Category Archives: Australia

Stamp It & Victoria Park

Stamp It is the closest mixed media art supplies depot to where I live. There is a similar store, Made With Memories, in my local shopping mall, but that stocks mainly scrapbooking paper and a limited range of inks, stamps and stencils. So I consider it a scrapbooking store. Stamp It, on the other hand, is twice as big and its range is 10 times wider. It’s for the Serious mixed media artist. It’s a bit like going to Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, compared to the corner store.

The store is in Victoria Park, just outside Perth CBD, in Western Australia.

I popped by Stamp It the other day, having browsed the store’s website previously. Yes, I could’ve paid $11 for postage and made my purchases online, (instead of the $11 it cost in train and bus fares), but nothing beats a real hands-on experience.

And boy, was it worth making the trip up to the city. It’s only a cycle-train-bus for me to get there, easy peasy. Plus, Vic Park, as the locals fondly call it, is a trendy hub of restaurants, cafés, dinky gadget shops, interspersed with car dealerships, financial brokers, a large Piano store, the historical Broken Hill Hotel and cutesy curio shops. It also boasts a popular weekly Friday night hawker food market throughout the summer, where families can buy freshly cooked food and sit on the grass to enjoy their dinner al fresco.

My favourite restaurant there, though, is called Chi. They serve the most delectable deep fried tofu filled with diced prawns, minced chicken and coriander, served with sweet chilli sauce. Their other dishes are just as delicious, but that tofu is my favourite. Check out Chi’s Menu here.

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For dessert, I like to go to Taro Taro, just across the road from Chi. This is a Taiwanese dessert place, specialising in Bubble Tea, all manner of iced milk teas and desserts with your choice of over a dozen “extras” like black tapioca pearls, sweet potato balls, taro balls, jelly cubes, grass jelly, etc. Taro Taro also serves hot Taiwanese food and hot desserts. Check out their menu here.

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Yup, I hit three for three. :-)

Lulu Art

Recently I wrote about Gelli Plate Monoprinting, see link here. My plate has just arrived and now I’m currently trying out all sorts of experiments using it, some quite successful, others not so. But I’ll write about those later.

I ordered my Gelli Plate on eBay. It’s an 8×10 inch rectangular plate. The Gelli Plate comes in various sizes, but I figured an 8×10 inch is closest to an A4 size, and if I did want anything smaller, like a 5×7 inch print, I could easily cut out a mask using heavy card, and place it over the area I didn’t need to print on.

I didn’t order my Gelli Plate directly from GelliArts themselves. The simple reason being that I live in Australia, while the company is based in the USA. The actual Gelli plates are comparatively cheap to purchase on their website (their 8×10 inch plate is US$30.99)…but once I got to the bit that calculates shipping costs, I nearly had a heart attack. Postage to Mars Australia? A whopping US$57.75. Put that thing back on the shelf, girly!!

So, those of you living in the good ole U S of A will benefit most from buying directly from Gelli Arts. But for the rest of the world, especially those of us who live on other planets (LOL), it’s eBay or bust…

Or, actually no. Because I’ve been lucky enough to find an Aussie Arts Supply website that offers heaps of good stuff for creating Mixed Media Art. At very good prices too, I might add. And, even better, shipping within Australia is a flat rate of only AU$7.95, and is FREE if you spend AU$150 or more.

That Aladdin’s Cave is called Lulu Art.

Here’s their page for Gelli plates.
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Lulu Art may not stock the full range of Gelli plates yet, but I believe they will soon. Their 8×10 inch Gelli plate is a real snip at just AU$35, (compared to the AU$50 + $7.50 postage I paid on eBay). Compared to Gelli Arts, whose 8×10 inch plate is US$30.99, Lulu Art still wins hands down. US$1 = AU$1.30 at the time of writing, hence US$30.99 = AU$40 approx. And that’s even before considering Gelli Arts’ exorbitant interstellar postage cost to Australia.

You’re welcome :-).

Out and About in Chinatown

The Chinese or Lunar New Year was on the 19th of February this year (2015), but because it fell mid-week our annual Family Reunion Dinner was postponed til the weekend. Yesterday (Sunday) we went to my 2nd Uncle’s home to join him and my cousins and their children, for our annual gathering. 2nd Uncle is my only patriachal relative in Western Australia. I haven’t been back to my Maternal Grandma’s for Chinese New Year for nearly 20 years now, and since dear Grandma passed away last year there will sadly no longer be anymore Chinese New Years at her home.

As dinner wouldn’t be starting til 5pm, the Kid and I decided to check out the festivities in Perth’s Chinatown first. I had read there would be parades and food stalls and stalls selling all manner of Oriental goods and souvenirs.

Here’s what we saw:

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Yes, there were thousands of people thronging James Street. Yes, it was hard moving about and not spilling peanut gravy from my chicken satay all over my front.

Yes, it was a lovely, warm, sticky day. We are still in Summertime here in the Land Down Under.

Yes, that is a large orange shaped kiosk selling freshly pressed orange juice.

No, I don’t know what Morris dancers were doing there during a Chinese New Year celebration.

Yes, I threw in that photo of a pub called “The Elephant and the Wheelbarrow” because that particular junction looks so much like Small Town America to me.

No, that is not a real Library, it is another bar venue. And no, those rays of light are not a special effect I created.

Walking With Giants

When I read in the paper that The Giants were coming to Perth, Western Australia, I got really excited. At long last, some Culture and Art for this long-neglected backwater part of Australia. And for Free too. These things usually miss Perth by a few thousand miles, and end up being enjoyed by Sydneysiders and Melbournians, but this time Perth had managed a coup.

“The Giants” is the name given to a set of giant marionettes and props, by street performing company Royal De Luxe. More information on the company can be found on their website here and also on Wikipedia.

Nothing like this had ever come to Perth before, this would be the biggest free public arts event in Western Australia. It’s part of the Perth International Arts Festival.

The story being re-enacted by The Giants this year is based on real life events, that of a little girl in a lighthouse on Breaksea Island, who used Morse Code to signal soldiers leaving for Gallipoli. Hers was their last contact with Australia. Soon after, letters began arriving from these soldiers asking about the “Little Girl on Breaksea Island”. Jean-Luc Courcoult, the founder and director of Royal De Luxe, further romanticised and modified the story to fit in Aboriginal elements. Here is his take on the story (taken from the Perth International Arts Festival page):

In the south-west corner of Western Australia, there were Aboriginal communities full of mysteries, one of these mysteries was a boat that had come up from out of the sand, only the prow could be seen, the rest was imprisoned in the ground.

One day, the Little Girl Giant, busy with her travels, fell into one of the Aboriginal communities of the Noongar Nation, into one of those families who are in love with the barrab (sky), the boodja (earth), the yorgam (trees) and keap (water).

She was so welcomed that she decided to stay with them for a long time.

She then witnessed the evolution and change of these inhabitants in the face of the transformation of the Australian continent. She lived there as though it were a beelya (river), full of dreams that jumped like fish.

One day, one of the community’s children brought her an old book full of drawings. It was dog-eared, crumpled, aged. It told the story of a little girl in a lighthouse full of love and sorrow, who watched soldiers leaving Australia on ships, carrying hope into lost battles. It was 1915 on the beaches of Gallipoli where the sand, reddened by the blood of men, frightened the moon. Through the book, the Little Girl Giant, as she looked at the sky, saw the past, the present and even the future.

Her gaze plunged into the centre of the battle, and she could see men disappearing, like being suddenly wiped from the earth as an eraser would rub out on a drawing. She also saw a boat sink, snatched by a gust stronger than a cathedral and laid down on the bottom of the ocean, then an Australian diver, sent to find survivors, stuck in air bubbles. As he could not see a living soul on the seabed, he decided to stay there. Miraculously and without knowing it, he started walking and this removed the tubes and the air that filled his lungs. As he turned his head, he saw dozens of boats lying in the sand. Methodically, he entered each ship and brought dead men out of them. He dug the ground to bury each one and he continued, his muscles toned by an infernal will, so much so that around each sunken boat, there was a graveyard, like small heaps of sand without crosses, only small bellies emerging from the dust. There were hundreds like this around each boat, peaceful. With a madness which cannot be named, he continued his work. But from graveyard to graveyard, his body grew thicker, denser and without realising it, one day he was able to overturn the ships. He had monumental strength. He had quite simply grown like a child in a bath who suddenly realises that his feet are touching the taps. It was simply the story of a Giant who became big at the bottom of the sea.

In the Noongar country, the Little Girl Giant closed the last page of the book. The little Aboriginal child, his eyes full of colours, was sad then, in his gaze a rainbow flew away to the clouds.

He understood then that the Little Girl Giant had to leave to re-join her family, and when the sun lifted the horizon, he hurried to fetch his father. Whilst the stars hid in the sky, lying behind the morning light, all the people of the Noongar Nation saw a tear come from the Little Girl Giant’s eyelid. As it touched the ground, a small puddle was swallowed up by the soil. In this very spot, a tree could be seen growing in the space of two hours. From a small and barely awoken sprout, a trunk developed, full of branches with leaves that the wind enjoyed moving. It was just a tree in the boodja (country).

Then she thought that the buried boat could sail the earth to find the diver. The Aboriginals began digging and within ten days, the ship was ready on the ground. The Little Girl Giant climbed onto it and the Noongars began to sing the rain. Accompanied by the sound of the boomerangs, she crossed Western Australia. The sand made waves, the boodja filling with water. In short, she arrived in Minang boodja (Albany) from where she sent a hot air balloon, like a moon over the ocean, to call the diver. Then she headed to Whadjuk boodja (Perth).

Upon her arrival in the big city, she placed her head underwater and blew bubbles which echoed at the bottom of the ocean. Everyone knows that whales can hear sounds from 5,000 kilometres away when they call each other and that the sound of people’s footsteps on pavements reverberates to the centre of the earth.

The air bubbles that were pushed by the tide floated around the Giant Diver. With their large, small or tiny shapes, they followed one another like a convoy of boats and one after the other, they exploded in front of the Giant’s eyes. They expressed signals like Morse code: a point, a line, two points then nothing and again two lines and a point. It was a language the man of the sea knew well. He could then read sentences in which each message ended with ‘come’. No sooner had he understood he was surrounded by a tornado of fishes. They circled him faster and faster so that the swirl of force became a gust of wind. On the surface, the agitated fog started to cough so hard that a storm swallowed the bottom of the water, throwing the diver into the sky all the way into the clouds. Then, like a lost body, he fell down unconscious in Perth. The earth trembled and suddenly a great spray of water burst out of the ground between two buildings. A geyser was born, as if to greet through space the arrival of the Giants.

The show took place over 3 days from 12-14 February 2015. Click here to access a map of the Giants journey from day to day.

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The Kid and I went on the 2nd day, Valentine’s Day, hoping to catch both the Diver and the Little Girl Giants. We chose a spot along the route where both Giants would be walking, perhaps even coinciding. However, best laid plans and all…as it turned out, the Diver, after spending the night sleeping at Perth railway station, woke up late and threw his schedule out the window. He decided to look around the area and interact with the public first before setting off on his long walk. Meanwhile, the Little Girl had walked much faster than we’d anticipated, so that by the time we got to our vantage point, she’d already walked past.

So we ended up having to chase the Little Girl up and down the streets of Perth. At our second point of enquiry, we were told that the Little Girl had just gone round the corner, and true enough, as we walked through the streets of Northbridge, we spotted her walking in the distance. We managed to catch up with her a few streets down, where she had thankfully stopped at an intersection for a breather and did some exercises.

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And here is a short video I shot of the Little Girl Giant doing her exercises.

The Little Girl Giant Exercises: http://youtu.be/0y1y39RIeZY

Art Journals

As a digital mobile photography artist, I love how my medium is clean, with no mess to tidy up, no paint splashes to mop up, no brushes to clean or pencils to sharpen and put away. My chosen medium suits me to a T, really, especially as it’s the ultimate portable studio in a pocket. And also especially as in real life, my drawing or painting is at kindy level. 😄

Over the years, I’ve found myself drawn (excuse the pun) time and again to collage, altered art, altered books and art journals. Maybe it’s because I love colours, layers, textures, strange juxtapositions, mysterious scribbled handwriting, ransom-note-style lettering, ephemera, stamping and vivid washes of watercolour. Maybe it’s because these are artforms that anyone can achieve, with some imagination, passion and practice. It’s not high brow art, it’s accessible art and an expression of one’s creative soul, being highly personal.

The other day, while lurking about my local scrapbooking store (Made With Memories in Rockingham, Western Australia), looking for creative ideas and inspiration, my eyes lit upon an Art Journal sitting on the shelf behind the counter. Having never come across a real life Art Journal before (I know, sad, huh), I was naturally curious about it. So I asked if I could take a look at it, hands on.

Made With Memories holds courses on scrapbooking and journaling, aside from selling scrapbooking papers, stamps, embossing equipment, inks, decoupage kits, washi tape, art paper, glue, pins, brads, all manner of twee adornments for journaling etc.

This particular Art Journal belonged to one of the teachers, and had notes on her courses in it, as well as examples of her work. Some of the pages were held together by bulldog clips, which I dare not disturb in case anything were to fall out. The journal was heavy in my hands, filled with flashes of emerald greens, blues, yellows, bits of paper sticking out here and there. I caught glimpses of stencilled on text, intriguing stamped and embossed symbols, glued on birds and flowers, pieces of twine were dangling from between pages, there was even fairy dust. The book was so thick it couldn’t even close properly.

Oh, it was a glorious mess.

I loved it.

I’m not sure if I will ever make my own Art Journal, but I might give it a try. I found this book up in town, and it’s really motivating me to get started. And I don’t mean digitally, I mean the really-make-a-mess-and-clean-up-afterwards-hands-on kind of activity.

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Art Journal Art Journey: Collage and Storytelling for Honoring Your Creative Process https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1440330077/ref=cm_sw_r_awd_ESO2ub0TSWPRQ

Meanwhile, I can dream, right. And drool over these examples of Art Journals and altered book art, that I’ve curated from Google:

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I think I just might take on this challenge. I have dozens of failed tissue paper prints of my digital artwork that I can use as background colour, and several old dictionaries that I can tear pages out of, lots of washi tape, stamps, ephemera, stencils etc that I can use.

Okay, I’ve convinced myself…😄

Australia Day On The Beach

Today, 26th January 2015, is Australia Day. For those who don’t know much about this historic and controversial day, read Wikipedia’a entry about it here.

For most Australians, this day means taking the family on a picnic, or firing up the BBQ by the pool at home and inviting friends and family over. It’s perhaps a little unfortunate that this day always falls during the school holidays, so there are no school excursions to historical monuments or patriotic events to commemorate the event.

Today also sees the making of thousands of new Australian citizens, at ceremonies in state capitals across the country. You can of course become a citizen at other times during the year, but many new citizens like the idea of becoming Australians on Australia Day itself.

While it’s all and good that most Aussies are taking advantage of the day (especially this year, when it falls on a Monday, and therefore makes a long weekend) by revelry, drinking and general merrymaking, we need to remember also that today is also considered by many to be a Day of Mourning.

The Indigenous People of Australia call this day “Invasion Day”, as, give or take a few weeks’ discrepancy in dates, this is the day in 1788 that the British first landed on their Aboriginal homeland and, without so much as a “Do you mind?”, invaded and took over their country in the name of the King.

Much has been written about the English invasion of Australia, which bears great similarities to what they did to the Native Americans of America. Today, some Australians are acutely aware of the injustice dealt to the original inhabitants of Australia, and the Government even has a specific term for their policy to make amends. It’s called “The Reconciliation”. You can read more about it here.

Today, The Kid and I cycled down to the Rockingham foreshore to see how the Australia Day revelry was going. The Kid wanted to go on the bumper cars ride, and I needed doughnuts ahem! photos for this blog.

So, here are said photos.

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image(Troll’d pony LOL)

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image (It was so warm, even the seagulls were out swimming)

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imageET was an Australian for the day.

Art Abandonment : Rockingham Part II

So, yesterday The Kid and I went to the Rockingham foreshore and surreptitiously left some book and card packages around for people to find.

What we hadn’t counted on was that this was the long weekend of Australia Day (26th January), and, it being Summer, the foreshore would be FULL of people. It’s a popular destination for families, there are free BBQ stations dotted around the grassy park, and toilet facilities, cafés, bistros, fast food outlets, ice cream parlours, souvenir shops etc.

It was hard trying to blend into the crowd and not call attention to ourselves, pushing our bicycles through the park and leaving packages in the crooks of trees, on park benches and under public sculptures. But we did it, and celebrated afterwards with an ice cream (a Coke float or “Spider” for me) at Baskin Robbins.

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These Maori guys found the one we left on the bench behind where they were picnicking. It’s great to see people’s faces lighting up when they find out they’ve just found a free gift. Makes MY day! Actually, I think this is one with a deck of Lenormand cards attached, so they’d have had 2 pressies for their wife/girlfriend for Australia Day.

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Here’s one we left under a dolphin sculpture at the entrance of the foreshore.

I didn’t get to photograph all the drop-offs. Although most people were oblivious to our activities, there were others who looked at us curiously. (It’s very hard to be inconspicuous when you’re pushing 2 bicycles through a park and trying to avoid running over people on the grass!). The Kid said to me a couple of times “Just Drop and Run, Mum!” And so we did. Can’t help being shy!

I was glad I was able to tweak those Lenormand cards with the uneven borders. There was no way I could’ve sold them the way they were, or even after my “borderectomy” on them. So, by giving them away instead, I hope someone else gets to enjoy them for free. Hmmm…I think I’ll get some large sized cards printed next, with inspirational sayings on them, and maybe do an Easter Art Abandonment on the Rockingham Foreshore. Yes!

Australian Aboriginal Artists : Tarisse and Sarrita King

Tarisse and Sarrita King are sisters, Tarisse was born in 1986, Sarrita in 1988. Their father was a prominent Aboriginal artist himself, William King Jungala(1966-2007).

On Tarisse King: (from Kate Owen‘s Gallery site):

Tarisse is a daughter of well-known artist, William King Jungala. An urban Aboriginal artist, she was born on September 4th 1986 in Adelaide. She moved to Darwin to live with her mother at the age of nine, but returned to Adelaide in 2003 to pursue a career in hospitality. However, living with her father she was exposed to art and her engagement with it grew. She began painting her father’s stories including his five elements, earth images and other designs, which she learned and inherited from William, and as her involvement grew she began experimenting with her own techniques and designs.

Following her father’s passing in 2007, she continues to spend much of her time in the studio, alongside her sister Sarrita, who is also an emerging artist carrying their father’s legacy.

I found Sarrita King’s Facebook page, where she provides details about her life, what inspires her to create Aboriginal Art, and a list of exhibitions. Here’s an excerpt from her profile page:

Sarrita King was born in Adelaide, South Australia on the 5th March 1988. She is the younger sister to fellow artist, Tarisse King and daughter to the late highly regarded artist, William King Jungala (1966 – 2007).

Sarrita inherits her Australian Aboriginality from her father who was part of the Gurindji tribe from the Northern Territory. The Gurindji tribe came to public attention during the 1960s and 1970s when members employed by the Wave Hill cattle station led a landmark case which became the first successful land rights claim in Australia. It is this same strong sense of self and pride that Sarrita embodies and it fuels her drive to paint her totemic landscape.

Sarrita spent most of her youth growing up in Darwin in the Northern Territory. Not far from where her ancestors inhabited, it is here that her connection to her Aboriginality and subsequently the land was able to grow. Her exposure to the imperious weather and extreme landscape has provided the theme for her works of art, since she began painting at age 16. Rolling sand hills, cracking lightning and thunderstorms, torrential rain, fire, desert and tangled bush are all scathing environmental factors that shaped her forefather’s lives and also her own. Depicting these elements in her paintings, Sarrita provides a visual articulation of the earth’s language.

Stylistically, Sarrita utilises traditional Aboriginal techniques such as ‘dotting’ but also incorporates unorthodox techniques inherited from her late father, as well as self-developed practices. Her art is a fusion of the past, present and future and represents the next generation of artists who have been influenced by both their indigenous history, and current Western upbringing. Sarrita creates frenetic energy on the canvas with her Lightning series and searing heat with her Fire series. Her aesthetic has a universal appeal and provides an entry point for people to experience the power and uniqueness of the Australian landscape and its harsh climate. On a world scale, her depictions couldn’t be more seasonable and well-timed.

Sarrita now paints in Adelaide in a shared studio with her sister. She has been included in over 20 exhibitions, is represented in galleries in every Australian state, included in many high profile Australian and international art collections and been auctioned several times successfully through Paris’ Art Curial Auction house.
Sarrita is currently taking a hiatus from her Bachelor of Journalism at the University of South Australia to pursue her interest in digital media, specifically documentary making and focus on her art. Only at the age of 22, Sarrita King has many personal achievements but it is her desire to visually communicate her inspiration, the land, which keeps her ancestral narrative alive and provides a new way of looking back while looking forward.

I believe the information on both sisters may be out of date. Tarisse’s Facebook page indicates she is currently living in New Zealand. Whatever the case may be, the King sisters continue to collaborate on projects, as well as painting in their own distinctive styles.

Here are some examples of Tarisse King’s work: (Google Images)

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Here are some examples of Sarrita King’s work: (Google Images)

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