Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Archibald's weekend

The timing of the Archibald Prize exhibition at the Art Gallery of New South Wales in March/April is always a great excuse to take a long weekend break in Sydney with Maxie and Rod.

Because there is a fair bit to do before taking four days away we spent last Thursday quietly at home with Ella instead of our usual busy agenda of visiting playgrounds and the Fyshwick Markets and creating art. I was amazed at the length of time she is able to focus now on more complex, imaginative play. We spent over an hour creating a little home for one of her Duplo figures (unfortunately a boy Duplo figure) out of a shoe box - complete with (play doh) table, chair, TV set, strawberry cakes and apples, and rugs on the floor!

This time our four days in Sydney had a strong arts focus. We checked out the classy Sabbia Gallery http://www.sabbiagallery.com in Glenmore Road, Paddington and marvelled at the stunning ceramics on show by Gail Nichols and Debra Boyd-Goggin (from our own Queanbeyan no less).

In the process it was great fun to get a style update from window watching all the Oxford Street boutiques: Scanlon & Theodore, Willow, Sass & Bide, Incu, and my favourite, Nicola Waite
The Paddington Markets were really humming on Saturday morning. I supported local designers by buying jewellery from Natalie Kube http://www.nataliekube.com.au and ant haus designs http://www.anthaus.com.

We waited until as late as possible Sunday afternoon to visit the AGNSW to avoid the long queues for the over hyped first weekend of the Archibald Prize exhibition http://www.thearchibaldprize.com.au.

This year I tried not to look at the exhibition as an art exhibition (usually resulting in disappointment) but just focus on the portraits and their capacity to "capture the human spirit". By doing this I could see that the Tim Minchin portrait was a pretty clear winner, with the Lord Mayor of Melbourne and Kate Ceberano also appealing to me.

We finished off our weekend on the arts trail (which also included an outing to the Randwick Ritz to see the compelling Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) with a celebratory beer or two at the gorgeous old East Sydney Hotel (previously the Shamrock Hotel, established in 1856) in Cathedral Street, Woolloomooloo, after deciding that the nearby Soho Gallery was not worthy as a possible future venue for an exhibition of Maxie's ceramic sculptures.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Bathroom dreaming

We've signed up for a bathroom and laundry renovation, so it's going to be goodbye to our 80s era pale peach tiles and late 60s tapware and porcelain, and in with the more minimalist designs of the 21st century.

I hate this stage where there are so many decisions to be made: tile size and finish, top of counter, semi recessed, drop in or under counter basins, which tapware?, BTW toilet suite or "wall faced"?, which layout works best?, vanity finishes, how to hang the mirror, lighting options. I am feeling very confused!

We have to make most of our decisions this week so our builder can get detailed planning under way and the project started in about three weeks. Rob and I have had a few shopping expeditions already and lots of time on the internet but we find it too tempting to get distracted: lunches with Jody and Ella, Saturday afternoon at the movies (A Single Man), display apartment viewing, gym sessions. We will have to really discipline ourselves this week!

Ella's shoe saga continues. Her 6 weeks old CR red leather ballet flats are totally trashed and already a bit tight. She chose these red leather Keds (at a bargain price from DFO) to replace them. They are only one day old but so far are standing up well to the challenges presented by the playgrounds at Captain Cook and Telopea Parks.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Three birthdays

We had three significant birthdays to celebrate over the past four days: the city of Canberra's 97th birthday on Friday, Sophie L's on Sunday and Judy L's today. We took a low key approach to celebrating our city's birthday although those early morning views of the big air balloons over the lake during the week were very much admired. However we were lucky enough to be there to celebrate Judy's big birthday on Saturday night and give Sophie our best wishes.

Judy's kids had the entry to the house festooned with garlands, balloons and tea light candles. Fairy lights threaded through the hedges in the back garden and live music (talented musicians on baby grand piano and double bass) lent the gathering an easy, yet stylish vibe.

It was an opportunity to catch up with the latest dramas, and stories of irritating French backpackers, out at Murrumbateman (Jenny and Wayne are in the middle of the wine harvest) in between enjoying fabulous food and wines, expertly served by the kids who all seemed so grown up tonight.

My contribution was the cake. A chocolate mud cake, enough to feed 35 people and able to withstand a blazing inferno of candles (Judy's description). I was feeling a little concerned at this stage.

And I think even Judy and Jurgen were a bit concerned at this stage too (especially with the fire sensor close by).
But all was well...and time to take a moment to reflect on and celebrate a wonderful life, lived and created by a wonderful woman, the centre of her very blessed family and close circle of friends. Happy birthday Judy L. We hope we can share many more with you.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Hitting the Spot

There were a lot of opportunities to see the Coogee community at work and play on Sunday. In perfectly clear, blue sky weather we started the day with a walk to Clovelly Beach. Both Coogee and Clovelly beaches, and their first lines of breakers, were packed with kids and families, all fully involved in their very well organised Minnows and Nippers Junior Surf Lifesaving Programs.

Heading around the gorgeous, turquoise blue Gordon's Bay, looking absolutely pristine clean from where we were on the headland walk, it was obvious there was a large crew of volunteers for Clean Up Australia Day. They were combing the rocks around the bay and filling bags with fishing detritus and bits of construction site, blow away rubbish. I admired the volunteers' choice of site for their civic duty, trying not to feel too guilty as I remembered all the Clean up Australia Days I had been involved with over the years with my schools.

Sunday afternoon we walked up to "The Spot" on Perouse Road to take a look at "The Spot Film and Food Festival", to celebrate the Australian Film Festival being staged at the historic old Randwick Ritz and to promote the food delights on offer in this little corner of Coogee-Randwick.

The roads around The Spot were blocked to traffic, a big stage was set up, musicians were warming up and the smell of food from various street stalls indicated this could be a serious contender for providing dinner.

Crowds (mainly locals) were gathering and actors in various disguises (Austen Powers, Marilyn Monroe etc) were attempting to warm them up. Three guys circulated doing very convincing "Style Police" impersonations. Rob got a cool stamp because his shirt and shorts (and havaiana thongs) were so well coordinated.

But things really livened up when the Abba revival group took over from the Jazz musicians.

All the little girls in the district, and their grandmas, went off.

But the heavy duty event of the festival rolled around after Abba had finished. Apparently Claudia Karvan and Steve Bisley were to be inducted into the Randwick Ritz Walk of Fame (joining other luminaries like Michael Caton & Bud Tingwell), and Peter Garrett, Minister for the Arts, Environment and Heritage (and ex front man, Midnight Oil) was there to present it to them (while being very vocal about his passion for the Australian film industry).

Funnily enough it was obvious that Peter Garrett was the star of this show. He was the one everyone wanted to photograph & be seen with. I suspect a lot of people in the crowd thought he was still with Midnight Oil. It must be so nice for Peter to get back to his adoring locals after withstanding the voracious Canberra Press pack in sitting weeks.

Rob took the opportunity to give Peter Garrett a pep talk, something to the effect of.....Don't let the b.........s get you down, to which Peter replied with great conviction.......... We won't!

This is such a different community to ours in Canberra, where politicians are never relaxed, Grandmas hardly ever go off, there is no Randwick Ritz and there are no minnows or nippers buzzing around the beaches. It was such a treat to dip into our community in Sydney.