Leigh Hobba

 

Sailing to Samoa ; 2013– 2 voice text for gallery installation.

Looking back from within:

 

 life,

living,

being,

lived,

 

 the sun-rise is marked

as a birthday 

 

A narrative is captured by artifacts that fade into memory and truth, until we no longer remember living that truth. Yet it exists.
 

“In the boxes and the albums?”   

Yes – and in the stories told, in the songs sung and the music played.
Immanence buried in the objects collected;  
life being a truth that for the most part is not remembered as having being lived in its viscous corporality.
That being only for the present.

 

Match the baby with the death mask; look for the person you know.

 

“I can recognize the attitude – I can see your eyes – I can see that it is you.”

 

It is for others to celebrate the sunset – a death – the last day.

 

“What do you remember?”

 

I am standing on the edge of all the remembered years of my life, peering into the well of abundance that reveals teeming possibilities on a clear day.

 translucent effect 

all that is reflected within it 

all that is nurtured within it

 

“I went to Sydney one morning in 1948 – and in the afternoon, I phoned my wife – and asked her if she would care to come with me to Samoa – she agreed – and so it was I became connected with a company that was about to engage with fishing in the south seas – one of the most enjoyable periods I have spent.

I liked the Samoans very much, and mixed with them in many ways – business, sport, social and found them to be charming people. Perhaps you will wonder why I returned?”

 

I am filled with a purpose that is beyond the observer that is so often the traveller , the visitor or the trader; that is not within this journey.

“Come with me,” Simone said, “and I will show you my heart.  I will swim with you, make you baskets, climb a tree for a coconut, crack the nut with one hit and make cream from the coconut . And I will take you home to my house and cook for you with my family.”

 

And he did these things.

 

I dived the reef broken by the Tsunami. It resembled a graveyard of epic proportions .Sunset covered the scars, vegetation reclaiming the destruction.

 hidden lives, hidden stories  

sadness heavy in the air  

roads repaired, water restored

 bodies recovered and buried

or never found –

lost to a memorial engraving the day of destruction 

few left unscathed  

a collective grief .

 

“143 people were killed here – the village is gone now – this one here on the left side – everything is gone – the family are very scared to live back here in the village – its better they move up – its more safe for them – but I can tell you that after the Tsunami, it was very sad here – there was no warning– after two days here it was not safe – all the dead bodies of people – all the dead animals , the fish, lying everywhere – after two days it was getting worse - because no food, no clothes, no water, no communications, no anything – there was no road, all was smashed, all the houses were gone - all the people were lost and there was no where to run – it took three days for the government to come and the smell was not good – disease, no water , no food, no petrol, people with nowhere to

live, very scared – no one was seen from the village again, all was gone – some people lost the whole family – very hard to forget what happened here – 15 people from one family lost – all gone – some still missing – everybody was gone – but there was a baby that survived. All the people were around and they heard a baby crying on the beach, she had survived, it was very very very sad. Some families are still trying to rebuild – big big difference.”

 

I think of paths of responsibility, and love – its deceits and instability matched against needs. Circumstance, trust and dysfunction, of cultural embeddedness,

 

A young man waits for his mother to finish Bingo late one Friday night. His dreams of other worlds do not move him from his duty to his mother .

Does this journey of moments and narratives condense a life from conception till death?

Life as a reflection of known parts;  memories from the archives;   conscious memory weighs heavily;  ‘happy birthday’ becomes a now forgotten sunrise –

 

“Don’t leave!” I hear a cry in despair – but I am already gone. My heart broken for the agony of those left behind.

“You’ve done well,” others say.
 

But mine is transient occupation. My travelling companion a photograph, a vehicle for reflection from which I have constructed a memory from then until now. Always now. Never a future with such a companion for traveling distant lands .The Tsunami is not new to memory.  Slippages flood histories then remade for convenience, or re-imposed values, with tremors remaining as inscribed geologies .

 

What else?

 

“Travellers hitch rides
Boats carry the travellers
Tides carry the flotsam
The known is invaded
Histories of descriptive observation are re-arranged

Birds glide the harbour

The sunset brings the moon – it spans the night, and greets the sunrise.”

The Rainmaker drops its bucket.

The smell of damp earth invades my room – it is, as it has always been.
I notice a small cut in my hand, reddening slightly and I wash it with an antiseptic solution.

Leviathan rising –

“your not prepared for this – the master plan hasn’t worked – your not prepared”
I am not the victim here, I remind myself.
Loss, ruins, winds, tide, time, truth, death takes the memories.

 

Is that my photograph?

 

The record is fractured.  "One can look for the person in the attitude,"  another says ,

 

"I can see your eyes."

 

That night the coral spawn. The Palolo have risen. Its breadfruit season. Local talk increasingly mentions hurricanes.  The sea temperature forces the fish to find shade in deeper and cooler depths. The hot days clear the baking streets of people and dogs.  The heat rises from the concrete covered wharfs surrounding the harbour, matching that from above,

The ocean is limpid with heat.  The island swelters in the breathless late November morning.  Days are planned around refuge.To walk outside is to feel the moisture being sucked from the skin, as though being roasted in a slow oven.

 

Psychological effects of long distance voyaging

 

The need for personal space where no one can enter without permission.
The need to find shelter from the rain and the sun
The changes of eating habits when choices of food sources are fixed and rationed.
The tolerance of other voyages.
Routine, within boredom, via activity for the mind and hands countered by reading books, carving wood tying knots, playing instruments and singing songs.
A sense of danger.

Once the voyage begins, the tension lessens.

 

Rain clouds are illuminated,  meeting the sea. The water is full of fecund heat and eternalness and gently meets the land with its warm breeze.
A rainbow traps the last rays of the setting sun; the wind freshens as the cool air of the coming change meets the rising warmth from the blood temperature ocean. A small white bird wings its way home. There is a symphony of gesture;  moods challenge.
The light has its own volition.  I run before the wind. Dawn is red, with an intensity as thick as the cloud over the Rainmaker.