Schools of thought
It’s been a shameful gap between blogs. I have been in a reclusive phase and have surrendered to the transition stirring within my pupa.
Painting letterboxes has enabled me to indulge my inner hermit and I have adored being home with my family, grateful for the consistent orders and I’ve been appreciating the pause and have kept things simple. I knew there was a mural job waiting patiently in the wings (as the world held its collective breath). I assumed this one would be my final fling up against a wall.
In late August, Alstonville pre-school gave me the go-ahead to paint a rainforest scene on a massive red brick wall; a rude, brutalist border within a garden that was arresting in its intelligent design. Within the plantings there were scenes set to ignite imaginations and to inspire learning. It was a fecund habitat for playful spontaneity.
As the wall and I became acquainted, it didn’t require a crack for me to surmise that its other side formed part of an enclosure for gym junkies. It was a strange phenomenon to be exposed to the language of the Garden (curiosity, growth and innocence) and the muffled rounds of semi-automatic instruction accompanied by loud marching punctuated with the occasional triumphant outburst.
Within the garden of earthly delights, it was an absolute joy to listen to top quality early learning kindly and adeptly delivered. There were so many creative and beautiful aspects to the garden, each activity designed to tickle the creative fancy of the children. I revelled in the happy sounds of wonder emanating from the little people as I hastily turned brick into forest.
I was privy to many learning morsels but the most enlightening involved a teacher setting up an experiment so the children could learn about the sun and the science behind luminescence. I painted hoping my own children had experienced this quality of early learning.
What was also apparent were the groups of children who came to pre-school on different days. There were the children who were good listeners, cooperative in their sharing, joyful in their play and respectful of their bounty. Then on other days there were the children who seemingly had yet to learn awareness around boundaries. On those days the garden was less peaceful and the children less content. I marvelled at the teachers’ communication skills, their patience and devotion to turn blind-spots into portals of potential set within the scene of nature’s example.
And whilst this was all playing out, in the big wide world, adult ‘leaders’ were having their own meltdowns. As my son Ruben helped me cover the wall, I declared that early learning needs to be as good as this the planet over so we can all grow up and reduce the focus on self. He agreed.
When the job was over, I returned to my pupa and the solace of painting letterboxes from home. To commit to the lesser scale, I sold my large work horse car that could hold ladders and bought a small hatchback. The relief was real. It was going to take a clear marker to halt my identity as a mural artist. And I felt that this was it.
A curve ball came in the form of a request to quote a multiple mural job at Tweed Heads South Public School. Put out to tender, the school was explicit in its directive for the companies to employ me to paint new and existing walls as a part of the campus transition to a super school. Four years’ ago, Principal Ian Reeson had given me agency to paint some of the biggest and boldest murals in my portfolio. It was impossible for me to refuse this endorsement so I purchased roof racks for next October when the 40 days will commence.
So, the new car didn’t take me to the end of that road. What did arrived in the form of an unexpected and deeply moving permission note excusing me from school. I will leave that here for you to read and I thank those behind the scenes who painted their own picture of me and penned the final words read out in Parliament by our local Greens member, Tamara Smith.