It can be a strange and long search in the dark discovering who you really are and realising after your values as an adult are well established, that really until the day you die you are a work in progress. So many of our early experiences form our identity and if you are very fortunate you don’t let childhood wounds, mistakes or weaknesses inform you, except to acknowledge everything that happens to us can have value even if it’s firmly clarifying what we dont want. I was born in Australia to an American mother and I always felt a great affinity to the USA. When I am in Australia I feel completely at home and when I am in America I feel completely at home. Now in Paris I feel completely at home and it occurs to me, as with most everything, that timing is a crucial factor to the success of things. Alhough I wanted to live in Europe for many years, it was not until I was well into adulthood that it fell into place in the best way, and now I see at the perfect time. There is much I want to express about the colonisation of Australia and my place in that, as a white person of privelege, but that ought to be a whole Blog entry of it’s on own, so until then I will say I was born and raised on the land of the Gadigal of the Eora Nation, the traditional custodians of the place we now call Sydney and I pay my respects to the Elders both past and present.

Laura Courtney, Notre Dame - February 2019

PARIS: I got a bicycle in the first year of living in Paris and one of my rituals was to get out into the city as early as possible after sunrise to set my day in the best possible way. Paris is at it’s most exquisite at dawn and dusk and now as a committed bicycle city it is repeatedly a joyful experience cruising around this mostly flat city with increasingly stress free roads.

My father is an architect and his favourite building in whole wide world is Notre Dame Cathedral and soon after we moved here, I visited Notre Dame and spent the entire time outside the buidling on the phone with him as he explained to me the superlative relationship between form and function, knowing so many details by memory as only an old school architect can. The next time I went past Notre Dame, I was cycling around in the morning and I passed by just as the cathedral was opening. With about three other visitors I went inside and had around 20 minutes before the harsh modern lights were turned on. The entire space was suffused with that engulfing mind-bending blue that predominates the stained glass windows. Thereafter I went many mornings at opening hour, when most Parisians and tourists are focused on le petit déjeuner, and I was able to repeatedly have the place mostly to myself taking hundreds of photos and committing so many details to memory to then make studies and completed works based on the interior of ‘Our Lady’ and that blue. I am so grateful that I followed my instincts to go often as it will now be years before anyone can go inside and it makes one realise how illusory and fragile the perceived certanties of life are and especially when I think of the irrevocable losses such as the roof of Notre Dame that was called Le Bois (the forest) because it was made from 1300 mature oak trees and many of those trees predated the cathedral by 300 - 400 years. And then there is the wooden Choir in which I am pictured here, which alone was a jaw dropping example of master craftsmenship, now forever lost.

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