I love this story. And it is lovely to be read to. I know many of you know “The Giving Tree”. I feel it is a nice transitional story to move from a very vigorous year into December. We are in 2017’s final month, and Christmas – when there is so much expectation to receive. Good to be back on the blog.
On November 14th, 2017, in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea (PNG), I will show 50 pieces of my watercolours, mixed media and art studies, making this show the first fine art solo exhibition for any Papua New Guinea female artist.
On this final project for the year 2017, I will live my mother, Freda Kauc’s dream. Her dream was that I become an artist full-time. She said I had worked enough (over twenty years as a volunteer) in the capacity of an arts curator for other PNG and Pacific artists. My mother also said, I had the right to practice and show my own art. She also said the general work-place environment for any work was becoming harsh and toxic and she couldn’t see me there for long. I hate to admit it, but she was right.
My mother had believed art making was my true calling and persisted for over 20 years. Art is part of my life, beginning with my early years with my mother, her extended family, and the people from Wagang Village. I had taken part in several different art practices, including, but not restricted to contemporary and cultural performance arts, music, photography, writing, installation art, crafts and now painting. It was never as a “job”, or something I could make money from. Art making for me until now was purely for joy. One cousin asked once, “why are you wasting your time (on art)?’ How could I have answered that in one sentence, so I said, “you wouldn’t understand cous.”
I remember what I wanted to be when I grew up and that was to be a dancer. I danced with my people in our cultural performances and later with other groups from PNG and into the PNG National Theatre company. But, I ended up being a journalist and then a curator. I was scheming on the edges of art making, but I continued to pencil sketch and show my mother. This annoyed her. When I was pregnant with my first son, in 1994, I needed to get out of corporate and relax so I took acrylic lessons every Saturday and really loved it, but drawing was my number one love. We moved to Australia in 2004, and my mother visited in 2006. I started a drawing class, but one student said, “you should teach” so I dropped out and took watercolour class with our community education. I showed my mother the washes. I painted a PNG portrait in watercolour my mother and I named “Agnes” because she reminded us of an Agnes. I sold this picture in an exhibition. My mother told me to make more to sell, but I wouldn’t. I was not confident.
Mama came back to Brisbane in 2008, 2010 and 2011 where she made me put some work in other exhibitions. I sold them. Once one of my work ended in an auction and I got more money for it then I thought.
“I told you so,” my mother said. I argued it wasn’t enough to pay of the mortgage.
In 2016, she came to Brisbane again for a visit and I extended her visa to 12 months. I told her I needed to finish my memoir, and she said I needed to paint. She had a good amount of time on her hands to make me make art while we told stories and i sent away job applications.
January 2017, after losing my last pathetic job in administration with an Aged Care organisation, I began my mother’s dream and my new journey with fear and hesitation. I’m still looking for work. I am unemployed and the art takes my mind away to good places. The art making also made the fear go away eventually. The unknown combined with fear of failure gnaws at me but I continue to paint. My mother sat up late into the mornings, knitting her bags while I was painting and washing studies of various subjects as we spoke about the memoir. I posted a few of those washes here, on this blog.
The longer, I could not get employment, the more my mother relished at the opportunity for me to practice my art. By February 2017, I landed an art commission work with a large business. I had donated one of my painting image to a petroleum conference and later a cousin showed the work to her bosses. When I was engaged, the client asked me to paint a watercolour four times larger than what I usually painted. And just like my mother would have said, when I told the client, “I have never made art that big”, my client replied: “Why not?”
The same client went on to say: “You were meant for this work (painting)”.
I suddenly realised, I was stopping myself; both the client and my mother were right. I had built a skill for twenty years or more, and not used it to its full potential. I believed ‘work” was in an office.
I began working out ways to paint my client’s order and even had to contact Arches in France to get watercolour paper cut large enough to paint on; regular store sizing was too small. Arches referred me to a supplier Parkers, in Sydney. And my son cut a board large enough of the paper. This didn’t fit the dining table, but I could stick it under the trees and paint during the day. It was good to paint in nature and the drying was quick between washes.
Six large paintings were done to my own disbelief and off it went to Singapore. The client loved it. From then on, I could not hear the end of my mother’s reminders, and her “I told you so’s”.
And soon after the Singapore job, I was invited to show my work at Redlands Performance Arts in the Wantok Melanesia Showcase and now the solo exhibition in PNG.
Thank you to this amazing woman, Freda Kauc for making her dream my reality. I’m loving it so much. Thank you Mama. The details of my solo exhibition is on the poster. Part of my sales will be donated to two children’s charity organisation in PNG. I will launch my limited edition art prints on a separate website in December. I would like to sincerely thank my sponsors for the First Female PNG Solo Art Exhibition: Royal Papua Yacht Club, Moore Printing, Frameshop, Whittaker, Kalem, Air Niugini, Rocky Roe Photographics, Daisy Taylor, and all friends and family members that have assisted me.
(Ps – I will be away from the blog for two weeks from next week).
The Pacific Fashion Festival was held last Saturday at Cloudland, Brisbane City and we made our debut with the Kalem – Warrior Woman clothing and accessories.
Here are some pictures I would like to share. I hope you like them. The arrangement and preparations took me nearly three years and went across a few countries with sampling, but when it all came together, the show was for 30 minutes and we were on stage for maybe 3-5 minutes. It was worth it. I was fortunate one designer could not make the show and I showed extra garments on stage.
If you are interested in our clothing and accessories range, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
I have been writing less and creating art more this year. I’d like to share with you some of my projects I have been working on, apart from my recent art exhibition at the Redland Performing Art Centre (September).
With the art I have been producing, I have launched a new fashion and accessories label called Kalem Warrior Woman. Kalem is my christian name, sometimes used as my middle name. The “warrior woman” part is another story, please read on.
Why fashion label you may ask? Well, back in PNG I had a clothing business called Kalem Kollection for over 20 years before we moved to Australia. I wanted to create something Papua New Guinean and also carry on my passion to promote and protect our cultural designs and cultural heritage. The creative turned into business and before I knew it, I was making corporate wear. When we left PNG, I was unable to pursue this work due to high costs of travel. Now we are, almost 15 years later.
My beautiful niece Marcelle Bucher has graciously modelled in this photoshoot with her aunty. I’m really grateful to her. She has made it so easy for me, and helped show Kalem very well. This is a selection of clothes and accessories that will go into the Pacific Fashion Festival tomorrow in Cloudlands, Brisbane from 1-4pm. Here is a brief history of my brand name Kalem and why our tag line is the Warrior Woman. This blurb was published by the Pacific Fashion Festival.
Pacific Fashion Festival is excited to announce the fierce label ‘Kalem – Warrior Woman’ by Joycelin Kauc Leahy from Papua New Guinea. The label has a deep sense of history and meaning that cannot be overlooked. In the early 1900’s Joycelin’s great-grandmother and her sister fought in court for their land after their father was chased out across the Huon from Salamaua during a tribal fight. In a man’s world, the daughters of their father were regarded as foreigners in their own land because their father was gone. The two sisters battled in court against local landowners, the missionary and colonial government and won! They won not only for themselves but for their people who were eventually settled on a patch called Ambesi.
Eventually, Joycelin’s mother inherited this battle by birth and had to also endure similar battles for her land rights as a woman over the land of which she overcame with victory. It was through her mothers and great grandmothers battles that Joycelin was given the opportunity of a good life, education and a loving upbringing because they were women that fostered her art and talent. She now dedicates her label to her fierce bloodline of women as “warrior women” in the literal sense. All artwork on Kalem textiles is influenced by cultural motifs from Papua New Guinea, created from what Joycelin paints and sometimes partnership work created with PNG artist and former Kalem designer, (Keia Daure). Joycelin is known for her use of watercolour and natural pigments she creates from plants. Joycelin believes in the deeper essence of preserving her culture, stories and history of her people with her art, fashion and designs.
If you wish to purchase any of our dresses, you can do so on Paypal by contacting me: email@example.com
Jim Sinclair OBE, recorder of PNG’s colonial history, dies at 89
Story by Keith Jackson
Noosa – James (Jim) Sinclair OBE, 89, the famed post-war kiap and prolific author of Papua New Guinea’s history, especially that of colonial times since World War II, died just after midnight yesterday at Sunshine Coast University Hospital in Queensland.
He had contracted a severe form of influenza which was subsequently compounded by pneumonia and other complications.
James Patrick Sinclair was born in Dubbo, NSW, on 18 April 1928. He attended Dubbo High School, Sydney Grammar School and the Australian School of Pacific Administration (ASOPA) in Sydney.
In November 1947, he joined the Department of District Services and Native Affairs in the Administration of what was then the Territory of Papua and New Guinea.
After attending an orientation course at ASOPA he travelled to PNG in August 1948 as a cadet patrol officer and served on many outposts as he progressed through the field officer ranks.
Between 1969 and 1974, he was the last Australian district commissioner presiding over what is now Eastern Highlands Province.
Sinclair conducted extensive exploratory and pacification patrols in Morobe and the Southern Highlands, opening the Koroba station in 1955, the Lake Kopiago base camp in 1956 and exploring then uncontrolled areas as far as the Strickland River.
In 1959 he married Janece (Jan) Marie McGrath and they had three children. In an important way, Sinclair owed his later career as a successful author to Jan.
Also in 1959, he was appointed as officer in charge of the Wau sub-district, later serving in similar roles in Finschhafen and Lae before moving to the Eastern Highlands in 1968 as district commissioner.
Sinclair retired in 1975 around the time Papua New Guinea’s independence and embarked on his second career as a prolific recorder of PNG history, becoming a full-time author.
His first book, ‘Behind the Ranges’¸ had been published in 1966 and told of his exploratory work in Morobe and the Southern Highlands. His publishing oeuvre ultimately came to comprise nearly 40 books (see bibliography below).
Sinclair was awarded an Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 1992, an honorary doctorate from the Australian National University in 1999 and a Companion in the Order of the Star of Melanesia in 2008.
“Jim Sinclair was our leader….” – still from the 1958 documentary film, ‘New Guinea Patrol’.
“We were so fortunate to have Jim Sinclair among us,” said Peter Salmon, publisher of the Ex Kiap website.
Fellow kiap turned author Phil Fitzpatrick said: “Jim acted as a kind of focus point for kiaps. He was a quiet, gentle man; very humble”.
“Jim was one of nature’s gentlemen,” Peter Brindley, who served under him in the Eastern Highlands in 1970, told the Ex Kiap website. “The world is a lesser place now.”
“One of the old school,” said Ross Johnson. “His passing represents the end of an era. “Rest in peace, my friend, bihain bi mi lukim yu.”
Long time PNG resident Rob Parer CMG OBE observed that “Jim was certainly PNG’s man of letters. He wrote such complete accounts of so many diverse subjects. Thousands of pages.”
And Parer disclosed how close Papua New Guinea and Australia had come to being denied Sinclair’s chronicles. “A short time after she married him, Jan said she saw him tearing up a huge pile of sheets of paper held together by long bolts,” Parer said.
“When she asked him what he was doing, Jim said ‘just some stuff I’ve written and everyone in New Guinea writes stuff.’
“Jan stopped him, and the rest is history,” Parer added.
Behind the Ranges: Patrolling in New Guinea, Melbourne University Press, 1966.
The Outside Man: Jack Hides of Papua, Lansdowne Press, Melbourne, 1969 (reprinted 1971)
Sepik Pilot: Wing Commander Bobby Gibbes DSO, DFC and Bar, Lansdowne Press, Melbourne, 1971 (reprinted 1977)
The Highlanders, Jacaranda Press, Brisbane, 1973 (reprinted 1980)
Wigmen of Papua, Jacaranda Press, Brisbane, 1973
Faces of New Guinea, Jacaranda Press, Brisbane, 1973
The Arts of Papua New Guinea, Robert Brown & Associates, Port Moresby, 1977.
Colourful Papua New Guinea, Robert Brown & Associates, Port Moresby, 1977
Wings of Gold: How the Aeroplane Developed New Guinea, Pacific Publications, Sydney, 1978 (reprinted 1983)
Up From South, by Jack O’Neill with notes and background by James Sinclair. Oxford University Press, 1979
Cape York to Coolangatta, Jacaranda Press, Brisbane, 1981
Kiap: Australia’s Patrol Officers in Papua New Guinea, Pacific Publications, Sydney, 1981 (reprinted 1983
South Pacific Brewery, Robert Brown & Associates, Bathurst, 1983
Uniting a Nation: The Telecommunication and Postal Services of Papua New Guinea, Oxford University Press, Sydney, 1984
Papua New Guinea: The First 100 Years, Robert Brown & Associates, Bathurst, 1985 (reprinted 1989)
Balus: The Aeroplane in Papua New Guinea. Vol One: The Early Years, Robert Brown & Associates, Bathurst, 1986
Balus: The Aeroplane in Papua New Guinea. Vol Two: The Rise of Talair, Robert Brown & Associates, Bathurst, 1988
Balus: The Aeroplane in Papua New Guiea. Vol Three: Wings of a Nation, Robert Brown& Associates, Bathurst, 1990
Last Frontiers: The Explorations of Ivan Champion of Papua, Pacific Press, Gold Coast, 1988
To Find a Path: The Life and Times of the Royal Pacific Islands Regiment. Vol One:
A hot day in Brisbane can be uncomfortable and irritating, but for me, it was an opportunity to see who was visiting the blue waterhole at Bellbowrie. When I got closer, two days ago, I hit a bird jackpot. Ten-twelve birds of four species had come to drink. Photos are ordinary because I had a short lens and had to go behind the tree. And when the birds had drunk and started to fly away, my feathered son caught me behind the tree so he lingered on to say hello.
My afternoon walk passes this tree and many others in Bellbowrie, Brisbane. Yesterday, I was drawn by its brush petals and the low humming of the bees so I entered the lower leaves and stood undercover. The tree is called cadaga or cadaghi gum which the Brisbane City Council has declared a weed. The exhilarating thing about the moment was, the bees were humming all around me without attacking me and enjoying the sweet nectar. Above me the birds were enjoying the same sweetness and singing on top of their voices. I don’t know why we need to cut these trees when so much is dependant on them. These photos were taken by my iPhone, so I hope the quality is enough for you to see the bees.
Music and words from Iyeoka Okoawo, Boston-based Nigerian-American poet and performer. Daughter of Nigerian-American born parents who both hold Doctorate degrees from Boston University, Iyeoka was a practicing pharmacist before launching her career as a poet, singer, activist and educator. Read more
Jenny Campbell my poet friend recently visited me and took pictures of the birds that live on our property. These were the birds present. We have others including Kookaburra, Pheasant Coucal, crows, wild ducks, pigeons, butcher birds, and other parrots. Jenny referred to the birds as “Joyce’s birds”, so I’m agreeing with her and calling them mine.
Some of you know Kaz the lorikeet who is pictured here with his partner and Zack the magpie who grew up with us is also in the photos. Amongst the birds are two silky roosters (black one pictured above and the white below) and our beloved hen “Meri Buka”, who has survived many challenges, and is still well and healthy and laying daily.
Some of you may know that I have spent quite a lot of time on art this year. It doesn’t men I have left storytelling for good. I’ll be back soon. One of the reasons is that I have been looking at and working on business options for my art and I am proud to launch my new collection of clothing and accessories, produced with my art and designs I created. Let me know if you like it.
More on this story as soon as I get all the photos done.