Thursday, April 22, 2010

Everything in the Garden...

... is lovely. Despite Autumn coming on the garden is still looking wonderfully green. This is mostly due to Chris's sterling efforts snipping, trimming, mowing and mulching.

I've tried to do my bit by planting lots of Green Mulch in our small designated Veggie patch. Woolly Vetch, Fenugreek and Fava Bean seeds were bought from Green Harvest along with Soya Beans for the Spring.

I really had no idea what I was doing so I tried to recall the wonderfully productive garden of my childhood. We had a quarter acre plot that fed a family of eight, full of potatoes, peas, cabbage and gooseberries, but it required many hours of hard digging and maintenance. I read directions, checked labels, scattered garden lime and mushroom compost, planted seeds and crossed my fingers. This is just for a mulch!
In the Spring I hope to put in beans, tomatoes, basil, spinach and lettuce, not quite-self sufficient but enough to supplement the grocery shopping.

A bunch of the wonderful ferns in the bottom of the garden come from our neighbour in Bondi - we obtained from them 3 Dicksonia Antarctica that were used in a photo shoot then disposed of. They are thriving under the big River Gum and the Toona Tree, joining a Tasmanian Dixonia and a couple of Tree Ferns to make a Bower of greenery worthy of the New Zealand West Coast.

Out the front of the house is another little Dixonia. The smaller, less invasive fern replaces a large Cyathea Australis fern that was a hazard to the Gas Meter Reader. I was very sorry to see it go as it had a large sweeping crown of leaves that complemented the nearby Cabbage tree, again reminiscent of favourite NZ landscapes.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Nora Heysen at The Ervin

Yesterday I read a small paragraph in the paper that the S.H. Ervin Gallery was presenting a retrospective of the works of Nora Heysen. Even though I was tired from an early start and a rushed and stressful morning Speech Day performance I made a point of stopping in.

"Born in Hahndorf, South Australia, 1911, Nora Heysen was an artist of extraordinary ability and tenacity and is best known through her exquisite still life paintings and absorbing portraits. Nora was the fourth of celebrated artist, Hans Heysen's eight children. As the first female artist to be awarded the Archibald Prize in 1938 her skill as a portraitist also paved the way for her appointment as the first Australian woman to be appointed an official war artist in 1943. Until her death in 2003, at age 92, the artist lived and worked in her Sydney home, 'The Chalet', in Hunters Hill, where she painted and drew with boundless energy and an amazing vitality of colour."

The Ervin is one of my favourite galleries because it tends to show a lot of Artists that don't quite make it to Blockbuster status. Many of these artists are, of course, women.
"The exclusiveness of the gallery lays in the fact that it showcases works from Australian women artists and thus provides a pedestal to many talents who might otherwise have gone unnoticed."

I first saw Nora Heysen back in 2001 in the "Modern Australian Women" Exhibition touring through the Ervin. Like many women artist of the time there are many obligatory still life with flowers but it's her portraits that capture my attention.

The painting of Florence Miles, a transport driver during the war, wasn't included in this exhibition, which is a shame. I think it has far more relevance and meaning than the posed images of the higher ranking female officers she was required to produce as part of her appointment as official war artist.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Captain Blondebeard

Yo Ho Ho and a bottle of Apple and Blackcurrent juice. Here be a pirate from the end-of-year school performance. A fine display of youngsters performing for the entertainment of parents and carers. We watched from the audience and tried not to focus on the wonderful antics on stage and not notice the lighting or sound. It was a marvelous effort from all concerned.

The next 'big do' for the local community is a repeat of the hugely successful Brook Community Theatre Radio Plays at the Faulconbridge Community Hall on Sat 14th. 'The Case of the Dead Adventuress' and 'The Musgrave Ritual' are 40's style Sherlock Holmes radio plays performed with style and enthusiasm by the local talent.
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Sunday, August 23, 2009

Garden Matters

It's been a while since the garden had a bit of attention so it's getting an early Spring clean in this unseasonal bout of warm weather.The vege garden has been restyled and lettuce, beets,marigolds and alyssum planted, the beans and peas under a frame made from an old Futon base.

The entire crop of NZ Yams (Oca) was put back in the ground although I was sorely tempted to roast them in the oven. They are not a pretty vegetable, looking like fat pink grubs, but they have that special sharp nutty flavour. I'm a bit concerned this Summer is going to be very hot but the Mandarin tree may give them some shade.

After all the hard labour is done for the day the workers relax in the hammock under the giant River Peppermint gum and read Dirk Gently.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Snack Attack

Over the past few years the variety of birds in our backyard has increased; Bowerbirds, Crimson Rosellas, Wattlebirds, Honeyeaters, Butcher birds, and Cockatoos are common visitors. Last weekend we had a new visitor and it wasn't interested in seeds.

This is the atermath of a Collared Sparrowhawk swooping upon a poor King Parrot. It was a swift attack with a very efficient dispatch. The Hawk then dragged the remains onto the gravel and consumed it leaving only a few pin feathers. It wasn't phased by the close proximity of humans and only huddled over its meal when we ventured into view.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


Federation Square
I like Melbourne - a lot.
It's like a rich chocolate cake compared to a Sydney Sorbet. The past 5 days have been spent exploring the laneways and tramways of the Melbourne CBD. We visited Salvador Dali, Pompei, the wonderful Melboune Museum, penguins at the Aquarium, the Bendigo Wool and Sheep show, the Yarra river, the Docklands and Pelligrinis - several times, the State Library and lots of restaurants and eateries.
As soon as we went it seemed to be over - it was only a 56 minutes flight from Mascot to Tullamarine but it was enough to give the lad an experience of flying in a jetplane - a compact little 737, and for us to experience living with Room Service for a week.

I came back with lots of photos, very sore feet from all the walking, several skeins of wonderful yarn and a desire to go back - maybe next year.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009


I think I've mentioned before there are some shows that are a chore to work on and there are others that are a delight. Pericles is in the latter case and makes up for the nights of angst I had to endure on my last season in the Drama Theatre.

This Shakespearean play performed by the Bell Shakespeare Company is big, loud, melodramatic and as convoluted as a soap opera.

It has a lot of energy and is obviously fun for the cast. There's drumming and singing and dancing and a big Bollywood style scene that only needs a shower of rose petals to finish it off.

The reviews have been varied because it's not the type of play that can be rationally analysed - the plot-twists and coincidences are worthy of any modern day melodrama and the actors are sometimes required to switch from serious, heart-wrenching soliloquies to mundane and seemingly trivial statements - all in the same breath.

The one scene that stands out for me is at the end when poor old King Pericles, after enduring countless shipwrecks (that man should not get in a boat), the loss of his beloved wife and then his daughter, finds them again. He has aged 20 years since his first appearance and so is required to portray a degree of pathos suitable for the occasion.

Marcus Graham does this well I think, and is a very appropriate hero for the occasion but... why is it that every single time he says these lines;

Now, blessing on thee! rise; thou art my child. Give me fresh garments; the audience cacks itself?
No matter if it's a matinee , a school audience, an evening blue-rinse set - they all spontaneously laugh.
I have a theory that it is a combination of comic relief from the seriousness of his reunification with his daughter (who is so virtuous and pure she transforms rapist to saints) and the slight embarrassment at the out of place request. Deep Drama and Emotional Outpouring interrupted with a request for his laundry. Strange.

I have been busy during this show and have created one pair of socks already - saturated colour worthy of the richly coloured hues of the lighting, costumes and sets. I think I will be able to get another pair finished before the end of the season.