Wednesday, December 31, 2008

See ya in 2009

Happy New Year everyone!

We're off to the beach.....

Tuesday, December 30, 2008


While some of my good friends are shivering in snowy conditions, here in Australia it's mid-summer. In Melbourne we've had the mildest (coolest) December in almost a decade, and I'm thankful that we've not been surrounded by the ominous, eerie glow of bushfire smoke or struggling through 40-degree days.

It is picnic and BBQ season though, so I was thrilled to find these beautiful bamboo bowls over at Re:modern. I love plain bamboo or cornstarch veneerware as a sensible alternative to plastic disposable products anyway, but these manage to up the anti in the style stakes!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Tall tales and true

Oh my! This little girl, relating an epic saga of Winnie the Pooh and Tigger and monkeys and crocodiles and witches and lions and hippos that are allergic to magic, could melt the iciest of hearts...

Once upon a time... from Capucha on Vimeo (via PTML).

How now, Mr Brown?

Earlier this year I was shocked to hear of Iceland's stock exchange values plunging 75% overnight. Not only is the nation financially devastated, but its future is further threatened by baffling and senseless British 'security' policy.

I encourage you to pop over to this site and offer your support to the people of Iceland, who are, I'm sure, NOT a nation of terrorists. You can also check out a gallery of peaceful protest postcards here.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

And so that was Christmas ...

We had beautiful, warm sunny weather,

lots of fine, fresh food and wine,

and fun times with loved ones.

Some willow branches served as a simple Christmas tree

next to a little nativity scene - baby cheeses in a manger:

I sewed some hand- and finger-puppets for two dear little boys

... and babysat my mum's spoodle.

So all is well here. Thank you for all your kind Christmas wishes, and may year's end be a peaceful one for you.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

I would like to wish you all a very happy Christmas....

It's been wonderful to make so many new friends in blogland, and as dodgy as it may sound to make friends online, I just love this new way of armchair-travelling and sharing ideas.

So, to my friends and family near and far, best wishes for the Christmas season and a safe and happy New Year.

Eat, drink, and be merry!

(pic from here)

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas traditions

One of my favourite Christmas traditions as a youngster was watching Bing and Bowie sing 'The Little Drummer Boy' on telly - it's so cheesy! (not sure if the ABC still broadcasts it?).

Although I've spent most of my life in Australia, my family still maintains some European traditions. We always celebrate Christmas on the 24th, and while I was growing up these celebrations were large, colourful family affairs, filled with delicious European dishes, exotic drinks and much singing in German and Russian (helped along for the adults by some old-style vodka ... Nasdrovje!).

My cousins, sister and I always performed some kind of song or play (often in German) before opening our presents... this one sticks in my mind for some reason:

Lieber, guter Weihnachtsmann,
zieh die langen Stiefel an,
kämme deinen weißen Bart,
mach dich auf die Weihnachtsfahrt.

Komm doch auch in unser Haus,
packe die Geschenke aus.
Ach, erst das Sprüchlein wolltest du?
Ja, ich kann es, hör mal zu:

Lieber, guter Weihnachtsmann,
guck mich nicht so böse an.
Stecke deine Rute ein,
Ich will lieb und artig sein!

The song entreats Father Christmas to hurry up and come and deliver presents. The German Father Christmas is a little more stern than the English/Aussie version - he carries a big stick to deal with naughty kids, so I was always a little bit nervous about the whole thing.

My wish for you is for a very happy, safe and cosy Christmas, and that the New Year brings prosperity and joy.

All the best ....

Monday, December 22, 2008

Eleanor Grosch and Rica Takada

Eleanor Grosch's digital illustrations are reminiscent of Charley Harper's beautiful prints:

... while Rica Takada's sunny pictures remind me of my childhood in a seaside town:

Pretty, no?

Starting to feel inspired ...

These lovely creations were all found on Etsy and Flickr (click on the pic for a closer look). I'll post the makers' details soon.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Big things

Last year, when this very ugly giant koala/souvenir shop was advertised for sale (at the bargain price of around $350,000),

my friends and I had an amusing conversation about the weird phenomenon of 'big things' being built as tourist attractions. They're just so dodgy ....

Some well-known 'big things' in Australia include the Big Banana, the Big Pineapple, the Big Gumboot, and the Big Merino (sheep), and I recently drove past the Big Lobster on my way to the Coorong.

Two of the more disappointing 'big things' that I've visited are the Big Orange, in Berri, South Australia (basically a big orange ball with a staircase inside it),

and the Big Shell, in Tewantin, Queensland, Australia (which wasn't really very big, from memory).
Today I read about a natural 'big' phenomenon in Arizona, USA ....

Have you visited any 'big things'?

Friday, December 19, 2008

In stitches

I've been working on a secret project for two special little boys this week - will post more later if it works out OK. Here are a couple of the toys that I've dropped recently in local parks for the Toy Society:

Gus likes giving away toys as well ...

Sticks and stones

"When I make a work, I often take it to the very edge of its collapse, and that's a very beautiful balance...."

Realising that many friends are not familiar with the work of Andy Goldsworthy has prompted me to write a little more about him here. It's difficult though, because I find it almost impossible to articulate the beauty and sensuality of his work, or the intensity with which it can elicit emotional responses. His sculpture is a sensitive, intuitive response to nature, light, time, growth, the seasons and the earth.

Wikipedia offers a rather bland description of the artist, but I would heartily recommend reading some of his many books or watching the documentary Rivers and Tides, so that you may understand the story behind his pieces and the conditions under which they were made.

Goldsworthy's sculptures are created with natural materials, such as local rock, stone, leaves, sticks, or ice, and are often held together with thorns, sand, woven sticks or graduated sizes of the main material source. Many are ephemeral, designed to be washed or blown away by rain, wind, tides, or time. He uses extraordinary colour, pattern and textural combinations, seeking out the brightest leaves to contrast with surrounding natural elements, or blending tones with a subtlety and sensitivity that highlights and honours the complexity of natural forms.

An Amazon editor elaborates:

"Andy Goldsworthy is a particularly gentle and sensitive artist: he stitches together leaves to forms lines, often placed in water, or makes circular slabs of snow, or entwines twigs in an arc. He creates a delicate spiral of chestnut leaves, called Autumn Horn; he pins bright yellow dandelions on willowherb stalks in a circle, on bluebells; he makes lines and cairns, like Richard Long, of pebbles; he makes hollow, circular structures, like igloos, from slate, leaves, driftwood and bracken; he makes long wavy ridges in Arizonian desert sand; he makes arches, globes, hollow spheres, slabs, spires, spirals and star-shapes out of snow and ice.... The sculptures exude tranquillity, an early morning calm..."

I can't do justice to his work in a simple little blog post. Here are a couple of excerpts from the documentary to provide you with a glimpse:

Oh - I'm not sure how to embed a Googlevideo - click here for a lovely little Autumn piece.

More video snippets on YouTube
Andy Goldsworthy Digital Catalogue
General images of land art

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Three Potato Four

I found this lovely shop today, via Apartment Therapy NY ... it reminds me a little of Arthur's Circus in North Melbourne.

As well as toys and homewares, Three Potato Four stocks a prints by various artists, including two of my faves - Geninne Zlatlkis and Matt Cipov. I guess it makes sense, as they all share a certain aesthetic style.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


I'm known for my interest in 'difficult' cinema, often favouring films that explore bleak, political, or sad personal, themes. This isn't to say that I don't enjoy the odd witty comedy or lavish celebration of beauty, but for some reason I more frequently watch films that are disquieting rather than comforting.

Today I saw 'Hunger ', the directorial debut of Irish artist Steve McQueen, starring Michael Fassbender as IRA hero Bobby Sands. My head is still reeling several hours later. This was one of the most compelling and harrowing films I've seen in a long time, and at one stage I didn't think I'd be able to continue watching. I'm glad I did though because it's a brilliant piece of cinema, demonstrating the exceptional talents of the director and actors alike.

When it screened at Cannes, some audience members walked out, while others gave it a standing ovation. I think David and Margaret sum it up well - the film is quite extraordinary.

It's not easy to recommend 'Hunger' as some people might find it too gruelling. However, if you're drawn to powerful cinema experiences, definitely check it out (and let me know what you think!).

Click here to read a review from the UK Telegraph.


"Nests, coccoons, hives and lairs" by Patrick Dougherty:

These remind me a little of the work of my favourite sculptor, Andy Goldsworthy.

(Nests found here)

... also ...

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