Mask carved from turtle shell. From Mer,
Torres Strait Islands, before 1855

Well that was a good weekend! I managed to pack a lot into the time there as well as meeting old friends and many new and fascinating people.

I went up to London on Friday morning, booked into the hotel and then went down to the British Museum (BM), I had a ticket for the Indigenous Australia exhibition which is on until 2 August and so worth going to see.

Kunmanara Hogan, Tjaruwa Woods, Yarangka Thomas, Estelle Hogan, Ngalpingka Simms and Myrtle Pennington, Kungkarangkalpa (detail). Acrylic on canvas, 2013. © the artists, courtesy Spinifex Arts Project

I was a bit early for my ticket and hungry after my train ride so I popped into the Starbuck’s opposite the BM gate for a latte and a BLT – both of which were excellent. The BM is an old, old friend, I’ve been going there for nearly 60 years now and, of course, it’s changed a lot in that time but it’s always good to go across that great vast plain from the gates to the steps and then going in, it’s like going home. The Indigenous Australia exhibition isn’t very large but it’s just so beautiful. I’m not overly keen on all the descriptive stuff the BM has to put up but you don’t need it. Just look … read the title to find out the basics of what you’re looking at is if you like, but just look. Stand still and look, let the work flow into you and show you itself. The paintings take you on journeys. So do the masks. And the craftwork … from baskets to shields and spears, to a full model of an outrigger canoe. You fly with the vision of the person who made it, as you do with the paintings. I spent a wonderful hour in there, being refreshed and fed by the energy of grandfather crocodile and his brothers and sisters.

The BM isn’t too far from where I was staying, nor is it far from The Place. I decided to walk back to the hotel in a roundabout sort of way and remember some of the London I used to live and work in. the weekend was something of a trip down memory lane *g*. The Place is the home of the London School of Contemporary Dance, begun by Robert Cohan back in the 1960s and I used to go there for class until the rheumatoid arthritis struck me down in the early 1980s. I did class quite often with Cohen, an amazing man and brilliant teacher. He still teaches at The Place. So … on the memory lane trip I wove my way from the BM to The Place and had a cuppa in the café there. Wandering through the corridors, peeking in at the studios to see these gorgeous, slender, lithe and supple dancers folding themselves in knots was heaven … and also a bit of hell as my body no longer does that and I miss it like hell at times. And the folk there smile and are friendly, even to antiquated old bats like me :-).

After another pleasant hour I wondered my way back to the hotel, had a quick wash and brush up and went down to meet my fellow speakers in the dining room. It was lovely to meet-in-the-flesh Barbara Micheiljohn-Free at last, we’ve been friends through the internet for a good while. Most of the others were new folk for me which was very nice, although Luke Eastwood and I had been email-chatting about biodynamics for a wee while. It was good to meet Martin Duffy of Shamanism Ireland at last and Rob and Anna of Second Nature (musicians), Itzak Beery the founder of ShamanPortal, co-founder of the New York Shamanic Circle, and Carole Guyett the medical herbalist. And there was a re-meeting too, after 20-odd years, with Brooke Medicine Eagle, that was lovely and a remaking of links. I’m hoping Brooke will come over and stay with me next year, and gives us a workshop … so watch this space!

The Saturday set off with a bang! Barbara opened the conference and the circle with an amazing drumming and dancing, she and Flavia are just so good. Then there was my talk which went very well. So many people to meet afterwards too it was lovely and talking to them all over the Saturday and Sunday was very good indeed. Lots of people got books and cards and I look forward to meeting many of them again.

Brooke Medicine Eagle’s workshop on the Sunday was gorgeous, I so enjoyed it … do hope we can do a workshop with her – only more and bigger – next year! Like i said, watch this space 🙂

It was a very good weekend … thank you Emma and Davyd Farrell for making it happen