Archive for December, 2013

Philomena – The Movie

While Philomena could have been yet another story of the exploitation, misguided management, control and abuse of those under the care of the Catholic Church, it delivers more by delving into one woman’s journey and the reluctant and cynical journalist who helps her. Philomena, abandoned in disgrace to the Sean Ross Abbey in County Tipperary, Ireland, yearns for the three-year-old son who had been taken from her almost 50 years ago. She turns to Martin Sixsmith, an out-of-work, ex-BBC current-affairs correspondent, to help her trace her child. Fearing a downward spiral into depression, the reporter who usually scorns, ‘human interest stories,’ desperately takes on the challenge.

Steven Coogan, British actor and comedian, co-wrote and produced the real-life story and also took on the role of Martin Sixsmith. Dame Judi Dench commands her role as Philomena Lee and gives an accurate performance of the Irish woman. A contradiction on many levels, Philomena appears innocent at times, with her diet of light-weight, romance novels and her unsophisticated, wide-eyed delight of their trip overseas. Yet, she also displays shrewdness in assessing a situation, strength in her faith, determination in her quest and is not backward in pointing out Sixsmith’s character flaws.

The unlikely duo uncover more than they expect and in doing so, test the mettle of each other’s character. The film could have justifiably leaned heavily and sombrely on the churches’ abuse, depicted in The Magdalene Sisters for example, but Coogan, with the help of Director Stephen Frears, provides relief by revealing the light hearted and comedic aspects of the unintentional exchanges between Lee and the at times, arrogant Sixsmith.

Philomena’s down-to-earth philosophy can be summed up with the words she spoke in the story, ‘just because you’re in first class, doesn’t make you a first class person.’ Her final, magnanimous gesture astounds both Sixsmith and the world at large and is still the topic of conversation among the religious and non-religious today.

Philomena is well-worth seeing and no doubt, will earn some awards at the Academy.

© Wendy Robinson 2013

Mankind has made progress through culture and behind every generation, there is the fragrance of the past, it is as indelible as a fingerprint. We feel the present through traces of history.  ~ Anon

Passion, paintings and people

We stood before the oil painting, admiring the almost 3D effect of the brush strokes on the white coat of a lone wolf. Its’ eyes and demeanour were captivating and I found myself drawn to it.

Agreeing that it was striking, my girlfriend then broke the spell by commenting further on the subject. We were both bemused by our respective interpretations of the same animal. My friend could see a wariness and compelling intensity in its gaze and the readiness for action in its’ gait. I, on the other hand, could see the sleek animal emerging from its lair in a benign, exploratory and curious manner.

Our observations differed on that particular painting but we remained in agreement on our appreciation of the other offerings at the ‘Shades of Blue,’ art exhibition showing at the Billich Gallery in The Rocks.

The entire presentation of 79 artworks, represent the works of present and former members of our State’s Police Force. We were pleasantly surprised at the talent of our boys in blue.

A latecomer to painting and one, who had no inkling about his remarkable gift, is retired officer, Neville Kehoe.  According to the gallery assistant, Kehoe only took up painting after accompanying a golfing friend to an art class in 2002. He had visited the gallery earlier in the day and sadly we missed meeting the artist by a mere few hours.

Standing in awe, my friend and I gazed at the two paintings placed side by side on the wall. While the subjects were of the same aboriginal, Kehoe had managed to capture the quiet dignity of the man and to reveal the depth of his being within his eyes. Further along was a larger, square-framed painting of two indigenous girls, appealing in their innocence and the simplicity of their clothing.

The painting by the same artist that is in total contrast to the aforementioned two is, one of a dark-haired youth standing in period costume and is a deliberate copy of Thomas Gainsborough’s The Blue Boy. Kehoe’s masterpiece, which has been placed strategically on an easel, brooks no question about his talent.

A scene of the Sydney Harbour Bridge captured with various colours against the backdrop of the night sky and another of the wide-eyed look of his baby daughter, reveals Justin Knewstub’s passion for photography. Sue Lightfoot also captures nature’s gifts in her photographs of an avenue of autumn trees meeting overhead in a protective covering and for sheer contrast, the skeletal branches of trees, lonely against the approaching dusk. Sue finds solace from PTSD (Post-traumatic stress disorder), in her artistic pursuits.

Today is the last day for this free event.  The event honours the late Sabine Altmann, who worked in the NSW Police as the Western Region Domestic Violence Coordinator in Tamworth. Sabine could never be accused of letting life pass her by as she lived life with passion and compassion, energy and determination. She died in an accident, while on her way to a work conference and according to the eulogy given by Helena Pastor, Sabine ‘believed in a future without violence,’ and would strongly state, ‘nothing is impossible.’

My friend and I were however, surprised that none of Sabine’s works were on display. This is the third time the special exhibition has been opened and the assistant informed us that Sabine’s art and photography had been on display in the previous exhibitions. She agreed that some of Altmann’s works should grace future exhibits and promised to pass our message on.

Please ensure you view the many artistic talents of our law enforcement officers. You will be pleasantly surprised.

© Wendy Robinson 2013

Saints, it has been said, are the sinners who go on trying. So free men and women are the oppressed who go on trying and who in the process make themselves fit to bear the responsibilities and uphold the disciplines which will maintain a free society. ~ Aung San Suu Kyi

Disclaimer: The writer has disclosed no financial relationship with the NSW Police Force

Shades of Blue Facebook page –!/events/585012374881436/?source=1



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