True blue
written for Liam James
THE BLUE/THE HAZE, 2016, Bett Gallery

Liam James, The Burners, 2016, pigment print, image courtesy of the artist

It is a strange thing that we should feel so disconnected from our past, and confined to this place and time.

Anytime we choose we can look up at the stars and pick any point in the sky to look back into the distant past, to the beginning of time, to the beginning of place.

Compare that to this time and place, and all of human history condenses into one moment, a fleeting image, as in a photograph.

From kunanyi to the Blue Mountains: looking into the middle distance

In Tasmania we are lucky to always be looking at mountains. In Hobart, the weight of kunanyi sits in the back of your mind. Always aware that it’s there somehow. You’ll be walking through town thinking about nothing in particular, turn a corner and suddenly see the mountain, and it’s so large and so beautiful that you can’t imagine how you ever forgot it was there, wondering guiltily how you managed to think about anything else. At some level you realise that familiar presence just behind your thoughts was the mountain, and you aren’t thinking about anything else, not really.

Sunlight scatters across the landscape, in the empty space between where we stand and the mountains we are looking at. Other colours don’t make the distance, and are lost. The scattered light is blue, as the sky is blue, as the ocean is blue. The blue of activity caught in the space between us and the distance.

kunanyi to here is closer than blue.

Eucalyptus trees in the Blue Mountains disperse an oil that interacts with sunlight and molecules in the air and appear to blanket the mountains in a blue haze. There is a pine there that existed before people did, an unbroken link between the present and the distance.

Present here, in this place, in this time, standing on top of a ridge looking out across the landscape below. The cold wind stings your eyes as you try and look to the horizon line, and it is easier to look at closer things. Like your own shoes, or the way back down.

The sting of the wind in your eyes as you try and look into the distance echoes the blurring of a view seen through eyes that are filling with tears.

A welling up.

(It never releases in the way it should).

Impulsively, she looked up, and forced herself to smile, but it didn’t stop. The stars blurred and streaked as warm, fat tears filled her eyes, eventually spilling over and running down her cheeks.

She looked down at the path she stood on. Following the path of tears to the well trodden path on the ground beneath her,

to the burnt stumps of trees,

to the bottle on the ground.

Comfort in the knowledge that someone has been here before.