On a whim and a prayer

‘Whimsy doesn’t care if you are the driver or the passenger: all that matters is that you are on your way’ – Bob Goff.

Some days you wake with no particular plan, no real sense that anything wondrous may happen and no fire in your soul – perhaps some dying embers, or that sense of ‘the now’ or moment that they all talk about. To me that is usually, what now?

At times this could be that there is a plan, a need to stay focussed in order to ‘do’ the job at hand. This sounds awful but there are times when, in order to do the work, the fun needs to be set aside. The brain engaged into professional mode and the spirit contained, just a little, so the cyclonic energy of excitement is just ‘an impish willy-willy’ of joy for the other participants.

Entering an adult state, planning a timely arrival, ensuring time for coffee, a quick review of the brief, and a more thorough understanding of the subject are all part of the game.

Small boutique coffee shops evoke this sense of professionalism. Surrounded by laptops, meeting groups and their low rumble of importance mixed with a sense of faux fun at being there for work. Tapping on keyboards with furrowed brows, waitresses taking coffee orders that are designed to have the coffee snob return requesting a dash of almond milk on the side as it seems to be just a degree too hot.

Merging into the scene the iPad is placed on the table. The coffee, with a silver fern crema atop sits steaming in a small glass and the sun streams onto the retro chairs creating a sense of comfort. Like being wrapped in a warm blanket and being filled with a happy energy whispering that all is good and the day will be what it is.

Today’s subject is a local artist. Artists can be a particularly daunting subject. They pay attention to detail, have a natural creative eye and a sense of self that means they, generally, know what they want and have little problem letting people know what it is. It is a self assuredness that can at times be a bit intimidating, and, of course, most are photographers or have a camera.

Latesha was a friend that had been working that second job to support her artistic habit. This is how we met – fulfilling that need for cash and an occasional contact with the ‘real’ world. The conversation got to hobbies, art, exhibitions, a need for publicity and a desire for a photo shoot. Time passed, a coincidental meeting, a few text, a coffee date and here we were.

There was no plan outside of get something hot to drink. The usual small talk followed – a little awkward with anticipation, uncertainty and the fear of being in someone’s face with a  camera – as if capturing your soul. (Oh to be that good!) Taking separate cars – keeping that escape route in play – we drove in a road train along the windy country roads at the back of the Tweed Coast.

The freeway sliced through the floodplains and cane fields – the low hum of the vehicles going somewhere never far away. Mt Warning changing shape, peeking over ranges or in full view is ever-present, always giving that comforting feeling of home. Pulling up alongside a wire fence, ramshackle barn, a dismembered bridge and caramel cows grazing lazily under gum trees by the dam, we studied the scene.

The more time spent looking at the vista, the more the images began playing on the film that runs through a photographers mind. A list of great things to do, places to  sit, look, and play became more apparent, as did the problem of getting to the other side.

The seventies style brick home sat on the hill overlooking our studio. Entering the drive  a rusty brown, lean, barking kelpie began circling the car and darting under the wheels leaving no place to go.  Laughing we slowly looked for the dog, moved the car back and noticed the door sign reading  ‘Love Shack’ giving us the encouraging judgement that this was where we were meant to be. A car drove around us converting the  mean barking dog to a tail wagging puppy.

The owner was gregarious and had been approached before  for the same purpose. There was delight in her eyes as we were led around the garden and regaled with stories of how the orchids came into the garden, how each plant had a  reminiscence and pride of place. We journeyed on with a hand full of pink camellia’s, crucifix orchids, and carnations to add a splash of colour to the scene.

The lone silky, caramel cow under a tree by the dam, just through the gate, passed the old delivery shelter, hosting a bathtub full of ‘cowlicks’ (putting an end to the idea of sitting in the tub) turned out to be a bull but we were informed that they walked passed him all the time and was off no concern. Of course don’t crowd him.

Parking the car a reasonable distance from the bull and walking through the dried mud to the bridge that had been removed from the creek crossing we settled in for the shoot. Latesha removed her boots, explored the flowers, took out her brushes and mixed the paints with water. Camera’s where unloaded, settings adjusted and that familiar immersion in the lens began.

Suddenly Latesha gathered her paints, started putting on her boots and her facial expression became tense. A gesture towards the cow and in a low voice she stated that the bull was stamping its foot.
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The bull was circling the car, his expression menacing – questioning. He move to the front of the car, blocked our passage back and glared straight at us. Making no sudden moves, whispering about which direction we would run and which tree we would climb, we packed up.

Thoughts drifted to explaining to partners and insurance companies the chain of events that led to a bull charging the car began to emerge along with undignified images of women running and climbing trees.

Thankfully the bull decided that he was no more energetic than us and sauntered off down the hill to the females of his own breed. The owner later told us that she was about to intervene when he moved off!

So our morning ended full of joy, adventure and fun. All tasks – jobs were done and deadlines met. At the end of it all it seems that no matter how mature, professional or adult the preparation for ‘work’ is in the end it has to be fun and the child will emerge if you have whimsy in your heart and a prayer that your journeys will all end wellLatesha Houston‘s work come along to the Northern Rivers Community Gallery on September 20th 2017 for the opening of her exhibition. You can meet Latesha and experience first hand her joy for life and bold colours in her artwork.

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