Category Archives: Life

Kalem – Warrior Woman Tribal Designs


Dear blogging family,

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.

You may remember my niece Marcelle Bucher who is our model for kale Warrior Woman.

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:  joycelinleahy@gmail.com

I can email you a catalogue.

Our website: http://www.joycelinleahy.com will be launched before December with all the art, clothing and accessories.

                

                

Void – Poem


VOID: JK.Leahy Poetry

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A rippling void is dancing across endless waters,

yet returning in the dark night to stab at the heart

The cold wind sings this blackness like its favourite song,

The waves join the wind to mock, jeer and keep rolling by

Birds call, keep strong! fight!

A yearn deeper than the flows of strong murky rivers pushes forward

Thoughts tug at the heartstrings, jarring it with questions and rationales

A child could only wait; for a father could speak at any time

Things My Mother Obsesses About – Story


Obsession JK. Leahy memoir

The kitchen in Bellbowrie house was marvelous. It’s Wednesday today, but the kitchen also looked marvelous on Tuesday and Monday.  I simply wanted to make chicken soup tonight, but I was afraid to dismantle this piece staring at me.

I looked at the stacked white cups, plates, and silver bowls that made this strange beautiful body and then the cutlery that made its arms and legs. Each item was part of another. It was a tidy dishwasher look without all the sections, except it was arranged to come together as one piece. If I had built a kitchen sculpture like that myself, it probably would have already unraveled when I got to stacking the spoons and the forks. And right now, if I tried to remove one cup or spoon to use, the rest would come crashing down like a dismantled sculpture. My son Nathan washed our dishes sometimes, but this was not his work of art – it was clearly my mother’s. My mother is obsessed about cleanliness and obviously tidiness. She has her own unique way of doing it.

Our kitchen has been so clean and different in the past six weeks since my mother has been with us in Brisbane that I’m inspired. I made a promise to myself; I could live up to this new expectation after she leaves. May be I could cut down on writing, art, a job, the garden, birds…It was not that we lived in a dirty house, but when my mother does something, especially cleaning, she takes it to a higher level, and makes you feel really good about it.

I could not have made this kitchen any cleaner in the past five years. Mother was not only obsessed with cleanliness, but getting any job done. Her gardening was the same and she began early and worked long hours. She was determined to clean the whole area and I reminded her some parts of our place was meant to be bushy for the animals. My siblings had asked me to bring our mother away from PNG to rest – but you think she would listen to me – no. She loves working hard. She attributes her strict work ethics to her parents, nursing, and her early learning from the Germans and Americans after the war.

I was grateful for her help now, but I fear when her holiday ends, this kitchen would return to the way my sons always left it; filthy with empty containers, piled up dirty dishes, peeled purple onion shells and spilled beverages. I clean it but it was never easy to maintain that pristine state for more than two days.

I took out the thigh fillets and started making chicken soup for my mother, my younger son Chris and I. Nathan had cooked his own meals for nearly a year and since he started a special fitness programme.

Across from the kitchen, my mother was folding the clean washing. Her knitting was on the dining table, colourful and laid out in neat bundles of colours. Mother folded all our clean washing like the way a machine would have done. We did sit and tell stories while we folded, but I soon gave up folding with her because she tended to unfold and re-fold the clothes I folded. And, if I told her she wasted her time because the clothes were meant to be worn again, she just giggled and said she preferred they were ‘properly folded’.

As I watched the boiling pot of chicken soup, I pictured Mother laying out all her medical tools on the shiny trays and pushing them from ward to ward on her tall shiny trolley. She is staring ahead with her white cap and apron crisply ironed and sitting in the precise position on her green uniform. She walks with her head held high and exuding a presence of authority when all around her is turmoil. I wondered if anyone had ever messed up her display of shiny metal pieces on the trays when she was a nurse. I once asked and she told me – never!

I think Mother’s cleaning and folding obsessions started from the hospitals and later, H.C. Leo a Chinese clothing manufacturer in Port Moresby hired her to fold completed garments. She was so precise with her craft that customers thought the cellophane packed and sealed shirts were done by machines.

My mother’s dedication to what she loves doing is second to none.

(To my regular readers – I wrote this draft/story yesterday, a part of a longer piece for Isabel D’ Avila Winter and our last Creative Writing Workshop group next Tuesday in Kenmore). If you expected drama while reading this – well there is, but it is in the rest of this story in the memoir – thank you for reading).

A Stunning Beauty from Papua New Guinea


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On my return home to Papua New Guinea on September 16th, it was the Independence Day. My son Chris and I were very lucky to see PNG people celebrating in their traditional costumes.

On arrival at the Jacksons International Airport, Port Moresby, our first meeting was with this stunning beauty.  I wish I had taken more, but I only had time to take four photographs of this beautiful woman and rush to domestic terminal to transit to Lae. I will get her name later, that’s how PNG networking is, but she was dressed in Simbu traditional dress. I believe she was part of the Air Niugini staff and assisted the international departure passengers.

If you have any questions about her dress, ask me, but this post is purely to show the beauty of the image. When I come across moments like this, I am very proud to be a Papua New Guinean. My reasons being, we are unique people, we love our culture and we are always proud to show it.

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Surrounding Beauty – Poem


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Crescent Moon by Charles Hite – Free Stock Photography, Public Domain

Surrounding Beauty – JK. Leahy Poem

Life is surrounding beauty

Where crescent moon casts enough light

Your footsteps drum their own music

While walking gives life to your heart

Dead leaves dance in the breeze

Snail trail glistening in light’s reflections

Shadows creating their own art

An owl hoots and swoops low; you hear

A bat screeches that night is near

Before darkness swallows and hides you

Until new day seeks and finds you

 

 

Story-telling At Its Best


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With my mother Freda on my right and my Aunt Ruth Tobias and my close friend Abuc Nagong in front. Bowali, Oct 2015.

My sons and I enjoyed our trip back to Lae, PNG – where we come from. I had not gone back to my village for seven and my sons for eight years. It was a long time. My reasons are too complicated to explain, but I could not wait any longer to return. The best part about our return was the story-telling and catching up. This was how we did it – sitting in a circle and chewing betel nut while we tell the stories. We tried to do this at least a few hours each day.

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My mother and all my aunts chewing betel nut and story-telling on our lawn.

Graveyard Bog


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JK.Leahy© picture of Wagang Village Cemetery, Lae, Papua New Guinea. Taken on 2/10/2015.

 

Graveyard Bog – A poem JK.Leahy©

The engine roared

Wipers squeezed

The rain splashed

and the tyres spun

Mud splattered

The night tensed

Beyond forest dense,

crosses stood tall,

like ladies in a ball

Peaceful they laid,

beneath the earth

As the sky opened,

the earth drank more

And as the car grunted,

the spirits flighted –

in the graveyard bog

(A true story.  My car was bogged in the cemetery a few nights ago.)