Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Steady Gaze

A favourite spot for the cows to rest is by the farm gate watching our every move in and out of the Nannup vineyard. On the whole, they tend to keep their distance although there has been a run in or two over the years especially with our inquisitive red heeler, kelpie cross dog, Elvis. Red heelers are Australian cattle dogs and kelpies are skilled at mustering sheep, so it makes for an interesting combination when we have both sheep (usually in winter) and cattle on the property. Today however with our tasks completed for the week it was time to leave the quietness of the farm and head back to Perth for a different routine and the hurly-burly of city life. 

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Evening at the Farm

Champagne corks popped as we relaxed this evening. After a 6am start today, the vineyard nets to keep the birds away from ripening grapes have finally been secured. Time now to put our feet up and enjoy the view from the back verandah.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Netting the Vines

Today I'm at our vineyard, Red Gully Wines at Nannup to get on with some necessary work. With the local birds beginning to feast on the ripening grapes it was time to get the nets on the vines. For some strange reason, hubby Ken decided I would drive the tractor in between the rows of vines while our helpers stretched out the nets. Of course our dog Elvis was there for the action darting just about everywhere checking out what was going on and exactly what everyone was doing. 

Like all teamwork activities, netting is a bit of a tricky operation. It took several rows for us to get into a rhythm and find a system that worked well - the tractor moving at the right speed and the correct tension for the nets to cover the vines completely. This was the first time I had driven the tractor and I had everyone in hysterics as I tackled the steep hill on which we have the vineyard. My turning ability at the end of each row also left a lot to be desired so it was not long before I was relegated to the tray at the rear of the tractor to guide out the nets. Probably the simplest task of all! 

Still, tonight my aching arms are a reminder I spent the day hauling out the nets. Tomorrow it's the backbreaking work of securing the nets so the grapes are well protected from the silver eyes which have been enjoying pecking at the grapes and from the crows that have been carrying off whole bunches! In about three to four weeks we can now expect to have some tasty grapes ready for the next step - winemaking.  

Sunday, February 26, 2012

A Cuban Affair

Thanks to the 1979 Robert Holmes song Pina Colada many have tried or at least heard of this popular tropical cocktail. With music, food and Paul's film with travel tales of Havana's fading architectural beauty, cigar smoking dudes and antediluvian American Buicks, the atmosphere was created for a Saturday evening Cuban style. However it was John's Pina Colada - pineapple juice, light rum, coconut cream nicely shaken and garnished with pineapple wedges and maraschino cherry that really stole the limelight as we delighted in the history, dynamism and beauty that is instrinsically Cuban. 

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Wasting Your Time But Not by Very Much

Arriving at the Perth Cultural Centre a little early for a show I had time on my hands, about 20 minutes in fact. Not quite enough to go for a walk or to grab a bite to eat but certainly enough to watch the five second film shorts up on the big screen in the Centre's plaza area. With names like Creepy Hug, Irresponsible Uncle, Lady in Red, Wasting Your Time But Not by Very Much  and How to Say No (and get away with it) these punchy and thoroughly entertaining five second shorts got the message over and didn't waste time....well...... five seconds at most. 

Friday, February 24, 2012

U-Ram Choe: Una Lumino Ortus

In somewhat of an amazing feat, Choe has developed a comprehensive and believable (well maybe not believable but certainly imaginative) system of organisms of which the Una Lumino Ortus (ULO) is one on exhibit at Curtin University's John Curtin Gallery. With the scientific name Anmopispl Avearium cirripedia Uram, I could not help thinking that it was good enough to be in the running for Nick's Floral Friday Photos. What do you think? 

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Beneath the Arches

The Perth Writers' Festival is starting at the University of Western Australia today. A wonderful setting to be inspired by writers and in between sessions to wander through the university's extensive and beautiful grounds. Off to several sessions tomorrow, in the evening I am looking forward to Blogging the Revolution. With Marieke Hardy, John Birmingham and Paul French in discussion, I expect the conversation will be lively as well as entertaining. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Mellow Yellow Today

This morning at Matilda Bay felt "Mellow Yellow".  No not like the lyrics of the 1960s Donovan song, but relaxing and voluptuous in idleness and the delight of the day.  

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Choi Jeong Hwa: Life, Life.

Balloons have a feeling of joy and play about them. Perhaps it is the bright colours, sense of occasion or happy memories of balloons at fetes, Royal Shows, birthdays and other celebrations throughout life that brings about this response. Finally I made it into the city today to see Life, Life by Choi Jeong Hwa at Gallery Central, Perth. Imagine filling a large room at an education facility with hundreds, no thousands of balloons. What fun! And it certainly was enough to make me burst into laughter at the delight of it all. As it has now been a few days since the opening of this exhibition, some of the balloons had deflated or burst. The floor was becoming a metaphor for the passing of these objects of fun, vibrancy and joy. Life, Life was beginning to  be no more. A reflection on life for us all and perceptively shown through Choi's wit and humour. 

Monday, February 20, 2012

Grand Lane from Barrack Street

With camera in hand, I really find it hard to walk past a lane way. Just love the elements - shadows and art pieces either bold and beautiful (or sometimes not so beautiful) and other gems hidden almost from view but conveying a feeling to the passerby of having stumbled on a real find. Given today's heat, I did not get out and about to see what would take my attention. So here is one taken last Saturday night in the city. Yes it's that grand dame again....Grand Lane but as it has an "L" shape to it, this time the pic is from Barrack Street. 

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Summer Days

With the smoke haze that has been over Perth the last few days finally lifting and the weather warming,  it's time to enjoy the beach ahead of tomorrow's forecast of hot weather. 

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Urbanus Female

What's this you wonder? According to the catalogue of U-Ram Choe's exhibition at Curtin University  the scientific name for this exotic flora like object is Anmopista Volaticus floris Uram. The acronym U.R.A.M. stands for the enigmatic organisation United Research of Anima Machines. Is it possible that one day there could be a new world order characterised by a benign co-existence with the Anima Machines? After all, consider for example the changes in our lives brought about by computer technology. 

The exhibition welcomes gallery visitors into an imaginative and intriguing world where machine-organisms live on urban energy. The works are mysterious yet strangely familiar. Maybe a new and different world with these alien and beautiful organisms could be a possibility after all! 

The exhibition is presented as part of the Perth International Arts Festival Visual Arts Program. 

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Choi Jeong Hwa: Breathing Flower at University of Western Australia

Korean artist Choi Jeong Hwa brings colour and invention to the Reflection Pond at UWA with his amazing installation Breathing Flower. Commissioned by the Perth International Arts Festival the installation 'breathes' as the petals move slowly upwards towards the centre of the piece and then return to a resting position.  In harmony with the beautiful  surroundings, the gentle movement of the installation is mesmerising and the red both exciting and celebratory. An installation that delights the eye and fascinates with each breath.  

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Valentine's Day Sunset

As the sun rose over Perth on Valentine's Day I expected the cloud would eventually lift. However humid weather conditions and a thickening smoke haze from fires in the South West continued to engulf the city into the evening making for unusual lighting at sunset. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Les Studios de Cirque Place des Anges 111 - Spectacular Performance

Thousands of eyes turned skyward in St George's Terrace on Saturday night as the first feathers from Place des Anges, or Angles Square, started to slowly fall through the night sky. It was not long however before the feathery downpour escalated to what looked like a snow storm. 

Nearly twenty performers flew across the sky between office buildings releasing nearly two tonnes of feathers. Bursting from baskets, suitcases and umbrellas, the feathers created a real feathery flurry. When the Angels landed near were we were on the banks of St George's Cathedral they were embraced by excited spectators. It was about that time that the industrial blowers started, sending even more plumes into the air. Then the fun really began as the crowd delighted in playing in the feathery "snow". 

A comment on yesterday's post says it all: "What a fantastic event...certainly the most spectacular Perth International Arts Festival show I have been to ....all the people in the street were laughing and giggling...smiles all the end people were gathering up feathers and throwing them up in the air and at each if it had been snowing....Well done City of Perth for supporting such an event...." And ditto from me! A fabulous Festival event and such a happy gathering of people to see Place des Anges. An estimated crowd of 30,000 watched the event.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Les Studios de Cirque Place des Anges 11 - The Setting

Council House provided the dramatic backdrop for the crowds gathered in St George's Terrace, Perth for Saturday night's unforgettable performance of Place de Anges, part of the Lotterywest 2012 Perth Festival celebrations. All eyes were turned towards the wires shown below for the heavenly performance from the Angles as they glided across the heavens between Council House and St George's Cathedral leaving a trail of feathers in their wake. 

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Les Studios de Cirque Place des Anges 1 - Off to Work

An uncommon sight in St George's Terrace Perth last night as Angles from Les Studios de Cirque's production Place de Anges were seen in a more earthly pursuit - walking to work. Floating through the air from some of Perth's tallest buildings would not be a job for the faint hearted. These talented performers were preparing to glide across the evening sky in a spectacular aerial display that would shower crowds with cascades of feathers from the heavens. Two tonnes of downy bliss to be exact! More on the fabulous setting and the breathtaking display to come.  

Saturday, February 11, 2012

The RedBall Project

Kurt Perschke's RedBall Project was a hit with children and adults alike at the opening of the 2012 Perth Festival yesterday. From the beach sands and waves at Cottelsoe Beach, the 15 foot inflatable sphere will move throughout the Festival from the hustle and bustle of Perth streets to dot the countryside at a series of locations in Albany. As it did yesterday at Cottesloe Beach, Redball reveals familiar and new places in ways we have not imagined before. 

Friday, February 10, 2012

2012 Perth Festival Opening

As the new day dawned and the sun's rays danced across Cottesloe Beach, time approached for the opening of the 2012 Perth Festival. In this beautiful natural setting, choirs, musicians and a crowd of 5,000 to 6,000 joined in a joyous celebration of artistic life and coming together. Indigenous Elders told the story of this land and welcomed people to their country. Grass trees that had been especially placed on the Cottesloe groyne were set alight at the conclusion of the Welcome to Country. Quintessentially Western Australian,  the Perth Festival Opening Ceremony was a stirring coming together for all peoples. The best ever! 

Thursday, February 9, 2012

City Nightscape

The Fringe World Festival is on in Perth at the moment and it is an excellent time to visit the Perth Cultural Centre from where this pic of the city and the Wellington Street railway station was taken. While it may look a little quite in the photo, the crowd behind where I was standing were relaxing to music in the trendy Urban Garden courtyard on top of the Cultural Centre car park. I had just come from the fabulous show Josh Earl Vs The Australian Women's Weekly Children's Birthday Cake Cookbook. The cookbook is now gaining iconic status thanks I'm sure to a little help from comedian Josh. Thankfully the Australian Women's weekly has released a new edition of the cookbook for another generation to enjoy. By the way, if you are interested in freshly grown crops, you can pick the vegetables and herbs from the Urban Garden, but you do need to get in early before everything goes.  

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Queen Mary 2 Leaves Fremantle

North Mole was grid locked this afternoon as crowds gathered to farewell Adelaide bound Queen Mary 2 from Fremantle. While watching manoeuvres in Fremantle's port - there is only 35 to 40 metres at each end of the vessel - Judith who was also there to see this magnificent ship leave port excitedly shared with me her experiences when she and Bill set sail on the Queen Mary 2 about this time last year. You could tell that she was hankering to do it all over again. So here's hoping Judith that those Lotto numbers come up!

The Queen Mary 2 is visiting eight ports during the ship's circumnavigation of Australia and will be in Australian waters for the next 28 days.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Taphophile Tragics: Sir Ernest Shackleton

The spirit of Sir Ernest Shackleton looms large on South Georgia and at the Whalers Cemetery on the south side of the bay at Grytviken. Enclosed by a white fence the cemetery has 64 graves, the earliest dating back to 1846 when a typhus outbreak on board a British sealing ship Esther claimed the lives of five crew.

For over a decade I had dreamed of going to the very end of the earth - Antarctica - and from there following in the footsteps of Sir Ernest Shackleton's epic journey across the Southern Ocean. This time last year I was arriving in Ushuaia, South America in preparation for a voyage of adventure from windswept Elephant Island where 22 of Shackleton's crew from the Endurance were marooned across the 800 miles of wind swept, icy cold Southern Ocean to South Georgia.

It was a remarkable journey. Shackleton and a small number of his crew set out from Elephant Island in mid winter. As if to demonstrate the extremes of the weather in this part of the world, when our ship arrived at Elephant Island, the weather deteriorated quickly and so badly that there could be no thought of a landing. Experiencing these conditions made the success of the eventual rescue of all the marooned men even more extraordinary and the effort almost superhuman.

For Shackleton there was no comfort from navigation aides, comfortable beds, food, bedding, warm tea and clothing. In the James Caird, a ships whaler measuring 22 feet and 6 inches long, a small crew of six including Tom Creen an Irishman who had proved his worth on two Scott expeditions, Sir Ernest Shackleton and Frank Worsley, a veteran of square rigged ships rowed the 800 hard earned miles across the Southern Ocean to South Georgia, a mere speck of land in a vast ocean. Shackleton later described this journey as: The ocean south of Cape Horn in the middle of May is known to be the most tempestuous, storm-swept area of water in the world...the tale of the next sixteen days is one of supreme strife amid heaving waters. Accounts state that ten of those days saw gale force winds and that at one point, the boat was coated with 15 inches of ice that had to be chipped off.

The James Caird arrived at King Haakon Bay on the other side of the island to the Stromness Whaling Station. To be rescued, three of the party - Shackleton, Creen and Worsley - trudged across the island to the whaling station, a journey that took them 36 hours. 

This photo of Tom Creen, Sir Ernest Shackleton and Frank Worsley is in the Museum at Grytviken. It was taken following their arrival at Stromness and immediately after they had eaten, washed and showered. The clothing they are wearing here was borrowed.

The amount of snow in the picture shows the extent of the severe conditions through which they had trudged while crossing the island. In speaking of the success of the James Caird rescue party reaching Stromness Sir Ernest Shackleton said: It was like this. The thought of these fellows on Elephant Island kept us going all the time. It might have been different if we'd only had ourselves to think about. You can get so tired in the snow, particularly if you are hungry that sleep seems just the best thing that life has to give. And to sleep out there is to die. But if you are a leader, a fellow that others look to, you've got to keep going. This was the thought which sailed us through the hurricane and tugged us up and down those mountains. 

The headstone reads:
Ernest Henry Shackleton
Born 15 Feb 1874
Entered Eternal Life 5 Jan 1922

The inscription on the rear of Sir Ernest Shackleton's headstone reads: "I hold that man should strive to the uttermost for his life's prize". Robert Browning

The photo above is of the view down to Stromness Whaling Station and below is picture perfect Grytviken. Whalers Cemetery is to the left of this photo.

You can read more about Taphophile Tragics here.

Monday, February 6, 2012


I first learnt about plans for the sculpture a couple of years ago while attending a Winter Arts Festival choral event being held in St George's Cathedral, Perth. At the time public comment was being invited on the finalists chosen from contemporary sculpture submissions on the theme St George and the Dragon for the Cathedral Grounds. Over a mulled wine at interval consideration of the proposals made for interesting conversation. It was with great interest that I waited to see who would be commissioned to undertake the work. 

Western Australian artists Marcus Canning and Christian de Vietri competed for the project against 98 other artists from 17 countries. They were commissioned in June 2009 to undertake the brief. 

 The sculpture is named after the lance used by St George to slay the dragon and according to the St George's Cathedral website, the artwork aims to evoke a sense of righteous power and victory over a force of darkness and oppression. 

Ascalon is an amazing sculpture. It is now almost a year since the dedication of Ascalon in April 2011.  Ethereal yet powerful, walking around it's base in the evening light almost talks my breath away. 

You can read more about the story of Ascalon on the  St George's Cathedral website by clicking here

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Friday, February 3, 2012


Roadkill is a significant issue for Australian wildlife. This larger than life artwork is on the side of the six level local government car park in the West Perth office and shopping precinct. A poignant message. 

Thursday, February 2, 2012

From the Vegie Patch

The second month into 2012 and the new vegie patch has survived in the heat and is starting to produce wonderfully tasty tomatoes, basil (lots of it - I will have to make some pesto sauce soon), capsicums, an array of herbs and of course the family favourite, fresh chillies. The vegie patch is in a couple of old oak barrels that have reached the use by date for wine making and have been cut in half for the garden. It's a joy to reach into the garden for fresh vegetables. Ah for the simple life. It'll be soap making next!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Horses at The Naddam: Mongolia

Going through my photos for City Daily Photo's February Theme Day Animals took me back to photographs taken during my time in Western Mongolia in 2009. After arriving in Mongolia's capital Ulaanbaatar I flew to Western Mongolia to trek in remote national park mountains before coming back into a rural town for the experience of a lifetime - The Naddam - a spectacular and colourful summer Festival where competitors show off their skills in archery, wrestling and horse riding. Away from the Ulaanbaatar crowds, there were few tourists at this two day Festival. Wrestling and archery events were in the town while horse racing was on the vast open Mongolian grasslands. Gers appeared in the grasslands overnight selling traditional dishes that kept the crowds well feed and added to the Festival atmosphere. 

Mongolian traditional dress and other finery were the order of the day. The horses raced over such long distances that it seemed any long distance races we have in Australia would,  by comparison,  pale into insignificance. Riders were usually young boys - obviously the lighter the better - although in the race finish shown below, the riders appear older than most. Horses were everywhere. More than once I was pulled by a fellow traveller out of the way of jostling horses and their riders. In this nomadic country, the Festival brought together friends and family usually spread across the vast grasslands. 

This woman riding proudly across the grasslands was the only winning female horse owner I saw at the Festival.

Then just as the crowds, horses, four wheel drives and trucks appeared out of the grasslands, it was all over and time to go. Gers were packed up and the vastness of the grasslands took over again.

Click here to view thumbnails for all participants