Tuesday, October 27, 2009

One Day to Go!

Fine weather at last. This is how I want to remember Melbourne - all blue and sparkly!

Ten things I love about Melbourne (in no particular order)

1. Trams
- riding on them
- tram noises
- the free tram
2. the coffee
3. the laneways and quirky little shops - how do they survive?
4. the multicultural dimension
5. the inner city villages - Brunswick, Fitzroy, Carlton etc
6. Sydney Road
7. the streets and buskers
8. always something to do
9. the vibes and creativity
10. the interesting places outside Melbourne you can get to and back in a day

Things I don't like about Melbourne

1. the weather, the weather, the weather.......
2. the wind (at Docklands)
3. the price of houses - average(?) price at Port Melbourne $900,000 (Sept 2009)

That's about all really.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

What’s in a Name

Paluma, the village, was named after one of the earliest ships of the Queensland navy, the Gunboat HMAS Paluma. Paluma is an aboriginal word meaning “thunder”. HMAS Gayundah was her sister ship, gayundah being the aboriginal word for “lightning”.

Thunder and lightening!

The Paluma was finally broken up in Melbourne in 1950-51. After WWI, HMAS Gayundah was retired from the Navy and spent time as a sand and gravel barge on the Brisbane River before ending her days at Woody Point at Redcliffe, beached to serve as erosion protection. The Gayundah lies on the shore about 100 metres from my studio.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

I don't only do flowers

Here are a couple more prints from the past - the Red eyed tree frog - and I still have the stencils - yay for Ezycut stencil paper.
This frog (sometimes called the orange eyed tree frog) lives in eastern Australia north of mid NSW. It is (or was when I lived there) very common to hear it at Paluma, especially after rain. Find out more about it - including an audio of the call at the Australian Frog database .

Monday, October 19, 2009

More on Ellis Rowan (1848-1922)

This woman fascinates me. Some notes extracted from the National Library publication of 2002 The Flower Hunter: Ellis Rowan describe her - "painter, naturalist, writer and explorer ...for almost 50 years she travelled to remote parts of Australia, India, Europe, America and New Guinea in pursuit of exotic flowers and wildlife to paint....petite, plucky and always dressed immaculately... suffered bruises, black eye, occasional fever, stinging nettles, mosquito bites and sunburn....dangled by ropes over precipices...suffered from malaria". Other "highlights" of her life -
  • incurred the wrath and indignation of her (male) fellow painters (including Fred McCubbin, Louis Buvelot and Tom Roberts) by scooping the pool in a number of major awards in the late 19th century
  • criticised by Norman Lindsay who described her paintings as vulgar (excuse me?)
  • acclaimed internationally, works were collected by royalty 
  • became the most recognised and commercially viable painter in Australia and a household name at that time (in a period when the art world was dominated by men)
  • had a facelift, died her hair red with henna and reduced her age by 10 years
  • was still painting bird of paradise species in the wilds of New Guinea at age 68
  • produced over 3000 works during her lifetime
  • now practically unknown despite her huge legacy
How cool is that!

A major exhibition of (a portion of) her works was organised by the National Library of Australia in 2002/2003 in order to make her art more widely known and available and "to help establish her rightful place in Australian art".  Her painting of Pandorea jasminoides (and Clematis aristata) - reproduction below - is held by the National Gallery of Victoria and is rated a public favourite in the collection.

A new publication about her life is The Flower Hunter: the remarkable life of Ellis Rowan by Christine and Michael Morton-Evans (Simon and Schuster, 2008)

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Flower of the Day

My fave flower for today is the native Bower of Beauty - Pandorea jasminoides. These photos show my original tee shirt print design from the 1980s - and I still have a faithful apron from that time but no tee shirts have lasted the 20 year distance :-( . The 2009 version has been made into a dress bag (Nicole Mallalieu pattern).

There are lots of Pandorea species (and shapes, colours and sizes) so lots of fertile ground for more prints. Here are a few Pandoreas taken by my sister in her native plant nursery in northwest Tasmania - Redbreast Plants . P. jasminoides is top left. A nursery bred form P. 'Lady Di" is on the bottom RHS.

It is a hardy plant - a climber - which has adapted well to Australian gardens. Originally a rainforest species from south Queensland/northern NSW, it can be grown as far south as Tasmania (and in far north Queensland). I have seen it growing and flowering vigorously in suburban Melbourne at my (ex) local petrol station near La Trobe University.
Ellis Rowan - the flower hunter - painted a beautiful water colour of jasminoides back in 1900. See image at the Powerhouse Museum website.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

One Week to Go!

Before the big final move back to Queensland after 15 years in Victoria. I am looking forward to some warm weather after weeks of low temperatures and grey skies here in Melbourne. But I have been making the most of these last weeks to soak up as much Melbourne design and culture inspiration as I can. I am like a big sponge (helped by my trusty notebook). I will have to come back yearly for a topup. At least with the internet and blogosphere, physical location becomes almost irrelevant in being able to track what's going on in the creative world. I will miss the easy access to looking and touching the lovely works of local Melb screen printers - such as Ink & Spindle, Pippijoe and Spin Spin and the words of wisdom from sewing teacher, handbag designer and pattern maker Nikki from Nicole Mallalieu Design (going to one of her classes in 2008 set me back on the road to screen printing and sewing again).

But Brissy is looking pretty good with plenty of local indie designer markets and regular blogs such as BrisStyle and those produced by a raft of local crafters. So I am itching to get stitching again (but I've packed up my machine) and getting back into printing - soooo hard trying to do it in an apartment.