What a thrill it was to present as a member of the #Australian Fairytale Society yesterday, alongside my inspiring colleagues, @Bettina Nissen and @Kathryn Gossow at GenreCon 2023 in the beautiful Qld State Library. GenreCon is predominantly for those in the writing industry, and their theme this year was ‘Forbidden Doors’. Brisbane AFTS members offered to run a Fairy Ring, as BlueBeard and his variants clearly HAD to be told! However, the venue we were given got switched the day before to a larger room which was more conducive to a traditional panel than a participative ring, so we tried to compromise. We switched between telling, discussing the tales, versions and metaphors and then asked the audience to chat in pairs. At the start Kathryn asked ‘How many of you use fairytales in your work?’ So many hands went up – to me it seemed at least half or more. ‘We love you all’ she said. I blew them all a kiss.
The session was a great impetus for me to dust off my telling of Italio Calvino’s ‘SilverNose’ (a version of BlueBeard) and breathe new life into it with a new setting. When I lived in Sydney, I set it in Leichhardt in modern times, but yesterday I set it in New Farm in the 40’s, weaving in historical references and place names, like the Bellino brothers, Mama Luigi’s restaurant and the wool stores.
In her intro, Kathryn as facilitator pointed behind her saying, ‘It may look like there are only three of us here, but there is a fourth you can’t see- he’s looming behind me.’ The audience giggled, and I forgot to say, ‘Oh, but as well as BlueBeard, the fairies are here too- and an assortment of invisible beings frolicking in the room…” (I had invited them and brought my story props to make them feel welcome.)
It was also lovely to have fellow AFTS members, Alexandra McCallum, June Perkins and Lauren Elise Daniels there, who also took photos. For me, yesterday was pure delight and a wonderful way to land in Brisbane – Meanjin. I celebrated last night with non-alcoholic champagne!!
On the props table was: a bronze Australian fairy with a bird on her foot made in Tasmania, a Matryoshka doll to represent and honour the ancestors, Tibetan bells to create atmosphere before the first tale (buried in the pic under the AFTS journal), a CD of mine, an AFTS journal, silk – (because I have told in a lot of Steiner schools and I do love silk) plus two things you cant see in the pic of the messed up table: a Vasalissa doll I made in a workshop I lead to represent intuition and adelicate little flower candle of Meg Philp’s. Meg was a really wonderful storyteller, who sadly died last year. I have moved into the house she used to live in. I had arranged the table beautifully like an altar, but @June Perkins only got a chance to take this pic after things had hurriedly been chucked on it, as we needed to clear the space rapidly ready for the next session. At the start I had been about to light the candle, when I was warned it might set off the fire alarms, which wouldn’t have been a great beginning! It was a Nimbin beeswax tealight, probably pretty smokeless, but I just lit the candle energetically.
(The fairy is now kicking back, feeling pretty pleased with herself back at home amoung the gumnuts from the garden, the journey stones from Byron Bay that I used to include in my Stories on Foot tour and ceramic art made by my late mother.)
If you want to join the AFTS or get involved in the Brisbane Fairy Ring, here is the link.