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Archive for the ‘My Photos’ Category

Hessian Pumpkins

I’ve been out of sorts over the past couple of weeks.

First I took a tumble at the pub – I missed a step and fell on my tailbone, which still hurts three weeks later, and no, I wasn’t drinking.

Then I had an allergic reaction to something and broke out in contact dermatitis all over my face and neck, so I’ve been itching for the past two weeks. (And yes Mum, I did go to the doctor.)

Then I had a sore throat and had to have a COVID19 test. Well, I didn’t have to have one, but in our wonderful state, they’re asking anyone with even the mildest symptoms to be tested. It was very easy to do at the drive through clinic five minutes from home and I had the negative result back that night.

There’s more, but I’ll spare you. Needless to say, I’ve been grumpy and not in the best blogging mindset.

So I thought I’d just show you what I’ve been making. And I’m sorry it’s more quaft, but at the moment, I’m just sitting on my (sore) arse and watching reality tv shows about zoos and Alaskans and old episodes of Top Gear and making things. It’s very therapeutic!

First I made a squillion more pincushions and gave them all to Pauline at the Sewing Basket Balmain. She’s selling them at the counter and all funds raised will go to support Achieve Australia disability services, so if you’d like one, please pop in to visit her…

I made three from some denim jeans pockets leftover from my aprons…

Pauline gave me some hessian to play around with, so I made pumpkins. For no reason whatsoever…

Then I made an entire pumpkin patch…

I’m working on hessian potscrubbers – if they’re successful, I’ll write them up. I’ve been trying to figure out an eco-friendly version for a while now.

As I sit and stitch, I’ve been self-medicating with a cheerful mix of Grand Marnier and Cognac (equal parts), sipped from my little fish cup…

And I’ve been mending pants.

Carol’s son Justin insists on stashing his water bottle in his back pocket, so it’s always tearing. It was easier to mend it by hand than machine, as the repair needed to be as close to invisible as possible…

And my neighbour Robbie somehow managed to put a ten inch split down the back of his otherwise new pants. I machine-stitched the split together (using my favourite feather stitch) and then reinforced it with a piece of cotton lace which we rescued from Norma’s wheely bin after she died, making this a proper in-street repair…

So that’s where I’m at right now, folks. Hopefully I’ll have something more interesting to share with you soon, but I just wanted to touch base and let you know that I’m still here. I hope you’re all staying well and safe and happy! ♥

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Cockatoo Island is such an interesting place! We first visited for the Biennale of Sydney 2014, and have been heading back for the event every second year since.

Due to COVID19, the Biennale was initially cancelled this year, but thankfully they’ve now reopened it with extended dates. It’s not as extensive as it has been in previous years, but definitely worth a visit nonetheless. If you’re in Sydney’s inner west, we’ve found the best way to go is via ferry from Drummoyne Wharf – there’s free street parking and it’s only a five minute boat ride (you can actually see the island from the wharf).

The 22nd Biennale of Sydney NIRIN focuses on indigenous, tribal and native art, reflecting spiritual and cultural influences on contemporary art. Here is Brook Andrews’ curatorial statement:

The urgent states of our contemporary lives are laden with unresolved past anxieties and hidden layers of the supernatural. NIRIN is about to expose this, demonstrating that artists and creatives have the power to resolve, heal, dismember and imagine futures of transformation for re-setting the world. Sovereignty is at the centre of these actions, and shines a light on environments in shadow. I hope that NIRIN gathers life forces of integrity to push through often impenetrable confusion.

Optimism from chaos drives artists in NIRIN to resolve the often hidden or ignored urgency surrounding contemporary life.

Here are a few photos from our visit…

Ibrahim Mahama’s No Friend But The Mountains is immersive and imposing. It fills the Turbine Hall with jute sacks…

We loved the works by the Tenant Creek Brio collective, painted on old screens and gaming machines. There is a display at Artspace as well as Cockatoo Island…

My favourite artwork of the day was Latai Taumoepeau’s The Last Resort, created from crushed glass and accompanied by a video of it being stomped and shattered under brick sandals. A poignant and frightening statement on the destruction of fragile saltwater ecosystems and the immediate impact it’s having on vulnerable Pacific Island nations..

re(cul)naissance by Léuli Eshrāghi…

I loved The Uprooted by Anna Boghiguian, with nomadic and rural scenes juxtaposed with the heavy machinery of the power house room. It conveyed a sense of the displacement suffered by refugees and others uprooted from their traditional lifestyles, and the “cultural genocide”, as the artist describes it, that ensues…

Similarly, the many works by the artists of Iltja Ntjarra (Many Hands) Art Centre, on display both at Cockatoo Island and the Art Gallery of NSW, are painted on what were colloquially referred to as “refugee bags”. They make a powerful statement about the deep, systemic issues of homelessness and displacement faced by so many of our indigenous communities…

Lhola Amira’s Philisa: Ditaola, 2018-20 is multi-faceted, with music piped from each curtain. The gentle crackle of Billy Holiday’s Strange Fruit added a surreal feel…

Finally, joyously, Tony Albert’s Healing Land, Remembering Country is presented as a sustainable greenhouse at the very top level of the island. It’s worth the climb to sit inside the structure for a while and reflect on the wonderful space, surrounded by light and growing plants and indigenous basketry…

The Biennale of Sydney has now been extended until September 2020. We still have a couple of venues to visit, but hope to do so in the next month or so! ♥

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The White Rabbit Gallery has reopened again!

Its current exhibition, AND NOW, is a continuation of the gallery’s tenth anniversary celebrations and has been rescheduled to stay open until January 2021, so you have plenty of time to pop in for a visit. As always, the exhibition is free to the public, and there are mandatory check-ins and hand sanitisations at the front door to ensure COVID19 compliance.

As they do for every exhibition, the internal architecture of the gallery has been completely rebuilt, with walls in different places and new rooms constructed to house the different artworks. I’m always raving about the creative genius of David Williams’ curatorial decisions; AND NOW certainly upholds the exemplary standard.

Zhu Jinshi’s The Ship of Time (2018) is a definite highlight…

It’s made up of 14,000 sheets of xuan paper (fireproof rice paper), 1800 pieces of fine bamboo and 2000 cotton threads. Talk to any of the gallery attendants and they’ll tell you that they were all involved in reassembling the work over several months…

A slow walk through the tunnel is permitted, providing visitors are very careful

The gallery is asking guests to comply with the strict COVID19 safety measures outlined on their website, and it’s worth mentioning that they won’t be permitting groups (we went as a couple and that seemed to be fine). Also, there is limited lift access at the moment, and their usual guided tours are on hold for now. Don’t let that stop you from visiting though, because AND NOW is completely brilliant! ♥

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Cape Solander

Last Friday, on a hot tip from my friend and neighbour Nic, Pete and I headed to the Cape Solander Lookout at Kamay Botany Bay National Park. It’s an easy one hour drive from home.

At this time of year (June/July), you can watch humpback whales as they pass by on their annual migration, often coming as close as 200 metres to the coast. We saw a dozen or so out to sea – not close enough for photos, but we spotted tail flukes, and backs breaking the surface, and bushy blow sprays. The official whale watchers told us they’d counted 85 by the time we left, which they were very excited about, as nine years ago they were lucky to see one per day. The recovery in humpback whale numbers in recent years has been phenomenal!

If you’re planning to go, make sure you take binoculars, but leave your pooches at home (no domestic pets allowed). Entry (parking) is $8 for the day and make sure you heed the warnings not to get too close to the cliff edge. In addition to the whales, we also spotted fur seals and a wealth of sea birds – gulls, cormorants and the most amazing diving gannets. Watching them fish was a great treat – they sight their prey under the waves while flying, then pierce the water like arrows shot from a crossbow.

But even without the wildlife, Cape Solander is worth visiting for the sheer majesty of its sandstone formations and rock pools. I don’t have whale photos to share with you, but I hope these make up for it…

The rocks are carved and compressed into the most amazing ridges…

Red iron ore, so characteristic of every part of our Australian landscape, colours the sandstone…

Pete and I spent an hour trying to capture the beautifully serene rock pools in photos…

It’s been years since I’ve been to Kurnell (as we still refer to the area), but as a child, my family often spent weekends there, playing in the rock pools and watching the ocean. It was a joy to revisit, and we’re aiming to get there again before the whale migration ends! ♥

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Cornelia Parker

I haven’t really missed a whole lot during Sydney’s COVID lockdown. Friends and family, of course, but shopping, dining out, and going on holidays? Not so much.

What I have missed though is the art. We are blessed in our city to have access to an amazing array of traditional and contemporary art for free – a fact which has always astounded overseas visitors. The Art Gallery of NSW, Museum of Contemporary Art and the privately owned White Rabbit Gallery all offer free public admission, although specific exhibitions at the AGNSW and MCA are often ticketed.

The COVID crisis has been brutal on our art establishments – the MCA wrote to members recently asking for donations as they were 40% down on income (largely due to the ongoing loss in revenue from venue hire), Carriageworks has gone into voluntary administration, and both the annual Vivid Light Show and Biennale of Sydney were cancelled.

Thankfully, the Biennale is reopening in June, and we’re very excited! All of their art spaces except one will open again to the public (there’s more information on their website).

Photo from Biennale website. Image: Lhola Amira, Philisa: Ditaola, 2018-20. Installation view for the 22nd Biennale of Sydney (2020), Cockatoo Island. Commissioned by the Biennale of Sydney with generous assistance from the Sherman Foundation, and assistance from NIRIN 500 patrons. Courtesy the artist and SMAC Gallery, Cape Town / Johannesburg / Stellenbosch. Photograph: Jessica Maurer

. . . . .

The MCA will reopen on 16 June, with strict social distancing rules in place, and the White Rabbit will start up again on 6 June. If you’ve been reading along for a while, you’ll know that I adore the White Rabbit. During this time of isolation, they uploaded virtual tours of their present and past exhibitions here. It’s a fun way to while away a bit of time!

At the very end of last year, when Australia was in the midst of terrible bushfires and we were all feeling incredibly sad, Pete took me to the Cornelia Parker exhibition at the MCA. And I remember how happy I was to be there – a brief respite to fill my mind and heart with awe and wonder, and to escape temporarily from the worries of the day. Maybe that’s where the true gift of great art lies, in its capacity to transport us away from our everyday lives for just a little while.

As I was tidying up my phone, I found photos from that exhibition and thought I’d share them with you. I’ve included the information boards where I’ve had them.

Cold Dark Matter: An Exploded View filled an entire room with suspended objects mid-explosion and the most glorious shadows…

Subconscious of a Monument was one of my favourites – as a collector of rocks and fossils, I loved that the artist took what would otherwise have been construction debris and gave it life of its own…

And finally, I adored Magna Carta (An Embroidery). This tiny photo doesn’t begin to do it justice, as the finished work was huge and the product of over 200 contributors.

Happily, I found the accompanying video that was shown at the exhibition on YouTube. It’s definitely worth grabbing a cuppa and spending ten minutes enjoying it! ♥

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