Wednesday, 30 July 2014

New memories and old friends

These have been my two last full days in Sydney, so I've packed in a lot of last minute memories: visit to the Archibald Prize; ferry trip to Manly ; walk over to Shelly Beach and up the headland; views of Wednesday afternoon sailing, including AUS21 in full flight, on the way back; iced coffee at the Opera Bar

My sister also made last night incredibly special with front row tickets to Strictly Ballroom, the musical.  Outrageous , over the top and fantastic fun.

I'm packing up soon, but just time to get a few photos of quilts that I made before I started blogging.

Panel and border by Laurel Burch.

Australian charm pack

I can't remember the name of this block, but it was good to be reminded of what an effective quilt this makes.

Monday, 28 July 2014

Water, water everywhere...........

What an incredible 10 days, from Bundeena to Noosa, with several changes of temperature in between, never mind the change in wardrobe.  I am so grateful to my sister and her partner for arranging these wonderful experiences during my stay in Australia.

Bundeena.  Water and cliffs. The sky varied hugely during the three days.

A freezing southerly meant that we needed the open fire every night.

There was no eating outside, so the wildlife had to go hungry this time.

Lovely sunset

Then off to more incredible beaches, with a substantial difference in temperature, with water temperatures of 20 degrees C which seemed chilly to my sister, but almost tropical to me.

I was mesmerised by the colours of the water, the effect of the light on the rocks and  the patterns of the waves.  Too many photos to show but some key memories are below.  Animal encounters this time were: brushturkeys catching an enormous worm; shoals of fish in the shallows as we swam and tumbling through the light shining through the back of a rising wave; and a highlight of finding a pair of sea eagles up a quiet creek, seeing one of them catch a fish and then eat it in front of us.

Work of an anonymous beach artist

 Stitching on the beach

 Stitching and painting with ochre from the local cliffs

Friday, 18 July 2014

City adventures - sculpture, fashion, froth, textiles, wildlife large and small

The past few days have been full of art and more wildlife encounters.  First of all a walk around Sydney finding urban sculpture. 

"Youngster: by Caroline Rothwell on George Street.

Forgotten Songs by Michael Thomas Hill, which is a sculptural and aural installation that changes between night and day.

I loved the shapes of the bottom of the cages against the grid of the building.

Next to the Powerhouse Museum, to see the costumes from the film of Strictly Ballroom, and to whet my appetite for the musical that we are going to see in 10 days.  These costumes were even more over the top than I had expected.

At the same museum, there were examples of some of the work of the final year fashion students from Sydney colleges.  Instead of sketchbooks, they had inspiration boxes in front of their creations, which was a good way to demonstrate the breadth of their influences.  First Emma Macgregor's gorgeous, ethereal dresses

Then the wonderful sculptural creations of Yousef Akbar

Finally, on the way to an early dinner at Movida, ( smoked tomato sorbet, anyone?) an unexpected encounter with two young dancers in Kimber Lane, where there is another of the public art installations.

The next day started early with a train to Newcastle to visit a long-term friend.  When
I am in a culture wher eno English is spoken , I am less struck by the oddities of that culture than when I am in other English-speaking country.  One of these oddities was the train notceboard, showing that an empty train would be passing - blurry as I didn't have my camera set up correctly.

This was my first morning of rain during my visit, and the journey through the Hawkesbury river area was full of misty valleys and dark reflections on the water.

I did do some stitching on the 2h journey - as i was going up to see some textiles, I felt the need to to do.

The key visual experience of the trip was to visit an exhibition at Timeless Textiles, an intriguing textile gallery.  This was a beautiful space, and the key exhibition was of pieces by Omila Bir,  ( who doesn't seem to have a website) shibori fabrics, dyed using natural dyes.

I was particularly intrigued by the pieces with very regular squares and rectangles of resist.

A beautiful large piece had wonderful patterns

The owner of the gallery is a felter, and attracts teachers who are internationally famous, such as Kerr Grabowski, known for her work with deconstructed screen printing.  One of Kerr's scarves was for sale in the shop.

New to me was the name of Meredith Woolnough, whose machine stitched pictures / sculptures / installations were breathtaking.

Next to the Art Gallery of Newcastle, whose policy on photography is directly in opposition to that of all other galleries I have visited on this trip, in that no photography is allowed.  As this is a public collection, that seems very inconsistent to me.  Lots of native Australian artists, and some wonderful cut paper by Kylie Stillman.

Lastly, a walk along Bar Beach, to see where my sister did a triathlon, and thrill of thrills, two whales playing in the bay about 500m offshore.  Fins, backs and spouts, but no tails, still an incredible thing for a Brit to see.

Lots more to come, but I'm now probably out of blogging opportunities for 10 days, as we are off to here, and then to here.

PS the small wildlife encounter, was at a yoga class at a city gym, when in the middle of the warrior poses, and the supposedly calm breathing, a huge cockroach made its way down the length of the gym.  The instructor took a very non-yogic action to get rid of it.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Walks, wildlife, and well...... too bad

A bushwalk yesterday to the idyllic Flint and Steel Beach at West Head.  One of the advantages for me of being here in the winter, is being able to do these hikes without being too hot or being bombarded by flies.  Once on the beach, I was again amazed by the colours, shapes and sculptures in the  sandstone.

Sitting quietly on the rocks, feet in the water, half-eaten roll in hand, I then had that apocryphal interaction with Australian wildlife, when a kookaburra flew over my shoulder and grabbed the remainder of the roll out of my hand.  It was so quick and quiet, astonishing.

Sea eagles then flew overhead, helping with the very steep climb back to the top.  A drive over to Palm Beach followed, with a delicious snack at the Palm Beach Boathouse, where the flowers, view and coffee decoration were quirky and fun.

The "well....too bad"  part, is that I heard that  my entry for "Dislocation" was not juried in to the exhibition.  There's always next year.

Monday, 14 July 2014

Blue is the colour - football is not is the game

There had to be a world cup reference today, but I'm not a fan, so the reference is in song.  Every day, for the past 9 days, I have pulled back the curtains to cerulean blue skies - except for yesterday, when we met the dawn on the way to the Bold and Beautiful morning swim at Manly.  Since the air temperature was about 7 degrees C ( although I was assured that the water temperature was a balmy 17 degrees C),  I was on photography and coffee duties only.

As the sun came up, the sandstone on the walk to Shelly Beach glowed with warmth - which had not manifested itself yet in my fingers.

The scene on the beach on the return walk was full of colour, interesting shapes and shadows.

Blue has also manifested itself in a previous day's bike ride  ( my sister is very fit, luckily enough she had a great bike for me to borrow).  View from the top of the Gladesville Bridge.

and in a wonderful sunset, seen as the ferry home was leaving Circular Quay.

I am saturated with inspiration, from visits to the Art Gallery of NSW, where there seems to be a much greater representation of women artists that in comparable public  galleries in the UK.  I really enjoyed the woodcuts of Margaret Preston, the award winning portrait by Ben Quilty ( who has a show on in London until 3rd August at the Saatchi Gallery).  The paint is spread so thickly on this painting, it feels edible.

Awe-inspiring Chinese contemporary art at the White Rabbit Collection, particularly their wall of paintings, which they name the Great Wall of China.  There is a terrific review of the current show here.  Thought-provoking in the extreme.

A walk across the road to see Halo, an amazing collaboration between art, engineering and science, and Sea Mirror.

In between, inspiration everywhere, from colours at food stalls

to vending machines that seem bizarre to the British eye - flip flop emergency?  No problem.

Wonderful origami gallery at Kinokuyima books, but no photography allowed inside.  In between all of that I've been doing some sketchbooking and some stitching, but that will need to wait for another day, as we are about to go to here.