The Australian Federal election looms upon us all this Saturday. I’ve missed the big ideas talks possibly because my head has been happily in the clouds of research. Were there any that went beyond the campaign boundaries? One party is miraculously going to stop the boats because their policy is more powerful than the horrors in the troubled zones around the globe (today it was announced there is a three-boat target); and the current government has lunch boxed the economy, NBN, schools, healthcare and climate change, so that as ideas they have become frozen in time like the bento box models in the window displays of Japanese cafes.

Sigmund Jörgensen, Arts & Heritage Adviser, Montsalvat, is keen to reinvigorate an artistic community sharing ideas and to that end has recently re-established his father’s practice of resident artists sharing a meal and talking about ideas big and small. I was privileged as a current artist in residence to be involved in the first one, held last night at the Meeting Pool restaurant at Montsalvat. Meeting Pool is named after a children’s book written by Mervyn Skipper and the walls of the restaurant display the artwork for the book. The restaurant does not have an open fire but the architecture and ambience make you feel that there is one somewhere. There were only 6 of us on this first evening but the size was welcome to me because it enables discussion to flow multiple ways but also allows for a central discussion without leaving anyone out. Discussions ranged from philosophy, art and the Montsalvat history. It was an intimate evening of ideas. It fulfilled my romance of Montsalvat, a place, yes, for silence, solitude and work but one also where you can discuss with intelligent souls – ideas. If this reads all a bit in earnest laughter was shared generously too!

I’ve mentioned before that Montsalvat reveals herself slowly and I have always wondered who provided the flowers that naturally scent the bluestone arched block near the great

Floral gesture

hall. They have previously been jonquils with a mix of other herbage and I have always appreciated this floral gesture – the scent and the glow of the flowers, especially in the light at night. I thought they had been put there when the play Tolstoy’s Wife, written and played by, Jennifer Claire in late July but this morning I caught Sandros, the groundskeeper changing them. They have been refreshed with yellow and white winter daisies and a wee camellia bud. These are the touches that really reach you when you have been spending too much time in side your head.

Sigmund lent me ‘After Fire’, Sally Morrison’s biography of Clifton Pugh. Reading was today’s second exercise after writing practice as the day was one for curling up on the little bed. It remains cold and bleak, the sun struggling to make any decent appearance. I like the way Morrison starts this book walking the reader through Dunmoochin after the 2001 fires. Her chapter two makes me realise there are so many questions I have about the early years of the Miller family. One quite simple one; how did Godfrey’s parents meet? I have letters to write and questions to throw about with family. These letters will be weekend tasks – after I vote of course.

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