Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Knitting - the new torture

The last week has only proven to me that people who say that "Knitting is the New Yoga" are vastly deluded. I was up until 2:30 am Saturday morning trying to meet the deadline for the the 2009 Sydney Royal Arts Show aka The Easter Show. I made it but it was not a pleasant experience.

My entry was a version of The Stig base roughly on a Knitty pattern with adaptations for the overalls and helmet. I was knitting in the round with anodised aluminium DPN, acrylic/viscose yarn and slightly damp hands due to the humidity and my stress. It was not a smooth process of repetitious movements generating alpha waves of contentment but a sticky, erratic, jerky process punctuated with muttering, cursing and cries of pain as I jabbed myself.

I made the deadline and Stig is now sharing a display cabinet with cute clowns, fluffy ducks and teddy bears. I trust he will remain unfazed throughout this experience while I, on the other hand am definitely in need of rehabilitation.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Timeless and Priceless

Look at what I received in the mail today! Totally unexpected but so, so welcomed.

In my previous post about Cressida Campbell I mentioned she recently had published a limited edition book of her woodblock paintings. By the time I came to her exhibition the first edition was sold out and they were not sure of a second printing.

I put an order in with Readings on the off-chance and thought no more about it.
This afternoon I received a big parcel in the mail and inside was this wonderful, huge, colourful, exquisite book.

Nearly three hundred images have been assembled here, carefully edited into nine distinct sections. It’s a book that displays a sensitive and introspective imagination at work, a book which allows the pictures to speak for themselves.

"It took about three years to put together," Campbell says of the book. "I initially said I couldn't be bothered. I just wanted to keep doing what I was doing rather than endlessly sifting through my old pictures.

"I eventually drove the book's designer completely mad, of course. I treated it like a picture in and of itself."

Nonetheless, Campbell is happy with the result. "We chose thick, high-quality paper because we wanted the book to have a real tactile element to it," Campbell says, handing me the weighty tome. "There's nothing glossy about my work and we wanted that lithographic feel to the pages."

It's heavy and smooth and has a lovely new smell to it - I'll have to make a slip cover to protect it and keep it away from the bookshelves that have paperbacks and coffee cups deposited on them.

This has been one of the nicest surprise I've received in the mail for a while.

Monday, March 16, 2009

The Slums of Glebe

I've been doing some digging in the photo vaults because a friend is retiring and I wanted to make up a record of images from his time at The House. In the process I have been uncovering a lot of interesting and sometimes poignant photos of long ago. I'm going to post some over a period of time just to get them out there in the ether. My ultimate ambition would be to have an official site for the social and working history of the Opera House that would add a human dimension to the iconic architectural and political story.

This clump of ramshackle huts is located on canal banks on the west side of Jubilee Park in Glebe. It is supposed to represent a slum in Djakarta and was built for Peter Weir's film "The Year of Living Dangerously" after they had to leave the Phillipines because of death threats. The final scenes were digitally altered to remove the viaduct and add a city skyline.

I lived in Northcote Rd on the opposite side of the park at the time and it was my first experience of a location shoot. Because of the last minute decision to relocate the shoot it all seemed to happen overnight. I came home from work late to find the walls of the street lined with political posters denouncing Sukarno and a lot of trucks with noisy generators parked everywhere. It was fascinating to watch a suburban Sydney park be transformed into an Asian slum with soldiers and street hawkers. I never saw Mel Gibson or Sigourney Weaver or the Oscar winning performance of Linda Hunt as the Cameraman Billy Kwan.

It was all over within a week but the sheds and the posters stayed around. The area has now been transformed into Bicentennial Park and the buildings, posters, walls and even the roads are long gone.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Jazz and the Bayou Teche

What's Nice: listening to The Mingus Big Band performing jazz in the Concert Hall, knitting the finishing rows of the Linen Mode Jacket while reading James Lee Burke .

I came to this author via the First Tuesday Night Book Club on the ABC and am fascinated by his descriptions of the life and land of Southwest Louisiana; places like New Iberia, the Atachafalaya River, antebellum mansions and the Gulf coast.

..the light was never harsh, never superheated or smelling of tar roads and dust as it was in other neighborhoods. Instead it filtered through Spanish moss and bamboo and philodendron that dripped with beads of moisture as big as marbles, so that even in the midst of summer the morning came to those who lived here with a blue softness that daily told them the earth was a grand place, its design vouchsafed in heaven and not to be questioned.

His language adds a poetry to the hard, brutal, subject matter of his crime stories and makes me want to find more about this French-settled part of America - it fills out the stereotypes and corrects misconceptions, even though his characters may not seem the best choice to promote safe travel.What's not Nice:

At the end of the Mingus Big Band the Big Bump Out; derigging all the box truss, the tri truss, the moving lights, cables, shackles, slings and bolts; packing it all up to leave a clear stage for the SSO performance the next morning; taking it all down to an already packed Central Passage and squeezing road cases and lead trolleys into tiny spaces; driving the long road home after midnight, feeling desperately in need of a shower and another cup of coffee to stay awake.

Apparently the name "Teche" is "a French word meaning "snake" based on a story about a large snake told by the Chitimacha Indians to the settlers in the area." It refers to a tributary of the Mississippi.