Wheels Up.

I used to fly at least three or four times a year. I love going places and while I’m not a massive fan of flying and its environmental impacts I figure being a vegetarian for 6 years gives me a bit of leeway? Plus I only have 1 child so that should buy me a few more air miles? Is that how this works?

Is this thing on?

I checked my carry on because they charge you extra for every kilo and I’m sitting here eating a salad. Am I the most boring person in the world? I might be.

Especially considering my reason for flying. I’m in Canberra to see an art exhibition celebrating the work of the late Australian artist, Jeffrey Smart. Ever read a nerdier sentence?

Oh but Mr. Smart was anything but boring. He left Australia in the 60s for Europe and never looked back. His autobiography is brilliant and reads like a who’s who of the art world and beyond. He once crossed paths with W.H.Auden and from memory had dinner with Marlene Dietrich. Or was it Greta Garbo? I’ll have to re-read it.

I have a signed copy from his exhibition in Brisbane 25 years ago which is far cooler than this new one.

Even though I’m not painting any more I remain as art obsessed as ever. I always said I could give up painting at any time but could never give up admiring other artists’ work.

The Traveler by Jeffrey Smart. This was the painting, purchased by the Queensland Art Gallery in the 80s that started my love affair with Mr. Smart.

I’m annoyed that my early art education focused almost exclusively on male artists. I had to go out of my way to learn about female painters when I was doing my art history degree and the lecturer accused me of being difficult because I wanted to focus on women. This was the mid-2000s so I’m happy to say things have changed a lot now. I popped into the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra and their general collection includes a lot of women both as subject and artist. Possibly more women than men right now. But that’s okay, the pendulum needs to swing back a bit because the contribution of women has been almost anonymous for thousands of years.

The exhibition, Shakespeare to Winehouse was very interesting. Apart from it being a wonderful collection of portraits from the NPG in London, the curation took in diversity like I have never seen. In my formative years, more than 90% of any show would be the work of white male artists. It annoyed me at the time but to me honest I didn’t think there was anything to be done about it. It’s so brilliant to see that pendulum swing!

Lying in bed a few night’s ago I hatched a plan to write short stories based on Smart’s paintings. I think being a massive nerd helps when you’re a writer. I doubt I will ever run out of story ideas because I’m always fascinated by (distracted by??) something new.

My first short story based on a Jeffrey Smart painting called The Bicycle Race (Death of Morandi) inspired by the Italian ceramicist Giorgio Morandi. I bought a very expensive journal at the exhibition for this exercise so obviously I don’t care about my messy writing. Well I care but not enough to do anything about it.

Still no news from the publisher but at this early stage no news is okay news.

Oh, but I do have some brilliant news! Forty South Publishers in Tasmania have chosen my story How I Got this Tattoo for their Tasmanian Writers Prize for 2022. Now that’s exciting. You can read it here.

It’s an award. This is very cool. There’s publishing involved too. An anthology. Dad was thrilled about the cash prize. yes… I’m 50 years old and my dad’s approval is still important to me. But mostly I’m excited about the invitation to the Tamar Valley Writers festival in October. Another bucket list item ticked!

And while I’m on the subject, a local Brisbane competition, First Date at South Bank, selected my entry for the winners list. So I get a free pass to the Brisbane Writers Festival and my story is recorded to play on the radio! Crazy. I’m also going to the event on Sunday to announce the overall winner who gets a package to stay at a posh hotel. Fingers Crossed!

I don’t know what’s going on but I’m having fun. I love writing and it’s what I want to do for the rest of my life so I’m so glad and proud of these achievements. My word for the year is momentum!