Category Archives: Travel

When I’m feeling Blue…

…all I have to do is take a look at you…

…then I feel more blue hehehe.

Blue, in all its shades and hues, has always been my favourite colour. When I lived in the Andalucian mountain-top city of Ronda, in Spain, I’d heard fantastic stories of the Blue City of Morocco, Chefchaouen. But, although it was a mere hop, skip and jump away from Spain, circumstances and financial restraints meant I never quite crossed the Strait of Gibraltar.

Now that I’m based in Australia, physically getting to Chefchaouen will be even harder. Luckily, thanks to Pinterest, I can visit all these countries and cities around the world once only dreamed about, and live vicariously through the eyes of other tourists and their photos. Hurrah for technology and social media!

Chefchaouen is, according to Wikipedia:


Chefchaouen or Chaouen, as it is often called by Moroccans, is a popular tourist destination because of its proximity to Tangier and the Spanish enclave of Ceuta. The name refers to the shape of the mountain tops above the town, that look like the two horns (chaoua) of a goat. “Chef Chaouen” derives from the Berber word for horns, Ichawen. There are approximately two hundred hotels catering to the summer influx of European tourists. One distinction possessed by Chefchaouen is its blue-rinsed houses and buildings.

Chefchaouen is a popular shopping destination as well, as it offers many native handicrafts that are not available elsewhere in Morocco, such as wool garments and woven blankets. The goat cheese native to the area is also popular with tourists.

The countryside around it has a reputation for being a prolific source of kief. The Chefchaouen region is one of the main producers of cannabis in Morocco. Hashish is subsequently sold all over town, but is mostly the domain of native Chaouenis. A nearby attraction is the Kef Toghobeit Cave which is one of the deepest caves in Africa.

For me, though, the reason I would visit Chefchaouen is mainly for the opportunity to be fully immersed in the colour blue. Here are some images I’ve curated from my Pinterest travels to Chefchaouen, to show you why I love feeling Blue.😄

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Seen on a Sunday…

Not something you encounter every day, to be sure. We live in Rockingham, south of Perth, Western Australia, and for some reason the town is a magnet for vintage cars. And motorcycles. It might be the beaches, the lovely foreshore with cafes, fish & chip shops, ice cream parlours and boutique shops. Or the fact we have a coastal road that takes in the beautiful scenery, with the scintillating Indian Ocean to the left or right, depending on which way you’re heading.

This Sunday the kid and I were cycling around the foreshore, heading for waffles and coffee, when we came across this sight:
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Yes, you saw right. They’re all Hogs. And there’s a Lot of pink going on. It’s the 3rd Annual Pink Ribbon Ride in aid of Breast Cancer, organised by the Swan Chapter of the Perth Harley-Davidson club. The rally started in Cannington, about 50 km away, and went through the artsy historic port town of Fremantle, then down to Rockingham following the coastline. It finishes in Mandurah, about 30 km south of Rockingham. There must have been over 300 motorbikes in that carpark. And we’d caught them at the right time, just as they were preparing to leave for the last leg of their journey, destination Mandurah.

Suddenly, the kid and I found ourselves plump right in the midst of these Hogs. We’d become Wannabes 😄. He wants a Harley-Davidson for his next birthday. I reminded him that while he was still in my tummy, 12 years ago, I’d owned a Honda NSR125 motorbike, so he’s a biker chick’s kid really. It must run in the blood 😄.

There’s never a dull Sunday in Rockingham, and that’s for certain.

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Australian Aboriginal Artist (and Advocate) : Marilyn Armstrong

“Marilyn Armstrong was born at Jay Creek near Hermannsberg. She was born into a famous artistic family and influenced by outstanding artists Albert Namatjira and Clifford Possum. Marilyn is not only an artist in her own right but also a tireless advocate for her people.

She has attained national and international notoriety for her work and has also aided her community as counsellor at the women’s and children’s centre, and the Aboriginal Congress plus as a health worker.

Her art reflects the images of her “dreamings” given to her by her family and attributes her understanding of colour to Albert and her motivation to Clifford.

This is a quote from an ABC radio interview in 2004:”I do it differently because as an artist, when men give me the dreaming I change it and do it the woman’s way”.”

(Source: http://jantownend.com/australian-aboriginal-artist-marilyn-armstrong.html)

Further information about Marilyn Armstrong below, source http://ngurart.com.au/artist/marilyn-armstrong/)

“Marilyn was born in the Jay Creek community, but grew up in Hermannsburg where her father worked for the Finke River Mission as an engineer. It was here that Marilyn remembers watching Albert Namatjira and Clifford Possum painting and being inspired by them and being given permission to paint the dream time stories.

As a teenager she was a vocalists with the Aranda band in Hermannsburg. She started to paint back in 1988 as a stress reliever (for the women’s centre). Clifford encouraged Marilyn to develop her skills with her dot painting, helping her to understand and paint the Dream time stories of the area they are from. Marilyn has many skills and worked as a counselor at the women’s and children’s centre also with Aboriginal congress as a health worker.

Marilyn moved back to Jay Creek in 1974. Although she spends a lot of time with her young family, she still likes to do beadwork, paint and do leather work which she learnt from her father.

Marilyn has been on the board of Ngurratjuta Aboriginal Corporation for many years and it was at her suggestion that the Art centre was formed to create a place for artists to come and paint when they are in town and pass on their knowledge to the younger generations.

EXHIBITIONS:
2003 Desert Mob Exhibition, Alice Springs, NT
2004 Advocate Central Australian Art Award, Alice Springs, NT
2004 Desert Mob Exhibition, Alice Springs, NT
2005 Desert Mob Exhibition, Alice Springs, NT
2007 Desert Mob Exhibition, Alice Springs, NT
2008 Desert Mob Exhibition, Araluen Galleries, Alice Springs, NT”

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What drew me to Marilyn’s art is her use of bright, vibrant colour, being an aficionado of colour myself. She is not the most prolific artist, and these days she is more active in the administration of the Ngurratjuta Many Hands Art Centre, being a prominent board member there.

Many Hands Art Centre is proudly Aboriginal owned and operated and is situated in the township of Alice Springs. The Art Centre has been established to provide a place for Artists to come together to paint, share and learn new techniques and ideas. Marilyn Armstrong who is one of our prominent artists and also a Ngurratjuta board member says of the art centre:

“It’s a place where we can sit and talk together about the dream time and learn from each other”.

Ngurratjuta supports a range of well established contemporary watercolour and acrylic artists who frequently exhibit interstate as well as many new and emerging artists who are developing their skills. We produce four specific styles of art including, watercolours, traditional dot style, naïve style and the more contemporary style paintings. The artworks tell many different stories and are completed in a variety of techniques including, intricate and subtle brush strokes, distinct and detailed dot work as well as broad and often bold freestyle use of acrylic paints and colours.

We currently support over 300 artists with a special focus on encouraging the “Hermannsburg School’ style watercolour artists, who continue to paint in the tradition of their grandfather, Albert Namatjira, arguably one of Australia’s most famous artists of the 20th century. Albert Namatjira taught his children to follow in his unique style, who have since passed this knowledge on to their children, which has resonated in a legacy of watercolour artists in the Central Desert region. By continuing his legacy, these artists sustain an important piece of living history.

Ngurratjuta is proud of its ethical work practices, and aims to return the greatest possible percentage of the sale to the artist. The artists are welcome to paint at the art centre from Monday to Thursdays and on these days there are between five and twenty town-based artists painting on site.

We welcome visitors to browse through the completed paintings which are for sale.

 

Here is Marilyn Armstrong in 2012, speaking on behalf of Ngurratjuta Many Hands Art Centre:

 

It’s a bird, it’s a plane…

…it’s a plane. On Saturday 25th October 2014, as I was out in the garden watering my plants, I heard the drone of a plane overhead. Where we are it’s not uncommon to see biplanes and vintage planes flying over, and on celebration days like Anzac Day, the jets that fly past Perth often go over Rockingham first. Nearby Garden Island houses Australia’s largest naval fleet, and sometimes we hear their jet engines.

But this day was rather different. As I looked up, expecting to see one of the usual suspects, what I saw instead was something quite different, and something I’d never encountered before. My son’s best friend, Cooper, was over for a playdate that afternoon, so I called both boys out to witness the strange plane in the sky. Cooper is quite an aviation buff, but this had even him scratching his head.

This is what we saw (yes, I had to Google it until I found it, as I didn’t have my camera or mobile phone on me when it happened):

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Weird, huh? Like a kite.

I’m sure you’ll agree it’s not something you see every day. After finding the image on Google, I still had no idea what this plane was. I couldn’t make out it if had 2 or 4 engines, it was too far away, and I only managed to find some images on Google after searching under several possible keywords (some of them being such as “plane with diamond-shaped struts, plane with cables, kite-like plane”).  But at least I was in the right area. I decided to search under the name on the tail – Fugro, for more information.

Turns out it’s a “Geophysical survey aircraft, undertaking magnetic and electromagnetic surveys for mineral exploration companies” (Source: http://www.airliners.net) This particular model is the CASA C-212-CC40 (or possibly CC50). Not much information is forthcoming from the internet, but judging by the look of the cables suspended in a diamond-shaped configuration between the head, wings and tail of the aircraft, one would assume perhaps they are to aid in the collection of data or geological mapping of the ground.

Sounds about right. Western Australia’s most important industry is the mining industry.  I Google “Fugro” and found the company’s website. I found some information about aerial mapping from this link.

Well, there you go.  You learn something new every day!

Conscious Living Expo, Perth, Western Australia 2014

Well, here I am today at my first big Mind, Body, Spirit Festival ever. This one’s called “Conscious Living” and it’s held this year at Belmont Racecourse in Perth, Western Australia, from 16-19th October.

I don’t really know what to expect. I’m hoping to see stalls selling crystals and Tarot/Oracle cards, as well as clairvoyants and psychics of all kinds giving readings. Those are what I’m going to the Expo for. I doubt I’ll be able to afford a reading of any kind, as their prices tend to start from $50 for a half-hour reading. But I want to see what’s there, and if there’s any unusual type of readings on offer, e.g Lenormand cards. And if there’s any Oracle card decks for sale there that I have yet to add to my growing collection AHEM. Or books, one must absolutely have books, of course!

The main attraction, however, is Braco from Croatia, who apparently has a soothing and healing power of people, just by using his loving gaze. For more information about Braco, read here. Here is a photo of Braco in action, taken from his webpage.

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(I missed out on the Early Bird special which included a “gazing session” with Braco, so if I really want to go see him, I’ll have to pay extra for it, if it’s not booked out already). For those who are already familiar with Braco’s Gazing, it’s his birthday on 23rd November, and he’s offering free Live Streaming sessions here.

The website for the Expo http://www.consciouslivingacademy.com/demo/index.php/visitor-information has a downloadable PDF document showing who some of the exhibitors are, as well as a floor plan. I’ve printed that out to help me get around.

Here’s the PDF document, if you’re interested:

http://www.consciouslivingacademy.com/demo/images/PDFs/CLE-Perth-2014-print-standard.pdf

So, for today, it will be just a quick snapshot of what’s happening at the Expo, then if I find anything else that’s of interest, I may expand on it in a further post. Meanwhile, enjoy the pics! :-)

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Aboriginal Black & White Paintings

I am a lover of all things colourful, however some of my favourite Australian Aboriginal paintings are black and white. There’s something almost spiritual about black and white art, almost as if the restrictions imposed by the limitations of colour have brought about another kind of depth or way of seeing.  Australian Aboriginal Art Dot paintings (both the colourful ones and the black and white ones) are steeped in tradition and carry historical meanings and even contain encrypted secrets, however they are also very abstract and modern in their own right.  For me, the beauty of these paintings lies in their ability to straddle the Past, Present and Future.

(The following is quoted from Source: http://www.aboriginalartstore.com.au/aboriginal-art-culture/aboriginal-art/aboriginal-dot-paintings/)

Dot paintings today are recognised globally as unique and integral to Australian Aboriginal art. On the surface the dot is simply a style of Aboriginal painting, like the use of cross-hatching or stencil art. Exploring deeper into the history of the Aboriginal dot painting a world of camouflage, secrecy and ritual is discovered.

The term ‘dot painting’ stems from what the Western eye sees when faced with contemporary Aboriginal acrylic paintings. This painting style arose from the Papunya art movement in the 1970s. Papunya Tula artists used a process which originally mirrored traditional spiritual ceremonies. In such rituals the soil would be cleared and smoothed over as a canvas (much like the dark, earthy boards used by the Papunya Tula) for the inscription of sacred designs, replicating movements of ancestral beings upon earth. These Dreaming designs were outlined with dancing circles and often surrounded with a mass of dots. Afterward the imprinted earth would be smoothed over, painted bodies rubbed away, masking the sacred-secrets which had taken place.

This ritual was shifted from ground to canvas by the Papunya Tula who eventually added an array of naturally produced colours to the restricted palette of red, yellow, black and white produced from ochre, charcoal and pipe clay.Such pieces reveal a map of circles, spirals, lines, dashes and dots, the traditional visual language of the Western Desert Aboriginal People. However these marks were permanent and due to arising interest made public, creating internal political uproar. Consequently representations of sacred objects were forbidden or concealed through the dotting technique.

Whether a concealer of deeper, spiritual meaning or simply symbols of fruits, rain or feathers the acrylic dot paintings of the Aboriginal People become increasingly complex and innovative artistically. The paintings of Johnny Warrangula Tjupurrula implement techniques of overlaying dots and superimposing patterns causing objects and shapes to merge in and out of one another. Acrylic Aboriginal paintings are highly emotive incorporating an innovative balance of traditional and modern. The dot technique, whether as a concealer or a signifier offers a sense of movement and rhythm causing the flat canvas to sing, jump and dance with energy and life, much like the rituals which inspired them.

Bear in mind that although they may be collectively called Dot Paintings, it’s not just dots that make up the fabric of this painting style. Some artists merge their dots into lines, or paint lines and add dots to either side of them afterwards. Others go to the other extreme and use dots only to emphasise or accentuate circles or shapes. Each Aboriginal Artist has his or her own innate style, no two are alike, and each has his or her own palette of colour and set of symbols that makes his or her trademark. For example, one artist may be known for his Bush Medicine leaves, another for her Witchetty Grubs, and another for her Snakes, another for his Lines.

Here are just some black and white Aboriginal paintings that I have curated from Google Images. Just to show you how diverse they can be.

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I know the question on your mind now is: are these painted using white paint on a black background? Or using black paint on a white background? It’s kind of like how you’d ask “Is a Zebra black with white stripes, or white with black stripes?” :-)

Watch these YouTube videos and find out for yourself!

(Source: Desert Arts Centre)

Australian Aboriginal Art Symbols – A Primer

I am fascinated by Australian Aboriginal Art. And I confess that until recently I had no idea what the various symbols meant; to me, they were simply beautiful swirls, circles, squiggly worm shapes and dots. However, after visiting my 11-year-old son’s school on an Open Day recently and looking at his Aboriginal Art assignment and seeing charts showing the meanings of various symbols, I’m happy to report that I now know a little bit more about Aboriginal symbols. So, the next time I see a piece of Aboriginal art, it won’t be just beautiful swirls, circles, squiggly worm shapes and dots, it would mean a group of men and women gathered around a fire in a campsite, tracks to waterholes, digging sticks, even mountains, the Sun, Moon and Stars. Here are some examples of Aboriginal symbols I found on Google Images. Because these were drawn by different people, some of them students, there is a fair amount of overlap in the symbols. But it gives you a good idea of what to look out for the next time you see a piece of Aboriginal Art. symbols symbols_page33 7fcc7f8e803473c0c07698064dad3f3b aboriginal text Ab-symbol-31 Ab-symbol-21 And here is my son’s very own attempt at creating Aboriginal Art:
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And from the school’s Art noticeboard:
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RETROSPECTIVE : DALIENUTOPIA

Another of my favourite mobile photography themes is Surrealism. Back in April 2011, when I first discovered the Baigup Wetlands just across the river Swan from where we were living in Ascot then, I devoted an entire series of iPhone photographs to the weird and wonderful Australian gumtrees in that swamp, as well as in the reserve on our own side of the river.  I even self-published my first Blurb book, titled “DALIENUTOPIA“, a play on the words “Dali”, “Alien” and “Utopia”. If you like it, please buy a copy!

Here is the link to my DALIENUTOPIA, and here are some of the images from that Series. All photos taken and edited using an iPhone 4. (I’m so happy to have found my images on my external hard-drive. It’s very difficult to find anything there, as I wasn’t terribly organised then and things would be filed willy nilly without a care for chronological order, or titles. Consider this a Retrospective of my mobile photography career!)

Before you ask, Yes, I DID spend a lot of my time ankle or even knee deep in mud for the sake of my Art :-).

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Australian Aboriginal Artist : Walangari Karntawarra

Continuing with my exploration of Australia’s Aboriginal artists…it never ceases to amaze me how this country continues to produce such a plethora of talented people, each one even more amazing than the next, if that is even possible. It must be something in the hard red earth of Australia.

Walangari Karntawarra is a contemporary Australian Aboriginal artist. He has a distinct style that is somewhat different from other “Dot Painting” artists. I like to describe his style as “evolved”, as it shows a subtle shift in nuance from other contemporary Aboriginal artists…it is hard to explain, just look at the images below (courtesy of Google Images). You can see direct representations of animals such as snakes, and in another painting you can almost discern a decidedly modern Jackson Pollock-like style, in yet another abstractness lives side by side with traditional Aboriginal symbols. All done with a meticulous eye for colour, clarity and detail.

Walangari also has his own website
Walangari states on his website: “Aboriginal Art encompasses a wealth of visual art, dance, performance and music. These art forms are all part of our traditional culture and remain important ways of educating people about our beliefs.”

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No Teddy Bears Picnic

If you go down to the woods today…

Just some awesome photos that I’ve collated here from a couple of my Pinterest boards. I’ve been pinning them under “Amazing Places” or “Awesome Photos”, sometimes both! I’ve always loved images of trees in a forest, shrouded by mysterious mist and fog, with shafts of sunlight breaking through. Could be the Red Riding Hood in me 😄.

If you’re wanting to know who the photographers are, please look at my Pinterest boards, and when you click on the images therein, you will be taken to the website. Magic carpet wha hey!! 😁 If you’re not on Pinterest yet, why ever not?

Don’t you just want to go there already? Just to stand and stare, and wonder at the glorious magic of Mother Nature?

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