To celebrate Love, a new exhibition at the Immigration Museum in partnership with Heide Museum of Modern Art, we asked six interesting humans to share stories from the heart.
My friend Vegan Jenny is one of the most passionate people I’ve ever met. Passionate for her children, her job and her life, but it’s her passion for veganism that I’m most in love with. I’ve been vegetarian for 32 years, and I often feel like the worst type of potential convert. I’ve already become who I am, but still, she gently persists. She sends me links and recipes, and although I’ve cut out a lot of dairy, I can’t call myself a vegan yet. I got really sick from being vegan at 18 and, probably out of defensiveness, I sometimes push back on what I consider the extremes of a vegan life. Her convictions simultaneously excite me (about what the world might be with more people like her in it) and plunge me into despair (that I’m not one of them). So her passion – the thing I love most about her – is also the thing I’m most challenged by. Isn’t love funny like that?
I have a strong love for my whole family who, at this moment in time, are all scattered around the world. My grandparents are back home in Venezuela, with the older members of my family. Some of us are in Australia and others are in Chile, Spain and the US. They are sprinkled throughout the world, part of what is now known as the Venezuelan diaspora. When people who you have strong bonds with are not present, what happens to love? Distance, time and a dictatorship have all gotten in the way of love between my immediate family, but love is kind of like a glue, I'm guessing – an invisible glue that is super-elastic and very resilient; you can't destroy it. This glue is made from memories of traditions, celebrations and moments together, and when those multiply and are passed down and retold, the glue only becomes stronger.
Writer and anthologist
My uncle, Alf Briggs, drove trucks, and on the weekend an Oldsmobile of the grey undertakers like to have their suits. He drove me deep into the eastern bush to pick up fish, and we went to a little town called Mallacoota. While he went for refreshments, I was left on the point overlooking the Mallacoota lakes. Typically, the point was named after a murderer, but they were black, so the law didn't think it counted. The water on the sand flats was jade, and the islands slumbering in the lake were brooded over by the blue dream of Howe Range. I was mesmerised by a deep and serene beauty and promised myself I'd be back. It took me a little while, but soon enough I returned to dawdle in kayaks and beach myself in the gorgeous jade water of a mellow yellow beach, drifting into a reverie so deep it has never truly left me. Bar-tailed godwits stepped over my becalmed paddle; beach stone-curlews stared at me with giant, mad golden eyes. Bury me with that paddle.
I am an adult lesbian and I am in love with Harry Styles, the angelic lead singer of boy band One Direction. It's the kind of love that doesn't require reciprocation. It's not because he's beautiful, but he is. It's not because he has the voice of a gruff, rock 'n' roll angel, though he does. I don't need him to love me personally; the thing I adore in him is his calm, smiling nonchalance about simultaneously being a teen icon and openly bisexual. Harry dances on stage with rainbow flags, sings about kissing men, and flirtatiously challenges interviewers to consider that, “Maybe we’re all a little bit gay?” When I was at school, being queer was the worst thing anyone could possibly be. My hope is that Harry Styles is an extremely talented, handsome, cute and funny example of how being queer is not only a normal part of human diversity, but something that can also be really special.
Going on my first tour ever has meant I get to meet people who like my music from all around Australia and New Zealand. Everyone who comes to one of my shows is literally like a reflection of me – whether I know it’s a part of me or not, they still are. All my fans are unique and special. My father’s from Papua New Guinea and I was born there. I remember these Papua New Guinean girls came up to me in Melbourne and told me how thankful they were to feel represented by me. They were so happy to have someone who looks like them up there doing what they love to do. I definitely show that I’m Papua New Guinean, whether it’s through jewellery or bilums, which are traditional woven bags from PNG. These people felt very empowered to be Papua New Guinean women living in Australia through my music. That was a very special moment.
Broadcaster and crossword maker
Tarwhine. Morwong. Fish names on the placard, each name below a silhouette, helping anglers identify what thrashes on their hooks. Trevally. Mulloway. My dad was an angler. Lured me into the hobby’s charms. We stood on wharves like this one, snagging whiting, and getting snagged. Learning to swear together. We waited for the next story to strike, all weathers, the sacred bucket. Cockney bream. Mangrove jack. Soon came a runabout we christened ‘Chips’. We bobbed off West Head, drifted Broken Bay, my plan to catch a trophy, and his to slow down time. The boat was our universe with knife and hammer at the ready. Luderick. Hairtail. Dad could read a tide, the lividness of clouds. The man didn’t need a placard as the ocean was his blood. Yes, many got away, too many to count, but that time we shared, we kept.
Check out more love stories at Love, a new exhibition at the Immigration Museum, in partnership with Heide Museum of Modern Art. The show explores love in all its joyous, illogical, heart-breaking glory, and is showing in Melbourne until April 28th, 2019. More info here.