While I have been away from this blog I have been painting and creating other projects. I am sharing these short post and images especially for my blogger friends and followers. Thank you for your continued support. It is good to see some of you here already.
One of the the themes that has become part of my contemporary painting style and signature are the tribal Papua New Guinea (PNG) portraits. While these artwork take me a long time to paint and require research and specific layering to stay true to the authentic ‘bilas’ (traditional decoration and representation of the tribes), I really enjoy the process of painting these.
I have been through the cultural process myself while growing up in Wagang Village, Lae, Morobe Province. I grew up with feathers, magic leaves, bones, shells and all the beautiful natural materials you use to create special costumes. I made my own bilas and danced with my people for many years prior to moving to university to study away from home.
My love for intangible and tangible cultures of my people and the aesthetic beauty for each area in province in PNG continues through these contemporary creative exercises. I hope you like these and please share them if you want to. If you want such portrait done, comment here or email me on email@example.com for sizes and prices. All work posted here are copyrighted.
“Simbu Princess” Cleo Kambolz – J.K. Leahy©
Where love once lived
wounds grow sturdy trunks
Roots go deep, flowers soar to the sun
Here, sweet fruit once dropped. Now there’s rot
Clusters the pests and diseases to feast
From the dark, where they are lost,
tales come from a child’s storybook.
The fantasy lands past and present
collide in a new hope of peace
and a place of bliss.
I have launched my art website: http://www.joycelinleahy.com
We all have passion and dreams, and I’m so proud to be able to share one of mine with you – through my art. Thank you for being part of my network in this beautiful world. My current batch of work is concentrated in Papua New Guinea, where I’m from. I can produce work on any subjects. The website is also a sample of websites my team can build and this service is available.
To be an e-commerce website was not smooth sailing as I had initially thought. Life as an artist itself is not easy, just like our lives as writers, and doing something you love doesn’t often put your meals on your table nor pay your mortgage. But we cannot give in, as creators, it is important to live our purpose and share what we are gifted with and enjoy through sharing the joy it brings to others.
There is one person this site would not have been possible without his help, and that person is Fateh Singh from Mind Tech Solutions. Thank you for your constant patience with a very fiery passionate and often impatient artist.
Please visit http://www.joycelinleahy.com and if you have any feedback – let me know on, firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also comment right here on this blog post.
If you can, I’d appreciate all my blog followers, contacts, friends and family members sharing this link http://www.joycelinleahy.com with your own network so I can get my art across the world.
You will find mostly limited edition prints and my fashion collection on the website. Original paintings and commission work including portraits are available, please contact me for prices.
New watercolour artwork above – “Muruk” a large cassowary (ground bird) and below two framed watercolour originals from my Solo Art Exhibition at the Royal Papua Yacht Club, Port Moresby, in November 2017, Papua New Guinea.
Knowing what is not there,
is through the window’s stare
In one pause
Bird play – water soothes
Presence is being
Stamped: “Authentic – one pure joy”
Every drop enjoyed,
but silence yells louder
Shadow talk lurks and
slides in the next scene
Mr Fear and Company
A voice: “Let’s head into the desert alone”.
*A heart felt gratitude for those kind words from those of you (my readers) that enquired about my health. I am on the mend. I have been going under some major changes personally, spiritually and health-wise. I was surprised by my doctor asking me if I was hearing voices. I walked away a few days ago wondering, what if I said “yes – all my life”. In my culture, you need those “voices” to guide you – it’s your intuition but we see them also as our ancestors and guides. But there are those “voices” that we need to be aware of as well. Such an interesting topic to discuss further at some stage. I would be grateful to hear your thoughts on the matter.
Beauty Within PNG Art Exhibition
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).
Media coverage so far:
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.
A self-taught artist, this man showed artistic skills as a child by simply drawing fishermen on the sandy beaches in his remote Papua New Guinea village. Years later, he ventured into higher education and became a medical doctor, yet never leaving behind his love of drawing.
Born in 1957 in Loniu Village, on Los Negros Island, in Manus Province, Powesiu Lawes’ art began as drawings in the sand. He recalls that he always enjoyed capturing images of fishermen catching fish on the reef at dawn and later at dusk.
A gifted school student, he quickly accelerated from Primary to Secondary School in Manus Province, during the Australian colonial administration. From his home province, Manus, he was selected into the elite Sogeri Senior High School outside Port Moresby (now PNG Capital) in the early 1970s. He was recognised at each school he attended as a talented artist, actor, sportsman and gifted student whose abilities would enable him to do anything he wanted in the soon-to-be newly independent Papua New Guinea. PNG gained its Independence in September 16, 1975.
At that time, Powesiu was expected to train to become one of PNG’s first airline pilots, but he rejected this path and began medical school. While studying medicine, he produced a collection of work published in his first book of art – Wati Kui: “I always wanted to help people, so medical school was a natural choice and my art and the first book – Wati Kui – was one way to pay my way through my medical training”.
After graduating from medical school, Powesiu Lawes spent some years as the senior medical officer in the PNG Navy. Then he began his private medical practice in Port Moresby. He maintained his art rugby union coaching and stayed closely connected to his beloved Loniu Village, by regularly trips home.
In 2009, he retired from medical practice and returned to Loniu Village where he was elected the Councillor of Loniu, Los Negros’ largest village. The village has its own distinct language and cultural practices and is also known for producing PNG’s educated elite such as PNG’s Supreme Court judges, academics, diplomats, doctors, scientists and lawyers. Powesiu Lawes’ art is one central strategy in keeping Loniu’s cultural practices alive, along with his aim of establishing a Loniu Culture House in the village to teach Loniu’s youth their unique practices.
“Without a good grounding in the tradition of their birth” he said, “many of them will lose their way once they leave the village for the bright lights and temptations of Lae, Port Moresby and beyond. I never did, because of the very grounding I had”.
About art, he said he has tried many different mediums – using brushes, spray painting for murals, and coloured inks; but the result that black ink on white paper gives, is the medium that gives him the greatest satisfaction. He has completed a second book – Wati Kui 2 – and its drawings are currently shown in Redlands Performing Art Centre in Cleveland (Brisbane, Australia). It is part of the Melanesian Wantok Showcase. Here are some of Dr Lawes’ artwork and their stories
The ‘Loniu Files’: Some customs and traditions of the Loniu people
Loniu, like many other societies, has a well-developed set of cultural practices and traits that have provided reference points for Loniu’s cultural, social and spiritual development over hundreds of years. These have contributed to refined sets of knowledge and skills that have sustained and maintained Loniu society. The Loniu Files is a set of shared and understood ideas, idiosyncrasies, beliefs, values, knowledge and language. The substance of these has stood time’s test and cannot be disproven nor proven.
Aspects of Loniu’s culture are respect (u-uie), being sorry (kolumwamwa) and having shame (pulemachi), to whom, for what, and why; clans, their names, their number and the existence and origins of sub clans, along with each clan’s and sub clans’s origin stories and particular practices (reke pwen); in the various fishing methods, by which clans they are owned them, for what fish and whether for private or public consumption; the layout and size of a clan house (haus boi); utterances made by whom, when, where and for what purpose; who can make public speeches, where he sits or stands and why; land and sea uses and how and why, in the case of land or other property, it is given away; stages of custom and traditional practice during or after a death, when a woman is ready to marry, and gets married; and in the case of two or more wives, the use and distribution of land and other property; who is considered a leader and why; who gives advice to and stays with a young girl in her first menstruation, the advice given and why; who speaks in a haus boi during a customary event, gathering or happening, and why; circumcision of young males, the curses (pen) shouted at them by patrilineal relatives (lau-a-niataman, family of father) and why.
These are but a few of Loniu’s cultural traits with many more needing documentation. Efforts are being made to document the Loniu culture and to preserve its language. It is our identity that, because of modern influences and intermarriage, has deteriorated. Because of ignorance of the power of new ideas, practices and attitudes, not recognising these causes early enough, we have failed.
Wealth is always used in very important transactions in Loniu society. Clay pots, wooden bowls, grass skirts, arm bands or waist bands, shell money, dog’s teeth and sometimes cowry shells.
They can be used to reciprocate for a large supply of food given to a husband’s people as bride price or as death payments to a deceased father’s people; again as in reciprocation for previous work done or land used and money or other customary events and obligations, such as in a circumcision ceremony.
A Songbird of Articulate Words – J.K.Leahy Story
A songbird is a bird that produces musical sounds which are like singing, according to the Webster dictionary. If that’s the case then photographer/poet Jenny Campbell is a songbird in my view.
I can confidently say this after listening to her at a lunch table last week in Brisbane, reciting one of her poems about the world we live in.
I share the love of birds with Jenny, but she takes her love for these feathered creatures to another level where she stalks them in the swamps and photographs them – then writes poetry about them. The ‘stalking’ is also called bird-watching. Jenny also writes serious poetry about life, the environment and politics.
I met Jenny a week ago in Brisbane through a dear friend Dr Susan Cochrane, an arts curator and a writer. Jenny is one of many artists participating in the Blue Mountains Garden of Earthly Delights Festival in November. In the Blue Mountains show, she will be featuring her bird photography and poetry. Dr Cochrane is the curator of the Blue Mountains Botanic Gardens show marking its 30th anniversary. Another artist participating in the botanic show, is Orly Faya.
Jenny is currently in Brisbane for the QPF2017 Australia Poetry Slam – Queensland Finals. She is one of 20 finalists. Below this story Jenny has kindly allowed me to feature one of her bird photographs and the poem she wrote for this bird – an Australian robin. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Let’s wish Jenny Campbell all the best in the poetry finals this Sunday, ( August 27th) at the Judith Wright Centre, Fortitude Valley, Brisbane.
Take us to another place
where vines entwine the heart
through the first and final art
Untwine entrenched surrender
feel the struggle to betray
the very chains that bind us
as a Robin says: “G’day.”
Eastern Yellow Robin, Australia
Macro Mantis Max – J.K.Leahy Stories
I haven’t photographed with my macro lens in a long while, but tonight I was surprised by this macro praying mantis when I tried to make myself a cup of tea. It sat there on my water jug which had not been boiled yet. A closer look; Max as we shall name him or her, is adorned like a gorgeous African queen with matching coloured skirt to her large stud earrings. This little brown insect is not more than ten centimetres long without its wings.
It was very still when I took the photos, but because a hungry gecko was nearby, I lifted it away from the jug and placed him high in the ceiling. That’s all I could do. Praying mantis were part of my early life when I spent hours in the bush and gardens with my grandma. We have a song which we sing when we see one, and it actually makes them dance. I didn’t try the song tonight or make Max dance, but I tried to save Max, knowing Max had too many predators around.
Fun Fact from National Geographic:
The praying mantis is named for its prominent front legs, which are bent and held together at an angle that suggests the position of prayer. By any name, these fascinating insects are formidable predators. They have triangular heads poised on a long “neck,” or elongated thorax.