HEARTWOOD AND MANIKIN
JADE + ELDRITCH FOREST
Heartwood is a love poem for my dead husband Jimi, who saw plants as friends, and bulldozers as enemies. We journeyed here in the nineties, as a result of coin toss, and devoted ourselves to ending logging in the Otway State Forest. We slept on the ground with one eye open and our boots still on. Owls watched us. A potoroo shared our swag. We danced in destruction and made love in beauty. We got fined and beaten, we kept going. More than twenty years later, our intention is reflected in the places that are now protected in the Great Otway National Park. Giant trees and tiny ferns – unbroken and unburnt. Thriving. The songs that we sang for the trees and the animals echo in my mind as I walk in the forest. These portraits are part funeral march and part victory dance. They are love and grief. Hope and belief.
A year ago, five seasons, we arrived here to dwell. Four full seasons, I walked and painted and drew and dreamed. May came howling on the hard East wind, and it was time to get serious. So, gathered here are the first sketches of the ghosts of stories, gathered in the blithe time. The Fire Keeper draws flame from a stone; the Weaver takes flight and the Boatman speaks; there are others, arriving now that my tree is growing. I cannot hear their stories but as whispers. I piece together what I can. I carry my ancestors in my witch-sack, but there are others, old to this country; when I squat to the fire, I can hear them crackling. My tales have been learned as I tread the way, and later when I sat, I carved some semblance from those lessons.