Blarney Books & Art, Port Fairy

Blarney Books and Art is located in the coastal town of Port Fairy on the Great Ocean Road at the tale end of the Shipwreck Coast. This little town is exceedingly picturesque with over 50 heritage listed buildings, wide streets and avenues of giant Norfolk pines.

In 2004 Port Fairy’s old Masonic Hall was transformed into a book shop but quickly grew to include an art space, became host to all kinds of author and music events, and well … just keeps developing! On the shelves are new and used books ‘… with a focus on art, literature, crime, young adult and diverse titles’.

On the outside of the building the rainbow flags fly pronouncing this space as welcoming to all. Makes my heart sing!

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It was a thrill to be invited back to this little stage, into this gracious and thoughtful venue and share stories on a cold winter’s night. The life of a roving wordsmith suits me well.

Stories; Blarney Books and Art 2019.jpg

The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say

J.R.R. Tolkien

Jackie Kerin
The Woolly West Fest 2019

The Woolly West Fest takes place in the Western District in the Shire of the Southern Grampians, and some say that it’s the largest community arts project (in spread) in Victoria and possibly even Australia. Festivities take place in ten towns during a two week period. The focus is a celebration of all things woolly and early childhood literacy. The creators Jacinta Wareham is the Knitwit and Naomi Turner is the Litwit.

Wearing my early childhood hat, I packed the big story basket and had fun in the Hamilton Library with a crowd of ankle biters - my people.

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Teaming up with storytelling buddy Kate Lawrence, we offered a joint evening of stories for adults. Kate and I have known each other for a few years now and although our interests take us in different directions our work is complimentary. Kate established StoryWise Women, the only women’s only personal storytelling open mike in Melbourne and has written and performs a show titled Fantastic Feminist Folk Tales. I love hanging out with Kate so needless to say, we had fabulous time in Hamilton.

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I love (yes ‘love’ is the word) regional festivals. The welcome is always warm and sincere, the conversations enlightening and the stories often deeply moving. Meeting Jacinta’s Knitwits or ‘the posse’ as they are sometimes known was revelatory. These women, mostly in their 7th decade and beyond, are full of stories. It’s the posse that yarn bombs the towns and creates the woolly exhibition pieces.

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The skill of the Knitwits, their humour and resilience not to mention their casserole cooking skills is fast becoming the stuff of legend.

Jackie Kerin
Dr Ward's Amazing Case on the radio

I’ve always loved radio and my tastes are tragically rigid; the dial never moves from ABC RN. I adore recording studios, all that wood, the knobs and dials and that strange acoustic. I love the idea of stories and music beaming out into the world into the ears of people driving, gardening, washing the dishes … doing whatever.

So I was pretty thrilled when Sarah L’Estrange from ABC RN approached me and Sarah about being part of an audio documentary on the history of the Wardian case. Like YES!

Despite being overdressed (the studio thermostat is set at ‘equatorial’) and over excited, we managed to record ‘The Amazing Case of Dr Ward’ in its integrated state and then Sarah recorded all the musical stings and then I recorded the story without music. In this way the editor could cut and paste the bits and pieces to their heart’s content.

‘The Wardian Case - The box that changed the world’ is now live. Our telling is only part of the doco. You will hear more stories about plant transportation through the voices of Luke Keogh - Historian, Stuart McCook - Professor of History, University of Guelph, Ontario Canada, Mark Nesbitt - Economic botanist, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Tansy Curtin - Curator, Bendigo Art Gallery, Debra Tyler - President, Waroona Historical Society, WA, Kulkarni Choolburra and Christopher Jakobi - Indigenous guides at Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria. ENJOY!

Jackie Kerin