Anna Couani

skype window


            taping people from her village

            The Peloponnese in an agrarian past

            collecting voices that will disappear forever

            then standing on this edifice

            to look backwards

            and then deeper, into the 18th century

            now like a roaring train, a novel

            the history of Greece, so tragic

                        she says
another she

doing genealogical research

first the family

the migrations, then back

back to the island


                 becomes a whole history


the Venetians 

the Turks

the Byzantines
very different, she said

                 we had war
in one of her windows

the mandarin tree stands

in the centre of a brick paved yard

on another window

the lace curtain

shields the lemon tree

180° of glass

the vlita, the horta in the garden
this beautiful peaceful space
In another window

                 Skype video

                 I see them 

                 doing genealogical research

                 and he also doing genealogical research

                 and the search on our name

                 a Byzantine tangle

                 a clan under the radar

                 maybe secret Turks or secret Jews

                 escaping the Inquisition
they had records, you know

                 the Venetians

                             so Ithaca is a different matter
I hold up the page of the book

to the Skype camera

                 this proves there were Couani’s on Kastellorizo

                 a page from this old book

                 strangely printed in landscape orientation

                 with the list of boat owners – Κουανης
and he

                 on video Skype

                 an English life

                 reaching back to France, Egypt, Africa

                 finishing an autobiography 
I sit in her living room

a window opens

I see him


the fairy story effect
the magic of childhood
Sydney in a snow dome

possible because of its 

bowl-shaped geography

ringed with mountains

girt by sea

its foamy cliffs
the sublime


the sky

so vast

the clouds so high 

and puffy in the southern sky

the higher one, gleaming white in the sunlight

whiter than white is

is it so big

or are we so small?

showers coming and going

humid, then a shower
from above

the land is full of water and sunlight

a shower falling on one small area

shadows and sunlight
Reminiscent of Blackheath in The Blue Mountains and its fabulous summer alpine climate, air constantly washed clean by afternoon thunderstorms, sublime mountain vistas. The 19th century children’s novel, Heidi, set in alpine country. The snowy white bread rolls wrapped in crisp cloth and Heidi’s little gingham swag with her belongings in it. Heidi, so lucky to be an orphan.
people swim in the rain

raindrops cool on their skin

in the pale aqua water
The fact that it’s aqua because of the chlorine feels irrelevant, especially on sunny days. It’s not unlike the colour of the water around the Mediterranean islands. The pool, in the park just next to Broadway.
Broadway, Sydney’s busiest intersection, just erase the traffic and the noise and you’re left with a perfect landscape. I’m dreaming of turf being laid over Broadway like they did on the Harbour Bridge for a day, except permanently.
a flock of corellas

with their pretty call


and doubling back
Broadway is like a bowl or part of a bowl that empties into the harbour at Blackwattle Bay.
Sublime, the depth

of the harbour

a mirror of the mountains

valleys that continue


but now, into murky depths
Is childhood magical? What is the temperature of the sublime? How we loved Caspar David Friedrich in the early 70’s! Before we were ravaged by Conceptual Art, that is. That’s when many of us stopped painting, when painting died for us, replaced by the minimal gestures of others, requiring no effort and almost no thought. Somnambulist Art. Work they did between hangovers.
The whispering quiet of the

valleys from the cliff tops

transcendent, individuating

rupture in disguise
the sublime thing

I could have gone that way

with feminist representations

some did

that’s where I was wanting to go

drawing female figures falling into chasms

so much like

classic Romantic images

it was men who dissuaded me

but 10 years later 

similar images were 


in the art galleries

Vivienne Shark LeWitt etc

but then with the


of some art world bureaucrat

that was the problem

between them and us
I met people who understood why you’d want to rail against the parochialism of your peers
Australian Art

it’s a joke

and in Australian minds

it’s all happening elsewhere

distance creates the sublime 
not that there aren’t fabulous artists here

but don’t tell me they’re Australian
So my work became

what was possible
maybe constraints help us

to map the unknown
aesthetic unboundedness

I made small drawings using pencil and aquarelle. Some like an abstract Reg Mombassa, some hyper-real. Learnt the Chinese method of watercolour painting. Wrapped up in teaching art to people who didn’t want to be artists. I took a holiday from history.

Communism, Utopia

group projects

where every offering

is valued

and adds

another element to the lexicon

The haunting

the bamboo pen

the ink well

vintage glass thing

with its pressed pattern

and three wells

the paper ready

the concertina book

carried around for weeks

where the practice drawing

will occur


the sketchbook

the real thing


cover done

title chosen

first poem

printed on tracing paper

and glued in

with spray adhesive

photos of all the objects

taken and uploaded to ipad




all the preparation done

the pen haunts me

I think and dream about

picking it up

I can feel the sensation

of moving the bamboo

across the paper

think about it constantly

imagine the black ink

sitting in the ink well

and about two other colours

as yet unchosen

I mentally scan the box of inks

think about the beautiful

senegal yellow

thick and glowing

everything is ready

and yet

the series consists of drawings

of objects from my parents’ houses

both parents now gone

so objects are not objects

it is essential to choose the colours

at least for the first drawing

the amber cigarette case

and think

is this a gestural exercise

or will each drawing

take on some complexity

become a painted image

become watercolour 


always there

at the ready

to sooth

now that we’re really alone
scan from The Rochford Street Review
Dawn – drypoint etching

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