I think the title of this blog post really sums up what Frog Ponds Rock is all about, a title that says, “And then there was an elephant” could lead into so many avenues of conversation. So many elephants, in so many rooms.
Today I am going to a funeral, my friend is burying her son and I do not want to go. I know I will cry and in the emotional aftermath, I will be edgy and unfocused for the rest of the day and the need for my mother will be fierce. I will force the what-ifs to go away by driving aimlessly around the city as the automatic responses needed to drive the car are soothing. When the anger at Mum’s brother bubbles up to the surface, I will silently chant, “let it go Kimmy, let it go”, because really, what is the point? You can’t argue with a megalomaniac who believes he has direct line to his God.
And my anger changes nothing.
Yesterday I used the word disabled in conjunction with my daughter for the very first time ever.
I wrote on my facebook wall, My daughter, my disabled daughter is writing about disability and fertility over at Ramp Up today.
The comments are a window into humanities collective soul.
I don’t think about my children as being disabled, I don’t think about it in the same way I did not think about Veronica falling, when she insisted on climbing giant trees as a child.
All the trees, so much height, so much fear.
In order to save my own sanity, I taught Veronica to climb safely and then I simply did not watch her climb. I would reluctantly turn and look suitably impressed, in response to her calls of “Look at me Mummy” as she was waving at me from the top of a giant pine tree. I would choke down my automatic response of, “both hands, hold on with BOTH hands” and I would give her a bright smile and a thumbs up, whilst inside I would be terrified for her.
Children, so much joy, so much fear.
My job as a parent was to teach my children to fly, to encourage them to believe that the world is theirs for the taking, to allow them to develop the courage to leap off the precipice and fly.
I think I did my job well.
My children survived my parenting, relatively unscathed, though Veronica does hoard linen, teaspoons and socks. Items that were in short supply when she was a child and we were living miles below the poverty line.
I was talking to a woman at the local school the other day, I had been into the school, teaching ceramics as part of an options program. At the end of the conversation the woman remarked, “We never knew you had this hidden talent.” Referring back of course, to the fact that she knew us when my children were small and here I was being an artist in a public place. It is much harder to vilify an artist who has a skill the school needs than it is to ostracize a family of dole bludgers. Another elephant. Another closed room.
I was much snarkier to the local doyen of small town society, a year or so ago when she commented, Oh we saw those lovely shells at that exhibition in town and I thought to myself, “those COULDN’T have been made by OUR Kim Foale!” Real words internet, these were real words, spoken to me in a full waiting room of upstanding country folk. So many elephants. Such small rooms. So many Toyota Hiluxes in the car park.
But this is the Elephant that matters. This is the elephant that the title references. Isn’t this elephant just fabulous?
Thank you for staying with me as my words have meandered over past and present hurts, let’s skip away from all of that, and take the time to properly admire this little elephant.
I take my ceramic work very seriously, I deal with serious issues through the medium of my art, I talk about sexism and misogyny. I deal with local environmental issues and the catastrophic affects that plastic pollution is having on the ocean. I think big thoughts and I pour my soul and my heartache into my work.
This elephant of mine is pure fun.
I have been teaching a class of seven and eight year olds on Sundays at the Tasmanian Ceramics Studio in Glenorchy and the two hour class is so much fun. One little girl, Alice, told her mother that my class was the best thing she had ever done in her whole life. And so you see internet I am working under a great load of expectation here.
At the end of each class I ask the girls what they would like to make the following week and young Kate solemnly told me that she would like to make a desert full of jungle animals.
Enter the elephant.
I thought that I had best try and make some jungle animals as examples for the children to follow. There was no great weight of social commentary hanging on these animals, they were purely made as teaching devices. What does an elephant need? A trunk and big floppy ears, a horse needs a mane, a giraffe a long neck and so on.
What I didn’t expect to discover was how much I enjoyed making the elephant. How the freedom of working without any expectations was a gift that my class of children had given to me.
I am now going to make a Noah’s Ark for my grand children for Christmas but with THREE of everything because I have three grand children. My poor husband is going to have to make me an Ark, though he doesn’t know it yet. Surely it cant be that hard to make a flat bottomed boat that a heap of clay animals can live inside?
Maybe a large shoebox is in order. We shall have to see.
I shared this image on twitter with the caption “Giant Kitty Wreaks Havoc in Local Village.”
Now I am off to prepare for a sad day full of sad thoughts. Thank you for reading my words and helping me to feel less sad about life, the universe and everything.