Summative Entry

Visionary Imagination, as expressed in the work of William Blake, Patrick White and Brett Whiteley has given me a new way of seeing and understanding the world.

I’m an extremely private person so this is one time I will spill my deepest, darkest secrets: this semester has been incredibly hard for me. If all goes as planned (and hopefully it does!), this will be my last semester at ACU and the final push to the finish line has been very taxing. I suffer from terrible, crippling anxiety and it has almost debilitated me this semester. I didn’t make it to very many classes for any of my units, no matter how hard I tried to psych myself up and force myself to go. I became very sick just after the study break and it was the second time in three months this year that I have been sick and I am normally a very healthy person. These past few months have been rough on me, there’s no denying that. I’m not making excuses for myself, I’m simply being honest. In a funny way, I think that the works of William Blake, Patrick White and Brett Whiteley have given me various new understandings of the world, in the same way I hope I’m giving a bit of an understanding into my world.

William Blake was first off the rank this semester and he really is a most thoughtful poet! The issues he brings up in his work and the messages he tries to convey are still applicable and appreciated by audiences today. The way he perceives people is extraordinary and how he writes them is even more thought provoking ( I find his influence on me at the strangest of times and lately, I find myself sitting in traffic watching people go by and I make up stories for them, wonder about their lives and who they are. Blake’s views on religion both challenged and reaffirmed mine ( I am Catholic – I have been since I was born and I have no desire to change any of that – but Blake made me take a step back and rethink some things about the Church. He made me realise there is nothing wrong with not strictly conforming to organised religion and the status quo; that it’s OK to not check all the boxes of religion. However, where Blake absolutely took my breath away was his illustrations of the Book of Job ( Those plates were the most thought provoking thing of Blake’s yet! The detail on them is absolutely exquisite and the emotions going through me was amazing.

Brett Whiteley strikes me as someone who lived life how he wanted and didn’t exactly care what others thought. His studio was completely off my radar so when we toured it, I had no idea what I was in for and I was positively blown away ( He thought some things were funny, some were contemplative, inspiring, while other things just made him stop and pause for a moment. Whiteley is someone else who taught me that it’s fine to not follow the crowd and that to do things your way – to live life how you want to – is the way to go. I actually felt quite free looking at his works.

I briefly studied Patrick White in my first year so I thought I knew what he was about. How wrong I was as I discovered another side of Patrick White which I hadn’t before! He was another writer, I’ve found, to have a very unique perspective on people and to not judge a book by its cover ( In Riders in the Chariot, we meet the characters of Alf Dubbo and Mordecai Himmelfarb. Alf is an Indigenous Australian and Mordecai is Jewish. Looking at them, you would never know just what they have been through in their lives. Alf was brought up by white people, not his own family and Mordecai is a Holocaust survivor, who lived through all the unimaginable horrors of the Second World War. Through these characters, I was reminded to get to know a person first before you judge them because what you see is not necessarily who they really are. Religion seemed to feature a lot this semester, as it came up again with White in Riders in the Chariot ( Religion forms a great part of Alf and his experiences with religion play a very poignant part in Riders in the Chariot. He is disillusioned with Christianity from a young age, thanks to the actions of a minister, Mr Calderon, and then carves out his own path in the world but all the while, searching for a deeper and greater meaning in the world, rather like White himself ( Patrick White reminded me that religion may not necessarily be all it appears to be and to take it with a grain of salt because everyone is different and has different experiences with it. While I am Catholic and have never had a bad personal experience with it, there are countless others out there in the world who have so I cannot force my own opinions and experiences onto others.

The Visionary Imagination, shown to me by William Blake, Brett Whiteley and Patrick White, has definitely given me new ways of seeing the world. These writers and artists have shown me that there are other ways to living life instead of the conventional path you may be expected to follow. They showed me that it is perfectly acceptable to do things your own way but it is still vital that you remain a good person at heart and to not become jaded by your bad experiences but rather, you learn and grow from them like Alf in White’s Riders in the Chariot.


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Fifth Peer Review

Tom Whitaker –

“Hi Tom,
I love your poem, it’s fabulous and I feel like it accurately captures what is going on in the Brett Whiteley painting. The painting seems quite chaotic and messy, which is exactly what you have communicated in your poem and it is only further highlighted by your very effective use of exclamation marks throughout the poem. Great work!”

Sixth Blog

TASK: Write a letter by Alf Dubbo declaring what he thinks true Christianity is.

My friend,

So often I have wondered at what true Christianity is. So often I have wondered what it means to be a Christian and who God is. So often I have wondered what to believe.

You know that I was raised by white people and was brought up to believe in what they do: the Church and its sanctity. I did believe for a while, you know this too, but my experiences with Mr Calderon left me scarred and forever untrusting of white men and anything they believe in.

So for a long time, I have been on my own, both wandering and wondering. I have muddled my way through the world and now find myself among people I seem to fit in with and, more importantly, whom I like.

But it still leaves the question of what I believe in and where I place my faith. being Indigenous, my ancestors had their own beliefs, which are so unique to the Indigenous Australian culture. However, I have never believed in it nor have I ever really identified with it because of my white upbringing. Honestly? I do still believe in God, Christianity and all it teaches and preaches but now that I’m so much older, I like to put my own perspective on it and interpret it the way I see Christianity.

I see Christianity as forgiveness. Grace. Kindness. Humility. Faith. All the core values that decent people have and the values that every person should have. But that is not the way the world works, is it? So I must have something else to believe in, something greater than humans and even greater than the men who wear the garments and robes that proclaim they know God better than anyone and that they are every believer’s salvation. I must believe in something, or someone, beyond this life who we only get to glimpse every now and then in this life through things like forgiveness, grace, kindness, humility and most importantly, faith.

This, my friend, is what I believe true Christianity to be.



Fourth Peer Review

Victoria Kotsoris –

“Hi Victoria,
I categorised Patrick White exactly the same way you did! “Spiritual but not religious”! I completely agree with you that White seemed to find a lot of enjoyment in menial tasks and I remember in the video that Marr said that White would like to live a simple life, even though he already led a very simple life! I also agree with your concluding statement that while White couldn’t exactly be considered a Christian, he was looking for a higher driving force to help explain the world around him. Your blog has been so wonderful to read, thank you! 🙂”

Fifth Blog

TASK: From the film in which David Marr is interviewed about Patrick White’s beliefs, summarize briefly what you think Patrick White’s religious position is.

I think of Patrick White’s religious position as spiritual but not religious. A Christian when he was young, he later strayed from Christianity and became disenfranchised by the institution of church. Marr describes White as searching for “a meaning in the world”, “a meaning conducted by an artist”. He was trying to make sense of the world around him.

He wasn’t exactly sure what he himself was or what he identified as because he was one of everything under the sun at some point in his life. However, he believed in a God that explained the existence of the world he lived in. He just didn’t like how religion was presented and portrayed in society. White also believed in a pursuit of purity, which underlined a lot of White’s works. Marr interprets this purity as “moral purity, a purity of life, a purity of work and a purity of spirit”. Marr also says that White liked some aspects of Christianity especially forgiveness and grace but he also deeply opposed other aspects of Christianity, mainly Chrstianity’s view of homosexuality, as White was a homosexual himself.

Same people may dismiss Patrick White as any kind of Christian but I disagree. Yes, he didn’t necessarily believe in church, priests, cardinals, ministers or really anything associated with the institution of religion but he did have a faith in a higher being, in something greater than ourselves. I don’t believe he ever really lost faith in the notion of God.

Third Peer Review

Raina Ebrahim –

“Hi Raina,
This is amazing! I honestly didn’t know where you were going to take this brief story but it’s not where I was expecting it to go and I am very pleasantly surprised! 😀 You’ve managed to capture so many emotions and feelings in such a short story so well and you covered everything from love to confusion to sadness.

Just one thing with grammar and editing: I would suggest when you’re writing a question, even if someone is thinking it, to put quotation marks and a question mark. In the second line of your story, it reads “I kept thinking to myself was he looking at me or looking through me into my soul” when it should read “I kept thinking to myself, ‘was he looking at me or looking through me, into my soul?’” But otherwise, amazing work! 🙂”

Fourth Blog

TASK: Describe a totally ordinary person in such a way that you reveal their inner humanity, totally different from what their exterior appearance might suggest.

Walking down the street in any major city, you see a whole array of people from all walks of life and from all types of backgrounds who have all had different experiences in life.

For instance, when I was in high school, I caught the same train as this woman every morning from Monday to Friday. Our paths would intersect at the bottom of my street and we would take the same route to the train station. I never spoke to this woman, nor do I see her anymore but I often wondered about her; her life, her character, where she takes our train to every morning. She had straight red hair that was normally tied back in a ponytail, she wore casual yet professional clothes and she wore sneakers. Her face was normally quite severe, her skin tanned and she had dark eyes that looked like she could see right through you if she looked at you. Sometimes she was on the phone and sometimes, she would smile.

It was the loveliest smile I could remember seeing. When she smiled, you could see her white, perfect and shining teeth. It was then that my perception of her started to change. I had always seen a rather cold woman whenever I saw her but now I imagined her as someone else. Maybe she was someone with someone else waiting at home for her. Maybe she had a family. Maybe she was closer with her best friend than she was with anyone else. Maybe she had a very close relationship with her siblings or cousins or parents. But someone had put this dazzling smile on this woman’s face and I thought they were lucky to see her smile more often than I did, a total stranger who thought her cold, haughty and no nonsense. I saw a glimmer into this lady’s heart that showed me that she was loving, caring and devoted. It was a warming glimmer indeed.

Second Peer Review

Natalie Azzopardi –

“Hi Natalie,
I’m glad to see how much you liked the excursion and I actually wrote something on my own blog about the wall of quotes too! Funny how this one bit of the gallery can impact us all! I absolutely agree with you: the quotes all mean something different and in turn, they affect us differently. They each have their own meaning and message about life and some of them just make you laugh! 😀 Just a couple of quick things: maybe proofread your blog before you publish it: it’s “Whiteley”, not “Whitley” and “brief”, not “breif”. A wonderful thoughtful blog – keep it up! 🙂”

Third Blog

TASK: Write a short blog of how what inspired you most today, or what moment you felt was most illuminating, or what you enjoyed most about today.

Anyone who knows me knows well that I am not a big art fan. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s beautiful, interesting to look at and I have great respect for the talented people who create these pieces; art is just not something I go crazy for. I still stand by this opinion but I can still appreciate the works I see.

That being said, I was in awe of Blake’s illustrations of the Book of Job in the Art Gallery. I am not an artistic person in any sense – I don’t have an artistic bone in my body – but my jaw almost dropped when I saw these plates. The detail and intricacies of the plates are extraordinary and the time and effort it must have taken to complete these is astounding. The illustrations are incredible and so vividly portray Job’s story and the relationships he has with God and Satan and with Heaven and Hell. I couldn’t help but stare at the images and feel such sorrow, hopelessness and fatigue then such joy and faith when going through each part of the story, much like I imagine how Job felt when undertaking his arduous journey. I was so enraptured with the plates and the story they told that that night, I took out my phone and showed my mum the photos I had taken of the plates and started, very enthusiastically, telling her all about the work Blake had done on them and started analysing and interpreting them for her right then and there. Mind you, she just sat there looking bemused at me but still listening to me, I believe!

Job and his Family 1828, reprinted 1874 by William Blake 1757-1827

Plate 1 of Blake’s illustrations of the Book of Job. Image from:

blake plate 11

Plate 11 of Blake’s illustrations of the Book of Job. Image from:

Something else briefly that just caught my eye in Brett Whiteley’s studio was upstairs around the corner on the landing. On the wall were all these quotes by various people that Brett Whiteley put into his work and, I daresay, was influenced by. It was really amusing to just stand there for a few minutes and take them all in: some of them were just plain funny, some inspiring, some thought-provoking and some contemplative.

For someone who doesn’t thrive on art and doesn’t actively seek it out, I was surprised at how much I actually really enjoyed today and at how much I took away from today. I would highly recommend Brett Whiteley’s studio to anyone who might be wanting a different type of art and a different perspective on life!

brett whiteley studio

Interior of Brett Whiteley’s studio in Surry Hills. Image from:


First Peer Review

Mariah Chahine-Karam –

“Hi Mariah,

I really admire the fact that you created your own topic for this unit so well done! I like that you brought in the concepts of innocence and purity because they are definitely what people think of when they think of angels. I also love that you went a step further and interpreted the visual image too and tied it in really neatly with your argument. Just quickly, watch your grammar and punctuation, there are some commas and punctuation marks missing in places so I’d suggest proofreading before you publish. Amazing work! 🙂”