In July 2015, Makers Move was invited to be part of the “JMGA Conference”, “Egdebordersgaps” in Sydney. All the stories, and cast pendants collected inDenmark, Sweden, South Africa, China, France, and Australia were exhibited in the SGA Galleries, Sydney College of the Arts.
After we met Francis the first time, she came back to us again with a hand written letter with her story about her necklace.
Dear Josephine and Gitte, Here is the story of my Buddha. It belonged to my uncle Patrick who was an author. He lived in Sydney with his partner Mandy. I first met my uncle when he visited London, where I grew up. I was about five. It was Mandy who coaxed me into the drawing room where all the adults sat. I hid beneath a wide brimmed hat. The commotion surrounding Patrick’s visit had rubbed off on me. There was a mixture of anticipation, yet anxiety that something should cause his disapproval. When I was nine, my mother returned to Australia to live. During this time, my uncle would take me out for the day to visit galleries. He wanted to give me an appreciation of the arts. He also gave me my pug, Boo. My mother would complain that I was ‘difficult’ like Patrick.
During a trip back to London to visit my sisters and their families my mother died, aged fifty-three. She was very frail and died during an asthma attack. Both my uncle and I had had a premonition – a sense of foreboding. I was twelve. My sisters decided I should go to an English boarding school (something my uncle had endured). He sent me a typewriter because he found my letters so illegible. Later when I was nineteen, I came to Australia to visit my uncle during a break before taking up my place at a college in London. Though I also stayed with other old friends and relatives, Patrick was the reason I chose to remain in Sydney. I remember him coming with me to the Department of Immigration to obtain my residence visa.
I worshipped my uncle and craved his acceptance. He was extremely charismatic. I remember sitting on the sofa at Martin Road, tears of laughter streaming down my face, the result of his wit. I was taken to films, concerts, and the theatre. He gave me tickets for the dress rehearsal of Aida, and when I returned I had to give a review. It was an extraordinary time for me; alas, there was also a flip side to all of this. My uncle could be very cutting, and could so easily destroy. As a result, I moved out to a shared accommodation.
Unfortunately, as time progressed I was not keeping to my script. I’d ring up, and discover that I wasn’t doing what I should have been. I’d get off the phone in tears. Eventually, there was ‘the phone call’. I was pregnant. ‘This is the worst news I’ve heard all year. You’ll be an awful mother, you’re far too selfish’. I just remember crying and screaming into the phone. I hung up on him. We never spoke again.
Eventually, I bumped into Mandy in Bondi Junction, Westfield (of all places) with Charlotte, and Geoff and maybe Alex. He was pleased to see them but without my uncle’s approval, nothing further could eventuate. Years later, I switched on the radio and heard of my uncle’s death. Mandy contacted me, and gave me this Buddha which I wear all the time. It is very frustrating. The older I get the more I appreciate my uncle’s values. He was a man of principal and integrity. Now, I don’t concern myself with the split between us, painful as it was.
A couple of years ago, I discovered from my sister that on two occasions Patrick had offered to adopt me (after my father died and again when my mother died). I wonder about that, and think of the extraordinary experiences I had with him. I reflect on the peaceful Buddha which doesn’t resemble my uncle’s personality, or mine for that matter. Maybe that is why Buddhism was so appealing to us both. Thank you so much for letting me participate in this.
Kind regards, Francis
In early 2006, I had just left the security of my great job and colleagues at "Object" and commenced a new position – full-time teaching. This little fellow became my talisman, keeping me company as I sailed some pretty rough seas over the next few years. In winter especially, he rarely left my clothing. He has always been an icebreaker. People are intrigued by him and he has been much admired over the years.
Aside from the resonance of the time when I acquired the piece and the journeys we have taken together, there are so many other reasons to love this brooch. If I remember rightly, this brooch was called, ‘Fly your antlers like wings, I don’t want to be sad’ (or was it ‘afraid’? nearly a decade has passed with this fellow on my lapel and some of the details of our early days together are becoming hazy). But what stays is that phrase, ‘fly your antlers like wings’ - a reminder to be brave, to hold up your head and know yourself, to love and be kind.