Au Revoir Montsalvat

It is fitting (for me) that the form of my Montsalvat residency was a welcome andAu Revoir Sunny Sue's Tower farewell from the full moon and that the last actual day was a sunny spring-truly-is-on-its-way day. This leaves me with warmth on my cheeks and days ahead full of promise.

My Sue’s Tower key was handed over to Simone along with a small offering – words contained in a frame – which I hope can be put up in the tower room and will soon be joined by words from many other writers who are also privileged with an offer of a 6 week residency. The words in the frame sit below a detail of Miller’s Still Life: Comport and Fruit (seen in the August banner for this blog) and the words are five verses chosen from the writing practice page. Each verse represents a specific period in Miller’s life attempting a panoramic shot from NZ to Syd.

I actually found the writing practice to be an invaluable method to track and record essential elements of the man and his life through his letters. The verses are a merging of his words and mine with direct quotes marked but words shared with abandon!

On Sunday I went with a girlfriend to various Melbourne Writers Festival events. One ‘Writing Indigenous Australia’ gave me food for thought, on many levels but as this is a research blog specific to biography it was the discussion on ‘place’ that was of particular interest. There was one dissenting voice, Marie (also the only indigenous panel member), she said for her, it was not place but people that were important. This makes me think I have been over considering the importance of place in the biography on Miller. Through his letters place was important for reflection on his foundational years but not once he left for Paris and London in 1929. As an adult, place takes a secondary seat to the people he meets in person and through books, articles and radio. His friendships and family relationships are intense, passionate and delicate. His interaction in the world of ideas is primary and his visual dialogue with that world makes his paintings challenging – he states in many letters how a painting he is working on is to prove someone he is arguing with, is in error or to illuminate a specific principle or world event. Marie (named after Antoinette) Munkara freed me from the constraints of prioritising place.

Thank you to all the people (and wild life) of Montsalvat.

A detail from Miller's 'Rooftops', NSW, 1955

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