HOME AND HABITAT
The other day, the family was in the last throes of the final clean-up of Peg Gibson’s block on Terra Nova. The fires had taken the beautiful little mudbrick cottage, built with such care. We are preparing the block for Peg to sell. We were moving such materials that could be reclaimed to our family block where we are continuing the process of the long slow rebuild of our own house.
The grass was long, and we were preparing for a mow. We were moving bricks when Max called our attention to something, all but invisible, in the long grass. Exquisite and hanging like a lantern from a dried-out dock stalk. A small grass woven hollow ball lined with feathers. A nest. The birds had moved on leaving this ephemeral and fragile grace-note hanging on the web in which we are all enmeshed.
We’ve all been through a lot. Drought, Fires, Covid and visitors crowd our public and private spaces. Our fellow creatures, with whom we share our landscape, face constant life and species threatening interactions with us. I think one vital thing that emerges is how important having somewhere, safe and agreeable, to live is to all of us. If you, like me, suffered significant loses, whether material or peace of mind, in the Black Summer, notions of home will have been in the forefront of your minds. I have found that as the time has passed, in many ways, my feelings of loss have increased rather than decreased. Others have reported to me similar experiences.
With this in mind we, at Open Page, have come up with a project that we hope some of you will find agreeable.
Before I go on, perhaps some of you may need an explanation of what is ‘Open Page’? We are a nebulous collective of locals and ring-ins who share a passion for reading and writing and sharing. We host events, host a radio program on 3mgb, manage a website and publish and market books etc. We are particularly focused on our local South East Corner – Primarily Croajingolong and then Gippsland and the Bega Valley.
Last year, in this magazine, we made preliminary announcements about this project. Here are some reminders and added detail. We have titled the project: Creature Comforts – Home and Habitat. We hope to facilitate discussion and celebrate home in all its manifestations: from a fish in the weeds to The House on the Hill. All creatures, of which we are but one species, need somewhere to live unmolested and adequate to their needs.
Mabasha’s two books created an immensely valuable forum for us all to share out experiences of The Fires and their aftermath. We wish to continue the work by focusing and reflecting on the meanings and permutations of ‘Home’.
This year we are presenting a number of ‘Happenings’.
Our radio program Open Page, Friday 11.00 ‘til 1.30, hosted by Kate Jackson and Myself, features discussions of books that have caught our attention (especially from our Community Bookshop), presentation of local writings – ‘500 by Friday’ and discussions, guests, music themed around ‘Creature Comforts – Home and Habitat’. These discussions will include contemporary issues of housing, building, local fauna, furnishings, furniture and comfort food.
Of Course – our Community Bookshop (In partnership with Reclink) open Friday from 12.00 ‘til 5.00 and Saturday from 11.00 ‘til 4.00. A home for book nerds and people seeking companionship, tea, coffee, and cake hosted by Kate and Stephen.
An exhibition of art pieces and the written word at our Gallery to open just after Easter. We are giving you the opportunity to create work around the theme – Creature Comfort – Home and Habitat. We encourage responses including painted furniture, knitted nests, drawings, prints, paintings, photographs and decorated manuscripts.
Creation of an ephemeral installation/sculpture of a nest and inhabitants in the Gallery outdoor space. Details TBA.
The resumption of our Easter Mural Event No 5 (Last with us in 2019 – I think you will agree that a bit has happened in the intervening time) which will also probably happen at The Gallery.
Following up on our previous Spoken Word Events with Gabrielle Journey Jones in November and Hot Tubs in January A Spoken Word/Music Event at The Muddie in the weekend after Easter, (program TBA). There will be others throughout the year.
On the website pyrren.com we will be collecting written work, graphics and photos with the view to create a local anthology to be published for Christmas 2023.
So, there you go. Something for everyone.
Check out our website – pyrren.com , it’s very thin on the ground at the moment waiting to be filed with content this year. Email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Keep an eye out in The Mouth and your inbox for further info.
Don Ashby, Kate Jackson and all at Open Page.
The First East Gippslanders
The Kurnai or Gunnai, comprised of five clans and their people once lived in the area around Orbost, west through East Gippsland and as far north as the source of the Murray and Mitta Mitta Rivers.
The Bidwell or Bidiwilli tribe lived throughout the area east of the Snowy River and up onto the Monaro High Plains of NSW. The early white explorers were very dependent on the intimate knowledge these people had of the country. Their only reward however, was persecution. In 1838 over 2,000 Gunnai were living in East Gippsland. By 1858, only 80 survived.eeg