Growing Pains

I have never imagined for a moment myself as a writer, yet here I am at 6AM in the morning putting pen to paper metaphorically speaking.

Having an opportunity to go to university and complete a degree was never on my agenda as a young man. I had a great education experience in secondary school yet I always pictured myself as employed and travelling which to some degree is exactly what happened.

In 1991 I was encouraged to think of a career as a primary school teacher, early childhood to be exact. My own Mother used to continuously say to me that if ever there was a person who could care for and nurture children it was me. What an odd thing to say to a child right through their own childhood was my thinking at the time.

So, in 1992 I started a teaching undergraduate degree at Edith Cowan University in Bunbury. At the very same time the very people who had helped me sit the mature age (ha!) entry test were also the very people I was fighting with regarding my own ability to parent. An unfortunate visit from interstate 'mates' soon sealed my fate.

You do not eat baby food that is in a fridge no matter what state of inebriation you are in. Golden rule.

I told that person to get out of the house and the rest is history. I ended up homeless on the same day. That wasn't the only reason for me moving out but I'll leave those reasons to the annals of time and truth.

In fact, come to think of it, it was the very day that I knew my life of fairytale cohabitation complete with white horse was all but a dream. Damn those fairy tales! They make it all sound so good!

Living in student housing, attending my teaching degree by day and having supervised access visits to my child, my precious and eldest Daughter is not a good combination. Firstly, student housing is filled with parties. Secondly, a teaching degree is a very demanding undergraduate vocation. Thirdly, the emotional rollercoaster of seeing your child at the behest of others and a Family court system is horrific.

I didn't do well. I dont regret or feel guilty about anything rather I just now accept it as it was. The past.

I was at too many parties, my studies were interrupted badly and I was an emotional wreck with my backwards and forwards trying to be what I thought to be a Father, which would only be solved by me establishing my own space, my own home, my own timetable. Luckily again fate engineered people into my life who have to this day remained my mentors and friends.

A number of Lecturers at Edith Cowan University encouraged me to do well. They sat with me and challenged me to think of life as filled with choices. They encouraged me to think outside of the box of broken dreams and to create new ones. With beautiful people. Which I did.

This book is being written with the encouragement of a person who I think fundamentally changed everything in my broken boulevard of bravado and bullshit. I met her (saw her and madly fell in love) in a drawing class at the University in a life drawing class. That night at the Student Guild function I decided that it was a match. The rest is history.

We rented a house by the beach, set up a household that included my Daughter and we began living as a couple whilst still both studying and working. I got a part time job working at the local Bunbury Regional Art Gallery as an Art Tutor. The days were long and hot. The nights filled with the screech of seagulls, crash of waves, the stench of too much sex and not enough study.

Things got ugly quick. I fronted up to an inquiry into the activity or lack of it with staff at the University and before long found myself in the thick of a nasty melee, studying as a student whilst fending for myself against the workings of a then very biased family court system. To their credit my stable relationship, household, patterns of study and work were taken into account.

By 1993 we had moved to a small rural community, actually come to think of it to an isolated farmhouse within the reach of the acrid smoke billowing from the local copper arsenate plant. What an odd thing it is to build a fifty foot floating pirate ship only to have it burn and explode in Bunbury Harbour. As an Artist that "fuck you" attitude began to grow also, that daring to challenge the taboo, resolving and settling cycle....the urge to create yet commensurately the urge to destroy.

My art career was born with a number of prizes in printmaking, a legacy that will stay with me for the rest of my life. A lecturer who took time to foster my arts education skills and who spent many a weekend pulling raku pottery from blazing hot kilns when he should have been at home with his wife and children. Again, a male mentor who took the time to grow me.

I soon found myself, as my media folio shows, at the centre of infamy in the town of Bunbury, Western Australia. Crazily busy completing a teaching degree, getting up to mischief with fellow artists and discovering amongst the sordid array of personal experience my own polyamorist identity.

Printmaking till 3 AM in the morning, travelling deep into the south west and creating some of the largest and most complex of prints that I think I'll ever complete. Etchings, Linocuts. Hand embellished monoprints. Lithographs. Selling them all at figures that astound me even today.

By 1995, having travelled to Margaret River numerous times, building of a magnificent stone, timber and glass home, finished my 18 week extended teaching practicum and graduating with an Outstanding award it felt right to take my second marriage proposal from an engagement to that of getting married in reality.

All of my friends disagreed. My Family desperate to see me settled and happy agreed.

The marriage lasted 9 months...5 months in my mind. Soon after we married we were returning one day from the beach as we did lots to learn that the very home we had been magically transported within to a stable coexistence had burned to the ground. The dogs were inside.

Everything was lost. The fire so intense it even cracked the 6 foot thick walls in places. 

Grief manifests itself in weird and wonderful ways. It has a way of disguising itself in the event of breakups. It finds its way into every pore of daily life till the very patterns of raising your head from the pillow becomes difficult. 

A new and profound low after such a run of extreme highs and hope.

And so began my career as an Artist.