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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With my two hands

It’s New Year’s Eve and the bubbles are chilling. The kids are revved up, and we’re looking forward to catching up with some good friends over the next couple of days.

I’ve been giving some thought to my third, and final new year’s resolution for 2012. After some consideration, I’ve made up my mind. I’ll admit, I think this one will be the hardest to stick too.

My third resolution for 2012: I will set out to make something, with my own two hands, at least once every couple of weeks.

Having rediscovered the joy of writing for writing’s sake, this year I hope to do the same thing with art.

Creating, be it drawing, printing, painting or constructing is one of those things-to-do that so often falls off the end of the to-do-list. It’s not a necessity, so it tends to get laid by the wayside of the average day. But, it is a fabulous way to relax, almost therapeutic and therefore worthy of a little time and attention.

Keep an eye out, I might share a few things here and there. But, more likely what I come up with will be just for me, and more often for the sake of the process much more than the sake of the product.

That’s my big three, wish me luck? I reckon if I get even half-way there on these three new year’s wishes, I’ll have a pretty sweet year.

A huge thanks to everyone for reading That Book You Like this year. Every time you visit I smile, and your comments make me feel connected to a most amazing, wide-reaching community of bookish people. Watch out for big things from TBYL in 2012. As you’ve probably noticed, I’m going to be pushing the envelope and trying some new things (i.e. The Book Club, The Mini-Store) and I’d love for you to get involved. I will of course keep reading and reviewing with abandon.

Again, thank-you and a Happy New Year to you all!

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Art of the Brick

It was Evan’s turn today for a city day-trip, and along with some school buddies we headed off into Federation Square for a bit of Lego action. I’ve been really looking forward to seeing Nathan Sawaya’s Art of the Brick, and it did not disappoint.

I’m pretty sure I’m safe in saying that once a Lego kid, always a Lego kid, and I am most certainly a fan of the little plastic block. In saying that, I wouldn’t have been as interested in seeing a Legoland type of display – cityscapes, spaceships, car-like creations. Although these types of structures require immense talent and incredibly steady hands, it’s not so much the type of things I’m interested in seeing.

Nathan Sawaya’s exhibition is very different to this. His work is sculptural, emotional, and in many ways very mature. It’s a fascinating contrast between medium and content. It’s a bit like seeing the Mona Lisa drawn in crayon…it perplexes one just a little.

And although I think the boys were a little distracted by the prospect of laser skirmish in the afternoon (oh boys…), I think Evan got into the show almost as much as I did. He was suitably impressed by the level of difficulty, both in terms of the construction and the transportation of the sculptures. I think he got the contrast too. He was compelled to get up very close, to look at the details, to study the expressions on the Lego faces all with a little frown on his own face.

He loved the dinosaur, huge and tactile, and he spent a fair while studying the globe of the world. He was also very keen on the coloured skulls, bright and bold on the black wall – he was really fascinated by their symmetry, four skulls exactly the same, only different in colour.

Personally, I particularly like Mask and Yellow, and I’ll admit I would have liked one the skulls to take home for my wall.

We didn’t stay for ages, just long enough to look at everything a couple of times. It was pretty busy, but not overwhelmingly so. Just the right amount of action to make you feel you were in the middle of a pretty exciting show. I noticed that the ‘Play and Build’ sessions were solidly booked out for most of the day – luckily the kids weren’t that keen on doing building of their own, but had they been, pre-booking would have been a must.

This is a really interesting show, well worth looking at as a day out. Being in Federation Square, it’s in a great location too, very easy to get to. If you’re interested in finding out more, you can check out their link on Little Melbourne’s site.

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Frankly my dear…

I’ve always had a bit of a fascination with how words work, and how they can be used for better or worse to influence people. For this reason, Words that Hijack the Brain seemed right up my ally.  I was keen to hear some ideas that might shed some light on how those pesky little songs, nagging trends and clever jingles burrow themselves deeply into our brains and pass from person to person so readily.

The lecture was presented by Judi Menzies, the moderator of the Philosophy Group (an informal group that runs out of the library and meets to discuss the big questions) and she kindly presented the lecture as part of the 2011 Bayside Literary Festival.

Although the lecture itself didn’t hang together quite right, it introduced some really interesting ideas.  Not the least of which was the basic idea of Memes, a term used to describe “an idea, behavior or style that spreads from person to person within a culture.” A meme is by definition self-replicating, and as Judi notes, is a little like a virus that spreads through a culture, most often harmlessly. Interestingly they can at times take on a more sinister shape.

I didn’t completely agree with everything that Judi put forward, and I think it might have been beneficial to hear more about her fear of the more negative, fundamental memes (statements of religious zeal, slogans of violence or revenge etc). Likewise, I would have liked her to venture a guess as to what it is that makes phrases like ‘Chick, chick, boom‘ or classic lines like ‘Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn‘ strike such a cultural cord, taking root quickly and immovably. Is it that they’re particularly clever? Is it that they are annoying? Maybe it’s that they have a sing-song quality, making them easy to remember (or hard to forget)?

There’s no doubt, the ideas presented were very interesting and I might spend a little bit of time looking into this further.

Image: Nicky Johnston

The event was held at the Brighton Library, and so I got to check out Nicky Johnston’s art while I was there. It was really great to see a range of Nicky’s illustrations and scenic pieces.

Nicky is the author of two great kid’s book, Go Away, Mr Worrythoughts and Happy Thoughts are Everywhere written to help parent’s work with anxious kids, as Nicky says – their ‘little worriers.’ She’s also put together resource kits to further assist families for whom childhood mental health issues are presenting challenges. If you’d like to find out more about her books, you can check out further information at her website…

Before I go tonight, I’ve got to confess that against my better judgement June isn’t looking much quieter than May was. I’m very pleased to have picked up some tickets to see the play The Haunting of Daniel Gartell, starring John Wood, Samuel Johnson and Marcella Russo, showing at Fortyfive Downstairs. Check out discount tix here. I’m also pretty keen to get along to a couple of kids’ events in the next couple of weeks, which I’ll post about over the weekend.

As an aside, I’ve promised myself that I’ll get some reading done this weekend. I hope that you can put your feet up and steal a few reading moments for yourself this weekend.

Discovering new delights

Well, I think I’ve almost caught my breath after a pretty busy weekend of doing, seeing and thinking. I must admit, I don’t quite have the stamina I used to for a day on my feet, thanks to those delightful rounds of chemo last year. But, I am feeling very pleased with myself, and with how much I’ve managed to get along to this last week. I do feel I’m making up for lost time rather nicely.

And so, Saturday the boys set off for the footy, and I wandered off to the Royal Exhibition Building to see Art Melbourne. It’s an amazing venue, and the exhibitors filled the space most impressively.

It took me a little while to get my bearings, but once I did I started to work my way up and down the aisles so as not to miss anything. To start with I wasn’t so sure that I’d find anything that took my fancy… there seemed to be a bit of a glut of oil paintings (not my favourite medium) and a bit of the work seemed to come across as a little ‘decorative’. Nonetheless, after I paused for a few minutes to watch a printing demonstration by Basil Hall, of Basil Hall Editions in Darwin, my head stopped spinning from the sensory overload that had hit me when I first walked in and I started to be able to sift through the same-y work, to find the brilliant pieces.

I could have loitered around the display by Urban Uprising all afternoon, so taken was I by the works they had chosen to show – Shepard Fairey (famous for that Obama poster), Marsha Meredith and Banksy. Urban Uprising is a Sydney-based gallery, and you might like to check out their website for some samples of their work. They’re in the process of moving from their Darlinghurst address, so keep an eye on the site for their new address.

I was very pleased to get to catch up with Joi Murugavell and her whimsical Oodlies. You’ve already heard about how much I like Joi’s work, but I’ll say it again anyway. If you ask me (which I’m assuming you are) Joi’s work really was a stand-out on the day. It had so much more life to it than much of the other work and it’s originality was drawing crowds. Oodlies are full of colour, boldly presented on the page and are at times delightfully naughty. I loved the hand-drawn chairs, and the shoes were being very well received.

Image: Joi Murugavell

Last to catch my eye was a really unassuming little stand featuring works by Alana Aphoy Photography. Her original photography, worked with photoshop to construct new and mesmerising images really fascinated me. Her shots would have been great works in their unworked form, but the work done to them has created a new, rich landscape. If you like photography that’s a little left of centre, check out the artist’s site here…

Image: Alana Aphoy

As you can see, I ended up finding a few great collections of work to which I took a shine and although I left the hall a little worse for wear, needing a good sit down, I think it was a most worthwhile day out. Thanks to Rushcrowds for making it so easy for me to get along on the day.

Stay tuned…
Tomorrow, I’ll put together a few thoughts about  June Loves’ chat about ‘Hen-Lit!’ The Shelly Beach Writers’ Group‘ part of the Bayside Literary Festival.

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May your May be very busy…

The day has wizzed by me I’m afraid, and I’ve only gotten a fraction of the jobs done that I’d hoped to. I am now miles behind myself, which probably serves me right for galavanting around town this week.

Despite this, I’m pleased to say that I’ve not learnt my lesson, and that I’ve got more than a few outings on the cards for the next couple of weeks. May is certainly turning out to be a busy month.

First on the cards is Art Melbourne, the affordable art show which is being held at the Royal Exhibition Building this weekend.  It opens tonight (I’m fairly sure tickets are still available through their website), and the show continues until Sunday. I’m hoping to get there myself on the weekend, and I can’t wait to check out some of the artistic talents around, local and otherwise who are looking to spruik their wares.

I’ll be especially on the look out for Joi’s Oodlies, which’ll be at stand S19, and I’m keen to see local gallery Suburban Gallery in stand C19.

If you’re keen on coming along at some stage, tickets are available online or at the door.  If you don’t get there, I’ll be sure to share a few of the stand-outs next week.

Next up is the 2011 Bayside Literary Festival which opens tomorrow night and runs until 27 May 2011. It’s a pretty jam-packed program featuring a really great range of authors, illustrators, experts and thinkers.  You’ll find the program here and I’ll have a bit more of a chat about a few of the events in tomorrow’s blog post.  In addition, if you’re in Brighton or Beaumaris, you might like to pop in to their libraries’ as they’re featuring art by Nicky Johnston and Pete Pascoe (Nicky at Brighton, Pete at Beaumaris) to complement the festival.

Finally, as a bookish aside, I bought Evan a new book today. He needed a book for on the bus when he goes on camp, and so I thought I’d better just take a punt and buy him something today (although normally I’d make sure he was there to help choose.)  Anyway, hoping for the best, I got him a copy of a book call Olaf the Viking, by Martin Conway. It looks to be pitched about right, and seems to have a bit of humour about it.  Stay tuned to hear Ev’s verdict.

In short, May may be very busy, but most certainly it’ll be full of fun.

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A little time out this afternoon

Just a quick little share for this afternoon.

I was very excited to see Sarah Wilson’s blog post today – she’s been chatting to a fav of mine, Joi Murugavell, who you might remember me raving about way back when I first started this blog. I was given an Oodlie for my birthday, and it’s one of my favourite things of 2011.

So, a little afternoon reading for you to enjoy, at Sarah’s blog.  Take a minute out to read about this great artist and entertaining Twitterer @joidesign.

Stay tuned to TBYL…
Tomorrow, a further sneak-peak at the upcoming Mt Zero Cabin 1 at the Grampians exhibition, opening 12 May 2011.  I’m also, in the next couple of days, going to feature a few events from the Bayside Literary Festival program.

And don’t forget, for a chance to win a copy of Sonya Harnett’s ‘Of a Boy’ please like and share our Facebook  page.  Full details here…

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Lovely Lisa

I’ve just gotten hold of a couple more pieces from the upcoming Mt Zero Cabin 1 at the Grampians exhibition, this time by the lovely Lisa Sewards…

An another…

And one more special treat…

Not only am I now looking forward to the exhibition, but I’ve got the most incredible hankering for a weekend in the Grampians.

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A sneak peak

As promised, I’m pleased to be able to share with you a sneak peak at a couple of works that are going to be shown in the Mt Zero Cabin 1 at the Grampians exhibition coming up 11 May 2011 at the Firestation Print Studio.

These two pieces are by artist Trudy Rice, and are a wonderful example of the talent which will be on show.  Firstly, a piece perfectly in keeping with the amazing Autumn that is setting into Melbourne at the moment…

And secondly, a piece that reminds me very much of weeks spent camping as a teenager in Halls Gap:

If you’d like to find out a bit more about Trudy and her work, you might like to have a look around her site.

The Grampians are one of my favourite places, and I’m very much looking forward to seeing this exhibition. Definitely one for the diary.

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Happy Easter all

Nothing quite like putting the kids to work on a public holiday.   This afternoon they’ve been hard at work making Easter cards, a most lovely way to spend a bit of family time.

Wishing you all a Happy Easter, and I hope you have a chance to put your feet up and read a good book for a bit.

Cheers, Mandi J

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