Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Malaysia Kuala Lumpur for 3 days

Malaysian school girls at the bus stop

Dude eating in Kuala Lumpur, below is the photo of the same restaurant

sketches in Adelaide

Trees in the Botanical gardens in Adelaide

Drawings with colouring pencils in Belair national part not far from Adelaide

Monday, 18 October 2010


I have been working with Aboriginal myths in Ingle Farm primary school in Adelaide. Together with the children we have been illustrating a selection of Aboriginal stories. I have been retelling the stories with acompanyment on the guitaralele and then everyone draws scenes from the stories. The aim is to take parts from all the pictures and work them into several murals around the school based on each story. This first story is rewritten by me with my illustrations.

I hope you enjoy it!


(Based on an Aboriginal myth)

The moon was a jolly round fellow with a spotty face and a big grin called Bahloo. He was a big show-off and loved shining down every night to ogle at the girls as they danced round the fire. Although he was not really allowed he would often come down to earth and try to chase the ladies but he was so bright and impossible to miss and his body was so round and his legs so small and spindly that the young healthy women had no problems running away from him and would even tease him and laugh as he fell over and huffed and puffed trying to catch them. This turned him from being a playful clown into a cunning lech. He decided that since none of the girls seemed to want to come and keep him company on his nightly rounds across the great sky he would have to catch one and take her back by force if he had to.

One night he crept through a forest in a valley so no-one would see his light and he heard two girls voices in the trees nearby. He walked closer and said in his most friendly and gentle voice:

“Good evening ladies, I hope you are enjoying this lovely evening! Oh what a beauuuutiful night, don’t you think?”

Now the girls immediately recognised him but they were surprised by his sudden appearance and even more surprised by his exquisitely polite manners so although they were a little anxious they replied to his questions and started chatting with him. They were sitting on their canoes by the river and were ready at any moment to push off and escape into the deep water if he tried anything and both the girls were actually very curious to speak to the moon himself. He had seen so many wonderful things they could only dream of! True, he did have a lot of very unattractive scars on his face and he was very funny to look at but everything around looked so beautiful in his light and these two girls prided themselves on being much more daring than any of the others.

Well of course, before too long Bahloo made a clumsy attempt to snatch one of the girls while pretending to read her palm and the two quickly pushed their canoes out into the water and prepared to go home but the moon felt particularly lonely that night and falling to the ground by the shore he started crying and begged the girls to come back:

“Oh, why doesn’t anyone understand how much I would love to have just one little wife to keep me company as I go around the skies every night lighting up the world for all the people below to enjoy! I get little thanks and I know I should not have tried to catch you but I have suffered so much from the other girls teasing me I thought it was the only way! Sob… sob… I promise I won’t touch you again if you just come back to chat with me! Please… sob… PLEEEASE!”

Something in his pathetic voice touched the girls tender hearts and also for want of anything else exciting to do that evening they decided to go back and give him one more chance but before they returned they agreed that they would teach him a good strong lesson if he broke his promise.

He was very grateful that they came back to chat to him and they talked deep into the night. He told them all about the beautiful planets and stars, how the earth looked from his silver throne and the fantastic lights of dawns and sunsets. He did not know it but often for an unattractive but humorous and charming guy like himself women would just need a lot of time. They wait until you have exhausted yourself emotionally after days and days of polite flattery, love poems, presents and respectful admiration and at that very moment when you have given up ALL hope and decide you have been offering your heart to them only to be carelessly scratched and gingerly prodded, they suddenly feel an irresistible desire to throw their lot in with you, as if you gain their trust by showing how much you will harm yourself for their sakes. None of them would have admitted it but history shows that there could have been a good chance that one or even both of these adventurous girls would have agreed to shack up with him if he had only had the patience and wisdom to play his cards right and play their game. Anyhow, he was by no means patient enough for that and in fact had far better things to do. So while he was winning their hearts the long winded-way he was still looking for a chance to catch at least one of them by stealth.

“What lovely canoes you have, I would so love to ride in a canoe!”

‘We will give you a ride!’

“My little button, that is so kind of you but I have never learnt how to paddle! One of you will have to row for me!”

The girls were still being careful but it was more out of fear that their combined weight with his substantial waste-line would sink the boat that they decided to just tow him across around the river swimming by the side of the boat while he sat alone inside. So they pushed off and Bahloo chortled and sang for joy as they floated down the river! He really was having the most wonderful fun he could remember in years and years! The water was rushed around him with a beautiful whisper as the trees floated past and far above the stars twinkled. His lovely silver light danced on the river and on the dark long wet hair and lovely shoulders of the two healthy young girls who were towing him. He had never been so close to a woman in his life and it was all too much! He could not contain himself and started to tickle them and stroke their hair. One girl warned him:

“If you touch me again dumpling-head and I will scream and all the hunters in the tribe will come and throw their spears at you before you have time to wink!”

Bahloo laughed and said: ‘He he he, nonsense my little fishy, we are way too far from the camp now, just try and scream!’ and he made a grab to catch her and pull her up to the sky but the girls were too quick. Before he knew it they had upturned the canoe and with a gigantic splash he was in the cold wet river!

Above and Below: Gradual progress on the first Moon mural. Above is Roy the schools volunteer handyman who is a really kind local who comes and chats once in a while.
Below are some of the kids in the younger classes of the school

The girls looked as he struggled under the white surface and slowly the white light became more and more and more dim until all that could be seen was a tiny faint glimmering like a small coin deep down on the riverbed. The girls suddenly realised how dark everything was around them… they were not the only ones. Everywhere birds were squawking and animals were rushing about in a blind frenzy, kangaroos jumping into trees and knocking the koalas out of the branches who then walked into the river in the dark and scared the fish who jumped and tried to swim across the land in their terror! It was utter pandemonium!

After much hunting the girls managed to find the camp where the elders had made a giant fire and were calling to everyone to come together. They were the last in the tribe to return from the pitch black night and everyone listened amazed when they told their story about the moon and how he had broken his promise and then drowned in the river. Some people thought it served Bahloo right for annoying the girls and things would be safer in the future but others wondered who would be brave enough to step out of the fire light after sunset now there was no moon to help them see danger in the dark!

Initial picture for 2nd work on why the moon waxes and wanes with BELOW, Jacks sketch of the worried tribe wondering what has happened to the moon with lots of exciting boobs!

Suddenly a voice spoke from the darkness above their heads. Everyone jumped. The voice said: “Things may be better and they may be worse, but for sure they will never be as they were!”

It was the voice of Wahn, the wise crow who had been burnt black by smoke a long time ago. He had been sitting on a branch close to the camp fire and heard the girls story.

“The moon is not drowned at all!”

The men and women looked into the water and suddenly one called out! “Yes, I see him, he is there, just sitting sadly at the bottom of the river!”

Wahn the crow replied:
”That is not him, that is just his reflection, look up in the sky and you will see him, hiding his face for shame. His pride has been sorely hurt because two girls threw him into the water! He will hide his face for a few days but soon he will forget his shame and become more saucy again and try to catch the girls once more. Once again he will feel shame and start to hide his face and the same cycle will repeat and repeat until the end of time!”

And of course, Wahn was quite right!

Saturday, 16 October 2010

NAVRATI Hindi festival in Adalaide Ocotber 15 2010

I went to a really beautiful Hindi festival this evening with Marko called Naavrati. I was late and he left to meet Tiiu just as I arrived so I hung out there on my own watching them dance. Everyone was dressed so nicely, so many colours and they all looked so beautiful! I really wanted to dance but I also did not want to disturb them ... I think it would have been OK but I wanted someone to show me the basics. I asked a few people but they said they did not know so I gave up by bollywood carreer and started drawing all the beautiful dresses and men's robes. I gave away the pictures because they made the sitters happy but I took photos of my artwork.

The temple in the middle of the hall

Above the photo of the family and below my sketch of the same people

A lady who asked me to draw her. She is apparently also an artist.
In her raised right hand she is carrying two percussion sticks used for a dance.

Happy dancing dudes

Above, a girl resting

Standing figures

Sitting girl with percussion sticks

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

australia IV first day of school

After one week in Adelaide I started my job helping as an artist in residence in Ingle Farm school a primary school about 20km North of the city. I was a bit nervous about what it would be like but on arrival I found everything so hectic with all the teachers rushing about confused about what was happening on the first day of school that I was immediately put at ease. No-one really seemed to know what was going on and the classes went just as smoothly as normal. Kids turn up and sit down and maybe work or mess around but still, that was quite remarkable! To me it was a lesson in conventions, when people are told what to do enough they just do it even if reluctantly! Scary but handy! I helped out in Rita's classes because I cannot be with the kids on my own because I might rape them all, which suits me because I don't have to take any of the responsibility. When Rita was telling the kids off I would sometimes find it hard not to giggle at their cheeky comments and had to cover my face a couple of times but it worked out fine, I apologized to her and she said it was fine. As a teacher I think you get used to being firm and acting angry without actually feeling vicious.

We had four classes today. The school specializes in helping recent immigrant kids and some dyslexic children too so there is a large mixture of ethnic backgrounds and some very original young cats. There are several immigrants from Afghanistan, some Iraqis, Sudanese, Rwandans and Liberians, a couple of Koreans and Chinese and Indian kids too. All in all we numbered around 20 nationalities which was exciting. In the class of six year olds, Benjamin from Liberia came in late and started chatting loudly in French in a very polite and kind way. He could not concentrate on the drawing at all but just joked and laughed and showed how he liked to dance. He was a natural show off in the nicest sense. He made me laugh a lot and feel good. He told me about how he would dance with his granny and she would give him apples. I mentioned that they could draw animals too and he said he heard a story about a white guy who went to see a lion in the zoo and the lion eat him and then put his paws together and prayed saying: "Thank you Lord for this lovely meal!" Then he added, "Actually I just made it up!" A few minutes after Benjamin was late a skinny little Sudanese boy stepped in and walked straight to the empty desk saying loudly: "Dont talk to me, I am very sad!" then sat down ignoring everyone. What an entry for the first day of term! I got him some paper and pencil and explained what we were doing and he cheered up real quick and was joking with Benjamin about who loved Maria the coy Colombian girl who had a little pink hand mirror and who had eaten the donkey's underwear. One other totally new boy called Ryan from Korea also made quite an impression. He did not speak English and the other Korean lad helped him but he seemed to be quite autistic anyhow. One second he was busy drawing amazingly tiny detailed apartment blocks in the corner of his A4 sheet and the next moment I looked up he had all the spare pencils stuffed on the inside of his spectacles like some medieval anti-cavalry defense on his nose! You don't even have time to notice because there is so much else going on and if it is not disruptive then you just accept it!

I was quite curious about Benjamin saying that he spoke Liberian English and I looked up the strange and terrible history of that very unique West African country. It was, along with Egypt, the only African country not to be made a colony but like Egypt, that is not quite true. It was actually 'colonized' by freed Afro-American slaves who were told by president Munroe that America would never be a pleasant place for black people and they were best going back to Africa. They honoured his cynical tip by naming their capital city after him, Monrovia, but they were also immigrants and there were problems with the local population who they imposed their US style inspired government over. These immigrants spoke the original Liberian English which is now based around a bunch of towns in Liberia named after old slaves homes in Louisiana! Only in the last 10 years was power taken from the Afro Americans and a leader from a local ethnic group ruled. But even this was not normal. The current president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, is the first and only female African head of state and is quarter German and 3 quarters local tribes and was brought to power on the back of an amazing popular upsurge of protest after over 12 years of terrible civil war. An amazing woman, a simple mother of several children called Leymaa Gbowee convinced other Christian AND Muslim women to join her in peaceful praying in the markets for peace. This movement exploded and soon they were forcing the terrible leader Mr Charles Taylor to open peace negotiations with the other waring factions. They even blockaded the presidential palace where the negotiations were taking plays in Ghana and would not let anyone in and out of any doors or windows until peace had been agreed on! The story is very moving and she is one of my new heroines!

Anyhow, back to school: the older kids were also nice but some of the Afghanis were a bit lippy and bossy to the girls. The oldest kids were very hard to inspire. They did not want to draw anything. One boy whom trouble seemed to gravitate around was having a hard time drawing a pizza to express his Italian heritage and when I came up to see if they needed help I heard him defending anti-evolutionary theories against two Iraqi boys:
"Of course evolution happened you fool!"
'N0 it didn't, you can't proove it!'
"You probably believe in aliens too!'
"Everyone knows there is life on Mars!' ... and so on! Pretty ripping debate! Another class of the same age-group was remarkably attentive and much nicer. They got stuck into the mask workshop and helped eachother. Two boys in the corner pretended to be old men on the park bench grumbling and pretending to attack each-other with scissors but actually being quite chummy. Too bored to move or get involved at all but not upsetting anyone. A couple of the kids were interested in starting a chess club and one Chinese kid was quite persistant that I show him some breakdancing at the end of the class. Rita wanted me to play a song on the guitar but I could not think of any song that they would like so I went to the playground and did windmills, flares and nut-crackers on the AstroTurf which they all really enjoyed. One African kid was pretty good and he joined in which was wonderful and lots of others were interested so I think we will soon have a breakdance and chess club going and I have been learning some pop songs I think they will like so I will have something different for them next time: the final countdown, Bongo Bong, baby baby one more time and miss dinami-te-hee! With a bit more organisation I reckon I could get some good results from the kids and expand their minds a bit perhaps! So it was a fun day but I am quite fair-dinkum now! My cup of tea never tasted so good! Anyhow, I still had energy to go to the Zig Zag circus training but after I cycled half an hour to an almost desolate part of town I found the youth club was full of chubby women doing aerobics! I used my new WOW WOW WOW mobile phone to find out that the website was incorrect! So I cycled home and chatted the evening away with Erko and Louise and Mr and Mrs Martucci. They are both so nice to me. I have my own bedroom which is so cosy and full of their kids artwork and lovely fairytale books and art books and much more! Things have become much better! Also much less sleep! Wo hoo!
lots of love

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

china boarder from siberia TO FINISH

I just arrived in China... Manzhouli, exactly the same border town I came to 4 years ago. It was a more epic journey last time... crossing Siberia in November with my girlfriend with no money busking in minus 18 celcius to get enought for the trains and rushing so I would get out before my russian visa expired. This time it was a little more mellow, money was no issue so we messed around much more eating well. We left tallinn 11 days ago and stayed a night in moscow and partied out quite hard there before an overnight train to nizhni novgorod on the wonderful volga river. My friend there has moved to a gypsy village over the river where we got our fortunes read by a dark gypsy women who told us her granny was estonian and a lot of twaddle about getting married and settling down and getting a big car. Another overnight train to Izerbsk which is a bit off the transiberian railway route.

My painting of Nadya playing beautiful Udmurti songs to me in her kitchen!

We met Erko's friend Nadya who works in the House of the Friendship of Peoples. She is Udmurti, a finno urgic cousin of the Estonians in the urals but the language does not sound very estonian AT ALL and they are famous for their red hair and ... not sure.

Tom and Nadya
Well, she sings really nice and we went to a tea party with an oriental tea drinking action going on and lots of ambient bird song music and they asked tom and me to play and so we played 3 songs and everyone started going wild and loving it and I stopped early, leave them wanting more, after Tom and I had thrown ourselves around the floor and the point had been proved.
Two Finnish girls took over a little after us and managed to calm things down a little with their sad songs. I knew one of them from a Katja's wedding last summer in Finland. I would have happilly joined them on their ethnographic search for music in Russia and China but we have this stupid flight to Australia from China to catch. I wont do a big journey again with a deadline this fast ... planes really suck! anyhow, we rushed out of that scene, managed to catch the midnight train east to novosibirsk with sunny weather all the way. beautiful scenery... best time of year to travel. such brilliant autumn colours outside. Fantastic. Whenever the train stopped for more than 20 minutes (a few times a day) we would rush out and organize a football match near the station with local drunks or i would practice breakdancing in the station hall with the brilliant marble floors. We took another long train from Novosibirsk past Bailkal lake to Chita and arrived there this morning. That was a nice ride, except for the drunk soldiers who cornered me in the smoking wagon and would not let me leave until i had drunk their beer with them and Tom and Erko's battle with the mother of train (wagon guard woman) trying to buy a boiled potato off a woman at the platform... the potato war. A few drunk soldiers, funny babooshkas and screaming kids but all great fun in the end. Erko has wonderful charm and could make the most horrid witch of a train conductor smile. He would just start telling them we were going to Australia from Estonia and where we were from and opening up so cheerfully and they became sun-shiney people when before they had been telling me to stop playing music in the smoking room or to tidy up my bed. He is a brilliant traveling companion and tom would have erko and me in stitches with his stories about containers and how to spell fridge. We decided i would have PARTY ON DUDE on my gravestone and Tom would have NO-ONE BELIEVED ME!
I think we have to go soon lots of love jimmy x

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

AUSTRALIA II Train from Perth to Adalaide

Erko outside the Indian Pacific train in Cook
Hi everyone
hey I made it to Adelaide almost exactly one month after leaving London! I have so much to say but wont write much right now... hopefully find time soon before I forget it all. Basically I am not regretting this journey at all. It has been very interesting and I think it is really helping me with my confidence traveling independently and besides I am having a wonderful time.

The train journey took 2 days from Perth in western Australia to Adelaide. A lot of desert but I was so busy having fun that I was not watching it too much. I was sitting next to a very mellow truck driver from Kangaroo Island who was plastered with nicotine patches, he said they were great, you can even taste the nicotine on your tongue. I asked him if there were lots of kangaroos on Kangaroo island and he gave me a little look then said that sometimes there are a lot. He said he once killed over 2 dozen because they jumped into his truck as he was driving. "Kangaroos just have NOOOOO sense of road safety! Same as Koalas, but you have to stop for them. Unlike the other animals which you would not mind killing, Feral Cats and crows... they get out of the way!" So for two days and two nights I spent my time playing music, chatting, eating, playing cards, making friends and popping out at the towns to run around and see what is happening.

Sadly we lost my fishing stool and football in Kalgoorlie the town with the biggest open mine in the world ... or maybe just biggest gold open air mine... I did not see that but it is the archetype cowboy town ... I felt like i was in the cowboy playmobile set I had as a kid. Wild bars staying open late for the minors to come after their 12 hour shift when then get drunk and eat and spend money on girls... maybe a little less honky-tonk than that but that was the impression.

Erko in a bar in Kalgoorlie

A very authentic gold rush atmosphere. I went into the first bar and introduced myself to everyone... i shook everyone's hand.. about 50 people... it only took a couple of minutes. Leonardo was celebrating his birthday with a huge gang of mates... all lads... we played happy birthday for him and they all went mad... cheering JIMMY JIMMY JIMMY then I breakdanced a bit and some other kid did a wicked worm so I did some more moves then moved to the next bar... and we climbed on the roof of hotel where Erko kicked the football but could not find the football and the owner phoned the police so we left quick! I was wandering down the road looking at the bright southern hemisphere stars for the first time in my life and a huge road convoy went past... a truck pulling about 4 container-sized trailers! Amazing and pretty scary!

Toilet in Cook

In Cook we also got out in the middle of the day for a short wander about and that was proper desert! Nothing but brush and dust for as far as the eye can see... amazing bright sunlight glare and a few ramshackle corrugated iron shanty huts, a couple of small prison cells under a tree and not much else!

Some nice girls I sketched in the train
We had a little concert jam session on our last night in the train and I took over the restaurant car with nice sing along like songs. Nicole sang very nicely with me and some of the other travelers too. Earlier in the day I did a sketch of the bar:

The Indian Pacific train from Perth to Adelaide - the restaurant car

After Kuala Lumpur, I am delighted to find that the weather at the moment is absolutely wonderful... not hot at all... just pleasantly warm and sunny during the day and the fresh side of chilly at night... So after much excitement and dozing and chatting and long train activities, including Chinese chess and all the different card games we have learnt these last 3 weeks on Asian trains.. we arrived in Adelaide this morning and my aunt Lindsy was on the platform waiting for me... lovey to see her... i was just introducing her to Erko and Louise and our new train friends when i noticed someone was standing quite close and stone the crows there is cousin Harry grinning his grinniest grin. Uncle Johney was on his heels and cracked jokes and had me in fits of laughter... he has a really infectious laugh and great sense of humour. they took me to their home and we had porridge together in the garden with the exotic birds and the freight trains passing behind the back hedge then i had a nap and have been exploring Adelaide for the rest of the day... very nice looking place except for the 70s tower block excrescence, at least it does not look too pretentious. Much bigger town than i thought and reminds me a little of New Orleans with its colonial lay out. I am sure I am going to have a lot of fun here! We are setting off to see a jazz band now in Light square (Colonel Light designed the town before dieing a premature death 3 years later from exhaustion it seems).

I go to the primary school tomorrow where i will teach to see what the deal is. I have to get a document from the police proving i am not a molesterer and a SIM card for my mobile phone!!! fancy that!!! and hopefully in the next few days i will be finished my paintings on the trains and towns of this journey and have some interesting new pictures on the website!
wish you all the best
lots and lots and lots of love

ps if you want to write to me here is my postal address until the end of November
C/O Martucci Family
9 Pulsford road
South Australia