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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Today’s roadtrip from Canberra to Braidwood was a test run for an upcoming day trip for ARLIS/ANZ ACT Chapter (Arts Libraries Society Australia & New Zealand). We really enjoyed the town (thank you Ms. E!) and it looks like there’s lots more to discover.
It took under an hour to get there, but we needed to start with victuals! We went to the end of the main street and got drinks and pastry from Dojo bread, who also run bread-making courses through The Farm Dojo. I think all the pastries contained dairy, so I had secondary enjoyment by staring like a carbcreeper.
Braidwood Farmers Markets had excellent vegan manoush pizza – delicious thin crust with za’atar, lemony sumac and sesame seeds. The markets are on the 4th Saturday of each month. Dojo have a stall at the markets too, so if you can’t see the bread you want at one place, try the other!
Our first cultural stop was the fYREGallery and STUR gallery + store, who have some lovely gifts including baggies of vintage erasers and matchbox gardens. They’re showing FromAtoB: photographs & sculpture by Joteva & Ned Bott, till 29 June.
We meant to go to Left Hand gallery but I got confused and we walked to 18 Lascelles Street instead of 81 Lascelles Street. Oops. There isn’t much to see at 18, but we did see some nice ducks on the way. They ran away from us.
My other gallery oops (at the other end of town) was the Pig & Whistle, which looked like it’d been closed for a little while but still has signs for the gallery and parking (I’ll update this if I find out more).
Walking into String was like being inside an oversized cabinet of curiosities. There are so many miniature things to find, that it’s best to visit and find see it in person. If you like Melbourne’s Wunderkammer then you’ll love String. String was my favourite place in Braidwood – note that both String and Longbarn are closed all of July.
In the same building as String, Altenburg & Co was showing some great desert paintings, there’s also a Perspex-covered part of the wall in the giftshop section with graffiti from 1913. Each year seems to record the household’s yearly balance.
String’s other business Longbarn (a few blocks away, look for the old bicycle on the corner) is a house layered like a cake with a magical “storybook lovely” cottage garden, full of charming French furniture. They also have chickens! They ran towards us – sorry we didn’t have snacks!
The Boiled Lolly has the wonder of a retro lolly shop with rows of bottles lining the walls, and little packets of the sweets behind them. I found this really comforting, as I didn’t get to experience old-fashioned sweet shops so I only have Dahl’s description of Mrs Pratchett to go by (see The Great Mouse Plot chapter in Roald Dahl’s Boy: Tales of Childhood). There are lots of customised rock candies including “Braidwood rock” which would be a nice local gift, or the “Bugger rock” if you need a present for someone you dislike.
There were many unfamiliar lollies including a bottle of “Squill: herbal flavoured candy” (I have a new resolution of not using the terms candy or cookies, favouring lollies, sweets and biscuits, but this is a label quote). Squill! It sounds like the noise your brother makes if you are having a fight with him and land a stomach punch.
There’s a squill candy recipe in The Australian Women’s Weekly (16 August 1972), reproduced on Trove (scroll to page 69), it has brown and white sugars, glucose, aniseed oil, squill tincture/essence, icing sugar and water. I am ashamed to say I wasn’t game to try it, and now that I’ve found out it has aniseed it is an unlikely scenario. According to urbandictionary, squill isn’t a kind word.
I patted 8 dogs, a #PatADay record! Here is Ringo who had two-toned hairspray and was very sweet. The 7 other dogs included a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, German Shepherd, and a 57kg Neapolitan Mastiff (3 kilos less than me!) and some other little dogs who weren’t that interested.
Flowers at St. Bede’s Parish – I think these are pink wood sorrel, which are very pretty as a groundcover even if they are invasive.
Next time I’d like to see the church’s stained glass windows, and to go to Sugden/Hamilton ceramic studio and shop and McLeod Gallery and William Verdon jewellery. I’ve also heard that despite the name, The Old Cheese Factory apparently does some great vegan food if you call ahead.