1. Bluetongue, Fennel and Crow (Covid), diptych, 2021 2.6 m high x 4m wide, oil on canvas
2. Sunset, Fennel and Crow (1&2), 2021 oil on canvas 200 x 80cm (each), diptych sold Children's Hospital
3. Wardong/Crows, 2021 crow feathers (collected from Booyeembara Park, Fremantle) and guitar case, 100 x 40cm
4. The Long Quiet, 2021, 1.8cm x 1.5 cm, oil on canvas sold
5. Fennel #1 ( Courbet Green) oil on canvas, 140 x 150cm
6. Redgum Ocean 1, 2021 120 x 150 cm Redgum resin and oil on canvas sold
7. Redgum Ocean 2, 2021 120 x 150 cm Redgum resin and oil on canvas
8. Redgum Ocean 3, 2021 120 x 150 cm Redgum resin and oil on canvas sold
9. Blue Fennel 1, 2021 50cm x 200cm oil on canvas sold
10. Blue Fennel 2, 2021 50cm x 200cm oil on canvas sold
11. Fennel and Chain, 2021 90 x 90 cm, oil on canvas sold
12. Zig Zag #2 (3 full stems), 2021 92 cm H x 46 cm w oil on canvas sold
13. Zig Zag #1 (broken stem), 2021 92 cm H x 46 cm w oil on canvas sold
14. Fennel seeds, 2021 36cm W x 70cm H oil on canvas sold

Fennel and Crow – The Long Quiet

Dalgety Street.
Red ‘n’ hot, the stain of Jet Pave’s, in my scabs.
My Grandad’s a buffalo soldier - he tenderly, tends the
squares and rectangles, that frame his federation house.

Hold the line!says my Nana. Us 5 kids, at least one in the pram.
Rigid; standing to attention, we await her instruction.
Do we head west, into town? Or south, across to the shop?
It’s west;
on our right, half forward flank, I see the rover, Jack Sheedy,
resplendent in bryl-cream, at rest, RIP to him,

we’re moving, we’re heading east-west,
Freo towns next.
We didn’t know it then – but we’re “jammin’”;
My Nana, us 5 kids, at least one in the pram.
I hope you like jammin’ too?

~
A deviation;
what’s now “The John Curtin College of the Arts - specialist soccer oval,”
was then...an unruly Fertile Crescent.

Fennel That!
Loosely tillered terraces, disguise plantings,
from a far-off land.
Italian?

Or “I-talian” as my Nana would say, a pronunciation she got from the Yankees,
who, during WW2, lived in what was then the
Fremantle Lunatic Asylum,

- it’s that building we now know as the FAC, or the Fremantle Arts Centre,
- it’s separated by a crack, from JC’s specialist soccer oval, no gaps,
- all co-joined, all apart squares and rectangles - the modern take?
The Portuguese, they were planting wildly too, to survive;
our food source ancestors were from
S
yria, Palestine, Israel and Egypt too;

The original fertile crescent;
12,000 years long, 300 generations strong.
< thump heart >

Chorus:
The unruly Fertile Crescent plant food - Fennel That!
Plant food - Fennel That!
Fennel That!
~
Like meerkats, they raise their furry heads;
not guarding a burrow,
more like a tenuous thread,
connected to an underground,
bulbous head.
The Nana, us 5 kids, at least one in the pram.
We’d dig like dogs,
sniffing out a fox in his lair;
ripping shreds off the carapace,
in search of the Veedon Fleece.
Not vegies - I wanted sugar - Souk karhrin Moroccan.
I wanted a royal show-bag full of licorice;
it’s a kids weed, aniseed.
My Nana must have packed a pocketknife,
coz my fennel was always clean,
we’d chew out the juice to a cud,
as we ran, wild and unsupervised,
down those lightly tillered terraces.
We’d punch out over the road from that landmark building,
CBC
“The Christian Brothers College- their sexual abuse atrocities,
on children - in their care - at that time - were unknown,

to the Christian communities.
< prolonged silence >
~
We headed uphill towards Fothergill;
a sharp right beckoned, the southern end
of the Fremantle Prison.
“Hold the line!” says my Nana; us 5 kids, at least one in the pram.
Rigid; standing to attention, we await her instruction.
I loved the power and compassion of my Nan; she never came 1st.
< thump heart >
“No-one breathes, until we get to fig tree on the rise,” from Nana again.
“There’s prisoners in there, with children just like you; it I’ll ruin their day,
with sadness and regret - to hear a kid laugh - so hold your breath!
< hold breath & hand-count to 7 >
I’d try to count to 10, my lungs bursting, from the inside out;
I’d never make it past the count of 7, gasping for a glimpse,
of that fig tree on the rise.
Every time I’d imagine these prisoner’s,
chasing me, catching me, chocking me out,
as I stumble through those last 3 breaths.
< rapid fire 3 breaths of anxiety >
On my last, at last; I get a glimpse of that fig tree on the rise,
the turnstile, the eastern entrance of the South Freo footy oval.
~
< hold breath & hand-count to 7 >
These days, 50 years later,
I still hold my breath
when I walk past the Fremantle Prison;
but these days
I re-imagine the Fremantle Prison,
as the Limestone Hill it once was,
for at least 40,000 years,
one of the 7 Sisters,
Whadjuk Noongar land.
< thump heart >
< breathe in, arms up, then slowly exhale to 10 >
I remember - the squares & rectangles, that contained the federation house where I began;
I get that feeling - of running wild and unsupervised down that unruly fertile crescent again;
I re-imagine - the Fremantle Prison as the Limestone Hill it once was,
I see - the 7 Sisters;
And then?
I get a whiff of the Riff Valley;
before diaspora, its
where we all began,
original Rastaman.
< thump heart >
Ha! Fennel That!

Writer’s permissions required to reproduce, in any format > contact damonhurst@thirdman.co

Acknowledgements:
This exhibition is supported by the State of Western Australia, through the Department of Local Government, Sport, and Cultural Industries.Thank you to Loretta Martella, Art Collective WA, Cassandra Beeson and Old Bridge Cellars, William Wandering Distillery, Damon Hurst, Andrew Daly, Aidan Kelly, Alan Shortt, and Joan Leese and Helen Idle. Photography by Eva Fernandez.

The Long Quiet

The patience of painting and of careful looking brings the reward of deeper connection with the individual components of the fennel stem. From a distance it can appear as a collection of straight stems, leaning outwards and inwards. With a botanical eye Jo Darbyshire shows us that it is made up of multiple jointed bends, like pathways that veer sharply then reorientate to take their part in making the whole.

The plant expresses its past and future in the present time; there is no shying away from eventual decline nor from new beginnings as its presence holds both in the now. In the pandemic we have to rethink our anticipated futures, as our past may no longer predict a particular future with any certainty. In the still days of restrictions the fennel causes us to consider our assumptions about our own lifecycle.

With the collection of works in The Long Quiet, the artist creates still and gentle moments for such reflection. There is no rush to go further than here. It is enough to be with the plants and animals and be in this place with Fennel and Crow. It is here, where language may fail, that art does its work. While the collection of black feathers making Wardong/Crow creates an illusion of infinity, the crow’s presence across this body of work is a reminder, along with the Redgum Ocean paintings, of the constancy of Nyungar boodjar and Walyalup, which continues to sustain the artist.

Dr Helen Idle, 2021