9. From the Transit Lounge- A Life/Diary History

From the Transit Lounge
Hippy trippy baby...

Italy
Scotland
Adelaide
Canada
Adelaide
United States
Adelaide
United Kingdom

1963 - 1965
1966 - 1968
1969 - 1973
1974 - 1976
1977 - 1980
1981 - 1982
1983 - 1988
1988 - 1996
Its a life in parts, like chapters. The attempt to orient myself during the multiple journeys of my childhood began through writing, when I was just 10 years old. I started writing a travel diary, on our outward sea voyage to Canada.

This first diary, in a fake vinyl woodgrain jacket had, embossed in gold, the prosaic title "My Trip". Constrained somewhat by its page layout (Time, Place, Weather),.I noted these but suspected that in the act of writing there was somewhat more scope for self expression than My Trip suggested.

The S.S. Mariposa pulled away from Sydney Harbour Docks, [11th January 1974, Cabin 288, hot, muggy, rain...]

I went on to describe two years of family life in Calgary, Canada. Alongside Time Place and Weather I invented a scaling system for how I felt each day which went from A + to D -. There was only one A+ - (the day I played Lady Capulet in the Grade Sixers production of Romeo and Juliet). Most days though, were D -.

The entries were brief, and occasional , but even so I knew that just the act of keeping the diary would give me control over interpretation of experience. Details would not be lost. I would not be lost or left behind by my peripatetic parents - because like a trail of breadcrumbs my writing would lead [who - a rescue team?]...back to me.

Nowhere in the diaries do I blame my parents for these multiple displacements. I remember the experience of being in an expatriate family in many different countries bonded us together - for we'd left the usual supports behind. "Home" was a place we had to forget, then re-discover.

That one's inner identity can be so adaptive to place still fascinates me. My current academic work, commenced on my return to Adelaide, involves researching expatriate women artists from South Australia.

So far, I have discovered that the goal of acquiring an 'emotional education' was a recurring one for my subjects, as was the need to escape, to conquer, ...to 'have one's palette set'. It is deeply satisfying to learn how other women have imaginatively integrated their overseas experiences into their work.

A oft stated goal of the female artist abroad, often alluded to in personal diaries, reminiscences or autobiographies, is to construct a new persona - to go from the post-colonial caterpillar to the European butterfly! My experience is that this presents a risk, albeit perhaps a necessary one, for artists. One is never entirely sure 'where the work comes from'. Sometimes it comes from who you are, how you see your surroundings, personally, socially, politically - and to remove yourself from these involves a fundamental renegotiation which will affect creativity - no matter how much stimulus the new surroundings provide. And if life beyond the studio is too testing, or too unstable, one cannot take risks within. This is the dilemma of the expatriate artist or writer.




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