With me at the table


Miller's Words


The Miller journey has become a collective. It has become a journey with others and a journey into my self with spiritual guides flanking my path. Miller is the impetuous, the energy, and of course the subject, who takes me into artistic, philosophical and literary worlds more deeply than I have gone before – he takes me by the hand through his letters as he gives to his brother Lewis his thoughts, observations and teachings whilst in exile in London. (Throughout the London letters of the 1930s – there is a sense in his words, and the length of his letters, of his self, his I, in exile.)

There is also an excitement in his words as he accesses countries, books, ideas and people that were missing for him in New Zealand and Melbourne. He recognises a surge of strength from his ‘colonial’ beginnings and an ability to stand apart, observe, analyse and challenge the traditional mores of the English he encounters. His acute sensibility, heightened by the events and injury sustained at Gallipoli, provides for him an inner hunger to articulate the world through a language of unity and harmony, never forgetting the sceptics awareness of the inverse.


Miller's words Vol II – The crowded table


As I sit in the Mitchell Library Miller speaks through the faded carbon copies providing nourishment through ideas, books to read, music to hear, plays to see and a way of walking in the world with greater presence. In his descriptions of: a play in London; the shifting form of ballerinas on the stage; a walk in the woods, as transcribed in a recent post – I learn to see. I see forms shifting where once I saw a narrative for interpretation. My eyes previously sought words…even in the visual arts I tended to read the card first and then delve into the art. Now my eyes seek the visual, the experience, the rhythm, the feeling offered by an artist.

This journey toward Miller provides me with answers to long forgotten questions, illuminates patterns and new languages not limited to linguistics but given on canvas or through sculpture. Miller leads me to what I once saw as a precipice and he takes my hand in silence. Others too, particularly Owen Shaw and today Peter Rushforth describing Miller’s ‘Song’ pot that he brought back from China, meet me on this journey and add their wisdom, their artistic sensibility, encouraging me back into: the words of Anais Nin, rare texts, artists who have challenged preconceived notions of form, artists who have embraced and developed thinking from all facets of the globe. In this way this journey is a collective and my table in the Mitchell Special Collections area is crowded with the bodies, voices, scenes of those in London in the 1930s, Sydney in the 1940s-1960s, ancient Greece, China, Japan, India, Sweden, Switzerland…and I amidst it all –unveiled.

With great care I listen to my guides who are assisting me in bringing Miller, his voice, his life, his enlightenment and language-through-forms into the present.


'Mari Nawi' currently at the Mitchell Wing of the State Library NSW


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