Sunday, July 31, 2011

Exploring My Heritage Through Art

I found it a little sad when my father was blocked by some of the older great uncles while he was researching our family tree. Grim faced, they warned him off, told him not to stick his nose where it didn’t belong. There was no dark secret, no skeleton in the closet, no mass murdering psychopath to discover. 

The ‘big secret’ was, my great grandmother was aboriginal. I think those great uncles would have preferred the mass murderer. That is the saddest part.

Personally, I’m proud to acknowledge my aboriginal heritage. Frankly, it wasn’t that much of a surprise. You only have to look at great grandma’s photograph. (I’ll have to get a copy from my mother) The other unfortunate thing about the ‘big secret’ is that we missed out learning about a whole part of our culture.

My family are experiencing that learning now in our own separate ways. My brother is attending an aboriginal studies course; my mother and sister are getting involved through my niece’s school, while I am exploring my heritage through art.

The idea came after being asked to design and help the children at the local primary school paint an aboriginal style mural. I like traditional aboriginal style paintings but I also love painting in my own ‘fine art’ style. So, I decided to try incorporating both styles together – the same subject matter in both styles.
The first painting in this ‘Cross-Culture’ series is titled “Turtle Tides.”

And I’m planning on doing a goanna next as the goanna is the totem of the Wiradjuri people, to which I belong.

Other subjects I’d like to paint are the kookaburra, koala, magpie and frog. I’m looking for traditional stories relating to each of the animals I paint to help me better understand my heritage.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

What I've Been Reading - # 6

Golden Bat
Sandy Fussell

Golden Bat is the 6th instalment of Sandy's Samurai Kids series and I have to admit I have been hanging out to read this one but forgot all about the launch date and only discovered this week that it has been out for ages.

I love Sandy's writing. As a self-confessed very non-visual person, Sandy can still paint vivid images in the readers mind with a few - seemingly - casually placed words.

She makes me so jealous...

What can I say, this is another winner. The characters in the Samurai Kids books are so likable, all with their own strengths and weaknesses. They are like old friends you get to drop in and visit from time to time - with each new installment. It is amazing how Sandy can write about a group of children in ancient asia and still keep the issues they face relevant to children today.

One of the year 6 students where I work was asking me if I knew of any good series to read. He'd finished the Ranger's Apprentice, the Artemis Fowl, Skulduggery Pleasant, Harry - of course and all of Terry Pratchett's books so I loaned him White Crane.

He is hooked. He stops me almost every day to tell me about some part of the series he loved. There is no better praise than that.

Come on India! I can't wait.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Children's and Young Adult Literature Festival

Author Duncan Ball

As always, the trip from Bathurst into Sydney for the Children's and Young Adult Literature Festival was well worth it.

It was a beautiful sunny break from wintery Bathurst weather. Added to this, I got to meet some of my favourite children's authors and had lunch on the lawn with Lisa Berryman from HarperCollins. The festival is always such a relaxed and welcoming place to hang out.

The only slight disappointment of the day was that New Frontier's editor, Sophia Whitfield was unable to attend the festival. I was hoping to meet Sophia, mainly because she has my book Paper Magic under consideration at the moment. It would have been nice if she could have matched up my face with the name on the manuscript.

There were some very interesting and informative panels during the day, and I picked up a couple of leads I will be following up on as soon as possible.

One of my favourite children's authors, Kate Forsyth

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

What I've Been Reading # 5

Forever Fifteen
Kimberly Steele

I know that there are a kazillion vampire books glutting the bookshops at the moment. And yes, I'm sick of them too  but this one is a little different.

I first came across this story as a free audio book from (this was several years ago before I was sick to undeath of them) It is one of the few really good audio books I have listened to several times.

The book reads just as well as the audio version. Although I have to admit I missed the haunting soundtrack Kimberly's alter ego, Queenie provided for the audio tracks. I like the way Lucy's character is developed through flashbacks to her pre and post vampiric beginnings.

I found the book to have a calm feel to it, even though it takes the reader through the height of the Black Death, to ripping the life from a child murderer and finally to the bloody betrayal of friendship. Strange...
This is a similar subject matter to Stephanie Myer's books, but I believe Forever Fifteen  is a much better story than Twilight