There is a secret in symmetry…

When complex creatures and archetypal

symbols appear –

right in the center of a single

chaos that was mirrored.

(image @Celia Claase)

Screen Shot 2016-05-03 at 7.53.49 pm

What creatures and symbols can you find in this image?


On this day… a poem for mother

The Girl We Called Mum (from The Layers Between)old fotos (7)

She adorned the room with sunshine to disturb our

morning sleep;

Pinched snapdragon jaws during our midday reveries;

Culled comets in her apron, to kindle our dreams.

The only one, who knew if motherhood came


was she.

(Celia Claase)


By Luisa Ternau

Celia Claase, the 2015 Proverse Prize co-winner, led a workshop to an intimate group at the Hong Kong Foreign Correspondence Club. …The workshop started with Celia proclaiming her long and ongoing love affair with her camera and the awareness it brings when taking images of the surrounding world…  However, in Celia’s own words, “images do not live up to reality.” 

The main intentions behind the workshop were to invite the audience to have a love affair with the world; and to demonstrate how visual images can be used to develop characters, settings and scenes. Special attention was given to the sense of perception.

Celia asked the audience to close their eyes and picture a sequence of images that she was describing. After the audience opened their eyes and was shown the corresponding photos, it was clear how wildly interpretation and imagination differ from actual visual images.

Finally the audience was given the opportunity to interpret some of Celia’s images into their own words and share their creations. The workshop ended convincingly with the message to focus on all the visible components of the physical reality, which may assist a writer to create images in his/her work.

Here are some of the images and the writing that came from this evening, which include three poems by Gillian Bickley, a Fantasy Memoir by Luisa Terna, a Reflection by Sarah Cook and a Fun Poem by Juanieta Kotze:

                                                                                                                                                                                            all images on this blog @celiaclaase


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Here I am, carrying flowers

for the funeral, and the signs

to tell you where to go.

No need to hurry. Death will

catch you too.

Gillian Bickley, 9 March 2016



Here I stand

writing poems on the stones in the park;

swiftly drawing; guards ignoring;

using water. Poems fade

and disappear. In my heart

are always clear.

Gillian Bickley, 9 March 2016




Wearing my best hat and ear-rings,

I sit in the glow of the life

I have lived;

thinking of him – – the husband I had

or the one I didn’t – – hardly seeing

the constant parade and flow of life that passes

and re-passes me

as I think of the past and ponder

my future.

Gillian Bickley, 9 March 2016




Colour It Beautiful!

Life is a void. Colour it beautiful then!

“Because, you see, I would not want to sound like a venting diary, I will tell you about my typical day: wake up at 6:08; allow myself to enjoy the second alarm call at 6:15; then get up, -no matter what- go to work; look presentable; smile. That’s important. My colleagues appreciate the little arch of my lips!
Then work. Discuss work at lunch time -because you are supposed to show that you love your job. You do not need a break even from work related thoughts.
Lunch and back to work. Look happy and be happy too. Remember: there are many out there who would love to have a job.

That’s my everyday routine. Somehow I slipped into it and now I cannot get out.” My listener is eyeing the wine. I’d better change the subject. After all, this is supposed to be a happy social gathering.

Trapped? Perhaps. I go on thinking. Who knows? Certainly the day starts and ends in a void. I look into it every night when my head aches of tiredness, like gazing into a well. So deep you cannot see if there is water at the bottom. I would love to throw a pebble in and from the sound judge the depth. No pebbles around.

Yes, the void. And the void reminds me of a colouring book laying open under the wondering eyes of a toddler left alone in a room with no colour pencils around.

I suddenly recall last night’s dream. I often wonder where nocturnal dreams come from. Are they really part of our life? They must be. At least some dreams are for sure. But who sends them? Why? Where from?

I’m in a rush. I have to be at the office in 20 minutes and the traffic is horrendous. What should I do? Take a taxi of course! Walking would be impossible -too many people on the street under the scorching sun. A kid is walking on the curb. No. She is not walking. She side eyes me and blocks me from reaching the curb. I need to stop a taxi but the child is in the way. “Move away”, I yell, “it’s dangerous to walk on the curb, especially in this heavy traffic!” She continues to run up and down the curb, makes funny faces at me. Now she laughs defiantly. “Just get out of the way, please” I say. I try a softer tone, hoping that she would eventually let me reach the edge of the road.

I get into the taxi. The driver smiles gently, I perceive a cheerful note in his voice. “Please take me to Marsh and Lokhard Road as soon as possible. Thank you!”

It felt good to be rid of the annoying kid. I look out of the window. The traffic is still. What time will I arrive? I check my watch, then my mobile phone, just to make sure. Helplessness and anguish prevail.

“Miss, are you ok? How is your day so far?” the driver asks.

“Why do you want to know?” I want to answer him. However, I spare him because of that cheerful note in his voice.

I start thinking about excuses to make for coming late when I finally arrive at the office. Are they believable? Hardly.

The taxi driver is about to say something when I notice the kid. She is sitting on the front seat, before me. This time she is dressed like a little princess with the crown on her head. That kid, again?

“What are you doing in my taxi?” I yell.

She broadly smiles and points her little finger at the taxi’s inner roof. And what do I see on it? Stickers of every shape and colour stuck on it each with a hand-written note on it. I can’t believe that I had not seen them before. How is it possible? I was like a traveler, lost on a foreign land, at night, failing to notice the beautiful stars.

The taxi driver smiles. “Miss, could you please write a note too? I always ask my customers to write something positive on a sticker, and then to stick it wherever they please.

There were messages of love, vernacular jokes, incitement sentences, some written in foreign languages. They all seemed to share a sense of happiness.

I agree to write a note. “Give me a sticker please.” I ask. To my disappointment there are only white stickers left.

“I would have liked a colourful one!” I complain and jot down: “Life is a void”. I struggle to find something positive to end off my message. What? What could I say or write? The traffic is stuck. The job I am rushing to is directionless, senseless. If I quit, I have nowhere else to go. No other choice -just white stickers. Why are all the colourful stickers taken? White is a void too.”

In my most polite tone I ask: “Are you sure you don’t have a coloured sticker left somewhere?”

Before the taxi driver can answer the kid answers cheerfully; “just colour it beautiful!” She hands me a bright pink pencil.

I complete my note: “Life is a void…colour it beautiful!” and stick it triumphantly, above my head.

I smile at the kid and wake up. The rays of an early sun hit my face. I go to the kitchen and ponder: In the end, the kid won. Ha! Just as Shakespeare wrote in his Tempest. “We are such stuff as dreams are made on, and our little life is rounded with a sleep.”

Luisa Terna, 9 March 2016



They hurried along enjoying the wonderful June sunshine and warm breeze both thinking about the meal to prepare, the children’s activities and other mundane, deliciously small items that all took place in a day.  Really there was so much to do, and it was lucky that they both had their health and still the unswerving dedication and unquestioning loyalty. Oh, there was that old man again, yes we had given him the last of the coins, he was just trying it on again and no, we couldn’t spare any food because all of it was accounted for.

Relentless grinding poverty, seeing their mothers’ age with continual pregnancies, almost no employment and lack of any opportunities were some of the reasons why the church provided an absolute beacon in their lives while growing up in a deeply conservative country.  Just the chance to be part of the organization meant that when that chance presented itself, they were both ready to take it.  It came with strings attached, but the freedom it presented in leaving absolute unremitting drudgery behind, it was like spring air or a bright shining jewel.  Gone were the chance to be mothers or wives but in exchange there was the joy of deep companionship, a chance to give with a worthwhile teaching or nursing profession and of course service, and the ultimate gift of absolute loyalty and love.  

Oh no regrets.  Well a tiny few perhaps.  But life was so rich and there really wasn’t a moment to waste.  

They hurried on.

Sarah Cook, 9 March 2016.



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Thank you to all who participated in the challenge.



Art -Truth or Lies?

Art is a lie that makes us realise truth, at least the truth that is given us to understand.” (Pablo Picasso)

What truth is given to us to understand? Many believe that objective reality is the only given truth. We detect this truth with our five senses and understand it by linking the information gathered from new objective experiences to established perceptions.

If Picasso is saying that individuals realise objective reality as truth only after it has deliberately been changed into a lie, through the process we call art –it may imply that personal truths, when realised by most human beings, become collective truths. Is this what Andy Warhol referred to when he said: “Art is what you can get away with.”?

There are many ways in which visual artists change reality into so called lies. Some make conscious decisions, based on their physical skills to present physical reality in new ways. This may result in poorly or excellently executed replicas of the truth, as an objective reality. For example a portrait or a photo-realistic painting, still life, landscape, photograph etc.) However true to real life, these replicas remain a lie, in the presence of original things.

Surrealists like Dali, express imagined possibilities by (for example) combining unrelated things or by giving rare features to existing things. Artists that make abstract art, deliberately change the shapes, colours and lines of reality into “lies” by for example generating a landscape with circular trees and triangular mountains.

Sometime artists produce physical representations of their mental worlds. Rather than aesthetic alternatives of reality, they aim to turn their concepts into objects -usually to inform, interest, revolt or shock existing social, scientific, cultural or political realities into new awarenesses (often seen as lies), -awarenesses of how they would like truth to become.

Then there are artists, who like Elbert Hubbard believe that “art is not a thing, it is a way.” They allow their natural flow to create effortless, thoughtless, variations of reality, for the sake of making art. The purpose of their art is found in the process, not the end product. Apparently they apply minimum control and maximum free will during the process. It so happens that fragments of reality can always be found even in their works –think of Pollock’s random paint drippings.

art zagarias



Zagarias is another such artist, who calls his automatic figurative drawings expressions of the human spirit. His method reminds of Pollock and his images of Picasso. (see him draw live here).







If objective reality is the only truth, then art cannot be a lie because art originated from objective reality. However, when compared to nature it seems reasonable to call artworks lies. CC

Writing from Another’s Perspective

Is it OK for one person to write from another’s perspective? Can a Chinese person write an account, from a Westerner’s perspective? Is it justifiable for a Westerner to write a book on Chinese history? These questions are being flung from writer to writer.

It is considered morally wrong, for writers to gain financially from another person’s story; to propagate evils such as xenophobia, racism and sexism; or to degrade other human beings by openly, discretely, jokingly or cryptically attacking cultural practices, belief systems, physical appearances or personal integrities.

Likewise it is morally wrong for a writer to disguise his/her identity in order to sneak a piece of writing onto a platform that were distinctly created to accommodate a specific gender or race (to which this writer does not belong) thereby stealing a publishing space from a rightful candidate.

What about writers who are able to empathise with the suffering of fellow human beings, to the point of them choosing to spend their time and money on researching; living among; or imagining themselves in the shoes of their subjects? These writers, generally have pure intensions. They usually aim to spread awareness on certain social issues, document histories or create works of fiction.

Whether writers with good intentions consistently deliver accurate accounts or commentaries, is debatable. One wants to ask, if it is possible to present second-hand reports on historical events or personal experiences, as the truth? To answer this, one should consider that all forms of writing (whether presented as fiction or non-fiction) are being constructed from, and is influenced by a writer’s personal frame of reference; cognitive perception; moral judgements; and emotional impressions at any specific moment in time. This makes it difficult to judge not only second-hand, but even first-hand reports. However, readers and most writers, tend to trust works of non-fiction that have been judged, selected, edited and published by trusted professionals with years of experience in a specific field of expertise.

It is also being said that first-hand reports make for stronger written accounts. My question is: can a piece of writing be trusted because it was written from first-hand experience or is truth created by the perception created by a writer’s voice/style (regardless of affiliation)?

Furthermore, would the act of judging: who should, or should not be, allowed to write from another person’s perspective, not be constructing a “censorship” framework for  writers and writing in general…?

When it comes to writing fiction, writers seem to have a little more freedom. By the way, who, apart from a reader, in her/his capacity as a reader, (under the influence of a personal perspective) may be deemed fit to judge any piece of fictional writing written from another’s perspective? Fiction is, after all, measured by opinion and preference.

Is it not, that all works of art are made from objects or from subject matter that already exist? Is it not the combination of an artist’s creativity; technical skills; experience with- and knowledge of subject matter that produces either ordinary or extraordinary works? Whether created from first- or second-hand accounts, no-one, not even the artists themselves, can degrade certain artwork’s greatness. The viewers, listeners or readers wouldn’t have to see, hear or praise the artists. 

Great works of art (in any genre), can after completion, stand alone. They no longer need the support of their creators. Their value is beyond question.

Personal Perspective