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my corner of the sea…the thoughts behind the piece…

February 19, 2015 , , , , , , ,

IMG_9732This piece was written on a train between Munich + Milan during my travels last year and almost wrote itself! It is based around the ship on Cockatoo Island, Vernon, which was used as an industrial school for boys. While the conditions + the thinking behind the school were better than the girls’ reform school, the Biloela Reformatory School for Females, the boys attending the school were put through such intensive days of work + training that it left them little time to be themselves. The program was designed specifically to exhaust the boys, so the school leaders would receive little trouble from them when they were put to sleep at night.

I wondered how a boy, most likely between the ages of 9-15, would find time for themselves in this oppressive environment. While they were not abused + treated better than the girls, they had no time to just be….silly, playful, crazy, imaginative, raucous, quiet, still…all the things you need to be at any age to be you. I thought that if those boys could find a little moment for themselves, perhaps looking over the harbor, they might be able to hold tight to the idea of who they were and retain some sense of identity and self-worth…finding their own “corner of the sea.”

The piece has ended up with a few additional poignant and special layers…if you read the words without the story of Cockatoo Island behind it, it can be interpreted as wish to someone important to look after their mental health; finding a place where they feel “weightless” and “still in the soul”, even if they don’t know “a perfect life”, when they are in the place which makes them feel at peace, they are whole + renewed. There’s a thread of not just running through life at a crazy speed, and that each of us matter enough to take time out to be ourselves…to just be, without having to create anything or prove ourselves, that we are enough.

My favourite place in the world is the end of the jetty at Henley Square, Adelaide; this is “my” corner of the sea. It’s where I grew up + where my Dad used to take me as a kid when I was so worked up I couldn’t figure out how to de-stress myself. I still go there often when I’ve had a day where life has whumped me and I feel totally wrecked. There was a particularly funny day was I was about 14 when I walked down there to de-stress + found my Dad already there at the end of the jetty. When I reached where he was standing, he looked over and said, “What took you so long?!”

Finally, this piece was written in the week of Harley Mead’s passing. As someone who was enthusiasm + energy personified, I hope he’s at peace, knowing he has positively affected the lives of so many, and that he is standing (perfectly still, which never happens!) looking over his corner of the sea.

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