Noticing light – Kolbe

Another poem Ursula Kolbe connects with her ideas on art education is Silver by Walter de la Mare… she writes:

“Reflected light is another wonder that gives great pleasure. Many adults may remember a time when they collected shiny things – collecting dewdrops to make a tiny silvery puddle in a nasturtium leaf cup was one of my favourite pastimes.


Slowly, silently, now the moon
Walks the night in her silver shoon;
This way, and that, she peers, and sees
Silver fruit upon silver trees;
One by one the casements catch
Her beams beneath the silvery thatch;
Couched in his kennel, like a log,
With paws of silver sleeps the dog;
From their shadowy cote the white breasts peep
Of doves in a silver-feathered sleep;
A harvest mouse goes scampering by,
With silver claws, and silver eye;
And moveless fish in the water gleam,
By silver reeds in a silver stream.


On the topic of noticing light and shadow (or ‘discovering light and shadow’ as she titles her chapter), Kolbe also includes the poem ‘Fletcher Avenue’ (below) and notes that: “The Swedish film director Ingmar Bergman once said to an interviewer: ‘All of us collect fortunes when we are children –  a fortune of colours, of lights and darkness, of movements, of tensions. Some of us have the fantastic chance to go back to this fortune when grown up.’” (p.37)


In my
grandmother’s house
sun comes through leaded panes
on the front stair landing, creeping

the red carpet,
flashing yellow circles
and white dots, with ribbons of blue

on the
banisters and
balconies, coming to 
rest on warm wood walls in the dark


“When you see shadows cast,” Kolbe points out, “you often see things you didn’t notice before.” (p.38)

Another poem Kolbe draws on for her discussion of light and shadow is Corroboree (Noonuccal Oodgeroo):


Hot day dies, cook time comes, 
Now between the sunset and the sleeptime
Time of play about.
The hunters paint black bodies by firelight with
  designs of meaning,
To dance corroboree.
Now didgerigoo compels with haunting drone
  eager feet to stamp,
Click-sticks click in rhythm to swaying bodies
Dancing corroboree.
Like Spirit things in from the great surrounding
Ghost gums dimly seen stand at the edge of 
Watching corroboree.
Eerie the scene in leaping firelight,
Eerie the sounds in that wild setting
As naked dancers weave stories of the tribe
Into corroboree.


Ref: (italics in original) Ursula Kolbe (2007) Rapunzel’s Supermarket: All about young children and their art. Second Edn. Pippinot Press: Byron Bay, NSW.


About backyardbooks

This blog is a kind of electronic storage locker for ideas and quotes that inform my research... literary research into fiction for young adults (with a special focus on New Zealand fiction). Kiwis are producing amazing literature for younger readers, but it isn't getting the academic appreciation it deserves. I hope readers of this blog can make use of the material I gather and share by way of promoting our fiction. Cheers!
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