‘PLATYPUS’ by Sari Bennett
Who am I?
Well, last week I performed at a small arts festival in Denmark WA where I was described in the program as being an ’emerging artist’. When I got up on stage, I realised just how comfortable I felt with this particular introduction…
I recognised how familiar I have become with the sweaty-giddy-belly-buzzing nerves that are part and parcel of stepping into new ways of being in the world. ‘Emerging’ is actually more of a lifestyle for me, than a passing phase, and it is one that I seem to have accidentally adopted over 20 years ago. In that time, I have morphed from ‘dancer’ to ‘sculptor’, transformed from ‘textile artist’ to ‘singer songwriter’ and have more recently transfigured into my newest identity as a ‘spoken word poet’.
I believe that each time I embark on a new journey of creative expression, it is not so much a reinvention of self but more like an enriching of all the selves that I have embodied previously.
I am aware of the accumulation of each one of them, as they simultaneously inhabit the unique way in which I move, speak and create.
Another wonderfully affirming moment I experienced on stage in Denmark was when I peered out into the audience and saw so many warm familiar faces… Even the ones I had not met before seemed kindred in some way.
Now, having lived in one region for nearly 10 years, I finally feel comfortable being called a ‘regional artist’. I love the concept of localisation being a form of radical activism…
I eventually stopped gypsying because I was ready to reclaim and tend to the important and valuable relationships that were right there beyond my back verandah. The food growers, the healers, the artists, the friends and the weirdos that make up the precious garden of interesting souls at the heart of a community. It’s ironic really, that I spent all those years travelling the world to find myself and now I find myself in the garden every day!!! I have found peace in the stillness and simplicity of living without social media, in a small community on a quiet river island.
‘a paddle of poems’
I named my current show “a paddle of poems” and dedicated the entire work to the humble platypus, having recently discovered that ‘Paddle’ is the collective noun for this extraordinary semi aquatic, egg laying, furry, webbed footed and sometimes venomous creature. Scientists explain that the platypuses are part mammal, part bird and part reptile, because as they have evolved, they have preserved many of their ancestor’s original features and this has helped them adapt to the environment they live in.
I feel a warm affinity to them and their unusual collection of attributes in relation to my own journey of evolution and emergence in my one relatively short lifetime. My empathy for them grew even deeper when I learned that the platypus is said to represent ‘the ability to find peace in isolation’ as they are quite solitary animals.
So, who am I?
For now, there is no title that better describes what I have become than an ’emerging regional artist’.
But for the record, I also go by platypus.