As Above So Below

As Above So Below


As Above So Below
3 meters by 1.2 meters
Words to best describe the 6 weeks in Center of Australia

Ice in Alice
or so the plan was?
I’m talking about the drug not the hail storm
that was to come
leaving a blanket of hard water

As I flew into Alice my tears welled looking out the window,
knowing this landscape would have stories
as big as
it was old

Driving towards the town center I passed through caterpillars,
large red caterpillars
I became a child listening to the stretches of a dreaming story
before an opening in two giant rock formed grubs
I spotted the recycle center on the left
the tip
I felt comfort with an instant reminder that I was an artist
an artist in residence

I waited for a Jogya Boy to arrive
a new brother called Doni
I had somehow crowned myself as his hostess
a hostess on unknown country
it would be a case of the blind leading the blind
with eyes looking intensely
wanting to see

It was time to be shown the ins and outs of Alice,
the keys, roads, food holes and art haunts
locked and unlocked

I was greeted by those with varying degrees of cultural passports
some had stamps a plenty, polished and worn in honor
stamps for remote community experience, dealers, art workers,
miracle workers and some simply wearing blinkers thick as bricks

most without the stamp of knowing how to deal
with a pale faced Blackfella from the east coast
wearing my pale skin like a plain clothed detective
invisible to most of those with cultural passports
I floated

its an invisibility i have used before
a useful and helpful cloak
it allows mouths to open wider, and lips to move faster
my darker skinned family had their own cloaks
that keep them removed
I soon saw The Arrente People’s invisibility
the country called Alice is now coming into focus
a welcome to this country was needed
The Ice Man gave the all clear
delivered on a set with red kangaroo’s on tails of planes

nowadays as an over weight middle age mother
I’ve gone from a plain clothed to undercover detective
Detective Dickens loves filing reports

the files are not art making material
for this artist in residence
but time hungry never the less
happy to have brought work up to go on with
its direction was about to change

slipping and sliding on the edge of the tourist surface
eyes wide, ears pricked and heart raw
i attempted to soak up what i was now swimming in
questions began to pile as high and thick as the
aboriginal paintings in Direct to Public Art supermarkets
culture on sale for a discount

my gratitude grew for visits from a local named Dan
a local on many levels
a spirit that knows the black space in-between
the blessing of a swag and medicine women
Watch this Space made its introduction
i now watch an A grade team with speed and focus

becoming acquainted with the Yogya Boy
i found an artist in crime
blown away by his youthful vision
two artists in residence stewed
with similar questions and bubbling inspiration
ideas of art and concepts bursting from the seems
the seems of a building pressure, to wrestle what it is
what it is to take the bull by the horns as artists
visitor and tourist in residence

it didn’t take but a week to realise there was no way of knowing
a town like Alice in a 5 week period
let alone what was laying outside her doors
wrapping it up in a well packaged art basket wouldn’t be easy
a jelly wrestling marathon was about to begin

the artist mind was one thing
then there was the transport trip,
shaky legs together with unbalanced juggling
on a brand spanking new red pushbike,
4wd’s looked bigger then ever before after not sitting
on 2 wheels for decades
not forgetting the jail like compound i found myself locked in
keeping me safe from blacks, real, bad blacks
the countless warnings of personal safety with more don’ts then
most toddlers hear before lunch

another flat

embrace this opportunity
create something now

like a well oiled football team, Doni and I scored our first try
when we touched down with the realisation that work would come
second and experience our new attack

The chains of push bikes are woven into the caterpillar story
i start to create my telling
in the making and creating
i’m locked behind a cage
i reflect

As we learnt about flat tyres and how to sort licences and permits
a car was sent from heaven and the doors of Alice opened to
the outside world
brilliant red knocked on our psyches as we ventured on a few day trips
armed with cameras and a release of our own made pressure cookers
we set sail

Into the history of missions
a history i know and a pain close to my heart
regional borders now have bridges
an exchange of cross-cultural knowledge is handed over to
my international brother

religion is a solid point of conversation
its global with intercultural dialogues that sing many songs
In a landscape where cowboys, tyres and dots make there tracks
The Aboriginal embrace in parts of the desert is warm
not much to forgive the churches for here

a break for freedom at the Blue Gumboot Camp
directed and held tight by Aunty Elaine
dancing and connections where made in a dry river bed
i allow myself to take a few long deep breaths

Im a collector of things,
a bower bird that travels has its limits
yet a freshly hit eagle was an object that would not be left
in structured by bossy italians in the backpackers hut
at the “Ayres” Rock camping ground
i learnt that boiling water would release the glued feathers
the quest to take photos as an artist not a tourist
was interesting,
finding a quiet space to sit with that rock felt impossible
not a personal high light

an Australian flag that i had rolled up in my luggage
is now the back drop of a 7 sisters work
a big work, needing many hours and patience
a work that has a cord of string that will follow me to Java
in a global context the stars belong to the world
to the sky people
these stars find me outside of Blackstone
between hours of roads, tracks and car bodies
the spaces between take on a new dept of fullness
spilling over in the dust of creation
a wholeness known by few in this life

go ahead blow my mind and dig deep into my soul
ancestral woman take flight before my eyes
as the old women weave, I unravel
levels of knowing take me back to that small girl I am
no invisibility here

the 7 sisters are not the only sisters in camp
there a sisters that have sung for a lifetime as one
mothers, daughters, granddaughters, aunties and cousins
food, needles, massages, tea
lumpy magic balls nestled in the lips of women
women that talk without speaking
women with no need or want for passports
they carry the stamps

I’ve been stamped with an ink
that an artist in residences longs for
weather it lasts like a tattoo its too early to tell

its not in the product
its in the production
the living, the dead
the fire
the age
the covers and the veils
the moments and the spaces between
space that is loud with silence

so pleased to have meet you
ill water my seed as i feed my dog
and cuddle my daughter
under my east coast sky
and as i journey to Java with my new brother.

Karla Dickens 2015


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