When I woke up and saw the news this morning I didn’t think I’d be able to find anything positive to say at the end of the day.
I’d gone to bed having seen a few mentions on Twitter of reports of an event in Martin Place and I woke up to the full siege.
How horrendous it was – and still is, with two innocent people now known to have died, both of them in heroic acts.
A truly dreadful day for Australia, but how inspiring I found the #illridewithyou movement which immediately sprang up.
It’s spirit of warmth, sticking together and inclusivity, sums up everything which made me fall in love with Australia, friendliest of countries, from the very first time I went there, in 1993.
For those not following events in Sydney today, the hash tag event happened when one commuter saw a woman take off her head scarf at a station – clearly scared of being attacked in a wave of anti-Muslim sentiment – and felt moved to offer help.
Rachel Jacobs posted on Facebook how she’d run after her the woman and said, ‘Put it back on, I’ll walk with you.’
Tweeter @sirtessa saw the post and had the idea for the hashtag, to be used by people offering to ride to work with anyone who ‘wears religious attire’ on their bus or train route. It has already grown to be a global phenomenon.
So that was one good thing out of a very dark day, although I do take some comfort that the creep responsible was a lone wolf, not the first wave of an organised campaign of terror. Please God – and that’s whatever God you feel comfortable with.
Among all that, I had some wonderful news from Sydney today. My adored and treasured friend, artist Pat Harry, has won the prestigious Pen & Pencils award.
This is a very special gong, because it’s bestowed by the country’s leading artists on the one they feel is the most worthy each year – and Pat is so so worthy.
I am in awe of her work. Huge, complex canvases, with lots of bold strokes and bright colour or stark black and white, combined with more subtle, muted areas. It’s a style which I would call abstract figurative.
There are figures in them but it’s all very ambiguous, giving them a great sense of mystery, yet there’s also always something narrative there to me.
The works at the top and below are from her installation Cocktail Party, where the large canvases where propped all round the gallery. I think it’s brilliant. It also seems oddly right to top a post that starts with such a dark subject about the effect of one individual on a group of random strangers.
I’ve had a while to think about how I would define her style, because I’m lucky enough to have a great big fabulous Pat Harry hanging in my sitting room. She gave it to us as wedding present and it’s very treasured.
I gaze at it every day and always find something new.
I love these pictures of Pat at the awards dinner at the S H Ervin Gallery, the moments of amazement and joy caught so perfectly.
You can also see how beautiful she is. I can’t wait to see her and her son Michael Carr, when I come to Sydney next year. And if I’m really lucky, Pat might cook me dinner… she’s one of the best cooks I know too.
Congratulations Pat and – hint hint xxx