Sunday 28 October 2012

Creative Artistic Design – A Family Tradition

Have I told my children are creatively brilliant? Completely biased imperfect mum of course ;-) Last weekend the high school (Cairns State High) our children attend held the annual C.A.D. (Creative Artistic Design) night. At the beginning of each school year the four categories for that particular years C.A.D. are announced and any student in the school may enter one or more categories.  It is a fantastic ‘art as fashion’ performance night and students typically spend months and months developing their concepts and developing them into wearable pieces. It has become somewhat of a tradition in our house to be involved in C.A.D. each year. They present their concept designs to me and I help them to work out how the hell we are going to make what they've designed. The living areas of the house become over-run with drawings, costumes, material, paper etc for veritable months as the sewing machine goes into overdrive and the hot glue gun burns out. Typically R  gets fed up with the whole process at about the time when he can't find a spare spot to sit down for dinner or in fact do anything else.
Category 'Venus' the goddesses: , Proserpina, Ceres, Hera,Venus & Diana flanked by their two light-bearing hand-maidens (Savannah d'Scarlett left, Khaila-maree La Spina right)
 First daughter, Venus, and second daughter, India, started it in 2009 and fortuitously the categories that year all started with the letter V and included the category ‘Venus’ so that choice was a bit of a no-brainer for Venus. Her designs were based on the goddess Venus and her various sister goddesses and set to Carmina Burana (click link to listen)

Selena Griffiths, Sarah Hansen, Venus d'Scarlett, Hannah Trout and India d'Scarlett

Hannah Trout (front) & India d'Scarlett
 India chose the category Voodoo inspired by and set to the theme music from ‘Pans Labyrinth’a most brilliant Spanish movie you simply must watch if you haven't already seen it - your life simply isn't complete without it in my opinion for what it's worth ;-) - listen to the music below:

 Young son Torsten was one of the models wearing a helmet painted with a brain on it and both he and another model, Jess Lazarus, wore ‘skin suits’ covered with veins and arteries.
Young son Torsten modelling in the brain helmet

Jess Lazarus models the eyes from 'Pan's Labyrinth'

Ashley Piggot as the Voodoo doll
 The following year in 2010 India entered ‘Fairytale’ with her rendition on rogue fairytale heroines.
Megan Cottier as Goldilocks

Isabella Horler as Rapunzel

Savannah d'Scarlett as the Little Mermaid

Hayley Bull as the Snow Queen
 In 2011 India entered two categories. The first was History and India created four outfits in folded paper from maps and plain paper.
Jess Lazarus giving birth to the world

Imogen Bell exploring the world in her map dress as one of the first ship explorers
Rachel Chhina as freedom and liberty in the new world

Madeleine Arnott early bi-plane explorer
The second category India entered was Hybrid, using the metamorphosis scene from the art house movie 'Mahler' to launch the catwalk costumes, a hybrid mix of roses on skeletal dresses. Each dress had a vertebral column attached to its back and one also had ribs on one side of the front. The gauze skirts and tops were covered in hundreds of handmade and dyed paper roses. The catwalk was staged to the music of Coco Rosies 'Werewolf' -(click on the link below to hear the exquisite music)
Metamorphosis scene from the 'Mahler' movie

Savannah d'Scarlett modelling blue roses

Chloe Brown modelling orange roses
Bella Cole modelling red roses

Maryanne Duncan modelling the pink rose and  rib dress

Vertebrae down the back of all the costumes

India d'Scarlett (red skirt, middle) receiving the Category award for Hybrid
This year was third daughter Savannah's turn to carry on the family tradition, entering two categories, ‘Oceanic’ and ‘Déjà vu’ and received the Art Teachers Encouragement Award and a gorgeous watch from a local jeweller.

Savannah d'Scarlett
For Oceanic she created four outfits – an octopus dress, a jellyfish dress with blue lights around the edge of it, a sea anemone dress and a coral on a rock dress. This was set to the music of The Foals 'Big,big love' (click on link below to listen to this)

Savannah in coral on rock dress

Zoe McKinley in jellyfish dress
Poppy Thallon in sea anemone dress (120 tentacles hand sewn on!)
Khaila-maree La Spina in octopus dress

Sensational minimalism!

Maryanne modelling the Déjà vu costume
For Déjà vu she created four identical costumes based on an ephemeral version of the existentialist movies 
‘The Matrix’and ‘Sucker Punch’. The  green computer matrix writing on the girls legs along with the reappearance of the black cat on each costume inspires the ‘Wait, haven’t we see this costume before?’ question over and over again. The white rabbit appears in both the headpieces and as a tattoo on the left shoulder as per the film inviting the audience to follow the costume down the rabbit hole of déjà vu. This was appropriately set to the music ‘White Rabbit’ from the movie ‘Sucker Punch’(click on link below to listen to this music). The finishing touch to the costumes was created by giving the models an eerily surreal quality by using white contact lenses.

Stunning Deja Vu models - Jess Lazarus, Maryanne Duncan, Ruby Wave Johns, Chelsea Linane

Next year both Torsten and Savannah will be entering CAD so I'm looking forward to months of creative work infusing the house!

Sunday 21 October 2012

Calcutta: Working with Mother Terese

Street Barber
City of God Rickshaw Wallah
His Home
In 1990 I journeyed to Calcutta. I was going to work with Mother Teresa in Kalighat, the home for the sick and dying. I can remember driving away from the airport toward the city with a huge blood orange sun sinking into the horizon over the squatters villages. I stayed at the house of an eccentric expat British lady who greeted me with her primped and snappy chihauhaus and had her turbaned 6ft 'help' take my bags to my room. The next morning three 6ft turbaned helpers came wielding brooms and laughing after I ran screaming down the hallway wearing nothing but a towel and wet hair. A dinner-plate sized huntsman spider had interrupted my bath!
Washing in the street is all part of normal life in Calcutta

Inside Kalighat
  After dressing in my most practical clothes I wandered down through the working areas til I reached the old Kali temple building Mother Terese had reappropriated back in 1952 for a hospice for the sick, dying and destitute. I was immediately set to work cleaning bedpans, making beds and feeding patients. The stench of urine and faeces was overwhelming. An occassional agonised moan would pierce the normal noises of the ward and after a while I asked one of the other volunteers what it was. She took me over to a low stretcher that was covered by a tented black sheet. Under it lay a woman, her age impossible to tell because her body was entirely covered in pink weeping burns, her eyes sealed shut, her lips melted together, her hair burnt off. She had been there for 5 days after being forced to throw herself on her husbands funeral pyre.
Mother Teresa
At the end of each day I would drag myself back to the eccentric British lady who would refresh me 'Poor Dear!' she would invariably exclaim to me, with mint tea. After some weeks I decided I might go to Mother Terese's orphanage instead. The work wasn't as back-breaking and I soon found a group of small children who I worked with biomechanically after polio. Still - I wasn't convinced my experience as a Podiatrist was being fully exploited, if I'd had an orthotics lab maybe I could of done more, so one morning I decided I would go and seek an interview with Mother Terese herself. I went to the house where she lived with the Sisters of Mercy and rang the large brass bell outside. I explained to the sister that I wanted an interview with Mother Terese and she frowned, shaking her head, and muttering that the Mother hadn't been well and she didn't like my chances. I told I would wait all day if I had to. I think it was a kind of test they put you through to deter the gawkers - 5 hours later I was ushered up stairs to a balcony and a tiny old lady in bare feet came shuffling toward me - she was about the same height as my Omi in Germany, that is 4 ft nothing.
She took my hands in hers and asked 'What can I do for you my child?'
I explained what I'd been about what my skills were and asked if there was any way I might be of greater use to her.
'My goodness, well yes, yes, yes child!' she exclaimed 'We need you desperately at the Leprosarium! You must go there immediately, immediately - yes this is the right place for you!'
I was so overwhelmed by the whole process that I completely forgot to ask if I could take a photo with her but secretly I think she was probably quite happy not to snapped for curiosity value.
Leprosy Clinic next to the tracks

The next morning I took myself off to the Leprosarium which was a nightmare of  typical Indian direction giving (because no one wants to tell you they don't actually know the way to somewhere) that felt like a Pink Panther chase. With the correct location of the Leprosarium finally pinpointed I could see that there was indeed plenty of useful work for me to do. Leprosy patient suffer similar vascular/neural complications to diabetics so I was in my element with foot ulcers and here I actually had equipment and materials to make functional and accomodative orthosis. The main problem was that the ulcers needed dressings and the latest shipment had been detained by the authorities for an indefinite time - read: we would never see it again. I left sometime later with the promise of shipping supplies which would have a 40% of actually getting to them.
Rene & Christine Allary the French couple we became friends with and worked at Jack Preger's clinics with.
 After that I spent  a short period of time working in Dr. Max Praeggars street clinics (pictured above). Every morning we would go to where the clinic had been the day before and a runner would tell us the location of the clinic that day. We would periodically have to pack up and shift to a different street location during the day because the street clinics were being illegally run and the police were on to us.
One of Jack Pregers street clinics I worked at.

When I reflect back I realise that never once did I break down at the tragedy and cruelty of humanity. I still felt deeply on an emotional level but intellectually I was able to objectivise. I just got on with what needed doing. I saw many volunteers leave shortly after starting and never return but really what is the point of indulging in self-pity? Apart from attracting attention to oneself it doesn't help anyone else and humanity needs what it takes to get the job done.

Sunday 14 October 2012

Funny Things Kids Say

One of the benefits of having children is that they can keep you endlessly amused by the way they perceive and reason the world functions both actively and through language ambiguation. When first daughter Venus was five she went on a weekend trip to the country town of Pemberton with her best friend Liam. They stayed at a cottage resort amongst tall Karri forest in the south-west of Western Australia. One night they were dining in the restaurant overlooking the Karri forest which was lit up with strong spotlights when the power went out. The lights soon came back on in the restaurant but not in the Karri forest. Looking quite concerned Venus very seriously said:
'Well, I hope the foxes have their torches!'
Her grandparents took her on a train ride one day at the same age and as the train passed the Karrakatta Cemetery Granny pointed it out and explained what a cemetery was for. Venus digested this and then seeing a group of people walking through the main gates she thoughtfully enquired:
'Are  those people going there to die?'
One day she spotted a bald man walking walking his dog:
'Look' she said, ' There's a puppy!'
'Where?' I asked.
'There,' she said, pointing across the road, 'See the man with the boiled head?'
On one occasion R was telling Venus and India that mummy and daddy were going to a concert.
'What concert?' India asked.
'You know,' Venus said 'Daddys favourite, Masala!' (Mahler)
Venus has always been very self-possessed and calm. One of her Montessori teachers once remarked how the she was the stabilising influence in the classroom. Other children were attracted to her because her mood was always constant and calm. On the phone to R one day, age 8, the other children were being very noisy. In a very posh voice she said to R:
'Could you please excuse me for a moment?'
Then he heard her on the other of the line yelling at the other children to be quiet like a fish wife, then in a posh voice again spoke to him and said:
'I'm soooo sorry about that!'
Being Montessori trained from the age of 2 Venus learnt how to cook at an early age and at 4 was able to bring us breakfast in bed on a tray complete with a little vase of flowers to decorate it. One day when Venus was 8, I went to have had a little cat nap (my life as a cat) and she decided she would bake macaroons. Venus came and woke me up, asking me to turn on the oven. I had a glance over the recipe to check the temperature and noticed it called for separating the egg whites. I asked Venus how she'd gotten on with that and  she said:
'It took me a while to work out how to do it, but I finally managed to peel all the shells and get the white off.'
What? I looked in the bowl and there were the yolks and whites (clear when not cooked) together and in another bowl was the thin white skin that lines the inside of the shell . Kids are very logical, like the time I was looking at some watches in a jewellers window and commented how fantastic it was that one particular watch had a red face, to which second daughter India who was 4 at the time asked:
'Where are its eyes?'
One day Miss India asked me if her Uncle Brad was having a Roosters night.
'A what?' I asked.
'Well Auntie Jennie's having a Hens night so is Uncle Brad having a Roosters night?' - of course, why would it be called a bucks night?
She also once asked me when we were having the bumble-bee - what? Oh, she meant the busy bee. That was about the same time she asked for a Sunday school ice cream  in the drive thru at McD's (yes we used to frequent there -we were but mere mortals).
Out with Gran and Grandad one afternoon they finally returned home and grandad asked;
'Would you like a cup of tea darling?' To which India informed him;
'Oh no, darlings don't drink tea!'
Writing up a science project when she was 12 on stars, she described the death of small stars then went on to state: 'Giant stars die in a similar way to small stars only quite differently' - like it's exactly the same only completely the opposite.
If Lady Justice was a mortal her name would be India. She was appropriately named because I'm sure Ghandi was a soul mate. India was always concerned with social justice and from an early age could out-manoeuvre me in an argument - it was like, who's the parent here? I'm not sure - the lines have always been a bit obscure, fluctuating at any given moment. If one defines parenting as the one having the better reasoning, the more persuasive argument, the last word and the final decision -hmm, I would think it's been more sort of a democratic society rather than a dictatorship. Anyways India grew into her humour and is now the family wit, spouting quotes from the Grinch complete with waggling finger in her Grinch gloves as she peers closely at you and says 'Wrongo!'
As a miss of 4 she was in the car with Granny, stopped at an intersection waiting for the car in front to move.
'Come on you silly old snail, get a move along' Granny said.
After they finally got moving India asked;
'Gran did you run over that snail yet?'
Of course you have to wonder at their competitive logic:- R was swinging Venus upside down by her ankles for some minor offence she'd committed. Seeing this India 4 asked if she could have a turn too, to which R explained to her that it was only because Venus had been "naughty". India took herself off and returned a minute later to inform R:-
'I put my hands around Savannah's neck - now can I hang upside down?'!!!
Savannah, third daughter and twin to Torsten is universally acknowledged to be the most stubborn, contrary and single-minded child and was full of hilarious quips. At primary school in the mountain village of Montville in Queensland, Torsten had been 'bugging' Savannah and her friend. He told the teacher he was very sorry and would never do it again. 'Fabulous!' Teacher said and gave him a sticker. Savannah turned to me and said;
'Torsten got a sticker for being naughty!'
Well she could hardly talk - she was scolded once for being naughty at the age of 2 for tearing the front cover off a story book. She immediately started skipping around singing 'I've been naughty, I've been bad. I've been naughty, I've been bad.'!!!
When she was 6 R (jokingly) told Savannah that if she didn't do as she was told he would smack,her bum so hard she wouldn't sit down for a week, to which she replied;
'I don't care, I don't want to sit down anyway!'
This parallels only her contrariness. In bed one night I was asking Savannah if she could pronounce certain rather long and difficult words. Then i asked her;
'Savannah are you a Miss Contrary?' To which she replied ;
'Im not a Miss Contrary!'
Then mulling this over she then asked;
'Mummy, whats a Miss Contrary?'
Late that night when she woke next to me, I said;
'Oh you poor little banana!' ( a nickname given her by her godmother Maddalena) to which she replied rather grumpily;
'Im not a banana, I'm a grape!'
Savannah has always had a sharp mind, ready to make connections and one day R had just been out spending up big - new shoes, a buffet, entertainment centre, etc. Finally we sat down at the dinner table and miss 3 turns to R and starts singing 'Hey Big Spender!'
Another occasion in the car and Torsten aged 4 was talking about a new word he'd learnt- 'foreskin'. Savannah piped up that he had a foreskin because he was four. Asked what he would have when he was 5 she quickly replied;
'A five-skin of course!'
Later on she also seemed to suffer from the dreaded word ambiguation. At 9 in a spelling test Savannah had written 'glue coast'. R and I both wondered what this was when later we saw the proof sheet. It read glucose. A few years later and an avid baker she was reading a recipe when she asked;
'Mum, do we have deceased coconut?'
What? It took me a moment to work out she meant desiccated coconut. At another recipe occasion she asked;
'Do we have the ingredients for these marooned coconuts?'
What? Oh, she meant coconut macaroons!
Driving along in the car, the older girls were asking if dad had ever operated on dead people.
'Of course', I said, 'I did too, its called dissecting a cadaver'.
Savannah horrified, asked;
'Is a cadaver a dead person?' Yuk, that's horrible. How come we eat those cadaver chocolates?'
'What cadaver chocolates?' I asked.
'You know, those special ones you brought back from New York, Lady Cadaver'.
Ah, she meant Lady Godiver.
Savannah's twin Torsten has been equally blessed with amusing ambiguation when he was younger. He would regularly confuse words like the time we first started taking them to daycare at Uni  where his carer was called Amanda. As we picked them up one day Savannah said;
'Goodbye Amanda,' and little Torsten 3 said;
'I-I-I'd like a mandarin.'
One day he was all dressed up in his 'armies' complete with army headband when I told him he looked like Rambo. He frowned.
'I'm not a rainbow!' he protested.
On a family holiday with friends Jules & Loren we were coming in to land over the ocean on our approach in to Bali. Torsten  3 asked R if we were going to land in the water and R informed him we would land on the runway. Looking puzzled he asked R quite earnestly;
'Why are we going the wrong way?'
One night we went to bed quite late and I told Torsten we might have trouble getting up in the morning.
'Why will I be in trouble in the morning?' he asked.
At four he translated links directly. R  took the four children into town one day to meet me for lunch in Central Park. Torsten looked up and said;
'There's the airport!'
R said, ''No it's the park" - and then he noticed the Qantas logo - hmmm!
At the aquarium on a visit I had explained how this fish was called a disc fish because it was round like a disc, and that fish was called a lion fish because it had a 'mane' like a lion. Later in the aquarium shop Torsten showed me a stuffed fish, asking me to feel it.
'It feels like a towel', I said ( it was made from toweling).
'Yeah,' said Torsten, 'it's a Towel fish.' :-p
In what's become a family classic, the children were all sleeping over at Granny's house and the following morning were getting dressed when Granny asked Torsten if his new blue boots were comfortable as she wasn't sure if they were on the right feet.
'They're new!' he replied, so Granny asked him again, to which she received the same reply.
She then got Venus to ask him;
'How do they feel Torsten?'
To which Torsten replied, lifting one boot towards her;
'Feel them!'
However, he was still capable of mistaking words through their phonetic synonyms. Venus 12 was running family home evening one night (we were still active in the church of Latter-Day-Saints then) and she had formulated a quizz. One of the questions was 'which book do we have apart from the bible?' To which Torsten 8 replied "The Book of Moomin" (For those of you who don't know, Moomin is a Finnish story character, a troll, and throughout the book it asks the question repeatedly, 'And what do you think happened then?'  I guess its the modern questioning alternative to 'And it came to pass' ;-p
At 8 Torsten was an avid reader of history. He had read Homers Odyssey and devoured any book on war history he could find. One day he came home from school to tell me that;
'Drue and I were looking at all these pictures in the library today, mum, of world war eleven!'
Say what?! Oh, World War II! Well what can I say, children are priceless.

Sunday 7 October 2012

The Art of My Mother

My mother Lise with 'Rio' her pet iguana

 My mother Lise comes to live with us for 3 months of the year. She isn't your typical mother or grandmother (the kids are forbidden from calling her 'grandmother' and have always called her Lise (you pronounce the e). She is a true eccentric - you would never catch her reading anything as mundane as a 'Womans Day' or watching soaps like other mere mortals- more likely it would be listening to the radio for the daily science quiz or checking the Internet for updates on tectonic plate movements. She would never eat anything as boring as a sandwich if something more interesting like skewered BBQ ed goat lungs were on offer. The other 9 months of the year she spends travelling, usually up in Asia, painting and exhibiting. She is part of a group of international women artists that exhibit in a different country every two years. Her artist name is Nurlisa. Watching my mothers paintings evolve over the years has been an interesting process. She painted ever since was given an artists box of colours and palette as a young teenager in Copenhagen by her parents. After finishing school she went to work for the Royal Copenhagen porcelain factory hand painting their fine china collection.
When we moved to Melbourne my mum would occassionally produce an oil painting in a naive style. Her painting started to shift into high gear once she moved up to Bali to live in 1992. She found a group of local artists to hang out with who lived up in the art community of Ubud, taking Baderose as her lover.
Simple Fisherman in pen & acrylic
Artists in Ubud, Baderose behind right, 1992.

  After living in Bali she moved to Lake Toba in central Sumatra where she lived in a Batak house on the edge of the lake, making trips over to Penang every 3 months to renew her visa. She painted what she saw around her and started to take a particular interest in the run down heritage buildings of Penang almost two decades before Penang was World Heritage listed for its buildings.
Old Penang heritage building.
Stilt houses on the river in Sumatra

Luckily the director of the Penang Conservatory of Fine Arts Yuen Chee Ling saw the eccentric worth of my mother and her works and gave her a solo exhibition where she showcased one hundred of her paintings.
The opening of her first exhibition in Penang 2002
She managed to collect an eccentric group of friends over in Penang including Ibrahim the snake man who kept hundreds of pet snakes at his home, a squatter house along the river. My mother took me there once for tea. Ibrahim brought out his favourite python and let it sit around my shoulders for the stay. He lived in poverty with his wife, the loveliest couple, an un cherished treasure of Penang. My mother has had a few strange pets of her own over the years including Rio the iguana pictured above that she used to carry around in her handbag, a rather large one, and take in taxis with her, and this owl. She tried to keep a bat once but it died so she made bat stew and ate it.
Ibrahim the famous 'snake man' of Penang

My mother with a pet owl

 My mother moved after five years in Lake Toba to Aceh where she built a house backing into the jungle and overlooking the ocean. The front balcony was to become her painting studio.

The Aceh house
Nurlisas studio on the balcony
Water buffaloes seen from her balcony
Painting on her balcony in Aceh

She exhibited the Grandmother Buffalo painting in Melbourne in 2004. This is the painting of the old grandmother who every day walks the buffaloes along the beach to the fresh water stream and home again in the evening.
Grandmother Buffalo
'Where I live in war torn Aceh, in the north of Sumatra, amidst all the soldiers, machine guns and tanks rolling my house there comes every day and old woman to tend buffaloes. They bath freely in stream that flows from a mountain waterfall out into the ocean. This daily ritual remains constant despite the sounds of war nearby. I have tried to capture the peace and tranquillity of the bond the old woman shares with her buffaloes'

The fresh water stream that flows out to the ocean near my mothers house
Her painting 'Satellite City' won the Technology  award at the  annual Cairns Art Society exhibition in 2004. A comment on the prolific embracing of technology by tin shanty towns in what we would consider third world.
Satellite City 2004
In Indonesia the majority of the population, even in what we would consider underprivileged areas, have a satellite antennae, and I'm not talking paid for pissy little Foxtel/Austar or equivalent antennas, the  pay through the nose for channels Big brother will tell you you'll like. I'm talking 200+ countries here (U.N. listed or not) and you thought we were up with technology, ha!
Tsunami 2005
 After the tsunami in Aceh in 2004 (see post standard-police-procedure!) my mother started to really get interested in natural and man-made disasters and created an entire collection of what she called her 'Disaster paintings'. The painting titled 'Tsunami' was exhibited in Cairns at the annual Cairns Art Society exhibition in 2005, though it was typically little understood. It depicted the fact that the first communication about the tsunami that the west coast of Aceh received was after the third day by mobile telephone, hence the satellite tower (typically painted red and white in Indonesia - the Indonesian colours) It also shows mother earth as per Indonesian legend as a giant turtle upholding the innocent school girl who cries out for help from her mother.
The Boulders at Babinda exhibited 2006
The last exhibition she did in Cairns where she spends three months of every year as a local  artist was in 2006.
Global Warming 2006
In 2006 she also exhibited in Korea for the 'Her Presence in Colours VII'' with one of her series of global disaster paintings.

 In 2008 she exhibited 'Incognito' in Beijing for the 'Her Presence in Colours VIII' exhibition during the Olympic year in China. This was an extremely subtle comment on the prior occupation of Aceh by the Indonesian military forces of G.U.M.

Incognito 2008 Beijing Olympic Art Exhibition
Catalogue entry from this exhibition:
Nurlisa was born in Copenhagen, Denmark in 1945. As an only child, she displayed her artistic talents from early age. At 12 , she received her first “Artists box & palette” made from Teak wood and complete with famous French oil paints. When she was 16 she began German studies.  When she was 17 years old, she became a professional painter for the Royal Danish Porcelain company.After married and had her first child, she moved to Australia in 1968, where she began her post-graduate studies in anthropology & culture. Living in Melbourne she studied with local artists in oil painting and taught Danish. The family then moved to Perth in Western Australia in 1974, where Nurlisa studied with local artists in oil painting and ceramics and with a master in Chinese coloured ink painting. In 1984 Nurlisa lived for three years in Germany studying watercolour painting. In 1991 Nurlisa spent a year in Melbourne studying art and Arabic.In 1992 Nurlisa moved to Indonesia to further her studies in art and cultural anthropology, settling initially in the Lake Toba region of Sumatra before moving to a remote area in the south-west of Aceh.She has hosted many interesting people at her house, including members of the military and representatives of the Aceh Monitoring Mission. A Dutch Admiral visiting commented that her house was far more interesting than Karen von Blixen’s in Africa.Present during the 2004 tsunami and the only western woman allowed to remain in Aceh during the state of martial law freedom fighting conflict for independence from the rest of Indonesia, Nurlisa was inspired to move beyond the realm of realistic watercolour painting and into fantasy-realism to express "disasters and their resolutions”.
Fisherman Aceh
'Hysteria' girls put into a trance before circumcision in Indonesia

In 2009 a special exhibition was held in Penang that I attended with my mother called '100 ExcellentArtists' The previous year, 2008, Georgetown Penang had been declared a World
Heritage Site and my mother painted the bats that are featured on the beloved 'Blue Mansion' walls. She had already been painting the heritage buildings that were suddenly 'de riguer' for more than a decade, as usual ahead of her time.

Shaking hands with the Minister of Culture at the exhibition
Painting of the bats from the Cheong_Fatt_Tze_Mansion heritage building Penang
In 2010 she exhibited her self portrait in Portland, Oregon, USA in the 'Her Presence in Colours IX' exhibition producing the below painting which was then displayed in the catalogue but she couldn't retrieve the painting from Aceh in time for the exhibition so she had to quickly whip up the second self portrait shown below in black and white with the orange background.

Initial self-portrait for the Portland exhibition 2011

At the Portland exhibition with the 'stand-in' self-portrait 2011

In 2011 she exhibited 'Recycled' at the 'Her Presence in Colours X' exhibition in Ho Chi Min city, Vietnam. This was a scene from her travels to Morocco where car tyres were used to produce footwear and sold on the side of the street in the typical scene below.
Painting for Vietnam exhibition 2011
Being presented with flowers from the Indonesian consulate
for representing Indonesia at the Vietnam exhibition
Something different - 'Greek Ruins' popular with the multitudes
 Today she continues to travel and paint prolifically - a modern day Karen von Blixen only more eccentric.Indonesian Television has made several documentary interviews with her on her life and painting in Aceh. This year she moved to Penang so she doesn't have to endure the 10 hour jeep drive across the mountains to get from her port of entry, Medan, on the east coast over to Air Dingin on the west coast every three months to renew her visa. At the next International Womens Art-her exhibition to be held in Mongolia 2014 as an Australian citizen now she might represent Australia, or maybe her country of birth Denmark?
Painting by the pool 2012
Dry brush chickens on balcony 2012