Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Fairy post #32 - A Atkins, B Williamson, D Frendo

Faerie News


Fairy Queen Anne Atkins, and fellow artist Dave Frendo, are holding an exhibition at 'No Vacancy' gallery downstairs in the Atrium at Federation Square, Melbourne. Dave's array comprises collages and calendar, while Anne is showing 32 new paintings: mixed media on glass.
Anne Atkins at home, Fitzroy 2015
photo by Louisa John-Krol
Opening: Tuesday 20th December
6pm - 9pm

Anne Atkins

Anne Atkins is known to many of us as proprietor of the world's first fairy shop, Wonderwings, in the 90's. You can read Part One of my report about Wonderwings here.
Part Two is coming soon.




Melbourne poet Bee Williamson has released her marvellous new collection of poems and images, Torment and SoulIt's been sheer joy to partake of the fruits of Bee's toil - writing the Introduction, by invitation - as well as hearing Bee and other lyrical souls read, sing and play. For those of you who don't yet know Bee Williamson's writing, drawing, or graphic design: if you're into eco-mysticism that sashays between harrowing honesty, whimsy and ecstasy, this is for you. Listeners of my music might like to know that Bee is the daughter of one of our brilliant longtime producers, Harry Williamson. 



Here is where to purchase Bee's book, Torment & Soul.
Bookpod
Readings

More of Bee's art, from her other exhibitions or books:



Broadly speaking, we all inhabit Melbourne's ethereal movement that includes explorations of esoteric, phantasmagoric, intercultural, transcendental, polytheist, magic-realist, Faerie/ fairytalish, fantastique, mythological, trance-medieval, psychedelic and Pre-Raphaelite currents.
xxx Louisa John-Krol xxx

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Fairy post #31 - Letter For Liberty

An Open Letter For Liberty


Dear readers, listeners, friends and other curious elves,


The ancestors who sat in this chair made great
sacrifices for freedom & fairness.
I cherish their legacy.
Whilst my progressive values have long been discernible, I have so far favoured poetic over polemic approaches to artistic expression, focussing on esoteric, transcendent themes or metaphors. I've hoped my music and writing might be an oasis, a refuge from harshness, which doesn't mean being ‘away with the fairies’. By delving into imagination we reach deeper into shared humanity. Being enchanted is to fall in love with the world. Yet there are times when we need to defend our peace. Times when simply being peaceful is not enough. I believe the free world is standing at that precipice now.

knowledge is true power
not post-truth





We stumble into duty, or responsibility, in many ways. Family, rescuing pets, rallying, petitions, teaching, writing letters of protest, changing our consumer habits, donating or volunteering. Most of us never thought our basic foundations of democracy would ever need defending in our lifetimes. Yet apparently that time is upon us. 


Princess Imprisoned
by H.J. Ford, 1906




As I write, 3rd December 2016, America's President Elect is on a Victory Tour, or Thank You Parade, or Please Applaud Again Fanfare, soaking up narcissistic supply, instead of attending intelligence briefings, reading, or listening to wise counsel on diplomatic complexities and harrowing conflicts, to reach informed decisions upon which countless lives depend. The world's most powerful parliament is morphing into the set of a reality TV show, whose star brags about evading taxes and grabbing pussies. Who but a philistine would surround himself with models and kitsch gold furniture, not a book in sight? Who but a fraud would set up a fake university, raid his own charity fund, then con a nation that he can mix business with family and the highest office of his nation, without any conflict of interest? Who but a hypocrite would whistle to racism and bigotry throughout his campaign, then pretend that he alone can unite the nation he divided? Who but a megalomaniac - a vain, vacuous, vapid buffoon - would rather send tweets off the cuff to fans, than allow journalists to question him? A free press that holds its leaders to account is a cornerstone of democracy. One that artists particularly cherish. One that is now under threat.


German postcard, 1920s
I uphold the democracy for which our ancestors fought in wars across the seas, or here in the Eureka uprising, and in life's quiet daily struggles. Note, I did not say ‘equal opportunity’ or ‘human rights’. These are legal terms. They belong to legislation, and they matter, but employers can quack jargon without absorbing it into ethical conduct. What I seek to cultivate is what we fairies call kindness. Being kind. Having empathy. It’s not patronising or tokenistic. Not trendy or mandatory. Not politically correct or hip. Just a decent way to live. Yet with kindness comes a sense of fairness, which entails a readiness to stand our ground fiercely when need be. Nothing is more patronising to minorities - of any race, creed, gender or orientation, and those of us living with disabilities or other vulnerabilities - than being told by mainstreamers that we are over-reacting to a perceived danger. Yes, we're likely to be more sensitive than many in the majority, but we're also likely to have experienced more prejudice, the sort that's hard to notice when running full pelt with the herd. When minorities say they are afraid, it's time to listen.

"Come ye poor, I will lead you"
(my own ironic caption)
picture of King Thrushbeard
by Arthur Rackham, 1909
So, how does America’s political decline affect Australia? Firstly, I have American friends in minorities: black, gay, wiccan or druid, for example. Secondly, America is an ally and trading partner that dwarfs us in population and weaponry, so its leadership affects our fate, and anyway, this movement is part of a transcontinental fad, affecting friends & listeners in Europe and other parts of the world. Thirdly, half my songwriting partnership is my hubby, a Polish-Australian immigrant whose people suffered in the millions under two political tyrannies: fascism and communism. Being Slavic, his family were in line for extinction by Nazis, particularly as his maternal grandmother was Jewish: if Hitler had won, Mark and his brother wouldn’t have been born, nor would our niece and nephew on their side, and our albums would never have manifest. As such, the resurgence of neo-Nazis doesn’t just upset me as a global citizen; but also in a deeply personal way. It’s an attack on our very existence as artists. An attack on our families, which contain immigrants from several nations, and on all our friends, neighbours, colleagues or students, who represent diverse races and creeds. It’s an attack on many of you.

Wizard gift from Robert Gould & Stephanie Lostimolo
of Imaginosis / Faerieworlds, Oregon, USA
against backdrop of painting by Karan Wicks,
Australian creative-expressionist.
Oregon was one of the 'Blue' States that voted Democrat.

Disturbing echoes of Nazi Germany abound. These include:
  • preying upon economic resentment;
  • dog-whistling to racism & bigotry;
  • using dramatic gesticulation, scare tactics and other rhetorical devices to whip up hysteria;
  • inciting persecution of minorities, by demonising them through conspiracy theories;
  • appealing to patriotic nostalgia for an imagined lost golden age and promising to restore it; 
  • making fun of people with disabilities or deformities; 
  • promoting attractive models of a super race (typically women in Trump’s retinue, including his female spokespeople and surrogates, fit a glamorous stereotype);
  • feigning status of the Everyman or Common Man, in the faux familiarity of celebrity;
  • dumbing down expression to simplistic acronyms, e.g. 'agiprop' (agitator propaganda) - linguists and other experts in language have noted that German vocabulary suffered under the ugly reductionism of Nazi usage;
  • manipulating the media, reducing its access, or criticising it for being critical;
  • persecuting homosexuals; and 
  • promoting misogyny, not only through explicit misdemeanours like molestation, but also implicitly, by favouring models, hanging around beauty pageants, praising wives for staying at home, raising sons to say that women in workplaces should expect harassment, and criticising female weight gain. (Preoccupation with virility and pornography was a common trait among Nazis.)
Ceramic 'Eye in the Whirlpool'
by a client (anon) of art teacher Belinda John
at the Peter Harcourt Centre, Bendigo,
in an exhibition by people with disabilities

Like Hitler, Trump emerged from a fringe movement initially to ridicule, then dismay, of many who underestimated him. Yet Hitler did not reveal, early on, the extent of his genocidal plans. So Germans could later claim they did not predict the Holocaust. By contrast, Trump already revealed his wish to build a wall, expel Mexicans, ban Muslims and take out entire families, to “bomb the **** out of them”. This time the warning was clear, which only makes America's election more chilling. Coming in the shadow of Brexit - a movement with similar undercurrents of economic disenchantment combined with a strong white male demographic and hostility toward multiculturalism - along with resurgence of extreme right groups in several nations, we need more than vigilance now. We need action. It is not possible to maintain authentically ethereal, soulful art amidst authoritarian cruelty. Wild whimsy and wisdom have no haven in thuggery. By all means meditate, pray to whatever gods we hail, light our candles and incense, enjoy our cafes, salons and gardens, but let us also do our duty. Be ready to assist someone who is being harassed. Subscribe to media that is dedicated to analysis; avoid tabloids and paparazzi. Change what we buy; boycott companies* that support the Alt-Right; if buying American products, be sure they originate from a ‘blue’ state, or directly from American individuals who are Democratic. Reconsider where we invest, stay, or travel. Know when to speak out, not just how to vote. Lobby. Rally. Whatever it is that we can do, let’s do it. 

Let us be spirited artists: creators of worlds in which artists thrive.

'Liberty Leading the People'
by  Eugène Delacroix, 1830
Let us also remember that Liberty is a woman.

In fey vigour,

Louisa John-Krol

Australia

Saturday 3rd December 2016


Blue Tree by Karan Wicks
* Below is a list of blue states in the USA, i.e. the ones that voted Democrat. The platforms on which my music sells, such as Bandcamp and Cdbaby, belong to this milieu. So do many reputable artists/friends/listeners/music labels, so please support them. E.g. Projekt Records has openly declared its support of progressive organisations such as Planned Parenthood, The Treehouse Humane Society, Transgender Law Centre and American Civil Liberties Union. In turn, I hope you'll support Projekt: http://www.projekt.com/store/ and my cherished friends/collaborators in Oregon including Woodland, Faerieworlds, Imaginosis and their associates in the international Froudian Faerie community.

Blue Sky States:


Oregon

California
Washington
Nevada
New Mexico
Colorado
Minnesota
Illinois
Virginia
Maryland
New York
New Jersey
Delaware
District of Columbia
Connecticut
Massachusetts
Rhode Island
Maine
Vermont
New Hampshire (narrowly)

‘The Greeks have a word for the emerging Trump Administration: kakistocracy. The American Heritage Dictionary defines it as a “government by the least qualified or most unprincipled citizens.” Webster’s is simpler: “government by the worst people.” ’

- Ryan Lizza, the Washington correspondent for The New Yorker


Tinderbox Dog, by Kay Nielsen, 1924
Homepage of Louisa John-Krol

This article carries the views of Louisa John-Krol, owner of this fairy blog.


Saturday, November 26, 2016

Fairy post #30 - Fairy themes & dreams

Spring by Rachael Hammond

Faerie News

Fey pool inside fern, Dandenong Ranges, by Olaf Parusel
Four-leaf clover Spring 2016
found by Rebecca-Anne Do Rozario
Monash Fairy Tale Salon
Priscilla Hernandez
with Kantele

A Spanish-American faerie reunion

Spanish faerie diva Priscilla Hernandez performed in Faeriecon, Oregon, USA again this Spring (their Autumn), by invitation of Faerieworlds founder/harpist/singer Kelly Miller Lopez, of the mythic ethereal band Woodland (from blue Democrat state, Oregon). We can report that this was a spectacular reunion of fairies (in another blue Democrat state, Maryland), one of the last havens of progressive liberty. It's my dream to bring a troupe of these fey folk to Australia before this crone grows too creaky! Viva fey diva xxxxx


Deborah, Priscilla, Alan
at Faeriecon
in Maryland 2016






Faerie themes to explore...

Next themes of discussion for the Australian Fairy Tale Society are as follows:

Nov 2016:  Twelve Dancing Princesses
Feb 2017:   Sleeping Beauty
April 2017: The Goose Girl
July 2017:   Aladdin
Sept 2017:  The Handless Maiden
Nov 2017:   Snow White
Feb 2018:    Six Ravens
April 2018: The Firebird

Dulac, dilly-bag & homegrown Albertine
... what more could we wish for?
grown & gathered by Louisa John-Krol


Fairy Tale Ring Roses by Louisa John-Krol




At our Spring Fairy Tale Ring in Carlton, we discussed various Points to Ponder for the Twelve Dancing Princesses, heard original stories by Gabi and Patsy, welcomed new member Fionnuala and our president Catherine, and introduced a newcomer Melissa, who later joined...


Melissa Rose Melbourne

Australian ethereal designs by Melissa Rose Tonkin

member of the Australian Fairy Tale Society

Melissa Rose Tonkin at The Goblin Ball
In her right hand she holds her wand
 



Lizzy Rose in green gown by Melissa Rose



Website (Melissa Rose Melbourne)

Etsy (digital store, Melissa Rose Melbourne)

More about Melissa Rose with pictures coming soon!




Sunday, November 13, 2016

Fairy post #29 - Bio of Anne E Stewart


Biography of a Storyteller 

Anne E Stewart

Life Member of Storytelling Australia Victoria 
(formerly the Victorian Storytelling Guild)
& fairy ringer in the Australian Fairy Tale Society


“Storytelling…not just a clever sharing of mind alone but rather a sharing of heart and spirit.”
- Ruth Sawyer, The Way of the Storyteller


In 1977, these words inspired children’s librarian Anne E Stewart to embark on her storyteller’s journey. Her aim was to develop a love of language and literature in her young audience. With many years’ experience since then, Anne has expanded her repertoire to work with any age group and audience to tell shared stories of Australia and other nations, promote cultural understanding, raise issues of social justice and increasingly, help others give voice to their own unique stories. Anne has honed her skills with many impromptu performances and is known as a passionate, engaging performer and a consummate Master of Ceremonies. She performs at concerts, festivals, fairs, dinners, libraries, schools, museums and other educational institutions. From the Australian Broadcasting Commission (ABC) to major regional and metropolitan art galleries, the Victorian Arts Centre and National Museum of Australia in Canberra, Anne’s voice has flowed with our cultural current from one century into the next.

Anne E Stewart, storyteller
“Want to hear a good story? Ask Anne”, ran the grabber of a two-page colour spread in The Bendigo Advertiser (known as The Addy), one of Australia’s leading regional newspapers (‘The Art of Storytelling’, by Jonathon Howard, Bendigo Advertiser, Saturday 26th June 2010). “Anne is an artist of language and can delve into the hidden elements of a story”, wrote Jonathon. “She shows no fear when weaving a yarn in front of an audience of 3,000 or a room of just three.” The article features photographs by Chris McCormack of Anne in full flight, one with mouth wide open showing a fabulous array of tale-bright teeth, the other twirling her fingers in a tribute to a painting by... in the Bendigo library. Anne knows that everyone loves listening to stories and acknowledges that, more than ever, people are using storytelling to educate, engage and build a sense of community. “With her booming voice and captivating manner, Anne has developed skills to tailor her performance to all ages, cultures and communities” and believes the art of telling is an integral way to strengthen them. 


Storytelling Australia Victoria
(Victorian Storytelling Guild)
This she has exemplified by fulfilling a long list of volunteer roles, including six terms as president of Hepburn Springs Swiss Italian Festa, four terms as president of the Australian Storytelling Guild (Vic branch), president of Daylesford Primary School Council (1994-2002), member of the Balibo Community House Committee, affiliate member of the Ballarat Arts Foundation (2006), and Project Coordinator of the Darwin Storytelling Festival (2010). Recognition for her contribution has included a Daylesford Community Service Award from Daylesford Primary School in 2006 and a Certificate of Appreciation from the Victorian Department of Education that same year.

Moreover, Anne has gained a reputation overseas as one of Australia’s foremost storytellers with a vast knowledge of history and folklore. She was the first Australian storyteller to be invited to Mexico and Columbia by Dream On Productions (2007) and has represented Australia at the Scottish Storytelling Centre’s annual festival. Graham Langley, Director of the Traditional Arts Team in the UK, had this to say: “Anne is an acclaimed storyteller with an international reputation. Her telling is a unique cultural experience.” In 2013 Anne was a Guest of the 16th International Storytelling Festival in Tabriz in Iran. You can experience some of her intercultural storytelling in digital galleries or videos here


Indeed, Anne is a versatile, passionate storyteller with the energy and voice to engage any audience, whether drawing upon her own repertoire, or customising a program to match the age-group or interest of listeners: “This is a tribute to the teller of a tale, who holds her listeners with her eyes and voice” (Time Magazine). This praise finds its echo in other tributes: “Anne Stewart has the rare gift of captivating her audience with voice and gesture.” (Tumbarumba Times) “She works the stage so well and the kids are absolutely mesmerized by her” (Talking Pictures Project, Sebastopol Primary School). I hired Anne for an International Women’s Day assembly at Dandenong High School circa 2005 in the poorest urban region of Australia, during my employment there. She won everyone over, including the principal, with her combination of cheek, grit and knowledge, regaling us with a true ghost story of St Kilda Beach and acknowledgement of the Anzacs who built the original buildings. Many students, including refugees and asylum seekers, identified with the loss of her brother in East Timor. 

In 2013 the Australian Broadcasting Commission ran an article about Anne’s heart-rending return to the site of her family’s loss: 
“Anne Stewart's world changed in 1975 when her brother Tony was killed - along with four other Australian-based journalists - by Indonesian troops as they invaded East Timor... She visited the developing country and... the town of Balibo for the first time 10 years ago, and has just returned from her second visit.” Read the full article here

Anne E Stewart, Australian Broadcasting Corporation 2013

Anne has served on a library committee of Timor Leste, while her brothers - a doctor, Greg and musician, Paul - visit on other projects, some linked with the Balibo House Trust, established by the Victorian Government in 2002. Anne often combines this personal story with a traditional Timorese fable: a creation story of a baby crocodile. In 1995 she’d published a version of it entitled 'Timor Came from the Crocodile' in The Harper, back to back with an article by the Guild’s founder Nell Bell. The crocodile became Timor Island, which carries that beast’s shape. Through this tale, Anne commemorates her beloved brother as well as her connection with “all her East Timor brothers and sisters who died”. 


Memorial for Australian journalist Tony Stewart, killed in East Timor


'Liberty Leading the People' 
by Eugène Delacroix, 1830
Let us remember that Anne E Stewart is all about democracy, embracing the progressive, egalitarian values of respect, which have lately come under threat even in the free world. Let us remember also that being feminist does not mean being shrill or strident, but rather wise, warm-blooded, witty and robust. And let us remember that Liberty is a woman.


Circa 1990, Anne was one of the pioneer storytellers of Melbourne’s legendary Wonderwings Fairy Shop with the other fairy Annie, proprietor and wand-maker Anne Atkins, albeit proudly more of a gypsy than a conventional winged sprite. There, enthroned in an indoor garden of eucalyptus and mushroom cushions, in a frock was a sunny yellow, matching her personality, feathered with lace, Anne E Stewart helped spark a generation of storytellers of a distinctly fey hue.

'The Captive Robin' by John Anster Fitzgerald, 1864

She also excels in other aspects of storytelling. Australian history, for example. Let’s start with one of the most significant events in our State, The Eureka Stockade, an uprising of 1854, in which about 22 miners died. By Spring 2004, at the age of 46, Anne had written and recorded a radio series entitled ‘A Correspondent from the Diggings - Tales of Eureka’, presented on the Australian Broadcasting Commission (ABC) Ballarat, and reviewed by Liz Gooch, praising Anne as a “passionate storyteller” who “has woven Eureka into her vast repertoire” (‘Tales of the Diggings’, The Age, 30th November 2004), having also published articles on it in the journal swag of yarns (Spring 2000 and Spring 2004): rollicking retellings that called for the embrace of all Australians, including new immigrants and indigenous owners, in acknowledging this significant development in our democracy. Her 2004 stories are based on actual events but for each of the 20 x four-minute episodes, Anne adopts a different persona. Her characters include miners from around the world, an indigenous woman, a local priest and government officials. A librarian by trade, Anne had read accounts of the rebellion such as this one by a young boy: “I was there mister, when the shooting had finished... I gotta tell ya for a long time I had nightmares... and there was one image I couldn’t get out of my head. Two fellas must have been right soused, cause they hadn’t woken up until they were on fire and I saw them running from their tents, like human torches... I watched wounded diggers being stuck with bayonets and I looked for the face of my father amongst them. In one place they had dragged more diggers to die, some... were still heaving, and at every rise of their breasts, the blood spouted out of their wounds...” (The Age 2004, ibid). Anne was particularly interested in the spirit of the event, writing about it in the early hours of the morning when her teenagers, then 14 and 16, were asleep. 

Anne leading a ghost tour 2007 at Federation University

It mattered to her to tell of the women on the goldfields, giving birth alone in tents, or burying their own babies. These tales worked perfectly not only on radio but also within schools for teenagers studying Australian history, and within the Ballarat Art Gallery, with its stillness and abundance of Eureka-inspired artefacts that provide an evocative backdrop. 

As the Ballarat Fine Art Gallery has noted: “She weaves a magical spell around the characters in the paintings. you will never look at them in the same way.”

Anne E Stewart at Ballart Art Gallery

2014 was also the year that Ballarat Art Gallery, with Ballarat Rotary, launched a space dedicated for families to rest, view art, hold art classes and listen to stories. Anne was the natural choice to launch it. While media and dignitaries were late, and children began to climb the walls, Anne held attention spans with her tales and string tricks. Two huge Chinese ceremonial incense burners, adorned with dragons and other creatures, stood at the entrance to the space, while a red and gold dragon looped around the gallery roof as if in flight, so this led naturally into dragon stories, as Anne wrote in her Note from the President column in The Harper, Newsletter of the Australian Storytelling Guild of Victoria (of which Arnold Zable was patron), July 2004. 

The storytelling space being dedicated to the gallery’s founder Mr Oddie, Anne then led people up to an impressive portrait of him near a painting entitled 'Hesitation', depicting a naked girl by the shore, naturally giving rise to a Selkie tale. (Anne told the version by Mordicai Gerstein, The Seal Mother.)


Victorian Goldfields 1852-3, sketchbook, State Library of Victoria

Her tales of the Goldfields have tended to segue naturally into Chinese stories, due to the significant role that Chinese immigrants played in the settlement of such gold towns as Bendigo and Ballarat. She uses colourful visuals to complement the telling of how, in China, years were named for the twelve Chinese animals.

Chinese miner circa 1851 by Isaac Baker
‘Mei Quong Tart - a man’s a man for a’ that’ - true story about a boy born in the province of Kwang Tung (Guang Dong), south west of Canton, in 1850, who was inspired by the Chinese philosopher Confucius and Scottish poet Robbie Burns. Arrived in Sydney 1859 in the Goldrush (swag of yarns, Spring 2004).

Anne E Stewart enjoyed the mentorship of Australian doyen of storytelling the late Nell Bell, who founded Victoria’s first Storytelling Guild in the 1970’s (renamed Storytelling Australia Victoria). Annie remembers the joy of three-day weekends at Erskine House for their annual storytelling festival, with her young family in tow, swapping yarns, folklore, skills and anecdotes with kindred spirits and fellow raconteurs. She’s praised other such gatherings, for example in her column on the 4th National Storytelling Festival, held in Sydney. A small slip of paper fell from her diary afterwards with these words: “We may lose everything, but we still have the stories. To tell us who we are, where we come from.” 

Likewise, a pressed sprig of marshmallow, olive-green leaves and white flowers tumbled out, as mementoes of her joy in meeting “kindred spirits, people passionate about the power of story” who at this event included shanacie Nell Bell, Gael Cresp, John Sheills (JJ), Bettina Nissen, Gary Crew, folklorist collector Margaret Read McDonald, Michael Jackson on didgeridoo, Donald Davis, Gail Robertson, Donna Sife, June Barnes-Rowley (JB) and Suzanne Sandow, who stood in at the last moment to read the signs for a deaf teller, Yvonne Gleeson, whom Annie described as a “lively, animated teller”. Origins of tales they encompassed ranged from Japanese and Siamese to Native American Indian.

Indeed, Anne’s own repertoire carries tales from many cultures beyond our shores. She uses origami to tell the Japanese story ‘The White Crane’, and a string trick to tell the African story of Osebo the Leopard and Anansi the Spiderman.


Anne is one of the first Celtic-Australians to walk the fragile tightrope between curiosity and respect, when exploring indigenous stories. ‘A white girl’s dreaming - Giving voice to the landscape’, is one of the mottos on her postcard under the heading, 'Defining a new cultural unity through story'. 

Read more about Middle Class White Girl here

Her travels have tracked the outback, islands near and far, distant colonies and the misty valleys of her Celtic-Viking ancestry. Anne affectionately remembers fellow life-member Gael Cresp - embed link - performing a great rendition of 'The Loathly Lady' and has given a warm welcome to visiting British storytellers such as Christine Willison and Taffy Thomas, UK’s first Storytelling Laureate. Many are old friends from her own travels overseas. Her children’s lives are no less broad, ranging from tailoring to the navy.

Anne won the storytelling prize at the 1996 Celtic Festival in Geelong. Her Celtic tales include 'The Selkie Mother', 'Tam Lin', 'The Children of Lir', 'Cuchulain and the Green Knight', 'Lutey and the Mermaid', 'The Loathly Lady', 'Finn Ma Cool' and 'The Enchanted Lake'.

She’s been a storyteller for the Jungian Society at Eltham’s famous neo-medieval artist’s colony of Montsalvat Village, and has a long history with the Victorian Dromkeen centre of children’s literature that despite change of ownership, has rejoined Australia’s fairy tale renaissance. Nestling among pine trees (planted over a century ago) at Riddells Creek, Dromkeen was the dream of Joyce and Courtney Oldmeadow, combining their love of books, education and the need to preserve Australian children’s literature in a living collection, through exhibitions, cabinet displays, dinners, lectures, a society (with ‘Friends of Dromkeen’), reconciliation, heritage tours and a regal throne for storytellers. Anne is pictured in the Dromkeen cape in her feature ‘Dromkeen - a place to store books’ (swag of yarns, Autumn 2000). Truly a haven for the senses and the soul.

In 2008, she presented ‘Stories Behind the Pictures’ for the Dromkeen Collection Art Gallery. She’s had the honour to follow in the footsteps of Bryce Courtney by wearing the storyteller’s cape for the Courtney Oldmeadow Memorial Lecture at the New South Wales Dromkeen (2005), which nurtures and develops children’s literature. She also interviewed Bryce, after attending his speech at Dromkeen (swag of yarns, Autumn 1999).

Anne warmly supports other storytellers, whom she calls ‘colleagues’, e.g. in her article ‘Under The Angel’s Wing’ about Bettina Nissen (swag of yarns 2001); she’s great on sisterhood, as in her feature ‘A Blossoming Of Tales - The Untold Stories Of Australian Women’ - at the National Storytelling Conference (ibid).

Along the way Anne gained tertiary qualifications: a Bachelor of Arts: Librarianship (1981) and a Graduate Diploma of Education (1987). Both boosted her research skills, audience facilitation and solid grasp of the psychological component in dealing with diverse age groups, personality types, socio-economic backgrounds, faiths and cultures.

She also groomed her writing skills, contributing to articles (including interviews) about storytelling and storytellers to various publications including swag of yarns (edited by JB Rowley, 1998-2006), as senior writer - embed link. Various cultural institutions including the National Museum of Australia (2003), Art Gallery of Ballarat, University of Ballarat, Dromkeen Gallery Art Collection (2008, as aforementioned) and Melbourne City Council, have commissioned Anne to write stories. She has researched, written and produced stories for ABC radio (e.g. ‘Old, Cold and Gold: A Literary Walk through Ballarat’, 2008) and appeared on several television programs including the ground breaking children’s program Lift Off (1991).

In The Harper Oct 2003, Janet Tucker hailed Annie as President of Guild & wrote of attending Cross Currents, the national storytelling confest in Brisbane. There were workshops by Gael Cresp, Susan Pepper, Bettina Nissen, Annie Stewart & Hendre Roelink. Anne met with Morgon Blackrose, now living in NSW. Then back home, a Mother Goose program with Cindy Lee Hunter. Around this time, Gael was running a Children’s Cafe in Malvern Library. Elsewhere, Cindy-Lee writes of the Storytelling Cafe and a women’s storytelling troupe called The Tell Tale Tits, which included herself with Morgon Blackrose and Gill Di Stefano.

The Canterbury Tales by Chaucer, illustrated by Anne Anderson 1912

In The Harper Jan 2004, Anne E.S. writes of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, referring to John Wain’s critique, how radical it was that Chaucer introduced the element of dramatization that made each tale two things at once: “a story in itself, and a piece of self revelation by the character who tells it.” A story to fit the personality of the teller...

Anne’s articles in swag of yarns include the informative piece ‘Creating Australian Mythology’ (swag of yarns Autumn 2004); a review of Whitefella Jump Up - The Shortest Way To Nationhood by Germain Greer (ibid); a true retelling of ‘The Lost Children of Daylesford’, based in the Central Highlands of Vic, home to the Dja Dja Wurrung people (ibid); ‘All Men Are Bastards?’ (swag of yarns Spring 2001), questioning negative stereotypes of men (revamped 15 years later for the Australian Fairy Tale Society ezine, issue #2, October 2016) and ‘Harold Wright, The Saw Doctor’ (swag of yarns, Summer 2004), also known as The Sharpening King, who travelled & lived in a small wagon through Vic, NSW & QLD, and is buried at Wangaratta Cemetery. The National Museum of Australia owns his cart.

The Saw Doctor's Wagon, National Museum of Australia

In 2014, Annie won two lucrative government grants for curating her series Words on the Wind, featuring storytellers across six sessions, spanning six months, at the new Library at the Dock, within the rehabilitated precinct of Melbourne’s Docklands. Ironically, this is where Annie’s early memories of her Dad have their roots, along with the wild ways of her brother Paul, lead singer of Australia’s iconic band The Painters and Dockers. Paul notoriously played in some of the country’s roughest venues. His larrikin group could be seen singing from the open back doors of a police vehicle in songs like 'You’re Going Home in the Back of a Divvy Van'. Their legacy also includes the iconic song of rebellion, 'Die Yuppy Die', 'The Boy Who Lost his Jocks on Flinders St Station' and 'Nude School'.

2014 also saw inception of The Australian Fairy Tale Society, intersecting with The Monash Fairy Tale Salon. Anne E Stewart joined the AFTS in 2016 after turning up at a fairy tale ring in Castlemaine. (Our fairy ring moves around!)

In December 2014, Anne E Stewart, together with JB Rowley and Louisa John-Krol, visited their elderly mentor, Nell Bell, at the Westgarth Aged Care Facility, pictured below. Nell died this Spring, 2016.



Anne E.S. & JB Rowley
Louisa John-Krol, JB Rowley, Nell Bell, Anne E Stewart


JB, Nell, Anne E.S. & Lou with unicorn


This fairy tale revival inspired some of us to hold a Wonderwings Fairy Shop reunion in April 2015 in Gisborne at the long-running Myths and Legends Fairy Shop, run by a pioneer fairy of Wonderwings, Dee Waight, with several of Annie’s fey spinners: elves, jesters, gypsies and other sprites. Many attendees, such as Suzanne Sandow, Matteo, Mary-Lou Keaney and Louisa John-Krol, had shared carnivals, agents and commissions with Anne E.S. from one century to the next, e.g. Children’s Book Week, Litfest, International Feminist Book Fair, Moomba, The Royal Melbourne Show or Cicily May Barker Flower Fairy festival. 

Below: Wonderwings Fairy Shop reunion April 2015 at Myths & Legends Fairy Shop, Gisborne



Anne E.S. & Suzanne Sandow 2015
Mary-Lou Keaney, Matteo, Anne E Stewart



Anne E Stewart
Sharon, Mary-Lou, Anne E.S.
Wonderwings Fairy Shop reunion 2015: Anne E Stewart top right, Anne Atkins centre

In her essay ‘Middle Class White Girl Share Indigenous Culture?’, Anne wrote of a brass plaque on Famine Rock on the foreshore across Port Phillip Bay, a dedication to the Boonwurrung and Woi Wurrung people, whose lands extend around an arc of land either side of the bay. It’s also a memorial to 4,000 Irish orphan girls who arrived in the 1850’s because of Un Gorta Mor, the Great Hunger.

Her research project with Ballarat University involved teaching graduate students about literacy. The Four resources model comprised the following:   
                 
#1 = Code-breaker. E.g. ants on the apple: a a a - patterns.
#2 = Text participation. Reader participates in constructing meaning.
#3 = Text usage. Railway timetables, menus, a newspaper sport fixture, scripts.
#4 = Analysis. Consider that texts are not neutral. They carry biases & assumptions. E.g. compare two pamphlets about a wind farm, one for, one against. Indigenous people know that history is written by the dominant culture.

From being a Catholic schoolgirl in Anglo-Celtic Ballarat, Anne went to tropical Darwin to work as a Children’s Librarian in Darwin Library, which felt like a foreign country. She adapted. Her string trick about the lizard and snake became a rainbow snake and the owl action story became Muk Muk the Owl (also known as Mook Mook, the Jawoyn name for big eyed night creature), a nickname given to Annie’s niece when her parents worked in Katherine. Little chants became like prayers when shared with indigenous communities: 

Here is the land (touching the ground)
Here is the sky (reaching to the sky)
Here are my friends (acknowledge the audience)
And here am I (crossing your hands on your heart)

Anne sought alphabet books with Australian animals, myths & legends about the kangaroo, koala & Tiddalik the frog, and wondered about the dreaming and her own spirituality. She noticed that the Aboriginal children drew landscapes, always a birds eye view, a topographical map. How to cater for that amazing spatial aptitude? “When I traveled in the territory, I was privy to some of Australia’s most spectacular landscapes; and I came to understand the feeling of sacredness of land. A gorge, a waterfall, a sheltered creek bank, sheer cliff faces that reached to the sky demanding as much respect as the mightiest of cathedrals.” She quotes Joseph Campbell, that the theme in mythology is of an invisible plane supporting the visible one. 

She had wished to create her own creation myth about the waratah, a native flower she loves, but realised that it would have been insensitive to the original custodians of the land from which the flower originates, who have their own Dreaming around local fauna and fauna. Nevertheless, as a librarian, often called upon to give official tours of galleries and museums, she would have a tale to tell of such paintings in Australian heritage as these:


Waratah postage stamp
Waratah by George Raper 1788, National Library of Australia

Off she then went overseas, before returning to Ballarat, where she met the late Nell Bell, who shared “big picture stuff”, insisting that “Myths must be kept alive”; and “The function of the artist is the mythologization of the environment of the world”. Nell had grown up with Aboriginal neighbours at Artarmon, in North Shore Sydney (in those days not posh, but bush with creeks and unmade roads), thus had many indigenous stories. Annie thought she’d try to write her own Aboriginal myth, about the Wakakirri, the flower that appears when a cyclone approaches, but a children’s literature expert reined her in sharply. Protocols, ok. Anne found in ALIA (Australian Library) guidelines, that some info is restricted. She recalls comments from various Aboriginal spokespeople during the 1980s and 90s, e.g. Gularrwuy Yunupingu: “knowledge is only there for certain people to... access” (some are private, personal, or sacred); Mick Dodson, that Aboriginal people were catalogued as “primitive” & industrial peoples as “advanced”; and Joseph Wambugu Githhaiga, who writes that “Indigenous designs... represent the title deeds of land ownership”.

Anon, public domain, indigenous art.
We pay our respects to the original inhabitants of this continent.
This is a non-profit blog.
So, how would Annie use the four resources model, meaningfully yet ethically? She found a story in The Oxford Companion to Australian Folklore, Napaltjara’s story from the Territory, collected amongst the Pintupi people as late as 1975, about a woman returning to her campsite to find her family stolen... having never seen a white before. With this telling, she won the 1999 Storytelling Award at Port Fairy Folk Festival. Some of Anne’s other stories - told with string - are 'Gorialla the Rainbow Snake', 'The Mosquito Story' and 'The Disappearing Yams'.

Looking through Victorian Grade Readers, she found that books she learned to read from had not named the black characters. They were just 'trackers' or 'servants'. Yet many were based on real people who had done brave deeds and deserved recognition, e.g. Sam Isaac Yebbles, who saved people from drowning; or Beembarmin and Merrin Merrin, from near Mt Franklin, Lambargook to the Dja Drja Wurrung who’d helped look for the lost children of Daylesford. 

Anne learned from an Aboriginal Language Map that there were once over 250 language groups across Australia, quoting Bruce Pascoe: “It’s the longest-living civilisation on Earth”. She opened it up in a Scottish pub and asked, “You reckon you have a clan map? Have a look at this. Terra Nullis?”

Then Anne’s niece Aretha was born to her brother’s wife Donna Brown of the Gambangirri People from around Nambucca Heads. Aretha’s grandma Jan says, “Anne E, you’ve got to tell all the stories for all the kids.” In Ballarat, Anne seeks info from the Aboriginal Coop and Kirrit Barrett Cultural Centre, but after dispossession of the Wathaurong, with influx of gold seekers, oral threads weakened so they’re often working from same source material, anthropologist Aldo Massola’s book, Bunjil’s Cave. The Southern Cross Constellation is a symbol of Australian identity but for over 60,000 years it was the Bram Bram Bult brothers throwing spears at the giant emu, Tchingal, who killed the creator spirit Waang. Each star represents the protagonists or their spears. 

On cultural appropriation, Anne quotes Dovie Thompson: “For decades, the global storytelling community has struggled to examine the ethics of telling stories from other cultures.” Anne suggests we go past the 3 R’s of Reading, Remembering and Recitation, and go to Dovie’s 4 R’s of Respect, Research, Responsibility and Restraint. 


At the same time, Anne has never lost her self-effacing, cheeky sense of humour, as in her account of a gathering in which she and Nell Bell turned up to celebrate intercultural cohesion and the Wisdom of the Elders - with Anak Agung Gede Oka Kalieran from Bali - in a peaceful rural setting, at a property known as Dja William, named by the Djarra people, meaning Earth Nest (‘The Spiritual Unity Of The Tribes’ (swag of yarns, Winter 1999). They were taken in by the leader’s joke, that participants were to learn new moves, which they earnestly did: “It’s called The Putcha Dance - you put your foot right in!” Anne is all about sharing and mingling. Her article ‘Once Upon A Time - Storytelling for the very young’ (swag of yarns, Winter 1999) included European fairy tales and nursery rhymes as well as indigenous characters and themes, such as Tiddalik the giant frog, and Muk Muk the owl. In Adelaide, 2001, Anne delivered a paper for the Australian National Storytelling Conference entitled ‘Ngangkiparri Narrations: Deeds Ordinary and Extraordinary of Australian Women’. 


Anne E Stewart in mask, Australia

Anne’s workshops between 2010 and 2016 have included ‘Just Act - Youth Speaks’ with refugees at the Jesuits Artful Dodgers Studio; Words in Winter - Storytelling for Social Change in Daylesford; Heart and Spirit in the Festival at the Edge, Shropshire, UK; Dja Dja Wurrung Aboriginal Clans Corporation in Bendigo; Bilingual storytelling for women of refugee backgrounds, at the Hume Global Learning Centre in Broadmeadows; Brisbane’s Multicultural Festival at the State Library in Queensland; and demonstrating storytelling with artworks in the Ballarat Art Gallery collection. Highlights of her storytelling performances, in addition to the aforementioned appearances, include an opening speech for the Children’s Book Council (1994); Eureka 150: World Music Concert, as MC (2004); October IMTAL - International Museums Theatre Alliance: Melbourne Museum (2006); Scottish International Storytelling Festival - Edinburgh and throughout Scotland (2009); ‘The Legendary Lindsays: A Literary Walk around Creswick’ (2009); ‘Tales from a Broad: Storytelling, East Timor, the Territory and me’ at the Darwin Festival (2010); Chillout: ‘So who was the First Gay in the Village?’ (2011); Dysart Multicultural Festival (2012); the Launch of the New Geelong Library (2015) and the Burundian Independence Day Festival (2016).

Creek at Dusk by Olaf Parusel
in Junortoun near Bendigo
In 2012, VicHealth employed Anne as part of the LEAP Project: Out of the Mist - Storytelling with the Mollingghip Community. In the same year, Anne provided a National Gallery of Victoria keynote address, working with the Schools Library Association Victoria in ‘Art, literature and stories, exploring and sharing across cultures’. Also in that year she spoke at the ‘Persia Love and Devotion Exhibition’ for the State Library of Victoria.

Storytelling Australia Victoria (formerly Vic’s Storytelling Guild), for which Anne served four terms as president (in two blocks from the 1990s to circa 2013, alternating with Public Officer), awarded her Life Membership in recognition of her service to the storytelling community. She remains one of Australia’s prime storytellers, with a velvet voice that can swing from croon to boom, piercing eyes and a cheeky sense of humour, hailing from one of the nation’s legendary creative families of artist and rebels.


In recent years she devoted time to Captain’s Creek Cottages (a sustainable eco-village comprising a thriving organic market garden and guest accommodation near Daylesford) and is now establishing her own personal museum of oral storytelling history and folklore in the township of Daylesford, in the heart of Victoria’s illustrious gold heritage that includes Ballarat, Bendigo, Hepburn Springs and Castlemaine, one of Australia’s most artistically rich regional districts. She served as a committee member for Words in Winter with the Hepburn Shire Literary Festival this year, in 2016.

Anne E Stewart with Cockatoo Dreaming
Anne is pictured above with 'Cockatoo Dreaming', photographed by Poppy Cagacj for the Daylesford Strong Women Exhibition 2015, of which she wrote: “I live in the Hepburn Shire, original homeland of the Dja Dja Warrung People, who believe the souls of their ancestors live in birds.... I reckon I’ll be returning as a cockatoo... still telling stories.”

For more info, digital stories, keynote & masterclass themes, photos & bookings, visit: 
Anne E Stewart’s homepage

“Anne is an acclaimed storyteller with an international reputation. 
Her telling is a unique cultural experience.”
- Graham Langley, Director of the Traditional Arts Team in the UK

* * *

“Here I stand in a long line of storytellers, stretching back, stretching forward.”
- Anne E Stewart



On the brink of beaming this Bio, news came in that our mentor, storyteller Nell Bell, had died. Her memorial service was on Wednesday 16th November at 2pm 
in Northcote Town Hall, Melbourne. 
Anne E. Stewart gave the storytelling eulogy.
Ronda Gault & Anne E Stewart at Nell Bell's Memorial

You can read two articles of mine about Nell at this fairy blog.
1. A report on our visit to Nell
2. Detailed Biography of Nell
Blue Tree Grail by Karan Wicks, Australia