What an incredible week it’s been! Aside from helping a friend and fellow thespian, including planning a very special dress rehearsal, I got to visit Enoggera Barracks, I’ve been asked to write another article for the beautiful Gippsland Lifestyle Magazine, my two-year-old learned to use the potty, and pre-sale opened to the public for Remember! I’ve been so moved by the responses I’ve been getting about this special story… a couple of them are even up on Facebook if you’d like to read them. Speaking of incredible reviews, I want to share this one with you, sent to me personally from Wing Commander Sharon Bown (Ret’d), returned service nurse and member of the Australian War Memorial (AWM) council.
‘Remember is an inspiring guide to a more compassionate and peaceful world. With the innocence and empathy of a child, we walk in the shoes of our veterans and their families, to explore the experiences, emotions and perspectives of war. Along the journey we gain the insight to translate their immeasurable sacrifice into the hopeful actions of a better world. This book is a must for every Australian school and home. Lest We Forget.’
I was moved to tears when Sharon sent this through to me, and I can’t wait to meet her in person this Remembrance Day at the end of ‘Remember the Tour’, when I’ll fly to Canberra to present the handmade copy of Remember to the Hon Dr Brendan Nelson. It’s going to be such a special book, complete with messages and pictures from the all the illustrators, corporate supporters, and even me. Kindly suggested by Dr Nelson during our meeting earlier in the year when he read the book, it’s going to become part of the collection at the AWM. Can you imagine how special that conversation was? I still have to pinch myself.
Like almost everyone, I hear that pesky self-defeating voice of doubt in my head, and it almost stopped me from travelling this path, of becoming an author and embarking on this massive project to produce Remember the way I have. Someone very wise once told me that to really benefit others, you have to be prepared to let your light shine bright and be the star that you are. I think of those words often when doubt tries to have its way, and it helps me be brave in times when I feel like shying from the spotlight. While I have been part of a dress rehearsal or two over the years, fun as they are, there is nothing like stepping out on opening night, and being able to share your hard work with the world. It’s pretty much how I feel this week as pre-sale opens. I never imagined then how poignant those words would be, all these years later. Things do happen that we never imagined possible. It just takes a little faith.
Something else that I never imagined, was the calibre of artists who would contribute their art to my project. Especially, the incredibly talented and beautiful Starr. Graduating from the Queensland College of Art with a Bachelor of Visual Arts in 1996, her career has blossomed ever since. Her work has been exhibited and collected in Australia, Asia, Europe and the United States, including an exclusive permanent display in La Nouvelle Eve, Paris. Just this week she’s returned from an incredible trip to France where she’s been working on another incredibly exciting project, which you can read more about on her Facebook page. A stunning contemporary Australian fine artist, Starr has an incredibly unique style and her artwork in Remember is a favourite of many. With years of exhibitions and awards behind her, and paintings that sell all around the world for thousands of dollars, I am so honoured to have her on the team of people behind the book, as well as for her reason for wanting to be involved…
‘I have several relatives who served in wars; One was injured and the other is buried in France in Fromelles. I live my creative life happily in Australia but never forget their sacrifices that gave me the freedom I hold dear today.’
She’s a pretty special lady. When she’s not creating art, she cares for injured wildlife and is a massive fan of Alice in Wonderland. I can absolutely imagine her chasing a white rabbit down a hole. She inspires me to remember that it is a good thing to believe in the impossible, or even six impossible things before breakfast. Just like Alice, Starr’s ancestors, and the diggers whom the illustrators and I support through our work on Remember, we each have a story to play out, as we find out who we truly are.
Another one of those illustrators who is supporting our veterans, is Margie Langtip. An emerging artist, her artistic inspiration comes from the master’s and many other Australian Artists such as Arthur Boyd, Streeton, Tom Roberts and her tutor, Kevin Boucher. Margie is also inspired by being in nature, be it the bush or the ocean. And she gets to take in plenty of beautiful scenery in her new residence in the picturesque South Gippsland, home of a wonderful publication, Gippsland Lifestyle Magazine.
If you missed my last article you can check it out online for free. I’m really looking forward to my next feature about the National Vietnam Veterans Museum at Phillip Island, where just like in Remember, you get to step into the shoes of our soldiers and get a glimpse of what it was like. It’s so important to remember their blood sweat and tears with the reverence that they deserve, and that we hold their memories in our hearts. To stay informed about when the new edition will be available you can follow me on Facebook or subscribe to my email list. My Facebook page is the best place to see what I’ve been up to, including some great pictures from my trip to Enoggera Barracks yesterday. It was a blast! I’m opening up a fan group this week too, and I’d love to connect with you there. In the interest of full disclosure before you join, I should mention that we’re all entirely bonkers there, but I’ll tell you a secret… all the best people are. I’m sure you’ll fit right in.
Whatever you’re doing this week, whether you’re spending time with your family, watching the ocean, travelling the world, or stopping to smell the roses, I hope it’s wonderful. Life’s not a dress rehearsal.
Take the stage.