How the Judicial System Failed Me...Again

judge holding gavel.jpg


(In order to fully understand how I came to be in a courtroom fighting for my creative life please scroll down to the post MY INCREDIBLE EPIPHANY.)

I stood before 'Your Honour' with all his regal accoutrements and  this picture of the Queen which had been shockingly photo-shopped to make her look 40 years younger when the Judge's words came thundering around my being:-

", going,, gaol,gaol...not...not...etc...etc..etc...NOT GOING TO GAOL."

He banged his gavel MERCILESSLY. 

Then he mumbled something about Sentencing and Lunch but I heard nothing - I was distraught in that particular way when you truly realise you are NOT going to get a custodial sentence. (The Germans have a precise word for it:- "Gotterickfkkurhellanekkkagaah.")

Then the Judge flounced off. 

My Barrister Henry merrily chirped, "Hungry!"

How could he be happy at a time like this???

"Henry. Bloody everyone told me you were the worst bloody lawyer ever!! They warned me that you were only taking me on because there was the slight possibility that a case with an artist of my calibre namely I, Catherine Zimdahl would raise YOUR profile. So okay I knew full well that was most probable as I have 172 twitter followers. But I cared not because as soon as I saw how you spelt 'malicious damage' as 'malasius damige'. I thought I'm onto a winning streak. But no! I took you up under FALSE PRETENTIOUSNESS!! And now I'm completely stuffed!!"

I choked up, "I am not going to gaol, Henry."

He took a tomato and cheese sandwich out of a plastic bag that served as his briefcase.

"But we won! And it'll be real great when I front up for my professional misconduct hearing. Jeez if I can win an un-winnable case like yours I can win a totally un-winnable lost cause case like mine."

He giggled like an idiot, "It's not my fault you got glowing character references from major celebrities."

"MAJOR CELEBRITIES?? Wot like the Lady from Masterchef?? Wot won the hearts of a nation by being unable to make icing firm yet still enticing and then crying about it!! I only met her twenty minutes ago!!"

"But you gotta admit it was a masterful tactical-"

"She told me SHE was just trying to raise her own PROFILE, she said she wanted her own cooking show devoted to icing techniques. The Judge got a tear in his eye when she told him how I had empowered her to never, ever give up on her art form."

I sneered "Everyone's a 'creative' now aren't they? "Yeah", said Henry "I made my own sandwich."

He offered me the rest of his half-eaten sandwich. I slumped. 

"Well what am I going to do now?"

"They've got this thing called Community Service, you'll do that for a bit"

"What's that? It's all legalese isn't it?"

"S'pose." He smiled looking on top of the world, eating happily, and speaking in an ambitiously slow patronising way. " Basically (pause) in (pause) plain (pause) English (pause) you just do stuff to give back to the community."

"Like what?"

"Dunno. every judge has their pet projects. You never know."

"All rise!" The Judge entered. HENRY KICKED ME TO STAND UP. It was an effort. 

The Judge appeared a bit boozy, bored as he read the list of my crimes, snuffled, huffed and momentarily appeared to nod off. He raised a finger at me. 

"You, you, stand up."

"But I just did."

And then he stared at me for a long time as if to stare me down using all the power invested in him. I stared back with all the creative power conferred upon me by the universe. The staring went on until he threatened me-

"I'm about to sentence you so it behoves you to get yourself up and at least look like you are deserving of some leniency."

There was a DRAMATIC pause, at least I thought so, as it dawned on me that this Judge was just playing a role - really, really badly. He was in dire need of an acting coach. He lacked nuance, depth and he did DRAMATIC pauses ineffectually. And I knew he was just about to overuse the gavel once again. 

BANG! "You are to undertake 4 months of Community Service-"

I knew then I had to play 'low status' in this situation.

"Your Sacred Highness on High if it behoves you, may I have a quick chitty-chat?"


"I have a few concepts I'd like to throw at you re: this Community Service thingo-"


"Oh, ah, but, but I could teach Street Art to-"


"Yes to inspire the elderly to make political art in a Banksy-like manner, that would no doubt become extremely valuable works of high art, I'm talking 8 figures, which would in turn relieve the economic pressure of an ageing population. It's inspired isn't it your Chief Justicisst? I can whip up the costings on my phone calculator-"

"You are a miscreant."

I didn't know what that meant but took it as a compliment.

"Thank you that's very execrable of you."

He appeared enraged, only 'appeared', I could see through the veneer, the failed auditions, the desire to be in a Professional Chorus Line living the dream...BUT before I could finish that thought he spoke with a passion that hit me with an intensity that was frightening.

"I have a 'pet' project close to my heart, deserving of sincere attention, one in which you will learn much about yourself."

And then there was a true and terrifying pause. I held my breath-

"Cats. Lost, stray cats. Often deliriously unloved. The ones that find themselves homeless and one step away from...salvation. Or another...a fate cannot bear to contemplate."

I could not foresee this, I shook, I could barely speak and yet I did spiritedly.

"Your Honourablessedness if you would allow me to bequest of you. ( And then I enunciated as only a true thespian can) Cats, you see are just not for me."

"What on earth can you mean? Cats are the most exquisite creatures God in all his Greatness created."

"Is it inadmissible to say that I find them lacking in critical thought.?"


"I'm not sure of which you refer-"

"Naughty Kittens Riding on the Backs of Dash hounds.?"

"Na, uh."

He seemed stunned.

"Perhaps then you have seen "Cat Meows Along To Danny Boy" which is intensely moving?"

"I'm sorry but-"

"Closer. Come closer."

I moved forward tepidly. Wrath was coming. 

"I'm finding this immensely disturbing. (His hand was gripping onto the gavel gravely)  What of - "Very Patient Dog  Pulled By Tail For Fifty Metres By Toddler?" It is beyond cuteness and up until this moment largely unseen by humanity - it has only had 30 000 views. 20 000 of which are mine."

"As I said (I lied!) in my deposition I don't do cats. Isn't that right Henry? HENRY??"

"Was it on a post-it note?"



I whimpered, "I just don't do cats that's all I'm saying."


"I am an artist my aim is to make more human beings be be-ings."

"Hmmm. I am considering making your Community Service a much longer proposition-"

At this point I threw myself on the mercy of the Judge-

"Oh for god's sake get up!! UP! GET UP!!"

"No! ( I crawled, kneeled, prayer-like) Hear me out Your Honourable High Court Supremacist if I could in my own words plead my case. I am but a humble artist but I am also a serial offender and I have never once, ever once been incarcerated! It is said my crimes are apparently victimless ones but I am clearly the victim here!"

"Your point?"

"I need to go to the Big House. I NEED 6 -11 months to work tirelessly on all my CREATIVE PROJECTS. There is a crime and this is the CRIME. And I won't stop until I am STOPPED!!"

The Judge leant forward and spoke in a sarcastic whisper, "I am not in the business of giving people what they want so 6 MONTHS community service! Now get out of my sight or I'll throw away the Unwanted Kitty Cat Litter Cage key!!"

Yes I was truly "Gotterickafkkurhellandekkkeagaaheded."


How did I cope with the hardship that had befallen me? You will learn in my next post.  I am a creative being after all, and this gives me the strength that other mortals lack. But alas there was one blow that I will never recover from - you must remember Whatevs Evan my co-worker product stacker at Coles who made up rhymes like "Listerine no not here and Vaseline put it there and Margarine I know where"?

Whatevs Evan has just been awarded a MacArthur Genius Grant. You can read the 55 page fellowship commendation here____oh the link is busted? Bugger.

So do I need to say it again? Yes. Everyone now is a 'Creative'!! But not everyone gets the time to create, Yes. If you think you hear a sob of self-pity in the distance, you are. It's me.





The Art Adventure continues...

This painting "The Blood of the Earth" found a buyer the day before the Opening at the Collectors' Viewing. I love a red dot next to my work, sometimes it's very hard to let go as you quest for the painting but it's always more important to share the love.

The exhibition goes on at Artsite Gallery, Camperdown to December 15 and the work can be previewed (it's in alphabetical order so my paintings are the last three!) in the link below. Enjoy. If the link doesn't work I have no idea why but Professor Google should solve all problems except my personal ones.

The Blood of the Earth by Catherine Zimdahl (Acrylic on Canvas, gold and copper pigment, 76cm x 61cm) (2).jpg

There is a blank space up there. God help me.

When Good Things Happen to Bad Truants

Truancy and Creative Impulse - The Blog by Catherine Zimdahl

Sometimes all that getting out of things really adds up. I've had a bit of good fortune, one of my plays Deviant Art For The Degenerate was recently shortlisted for the AABB Foundation Playwriting Competition in the U.S. One of the aims of the prize is to create LGBT themed plays based on or inspired by history. It didn't win but it made me think it's time now to keep pushing this work further...

Also I was asked to exhibit three paintings in the Artsite Christmas Salon Collector's Choice Show. It goes from November 30 to December 15. I've tried to link it in with no luck today. But here's the address - 165 Salisbury Road, corner St Mary's and Probert St, Camperdown, NSW. If you click on the Artsite website preview you can see all the works exhibited. As it is a Salon, when one work is sold another comes up out of the stock room. But if you are intrigued do ask to have a look you might find that perfect painting that maybe I did?!**

Precious Metal Mind (Acrylic on Canvas, 46cm x 46cm)

Precious Metal Mind (Acrylic on Canvas, 46cm x 46cm)


Election night. People celebrating or commiserating, drinking a lot, saying and doing things they would later regret. To save myself from all that and a yawning disinterest I worked. Yes I worked. Because people get so damn weird and what happened three years ago well that was just a series of misunderstandings. So there I was working through 'til dawn with this guy called 'Whatevs Evan'. He wears headphones and is regarded as the best product stacker Coles has ever had as he hip hops along making up rhymes about this idiot job we are doing.

So. I was just doing my stuff, it's not rocket science, really it's not, rocket science is a bit harder and you have to finish uni to do it. I was just replacing the wheatbix when I had this realization, all the colours and shapes and I saw the intense sculptural nature of the SUPERMARKET and it dawned on me. This wasn't a supermarket, it was something more powerful than that. It was about the opulence, people didn't just come here to buy things but to have an spiritual experience in capitalism.

You see it all started so very simply. Just rearranging little things to be a little more aesthetically pleasing - a jar of mustard amidst the range of hair dyes. A mound of mousetraps like a tower of babel on top of all the cheeses. Easy choices, you know. BUT then I had the most incredible epiphany - this was really, really, really not just any old supermarket THIS was a museum - mine - in which I could turn into an INSTALLATION of my OWN making. In this post-industrial world the creative economy is the future NOW and I was going to give the people what they really need even if food is sometimes kind of important. I was going to feed them with IDEAS! This work was starting to have startling layers of profundity...

I was going to do something no artist - NOT EVEN THE ONE WHO DID THAT PAINTING OF HIS MUM IN THE ROCKING CHAIR - had done. Because I was now in crisps aisle and in pure creative flow. I was burstig open chip packets shaking them out, my vision was crystal clear - a golden road!! My fans/stalkers/bystanders would be given an aural/kinetic reality of crushing bourgeois power as they strode majestically down aisle 6. With a flourish of the last remaing Pringles can I KNEW I was making a PRODUCT that EVERYONE wanted but didn't have the wisdom to ask.

I then looked up, gasped and right before me was the Meat Section. A whole new medium to work with!! Of course there had been others who had dabbled in meat. But no, I was going to create a whole new beast, a master-piece-de-resistance and so I began, hunting and gathering amongst the BLOOD AND GUTS FOR THE BIG IDEA. Until it was....perfect. I dragged Whatevs Evan over, I questioned him intensely, "It's life changing isn't it? Evan tell me how it has changed your life forever?" And then he spoke, "It makes me want to love more, I want to be an anarcho-syndicalist feminist muse in a truly well read way." BUT NO HE DIDN'T EFFING SAY THAT!!!He said, "Whatevs" and wandered off as I was yelling at him "It's called DEMONCRACY!! DON'T YOU GET IT?? All I'm trying to do is raise the level of political discourse in this country AND-

THAT was when the Security Guards came and frogmarched me from the premises revoking my precious Flybuys card. The BRUTALITY!! I was only a few points away from claiming either the Esky or the set of six stubbie holders. I warned them that all of this would go in the Statement to the Police. I saw fear in their eyes, I swear.

Here I am now sitting in the Holding Cells and like most people I'm asking myself could I have done anything differently? And the answer is..."Yes". Three weeks ago I could have made a stand to seek the highest politcal office in the land. I could have sold myself in the grand tradition of the ghosts of politicians (past and present) like "Do Nothing Redacted" and the mighty "Suck My Knob Bob I'll Sign Off On Anything". My platform would be to just hang out and make great art instead of spending my precious time in Parliament with those dudes just struggling to stay awake.

Ok so I still don't know which what's-his-name has won the Election but I want to make it abundantly CLEAR in three years time when I ask for your money and vote you'll believe me when I say, "Don't be the small change you don't want to be - give yourself credit, yes a new credit card for something nice and unaffordable". And if you hand over large notes you'll have such trust I'll be a force to be reckoned with.

DEMONCRACY -  (re-enactment tendered as evidence)

DEMONCRACY -  (re-enactment tendered as evidence)

I Think I May Have Made A Terrible Mistake


I think I may have made a terrible mistake.

It was last Saturday at a baby's Christening of a very cashed-up Producer friend of mine. Beautiful country idyll, string quartet, everything white and pure with lotsa free drinks and food and that baby of hers didn't even cry during the actual exorcism - oh I mean Christening. It had everything and more - a Man who asked me to dance, slightly handsome but dashing with Rolex, designer shirt and shoes and an aftershave with an astonishing scent of money.

As we danced he whispered he'd never met a 'creative type' before but understood we are more fun than the 'corporate herd' or so he was told. I played to my strengths, a few choice moments of bohemian behaviour i.e. a hilarious impersonation of my friend giving birth with complications on the trestle table. I also name-dropped a few people I had been in the same foyer as. He was bewitched.

He told me how boring the big end of town was, the more money people have the less interesting they seem to become, he didn't want to be that person. "I'd hate to see you become that person." I said in a soberish voice looking deeply into his eyes willing my pupils to dilate. He said he couldn't stand his life, always on the move, Hong Kong, Paris, NYC he longed to have a 'rock' in his life. Like lightning I could be that 'rock' with the large studio loft the Company rents for him in NYC in the same town house that Katie Holmes lives in. I could teach him how to behave wildly, throw off that corporate straightjacket. And best of all his corporate banking colleagues would snap up my Art, stage my plays...I would be on my way to HUGE things - BROADWAY! MOMA! THE MET! I would trend on Twitter for something inappropriate! It was that special day every little girl dreams of and that's when I wedded MY THIRD HUSBAND last Saturday arvo in the Marry-Without-Delay wedding/funeral celebrant's kitchen.

You must understand dear Reader in order to take the reins of my creatively truant destiny I had to rise above any less than selfish motivations. But oh the sex! The sex! Sadly was nothing to write home about - which was a shame because my mother loved those letters (yes I stole that one).

That's when everything hit rock bottom. You know where this is going. I don't need to tell you but I will because I feel so sick and dirty and used. HE thought I was rich! No one in the Arts is rich except for Mrs Harry Potter and the guy with the dead animals. Everyone knows that except MY THIRD HUSBAND. And now he is walking around my bedsit in his only pair of undies eating my Coco Pops and yes he's confessed he's a compulsive liar who loves to confess to see the wave of pain across the face of those he's sucked the hope out of - in my case a life of artistic freedom. So I yelled 'I don't love you anymore!!' He burped in a singsong way 'You meant nothing to me, ever.'

I was so prepared to degrade myself by being his designer brand hand-bag to IMPORTANT CHARITY events that would enable me to further my career if he was the MAN who, who, who I thought he was.

I have just returned home from my job stacking shelves at Coles. He's gone. He's gone for good. I know this because there is a six pack of Heinz baked beans missing.

Now I must take a moment to segue, close your eyes, cast out the last few paragraphs of dire disappointment. Open them now. The true marriage of minds I'm engaged with this week is with 7-ON Playwrights. We have been together eight years (the average length a marriage lasts) and we are going strong. The 7's are heading to the Hothouse Theatre Company for their "Month in the Country" Residency. It's very much an honour to have some time and space to work on "Platonic" - our multi-facetted play about friendship in all its weird, mysterious and soulful wonder.

I did not expect this blog to end up so thematically entwined because here's an image of a new artwork called "Unbridled". It's part of a series in progress and to see the rest just go back to the index of this site, click on the ART icon and scroll down to The Shirts Off Our Backsand you'll see where my mind's eye is roaming...

Unbridled by Catherine Zimdahl.JPG

"Truancy and the Creative Impulse" - What Do The Longitudinal Studies Tell Us?

“Truancy and the Creative Impulse”

A Longitudinal Study

In recent years there has become overwhelming academic interest in truancy and the artistic temperament. The approach to this rich vein of study is multi-focused from the frantic search for the truancy/creative genetic marker and cutting-edge neuroscientific analysis – “It’s like looking for the God gene” said one disillusioned Scientologist. The most persistent of all examinations is the evolving body of sociological research into this disturbing yet strangely compelling phenomenon. New academic journals of note are displaying a more humane interpersonal approach with the inclusion of semi-structured interviews to explore the Subjects’ way of life, belief systems and most importantly the “excuses” and the creativity inherent in them.

But mostly this blog will not bore you with graphs and diagrams that I have yet to make up. It will be about Wot I Got Out Of Doing So I Can Do Wot I Love – that is putting ink on a page and making things with my mind, heart and hands.

Come with me on this journey of lies and deceit and I’ll include a couple words here and there on my art-in-progress…

Read More

Truancy 101, A Playwright's Fine Print and a touch of Art


Well I could blog about truancy until the cows come home but they won't because I didn't get them microchipped. So I'll be brief today and disappoint you in this seemingly banal excuse for getting out of work - "I've got a cold.". Even still for a beginner these tips will prove immensely helpful.

Tip 1: I've rung my boss to say I can't come in. It is always best to call rather than text or email - it looks like you are hiding something and you are.

Tip 2: Choose an excuse that is appropriate for your job. Therefore as I work in a Call Centre (outright lie) "a bad cold" will interfere with my ability to perform my duties in an upbeat manner in the face of universal distain. One needs good vocal skills for the job and clearly by my performance I will scare people on the end of the line. As a rule I veer away from illness as an excuse as I'm superstitious but today I HAVE to write no matter what. But a word of warning for all you beginners out there it can be easy to get carried away with one small lie and before you know it you will have people bringing around soup and calling you an inspiration. YOU ARE NOT AN INSPIRATION YOU ARE A TRUANT.

Tip 3: Colds are notoriously hard to pull off. Try to get admitted into the National Institute of Dramatic Art, three years of study will bring you up to speed not only for colds but for a general truancy lifestyle choice.

Tip 4: End on a 'greater good' note - "I don't want anyone else to get infected especially that girl, you know that girl-the-always-pregnant-one."

*(Long pause. Exit TRUANT ZIMDAHL. Enter WRITER ZIMDAHL. She looks into the distance for a long time. She then raises her hands to her computer writing passionately as if her life depended on it, it doesn't.) * **

Now I've cleared the decks and I'm headstrong into the 4th draft of a new play.And I'm thinking about 'auteur directors' especially the ones who prefer their playwrights dead. The hypothetical question I am asking myself is would I work with them (while alive?)? And the resounding answer is "Yes!!" (even if they are not dead) because if they have great ideas one would be an idiot not to let them in.

However, if I could just focus solely on one element I would truly fight for it would be this - to take heed of the stage directions written into the play (tho be open to brilliant suggestions). Of course this argument has most likely been going since Oedipus up and slept with his nah...onstage YEAH fuck everyone up, give them nightmares they will never wake up from!!

But the world is so much bigger and smaller now with plenty of blogs in which playwrights are annihilated for daring to tell the director and actors how their play functions. But one can expect that of blogs.

I was more astonished last year when I read the script guidelines by a renowned new writing theatre company in the U.K. One of the 'rules' was that the authors remove all stage directions in order for the director to make those choices. To be fair that directive has since been taken down.

As an artist the non-verbal and the specific spatial/visual dimension of plays are imperative to my work. I believe the writer's stage directions are crucial to the structural language of the play. It binds the internal logic which can in turn power the work into being.

So what is sometimes dismissed as 'just the small print' might well be embedded with the most insightful of dramatic information.

To end - here's a touch of Art:

The Cliftons Art Prize (Asia Pacific) closes this week. I'm utterly delighted to be one of ten chosen Sydney Region Finalists.

Here's a link to my painting and all the other finalists from as far a field as Auckland, Singapore, Hong Kong amongst others...

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“Truancy and the Creative Impulse” What Do The Longitudinal Studies Tell Us?

In recent years there has arisen overwhelming academic interest in truancy and the artistic temperament.

The approach to this rich vein of study is multi-focused: from the frantic search for the truancy/creative genetic marker to cutting edge neuroscientific analysis. "It's like looking for the God gene" said one disillusioned Scientologist. The most persistant of all examinations is the evolving body of sociological research into this disturbing yet strangely compelling phenomenon, with inclusion of semi-structured interviews to explore the Subject's way of life, belief systems and most importantly the "excuses" and the creativity inherent in them.

But mostly this blog will not bore you with graphs and diagrams that I have yet to make up. It will be about Wot-I-Got-Out-Of-Doing So I-Can-Do-Wot-I-Love; putting ink on a page and making things with my mind, heart and hands.

Come with me on this journey of lies and deceit and I'll include a couple of words here and there on my art-in-progress...

Catherine Zimdahl