Lisa Sewards: White Parachute

It’s been a little while since I last attended an art exhibition, and even longer since I’ve been to one of my favourite Melbourne venues, Fortyfive Downstairs. Last time I visited 45 Flinders Lane, it was to see one of my heros, Samual Johnson in a three-person play The Haunting of Daniel Gartell. It was a fantastic evening, and I’ve been looking forward to a chance to visit the venue again.

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This week I had that chance, and this time it was to share in an experience; a raw, beautiful and moving experience. Tuesday night was the opening of Lisa Sewards’ first solo exhibition, White Parachute. This stunning show, featuring works on paper, paintings, objects and installations explores the memories of the artist’s mother who, after having spent five years of her young life in a displaced persons camp in northern Germany shares her experiences of uncertainty, loss and hope.

Despite the fearfulness the situation, central to Lisa’s mother’s memories is a WW2 parachute, of white silk, abandoned and subsequently found by the women and children of the camp. The women refashioned the parachute into much needed dresses, underwear and as a small luxury, fine silk ribbons.

20130703-220023.jpgThe ribbons, white and silky, stood out from the despair of the camp and in turn, stand out from the works on display in Lisa’s show.

Through Sewards’ reconstruction she creates a postmemory of the space of that parachute falling into the lives of those in the camp. Sewards, like most children of camp survivors, is engaged in a process that is not yet complete and may never find resolution. The silence of falling white parachutes is akin to the silence of her mother in relation to the events of those years – Essay by Dr Julie Cotter, exhibition catalogue.

Having read a number of war stories, of displacement and heroism, novels such as The Book Thief, In Falling Snow, and most recently, The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult, this exhibition has provided a series of illustrations to accompany the  words that I’ve read over the past year. To have such haunting images available, to illustrate the equally haunting stories I’ve read, seems to have helped me to form a better understanding of what a terrifying period of time this must have been.

20130703-220031.jpgAlthough this show is reverent and clearly aims to raise an awareness of the circumstance of displacement, it is not somber. The hopeful image of the artist’s mother as a child, the repeated imagery of the billowing parachute and the silken ribbons themselves create a theme of hope, of finding comfort.

In addition to this beautiful treatment of a difficult theme, Lisa’s ability to master a wide range of mediums was on full display in this exhibition. Her works on paper are always stunning and her print collections are easily some of my favourite works. In saying that, her larger pieces in oils, collages and photography are impressive and add a real impact, a punch, to her shows.

The inclusion of Lisa’s installation piece, a parachute not unlike that which her family found all those years ago, helps to draw a very real connection between the audience and the art.

Lisa’s show, White Parachutes is showing at Fortyfive Downstairs until 13 July 2013 and will conclude with an artist talk and Russian high tea on Saturday, 13 July. For more information visit here…

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Keep smiling: Oodlies Kids

Sometimes life can get pretty serious. Tough times can hit at anyone, and sadly, kids are not immune to the challenges that these times can present. Sometimes little ones need a bit of guidance, a bit of a pep talk, to get them smiling again.

Cue whimsy, cue delight, cue Oodlies Kids. Perfect little picture books designed to reassure, empower and entertain kids of all ages.

The Oodlies Kids books, written by Bambi Gordon and illustrated by Joi Murugavell include three great titles…

Smile should lose its mouthIf A Smile Should Lose Its Mouth, A love story for children of all ages. This beautifully rhyme-y and colourful story will help kids remember just how much you love them!

Even if a smile should lose its mouth, if a petal lost its flower or a bowl the spoon misplaced, everything will be “…right and fine as long as you are always mine.”


What You Do Is Not Your Who, A career guide for children of all ages. Perfect for that point in time when kids start to question who does what, and what that means. If you ask me, we could all probably do to have a little flick through this book from time to time, when the day-job starts to grind, and our perspective starts to shift… “even after all we do I’ll still be me and you’ll still be you…”

I think i've lost the magic

I Think I’ve Lost The Magic, A self-help book for children of all ages. I’m sure we all know this feeling, and in my experience, kids feel it too… those days when you wake up in a funk, when the day seems bleak and dreary and your magic is no where to be found. This poetic game of hide and seek, in a house populated with bright, crazy, seussical-like characters will do wonders to helps kids clamber their way back to the sunny side of the street.

All three books include fun rhymes and positive messages and their sing-song pace makes them a joy to read. The illustrations are good enough to frame (like this…) and bring the quirky stories to life and off the page.

Both Bambi and Joi do amazing work, and you might like to to check out their websites here, and here.

In the meantime, you can pick up copies of their books at the TBYL Store now for just $15 each.

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Bambi Gordon and Joi Murugavell will be speaking at the upcoming TBYL Event, “Making Tough Times Easier” exploring how picture books can be used to help parents, carers and educators coach kids through challenges, helping them to become resilient and happier kids.

You can find out more about “Making Tough Times Easier” here…

 

The session will be held at the Wheeler Centre, CBD on Wednesday 27 March 2013 (7pm – 8pm) and you can book tickets now!

 

 

 

Nature on Paper: Capturing Flora

Last month, I was invited to view the latest special exhibition; Capturing Flora: 300 years of Australian botanical art at the Art Gallery of Ballarat. Of course, after the gallery’s impressive exhibition last year, the boys and I decided to take a little day-trip to have a look at this latest collection.

It was a beautiful exhibition in an equally beautiful gallery…

The exhibition Capturing Flora: 300 years of Australian botanical art will take visitors through a historical journey of how Australia’s amazing and diverse flora have been recorded, interpreted and popularized by botanical artists from William Dampier and the early explorers to the present day.

The very first thing that came to mind as I wandered around the huge collection of botanical art currently being housed at the gallery, is that this form of art demonstrates the most incredible melding of art and science. I can’t think of another example of art being used so expertly as part of a scientific craft. The work is meticulous, finely crafted and emotive all at once.

Over decades and generations, the practice of botanical art has changed in practice and product, and this exhibition does what no other has done before. It explores the evolution of Australian botanical art over the centuries as well as highlighting the differences in emphasis and technique between botanical artists.

It demonstrates a kind of illustrative dissection, showing with amazing detail the miracles of nature… in the seed, the petal, the leaves of some of Australia’s most iconic plants; Banksias, Wattles, Kangaroo Paws and Gums.

Through it’s historical content the exhibition communicates well the attitudes of these dedicated artists toward their craft and towards the flowers and plants which they paint…

I have never been guilty of curving a stem on my paper… or of magnifying a flower for gay effect – Louisa Anne Meredith, b. 1812

I thoroughly enjoyed Capturing Flora: 300 years of Australian botanical art and I think gardeners would love it even more than I did. It is both a history lesson, a botany lesson and a fantastic experience of a highly specialised and beautifully crafted art form.

Capturing Flora: 300 years of Australian botanical art will run until Sunday, 2 December 2012 at Art Gallery of Ballarat, 40 Lydiard Street North, Ballarat. Admission is just $12, Concession $8, and Child and Gallery Members get in free.

For more information, visit the gallery’s website here.

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Picturesque Sydney 360

Before my breast cancer ‘interruption’ I used to travel quite a bit for work. In particular, my job required pretty frequent visits to Sydney.

Of late, I’ve tended to stay a little closer to base, not entirely a bad thing given the amount of things going on at home all the time, but I will admit that I do rather miss the picturesque Sydney sights, and look forward to getting back there in the future.

In the meantime, I’ll be satisfied with Sydney 360, a collection of panoramic photographs by the very talented Con Hionis…

“Come on a whirl-wind tour of a magnificent city, using an extraordinary photographic technique. This stunning collection of cylindrical panoramas cleverly spins the view 360-degrees, showing what’s in front, to the sides and behind all at once. Rarely has Sydney been captured so authentically, and so originally.”

Gorgeously presented (my copy came in a stylish black folder, perfect for gift-giving) this collection of photos of Sydney’s most famous sights is unique and spectacular. The technique used by Hionis really sets this book apart, and took over 12 years to perfect. Each photograph comprises up to 24 images, stitched together to form one panorama.

Spiral Fountain, Con Hionis

Spiral Fountain, Con Hionis

The images are striking and artistic. Con has included urban scenes, works of art and beach-side settings. If I had to choose, my favourite shots it would be of Darling Harbour and Customs House. The beaches look incredibly enticing and the true spirit of the city is captured nicely in his street shots.

Coogi Lifeguard, Con Hionis

Coogi Lifeguard, Con Hionis

This book will have me visiting Sydney with a new eye, I can’t wait to explore some of the new places that this book has introduced me too.

You can find out more about Sydney 360 here…

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Weekend outing: Capturing Flora

I hope you don’t mind too much, but I’m interrupting my school holiday series to brag about what a wonderful weekend I’ve got planned!

As well as the obvious, mandatory AFL grand final festivities, I’ve been invited to view the latest special exhibition; Capturing Flora: 300 years of Australian botanical art at the Art Gallery of Ballarat, and so, we’re taking a day-trip!

If the exhibition is anything close to as good as last year’s Australian Modern Masterpieces from the Art Gallery of New South Wales it’ll be well worth the day out.

I’ll be sure to take a few photos and post a full review once I’ve taken a look, but I wanted to let you know that this really special show is now open…

The exhibition Capturing Flora: 300 years of Australian botanical art will take visitors through a historical journey of how Australia’s amazing and diverse flora have been recorded, interpreted and popularized by botanical artists from William Dampier and the early explorers to the present day.

Over decades and generations, the practice of botanical art has changed in practice and product, and this exhibition does what no other has done before. It explores the evolution of Australian botanical art over the centuries as well as highlighting the differences in emphasis and technique between botanical artists. It promises to be both beautiful and intelligent.

Capturing Flora: 300 years of Australian botanical art will run from Tuesday, 25 September to Sunday, 2 December 2012 at Art Gallery of Ballarat, 40 Lydiard Street North, Ballarat. Admission is just $12, Concession $8, and Child and Gallery Members get in free.

For more information, visit the gallery’s website here.

Stay tuned for more…

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Arts, plus books…

As you know, I love art and, to state the obvious, I love books. But rarely do the two come together quite like this…

Last week, I attended the opening of a unique and intimate art exhibition called Ex Libris, on now at the Firestation Print Studio in Malvern:

“Ex Libris” or bookplates are decorative seals inserted within the opening pages of a book to celebrate possession.

“Ex Libris” is a Latin term meaning “from the books”. Bookplates first came into use in 15th century Germany after the invention of the printing press. The prestige associated with “Ex Libris” saw them spread throughout Europe to the United States of America and later Australia… Text by Carmen Roche

If this exhibition is anything to judge by, I think the practice of bookplates should see a resurgence!

The show consists of a collection of printed bookplates, skilfully curated by Trudy Rice and produced by Australian artists, and all inspired by a book of their own choice.

Artist: Carmel O’Connor

It showcases both the art of print-making, and the beauty of the book as an object.

Artist: Lisa Sewards

The space itself is worth a visit. An old firehouse, the Firestation Print Studio is a fantastic facility…

Plus I was able to take home some of the work, in the form of reproduced, sticker bookplates. Perfect for keeping track of my favourite books, particularly those that are often borrowed by friends.

Each set of bookplates sells for $20, and all funds go to supporting this amazing community-run art studio.

Ex Libris runs until the 2 September, and for full details visit the Firestation Print Studio’s website.

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My Monday: Masterpiece?

I’m a bit pressed for time today, so I here’s a very quick pic.

Last week I bravely took myself off to a friend’s house for a painting night – I’d promised myself at the start of the year that I’d make some attempts to rekindle my ‘artistic side’ and this seemed like a pretty good way to start.

I’m so glad that I went. We had the lovely evening; wine, chocolate, music and conversation. And I made this…

It’s no masterpiece, but I’m extremely happy to have a finished piece after one evening’s work and at least it’s decent enough to hang on the wall for a little while. Also, much to my delight I’ve also got a bit of an urge to paint some more now too!

When you’ve got a second, why don’t you check out Curry Girl’s beautiful work too, on her blog here. Her hospitality and instruction was wonderful and very, very helpful.

Do you paint? Draw? Has it been a while?

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True to my word…

I’ve  been invited to my friend’s house for a ‘painting night’ tonight.

I almost said no, and then I remembered this…

So I’ve raided the art box and taken a trip to the art supplies shop, and this is what I’ve come up with…

Wish me luck?

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Now the year has started

I’ve very much enjoyed the break – as a chance to stay at home, get a bit of reading done, and set up some new and exciting TBYL offerings. Still, I’ll admit that by last week I was ready to get out and about again.

Only now do I feel like the year has really, truly started – the 2012 events have begun.

I’ve had three ‘feasts’ at my house helping me feel good about my new years resolutions. I’ve bought tickets to the Wheeler Centre’s Gala 2012: Stories to Believe In, and also to hear from philosopher and author Alain de Botton next month. And I’ve attended my first art exhibition for the year, and it was stunning.

A dear friend of mine and very talented artist, Lisa Sewards joined forces with the equally exceptional Dave Dando and Kathryn Gribbin to share this gorgeous show; Owl the urban edge.

Their work blended together so seamlessly, so smoothly, it felt as though they’d spent months in a room together deciding what to paint, build and photograph. The combination of huge metal and copper sculptures, lightboxes, and works on paper worked superbly. The gentle prints and drawings contrasted with the imposing sculptures, capturing the often contradictory nature of the owl.

The opening was incredibly well attended, it’s my guess that this will be a really popular show – well worth a visit.

To add to an already wonderful afternoon, Owl the urban edge was introduced by storyteller, Ron Murray who shared the owl creation story – children and adults alike where transfixed by his colourful tale and his traditional music. Oscar was absolutely fascinated, it was the first time he’d ever heard a didgeridoo , and his reaction was priceless.

I was trying to pick a favourite, a piece that particularly stood out, and it’s near-on impossible. I love Lisa’s work, without exception her prints and paintings are moving, gentle, emotive. Dave’s sculpture is truly unique, it is attention grabbing in its skill and its scale. Kathryn’s work goes many steps beyond photography – her compositions are haunting, three-dimensional experiences of the bush. I’ve one of her works in my lounge-room (which I bought from the Pink Lady Art Exhibition in 2010) and it’s fair to say that it’s one of my favourite possessions.

All around, this is a show worth a visit, and pieces worth purchase if you’re on the look out for some original art.

The show runs until February 4th 2012 at Steps Gallery, 62 Lygon Street, Carlton South.

Urban wildlife: Owl, the urban edge

Frighteningly, everyone’s calendar’s seem to have filled up for December already, so I thought I’d skip straight to January.

The weather will be warm, we’ll have recovered from the festivities, and eased nicely into a calmer, quieter, holiday pace. And what better way to enjoy the wonderful month of January than with an art exhibition. Sounds to me to be a very fitting way to start off a brand new year.

A dear friend of mine and very talented artist, Lisa Sewards has joined forces with the equally exceptional Dave Dando and Kathryn Gribbin to bring us their gorgeous show; Owl the urban edge.

I can’t recommend this collection of work highly enough, it’ll be mixed, edgy and earthy. I’ll be there on day one. I’m going to take the kids’ too, especially since owls are an absolute favourite for Oscar. He’s sure to love Ron Murray’s performance at the opening, particularly when he shares the owl creation story.

The exhibition will include huge metal and copper sculptures, lightboxes, and works on paper including fusions of photographs, drawings and printmaking applications. The exhibition is bound to appeal to all art lovers including devotees of this emblematic bird!

The show opens Saturday, January 21st 3-5pm and runs until February 4th 2012 at Steps Gallery, 62 Lygon Street, Carlton South.

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