18 in 18

This year I am intending to broaden out my horizons by doing different things. You can check out the list in the original post. They are not wildly adventurous things ~ I am not intending to do 9 different types of extreme sports. In fact sport of any stripe doesn’t get a mention! The intention was to extend the range of activities that I already do, to make me think outside the box.

And that’s how it turned out in January. Here’s an update of what I have crossed off the list so far.

I’ve had one (out of four) short trips away, to stay at the delightful, but busy, seaside town of Lorne, along the Great Ocean Road. Magnificent views, and very steep hills!

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I’ve made one (out of five) things for other people. My friend Denise and I had a delightful afternoon making cushion covers for her dining chairs. My help was also her Christmas present 😊

It has been rather hot to have the oven on, but I did get a plum cake cooked. That’s one cake (out of 8) cooked. Looks fancy with the icing sugar, and it tasted okay too.

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Looking for music has made me aware of the music around me. I have found one and have leads I wish to follow up, to make up my nine for the year. I may even surpass my target. Any suggestions? Darlingside was the group I came upon. I love the fiddle mandolin they use. If you like them too, do read about them on their website. It made me smile.

I am a fifth of the way through reading ten biographies or memoirs. But that’s not surprising, I am an avid reader. (I am going to post about my favourite books from 2017, hopefully before 2018 ends!)

Woman on the mountain by Sharon Munro was one of those books you read at a holiday home. The title sums it up….she lives an isolated, sustainable life on a mountain in the Australian Alps. She writes charmingly about the wild life around her, including the snakes, about bushfires and solar panels and how she got to the mountain in the first place.

In Four quarters of light Brian Keenan was searching during his four months of travel through Alaska for an answer to how wilderness impacts on people, especially their inner life. What does wilderness teach us about ourselves?

My intention when I decided to visit 12 art galleries and exhibitions during the year was to extend my knowledge of galleries, with an eye to finding some that might want me to exhibit. The two that I have visited aren’t new ones, but, hey, I make the rules, I can break the rules. I went to the Incinerator Gallery to see an exhibition of quilts put on by the Essendon Quilters, a local quitting group. The was other Romancing the Skull at the Art Gallery of Ballarat. I blogged about it here.

I am on track for movies ~ two out of 13. 3 billboards outside Ebbing Missouri and The Post. Both highly recommended.

The hills in Lorne were certainly different places to walk, and I also walked around Carlton admiring the terrace houses and then to Royal Park. So two out of 14 done. Wth this category I want to explore new places, the places that I have thought “I must go and walk around there” but never quite made it. I hope to knock a few (well, 12 more!) off the list this year.

Visiting 16 different places is another one to make me go beyond what I know. So I took the 96 tram to St Kilda. Not a big adventure, but now I know what the houses that I see so often from the car look like from behind.

Sketching outdoors can make you feel rather exposed as passerbys can, and do, look and comment. Usually it’s positive, like the guy in the coffee shop who said “You’re an artist!” I hope I got the punctuation right and he wasn’t saying “You’re an artist???” So, to have sketched in public three times is an achievement. I did some sketches down at Lorne, once in a cafe and then with my friend Janey at the NGV, along with about 100 other people! They were all following the lead of the artist while Janey and I did our own thing. I found this imperious chap.

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Lastly, my letter writing. I sent off some postcards just before New Year, so I am not counting those. However, I have sent off 3 cards and letters, only 15 more to go. 💌

So, off to a good start. Now to keep up the moment and not let these things drown in the sea of ordinary life. How are your goals going? Still active or going under?!

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Skulls have been a theme for me lately

It’s partly just co-incidence but I have seen a few skulls lately. Let me be quick to reassure you…not real ones! Artistic ones.

Firstly I was at Victoria’s premier gallery, the NGV, to participate in a drawing session. More of that another time. Towards the end of the session I wandered into the next room where enormous skulls were heaped up. Ron Mueck has created 100 large scale sculptures of the human skull.

The Gallery’s brochure says:

…the work can be read as a study of mortality, recalling the Paris catacombs as well as the mass graves resulting from human atrocities in Cambodia, Rwanda, Srebrenica and Iraq.

They are part of the Gallery’s Triennial exhibition, a truely amazing experience. And a very successful one. The Gallery has been packed with people all the holidays.

My second experience with skulls was at the Art Gallery of Ballarat, another of Victoria’s top galleries. I was up there to have the meeting about our exhibition, “Beckler’s Botanical Bounty: The flora of Menindee” opening late February until late May (shameless plug!). After the meeting I went into “Romancing the Skull”. No prizes for guessing it was an exhibition devoted to skulls in art.

The exhibition explores a range of themes including the skull as a reminder of our mortality, the use of the skull in addressing social and political issues, and the skull and crossbones as a symbol of piracy and rebellion.

If you are quick, you can see the exhibition before it closes on this Sunday 28th.

The variety of pieces was astonishing. I now have a little understanding of the what it takes to put on an exhibition, and I am flabbergasted at the work that must have gone on to pull all these works into one coherent display. These were some of my favourites….

Sam Jinks: Divide (Self-portrait)

I am not sure who created these glass coffins, but my friend Mali Moir and John Pastoriza Pinol created the beautiful, botanic skulls below by painting on vellum. (They are sitting in glass domes.)

 

And Louise Saxon’s amazing work, Vanitas #2 ~ The Twitcher. I have written before about another exhibition of her work. She constructs her pieces from textiles and pins them into place.

And lastly, the one above is Dale Cox’s work Deadlock.

Well, not quite lastly, because here is one for the quilters amongst us….

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It is Lucas Grogan’s The Shroud, and is, according to the wall label, a diary of his travels through Europe, inscribed with his personal impressions and experiences. Curious!

So many different ways to interpret our mortality. Thought provoking, but also beautiful works, and at times quite humorous. Would you have gone to an exhibition featuring skulls?

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Beckler’s Botanical Bounty: the flora of Menindee

It’s a while since I wrote anything about the Beckler’s Botanical Bounty Project that I am involved with.

Very briefly…..I am part of a group of botanic artists who, since 2010 have gone annually to Menindee, a small town in outback new South Wales. We are collecting and then painting the specimens collected by Hermann Beckler, the doctor on the Burke and Wills Expedition, in 1860. Our website will give you a good overview while you can read more about my personal experiences on these posts.

As well as collecting and painting all 120 plants on his list, we have always had the dream of having an exhibition of the Project. Last year (or was it 2016?) we were accepted by the Art Gallery of Ballarat!

Since then we, with a big input from the fabulous staff at the Gallery, have been busy with the tasks needed to get the Exhibition up.

  • 40 paintings have been selected, scanned, mounted and framed
  • 4 cabinets with objects showing our themes of Art, Science, History and Country have been organised
  • Essays have been written for the catalogue, along with artist bios and statements about their plants
  • A slide show and narration (including bird song from the area!) has been produced. It will show in the smaller room off the main room.
  • Our Opening has been organised
  • Publicity is well underway

Now, we are about 5 weeks away from the Opening!!!!

So, if you are in Victoria (Ballarat is only an hour’s train ride from Melbourne 😉 ) organise some friends to come to see the Exhibition.  And if you can’t make it tell a friend who lives a little closer. The cafe in the Gallery is very good too!

Beckler’s Botanical Bounty: the Flora of Menindee

25th February to 27th May 2018

Art Gallery of Ballarat

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Detail of my Menindee plant ~ Cullen australasicum

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Wishing you joy

I suspect that there are many of you who, like me, are rather glad to see the back of 2017. It was a year of trouble and strife, and sometimes the only way to stay sane was to turn off the news.

But of course there were many positives too. I loved reading your blogs about your gardens, your creative works and your general ramblings. Even the posts that were despairing about the world were coming from a place of humanity and a desire to see a better world than the one being built around us. In Australia we finally have marriage equality and in Victoria dying with dignity legislation. And then there was the birth of my great-nephew Archie ~ sigh.

So thank you for helping me get through the year and for supporting my art in so many ways.

My wish for 2018 is that we all find joy. Let’s do it and celebrate the things that bring us that joy.

And more on next year…..

I am not a fan of setting goals. James Clear has good reasons why Big Goals don’t work. I am going to do something a little different in 2018, an idea that I have borrowed from Dr Snail over at the Snail of Happiness. Lots of you follow her blog (if you don’t, you should pop over and have a look) so you might remember her 17 in 17 list. She may have borrowed the idea from someone else, but following that trail is not on my to-do list today! I won’t explain the concept; my list should fill you in.

My idea is to include things that I want to do more of. For example, I always mean to get to the movies, but for some reason never quite make it. So now I am going to encourage myself to reach my target of 13. If I don’t make it, then at least I will have seen some. Some were easy to put against a number ~ 18 letters seems to be the perfect number. I am not sure about some ~ making even 3 garments might be a stretch, and baking 8 cakes or biscuits….well. I am allowing myself to put a couple together, such as sometimes combining the walk with visiting a different place.

So, here is my 18 in 18 list.

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On Boxing Day we workshopped my list (don’t you love family involvement?!), which was great because people gave me suggestions; I wouldn’t have thought of a music one. Mum, who loves to record things, suggested that I use a book to keep track of what I have done. So I set one up, because I love to record things too! She also suggested that I illustrate it, but I’m pretty confident that’s not going to happen.

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Every so often through the year I will tell you how I am going. Blogging about it will keep me accountable. And my Mum will expect updates as well 😊

What do you think about new year goals and lists? Some people, like Cathy, have words that keep them focussed for the year. What do you do? What would you put as #1 and #18?

Whatever you do, and how ever you do it, I hope your life is filled with people you love, and who love you back. May you find JOY.

Happy New Year Friends xoxo

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Playing, with purpose

I have been playing with fabrics this year, playing and stitching and fraying, to create abstracted tree tops.

I have been thinking of them as samplers, because then I didn’t have to worry about them being something real, something finished. There were smaller ones (10 x 10 cm) that I liked, larger ones (20 x 20 cm) that lacked tension and then 20 x 15 cm ones that I felt worked the best.

Then, I put a couple of the 20 x 20 ones together and thought “Hmmmm, how about three of them next to each other?” And they worked in a row when they didn’t work as singles. (Apologies for the terrible photo.)

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I put batting behind each square

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and then pinned everything onto the backing material ~ pins everywhere!

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Then it was time to tack it all down

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and hand stitch.

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You can see that I have continued the running stitches between the two panels. It was needed to unify the piece.

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Now, I can hear my quilting bloggy friends thinking “Ah, yes, I wondered when Anne would realise she was a quilter at heart”! There are certainly quilting aspects to this piece, and I have enjoyed putting it together.

I have a question for those quilters (and anyone else who wants to throw in their opinion into the ring 😉 )….. what do I do with the back of the piece? This is what it looks like, so you can see why it needs to be hidden. I am thinking of covering the back with the same fabric, but happy to take suggestions about something else ~ felt? I don’t want to machine sew it, and am sort of happy to hand sew it. But would some form of glue work? I don’t want it bleeding through to the front. Any thoughts very welcome.

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Sacred things

And just in case this morning’s reblog about Trump was too bleak, I am ending the day with this glorious post from Geoff Park. He captures the most stunning birds from Central Victoria. Enjoy!

Natural Newstead

This is sacred habitat.

Aulluvial-terraces Herb-rich Woodland in the Mia Mia, 9th December 2017

This is a sacred tree.

The nest site in a River Red-gum

This is a sacred hollow.

The hollow showing evidence of occupation

Meet the care takers.

Sacred Kingfisher about to enter the nest, 9th December 2017

The female above the nest site

Here’s the male

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One More Step Back Into Darkness …

Remember: Democracy dies in darkness

Sorry to post something like this first thing on Monday morning, but like Jill Dennison, I can’t let this go unnoticed. The links she makes from Trump to Fascism are all too close.

Filosofa's Word

You know how I sometimes say that a headline made me jaw drop?  This headline sent a very cold chill down my spine, and not in a good sort of way:

CDC gets list of forbidden words: Fetus, transgender, diversity

“The Trump administration is prohibiting officials at the nation’s top public health agency from using a list of seven words or phrases — including “fetus” and “transgender” — in official documents being prepared for next year’s budget.

Policy analysts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta were told of the list of forbidden terms at a meeting Thursday with senior CDC officials who oversee the budget, according to an analyst who took part in the 90-minute briefing. The forbidden terms are “vulnerable,” “entitlement,” “diversity,” “transgender,” “fetus,” “evidence-based” and “science-based.”The Washington Post, 15 December 2017  

Vulnerable?  They are not allowed to use the word “vulnerable”??? …

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At last, Marriage Equality

Last week the Australian Parliament voted in a bill to say that marriage was between two people, not just a man and a woman.

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It sounds so simple, but the right-wing in the Parliament put up every possible barrier to stop it. I won’t dwell on that, but rejoice that now all relationships are recognised before the law.

David Marr, a journalist who calls out cant and hypocrisy, was on the panel of The Drum, a current affairs program, when the final vote happened in Parliament. This clip posted  on Facebook shows his pride and emotion, and is interspersed with images of the aftermath in the House of Representatives. It is a moving moment.

Marr is so right to point out that in his lifetime he has seen the change from imprisonment for homosexual sex through to recognition of everyone’s relationships through marriage equality. And he is right to honour the men, women and trans, those warriors, who have fought for rights for the LGBTQI community.

Behind these scenes of jubilation is a long and proud tradition of fighting for rights, from Stonewall and the beginning of the Gay Liberation Front through campaigns to stop discrimination of gay men and increase funding during the AIDS epidemic to Same Sex Marriage. Behind these campaigns, and many more, have been men, women and trans who have been prepared to stand up and demand their rights at home, in their workplaces and in society.

Let’s not forget the suffering too ~ the beatings, deaths, suicides and stunted lives of many in the LGBTQI community.

Rejoice, but remember.

If you would like to watch something uplifting and heart-in-the-right-place-warming these holidays, I would suggest Pride. It is a movie about the support gays and lesbians gave to a mining village during the long miners’ strike in Britain in 1984. This is a great article to give background to the story.

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Pesky possums*

* Warning: alliteration ahead!

Pesky possums have been a part of life in Melbourne for as long as I can remember. I grew up in a house next to a park, so we always had possums playing. They loved to chase each other around the roof, sounding like marauding hordes. Then there is the unholy scream they make, enough to chill your bones.

I well remember one time when we were woken by our dog, Galahad barking on the front verandah. We had long ago dropped the “Sir” from his name, as he did not live up to his gentle, ethereal namesake. So image our surprise to find that a baby possum had ousted Galahad from the door mat and was keeping this big dog at bay. I felt sorry for this wee, frightened creature and went to pick it up. My reward was a bite on my finger, and later a tetanus injection that hurt more than the bite! From memory the possum scampered off, and probably grew up to be one of the marauding hordes on the roof.

Then I moved to my own house and I would listen smugly to gardening shows where there were inevitably complaints about possums.

“The possums have eaten all my rosebuds. What can I do?”

“The possums eat the rind off the lemons and leave the fruit to rot. What can I do?”

“The possums…..” “The possums….”

I say smugly because I didn’t have pesky possums. My roses and lemon tree had many other problems, but not possum problems. However, the Gardening Gods do not like smug gardeners…….and you know where I am going with this……..

Yep, I have possums, pesky possums.

My pesky possums are not pilfering the roses or the lemons (and that is not smugness ~ just give them time!). No they are plundering the vine.  And this is a problem because it is one of our main forms of summer cooling.

You may remember me talking about the vine before. We have ceiling fans rather than air conditioning, and rely on the vine to cover and shade the eastern side of the house. It’s been a great system as the morning sun doesn’t get a chance to beat into the house. But now the possums have come to play, and they just love to nibble the new shoots of the vine down to little nubs.

The weather has been hot this November ~ 36º today. We seem to have gone straight from the cold of Winter to the heat of Summer, without Spring in between. We are missing the covering of the vine.

So, I am trying to out-fox the pesky possums. Surely with some human ingenuity and the rampant growth of the vine I can get the tendrils up the wires. My thoughts are that if I can overwhelm the possums with young shoots some of them will sneak past and take hold. Armed with a ball of string and a rake I have been tying and training, trying to keep the young shoots away from places where the possums can reach out to take a nibble.

This is the state of the vine:

If you look hard you can see the string amongst the tangle of tendrils.

At the moment I think it is nil all, but it’s only half-time! And a long hot Summer ahead of us. I will let you know the final score!

Other gardening news….

It is time for the jacarandas to flower. Again I have written about them before.

I have had a delightful volunteer in the front garden, in among the onions!

A red poppy was a delightful surprise, and I wonder where she came from.

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Another adventure in the pipeline

Much of my time lately has been taken up with painting our hallway. Our house is an older Victorian terrace, with a loooong hall — over 11 metres — and ceilings of about 3 metres. It has been waiting to be painted for quite a few years now. Why it hasn’t happened is a story not worth telling…sufficient to say that the Fella and I made the decision in October that we would do the work. And work we have.

My job is the fiddly bits — the edges where the wall and ceiling meet, and the architraves and skirting boards. These were painted in gloss paint, which had to be sanded, undercoated and two coats of the top colour applied. While these boards are not the originals, I did choose them many years ago to closely match the originals I had to remove. So they are fancy, with fiddly curves and dips to sand.

Now we have lovely clean, white walls and slightly off white architraves and skirting boards. Well, the latter are almost all done. They are painted in a colour called “Pale Lady”. Fortunately the colour was perfect, as I think I would have bought the paint for the name alone. I am sure there are pale Victorian lady ghosts lurking in the house somewhere!

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I had a friend’s birthday morning tea, which I set up in the hall to celebrate!

You can see that the floor is still to happen, so the skirting boards are loose until we get that sorted. Now to the last few pieces of board to sand and paint.

But that’s not the adventure I am thinking about…..

The Monday before the Melbourne Cup Day holiday the Fella and I took off down the length of the Mornington Peninsular. It is the eastern arm that circles Port Phillip Bay and we went to Portsea, right at the tip of the peninsular.

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Why? Well, the local council has an Artist in Residence Programme down there. You may remember my Artist in Residency stay on Flinders Island a couple of years ago, and how that began my obsession interest with melaleuca trees. I am very attracted to the idea of having weeks away from my normal routine, where all I have to do is practise my art.

And imagine doing that in this cottage!

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And the view of the cottage from the lookout

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The view the other way, across Port Phillip Bay to the Bellarine Peninsular.

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We had a sneak peek in the cottage….

and I can see myself working here.

To top it off, the cottage is at the edge of the Mornington Peninsular National Park. The environment is coastal heathland, with trees and bushes to excite my creativity. Now, to get the application in, and cross my fingers that it is accepted, so that this sign will mean me!

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