Category Archives: art

The Emporium, Sheffield, Tasmania…Thursday Doors.

You’ve got to feel for us simple folk who don’t live in Italy where every house sports a magnificently carved, ancient front door. Indeed, for those of us surrounded by ordinary doors, each and everything Thursday our stomach’s tighten and we feel veritably ill as the querst continues. Will we ever find that perfect door? The door of our dreams? Or,  as the moon rises high above the sky threatening to go to sleep, will we simply have to lower our standards and accept that any door will do? Well, I haven’t got there yet, because I still have a stash of door photos from our trip to Tasmania last year.

This week, we’re visiting The Emporium, in Sheffield in NW Tasmania and it’s not far from that crazy place we’ve visited before in search of wacky doors…Tazmazia. For better or worse, The Emporium was closed by the time we arrived in Sheffield. So, we can only appreciate it from the outside.

 

Sheffield Emporium building.JPG

Sheffield EmporiumDSC_9689.JPG

I’m feeling way too tired to process this place is any way that could possibly make sense. So, I’ll just leave you with these photos and make a run for it.

This has been another contribution to Thursday Doors hosted by Norm 2.0. Why don’t you come and join us and share a few of your favourite doors. It’s a lot of fun and helps you see parts of the world you’ll never get to visit.

Best wishes,

Rowena

The Mum in the Weirdo Hat…Friday Fictioneers.

Charlotte was mortified. After spending months painstakingly working her way into the cool group, she spotted her mother halfway down the street. As if that wasn’t already bad enough, she was wearing her exceptionally eccentric: “Ceremonial hat for eating Bouillabaisse“, based on its namesake by English artist, Eileen Agar. A cork bowl decorated with beach ephemera, it was hardly suitable for the Melbourne Cup. With her two worlds on an imminent collision course, Charlotte wanted to die. Why couldn’t her mum just blend in and wear a black fascinator like everyone else’s mum? Why did she have to be “creative”?

100 words.

This has been another contribution to Friday Fictioneers hosted by Rochelle Wishoff-Fields. PHOTO PROMPT © Sandra Crook.

As a mother of two teenagers, I’m psyching myself up for the big rejection when they deny my existence in front of their friends one day. I can be quite loud, friendly and overly extroverted.However, so far so good.

By the way, I came across Eileen Agar while I was putting together Letters to Dead Artists for the 2018 Blogging A-Z April challenge and thought that hat would embarrass even the most resilient teen.  You can read more about her Here./

Best wishes,

Rowena

Eileen Agar wearing Ceremonial Hat for Eating Bouillabaisse

Eileen Agar wearing her: Ceremonial hat for eating Bouillabaisse

 

Clean Desk, Clear Mind…

The day isn’t over yet, and it is entirely possible that I could have a clean desk, and a clear mind before the moon sets. I’m just not so sure about the kitchen table. At this point, it’s been buried and more like a case of RIP. Then again, there might just be enough air pockets to sustain life. Indeed, I can just detect a feeble heartbeat.

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This is where I could have been today.

Just to clarify things a little. It’s Monday afternoon here and it’s a public holiday to celebrate what has become the mythical eight hour day. Being Spring with a bright blue sky and lashings of sunshine, we could be down the road at the beach right now. However, Geoff had the audacity to remind me that I still haven’t cleared my desk to set up the stereo we bought last December. It’s only October. A full year hasn’t expired yet. In terms of procrastination, this job is only half baked.

So, instead of going to the beach and carpe diem seizing the day for pleasure and relaxation, the day has grabbed me by the short and curlies and taken everything off my desk and dumped it onto the kitchen table for sorting. The desk is looking fantastic and leaping for joy in shocked amazement. I can now see a gloriously clean wood grain finish and I’m listening to Icehouse. The stereo is all systems go and my in-tray is an empty as a dry creek bed in a drought.

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Shame about the kitchen table. Moreover, it just struck me that I have somehow been diverted into writing about this earth-shattering cleanup exercise and photographing the evidence while the kitchen table is beyond gasping on life support. However, don’t worry. This is just a perfectly natural phase of procrastinating. Nothing has collapsed…yet!

There are certain truths they leave out of declutter manuals. Of course, we’ve all heard about their do-gooder deeds: “Something in, something out”, “If you haven’t used it in six months, toss it”. Indeed, the zealots have turned decluttering into a religion, don’t you think? They even have confession.

However, all of this just leaves me a sinner. If our stuff actually manages to get off the ground at all, it’s more likely to be a case of only moving from A to B. Indeed, we’ve perfected the “Great Declutter Shuffle”. Yes, much of my stuff is very well travelled moving from one part of the house to another. Goodness knows how far some of the stuff I’ve picked up at the op shop travelled before it actually reached me? Much of it could well have a full passport and a truckload of postcards from a lifetime of travel.

I shouldn’t jest.

This is a serious business. I need to clean up my act. Having clear real estate on my desk feels so much better. I feel cleansed. All sorted. Ready to tackle all those outstanding writing projects. Indeed, this could well be the jolt I need to finally get some runs on the board and venture further afield with my writing than my blog. There are so many opportunities out there. As many possibilities as stars in the sky and yet I’m hiding behind my pile of books…all written by someone else.

Well, I guess that’s my cue to exit stage left and work out where the hell all that crap’s going to go and how and what we’re going to have for dinner. As much as I’m tempted to  throw the lot out, I’ve stumbled across some great memories and I really can’t understand these people who keep nothing? Do they even exist?

Are you a clean desk or messy desk person? Does it make a difference to your capacity to think and write? Get things done? I’d love to hear from you.

Best wishes,

Rowena

PS The sun has just set and the pile on the kitchen table is steadily shrinking. Hey, the table cloth is even starting to peer through without compromising the wood grain on the desk. The in-tray isn’t empty anymore. I’ve set up two folders. One with letters and bits and pieces and the other has short stories I’m working on. There’s also a stack of notebooks. Consolidation required. It does feel good!

 

Exploring Pearl Beach, Australia.

Although I’m not far off hitting a half century, I still haven’t lost a child-like appreciation for the tiny rock pools and their ephemeral cast of creatures ranging from small to the miscroscopic. Indeed, I still can’t resist the temptation to stick my finger in the water and poke something. I love fixating on a snail looking for any possible signs of movement, even if it was only a tad of a micro-millimetre. While such rock pools are nowhere big enough to be an octopus’s garden, they have that same sense of awe and magic.

LImpet

Limpet in a rock pool. 

Yesterday, Geoff and I drove to Pearl Beach, which is about 15 minutes drive away. When you look at the featured image, the row of buildings on the adjacent beach is pretty close to home. Map of Pearl Beach

Rockpool

In typical fashion, I’d mixed up the date of the Pearl Beach Food & Wine Festival and we turned up a week late only to find an art exhibition in the hall instead and a half-hour wait for fish & chips. Hence, we ended up walking along the beach and onto the rocks. Well, at least our feet were doing the walking while our eyes were out on stalks with the camera at the ready. That’s right. I’m talking about a real Nikon SLR camera with a zoom lens and not one of those pathetic excuses for a camera AKA your mobile phone.

Pearl Beach North

Pearl Beach, NSW. 

Personally, I don’t need much encouragement to find spectacular beauty in the everyday, especially when it looks like this. However, knowing that people on the opposite side of the world who’ve never been to Australia, will get to share in these places through my blog, has helped me  to appreciate our everyday yet  incredible, unique beauty through fresh eyes.

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Rock Platform, Pearl Beach. 

Pearl Beach is located 92 km north of Sydney on the NSW Central Coast and about a 15 minute drive from Woy Woy of Spike Milligan fame. Nestled away from civilization via a steep winding road through the National Park, Pearl Beach has a smattering of beach houses hiding in the bush and a community hall which forms the social hub. Real estate prices are comparatively steep and Pearl Beach has become a bit of a hide out for the rich and famous where they appear remarkably understated, blending into the landscape. There’s also a very strong artistic influence and writers and artists are lurking in the undergrowth, cafe or somewhere along the beach and rock pools. I used to take my kids to playgroup there where Santa would turn up on a vintage fire truck siren blaring. There’s also a yoga group meeting there, which I’m planning to try out in a few weeks after the school holidays. Somehow yoga in Pearl Beach has added appeal and I’ll let you know how that pans out.

Pearl Beach Swimming Pool

Pearl Beach Pool

Speaking about our trip to Pearl Beach, we had an unexpected detour on the way home. We spotted a sign for an art and garage sale down a side street just before we drove back up the hill towards civilization. If you’ve got to know me at all, you’ll know that I’m an op shop and garage sale junkie and I’m hugely into retro and antiques. Indeed, I’m not really from the modern era.

Orange Table

This table is just begging for a serving of bacon and eggs. 

So, I was delighted to spot a vintage laminex table with original chairs which took me time travelling back to my childhood. I’m sure we had a table and chairs something like that…or perhaps it was my grandparents’. I could almost feel my small self trying to heave myself up and onto the seat…such a battle when you’re toddling around. I managed to resist the table but I did by an antique picture frame which has waratah’s carved into the wood, a wooden box with compartments inside to help me get more organized, an Oroton bag for $5.00 (you beauty!!) and a Companion to Henry Lawson Fifteen Stories, which has a lot of incredible insights into one of Australia’s greatest writers and a few good writing tips thrown in as well. It was written in 1959 and it’s currently sitting right beside me and I want to read and work through it immediately before it gets buried in my other good intentions.

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Garage Sale.

While there’s no photographic proof, a certain no-name violinist gave an impromptu recital at the garage sale to demonstrate a violin which was up for sale. Of course, the identity of this bold, shameless violinist remains a mystery but if you read in between the lines, you might be able to work it out. BTW the demo might’ve had a negative effect because as far as I know, the violin didn’t sell.

So, we ended up having quite an unexpected trip to Pearl Beach and today my husband went back to the garage sale and bought our son a surfboard. Looks like he’ll be extending his wings from sailing on still water to taking on the waves. Bring it on.

Best wishes,

Rowena

 

Weekend Coffee Share- 23rd September, 2018.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

How was your week?

Every week when I sit down to catch up with you over coffee or whatever your preferred beverage might me, I have to switch on my thinking cap and try to reconnect with the week that was. What on earth happened? Do I really do all of that in one week? Or, more distressing…where did that week go? I’ve done nothing at all.

However, last week was more special than most because both my kids were in the school musical, Alice in Wonderland Jnr. Our daughter was on stage as one of the three Cheshire Cats who were the narrators in the musical and our son who has been on stage in Scout gang shows for the last three years, was actually backstage doing the lighting. However, although our daughter spent most of the show on stage and I was clearly besotted, I loved the show as a whole. Indeed, I thought it was an excellent choice for a school production as it allowed so many kids to shine. While Alice clearly played the lead, there were three Alices as well as the Queen of Hearts, White Rabbit and the Mad Hatter. A surprise character, at least for me, was the caterpillar, which I’ve never really taken much notice of in the book. The caterpillar was one cool dude. I was so impressed with the production, that I decided to go to the second performance and I’m so glad I did. I absorbed so much more the second time and I also managed to get a seat on the other side of the theatre right under my daughter’s nose.

The downside to enjoying the musical so much, was that it ended and I clearly know that I’ve fallen off the mountain top into a sense of “panging after the fjords” to quote Monty Python in a rather bizarre and twisted way. While well aware that the cast can get a sense of “grief” when the show is over, I haven’t really heard much about the audience or the parent of a performer going through this. However, I did. Yet, I make no apologies. It was such a great production and so upbeat, funny and entertaining. Moreover, I’ve known much of the cast and the audience for many, many years. Indeed, I’ve known middle Alice since she was one. Being a school of local production has that intimacy over something professional and it really was fantastic.

Amelia Ballet audition Sept 21 2018

Our daughter at her ballet audition.

However, there was no time to rest on our laurels. The musical was on Wednesday and Thursday nights and then on Friday afternoon, our daughter had an audition to appear in a local production of Madame Butterfly with the Melbourne Ballet Company. Normally, this would’ve been something we would’ve been well and truly prepared for and given such an audition it’s due. However, being the day after the bigger than Ben Hur school musical, we just couldn’t get into gear properly. No chance of getting organized the night before and I picked her up early from school and found myself driving like a maniac to the dance wear shop with quite a shopping list. Indeed, we were so short of time, that we rang ahead with our list and I was so grateful. They had the lot and had it waiting on the counter. We weren’t the only ones doing the manic pre-audition dash either. It was just crazy and I was under phenomenal pressure. We got there with about ten minutes to spare. Unfortunately, she wasn’t selected. Last year, nine people auditioned. This year there must’ve been 80 and I think about twenty kids were chosen. She was quite philosophical about it afterwards. “It was good experience”. With all that stress, I couldn’t bite my tongue. I had to disagree. Then, I remembered that it was my job to be the motivational coach, even when I wasn’t feeling motivated. That was when I remembered a pearl of wisdom I’d picked up during the week while watching an interview with former Australian 60 Minutes reporter, Ray Martin on Ahn’s Brush With Fame. Ray Martin had taken his son along when he’d interviewed Australia’s last ANZAC Alec Campbell. Ray hadn’t been able to draw much out of him, however he’s son had struck up quite a conversation. When Ray asked his son what he’d said, he’d said: “to have a go”. Have a go…it sounds too simple and yet that’s what lets me down time and time again. I’m so needing to be perfect and to get it right the first time and not make a mistake, that I don’t even try. I don’t have a go. I think I need to write that up and stick it on my desk where it stares me right between the eyes. Get on with it! Just have a go!

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Ahn Do pictured with Professor Fiona Wood burns specialist.

By the way, speaking of Ahn’s Brush With Fame, I’ve actually been doing a bit of binge watching this week. This show seems to be into its third series and I only watched it for the first time a week ago on what’s referred to as “Catch Up” on our TV.My daughter thought it was disgusting that an almost 50 year old woman could go binge watching and she thought this was something reserved for the teen. However, I had great delight in bursting her little bubble. Binge watching is suitable for all ages. However, at least in my case, the choice of subject matter was entirely different. I’m going to write something more detailed about the show once I’ve caught up. However, just to put you in the picture, Ahn Do is a lawyer, comedian and author of numerous books including: The Happiest Refugee. He is also an incredible artist and interviewer and that’s what Ahn’s Brush With Fame is all about. He invites a smattering of people he finds interesting onto the show which is set in his art studio. His subject takes a set in a really striking canary yellow arm chair and they just begin chatting while Ahn starts working away on the canvas with lashings of paint mostly applying the paint using cake decorating spatulas or knives. To be perfectly honest, I find it hard to believe anyone could create any kind of realistic portrait using these things but he does. He also tends to use the brush more for female subjects and he frequently uses his fingers. On the surface of it, it’s all anarchy but he’s one of those truly clever people who appear chaotic when there’s actually a surprisingly amount of order beneath the surface. He also sends the subject out for at least 15 minutes at the end of each session so goodness knows what he does then when we’re not watching, although I wouldn’t be surprised if it involved a magic wand. His portraits are incredible and each of the sitters I’ve seen have commented on how he’s not only captured a physical likeness, but he’s also brought out something of their inner being. He’s a very clever, and incredibly intuitive man from what I’ve seen. I think he’s also very curious and fascinated by what makes people tick and what’s to know what we’re here. Indeed, that’s what he asks at least most, if not all, of his subjects. You can watch the episodes online so just because you don’t live in Australia, it doesn’t mean you need to miss out. You can click Here.

In terms of my posts this week, there was a post inspired by Ahn Do’s interview with burns specialist Professor Fiona Wood. I participated in Friday Fictioneers again with a comic piece referring to cupid’s frustrations with us humans. Lastly, I participated in Thursday Doors and posted about Penguin Gaol, Tasmania. Indeed, the gaol was so small it did seem better suited to penguins than humans.

Lastly, I’ve just started reading Tree: A Life Story, by David Suzuki and Wayne Grady, which extends that celebration in a “biography” to the tree. “A story that spans a millennium and includes a cast of millions but focuses on a single tree, a Douglas fir, Tree describes in poetic detail the organism’s modest origins that begin with a dramatic burst of millions of microscopic grains of pollen. The authors recount the amazing characteristics of the species, how they reproduce and how they receive from and offer nourishment to generations of other plants and animals. The tree’s pivotal role in making life possible for the creatures around it;including human beings;is lovingly explored.”- Goodreads

We now have one last week of term before the school holidays begin. One term left before the end of the school year. Where has this year gone? No doubt, you are just as baffled.

Anyway, I’d better get cracking. I’ve actually had a very quiet day and a big rest to catch up today. However, it time to carpe diem with whatever’s left. This has been another Weekend Coffee Share, hosted by Eclectic Alli.

Best wishes,

Rowena

Inside Skin…Ahn Do Paints Professor Fiona Wood.

“There are things known and there are things unknown, and in between are the doors of perception.”

― Aldous Huxley

So often, language is hopelessly inadequate. Last night, I found myself profoundly moved and yet despite all my years as a wordsmith and a thinker, I was left stammering unable to communicate.I guess that’s what happens when your doors of perception suddenly swing open, and you have a eureka moment.

I’d been watching a past episode of  Ahn’s Brush With Fame where he’d painted and interviewed Professor Fiona Wood, Australian plastic surgeon and burns specialist.  Professor Wood and scientist Marie Stoner developed a revolutionary spray-on skin to help burns survivors. This technology was a world-first and has been used on more than 1000 patients around the world. In 2005 they won the Clunies Ross Award (Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering) for their contribution to medical science in Australia. In 2005, Professor Wood was named Australian of the Year.

So, let me bring you into the studio now where Fiona is sitting on Ahn’s distinctive yellow chair. While Ahn’s secretly painting away behind the canvas, Ahn and Fiona’s conversation criss-crossed through her professional and private lives, and there were so many pearls of wisdom. Fiona is such an amazing thinker, and Ahn has a way of drawing people out, although I also understand that painting someone’s portrait tends to do that. Ahn is also deep and profound himself.

“Painting is poetry that is seen rather than felt, and poetry is painting that is felt rather than seen.”

Leonardo Da Vinci.

However, as much as I was touched by much of the interview, there was a particular part of their conversation which stopped me dead in my tracks. Indeed, today I’ve paused and rewound this section many, many times trying to capture the exact wording. With these two kindred’s swept away into their own little skin paradise, pinning down their words wasn’t easy.

The conversation began when Fiona was admiring the other portraits in the studio, particularly their eyes,  and it flowed on from there and they started discussing skin, almost as an entity in its own right:

“When I’m trying to teach surgery, it’s like teaching shades of white (Yes) and some people just get white. That it’s a 3D  or 2D surface. It’s layered isn’t it? It’s the layers of the system.(Yes! Yes! Yes! It’s not just skin colour) It’s not skin colour. What colour is it? Skin Colour? I mean give me a break.

(As a kid, you get a packet of coloured pencils and there’s one skin colour.) Like nuh (It never works. No. That’s not how people look.)

“Round face, skin colour…Hmm probably not going to fly really.”

(Ahn’s comments are in brackets here. Please forgive my dodgy transcribing.)

As you could imagine, as a burns specialist, Dr Fiona Wood has an exceptionally intimate knowledge and understanding of skin, which flies right over the heads of us mere mortals, including myself. However, her appreciation was not lost on Ahn who has appreciated similar complexities of tone through the lens of an artist…a painter of portraits.

“All our knowledge has its origin in our preceptions.”

Leonardo Da Vinci.

Unfortunately, as much as I love the written word, these black and white words on the screen fail to convey the animated intensity of their conversation. That sense of not only seeing eye-to-eye but soul-to-soul. That rare synergy where you become lovers of the soul and that fusion is just as intense. As Dr Fiona Wood said at the conclusion of the show:

“My highlight today was actually talking about how images go from 2D to 3D and how the light reflects off the skin and how amazing skin is  and talking to someone who gets that. Cause skin is amazing.”

Professor Fiona Wood

As a writer or creative person, I’m naturally interested in how other people see and perceive the world, particularly when they re-frame something ordinary and present it   through a different lens. I’ve tried with all my might to try and walk in someone else’s shoes. Moreover, I’ve left my own shoes out, hoping someone else would try them on and gain more than just an inkling of the inner me. So, seeing how two people could get so animated and excited about skin and perceive it as more of a complex and detailed landscape than a continuous monotone, intrigued me. I also found it unusual to hear two people discussing skin tone, because it can be a real taboo.

“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view — until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”

HARPER LEE, To Kill a Mockingbird

Not unsurprisingly, I’d never stopped and appreciated what an artist and plastic surgeon might have in common… a shared fascination with the human body and in this instance skin. Indeed, I’ve never even thought of skin in this way. That’s also interesting to me on a personal level as one of my uncles is a plastic surgeon and another is a dermatologist and this would be familiar territory for them. I also have my own take on skin because my autoimmune disease, dermatomyositis, also affects my skin. However, I’ve never had to think about reconstructing a severely burned body and all that entails. Moreover, when it comes to paint, abstract is my friend. Indeed, I’ve never even considered what goes through the mind of a surgeon who is wanting to reconstruct a severely burned or injured body and trying to get it as close as possible to its “before”. It’s a form of art and yet so much more because the patient’s life and contentment are in their hands. The more you can reduce the scarring, the better the outcome for the patient and Fiona has clearly devoted herself to that end.

So, now I’d like to encourage you to watch this episode for yourself. Even if their discussion on skin doesn’t appeal to you, the are plenty of other pearls to treasure.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

Best wishes,

Rowena

 

 

 

 

 

Road Kill Cafe…Thursday Doors.

Welcome to Another Thursday Doors.

At the risk of repeating myself, I’ve returned to Lower Crackpot, Tazmazia again and this week we’re off to the Road Kill Cafe. While this might appear to be in bad taste, it’s actually making an important environmental statement. On average, 32 animals are killed every hour on Tasmanian roads. Indeed, ‘More animals die per kilometre on Tasmanian Roads than anywhere else in the world,’ says Don Knowler, author of Riding the Devil’s Highway. ‘The scale of road kill in Tasmania is just colossal,’ he says, adding that almost 300,000 animals are killed a year, with some groups putting the figure as high as half a million. Another problem is secondary road kill. Animals like the very, endangered Tasmanian Devil, are run over while feeding on the road.

Road Kill Cookbook

We saw this for sale while we were in Tassie.

Addressing serious issues through humour is surprisingly effective, and much better than pointing the finger. Indeed, the message seems to filter in through the cracks, as humour allows us to approach threatening subjects in a non-threatening way and makes people more receptive to new ideas. Clearly, this is important when you’re trying to change someone else’s behavior or raise awareness of an issue which has previously passed under their radar.

Before I head off, I thought I’d leave you with one last comment from Lower Crackpot on global warming:

Global Warming

 

Thursday Doors is hosted by Norm 2.0 at Thursday Doors.  Why don’t you come and join us and share a few of your favourite doors.

Best wishes,

Rowena