Oil pastels

Friday, April 18th, 2014

In The Middle Of Darkness


The initial phase of the Darkness has passed. It’s likely you are in one of few states, denial or anger or panic. Denial and Anger can be a defense to help cope. Panic can set in if you realise you are struggling. Either way it’s time to reach out to your support network. For most people their support network is family and friends, if you’re chronically ill it may include healthcare workers. This will depend on how often you see them and how much you trust them.

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Friday, April 11th, 2014

Walking Into The Darkness

The Darkness touches everybody’s life at some point. It could be grief, depression, chronic illness, betrayal, abuse or other options. When you first experience it, that’s when it seems to be worse because you haven’t found the resources to help yet.

I’ve joined the sketchbook project for the 2015 exhibition. My theme is ‘Middle’. The possibilities are exciting.

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Friday, April 4th, 2014

Make Way For Colonisation


Lieutenant James Cook (yes, he was a a lieutenant, the captaincy came later) did not discover Australia.  The Chinese, Dutch and Portuguese sailed along some of our coast first, Cook merely claimed the land for the British Empire, an European legal nicety of the time. This meant that when Britain wanted a new penal colony Australia was one option. In 1788 the first convicts and colonists arrived. These pastoralists weren’t prepared to put up with a nomadic Indigenous population and systematically killed, enslaved and suppressed Indigenous cultures. The difference in technology was such that the British might as well arrived on flying carpets.  There was also the arrival of disease, the worst of which was small pox, which the Indigenous population had no immunity to.

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Friday, March 28th, 2014

End the mandatory detention of asylum seekers

Advance Australia Fair?   (c) Anita Morris 2013

Advance Australia Fair?
(c) Anita Morris 2013

Australian politics 101
Aussies skip this section.
Australia has two major parties. The Australian Labor Party which used to be the Leftist party but is now right of centre. Traditionally associated with the Unions. The Liberal Party is the conservative party, started on the right and is now on the far right.

Mandatory detention of asylum seekers
For the last 15-20 years, Australia has been locking up asylum seekers, who arrive by boats, for in indefinite periods. The Liberal Party started it but the Labor Party didn’t stop it. The UN has found Australia in breach of 150 instances at the international tribunal.

The Liberal party is in office on a promise to stop the boats.  Boats have been towed out of Australian territorial waters, and into Indonesian territorial waters which pissed off the Indonesians and demoralised the Navy. One of the boats sunk in Indonesian waters before it reached Indonesia and is under investigation by Indonesia. (The other thing that had the Indonesians angry was that Australia was caught spying on key members of their parliament and the president’s wife) Now the Liberals are attempting complete censorship with mixed success. Mostly because the asylum seekers are on Manus Island, part of Papua New Guinea, Nauru and Christmas Island. Only Christmas Island is an Australian dependency. A man in detention died on Manus Island in suspicious circumstances. Tony Abbott, our current Liberal Prime Minster, promised a full investigation but it stopped the moment PNG said such investigation was unwanted.

Australia doesn’t help run or take refugees from UN refugee camps. The only refugees we are currently accepting are those who arrive by plane. 93% of asylum seekers arriving by boat are found to be genuine refugees, compared to under 40% who arrive by plane.

Malcom Fraser was a Liberal Prime Minster 1975-1983 and accepted over a quarter of a million Vietnamese refugees over eight years. He is a vocal opponent of the current policy.

Personally I believe we should be processing asylum seekers as quickly as possible. They could be productive members of Australian society but the length of detention is giving them mental illnesses. Australia has two other problems I believe these refugees can solve. One we have an ageing population and not enough new people are entering the workforce to support those that are retiring. Two the populations of our rural towns are shrinking, as young people leave for the big cities for either better jobs or tertiary education. Settle these genuine refugees in these towns  and give them a five year visa that requires them to stay there. After that period they should automatically become permanent residents.

Australia’s National Anthem is Advance Australia Fair.

Lyrics because even most Aussies don’t know the words.

Verse 1
Australians all let us rejoice,
For we are young and free;
We’ve golden soil and wealth for toil;
Our home is girt by sea;
Our land abounds in nature’s gifts
Of beauty rich and rare;
In history’s page, let every stage
Advance Australia Fair.
In joyful strains then let us sing,
Advance Australia Fair.

Girt by the way means surrounded.

Verse 2
Beneath our radiant Southern Cross
We’ll toil with hearts and hands;
To make this Commonwealth of ours
Renowned of all the lands;
For those who’ve come across the seas
We’ve boundless plains to share;
With courage let us all combine
To Advance Australia Fair.
In joyful strains then let us sing,
Advance Australia Fair.

Most of it is Colonial Bullshit. The original five verse version was worse. But I want to draw your attention to two lines we are not living up to:
For those who’ve come across the seas
We’ve boundless plains to share;

I’d like to think Australia are generous enough to embody the sentiment behind those words. Hence the question “Advance Australia Fair?”


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Friday, March 21st, 2014

Making Peace with Death

The oil pastel drawing is called “Soldier salutes Death” (c) Anita Morris 2013-2014. It’s on a blue background because I wanted to use both black and white in the drawing. The representative of death here is a psychopomp of the Ancient Egyptians called “Nebt-het” (G/R: Nephthys). Nebt-het has a basket (traditionally the hieroglyph for basket) on her head to differentiate from her twin sister Aset (G/R: Isis). I chose her over the skeleton with scythe because I only like that representation of death in medieval art, and in the Discworld. I chose her over Anubis who is the better known psychopomp of the same pantheon as a feminist statement.

Soldiers have to make their peace with death in order to function in battle. Doctors in hospitals, nurses, also have to make their peace with death because patients die. One of my friends trained as a nurse straight out of secondary school. Ten years later she is doing further study to work in palliative care. She says it is easier when death is not the enemy. People with chronic illness make their peace death. We live pain for years. I’ve had chronic pain since 2005, a friend has had chronic pain since 1996. This doesn’t necessarily make us depressed or suicidal. In my case the depression came first. Death doesn’t seem such a risk when you are living with pain.



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Friday, March 14th, 2014

My profound Horishima Peace Park experience

Making War Unthinkable (c) 2013 Anita Morris

Making War Unthinkable (c) 2013 Anita Morris

On August 6, and August 9, 1945, one atom bomb was dropped on Hiroshima and another on Nagasaki. The cenotaph for A bomb victims in the Hiroshima Peace Park lists 221,893 as of 2001. I am uncertain what criteria the names need to meet other than they are not all Japanese.

I’ve been to Japan twice. The first time I visited Hiroshima and the Hiroshima Peace Park. Two things have stayed with me, the Atomic Bomb Memorial Mound and the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum. The Atomic Bomb Memorial Mound holds the unclaimed ashes of Atomic Bomb victims. Occasionally there is a DNA match and a family member goes home.

I’d spent my teenage years writing, mostly creative work but also some poetry. My first creative response the same day as visiting the park was a poem.

Remember Hiroshima

Remember Hiroshima
A city destroyed
Fires burn in conflagration
For three days
Remember Hiroshima
A child leaves their trapped mother and grandmother
For the survival of a younger sister
Remember Hiroshima
Corpses piled in the street
Floating in the river
Personal objects the only remains of loved ones
Thousands of unidentified bodies
Identified bodies burned from the blast
Remember Hiroshima
Sadako was two
A decade later she was deceased
From cancer due to the bomb
Her thousand paper cranes were her hope
Remember Hiroshima
To this day many die from radiation sickness
Remember Hiroshima
Pray for peace

The other vivid memory from the day at the Peace Park was of a circular room in Hiroshima Peace Museum. In the room was a montage of photographs showing the devastation as if at ground zero. One of the few things standing was an Otori gate in the distance.

December last year was ten years since I had been to the Hiroshima Peace Park. I didn’t set out to make art about it, it was drawn out of my subconscious. The piece is called “Making War Unthinkable” and has the Otori gate as the central motif. The flowers are poppies for remembrance, not cherry blossom. To Westerns cherry blossoms mean japan, but to the Japanese they are a symbol of the transience of all things, not what I wanted to say.


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Friday, March 7th, 2014

Anti-war oil pastel drawings

Most Australians don’t know the words to our national anthem but know all the words to Waltzing Matilda.

A variant on that folksong and a war protest song is
“The band played Waltzing Matilda” by Eric Bogle.

This piece is called “And their ghosts may be heard as they march by that billabong.” ((C) Anita Morris 2003) It’s inspired by the second song. The sunset imagery is a direct reference to the badge worn by the Australian Army.

The next two fridays I intend to have some more war protest oil pastel drawings to share.

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Friday, February 28th, 2014

Drawing heart break and sadness

The piece is called “It’s raining in my heart”. My ex-girlfriend made me feel like this when she broke up with me in January 2006. My mum has left me feeling like this on a number of times in the past. Sometimes my depression feels like this.


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Friday, February 21st, 2014

Growing up a geek

I am a geek. A female geek is less rare than you might think. Most geeks are bullied at some point during school. They also tend to have small but close friendship circles. This can be lonely at times.

I started university and discovered a social community of geeks. It was the first time I had a sense of community. Some I met sitting in a certain place at Monash uni, some I met at parties, and some I’ve only ever met online. When we still had a mailing there were roughly one hundred members. Things are more dispersed now that we’re all on Facebook.

This di-type emphasises the contrast of these experiences. It’s called ‘Loneliness vs. a Tribe of Friends’.


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Friday, February 14th, 2014

Betrayed and torn apart

Torn Apart (c) 2013 Anita Morris

Torn Apart (c) 2013 Anita Morris

25 April 2013 Mum broke a promise made in family therapy in 2010. This was one of the images made immediately afterwards. I had not felt so betrayed since she locked me in. I felt torn apart because she had broken my trust again.


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