Saturday, 16 July 2016

The Saga of Amazon Inaccuracies in the Listing of Karen Kennedy's 'Deeply Felt', Continued

by Ruth Skilbeck, editor 

We have sent a message to Amazon pointing out the incorrect details of author and publisher that they have had up on their site for months. The follows on from the report in a post published on The Daily Fugue on Wednesday (13/7/16)), on how the forthcoming 'Escape Artists' PostMistress Anthology contributor Karen Kennedy, has had to endure the inaccuracies in the listing of her first book, Deeply Felt, Reflections on Religion & Violence within the Anarchist Turn- and its being attributed to another Karen Kennedy, a Canadian author by the same name. In addition, Karen's book is recorded on the Amazon sites as being published by Lulu, a self-publishing platform- when the actual publisher is Irene Publishing, in Sweden.

We sent the correct information to Amazon, in their 'Report an Issue' box:

This afternoon we were pleased to note that the wrong author attribution has now been corrected.
At least, the details of the author have been removed and that the real author, Karen Kennedy's bio is now up, under Editorial Reviews.

We are waiting to see when the inaccurate details about the mode of publication will be amended and Irene Publishing, rather than the self-publishing platform Lulu, listed as the publisher. Of course, it is possible that small publishers might use self publishing platforms to publish books, but they should be able to do this as a publisher, with a name. That is what authors would expect. We shall return to this mystery in later posts.

ESCAPE ARTISTS: Ken Wolman's 'A Brief Guide to Middle Class Homelessness' in the PostMistress Anthology

 By Ruth Skilbeck, editor

12 days to go! There are only twelve days left to be part of this new initiative as a supporter*

Today's featured artist is Ken Wolman, poet, with a PhD in literature, a divorced father, who worked as a technical writer in telecom and financial services companies in New York for years, and before that as an adjunct lecturer.
In his sixties, Ken found himself in the downward spiral of health issues, poverty, and bad company, in a shared flat, with a bed bud infestation- with his beloved cat. He ended up homeless for months. You will be able to read his harrowing essay 'A Brief Guide to Middle Class Homelessness' in the Escape Artists anthology. His story starts: 

I don’t want to tell this story. I don’t want to roil the waters. I am 71 years old and I would like nothing more than to kick back and make my garden grow as I progress quietly into old age. Read. Write poetry. Listen to music. Play with my cat. I am not interested in capital-C Causes anymore unless I can discern something in them for me. I would like nothing more than to shut my mouth, cover my eyes, and pretend this never happened to me, or that it’s not happened to anyone else I’ve met along the way.

But it has, and it won’t stop happening.

So I can’t do that. Part of me still carries the social and even race memory of my mother’s father, Samuel Staridubsky, a tailor from Odessa, who went to jail in a 1919 New York garment workers’ strike.
What Ken Wolman goes on to narrate is a story that will take you into the experiences and make you feel as he did. And make you worry for your own future. It will make you want to try to change the world we are living in so that this cannot happen.

Now, homelessness can happen to anyone in a world with no safety nets.
We are delighted to be publishing Ken's essay, which is being published here for the first time.

I first read Ken's works on facebook, and met Ken when we were both in a conversation about adjunct lecturing. He told me he had been homeless and I asked him to tell me more. He sent me this essay.
There are strong comparisons between Ken's writing and George Orwell's classic book Down and Out in London and Paris. Ken's essay is written in an equally direct engaging style, diving into the world of poverty and the 'down and outs', the ever increasing underclass created by our uncaring capitalist society. It is written from the perspective of one who is not swamped by it, yet, who has come from a different background, and is shocked and horrified by what they witness, and has to tell the world, and escape.

Ken Wolman, author and poet

I’m from New York City, studied literature and criticism at Binghamton University (Ph.D., 1976), and worked for several years as a technical writer for both telecom and financial services companies. Since 1990, I’ve been published in a wide variety of print and online venues. I was awarded the 1995 New Jersey State Council on the Arts Fellowship in Poetry, and a year later studied at the White River Writers Workshop in Batesville, Arkansas. I’ve also worked as an Adjunct Instructor in English at several community colleges in the New Jersey higher education system.

* Funding 'Escape Artists' PostMistress Press Anthology

We need to raise almost $6000 in just over a week- to publish the anthology of brilliant works by well known and new artists. It is ready to publish we just need to raise the funds to cover basic print-on-demand publishing costs.
In return you will be acknowledged as a supporter on the Acknowledgements page, and receive gifts of appreciation, signed and numbered first edition Anthologies, and other books and art works donated to raise funds by the artists in the anthology. There is also a unique chance to secure discounted writing and editing and publishing offers, and a new course on author-publishing.

This anthology project, and founder Ruth Skilbeck's author publishing projects of her books, that she has sold mainly via communication with people on facebook, have attracted and drawn together a strong, supportive- but poor!- creative movement of artists and writers whose works are in the anthology.
It's make or break, will we do it?

Friday, 15 July 2016



By Ruth Skilbeck

A new arts initiative. Thirty-four escape artists. An anthology adventure. Editor Ruth Skilbeck, PhD, is an author, novelist and art writer. She has published two Australian Fugue novels.

Escape Artists is a new platform and publication that fills a gap in arts publishing, it brings together artists, intellectuals, literary writers, poets, storytellers, sound artists, photographers, who are united by their shared concern for democracy, social justice, for environmental protections, for freedom of speech and expression, for humanity and for new forms of communication.

The contributors come from around the world, and the project founder and publisher, and editor, Ruth Skilbeck is based in Australia. The idea to start an independent small publishing house, PostMistress Press, came to her after working for years in arts journalism, when the periodicals and magazines she wrote for began to fold.

Read more on the crowd funding site.

Guo Jian, pictured here on hunger strike in Tiananmen Square, now a citizen of Australia, is one of the artists in the anthology- and he has donated several art works to raise fund to publish the book.
Read more of this story on the crowd funding site- where you have a chance to support this anthology and receive public acknowledgement.

Thanks in advance for your support.

Ruth Skilbeck, Editor.

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

ESCAPE ARTISTS: Karen Kennedy Lost at the Festival of the Pot and now in an Online Publishing Maze- will she escape?

By Ruth Skilbeck


Today’s featured artist in the ‘Escape Artists’ PostMistress Press Anthology is author, critical theorist, and photographer Karen Kennedy, whose essay "Travelling on a Long Rope" tells the story of how she and her partner got lost at the Hindu Festival of the Pot in India, the Kumbh Mela at Haridwar, Northern India, at Allahabad, the largest spiritual festival on earth which attracted more than 120 million on a pilgrimage to bathe in the waters of a sacred place where holy rivers converge:

the Kumbh Mela, which means the pot or cup and the Mela; which means festival or more traditionally fair, that is held to celebrate a potent liquid that fell to earth as it was being carried away by a powerful god. Mythology has recorded four auspicious sites that received these droplets of Amrita - the nectar of immortal life and Hindu theology teaches that bathing at the assigned area, the Sangam during a Kumbh Mela can cleanse a human of their sins and assist their ascent into Moksha - liberation. Mysteriously the Naga Babas – Naked Sadhus enhance and protect the powers of the ritual bathing. This is an ancient celebration that has enjoyed a modern and postmodern resurgence that can be linked to the resurgence of Hindu Nationalism and to a global cultural identity that defies the imposition of Nation State. (Karen Kennedy, "Travelling on a Long Rope", 2016).

But the story I will tell here is to do with the troubles that Karen Kennedy is having right now, lost in the labyrinth of online publishing, and trying to find the way to have her book Deeply Felt, Reflections on Religion & Violence in the Anarchist Turn, attributed to her on Amazon. 

Karen’s book, Deeply Felt, was published by a small Scandanavian publisher, Irene Publishing, on January 27, 2016.  But the joy of having one’s first book published has been diminished by a series of problems, errors, and lack of help and information, which has resulted in her book being advertised for sale on Amazon for the past few months, attributed to another author. The book is not attributed to its publisher, Irene Publishing, and instead the publisher is listed as the self-publishing platform Lulu- which gives the false idea that the book was self-published on Lulu.
This followed the book having to be republished several times, as the publisher made errors on the cover, and Karen had to request changes and corrections several times, but what happened next is worse. 

Karen's book is listed and attributed to another author who lives in Canada. Karen Kennedy, author of Deeply Felt, which is based on the Master of Arts she took at the University of Sydney, and who is based on a rural property in New South Wales, has not been able to have these inaccuracies corrected. As an author she has joined Author Central for authors whose books are listed on Amazon- to try to change the inaccurate attributions. But she was not able to do this, she told us. She has written to Irene Publishing, and to Amazon, and she told us they have both said they can do nothing to amend the errors, they cannot make changes to have her book correctly attributed to her as its author, nor to list the book's publisher, Irene Publishing, on Amazon. Instead it appears to be a self-published book, written by another author.

Karen Kennedy says she is now going to pursue legal action to have the corrections made.

Author Beware: Scams and lack of care are rife in online publishing

This is another story of how important it is to be sure the publishers you choose to publish your book know what they are doing, have your interests at heart, and above all they know how to publish in this new digital environment. Publishers need to be trustworthy. And authors need to know that they can trust them. As this story shows, that can be very hard to know in advance. Unless you have sound knowledge from personal acquaintance, or recommendations.

We are going to send a message to Amazon, on the “Report incorrect product information” box on the page of Karen Kennedy’s book, to report the errors, and see what happens.

The results will be reported and followed here on this blog.

Meanwhile, here is a photo from Karen Kennedy’s essay, which includes several images from her journeys at the Festival of the Pot. You will be able see all of these and read, in the forthcoming anthology, about how Karen and her partner got lost, and how perhaps they only just managed to escape the labyrinth into which some, each year, have gone missing, disappeared, never to return....

Image copyright  Karen Kennedy.

Help us make it on our anthology adventure, to support authors in this online maze.

Help us to help Karen Kennedy and the rest of the artists in the Anthology to escape the maze of online publishing hoaxes, scams, unreliability and difficulties, as we are travelling on a life boat across a dark sea of uncertainty under attack by metaphorical shadowy forces, UFOS and unknown foes.  We are tying to make it to an island where we can publish our anthology as a collective, where we can publish our work, safely.

Karen's book, with the wrong author information is here:
Help us make it here.

Ruth Skilbeck, editor, Escape Artists PostMistress Press Anthology 1

This anthology project, and founder Ruth Skilbeck's author publishing projects of her books, that she has sold mainly via communication with people on facebook, have attracted and drawn together a strong, supportive, creative movement of artists and writers whose works are in the anthology.

Ruth Skilbeck, PhD, is a widely-published author, art writer, and photographer, and has lectured in several Australian universities.

The Anthology is being published on the Fuguescapes imprint.


There is now a way you can support the publication of this new anthology here.  

PostMistress Press

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

ESCAPE ARTISTS: The Dandy at Dusk- Philip Mann in PostMistress Press Anthology 1

By Ruth Skilbeck, Editor of  'Escape Artists' PostMistress Anthology 

Updated 15 October, since publication of The Dandy at Dusk by Paris Paysan Press.

Today’s featured artist in the 'EscapeArtists' PostMistress Press Anthology 1 is Philip Mann. We are delighted to be publishing a chapter from author Philip Mann’s forthcoming book The Dandy at Dusk: Stories of Elegance and Nostalgia, an elegantly written and provocative work, now published by ParisPaysanPress.  This is the first book to explore in depth the phenomenon of the dandy, in its social, cultural and political ramifications, in terms of gender and the self.

However, our pleasure was tempered by our regret, for Philip Mann, at the series of difficulties for the author in the course of his book contract negotiation with a highly regarded and long-established mainstream publisher. This is the kind of story that is not unfamiliar to those who work in publishing, and of course to the many authors who are finding it increasingly difficult to publish.

Under the title Dandies at Dusk, Philip Mann’s book was going to be published by Flammarion, a long established publisher in Paris. But then Flammarion changed hands. Philip Mann was informed that Flammarion still wanted to publish his book. But then there was unwelcome change. Flammarion, following the trend of many mainstream publishers now, requires that an author have a sponsor to back the publication. They require a sponsor or self-funding of a substantial sum. Even after the book was up on Amazon as a pre-order (where it can still be seen). In January, Philip was told that Flammarion would, regretfully, not be going ahead with the publication, which they have worked on for two years.  Here are the details of the book description from the Amazon site- which even though Flammarion sent Philip Mann a letter in January breaking the contract to publish is STILL on the Amazon website with the details of the book as if it is about to be published:

Author Philip Mann dispels the myth that dandyism centers upon aestheticism through portraits of the first dandyRegency England’s Beau Brummelland six twentieth-century figures: Austrian architect Adolf Loos, The Duke of Windsor, neo-Edwardian couturier Bunny Roger, eccentric writer and raconteur Quentin Crisp, French film producer Jean-Pierre Melville, and New German Cinema savant and “inverted dandy” Rainer Werner Fassbinder. He chronicles their style, identity, influence, melancholy, and often untimely demise, using a mélange of photography, biography, and anecdote. Weaving their stories into an extensive and entertaining history of tailoring and men’s fashion, he offers incisive perspectives on the dandy’s aesthetic concerns, pensive nostalgia for the golden Edwardian era, and a nonchalant persona. He contextualizes the relationship of dandyism to decadence and to modernism, while simultaneously portraying the cultural development of a century punctuated by two World Wars and social upheaval.

This volume presents dandyism—the embodiment of aesthetic and intellectual ideals—from its origins with Beau Brummell to its major twentieth-century representatives. Author Philip Mann dispels the myth that dandyism centers upon vanity through portraits of the first dandy—Regency England's Beau Brummell—and six twentieth-century figures.

 Illustration for The Dandy at Dusk by Floc'h, in 'Escape Artists' PostMistress Press Anthology 1

 Floc'h the well known French artist drew the illustration above for The Dandy at Dusk.

This anthology project, and founder Ruth Skilbeck's author publishing projects of her books, that she has sold mainly via communication with people on facebook, have attracted and drawn together a strong, supportive creative movement of artists and writers whose works are in the anthology.

Ruth Skilbeck, PhD, is a widely-published author, art writer, and photographer, and has lectured in several Australian universities.

The Anthology is being published on the Fuguescapes imprint.


There is now a way you can support the publication of this new anthology here.  

Sunday, 10 July 2016

ESCAPE ARTISTS: Mary Lou Pavlovic Inspired by Water and Flower Sculptures in Bali

ESCAPE ARTISTS: the Art of Mary Lou Pavlovic Inspired by Flowers and Water Sculptures in Bali

By Ruth Skilbeck 


"Means something, language of flow" James Joyce, Ulysses.
Mary Lou Pavlovic's chapter on how her art has been influenced by water and flower sculptures in Bali is in the forthcoming Escape Artists PostMistress Press Anthology.

 Mary Lou Pavlovic's Research into Beauty and Critical Viability

For her PhD, Mary Lou Pavlovic researched the art of water and flowers by the people of Ubud, Bali in everyday settings such as streets, and homes, temples and restaurants. She writes of this in her chapter "Water and Flowers- the Impact of Bali on my Research" which will be published in Escape Artists the inaugural PostMistress Press anthology.

Read the opening paragraph of Mary Lou Pavlovic's captivating essay here: 

  Water: the first time I visit the island of Bali, Indonesia in 2008—Ubud—to be more precise, I am dazzled by its beauty and abundance of lush, tropical green foliage, rice fields, and mostly, water.  Droplets on cool frangipani leaves.  I see thick brown water in beautiful lotus ponds.  Water trickling through small canals or along streams at the sides of roads throughout Ubud, which is the artistic centre of Bali.  Water, pooling serenely inside water palaces and temples.  Water flooding rice fields, sparkling in the sun; water, surrounding the island—in which I enjoy lazy days snorkelling, just hovering over the magical, tropical sea-life. (Pavlovic, Mary Lou, 2015).
Mary Lou Pavlovic who is based in Australia, is currently living in Bali, where she works as an artist, and has run the Art program at the Bangli Jail. She also makes art homewares relating to her sculptural practice under the name of The Flower Artist.

Mary Lou Pavlovic, Work in Progress, 2013

Mary Lou Pavlovic has a PhD in Visual Arts from Monash University (2015). Her subject is beauty and critical viability, and she puts forward her new perspective on how beauty may be viewed as progressive in Visual Arts today.


This anthology project, and founder Ruth Skilbeck's author publishing projects of her books, that she has sold mainly via communication with people on facebook, have attracted and drawn together a strong, supportive, creative movement of artists and writers whose works are in the anthology.

Ruth Skilbeck, PhD, is a widely-published author, art writer, and photographer, and has lectured in several Australian universities.

The Anthology is being published on the Fuguescapes imprint.


Saturday, 9 July 2016

ESCAPE ARTISTS ANTHOLOGY: A new concept in a collective publication emerging from social media

 Make a donation and receive a special signed, numbered, commemorative edition of the first PostMistress Press publication, illustrated with photographic artworks by the author.

ESCAPE ARTISTS ANTHOLOGY: A new concept in a collective publication emerging from social media

The anthology project, and founder Ruth Skilbeck's author publishing projects of her books, that she has sold mainly via communication with people on Facebook, have attracted and drawn together a strong, supportive, creative movement of artists and writers whose works are in the anthology.

34 artists, writers, poets, filmmakers, fiction writers, essayists, playwrights, songwriters and musicians, from Australia and around the world ranging from very well known authors such as Rhyll McMaster, Elizabeth Farrelly, Ghassan Hage, Christopher Barnett, to promising new poets and artists such as LâleTeoman, Paloma Concierta and Leisa Woodman, will be in the 'Escape Artists' PostMistress Press Anthology, edited by Dr Ruth Skilbeck, who is a widely-published author and arts writer. Donations to support the publication of the paperback and pdf publications will be rewarded with individually numbered limited editions of the books; artworks; PostMistress Press book club memberships; and there is the chance to have your works edited; and to take a new writing and publishing course individually tailored to each participant, to gain skills, have your work edited professionally, and find out how to publish your book through new author-publishing- the way of the future.  Donations are more than the cost of the books in shops, yet the donatons for the editing and course are set at less than the value of the editing rewards and teaching course which would be far more expensive if you took it a university; they are to enable publication of the anthology.

The climate of cuts and attacks on the arts is making it harder than ever to publish in books. Yet there are new opportunities to publish books using new digital publishing which is how we will publish the 'Escape Artists' Anthology, through print-on-demand publishing, and as an interactive pdf. to play the songs and music which are amongst the wide range of inter arts works, including essays, poems, photography and poetry works, a short play paintings, critical theory, posts, a novella.


Australia’s first fully digital literary author-publisher house, PostMistress Press, was founded by Dr Ruth Skilbeck, who holds a PhD in Literature and is a former media art writer (for peridocials such as Art Collector and journals such as the International Journal of the Image). And yes it is based in an old post office cottage. When her last university post was not renewed, she launched the Press two and a half years ago with her first successful Pozible project. She has since then published two novels The Antipode Room: Australian Fugue 1 and Missing: Australian Fugue 2. She has also published a book of critical theory The Writer’s Fugue: Musicalization, Trauma and Subjectivity in the Literature of Modernity. These are listed here as rewards for supporters' donations.


Ruth Skilbeck’s PostMistress Press has grown since 2013. She has published books–in paperback editions, hardcover editions and ebook editions- designed and made by herself. Her latest project is the 'Escape Artists' PostMistress Press Anthology, to be published on her Fuguescapes imprint, comprising the contributed finished works of a thought-leading creative community of artists, writers and intellectuals from Australia and around the world. What is most significant is that in this new community of artists and writers, academics and intellectuals, some of us are looking for alternatives to traditional forms of creative teaching jobs that no longer exist or have been cutback. Artists and writers in the Anthology include: William Yang, Guo Jian, Rhyll McMaster, Lâle Teoman, Elizabeth Gertsakis, Elizabeth Farrelly, Fan Dongwang, Ramon Loyola, Mary Lou Pavlovic, Leisa Woodman, Paloma Concierta, Vee Malnar, and many more. The escape artists range from promising, first time in print, to highly regarded, much-awarded and prominent authors.

We have all the works, ready to publish. This is the cover for our crowd funding project- that is running on Pozible. Have a look here.

 Cover draft of the 'Escape Artists' PostMistress Press Anthology



ESCAPE ARTISTS: Shifting Perspectives and Cultural Identity: The Works of Fan Dongwang in PostMistress Press Anthology


By Ruth Skilbeck

Today’s featured artist from the Escape Artists Anthology is Dongwang Fan, whose exploration of the differences in perspective between Chinese art traditions and the modern one point linear perspective in Western art history is presented in a chapter from his research as an artist in the ‘third space’ zone in-between cultures, after he left China and moved to Australia in the 1990s. 

The ‘Escape Artists’ PostMistress Press Anthology will present Dongwang Fan’s chapter “The Western Vision” from his work The Dancing Shadows: Shifting Perspectives and the Body (2013), and his series of paintings  that put his new theories of shifting perspective into practice. 

 Fan Dongwang, Descendant Bodies #1 (Blue) 1996. Acrylic on canvas, 178 x 254 cm

Fan Donwang's essay, and paintings such as Descendant Bodies #1 (Blue), above, visually and conceptually explore perspective, in cultural and aesthetic practice, as a methodology and as a metaphor for fluidity and mixing cultural and bodily identity, with other cultures, times, and machines of technology- encouraging us to consider how Postmodernism shifted perspectives of gender, and the bodily self, in many ways, or sought to.

As we are living out that computer linked virtual reality now that is one of the themes of the 'Escape Artists' anthology. We are living in the future of virtual reality shifted perspectives and screen cultures imagined by science fiction, and the future painted by Fan Dongwang, in the 1990s. How does this mixing of images and fragments in ‘posts’, ‘tweets’ of short attention spans and the scrolling flood of images in virtual communication affect concepts of selves, body image, and identity? These have been major cultural identity questions that have dominated and continue to dominate our lives.

Fan Dongwang, Descendant Bodies #2 (Green). 1996. Acrylic on canvas 170 x 280 cm.

Fan Dongwang’s essay explores ideas in the history of perspective, from Egyptian art and the Renaissance, to the Modern one point linear perspective, to the modernist return, and changes in our Postmodern era.

This is a fascinating essay grounded in deep knowledge of traditions of perspective in art in China that has much to say to us now as so many are using social media without necessarily reflecting very much about what we are really doing, and how this new screen culture is affecting our images of our selves, how we interact with others, and how others see us. Reading Fan Dongwang and studying the images of his paintings, opens up a new context for us to think about how we are communicating and representing our selves- online, and mixing of images and texts, and how this is shifting perspectives, of selves, others and of the dimensions of time and space in virtual reality.

Fan Dongwang. Shifting Perspectives and the Body #1- Double Screens. 1998. Acrylic on canvas, 244 x 180 cm.

This anthology project, and founder Ruth Skilbeck's author publishing projects of her books, that she has sold mainly via communication with people on facebook, have attracted and drawn together a strong, supportive, creative movement of artists and writers whose works are in the anthology.

Ruth Skilbeck, PhD, is a widely-published author, art writer, and photographer, and has lectured in several Australian universities.

The Anthology is being published on the Fuguescapes imprint.


Wednesday, 6 July 2016

ADAPTABILITY, RESILIENCE, CREATIVITY in ACTION: 'Escape Artists' PostMistress Press Anthology

Help an Artist Anthology Collective Publish A Ground Breaking Book

Ruth Skilbeck, PhD, founded PostMistress Press after working in the media as an art writer and arts journalist, and as a lecturer in universities in Sydney. 

In a time when the arts are being subjected to cuts, and universities are dissolving and merging art schools; when the media research centre she worked in was closed down she decided to do something to create an alternative way of living as a writer, and if she could make it work for herself she wanted to find a way to reach out to and help other artists, writers and philosophers, to publish their own works. 

She has several books that she has written or almost finished. Rather than sending them out to mainstream commercial publishers, she found out how to use the new digital publishing software, organized a successful crowdfunding project for her first novel The Antipode Room: Australian Fugue1, and buoyed up by the support she got, she published her novel, on Amazon- as a paperback, and as an ebook. 

She has now advanced in her skills and design capabilities, and has published an abridged edition without the real life case studies of fuguers (Missing). She has published her musico-literary studies book, The Writer’s Fugue: Musicalization, Trauma and Subjectivity in the Literature of Modernity in hardcover. She is about to publish it in paperback in an updated edition, which responds to the discovery of a James Joyce manuscript with notes for his fugue in “Sirens”, in Ulysses, which she analyzed in her PhD. Using Joyce’s notes she has written the first known long analysis of the fugue in “Sirens” applying this research. This is going to be available later this month.

'Escape Artists' PostMistress Press Anthology: Resistance in New Publishing


Meanwhile, over the past two years she has been working on an anthology project, gathering works by thirty-three artists and writers, to publish in the inaugural PostMistress Press anthology, named Escape Artists. This anthology represents the founding pillars of Postmistress Press and the philosophy of its founder: Adaptability, Resilience, and Creativity, as a form of resistance to attacks on the arts, and survival.  

To fund the publication she has started up a crowdfunder with the goal of raising $7000 to publish the book as a paperback, as well as an interactive pdf. on which to play several songs and sound art tracks that are in the diverse inter arts collection of works.
 Cover of the Anthology, cover art by Ruth Skilbeck

The Escape Artists Range From 'Prominent' to 'Promising' 


Some of the artists and writers in the anthology are very well known.

They include Elizabeth Farrelly, author, and architecture critic, Christopher Barnett, self-exiled poet and dramaturg, Rhyll McMaster, poet and novelist, Guo Jian, exiled artist, Fan Dongwan, artist, William Yang, photographer  and storyteller, Ghassan Hage, anthropologist, Elizabeth Gertsakis, artist, Richard James Allen, poet, Mary Lou Pavlovic, artist, Floc’h, artist, Christen Clifford, feminist performance artist and New School lecturer, Vee Malnar, artist.

Others are younger, and publishing their writing for the first time.

The works range from essays, to poems, to travel writings, to photographs, to film stills, to paintings, prints, song lyrics and songs, electronic music, PhD chapters, cultural theory, to a short play and a novella.
There is something for everyone to enjoy and find of interest in the anthology.
Have a look at the details of the anthology and contributors at this link, and see how you can support the anthology and become a part of this project. All those who donate to support the publication will have their name in the Acknowledgements page. There are also limited edition art prints, discounted editing packages, and book club memberships as rewards for those who donate.

Monday, 4 July 2016



 By Ruth Skilbeck

I have never told the story of my miraculous cure through Qi Gong and writing publicly, and only to a couple of friends and one or two people in my family who were there are the time. I will now, after many years, tell it here as I think it is time I let people know more about the wider context of my writing, my art, and my philosophy of writing and art, and publishing, into which the Escape Artists anthology comes. I will be brief. My approach to art and writing is of a wider deeper holistic form of self-integration, knowledge and awareness, which links us intangibly yet strongly to others. Art is a form of deep healing that occurs on an inner level of the body and mind, and keeps us in balance, but so much in life throws us out of kilter. I will not go into that now, except to give background to my story. It was 18 years ago. My ex husband had just left me and our two very young children, in Sydney a city we had just moved to, I had no money, nor job at that time as we had just moved and I had left my teaching position at the Art School in Newcastle- to study for my MA in Writing (novel writing) at UTS. I was writing a very difficult novel- that I have recently published (The Antipode Room and Missing: Australian Fugue 1 and 2). I had terrible pains in my lower back and was diagnosed after an ultra sound, with “9 ovarian cysts- the size of oranges”. The doctor said. “Go and have another ultrasound in two weeks, then you will need to have surgery.”
“What- surgery? “Yes, immediately after the ultrasound come here and we will arrange it”

I left the doctor’s surgery feeling totally numb. My young children were both at primary school, and I had to collect them, I was walking home first. I walked through Spit Junction and happened to look up. What I saw was a sign above the street with a yin and yang sign on it. It was some kind of Chinese looking medical centre. I had a friend who managed one in Bath, and had heard nothing but great things about it. I would go in and see if they had any herbs that could help. I walked up a steep flight of stairs. I was surprised to enter a large open airy space, which looked more like an exercise-hall. A bearded longhaired man with distant blue eyes, wearing loose white trousers and top approached and asked if he could help. I explained my predicament. He said they did not have herbs, the Chinese medicine they used here was in the form of physical exercises, and it was called Qi Gong. He explained it to me. He told me there were two levels: if you do level one for one month you progress to level two which you do after level one. When you are doing level one you also have to do a good deed every day, and think good thoughts, and the same with level two, does it go further I asked? He told me some reach “level 3’ which is beyond physical exercises, where they achieve great powers, such as metaphorically (I thought he must mean) walking through walls; then he told me about men at level 3 writing from their inner mind, streams of words, straight from the mind, which were considered holy scripts. I was very interested to hear that, as I was a writer. I told him that was one of the techniques I used of writing from the unconscious mind (automatic writing). The man who ran the Qi Gong centre looked startled. Really he said. You do that? Yes! And he was very welcoming. He told me it was common for people to have a very intense experience the first time, and for it to be followed that night by very strong dreams. I paid for a month’s sessions, which meant I could go to both mid-morning and evening sessions, you do it twice a day he told me, and he gave me a chart of the exercises. I went back to the session that evening to the 6 o clock class, with my two children. The qi gong exercises lasted 13 minutes. We all stood in a circle, around John, I followed and interpreted myself his exercises; they were all arm movements. He asked if I had any sensations. I had a tingling in my feet, ‘that means it is working, he said. Then we left. That night I had a very vivid, powerful dream. I still see it now. I dreamt I was walking through a council housing estate in England. (The type my ex, my eldest and I lived on in England before we moved to Australia- except it was in better shape). The late afternoon light was golden, as I walked towards an archway through which I could see the next quadrangle area, I was suddenly surrounded by a girl gang- a gang of Asian girls, they surrounded me in a circle, the leader had a long knife or sword, she suddenly stabbed me several times in the left ovary area.
I woke up in great fear, and after taking the children to school, went straight to the Qi Gong centre. I told John what happened, about my dream.
It must mean I am going to die, I said. No no no he said, in Qi Gong there are two symbols of healing energy, light, and knives- or swords, what you dreamt was of healing energy.
I had to go back two weeks later for more ultra sounds. I remembered the doctor had told me if there was no change that I would have to have surgery- to have them removed.
I took the ultrasound to her in great trepidation. She pulled out the x-rays from the envelope, scrutized one side, turned it over, looked a bit puzzled, turned it back over again, held it up against the window light, and said.
“I can’t see anything. There’s nothing here.”
“It didn’t work?” I said. “Will I have to go and do it again?”
‘They’ve gone!’
“They have gone.”
“The cysts have gone?”
“Yes, they have all gone.
"Are you sure?”
“Yes.” She looked bemused.
I told her I had been doing Qi Gong. She asked me what that was and I told her about the exercises. I told her about the other dimension. She looked at me as if I was a bit crazy.  “The movement to the pelvic area of the exercises must have done it,” she said.
And that was that: I was cured!
I went and told John. He asked if he could make a video of me telling the story, but I said no.
I did not tell anyone. I was very reticent, and shy, to talk to anyone about my health and my inner world then.
It has taken years of writing on social media to move beyond that. And now in this project, of the Escape Artists anthology, where I am trying to save myself and others from the fates of hopelessness, poverty, isolation, which are the result of the policies of cuts and attacks on the arts and universities, now I see that it is important that people know the context is art and healing. That is the wider context of my PhD research, into writing using fugue musical forms, as a form of deep inner healing from trauma, and its affects on the body and mind.
There is a connection to writing in my healing from the cysts, for not only was I doing the qi gong exercises twice a day, I was also writing all day and night, when I wasn’t looking after the children. And drawing. It was both, the exercises, and the writing, and drawings, combined, that made my rapid healing, and to the good health I have had ever since. So I hereby recommend Mr John Dolic at the Spit Junction (Mosman) Qi Gong centre. You can find the same exercises, fragrant qi gong online, but you need to know the right way to do them, so need to go to a practitioner to at least get started.

There are pieces on women’s health, and a journey through cancer treatment, by Christen Clifford, New York-based feminist performance artist and New School lecturer, and mother of two, in the planned Escape Artists anthology. This will only be published if we can raise $7000 the very minimum needed to publish it as a paperback and interactive pdf book.