Australian Womankind Magazine: Searching for your future self (Launch Issue)
Issue 1: August – October 2015
When I was a little girl, I had the most spiritual experience of my life. To this day it brings tears to my eyes and yes I mean now whilst I am typing this up at 34 years of age. I should mention here my happy atheist upbringing yet with a grounding on western religious values.
Birthday girl in white looking at the camera is me…to my left in the red headband – Amanda Walker
Amanda and I were just 7 years old, I can remember this fact as for years I have rediscovered my little envelope kept in storage only to cause me to stop in my tracks at every house move and reflect. This envelope has a photograph of Amanda at my 7th birthday, a huge event in my life as a small person as it was the only birthday party I experienced until my 21st. With this treasured possession is a school diary-like booklet we were encouraged to keep at school and write in on Monday’s to share our weekend escapades at the very least. This has an excerpt in it about Amanda written by my 7 year old hand and two articles ripped out of the local paper by mum and dad and given to me within the year of this experience.
Amanda and I were in my Liverpool backyard playing around the above ground pool in our swimmers. She wore a navy blue one piece…I have no idea what costume I wore. We watched in wonderment as the first butterfly appeared. She put out her index finger and I was transfixed as I watched it alight upon this perch. As if this was not incredible enough already we giggled and equally hushed as more and more butterfly’s descended and landed on her costume. The light was around her, she was taller than me everyone was taller than me, so I had to raise my eyes which caused the light to pool around her face and shine through her brown hair. The butterflies just paused there covering her for a few moments and then one by one lifted off and floated away towards the light of the sun.
Natural Focus Photography – Jason Lindsay
I have always felt a chill when a butterfly appears a little too close for comfort toward anyone I love. A cousins wedding was particularly heinous as the happy couple opened a box, after their I do’s, and let out two butterflies who thankfully ascended up and away from the crowd of people I love. When I finally sighed out my relief and relaxed my neck from its unlikely angle, I found myself backed away from the other bridesmaids by several feet.
Paul Jackson, Jo 2013, (http://www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au/prizes/archibald/2013/29374/)
Paul Jackson’s, Archibald 2013 finalist painting, Jo, caused another physically sickening reaction and had me backing away and into other viewers. ‘Jackson’s subject is Joanna Braithwaite, an artist known for her exploration of the interrelationships between animals and humans. She frequently combines objects, animals and humans in unexpected ways.’ ¹ In this painting however, Jo herself sits upon a corpse like figure of a human/beast its dead statuesque face staring unseeing directly toward the viewer and with body almost entirely covered by butterflies. More butterflies seemingly descend from the one gap in the clouds above and behind the foreground scene. Appearing to have originated or as born from or of the sun. The other surreal animal goings on in this image for me are only subliminal or act to emphasize the strangeness of my memory alignment to this image.
My associations of butterflies with death have always fascinated me. Here is a creature that is so unlike any other and which before my childhood friend was lost to me, was amazing for completely alternative reasons. Womankind magazine’s launching issue, Searching for Your Future Self, challenged my established discomforts with this innocent insect in a variety of ways. Firstly, the cover design by Tsevis Charis is a portrait of a woman made up of thousands of colourful butterflies somehow collaged perfectly to inform the contours of a face. I wanted this magazine, I knew right away that I wanted it but of course picked up the second edition properly and only held the first between index and thumb by the corner as though it might rear up and sting me.
After two years of university and a personal awakening attributed by new expansive knowledge and the associative questioning of my place and future in this world and indeed the Australian arts industry, have prepared me well for this magazine. I decided to suck it up. I would read the launching edition and reward myself with the second later, once I had read the first from front to back. I am half way through and compelled to write already. I felt it build and build and could not hold back any longer once I had read DBC Pierre’s article ‘Kismet’. In this article Pierre goes there, he unashamedly writes about a project with photographer Tobias Wenzel which situates writers at cemetery’s and in Pierre’s case, halfway inside a dug-out grave. The placement of this article within this butterfly themed magazine edition was just too potent to ignore as was his Mexican upbringing outlining the inherent fascination with death and oftentimes superstition and his thesis idea of Kismet, chance and coincidence.
My recent experiences of Kismet almost always involve reading. Chris Kraus, ‘I love dick’ (1997), Maura Reilly selected texts and I suspect Simone de Beauvoir, ‘The Second Sex’ (on order). So, ‘Searching for your future self’ is really well timed as indeed is Womankind magazine for this thirty something year old woman. Learning that intellect is the most attractive gift one can cultivate for herself and that it is not impossible to consider an affiliation with butterfly’s from a transformation perspective.