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Time is Precious Jan 6th & 7th 2023 – Come Home Journal #3

How do you create time within time? Time to step outside of who we are every day. How do you learn to walk slowly over the fragile walls you have built around yourself. The walls of egg shell that can never protect you but keeps light out.

We are self-fulfilling prophecies, we get what we expect, not what we deserve.

In this project, time feels different. Elastic. We are not trying to find time in the places between zooms or where it has fallen down the back of the couch, or the front of the screen, or the washing machine, sink or between the soft sticky hands of children.

Except we still do! Being successful in applying for a creative grant that allows time for woman artists to make art is everything, but it doesn’t cover everything!

Project Artists Tammy Gilson, Deanne Gilson, Erin M McCuskey

In 2021 I worked creating moving image screen arts in collaboration with Wadawurrung women artists and sisters Deanne and Tammy Gilson. Together we produced a work called Precious Fragments, titled for the fragile nature of the film elements we created. Stories as moments of things learned, and of cultures blended.

A work about Irish immigrants to this land and the diaspora begun. We worked to reflect the language of Gaeilge (Irish), Wadawurrung (First Nations), both historically prohibited languages, in conjunction with Australian (English). As a result of world wide colonising, empire building and invasion, the English language is the most common spoken language in the world.

Based in story, myth, dance, and language we shared small poetic works of power and identity. Audiences, at previews and premiere in 2022, said the works spoke to their own connection with the concept of home. We knew then that we needed to take the works home. To screen them here, at home and in Ireland, the home of my ancestors and home to one of Deanne and Tammy’s ancestors. We talked together about what was possible for the work and how we might further develop what we saw as the beginning of an important work, about belonging and longing for home.

We learned working together that time is precious, you have a lot or none. Time is both a friend who stands by, our connection to ourselves and our ancestors, and also our task driver. So often we meet when we can, produce what we could and shared what was possible. Through creative grants we have the opportunity to realise together a more complete research on themes and to create screens works that show development of the theme.

We agreed we didn’t need to find resolution to our questions, certainly had no answers so we looked more closely at the questions. We have us and the value of time together, that’s where we started.

So we meet separately as needs must, to re/start our work this year on Come Home. To take the work Precious Fragments and blow the dust off its fragility to excavate the memory of ourselves in this moment. To connect to time as circular, cyclical, same, but not a continuum. From here Precious Fragments, a series of smaller works, we will build into a fuller expression of the work possibly entitled now Come Home.

With Deanne Gilson, proud Wadawurrung woman and extraordinary visual artist, we talk about visual icons and motifs that reflect her contemporary works juxtaposed with retro icons and Victoriana. Her fabric works need to be felt with the eyes, the butterfly fabric adorns her clothesline we talk about lifting the veil, figuratively and literally on screen. We talk of Ireland and the call to country she will explore, the call to awaken country and to Come Home.

With Tammy Gilson, sister of Deanne, proud Wadawurrung woman, incredible textile artist and traditional dancer, we are working to visualise the connections and cross over of our cultures. Dance as a language itself, exploring physical expression, to create scenes of dance movements repeating, cleansing, sweeping with eucalypt branches, and coming together to stomp, to let the ancestors know we are here.

And time is pointed here, demands of time for work and others in this period do not stop. We have yet to fund raise the final coin we need, to expand what is the journey of a lifetime to encompass those who we love and who are a crucial element in this journey.

With this building comes the work of finding the fourth language, the language that is so common we often don’t recognise it, cinematic language. This meant working with analogue celluloid (16mm and Super 8) and learning about this (see next journal entry).

This time allows the opportunity to look at self, story, art and what this work is about. Exploring cinematic language to express that what you see is not all there is. Because it’s not. So I’m raising my expectations, of myself. I got sober 12 months ago, so with the clarity of sitting with discomfort, my expectations are now pretty high, of myself and my community. Sitting in the discomfort of not knowing exactly what will happen in hard. Sleepless nights, emotions that stir the very pit of who we are, unable to move, to learn to wait. Glad I don’t drink anymore, I couldn’t do this if I did.

Creating time to work with other artists is like picking up diamonds up from the beach. You can dream it but it doesn’t make it real. We have hard work together to make it real. We three were fortunate enough to attract grants for further building our work together. We are grateful to Creative Victoria and to the Regional Arts Australia for making this possible. And to our amazing partners, sponsors and patrons.

IMAGE CREDIT: Tammy Gilson, Deanne Gilson and Erin McCuskey by Erin M McCuskey

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