Category Archives: Travel

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. :-)

Just more of my favourite things

Just a random selection of images that I’ve curated from Pinterest, Google Images and Facebook. I like to post them here and reflect back later to see what patterns or trends emerge, if any.

Sometimes these images spark off ideas for new creative projects. Other times it could just be a colour I like, or a feeling I get from looking at it.

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Happy weekend, all!! :-)

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.

Happy Lunar New Year 2015

You don’t have to be Chinese or even Oriental, to ring in the Year of the Goat 2015, which falls this year on February 19th. Goat, ram, sheep …it doesn’t matter, as the Chinese word “yang” covers all ovine animals. (I’m reminded of that famous scene in the movie “Babe”, where our ubiquitous porcine hero has to recite the Ovine Oath of “Baaaa ram ewe” to a flock of sheep he’s herding at the championship trials).

The UK’s Telegraph has written an interesting segment on various aspects of the Year of the Goat. Read it here.

For those curious about what Chinese Astrology has to say about people born in the year of the Goat, and what this New Year holds for them, here is a very interesting article covering many aspects of it:
http://www.chinahighlights.com/travelguide/chinese-zodiac/goat.asp

Some famous Goat people: Bill Gates, Nicole Kidman, Zhang ZiYi, Bruce Willis, Mel Gibson, Leonard Nimoy, Clint Eastwood, Coco Chanel, Marc Chagall, Camille Saint-Saens, Mark Twain, Franz Liszt, Vangelis.

This festive season also marks the world’s biggest annual mass migration of people, as they head back to their ancestral homes (the homes of their parents, grandparents or great-grandparents) where the Family Reunion Dinner will be held on the first day of the Lunar New Year. That’s when the entire clan will meet and sit down for a sumptuous banquet, gifts of mandarin oranges are exchanged and married people give children red money packets (hong bao).

And then there are the long strands of Chinese firecrackers snap-crackle-and-popping all over the place, creating carpets of scarlet confetti, and lots of fireworks in the sky. Don’t forget the Lion dances, real feats of acrobatics, as shopkeepers dangle heads of lettuce from poles out of 2nd storey windows or balconies, for the Lion to catch in its mouth. There’s a red packet tied to the lettuce, it holds money for the entire troupe. The Lion will then ritually “eat” the lettuce, then throw shreds of it all around.

(Image source: Google)

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It truly is a case of Eat, Drink and Be Merry.

Here is a Chinese Baidu heatmap of the Mass Migration in China during the festive season, where more than 1 billion people will make the journey Home. Imagine the traffic chaos and the crowds on trains.

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Last year was the year of the Horse, and I created a digital Chinese New Year card that I shared online as a Freebie to anyone and everyone.

This time, it’s my Year of the Goat offering. Feel free to copy and share my Goat card (it rather reminds me of a “hong bao” money packet) with your family, friends and social circles.

GONG XI FA CAI!
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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

Artist Inspiration : Julie Fletcher

Julie Fletcher is an Australian landscape photographer with a fascinating back story. When stuck in a bad relationship many years ago, instead of putting up with it stoically, Julie chose to pack her camera and belongings, throw them into her car, and head off into the Australian Outback. There, she discovered, or rather rediscovered her passion for landscape photography.

The rest, as they say, is HERstory.

You can read more about Julie’s story on her website: http://www.juliefletcherphotography.com.au/about-me

Julie Fletcher is also on Facebook at
https://m.facebook.com/JulieFletcherPhotography?refsrc=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2FJulieFletcherPhotography.

I’m a sucker for interesting back stories about people. Julie’s struck a chord in me. Here is a woman who, instead of putting up with a bad situation and lying in the bed she’d made, decided to take charge of her own life and go do the things she wanted to do, and live life the way she wanted to. Good on ya, Julie!

And the world is better off for having Julie share her philosophy on life via her photographs. Be amazed at Julie’s amazing artistry with a camera. Some of these photos look almost painterly.

(Image source: Google Images)

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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!

Art Abandonment : Rockingham Part I

Okay, this is not strictly the abandonment of Art. My 2 printers are currently in hibernation…oh alright, they’re both being perfectly beastly and won’t print true colours but rather just reds and blues. And there’s nothing wrong with the ink cartridges or nozzles, I’ve checked. I was going to print off some of my artwork, to abandon on our foreshore, but I can’t now, as I really don’t specialise in just reds and blues.

So, instead, I’ve decided to recycle some inspirational books that I’d previously bought from our local thrift stores. Someone else can benefit from reading them now. And who knows, it just might brighten up someone’s day, to find a nice little gift on a park bench.

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I just decided to wrap each book up in brown paper, stick on an Art Abandonment label, tie it up with some twine, and Bob’s your uncle. Yes, alright, I ran out of twine halfway. ;)

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I posted about this on Facebook’s Art Abandonment page. Got quite a lot of interest and encouraging comments too. Then, as is usually the case, someone, a Mod from the Group, I think, pointed out that if I wasn’t Abandoning Art but rather books, my post would have to be removed from their wall.

I didn’t reply to that comment, as it was past midnight by then and I needed my beauty sleep. But just before I drifted off, it occurred to me that I could add some of my Lenormand cards to the packages, and that would count as Art, for the sake of conforming to the group’s requirements. I have a couple of decks where the printer’s cutter did not align properly and left uneven borders. I would perform a “borderectomy” on those cards first thing in the morning, and include them with the books.

That would then be Art Abandonment AND Random Acts of Kindness.

However, when I woke up this morning, my post had already been removed by the Mod of the group. Without even waiting for my response grrr. Maybe they’re in America and didn’t realise the vast time difference between Australia and their country?

No worries, I’ll just do the borderectomy, include the cards with my packages, take more photos, then re-post to the Art Abandonment group page.

Commencing Borderectomy…

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Ready to rock-n-roll! Tomorrow The Kid and I will cycle down to the Rockingham foreshore and leave these babies here and there, for people to find.