11 November, 2014

Country Towns - 7: Mirboo North

October 13 - 17 October 

Patricia and I last visited Mirboo North in November 2012, soon after I had finished rehabilitation for a hip replacement. On this our third visit to this region, we stayed at Milly & P'lette Farm Cottage which is located between Thorpdale and Mirboo North.

Click on photos for larger versions

Upon arrival at the cottage we were warmly welcomed by Mary Smerglio, one of the owners of the cottage. As we moved into the house from the porch we shut the door on an outdoor temperature of 9 C and stepped into the living room which was being heated by a very active wood fire. Prior to unpacking we took time to study a written and photographic display of Mary's family history. Mary's father came to Australia from Italy in 1939, and his family emigrated to Australia soon after the war. The Germano family settled in Mirboo North in 1948. The now renovated house was moved to the site from Hermes Oak in 1962. Its initial function was to provide accommodation for the farm workers. Mary and Joe, her husband, established a new house on the hill just up from the cottage in 1981.

We smiled as we looked at Mary's hand written note, adjacent to the family history for it summed up why we like to retreat to the country from time to time. We were encouraged to Relax - Unwind - Enjoy.

In general, we try to arrange our holidays when the weather is favourable. However, on making our booking, we recognized that October is not an ideal month as the weather tends to be unsettled. Be that as it may, we booked and hoped for the best. The forecast as we left Highett was for cool weather and rain. The worst weather was on Monday and Thursday, for these days we were content to stay indoors and entertain ourselves (read, listen to music, go for short walks, and writing).

We watched three DVDs on this tour - Enough Said , Belle, and Satellite Boy. We were more than pleased with our selection. Enough Said was very funny and a delight to watch as it explored the dynamics of choices that people make; Belle , based on a true story, was a dramatic account of how a mulatto (half-caste African), who had been adopted into an upper class English family, had to struggle for acceptance into society at a time when England endorsed the slave trade; Satellite boy was an entertaining story of how a young aboriginal, under the influence of his grand-father, rejected an attempt by his mother to encourage him to live in the white fellas world.

Unfortunately, we were unable to watch a French film as it was impossible to read the sub-titles on the old small screen TV. Belle was made to be seen on a wide screen. From time to time, we could hear the actors, but were unable to see them or, at best, only see part of them. This was annoying at first, but we gradually adapted to these occasional distortions as we could see that the film had a good story to tell. Thankfully, this was the first occasion on our tours that we had to be content with an old TV.

Tuesday and Thursday were cool but sunny days, ideal for scenic drives through the rolling hills  and farmlands to Inverloch, Leongatha, and Morwell. Lunch at Inverloch was followed up with afternoon tea at Leongatha. We are impressed with the size and layout of the shopping centre at Leongatha, which also has a cinema. Past visits resulted in my buying clothing from a well-stocked men's store. There were no purchases on this tour.

On our visit to Morwell, we observed as we drifted through the town, that cars were prominent and that there were not many people wandering around. We had difficulty finding a hotel for lunch , and when we did find one we were not impressed with what it had to offer, and so we settled for having lunch in a nearby Malaysian restaurant located in a street full of parked cars, and yes, you guessed it, only one or two people could be seen. Patricia suggested that the car drivers had been kidnapped by a UFO, and that the aliens intend to return the driver-prisoners at the end of the day in time for them to return home.

On main purpose for visiting Morwell was to view a display of landscape paintings at the Regional Art Gallery. We found these paintings to be of minor interest. What was more significant was a display of photographs which had been entered in a photographic competition. Patricia and I took our time to admire the photographs which were of a high standard. 

On display in another room were large panels on which Kerrie Warren had created colourful abstract paintings in a style similar to the technique that Jackson Pollock had employed to create Blue poles, a controversial purchase by the Whitlam government, which is now on display at the National Art Gallery in Canberra (Blue Poles was purchased for $1.1 million and is now estimated to be worth $100 million)

Prior to looking at Kerrie Warren's paintings we watched a video in which she discussed her work.

Kerrie Warren defines herself as an Action Painter (Gestural Abstraction). She also provided an Artist Statement which explains her technique, and can be summarized as one in which she moves around a canvas on the floor and actively "dribbles, splatters and throws" different colourful paints onto the canvas. From the intensity of this activity emerges a narrative. The artist does not have a preconceived vision of the outcome of her efforts, but rather it is the dynamics of the artist immersing herself in the action of the painting process which determines the definition of the painting; it is the coalescing of a pattern that finally releases the artist from the creative activity.

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