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2000 - Saloni M goes South

Liz Colbert

I was born in Australia but lived overseas for eight and a half years.

Flying over seas.

Returning to the red continent.

Walking as a child from a domestic street into the bush five minutes away.


Fleeting and ingrained moments encapsulated.

Writing is a resolution.

See Verandah 15: Keeping in Time

  Paris 1996 L.C.

The following are extracts are from my Recycled Sack, a book made from all the collected papers from a journey to Europe in 1996.

Recycled Sack

by Liz Colbert

The Recycled Sack

The recycled sack holds many artefacts
from our trip to Europe and just as the
Hortus Botanicus in Amsterdam
specializes in a number of plant groups,
so this book contains a selected number
of experiences from the human species,
tourist, which are personal and
idiosyncratic, and like the Hortus, which
demands that new items be collected from
their natural habitat, the items in the sack
are in their travelled state, creased from
packing, torn with use, quite unlike the
path trod each morning around Vienna
where the underbelly of that civilized
city turned up in the form of a lone female,
shoeless, pants dragging on the ground,
jacket open, breasts loose, dreadlocks
without intent, she raving at the silent
paths which have been tempered into a
high point of civilization like the
cultivation of the giant water lily Victoria
amizonica in the South American section
of the Hortus which is the antithesis of the
specimens in this recycled sack.


Katriana lives in Amsterdam, above
her sister and Gert, in a duplex
apartment with an attic bedroom where
we slept well and woke in the morning
to a view across the street into another
apartment where a couple were sitting
in arm chairs, drinking coffee and reading
the paper which Katriana said, as she
tilted the slatted blinds in the living room
where she was sleeping on the sofa,
was not how she liked to live, no, not
publicly like that she said, as she slipped
on one of her many pairs of beautiful shoes
for which she is noted and wore to the
Artists’ Society where we met her for a
drink and talked at the bar with a young
South African man who was planning to
come to Australia to work during the
Olympic Games which made us feel,
in spite of the high wooden ceilings
and the heavy doors, in which a woman
jammed her fingers as we entered, that we
weren’t really so distant from the discussion
about ‘event’ employment we had overheard
before we left Melbourne where we decided
to visit Katriana.

Friedenscreich Hundertwasser

Friedenscreich Hundertwasser believes in
dancing windows, irrigated surfaces,
cracks, warmth and the divine right of
nature which rarely manifests itself in
straight lines or regular, repetitive rows
like the boards in my bathroom, or the
collection of crystals in the Natural
History Museum, and even the floors
in the museum devoted to his work
undulate beneath the feet as one walks
around absorbing the patches of silver
and gold, the universal spirals, the curved
and randomly tiled areas where the floor
meets the wall, and the tiered tanks of
plants which are nourished by the water
which flows through the soil before being
returned to the top tank, thus carrying
the nutrients from the soil and realising
his belief in the spiral as a circle that
never closes and equally we can never be
the specimens we were at the beginning
of an experience and return to exactly
where we started.

Natural History

Natural history was once the study of
animals collected and killed during grand
expeditions then, in the hands of a talented
taxidermist, after being stitched and stuffed,
they took on a new life in a glass case,
scattered amongst the severed limbs of a
tree that suggested the natural world these
animals came from, a natural world in which
the dodo and Tasmanian tiger still lived,
but oddly these creatures still exist in these
glass houses, and justifiably, one could argue,
with the decrease in the number
of living species, the dodo and the
Tasmanian tiger will be joined by many
others as remaining examples of
such creatures, and this of course will
make them suitable items for museums
of natural history, and there may even be
a problem, as the number increases, with
selecting which from the vast collection
should go on display.

© Liz Colbert 1996-2000

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