Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Kitchen gardens and the injustices of taking art away from the suburban extremities.

Something happened when we got home from our lovely holiday. We went back to work and the kids had school, and there was tennis, music practice, more work, lots of rain, the boys got sick and I got tired. Possibly reality hit us with a large, blunt object. I think we're all good now.

The best remedy seemed to be to grab a camera, and grab a child (the one who has his own camera) and to head out and about. Somewhere with coffee and cake, mountains, flowers, trees, tumble down buildings and a comforting familiarity to it!  We ended up at Lanyon Homestead, a regular haunt and indulged in some afternoon tea before a browse around the gardens. I know I have blogged it before, but I love the place - its position beside the Murrumbidge River, looking up to the Brindabella ranges and its very loud echoes of a bygone era. I love its garden, its house museum and the interesting collection preserved within and without!

We ambled around the garden, and it is looking in great shape. Beautiful perennials (which I learnt once were as near as possible to the original plantings, although not entirely sure of this) and a really healthy looking veggie patch. It is a decent size, and services the cafe menu so you are assured of something seasonal, fresh and very local!  Coloured silverbeet, looking so big and strong. Some serious herbs - not your spindly, fine stemmed ones but vigorous, thick clumps of basil, thyme, parsely, chives and probably more but by this point I was going into overload! Artichokes! Marigolds! Beans! Blackberries and Raspberries!

I got so distracted by everything happening in the veggie patch that I forgot to snap all my usual subjects  - old windows, doors, rooflines and such!

I did get some flowers and some unusual textures....

These following ones were by my little side kick...excellent, I would say!

All that wholesomeness (including the chocolate fudge cake Bryn ate) got me thinking about kitchen gardens at cafes, and more specifically at cafes at art galleries or museums. I thought of a couple but I'm sure there are more (my friend Lou would know if she was reading!)  
cafe vue at Heide, out of Melbourne  
and the cafe at the Lewers Gallery (Penrith Regional Galleries), western Sydney
These places nearly make my head spin and my heart leap out, because they have ART, HERITAGE, FOOD and GARDENS.

Oh that's right...Lanyon used to have all that too, back in the good ol days when the Nolan collection was housed in...the...Nolan Gallery, in the grounds at Lanyon Homestead. 
Here's where the injustice comes in, and I get really frustrated, because the gallery used to house several collections of Sidney Nolan works, some of them specifically gifted by Sir Nolan himself with the express condition that they be exhibited on the Lanyon Homestead precinct. There's debate and conjecture from opposing factions (Lady Nolan vs. Commonwealth gov), but as far as I can tell (please correct me if anyone has insider knowledge and I'm wrong) the collection was moved after "some" storm damage to the building which placed the important works in danger. Fair enough, move them to dry ground temporarily whilst refurbishing the building. Instead they were moved permanantly into locations in Canberra CBD, where authorities gloat that a broader and larger audience is able to appreciate them.

That's so unfair! It really was a huge cultural asset to have in the southern suburbs of Canberra - an interesting, significant and engaging collection where there is not a heck of a lot of other art. I'm sure more visitors eye ball the works in their current positions at the National Gallery of Australia and Canberra Museum and Gallery, but I'm also sure that more could've been made of their original, ethical home. I dont know the stats on the Nolan Gallery visitor numbers, or the cost of keeping it open, or of refurbising it to be a stable place for art works, but I dislike how swiflty and smoothly something of great value can be removed and never returned. I wonder if more time, energy and of course money could have been spent on promoting the gallery, and on attracting visitors and I suspect punters would still travel (30 minutes) from town to see an important collection.

Anyways...just a few days after our jaunt I read something interesting in the local paper....

oops...not that one (that's shameless self promotion) was this - an article entitled Jewel in Canberra's crown

 Not only does it picture the fabulous gardener, Alison McLeod, but it discusses ways in which the site can be opened up for more community use. It comments on the number of visitors, and the Arts Ministers' hope that local artists would be encouraged and inspired by the space, in the same way Sidney Nolan was. They are trialling an artist-in-residence program in the "Sidney Nolan Building" (read - gallery with the art works taken out of it). I love the idea of that, but I love the idea of having the Nolan works there too, for an even greater, deeper sense of place, relevance and history. So I guess I'll be responding to the call out for comments and input...

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Beached as bro

We've not long returned from a holiday in New Zealand, visiting my brother and his girl! It was a very lovely week, lots of relaxed afternoons and evenings, brunches, lunches, swims, walks and wandering. And a few unexpected things.
A perfect balance between taking in some tourist-y "points of interest" and having a local, insiders' nouse. Bro takes great delight in being the perfect tour guide, so in addition to the standard activities, we went a little off the beaten track too. These pics dont really do it justice, he is a great photographer however, and I keep pestering him to put together a book.

steam ship ride across the lake to Walter Peak, and then lots of flowers and some sheep





Walking along a river track, our friendly guide (my brother, of course!) said "hey...shhh...hear that?" It was the low background sound of these seed pods (from Broom, probably an invasive weed by now) slowly popping one by one in the heat!


 more flowers, and remnants of a New Years party (I guess?) in someones' backyard.


 that's a pickled walnut in there...on the plate below, not in the backyard.

breakkie at a place which only does variations on their rolls - I love it when people find a winner and stick to it!

A cute little cinema tucked away in Arrowtown, called Dorothy Browns. We saw Sherlock Holmes 2, loved it!

Our most favourite unexpected thing was taking daily dips in Lake Wakatipu, water so clear...that's us in the distance!

hitting the road for an overnight trip to Curio Bay, the Catlins, down in the southern most area of south island.

A very quirky place, the Lost Gypsy Gallery, roadside at Paptowai


 I was not leaving without a swim! And then a very warm shower.

The week left us rested, and relaxed and nicely re-acquianted with those adventurous guys that we only see once every year or two. We also had a severe case of wanderlust...not so much to continue wandering infintely but to wander as far as Arrowtown at least, and find a nice little cottage to do up. I found myself wondering how others do it, if you really could sell up, pack up and just lob into a new place and start a new page.
Does the grass always look greener?
Are we too set in our ways and our routine?
Would you make it work if you just jumped in?

And if you could do it, would you do it to the others around you, drag them along?
Do you need to consider the ripple effect if you make a move?

If I had previously wondered about the ripple effect, then the look on my mums' face (a kind of unspoken, restrained panic) when we mentioned it was pretty telling.
 And I just started a new job, right?

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

the ART thang....warning - a long post!

How great is art? 
I love it. Seeing it, appreciating it, critiquing it, and especially absorbing it via the great outdoors, or through the arty types themselves. I have met some really, really interesting people through my work, and loved getting an insight into their practice.

A little dinner party last night degraded into a rather entertaining critique of the artworks hanging round here, so I thought I would share! Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, of course. Apologies to some of the artists whose names, or names of artworks I cannot remember. Bad form I know, I will try harder next time.

 Collected framed works, incl. a nice little Norman Lindsay

A G Stokes

 the family gallery!

photography by me!
  something by Rhys
 and something by Bryn!

  recent work by Nicci Haynes

 feathers by Heike Qualitz

 a collection of miniatures

including letter press Fluerons by the fabbo Ampersand Duck

 tiny paper plane work by Trish Roan
 another beautiful, mechanical work in a jar by Trish Roan

  miniature Hymn to the Stone, Peter Jordan

 G L Wyatt

In Bud, recent work by Julie Bradley

 tiny assemblage by Neil Thomas

 detail, as above

 Game Over, broadside print by Natalie Azzopardi

 as above, version two!

 detail, as above. 

 photograph on canvas, PW (can't remember...oooops).

I also have a tidy little collection of these awesome glow in the dark resin light globes, by Bjorn Godwin.

So that's what's hanging around!

Last week I started my new job, which has lived up to my expectations (phew). 
Here's the view from our office...that's right!

 fake fish AND wildflower garden at the front...

Today I rode my bike to work, and home again this arvo...and it doesn't get much better than that!