Bibelots

a place for the curious

Tag: memory (page 1 of 2)

river

a river, surrounded by stone walls. black and white photo.

time is a river

I put markers in
like stepping stones
to remember,
I send leaves drifting
to forget.

the river drags it all away.
a stone sinks,
a memory fades.
submerged leaves resurface;
suddenly rise and sink again.

I cling to the river
try and cease its passing

it forges on
pulling me with it.
behind me
someone falls behind.

Mixed feelings

blank cassette

mixed music,
mixed feelings

Music is a gift. That part I’m sure of.

Hearing music, being able to play it, singing it beautifully or singing it as if no-one else exists in the world. Tapping it out, hearing it as you run your fingers along a fence, sensing it in the pulse of another. Feeling it. It all blends to a sweet and personal harmony.

Music is everywhere and it’s a joy.

But there’s a gift that I miss. Or sometimes think that I do. A package of music that’s had its time.

A million years ago, there was the mixtape.

You could make your own; tape recorder shoved up hard against the radio, finger hovering on the worn red record button, waiting for that song. You know the one. It kept you up at night, trying to remember the words. It made your heart ache, when it came on air. Or it made you want to dance. You couldn’t not dance.

An enthusiastic friend might gift a mixtape to you. A box full of the sounds they wanted you to love. Maybe they were trying to cure you of your poppy, synthy, electronic ways. Maybe it was so that you might one day fall for their kind of music, or even fall for them. I always fell in love with the songs, but it never cured me. A good mixtape could blow my mind. It opened musical doors. Hell, a great one could unearth entire musical cities.

There are different ways to do this now. Digital ways. Shared playlists, and radio stations that like to think they know what you want. The word mixtape has taken on its own life and lots of folk use it to mean the mix, not the media. But, for me, this hasn’t replaced what’s gone. It still does and always will mean a cassette with a wound up gift of sound.

I miss it, absolutely. But that’s not to say I miss the technology. I guess that’s it – what I’m not so sure of. Cassette tapes were thick with imperfections. They wore out. Got tangled up. Unravelled and jammed. Yet there’s a little piece of that imperfect mess that I long for. The last few seconds of the captured next song. The slow devolve of the sounds and words of your favourite track; your most adored bit of tape.

It doesn’t make sense that I miss this. At the time, it annoyed me. Drove me mad. Made me swear and throw things. All the same, these imperfections are what made those songs uniquely mine. No-one else heard these songs in the same way that I did. Not the same order, not the same quality, not even the same loss through overuse and over-love.

And that little nest, that non-robotic soup is, I think, what made this music last. I can still see my favourite tape. My favourite song. That friend’s handwriting. The day the tape broke. Too much heart, too much worship.

As the world around me seeks for more and more stylised perfection, I guess that’s what I miss. A little box of chaos, music and imperfect love.

What memory is

the view from inside a cave looks out at the ocean

Seeing through

Memory is the touch of the wax on the seal of the envelope. It’s his name, her image, their smell.

Memory is weak, like water. It is strong, like waves.

Memory without touch fades. As scent, it invades.

Memory is a punch in the chest. It will unravel you. It can shore you up and restore you.

Memory is a soft and gentle breath, like oxygen.

It is nothing,  it has substance. It is everything. It is you.

What I recall is you.

House of film – The Black Rose

A personal note

This is not a review of Trent Parke’s magnificent and sombre work, but a gentle personal impression.

This last week found me once again in the beautiful halls of the Art Gallery of South Australia, seeing Trent Parke’s ‘The Black Rose’.

One series of images from the exhibition showed a defrosting snake next to a demolishing house – ‘The house of film’.

For me, the house of film was about decay and destruction. It was one of many series and images in the exhibition that flirted with the same theme.

I won’t say more than that. It’s early in the exhibition’s run and I wouldn’t want to spoil it for anyone else. I will say that if you go, take your time. And go more than once. There’s a lot to take in.

In the same week, I also went to hear Trent’s talk with exhibition curators Julie Robinson and Maria Zagala and guest speakers Alasdair Foster, freelance art writer and curator, and Bronwyn Rennex, Director of Stills Gallery.

The combination of this talk and Trent’s artwork is an incredibly generous gift.

In addition to the particular sombre beauty of the exhibition, it was heartening for me personally. I live, with a lovely man, in a house of film. The formats come in all manner of sizes, but mostly bear shades that fall between black and white. While I usually shoot 35mm, I’m just as happy with the digital format and am willing to try whatever works. To see and hear that an accomplished creative photographer like Trent is happy to mix media – 35mm, large format and digital – was wonderful. It provided a personal connection to an incredible artist.

It didn’t stop there.

Think of your favourite artist. Is it van Gogh? Van Dyck? Imagine visiting their hometown, seeing their work, understanding that you held the same sort of brush and . . . then there’s an image. An image of a place you’ve been. A place that perhaps you even tried to capture.

For me, that image was ‘Pirate Ship’ at St. Kilda.

I’ve stood there. Same stones. Same sky. But that guy stood there too. He came out of his house of film and captured my world. And then he turned it around and showed it to me.

A more vivid and unforgettable reaction to a piece of art I couldn’t imagine.

Art at its very, very best.

Trent Parke, once again, has found the extraordinary in the ordinary.


A note for educators: for those interested in seeing the exhibition with a study group or class I can heartily recommend Trent Parke, The Black Rose, Education Resource PDF, prepared by the Art Gallery of South Australia.

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