Poems for May 2018: 7 Poems on Sculptures in New Zealand and Australia; 1 Poem by Kimberley Mann
I didn’t manage to publish 30 poems (only 20!) within the month of April for Poetry Month but I did have several more drafts. I have a passion for poetry at the moment, having pushed my boundaries a little.
I decided not to discard or rush those drafts but publish them regardless, for the month of May, my favourite month not least because it contains my birthday.
The poem at the end is not mine; it is by Kimberley Mann, it is part of Wirrarninthi Park and I think it's beautiful.
In our travels to Australasia, from December 2017 to February 2018, we visited family and friends. In New Zealand we celebrated Christmas and the New Year with family. The husband of that household is a sculptor, usually in limestone, specifically the New Zealand Oamaru stone.
He is a talented artist, though it’s purely a pastime for him; it’s therapeutic and he spends much time in the detail and the finish. I admire his ability in this field and would like to share a couple of his sculptures with you.
So many emotions are evoked by the penguin and baby, exposed on the rocks and twigs, pure and vulnerable.
The Tortoise lives on the wide path by the front door. He is dark and polished, making his shell all the more realistic. The inspiration for him came from the opening sequence of the television series 'One Foot in the Grave' (apparently this sculptor's wife reckons he gets more like Victor Meldrew every day!).
The figure is meant to be a Galapagos tortoise, which evolved differently on each of the islands to adapt to the habitat and vegetation.
Penguin & Baby
Penguin poised in graceful protection,
head bent down, concern newly found,
sheltering, nurturing hatching offspring,
vulnerable on the exposed ground.
Between her feet the chick emerges,
looking up, reaching for food,
mother’s eyes look down in wonder,
‘This is life and this is good.’
Welcome to my master’s house! You see I have my own,
sturdy, solid, scaled to fit, it makes a comfy home.
However, I am watching you, making sure you’re kind.
Don’t forget I bite at will, so just make sure you mind
your manners and your Ps and Qs, I always pay attention.
I never go to sleep so even night time’s in contention.
You might just think that I can move - and tortoises can shift -
so think before you do anything that might be at all amiss.
Welcome to my master’s house! I hope you feel at home.
If you are good and kind and right, then you are free to roam.
Sculptors are allowed to use the grassy strip between road and sea near the centre of New Brighton, on the outskirts of Christchurch.
My favourite was a wonderfully balanced, ethereal piece featuring a woman with flowing rock hair. Sadly, there was no indication of the sculptor's name.
Pure White in Grey
Grey and White Tresses
A youthful lady stands in the grass.
She catches your eye as you wander past.
Her hair flows down and around to the ground,
in limey white outline, flecked grey.
Charcoal in parts, the tresses dance round
her body, and green peeps through background.
Blue sky echoing the long white cloud*
makes her a shadow to ponder.
Her uplifted face begs the sun to warm
her hair, to awaken it, shake its form,
but the grey remains fixed as it turns,
snowy white skin never tanned.
Beauty exquisite, she will always remain
fixed to this spot, fetters strained,
seeming to see in the distant clouds
a future for which she yearns.
* The Māori name for New Zealand, Aotearoa, translates generally as ‘Land of the Long White Cloud’ - a sight often seen over the horizon.
Brisbane's Elephant and Rat
Near the modern pedestrian bridge across Brisbane River is The Gallery of Modern Art. Between the gallery and the river is a small park, in which rises a bronze sculpture called ‘The World Turns’ (20011-12) by Michael Parekowhai. It was commissioned to mark the fifth anniversary of the opening of The Gallery Of Modern Art in 2006 and 20 years of the Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art.
The information accompanying this sculpture says:
‘Michael Parekowhai is known for the use of wry humour and his deft combination of popular culture, art, literature and history.
In ‘The World Turns’, Parekowhai casts a small native water rat, the kuril, in the rôle of hero. Along with the traditional Aboriginal custodians, the kuril is one of the caretakers of the land upon which the Gallery and this sculpture stand. Traditional Elder Uncle Des Sandy tells how the the kuril is intrinsically linked to the mangroves that weave around the Kurilpa Point shoreline, which feed it and provide it with shelter, and that these trees, with their strong tentacle-like roots, are the source of nourishment for a diverse ecology. Here, the kuril is planted firmly on the ground, going about its business, even though it has shifted the world - represented by a large, upturned elephant - from its axis. The chair is an invitation to sit and contemplate this remarkable feat.
‘The World Turns’ reminds us that history is often recorded to highlight specific moments, but, as the world turns, there are many other stories - and these are central to our understanding of history.’
'The World Turns'
Why is this elephant upside down?
Does it not give him a headache?
Is it the world that is turning around
or the water rat, firm in its wake?
Elephant’s feet are still on the ground,
so is the rock turning as well?
How is it that the world turns round
but rat’s not bothered? Can he tell?
Two stories unfolding side by side,
which cause us to question our eyes,
but think how it is when history unfolds,
which story is true or who lies?
A rat called the Kuril is caretaker
of this Art Gallery and its surrounds.
He’s firmly connected to mangrove roots
and, single-handed, has shifted the world.
He hardly realises, does not turn a hair
as the world shifts about him, awry;
he has not a care, his daily routine’s
not disturbed, doesn’t notice close by
a massive elephant, shifting through space,
a side-story and pattern, a face
of some other existence, no longer connected,
important, though, in its own place.
Adelaide's Pigs and Sculptures in the Park
There are bronze sculptures of four pigs in the Rundle Shopping Mall, central Adelaide. They are known as The Rundle Mall Pigs and are by sculptor Marguerite Derricourt. Some say they are supposed to represent shoppers sniffing out bargains. Their names are:
Oliver (standing at the bin), Horatio (sitting), Truffles (sniffing the ground) and Augusta.
In Adelaide’s south-west parklands, near to the railway station of the Indian Pacific train, is Wirrarninthi Park, a reserve and a nature/sculpture trail. It is designed to be educational, an essential part of it being the re-planting of trees.
Wirrarninthi/Park 23’s traditional owner is the Kaurna people of the Adelaide Plains. adelaidecityexplorer.com.au describes it as follows:
‘In 1997 the Adelaide City Council signed a reconciliation statement that recognised prior occupation of the city site by the Kaurna and committed the council to recognising their heritage. The council resolved to give its parklands and squares Kaurna names in consultation with appropriate authorities and community organisations.
In 2013 Park 23’s name of Wirranendi was renamed Wirrarninthi, (‘to become wirra’) which means to ‘become transformed into a green, forested area’. The name describes the process of ‘reclamation’ of the park being undertaken by the council. Activities include the construction of a Kaurna food and medicine trail and revegetation with native plants and protected indigenous flora.’
Rundle Mall Pigs
Pigs in Clover
Oliver stands atop the bin
rifling through the goodies therein.
Horatio sits in thoughtful pose
wondering where each shopper goes.
Truffles sniffs the ground, to eat?
Does he think he’ll find such treats?
Augusta, though, just stands and stares;
‘Why do people shop? Who cares?’
You can’t fail to give them a glance,
photograph them, watch them dance.
Do they think we’re mad for shopping?
I think they like it here - they’re stopping.
Cat and Possum in the Park
You wander through this peaceful glade,
on the edge of the city it was made
to reconcile two different peoples
who vied for Adelaide.
They aimed to reinstate the trees
established once down many years,
to grow the native plants, protect fauna,
to teach us to respect.
We find the cat, hunting, still feral,
lizard in one paw, bird a mouthful.
The possum makes himself at home,
he lives in people’s lofts.
The peace and beauty all around
is there to tell us, to remind
all who enjoy it that it’s precious,
as is the whole wide world.
Poem about the Wirranendi Trail by Kimberley Mann
Walk the Wirranendi Trail
look up into silhouettes of branches
where magpies sing tidings
cross the dray plain
Travel between rocks
witness the abyss
follow your self in
close your eyes
still your mind for a while
moon floats high in a white sky
swallow memory and learn
The wind chases spirits through here
Note: this poem has a sculptured form which you can see at
Questions & Answers
© 2018 Ann Carr