Wednesday, September 29

Tuesday, September 28

treacle tuesday : perfume

My farming childhood was a long way from the bright white halls of David Jones and Myer, where immaculately groomed ladies stand behind illuminated glass boxes with pretty bottles promising youth, wealth and success.   I couldn’t play smelly dress-ups with mum’s toiletries as she never wore perfume - dad long ago declared it offensive, preferring to sniff his own ‘natural ‘ body odour - so at sweet sixteen when my boyfriend gave me a bottle of Opium, I thought I had died and gone to olfactory heaven.  Surely now I was a woman.  

I don’t have a signature scent; rather a string of moments misted in perfume.  Summers, holidays, relationships, are all coupled with a limbic soundtrack.  I admit I am seduced by packaging and advertising, by the fantasy, the promise.  However, it wouldn’t matter how visually stunning the bottle or appealing the smell, I could not purchase a product named after Paris Hilton or Brittany Spears.  I am enticed by fresh citrus, oriental wood, fruit and tropical floral notes – not too heavy on vanilla or toilet freshener flowers.  My current selection is Kenzo 7.15am Bali (limited edition), Biotherm Eau Vitaminee, Body Shop Neroli & Jasmine, and Tinderbox Orange Blossom.

Monday, September 27

flight AK 366

Despite the fact that you are cramped into a dehumidified space with hundreds of strangers, your eyes and skin are drying out, you're breathing in every cough and germ, the food for sale at outrageous prices, the seats recline only enough to be annoying, and the entertainment is limited to the safety demonstration - I love flying.
Simply for the fact that it takes me places; that I can be in a culture vastly different from whence I have come in the time it takes to have an uncomfortable nap and a carry on banana - and for less than $100. Yes, I realize I am contributing to carbon load in the atmosphere, however as I have decided not to have children, studies show that I can fly for the rest of my life and still not rack up carbon debt as fast as adding another person to the planet.  Must dash, my flight is boarding...

Sunday, September 26

kuala lumpur visa run

Every six months we have to leave Indonesia to apply for a new visa.  The last two years we have been to Singapore, so for something different we made a quick trip to KL.  Bus, ferry, plane, taxi, plane, bus, monorail, taxi, bus, plane, taxi, plane, ferry, bus...and here we go round the mulberry bush. 

 Can't say I'll be rushing back for the air quality, green spaces or solitude.  It is great if you like shopping malls, high rise buildings in various states of decay, polyester head scarves and the glitz of the former tallest buildings in the world.  I am however, most partial to a cheap curry and frothy cup of chai from a street vendor. We stayed at the Tune Hotel; cheap, cheerful, quiet and central.  Is it one of Air Asia's new "transit hotels" that are small in room size, but off excellent value, security, and super comfortable beds.


new growth

Early wet season rains have spurred our frangipani tree into a flush of new growth. 

Sunday, September 19

Kings Park Festival : Art in Bloom

If you are in Perth this September and the spring sunshine is begging you to emerge from your winter hibernation, head to Kings Park for their annual Festival.  Thousands of native flowers are in bloom across the State’s Botanic Garden, with mass plantings of pink everlastings and kangaroo paws sure to get even the most jaded photographer snapping.  

A major feature of the Festival is Flowers and Art in Bloom, with displays and installations throughout the park, city centre and Art Gallery of WA.  Prominent textile artist Louise Snook has created the Aspects of Kings Park gallery window installation inspired by native flora and grasses.

Blooming lovely.

island expat architecture : the bays

Who lives here : John and Hildi, affectionately known as "The Bays", and a growing family of cats
Nationality : Kiwi & Norwegian
First visit :1999
House built :2004, materials and tradesmen imported from Bali
When not here : snowboarding in Italy or checking on their cleaning company in London
Famous for : immaculately clean yard, long surfs, daily sports report, giving out quirky nicknames

Saturday, September 18

poppies for grace

I am a sucker for stationery and boxes, so was beside myself when I saw these sticky notes by Poppies for Grace at Aspects of Kings Park.  I get a rush of joy every time I use one, something I don't get with your everyday yellow post-its, and I nearly pass out when I look at the other goodies in their collection. 

Friday, September 17

i love to photograph stuff

Stuff – we are surrounded by it, immersed in it, addicted to consuming it.  In the ‘privileged’ world we have so much stuff we build second sheds and lean-tos to house it; it fills our voids, numbs our pain, silences our questions and keeps the economy buoyant.  For many, stuff equals status. When the cupboards and draws and boxes are full, we might consider donating stuff to the op-shop or even to the bin.  Then it can creates space for some new stuff.  

My mum and dad are steadfast hoarders; collectors of the highest order.  “Treasures” they tell me. Stuff that hasn’t seen the light of day for ten years, but might come in handy.  What?  When there’s a worldwide shortage of miniature hotel toiletries, rusty basketball hoops or empty beer bottles.  I admit, some of it is exciting in a latent-potential kind of way, but the sheer volume of stuff they have astounds me.  

I used to be a collector; the usual childhood fascination with stamps, stickers, shells, rocks.  On a long road trip around Australia I was gathering rocks in one door and mum was tossing them out the other.  Over the past decade, two factors have influenced me to clear clutter and streamline my collecting.  First is my husband, one of the most non-material, free-from-stuff people I know.  He is Mr Simplicity, constantly renegotiating his need for things.  Our living space is a compromise between my adornment and his minimalism.  Slowly I have let go of attachment to old stuff, and the desire to always fill the space with something new.  It is incredibly liberating to release my pattern of seeing stuff as a memory keeper and part of who I am.  
The second factor is my peripatetic nature and life in the developing world.  I hate being burdened with stuff when I’m on the road.  I’m a super packer, even known to consider cutting the handle off my toothbrush to lighten the load.  Being able to negotiate gangplanks, platforms and transit halls with ease and speed is essential when you’ve got a motorbike, yak or four hundred shoving locals up your ass.

Most of the locals in our village have virtually nothing other than bare necessities.  There is no pile of newspapers, junk mail or even books on the kitchen table.  There often is no kitchen table.  Things do not get thrown away unless totally destroyed or decayed.  Anything broken is fixed, and refixed, then turned into something else to extend its useful life.  Buckets are patched, sewn and glued, then live on as watering cans.  We have learned to never throw anything out, as a neighbour will definitely put it to good use.  Our “rubbish” is their luxuries – empty bottles, old pillows, cracked plastic containers; they will even straighten bent nails to reuse.   It is an inbuilt recycling programme.  There are no second hand shops, because nobody has anything to give away.    

I have a mild obsession with organisation, which helps to keep my stuff in order.  Folders, boxes and matching stationery bring me great joy.  My collections revolve around digital images, paper and memories – light weight and easy to transport.  Packed away in Australia I have an assortment of ceramics and tea-cup and saucer trio sets (with a secret desire to expand and take over half the house with crockery).   Living abroad I vacillate between longing for my things in storage and questioning the need for them in my life.   I have never outgrown my love for beachcombing and living on the beach allows me to pick up small treasures on every walk.  Most of these eventually return to the sea, and the cycle of stuff goes on.

The images are of a dear artist friend's wonderful clutter.  I love to be immersed in her stuff, to rifle through the piles and find unexpected gems and inspiring projects.  Wild, succulent stuff. 

Thursday, September 16

shutters and boards

It is a long, butt numbing motor bike ride to the main town on the island; a crumbling, dusty, ramshackle place that has a "frontier" border kind of feel to it.  There aren't many endearing features; no promenade, funky cafes or galleries, but there is a certain beauty in the decay and rubble, especially the few remaining Dutch  influences.

Tuesday, September 14

treacle tuesday : pears

As a squeaky soprano in the high school choir, our first song was "My Favourite Things" from the Sound of Music.   I still find myself singing this cheery ditty at random moments... raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens...

I like to ponder my favourite things; the things that I am grateful for, that I love having in my life.  So I decided to dedicate Tuesday to the sweetness, to the treacle for the stickybeak. 

Today is all about pears.  Living in the tropics, I really miss pears, the way they fit perfect in my hand, the subtle crunch or the dribble of juice.  Pears with walnuts and rocket, pears and honey on toast., pear and rosemary crumble, pear tart... 

They are lovely looking things, beautiful in their asymmetry.  I have a whole series of pear paintings inside me, I just have to learn how to paint first.  For now I can admire the chunky brush strokes of Jacqueline Coates, an artist based in Kapunda, South Australia. 

jacqueline coates : pear still life, oil on canvas
Jacqueline Coates : pear study, oil on canvas

Monday, September 13

a safe sleep

Living in a malarial zone, a mosquito net means the difference between a safe sleep and contracting the potential life threatening strain of cerebral malaria.   For many locals, bed is a simple wooden platform and a woven mat; a far cry from inner spring orthopaedic mattresses, down pillows and Egyptian cotton sheets.  They do not need to worry about thread count.  


Friday, September 10

paddle your own canoe

The dug-out canoe is vernacular among the island fisherman and seaweed farmers.  The paddle provides a blank canvas for displaying artistic flair.  Good on you Loris. 

My dear Nana, Jessica Matilda, used to say to me :

"love many, trust few, and always paddle your own canoe"

Tuesday, September 7

7.15am ubud

Early morning in Ubud, Bali. A rooster crows, a dog barks, Nyoman sweeps the path, kids laugh in the laneway on their way to school - the sounds of Asia waking to a new day.  A few pages of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society, a fruit salad, and a soy chai at Bali Buddha.

Sunday, September 5

red and yellow and pink and green

Aquaman is making a colour chart to document his range of acrylic paints and how they interact as layered glazes.  A most nifty undertaking and fun to photograph with a slow shutter speed.

Wednesday, September 1

hati hati ada proyek

The Indonesian road work sign declares "hati hati ada proyek" - be careful there is a project.  I need one of these permanently displayed to warn visitors of the multiple assignments underway in every corner of the house and yard.  One of my current follies is a radiating sun driftwood mirror number.  Then there is the canoe patchwork wall sculpture, the seedpod abacus hanging, the plywood pigeon holes for my studio, and the Andy Goldsworthy inspired driftwood ring sculpture.   Two of these projects were started last year and are quietly weathering the seasons, gaining character and decay.  Perhaps they will disappear if I leave them long enough?

Others may think I lack focus, lose interest easily or even have an attention deficit issue! Well, what they think about me is none of my business.  I am like a bee, buzzing from one flower to the next, collecting the precious nectar of excitement as I come around to each project again.  Like a plate-spinner, I keep them all in the air, giving each project a little nudge forward, a little twirl, and if I lose interest and don't finish, who cares?  I got what a came for.

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