Monday, July 24, 2017

Return to Guruk

. . . a.k.a Port Macquarie

I've spent the last week-and-a-half in the Australian coastal town of Port Macquarie, which since 2002 has been home to my parents, Gordon and Margaret Bayly (pictured with me above last Thursday, July 20).

I was happy to see that on the local council's new-look signage for the town the aboriginal word for the area – Guruk – is being used. According to the Port Macquarie News, it's a move that has the support of the Birpai Local Aboriginal Land Council which said that the town council’s decision "promoted inclusiveness and helped celebrate aboriginal culture and history."

As I've noted previously, Port Macquarie is situated on the Hastings River and has a population of around 45,000. For most of the year (with the exception of the summer holidays around Christmas) it's a quiet place, owing largely to the fact that the busy Pacific Highway bypasses the town about seven kilometres inland.

The area around the Hastings (Aboriginal: Doongang) has been home to the Birpai Aboriginal peoples for tens of thousands of years.

Left: A photograph from the Thomas Dick Collection.

Traditional Birpai life changed forever with the mapping and naming of the area by Surveyor-General John Oxley in 1818. In 1821 Port Macquarie was founded as a penal settlement for convicts sentenced for crimes committed in New South Wales. The region was opened to free settlers nine years later.

Above: A rock formation on Flynns Beach that I find myself drawn to . . . and which brings to mind the writings of two authors I respect.

In A Short History of Myth, Karen Armstrong notes that, “The earliest mythologies taught people to see through the tangible world to a reality that seemed to embody something else. But this required no leap of faith, because at this stage there seemed to be no metaphysical gulf between the sacred and the profane. When these early people looked at a stone, they did not see an inert, unpromising rock. It embodied strength, permanence, solidity and an absolute mode of being that was quite different from the vulnerable human state. Its very otherness made it holy. A stone was a common hierophany – revelation of the sacred – in the ancient world” (and, I would add, in the spirituality of many contemporary indigenous peoples around the world).

“Trees, stones and heavenly bodies were never objects of worship in themselves”, writes Armstrong, “but were revered because they were epiphanies of a hidden force that could be seen powerfully at work in all natural phenomena, giving people intimations of another, more potent reality.”

In his book Karingal: A Search for Australian Spirituality, Rod Cameron similarly notes that, “Australian Aborigines believe that the Spirit People, the creative spirits of the Dreamtime, still live, [and that] after their epic wanderings during which they blessed the land with fertility, they retired to caves and to other sacred places to die. Their bodies are represented in the features of the sacred sites but their spirits still live and are creatively active.”

Above: Dawn on Flynns Beach – Sunday, July 23, 2017.

Above: Standing at right with (from left) Geoff, Cheryl, Dad, Mum, and Yonni – Sunday, July 16, 2017.

Right: Mum, wearing earrings hand-made by singer/songwriter Buffy Sainte-Marie. I bought these earrings when I saw Buffy perform last summer in Bayfield, Wisconsin.

Left: Dad (at right) with family friend Bob – Friday, July 23, 2017.

Above: With Mum and Dad at Jimmy's Bar, Port Macquarie – Thursday, July 13, 2017.

Above: Mum and Dad with a group of their Port Macquarie friends. From left: Gwen, Glenis, Chris, Cec, Albert, Mum, Dad, Peter, and Don – Tuesday, July 18, 2017.

Above: With my younger brother Tim and niece Layne – Thursday, July 13, 2017.

Above: My niece Sami and her boyfriend Jay – Newcastle (between Sydney and Port Macquarie), July 12, 2017.

Above and below: The Hastings River at Port Macquarie – Monday, July 24, 2017.

Above: Feeling at one with the spirit of this place.

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Australian Sojourn – May 2016: Port Macquarie
Australian Sojourn – April 2015: Port Macquarie, Wingham, and Ellenborough Falls
Port Macquarie Days (2014)
Christmas in Australia (2010)
Town Beach (2010)
Swallows Ledge (2009)
Port Macquarie (2008)
Everglades Exhibition (2007)

Images: Michael J. Bayly.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Saturday, July 22, 2017

A Prayer on the Feast of Mary Magdalene

Wisdom Spirit, help me recognize and accept my call to witness to Your power to bring life from death.

When Jesus called Mary by name, she recognized him. Saving One, give me ears to hear and eyes to see my true name, calling deep within.

Jesus sent Mary, Salome, and the other women disciples to proclaim the Good News to the Apostles even though they would not believe them. Rabboni, teach me how to proclaim the miracle of your Risen Love in a disbelieving world. Because of her witness and fidelity, Mary of Magdala is known as the Apostle to the Apostles.

Help me, O God of Righteousness, to accept your apostolic call "to go and tell” our brothers and sisters of Jesus' power to heal . . . even wounded structures which exclude.

Women were faithful disciples of Jesus and significant leaders in the early Christian communities.

Help me Most Inclusive One, to reclaim my baptismal call to leadership.

Writes author and spiritual director Susan Stabile:

Today the Catholic Church celebrates the feast of Mary Magdalene, faithful disciple of Christ. Until last year, we referred to this day as her “memorial,” but Pope Francis elevated the memorial to a feast day, giving her the same level of celebration as the other apostles.

Maligned for centuries, all we know of her origins is that she was a woman “from whom seven demons had gone out.” What we do know from the Gospels is that she was one of the women who followed Jesus to the cross and who stayed there while the male disciples fled.

We also know that Mary was the first to actually see the risen Jesus, and today’s Gospel recounts that beautiful scene. What is apparent from the encounter of these two is how much she loved Jesus. (Father Raymond-Leopold Bruckberger, O.P., once wrote that Mary loved Christ “with all the force of her being.”) We can see evidence of that love in the grief Mary displays outside of the tomb when she discovered Jesus’ body is gone. We see it in her tears and frantic search for any information she can find that will help her find the body. And we see it in her joy when she realizes that the person she has taken for a gardener is, in fact, the risen Jesus.

– Susan Stabile
Excerpted from "Mary Magdalene:
Apostle to the Apostle and Woman of Love
Creo en Dios!
July 22, 2017

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Mary of Magdala
Apostle to the Apostles
Thoughts on The Da Vinci Code
Thoughts on Ordination, Intellectual Dishonesty, and the Holy Spirit of which the Prophet Joel Speaks
Tell Them, Mary
The Model of Leadership Offered by Jesus: "More Like the Gardener Than the Owner of the Garden"

Related Off-site Links:
She Was NOT A Prostitute – Fola Folayan (, April 13, 2017).
What Would Mary Magdalene Do? – Phyllis Zagano (National Catholic Reporter, July 18, 2012).
What Mary Magdalene and the Samaritan Teach the Church – Jamie L. Manson (National Catholic Reporter, July 24, 2012).
A Homily for the Feast of Mary Magdalene – Diana Culbertson, OP (The Progressive Catholic Voice, July 22, 2011).
The Woman from Magdala – James Martin, S.J. (America, July 22, 2009).

Image: Chipo Chung as Mary Magdalene in NBC's 2015 mini-series, A.D. The Bible Continues.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Donald Trump: A View from Australia

As my winter sojourn in Australia continues I must say it's been strange watching the news here and seeing, day after day, officials from my other home in Minneapolis, MN being interviewed, including Governor Mark Dayton, Mayor Betsy Hodges, and, as of today, ex-Police Chief Janee Harteau. They and regular city residents have been in the news owing to the police shooting death of an unarmed Australian woman, Justine Dumond, who had been living with her American fiancée in a neighborhood close to where I live in south Minneapolis. People here simply can't understand how Damont came to be shot. They also can't fathom the related issue of the U.S. gun culture, one which, as a recent Vox article notes, makes police officers more fearful and thus "more likely to anticipate and perceive a threat and use deadly force as a result."

Talking to people and listening to various talk show programs, I've discerned that another aspect of the current scene in the U.S. that most Australians are both alarmed and baffled by is Donald Trump. How did such a man even get elected president? Why hasn't he been impeached yet? I hear these questions a lot.

I've actually come across only one person in Australia who openly supports Trump, and that was during my last visit home, last May, when Trump was not yet president but only a candidate. The person who expressed enthusiastic support for Trump was the Kenyan-born husband of a former student of mine. In talking to this young man I discovered that he supported Trump because he saw him as a "strong man," as that type of authoritarian leader that by sheer force of personality and his anti-democratic actions brings order, or at least the appearance of order, to societies experiencing political and economic upheaval. Perhaps this had been this young man's experience of government in Kenya: a "strong man" in power bringing order to a society experiencing chaos. I can't say for sure.

Regardless, my response to him was to acknowledge his concerns about the socio-economic turmoil he rightly sensed was taking place in various parts of the world, including the U.S., and to suggest that a better way of responding to such turmoil wasn't to embrace "strong men" representing ideologies of nationalism, racism and/or fascism, but rather to build an authentically democratic and progressive movement dedicated to economic and social justice. Of course, I then introduced my friend's husband to Bernie Sanders, and I'm happy to say that he said he would look into his political platform. Now, whether or not he did and had a change of heart as a result, I can't say. I dare say I'll find out during this trip home.

In the meantime, I share the editorial from today's The Sydney Morning Herald, one that I believe reflects the majority of Australians' view on Trump, his administration, and his political agenda.

Healthcare Fail a Sickness of Trump's Government

As he prepared for the D-Day landings, General Dwight Eisenhower, who would later become US president, wrote a note for publication should the Allied invasion of German-occupied Europe fail. "If any blame or fault attaches to the attempt, it is mine alone," it said.

President Harry Truman had a sign on his desk that read simply, "The buck stops here."

This week, as he marked the end of his first six months in office, Donald Trump accepted that Republican attempts to fulfil his most significant campaign promise – the immediate repeal and replacement of Obamacare – were doomed despite his party's control of both houses of Congress and the White House. He told reporters, "We're not going to own it. I'm not going to own it. I can tell you the Republicans are not going to own it."

The repeal of Obamacare has been the Republican Party's single greatest policy objective for seven years. It has had that long to work on a viable alternative. In the six months since the election, Republicans have hastily drafted two alternative replacement bills, one from the House, another from the Senate.

The House bill is not even a true healthcare act, rather a raft of tax cuts for the wealthy paid for by the abolition of healthcare for the poor. A nonpartisan government analysis has concluded it would leave 22 million more people without health insurance.

The proposals have proved so politically toxic, commonly polling at around 20 percent, that they cannot even command overwhelming support among Congressional Republicans. Meanwhile, polling suggests Obamacare is more popular than it has ever been.

Mr Trump has shown little interest in campaigning for either bill, and now he plans to white-ant Obamacare until it collapses with no plan to replace it. This is what he means when he says he will not "own it".

It is a response to a political failure that betrays not only a staggering disregard for the wellbeing of many of his fellow citizens, but a staggering political naivete. He is the president. He owns it.

– The Editorial Board
July 21, 2017

Related Off-site Links:
Trumpcare Collapsed Because the Republican Party Cannot Govern – Jonathan Chait (New York Magazine, July 18, 2017).
The Republicans Waged a 3-decade War on Government. They Got Trump – Norman J. Ornstein and Thomas E. Mann (Vox, July 18, 2016).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Quote of the Day – June 23, 2017
Trump's America: Normalized White Supremacy and a Rising Tide of Racist Violence
Quote of the Day – May 4, 2017
Quote of the Day – March 16, 2017
A Profoundly Troubling and Tragic Indictment
On International Human Rights Day, Saying "No" to Donald Trump and His Fascist Agenda
Trump's Playbook

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Buffy Sainte-Marie Headlines SummerStage Festival in NYC's Central Park

Above: Buffy Sainte-Marie headlining a roster of aboriginal performers, including Iskwé and A Tribe Called Red, in New York City’s Central Park on July 9. (Photo: Michael Seto)

The Wild Reed's special countdown to the release of Buffy Sainte-Marie's new album, Medicine Songs, continues with the sharing of an excerpt from Leeanne Root's Indian Country Today's July 17 article about Buffy's headlining of this year's SummerStage music festival in New York City's Central Park.

NOTE: For the first installment of this series, click here. For my photographs of Buffy in concert in Minnesota and Wisconsin last summer, click here.


Three aboriginal performers including Iskwé, A Tribe Called Red, and Buffy Sainte-Marie brought a diverse crowd of some 3,000 to New York City’s Rumsey Playfield in Central Park on July 9 for a free concert.

“You got a whole lot of Canadians here, eh?” Buffy Sainte-Marie jokingly asked the crowd when she took the stage after Iskwé and A Tribe Called Red.

She had the crowd on their feet and swaying to songs like “Up Where We Belong,” “Starwalker,” and “The War Racket.”

Buffy Sainte-Marie talked about activism and instead of war having a school to teach alternative conflict resolution before singing her song “Universal Soldier.”

She got the crowd going speaking the lyrics to “Carry It On.” She asked the crowd “Are you here to improve?” And reminded everyone that “We’re only here by the skin of our teeth as it is.”

. . . Even though having all three of these performers on the same stage may seem like a stretch because they all sound so different, the crowd loved it. As people were leaving, many noted how amazing the show was.

“Buffy Sainte-Marie is an artist I first saw perform live in a church in Montreal several years ago, and I have wanted to bring her to SummerStage ever since, not specifically because she is a pioneering indigenous voice, but simply because she is an amazing musician and performer,” City Parks Foundation Executive Artistic Director Erika Elliott told ICMN.

“The rest of the line-up then evolved organically to include other indigenous voices, because all were acts we wanted to have in the SummerStage season. A Tribe Called Red has been a favorite of mine for years now as well, and I had struggled to find the right show to have them on. Once I confirmed Buffy Sainte-Marie, it honestly seemed like a stretch sonically to book them on the same bill, but after talking with all and knowing Buffy and A Tribe Called Red both liked the idea, we moved ahead,” Elliott said. “I gauge response by crowd response, and the night was really well-received by everyone in attendance, especially since the audience was so diverse.”

It certainly was a diverse evening to remember. Even Buffy Sainte-Marie commented that the only Canadian aboriginal musician missing was Tanya Tagaq.

– Leeanne Root
Excerpted from “Buffy Sainte-Marie Headlines
Aboriginal Performances in NYC

Indian Country Today
July 17, 2017


Following is a 2010 performance by Buffy and her band of her song "Starwalker."

Starwalker he's a friend of mine
You've seen him looking fine
He's a straight talker, he's a Starwalker
Don't drink no wine
Ay way hey o heya

Wolf Rider she's a friend of yours
You've seen her opening doors,
She's a history turner, she's a sweetgrass burner
And a dog soldier
Ay hey way hey way heya

Lightning Woman, Thunderchild
Star soldiers one and all
Oh, Sisters, Brothers all together
Aim straight, stand tall

For The Wild Reed's special series of posts leading-up to the May 12, 2015 release of Buffy's most recent album, Power in the Blood, see:
Buffy Sainte-Marie and That "Human-Being Magic"
Buffy Sainte-Marie's Lesson from the Cutting Edge: "Go Where You Must to Grow"
Buffy Sainte-Marie: "Sometimes You Have to Be Content to Plant Good Seeds and Be Patient"
Buffy Sainte-Marie's Power in the Blood

For more of Buffy Sainte-Marie at The Wild Reed, see:
For Acclaimed Songwriter, Activist and Humanitarian Buffy Sainte-Marie, the World is Always Ripening
Buffy Sainte-Marie: "I'm Creative Anywhere"
A Music Legend Visits the North Country: Buffy Sainte-Marie in Minnesota and Wisconsin – August 2016
Two Exceptional Singers Take a Chance on the "Spirit of the Wind"
Photo of the Day – January 21, 2017
Buffy Sainte-Marie Wins 2015 Polaris Music Prize
Congratulations, Buffy
Happy Birthday, Buffy!
Actually, There's No Question About It
For Buffy Sainte-Marie, a Well-Deserved Honor
Buffy Sainte-Marie: Singing It and Praying It; Living It and Saying It
Buffy Sainte-Marie: Still Singing with Spirit, Joy, and Passion
Something Special for Indigenous Peoples Day
Buffy Sainte-Marie: "The Big Ones Get Away"

Opening image: Michael Seto.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Austen and Australia

Today marks the 200th anniversary of the death of English novelist Jane Austen (1775-1817). Here in Australia a number of special events are taking place to honor and celebrate the life and works of Austen, including a display of rare editions of her books at the State Library of New South Wales, a keynote speech at the University of Sydney by Austen expert Professor Devoney Looser of Arizona State University, and a high tea at Curzon Hall hosted by the Jane Austen Society of Australia.

Many of my favorite stories, as books and/or films, are set during England's Georgian era (1714-1830), the time in which Austen lived. Among these is the 1996 film adaption of Austen's 1817 novel Persuasion. Others include Winston Graham's Poldark series of novels; Tolstoy's War and Peace; the tale of Jean Valjean in Les Misérables; Jane Campion's film Bright Star, about the poet John Keats; and the book I've just started reading during my current visit home to Australia, For the Term of His Natural Life by Marcus Clarke. It's a novel that, more than any other, is said to define Australia's convict past (1788-1868).

Above: The cast of the BBC's 2016 adaptation of War and Peace. Although set in Russia, Tolstoy's sweeping saga of love, war, betrayal and redemption takes place at the same time as England's Regency era (1795-1837), which is considered to be the last part of the Georgian era.

Above: Gabriella Wilde as Caroline Penvenen, Eleanor Tomlinson as Demelza Poldark, and Aidan Turner as Ross Poldark in the BBC's latest adaptation of Winston Graham's Poldark novels. Graham's series of historical novels is set in England during the Regency era, with the twelve Poldark novels covering the period 1783-1820.

Above: Abbie Cornish as Fanny Brawne and Ben Whishaw as the English Romantic poet John Keats (1795-1821) in Jane Campion's 2009 film, Bright Star.

My attraction to and interest in the Georgian era is no doubt influenced by certain artworks from my childhood. In the hallway of my childhood home in Gunnedah, for example, hung a framed print of Thomas Lawrence's "The Red Boy" (1825). Lawrence is often considered the "Romantic portraitist of the Regency," and his portrait of the young Charles William Lambton is one of my earliest memories. It remains to this day in the home of my parents – though that home is now in Port Macquarie, not Gunnedah.

Also, when I was a child I had a book of nursery rhymes illustrated by Janet and Anne Grahame Johnstone. Their drawings featured adults and children in the fashions of the Georgian era (left), perhaps because many of the nursery rhymes included in the book were written during this time.

Finally, growing up in the 1970s in Australia (which, remember, was and remains part of the British Commonwealth) many everyday items – from tins of chocolates to money – featured images of people in Regency-era attire, the same era in which Jane Austen lived and about which she wrote in her novels.

Above: The historical figures of John Macarthur (1767-1834) and Caroline Chisholm (1808-1877) as depicted on Australian bank notes from the 1960s-'80s.

Which brings us back to the main point of this post! . . . In yesterday's Sydney Morning Herald Linda Morris offered an insightful commentary on how and why Jane Austen is relevant to Australia – both during her lifetime and today. Following is an excerpt from Morris's article.

Australian politics is full of well-known figures that resemble characters from Jane Austen novels, notes Paul Brunton, emeritus curator of the State Library of NSW.

Be they :pompous , the stupid, the self-serving, the snobbish, the superficial and less often the sensible and altruistic."

It is Austen's ability to create characters recognizable in contemporary society – to "dissect human nature with the skill of a surgeon" – that marks her genius, said Brunton, and one reason among many to observe the 200th anniversary of the author's death [today].

While the cause of Austen's untimely death in Winchester on July 18, 1817, is disputed, a series of public events have been planned to celebrate the life and works of the novelist who wrote three classics of English literature before the age of 25.

. . . The late 18th century, early 19th century Georgian era of Austen's novels, Persuasion, Emma and Pride and Prejudice, was the period of first European settlement in Australia, said the library's resident fashion historian, Margot Riley.

"All those first generations of free white settlers were coming from that same milieu, that same background of genteel society, and really looking to recreate the ideals of that society in Australia," Riley said.

"People like Lachlan Macquarie and the Blaxland family and all those early settlers were trying to recreate Austen's world."

Governor Macquarie, Riley said, embodied Austen's idea of the self-made military gentleman – "one of those far more noble characters you see in books like Persuasion where you leave home, you have to take risks, go off to foreign places in order to have a profession and a career and advance yourself for the benefit of your family."

"It was determined that Elizabeth, who was a cousin, would make him an excellent wife and companion to come out to Australia. They brought a social calendar. . . . They did a lot of work to gentrify and normalise society away from just being a prison colony."

Governor Bligh's daughter Mary Putland was another figure of Australian history who modelled some of Austen's feisty female characters.
"She came out here, lost her husband early when she arrived here, he passed away from tuberculosis, the mother did not come out with Governor Bligh so she became the lady of the colony." Riley said.

The Regency fashion of sheer empire line gowns was readily adopted and Putland was a trendsetter. She set the colony alight when she wore long drawers and walked into church with her undergarments visible about her ankles.

– Linda Morris
Excerpted from “Celebrating the Genius of Jane Austen
200 Years After Her Death

Sydney Morning Herald
July 18, 2017

NEXT: Donald Trump: A View from Australia

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
A Beautiful and "Quietly Remarkable" Adaptation of Jane Austen's Persuasion
Dreaming of Spring
Return of the (Cornish) Native
Anyone for Tea?

Monday, July 17, 2017

Quote of the Day

This is the image our community is presenting to the world, with front-page coverage in Australia [above] and our own national papers of this latest tragedy on top of the great miscarriage of justice that was the Philando Castile travesty. Minnesota is becoming known, not for its "10,000 lakes" nor for its great progressive political heritage nor for its amazing list of homegrown Fortune 500 companies, but for its police officers who gun-down innocent citizens – black, white and brown – and are not held accountable. Is that who we are? Why were those cameras turned off? Why are our officers so terrified of the public they serve? Why are unstable, trigger-happy cops not ferreted out before they kill? Who is responsible for this lack of leadership, this culture of fear, this "us vs. them" mentality, this power-dynamic where union bosses outrank chiefs of police, this political culture where elected leaders refuse to challenge the status quo with anything beyond words of concern?

Ken Darling
via Facebook
July 17, 2017

Related Off-site Links:
Australian Woman Justine Damond Killed in Police Shooting in MinneapolisSydney Morning Herald (July 17, 2017).
Minneapolis Police Shot an Unarmed Woman in Her Pajamas. They Haven’t Explained Why – German Lopez (Vox, July 17, 2017).
After Minneapolis Police Officer Fatally Shoots Australian Woman, Her Relatives Plead for Answers – Emily Sohn, Kristine Phillips, Mark Berman and Katie Mettler (The Washington Post, July 17, 2017).
Police Brutality Jumped a Racial Fence with Minneapolis Cop Shooting of Justine Damond – Shaun King (New York Daily News, July 17, 2017).
Officer Identified as Firing Fatal Shot Has 3 Complaints on File, City Records Show – Theresa Malloy (KSTP News, July 17, 2017).

UPDATES: After Minneapolis Police Shooting of Justine Damond, It's Time to Decide Who Runs This Town – Richard G. Carlson (Star Tribune, July 18, 2017).
Authorities Silent Nearly Three Days After Justine Damond Shooting – Andy Mannix (Star Tribune, July 18, 2017).
Australians See Woman's Shooting by Police as U.S. Nightmare – The Associated Press via MPR News, July 18, 2017).
Australian Government Demands Answers on Minneapolis Police Shooting – Reuters (July 18, 2017).
Are We Listening Now? – Ryan Williams-Virden (Form Follows Function, July 18, 2017).
Valerie Castile Offers Support To Justine Damond’s Family At RallyWCCO News (July 20, 2017).
Minneapolis Police Chief Harteau Resigns, Mayor Nominates New Chief – Ben Rodgers (KSTP News, July 21, 2017).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Police, Pride, and Philando Castile
Remembering Philando Castile and Demanding Abolition of the System That Targets and Kills People of Color
Quote of the Day – June 20, 2017
Quote of the Day – November 25, 2015
"We Are All One" – #Justice4Jamar and the 4th Precinct Occupation: Photos, Reflections and Links
An Update on #Justice4Jamar and the 4th Precinct Occupation
Rallying in Solidarity with Eric Garner and Other Victims of Police Brutality
"Say Her Name" Solidarity Action for Sandra Bland

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Overcast Skies

Images: Michael J. Bayly (Town Beach, Port Macquarie – July 16, 2017).

Saturday, July 15, 2017

A Visit to the Art Gallery of New South Wales

My first day back in Australia (Tuesday, July 11) was also my younger brother's birthday. We celebrated by enjoying brunch at the Coogee Pavilion (right) and then catching a bus to The Domain area of Sydney to visit the Art Gallery of New South Wales (above).

Following are a few more pics from that day.

Above: A number of bark paintings in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander collection. Notes the Gallery's website about this collection:

Representing artists from communities across Australia, the Art Gallery of NSW’s collection of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art celebrates Indigenous Australia’s enduring cultural heritage and its myriad contemporary expressions. The earliest work in the collection, by Tommy McRae, dates back to the late 19th century, yet the stories, ceremonies and ancestral beings depicted in many of the works are testament to the oldest continuous culture in the world. From desert paintings created by small family groups living on remote Western Desert outstations and the bark paintings of the saltwater people of coastal communities to the new media expressions of ‘blak city culture’, contemporary artists have generated a renaissance of Indigenous visual art that has transfigured Australia’s cultural landscape.

Above: The Gallery's collection of Australian art is said to be amongst the finest and most representative in the country. Dating from the early 1800s, it includes many iconic paintings and sculpture.

Featured works include ones by 19th-century artists Eugene von Guérard, William Piguenit, Frederick McCubbin, Tom Roberts, Arthur Streeton and Charles Conder, and 20th-century artists such as Margaret Preston, Grace Cossington Smith, William Dobell, Russell Drysdale, Lloyd Rees, Jeffrey Smart, John Olsen, Robert Klippel, Fred Williams, John Brack and Brett Whiteley.

One of a number of famous artworks by non-Australian artists at the Gallery is "Vive L'Empereur!" (1891) by French artist Édouard Detaille (at far right in the image above).

Above: Three famous Australian paintings: "Across the Black Soil Plains" (1899) by George W. Lambert and "The Golden Fleece" (1894) and "Bailed Up" (1895) by Tom Roberts.

The painting second from left above is from Sidney Nolan's famous series of stylised descriptions of the Australian bushranger Ned Kelly. Notes Wikipedia:

Nolan's Ned Kelly series follow the main sequence of the Kelly story. However Nolan did not intend the series to be an authentic depiction of these events. Rather, these episodes/series became the setting for the artist's meditations upon universal themes of injustice, love and betrayal. The Kelly saga was also a way for Nolan to paint the Australian landscape in new ways, with the story giving meaning to the place.

Above: Another painting by Sidney Nolan in the Art Gallery of New South Wales is "Island" (1947).

Says the Gallery about this work:

This bold composition, in which an isolated male figure has been placed in the dead centre of an empty seascape fringed with soft hills set against a pale violet sky is one of Nolan's most haunting images of the late 1940s. It is based on his visit to Fraser Island in North Queensland, which he visited in 1947, partly to investigate the accidental death of his brother Ray in Cooktown two years earlier.

Nolan read about the story of the shipwrecked Englishwoman Eliza Fraser, who became stranded amongst local Aborigines and was rescued by escaped convict David Bracewell, and painted a series pertaining to the narrative. [NOTE: It was actually the convict John Graham who "rescued" Fraser. Also, Fraser was not captured by the Badtjala people, as many accounts state, but rather taken in by them.] The figure could represent Bracewell, Nolan himself, or perhaps the ghost of the artist's brother. However, the abiding existential mood of this remarkable work transcends local legend, lifting it into the realm of metaphor about the fundamental condition of individual humanity.

Above: Detail of "The English Channel" (2015), a sculpture of Captain James Cook by New Zealand artist Michael Parekowhai.

Notes the Gallery about this work:

Larger than life and created from highly polished steel, Michael Parekowhai’s "The English Channel" is an arresting sculptural presence. The figure, with flowing topcoat and ponytail, is the British navigator Captain James Cook. But this is not Cook as he is seen in the many historical monuments that bear his name – or in the famous 1776 portrait painting by Nathaniel Dance which is one inspiration for this sculpture. Resting on a sculptor’s working table with his feet suspended above ground, this Cook seems to be reflecting on his legacy in the contemporary world. At the same time, his dazzling surface collects the reflection of everything around it – including viewers looking at it. Despite the sculpture’s considerable height and weight, this mirror-like surface lends "The English Channel" a slippery and elusive presence, as if to suggest how perceptions shift depending on where one is standing. This charged relationship with place was heightened, in the sculpture’s debut presentation in Sydney, by its physical location within the Gallery, in front of windows overlooking the harbour that Cook sailed past in 1770. The result is a monument of a very contemporary kind – not a full stop marking the end of a story but a question mark inviting response and reflection.

Above: "Forever" by Ai Weiwei (2003).

Above: "An Athlete Wrestling with a Python" (1888-1891), a white marble sculpture by Frederic Leighton. Behind this sculpture can be seen "The Anatomy Class at the École des Beaux Arts" (1888) by François Sallé.

Above: Part of Yin Xiuzhen's installation, "Beijing Opera" (2000).

Above: "Flowers and People – Gold" by teamLab (2015).

Notes the Gallery's website:

The work ‘Flowers and People – Gold’ is an interactive work that takes up the theme of the seasons, which is often reflected in Japanese art and important in Japanese culture. teamLab in particular has a keen awareness of the importance of pre-modern Japanese art and culture and the importance of keeping it relevant in the contemporary world.

‘Flowers and People - Gold’ was inspired by a visit to Kunisaki Peninsula in the spring, a time when cherry blossoms and rape blossoms were in abundance around the mountains. . . . The animated installation work shows flowers that gradually bud, blossom, grow and appear from all areas of the screen. Once a viewer steps close, (and is detected by sensors) the flowers start to wither away and die. A cycle endlessly continues, revolving around the coming to life and then the gradual decay that eventually leads to death. The interaction between the viewer and the installation fuels the work, continually changing the animated states that cannot be replicated. It is the viewer’s presence that prompts the cycle the flowers will take.

Above: The lights of "Flowers and People - Gold" reflected in the glass case surrounding "Padmapani," a 13th-century Nepalese sculpture in the Gallery's Asian art collection.

Right: Another view of "Padmapani."

Above: Walking back across The Domain from the Art Gallery of New South Wales to the central business district (CBD) of Sydney.

Above: Sydney Hospital, the oldest hospital in Australia, dating back to 1788, and at its current location since 1811.

Above: On the Macquarie Street side of Sydney Hospital is Il Porcellino, "the little pig," a larger than life-sized bronze wild boar. It's an exact replica of an original by Pietro Tacca which has stood in Florence, Italy, since circa 1633.

Left: Standing by the same statue with my father, Gordon Bayly, in 1980.

Above and below: Sydney, winter 2017.

Above: Yes, believe it or not, marriage equality is yet to come to Australia.

On the same day as The Australian newspaper story, The Daily Telegraph also reported on how, "according to a special Newspoll, more Australians now support a popular vote on same-sex marriage than holding a free vote in parliament." To read this story, click here.

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
A Visit to the Weisman
Australia Bound
Return to Oz . . . Sydney to Be Exact! (2014)
Sydney Sojourn (2010)