Friday, October 21, 2011

An interview with Chisayo Lewis

Jan.s: Chisayo, you create objects which are whimsical and yet full of life!  How & where did your interest for creating your art  begin...?

Chisayo: My grand mother was a kimono dress maker. She gave me lots of off cuts and taught me how to make simple bags.

My mother loved  sewing and knitting also. 

I always watched them. It was amazing to see how a flat piece of material was turned into a bag, a dress, a flower, decorations...I started sewing when I was about 10.  I learnt sewing at highschool then I went to kimono dress making school and learnt how to make Kimonos.

When I had my first child 10 years ago,  I started making  soft toys for my daughter.  
One day, I made a felt cake for my daughter and she loved it very much and I was happy too, so I made another felt cake the very next day. Then I made a hamburger, a hot dog, sushi...and I kept making different things.
I especially love to work with felt because of the texture. It's easy to work with and I can ues all of my imagination in the creations.
One of my friends saw my creations and said to me that I should sell them. Then I started focusing on making things for the Art & Craft Markets.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

An Interview with author Alwyn Lewis

Jan.s:  Alwyn, you write about the earth with such an immense feeling of belonging. 

Alwyn: I guess I’ve always had the feeling that we belong to the earth, not the other way around.

Whenever I see those huge open cut mines I shudder at what we do to the earth for financial gain, even the weight of the cities man builds on her seem an imposition.

I remember being quite a small child in New Zealand and after an earthquake my father took me to see where the earth had opened in a great jagged scar and I wondered at that early age if the earth had cried out in pain. 

Jan s:  Your book “Call of the Currawong” begins with an aboriginal woman in a seemingly benign setting – but the story quickly unfolds to reveal cruel and devastating circumstances.

Where did the seed for this story germinate?

Alwyn: In talking with some aboriginal women it occurred to me that although their circumstances and the circumstances of my grandmother’s life were vastly different, their inner strengths were so similar.

My grandmother was placed in service at age 13, but like the aboriginal women I spoke with, she made the best of her life and added to the lives of people around her, much the way Pearl does unquestioningly in Currawong.

The saddest thing for me is that this generation of women never ever realised that they were our teachers or how valuable were the lessons they gave us in humility, caring, acceptance and just getting on with it.

We now take the opportunity for tertiary education as our due, but when some of these women were born there were no choices, no chance to move out of the situation life presented to them, and for the aboriginal women no chance to move away from the impositions life handed them, in spite of which it seemed to me that somewhere deep inside they still quietly held on to something “known”.  

I wanted to say something about that.  And of course something also had to be said about the devastating aspects of their lives.


From a Devonport with a very confused weather pattern.  One minute it’s pouring and windy, the next the sun is shining – ah the vagaries of Spring.
Janice, At the moment I’m writing some poetry for a tour we hope to do around Tasmania next year with Tony  Barry and me reading, George Golla, Howard Cairns and Laurie providing the musical backing

Photo:  Courtesy of Devonport Jazz Festival