Story telling from Australia
Spiders have taken up residence in my studio, claiming every corner and colonising every crack in the windowsill. Their messy webs stretch across the dusty space, bearing numerous small insects they were probably saving for later. No doubt the spiders had assumed, quite reasonably, that all human activity had ceased.
Six weeks is a long time to be away – six glorious weeks of reconnecting with friends and family on the other side of the world. I made no notes and took no photos, freewheeling through a carefree autumn in England and relishing precious time spent with people who matter to me.
There are plenty of downsides to moving half way around the world, even when that move is voluntary, and leaving people you love has to be top of the list. The upside is that I no longer take any of those people for granted; time with them was limited so cherished all the more. I tried to live in the moment. I wrapped my arms around the people I love and I counted my blessings.
It’s a privilege to be able to move freely across the world, from one place of safety to another, when so many millions are homeless.
News of the brutal attacks in Paris greeted us on our arrival back in Sydney and my heart sank at the tragic inevitability of it all. We kill each other and we shouldn’t. Does that sound simplistic? Yes, of course it does. We teach children the difference between right and wrong and good and evil, only to have them grow up and realise that the adult world is far more complex. Killing can be condemned or justified, right or wrong, depending on whose side you’re on. By whose measure? On whose terms? Under what circumstances?
Love thy neighbour. That’s one of the hardest asks.
I was lucky enough to see Colin Davidson’s Silent Testimony during a weekend trip to Belfast, Northern Ireland. It’s a stunning exhibition of portraits of people who suffered during the Troubles.
The religion or allegiance of those who suffered terrible loss and grief is hidden – we weren’t told what ‘side’ they were on – and it was a powerful reminder that ordinary people pay a terrible price when violence takes hold.
So, with apologies to the spiders, I’m now back at work.