Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Refreshing the Wells 25

Art and Mortality, a Symposium at the Centre for Art History and Art Theory at ANU.

My research/novel Fellowship with the Australian Prime Ministers Centre at Old Parliament House is all about art, death, secrets, truth, discovery and power, so this symposium was a must-see for me.

It was fascinating. Some quick notes (mostly written in the dark due to slide shows!)

The symposium was opened by Professor Paul Pickering, who told us all about Jeremy Bentham. At the mention of the name, the audience responded, so I guess they’d heard of him. I hadn’t. Had you? He believed in the concept of the Auto Icon, meaning he thought that great people (men, let’s face it) should be preserved at death. Turned into statues. He willed this to happen to his body and it still sits (head at one time between the feet, apparently) in University College London. He suceeded in his quest; he is remembered.

Rebecca Scott Bray is a crimonologist. She spoke about ‘artists who work in the aftermath of fatal violence’. This was absolutely fascinating and I’m listing some of the artists mentioned. All of them sparked ideas and thoughts.

In Muri di piombo (Walls of Lead) Eva Frapicinni took a series of photos at the same time of day and same time of year at the site of murders.

Stephen Chalmers took on exhaustive research to identify the ‘dump sites’ of murder victims. He took photos of the sites and these are universally serene, with no evidence left of what occured.

Angela Strassheim photographs houses were people were killed. Sometimes inside, sometimes out. These again mostly have a serenity about them, but she titles them with the weapons used, bringing the violence to us quite shockingly.

Teresa Margolles creates visceral works that Rebecca Scott Bray describes as ‘stinking’. These pieces actually reek of the violence, because they ARE the violence. In one, the blankets that executed men were wrapped in. In another, the water bodies were washed in is dripped onto a hotplate.

The next speaker, Joanna Gilmour, had some interesting things to say about the National Portrait Gallery. Did you know that they mostly only show portraits painted while the subject was alive? Very few posthumous portraits. Burke and Wills are notable exceptions. Of course now I want to see an exhibition that is ALL posthumous portraits.

I was a bit vocal when Joanna showed us a photo of the death of Joe Byrne, one of Ned Kelly’s gang. There was Julian Ashton, one of the people I’m researching for my project, in the foreground! I gave a little yip of excitement, and this was interesting; others in the audience made noises, too. I don’t think they knew why. They were following my lead. Fascinating.

Patrick Pound collects photos and things and displays them in the most curatorial way. Just gorgeous stuff. He has a collection of photographer’s shadows. A collection of people holding things up to show them. A collection of things with holes in them, photographed. A collection of ‘people who look dead but probably aren’t.”

The symposium ended with a paper from Geoffrey Batchen, speaking about photography and faith but really about the nature of time and how it is captured in photographs. Photography captures the absolute present at the moment the photo is taken, but also the past. What’s gone. This gives photos a certain melancholy, because what’s gone is gone and cannot be recaptured. He talked a lot about Roland Barthe’s “Camera Lucida”. I’m going to track down a copy of that.

Lots of inspiration there. My wells are truly refreshed.

On Saturday, I found the most perfect award statues for the ‘horror slam’ the Australian Horror Writers’ Association is running at Conflux.

From the announcement at Sinister Reads: “The Australian Horror Writers Association is hosting an open mic short story competition at Conflux 2014. The comp will be held at 7pm on Friday 3 October following the opening ceremony.

We’re looking for horror stories up to 500 words or a maximum of two minutes in length. Entry is by gold coin and all funds raised will go to the AHWA.

Winners will be chosen by Kaaron Warren, Rob Hood and the discerning audience.”

So yep, the horrifying Rob Hood and I will be judging this competition. We want nasty, horrible, creepy, disturbing. Some great prizes, and here’s a sneak peek at the statues I found:

nasty statue 1

nasty statue 5nasty statue 3

Nasty! So come along on Friday night with your flash fiction. We wanna hear as many as possible!

Fellowship

Something special happened today.

I spent my first day as a Fellow with the Prime Ministers Research Centre at the Museum for Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House, also known as Old Parliament House, an amazing building filled with history, stories, lies, truths, art, tradition and all the trappings of government.

I’m going to be researching the files and archives there, as well as talking to the amazing staff who are stuffed full of knowledge and info. I learned today of a ghost in one of the corner offices, and I have every intention of finding more.

I’m exploring the relationship of Prime Ministers to Australian Artists, while investigating the Underhistory; the stories that lie beneath. I’ll be writing a crime novel (possibly with ghosts) inspired by what I find. I don’t need to tell you how exciting this is. I ADORE the details of history, and finding the hidden stories, the secrets, the ghosts, the truths.

If you’re in town and you’d like a tour of the place, let me know. I might be able to get you in the side door.

 

 

I posted at Capital Letters about my prize haul after winning the ACT Writers’ and Publishers’ Award. Thanks to the ACT Writers Centre and to Paperchain Books for making my week a good one!

More Slights

If you’re going to the World SF Convention in London, make sure you get to the Fan Funds Auction. I’ve annotated a copy of Slights, with personal thoughts, input, some deleted scenes, and some of the nastiest recipe cards you’ll ever see. Gillian Polack, the Australian GUFF rep, will have these, along with some very special Story Starter packs I’ve put together. Six only!

Shadows

I won the Australian Shadows Paul Haines Award for Long Fiction for “The Unwanted Women of Surrey”! How fabulous is that! I can’t wait to see what the statue will look like. There is an excellent spot between the two skulls I won last year.

Slights

Five years ago, I was in Montreal, meeting some fabulous people for the first time: Lauren Beukes, Marc Gascoigne and Lee Harris. Marc and Lee threw on a party for the launch of Angry Robot, including hiring a very rude and sleazy robot to abuse people as they walked in the door.

Their first books were Slights, and Lauren’s Moxyland.

 

To celebrate five years of brilliant publishing (and some success for Slights!) I’ve looked at five horrendous people from history who are worse than Stevie, the serial killer in my novel. Over here, at SF Signal!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 51 other followers