Notes from Galveston (week 4)

Way back in post-WWII Texas, one nightclub stood above the rest. It offered the best entertainers, the hottest crowds, and the best illegal gambling in the state. It was the infamous Balinese Room on Galveston island, the swankiest spot on the Gulf Coast.

Way back in post-WWII Texas, one nightclub stood above the rest. It offered the best entertainers, the hottest crowds, and the best illegal gambling in the state. It was the infamous Balinese Room on Galveston island, the swankiest spot on the Gulf Coast.

Just up from Murdoch’s on the Seawall is a structure that may at first seem strange to the uninitiated eye. It is the only piece that remains of the famous Balinese Room Pier. Four timber struts and a slatted roof are that is left of the original entrance to the pier on the Seawall itself. The rest of the Pier was completely obliterated by Hurricane Ike on Saturday, September 13, 2008. Left as a poignant reminder of the once internationally (in)famous venue – peaking at a time in the 40’s and 50’s when Galveston was familiarly known by some as the ‘Sin City of The South’ – the odd quadrangular construction now stands incongruous, yet with an aura of history and pride, prompting tourists to pause and question its significance.

 

what remains

You can find lots of information on the Balinese Room on this comprehensive website http://www.balineseroom.net/index.htm that now, on the home page, has a sad note of farewell from the owner. In July 2013 the word was that the 27,000 square feet of (underwater) space and 140 feet of Seawall frontage was up for sale.

The work on the Drawing Women’s Cancer project is ongoing and I am feeling so very inspired by the gift that this Visiting Scholarship has afforded me. I read, I write and I work, in between walking along the shore and exploring as much of the island as I can either by foot or on my trusty borrowed ‘beach cruiser’ cycle. Time seems to go a little more slowly here…is yet my thoughts and passion for what I am doing are free to develop and deepen.

I am thinking about the profound relationship between my drawings and the consideration of what it actually means to be ill in contemporary society – meaning that is, in terms of all its variables.

I am thinking about the opening of a new level of discursive space and about the relation between our sense of horror and the sublime.

I am thinking about Hannah Arendt’s distinction between pity and compassion.

I am thinking The Diagnosis, the signature drawing of the project as a whole, in relation to this definition from Alan Radley’s excellent book, Works of Illness: Narrative, Picturing and the Social Response to Serious Disease.

The sensed disintegration of life under these circumstances arises not so much from a splitting of plans and routines as from the altered significance of everything in ones world, where each fragment is drained of the totality of meaning that is the taken for grantedness of everyday existence (p.150)

 

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2 thoughts on “Notes from Galveston (week 4)

  1. Hi Emma
    Thanks very much for your comments, which really do resonate with the kind of thinking that is pushing my work forward at the moment. You might like to know that Drawing Women’s Cancer is having a month long exhibition along with talks/workshops throughout at the Cardiff Central Library through April 2014. It would be great if you could make it to the show.

    if you could perhaps make it to the show.

  2. Really enjoying reading your updates Jac – the paragraph you have quoted from Alan Radley is impactful in a very deep way. As you know I have lost two friends to cancer in the last year. I am increasingly aware of the tenuous nature of our own mortality. It does not prey on my mind but it does us good I think to know what it is to lose – in order for us to appreciate what we have – and by having it is not materiality or ambitions and desires but the mundanity of life – the routines. Routines in my life that revolve around my family are routines that express love – making biscuits, ironing my daughters uniform, picking up clothes from the floor, putting out the rubbish. Illness can interupt and tear apart and rob a family of these simple pleasures that symbolise love and are the identifiers in a way of that particular family………….. if ever I was seriously ill it would be these simple pleasures that I would miss the most.

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