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Magical Melbourne and The Skyfish.

When I first moved down to Melbourne I was lucky enough to be left with enough time to get settled comfortably in our new house in Caulfield and set up a studio before Son Number 2 arrived.  And again, luckily enough, he did sleep a fair bit when he was younger, so I took up painting.  My good friend Von was a wealth of information (she was teaching as a Design Sessional at Monash Uni so it was like having my own private tutor for not much more payment than tea and bikkies!) and we would spend any spare time 'playing' in my front room.  We mucked around with cloth dolls, painted cushions, explored polymer clay and more.  All the time the buzz of the city was with us; in the endless hum of the tram rails, in the food, music and the ever shifting streetscape of gig posters.

Our house was on Balaclava Road, a double fronted cream brick Victorian with an outside dunny where the cat always slid under the door and cornered unsuspecting souls for attention.  It had high ornate ceilings (the house, not the dunny), deep skirting boards and door frames, real picture rails and it nearly bankrupted us the first year we had to heat it.  Gas central heating - being the most wonderful thing in the world second only to  chocolate - made all the difference, and (eventually) we happily lived there for five years and expanded the brood to three.

On one visit, Von suggested I upped my scale for a change.  I'd been painting studies of the fire place tiles, eyes, horses and doodlings inspired by Mirka Mora.  The huge walls were really too beckoning to be ignored, so I pinched the kids sidewalk chalks and drew a huge Skyfish in the dining room.  The first one had come about after I'd done one of those random google searches you do when something interests you when you have a little time (but don't know for how long) and it led me to a site, The Skyfish Project.  Now sadly defunct (the current site only carries a bunch of links now) the original site hosted the Recognition of Responsibility, see  http://greenoptions.com/tag/skyfish-project  One thing I read there has always stuck with me, that all children have a right to a clean earth.  Skyfish began to appear everytime I worked. The patterned glass above the front door had simple but elegant stars, and these sometimes became the background for a creature who was always first to emerge when the creative mood set in.  Eventually, of course, he became a doll (well, a puppet or a toy to be more precise, but I think the people involved with the National Original Doll Artists Association of Australia 'got' the idea, as he was so well-received).  He lives on the mantle now, occasionally taking the odd lap of the lounge with a child in tow.

There was a bit of a nose thing going on at the time, too...

The Skyfish seemed out of place when we made the move to Macedon.   The rainbow wall-version at Caulfield was washed clean by a bloke who looked at me in a queer fashion as I loaded the last of my pot plants into the car for the final trip out of town to the hills.   Certainly, the kids loved him and were a bit sad to see him go, as was I, but all good things must come to an end.  I built one last Skyfish here in the garden; a cairn of rocks now eroding away with the activity of dogs, small children and gum leaf litter. Nice and organic and timeful.  There are numerous frogs about at where he lies, always met with delight by whoever discovers one.  Only now am I beginning to understand what I have to teach my kids; how they need to protect the fragile web of life they are lucky enough to be a part of, and how they will need to tackle the challenges we have created for them.  And I know the Skyfish is still out there, zipping through the stratosphere, drinking deeply of the cosmic winds and sharing my enjoyment of my childrens daily discoveries.

Japenese paer clay



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