Hellena Post - Creatrix

I've tried on so many uniforms and badges that now I'm just me - mother of 8 children and all that entails, flowmad, and human animal parent. Writer of this living book of a blog, philosopher, and creatrix of hand dyed and spun crocheted wearable art. I gave up polite conversation years ago, and now I dive into the big one's.....birth, sex, great wellness, life, passion, death and rebirth.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Happy Mardi Grass

After three and a half years around Nimbin, we finally made it to the Mardi Grass.  And I really got it.  Got why people have been sternly correcting me every time that I said Mardi Gras, instead of Mardi GRASS!  Got why it’s such a huge deal around town.  Got why so many varied people put in so much effort and organisation and love.

By all accounts we picked the best Mardi Grass in a long time to go, as it rained like Noah was just about to jump in his ark with two of everything the day before it started, keeping away everyone but the diehards – and the locals.  It wasn’t as packed as normal, so there was a peaceful and convivial vibe, and many ended up feeling like it was a massive local party.  The Rainbow Region’s talent was on display in every nook and cranny.

Two beautiful friends of mine had asked for a bit of crochet magic for their costumes, and Nerelle was totally up for wearing the staghorn based costume I’ve been dreaming of making since we got here.  She also introduced me to the Wait A While vine, which is the material I’ve been needing for years to replace wire in my sculptural creations, (it was such an exciting find!) and I outdid myself in terms of spectacular, so I just HAD to go along to the parade, and witness my creations doing their thing. 

From the moment we got to town, and felt the vibe, I jumped the barricades into the parade to play ‘fashion photographer to the stars’, like I was telling everyone I knew in my huge excitement.  And the magic of Mardi Grass unfurled before me.

After being part of many parades and festivals of many towns and countries in my time, the biggest thing to hit me was that this was a festival that actually MEANS something to the people that celebrate it.  It’s culturally relevant to our town, which is the centre of hemp education in Australia, helping folk to see beyond the stereotypes around it as a drug, to it’s curative and restorative properties, as well as it’s fibres, ability to grow so quickly thereby soaking up 3 times the carbon dioxide as regrowth forests, and potential to replace every paper, fibre, plastic and oil……….sustainably and responsibly.  Did you know Henry Ford made a car in the 1930’s, made totally from top to bottom in hemp for example?  Many folk in this region have positive stories to tell you about hemp, from healing their cancers and headaches, to making their anxiety easier, to meditation and enlightenment.  And when they say ‘Happy Mardi Grass’ to you, it’s a heart felt, culturally relevant, and meaningful saying. 

It’s also the only festival I’ve ever been to, where Original Australians head the parade, not as a token effort, but as a reflection of the deep honour and respect that Original Australians hold in our town.  Even more poignant in this situation, as elsewhere in the country, the renegade rednecks that are pretending to represent our country, are in the process of shutting down Original Communities, as their continued perpetuation of genocide on Original Australians.  So it was very important that our local Originals led, and set the tone with smudging the sacred herb and stories.

Next up in the parade, was the Ganga Queen, a local pregnant woman, taking her honour space as a celebration of the fertility of this area.  I didn’t know about this tradition till seeing it, and it truly touched my heart.

And then came my beautiful love Chantelle, who I had the privilege of making a skirt and wings for, looking like a Druidic style Ganga Priestess, and leading in the luscious Ganga Fairies.  She looked so divine, and graceful, and powerful, and serene, that I just had to take lots of photos.

After the Ganga Priestess, came the Ganga Fairies, (many people’s favourite bit of the parade no less), who with EXTREME colour and enthusiasm, and carefully crafted costumes, energetically did their dance all over the parade.  Their high spirits were totally infectious.

And then of course, a random piece with two hilarious men who were in character all day…….and with not much visibly to do with ganga at all :)

I’m not doing much justice to the rest of the parade, with so many incredible costumes, concepts, and people, but to be fair, I was so obsessed with taking good photos of my pieces and loved ones in the parade, that I became a bit tunnel visoned :)

Once I’d taken enough photos of the front of the parade, I worked my way to the back, to find my beautiful love Nerelle, who was going to do her unique and amazing thing in my Staghorn costume.  It took me a little while to find her, bursting with curiosity about how it was going to look on her, ( I made this piece in a record 4 days, and had to finish off the tail before I could deliver it to her at her stall in the market area, and hadn’t seen it on her completed yet!), but find her I did!!  Looking totally amazing, with purple body paint on her beautiful nude mamma’s body, green nipples and spirals on her breasts, and embodying the Forest Goddess that she actually is.

Finding her was one thing, but keeping up with her was another, as she was so into her Forest Fairy persona, asking people to plant tree’s for the forest, and giving them a high five if they promised, and I MEAN PROMISED to REALLY plant a tree that year,  and flitting all over the parade. 

And then came an event that signifies to me the true sovereign spirit of Nimbin, which welcomes and accepts all with open hearts as long as they harm none.  To give you a bit of a perspective on this wonderful event, I need to give you some background.  The relationship between the police and the folk of Nimbin is traditionally strained at best, with lots of water under lots of bridges.  When there was a fire in Nimbin, which burned out the heart of our town, taking away the Museum and the Rainbow CafĂ©, the local police put in for a grant to do a big drug blitzkrieg with an overwhelming amount of buses and officers, hoping to get the town while it was down.  Harrasment and intimidation has been rife, with police taking dogs through Nimbin Market, and performing all sorts of unfair actions.  For a sleepy peaceful hippy town, the police presence is far over represented.  I’ve personally witnessed plain clothes police selling ganga to tourists and then arresting them, which is entrapment at best, and harassment at worst.  Everyone in town it seems has a story to tell about unfair treatment by police. 

When the parade was coming towards the police station in town, a crowd formed around the police standing in front, and there was some chanting and finger pointing going on, and as a veteran of many protests and actions, I could feel the mood starting to swing towards aggressive. 

Enter stage left our beloved Forest Fairy, going down to build a bridge over some roiling waters. 

I was out of earshot, but Nerelle told me later how it went, so for the sake of continuity, I’ll tell you what happened here.  Our beautiful Forest Fairy went straight up to the new cop in town, and said she’d heard she’d joined in the tug of war the day before, and she’d wondered how it went.

Were there any injuries she asked?  To which the new cop in town, (bless her heart), said ‘Yes actually, I got a bruise right here….’  By the way, I love the concern expressed by the Forest Fairies hands clenched to her chest.

They continued to chat for a bit, finding out more about each other.

And then Michael Balderstone, who many call the unofficial mayor of Nimbin, came up to join in the chat, with a bit more of a political agenda.

Till our Forest Fairy said ‘Not now Michael, we’re talking about her bruise actually….’  And they all returned to light hearted banter and discussion of the bruise.

Nerelle told our new friend that she had a stall at Nimbin Market, and if she came along, she had some balm for her bruise, they could have a visit over some chai,  and hang out some more. 

And once the invitation was made, it was accepted with a handshake,

And our beautiful Forest Fairy took her hand to her bountiful breast,

Pushed all politics aside with a group hug,

And then came the photo of the year :)

As an organiser of the Nimbin Market, and an avid lover of this town and all it represents, this town that I hope to grow in till I die, from the bottom of my heart I hope that this beautiful photo is a sign of changes and shifts and relationships to come.  And the beginning of an improved relationship between the folk of Nimbin and those sworn to protect them. 

Then off down the street we went again, towards the end of the parade, and there came another classic moment.  Our Forest Fairy noticed the Roller Derby girls, and said ‘Come roll over me!’

Roller Derby gals are pretty darn cute afterall.

That was supposed to be it for the parade, but when you’re a Forest Fairy, it’s never over!  We walked around the back of Nimbin to where all the speeches and music were happening, and when standing in the mud, she said, ‘Come on Hellena!  Come into the mud and the earth with me!’

‘And look what happens to be over here!’ she said.

‘It’s a Staghorn!’ she said.  And as the artist of the staghorn piece, I like to think that you can see the similarity between the Staghorns tail and the Forest Fairies :)

On an emotional high from such a gorgeous day, and with such a luscious model, in such a greenly beautiful place, we just had to pause for some photos.

Gotta admit I love this shot the most....

We stopped by the stage for a bit, but then we were back off up the street, to see what fun could be had!  What's kinda funny about the next shot, is that I didn't even realise my two gorgeous daughters were in it until the day after :)  Like I kept telling people afterwards, all I could really see was Chantelle and Nerelle.

I love the movement in that tail....

On the famous Nimbin pedestrian crossing, where hens and roosters dare to cross.

And dancing it up with some muso's on the street.

On the way we bumped into our very loved house guests, and this time I could see someone else :)

Had to visit some shops on the way, and our Forest Fairies hand had been cleansed of the purple paint by the amount of high fives and promises she'd gotten from folks to plant a tree.

If you'd like a more well rounded representation of Nimbin's Mardi Grass as a video, please check this out, to get some of the glorious details I missed out in my obsessive chase of my gals.

This is just a smattering of the people and events of the weekend that I was priveleged and honoured to be a part of.  I finally got my towns festival.  And I totally and absolutely loved it.

Happy Mardi Grass!!