Monday, September 26, 2022

Two Poets Paint: John Kinsella & Glen Phillips art exhibition at Sandalwood Yards Gallery, York

 By Tracy

Saturday 24th September saw the opening by Will Yeoman of an exhibition that will run for 2 weeks (till 8th October) containing works by John Kinsella & Glen Phillips, as part of the York Festival. This exhibition is located on Ballardong Noongar Boodja.

Glen's works feature wheatbelt landscapes; John's are interpretations of scenes from Dante's Divine Comedy.

Entry to the exhibition is free, and the artists' works are for sale.

Sat 24 Sep – Sat 8 Oct (Wed – Sun, 10am-4pm)

Sandalwood Yards Gallery, 179 Avon Terrace, York

You can watch & hear John reading a poem from his Divine Comedy: Journeys Through a Regional Geography at the launch here

Some photos from the gallery:

Glen Phillips & Rita Tognini in front of some of Glen's works

John Kinsella & Tracy Ryan with some of John's works

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Blank Signs

Russian anti-war protesters were arrested for displaying blank signs. A British lawyer displayed a blank sign yesterday and a police officer threatened arrest should he write 'not my King' on it. Fascism has various faces, but always the same rule book. Monarchism is a particularly honed form and tool of fascism. Many media outlets in Australia are directing and controlling what is essential a colonial reassertion via the death of one monarch and the raising of the next. Those who do not communally participate are judged, and those who fail to participate in the public eulogies are frequently excoriated. The state is the state is the state, and an absent 'head of state' who functions through a proxy suits a colonial realm that purports not to be colonial, but is as much now as it ever was. It just has more effective propaganda and often unwitting propagandists to call on.

A Most Gracious Speech to Demi-text in the Fallout of Lèse-majesté

Blank signs are deadly signs

and any failure to switch the porch light on

is marked down as a location

of those refusing to mourn

the postage stamp of empire.


And wide-angle lens crowds

assisting police

to impose the new order

which is the old order,

as we know, as the apophthegm

goes and goes in whoever’s



But this is protocol.

The face on currency

will face the other way.

It’s like a nuclear submarine deal.


In the colonies the delusion

is an amusement park ride.

Coconut shies at the fair,

a monopoly on copra.

Cheap labour.


Blank signs are deadly signs

as phantom limbs threaten arrest

before a protest, before the letters

take shape. Monarchies love mobs

that dance in their favour,

especially when the extras

are voluntary. Those

they touched and put to heal.


A failure to put the porch light on

leaves a myth of origin in the dark.

All those reigning memories.

All those entertaining scandals.

All those sporting occasions.

All those Royal Command Performances.

All those Victoria Crosses.

All those struggles for Independence.

The science of cortèges.


Commander-in-chief. Regalia.

All those deaths.  All those.


And porch lights on down in Australia

with eyes out for dissenters:

‘those grubs’,  those anarchists.

A Funeral for the earth

whose rain we celebrate.


Mourning glory in the republic

of conscience. I was bullied

under the monarch’s portrait.


Blank signs are deadly signs

and any failure to switch the porch light on

is marked down as a location

of those refusing to mourn

the postage stamp of empire.




            John Kinsella





Saturday, August 13, 2022

Chalice Mining's Relentless Efforts to Influence Locals

What's the correlation between Nietzsche's Thus Spoke Zarathustra and Chalice Mining's ongoing attempts to buy a place within local community? The company's concerted efforts to inculcate itself into the region are part of its 'fait accompli' approach to asserting a mine in Julimar before the mine actually exists. This would be as much about reassuring markets and investors as it is about actualities, but the ease with which they have gained a foothold is disturbing and a very real threat to Julimar forest and the world ecology. Claims that it will help the planet through 'green metals' mining while destroying (then 'rehabilitating'?... euphemism!) a native forest are ludicrous and very much part of the 'reset' of environmental values in which an either/or scenario is being foisted on us: i.e. 'green tech' as our saviour, even if it means the (extensive) loss of natural environment. Of course, loss of natural environment damages climate and means rapid extinction events. Where people are making profit (and vast profits at that), you can be guaranteed the well-being of environment is not their primary thought!

On the Scales of the Dragon: the Metamorphosis of Chalice Mining as It

            Sweet-talks Toodyay in Preparation for Its Conquest

                        of Old Environmental Values with the New

                                    ‘Environmentalism’ of Capital


‘Apply Now’ written over

            ‘green metals’

                        low-carbon-tech scales

of the dragon



            each beast of burden

and predator,

            each declaration

of ‘We will...’;

                        behold each


to local causes,

            each contribution

                        to the bigger picture:

ergo, playground equipment

            for child-citizens. Take

                        the spirit of occasions,

take Chalice mining —

                                           new values

            ‘environmentalists’: witness

that advert

            for ‘local employment’



                    to protect

            and rehabilitate

                                         the environment’:

rehabilitate prior to erasure

            of forest

                        takes initiative...

a child-like


                        Ahead of the game.

Cart before the burden.

That’s the spirit?



            John Kinsella


Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Save Gelorup Forest Corridor and Ecology from a Rampant Main Roads and a Brutal Assault on the Environment by State and Federal Governments

The clearing of the corridor resumes. Speak now, act now, contribute in any non-violent way you can to stop this horror!

In the poem below a ringtail possum speaks to people. Why not? Why shouldn't it speak out before it is deleted by the machinery of 'progress'?! The Bunbury Outer Ring Road does not need to happen. Innumerable jarrah, marri, tuart and other trees will be lost forever along with all they sustain, protect and live with in the forest corridor.

Gelorup Ringtail Possum Speaks Against Ring Road and Destruction of its Home

I am sure among the piles of woodchips

you’ll speak of geometry and soil density,

of run-off and traffic flow, I am sure

you’ll eye off what you’ve haven’t yet

taken of the forest and speak of people

and industry, speak development

and traffic flow. Ringtails/ringroads

are interchangeable? You might even say

congestion and connectivity, and I am

sure the word ‘relief’ will come in there

somewhere. I am sure you can’t or won’t

believe that possums speak, or if you

are willing to accept we speak among

ourselves, then likely you won’t realise

that we translate all you say within earshot.

And even if you understand that we

understand every word of destruction

you utter, you’d likely blame us

for not acting to protect each other.

Try speaking against a machine

coming down on you, or knocking

your head off. Brutal, isn’t it? You humans

don’t fare too well against machines either.

You’ve a sad history of treating people

like you treat the forest. A sad history

of abusing all life that knows the forest

as home. There’s not many of us left here,

we ringtails among the cockatoos

and myriad other ‘species’ you don’t

bother acknowledging. And the great trees

of great span and welcome, even

the dead ones which live through

our occupancy, share a knowledge

of languages you don’t dare add

to your databases, to your pocket

translators. It would shock you

to hear what was said about you

and your activities, what we

say of you before you kill us.

Murder has many degrees,

doesn’t it? Not for us. Not by you.



            John Kinsella

Monday, July 25, 2022

Short Play for the Protection of Native Forests Under Assault by 'Green Metals' Miners in Western Australia


After Deductions: an interventionist play for Julimar Forest

            by John Kinsella for open and free use


Three figures: two protesters and a reporter who lifts a mask (one side Tragedy and one side Comedy) to his/her/their face as he/she/they speak/s.


Reporter: Only two of you? Where are the rest of you?


Protester 1: Out of sight out of mind.


Protester 2: The town has been bought with water slides and the promise of jobs.


Protester 1: Not all of the town... not all of the district.


Protester 2: No... and more will join us in time... it just needs a seed... a nucleus for the protest to form around.


Reporter: And you’re it... looks like you’re setting up and in for the long haul.


Protester 1: Yes. We stand with you, forest.


Reporter: Why do you address the forest as if it’s a person?


Protester 1: It is an entity, an organism. It lives and breathes and is full of the living and the breathing...


Protester 2: and the transpiring... The CEO suggests the forest’s death will be a ‘net positive’ for the environment.


Protester 1: All those rare earths down below the root systems...


Protester 2: be unearthed.


Reporter: The paper will say that it’s good for jobs good for the state good for business and an act of...


Protester 2: ...decarbonisation.


Protester 1: As easy as that... forest gone and more machines more consumables all weighed up...


Reporter: ... you means the feather against the heart...


Protester 1: No, that’s a ritual from ancient Egypt and this is Noongar boodjar and if you don’t listen and learn, if you don’t understand the stories of this country you’ll never find the language of care...


Protester 2: ...or loss.


Protester 1: The language of country the languages of an ecosystem are not fiscal are not profit and loss are not the triumph of capital as the biosphere collapses...


Protester 2: ... it is of the life you would erase would excavate would convert into batteries so the consuming can be eked out a little longer.


Reporter: So, you are saying what? That we should give up phones and cars?


Protester 2: We could... at least give up some of them cut back make do with a local life more and more...


Protester 1: I am for changing how we live entirely... minimising impact on what’s left of the world’s ecosystems... reducing the hypocrisies of our lives.


Reporter: Seems easy to say out here, with the cockatoos calling across the treetops, and the wattlebirds making comments.


Protester 1: Which is the point, really, isn’t it?


Reporter: The police will remove you when the time comes.


Protester 1: They will come and they will do the state’s bidding which is in the company’s interest. It’s always the same.


Reporter: You’ve done this before?


Protester 2: We have to... some of us have to be witnesses... people will come when there’s media attention and get roused up and then drift back to their phone-screens, the pressures and pleasures of their own lives... only a few of us will stay and then no one will see the last patch of forest vanish other than the miners themselves.


Protester 1: Who witnesses Alcoa eating the jarrah forests at an horrendous rate...? The bauxite craving... it’s as if even the most committed of us give in, fatigued. And the company recruits zoologists and ‘environmentalists’ [the protester exaggerates scare quotes in the air...] to exonerate them, to make it all okay, to let governments and their departments pretend they care... while those apologists convince themselves they are making the best of things... that if it weren’t for them, it’d be worse...


Protester 2Worse being such a flexible word....


Protester 1: ...and then no one is there to see us witnessing... we become vulnerable... we are disposable. We have been shot at by logger and miners. Fact.


Reporter: That would have made a story... something to latch on to. You should have recorded...


Protester 1: There were no mobile phones when that happened... and we wouldn’t have been carrying them anyway.


Reporter: Which goes to show how vital technology can be in bringing attention to environmental issues. But this story needs that kind of human interest... otherwise it just sounds like a rant.


Protester 1: And easy to dismiss because it’s ‘just a rant’. But it’s all chicken and the egg...


Reporter: What do you mean?


Protester 1: The tech is why the forests vanish, why the mines are made in the first place.


Reporter: But you’ve got to get your story out there.


Protester 2: We have to stop the mine. The forest is an organism made up of innumerable organisms. It is part of the lungs of the earth. It is the home of so many creatures... and it has its own spirit as well.


Protester 1: And we destroy ourselves by destroying it.


Reporter: The CEO of Chalice Mining would disagree.


Protester 1: Well, as someone once said, ‘He would, wouldn’t he.’


Reporter: You mean Mandy Rice-Davies regarding Lord Astor, that seems a bit inappropriate.


Protester 1: No, I mean Tree Climber, a protester from the Hawke Block protest decades ago who was referring to a logger who said that a felled old growth tree served people better through what it provided than a standing one. These trees are entire ecosystems within ecosystems... they support much more than the human... and people can’t quite accept that they’re also essential to the human wherever and however that human might be living.


Reporter: Seems like a bit of a long-term profession, this protesting... I mean, it’s just opinion, really... it’s not an exact science...


Protester 2: ...unlike, say, journalism, mining, making weapons, being a politician, running a business, playing footy? And when we do present the ‘facts and figures’, they’re dismissed or manipulated... money and power control the science, control the data and how it’s used. Many of the people we oppose weren’t so long ago denying there was even such a thing as human-induced climate change.


Protester 1: They are opportunists...


Reporter: Who? Name names?


Protester 1: Speaking in general... about the mining lobby... especially the coal miners, but not exclusively.... their arguments... their declarations adapt to fit market circumstances and the ‘sensitivities’ [again, those exaggerated scare quotes in the air] of investors. You’re not dragging us into that trap... you do the research... isn’t that your job?


Reporter: Really, what bring the attention of mums and dads and families is people speaking they can identify with...


Protester 2: ...I am not sure what that means... no mum or dad is the same as any other and whatever anyone’s identity or beliefs or ethnicity the well-being of the biosphere is their right and their concern... we are not trying to appeal to a particular demographic, we are trying to save the forest.


Protester 1: ...we’re only speaking for the forest because there’s no one else to speak for it... we do not possess it, we don’t want to recolonise it... we want it to have rights and we want the traditional owners to have a say over country they know how to live with and preserve and respect. We learn respect from their respect.


Reporter: Sounds like someone’s shooting in there.


Protesters [together]: We hear it all the time... we see the four-wheel drives with spotlights... the shooters threaten us, yell abuse.


Reporter: You’re both poets, I am told.


Protesters: We are.


Reporter: Maybe you could read a poem about chuditches? I am told this is the healthiest and most robust population — or repopulation programme — of these carnivorous marsupials?


Protesters: That’s true, and they are incredible animals... but the forest is full of so many incredible animals and plants.


Reporter: Well, will you read something for me to share with our listeners?


Protester 1: There are so many ironies and contradictions in doing this.


Protester 2: But we’ve got to speak, haven’t we?


Protester 1: Yes... this is the season Makuru... the wet and cold months... and we would like the seasons to stay as close to what they were as possible... for the damage done to the biosphere means a breakdown of the seasons... only the nights remain as they were... and days as long as they were.


Protester 2: And the argument that the destruction of this 28 000-hectare conservation park or any section of it will be for the benefit of the environment is specious. Every miner of rare earths makes this argument to suit their balance sheet and their hope of wealth.


Protester 1: They pat themselves on the back that they’re doing it for the good of humanity when they greatly benefit from it personally.


Protester 2: Accruing wealth...


Protester 1: ...and power.


Protester 2: After deductions, they will live their lives in a denuded world quite well. They will meet their goals.


Reporter: The wind is lifting... it’s quite biting...


Protester 2: But the days have been much warmer and there’s been little rain this ‘winter’. The forest is stressed and the miners have been diamond-drilling deep, working their colonial patches: Hartog...


Protester 1Janz, Dampier...


Protester 2: Baudin... not that they give a toss for Baudin’s cockatoo... that little bit of colonial renaming isn’t going to stress them...


Reporter: Anyway, poem, and I will leave you to it... I have another assignment to get to down in the city... gee, it really sounds like the sea, doesn’t it... I mean the wind through the wandoo and marri trees...


Protesters: ...through the forest... it does, doesn’t it... an inland sea full of life... and right now they are drilling to ascertain the boundlessness of their claim... of their gift to the planet... their climate coup de grace...


Silently into the sea of the forest

‘soft’-tracked vehicles will creep,

no wheels to crush undergrowth

they hope in future to delete.


Silently into the sea of the forest,

gently gently off-track — no tyres

pressing their case, just metal expecting

what’s flattened to shoot back into place.


Silently into the sea of the forest

those drilling rigs are determined to go —

to reach down further than roots

and mirror the hollow of sky.



Wednesday, June 22, 2022

On Timothy Mathews There and Not Here: Chronicles of Art and Loss

Comment on Timothy Mathews's There and Not Here: Chronicles of Art and Loss

In this quite astonishing rhizomic engagement with the wonder of making art, with honouring its myriad forms and arrays, we trace exchanges and conversations between painting, novel, graphemes, translation (literal and figurative), architecture, film, theatre, performance, song/ ‘verse-music’, poetry, novel, and stories that coincide but might not ‘match’, as there’s no single narrative, ever. Timothy Mathews encounters the artist constantly and engages in ongoing acts of critical and creative renewal. And this needs to be the case because loss and grief are informants that keep confronting us, as we try to counter, absorb and sustain life in their zones. As Mathews says of Hepworth: ‘optimism and the lightness of her hand as she works seethe with the mourning that only life can know’. Who we see with, how we see, are pivotal questions. And out of this existence comes uniqueness. Mathews writes: ‘At the start Matisse talks to us in his hand-drawn words about the uniqueness of a new picture, about how an art work has to be unique to exist at all’. This book is a late modernist Metamorphosis, driven by a deep desire to ‘see each other, touch each other’ through the affect of art.  Or as Mathews puts it in engaging with William Kentridge: ‘the participation of humanity in its own betrayal. Participation. Understanding’. In all of this there is the constant search for hope, where the critic alongside artists in all manifestations acts as a conduit to possibilities of self within community. Set against the desecrations of the world by rampant capital, this book offers a synthesis of contraries rather than binaries. We celebrate the flow of this book, always concerned with loss, with how we articulate loss in convergent and digressive ways, and how much all of this is connected with physical, mental and philosophical movement. For me, the book is a beautifully woven assemblage of transitions, connection, redemption, communities and personhoods made of seeing-participation; of grief as knowledge and remembering – an embrace of the immensity of flatness and its generative shaping; a confluence of lines of difference, punctuated with pauses and blinks that are an investigation of vulnerabilities and tensions. Mathews versifies the fusion of audience with aloneness. In making art, we attempt to move beyond alienation, and possibly into the generosity of art and body, action and the life of a painting, of it being painted. We attempt to live, to imagine, to embrace abstraction as part of our living in the world, which is a world of empathy, and memory. And we experience trauma and love, the unforgiving nature of death and confrontations of violence, the fragile issue of what is killed and what is betrayed, and the self-doubt that rages through looking for expression through art. We ask what is ‘attack’, what is killing death, and we consider that ‘Perhaps heaven is a word made of art’. Elegiac anger co-exists with one’s failures, but art is hope isn’t it? And there’s the interesting matter of to whom each piece and the book as a whole are addressed. Interior monologue? Public address? Or a fresh hybrid of both in this meditative but restive revolution in art criticism. And in the foreground as much as the background is the oscillation between France and Britain, shifting the focal lengths of reception to the globe in this intensely post-humanist work.


John Kinsella


Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Against War and War Propaganda in its Myriad Forms

Euphoric Hero Dysphoria


Each hero latched onto

in order to manufacture

more heroes, to pick up

more arms supplied by

‘allies’ whose industries

of arms and related items

(‘supplies ‘) make a killing

justified by the economic

trickle-down effect so bills

can be paid and consumer

items purchased as if good

conscience had anything

to do with that euphoric

hero dysphoria a president

or high command would urge

on would embody as bodies

on streets in trenches by churches

and where trees or even fields

of wheat grew as the seasons

still managed to function

until recently, until metaphors

once again fell into line,

rushed to serve death.


            John Kinsella