The Buddha and Indiana Jones

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There is a scene in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade where, to save his Dad, Indie must overcome a series of obstacles. One of the obstacles is crossing a yawning chasm too wide to jump across, with no bridge … Continue reading

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The Purse and the Fishing Tackle Box

This morning I woke up to the start of yet another orbit around the sun. I have completed many orbits around the sun, the number of which remains my secret to those of you who don’t know me.

Several weeks ago, my husband asked me what I wanted as a present for this occasion and I had replied a purse.  I should explain that my husband and I have an understanding between us whereby we tell each other what we want and we each endeavour to  be creative  about finding that special something that the other wants. However when it comes to a woman’s purse  or a man’s briefcase for that matter, individual tastes and creativity do not come into it as they can result in embarrassing choices, awkward silences and unnatural displays of “enthusiasm”. With this in mind, my husband decided we should both shop for my purse.

Never one to have a different purse to match each outfit, I chose a neutral colour which would go with everything and most importantly a hand’s free one; a backpack type purse. There is nothing worse than having a heavy purse swinging from one shoulder and having it slide down each time you have to bend forward to pick up your bag of grocery. So it came to pass that I walked out of the shop with a brand new black leather backpack and a matching wallet. That was four weeks ago. Said back pack and wallet had been sitting in the wardrobe all this time while I walked around with my old handbag, with bits of leather falling off and loose threads hanging from where the stitching had come undone. I had been dreading the switch over all this time. Don’t get me wrong. I love my new bag and I love my husband dearly for getting it. It is just that I feel as though I am being disloyal to my old bag.

A handbag is not just something for you to put your money and lipstick in. The bag goes everywhere with you.

Your bag is the keeper of your identity. You keep your driver’s license in it which is your form of identification. And if you are like me, you keep a sketch book and pen  and a plastic bag for collecting interesting leaves or pebbles or bark that you may find on the ground.

My bag keeps me company when I am at the shops and is there to witness those special moments when I am in a bookstore and come upon a beautiful  expensive art book which I would love to buy but after a short debate decide I should merely give thanks for the moment of pleasure derived from looking at it.  Afterwards my bag and I walk away without a hint of regret….

Thus this evening the moment came for me to part company with my old bag and transfer everything into my new bag. Ever the understanding soul, my husband leaves the room to give me time alone with my old and new bag. First I empty out the front pockets which contain my sketch book and various pens and in the process discover that I have amassed a considerable collection of gum nuts found from trips to the park and other people’s gardens. A  half packet of bandaids have proven handy for the occasional nicks and scratches and blisters. Next come bits of paper containing my shopping list and sketches of people I have noticed while standing in line at the supermarket checkout. Now I head for the bowels of my handbag to retrieve my mobile phone which never gets switched on unless I need to make a call or want to listen to the radio. And as I dig deeper into the bag, I find envelopes containing cash reimbursements for shopping done for  the Buddhist Centre to which I belong but have long forgotten to  transfer into my wallet.

I smile and find consolation in the fact that. I did not win today’s $30 million dollar lottery price. So the change over to the new bag is complete. I put away my old bag which has served me well and sigh over the fact that every meeting must come to a parting. I leave my new wallet for another day. I can only handle one change over at a time.

To any gentleman who may be reading this blog , well may you laugh as I tell you the story of the fishing tackle box.

Many years ago as a new bride and new occupant to the house my husband had already been living in for the past twelve years, I decided to make myself useful by  giving the place a thorough clean up. The spring cleaning had  spanned several days and on the last day I came to his study. There was much to do here. Shelf upon shelf had to be emptied of books and old university notes and text books. His entire record collections of Cat Stevens had to be wiped down, and then carefully replaced on the shelves. I sneezed and wheezed as I poured over old Life Magazines and then I came upon what at first looked like an old tool box. Not another one, I said to myself. I had previously cleaned three other tool boxes but this one was different, it was blue  in colour and showing signs of rust and much smaller than the other three. I lifted the latch gingerly and then the lid. An unholy pong filled the room that I almost passed out and upon inspection I discovered various sizes of hooks and what appeared to  different coloured flies.

There was  something quite compelling about the fishing tackle box. It may have reeked  but  I found it quite difficult to avert my eyes from the neat rows of brightly coloured flies which were luminous in the dimly lit study as gruesome as they may have been. There was no question about it, I had chanced upon hallowed ground… the inner sanctum of a man’s fishing tackle box. I finally replaced the lid with what can only be described as reverence.

When my husband returned from work that evening and asked after my day, I mentioned my pungent discovery to which he exclaimed indignantly…” What were you doing in my fishing tackle box?” as he rushed off to his study to check on his prized possession. I followed him into the study and found him going through the box lifting each fly up respectfully and running through a check list aloud.

Let’s see, with the blue fly… he remembered a perfect  Canadian summer’s day on a lake so still you could hear the heart beat of a bird flying up above. Nope he did not catch anything that day with the blue fly but together they had experienced a oneness with nature. With the green fly it was the camaraderie with his brother and cousins. The smells of the box brought back exquisite memories of friendship and laughter, a time of innocence when the world was simpler and easier to understand.

So whether it is a purse or a blue fishing tackle box, we all have attachments for objects but in the end it really isn’t the object that is precious it is the experiences and memories associated with them that we cherish forever.

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The Cathedral Park

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We are so lucky to live next to a beautiful park. The park is not just a place for the occasional picnic with friends or where kids go to play on the swings or people take their dogs for a … Continue reading

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From Out Of Chaos

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It has been several weeks now since I took a running jump into the deep end, painting wise that is. Having done away with form, I start with a chaotic mix of colours and strokes. I am not conscious of … Continue reading

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Where The Wild Things Are – A tribute to Maurice Sendak

Tails from Bunnyview - Back Cover Illustration

Tails from Bunnyview – Back Cover Illustration
Book copyright Barbara Fretz 2012
Illustration copyright Ros Charron 2012

The 8th of May marked the passing of my favourite artist / children’s book illustrator, Maurice Sendak… master of childhood neurosis. Sendak’s extraordinary gift lay in his empathy with a child’s inner fears and anxieties. He made the ugly look beautiful. Secret whisperings between adults in the dead of night or muffled voices in angry exchanges, what lay at the end of the bed and beyond the closet; these were some of my childhood anxieties and everyone of them exquisitely expressed by Sendak in every line he drew.

I recall watching an interview with Maurice Sendak in a documentary in which he explained why the act of drawing was such a sanctuary to him. Every morning he would go into his studio and sit at his drawing table and pick up his pencil and from that moment onwards whatever personal  imperfections he happened to be struggling with would just cease to exist as he became engaged in the act of drawing. And with that sentence he summed up the reason why the rest of us who happen to be artists do what we do.

At the same time, as readers of his books, we are given permission to revisit our own childhood anxieties in a warm safe environment without judgement. That is the magic of Sendak.

So good bye dear friend. We know you haven’t really left us. You have gone to Where the Wild Things Are.

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Seeking Gondwana

My approach to painting has always been to let my eye, hand and heart  guide me. For the longest of time, painting landscapes for me meant a semi impressionistic style. While the form was still recognizable, the atmosphere was my real impulse for the picture.

Never one to remain in a box for very long, I  would use whatever style at hand to get my point across. But try as I might I could never let go enough to embark on an abstract piece until recently. For some strange reason, my hand and heart would not cooperate with me when I tried to paint a straightforward landscape.

Red earth and stark blue skies clashing with grey-green foliage sat awkwardly on my canvases. Until I abandoned form and painted the ‘idea’ of Australia…. Gaudy reds and ochres punctuating stark blues and clashing with grey-greens edged with vermillion all reflecting the raucous sounds of an orchestra of gallahs, corellas and kookaburras outside my window, making sure I awaken at sunrise.

So it would appear I am off on another adventure dictated by my inner eye, hand and heart.

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My First Blog Story


I’ve decided to start writing stories about my art. These could be just a discussion about one of my existing paintings or something interesting I have seen lately which is influencing my art or some musings I may have about my art or art in general.

I haven’t decided exactly what to write about but will try to discipline myself to add a new story each week. If nothing else, it will exercise my mind which is always a good thing…

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