Void – Poem

VOID: JK.Leahy Poetry


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

Birds Frolicking: Watercolour


Painting in negative first or negative painting was a skill I accidentally discovered when I painted this watercolour. It happened during my early years of painting watercolour in 2008. This work slowly took form as I tried to figure out how to leave almost half of the paper in white to reveal the pelicans.  All I needed to do was give the birds the water and some background. YouTube makes it so easy these days. You can also learn to paint in the negative very quickly on Pinterest.

I gave this painting away as a gift to a dear friend, but it was an important work of technique discovery for me. It is also a study that I would like to paint again some day.


Creating Culture Innovation In Indigenous Knowledge

In this Ted Talk, Terri Janke weaves her own personal story in with her reasons for ethical collaborations between Indigenous communities and researchers. Indigenous people hold knowledge that can be used for improving the planet and building sustainable economic opportunities. By engaging respectfully with Indigenous people, scientists and creative collaborators can potentially eradicate Indigenous people’s poverty, which stands at 15% of the world’s population.

Terri Janke was born in Cairns and has family connections to the Torres Strait Islands (Meriam) and Cape York (Wuthathi). She was awarded NAIDOC Person of the Year 2011, the Attorney General’s Indigenous Lawyer of the Year 2012, and was a finalist in the 2015 NSW Telstra Business Women’s Awards.

A Burst of Life: Nature Photography

A Burst of Life: Nature Photography – Spiders


I shot this spider and the green bullet looking pouch (pictured below) with babies, over two days before they disappeared from my garden. That was a few days ago. It was a burst of life with small moving creatures on the dull sturdy orchid plant – a typical Queensland nature. The black ant should give you an idea of how tiny these babies were.

I’m not sure if the same spider (above) had all these babies.  I tried to Google it. They (both the large and baby spiders), were on the same orchid. I think the baby spiders were eaten by birds before I went back, on the third day. The delay in posting on this blog was because I had to try to find the name of the spider and see if these babies came from it. I was also watching the Australian Tennis Championships in between the spider investigation. I still don’t have a clue. If anyone knows, please tell me.
































Kau Kau Cuttings – Watercolour

Kaukau Cuttings. Watercolour by J.K.Leahy©

My mother and I have been planting Kaukau or sweet potato cuttings. We hope, we will soon stop buying the good kaukau at Coles for $9 per kilogramme. The cheaper – $6 per kg kaukau, is tasteless, so we took the expensive one and tried to grow it.

It was natural to have kaukau on my mind when I painted my first watercolour this year. Women is Papua New Guinea, especially in the highlands, share kaukau cuttings and this is how they transport the leaves – in bilums. Sometimes they would be given the cuttings by friends and family members. Other times they bring the cuttings from the garden home to plant near their houses.

In fact, it weren’t for my mother being in Brisbane, I wouldn’t plant kaukau because it is too much work. The soil is too dry and if rain does grow the tuber; hare, possums, rats and who knows what else, eat the leaves. Often the animals dug for the tubers as well. This time we used bamboo stakes and placed a net around the garden. My mother was determined.

I had to give in to this planting, because my mother would not give up. And now, I’m glad I went along with her. We planted two species, one was our favourite Hawaiian kaukau from Coles.  Another kaukau called wan mun (one month) was given to us by my friend Marina. That term wan mun meant literally in one month we would eat the tuber. That has not happened yet. I’m not surprised because the conditions here are tough.

We are still waiting for the one month kaukau to bear and it is now three months. The Hawaiian sweet potato is white skinned and purple inside. I chopped the tips off and grew them in a drum until the shoots were strong enough to transfer to the garden. It was a long process.

Kaukau Cuttings II. Watercolour by J.K.Leahy©

Unlike the women I had painted and their gardens, the kaukau in our garden seemed to take forever to grow. I remember growing it in the humid Lae (PNG) climate. Six months gone in Brisbane, and we now start to see the kaukau leaves spread and grow rapidly. I stuck my fingers under soil to see whether there were really any tubers – and there are. I was inspired to really bring these tubers to harvest. I will post some pictures here at harvest time. I don’t know when that is.

“We have to wait for a few more months”, my mother said. This was because, she said the hot summer and then hail storms last year killed off all the leaves and then the surviving tubers re-grew new shoots. We cut the stems and planted more. Now my son has this crazy idea we could build a larger garden to grow more. (I don’t think so...I muttered under my breath).

I hope you enjoy my watercolours and I will keep you posted on the sweet potatoes.

Women & Kaukau Cuttings II. Watercolour by J.K.Leahy©



‘Are’are Sounds: Solomon Islands – Melanesia

Some of you that are new to this blog may not know that I promote art, culture and heritage from Papua New Guinea, my country of origin and the Melanesian region.  Music plays a large role in the Melanesian content that I promote. It was one of the reasons I started this blog two years ago. It is very important for me to continue to share and persevere in promoting as a way of safeguarding some of the Melanesian cultures, and I hope that you enjoy this journey with me, not only for its purpose, but the beautiful sounds.

The spectacular playing of stamping tubes by the ‘Are’are people is one of the twenty musical genres filmed by Hugo Zemp. This YouTube preview presents six short excerpts of a 2h20 long film in which each musical genre, one more beautiful than the other, is shown in length and commented by master musician ‘Irisipau. The 2-DVD set allows discovery and appreciation of the extraordinary richness of musical invention and polyphonic splendor of only 8000 ‘Are’are people living in the Solomon Islands, South-Western Pacific.

Read more in related article





New Birth: New Year

Happy New Year to all the readers of Tribalmystic blog. It is three years today that this blog, Tribalmystic Stories was born and I want to thank you all for following, participating and reading some of the stories. I have had a nice break, and I hope you have had the same. I’m looking forward to a new and interesting year ahead of us.

I wanted to begin 2017 with a tough shot I tried to take throughout the day today. It was not easy to photograph this mother and baby spider together; one on either side of the web and with the breeze flanking their gold web like a flag. Lucky for me, they did not move away from this super location (from the back veranda to the garden) and at various times, when I tried to take a better picture, both insects could not keep still. I hope you like the pictures.







Sisyphus – The Coolest Art Project in 2016

There isn’t much to say except to watch this coffee table in order to understand why it would attract one of the highest amounts of money in the Kickstarter projects for 2016. Designer Bruce Shapiro’s table also made my list of “cool stuff” for the year.

Luke Dormehl writes, in ancient Greek mythology, the character of Sisyphus, king of Ephyra, is punished for his deceitfulness by being condemned to roll a boulder up a mountain for all eternity.
Jump forward a couple of millennia and creator Bruce Shapiro has used that story as his inspiration for one of the coolest Kickstarter projects we’ve ever seen: a table with an ever-changing automated tabletop pattern created from sand.
“Sisyphus is a kinetic sculpture in which a two-motor robot moves a magnet to pull a steel ball through a field of sand,” Shapiro told Digital Trends. “It can also be thought of as an instrument upon which paths are played. Like musical instruments, it is the combination of both the instrument and composition played upon it which produces the art.”
There are three sizes of table available, with prices starting at $795, and boasting a range of stunning wood veneer finishes. It’s created by Shapiro himself and a collective of fellow creators, called Nordeast Makers.
Read more on: Digital trends. See two other time lapse videos of the table on vimeo.
Follow us: @digitaltrends on Twitter | DigitalTrends on Facebook



Star of Christmas – Wishing You a Merry Christmas!

The Star of Christmas

Image shot this evening. JK.Leahy photo©

I started something last Christmas when I showed a star of Christmas from my garden in Bellbowrie, Queensland, and surprisingly – I discovered  yet another star recently.  Like the previous bromeliad flower, I called this bloom a “star” because of its aesthetic features and perfect arrival, just before Christmas. This pineapple species reminded me of christmas lights. And, as bromeliads often do, it sat there flowerless for years and one day,  it put out a fascinating flower.


This bromeliad has been growing for over three years, and I had no idea what its flower would look like. This star of Christmas is for you too, whether you are a Christian and celebrating this time of the year or not, it is a thank you from me to you for supporting and being part of the Tribalmystic blog family.


This Christmas is a special time for my sons and I. It is the first time since we moved to Brisbane that we enjoy the season  with my 74-year-old mother,  visiting from Papua New Guinea.  While we celebrate the meaning of Christmas as christians, it is also a time we enjoy the love we share as a family. I am grateful to have had six months with my mother after a long time of separation. My mother moved away and eventually re-married when I was about nine and I grew up with my grandmother. We spent time in between the years that have flown by, but briefly and always with other members of our family. Despite this time apart, we still do a lot of things that we can together, such as, her composing her songs and singing them to me over the phone or sending me a bag she made with new designs.


My mother and I share similar interests,  so in Bellbowrie, we have spent a lot of time in the garden planting, making art, telling stories and making music.  We talk. There have been many, many stories. Sometimes she plays her flute or we sing and other times we enjoy the birds and the plants.

With filter.

And, it is from the garden that the star of Christmas bromeliad came from. My mother has not seen bromeliads before she arrived in Brisbane so she now understands that they look like the pineapple plant and her daughter is obsessed with the plant.

Image was shot during the day two weeks ago. JK.Leahy©

I wish all my readers, friends and family members, a very Happy Christmas and best wishes for 2017. I hope that you find what you love and enjoy your life as much as you can. Life is full of surprises, sometimes not all good ones. But, the good ones are hard to forget and they are the ones to hold onto.


Personally, while it had been a tough career year for me, I have had a few wins in other parts of my life and people I have met or worked with. As a parent I was moved by the number of friends and family members that came to celebrate and gave so much for two milestones in our family – Chris’ 18th and Nathan’s 21st birthdays. Nathan moved out from home and graduated with a Science Degree, and that is a big win for me. Being a family and having love is the most important thing for me. As I often say on this blog, nothing beats love and I wish you all the same for this festive period and beyond.


Ants of all kinds particularly love this star of Christmas. JK.Leahy©


Tribalmystic is storytelling about people, places, and things that have extraordinary stories. Author: Joycelin Leahy

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