JOIN US on 15 NOV. 2014 FOR a RURAL ARTS & CULTURE SYMPOSIUM
How can the arts and culture strengthen small rural and regional communities? Join us in Forbes on Saturday 15 November, to explore the important contributions the arts and cultural development can make to the wellbeing and resilience of small country towns in inland NSW. With a special focus on rural cultural festivals. More >>
REGISTER ONLINE here >>
THE TRANSFORMATIVE POWER OF RURAL ARTS FESTIVALS: A CASE STUDY
Albury-Wodonga, 15 October, 2014: I presented a paper at the 2014 Australian Regional Development Conference about the power of arts festivals to effect change in small rural communities. I case-studied the Kalari-Lachlan River Arts Festival, in the context of the Australia Council for the Arts’ 2014 report, Arts In Daily Life, and UN Resolution 68/223 concerning the role of culture and the creative industries in enabling and driving sustainable development. Read the full paper here >>
GEOGRAPHY OF THE SENSES @ DERBYSHIRE ECOCENTRE
I shared my sensory experiences of inland rural Australia at Geography Of The Senses, a Wirksworth Festival Fringe event in the Derbyshire Eco-Centre in September 2014. Other participants hailed from Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Belfast and London. I was billed as coming from the once British colony of New South Wales! More >>
STORYING SUSTAINABILITY: THE POWER OF NARRATIVE
My presentation to the joint UNESCO-University of Canberra international Sustainable Landscape Futures conference in Canberra,10-11 July 2014.
UNESCO’s Director General recently insisted that “Culture must be integrated in the post 2015 agenda, as a driver and as an enabler of sustainable development”. More >>
THE KATE KELLY SONG CYCLE
The Kate Kelly Song Cycle, my creative collaboration with composer Ross Carey, premiered on Sunday 4 September, 2011, as the headline act for the inaugural Kalari-Lachlan River Arts Festival. The Song Cycle, like the Festival itself, emerged from my Kate Kelly Project. Tracy Sorenson’s film, Songs for Kate, documents this cultural intervention. More >>
READ the libretto, LISTEN to the arias and/or BUY the full score here >>
IMPROBABLE BEGINNINGS: MY CHAOS THEORY OF RURAL ARTS FESTIVALS
Latest post on my Rural Arts Festival blog
… So call this my Chaos Theory of Rural Arts Festivals, their sensitive dependence on initial improbabilities, crazy ideas, and unreasonable dreams and desires; and on months, years even, of unpaid (and generally unacknowledged) intellectual, emotional and physical labour. The most critical initial condition for any rural arts festival, however, is … More >>
“OUTSTANDING CONTRIBUTION” AWARD
In 2012 Merrill was presented with an “Outstanding Contribution” Award at the national Regional Arts Australia conference in Goolwa, South Australia, in recognition of her work to establish the Kalari-Lachlan River Arts Festival.
HOMELANDS: MY PhD PROJECT ….
December 2013: I’ve finally submitted my creative PhD thesis, Homelands, which traces the journeys of asylum seekers and refugees from Afghanistan and Pakistan to Australia, and Australians’ reactions to them. It also offers a radical re-imagining of Australia’s relationship with Eurasia and what it means to be Australian. A book manuscript will be available for publication soon. More >>
REPUBLIC OF WOMEN: A NOVEL
From the back cover: In this novel of striking intellectual subtlety and authority, Merrill Findlay probes questions of sexual identity in a voice that is radical, humane, angry, tender, and always true to the complex reality of her characters. With the assured craftsmanship of an already accomplished novelist she brings past and present into relations that deepen her characters and their preoccupations and the reader’s pleasure in her evocation of contemporary St Kilda. More >>
Reviews of Republic of Women >>
UNDERSTANDING PLACE THROUGH NARRATIVE
Book chapter first published in Frank Vanclay et al (eds), 2008, Making Sense of Place: exploring concepts and expressions of place through different senses and lenses, pp. 13-22, National Museum of Australia. [A review of this publication by George Main in Australian Humanities Review 46, May 2009 >> ]
No continent can be invaded, no massacre committed, no abuse perpetrated, no people subjugated, vilified or discriminated against, no land degraded, no wetlands drained, no climate changed, no species made extinct and no creeks or rivers despoiled – unless stories make it so. The reverse is also true … More >>
RIVER STORIES: GENEALOGIES OF A THREATENED RIVER SYSTEM
First published in the British international peer reviewed journal Futures, 39: 2-3, pp. 306-323, a special double issue on Australian futures I guest-edited in 2006. The Kalari-Lachlan River Arts Festival now celebrates this river and its people.
I write this in a small town in central New South Wales on a river that is slowly meandering towards its terminal wetland, the Great Cumbang Swamp, in the state’s semi-arid Riverina. For most of its 1500 kilometre journey this river flows through Wiradjuri country to trace the presence of Baiamai, the father of creation, Wawi the rainbow snake, and other ancestral beings who shaped and ‘animated’ these inland plains. Wiradjuri descendants know the river as Galiyarr, or Kalari, and two, perhaps three thousand generations of their ancestors are buried in its alluvium. >>
Download the pdf version, as published >>
ROMANCING THE GRINDSTONE ON GUNNINGBLAND CREEK
First published in Futures, 37:8, October 2005, pp. 893-903.
The days are lengthening, crops are ripening, and the air is sweet with Spring as I write. For the first time in years of drought there are pools of muddy water in Gunningbland Creek, the ephemeral stream that meanders across our farm towards its river, the Lachlan, in south-eastern Australia; and a brood of grey teal ducklings is dabbling in the sparse rushes and nardoo, a native aquatic fern, now miraculously regenerating after the recent rain. More >>
BEYOND AUSTRALIA’S GREAT DIVIDES
Book chapter first published in The Hitchers of Oz: Hitchhiking Stories and Observations from Australasia and Beyond, edited by Tom and Simon Sykes, Interactive Press, 2009, pp. 57-70.
Australia is divided east from west, the coast from the rest, by a cordillera of low mountains, uplands and dissected plateaus stretching from Cape York Peninsula in Queensland’s far north to the island state of Tasmania in the Great Southern Ocean. On one side of this watershed is the densely populated Pacific seaboard, on the other the sparsely populated inland. And the twain need never meet. Indeed, the coastal plain and the remainder of the continent might as well be completely different countries. More >>
EDDIE MABO COMES HOME
First published in Good Weekend (Fairfax), 1 June, 1996.
It’s hot on the rim of this extinct volcano at the far northern end of the Great Barrier Reef. Bonita Mabo has been waiting in the shade of a battered fibro shed all morning. A small crowd has gathered around her: children, grandchildren, siblings, in-laws, cousins, aunts, uncles, members of the Meriam Council of Elders, young warriors from her late husband’s Piadram clan, a documentary film crew, plus this writer from Melbourne. And there it is, the light aircraft descending from the sky to bring the exhumed remains of Edward Koiki Mabo home to Mer, or Murray Island. More >>
THE TIMELESS BOND BETWEEN BIRDS & PEOPLE
First published in The Age Weekend Extra, Melbourne, Saturday 22 August, 1998.
As the days grow shorter in the far-off waters of the North Pacific, hundreds of thousands of hungry, dun-coloured seabirds, millions even, begin their long annual flight south to Big Dog Island from their Arctic feeding grounds to mate, lay their eggs and rear their young, the next generation of short-tailed shearwaters, or mutton birds. More >>
BALOCHISTAN: THE INVISIBLE WAR
First published in Arena Magazine no. 91, Oct-Nov 2007, pp. 36-38.
Even my Pakistani friends warned me about Balochistan, and not without reason. In the days immediately before I was to catch the train to Quetta, the provincial capital near Pakistan’s borders with Afghanistan and Iran, ‘terrorists’ detonated a bomb in a shopping plaza in the city’s military cantonment and fired rockets at two of the regular express trains below the Bolan Pass. More >>
ERITREA, JUST A QUESTION OF TIME
First published in The Canberra Times, 7 June, 1989.
In a stone room dug into the side of a narrow rocky gorge we bent towards a tiny transistor radio. It was news time and we were listening to the Voice of the Masses, the frequency of the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front, transmitting from deep within Eritrea’s “liberated zone”. More >>
GREENING THE FAMILY FARM
First published in Habitat Australia (Australian Conservation Foundation) way back in February 1988.
Country town. Interstate bus. They’re all there to meet me. It’s spring time and the roadsides are splashed with purple Patterson’s curse and the exotic yellow daisies we call pee-the-beds. The crops are young and green, just starting to head, and the trees silhouetted against the setting sun as we drive home — well, I’m afraid there aren’t many of them left these days, except along the road reserves. European agricultural practices haven’t been good for trees in this country. Nor for the land itself. >>
CULTURAL EXCHANGE BETWEEN INLAND NSW & DERBYSHIRE
A dozen of we Creatives from Central Western New South Wales spent most of September 2013 in Wirksworth, Derbyshire, as part of The Pavilion Project, a visionary international cultural exchange facilitated through Arts OutWest, Derbyshire Council, and the Wirksworth Arts Festival. Check out Maryanne Jacques’ article about our sojourn, Rural To Rural: International Arts Links, in The Western Advocate, 6 October 2013 >> And/or Jason Thomas’s Swapping Festival Ideas, in The Forbes Advocate, 12 September 2013 >>. And/or my own posts from Wirksworth on my new blog about Rural Arts Festivals >>
Credit: Photo at top of page of Merrill Findlay by UK photographer Chris Webb, September 2013. Thank you Chris.
Last updated 21 October, 2014. Permalink: www.merrillfindlay.com
Copyright Merrill Findlay 2013.