Goanna Samba

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Heath Goanna (Varanus rosenbergii), Kangaroo Island, South Australia,  Photo Cody Pope, Wikimedia Commons

Sometimes a line gets into your head and leads you to create  something from this small beginning.  That is how it was with this poem.   I could not get the words “goanna samba” out of my mind.  The idea of a Goanna doing a dance move tickled my imagination.  Creativity often comes out of incongruous associations.

Goanna Samba

Monitor Lizard, patterned wizard

In the bush invisible

Disappears standing still

Chases down smaller prey

Hiding in its clever way

 

Great Goanna, beneath verandah

When it’s hot, will meander

Doing the Goanna Samba

 

Sleek reptile, very agile

Climbing trees, with an ease

Catches barest noontime breeze

Beat the heat, sleep and laze

On dusty dry summer days

 

Goanna not salamander

Ancient dragon, so much grander

Doing the goanna samba

 

Smart Goanna, disaster planner

Good defense, survival sense

Finds escape beneath a fence

When bushfire comes suddenly

From raging flames quickly flees

Doing the Goanna Samba

Doing the Goanna Samba

© The Artist’s Child 2017

The Goanna, an Australian Monitor lizard, doesn’t always get the same attention as the cuddly marsupials, unless it does something dangerous to humans.  Yet they are amazing creatures and can be found all over Australia, except Tasmania.   The  Goanna can move very quickly when required.  It has a wonderful undulating gait that reminds me of the Samba dance step.

The following video shows a Goanna visiting a back garden in rural Australia.  Fabulous reptile to watch.

Kat

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Memories: Your Own Creative Database

We all have memories of past experiences that give us pleasure or haunt our dreams.  Our memory is a wonderful resource that can inspire artwork.  It is a way to relive a happy moment in your life by transferring the feelings of joy and wonder into something new and tangible.  Or to use a bad experience and transform it into another form so it no longer has any power to cause too much grief, or at least lessens the impact.

Memories can provide inspiration for both realistic or fantasy works.  Some great literature and art has been created from artists and writers using memory as their starting point.  Just a few examples include Charles Dickens use of his early life as a basis for David Copperfield; Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird based upon her childhood experiences in a small southern town; and the painter Marc Chagall’s beautiful and dreamlike imagery inspired by the scenery of his childhood in Belarus, part of Russia at the time.  We all have our own memory vault full of unique episodes and images from life that can trigger the imagination and lead us in all kinds of directions.  You never know what will surface.

Sometimes unpleasant memories require a creative solution so that you can move on.  I had a bad experience with someone on a bushwalking trip who was a bully.  I effectively dealt with the situation at the time, but it still came back to give me some anxiety and put me off bushwalking with complete strangers.  I decided to turn the episode into a series of tapestry designs and have fun with my anxiety and fear.  I also wanted to create a sequence where the girl is no longer the victim, so I created a bogeyman who gets his comeuppance. My two favorite images of the series are where the girl is frozen with fear in a protective egg, while the masked bogeyman stands over her (Overcome by Fear) and then after he is reduced in size and she sprays him with insecticide (Overcoming Fear).  Creating these designs made me laugh and feel a lot better.  If you reduce you anxieties to a manageable size they can no longer affect you and you can stomp on them like a bug (that is in the series as well).

Happy memories are usually the ones you treasure the most, especially those relating to childhood.  When it is impossible to go back and visit people and places long gone, the only thing you can do is to recapture and bring them back to life through art or writing.  My grandparents lived on Melbourne’s Yarra River, with an orchard that stretched down to the river’s edge.  It was like visiting the bush with the eucalypts and wildlife, which were part of the river’s ecosystem.  Looking back with some nostalgia I wrote some short poems that try to capture a child’s uncomplicated memories of that place.

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Kookaburra (photo by JJ Harrison, 2010,Wikimedia Commons )

By the River

Kingfisher by the Yarra

Watching the still water

Looking for fish

In a log by the river

Tiger snake likes to slither

Better not sit

© The Artist’s Child, 2017

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Tiger Snake (photo by Teneche, 2010, Wikimedia Commons)

There were only two rules that Ellie and I had to obey when visiting our grandparents. Don’t go near the river’s edge and watch out for snakes.  A Tiger snake had been found asleep in the living room fireplace when my mother was a child. One was sleeping under a log near the river when we were children, and we were kept well away.  As these snakes are deadly, we did not ignore this rule, although I never actually saw one.  In fact I have never seen any snake in the bush at all, probably because I stomp and make some noise so they will hear me coming and disappear.  Or I have just been lucky.

The Laughing Kookaburra, a type of Kingfisher, would steal the goldfish from my grandfather’s fishpond, so he placed a removable steel grill over it.  We would hear them laughing in the trees and it always made you want to join in.

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Tawny Frogmouth Mother and Chicks  (photo by Alan U Kennington, 2011, Wikimedia Commons)

Frogmouths

Three baby Frogmouths

Small bumps in a gum tree

Impossible to see

Then one blinks

Illusion broken

Unlike mother, frozen totem

© The Artist’s Child, 2017

The Tawny Frogmouth is a member of the Nightjar family.  Their tawny feathers act as camouflage in trees.  In one of the orchard eucalypts grandfather pointed out a delightful family of Frogmouths to us as children.  The babies had yet to learn the art of staying completely still like their mother, and would move their heads to look at us.

Bellbirds

Bellbirds ringing, singing

In the river valley of childhood

How they echo in my memory

© The Artist’s Child, 2017

This is probably what I remember and miss most about being down by the Yarra.  The constant calls of the Bellbirds or Bell Minors. Some people find their calls annoying but I find them soothing.  It was hard to believe you were in the middle of a city.

Here is a You Tube video that will give anyone unfamiliar with these birds a sense what it is like to be in their environment.

Everyone has a fantastic database full of memories and it is good to get that retrieval system working.  Once you start delving you will remember all kinds of things that can inspire, disturb or make you laugh and these can feed your creative work.

Kat

Art Studios and Ordered Chaos

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I love viewing images of Artist’s studios so I thought I would share ours as it might give others some ideas.  I follow the principle of “ordered chaos”(yeah I know this is an oxymoron), where in the studio I have a lot of tools, supplies and reference material and it is arranged so that I can find things when I need them.  This is not to say that the system is perfect, as sometimes I do forget where something is, but most of the time it works.  I could never be a minimalist and would find this too restricting, yet a complete mess would drive me insane.

Recent studies (Why Creative People Have Messy Homes ) have argued that messy people are more creative than the extremely tidy.  To a certain extent I would agree with this idea, but I also think that if you can’t find anything and have no space to work it just makes you stressed, which hinders creativity.  If you have to spend hours looking for something or continually moving things on a desk to make space, it is a waste of your precious time and energy.  As with all things it is good to have some balance.

The secret to ordered chaos is that you have close at hand things you use regularly and store those not used often in an accessible place.  I also keep related items together and this makes it easier to locate individual articles, as well as being more aesthetically pleasing.

The key to this system is that you need a lot of storage.  This way I can house a lot of stuff without going crazy and becoming buried like a chronic hoarder.  For this purpose the studio has a mixture of second-hand and modern furniture, the latter coming mainly from a chain store (and parents).  The largest pieces are high pine shelves and a bench with cupboards underneath.  Flat pack style shelving was necessary, as the studio is on the second story and you cannot fit large furniture up the stairs.  There are some smaller shelves, a bookcase and assorted trolleys and tables.

The large shelves hold lots of storage boxes, baskets and containers full of art materials, tapestry wools, weaving and sewing materials, tools and memorabilia.   As well as the doll’s house and toy wardrobe mentioned in previous posts (17 Oct and 21 Nov, 2016), there is also a toy dresser that houses a tin collection and several vintage suitcases and a hat tin to store items.  On the stairwell wall is a multi-cultural mask collection, with a couple we made ourselves (very difficult to hang as you teeter over the void).  A bamboo screen hides the narrow shelves used to store canvases and other artworks.  There is a roof storage area off the studio for extra equipment that is not used often.

On the large table is an easel with a drawing board and all the tools you would need, like brushes and pencils.  Under the table is a drawer unit that contains art materials.  Next to this is a wooden boot drying rack, found at an op shop, that now holds paper and folios. It’s fun to find a new use for something that no longer serves any purpose.  Plastic storage bins on wheels fit under the table and computer desk so no space is wasted.

The advantage of having a studio separated from the living area is that there is room to make a creative mess and you can leave project materials where they are until you are ready to work on them again.  Ellie has a small study for computer work and drawing and uses the studio for painting and textiles.  In the latter, areas are set aside for different types of work, from writing, drawing and painting to sewing and tapestry weaving.

In a studio you can store a lot of things that otherwise would be chucked out.  Things that are great for inspiration, like natural objects, old toys and items collected from op shops.  As a creative individual it is common to see potential for artistic applications in items others view as rubbish and there is a danger of becoming an obsessive hoarder.  It is important to be selective with what is kept otherwise it could become unmanageable, so every now and then redundant stuff needs to get thrown out to be recycled, if possible.  But I admit this can be difficult.

Due to lack of space in the house, an old exercise bike and some hand weights are kept in the studio, which is not ideal.  And there is a clothes drying rack used in colder months on the other side of the room, out of view in the photos.   Sometimes it can feel a bit like a laundry.  All the stuff in the room does takes up a lot of the floor space, but as most of the furniture is light or has wheels, it can be moved aside when necessary.  It’s just a case of being flexible.

Storage seems to be a common problem for artists and some of those who I admire work in some sort of organized chaos.  In a thirty-year-old magazine I found an article about the brilliant London theatre designer and artist, Yolanda Sonnabend, who died in 2015.  Her studio was full of wonderful old distressed furniture and lots of fascinating and creative storage units.  It was cluttered, but not a chaotic mess and full of unusual and interesting objects.  There was even a dead tree hanging from the ceiling.  Here is a photo of the magazine page.

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Yolanda Sonnabend’s Studio, The World of Interiors, June 1984

Local Melbourne artist and living treasure,  Mirka Mora, also has a wonderfully cluttered studio with lots of interesting artifacts and furniture.  She wrote an inspiring book called Love and Clutter (Viking, 2003) about the memories associated with the various objects in her collection.   It is full of great photos of her studio.  Here is a link to an interview that she did about her life and work, with many pictures of her workspace:

thedesignfiles.net – interview with Mirka Mora

Everyone needs a place for creative play and if you don’t have a whole room that should not be a hindrance.  Even if you only have one living room you can create a corner workspace on a table or desk.  All is needed is a work surface and good lighting.  For really messy work there is nothing better than a car port or garage and if you live in an apartment you can drape a table with plastic sheeting.

With limited space you would probably need to be quite organized with the storage of materials otherwise it would be difficult to work effectively.  Because Ellie and I have several fields of interest this requires more storage space, but if you only use one or two mediums you would not need so much stuff and a simple shelving or drawer system might be all that is necessary.

It is possible to have a balance between order and chaos in your workspace without any extreme tidiness or messiness that could hamper creativity.  But that is just my opinion and it all comes down to what works for you.

Kat

For a further fix on creative people’s workspaces go to wheretheycreate.com

Singing Songs and Writing Words

We’ve all heard that famous line “music soothes the savage beast”. It is from a play by the English writer William Congreve (The Mourning Bride, 1697) and the words are actually “music has charms to soothe a savage breast, to soften rocks and bend a knotted Oak”. Well when I feel like a “knotted Oak” singing and playing music makes me more relaxed and much happier.

As I have mentioned previously in this blog, several years ago I did some creativity classes at a local art group when I was feeling blocked.  As part of the program we did singing to loosen up our creative minds.  The teacher was both an artist and also ran a-cappella choirs.  In the creativity class we learnt how to sing original language songs from different cultures: Indigenous Australian and Maori songs; African tribal and African American songs; European folk and Scottish Gaelic Songs.  It really opened up our minds to World music and we learned a lot about singing in harmony.

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African Drums, Claves and Clap Sticks

Our teacher encouraged us to use the percussion instruments she brought to the classes, like Aboriginal clap sticks, African drums and various shakers.  Clap sticks are made from Native Australian woods and they are much louder than Afro Cuban Claves.  It was fun to sing and use percussion instruments and it helped with our timing.  Ellie and I ended up singing with the teacher’s group for four years, until she moved interstate.  Doing this group activity made us feel really good about ourselves and we have continued to sing whenever possible.

The world would be a much colder place without music.  It brings people together and makes everyone feel better.  Sadly in modern working life singing is usually separate from daily activities, unless you are employed in an enlightened business.  People are rarely encouraged to sing as they work.  In past centuries there were lots of working songs sung while people washed hand dyed textiles, worked on sailing boats, did the housework and other repetitive activities.  Now all you hear is the blaring of radios from building sites or mind numbing Muzak in elevators or stores.  There are buskers of course, but city council regulations don’t usually encourage group participation on a busy street and Flash Mobs don’t happen often enough.

What a different place our country would be if anyone could sing when they felt like it without constraint.  If you do sing when walking along the street you just receive strange looks.  Singing for the hell of it in public must break some unwritten convention about what is socially acceptable behaviour in our uptight society.  You’d probably be classified as a public nuisance and get fined for making a disturbance in some places.

Unfortunately life is not a musical and we all have to create our own time to sing at home or with a community singing group.  There is nothing better than getting together with a group of friends or like-minded strangers and having a sing-a-long.  Even if you feel you cannot sing, you could learn an instrument, do percussion or become part of a drumming circle, anything that allows you to make a noise, especially with others, to free your spirit and get you out of yourself.

As a creative person I like to tell my own stories in song.  Since childhood I have written poems, an interest inherited from my grandfather, who was always expressing himself this way.  Most of my works use a rhyming style suited to song lyrics.  I put these to simple melodies played with four or more chords on the guitar or ukulele.  In my case the words come before the music, not the other way around, because I need to feel strongly about a subject for inspiration to strike and this involves writing.  There are songs that I am quite proud of and have performed some these with Ellie, who also plays the ukulele, at gatherings of friends, at parties and small community groups.

Not all the verses I write end up working as a song and some remain as poems.  The following is a poem written when sleeping in a caravan on our property during house renovations.  I wanted to capture the sense of a stormy night being buffeted by the elements in what is virtually a flimsy tin can on wheels.

WILD NIGHT CARAVAN

caravan-drawing

The cold wind kicks her, she rattles, bells toll

Like a concrete mixer, she rocks and she rolls

The rains starts a thumping

It’s drumming, keeps coming

Sleep not so easy

Wild night caravanshe-huddles-dog-cuddles

While the storm rages, she shakes, she huddles

For what seems like ages, she waits, dog snuggles

The rain starts abating

Day’s breaking, still waiting

Sleep comes so slowly

Wild night caravan

I ended up writing some other lyrics about the caravan and created a better song.  Sometimes you need to rework an idea before you hit on the right combination of words and music.  Once it’s finished, I think it is valuable experience to go out there and try original material before a supportive audience.  It can be daunting but you get used to performing your own stuff.  Some songs work, some don’t, but it is important to keep on trying.

There is no need to be silent, afraid to sing or play music, whether it is someone else’s song or your own.  You don’t have to be a virtuoso.  Music is in all of us and if you practice regularly you will improve, no matter what anyone else says.  Sharing your love of the medium with others is one of the most uplifting and fun things you can do.

Kat

Creativity with Junk, Mallee Roots and Were-Rabbits

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Everyone has broken or discarded stuff.  Sometimes these things are too interesting to throw away.  I turn metal, wooden, concrete or ceramic pieces of junk into unique assemblages for the garden.

In the early spring, my sister Ellie and I decided to put some potted plants on the concrete area beside our rear driveway to dress up a bleak spot.  This made a difference, but the red brick wall under our family room windows looked too bare.  It needed something interesting to detract from the boring blank bricks, so I rummaged around our crowded shed and the hidden corners of the garden to find suitable objects.

First I discovered a pair of old forged iron chair frames that had lost the wooden seat slats years ago.  These were wonderfully rusty and when I placed them back to back against the wall, they formed the shape of a bizarre moth or strange old airplane.   From the top I hung an iron bell and in the gap at the bottom, an old brass fireplace shovel.  Instant wall decoration.

As the wall is quite long I thought it still needed some more visual interest, so from the back of the garden I moved a wooden power pole off-cut, left over from a community art project that Ellie had taken part in several years ago.  This still has its metal capping and makes a great stand for a sculpture.  We had kept a Mallee Root, too interesting to burn in the fireplace, that looks like the character of Bottom when he was transformed into an Ass in  A Midsummer Night’s Dream, complete with eye hole.  I placed  it on the stand at one end of the wall next to a pot of textured rocks.  Mallee Roots are really hard and don’t rot easily if kept off the ground so it should weather nicely.

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Now that I had begun, I kept finding other bits of junk to make assemblages.  We had an old iron and stone-grinding wheel for sharpening tools that had lost its base and wooden handle.  I thought that it would look good on its side to create a table-like structure, so I stuck one metal end into the bottom hole of an upended terracotta pot.  Onto the joint of the handle I attached an old brass hose fitting and to the handles end fitted a rusty garden fork.  I think it looks like a one-armed World War I helmeted soldier giving a cheeky salute.  There is a rock that is shaped like an elbow and another like a foot on the grinding wheel and it is a tribute to the spirit of the Australian Diggers who survived that awful war.  Probably my most serious assemblage.

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After a violent spring storm one of our terracotta pots was broken and the shards looked too good to throw away.  I half buried them in the earth under our Bay Laurel shrub where the dogs are always destroying the grass.  The broken pot pieces now form a bit of archeology in the garden as if they have been uncovered in a dig.  Circa Middle Suburban Period.

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In the darkest corner of the shed, in a container filled with old junk, apart from the spiders, I discovered three cast iron metal shelf brackets.  Standing them together on their bases creates a decorative assemblage and I put these on the concrete ledge behind our rustic garden bench and table.  In the same junk container were a large rusty forged iron staple and an unusual square type of bolt fitting.  These  found objects were placed on the same ledge, next to a lucky horseshoe given to us by our grandfather.  I did not include my grandmother’s rusty secateurs in this or any grouping, because Ellie said it was a bad idea to put potential weapons near the back door.  I’m more worried about the thought of getting tetanus from a cut, than somebody going psycho with some rusty old garden tools, but better safe than sorry.

In front of this rustic collection was a pot that contained a shade loving Clivia given to us by our Aunt.  But our younger dog, who is only 15 months old, decided in a moment of naughtiness that this would be a great chew toy and dug it out of the pot.  Luckily Ellie caught her in the act and was able to replant the only slightly damaged Clivia.  But we decided not to put it back in the same place where it had attracted Destructor Dog’s attention.  I thought the now vacant spot needed a sculpture.  In our pile of Mallee roots was one that resembles a large rabbit’s head.  It fitted on top of a rounded rock and I sat these on a square section of broken concrete planter as a stand.  I call this piece The Were-Rabbit, because it looks slightly sinister and reminds me of the Wallace and Gromit animation that features a particularly nasty, but hilarious monster rabbit of the same name (Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit).  Yes I know I have a weird imagination.  Anyway, it’s too big to use as a chew toy, we hope.

While I like to play around and have fun creating these objects I always try to make the most of a materials aesthetics and to put them in an appropriate position in the garden.  It often takes a lot trial and error.

At the moment I have run out of items to make assemblages and my creative burst has probably produced enough for now.  As we accumulate new junk, which is inevitable given that many things are not built to last these days, I will most likely find inspiration to create more, as it is such a constructive way to reuse broken stuff.

Kat

The following is a link to one of my favorite gardens surrounding a building that began construction in Victoria in 1855.  The historic Old Curiosity Shop in Ballarat has become a testament to giving new life to broken pottery and discarded objects and is still being added to by the present owner.  It just goes to show once you start along this path it is difficult to stop.

The Old Curiosity Shop Garden

Getting into the Goldilocks Zone

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The Goldilocks Zone

We’re in the middle of a heat wave and it is affecting my ability to think.  For two days I have been trying to write a post but I keep getting bogged down with detail and too many facts.  Exactly what I want to avoid.  I am trying to write about how finding your creative outlet is not always a straightforward process.  You try an art form that looks appealing but, like Goldilocks first found, it is not quite right and you need to move on and find something that will give you enough enjoyment and passion to persist.  But our struggling old air conditioner is either not coping with the heat or making it too cold and it’s numbing my brain.  I am definitely not in the “Goldilocks Zone”.

The Goldilocks zone is a term used to signify the habitable region around a star where an orbiting planet can support life, that is, it is not too hot or too cold but just right.  Well I’d like to be in that zone because it is not “just right” at the moment.

But when is it ever “just right”.  Often we put off doing something because it is “not the right time” or “it will be better tomorrow” or “I must do this mundane thing now so I’ll put off what I’d love to be doing till later”.  Well maybe “just right” is “right now” and I should devote some time to drawing or playing the ukulele.   Yes, I don’t think that I have mentioned that I love the uke and it is one of my passions along with singing.  Its feel-good tone makes me happy and lifts my spirits and I love writing songs on the ukulele, even more than on the guitar.   It is definitely something to get me into the Goldilocks zone, along with using water-soluble pencils and pastels, creating assemblages in the garden or playing ball with our dogs before it gets too hot and they collapse from heat exhaustion.  There is no time like the present to get into that zone so don’t delay.

If you have not yet found your true passion, it pays to experiment with different art forms to find one that is “just right”.   Sometimes it takes time.  I have tried various forms of creative activities and not all of them have worked out as expected.  At art school I decided to do ceramics as an elective because my mother had once done this as a hobby and she still had the pottery wheel and small kiln.  I thought that this would be great to try.  But it wasn’t meant to be.  I found the process too time consuming and lost the desire to continue after a year of constant breakages.  Usually my best work was damaged during the drying stage and I was always redoing projects.  I was not cut out to be a potter.  Too stressful.  We ended up selling the wheel and kiln to someone who really loved the activity.

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Japanese Garden 1: Tapestry Design and Sampler

Sometimes you discover your true passion through doing some other art form.   From an interest in textiles I had taught myself tapestry weaving and did a short course to learn more.  I really enjoyed creating something out of thin air and decided to take it to the next level.  The Art School I attended offered this as a major and I was able to learn how to design and create woven tapestries in both small and large-scale format.  I became quite skilled at this process and always received good grades, with a distinction in my final year.  But I found the thing I liked the most was doing the drawings or painted designs for the tapestries and developing my own visual style.  While I still like tapestry, I prefer the immediacy of drawing and painting which were my first loves.  Getting experience in different creative areas will not only help you to find your bliss, but will give you insights into all kinds of art forms and it is never a waste of time to learn something new.

For me, playing music, as well as drawing and painting, get me into the Goldilocks zone.  If you haven’t already, it may take a while to discover what does this for you, but in your search you could find yourself taking interesting paths and deviations that is part of the joy of the creative journey.

Kat

There’s a Dragon At the Bottom of the Garden

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We have a dragon in our garden.  Not a real dragon like a type of frilled lizard, but the mythical kind found in old legends and fantasy tales.

Before we had any garden features our back yard looked rather boring.  Several years ago Ellie and I decided we needed some kind of focal point at the rear of the property.  We visited garden centres and couldn’t find anything we liked to suit our style of house.  It is a cross between the early 20th century Australian Federation and California bungalow styles with a modern red brick addition on the back.

Looking in some books on how to renovate houses of these eras, we saw some terracotta roof dragons hand-made by the local architectural pottery.  Our roof has a couple of original terracotta finials but is not high enough to take a large dragon, so we decided to get one of these beautifully modeled terracotta sculptures to put in the garden.  We went to the pottery and looked at all the designs, chose a large French style dragon (actually a two-legged Wyvern) and placed our order.  After several weeks it was delivered in separate pieces to its new home.

The dragon needed some kind of plinth on which to sit so we cleaned a lot of old bricks left over when a front verandah was enclosed.  With the help of a friend, the brick plinth was constructed under a wooden pergola needed to protect the dragon from falling branches. The tree next door is an African Coral tree that sheds limbs in storms.  This structure has proved very effective, as we often find fallen branches that have been deflected by the framework.

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The foliage surrounding the dragon prevents it from being viewed from all parts of the garden, so it does not compete with other garden ornaments and retains its dramatic impact.  We named it after Ramoth, the dragon Queen in Anne McCaffrey’s wonderful books about the dragons of Pern.  Our dragon has gained a green patina of moss and lichens and has become a home for spiders, the kind that make interesting funnel like webs in the dragon’s mouth.  Every time I tried to remove the webs they kept returning because the spider lives inside the dragon.  Not a wise idea to put fingers into any crevices as I have since found Redback spiders in the garden so the webs can stay, no matter what made them.   For those unfamiliar with these spiders they are Australian native members of the deadly Black Widow family and like to live in damp and dark corners of the garden or shed.  Or maybe down a dragon’s throat.

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The dragon is a wonderful symbol of both the creative and destructive forces of nature because it represents the four elements: earth, air, fire and water.  It lives in the earth, flies in the air, breathes fire and has the scales of a fish.  In western Myths and stories, dragons have often been seen as an evil serpent, like St George’s dragon and Tolkien’s cunning talking dragon, Smaug.  In Chinese culture usually they are lucky and are one of the 12 zodiac animals.  Also on the positive side, a dragon is the symbol of Wales and the magical friend of little Jackie Paper.   I was always sorry when Puff “sadly slipped into his cave”.  Dragons continue to inspire new works for children and adults, like the movie How to Train Your Dragon and the books and TV series of Game of Thrones, where they are dangerous but heroic creatures.  Never a wise idea to mock a Queen’s dragons.  Barbecue anyone?

It is great to have one of the architectural dragons at ground level because only birds would appreciate the sculptural detail when they are placed upon a roof.  To me Ramoth has a smiling face, but she looks quite powerful and ready to defend her territory so is a perfect garden guardian.

Kat