Some Sad News
Regular readers will be aware that Isiiad has been dormant over the last few weeks. I therefore feel I should share with you dear reader, the reason I've been absent from the blogosphere for so long.
My dear dear Dad, Ralph Thomas Heily passed away peacefully on the 31st of August. My family gathered at his bedside and were with him during his last hours.
It was a great privilege for my Mother, my sister and me, to arrange his sendoff and receive the words and gestures from the many people who were moved to honour his passing.
He was indeed a most extraordinary man who, having lived with the ravages of polio for the greater part of his life, still managed to make a significant contribution to his community. In recognition of this he was awarded an Anzac of the Year Award in 2000.
Closer to home, he worked the family farm by defiantly modifying run of the mill farm equipment to suit his own particular needs. I often watched with admiration as he winched himself up onto his tractor with a contraption he had designed and welded himself. This bit of rudimentary engineering made it possible for him to put in his own wheat crops for many years.
He was a well read, cultured man, who enjoyed opera and roots music with equal enthusiasm.
He instilled his great love of the English language in me and my sister Tina. In her eulogy for him, Tina said,
"...he loved words, the feel and the shape of them, their bite and flavour, their rhythms and cadences and their use for thrust and parry. His dry wit enjoyed the sly, droll comment and could skewer any hint of pomposity and self satisfaction."
He was born with a keen intellect and a genuine curiosity for the lives of others. That combined with a wicked sense of humour and an open generous heart created a charismatic character whose company people sought out and clearly enjoyed. None more so than me.
While I will miss him terribly, I'm happy in the knowledge that his enormous spirit will live on forever.
RALPH THOMAS HEILY
NOVEMBER 24th 1924 - AUGUST 31st 2012
Beyond the Trees- A celebration of Thomas Lloyd Guitars.
A guitar is shaped like the body of a beautiful woman. All sensuous curves and smooth 'skin'. Any wonder that they're capable of making such seductive sounds.
I'm a lapsed classical guitarist. For my teaching diploma I learnt classical guitar for a year. The joy of making that beautiful instrument create an equally beautiful sound was part of my daily practice during that year. A well played guitar still stops me in my tracks today. So yes, I admit it, I was the person in the Barn at Montsalvat last Friday night, sitting in the chair nearest the stage, listening rapturously to classical guitarist Michael MacManus make his guitar sing.
Others were blissing out over the fine array of hand made guitars on display. There were 63 guitars in all, made from more than 20 different species of Australian tonewood. Chair of the Board at Montsalvat, Morag Fraser, showed her delight with this exhibition by pointing out aspects of the skillful craftsmanship- some delicate inlay here or an unusual bridge there. She's well qualified to comment. Last year she made her own guitar at Thomas Lloyd Guitars under the tutelage of its luthier Chris Wynne.
Chris and his business partner Fiona Mitchell, were responsible for putting together this unique exhibition. It showcased, the work of 25 luthiers trained at Thomas Lloyd Guitars. There were replicas of guitars from the seventeenth century to the the present day. Styles included Fleta, Ramirez, Hauser & Torres, Gibson, and Ukelele guitars.
Montsalvat CEO Rob Hauser and Chair of the Montsalvat Board Morag Fraser at the opening.
Brend Bunte from Eltham with his own guitar.
Michael MacManus (above) at the Opening.
The weekend culminated in a concert on Sunday evening featuring classical and acoustic guitar. The exhibition and concert celebrated the community of craftspeople and performers who have been associated with Thomas Lloyd Guitars since its beginning ten years ago.
Antoni Field and Dan McKay Photograph ©Kerry Cross
Richard Jeffrey played a double neck guitar made by Chris Wynne. Photograph ©Kerry Cross
The Caladenia Rosella Orchid
One of the really lovely things to happen since beginning Isiiad has been the making of connections at Dunmoochin. It's meant, life drawing sessions, exhibition openings and opportunies to meet many of the fine artists who take up residence there. Last weekend I was afforded yet another considerable privilege courtesy of Dunmoochin. I was escorted through the bush to the location where the exquisite Caladenia Rosella Orchid grows. So rare and carefully protected is this endangered species of native orchid that if I told you exactly where it can be found, I'd have to kill you. So my lips are sealed.
The Dunmoochin Foundation's charter has been based on the belief that,
a community can gain knowledge and inspiration from living in a close relationship with nature. (Dunmoochin website)
Therefore the bush at Dunmoochin and its flora and fauna, is an integral part of the artist in residence program they offer. Accordingly, the Foundation works hard to protect the environment. The Rosella Orchid holds a prominent place in that care and protection. Follow this link to read the story of its care, involving the Foundation and the work of Geoff Carr and Cam Beardsell.
Many things have conspired to make the orchid's future precarious- the White-winged Chough, which eats its tuber, the recent drought, which had it unsuccessfully compete with an introduced grass (Briza Maxima) for water and ultimately the threat of houses and buildings being built over its habitat. The plant is tiny. A small ribbon of grass announces the flower's imminent arrival. I was acutely aware of my big size eleven feet while weaving through the bush toward it. What if I were to unwittingly step on a plant and render it unable to flower? Perish the thought. The above photograph stands as my permanent reminder of this tiny example of the fragility of our environment and the need to tread carefully on the earth.