Category: Uncategorized

Birth Story II

Today is Hamish’s second birthday so I am finally posting this recount of his birth I wrote ages ago.

 

From 37 weeks onward I was certain I had reached full capacity. Every day that crawled by without any ‘signs of labour’, the more convinced I was that this baby was never coming out. I was so done with everything, exercise felt near impossible, rolling over in bed was a mammoth effort, picking up toys off the floor took its toll, and everyone who encountered me had some comment like ‘oh the baby hasn’t come yet?’, ‘why are you walking around? You should be resting!’, and my personal favourite – ‘ARE YOU SURE THERE’S ONLY ONE IN THERE?’.

I could feel my smile wearing thin as I grew tired of my body being fair game for discussion and as my weight continued to creep towards 100 kilos. Apparently 15 kilos is ‘healthy’ weight gain during pregnancy and I had put on 25. I found this disheartening, I had exercised so consistently throughout this pregnancy and maintained a healthy iron rich diet.

If you know me well, you know I’m a pimple popping little freak. If I have any kind of build up under my skin it makes me crazy until I can meddle with it (usually with poor results, eg: huge wound on face). Being this pregnant I felt like a giant pimple that I couldn’t pop.

As the due date drew closer I started to lose hope and could only visualise myself being induced at the latest possible moment. Each day I felt like there was just no way labour was going to start naturally and I was still just getting heavier and slower and grumpier. My belly button DISAPPEARED. I normally have a deep bell button but look at this, just look at it!

And then it happened.

So fast.

I woke up around 3.30am on the morning of the baby’s due date. I’d been dreaming about having contractions. As I lay in bed I noticed a dull ache that felt a bit like period pain and wondered if that meant I might go into labour sometime over the next few days. After experiencing 3 bouts of this type of cramping I roused Lochie and optimistically alerted him to the development. He suggested that I try to sleep more and save my energy. I agreed that this was a good idea except I couldn’t stop thinking about how I had a massage booked for the next day and Lochie was meant to be playing golf. Also I really needed to poo which was making me annoyed because I didn’t want to get out of bed. I got up, did my business and went back to bed. I had a sinking feeling of dread/anticipation/excitement, this sure seemed like labour but I didn’t want to get too optimistic yet.

Over the next hour or so the cramps got stronger and quickly went from being 10 minutes apart to 8 minutes. I also did an impressive number of poos which I took to mean that the baby was moving down and putting pressure on my bowels. I thought my waters may have broken while I was on the toilet but I wasn’t sure, it felt like a sudden gush of wee. I kept trying to go back to bed to ‘relax’ but it was getting a bit unbearable.

Lochie was also struggling, he had developed a fever from his COVID booster the day before. Terrible timing, we thought we were so smart getting that out of the way nice and early. Things sort of felt like they were ramping up pretty quickly but I couldn’t quite let myself believe that it was possible for things to be moving so fast, that seemed way too good to be true. I had to mentally book in at least 10 hours, maybe more, of labour endurance. Around 5.30 Lochie called his aunt Trina, our support person who technically wasn’t allowed at the birth because of COVID restrictions but who would ride out the labour with us and take us to the hospital. Around this time I started timing my contractions, they were 3-5 minutes apart already. I used an app on my watch to time them and noticed they were oscillating between 40 seconds long and 20 seconds long. Trina and Lochie didn’t seem too concerned but I was starting to develop a suspicion that maybe I was blasting through the stages of labour a lot faster than any of us could have imagined.

Trina often mentioned that during labour women tend to get a bit lost on a different plain of consciousness but I didn’t find that at all. I was very aware and conscious of my sensations and surroundings and found it fairly easy to articulate myself. I was surprised at how annoying I was finding it to labour at home. I couldn’t stop thinking about logistics and had an underlying feeling that the baby might be coming soon, though I was scared to be too optimistic in case it ended up being 10 hours later. I would always prefer to be pleasantly surprised than to expect something to be fast/easy/simple only for it to turn out to be the opposite.

I could suddenly feel the pressure of the baby’s head pushing down and was overcome with a desire to get out of the house. I told Trina I was feeling agitated to be at home and thought we should go to the hospital, this was probably around 6.30am, around when I recorded my last contraction because it seemed redundant at that point to keep taking note. Everyone sprung into action very quickly, Lochie’s parents arrived to look after our daughter Sam and we hustled out to the car.

The drive to the hospital felt HECTIC. About 5 minutes in I started feeling the urge to push and knew that the baby was coming. When we went to our first appointment at Mount Barker hospital, everyone was talking about how a baby had been born in the car park that morning and at the time I had vaguely considered that it was possible that we would follow the same path, but now it seemed very probable! It felt like Trina was driving like a maniac, at one point I snuck a look at the speedometer and saw we were going 100 on what I considered to be a windy road and decided I didn’t have it in me to be thinking about safety, when I should be focussing on not pooing all over the car seat. I really felt like I was going to poo and after the absolute poo fest that morning I was annoyed that there could possibly be anything left to expel. Pretty quickly I decided 1. It didn’t matter, I could poo anywhere I wanted, and 2. It was actually the baby, not poo, so I should still focus on not letting it out just yet. All this baby coming out of you stuff is so much more closely linked to doing poos than I ever imagined.

We turned onto the freeway, blasting along with window open and I decided I might just put my seatbelt on, just in case. I really don’t like driving fast. At least Lochie didn’t have to keep propping me up as we barrelled around corners. I started chanting a little mantra to myself which was surprisingly effective, ‘you’re OK, it’s ok, you’re OK, you’re OK, you’re OK’ which is something I often say to Sam. I must have been muttering, or getting lost in the roar of the open windows, Lochie leaned over and said ‘pardon?’, it took a monumental effort to explain that I was ‘just talking to myself’.

It was a huge relief to pull up outside the hospital. As I walked up the ramp to the door I had to stop because my body was trying so hard to push I felt like the baby was going to go splat on the ground. I grabbed at my butt like a little kid who needed to go to the toilet. As we were ushered in I joked to Lochie – ‘well, the big poo is coming I reckon!’ and caught the eye of a couple sitting in the waiting room immediately after I said it.

I remember saying something to the effect of ‘get me on the floor’ and ten minutes later our son was born. The actual pushing part, where I had to consciously help push the baby out was a little bit more ‘stingy’ than I remembered it feeling with Sam, but a lot more swift. The baby came out with a big plop of gross amniotic gunk. I was a bit stunned and someone told me to move back a bit so I could pick up my baby. I looked down and was surprised to see a gunky baby on the floor underneath me. He had such a cone head. We had opted to not find out the gender and we had two names planned, Hamish and Chloe. Deep down we were both expecting Chloe so it was pretty wild to see Hamish down there looking so shell shocked. Hard to know who was more shell shocked, Hamish or Lochie in the throes of COVID booster fever. Here’s Lochie conked out on my bed a few hours after I gave birth.

As the dust settled, Trina and Lochie revealed that our car was still running out the front of the hospital with the keys in the ignition.

I was inspected for tearing and just had one first degree tear which I elected not to have stitched because last time the stitches were more irritating and painful than the actual tear. This proved to be a good choice because after a day or so my vagina didn’t even hurt whereas last time it felt endlessly painful and uncomfortable. Somehow from one shower and one trip to the toilet, the ward bathroom seemed to be covered in blood. It looked so wild in there. It felt weird for all that blood to just be there looking hectic while we hung out in the ward with the bathroom door open.

Hamish was 4.7 kilos which was the biggest our midwife had delivered, looking back at photos of newborn Hamish I’m a bit amazed at what a whopper he was. He was a wacky little baby who completely rumbled us but he has grown into the most charming, loving little maniac and we love him to the bloody moon and back.

Pictured below, a dad who thought that a second child would be 1.5 the amount of work of one (if that) and then discovered that sometimes you get a baby who doesn’t follow the rules because he is a baby and you can’t do anything about it and its more like triple the work of what you already had going on. Also your wife is still trying to recover from birth so you carry everyone everywhere and your shoulders hurt and you just want to watch the Australian Open in peace.

 

 

Chao Anouvong Park

As the sun crept towards the line where the sky became the Mekong, the dengue mosquitos rose from their crypts and set out hunting for suckers. They were too relentless to bother trying to swat and besides, Bigcola had already done his dash with the virus last year, no big deal.

Gulping the last of his BeerLao he cruised idly through Chao Anouvong park on his Honda Dream. As he let the empty can fall to the ground without a second thought he caught the icy blue eye of a blonde woman whose pale, dripping brow had sunken into her nose in pointed disapproval. Her hands gripped the straps of her Crumpler backpack tightly as he chugged past, dirty thongs dragging along the ground.

Speakers turned up to maximum capacity unleashed electro remixes of Thai pop songs as hordes of women in silver sweat jackets zumba’d their hearts out. Bigcola trundled dangerously close to the teetering trestle table where the instructor bounced up and down squawking into her microphone.

Pulling up to his spot near where they were setting up the night market, Bigcola donned his disguise, an oversized polyester bomber jacket, a dirty white cap and a surgical mask decorated with Hello Kitties. He sat forward on his moto and pretended to squeeze blackheads in his rear vision mirror while he scanned the lumbering tourists in their linen shirts and fanny packs strolling through the park.

Through the smoke curling off the barbeques and trash fires Bigcola spotted his target. She was petite and wore billowy pants with elephants printed all over them. He tailed her through the park knowing she’d follow the same pattern they all do, emerge at the main road and stand in dumb awe before trying to cross the street to photograph the temple. He had done it so many times, his timing was impeccable.

Bigcola accelerated towards her feeling the familiar rush of anticipation. As she turned slowly to compose her temple selfie he struck. He felt no guilt as he blasted off down Lang Xang Avenue with her handbag.

Meanwhile in the park, a young woman with a broken arm was comforted by a self-righteous expat from the states who posted about the whole incident on the Vientiane Social expat Facebook group.

 

 

AIR – Artist talk time

EDIT: Artist talk video available HERE

bear with the audio delay it sorts itself out after a few minutes

 

I’m doing an artist talk. TONIGHT. This is the first time I have been asked to do an artist talk. It has to be 30 minutes long, and so I have a powerpoint presentation of 30 slides. This is the poster –

The artwork is a digital collage I have created during the residency. This week has felt less productive in terms of creating work because I have been so focused on the artist talk and collecting strange sounds for the non-DJ cycle this Saturday Ciclo Ñ-Dj #74 /// Waiting For A Mate. I am pretty sure there will videos and live streaming from the facebook event page so check it out.

I’ve also been working on a big ink drawing this week and thoroughly enjoying my big roll of paper but I’m super reluctant to cut it and start a new picture because I like the never ending-ness of the roll. Here it is!

 

Hahaha just kidding, that’s a bung thing I did on a cornflakes box.

 

I really like it but the ink did a sudden change and became really opaque on the third figure, I think it must have all settled at the bottom of the pot. I am not keen to repaint the lighter areas because I am not patient. Also, those little bristly hairs will take FOR EVER omg. I guess I will just keep going and see what happens.

Last important piece of news is that I will be filming and developing my performance this sunday. Here is a little ideas collage I made.

 

AIR – Bad day in the studio

As I write this the bad day in the studio has gladly passed. But it happened, and I think its important to talk about bad days in the studio and maybe next time I have one I will be filled with hope as I reflect on this blog post.

So, I bought all my nice new art supplies and was ready to paint. I had just been to the Júlio Pomar gallery and was feeling inspired. I found some mdf wood in the street and decided to save some $$ by painting on that instead of canvas. MISTAKE NUMBER ONE. For as long as I can remember, I have always been trying to paint grand things on annoying surfaces, and I could hear my mum’s voice in my head ‘You need to put an undercoat on that or the paint won’t stick. You need an undercoat. Make sure you undercoat that before you try to paint’. So I ignored her as I always have, blindly and lazily hoping it would just work out, but alas, the paint wasn’t showing up as much I wanted it to. I decided to use the gesso I had bought to do the undercoat that was clearly needed.

And so I was undercoating the mdf and about halfway through realised I had almost used up a whole tube of gesso on this damn piece of scrap wood. Once again I heard my mother’s voice in my head ‘Don’t waste the gesso! STOP USING THE GESSO AS WHITE PAINT! HEY WHERE DID ALL THE GESSO GO?’ and I started to understand her point of view with a little more clarity.

I finished the undercoat. ‘It’s ok’, I thought optimistically to myself, ‘you can do a really ground breaking painting and make this worth while’. And so I began to paint. And I soon realised that the beige and golden ochre paint I had excitedly bought at the Chinese store were actually super savage, sticky, toxic exterior paint that wouldn’t wash off my hands and brushes. Most frustrating. Then I proceeded to angrily persevere with the painting assuming that at some point it would become really good. It didn’t.

I had to leave the studio.

With sticky brown hands and a furrowed brow I walked down the slippery cobblestone street in my Birkenstocks thinking about a painting I had seen as a teenager. It was in the artist studio at my mum’s friend’s house. I think it was by John Olsen, it was the beginnings of a perfectly good looking portrait of a man in a chair. Some of it was fairly detailed, some of it clearly not finished. It was called ‘Bad day at the studio’, which was evident because the artist had obviously had a meltdown and scrawled ‘BAD DAY AT THE STUDIO’ across it in big ratty letters. I remember wondering why someone would ruin such a promising painting in such an aggressive and unfixable way, but I also loved what an absolute mess it was.

***************************

The next day I went at the painting with a bottle of black ink. The golden ochre paint was still sticky and tarnished my hands again, unpleasant. I HATE HAVING DIRTY HANDS.

I think I actually like the painting. It’s just different to what I normally do. Maybe because there was not drool or hairy legs I felt like it was missing something. I was reminded of that creative process meme that goes around every now and then.

Except I didn’t think I was shit, I thought that STUPID PAINT WAS SHIT, and I don’t think the finished painting is awesome, but I do appreciate it now.

I suppose you’d like to see the painting.

AIR – how to draw princess jasmines

It was always a bit of a red flag for me as an art teacher when a student mentioned that they wanted to make Disney art (university students by the way). It usually meant I’d have to get pretty brutal with the student at some point in an effort to get them to consider something beyond their love for all things Disney, or endure shitty reproductions of characters I know nothing about (what are you Frozen Elsa?).

 

Yesterday I was feeling a little lost and felt frustrated because I kept drawing the same kinds of pictures over and over. Then I remembered that when I was a kid I went through a phase where I just really loved drawing princess jasmines. I had a bit of a jasmine drawing system that I used to experiment with, pushing the limits to see what could make the most truly beautiful jasmine.

So I thought I’d revisit drawing princess jasmines.

Here are the basics according to child Alice’s drawing process.
To draw the most stunning jasmine you need to nail the curly shoes. The more curly, the more elegant and beautiful.
Also the hair needs a really lovely curl, and if you add lots of extra sections to her pony tail then she becomes more beautiful. Boofy pants is a must, amplify that hip to waist ratio with extra boof. Also, note that red outfit jasmine really opened the creative doors colour wise for jasmine outfits, you can put her in yellow or green clothes if you want. Jewellery wise, take style inspo from the geenie cos his golden geenie bracelets are actually superior to jasmine’s arm band. DONT FORGET JEWEL HEADBAND.

The first one isn’t quite beautiful enough. The face doesn’t matter at all as long as you pay close attention to the key areas outlined above.

Yellow jasmine was a lefty, child Alice wouldn’t have been into it. Also green jasmine is a little off brief but adult Alice started to add some different flavours.

The whole point of the princess jasmines, was to celebrate that commitment to drawing the same dumb stuff over and over again without overthinking it. I think I will be more open to letting myself do that instead of worrying about doing something new or more meaningful. There’s also probably a whole bunch of stuff here about how my views of ideal feminine bodies and expectations for how I should look were influenced but I haven’t had a coffee yet so don’t worry about it.

 

 

 

 

AIR – drawing butts with my non-preferred hand

I wasn’t joking when I said I was going to start out drawing butts with my wrong hand.

Days 5-7 of the residency have seen a lot of this behaviour. The butts I can’t entirely explain but the wrongs hands I can. Probably in every one of my drawing classes I forced everyone to draw with their non-preferred hand. I find it’s a really good way to relax, reduce pressure and relinquish some control. It helps to deal with that feeling where you have a really cool, clear idea in your head of the awesome thing that you are going to do and then you end up with something bung, but not bung enough to make you laugh.

The past couple of days I have been sketching, collaging (digitally and on paper), printing, sculpting and thinking about what form my performance might take.

Here is my ACTION PLAN:

And here is a selection of some of the experiments I have been doing.

 

I’m trying not to think too much about what where I am going with all this. I’m just trusting that along the way there will be delightful moments where I unlock new ideas or ways of approaching things.

I’ve been doing a lot of wandering around Lisbon and soaking things up. There are abandoned buildings everywhere, hand painted tiles on everything, bandy legged old dudes stealing stone fruit from the mini market, tiny coffees, sardines, otherworldly ice cream, practical footwear (cobble stone streets yo), dog poo everywhere, pleased looking dogs everywhere, hills, bakeries, cheap cheese, old ladies in markets that make you sample chickpeas off the end of their bread knives – that kind of stuff. Here are some visuals,

and then there’s other stuff like vege maccas, street art, indoors art and a bizarre shower that reminds me of 60s movies where people are being futuristic.

Just for a moment reflect on how monumental it is for there to be a delicious vege option at maccas. I’m truly lovin’ it.

 

Sooooo, back to the art stuff, I think I always thought that it would feel really contrived or forced to be like ‘I’m so inspired by this place, my art is responding to this special thing blah blah blah’ during my residency, but its nice to see that there are definite influences from my surroundings and they are true to my style and personality and it feels natural.

Today I finally allowed myself to go to the art store with a budget of 50 euro, I spent 55. I walked away with a feeling of exhilaration because I have new art supplies and regret because I just blew heaps of cash on art supplies. Does anyone else spend like an hour puzzling over acrylic paints trying to weigh up economic value versus quality with no knowledge except for the price and packaging??? IT TAKES ME FOREVER and I forgot to buy just regular white paint. I invested in some super heavy gel medium for the first time and some weird looking beige house paint from the Chinese MEGASTORE pictured below, strange architecture.

That’s it for today, we just got back from an opening at the gallery called ponto I ponto, I’ll upload some photos of it soon, it reminded me of Zac Svendsen and Carl Jiorjio‘s favourite game ‘I draw a dick, you draw a dick’. There were free bananas (high quality).

Zaratan live streams their events and if you want to see this particular one it is available here. I recommend skipping to 2h 47m to see a baby riding a cat. On September 15th, Loki and I will be delivering a Not-DJ set which will be live streamed until we breach the copyright laws, I will provide more details closer to the date.