Winter’s End

Image from Shaun Tan’s The Lost Thing

This past weekend, for the first time in many moons, I sipped upon delicious cocktails and curled my fingers around delicious Jäger Tea at a warm ‘Last Night of Winter’ feast.

I found the night to be a smorgasboard of amazing people as we discussed everything from medieval warfare to the international nature of children’s clapping rhymes (which, I discovered are still deeply carved in my muscle memory and can be performed without thinking 20-or-so years on in exact unison with someone homeschooled in South Africa).

The next eve, after a full day of celebrating Fathers day with good food and market wanders, I made my way in the new Spring warmth through the city to see the closing night of the Melbourne Writer’s Festival stopping on my way to speak with a astronomer busking with his telescope who gave me a tour of the sun’s fires, as well as dropping past the Geoffrey Rush and Shaun Tan Exhibits.

It wasn’t my first visit to The Exraordinary Shapes of Geoffrey Rush Exhibit* but I couldn’t resist dippping back in to have another look. I’m a huge fan of Rush, my little claim to fame is that I saw him once on the walk home from where I used to work but was far too shy to go and say ‘hi’…so not so much a claim to fame…more a claim to cowardice in the face of fame, tehehe.

The exhibit is lovely, being filled with some beautiful costumes, and lovely ephemera…but my favorite part was a letter from Johnny Depp written in character as Jack Sparrow to ‘Hector’ on his birthday, accompanied by a compass.

That being said, the costume from Quills, with all the crude text written over it by hand, is such a detailed costume and reminds me a little off the blue man from Johnathan Strange and Mr Norrell, and set me off thinking about the power of the written word.

This is definately a wonderful exibit. Make your way along regardless if you are a fan of the man, or simply of some of his movies.

After emerging from the world of Rush, I meandered over to the ACMI Shaun Tan – The Lost Thing** exhibit. I’ve not actually read the book until that day, but I got lost in the exhibit. The thing that sticks most in my mind is the little details – the collage of mechanic books that formed the boarder around the pages, the sculptures Tan made from items around the house of other ‘lost things’, the giant conduit pipe coming up from the floow with the faint sounds of bells ringing coming from the black within.

I swear my heart broke reading the book (which is pinned up around the exhibit for those also unfamiliar with the story). I will recommend the exhibit without reservation – it is small, free and utterly, utterly charming.

I pulled myself (hurried politely by the ACMI staff, who wanted to close for the day) from the end credits of The Lost Thing and headed to catch up with the gals from the Monash Fairytale Discussion Group, for a quick chat over tea before we joined the long line for the closing night of the Melbourne Writer’s Festival.

The speaker was none other than the wonderful Marina Warner, author of many wonderful texts about folklore and fairytale.

Inside the Deakin room at Federation Square is like sitting in a piece of shattered glass. Wood floors give away to disjointed pieces of glass and even though it was dark outside, Melbourne was lit and on the grass outside there were fire twirlers…or rather fire twirling with the assumption that somewhere in the inky black there was someone doing the twirling.

I think all of the group were inspired by the speach, I myself filled a few pages in my notebook of ideas sparked by the beautifully spoken Warner and her presentation filled to the brim with amazing images dug from archives.

With the glittering Warner on the stage speaking, as she does, about fantastical worlds it was easy to get caught up. Although, after a weekend filled with hunter teas and delicious potions, pirates and mad kings, fires on the sun and Lost Things the talk felt more like it was talking about real life than some unreachable realm.

**The Extraordinary Shapes of Geoffrey Rush – Arts Centre Melbourne
Running until October 27
Free Entry

** Shaun Tan’s The Lost Thing – ACMI

Running Tuesday 16 July 2013 – Sunday 19 January 2014
Free entry

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