a tall thin man, always wearing a trilby hat, shorts, and long white socks. He would unfurl himself out almost impossibly from the driver’s seat, go to the back, open the van’s door, and then carry trays of Marle Juster’s wonders. Going to Marle’s bakery always made me happy, and for years when I returned to visit mum, she would have a Marle’s pie and a choccy milk waiting for me.  It meant home - I was home.  My father described Marle as a rather lovely old coot, which is of course exactly what he was.   

Cove Dupont

We respectfully acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the land and sea of the Moreton Bay Region and acknowledge Elders past, present and emerging.

Welcome to Caboolture Regional Art Gallery, one of Moreton Bay Regional Council’s six galleries and museums. My name is Melissa and I’d like to introduce you to an artwork from our current exhibition Simon Degroot: Constructive.

Even though the exhibition is called Constructive, Degroot’s works start in a state of deconstruction before they are reassembled.

Let’s take a closer look.

This is Cove Dupont. Painted in 2014 and winner of the 2015 Moreton Bay Art Awards.

Degroot draws on inspiration from the environment around him, not just buildings and nature but the things in them. Cove Dupont actually refers to a type of edge often found on kitchen countertops. Take a minute to look at Cove Dupont. Can you see where Degroot has used that shape in this painting?

Speaking of drawing inspiration, Degroot often draws his shapes in a sketchbook, ready and waiting to be painted into new life. This process of taking shapes out of their original use and design, is kind of an abstract idea in itself. Reconstructing them into a playful visual experience. Reinterpreting how we see everything around us.

Also, there are secrets within this work - pentimenti. Visual traces of a previous life underneath the layers we see. From the distance we can see Degroot’s impressive and funky designs. But take a closer look at the work. There are small overlaps and shapes that don’t quite line up or connect. White paint covering up another colour. A triangle that looks like it should line up with the yellow but doesn’t. All these uniquely perfect details show that Degroot’s initial deconstruction, reassembly and application of clever painting techniques create an abstract. An abstract that is made by human hands.

We hope you’ve enjoyed meeting this artwork. Stay tuned for more art from Caboolture Regional Art Gallery.

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Humpybong Holiday

Welcome to Redcliffe Art Gallery, one of Moreton Bay Regional Council’s six Galleries and Museums.

Let's Meet the Artwork drawn from Moreton Bay Regional Council’s collection and recently on exhibition as part of Built Forms.

Amanda Penrose Hart’s ‘Humpybong Holiday’. Hart is an Australian artist who's travelling informs her work.  The now Sydney based artist is often involved in projects that take her to a variety of destinations including Gallipoli, the Western Front, New Zealand, France and the four corners of Australia’s outback to name but a few.

The Oil on board work depicts the charm and wit of the caravan, the humble abode, the home on wheels, and here, parked up next to a wheelie bin. In a comedic juxtaposition, the size of the bin further dwarfs the caravan next to it. Hart, on a visit to the Redcliffe area, sought to look beyond the inherent natural beauty to find more gritty, real life subjects that resonated more with her own experience. Hart 's work is held in many corporate and public collections, including Macquarie Bank and the Australian National Maritime Museum.

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Transformation series

Welcome to Redcliffe Art Gallery, one of Moreton Bay Regional Council’s six Galleries and Museums.

Let's meet the artwork or works in Pete Johnson's ‘Transformation series’.

This series of photographs were originally commissioned by the Redcliffe Historical Society.

These works reflect upon the constantly changing landscape of the Redcliffe peninsula.

Johnson’s photograph Former Mosaics depicts the architectural changes of the peninsula. Here the restaurant Mosaics is captured in transit to make way for a ten-story apartment block.

Former rooftrees captures the site of an old homestead Rooftrees, now sitting empty save for an old front fence and gate. Rooftrees was the Queen’s Beach residence of a Mrs E. B. Harris. An active member of the CWA, Mrs Harris hosted society gatherings at the home, attended by the Mayor and Lady Mayoress of the day. As Redcliffe as continued to urbanise, many of the grand homes have been moved on or lost to time.

Johnson’s images show that change is inevitable - we can either absorb passively its effects or engage actively with the process. In documenting these changes Johnson draws viewers to recall changes they have witnessed in their own neighbourhoods. 

Johnson has been photographing professionally since 1995 after having studied Fine Arts at Queensland College of Art (Griffith University). He has been employed by News Queensland as well as carrying out his own freelance work and other projects.

Through his photograph of emblematic sites, Johnson hopes that viewers may contemplate their own surroundings in a new light. 

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Artistic Endeavour

2020 is a seminal moment in Australia’s European history because, of course, the endeavour sailed along the east coast of Australia. Now it’s relevant for this region because at the time Cook noted in his diaries two particular landmarks, the Glass House mountains or the Glass Houses as he called them at the time, and what we now know as Moreton Bay.

Like all great ideas, it was actually really simple. I believe that great exhibitions are built on really simple ideas and give us layers and layers of meaning and ways to engage with them. It was a really rich intersection. It was art, history, science, environment and perhaps most importantly; ancient knowledge of the First Nations all wrapped up in the one experience. How could we connect with this story in a way that was contemporary, that was relevant to what had gone before, and I guess in some ways, hopeful for the future.

These artists were a really interesting group of people, they come to the field of botanical art from various professions that are often science related, Botanists and people that are working professionally in those fields and take an interest in plants, and have a deep knowledge and background in the field so that’s a really huge dimension to the practice of botanical art which has that foundational dialogue with science.

The Endeavour was damaged on the Great BarrierRreef and they took shelter on the Endeavour River where they rested for repairs for six weeks, and this is where many of these plants were collected.

The importance of these loans is that they bring the historical context to our contemporary works, and particularly with the herbarium specimens, which were collected in 1770, it is quite an experience to see these dried fragments of plants that are then reflected in plants that our artists have responded to.

In museums there’s nothing that replaces the experience or the ability to stand in front of what I call ‘the real thing’. Now in this exhibition we are surrounded by the real artworks that were created over the last 12 to 18 months. But the specimens were another story altogether. These specimens have travelled far further than I will ever travel in my life, they’ve been around the world and back again, and to have them here and to think that across time, I’m standing in front of something very simple that was first collected 250 years ago, and taken away, and yet here it is back here again.

So first of all we have a selection of species, and 374 species were available to all the members of our society, they were given this list and from there they made their selection. Then, once the artists chose their work, it was then part of my role as the convenor, and also as a Botanist, to help them understand the actual botanical elements that needed to be included in their particular pieces of art. Once the artists had some working drawings they were invited to send them through to see if the botanical elements were correct. That was enjoyable as well because often you could point out that they needed to include the stipules or put the points on the leaves or all of those wonderful things that gave the story of the plant, and that was really really important. The artists are the key and so are the plants.

This work was done over a number of months. When I started the plant didn’t have any flowers so the drawing developed as the flowers developed. This gave me the opportunity to show the flowers in different stages; from the new stems and buds developing through to the flowers opening and then, as the flowers aged slightly and changed colour.

By the end of the flowering season, the seed pods are beginning to appear so I was able to add these to the artwork and it showed the whole cycle. The colours are also used to help anchor the composition of the painting so I’ve used the darker greens and the mature leaves at the bottom, and the browns of the seed pods to bring the viewer’s eye into the painting, move up through those delicate stems, and the curves to bring it back and hopefully hold the eye of the viewer into the painting.

When I started doing Botanical Art in about 2006 that transferred to looking more closely at the plants and then painting them, and there is such a diversity in the way they’re all gum nuts but they’re so different. The flowers are basically of similar structure but they’ve evolved to produce the most magnificent blooms and the interesting thing is some of the largest trees have minute flowers, and some of the poorest looking trees, mainly in Western Australia that are in the desert, they grow so poorly and the wind breaks them down but they have the most magnificent flowers. Where ever I go in Australia I find a Eucalypt that I can paint. The crebra flowers are minute and white and somehow you have to find a way of showing them on your painting. So one of the tricks is, you work out your composition so that you can get some of the flowers in front of a green leaf so then you use this substance that’s called masking fluid and you apply it over the drawing of your flower and it forms a barrier so then when you paint over it with the dark green, it leaves that area, that area doesn’t receive any paint. And once you’re sure that you have your leaf the exact colour you want, you let it dry and then you remove it (say 24 hours later) you rub your finger along the paper and you remove the substance and then they just stand out, they pop right at you. When I see Eucalypts I just, it just sort of clicks, I have to paint it.

The other aspects of the history that was challenging as well, and very important to us was the indigenous perspective. The people that Cook and Banks, and  Solander and Parkinson had contact with were the Guugu Yimidhirr people of the Endeavour River region and they noted down some of the language names from these people in their diaries and journals so where possible we have the scientific name of the plant, the common names of the plant and then, the indigenous language name as well.

Plants are lovely metaphors because they’re living things and we do connect with them very intimately and we can see within them really long scales of periods of time, so millennia of evolution, but we also see very fleeting aspects of time so flowering and fruiting and the shedding of bark and dropping of leaves. And so those things are metaphors for our own mortality and yeah, the way that we emotionally connect with artworks.

I’m really proud of this exhibition and what our collaboration has managed to achieve. I think I’m most excited that beyond Redcliffe Museum others will get a chance to see it and my hope is that they get a chance to engage with what we envisaged, those two years ago, a chance to commemorate the 250 years and to think about that moment in history from lots of different perspectives.

Built Forms

We respectfully acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the land and sea of the Moreton Bay Region and acknowledge Elders past, present and emerging.  Welcome to Redcliffe Art Gallery, one of Moreton Bay Regional Council’s six Galleries and Museums.

Drawn from Moreton Bay Regional Council’s Art Collection, Built Forms, explores the spaces we live in and around.

Join us as we walk through Built Forms…

Buildings are backdrops to our lives - the way we design buildings reveals a great deal about how we live our lives and where our priorities lie.

This exhibition considers three spaces we interact with, the home, the neighbourhood and the holiday spot. These places are where we relax, socialise and where we can be our most vulnerable.

“Home is where the heart is”                       

Our homes are more than a physical space, they are places where we feel we can be our true selves. However, the importance of home can change over time as our routines and priorities change.

In Fading into fibro, Scott Whittaker has painted faint outlines of a fibro home and a watertank. The delicateness of these structures highlights the impermanence of the buildings we live in. Whittaker prompts us to consider what happens when we leave or lose a home.

Neighbourhoods are built from the communities that call them home. The supermarket, public pool and local café provide space for us to engage, connect and share. As our neighbourhoods grow, we find ourselves living ever more in our neighbours’ pockets.

Jamie Condon’s The Neighbourhood considers the sometimes too-close proximity of strangers living side by side. This closeness sometimes causes us to unintentionally share parts of our lives with outsiders.

The Moreton Bay Region is home to many iconic holiday spots.  In these destinations, the architecture of the buildings - of the pier, the esplanade, the beach shack - highlight fun and relaxation.

Campervans and caravans are a popular holiday choice for Australians. Their compact structure and flexibility make it easy to travel and experience the beauty of the Australian landscape. In Amanda Penrose-Hart’s Humpybong Holiday, she depicts a caravan parked next to a wheelie bin. With a twist of humour Hart has exaggerated the size of the bin to dwarf the caravan.

We hope you’ve enjoyed Built Forms.

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Simon Degroot: Constructive

Welcome to Caboolture Regional Art Gallery, one of Moreton Bay Regional Council’s six galleries and museums.

Come with us on a virtual tour of our current exhibition Simon Degroot: Constructive.

Bold, colourful works explore abstract forms through painting, collage and public mural.

Simon Degroot is a Brisbane artist who uses painting to make sense of the world around him. He translates forms from the digital realm, magazines and architecture creating abstract works tied to contemporary life, playfully exploring our everyday surroundings.

Let’s look deeper into these abstract works. A simple introduction to Simon’s practise are these images taken from the surrounds of Caboolture Hub. He’s observed the architecture and drawn bold shapes, creating a new form.

Simon’s Flat Lay works are another great starting point. The individual shapes can be understood as building blocks that he uses to construct his artworks. He’s found these shapes from the buildings around him, popular culture and art history.

Can you recognise some familiar shapes in these works?

Zoom and Bored was inspired by the famous roadrunner cartoon. Doodad Smile might remind you of an emoji. Shapes from nature may be hidden in Legacy Compounds.

Degroot has been awarded the Moreton Bay Region Art Award twice, in 2015 with Cove Dupont and 2018 with Transition.

Large-scale paintings and murals also feature. The Constructive wall mural was painted especially for this exhibition and is inspired by the stunning architecture of Caboolture Hub.

Be inspired to look deeply at your everyday surroundings - how do they speak to you?

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