Friday, January 29, 2010

Stacks and stacks and shelves and shelves of painted books

I am really drawn to paintings of books.  Is it because of my library obsession? There is an undeniable cosiness to shelf upon shelf of books. Especially shelves that go sky high.

(When we put shelves last year in I had a crazy idea of raising the ceiling into the roof and having two levels, like a mezzanine, of shelves, a bit like something out of a Jules Verne book - you know those be-whiskered men who always have wonderful studies full of leather bound books, telescopes, globes, stuffed animals, a brandy balloon, a sextant, lots of framed maps etc. Like that. People looked at me like I was insane when I suggested it.)

I have the same feeling when I am in a bookshop, all those wonderful titles and covers, just waiting to be devoured. Or perhaps it is because really, aside from what is inside, like a magical package, the outside of a book is also often a thing of beauty.

Important note: all of the images in this post are paintings, not photographs, mostly oil or acrylic on canvas.

First up, Donald Bradford, an artist originally from California. Amongst other things, he paints piles of books and also open books.

(Stack of Books Spanish Still Life 1995)

(Open Book Francis Bacon 1995)

You can see more Donald Bradford here.

His foreshortened books make me think of this painting,  Mantegna's Lamentation over the Dead Christ (c.1480). When you realise that the Gothic flat no perspective style was still being practiced over many parts of Europe at this time the revolutionary nature of this image really hits you.  Of course pedants point out that a truly foreshortened image would have meant that the feet were enormous, large enough to block the rest of the body. This is in the Brera gallery in Milan. Worth seeing in real life, as they say.

These works are by Holly Farrell. She also does paintings of hats, couches, shoes, bowls etc, which sounds mundane but is not.   See her work here.

(Gardening Books 2009)

(Cookbooks 2009)

(Books 2009)

These photorealistic paintings are by Paul Beliveau, a Canadian.  Some of his works are found here.

A painter I have posted on before is Australian Victoria Reichelt.   This is a very recent work (White Pages) which is being exhibited in Fitzroy at the Diane Tanzer Gallery

Here are some works from last year:

(Purple Haze 2009)

(Green Room 2009)

These more traditional still life style works are by Christopher Stott. He also has a blog here.

These are by Jane Mount who also sells good value prints of her work on Etsy.

If you look closely you can pick out the books, including a biography of the wonderful Bruce Chatwin.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

A recipe free easy Australia Day Lunch

(Australia Day lunch at home 2010)

26 January marks the date (in 1788) in which the First Fleet (11 ships in all) first sailed into Sydney Cove and Captain Arthur Philip raised the Union Jack over the soil of Terra Nullius.

Now, Australia Day is a day of parades, citizenship ceremonies, the announcement of the Australian of the year (congratulations Maggie Beer, wonderful SA cook) the Big Day Out (music festival in Melbourne), pompous speechifying by politicians and of course, most importantly, a barbeque.

Australia Day has become more and more popular over the last few decades. To me, it is all a bit forced and I never like rampant nationalism anyway (what is with all those caps and hats with the flag on them?). My preferred Australian symbolic day is ANZAC day.

Anyway, in keeping with the Aussie tradition we hauled our ugly, rarely used but very effective barbeque out from the scary side of the house for its annual Australia Day glimpse of sunshine.

I don't know why an Australia Day barbeque makes me think Greek, but it does.

So this is what we ate:

First, Greek Salad: chop cos lettuce, roma tomatoes, lebanese cucumber, red onion into shapes of your choosing (I do wedges), sprinkle with some chopped mint and oregano, scatter with Australian fetta and dress with olive oil, red wine vinegar and mustard dressing. Divine. I could live on this salad.

Then, crispy potatoes: peel and chop potatoes* into evenly sized chunks, toss in a non stick saucepan with a lid along with a large spoonful of duck fat, 6 squashed garlic cloves and some sprigs of rosemary, put the lid on and cook on medium heat (the lid makes them cook more quickly you should be able to do this in about 35 minutes)
* I use Nicola but any waxy potato should do.

Then we had lamb. Unfortunately I have no photos because we were all so starving we ate it all before I could photograph it. I marinated french cut lamb cutlets overnight in olive oil, lemon juice, garlic chopped and mint. Cook for 3 mins max on each side on the ugly bbq.

To finish - pavlova: actually this does require a recipe - Nigella Lawson has one in a couple of her books, the original and best is a Stephanie Alexander from The Cooks Companion. Once you have mastered the chewy crunchy meringue base of this dish there is no going back.

I couldn't find passionfruit so I sliced up some mango, and in fact I rather like the clean yellow and white appearance of this pavlova.


And if your bbq is really getting you down, why not this one designed for Electrolux by Jeppe Utzon, grandson of the architect of Sydney Opera House, Jorn Utzon. Only $5,900 and all that beauty can be yours.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Cushions and Three More Things

Recently I have been the unworthy recipient of some awards.

From Julie at Being Ruby, a 5 Diamonds award.

From Jacqueline at Home, a Happy 101 award.

From James at Garvin Weasel, a Kreativ Blogger award.

Thank you all. In the interests of playing fair here is a little grab bag of things that make me happy\sad\inspire me\that may be vaguely interesting or that you might not already know. No kittens or puppies or flowers will appear in this post, even though these things all make me feel reasonably happy.

1. Cushion-mania

Like many others, I too have discovered the magical thrill of making my own cushion covers and thereby defeating wily over-priced cushion purveyors world wide.

(cushion made with Pakistani textile remnant)

(cushion made with an Amy Butler Midwestern Modern fabric for the green room)

(cushion for sunny lunches outside)

2. Sir Graham Berry

Does this man not have the most interesting, slightly ruthless yet elegantly dishevelled face? A man of Churchillan determination and persistence, born in London in 1822, the son of a victualler, he emigrated to Australia in 1852, set up a grocer shop in Prahran, 9 years later was a member of Parliament, first for East Melbourne, then Collingwood, then Geelong. He was premier of Victoria three times between 1875 and 1881.

A newspaper owner, protectionist and staunch adversary of the Legislative Assembly, at that time controlled by Victoria's land owning squatters (who owned most of Victoria's land), his actions as premier gave rise to class conflict, with massive torchlit processions. Some saw Berry as a radical, who sought to do away with legislative protections. Others as a man of the people who sought to defy the Assembly which 'robs the people of the gold in the soil'.

I mention him first because he is one of Victoria's leading early liberal lights and one of my favourite politicians and second because he is my great-great-great-great-great grandfather. Of course in the manner of families (mine is secretive - although aren't they all?) I only found this out about two weeks ago.

(Disclaimer: it is possible that half of Melbourne can claim Sir Graham as an ancestor. He had 20 children. No mean feat. But of course even more impressive for his two wives).

3. Invitations from a lost era

Well maybe not lost in the sense that WW1 destroyed the Edwardian era. But 1988 sure seems a long time ago.

I am an unsentimental nostalgist. Or should that be a disorganised hoarder? Actually I am so organised that we have a section in our filing cabinet for Lego instructions for every Lego item we own.

I have also kept every single invitation, postcard, letter, thank-you letter, birthday card, travel brochure, ticket, receipt, program, love letter, doomed first novel attempt I have ever created or received.

And these go back a long way:

(Now a fantastic architect so this invitation was very apt)

(1987 - note price of the evening - $32 including full bar)

(engraved invitations from 1988)

(relaunch of my favourite youthful haunt, the Redhead in Albert Park, in 1994)

4. Overeducation

I have three degrees, one in Fine Arts, a Bachelor of Laws and a Master of Laws.

My favourite judge ever is the incomparable Lord Denning, Master of the Rolls, Judge of the High Court and Privy Council in Britain, who died in 1999 at the age of 100. I am not alone in this of course. Every law student finds his judgements an oasis in the desert of verbosity so often seen in case law.

A man of succinctness and razor sharp intellect, he was a reformist lawyer who had no difficulty seeing right from wrong and worked hard to ensure the law remained relevant.

How can you not love someone who commenced a judgement thus:

''It happened on April 19, 1964. It was bluebell time in Kent'. (Hinz v Berry (1970) 2 QB 40)

During his time as a judge he made many significant changes to the common law including creating the right to recover for negligent misstatement, the principle that the state should have to prove that a war veteren's injury was not caused by service (previously the injured person had the burden of proving the cause), the right of a deserted wife to remain in the family home and many more.

This could be said to sum up his approach to change and reform in the law:

'What is the argument on the other side? Only this, that no case has been found in which it has been done before. That argument does not appeal to me in the least. If we never do anything which has not been done before, we shall never get anywhere. The law will stand whilst the rest of the world goes on, and that will be bad for both' (Packer v Packer [1953] 2 AER 127)

Friday, January 22, 2010

Hidden Houses in Melbourne

Some of you may have seen pictures (on Desire to Inspire or elsewhere) of this Melbourne house by Kavellaris Urban Design. It has a perforated metal facade (to comply with local planning regulations about retaining the local character of an innner urban suburb) with walls which open out to let in the rain and dry hot heat.

A few people have criticised this house (you can see this debate here) but to me it is a very Melbourne structure, and is not a 'one off'. It blends in, and hides its beauty within.

Melbourne is not a thrusting look at me city. Unlike Some Other cities to the North

Her best features are sometimes hidden behind high ficus covered walls. (And I don't care what anyone says - I love ficus. I love its thick greeny leaves which hide all manner of ills and ugliness.)

or knobbled red brick warehouse facades

or hidden behind a mirror facade, which cheekily reflects the 'heritage' all around it:

House in Tyson Street, Richmond, by Jackson Clements Burrows

complete with hidden roof top deck:

or turned into a commentary on our celebrity culture:

(Pamela Anderson house, in Albert Park, by Cassandra Fahey)

or maybe just a metal facade or wooden slats will do the necessary job of hiding:

Toorak house by SAAJ Design

(Not sure, have lost source for this)

and for the ultimate hidey hole, why not half bury the house underground:

(Narveno house, Hawthorn, McBride Charles Ryan)

Is there anything better than house as fortress and protection from the outside world?

(Images (1)-(3) KUD (5) Glimpse of Style (6) JCBA (7) Flickr (8) SAAJ (10) McBride Charles Ryan)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Feeling Sad

Feeling Sad is a book my daughter chose herself last year from our local book shop, Berkelouw. Usually she prevaricates so I don't know if the cover grabbed her or if she was indeed feeling sad.

We read it again this week and it seemed apt, given the sad times we live in.

The book, by Sarah Verroken, a graphic designer, plays on the theme of the need we all have for colour in our lives.

This book tells the story of a duck who is sad because his world is black and white. The soft little red friend (who looks like a cross between a jelly bean baby and a gingerbread man) he holds is called Dudley.

For some reason this image of black rain and a tiny pointless leaf shelter really made me think of the terrible situation the Haitians are facing today.

Duck is not prepared to put up with an entirely unsatisfactory black and white world. Would you? He goes exploring and eventually page by page the sun comes out and colour comes to his world.

The illustrations in this book are so textural and interesting. I assume some kind of woodblock or lino cut technique has been used.

I don't know what it is about ducks and children's books. I have a number of duck based children's books which are pretty glum. It's true they generally come good at the end, but they so often have a sad overtone. And yet you never see a depressing book about a sad pig who lives in a black and white world or can't walk or has no family do you?

To demonstrate the point, I present Exhibit 1:

This famous story is about Ping the Duck who lives happily on the Yangtse River until one day he is captured by fisherman. Not just any fisherman. The ones who put metal rings around the birds (cormorants, I think) they keep on the river and force them to dive for fish (the rings stop them swallowing the fish). When I was little this was my first introduction to boats called junks, and cruelty to animals.

Exhibit 2 is a book about a wooden duck with a pole through his back who lives on a merry-go-round. All this duck wants is to fly and that wooden pole is an obvious impediment.

He then meets a real baby duck whom he raises himself. One day the baby duck grows up and leaves the wooden duck. The wooden duck is sad, and things only get better when the real duck returns to give wooden duck a real ride in the sky. Then the baby duck leaves again for good. But merry-go-round duck is happy, as his one dream (to fly) has been fulfilled.

Exhibit 3 - the Sissy Duckling is about a duck who would rather do so called girly things like baking, puppet shows and playing quietly. He is mercilessly teased for this. I know that many people would agree that this is the book to buy if your son is remotely 'different'.

And finally, for just plain out weirdness, you cannot go past Dr Suess' I wish that I had Duck Feet.
For me, if I could have any animal bit attached to me it certainly would not be duck feet. It would be feathery wings. Or even sharp talons. .....

Related Posts with Thumbnails