Saturday, 28 January 2012

The good news and the bad news

The good news is that I've had three days in Sydney (on top of my week in Brisbane), staying with my NZ friend Sheila in Paddington. Paddo (we abbreviate everything in Australia) is a very upmarket suburb full of streets with charming 19th century terrace houses.

Sheila and I wandered the streets, window shopping, buying and eating delicious food, drinking NZ Sauvignon Blanc wines, and enjoying the ambience of this sophisticated and cosmopolitan area.

Australia Day, 26 January, was celebrated on Thursday, with parties, picnics, lots of drinking, and of course, the obligatory Sydney fireworks. We were just spectators, spending most of our day checking out the great bookshops in the area.

Next day I set out for my longish trip home, by bus and train. My car was at the railway station - and this is where the bad news comes in. Surrounded by shattered glass, with the back passenger's window completely smashed in, beer bottle in the glass on the back seat, and the ignition disemboweled, my car was a very sad sight.

Fortunately my family came to the rescue but while I was waiting for them a local security guard drove up to tell me he'd disturbed two young drunken men last night as they were trying to hot wire my car. They got away but he said one had an Australia Day flag poking out from his pocket. So much for their Australia Day celebration. Too much alcohol, no brains.

My son managed to wire the ignition back together so that he was able to drive the car home. Eddie, aged 2, commented "oh no, Cawol's car broken". That about sizes it up. Could have been worse of course- if they hadn't been disturbed they'd probably have gone for a joy ride then set it alight. So, the glass is half full...

Photos are of terrace houses in Paddington, sunrise over Paddo rooftops, and my sad little car.

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Brisbane sun shower

Or as Leone said as the rain appeared through the sunshine "It's a monkey's wedding", a much more charming expression than "sun shower". We got wet but it was quite pleasant and very cooling. This was on another excursion to the city to visit the Art Gallery of Queensland and the State Library.

All the galleries, the Museum of Qld and the State Library, are grouped together pretty much on the riverbank, which meant some serious damage was sustained during the Brisbane floods a year ago. However it makes a great cultural precinct and is easily accessible by public transport.

Leone and I wandered around the Australian paintings, many familiar to me and some new. My parents were very enthusiastic about the arts and I was fortunate to be taken to galleries and theatre from earliest childhood. I feel very much at home in art galleries and have enjoyed the variety offered in Brisbane with GOMA and AGQ within a few days.

Cameras are allowed in the galleries, though not in the paying exhibitions, which is fair enough. I did take a photo of a Margaret Olley painting and I hope it's okay to show it here. I loved a metal found object sculpture, took some photos, but couldn't find a name for the artist. Nor could I find it online but no doubt someone will tell me. I hope. I also took a photo of Leone at the great circle of stones in the foyer of the Art Gallery.
Moving on to the State Library, we went to a delightful travelling exhibition called "Look! The art of Australian picture books today". From Victoria, Look! features original artworks by more than 40 of Australia's most talented illustrators. Once again I was left wishing I could draw.

Out then and onto the street to get to the movies at The Palace Theatre. This is when it rained -very tropical. We saw The Descendants with George Clooney. For some reason we were expecting this to be a comedy so I was surprised to find myself crying a couple of times. NOT a comedy. We enjoyed it and who knew the Hawaii could be so beautiful away from the traffic.

My long awaited workshops have been cancelled for lack of support. After my initial reaction of Nooooooo! I snapped out of it and started booking myself into similar workshops. So, no Art is you..... for me in March. Hopefully I'll make it into some substitutes.

Friday, 20 January 2012

Mt Coot-tha Botanical Gardens

Still in Brisbane (hot and so very steamy), I had the great pleasure to meet a longtime blogging friend, and fellow member of the artists book collective Book Art Object, Amanda Watson-Will.

Yesterday Amanda, Leone and I visited Mt Coot-tha Botanic Gardens for a walk in the shade followed by a welcome break in the coffee shop. There was lots of artist book talk and I felt more inspired to get back into making books than I have for a while. I would like to combine my new interest in rusty things and assemblage art with my old love of book binding - which will entail a complete reorganization of my studio. Organization is not my strong point, let alone reorganizing anything... Anyway, back to the Gardens.

Always a reptile lover, I was delighted to see several lizards crossing the paths or sitting statue-still in the shade. There is a large colony of Water Dragons in the Gardens so I am assuming that's what they were. Brisbane is home to Bearded Dragons too, so perhaps we saw both. Whichever they were, they were completely uninterested in the human invaders, barely giving us a glance.

Pictures follow, I suppose in whatever order Blogger chooses to place them. I apologize for the blurry dragon. He (I think "he" because he had a reddish underside) was a bit too far away for the iPad to cope with. The photos are of one of the ponds, a cycad, a lily I haven't yet identified, a charming koala sculpture, my blurry lizard, and Amanda and Leone by the river.

When I return home to my desktop Mac I'll try to improve on the dragon pic, and I'll add links. I love being able to use the iPhone and iPad to blog but it's just not the same as the full Blogger. If you have any hints I'd love to hear them.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Matisse and more...

Back to blogging after a very long break. Belated Happy New Year greetings - I hope it will be a good one for us all.

I'm in Brisbane, capital city of the State of Queensland, familiar to many from the dreadful floods just a year ago. The city looks wonderful now but it is a tribute to the courage and tenacity of Queenslanders that their ongoing recovery is forging ahead.

I'm staying with my good bookbinding friend Leone, and today we visited GOMA, the Gallery of Modern Art. "Matisse Drawing Life" was the main exhibition and it was marvelous. Of course. Most of the works were from the Bibliotheque nationale de France, a wonderful opportunity to see more than 300 drawings, prints and illustrated books by one of the greatest artists if the 20th century. To be able to draw like that!

Two other exhibitions that we really enjoyed were extremely colorful and joyous. First was the Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama : Look Now, See Forever. Rooms of mirrored sculptures, strange but beautiful flowers, huge paintings, red spotty things led us into a gallery of SPOTS. On entry we were given colorful pages of stickers - spots large and small. We were able to stick the spots anywhere in the gallery, walls, floor, furniture. The result? Spectacular!

The other exhibition was called "We Miss You Magic Land". Pip and Pop, artists from Perth, Western Australia, have made a magical, glittering landscape, a miniature world overhung with huge jellyfish-like beings, enormous egg-shapes, and as delightful to the adult audience as to the enthralled children.

I'm typing this on my iPhone so not sure if my photos will appear in order or at all. If not, I'll try again when I get home.