Sunday, 26 April 2015
Skilbeck, Ruth (2012), 'Remembering Australia's Forgotten Mothers: Reclaiming Lost Identity in Colonial History', Journal of the Motherhood Initiative, Vol. 3, Issue 2. 163-177
Saturday, 25 April 2015
by Ruth Skilbeck
Chateau Wood Ypres, 1917 Photo: Frank Hurley
Grandfather and Uncle Jack fought here
From notes for a novel in progress to be published by Postmistress Press.
Friday, 24 April 2015
Who remembers Afghan coats? Persian rugs? Once upon a time in the west in the 70s these were the indicators of cool and hipness. Every self respecting right-on academic would have one or two.
So fast forward to the boring "control and surveillance" society of the 20-teens.
These items would now have you put on a list for potential terrorist activity.
Who is wearing an Afghan coat now? who is proudly displaying a persian rug?
The main question to ask here is: how is this linked to the profits of the shareholders in the companies and corporations that profit from the wars on the Middle East?
To what extent is fashion as depicted in mainstream media tied to and dictated by the "market" which is led by Wall Street?
And here in Australia by the Australian Stock Exchange.
So, in conclusion we can say once they were so cool. Whatever happened to the Retro revival of Afghan coats? It got lost in the PR for the wars on the Middle East.
Aldous Huxley,1928, Point Counter Point, US: Dalkey Archive Press, 2001
I am very drawn to the address of the interlocutor of 1920s English fiction. Gide in the 1890s was a master at this (Fruits of the Earth).
The intimacy and distance, yet unlike now on facebook and other surveilled sites, this was in the imagination of the author.
Were authors then anticipating and prefiguring this connection that is now? The connection with "friends" on facebook that one has never met and never will? Let alone the ever-present eyes of the 'surveillance machinery" the 'secret police' that accompany us everywhere we go online?
Was this what they anticipated?
I think not.
The words are addressed to the writer's inner self, to a muse, a projected addressee who is of the author's own self.
And yet it is this which I can relate to. Not the intimidating public realm of contemporary surveillance society.
After publishing many essays and long features on prominent international and Australian contemporary artists, it was circumstance (not choice as such) that was to bring me back to Newcastle and the Old Post Office, almost four years ago. I told some of the story of why these events occurred and what happened when I returned, on this blog, which I began when I found myself alone here, with no company other than the small black kitten that I found almost starved to death and dehydrated in the overgrown garden when I was compelled to move back to the cottage. Shadow is now asleep, on my laptop case as I write, he is a companionable and well cared for adult cat, four years old.
Ruth is also an experienced editor and book designer.
Note: This was first written in 2013 and has been updated to reflect new publications.
Monday, 20 April 2015
"The writer plunged into dread is himself painfully aware that art is not a ruinous operation; he is trying to lose himself (and to lose himself as a writer), and yet sees that by writing he increases the credit to humanity, and thus his own, since he is still a man; he gives art new hopes and riches that return to weigh him down; he transforms into forces of consolation the hopeless orders he receives; he saves with nothingness."
From The Gaze of Orpheus and Other Literary Essays
Discussed in Skilbeck, R, The Writer's Fugue, Newcastle: Postmistress Press
Saturday, 18 April 2015
Monday, 6 April 2015
This is now changing, with the commemoration of her birthday around the world on the search engine google today indicating this belated recognition.
Leonora Carrington is on at the TATE in Liverpool now (6 March- 31 May 2015).
View her works here, on Artsy:
Ruth Skilbeck is the author of a novelAustralian Fugue: The Antipode Room, Newcastle: PostMistress Press, 2015.
Australian Fugue: The Antipode Room
Saturday, 4 April 2015
Newcastle swung back to Labor with increased Greens votes (Labor preferences) in the NSW State elections last weekend after eight months of political turmoil, and by-elections following the resignations in 2014 of three Liberal MPS and the Newcastle Mayor on charges of corruption over political donations and slush funds, in Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) inquiries in the Hunter and Newcastle areas. Overall ten Liberal MPS have resigned over the course of the inquiry into political donations and links to mining and property development. In contrast, during the same term of the NSW Liberal government there were cuts of $1.7 billion to education introduced by the Government, resulting in the axing of fine art courses in the Hunter TAFE.
August 2014: Then Newcastle Mayor and property developer Jeff McCloy stood down following an inquiry into corruption by the ICAC for his history of political donations- it is illegal for property developers to make political donations in NSW. This was the charge that all ten MPs faced and were found guilty of and stood down over.
August 2014: Three Liberal MPs for the Newcastle and Lake Macquarie area, Tim Owen (Newcastle), Andrew Cornwell (Charlestown) and Garry Edwards (Swansea) stood down on the same charges of corruption accepting illegal political donations from Jeff McCloy, who argued that he was not a corrupt property developer in this capacity when he donated as he said not all his companies are in property development, which was rejected in his defence by the ICAC.
This is now well documented in the media, but for several years corruption over development coal loader plans for the former steelworks in Newcastle was implicated in the 'dirty tricks' against former Labor Newcastle MP Jodi McKay who lost her Labor seat after an insider Labor driven campaign against her (Labor's) plans for a container terminal project at the former BHP steelworks site at Mayfield - which a widely distributed leaflet falsely claimed would see "1000 trucks a day in the suburban streets'.
An ICAC inquiry in September 2014 found that former Labor powerbroker Joe Tripodi was the anonymous face behind the leafletting and that he had designed and organised its distribution to households across Newcastle. The ICAC inquiry found that Tripodi was interested in employment by Buildev owned by Nathan Trinkler mining magnate which planned to use the Mayfield site for a fourth coal terminal, in conflict with Jodi McKay's Labor plans. The health implications of a fourth coal terminal in Newcastle are dire, and have been researched as such.
This was evidence of dirty tricks in the NSW Labor party, which lost the 2011 election, and which showed that Labor were not immune to the corruption of property development and mining interests.
The Australian Greens party remains the only party in Newcastle that avoids corrupt dealings over the future of the city and its development in transition from a former major steel city.
Newcastle, New South Wales, needs the Greens Party to counter the corrupting influences, and hold the major parties to account and can play a vital and socially necessary role, in enabling artists to have a place in society and supporting arts education in TAFE again. The Greens are the only political party in Newcastle and the Hunter that has not been subject to an ICAC inquiry, and has not had party members involved in corrupt dealings. This and the political opposition to big mining and coal seam gas mining and opposition to ruthless roadway development plans in Sydney, has resulted in a big swing to the Greens in NSW gaining three so far counted, and perhaps four, seats in the Lower House.