The Hidden Self
my first book to design. Written and illustrated by Naomi Downie & myself.
Launched at upstairs at Dante's, in Gertrude St., Fitzroy in March 2009.
The Hidden Self – Synopsis for BookPOD online store
This collection of art and poetry from Bee Williamson and Naomi Downie is a beautiful book for yourself or a gift for a loved one. The eight colour plates and other black and white images are, like the poems, evocative of female sexuality and spirituality.
Bee Williamson, a Melbourne-based artist, chooses photography, mixed media and illustration to explore and celebrate the female form, particularly through dance. Bee likes to explore her own femininity, with a special affinity for flowers. She says “the process of making art is as important to her as the finished work itself. Art for her is meditation-in-action.”
Naomi Downie, an artist from Newcastle, has selected works from her collection that trace the journey of her search for meaning. She uses photography and mixed media to dive deep into the themes of myths, love and mystic visions gathered from her meditations. She says, “I love the mystery in the process of artmaking, the joy of being a part of the universal creative force. A gift of gratitude and communication for that which has no words.”
Both Bee’s and Naomi’s poetry have themes of intimacy, sexuality, identity and nature, and look at the deeper truths and legends surrounding women and spirituality.
Bee has been writing poetry since she was fourteen and this book includes her first love poem! Poetry has always been her first response to the hardships of pain and trauma as well as to insights, the joys of friendship and a deep relationship to nature.
Naomi is a performance poet whose work can be found in many magazines and Internet sites. “Poetry for me is a soul landscape, a continent to travel and guide others who dare across the scars and secrets of the heart’s chamber. Poetry has been a vehicle to share with others the many faces of God I have seen and lived to tell the tale.
“We hope you cherish this work and it inspires you to reveal your own hidden self.”
Yesterday I read your wonderful book “The Hidden Self”, which we purchased online a few days ago. This collection stands powerfully among your contemporaries, particularly in the immense variety you command in theme, structure, tone and imagery. I question “Terra Nullius”, since geological evidence shows that Aborigines turned rainforests into deserts through burning, and hunted many large mammals to extinction. (So like any other race they did leave a legacy of destruction, just not as quickly.) Geography aside, I like your use of contrasts in that poem. Probably my favourite of your poems are “My Soul Inhabits the Earth” and “Tea Poem”. They are beautifully crafted, like flowers unfolding, with many layers of interpretation and a sense of keen balance. Among your pictures, I particularly love “Exaltation”, “Lovers” (inspired by Picasso – you do him proud!), “Sophia” and “Bella”. Of Naomi’s poems, my favourite is “The Silent Work”. I find the second part of it, especially the last lines, particularly enchanting. It’s perhaps no surprise to you that I find her pictures “Tree Spirit”, “Tree Woman Dreaming”, “Bird Song” and, especially, “Green Man and Lady of Blossoms”, really magical too :-) Reflecting on the publication as a whole, I like how you both weave words with visual imagery, which make the book highly enjoyable to read. Another point that impressed me is how you’ve each supported each other’s vision, not just in sharing space, but reaching into each other’s pages on occasion, with little illustrative tendrils, all of which rendered the book cohesive and organic. I also love the selected quotations.
Thank you for your creativity and courage, Louisa John-Krol
short film for Mojo Film Festival 2019 at Melbourne Town Hall. Footage of Hidden Self book launch and footage of St Kilda Beach. Music impro by Harry Williamson.