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Come Home Journal #37 FInal

A wrap up of the reckoning of the journey (turas) to tour Dancing Shadows in Ireland, a retrospective of my film works as part of the Come Home project.

The note in my journal reads:

Write about how I feel about my work. How I am moving away from others opinions of it, of me.

It’s a great prompt, but it’s not the first line of an article. So to begin I close my eyes and see that words are tears waiting to be written*. Someone, not me, said that and I have no idea who. But it sticks. So I realise I have many words yet, because I remember each tear as it fell.

This year was a plague that blackened the sky. The sound it made, eerie and incoherent. And all through it I knew when I reached out my hands my people were there to remind there were edges and finishes. And when the sky cleared I saw myself in it, flying, Literally. This journey touring my films was the result of life-force. There is a serendipitous language and energy at play here:

  • turas (Gaeilge) means journey, visit and experience, pilgrimage.
  • toras (English) is a geometric shape the represents the flow of energy, symbolising the continuous cycle of creation and destruction, and the eternal nature of existence.

Now you see the type of high level distraction I am capable of. But when in pain, sorrow or grief I am lost to it, incapable of seeing beyond. So I end up in Ireland almost in spite of myself.

My retrospective is made up of my films dating back to the 90s. I’ve been at this game a while and now I turn my gaze to it completely I see what a turas I have been on. I have let some awful comments about my work stall and stop me. My work wasn’t meaningful, wasn’t narrative, could be done by anyone, didn’t make sense, wasn’t worthy of being chosen, too long, too short, boring, not analogue. And that was just a few. People can be cruel and unthinking.

My approach in those days was scatter-gun. Being from a place that called itself a city but acted in reality like a small country town was inhibiting. It was difficult to see beyond the bubble.

Older now, and with friends who provide regular kicks in the pants, I understand my work is not for everyone and my audience is not local. My tour of Ireland the UK was about exploring the themes of my work. Longing, belonging, ancestors and where those themes, emotions and understanding reside in the body. It was also about finding my audience.

Next year I resolve to find out more about my work, I’ve enrolled in an honours degree. May the goddess look kindly on this too long ago student. Though I’m excited to study after doing an online course in experimental film through Baltic Analog Lab in Riva, Latvia. A series of online sessions at 5am our time for 6 months, until daylight savings changes meant they were 3am. A bridge too far. My next series of posts here will be about those filmmakers I found inspiring. Click here to subscribe.

My films are works of the heart. Feminist, fabulous and about feelings these works are difficult to categorise. It is cinematic, multilayered film using archival, found and captured moving image. I dive into the half-dark, overlay and blur to reflect my long-sightedness (hyperopia). Working at the intersection of cinema and art, I explore themes of feminisms, memory and death. I am known for my use of muses, exploring the idea of joy as resistance and expressing culture through dance is a way to protect our hard won freedoms. My love of the moving image came from lounge-room screenings of family films created by my father. The youngest girl of a large Irish immigrant family, I’m currently studying the once prohibited Gaeilge (Irish language) and Irish mythology to understand concepts of home and belonging.

“Film artist Erin M McCuskey’s work is indeed one of Australia’s great ‘unknown pleasures’ … fusing analogue film (created and archival), music, dance, literature, theatre and a visual artist’s perspective into digital cinematic works that are firstly sensual and delightful, and secondly resonantly poetic and deep.” (Bill Mousoulis – Unknown Pleasures).

My artist website is live and here. I have a chance now to focus. If you’d like to follow my experimental research you can subscribe here. Hope to see you at screenings.

Some links for more:



My retrospective was made possible through some incredible organisations seeing my work as significant. Thank you to Creative Victoria, the Regional Arts FundCreative Ballarat and partners Ballarat & District Irish Association, Waller & Chester, Regent Cinema, Lifestyle Ballarat Travel and the ever interesting secret organisation the Minerva Institute of Older Women (MIOW). Thank you for seeing something in me I did not see myself.


*Turns out the be the fabulous Paulo Coelho the Brazilian author of The Alchemist who found success later in life.

IMAGE CREDIT: Do Not Go Gentle (still) by Erin M McCuskey


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