Category Archives: Expressive Arts

Moola the Pelican

‘As a young boy, I used to sit and watch pelicans for hours. The big graceful birds would sweep down to land on the lagoons near my tribe’s cam, then paddle along, dipping their large bills into the water looking for fish. Pelicans lay sometimes two, sometimes four eggs, and when the little pelicans hatch they leave their nests and spend their time playing and learning with other baby pelicans in a kind of kindergarten. One or two adults look after lots of babies while most of the adults are out looking for food. In a lot of ways they are the Aboriginals, sharing their campsites, and the raising of their young.’
source: Jane Resture Oceania

Long ago, in the Dreamtime, there lived a pelican called Moola. In the Dreamtime, pelicans were completely black, and Moola was the blackest and fiercest of them all. he was proud of the way he looked, and each day he would spend hours and hours arranging his feathers, preening and prancing, and grooming himself with his large bill.

When he was quite happy with his appearance, Moola would climb into his bark canoe and paddle around showing off to all the other birds. Moola was very proud of his canoe because he was the only pelican who had one. The other birds would look at Moola and say,

‘Look at Moola, so proud in his canoe.’
‘I wish I had a canoe like Moola’s.’

But Moola was very selfish, he would never let other pelicans ride in his canoe. When they asked, Moola would say,

‘You might fall out, canoes are difficult to paddle.’

Moola knew he looked important, sitting in his canoe, and he didn’t want the other pelicans to look important too. One day there came a huge storm. The rain poured down, soaking all the animals. The old Wombat shivered in his hole, the Kangaroos sheltered under the trees, and still, it rained. It rained so much that the rivers filled and flowed out over the land. The old wombat knew that he would have to leave his cosy hole. As he scrambled out he saw the Kangaroos hopping off towards higher ground. But Moola was delighted. All this water meant that he could paddle his canoe to places he had never been before. It also meant that he could show off to lots of animals who had never seen him before. Big, black, proud Moola, the only pelican with a canoe. As he paddled off, he sang,

‘Munmuckinny, munmuckinny, munmuckinny, munmuckinny.’

He hadn’t rowed very far when he came across a group of Aboriginals stranded on a tiny island. Moola could see that the rising water would soon cover the tiny island. As he came nearer he could see that there were four people, two old women, an old man and a beautiful young girl.

‘Help, please help us. If you don’t save us we will surely drown.’

The young girl, whose name was Mungi, pleaded with Moola,

‘Please save us. You have a canoe and you could take us one at a time.’

Moola stared at her, she was very pretty and young. And, he, Moola the proudest and blackest of all the pelicans didn’t have a woman. Mungi felt uneasy. Why was the big, black bird staring at her like that? She huddled closer to the old woman. They were all very wet, and very frightened. Moola stared at her. If he could get the three old people off the island, then he could come back and take the young girl for himself.

‘I will help you. don’t worry. I can save you with my canoe. I will take you one at a time, and I will take the oldest first.’

Moola collected the older woman and paddled her across the river to where the land was high. He helped her out of the canoe and went back again. He collected the other old woman and returned for the old man. Mungi and the old man sat huddled together on the island. Mungi was frightened. Each time Moola came to the island he stared at her and waved his big yellow bill in the air. When the old man and Moola had gone, Mungi was left sitting all alone. She thought. She was young and very pretty, everyone told her so. Was that why Moola stared at her? She began to cry. Through the rain, she could just see the big, black bird paddling the old man towards the distant shore. she sobbed,

‘At least the old people are saved, but I don’t trust Moola. I am frightened he will steal me to be his woman.’

Moola reached the far bank. She watched the old man climb out of the canoe. Then Moola turned to come back for Mungi. She watched as he paddled towards her. Mungi knew she must escape, if she tried to swim then Moola would only come after her. She must trick him so that she could escape. She had an idea. ‘She quickly slipped the kangaroo-skin rug from around her shoulders, and she wrapped it around a log. Mungi slipped into the water and began to swim to the opposite bank. Moola paddled up to the tiny island. He couldn’t see Mungi. Where was she? He jumped out of his canoe. Mungi was nowhere to be seen. Then Moola saw the kangaroo-skin rug.

‘That Mungi, asleep, when I Moola the most
handsome of all pelicans have come to save her.’

He rushed up to the log and gave it an almighty kick. Pain soared up his leg. He leapt into the air. He had been tricked. Mungi was gone. Moola limped back to his canoe. No one had ever tricked him before. ‘the more he thought of Mungi, the angrier he became.

‘I’ll go back to my camp. I’ll get my spears and I’ll
hunt that Mungi.’

The other pelicans saw Moola coming. He looked quite funny, paddling along with one big, swollen foot dangling out of his canoe. They began to laugh.

‘Look at Moola.’
‘Moola doesn’t look so important now.’
‘Moola, Moola, Bigfoot.’

Their teasing only made Moola angrier. He went to his camp and splashed white war-paint over his body. The white paint made him look very fierce. Moola roared in anger, gathered his spears and started back to his canoe. The older pelicans saw him, all covered in white war-paint. They had never seen anything like it. Pelicans, they said, should not look like this; pelicans were black. They decided to teach Moola a lesson. Flapping their wings, they rushed at him. Wheeling around him, they pecked and flapped, their huge bills plunging into Moola’s black and white feathers. When the old pelicans had finished, they told Moola that he must leave and never return. He was to be banished forever. Although the young pelicans watched in horror as Moola stumbled away, they thought he looked very fierce and proud.

‘If we painted ourselves, then we could look
fierce and proud like Moola.’

So they all rushed off to paint themselves like Moola. Soon all the young pelicans in the cam had covered their black feathers with fierce blotches of white paint. The old pelicans looked amazed. Pelicans should be black. But the young pelicans didn’t listen. They went parading around, admiring their new black and white plumage.

‘We look so fierce.’
We look so proud.’
‘We all look as fierce and as proud as Moola.’

And they have stayed that way ever since. And that is why, today, if you see pelicans on a lagoon or Billabong, you will see that they are black with white patches, just as Moola was, long ago in the Dreamtime.

source: Jane Resture Oceania

Memoir Writing with Possum

Over 52 weeks I will be learning all about how to live and work creatively. My teachers are Aussie birds and animals. It is week four and the creative force has produced the Possum to build on the lessons that Australian birds, animals and habitat are initiating.

KMN-112-SFW - BW2Janganpa jukurrpa (Possum) travels all over Warlpiri country. Janganpa are animals that often nest in hollows of white gum trees (Wapunungku).

This story comes from a big hill called Mawurrji west of Yuendumu and north of Pikilyi (Vaughan Spring).

The “E” shape figures are possum tracks and wavy lines are the trail their tails left on the ground. The concentric circles are the trees in which the possums live. Men and women would go at night for Janganpa hunting. Source: POSSUM DREAMING (JANGANPA JUKURRPA)

Possum is calling upon us to draw a map of the paths we have walked, marking where we have left our track marks. This is a great way to prepare for memoir writing!

You might use the Hiss-tory Snake concept as a way of tackling this.

The Advantages of Playing Dead

Over 52 weeks I will be learning all about how to live and work creatively. My teachers are Aussie birds and animals. It is week four and the creative force has produced the Possum to build on the lessons that Australian birds, animals and habitat are initiating.

This morning when I was out with the dogs, Archie alerted us to the fact that there was a possum tucked in the branches of one of the shade trees. It took us a moment to spy the frightened, frozen creature whose bright eyes seemed to be looking far far away. Given the fact that we were anticipating that temperatures would rise to 42c our primary concern was that this creature and its access to water. I have been filling vessels for the bird life at my house but with no tap in sight, there was little we could do.

Possum medicine uses a great deal of strategy. Possums are well-known for one of their tricks. These small animals are amongst a group of animals who have the capacity to play dead when predators are near. This way they trick other, larger animals, that they are dead and then attack them or avoid them after they give up on the hunt. This trick helps possums to survive in often dangerous habitats.

Despite idleness being dammed as slothfulness, as one of the seven deadly sins, inactivity plays a perfect role in human life! When we are idle we are actually keeping up a valuable tradition. There are many advantages to inaction! For a start, immobility conserves energy. A half an hour siesta can ward off coronary disease. Plato tells us that Socrates stood still for nearly 24 hours while ruminating on some particularly intractable problems.

Most people would recoil at the idea of doing this but they would be wise to learn from a possum. Sometimes we need to go into a torpor and not think about anything much. Sometimes we need to rest our brains and replenish, in readiness to receive messages from the creator and enjoy another creative spurt.

 

Exploring the Expressive Arts

Over 52 weeks I will be learning all about how to live and work creatively. My teachers are Aussie birds and animals. It is week three and the creative force has produced the Musk Lorikeet to build on the lessons that Australian birds, animals and habitat are initiating.

Lorikeets are full of silliness and humour, and they are also inquisitive about their surroundings. These comical birds remind the writer and artist to be expressive and bring colour, humour and light into their work. Lorikeet has drawn me to examine Expressive Arts. Expressive Arts and Art Therapy are creative therapies. The concept of expressive art resonates for me because it honours the process, rather than the final product.

With the arrival of Lorikett I decided that this 52-week project is an expressive art project. I am unashamedly doing this for myself. Committing to 52 weeks is huge and it represents a major shift for me to be genuinely creating FOR MYSELF and FOR THE CREATIVE SPIRIT. I do not actually care if many people engage or follow what I am doing! I am interested in observing and researching the process of being responsive to and feeding the creative spirit.

The web is full of expressive art material. It is a huge field! I was particularly impressed to find the work of Shelley Klammer. On her site, she has an updated list of a popular internet list of art therapy activities which were originally posted by the Nursing School Blog

Lorikeet has suggested that I reprint the section on relaxation, along with a link to Klammer.

Relaxation

Art therapy can be a great way to relax. Consider these exercises if you’re looking to feel a little more laid back.

  1. Paint to music. Letting your creativity flow in response to music is a great way to let out feelings and just relax.
  2. Make a scribble drawing. With this activity, you’ll turn a simple scribble into something beautiful, using line, color and your creativity.
  3. Finger paint. Finger painting isn’t just fun for kids– adults can enjoy it as well. Get your hands messy and really have fun spreading paint around.
  4. Make a mandala. Whether you use the traditional sand or draw one on your own, this meditative symbol can easily help you to loosen up.
  5. Draw with your eyes closed. Not being able to see what you are drawing intensifies fluidity, intuition, touch and sensitivity.
  6. Draw something HUGE. Getting your body involved and moving around can help release emotion as you’re drawing.
  7. Use color blocks. Colors often come with a lot of emotions attached. Choose several paint chips to work with and collage, paint and glue until you’ve created a colorful masterpiece.
  8. Let yourself be free. Don’t allow yourself to judge your work. If you think your paintings are too tight and controlled, this collection of tips and techniques to try should help you work in a looser style.
  9. Only use colors that calm you. Create a drawing or a painting using only colors that you find calming.
  10. Draw in sand. Like a Zen garden, this activity will have you drawing shapes and scenes in the sand, which can be immensely relaxing and a great way to clear your mind.
  11. Make a zentangle. These fun little drawings are a great tool for letting go and helping reduce stress.
  12. Color in a design. Sometimes, the simple act of coloring can be a great way to relax. Find a coloring book or use this mandala for coloring.
  13. Draw outside. Working en plein air can be a fun way to relax and get in touch with nature while you’re working on art.

Perhaps I will get back to drawing a donkey and a raven a day!

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