KALARI-LACHLAN RIVER ARTS FESTIVAL
4 December 2013: The biennial Festival I founded in 2010/11, as a celebration of country creativity and resilience after a decade of drought, has taken flight so now it’s time for me to withdraw. Read my statement to the local press here >>
29 October 2013 SPECTACULAR FESTIVAL “The lanterns have died out, musicians have packed up and gone home, and everyone is recovering after a huge weekend at the 2013 Kalari-Lachlan River Arts Festival,” writes Sophie Harris in the Forbes Advocate. ”This year’s festival was an astounding success and impressed all who attended the celebration of art and culture in our region …” Read more >>
And visit The Advocate’s online FESTIVAL MEGA GALLERY more >>
CULTURAL EXCHANGE BETWEEN INLAND NSW & DERBYSHIRE, UK
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 >>
I returned home to inland NSW for our own Kalari-Lachlan River Arts Festival, having established cultural links in the UK, which, I hope, will lead to some very interesting creative collaborations for future festivals. So watch this space!
THE KATE KELLY SONG CYCLE
The Kate Kelly Song Cycle, a chamber opera and musical tribute to bushranger Ned Kelly’s sister Kate, by Merrill Findlay and 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 biennial Festival itself, emerged from Merrill’s Kate Kelly Project. Film maker Tracy Sorenson has since completed a documentary, Songs for Kate, about this remarkable cultural intervention. More >>
NEW! 28 November 2013. Tracy has loaded a raw interview with Ken Smith, a Forbes local who remembers Kate Kelly’s husband, Bricky Foster, onto Youtube. Watch it here >>
“OUTSTANDING CONTRIBUTION” AWARD
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.
MEANWHILE, MY PhD PROJECT ….
I’ve now completed my creative PhD thesis, Homelands, through the University of Canberra’s Centre for Creative and Cultural Research. My project traces the journeys of asylum seekers and refugees from Afghanistan and Pakistan to Australia. It took me not only to refugee communities near Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan, but also to Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, to many places in Australia and other countries where asylum seekers have been ‘detained’ or resettled, and to predominantly Anglo-Celtic communities in inland Australia, where misinformed locals speak of asylum seekers and refugees as “illegals”. A five month Research Fellowship at Universitas Terbuka, Indonesia, in 2012, enabled me to meet dozens of refugees and asylum seekers waiting to get to Australia. My new book-length narrative non-fiction will soon be available for publication. [More about this soon!] All expressions of interest from publishers will be seriously considered!
REPUBLIC OF WOMEN: A NOVEL
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 >>
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: FROM TERRA INCOGNITA TO COGNITA
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. >>
Credit: Photo at top of page of Merrill Findlay by UK photographer Chris Webb, September 2013. Thank you Chris.
Last updated 6 December 2013. Permalink: www.merrillfindlay.com
Copyright Merrill Findlay 2013.