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    When Woden was Braddon

    Posted in blogjune
    June 18th, 2014


    Having grown up in Canberra, I remember when Woden was trendy, and actually called Woden Plaza before the corporate W took over. There was a giant fountain area near Centrepoint Plaza (did it get removed because of the fish?), the mindbending Camel Train shop in the interchange, the Cosmopolitan Twin Cinemas and Snake Pit nearby plus the bowling alley.


    The Camel Train was my favourite place – slightly forbidden and just so full. There’s a wonderful photo in the Canberra Times (1992, May 5) that shows how crowded it was with jewellery, candles, clothes, everything. I think it opened around 1982 (before that it might’ve been Aladdin’s Cave, a rug shop), and I’m not sure of when it actually closed. Some of the more recent uses of the space have been as a Christian book shop and now a mini-mart.

     Sculptured Form by Margel Hinder, Woden, Canberra


    My focus was so much on the Camel Train and the fountain that I never really connected with Hinder’s sculpture (look closely in the picture in that link, you can see a maroon sign for the Camel Train on the right! The photo was taken from the fountain side, you can see the steps leading down). In the photo above, the fountain and steps used to be in the same location as the fancy paving.


    Now that the sculpture is under maintenance, I chastise myself that I didn’t love it more when it was free range. It is much easier to feel the pain of art that is a battery hen, a sense of loss. There is a sticker on it which says “Please don’t litter your mind”. I look forward to a cleaner and happier sculpture being free at the end of August.


    The artsACT site notes the benefits of keeping the sculpture healthy:

    “By polishing the aluminium surface to a soft patina, and allowing it to bulge around the middle, the sculpture resembles a large soft heart, appearing to be made of several chambers but actually one connected and vital whole.”


    Woden’s heart in a cage.


    Snake pit in progress, 1994, Woden, Canberra

    Koala ghost


    The Snake Pit was painted by community groups. This “in progress” shot dates from 1994, from a 2005 report on ACT Government public art.


    Snake Pit, Woden, Canberra

    A bit sad


    Here is the Snake Pit today – the entry is where you used to get into the movies. Capital Yarns even spun a tale of Snake Pit Armageddon, perhaps that’s what happened.


    I have fond memories of the bowling alley too – I wonder how the space is used now, it is in the weird island building in the middle of the interchange – as well as the cinema. It was a magical place, just like our beloved Electric shadows. It is easy to love the past when you’re no longer in it.


    We weren’t actually allowed to hang out in Woden very much, because of the horrifying missing person case of Megan Louise Mulquiney that is still unsolved. Her unknown story is really the only truly heartbreaking part of the place, I’m not really sure what else to say. Please click to see her profile on the Missing Persons website.



    Vegan in Adelaide

    Posted in Lifestyle, Travel
    January 31st, 2014


    Back from our brief holiday in Adelaide, which I rate as a hot contender for vegan capital of Australia! When my Mum travels she sends postcards which only contain descriptions of food eaten, probably the source of my view of holidays-as-food (she now chronicles the weather so as not to be eating-centric).


    In Hahndorf I desperately wanted to go to The Fairy Garden, but we didn’t have time so just ate at The Seasonal Garden Café.


    Quinoa burger at The Seasonal Garden Cafe

    Mmm chips!


    I had the quinoa burger (vegetarian but made vegan, it was delicious but not as good as a burger I had later) and a nectarine cake (pretty tasty but needs coconut cream or something to go with it).


    Chocolate Bean, vegan cupcakes display

    So many cakes!


    I felt a bit weird from the heat and so much cake so we went to Chocolate Bean for more cake (logical!). I’m pretty sore that I didn’t realise there was a lavender cupcake (my favourite flavour), on one visit I had the vegan choc hazelnut praline cake and another time I had the vegan peanut butter cheesecake. The praline one was better but too much for one person. I’ve previously enjoyed their chocolate soup but unfortunately it’s dairy-based.


    Eggplant at pinehill bistro

    Halo of sauciness


    We met with family at pinehill bistro in Glenelg, I didn’t have high hopes and their menu didn’t list any vegan items. So it was exciting when they offered to make stuffed eggplant (although one of my friends would cite eggplant, mushrooms and onions as the vegetables-of-first-resort for veg*n options on the fly). It looked nothing like I expected but I was pleased to be able to eat something, and it was quite good.


    Quinoa patties at Grind it

    “Squeeze me and eat me” – orange


    Then we headed to Grind it (also Glenelg), they had a few vegan options on the menu so I got the quinoa patties. I had to refill the parking meter, on the way back, I saw another cafe had a sign with a cartoon orange saying “squeeze me and drink my blood!”. When I returned to my seat, the quinoa patties were waiting there interfiled with dead slices of orange. Awkward. The patties were a bit dry and the green sauce was super hot! They had also placed a spoon with nectarine and yoghurt on the plate which was surprising given it was advertised as a vegan dish, so I didn’t risk it.


    Eric Carle caterpillar stencil at Brighton

    Hello bug friend


    In Brighton there was a very familiar caterpillar (but not identifiable for everyone in our group! Previously documented by Helen) – on the way to the Brighton Jetty Classic Sculptures. My favourite sculpture was Monica Prichard’s Sand City.


    Unfortunately we missed out on the Brighton Jetty Bakery which has lots of vegan options. Next time.


    Black sticky rice sundae at Eggless

    Most delicious Adelaide dessert


    In Goodwood we lined up to get a table at Eggless Dessert Café, and it was so worth it. Their menu is on a different theme each month, and Ken at the counter said there was a family that came once a month and ordered every single item. Efficient! I had the spring rolls and then the black sticky rice sundae (rice, f-ice cream, coconut cream and toasted coconut). The waitress recommended the sundae over the plain rice with coconut cream. It was amazing. I could eat 5 of them. Both the spring rolls and the sundae are on the February menu, too.


    Angel totem in Goodwood

    Goodwood saints?


    It was also fun to walk up and down the street, the stobie poles are emblazoned with angels, there is a mosaic couch, teapots growing succulents hang from the pedestrian railing, corrugated iron magpies are pinned to the fence and finally a pink cat shop (nsfw).


    Burger at Red Lime Shack

    Most delicious Adelaide burger


    Our last stop was in Port Adelaide at the Red Lime Shack. I am so glad we went there, because it was the best vegan burger I have ever had on all counts – flavour, charm, price, romance, whether I would eat 100 of them, etc. I had the walnut, sage and roast carrot burger, which tasted “convincing” without being meaty. The tahini mayonnaise may also rekindle my mayo love affair, which had lost the spark when I’d tried other vegan mayos that had the taste and appearance of bodily fluids (not in a good way).


    Raw key lime pie at Red Lime Shack

    Pretty pie, pretty plate


    The raw key lime pie was delicious and reminded me of the raw vegan food made by Raw Capers here in Canberra – really good texture made with good quality sweeteners and a health focus. M thinks that the most tasty part of a cake is the little “V” at the centre (broken off in this photo). I think this is more the anticipation of first bite, but perhaps the theory requires some exploration.


    On our next visit, we’d like to get to Zen house, Two bit villains, Vegetarian delight, and Godzilla. There are heaps of restaurants listed on the Adelaide Vegans site – it’s my hope this will one day be the case for Canberra, see the current veg*n restaurant list on the ACT Vegan & Vegetarian Society site.


    Thanks Adelaide, I am very full.



    Friday triangle perambulations

    Posted in Canberra
    August 17th, 2013


    Yesterday was a great balance of work and play – but not much rest as I’ve been a couch sleeper for a few days. This is because Ms Cat is healing from nerve damage, so she is isolated in her bedroom with Mr S, so Mr Cat and I are banished to the couch. If it meant that Ms Cat was rehabilitated, I would be happy to be a sofa lady forever.


    So to wake up a bit, I walked around the Parliamentary Triangle, and as I reached the summit of the little hill near the Gallery of Australian Design, two birds (swallows?) flew circles around me like they were using ribbons as a lasso in a charming Disney special. I hope it wasn’t an elaborate form of swooping, which gives the experience an air of malice. I will imagine it was a flying hug. The sun was finally gleaming and all the Reconciliation Place sculptures near the Portrait Gallery and Questacon were glistening.


    When I reached the National Library there was a swarm of children getting excited about Children’s Book Week winners. The winner’s list makes a nice little poem: Sea Hearts, Children of the King, The Terrible Suitcase, The Coat, Tom the Outback Mailman & A Forest.


    I managed to avoid the crowd and enjoyed Jyll Bradley’s City of Trees exhibition, but I forgot to collect my free poster. The first works in the exhibition are my favourite, the branches shimmer and sway as you walk past, like the twinkling of a heatwave. Outside, I noticed this sweet (yet savage) bike!


    Bike outside National Library of Australia, Canberra

    Angry bike


    Continuing with happy experiences, it was great that the National Library’s Bookplate restaurant was able to create a vegan salad on the spot for the same price ($15.90) as their “regular” Caesar salad. It’s my hope that one day there will be more options for diverse dietary choices in the Parliamentary Triangle.


    Shadow of Diamonds

    Diamonds’ shadow


    I walked past the National Gallery and saw that the cast shadow of Neil Dawson’s Diamonds (2002, Sculpture, aluminium extrusion and mesh painted with synthetic polymer automotive paints, stainless steel fittings and cables) casts a shadow reminiscent of the silhouette of an icon in popular culture.



    Enjoy the weekend, see some art, and remember to “Read across the universe” as advised by Children’s Book Week, 2013. Or just keep things horizontal a la Ms Cat.



    Sculpture hide seek and learn

    Posted in blogjune
    June 26th, 2013


    It’s quite a surprise to see all the sculptures at Questacon uprooted – Ken Cato’s Olympic figures have been there for many years (refurbished in 2006), see them in situ on dominotic’s kencato photostream.



    Questacon Cato sculptures removed

    Something’s missing!


    They must be coming back, because a 2007 Referral of proposed action… said that they would be retained (Department of the Environment and Water Resources, “Sculpture”, p. 10).


    The sculptures have left debossed grave mounds, or giant footprints. It’s probably been a secret government science experiment all these years to see what kind of drawing you can make with tree roots.


    It’s a full circle starting with Magritte’s work, The Labors of Alexander (originally a painting of a tree clutching at an axe, later on he approved for it to be made in bronze, but passed away before full completion so there is still speculation about the works). Now the trees are missing their steel night protectors and gnash their bare roots in anguish.


    Questacon sculptures drawing

    Drawing by the sculpture


    Now for today’s “did you know?”! The name Questacon comes from queste (to seek) and con (study/learn/steering). “Quest-a-con means to seek and to learn.” (Questacon: a guide to the exhibits, 198-, unpaged). See the more recent guide below – astounding!


    Questacon: a guide to the exhibits

    Questacon guide


    It’s interesting to see how the science centre was called The QUESTACON (I think only tourists preface the name with “the” now) which was inspired by the success of the San Francisco’s EXPOLORATORIUM. Mark Oliphant’s forward also said that “…the QUESTACON has become an essential agent preparing people for survival in the age of technology.” (Questacon: a guide to the exhibits, 198-, unpaged). Besides inspiring interest in science careers and discoveries, it could also be an excellent apocalypse bunker. It would benefit from the protective ambience of Olympic sculptures, which send a message that we are fit and ready to defend ourselves. We can also wear awesome lab coats:


    “In particular the Questacon is most pleased to record its gratitute [sic] to: …King Gee: who have donated all the laboratory coats worn by the Questacon Explainers” (Questacon: a guide to the exhibits, 198-, unpaged).


    This was in the time before lab coats were worn in department stores so their authoritative air had been retained. I hope the Olympic sculptures (wherever they may be) are wearing lab coats or something to keep them warm.





    Department of the Environment and Water Resources (March 2007). Referral of proposed action: Humanities and Science Campus: Stage 1 and 2. http://www.nationalcapital.gov.au/downloads/enhancing_and_maintaining/humanities_and_science/EPBCReferral.pdf


    National Science and Technology Centre (Australia). & Australian National University.  (1984).  Questacon : a guide to the exhibits.  [Canberra] :  Australian National University


    National Science and Technology Centre (Australia). & Australian National University. & Shell Australia Limited.  (2006).  The Shell Questacon Science Circus : taking science around Australia.  [Canberra :  Questacon – National Science and Technology Centre].


    National Science and Technology Centre (Australia). & Australia. Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research.  (2011).  Questacon : outdoor exhibits.  [Canberra :  Questacon].


    Questacon : a guide to the exhibits, Australian National University  [Canberra : s.n., 198-]



    Art signal message

    Posted in blogjune
    June 20th, 2013


    Tonight I went to the opening of Oscar Capezio’s exhibition, The signal is the message at CCAS Manuka. It was destined to be an interesting show, as demonstrated by the invitation which Roman says was shot (but I queried the bullet holes). Exhibition invitations are often quirky and are collected by art institution libraries for artist ephemera files, as well as to provide a history of a gallery’s shows.


    Oscar Capezio's exhibition invitation

    The signal is the message invitation


    Price lists and other exhibition information is also included in artist/gallery ephemera files to provide context and assist with valuations. This price list has a handy map of the artworks. The map prescribed our movement path through the show, but I think that we were meant to look through “Exceed Your Vision” towards “That ‘X’ there”.  A kid accidentally walked on the blue tape of “Tracing Paper”, breaking it away from the wall, but it was quickly fixed and then re-cut to open the show.


    The signal is the message map

    The signal is the message map



    I most enjoyed “The Hunt for Love”, screen captures of poems from the internet pierced by a carved hunting knife, next to “Break Through” (five bullets embedded in a wall).



    If read in order, the list is quite poetic:


    Caught in the Act/ Trophies/ Exceed Your Vision/ That ‘X’ There/ Untitled/ Shot In The Dark/ Break Through/ The Hunt for Love/ Tracing Paper.



    The show is on till Sunday 30 June, opening hours 11-5 Wed-Sun.



    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…