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An unexpected visit to Canberra.

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  Mads & Ellen In late October (2021) Ellen was diagnosed with a meningioma, a benign brain tumour. I chose to come here to Canberra when she told me this news. For Ellen it is another detrimental health event in a long line of such events in her short life. I postponed my November work schedule to be here and subsequently I have postponed my December commissions or passed them on to others. Ellen will undergo surgery to remove the tumour on December 6th at the Royal Canberra Hospital. Her attitude is positive, though I know a little frightened, she just wants to "get in to surgery, get it out and get back to her life, their kiddies and her work. And that's what we are all banking on. My time here is unknown as her recovery will be at least six week but here I am for now and very happy to be here with the young ones to keep us all happy and focused on her wellbeing.   
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  On one of our morning COVID-exercise walks. It was a lot warmer than this photograph suggests. Stunningly awesome. Goodness, our short, sharp lockdown came and went so quickly, blink and you would have missed it. This happened only in southern Tasmania where we remain COVID free. That in itself is very interesting. The perpetrator, a 31 year old male, entered the State illegally, was COVID positive, escaped from hotel quarantine yet infected no one in his community outings for hours on end even visiting a supermarket and many friends. How can that happen? I just pose the question is all.

It's Lecture month!

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    Detail from the arrest of Christ with stunning lettering & ornamentation. Such intricate design and powerful imagery.   October 2021 is lecture month for me. I am privileged to be invited to present lectures on the Book of Kells for the Australian Decorative and Fine Arts Society (ADFAS) Queensland. ADFAS Byron Bay is also included in the Queensland circuit of lectures and why not! Due to our covid-19 restrictions with border controls all the lectures are presented by live-streaming.  Live-streaming has it's drawback of course but we have managed to iron out most of the difficulties to every ones satisfaction. I was particularly looking forward to traveling north into the warmth but alas I remain here in the studio in all my upper-body presentation regalia along with my jeans and comfortable flat leathers. So far I have presented to ADFAS Byron, Brisbane (twice), Brisbane River & Noosa with Toowoomba, Rocky & Cairns to come. Fortunately I love my subject matter.    

On our way to Strahan ...

    We have visited Strahan three times since I arrived in Tasmania. Normally a five hour drive from Hobart though this particular trip took us six odd hours as we encountered snow and lot's of it across the top of the State. Dangerous yes, exciting yes, I drove yes! We reached our beautiful destination exhausted yet happy.

The wilderness on the west coast

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        On Monday of this week David and I had an interesting steam train trip. We were visiting Strahan for some well deserved R&R.  In the early morning and drove to Queenstown where, very excitedly we boarded a steam train on West Coast Wilderness Railway. It started out like Gillian’s Island, perfectly well. Along the way we were served drinks and delicious Tasmanian fare. Between Lynchford and Rinadeena Saddle however a certain part of the mechanism between the engine and the Abt rack and pinion track broke. The Abt rack and pinion allows a train to motor uphill and downhill. We were stuck in the middle of a rainforest for just over three hours. We were perfectly fine but an urgent need to go to the toilet was for the most part felt more pressing by the women. No toilet facility onboard though there was at each station … if we ever got to them.    We had two train driver engineers but they were not in a position to repair the damage. Three engineers drove from Strahan to Quee

Exciting find

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    Whilst on a trip to the west coast of Tasmania we visited the tiny railway station of Lynchford between Queenstown and Strahan. As the area was known for it's mining (gold and other such riches) there remains a tiny two room museum that can only be accessed by train as part of the West Coast Wilderness Railway. It is on the tourist trail and we were playing tourists. It was here I made an exciting find. Orpiment. I have talked about orpiment for years in my lectures on the Book of Kells but I had never actually seen it before last Monday. Orpiment - arsenic tri-sulphide - was used in the Book of Kells as a gold-like pigment and it was also used to adorn the tombs of pharaohs including King Tutankhamen. I was delighted. Magnificent!
The past five or six months has been frenetic to say the least. There have been vaccinations, TSO concerts, lectures to attend online as a participant, lectures to give, Book of Kells, A calligraphers Life. There have been workshops both in-person and online ... many of them. Some have been pop-up workshops that I organise on the spur of the moment with a group or groups in pandemic lock down (gratis) then I have have some invitations to teach in Australia, the UK, and the US. There have been exhibitions to attend and exhibitions to contribute to not to mention preparing works for a major journal (shhhhh) about to go to press. Gosh ... and lunches & dinners to attend. Now I'm off to meet a calligraphy friend for a coffee!