a cultural day out – art and literature

6 05 2012

We’re avid readers and like books. While we enjoy reading digital versions on the Kindle of iPad, we’re also fond of the analogue version. So, when there’s an opportunity to rummage around looking for secondhand books, we’ll take it. So, on the weekend we paid a visit to the Central Goldfields town of Clunes for the annual Booktown Festival.

Clunes fountain
Fountain in Clune’s park.

I managed to find the third book in a trilogy I’ve just begun (had the first two) and also a few other books I’ll be keen to read. The prices vary and I guess might average $5 but there’s also some lovely collectors items that will cost a lot more. Some vendors have .50c and $1 books, one had all their books for $5 another all were $10 and then some have them marked at different prices. Lot’s of fun.

On the way to Clunes we stopped in at the Ballarat Art gallery and saw a couple of exhibitions. Firstly Marion Manifold: Through the Notebook – Marie Antoinette and some amazing linocuts. Then Kerrie Leishman: The New Beauty with some interesting painting inspired by wind turbines in the landscape. So, a bit of a cultural day out getting a fix of art, ideas and literature (well, not all literature in the strict sense). 

away for the weekend – heading North rather than South

11 04 2011

During the first weekend in April we enjoyed some time in Castlemaine in rural Victoria (rather than the usual trip down to Cape Otway). It happened to be the opening weekend of the (10 day) Castlemaine State Festival and we thought it would be fun to check out some of the local arts & crafts and get away for a few days. Very thankful for the perfect weather and it was fairly easy to walk around the town checking out what was on display. Amongst other things, found a large sculpture of a sitting Buddha made up of recycled computer motherboards.

Motherboard buddha

There seems to be lots of local painters, sculptors, writers etc. living in around Castlemaine and we managed to get around to see quit a few things on display in public venues as well as in their home-galleries. This meant a little bit of driving as some people live out of town. We didn’t get to see any performances (other than street buskers etc.) but great to see plenty of public activities and the farmers market on the Sunday. We also dropped into the local library and were amazed by a display of some of things that have been found in returned books.

Ex Libris Detritum

On the Saturday afternoon we caught the VLine train into Melbourne, and went to see play Café Scheherazade. This was a very special and enjoyable experience. We know the book by Arnold Zable, and have been to the cafe itself for a meal, so to watch this story performed (from the front row) was wonderful indeed. This was a lovely treatment of an emotional story(s), and managed to portray the complexities of the lives of those who have lived through the Holocaust and eventually migrated to Australia.

Fantastic that we could have some time out and be inspired by the beautiful countryside and the diverse creativity of people.




how many ways can you get yourself some culture?

26 02 2011

After a busy week for both of us it was time for a break, time-out, culture day. We headed up to Melbourne early in the morning and enjoyed seeing the Altocumulus (mackerel sky) clouds from the freeway. An easy drive up compared with the usual busy weekday traffic.

Mackerel sky

First stop the NGV Melbourne for a look at the Gustav Moreau exhibition. A great collection of work from a prolific painter & drawer. He had a thing for the old mythical dramas and had mixed up his painting style with drawing, paint (both oil & acrylic), & etching to crate a mashup type style (which brought out the critics). Also caught the Luminous Cities exhibition of photos of the built environment from the 19th through to the 20th century. Some nice old black & white photos of Rome that brought back memories of our visits there.

Headed off for a coffee and a raspberry muffin and came across the Little Bookroom (their new store) in Degraves Street. Nice shop with lovely books (for kids) and some expensive collectors items… It was interesting to compare this book business with the mega Borders & Angus & Robertson chains, and to think about the different business models. Seems one might be more successful than the other. Note to self: must check out the original Little Bookroom store in Nicholson Street some time. Then we had a quick stop of at the South Melbourne markets before heading home.

Pako paella

Then is was out to the multicultural Pako Festa – we were too late to see the parade this year. Lots of people out enjoying the afternoon with ethnic dress, food and performances making for a lively saunter down the street. Last year the kids all had silly string, but this year it was air horns and vuvuzelas (more noise – but not as messy). The Spanish were very busy dishing up (and making more) paella, and the pubs were filled to bursting. It’s great to see this festival is alive and well. All up a busy day, but great to spend time absorbing some culture.

a special view/insight into the lives of others (and our own)

17 04 2010

I was very fortunate to be able to attend a performance of ‘small metal objects’ by Back to Back Theatre in the local Westfield shopping centre today. It was a very special experience to sit in a tiered bank of seats in the middle of shoppers going about their various activities.


The actors mingled in amongst the people and were miked-up, with us listening in via headphones. It must have looked rather odd for about 100 people to be sitting there with headphones on, and nothing else seeming to happen. At first we could hear the actors and didn’t know where they were and it was a bit weird to sit and listen in a conversation knowing it was for us to hear, but we didn’t know who was speaking. Maybe we didn’t have to know, but once we could see the actors and how they were part of the activity of the shopping centre, it changed the dynamics and became more of a play within a play(s). Once the actors walked into view, they stayed around the vicinity in front of our seating.

People were walking past doing their business, some looking at us, and mostly not knowing that we were listening in on a conversation – a sort of eavesdrop on a one small interaction taking place amongst a whole lot of other things going on. There were people at the ATMs, claiming bonus shopping vouchers, having a coffee, meeting each other, and walking around the actors without knowing that they were also somehow being part of the action.

The play also gave me a perspective on performance, and that there has so be an observer, someone to watch, for the activity to be legitimised. Well, maybe not legitimised, but for it to have meaning outside the performers.

It felt quite profound to be participating in something ‘on the sly’ and struck me that there would be so many of these interaction, conversations, negotiations, etc. going on that we never really know about. We’re usually all too busy to notice or care… An excellent play, and thoroughly enjoyable.

too fit for my own good, I can’t keep up with myself

26 10 2009

If I start of the fitness thing – I try to get on an exercise bike a few days a week and I’m slowly making my way through The West Wing television drama serial. As well as keeping fit, I’m enjoying the story line, characters and learning a little more about how politics in America (well, anywhere really) works. But keeping up with myself is getting harder and harder.

Work last week was busy with the usual demands, and I also spent a couple of days up to my elbows in learning management systems, checking them out for functionality and suitability for replacing the one we currently use. Over the weekend amongst the chores, cleaning, newspapers etc., I read the short story True Names by Vernor Vinge, which was written over twenty years ago but captures our modern cyber society very accurately (a good read). We went to Melbourne to catch a play in the International Arts Festival called Le Salon, “a story of a family in decline”. Also sometime over the weekend, we managed to get to church a couple of times and watched Mary & Max on DVD and enjoyed this quirky tale (animation) the correspondence between a young girl and a man suffering from Arsperger syndrome.

It feels like I need to turn some things around – like, I need five days of weekend and can only do two days of work. There’s so much ‘static’ out there I keep getting presented with more things to digest and make sense of. My new synaptic nerve connections are not developing quick enough to deal with all the stimulus. The idea is that I go to work for two days and then spend five days working it all out. I can’t take it all in, and make sense of it – let alone spend time reflecting (hopefully writing this post will help ‘process’ some thoughts banging around in my head). I want to make it clear that I’m not complaining, I like having to think and learning new things, but all the input needs sorting and some sort of categorising, or filing, or whatever your brain does to deal with it…

Anyway, all this and other bits and pieces helped to make me more aware of the need for silence, the need to take some time out to be still. So, next weekend – here I come.

PS. The next book on the list is The Red Tent

just catching up on last week and seeing a version of ‘The Last Supper’

20 10 2009

Amongst a number of other things last week, we managed to get to Peter Greenaway’s multi media installation of Leonardo’s The Last Supper which is part of the Melbourne International Arts Festival. Quite an amazing experience to see a faithful replica of the masterpiece that is then augmented by light and sound. The music did distract at times but managed to convey a certain feeling to the piece. The projections that ‘manipulated’ the painting were technically amazing and provide a range of effects (with large computer aided projectors) that at times turned the work into 3D and added depth as well as backlighting to the painting. At times I felt that the painting came alive and caused moments of deep reflection on the subject of the work – so for me, quite moving.

The audience stood around while the 20 minute show played out and there was a table centre piece set up and covered with white plaster replicas, and a projection on the back wall which was also interesting.

Definitely worth a look for $10 – I could go back for another viewing to pick up some of the things I may have missed first time round. There’s a ‘making of’ video on Google videos if you wanted to follow it up further.

it’s all so very interesting, and that shouldn’t be a problem

12 10 2009

I’m trying very hard to get a bit more regular (eat more bran?) with this blog post writing thing – a good discipline to develop I think. So, I’ve got a few minutes and thought I’d share something that’s been bothering me a little.

I’m interested in so much stuff – there’s so much out there to see, to read, to discover. But I’ve got a problem – too much of it is piling up on the ‘to do’ pile and I’m not getting to it. Human beings are a creative lot, and some of us are better at it than others. Maybe in this modern day we have access to so much stuff (with the interwebs being able to give us immediate access to so much more material) it becomes mind boggling. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with curiosity but I’d love to have a little more time to follow up some of the things I discover. I suppose writing about them is useful and maybe that’ll become one of the themes of this blog. Our recent travels in Europe have given me a whole lot of other things I want to follow-up – arts, history, literature etc. I might have to make a plan so that I can be more systematic about it, but I don’t want to stifle the serendipity (and natural curiosity) of following my nose to discover new things…

Anyway we went to Melbourne last weekend and caught the Len Lye exhibition at ACMI just before it finished. Len was an interesting artist, pushing boundaries and creating sculptures, films, art and writing. I suppose passion and having space for ideas helps but you may also need to be in the right place at the right time as well as being forced to comply or be constrained by particular conditions. The exhibition gave a nice summary of Len Lye’s work and fired me up to see if there was any of his stuff available online – and it was. Check out Youtube for a taster… A thoroughly enjoyable display of the creative range of an amazing, driven talent and well worth the visit.

art on the road

22 04 2008

Last weekend we did something a little different. Well, on Saturday paid a visit to the Heide Museum of Modern Art in Bulleen. Strolled around the site that “comprises 16 acres of buildings, gardens and sculpture park presenting a dramatic combination of indoor and outdoor spaces” and we had a picnic in the gardens. Didn’t get to see the Rick Amor exhibition but would like to see his stuff. Saw a segment that features a conversation with him (Episode 10 that you can download) on Sunday Arts (it’s worth subscribing to the podcast…).

The big day was Sunday when we checked out The Golden Plains Arts Trail – 45 artists in 20 locations. The Golden Plains Shire is a sort of rough triangular wedge between Geelong, Ballarat and Lismore. We did about a 350kms round trip from 9:30-5:30 and saw some new (and different) parts of the countryside like Steiglitz, Meredith, Garibaldi, Dereel, Napoleons, Haddon, Smythsdale, Linton, and Werneth. We ran out of time and missed out on Inverleigh, Teesdale and Bannockburn but can get back to these people another time.

We saw the wares of over 20 artists: painters (of all types), sculptures, crafts, paper, printers (lino), furniture etc. I never realised that there were so many people living in the bush around little settlements. They seem to be out in the sticks which is very dry and dusty, and up lonely dirt roads but still close enough to have electricity but need tank water. I suppose many are weekenders but most of the artists seem to be permanent residents. It was amazing to be driving along a lonely flat, desolate even, country road and then suddenly have to turn off into a farm and then walk into a shed that had some wonderful artwork hung around the wall and then have some lovely conversations with these people.

A fair bit to get around to in the one day, but a great concept. Watch out for it next year…