Updated: Sep 11, 2019
: addendum; plural noun: addenda
In September 2019, Abbotsford Convent's 2019 Artist in Residence, Leisa Shelton will launch a major new work - addendum; for which she will collate, publicly display and then burn her full performance archive of 30 years continuous arts practice in Australia.
Today, standing in the Melbourne bookstore, Readings, I opened a new book of poetry on display – a final collection gathered by the poet Mary Oliver, before her passing. A beautiful edition that was a pleasure just to hold, and then I opened the collection to this -
When I moved from one house to another
there were too many things I had no room
for. What does one do? I rented a storage
space. And filled it. Years passed.
Occasionally I went there and looked in,
but nothing happened, not a single
twinge of the heart.
As I grew older the things I cared
about grew fewer, but were more
important. So one day I undid the lock
and called the trash man. He took
I felt like the little donkey when
his burden is finally lifted. Things!
Burn them, burn them! Make a beautiful
Fire! More room in your heart for love,
for the trees! For the birds who own
nothing__the reason they can fly.
At a time when so many voices are now presenting their ‘concern’ about the intentions or reasons for this project of mine, this was the voice that resonated and rang IN me.
This voice. This act. This conversation.
I am grateful for ALL the generous responses, the fact of people taking time to be in contact has been an enormous pleasure within this work. Each day now more arrive as the reality of addendum; looms, for some darkly, for some brightly.
But here, in these words I am met by the words of a fellow traveller. One who, like me, has stood before the vast quantity of kept things, questioning their value, considering their meaning and gradually seeing them for what they are – things!
We depart however in our response. All that I have preserved, stored, now named the ‘Archive’ is all I could NOT, as Mary Oliver chose to do, send to the tip. All that remains, required more care as its value remained constant, so I sought a more respectful separation and one that could open the conversation more widely than within my own thoughts.
So unexpectedly, years apart from the writing of these words, this call of Mary Oliver I AM building the beautiful fire and I will burn them, burn them all! page by page so that I see them once again and let them go full of the acknowledgement of their worth and their place IN me. And then, I also expect this feeling of lightness, of renewal, of the openness for new directions and new pathways to become available. I will see.