Monday, April 04, 2011


The Beginning Gouache on paper 15 x 21 cm

Do you ever remember, as a child, wondering about life and the universe? I do. I wish I had that same infant intensity or perhaps, it is really a wish for more time to wonder. I certainly remember wondering how IT all began. How far did space go? How far did time stretch? When did life begin? These questions took up quite a deal of space inside my head especially in those years before I went to school. Ha! School! Whilst it was initially ok, it soon bored me to tears. I remember it being a place of tedium and repetition where wonder went out the window! Secondary school was a bit better!

My grandmother D.E Ross was a poet, author, painter, accountant! and thinker. She wrote a poem about me which I think captures the frustration I felt at not being able to solve the problems my BIG questions posed. Here's the poem:

A tiny grandchild
  barely four years old
    sits chin in chubby hand.
       long distance in her eyes.

Whatever is the mattter, Katarina?
   I have sad thinkings,
      she wistfully replies.

The line long distance in her eyes. tells me that my grandmother caught me at a time when I was wondering. I still feel as if my eyes lose focus when I daydream or wonder. Yet, at age 'barely' 4 I did not have the vocabulary to explain to my grandmother that I felt frustrated. The word 'sad' was the only alternative!

I've written about my grandmother before, most recently at 'The Beginning of Everything' post

The Beginning Of Everything Oil on linen 90 x 180cm

My mother Elsie Brimblecome is also a poet, author, painter, educator...not an accountant! She has a B.A, B.Ed St, and a M. Ed [research] all from the University of Queensland. The latter two degrees completed via external studies from our farm outside Dalby and with 3 children under her feet! My mother wrote a poem called 'Catching Time' which I think illustrates a wonder. So many of us wonder about time!

Catching Time
By Elsie Brimblecombe
When in the lengthy stillness
Of a time before counting
I held within my grasp
The seasons and their fruiting
The suns and moons of morning
Burst asunder from my keeping
And delivered the glory
Of their light in sharing

In the very act of thinking
I apportioned light a place
So high in the scheme of things
That forever and a day
Knew nothing of the smile of heaven
Before the fall of evening

Resting in the moment never passing
I caught a ghost of time
in a net shining casting
Outside the cradle of the present
And there thrashing ever floundering
The great creature of the mind
Lay trapped
In hours and days and past and future
Never ceasing.

I love the last stanza! Makes me wonder!

My mother has an exhibition of her paintings currently hanging at the Brisbane Square Library, 266 George St, Brisbane until end of April]. She has called the exhibition 'Art Based On Text' because the paintings come from 3 series of work, each inspired by the written word. These are Italo Calvino's 'Invisible Cities', Artur Rimbaud's 'Les Illuminations' and Brisbane poet Ynes Sanz's anthology 'Fanny The Flying Housewife and Other Stories: Poems for mad and magnificent women'. [published at by Ynes Sanz, Brisbane, 2009]

Brisbane Square Library web site:

Here are two of my Mother's paintings inspired by Ynes Sanz's poetry, with the accompanying poem.

Mother of Invention: Name unknown, inventor, date of letter 1933, other dates unknown Acrylic on canvas 2010

Mother of Invention: Name unknown, inventor, date of letter 1933, other dates unknown
By Ynes Sanz

'Dear Sir' she wrote, seated at the pine table
with its faint sour smell of yellow soap.
Outside the rain slipped gently
from bent guttering to the verhandah edge
where last year's pressed tin toy would be found
when the house-paddock grass browned off again.

Rolled gold nib and her narrow wedding ring
gleamed back the woodstoves comfortable glow
among the smells of stewed tea and drying boots,
and linen airing on the clothes-horse, where
white pinafores and cut-down trousers
hung ready for the Sunday drive to Church.

She breathed in time with every downstroke
of the marbled fountain pen. So little
rhythm for her in the unfamiliar tool,
the words began to run away,
shake free of the lines and float outside,
to settle in the tea-tree with the wrens.

She saw her children playing on the windrow,
past the yeard where piebald pigs were capering in their mud,
saw her husband, repairing fences on the hill,
small against the too-green Gippsland grass,
this man who collared-and-tied, sodden and shaken up,
drove their old truck to market and to Mass.

Returning to her task, she spelled it out
in her plain cursive hand. Asked the Ford boss could he build
a cross-breed of a car: part coupe and part box.
With his help, she would be the midwife
to the thing that like herself, would grow in time
to be a farmer's steady mate. He said he would.

Scones set to rise, she sits and stares across the years,
bent fingers trace the worn pine table top.
Outside, the hill paddock still stretches up blue green
nearer to heaven with each coming spring
and Jess is barking, splashing through the creek
to grand-children come calling in the family ute. 

I love this poem. It's the country girl in me!

Matron: Irene Melville Drummond, war hero, 1905 -1942 Acrylic on canvas 2010

Matron: Irene Melville Drummond, war hero, 1905 -1942
By Ynes Sanz

who doesn't yearn for mother love
a courage-under-fire kind of love
the mentioned-in-dispatches variety
the sort of love that [when you're in waist-deep with guns at you back and no way
can still find the heart and the guts to say [looking straight ahead so no shared glance will make you crack]
very steadily [so that on hearing her voice you don't falter]
spelling it out very clearly [so there can be no mistake about her words]
something that will never leave you
like 'Chin up girls, I'm proud of you and I love you all'

Other women whose lives inspired Ynes to write poetry about them are: [there are 40 in total in 'Fanny The Flying Housewife']
Amy Johnson, pilot, 1903 - 1943
Josephine Baker, exotic dancer, 1906 -1975
Gertrude Stein, writer, 1874 - 1946
Susan Trevers, 'La Miss', French Foreign Legionnaire, war hero, 1909 - 2003
Doris Taylor, founder, Meals on Wheels, 1901 - 1968

You can find more of Ynes's work at:

So, back to wonder. Ynes's poems make me wonder about the lives of others, those brave and magnificent hoydens embracing life. Her poems make me wonder about Ynes's own wonderings, the catalytic links and inspirations that spark those first words of any poem. I wonder about my mother's wonderings, my grandmother's wonderings. Poetry and art [of all kinds] gives others a special insight into the artist's mind and indeed, soul. It is a private and intimate place which conjures and creates gifts for you and me. These gifts can be tangible, but I suspect the most precious gift is the invitation to wonder too.



Kay said...

such a well educated and talented family of obviously strong women! Your mother's paintings are wonderful. I too am always wondering of my place in the expanse. I have seen many Hubble photos which really resound with me. So my current paintings have something of that along with the rock art I see in the desert. They are connected somehow.

Audubon Ron said...


Kat: I have located a copy of the original poem written by granny and it says,

A tiny grandchild barely four years old
sits chin in chubby hand
long distance in her eyes.
Whatever is the matter, Katarina?
I have sad thinkings, she wistfully replies. ..add..

(for when she becomes older she might see red
When she learns I dropped her on her head).

I know, I’m sorry.

It’s better you hear it from me rather than a close family member.

Don’t wonder too much…from the Bible:

Jeremiah 31:37 (New International Version)
37 This is what the LORD says:
"Only if the heavens above can be measured
and the foundations of the earth below be searched out
will I reject all the descendants of Israel
because of all they have done,"
declares the LORD.

Audubon Ron said... do realize I'm teasing you.

I love your work.


Kathryn Brimblecombe-Fox said...

Hi Ron,
Yes, I know you are teasing me! I laughed at your improvisation.

Indeed, I was hyperactive as a kid...fell on my head a few times! Broke my right collarbone climbing out of my cot and.....

Hi Kay,
I think my Mum's paintings are great too! I am sure connections like you are exploring are food for great wonderings.