Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Bushed & booked

On a tram again, this time up Glenferrie Rd, away from Monash Caulfield, having just shared a scrummy Sri Lankan meal with a combination of Canberran and Book Art Object mates.

Actually, all the blogging action will really be at BAO this week until the conference is over and I'm just being me again. The link for BAO is (can't see how to imbed it from my iPhone!).

At flat now. Crashing.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Melbourne 1

I'm on a tram heading to my digs at Hawthorn; I've already been to a talk by Sarah Bodman at the State Library and eaten a nice curry at Flora. Now I'm going to chill out in prep for tomorrow's excitement.

The photo is of my three travelling printmaker companions: Alison Alder (head of Megalo), Nicci Haynes and Jan Hogan. We're all grimly desperate for a beer, and it makes us look like a movie still. We found a nice pub, had a pot of something nice, and went our separate ways.

Until tomorrow, anyway.

Sunday, September 25, 2011


I finished my residency on Friday; it hasn't hit home yet, but I guess it will when Tuesday comes and I'm in Melbourne rather than at the school. I've written two more progress posts on my work blog: one on printing and one on posting. I had such a good time. What you see above is three-quarters of the school, gathered in front of the 'bounceback wall' in the playground after we'd posted our cards. It's a small, close and warm community of children, teachers and parents, and I'll miss them, although I will be returning in October for a visit to deliver their single-coptic-bound book of postcards and I'll also visit regularly, since it's on my flight path to uni.

Next stop is Melbourne, for the Impact7 conference that seems to be competing with the AFL Grand Final for space and attention when you look at the list of associated exhibitions. I've written my paper and sent down my portfolio for presentation; the biggest stress is how to see and do everything in the short time we have, including catching up with people. There's a blogmeet planned for Saturday late arvo/evening but we haven't settled upon a meeting place yet. I will tweet it when I know, so if you're interested, watch my tweet listings in the ride sidebar there --->

I'll also be tweeting during the conference and liveblogging with the Book Art Object group, as part of our project.

In other news, every year before my birthday my mother-in-law rings me to ask what book I'd like for my birthday. This year I asked for Kerryn Goldworthy's Adelaide book, knowing that it's being released soon... and discovered that it's being released on my actual birthday, 1 October! Yay, onya Kerryn. I'm over halfway through Sophie Cunningham's Melbourne right now, which is a great lead up to my trip.

Dammit, I've been thinking of things I want to blog, but now that I'm sitting here (having just polished off a wonderful breakfast made by Best Beloved: Eggs Benedict on a poppyseed bagel) my mind is blank.

It's the Lifeline Bookfair this weekend, but I'm not getting too excited, having only just resolved all our bookshelves and also having rediscovered the local library. I popped in yesterday and got all cranky about their demarcations. There's a General Fiction section, which I think should be EVERYTHING that's not 'genre' fiction like thrillers, horror, sci fi and fantasy. But no, any book written by someone with a funny name, or written by a woman or written by an Australian is shunted onto a different table (in order: World Literature; Romance/Chicklit; OR Gender Fiction; Australian Fiction). I inwardly cheer when I see an Australian in the General Fiction, or laugh when I see Bury's 'History of the Later Roman Empire' (both volumes) in the Historical Fiction section.

I'm going back today because they're having a 'Bookbinder's' table, with what they call 'treasures' with broken bindings, all under $10. I'll be interested to see what is a treasure.

The wind is horrendous today, it's the worst thing about Spring. It makes being in the studio very unpleasant, because there's a gap at the top of each rollerdoor, and the wind slips over and brings dust. I've just found 2 sets of secondhand glass sliding doors, complete with screen security doors, at the local builder's trading post and a building friend (the same one who built the kitchen in our last house) is going to install them over the next couple of weeks in front of the roller doors so that I can open them and get light without wind... huzzar! That will foil you, cursed wind.

My other great find is also a pair. There's a little auction house near the farmers markets at EPIC and I wandered in the other day and asked if they ever get mapping cabinets (no artist ever has enough). He had two coming in that week -- timber ones! I gave him an absentee bidding form (I had a guest at the auction time) and I won them! They are being delivered when I get back. Out with the sticky-drawered crappy metal cabinet that I have now and in with the timber stack! Happy, happy happy.

So much to look forward to when I return from conference hobnobbing... time to get up and pack!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Sirens, blasts, chemical tang: Canberra's having a party

We are stuck at home this morning thanks to a huge chemical fire in the industrial zone near our suburb. We are within the ten kilometre zone and have been repeatedly told to stay indoors, keep all windows closed, and to turn off any air-conditioners and heaters.

It's very exciting.

I was woken this morning about 3:20 by an emergency text message that said

The ACT Fire Brigade responding to chemical insadent in Mitchell. Resadents of Franklin, Crace, Harrison, Watson, Downer, Kaleen, Lyneham, Hackett, stay indoors
All the spelling mistakes are theirs, and apparently lots of people thought it was a spam or scam because 'spelling mistakes are an indicator', but I know that no one but emergency services would have a number like 444 444 444, and everyone knows fireys can't spell (but they are fabulous) so I took it seriously.

About 4:15am we got an automatic recorded message on our phone from the SES, saying something similar.

At 5am there was a huge blast that I heard through our double brick walls, and the sirens started up again (everything before that was pretty faint).

Between all of that, Best Beloved snored like an engine, so I think I got a snatch of sleep between 5 and 6, when he awoke and turned on the ABC for updates.

Like I said, it's very exciting. Here's my favorite photo of the smoke plume, taken by my friend Fiona from her penthouse in Civic:

The red dot is roughly where we are.

Oh, the ABC just announced we're now clear to leave our house. All the dogs in the neighbourhood just started up, so obviously we're all listening.

Bumblebee is ecstatic because all the local schools are closed, which means I can't go to my residency school either. Woo hoo, studio day! Bonus. And now that we've got the all clear, I can get to my haircut appointment this afternoon too. I've decided to banish the Snape look for a while (my hair always reverts to it eventually).

I hope the toxic plume doesn't land anywhere awful. It's headed north and eastish, which means coastward. Watch your water supplies, peoples. The local radio, the tv, facebook and twitter are all a-twitter. I can't get over the masses of people who walked over to the fire to have a look despite all warnings.

I might have a nana nap soon, all this excitement is a bit draining. I spent my waking hours playing games on my iPhone and thinking about how helpless we'd be if this turned out to be something really serious. The first thing I said to BB when he woke (resisting the urge to say something snarky about snoring) was 'let's get some emergency water supplies stored up'. I think he just grunted, but I'm determined to do something about it when the traffic calms down.


Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Communing with nature

Where does the time go? Out the window, it seems.

When I started my residency at the primary school, I asked all the kids to ask the weather to only rain on Mondays (that's the day I work indoors, at the art skool) but so far it seems to rain every Tuesday. Yesterday was abysmal, cold and wet, and I have to work outside, under a shelter thankfully, because there's just no indoor space for me.

I've updated my work blog, to talk about my pen & ink week with the kids. Unfortunately the latest upgrade of Wordpress has borked a few things, like spaces after punctuation are gone and the titles repeat themselves so that they sound like that goose from Charlotte's Web. I'm trying to fix them, but there's no time! No time! Have to keep moving along, so much to do.

I found a wee crack of time last week to drive across town and meet Elephant's Child. Canberra is an incredible city; in most cities you spend 25 minutes in your car and move about 2 kilometres. In Canberra, if you spend that much time driving, you've gone 40 kilometres. Apparently we drive more kms per capita than Northern Territorians. I find that shocking, but I digress. I drove what seems to be a long way because I rarely venture outside of my suburb cluster, but it's a journey most people take every day to work and back.

Anyhoo, Elephant's Child is, of course, delightful, and we managed to whittle away a hour or so talking about important things like books, cats and community service after we'd done a plant swap (which was the motivation for the visit). I would have liked to have talked more about books, but I came away with a borrowed copy of Tove Jansson's The Summer Book, so that should be a good conversation starter for next time. And there's always on-line.

I have managed to cross a few things from my bloody To Do list... I finished my latest Book Art Object offering (I'm just waiting for the recipients to get them before I show it; the wait and then reveal seems to be the funnest part of the process), I'm on the last stage of the residency process, and now the next big hurdle is getting the Impact conference done and dusted. October, month of rest, is on the horizon!

Oh crap, look at the time. Have to wing pedal* my way to school and set up my printshop again. Yesterday, despite the weather, I had an amazing exploratory day working out a system of printing with the children. I love the way their creativity is boundless. I came home exhausted, of course, but I learned more in a day than I ever did at art school :)

*Did I ever mention that I recently read Claire Corbett's When We Have Wings? OMG, if you've ever dreamed about flying... read the book. Do yourself a favour!