An Interview with Narelle Carter-Quinlan

Jan.s:  Narelle, recently you wrote...'I grew up on Sydney's beaches; my father once a surf life saver. Its landscape is etched in my tissues, a cellular memory. These images evoke visceral connection to this place. I am awash, immersed in fluids. The sandstone of Sydney echoes and holds my bones; a living resonance. Water weeds my organs and mesenteries, rock pools the deep interior of my pelvis. Markings on rocks - my bone'.

Your words could have been my own Narelle...!!  I spent my childhood summers on Warriewood & Narrabeen beaches exploring the cliff tops and sand dunes and rock pools and swimming in that vast ocean.

The ocean and it's dreaming resides in me....As you know, I've created a CD of music titled; Arterial Flow, and through it's explorations I began to deepen this connection.  Can I  talk  with you about your explorations of the fluid systems of the body...and how they continue to inform you.

Narelle: you go Janice xx

"You'll fall in", he warns in a voice that stretches and arcs over my small body l-e-a-n-i-n-g over the water to get closer to the magic ducks I am feeding. "No I won't!". Laughter. "All right then....". SPLASH. Bubbles; green and brown, like liquid crystal, pass my eyes. Sunlight edges them. I can't breathe! A strong arm hauls me up. Splutter. Half choke. My Dad. Safe. I am utterly shocked, bewildered. Indignant. I am two years old.

I spin and spin. On my toes. I am not yet a whole  year old. Or so the story goes, from my mother and grandmother. I wanted to dance. Begging my mother for dance lessons, she insists I learn to swim first. Like every good Australian mother when you live near the beach.  My  compassionate Dad, once a surf life saver, and my hero, can't do anything with me. My head in the water (near the water!) ; terror! He takes me to his mate, an ex-Olympic swimmer, John Conrads. My Mum has this thing; I have to get my first 25m swim certificate before I am allowed to have dance lessons. Bugger. What a hurdle! But we do it. With laughter and coaxing and LOTS of patience, John finds games,  and the truth be told, tricks to get me to jump in, float, "swim" up the damn end of the pool. I don't like it, but I do it. I have to dance. I am nearly five years old.

The sound of water cleaves past our faces. I can never beat the bastard. Not on land and not in water. My Dad and I in the pool, racing. I am 13.

Breathe in, mouth an oval, lungs inflate a-sudden. Breathe out; bubbles endless. The rhythmic beautiful machine of my body. Streamlined; a shark. I am 23. So much beauty in this anatomy in motion! Perfection slices though water. Water inside my body, water out. A membrane between; my skin. Muscle moves bone, breath through pink rainforest of lungs. Slice.

I dance. Fluid in motion. Rich and lush. Surgent. Developmentally we embody our fluids in our movement patterns, echoing our evolution on this home-planet. When a body decomposes it (re)turns to fluid - I know this, I've seen it in my anatomy training. Bones are left, but even they are wet in life!

I stand on my yoga mat. My practice nothing without this bed of internal waterways; rhythm and pulse of arterial blood, venous rise and fall (a waltz!), ebb and tide of capillaries, clarity and delimitation of lymph, offering me precision and spacial tensegrity, the still sound that resonates through my cerebrospinal fluid between my ears. HUmmmmmm. Awash in the ocean of my interstitium; the electric spontaneity of transitional fluid (what makes a dancer really interesting!), voluptuous s-l-o-w fat, the vibrancy of each cellular city. (In BMC they say a cell's fluids are about stillness-home, but I know better; a cell is a BUSY place!!). Laughter, synovial fluid; such joy incarnate. And play.

Thanks Mum!!

All photos (as above): Copyright: Narelle Carter-Quinlan


Goldenwillow said…
Beautiful, fascinating, inspirational. Leave it to an Australian to be cutting edge and push the limits of conventional thinking. Janice, thank you for providing us with this extraordinary interview and an opportunity to view Narelle's luminous images of water and movement and to read about her early life experiences. It is a joy to read more about her work on her website and how she shares her insight, knowledge and innate gifts with others. And, I loved reading that she lives in a bush treehouse! Janice, you always meet and attract the most interesting people! ~ Carol Willoughby, Roanoke, Virginia, USA (PS: I am proud to say that my mother, Christina Campbell, was from Sydney, Australia.)

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