Art of Woman

The Little Shell

The Little Shell_bookcover

The Little Shell is a delightful book written by Leonie Pye, a Belconnen resident. It is a collaborative work from skilled local people including illustrations by artists from from Open Art Group at Belconnen Community Centre, Lida Emami, Timothy Burke, Jenelle Outhwaite and Cameron Michael, graphic design by Susan Hey and photography by Margaret Kalms, also Belconnen residents.

The little shell finds herself washed up and broken, exposed on the beach. She is frightened and vulnerable and believes that she is not worth anything because she is broken. Will she ever fell safe again? The story is a metaphor for life. It demonstrates the joy of appreciating beauty in us all including our differences and imperfections.

It is written in easy language so that a young child could read it on their own. Yet the story has layers of meaning and different teaching aspects that a parent or teacher could bring out over many occasions of reading. The discussion points could engage older children and even adults.

This will make a great present for a small person in your life.

Leonie Pye is legally blind and gets around with her faithful guide dog, Franklin. She very generously is donating 20% of sale price to Guide Dogs NSW/ACT.

You can hear Leonie Pye in an interview recorded by ArtSound FM 92.7 (or 90.3 Tuggeranong) on Saturday 21 December 2013 on Artcetera. She spoke very well, articulating her story in a lucid and candid way. It was moving to listen to. Leonie has overcome many difficulties to publish this book and it is inspiring to understand how she has achieved this success. Franklin, her guide dog, rattled his lead to make sure he was included in the discussion!

The Little Shell by Leonie Pye - ArtSound FM interview 19MB

See ArtSound FM 92.7 programmes at; http://artsound.fm/programs/

Leonie Pye with "The Little Shell" 22 Dec 2013

Buy The Little Shell now at $A16.95 from Dymocks Belconnen and Paperchain Manuka.

Or direct from Leonie
- $A15.00 with $A2.50 postage within Australia.

email: nonibear62@gmail.com Mobile: +61 (0)428 330 073
Guide Dog website banner

Photography and PhotoShop tutorials

A lot of photography success is a result of knowledge and technique. There is a lot of information on the internet, but much of it is a poor standard and it takes time to filter through to the good stuff.

Today, I created a new page titled “Photography tips and tutorials”.

I have gathered together some reputable tutorials and information about photography that I have found helpful and interesting. Although I have been trained in photography in a technical college, there is always more to learn. Of course, the equipment is constantly changing, but I am not focusing on equipment. The information by manufacturers is comprehensive if you want to find out about equipment. I have selected information and tutorials that will develop creativity and ideas. If you work through these tutorials and tips, you will become an excellent photographer and be able to develop your own style.

There is a cost to some of these tutorials, but they are excellent quality and represent good value at reasonable prices. If you enjoy the links and take up the offers, I may receive a small commission, which will be used to continue my art photography practice.

Unleash Your Creativity

It is with great excitement that I invite my followers in London to an exciting workshop hosted by Alexandra Pope and Sjanie Hugo Wurlitzer, at the Awareness Centre in Clapham. Alexandra Pope is a co-author of the well known book, The Pill: Are You Sure It’s For You? (Allen and Unwin, 2008) and author of The Wild Genie: The Healing Power of Menstruation, (Sally Milner 2001). This workshop is designed to tap into women’s deep creativity through intimate body awareness. Women’s Quest describe the innovative workshop as follows:

you will learn about the 4 key stages of the creative process and how they are intimately linked with the inner seasons of your cycle.With this understanding, you can: • Discover your secret time for accessing ideas, inspirations and visions • Find a natural motivation and finally give procrastination the boot • And learn about the vital role of the inner critic, and how to harness its power to serve rather than destroy what you are doing

I fully support my photos being used to enhance this workshop for women's creativity. My photos explore different meanings and symbolism associated with menstruation. I have used my own experience, the experiences of friends and relatives and learnt from myths and the images generated by the language women use for the body and slang euphemisms. My photography suits this workshop very well.

Unleash Your Creativity Workshop: 10am-6pm, Sat 29th Sept 2012
Where: The Awareness Centre, 41 Abbeville Rd, Clapham, SW4 9JX www.theawarenesscentre.com
Cost: £85/£50 (students) For concession please apply
For more info: Phone: 07974388973 or info@womensquest.org
The photos will be hanging in the Awareness Centre after the workshop until the end of November.
Women's Quest News 2012 Unleashing Your Creativity

Sex, Faith and Marriage, Sunday 22 August 2010

Last night on ABC TV Compass interviewed three couples from three faiths, Hindu, Muslim and Judaism. They were asked about their beliefs regarding sex.

The Jewish couple spoke about how menstruation impacts on their sex lives. Orthodox Jews do not have sex during a woman’s period, nor for seven days afterwards. The time of menstruation is significant in Jewish ritual and a woman learns that her body is sacred and that sex is sacred. The husband and wife do not sleep in the same bed during this time. Then, after 12 days without any contact with her husband the wife has a ritual bath called Mikvah and is blessed, cleansed and made ritually clean. She is then ready to return to the marriage bed and resume sexual relations. Often there is a sense of excitement as she returns home ready to greet her husband. Her desire has been rejuvenated.

There are many misconceptions surrounding Mikvah. It was wonderful to see how this ancient tradition is practiced in a modern society. Each women’s privacy was respected and hygiene was strictly controlled.
I loved the passionate way that the wife, Timmy described her experience of being in separate beds, “It makes you yearn to be with your partner.” Kalman describes the husband’s view, “That’s the time to rejuvenate. Because you are forced to instil a control, you are forced to draw close to each other emotionally, you talk to each other.” This periodic separation deepens the relationship!
I’m sure the monthly break in sexual demands is rejuvenating for both husband and wife. She is not pressured to be constantly available and he does not suffer as much rejection because the rejuvenation time is understood and he does not make needless advances.
Personally, I would find the 12 days without contact every month extremely difficult and I do not observe this practice. I do however take breaks on my own visiting friends and relatives and have done so throughout my marriage. When I return home from a break, we are excited to see each other, we are attentive to each other and our relationship is rejuvenated.
The Mikvah ritual is a refreshing contrast to today’s modern western culture which is over sexualised. Western culture puts a lot of sexual expectations on relationships. Men feel pressure to prove their manhood and women feel pressure to be constantly sexually attractive and to acquiesce to the lustful demands of their partners even when they feel no desire themselves.
One example of these attitudes is the book “365 nights: A Memoir of Intimacy” by Charla Muller, Berkley Publishing Group, 2008. ISBN: 9781741964240.

Charla Muller wanted to give her husband a memorable and significant gift for his 40th birthday. She decided to give him sex every night for one year, the “gift”.
It was an amazing effort. I agree that the “gift” was motivated by love for her husband, but it is also based on the assumption that a good wife is constantly sexually available.

This assumption makes a woman a sex object at the whim of a man’s lust even within marriage. This has the potential to become exploitative of women, meeting only the man’s needs without any consideration for the woman’s experience. Even Charla defines sex in terms of his ejaculation (P72). Unfortunately, many men loose respect for women once their lusts are satisfied. If the husband expects his wife to be constantly sexual availability then sex becomes the wife’s obligation and her refusal is taken as a rejection of his manhood. He may take any sexual rejection so badly that he becomes coercive or even violent as a result.

Charla admits that her husband felt rejected, writing, “I know you’re avoiding sex and it bums me out … I’m your husband for Pete’s sake, not some cheesy college guy looking to get lucky.” (P215) The assumption is that a wife should not refuse her husband.

Perhaps if Charla was permitted rejuvenation times, she would say yes more often. Instead, she puts in a marathon effort gives her body as a “gift”.

When a woman has no desire, sex becomes a chore, a performance or even a transaction. Charla tries to gloss over this aspect of her “gift” but it is clear that she has had enough during the last few weeks of the “gift”.

“Geez, do you think you could try a little bit more?” He said.
“What do you mean?” I asked.
He sighed. “Could you pretend you’re interested in this? I mean could you woo me a bit?”
Try? Woo? What does he think I’ve been doing the last eleven months of my life?
(P234-235)

It is clear that her husband has continuing expectations. A husband with the expectation that a good wife is constantly sexual availability is generally not very appreciative.

What Charla has done may have been good for her marriage, but it is a potentially dangerous precedent to use as an example to emulate. It sets up unrealistic expectations of marriage in men because many women will not be able to achieve this amount of sexual availability due to a whole range of justifiable reasons.

There does seem to be a gulf between men’s lusts and women’s capacity. As Charla writes, “Brad will want sex and will resent having to ask for it. I will not want to have sex after two babies and fifty-four workhour weeks and will resent having to have it.” (P243)

Charla describes women getting Doctor’s certificates as a way of extending postpartum sexual abstinence. (P75) Surely a ritual time out is better than this deception?

Judaism gives sexuality a structure that honours the needs of both men and women. The Mikvah looks like a peaceful place where women can be refreshed and recover their energies and the 12 days of abstinence makes the husbands more appreciative of the physical and sexual side of marriage after the 12th day finally arrives!

You can read another review of 365 Nights here and two radio interviews by Amy Freese of Designher Living on WSRadio.com - 03 and 04.

The Century Project

Recently, during research for my art, I saw the very powerful photography of Frank Cordelle.

Frank Cordelle has created a photography exhibition called “The Century Project”. He has photographed girls and women from birth to 98 years of age. These are women who have faced struggles and problems with their bodies. Their stories, in their own words, accompany the photographs. Some of the stories are confronting, some are angry, some are sad, some are joyful, some are a triumph. All of the stories are intimate person experiences.

Frank has photographed the women in the nude to express their vulnerability and their humanity. Cloths can enhance some parts of the body and hide parts of the body we find difficult for various reasons. Cloths express culture, social status, occupation and wealth. These nude images cut through much cultural clutter and gets past assumptions and prejudices to see the real woman underneath. Sometimes clothes hide things so well that health issues are not address properly and the woman does not even know what is within the normal range for a female for her age.

This project is extremely important. Even healthy women struggle with body image because the media display so many ‘perfect’ images of women’s bodies all around us. When women have health and other body image problems, they can feel that they are inferior somehow. The shame some women feel about their bodies can restrict and limit their lives. For example, many women limit their participation in sports, especially swimming. These limitations are unnecessary, often inconvenient and in some cases even harmful.

The Century Project gives women dignity and a voice. It has changed the lives of some women who have felt alone, disregarded, afraid and ashamed of their struggles. This project has given many women the courage to treat their bodies with respect and inspired some women to get the medical care they deserve.

The Century Project is beautiful and has been shown in 63 colleges around the USA and has been viewed by thousands of people.

You can obtain your own personal copy of the exhibition in a book called “Bodies and Souls”.

A Christmas Message: "Immanuel - God with us"

At Christmas we give gifts and spend time with our family and friends wishing good will to all. Christmas is the celebration of the Christ child – Immanuel – God with us, Matthew 1:23.

photo copyright Margaret Kalms

To all the new parents I ask you to remember the moment you first saw your new baby. Remember the sense of awe and excitement of a new human in the world. I certainly felt it when each of my children were born. Despite my biological training and sex education, I still asked in wonder ‘Where did you come from?’ It was a spiritual question, not a biological one. I knew the practicalities of creation but the practicalities did not prepare me for the force of emotions that overwhelmed me when I first looked into the eyes of each new child. This emotion is spiritual, full of hope and joy. I photographed newborn babies for several years in Canberra’s hospitals and I never tired of the awe of holding and looking at a newborn baby. As I said in ‘Passages Through Parenthood: real life stories from Australian parents’ (Anne Godfrey. Lothian books 2000)

I still feel a sense of wonder when I hold a newborn baby. Each baby represents another try at life, another chance to explore what it is to be human. Maybe this baby will make fewer mistakes than I, achieve greater things, inspire or help more people. Each new baby brings hope. We can look into a baby’s face and imagine any future. They help us to think of and plan for the future because it will be twenty years before they are full members of the community. Babies give us a continuum of life that is difficult to describe, a sense of history, a sense of generation following generation and of time flowing on. Who of us has not marvelled at those beautiful tiny fingers and toes of a newborn and not wondered at the sheer mystery of life. When we grasp how much of a miracle birth is, we also know that life is precious.



This experience is one aspect of Immanuel – God with us. God came to earth as a human to experience ALL of our emotions and to share the experience of our lives and to live in perfect harmony with God. In doing so in a mysterious and miraculous way He reconciled God and humanity.

As a Christian I am asked to see Immanuel – God with us in everybody. As a human it is relatively easy to see Immanuel – God with us in our friends and family, those whose company we enjoy. It is harder to see Immanuel – God with us in people we do not like, people who have betrayed or hurt us, people who are cruel or violent, or people who look, dress and smell differently from us. Christmas is a time to remember all our fellow humans to see the miracle of creation in every person, to see the mark of God within no matter what their life situation, to look beyond our personal preferences. Our church reaches out to many during the Christmas season by giving food hampers to local people, hosting community events, giving Christmas shoe-boxes as presents to children and by sending any money offerings gathered on Christmas Day to Baptist World Aid for suffering people around the world.

Last night we received a call that our son had a ‘bad landing’ when he went para-gliding. He is in a country hospital recovering from his injuries 50km from home. This is a dread that any parent fears. Of course we drove to the hospital immediately. It was a sombre mood during the drive to the hospital in the dark last night. We wondered exactly how injured our son was and how it may affect his young life in the future. I am reminded of the fragility of life, how quickly circumstances can change. Although our son’s life is not in immediate danger, this fall has reminded us of the possibility of death. Another reason to see Immanuel – God with us in all of us, is that life can be taken from us at any time. In the developed countries like Australia where I live, it is easy to forget the fragility of life. We know life expectancy is around 80 years so we expect everyone to live ‘til their 80s. We have a tendency to take each other for granted, to take life for granted. But death happens at all ages, even in Australia. Life is a gift to be treasured. But not held on to. I still do not want to wrap my children in ‘cotton-wool’. I’m glad they are doing exciting things and I will not restrict their adventures. I know they are learning from experienced trainers who will teach safety issues. I hope that when my time comes to die, I will be doing something exciting or something worthwhile, because we ALL die.

I wish you all a Happy New Year bringing you many blessings, that God is with YOU and that you achieve good things and grow closer to your life purpose.

Genocide

Last entry I made a comment about shooting "in Iraq". This is only a recent example of a very extensive and ubiquitous problem. Humans often use violence to "solve" problems - and often the bullies (or bullets?) win. Shooting, bombing, warfare, violence, rape, starvation and genocide touches us all. I do not know of a country without genocide in it's history, including my own country, Australia.

I have been reading, "White Christ Black Cross" by Noel Loos, 2007 ISBN9780855755539. It is very humbling to read of the white settlement of Australia as an Aboriginal Holocaust, Chapter 2. The aboriginal population of Australia was devastated by 87% to up to 97%! This depopulation occurred over a relatively short time, causing extreme trauma to the survivors. Causes include deliberate "rounding up" and shooting and poisoning. Also many died of easily treated disease, loss of food resources and poor water. They suffered loss of land, resources, malnutrition, loss of culture, language and social and family structure. The last "dispersal" occurred as recently as 1928, page 25, and children were taken from their parents well into the 1960s. Clearly some hurts are within living memory and Australia has a lot of work to do to gain true reconciliation.

I'm very encouraged by our new prime minister Kevin Rudd expressing "sorry" to Aborigines. Deputy prime minister, Julia Gillard, also said Labour wanted to take "practical measures that would make a difference to the huge life expectancy gap and the lack of opportunity that so many indigenous Australians face." It is not a county's overall wealth that predicts the health of the population, it is the distribution of wealth, especially the social equity of the country. This idea is backed up by studies. "the per caput GNP in Costa Rica is only one-twelfth that of the USA, life expectancy is the same (75 vs. 76 years). And, whereas the per caput GNP of the poor Indian state of Kerala is considerably less than that of India as whole, life expectancy is over 70, very much greater than the Indian average of 57. Sen attributes these islands of health in their seas of relative poverty to Costa Rica and Kerala's widespread pubic education,comprehensive social epidemiological and personal health care, and subsidized nutrition." Amartya Sen (1992) in "Death Hope and Sex" by James S. Chisholm, 1999, ISBN 0 521 59708 0, page 224. Any effort to improve equity of health and education will be a positive step.

Getting dressed

My model rung me to apologise for being late because she needed to shave her legs. She arrived and we did some interesting work. The incident reminded me of a book I have been reading, "Dirt, Undress and Difference - critical perspectives on the body's surface" Adeline Masquelier ed, Indiana University Press 2005.

There is a description of a strip dancer preparing for work. It goes into detail for three pages (96-98). This makes me think about the whole notion of what is dressed and what is undressed and which bits to show and which bits to hide. Certainly the dancer took great care in presenting her body in a particular way. She took longer than most people to get 'dressed' for work!
We all have the right to present our bodies the way we choose.