Friday, 13 January 2012

No Direction Home (Augmented)

I'm not at all sure how I came to this point in my life.

Bob Dylan once said that he was born a long way from where he was supposed to be. I feel the same way! ( though, thankfully, I was not born in Duluth, Minnesota)

After watching Scorsese's "No Direction Home" I was moved to reflect on my creative output.

The day before, nursing an aching heart, I read Pippa Blake's auto biography "Journey"

I knew Sir Peter Blake reasonably well over many years as I had been involved on the margins of his various projects when I was a spar maker and rigger (Ceramco and Lion) and then again later as a sign writer (ENZA and NZL 32, Black Magic).

My son Robert was the youngest member of Team New Zealand for two successful defenses of the Americas cup in Auckland and earlier attended Takapuna Grammar school where the Blake's children studied when living in NZ.

Pippa's story reminded me of my own, but it also got me thinking. Like Bob Dylan who spoke of the journey in terms of never arriving at a destination; to arrive would mean death.

Sailing, art, music, family, mortgage (death pledge) all the distractions, self doubt, parental and societal disapproval and lack of support of a chosen path.

I have to leave all that behind me now and take a fresh new path.

I believe that my almost obsessive involvement with the marginal and the different is profoundly symbolized (for me) in the proa.

Perhaps I was drawn to activities and interests that very few knew much about as a way to withdraw from a society that shunned those that were different.

New Zealand is a new land of immigrants that have settled here in successive waves over the lat 1200 years only.

Each new wave has had to fight for a place and for acceptance. Only the third or fourth generations finally feel as though they have been accepted as a legitimate New Zealander.

This blog has given me an outlet for expression on an international level. My writing has connected me indirectly to a community that I feel a part of (at a safe distance). Perhaps that community shares something in common with me other than simply odd shaped sail boats. Reading between the lines of all my writing I begin to see a recurring theme.

Michael Scacht said; "Harmen comes to proas in a way with which I can personally identify: as a vehicle for understanding more than just sailboats. A way of looking at the world. And when I say “the world”, I don’t mean the atoms, I mean the invisible connective tissue".

'"Seek and ye shall find" one of the great teachers said. The seeking itself is the finding, since one can fervently seek only what one already knows to exist.' so says Gabor Mate, MD in his excellent book " When the Body says no"

In many ways my eccentric quest to explore the different has been an attempt to express a creative urge, though tainted with a pathological fear of success and acceptance. I think I avoided anything that set me up against anything mainstream or conventional for fear that I would be compared with someone more competent than myself and found lacking.

So much of my activity in the arenas of art and sailing has been in isolation, at a safe distance from my community. Frustration has been the result. Perhaps this stems from a feeling of being so close and yet so far from what I truly wish for, that sense of belonging, reciprocated by those I love or admire.

In my other existence I have been a professional and semi professional musician. I practiced in relative isolation to become a reasonably competent drummer. Many years later (perhaps frustrated by my lack of success) I rejected this pursuit and chose a very marginal instrument, the one string bass, (skiffle bass, wash tub bass, tea chest bass).
This instrument I made completely my own. I was considered by my musical peers as a freak, a virtuoso, and much else besides. Few people understood how it was played in tune. Trained musicians of extraordinary skill and virtuosity marveled at its uniqueness (and its strangeness). Somehow though this activity was acceptable in a community that could tolerate (even admire) such eccentricity and I was safe because there was so little to compare me with!

To qualify for those patient enough to have read this far, I simply mean to share what I am learning about myself in the hope that I will say or do something that triggers recognition, that catalyzes something that might provide an insight to themselves and in so doing myself as well.

I have an idea for an exhibition featuring self portraits in the context of my journey to date. Another project in the wings are a series of paintings based on Henry Winklemann's 19th and 20th Century, black and white photos of famous New Zealand Keel boats. It could be interesting to look back on my journey whilst moving forward, somewhat like rowing a boat.


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Toroa by Harmen Hielkema & Mike Toy.

Header Photo: Toroa at Rawene by Julie Holton.

This blog is dedicated to the memory of my father Roelof Hielkema who instilled in me the willingness to learn.
These pages are intended to inform and add to the growing body of knowledge concerning the Canoe Culture of the Pacific, past, present & future, from the Tupuna, the Ancestors of the Pacific cultures to the people of the world.

These pages contain Images and text relating to our two proas, Toroa & Takapu, some history relating to our experiments & experiences.

The dissertation that I posted on this blog in April 2008 "Takapu The Proa" was written by me in 1997 in response to an assignment that I was set whilst studying for my design degree. The dissertation covers many issues that a proa enthusiast may benefit from reading about.

Waka define culture as culture defines waka

Waka reflect the individuality and uniqueness of a society which in turn is governed by the geography, geology, topography, climate, location, resources, isolation, origin, flora, fauna, flotsam, jetsam, etc.

Waka are our link to the past, they have shaped our present and define our future.

Waka are the vessels of knowledge, physical and mental development, freedom of bondage to the land, key to our inquisitiveness, expressions of our ingenuity and courage, our love of shape and form, the seat of our power.

Waka are the source of our material culture, from which all processes are derived.

Waka are who and what we are.