We are having a wet winter, in this place which is the driest state on the driest continent. There are early signs of spring and a blossoming almond tree in the front garden of a house down the street was home to a very noisy mob of yellow tail black cockatoos during in the week. Snails and caterpillars are feasting on some of the brassica in the winter harvest square, and I am so pleased to have creatures and bugs munching and sharing the produce with me. I picked the cauliflower yesterday and made cauliflower soup for my dinner. It is so satisfying to eat the homegrown vegetables and even more enjoyable to share with others. I have set up some new garden beds, had more soil delivered and began a mini nursery to get seedlings established early for spring planting. Living more seasonally is beginning to take shape.
We are also in the season of the SALA Festival – SA living artists – and there are plenty who are well and truly alive with their insights and interpretations of our landscape, the faces and shapes and scenes. Through the eyes and talents of the artist we all get a little more expansive in what we can see and feel and perhaps even be transformed or transfixed by an image to take us to a new idea, new emotion or tap into an old memory. I was caught between happy and sad memories in a gallery this week, of places much longed for and missed, places which had been the source of great joy and now hold dark thoughts attached to new knowledge. Art is evocative.
I love the whimsy that a Michael Leunig cartoon holds as it rips into your heart strings and the solid majesty of ancient gums in a Hans Heysen. The twinkling stars and luminous moon in a Van Gogh draws me closer to cosmic mystery, while the gentle wet and wintry haunting headlights in Clarice Beckett’s Motor Lights instantly has me in Melbourne.
My walls have art from the desert and the coast – dot paintings on canvas, paintings on bark and pieces of iron. I have had to learn about this art even though it is from the land I live on, unlike the art of settler stock or European masters. I have a lot to still learn. Like the cauliflower in the garden, these images are now ripe for the picking as I am more ready to learn and understand how to go towards them. Being in the landscapes in which they were created really brings them to life for me, in much the same way as the SALA exhibitions do – familiar places and colours. Another seasonal gift to be out in these landscapes.
The caterpillar transforms into a butterfly, is a familiar motif for these seasonal changes, and in each caterpillar everything the next season needs is already in the last. Integrating seems to be the message of meeting the moment this week. To bring together with integrity what is being held from one season to the next whether it be in the garden, on the walls, or in the complement of memories. I had a fulsome conversation about integrity and perhaps that is the essence of great art; it is honest, wholesome, sound, it passes our probity test. And that is what moves us and holds us.
The humble cauliflower’s uncompromising integrity at being its best cauliflower self, as an art installation in my winter garden, was transformational.