• Say Hello!

  • Email Subscription

  • Post Tags

  • Archives

  • Archive for the ‘Event’ Category

    Braidwood gallery crawl III

    Posted in Event, Lifestyle
    April 30th, 2015

    On Sunday, my dear friend Lani and I enjoyed a relaxing Braidwood/Bungendore roadtrip. The itinerary is quite similar to two previous Braidwood roadtrips (May 2014 and June 2014). I guess I enjoy it as a destination, given that I had an undocumented journey there since then with the lovely Ms C too.

    Dojo bakery had run out of bagels (which are vegan!) so I had bread rolls instead (not very exciting but I appreciate that they have an ingredient chart to say what’s dairy-free).

    Exhibition poster for Franki Sparke's show, Pictographices

    Exhibition poster

    Our main motivation for this trip was to see Franki Sparke’s Pictographics show at The Left Hand. It alone was so, so worth the trip. It’s on for one more weekend (2 & 3 May). Sometimes I forget how uplifting it can be to see an exhibition, that it puts the joy back into art.

    Cut stencil used to make works in Franki Sparke's show

    Sparke’s landscape stencil

    We loved seeing the carved erasers which are gorgeous objects in themselves and reveal “behind the scenes” (as owner Julian explains, all their shows aim to give an insight into process and making). Even the tinted stencils curled up on each other on a plinth like layers of skin pulled off a healed wound, different depths of the paint outlined the teeth of building windows and spattered at road edges.

    The FyreGallery was in-between shows, but had some nice stock of Karyn Steel’s Braidwood postcards.

    Poppies and bunting at String

    Lots of handmade poppies

    It was just after Anzac day, so String still had a display of poppies and banners, it’s my favourite shop not just for their wares but because it keeps the same scent as my Grandma’s house (this was the exact reason I used to love Benedict House). In the adjacent Altenburg and Co, there was an interesting show on the environment of the south coast by Mirabel FitzGerald.  “Among the trees the light permeates and displaces everything, a continuum of spaces, solids and fractured forms.”

    We walked up the road to Longbarn, they have a wonderfully violent-looking wheat thresher thing with embedded shells. I like to touch it when I visit, it’s like a grown-up version of daring yourself to stick a finger in a lit candle. It hasn’t cut me yet.

    Cute dog on the main street of Braidwood

    Braidwood’s cutest dog

    There were lots of adorable dogs on main street as usual, a French bulldog and heaps of others, I hardly got to pat any. This cutie was outside the bakery. At the end of the day, Lea told Mr. Sonja that “She patted all the dogs in Braidwood”. I really wished I had. It was a very low #PatADay score.

    Miniatures in the window of Sugden-Hamilton shop/studio

    Tiny Sugden/Hamilton miniatures

    On the way back, we dropped in to the Sugden/Hamilton ceramic studio and shop, which I’d been meaning to visit for a while. The miniatures in the window are so charming, they also have some nice brooches, but the inlaid coloured clay bowls are my favourite (particularly the MP homages).

    Unfortunately the McLeod Gallery was closed and William Verdon jewellery had a mysterious carved stone display. Next time I’d like to try the vegan food options in Braidwood itself, as it was the wrong day for the market (so no pizza for me).

    We called it a day and headed back through Bungendore. It didn’t feel as engaging as Braidwood, perhaps it’s because no longer contains the sense of being “other” because it’s gradually becoming more of the shoreline of Canberra (in recent years a government department grew there). I do enjoy the mysterious teddy bears on the trees along the way, though.

    Japanese hand-painted cup at Village Antiques

    Fruit salad on or in a cup

    I patted the cat (dozing next to the fireplace, didn’t even wake up!) at Village Antiques and there was a really nice Japanese hand painted tea set, but I decided that I didn’t need a fruit salad decorated cup because people always try and make me eat salad, the rotten stuff. I don’t need a picture of it in my life too, no matter how pretty.

    Entertaining entry in gallery diary, oh dear

    Art Inspector strikes again

    We tried to find some of my brother’s work at the Bungendore Woodworks Gallery (his name is Rolf! He has recently started his own cabinetmaking business). He might have a something there but couldn’t see the shelf for the trees. We checked out the Ken Knight painting show upstairs and were most entertained by some of the mischievous entries in the gallery diary.

    Mercifully the Woodworks café’s soup of the day was unintentionally vegan so there was something I could eat. The waitress said I was the first vegan she had ever met there. I focused on looking normal.

    We then drove back to Canberra and I said goodbye to all the bears nailed to the trees.

    Braidwood gallery crawl II

    Posted in Event
    July 26th, 2014

    Today we had a roadtrip from Canberra to Braidwood with the ARLIS/ANZ ACT Chapter (Arts Libraries Society Australia & New Zealand). I did a test run in May and it was lovely to see the change of season since, lots of jonquils, daphne and bergenia.

    Hand-y sign!

    The hand beckons

    Our first stop was The Left Hand Gallery, showing some works from the John Pratt Retrospective which finished recently. I missed that show so I was glad to see some of the prints inspired by the body in motion (some previously shown at Beaver Galleries) as well as sketch books. The Left Hand’s owner, Julian Davies, had a studio/gallery in Campbell, Canberra and is a writer, potter and painter. The Left Hand Gallery is about running an art gallery from the left hand point of view (non-commercial and with a focus on the artists), which also makes sense with a left-handed owner. It even has its own giant left hand sign. As a rough reading from my small experience of palm reading (I did some classes earlier this year), it’s surely not a coincidence that hand on the sign’s head line has a distinct downwards slope, showing creativity.

    The gallery also has books from non profit publisher Finlay Lloyd, including a collection of essays titled “When books die”. A scary title, but I hope to read it to at least find out if it self-destructs when it feels it has had a thorough reading.

    Beautiful hanging pot plants

    Pots and whimsy

    STUR Gallery inside fYREGALLERY had something quite unexpected “Fresh black truffles direct from the farm for sale all Winter”. They were waiting on a fresh batch today, but we got to sniff a truffle in the meantime – it was in a sealed bag surrounded by uncooked rice. The scent wasn’t what I expected, apparently if it had been freshly picked today (instead of yesterday), the smell would’ve filled the gallery.

    The current exhibition, Amy Schleif’s  A Place of Abundance, is on till 3 August and captures colours and emotion in glass window-pane structures.

    After my phone had been near the truffle, it ran out of battery. A coincidence? It was frustrating as I would’ve loved to take photos of our next stop, artist Kate Stevens’ studio. She has a beautiful work space overflowing with paintbrushes (at various life stages), paintings with icing-layers, fern fronds brushing through sash windows, lasagne-like piles of warm white Hahnemuhle paper with small watercolour pools, rickles of canvases waiting for thick coats, and a paint-stained eraser emblazoned with “Keep calm and carry on”.

    Kate told us about her working process and her attraction to our investment in/consumption of travel photography and how these images are shared online. I wondered if the travel theme is the reason behind the many Qantas maroon vintage bags used in her studio to store art materials. Her current series has smaller works focusing on Berlin, and in the background we saw her Acid Ballerina painting, which I remembered from a stop-motion video showing her painting the subject upside-down.

    Vegan bagels, hallelujah

    Dojo bakery treats

    We visited the Braidwood market in Ryrie Park – I was a bit confused as there are two markets – this one with jams and knick-knacks like avocado bowls (I wish I’d bought them, even though a more fancy colleague first had to explain to me what they were) – and the other market is the Braidwood Farmers’ Market at the National Theatre but wasn’t on this week. I had anticipated a manoush pizza from the farmers’ market so the only other vegan option I could think of quickly was another bagel from Dojo bakery (breakfast x 2).

    My favourite shop, String, is closed during July, but we visited Altenburg & Co again, plus the lolly shop of course. I showed everyone the Squill jar, but my favourite during this visit was “Spud candy”. They look like little sugar potatoes, as J said, “a combination of the two best things, sweets and spuds”.

    There was less progress on my #PatADay record this visit – I patted one dog called Bella, but apart from that I was trying to behave because I had organised the trip.

    Once again I have postponed my trip to Sugden/Hamilton ceramic studio and shop and The Old Cheese Factory. One day.


    Edible bride

    Posted in Event
    July 30th, 2013


    The fantasy of a perfect wedding is infectious, a spindrift dream of puffy skirts, relaxed but efficient event management, and best of all, the bride’s perfect body – forever preserved as a replica cake-topper (see the image echoing Atwood’s Edible Woman) and of course, the photos and videos.



    Novel wedding cake. (1935, May 29). Examiner(Launceston, Tas. : 1900 ? 1954), p. 8 Edition: Daily.

    Replica bride cake


    She can’t eat any of the cake, though! With all this pressure, it’s no wonder that feeding tube diets have become quite popular to help the crash diet bride (she probably crashes at the end, too). It’s very confusing that a ceremony about a beginning is viewed as the end point – crystallising your body at that moment in time, rather than maybe “We both decided to be healthy as an investment in ourselves and our future together”.


    Someone asked me recently, “So will you be losing weight for your wedding, then?”. I was too shocked to answer, but I spent the rest of the day spiralling into quick diet plans and fixating on how fat I looked, and trying to contradict myself by remembering that I can probably deadlift the commenter’s body weight. Not only is it rude to assume that someone is unhappy with their body (ahh, thanks for telling me I had a problem! I didn’t realise!), it is also dangerous to comment without context, given the high incidence of a history of eating disorders across a range of age groups. We are doing everything else outside of the norm, so it would be nice to skip these interactions as well.


    I comfort myself with the fact that I’m not marrying a contortionist and adopting their diet of coffee and a small meal a day (1940), or parting with someone because of stale bread (1908), or a weight cruelty contract (1930). Thank heavens for the anti-divorce diet (1938). The perfect wedding is one where people care about you beyond your body.


    Image from: Novel wedding cake. (1935, May 29). Examiner(Launceston, Tas. : 1900 – 1954), p. 8 Edition: Daily.



    Canberra art exhibition opening crawl

    April 12th, 2013


    Last night there were four art exhibition openings in Canberra, all starting at 6pm. Is that a record? I attended them all – briefly – just to confirm it was possible! It took just under 2 hours and only 22 kilometres of travel. The sheer volume of exhibition openings demonstrates that there is a lot happening in Canberra, but perhaps it could be better coordinated – a similar issue to some of the Centenary events’ scheduling proximity. To address this kind of calendar bulge, Genevieve has suggested that ACT-based galleries could plan their exhibition openings with staggered starting times, with a dedicated arty bus for assisted crowd control.


    While the arty bus would need to be a regular, possibly fortnightly, endeavour, it has already occurred as a one-off celebratory occasion. This  project occurred in September 2012 – Craft ACT’s “Capital of Culture” bus tour. I heard it gave a wonderful experience of either North or South cultural tours during Floriade (possibly too much of a time chunk, though), but unfortunately I wasn’t able to attend. The Tour Guide is worth downloading just for the lovely design, but could also be reused as a fun gallery Bingo sheet. Last night’s openings could have had a Bingo sheet! I wonder if anyone else was able to attend all of them?


    Visual Arts Graduate Season 2013

    ANU School of Art Gallery, ACT (till 27 April 2013)


    Artworks by Christina Clarke at ANU SoFA Gallery

    Modern tools by Christina Clarke

    2 artists are exhibiting their Doctor of Philosophy works, with Christina Clarke’s Greek Bronze Age vessel contrasting with James Steele’s photographic works exploring place and identity. There is so much movement and information in the exhibition, with James’ projected images as well as videos of Christina’s process for painstakingly creating a hydria, that it has to be seen in person.


    You can see Christina’s final piece in the 1/2013 exhibition catalogueLM IIIA1 Hydria (2012) on pages 12 and 13 and James’ work on pages 28 and 29. The image on the left shows part of Christina’s process for creating Greek Bronze Age vessels.



    100% Books by Canberra Artists, curated by Ampersand Duck

    Watson Arts Centre, 1 Aspinall Street Watson ACT (till 28 April 2013)


    Signage and artworks in 100% Books by Canberra artists exhibition, Watson Arts Centre

    100% Books with Shells by Genevieve Swifte

    20 artists from Canberra take part in the region’s long history of book production. Each artist is exhibiting both old and new work to show their developing interest in the book form. The exhibition hopes to “…challenge notions of what a book can be in an art context. From fine press through to more sculptural pieces to street press and zines, this exhibition provides a mere sample of the breadth of contemporary book arts.” (Watson Arts Centre, Sales Catalogue, April 2013, p. [1]).


    In the image you can catch a glimpse of Genevieve Swifte’s Shells (2006): Hand sewn boat-like structures, paper, linen impregnated with salt. The salty threads have a rhythmic sense of the tide that simultaneously give movement to the vessels but also anchor them in white space, like the flow of words in a conversation that sometimes get moored in a speech bubble.




    pod, Shop 11, Lonsdale Street Traders, 24 Lonsdale Street,  Braddon ACT (till 21 April 2013)


    FIVEFOLD exhibition installation at pod, Lonsdale Street Traders

    Jewellery by FIVEFOLD artists

    5 contemporary Canberra jewellers have joined forces as FIVEFOLD, an artist-run design collective, and this was their first inaugural exhibition. In the pod space, plinths have emerged like stalagmites bearing glittering trophies as sacrifices to the Lonsdale Street Trader entities. Danyka Van Buuren’s hoops have mysteriously transformed sequins into elegant colour blocks and the other pieces were enticing but tricky to get up close as there were lots of people!


    The exhibition invitation is a very pretty DIY five-fold brooch – I made mine in the car so the crumpled state didn’t fully reach the attractiveness potential, I also didn’t have a pin so I just stuck it down my shirt. Other more organised people had very smooth brooches and one of them would have won a limited-edition handmade Shibuichi sterling silver brooch. There are detailed folding instructions for the invitation from FIVEFOLD’s Tumblr. As a librarian it’s exciting to see unusual invitations, as art libraries collect art ephemera as information on artists and exhibitions. This means that people can see the brooch invitation in the future as a resource to contextualise the artists’ work, and to see ephemera (invitations, posters, business cards) as art in their own right.



    THROWAWAY: exhibition by Holly Granville-Edge

    Canberra Contemporary Art Space (CCAS), 19 Furneaux Street, Manuka ACT (till 21 April 2013)

    Artworks in Holly Granville-Edge's exhibition

    THROWAWAY exhibition installation view



    Holly Granville-Edge’s photos play with the idea of manufactured sentimentality and value in the captured image. The exhibition includes a collection of “dusty junk-shop picture frames scrounged from op shops”, which charmingly contain their own portraits with eerie self-awareness of their new-found meaning and artistic elevation. Escape down the rabbit hole.






    Liedekijn art exhibition opening and book launch

    March 28th, 2013


    What is liedekijn? It means “little song”, the title is from a medieval Dutch folktale, ‘The Song of Lord Halewijn’. Here’s the quote from a translation: “Halewijn zong een liedekijn” = “Lord Halewijn sang a ‘little song’.” Thanks to the wonderful Emma for clarifying the meaning, I have a silly (and incorrect) habit of defaulting to ‘little story’. If you like fantasy, gore, corsets and bravery, liedekijn will probably like you too – a group of Australian and international artists have created work in response to the folktale’s translation.


    liedekijn drawing (detail) by Sonja Barfoed and Wesley Hobday

    liedekijn (detail) by Sonja and Wesley

    So apart from a little song, liedekijn is a beautiful shiny book and real-life art exhibition. Once you have the book you can open it anytime, but the exhibition itself opens 7pm Thursday 28 March (today!) at The Front Gallery, Wattle Street, Lyneham shops, Canberra (near the lane next to Book Lore). We would love to see you at the opening, or during the exhibition (it runs till Monday 8 April). The detail you see on the left is from the drawing that Wesley and I submitted to the exhibition – come along to see it in full!


    You can buy the accompanying liedekijn art-book at the Front Gallery (opening night only!), Impact Comics, or other wholesome publication outlets. The book has all the works from the exhibition plus cover art by Melbourne illustrator Douglas Holgate. I am impatiently waiting the library catalogue record for the liedekijn art-book (this should be exciting for non-library people too – if it’s being catalogued in RDA then it will perhaps have all the names of the artists and the translator because the rule of 3 doesn’t matter! But I digress.).


    Remember to love liedekijn on Facebook and follow the official liedekijn twitter or liedekijn tumblr  if that’s more your flavour.


    Perhaps you’d like to see a picture of Miss Cat sitting on my liedekijn drawing or a 62 year old book on Halewijn (it has etchings! People always accept invitations to see etchings). Then you’ll enjoy clicking the liedekijn tag for other posts.


    See you at the opening, and remember to take care in the forest!


    Liedekijn variations

    February 28th, 2013

    The nights are getting colder, so be careful that you’re not lured into the forest by a captivating song just like Machteld in the Song of Lord Halewijn. A group of artists (including my collaborative work with Wes Hobday) created works about this tale, the results will be exhibited in 27 days! It’s quite gruesome, here’s an easy-to-read version from Ansuharijaz on Reginheim (our version is slightly different). Some of the drawings will be a surprise, but you can see selected works in progress on the liedekijn tumblr.


    Herr Halewijn title page by de Coster with etching by Hermann Metzger

    Herr Halewijn title page etching by Hermann Metzger

    Halewijn’s story has inspired many variations and drawings. I recently saw Hermann Metzger’s prints in Charles de Coster’s Herr Halewijn (translated by Albert Wesselski). Metzger created 19 etchings (20 if you include the cover) that illustrate the story from Halewijn acquiring the spell, to murdering women and Machteld’s response.


    The beautiful etchings balance a warm background of plate tone against the pure white of the valiant horse, carrying the boldly outlined Machteld (and her dubious trophy) through the pages.

    The deckle edges of the paper echo a jagged dirt path through a forest that barely contains the energy of the drawings (all hand signed by Metzger, quite a feat as there were 500 of these limited editions). Halewijn’s body dances with the spell as he struggles to maintain his new-found beauty and ensuing thirst for maidens’ blood. I wish I had paid more attention in German class, as I can only understand the names of the characters Halewijn and Machteld.


    We’d love to see you at the liedekijn exhibition opening at the Front Gallery and Café, details at the Facebook event. If you can’t make it to the opening or the exhibition, the works have also been made into a wonderful art book which you can buy from the liedekijn big cartel site.


    Artist as maker, representation or assumption

    Posted in Art, Books, Event
    November 30th, 2012


    How are artists are represented in and through their work, do we make assumptions about makers? Robert Holden explored this concept at his book launch last year for “May Gibbs: More than a Fairytale”. The talk focused on May Gibbs’ journey to art plus new information about her illustrations for feminist journals (which relied on her keen understanding of contemporary issues). As a child I wondered if May Gibbs was a gumnut baby as she had such an insight into their world, and even now when I have a “Gibbs lens” when I see the beautiful colours of the Australian bush, and still feel a little distrustful of Banksias. Beyond this I’m not sure about my assumptions, but it’s a bit like trying to remember how you saw a Rorschach inkblot before you knew its label.

    Book by Robert Holden and Jane Brummitt.


    A particularly interesting quote (disparaged by Holden as it did not acknowledge Gibbs’ worldliness) likened Gibbs’ sensibility and physicality to that of her gumnut babies and other spritely folk. While a lot of art relies on or involves self-portraiture – from the necessity of model costs or an artist’s unconscious lifelong self-observation – it also means that any work is in danger of an extraneous self-portrait interpretation. I am in two minds about whether every work is a self-portrait, as artists and makers create items from their viewpoint/lens as a visual research project arising from consideration (almost meditation) on their chosen subject.


    You can find out more about May Gibbs in the biography by Holden and Brummitt, May Gibbs: more than a fairytale: an artistic life (Trove entry). It’s still on my “to read” list, but based on the talk, I think it would present a more well-rounded view of May Gibbs, beyond the fantastical elven creator which we conjure (and assume) through her engaging works.


    Mike Parr, the other end of the visual spectrum (and pop culture)

    Artist Mike Parr’s diverse practice has often been labelled as self-portraiture – although he has commented that traditional self-portraiture has become “just a territory or a carapace or a convention, which is worthless in my view.” (Parr to Fortescue in Clemens, 2006, p. 50).

    While Parr’s work has explored wide-ranging political issues and sparked debate, it has more often than not, been through the vehicle of a contemplation of his own physicality. The effort involved in looking at his work and its aesthetic density (Maria Zagala quoted in Clemens, 2006, p. 52) visually and psychologically disrupts the viewer. The depicted disturbance and the fearful possibility of that monstrousness emerging from us all almost makes this a collective self-portrait, and also reflects Parr’s consumption and contemplation of psychoanalytical texts. Thomas (2009 , p. 68) explains this phenomenon as:


    “[Parr’s] …work is less self-centred than it seems. It represents nothing; instead, it presents a reality which, offered to others, might tell them something about themselves. Let’s call it reality art.”

    The question of authenticity and substance in a work – does it accurately reflect the maker? – elicits widespread concern about “truth”, perhaps this is a contributing factor for confessional art and reality television. Some might even be dismayed to find that May Gibbs had a much more balanced “real life” rather than our lazy imaginings of a fae existence. More widescale controversies regarding self-representation have included James Frey’s “A Million Little Pieces” autobiography which focused more on the emotional truth and cathartic experience of memory, rather than the exact events (for background see Frey’s summary) or the more recent rumblings regarding Miranda Kerr as a brand and business persona (Gorman’s article on TheVine). Maybe all “self-portraits” or reflective work just need an “everyman” disclaimer.



    Further reading:

    Clemens, Justin. I advance masked: Volte Face: Mike Parr Prints and Pre-Prints 1970-2005 (Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, 2 March – 21 May). [online]. Monthly (Melbourne, Vic.), Apr 2006: (48)-53. From Informit. The Monthly site also has the full-text article (but this doesn’t include 4 pages of artwork).


    Holden, Robert. (2011) “May Gibbs: More than a Fairytale”. Talk at National Library of Australia, Canberra.


    Thomas, Daniel. Mind / body [Mike Parr’s Cartesian Corpse.] [online]. Monthly (Melbourne, Vic.), Feb 2009: 66-68. From Informit. The Monthly site also has the full-text article (but this doesn’t include a full-page performance image).



    Melbourne Gallery Crawl I

    Posted in Art, Art exhibition, Event
    September 10th, 2012


    Braving Melbourne’s variable weather, ARLIS/ANZ delegates iced the conference cake with a gallery crawl on Saturday.

    Here are some quick notes and photos which won’t do the spaces or the works justice, visit them soon as the shows finish on Saturday 15 September.


    "Tea Party" exhibition by Megan HerringHand Held Gallery & Palmistry, Suite 18 of Paramount Arcade, 108 Bourke Street

    Gallery owner Megan Herring is currently showing an exhibition of her works crafted from surprisingly expansive tea bag paper. The work reflects on the ephemeral nature of items that were once treasured, a bit like Schwenger’s book “The tears of things: melancholy and physical objects” which explores objects as custodians of our memories. Herring has created tea cups, elaborate doilies, remade teaspoons and beautiful lacy bunting and shelf paper edging. Hand Held Gallery is a charming space focused on the small/hand held and manages to fit lots of tiny zines, jewellery and knick knacks for sale. The gallery shares the space with a palm reader, and I really hope that they will one day offer arty high teas along with the palm readings.



    Westspace, Level 1, 225 Bourke Street

    Westspace was showing lots of work and was full of lots of people attending the Feminist Forum Day, linked to the show “A Dinner Party: setting the table” by Caroline Phillips and Victoria Duckett. The most telling feminist artwork was a graph from the C0untess showing art school enrolment and female representation in galleries. There are a few more feminist-related events – a talk on 13 September and films on 15 September listed on the Westspace calendar.

    There are lots of other works in the other parts of Westspace, my favourites were David Capra’s “I must tell you this” and Jeremy Bakker’s “Satellite” – a marble swallowed and passed through the body undigested (it was still very shiny).



    "You came out of me" exhibition by Nina MulhallKings ARI, Level 1, 171 King Street

    Kings ARI was showing work by Anna Fuata, Rachel Haynes, and Diego Ramirez. Nina Mulhall’s work was in Dudspace. We accidentally embraced the concept of Ann Fuata’s “Song for the Mountain” waiting room installation and sat on the chairs – very convincing! This was paired with screens showing a dog in desolate landscapes – imbued with what my mother-in-law describes as “quiet, pensive sadness”.


    Rachel Haynes’ “Muscleflex” had an amazing multicolour saturation of giant swathes of t-shirts, wall painting and beautifully mesmerising texta drawings. Diego Ramirez’s “Touch me Tiger” considered the role of gendered communication in media like music videos with a nightclub-like installation, and challenged our responses to the microphone in disruptive and surprising ways. Ramirez gave a fantastic talk which traversed music video innuendo, self-observation, perception of a person’s space in the world and the ways that the audience has interacted with his work.


    I especially enjoyed Nina Mulhall’s “You came out of me”, which was a video of people imitating their mothers. Her work is in Dudspace, finding it is almost a secret challenge – you might be able to see from this photo that you need to squeeze through an opening on the left to see the video work. It’s in a corridor past the kitchen and near the bathroom! Finding it was really exciting, like Heidi finding Edelweiss on top of a mountain, but with less hiking.



    Bus Projects, Basement level, Donkey Wheel House, 673 Bourke Street

    Bus Project’s exhibition “TV Dinners” really lives up to its name and tests normal gallery behaviour by transforming the space into an intimate home environment:


    “Visitors are encouraged to sit back and relax on couches and even order and eat takeaway food. Within this setting, the artists’ and art collectives’ elaborations on the creative force of nostalgia and its influence on contemporary culture come to the fore.” – Alana Kushnir (2012) in TV Dinners exhibition catalogue, [p. 1].


    Even though the gallery space is like a cave under the building, it really does have a home-like atmosphere and I rate the couches. TV Dinners includes work by Eddie Peake, LuckyPDF, PsychoanalYSL and Soda_Jerk. Soda_Jerk’s “The Popular Front” juxtaposes internet memes with an iconic film clip, which was a fitting end to our tour – the questioning of our whimsical popular culture and a nostalgic yearning for the past which looped back to Herring’s tea bag paper works at Handheld Gallery.



    Thanks to the wonderful John Stevens for introducing us to some of Melbourne’s lovely artist run spaces! There are heaps of ARIs all over Australia, find out more from Crawl’s great ARI list.



    Adorable kitten rescue news flashback

    Posted in Event, News
    August 19th, 2012

    Monday 20 August is RSPCA’s Cupcake Day – remember to pat a puppy, make a donation and eat some cake!

    Karen Roberts reunited with her pet kitten.


    The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals was established in Victoria in 1871. The main goals were to reduce the ill treatment of horses, and since then the Society received the Royal Warrant. The RSPCA has helped lots of animals, here’s one rescue story of a kitten that was “treed” in Perth:


    On 17 December, 1949, a former miner climbed a tree to rescue a small black kitten. RSPCA inspector D.H. Roberts took the cat home but then she escaped the following day. Luckily the kitten found her way back home and was reunited with Roberts’ 3 year old daughter Karen. There is another article that assures us that the cat was affectionately cared for – just in case we were wondering why she kept running away. The unnamed cat had her own litter of kittens in 1950 (mentioned at the end of this article).


    Other animal adventures

    Perth-based RSPCA’s Inspector D. H. Roberts also played a part in rehoming “Nelson” (“Lady Hamilton”) a grey seal, relocating a swan, and helping “Creamy” – a dog trapped in a well.


    Adorable! Remember to support the RSPCA and be kind to all the animals in your life.

    All news stories are from Trove’s digitised newspapers.



    Swarms of Lepidoptera

    July 31st, 2012


    Continental butterflies and more!

    I returned home this month from a delightful jaunt through England (and a little bit of Scotland).

    During the trip, butterflies emerged as a recurring theme.

    I’m collecting moths for a collage, but butterflies seem to market themselves more effectively.


    Damien Hirst’s butterfly room

    Damien Hirst’s show at the Tate Modern had a whole room dedicated to live butterflies. Plastic ribbons cordoned off the doorways, and special assistants removed errant butterflies from hair and clothing. Photography was forbidden, so all my butterfly photographs are from other venues.

    The butterflies hatch from pupae on canvases and fly around the room to feast on fruit and a few begonias.

    Patrick Barkham has written more about the emotional experience of the butterfly room here.


    I walked through the Hirst exhibition in a haphazard way to avoid the crowds.

    However, this meant that I saw the butterfly canvases (wings glued to canvases in the style of stained glass windows) prior to the live butterfly room. The butterfly collaged canvases changed and glittered in the light, the blue Morpho wings would briefly have a pearly lustre and change back to a bright blue.

    Changing my path through the exhibition meant that the butterfly room seemed unnatural, as though the butterfly paintings were reanimated.

    After regaining life, they escape capture only to be sentenced to stay in a very small room.


    Butterflies as drawing materials

    Closer to home, Genevieve Swifte’s art uses butterflies in a more subtle way, to mimic cloud patterns. Swifte creates her pigment by mixing butterfly wings with silver leaf and binder on paper.

    In “A Study of Clouds I-II”, the scales catch the light and simulate the shifting nature of clouds. The drawings make the connection between flight, air, weather and creatures that inhabit parts of the sky.

    The drawings are so delicate that the effect is best seen in person, otherwise they may be viewed on Swifte’s site here.


    Atlas moths

    I also saw a giant Atlas moth at the ZSL London Zoo – but the ones that Sloane Crosley found irresistible (mentioned in her book, I was told there’d be cake) were at the Museum of Natural History. There was also a great moth talk in the Natural History Museum’s Wildlife Garden.


    Butterfly houses and the Morpho “surprise egg”

    I visited two butterfly houses – Edinburgh Butterfly & Insect World (Edinburgh, Scotland), and Butterflies and more (Congresbury, UK).

    Butterflies and more is tricky to find, but is worth it for the established banana plants, eager turtles, and multitude of Morpho butterflies.


    The Morpho is my favourite butterfly, because their lustrous shimmering wings (as glued on Hirst’s canvases) are like a special surprise present. When closed, the wings mimic a brown owl, and when opened, expose a brilliant blue. It’s the nature equivalent of a surprise egg (bath bomb).

    The inner vivid blue is an easier beauty to appreciate than the brooding camouflage variations of the undersides of the wings.

    Perhaps a preference for either one could be a personality test!


    I think there’s a market for butterfly ecotourism…




    Lanterns and hot chocolate at the Botanic Gardens

    Posted in Canberra, Event
    June 4th, 2012


    Experience your own forest fairytale and enjoy hot chocolate and DIY lanterns at Australian Botanic Gardens, Canberra.


    I went on the weekend’s afterDARK Firefly tour, and it was great to experience the beauty and magic of the illuminated gardens.


    Handmade lantern with swamp daisies


    The rainy night was illuminated by our handmade lanterns (minimally), glass lanterns (a little more) and torches (not so good for ambience but more effective in lighting).


    We learnt about Bunya trees, rainforest ecosystems, and smelt lemon myrtle leaves and kangaroo droppings (luckily I wasn’t in the front row, but apparently they’re quite benign).


    The fog machine in the rainforest gives a sense of wonder similar to Nakaya’s Fog sculpture at the National Gallery of Australia. You can find out about the Fog sculpture here.


    afterDARK for couples?

    Firefly tours have been marketed to children and families, but another demographic could also be couples.


    Instead of hot chocolate, there could be fondue (with strawberries and coconut) while the couples undertake a craft activity like the lanterns.


    It would also enhance the experience to have a cooking demonstration with native ingredients, e.g. lemon myrtle, quandong, or wattleseed.

    This would be a great way to show the appeal of native Australian plants.


    Walking through the gardens could be the romantic finale!

    This would help the gardens to be considered as a future date (or wedding!) venue.



    The afterDARK Firefly tours run from 6pm and 7pm  Saturday 7 July and Saturday 4 August, there are more details here.





    “Becoming Kirsty-Lee” book launch this Saturday

    Posted in Art, Book cover, Event
    May 25th, 2012



    Ginninderra Press have just published Zenda Vecchio’s second novel for adolescents, “Becoming Kirsty-Lee”.


    The book will be launched at Mount Barker Community Library (in the Adelaide Hills) at 1:30pm, this Saturday the 26th of May.



    "Becoming Kirsty-Lee" cover

    It tells the story of 13-year-old Kirsty-Lee coming to terms with her parents’ divorce and like all of Zenda’s writing, has lots of evocative and beautiful imagery:



    “It’s the end of autumn and all the leaves have changed colour.

    The liquidambars behind the house look like they’re on fire. They glow red and burgundy and copper-gold. Ash and I watch the leaves fall. They’re like butterflies dancing in the sun. They’re so brave. They’re dying and they know it but they go on with their dance anyway.

    Ash bends down and picks one up. He does it gently as if he knows it can still feel and the leaf, star-shaped in his hand, trembles as if it recognises him.” p. 32



    I designed the book cover, with patient help for the colours from Wesley Hobday.

    Find out all the details of the book launch from the Facebook event.


    “Becoming Kirsty-Lee” is now listed in Trove (library catalogue for all of Australia), and copies are for sale from Ginninderra Press.



    Zenda and I look forward to seeing you this Saturday!





    Roland Henderson – photographs of toy animals, plants & objects

    May 5th, 2012


    Roland Henderson’s exhibition “Been” concludes at 5pm today, 5 May (CCAS – Canberra Contemporary Art Space, Manuka, Canberra).



    CCAS explain the work as a response to travelling, belonging and a sense of place.


    The photographs in the exhibition each focus on an object or small group of objects including the reverse side of photo frames, toy birds, cabbages, a dandelion in a cup and doll parts. It’s like a collection of memories.


    My favourite was an image of a toy Bactrian camel with a cabbage butterfly perched on each hump.

    It almost appears like a flying camel, but given the scale it’s more magical to think about giant butterflies.


    So now it’s at home with me – I even got 4 nails with my purchase! (plus a fantastic story about cabbage farming).


    As CCAS say, “[these]…exquisitely presented black and white photographs brilliantly nailed to the wall suggest that from the right angle – everything is interesting.”



    The next event at CCAS Manuka is Cue Funktion, opening at 6pm on Thursday May 10.

    This will transform the gallery space into a pop-up venue for live music – combining visual works and musical performances.







    Wine, camels & heritage in Canberra

    Posted in Canberra, Event
    April 12th, 2012


    There are so many things to do in Canberra this weekend!

    Here are my hot picks, compiled with thanks to 666 ABC Canberra’s event listings.



    Beer on Saturday (14 April)

    Canberra Craft Beer Festival promotes innovative breweries with both beer and cider.

    Best of all, the festival raises money for the ACT Eden Monaro Cancer Support Group.

    Held at Mercure (Civic) from 11am till 6pm.

    Tickets include beer tasting. There’s also food, table tennis and the major selling point – a jumping castle!



    Plant sales on Saturday (14 April)

    Both Marymead and the Australian National Botanic Gardens are hosting fundraising plant sales.



    Marymead’s Autumn plant sale (Narrabundah) is from 9am till 1pm.

    Marymead will be selling ground covers, herbs, perennials, shrubs and trees.


    The Native Plant Sale is at the Australian National Botanic Gardens (Acton).

    The sale will run from 8:30am till 11am or sold out.

    It’s hosted by the Growing Friends of the Australian National Botanic Gardens.

    The native plant list is here.

    Remember to bring something to protect your car seats or boot.

    Plus some boxes and bags to carry all your new plants.



    Wine all weekend (14 – 15 April)

    Branch out from beer and visit the Canberra District Wine Harvest Festival.

    Visit local vineyards to enjoy wonderful wine and olive oil tastings.

    Plus gourmet platters, scones, cheesecake and mousse.

    Listen to jazz or guitar and smell the roses.

    Kids can make scarecrows and the whole family can stomp grapes or bottle wine.


    Get a wine passport stamped at 3 wineries, and enter the wine prize draw.

    See the full program and map here.

    Bizzy Lizzy’s fantastic festival summary is also resplendent with beautiful photographs.



    Heritage not just this weekend, but the whole of April

    The Canberra and Region Heritage Festival runs for the whole of April with an astronomical number of events.

    The very extensive program is here.


    …heritage highlights this weekend (14 – 15 April)

    You can attend talks on old Acton, history or guided walks, architecture tours, or visit the Tidbinbilla Extravaganza.

    Plus eat a reproduction Titanic meal, or make a dry stone wall at Adelong Falls Gold Mill Ruins.


    The guided walks are everywhere – Yarralumla, Bungendore, Goorooyarroo Nature Reserve, Acton, and Braidwood.

    There’s even an archaeological walk near Burra Creek’s London Bridge (a limestone arch).


    Even Gorman House will hark back to the 20s and 30s with period dress and all things ye olde.

    See the whole program here (you can scroll to the selected dates for this weekend).


    During the National Carillon’s open day on Sunday they will even be playing the Star Wars theme.

    Brief program for the Carillon is here.


    St John’s Heritage Precinct has an open day with markets, maypole dancing and a chance to see Canberra’s first Schoolhouse.

    We visited when I was in primary school – I’m sure it’ll be much less daunting as an adult.

    We wrote on slate boards and there was a very stern faux headmistress.



    Jane Austen from Thursday to Sunday (12 – 15 April)

    The Jane Austen Festival coincides with the Heritage Festival, and starts on Thursday with a movie.

    Then over the weekend it has a full schedule of sewing workshops, dancing, classes, talks, a ball and a country fayre.


    Camels at the National Museum of Australia on Sunday (15 April)

    That’s right, camels.

    Plus bellydancing, sand art animation, printmaking and music.

    This is to celebrate the new exhibition, Travelling the Silk Road: ancient pathway to the modern world.

    The full program is here.



    Bonsai show all weekend (14 – 15 April)

    Be impressed by the green thumbs of the Weston Creek Bonsai Group Autumn Show.

    Sales, demonstrations, and advice for paler green thumbs.


    This is getting rather long – but there’s also theatre with naked men and John Cleese, and Titanic the musical.

    Plus the regular artmarketssport, and lots more to do this weekend and all year round!







    Canberra Gallery Crawl

    February 12th, 2012


    Solstice Eyes (Lisa Twomey), CCAS Manuka

    "Eyes shut" painting by Lisa Twomey


    Today’s Canberra gallery crawl began with Lisa Twomey’s Solstice Eyes exhibition at CCAS (Manuka).


    The exhibition was a wonderful mix of fashion and painting – and some wonderful glitter elements.

    I think I still have glitter on my toes from walking around there.


    Sadly it was the last day, but you can see even more artworks at her blog.






    We were too early for M16 (Griffith) and PhotoAccess (Manuka), so we went to Beaver Galleries (Deakin) instead.





    Denese Oates, Olivia Bernardoff & other artists at Beaver Galleries, Deakin


    At Beaver Galleries, we saw lots of art including Denese Oates’ tree sculptures, Olivia Bernardoff’s paintings.


    "Mallee tree with birds" sculpture by Judy Holding


    Beaver Galleries’ Palette Café also has the best melting moments. In a perfect world, people would appreciate melting moments as much as cupcakes, cakes on a stick and macarons.


    Beaver Galleries is open Tuesday-Friday 10-5 and weekends 9-5.




    Bald Archy Prize at The Watson Arts Centre


    The Watson Arts Centre was quite busy – and then we realised that it was opening weekend of the Bald Archy Prize.


    We voted for number 5 – head along and add to the votes!


    The exhibition’s on until 12 March, open daily 10-4 and entry is $5 or $3 concession.





    Underwater Abstraction (onacloV) at ANCA Gallery, Dickson


    It was also the last day of onacloV’s Underwater Abstraction exhibition at ANCA Gallery (Dickson).

    There were beautiful underwater photographs on canvas and large abstract paintings.


    You can see more of her work here.

    ANCA Gallery is open Wednesday-Sunday 12-5.



    Benedict House, Queanbeyan


    Then we enjoyed the vintage style of Benedict House (Queanbeyan) – bowls of beads that look good enough to eat.


    Benedict House beads & view


    I think Benedict House is so comforting because of that classic old-house smell, which is hard to articulate but reminds me of those paper dollar plants and old plasterwork.

    Plus the vintage wares and delicious cake helps in making it such a welcoming space.


    Benedict House is open Wednesday-Sunday 10-5, call ahead for café bookings and their high teas.



    While Benedict House doesn’t technically qualify for our Canberra Gallery Crawl, I think this shows that there are things to do in the area.

    I need to learn to be quick to get in before exhibitions conclude. Oh well, there is always the next exhibition, and the next…







    Renaissance Exhibition: highlights & a challenge list

    December 16th, 2011


    This week I visited the Renaissance exhibition at the National Gallery of Australia (Canberra).

    The exhibition provides a rare glimpse of Renaissance works by many renowned artists, lent by Italy’s Accademia Carrara in Bergamo.


    The majority of the art is religious in focus – which is a given, considering the time period and the commissioning of the works – there’s even a whole room devoted to various depictions of Madonna col Bambino.



    Here are my exhibition highlights (visual rather than academic!):

    • seeing the gold leaf itself/ different styles of gilding and formats of works (diptych, triptych, polyptych),
    • portrayal of human bodies, and the contrast between the different styles of babies in the Madonna col Bambino section (in terms of life drawing, proportions and conventions regarding portraiture),
    • inclusion of fruit and animals, and
    • reflection of fashions and styles, particularly headdresses.


    I thought the most interesting works were Love Procession by Marco and Apollonio (perhaps it is depicting a ye olde flash mob) Saint Jerome praying by Mansueti (with the highest concentration of animals in any of the works) and Adoration of the Christ Child by Luini (beautiful imagery of a flying angel in a twinkling starlit sky).



    Can you spot any of these items or animals depicted within the artworks?

    Test yourself with this challenge list when you attend the exhibition:


    • A pair of eyes on a gold platter,
    • A brazen parrot,
    • A fish carried horizontally (like a carpetbag) with rope,
    • A fly (this will be easy as it’s mentioned in one of the captions),
    • Two rabbits feeding together in a domestic space,
    • A dog that really looks more like a sheep, and
    • Capigliara (at least two!).


    Let me know in the comments if you spot any of these items or animals throughout the exhibition, or if you’d like to add something to the Challenge-spot list!



    TEDxCanberra, sustainable living & food

    November 10th, 2011


    Thanks for visiting! An art practice sits within general life experience, so sometimes I will write about things which may not be explicitly art-related but might be conjuring up a body of work or some new ways of thinking.


    TEDxCanberra 2011 was over a month ago, but it still continues to inspire me – idea digestion takes a while! I’ll also justify this by noting that these events are meant to be a wake up call, so a delay is inevitable as ideas are put into practice.

    I was lucky enough to attend TEDxCanberra 2011 through a complimentary ticket from my workplace.


    I really enjoyed Nick Ritar’s talk about living sustainably – and from this, I have embraced permaculture in a small way by answering nature’s call in our garden a few times, but I will need to find a more long-term solution.

    Especially as we have recently removed the privacy-enhancing Diosma shrub from our yard.


    Nick spoke about the importance of growing our own food, and there are lots of ways to learn more – naturally from your library, which supports your community and encourages sustainable resource-sharing.


    Blatant book name-dropping (book-dropping?)

    Clive Blazely says that:

    “Growing your own vegetables is the single most important step to a sustainable, healthy life. When vegetables are grown at home they are fresh and free of chemicals, eliminating food miles and cutting CO2 emissions by up to 30%. It takes a few hours of work a week. In just 40 square metres you can grow 472kg of vegetables which is enough for four people.”

    From Growing your own heirloom vegetables: bringing CO₂ down to earth, p. 24. You can find out more about the Diggers Club here.


    Feasting on Floriade’s “Tasteful Sensations”

    Recently Floriade – a festival of flowers – was held in Canberra, with a “Tasteful sensations” display showcasing the beauty of bush tucker, herbs and vegetables. In the Floriade picture below, my culinary ignorance asserts itself as I can only identify parsley and perhaps rhubarb. A beautiful garden and knowledge of plants are definitely only aspirations at this stage!


    Floriade's Tasteful Sensations - detail


    Australian bushfood cuisine

    As well as growing our own food, we can minimise the environmental impact of our food choices by looking at sustainable, local Australian cuisine.

    Vic Cherikoff’s book Uniquely Australian: a wild food cookbook: the beginnings of an Australian bushfood cuisine is very readable with lots of glossy, lust-worthy food pron pictures.

    In his book, Vic discusses the possibilities of using eucalypt, desert wattles and desert oak saps as natural sweeteners. These could really change the landscape of the sugar and artificial sweetener industry, as we have seen with xylitol and stevia.

    You can find out more about Vic and his Australian recipes here.


    You may also be interested to read The urban homestead: your guide to self-sufficient living in the heart of the city which has very easy step-by-step instructions and down to earth advice about reducing your footprint. You can see Kelly and Eric’s blog here or follow them at @rootsimple


    Back to the source of inspiration – you can find out more about Nick Ritar’s Milkwood Permaculture here or follow him at @Milkwood_Nick




    Here is my burgeoning compost heap, resplendent with the TEDxCanberra catering floral decorations. The rest of our yard – for now – is a very successful dirt garden.


    Trove note:

    The book links above will lead you to Trove,   which is an Australia-wide discovery service – a catalogue for many libraries. To find a book in your local area, from the individual Trove book record, click on the “All libraries” tab and then the relevant state/territory tab. Click on the library name to go to that library’s catalogue. See the Trove help for more information.


    Happy reading and gardening!