“We played your song to John Lee Hooker, and he liked it”Matt Taylor remembers being told.
Chain performing in Melbourne at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl in the 80’s
In 1971 Sunbury, tried to deliver a concert like Woodstock, but apart from being an outdoor concert, the two had little in common and most sources will confer that theirs was a ‘Love-in’ and ours was a ‘Drink-on’; yet for $1 you could enjoy Chain and Phil Manning blowing the breeze with cool blues and sweet guitar. Decades later they are together in Chain, playing in St Kilda at MEMO, just doing their stuff…living music.
Chain is like a Classic Harley Davidson, it doesn’t grow old but rather more impressive. I don’t doubt that the crowd on Friday night were just as alive to the music as they could ever have been. The artists ability hadn’t dimmed nor had their creativity faded, they were effortless, clean sound welded together with musical precision . They are not an old band regurgitating one hit wonders, this is a band of genuine artists perfecting their craft.
There was a mixed crowd of those that grew up with the music and younger folk that were new to it.
“It’s not an age thing man, you love them for their music and like them because they are good at their music”Josh (20something)
Matt Taylors relaxed and inviting stage presence between songs gave the night an unexpected charm. The session closed with ‘I remember when I was young’ and it set the crowd alight.
The Victorian Snow Fields experienced a long season with full coverage to delight skiers that could enjoy skiing in fine weather.
The lure of fun on the slopes draws Melbournians out of the urban web and into the quiet melancholy of a country morn. Off to Buller for three glorious days.
‘Another crystal clear and sparkling day here on the mountain. It will climb to 9 degrees today so will feel delicious in the sunshine. SPF your nose, get out early for the crunchy snow and enjoy a mild Spring day’
Snow borders spend more times on their behinds than those that prefer the dual drive, however the competent make it look easy and provide entertainment for those moments between chair-lifts.
Mount Buller is Melbourne’s closest mountain and locals claim that this is the best season they have had since 1986. The easy access encourages families but I would not recommend it as a learners destination due to its steep drops, the green runs turn into blue runs and spill into black runs. No matter how green you are, you will find yourself on an advanced run to make your way to a lift, back up the mountain. The ‘Family Run’ is a blue run with sharp black drops. If you suffer from vertigo head off to the Burnt Hut or the Mercedes Run but for those that love a black run with speed and tight turns this is your mountain.
Most Ski parents have no comprehension of danger and some take their kids to the Summit. The offspring of snow mums learn to ski when they can walk, or as one mum explained, “when they are out of nappies”. Toddlers and children follow their Ski teachers like ducklings.
The major flaw of this field is the disconnect between sections of the mountain that involve a trek that makes it more difficult for the snowboarders. There are sections where a T-Bar would be a convenient link. For time-out the Mercedes Hut offers a lounge, fresh water, chill out music and phone charges and there are also cafes and bars for a break, or a glass of wine on the home run.
The Buller advantage is the 300 hectares of coverage and 22 lifts to take you there.
Era’s pass but genuine Artist’s don’t. Russell Morris’s Music career took off in the 70’s, a politically volatile time of change and youth culture that was spurned on by the Vietnam War. A heartfelt era funnelled through substandard audio; AM radios, record players and cassettes stuffed into dashboards of Holden station-wagons. Pub gigs offered the opportunity for audiences to hear the complete sound and this has not changed. A live gig can make or break a band and Morris hasn’t lost it, in fact he continues to perfect his craft.
On Saturday night at the MEMO music hall, in St Kilda, that was at capacity. A great venue but beware of the nocturnal parking inspectors. Morris was backed by a very funky blues band, the Three Kings that kicked off a the show with a flawless performance that engaged the crowd.
Morris and his band performed their latest work with the Classics. Presently Morris is digging into the roots of our nation whist his earlier work transcended the earthly bonds. Both are distinctively Morris but predictively it was the Sweet, Sweet Love; Wings of an Eagle and The Real Thing that got the crowd to their feet.
Originally it was ‘The Real Thing’ that morphed Morris from Blues Man to Soul Man with the lyrics from Johnny Young and the vision of Molly Meldrum, an Aussie trilogy that blended into a huge hit and became the sound track of the 70’s.
The hit extended beyond our shores to New York and inspired a generation. Young may not have reached his potential heights, but his work soared through Morris to become a classic. Morris found his way and wrote into the hearts of his audience with the Bloodstone Album that included; ‘Wings of an Eagle’ and ‘Sweet, Sweet Love’ and led him into Australia’s ‘Hall of Fame’; archived and ready to be picked up for generations to come.
As a historical twist Russell had offered ‘Sweet , Sweet Love’ to Johnny Farnham but he knocked it back due to the chorus delay, it seems that fate had smiled on Morris and he made it his own. Hits rained on Morris, the type that can stand the test of time. Authenticity and passion distinguished the language of his art, it was unique and distinctive then and remains so today.
As developers mow down the remnant of urban culture and bring the suburbs into the urban heartland, the locals are a tad P.O. Uprooting cottages for flats that look like offices, speeding down narrow streets where children play and destroying a treasured a metro arcade is ultimately changing Melbourne.
Easing through the morning at the DeGraves underpass starts the day off on a ‘good foot’, a coffee, a bit of art and a relaxed vibe. Removing this space from the Urban Art Culture would be like removing the goal posts from the MCG.
The Art Deco architecture of Campbell Arcade embraces Melbourne in1955, the salmon pink tiles, black granite columns capture a by-gone period where few examples remain. The display cabinets along the subway wall host local artists and most often a busker, serenades the office troops, as they pass.
Every morning commuters submerge under the station through Campbell Arcade and surface into DeGraves. What a great way to start the day.
Life looking back is a vista, a remarkable journey, encumbered,encrusted and inspired; the good,the bad ,the ugly and the beautiful, the footprints the young look upon with indifference, unless it weeps from the tree of integrity.That nectar that inspires trust.
Natasha Moszenin has over 25 years of musical experience that mixes the palette of life and art and delivers a performance at the quaint Butterfly Club that made Friday night fatigue, a soothing recharge.
Moszenin stares unflinching at the drama and terrors of life that hide in the shadows, she has faced them all and knows them by name. With maturity, resilience and defiance, she acknowledges and creates a wonderful score about her life. Ironically the Butterfly Club’s eclectic pictures on the wall illustrate the transformative passage of hope, love,trauma and …triumph.
The Artists Lara Vocisano, Claie Nicholis and Jai Luke present a narrative through song that washes over the audience. The beautiful voice of Nicholas is of a song-bird but not to take away from the solid vocal presence of Vocisano and Luke, as Moszenin plays the beautiful score on an old piano.
Moszenin dives into the depths and finishes off on a light comment on todays less emotional world.
Nightsongs is performing at the Butterfly Club this weekend
The show stopping art storm is fixated on capturing the Melbourne imagination with no expense spared, and this year it is free.
The journey starts and ends in the Moroccan coffee house but our focus is on the second floor, up the Reko Rennie elevator, an elevator that is part of the Galleries structure; not imported. From the Australian Aboriginal world, without excess to the post-communist decadance, up the spine into the heart and soul of the human mind.We arrive at the GOU PEI exhibit, a Chinese Fabric Artist that engineers her Masterpieces, stitch by stitch, bead upon bead, golden thread and a mantle of dreams. Inspired by an ancient past with dresses that would inspire the Pope. Her exhibit arrived in Melbourne, as precious as the Emperors Palace treasures and is located in the eye of the TRIENNIAL storm at the NGV.
Pei claims her work denies what it succumbs to, human vanity. Heart, soul and creativity, with a barrage of craftsmen on the floor, and this has happened before, in Dynasties past, a royal glass slipper for the ball. Rhianna , contemporary Diva, herald in the Artist at the Met Gala, formally the Costume Institute Gala, in New York.
The NGV hive, houses the Queen in an exhibition that begins in a blaze of glory.
Like Michelangelo, one can imagine that she is ripe for Vatican success.
The NGV has gone wild, Curated by Simon Maidment’s team, a wonderland passing from one installation to another, a mind altering experience of Art.
As art-life drifts out of the fringe into the mainstream an unholy alliance bridges the gap between today and tomorrow. The current stream sedating, a war brewing.
Guo Pei couture
It’s an epic bombardment, a Cultural revolution in it’s full thrust of life bordering on the ruin of decadance. Ron Mueck explores the human condition and its vulnerability in the wake of God-like delusions.
Artist, Mel O’Callaghan explores these questions through her dramatic Video Art currently on display at NGV Australia. Resistance and endurance is a rite of passage each of us will pass through eventually, a relative condition at every age.
Ensemble within the NGV space is cinematic, with life-size actors in a war-like water-battle. O’Callaghan uses the violence of the force to explore existence. It is when we let go , that life spirals and the body is swept away.
‘What a single body is capable of when enduring a voluntarily experience of duress is a powerful thing to behold’ Callaghan
Australian O’Callaghan lives in Paris and gave a live performance at the Serralves, taking it out of the dark theatre space and into the light of day.
O’Callaghan considers the body as a vehicle of ‘imposed labour’. The resistance of a ballet dancer perhaps or an underpaid worker forcing him/herself out of bed? Consider the Soldier preparing for death, or worse. Each day we battle, not to win, just to remain standing.
‘To fall, to begin again which is where the virtuous aspect comes into violence. It’s not being purely negative but rather a creative force’ O’Callaghan
Her work also relates to the Political and Economic climax point that is coming into focus.
‘…. those mounting feelings of deep despair that force acts of extremism’
Now showing within the perfect space, the deconstructive architectural venue at Fed. Square.
‘Prior to the visit I had heard plenty of favourable comments and recommendations about MONA; surprisingly they were coming from a range of people varying from art lovers to people with typically little interest in the arts. This intrigued me on the lead up to the visit. After visiting the gallery I understand its broad appeal; it’s a place where enjoyment and the experience are placed as the ultimate priority over pretension. Before any art is viewed, visitors have already been captivated by fun from the roaming roosters, kids trampoline, boat ride (dependent on arrival method), Tasmania’s oldest vineyard and the spectacular and awe-inspiring architecture – it has already been a successful venture. From here on it’s all a bonus, but it continues to intrigue with atmospheric galleries that range from tight quirky spaces to vast open areas. The art itself is diverse in its appeal with a little something to tickle everyone’s interest.’ MONA Visitor
MONA is not what you would expect regardless of all you have heard. We took ‘the journey ‘ beginning on the historic Station Pier for a Bass Straight crossing on the Spirit of Tasmania. The large window portals in the cabins gave a haunting view of the black water peeling back into white foam as the ship cut into a calm night sea. We arrived on the chilly Devonport coast at 6am with a temperature of zero.
The road to the museum of OZ has a few enchantments on the early Spring morning that perpetuate the unfolding drama of the landscape. As a typical Melbourne crew we anticipated a home-grown cuisine and strong coffees at the next town, we were mistaken, as each village was merely half a dozen rooftops and no signs that pointed us to a cafe. We regretted not dropping into the All Nice Things Bakery that beckoned from the corner, with the signed promise of a warm breakfast, if we had have known that cafes were few and far between, we would have eaten and stocked up.
Rumbling stomaches and caffeine withdrawals aside ,the natural resplendent views that the winding roads were drawing us into, satisfied the Winter frayed mind. Each scene was vast and framed within majestic snow-capped peaks. Our first stop was within the heavily mossed rainforest of the Liffey Falls , a gushing river flowing into cascading waterfalls. This area was once heavily populated by the Pattittore Aboriginal people, they held their social gatherings there, on this day there was only our small group.
The second wonder on the journey was the ice stalactites along the roadside, rain that was petrified into a dripping beauty. A short journey onward and random clumps on snow begin appearing on the side of the road unfolding into an expansive snow field amongst the lakes. Naturally a snow fight ensued.
When we arrived at OZ, or rather MONA we were expecting a Glass City, not an old Vineyard, chooks and a small building set amongst outer shed like structures. It’s appearance is provincial, as though it was being considerate of the natural beauty that encased it. The real drama was yet to come.
Moody bar within deep bedrock
Gold coin cuppa
Mona is built into the ground, not above it. The evaluator takes us deep into her interiors and we arrive at the lower floor of a towering bedrock wall, flanked by a contemporary Bar at one end and a 50’s Tea Room at the other, passing by a waterfall of words.
The current exhibition is the The Museum of Everything and although Mona is a highly contemporary venue , this exhibit invites you into wallpaper drawing-room with a random collection of worldly works and audio stories to match the vision.
Is Mona the interior of a rich persons fantastical world? – Yes
Is it Art-worthy? – Yes
Is it magnificent? – Absolutely
Catch the ‘Spirit’ and sleep in the dark waters, it’s a genuine adventure, but eat before leaving Devonport, or you will be hungry.
The tale of Aboriginal plunder is a never-ending ballad that sings in the winds of this great country, a land that Elea (Albert) Namatjira painted so lovingly in watercolour. Namatjira’s world-renowned artistic status may have provided him with a thin shield against racism but it was easily shattered, even his greatness, wealth and innocence could not protect him from incarceration.
The legend begins when Artist , Rex Battarbee took a painting trip into the Outback, after returning from the devastation of War in the 1930’s. He met Namatjira and it was through their collaboration that the 30-year-old Aranda man learnt to paint and exhibit. They went onto become lifetime friends, able to see pass the bigotry of the day.
International success took this humble man to great worldly heights, he was awarded the Coronation Medal and was the toast of the town. His exhibitions sold out shortly after they opened and most kitchens had one of his reproductions on a calendar or tea towel.
Before the 1967 Referendum, Australian Aboriginals where denied Human Constitutional Rights and were categorised as part of the wildlife or wards of the state. They were denied most basic human rights and in an insipid twist of irony could not own their land as it had been acquired by the Commonwealth.
Namatjira’s unprecedented rise on the world stage would require him to have a passport and his growing wealth attracted taxes, thus him and his wife Robina were given Australian citizenship in 1957, enabling him to buy a house in Morris Soak .
Unfortunately his children were not granted citizenship and were regarded as ‘Wards of the State’ as all Aboriginal people were. They did not have the right to choose their marriage partner, be legally responsible for their own children,to change location or socialise with non-aboriginals. It also meant that when the Great Artist and his wife died the Legal Will that aimed to financially protect their children was made void as his children belonged to the state. Their financial copyright royalties were ‘acquired’ by the state and sold on.
The Namatjira Project began as an objective to buy back the royalties (which will expire shortly) but has become a legal investigation.
The most moving part of the film is when Namatjira’s homeless grandson gives his artwork to the Queen in her palace and walks away empty-handed. The documentary is a thoughtful journey, full of beautiful archives and an artistic vision, they tip toe over a mine field but I think they have let off a bomb.
*Due to the humane efforts of The Namatjira Project, the Royalties have been returned.
Another victory in justice for the family
The Namatjira Family continue the water-colour tradition as their cultural inheritance.
A Message from the Family
It is a with a heavy heart that we write to let you know that our dear friend and watercolour artist of true talent, Kumantjai K Namatjira has passed away. On Saturday afternoon 3rd November in Alice Springs Hospital, he bid farewell, surrounded by family. One year after his cousin, Kumantjai L Namatjira, and 5 years after meeting The Queen at Buckingham Palace.
by April Forward
THE NAMATJIRA PROJECT
DIRECTOR & CINEMATOGRAPHER Sera Davies
EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS (CULTURAL)
On a mild Winter weekend, Melbourne’s Music elite came together to honour the songs of Bob Dylan before a full house at the Memo in St Kilda. Friday night was dedicated to acoustic Bob and on Saturday night, it was electric Bob.
The ‘All-Star’ back up band, consisting of Benny Franz, Stephen Hadley, Ben Wiesner , and Shane O’Mara , melted seamlessly into each other, but it was guitar legend O’Mara that stole the night with his stella performance. It was a group of musicians fit for the honoured legend himself.
Who is Bob Dylan? Songwriter, Poet or Prophet; Jew or Christian? His lyrics resonated with the crowd that held resolute with dignified appreciation of the words and the artists. Loud talkers were quickly hushed.
Come gather ’round people Wherever you roam And admit that the waters Around you have grown And accept it that soon You’ll be drenched to the bone. If your time to you Is worth savin’ Then you better start swimmin’ Or you’ll sink like a stone For the times they are a-changin’. Come writers and critics Who prophesize with your pen And keep your eyes wide The chance won’t come again And don’t speak too soon For the wheel’s still in spin And there’s no tellin’ who That it’s namin’. For the loser now Will be later to win For the times they are a-changin’. Come senators, congressmen Please heed the call Don’t stand in the doorway Don’t block up the hall For he that gets hurt Will be he who has stalled There’s a battle outside And it is ragin’. It’ll soon shake your windows And rattle your walls For the times they are a-changin’. Come mothers and fathers Throughout the land And don’t criticize What you can’t understand Your sons and your daughters Are beyond your command Your old road is Rapidly agin’. Please get out of the new one If you can’t lend your hand For the times they are a-changin’. The line it is drawn The curse it is cast The slow one now Will later be fast As the present now Will later be past The order is Rapidly fadin’. And the first one now Will later be last For the times they are a-changin’.
Each vocalist made his songs their own and each captivated the audience. Liz Stringer was haunting, almost gothic as her lone figure shone in the darkness etching the words and reaching into the void. Song-bird Lisa Miller was mesmerizing and thrust the show forward, her talent is palpable. Chris Wilson’s scratchy soul voice penetrated into the mind of the listener, like a dark cry and ‘Raised by Eagles’ duo Luke and Nick raised the tempo with a bit of rockabilly. All of the vocalists on the night where exceptional.
A memorable evening.
“Shane O’Mara is a Melbourne music legend and of Liz Stringer, you need to get her last two albums.”
As the MICF circus wraps up, 2 clowns sent it off with a bang.
The afternoon show at ACMI was the icing on the Festival, after a series of ‘Stand up’ wit and profound observations we discover a new territory. These Guys have nothing to say, it’s what they do that suspends reality and slaps you in the face. Throughout the performance the unexpected continued to surface from beneath the banal.
Confused? Good , that’s a great start.
You will be bewitched within a Dadaists performance of an office mundane that imploded into the wild and creative instinct of lifes little dramas. Bit by bit they shatter through reality to reveal a seething internal existence with comic twists.
Intrigued? I hope so, it is an intriguing experience.
No matter how sober you think you are, they will pick up your solid piece of reality and twist it until you feel entirely happy. Like an animal can become a chair, a thing can become an animal. They are very clever Consultation Specialists.
Welcome to Ruck’s Leather Interiors starring Gareth Grubb (Trygve Wakenshaw) and Dennis Chang (Bernie Duncan) as Performance Artists.
Where did you Guys train? MP
“I didn’t do training but Ttygve went to Gaulier, a French Clown School in Paris.”
How did you get into this? MP
“I always made theatre, we started a Company (Theatre Beating) about 14 years ago, and we made stuff we liked”
“I never dreamed that I would ever see two people entertain me from the time they started right up until the very end. Everything that happened was totally unexpected , it shocked me, it was so funny and you never knew what was coming and everything that came was brilliant.”
Acclaimed New Zealand Documentary Director, Annie Goldson was in Melbourne to launch her new (secret project) film. Goldson has a strong formidable countenance and she needs it, many of her subjects are capable of murder or the victims of the culpable hand. She needs to know when to back off.
ACMI hosted the Australian International Documentary Conference, which brought in talent from all over the globe. Goldson was doing a spot of shopping when we caught up.
“Its nice to have some time off and be wandering around Melbourne” Goldson
Goldson began her career as a Journalist and has ‘inched her way’ into filmmaking. She tackles the hard facts behind the news stream and goes into the bog, looking for the truth. As a political observer she finds her stories ‘everywhere’, she is curious and like Alice in a complex Wonderland, has to adapt quickly. We may wonder why the terrorists are so irate, she takes her team and her camera and asks them. She is a historians torch into the unknown.
He Toki Huna: New Zealand in Afghanistan explores New Zealand’s involvement in the Afghanistan war that lasted longer than WW1 and WW2 combined. ‘Did we stay to long?’ the film asks. Can lessons be learned to prevent such long-term engagements for the sake of alliance.
Brother Number One was a challenging work as it was necessary to create a present from the past events of the Cambodian Genocide under Pol Pot. New Zealander Ron Hamill, the films source, explains how his carefree adventurous brother Kerry ,sailed into a nightmare.
“An innocent man brought to his knees and killed in the prime of his life”Ron Hamill
Goldson records Hamill’s emotional pain as he addresses the torture and death of his sibling at the War Crimes Tribunal.
The mass Genocide that murdered 2,000,000 ( a 1/4 of the population) was led by a ‘charismatic and smiling’ leader Pol Pot who was indifferent to the torture of babies. In 1975. He led the Kamor Rouge into Nu Pen and in 72 hours he had cleared the city of its inhabitants and sent them to work in labour camps, to grow rice that he would export as the population died of hunger, overwork or beating.
“Documentaries are always a challenge.” Goldson
Her films are intense political dramas that set the stage and cast its light into the ‘heart of darkness.’ Her other well-known films that she Directed are; Punitive Damage and An Island Calling
by April Forward
All photo’s courtesy of Annie Goldson film extracts.
Ironically, it is a storm that opens the tale of The Tempest, but here on the banks of the Maribyrnong River it is a brewing storm that ends it. Melbourne’s fickle weather has once again cast its cold spell on an outdoor event. It has ‘undid’, subverted and prevented the ambition of this ‘goodly’ play. The stunning performance that was on Friday and Saturday was ‘naught’ on Sunday.
What could have been is; Prospero, performed by Brendon Ewing, dark with revenge and drawing his past into the currents of his macabre island home, seeking familiar company with unkindly aims, that give way to kindness sway. This tale untold, due to weather, it had to fold, so the cast did the next best thing, they sang.
Sly Rat Theatre Co.’s artistic directors Alan Chambers and Andy Harmsen have created a unique vision for The Tempest, inspired by science-fiction classics. The Pipework’s Natural Museum is a beautiful outdoor space, rich in atmosphere and a perfect setting for a summer picnic, weather permitting.
“It’s a Rock and Roll version of Shakespeare, it’s very loud and very big”Director Andy Harmsen
Within the warm hub of the group, a buzz with laughter, singing and the smell of burnt sausage, it is easy to forget that the cancellation of a show could be disappointing, they are taking it so well. It’s a chance to catch up with some of the actors and chat about their role’s, the few that aren’t belting out a tune.
First up is Todd Levi
“We like to push the boundaries but still tell a great story.. it’s Shakespeare, how he would like it done today…Its bawdy, its real and it is entertainment first and foremost. Prospero has been marooned on a magical island, betrayed by his sister and he’s been there for 12 years. He spies the evildoers sailing by and raises a tempest, a storm that shipwrecks them on the island where he prepares to take his revenge. It’s the search for redemption the final words of the play are; ‘As you from crimes would pardon’d be, let you indulgence set me free’
What made you choose this venue? MP
“It’s a magical place, it’s a place where the community comes and we played here last year to over 2000 people … most of them had not seen live theatre before, let alone Shakespeare, and playing to an audience like that and seeing them fall in love with it”
Did you factor in the weather? MP
“You don’t expect to have nine shows of good weather every-time, hopefully this is our one and only cancellation.”
Next up is Tara Hauton
“Steph and I play the clowns, technically it’s the Court Jester but Andy and Alan have re-invented it to be two women who have been to the races all day long and have arrived at the play. We exist outside the world of the play and that’s where the comedy of the role happens…we are very drunk.
and Ty Holdsworth
It’s a play about weather, most Melbournians can relate to that.
Sly Rat Perfomance
Tempest in the park
Pipework’s Natural Museum Park on the banks of the Maribrynong River
“It’s always been about sharing stories, identity loss and grief, determination , imagination , self belief, cultural integrity, hope and justice, reliance , cultural pride, and more than anything it’s about my people’s survival of spirit.” Hill
Noongar woman, Sandra Hill was a stolen Aboriginal child that was forced into foster care at the age of seven by the Australian Government due to the Assimilation Policy that was still active in 1958. Four children were removed from their mother’s house, they included her self , her two sisters and a brother. They were the 3rd generation of children removed from this family line.
‘In 1994 Hill was employed as the Aboriginal Community Cultural Officer. During this period she applied for, and was awarded, a Creative Development Fellowship from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Arts Board of the Australia Council for the Arts. This afforded her the time to carry out research relating to her life experiences as a member of the Stolen Generations’ (extract from Design & Art Australia on-line)
Hill’s work is held in many private collections and is also represented in Major Art Galleries throughout Australia, currently her mixed media work “Beyond the Pale’ is on display at the NGV Ian Potter Gallery at Federation Square in the Australian Art Exhibition. She explores domestic labor as part of the ‘Assimilation Project’.
In the past, Domestic colleges were set up to train poor white girls and ‘half-caste’ Aboriginal children to attend to the needs of the wealthy.
‘In the early issues of Home Beautiful there was a feeling of nostalgia for the passing of an age in which almost everyone in the middle and upper classes could afford to keep a live-in maid. Even at the turn of the century , architects and designers were discussing the ‘servant problem’ and trying to come up with ways to help women face a future without servants’The Australian Home Beautiful, from Hills Hoist to High Rise.
ref: page 73, Household Help: The Servant Problem. The Australian Home Beautiful from Hills Hoist to High Rise Hardie Grant Books Oliver J.
The Woman in Black is a psychological thriller with a mystery at the heart of it. It takes the audience on an imaginative tour, where their own thoughts interplay with the drama before them.
“they saw things that didn’t happen in the show” Justin Stephens, Director.
Stephens is drawing upon 25 years of theatre experience to present this production with two key actors, Chris McLean and Kieran Tracey, that are ‘on top of their game.’The Woman in Black” is a horror novella written in 1983 by Susan Hill. The play has startled audiences around the world.
Don’t expect to be spoon-fed, its a subtle work with confounding possibilities. Flawless acting, clever direction and trick lighting; engage the minds of the playgoer. The ‘not seeing’ creates the atmospheric conditions of strangeness.
“Creating a vision of actors on a journey” Stephens.
Ironically, Stephen’s acting career began in an effort to combat an early speech problem. Many successful artists have grown from adversity into major success stories;such as Warhol,Beethoven, Einstein and Dali, just to name a few.
“The power of theatre and how it can transform” Stephens
The drama explores tragedy, the coping and non-coping elements, of the human experience. All those memories that haunt and prevent us from a full recovery, are confronted in a dire straits situation, where he/we must face our fears.
“Even the most rational minds can play tricks in the dark” from James Watkins 2012 film version.
A menacing and sinister fog welcomes the audience into a Gothic drama that explores the space between life and death. It’s a well written play, beautifully executed by the actors with atmospheric effects that conjure an unsettling mood. There is a lavish opulence of poetry and theatrics in thick layers. It is theatre at its best, it is a work of Art.
It’s fascinating to imagine that female convicts on ships to Australia, were sewing beautiful quilts. They were leaving heavily populated cobble streets and embarking on a tour into the wild unknown.It was a place where currency was rum, women were few and some unthinkable dark terrors took place.The unfree made free and the free made unfree.
This quilt was created by the women on board the Rajah in 1841, they were taught by Elizabeth Fry, a Quaker reformer.
‘The Australian quilting tradition developed in response to a unique set of factors that sets it apart from other quilting traditions internationally.’ NGV
There was the odd sailor that picked up a needle and thread and made his own quilt.
This example is a work of Art, an intricate geometric design, with a contemporary feel. The beauty of the quilt is that it is also functional. The time poured over the work creates a meditative element that transfers an emotional or spiritual quality to the work.
During WW1 and WW2, ‘quilts were a means of rallying support’.
To this day, some churches still create quilts to place over the unwell. The quilt can also serve as an historical piece, recording the members of a congregation, club or school.
Some stitched a bit of wisdom to guide the next generation.
The charming Westbury quilt was created by a Tasmanian family, it was intended to be a raffle prize. Its a mix of British domestic influence and Australiana.
Others competed to be the ‘craziest’ of the ‘crazy quilt’ fashion, that was the sewing movement at a time, when European Art was shaking off the shackles of the past. The British settlers had no cultural roots in Australia, they could push the boundaries of traditional Arts.
Some caught the eye of the galleries to be immortalised. Mothers often sewed quilts for their children or were given to them by a loving friend or family member. Mary Jane Hannford’s ‘Goodnight Quilt’ was made for her 11 year old grandson.
‘The subject matter of Hannafords quilt includes patriotism, religious faith, the love of Australian wildlife and the marking of key family events’
Some works were sewed roughly, not for beauty or art but for warmth. The gathering of discarded clothes, recycled into a rug. The perfect art for Depression and War when materials are few and patience is limited.
‘real rag bag waggas, hessian bags or patchwork-covered army blankets, but still rich in the memories embedded in their cloth.’ Annette Gero
It’s a pictoral exploration into our past, through fabric. Mostly, but not exclusively a womens history. Sewing groups were also social and community acts. It’s an engaging exhibition.
“Yes, it reminded me of Daylesford when we were kids, it gave me the shivers.”
Have you seen the Dressmaker?
“Yes, isn’t Liam Hemsworth gorgeous?”
Have you seen the dressmaker?
“Yes, wasn’t the interaction between Judy Davis and Kate Winset amazing, they must have had heaps of fun.”
Have you seen Dressmaker?
“No, but country towns always have their secrets.”
Have you seen the dressmaker?
“Yes, I Loved it.”
Kate Winset sets fire to the screen, in a cathartic survival movie. The very chic Tilly (Winset) returns to her childhood home in the dead of night, to clean up and overcome her troubled past. Armed with a sewing machine she manifests as the fairy godmother with a cutting edge. The film explores ‘the heart of darkness’ in rural Australia, within a playful drama about frocks.
It’s definitely a film to be enjoyed on the big screen.
Costume designer Margot Wilson, runs up a series of ‘show stoppers’ for Winslet to flaunt. Marion Boyce is the ‘muse’ of Tilly’s designs.
“In particular, for this film the costume is everything, most incredible dresses in my career, we start off with a palette of brown, grey and dull…’she’ (Tilly played by Kate Winslet) brings in the wealth of colour” Boyce
Judy Davies wrings out every essence of her character in her performance, as a tormented shrew.She is brilliant.