Leaving home, Nov 3

I walk onto the balcony with breakfast and am taken by surprise, the scent of Gardenias. I look down and see the white flowers that have appeared in Wyn’s white garden (after Sissinghurst). The Gardenias are hiding behind the white Wisteria and Mock Orange, safe from the wallabies that nearly demolished them.

Every day shoots surprises in our garden (90 percent natives), a new orchid yesterday and today a mist of sadness.

Drama at the airport – Qantas wouldn’t let me onto the flight down to Sydney to connect on to London. I was told I had to have proof of a recent Covid test. I told them I didn’t need one. I was told to show them proof – then I found out my phone wasn’t working! I couldn’t log on to find a Qantas email that may or may not have confirmed my position. The nightmare not helped with the mask on fogging my glasses. I kept telling the manager to ring Sydney. The line behind me was getting longer and boarding time getting closer. She finally left, rang Sydney and appeared with an apology and let me have my boarding passes.

Sydney’s Domestic Terminal is a ghost town.

I hate airports, frantic or deserted. They are anonymous non-places, all sharing certain characteristics, over-priced food, flight information displays of elsewhere places ticking over.[i]

There is nothing local here.

‘I hate studios. A studio is a black hole . . . For me the most important spaces to be are the spaces in between – like in airports or lobbies of hotels – when you’re leaving one space and you arrive to another space. Before you start to make new habits you’re really open to destiny, you’re more perceptive, you see things.’ Marina Abramović[ii]

No courtesy bus as before. I take the train to the International, find another ghost.

I put on Music for Airports, no need for headphones, it’s so quiet.

I take two photographs in the toilets, how luck abandons too many people.

‘. . . and yet i did it too i cant avoid it its like the hospital all the hospitals, all there are are roads hospitals and also, i know, airports . . .  the ultimate image is the hospital        or the woman as woman as if that were          at the bottom            of the hole of images is            love.’ Alice Notley[iii]

I lost an Alice Notley book once, left on a plane. I sit with a view of the main runway, nothing’s happening. I will be flying to England in the dreaming of Emily Kngwarreye.

She was an elder of the Anmatyerre community of Utopia, in the Red Centre.[iv] Her Awelye (Dreaming) was: Arlatyeye (pencil yam), Arkerrthe (mountain devil lizard), Ntange (grass seed), Tingu (Dreamtime pup), Ankerre (emu), Intekwe (favourite food of emus, a small plant), Atnwerle (green bean), and Kame (yam seed). ‘That’s what I paint, whole lot.’[v] (In 1907, Mahler told Jean Sibelius, ‘A symphony must be like the world. It must embrace everything.’ I am in favour of small-scale gesamtkunstwerks.)

Koalas are becoming extinct in this State. They will be available for looking at in zoos and retail outlets.

Airports have evolved into hubs of long white corridors with their heart the gleaming temple of consumerism. Exuberant colours shimmer, glass reflects, polished metals sheen, luxury is fascinated by mirrors attempting to conjure enchantment.

I can imagine Jeff Koons art belonging here. Just a few weeks ago he says, ‘I recall early on when I started making inflatable pieces, I would place them on store-bought mirrors, so they became objects that reflected themselves. The reflection is an affirmation of an object, an affirmation of the viewer, and a point of intensity. The main idea is that through affirmation, we can achieve transcendence.’[vi] I can’t believe how successful his vacuous art has become. He is worth $500M according to a source which explains, ‘Koon’s most famous artwork includes balloon animals designed in stainless steel through mirror-finish surfaces, such a colorful and contemporary modern art that truly shows that his creativity is amazingly endless.[vii]

The architecture revealed without the usual traffic, the gloss revealed, surface desire. Even a fresh -faced flaneur would be bored strolling through the labyrinths of spirits, perfumes, chocolates, scarves and handbags.

‘All of our perceptual equipment is geared toward seeing us as forms, as compact forms operating on many levels—that’s like a poem. That’s who we are, that’s how we see. That’s what there is, really: there’s poetry. Prose is very, very flat. But we’re not flat. We’re dense and layered.’ Alice Notley[viii]

[i] I remember now – non-place is a ‘neologism coined by the French anthropologist Marc Augé to refer to anthropological spaces of transience where human beings remain anonymous, and that do not hold enough significance to be regarded as ‘places’ in their anthropological definition.’ Wiki. In fact Auge starts his thesis with the airport terminal. Non-Places: An Introduction to Supermodernity, Verso, 2009. He emphasises our contemporary appetites for excessive information and space. I am mor worried by excessive consumerism.

[ii] Marina Abramović, interview ‘I’ve always been a soldier’, Johnny Adams, The Talks, 13.6. 2012.

[iii] Alice Notley poem ‘Love’ in Benediction, Letter Machine, 2015

[iv] Emily began painting aged 79 (having worked with sand, ceremonial body painting (Awelye), song, ceremony. She was prolific, her family helped her. In 2007, her ‘Earth’s Creation became the first work by a female Australian artist and the first Aboriginal artwork to be sold for more than one million dollars.

[v] ‘Art + Soul: Dreams and Nightmares – Emily Kame Kngwarreye’,

[vi] Jennifer Sauer, ‘Jeff Koons Debuts His Shiny New Art Exhibition’, Oct 8, 2021. CR Fashion … › culture › jeff-koons-…

[vii] ‘Top 10 Richest Artists of Modern Times’, Nov 15, 2018.

[viii] Robert Dewhurst, ‘Alice Notley’, BOMB 133, Fall 2015.

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