Wednesday, February 28, 2007


If your body were a drum kit ...

The pig is finished, save a few coats of varnish! Jane painted his face and belly in different shades of green to really highlight his chubby features. He's grinning so widely and sharing the joy so much that his eyes are squeezed tight shut. (Yes, somewhere along the line he stopped being It and became Horatio, the cheerful soul.) It actually didn't take very long to paste our cut out fruit and flowers across his torso. Originally we'd planned to use footprints, either ours or smaller ones from Jane's kids, to represent our theme, Walking in this World, and show the journey from the fertile earth to the starry skies of the imagination, but they would have added another complication. So we thought we'd trace a path in flowers. But they looked so gorgeous against the green that we just had to extend them, so whichever angle you view Horatio from on the totem pole, you'll see them somehow.

He also has a cheeky strawberry on his tail, and a flower like a bindi on his forehead, which gives him the look of a Buddhist philosopher. Our final idea was to create "grass" with the green raffia Jane had left over from another project. Once soaked in the same wallpaper paste we'd used for the papier mache, it became really soft and pliable, we could wind it around tracing the flower shapes and linking them all together. I got a bit carried away and round it around the legs as well. It was ... therapeutic. Then I took a step back and wondered whether it was a little too much - but the pretty contrast between the mid-green body and lime-green twine! Horatio: half-pig, half-tortoise, all-joyful. He brings a message of love, peace and environmental awareness.

And the brilliant adaptation of a hanging basket thing ...

I went dancing again last night and feel absolutely shattered. I'm getting more coordinated, but moving your ribcage in a diamond shape while stalking seductively across the floor and doing perfect sinuous snake arms is almost too complicated to coordinate. Rubbing my tummy while patting my head, I can do - and tapping one foot on a drum pedal while beating time with one drumstick I can also do - but trying to add in a different rhythm on a cymbal makes it all fall apart.

I've been seeing some pretty interesting movies at the Film Festival, but am sadly behind in writing them up. In DB this week, this article is about the very inspirational Raw Dance Company.

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Tuesday, February 27, 2007


Pigs and legs and polo

Congratulations to my talented sister Hilary, who has been selected to play canoe polo for Great Britain! A former captain and assistant coach of the Under-21s, this is still a great step up to the Ladies Squad. It's one of the few sports that GB are pretty good at ... perhaps by 2012 it'll be accepted as an Olympic sport. Anyway, huge hugs to the lovely Hil!

Autumn is coming. I was walking across the parklands and heard a rustling as if someone was close on my heels. Turning round defensively I realised it was a little leaf caught in a breeze, skittering along behind me like an eager puppy. Leaves are interesting, I've been taking a lot of photos of them.

After an uncomfortable journey out to the Adelaide Hills and Jane's wonderful studio space, where the pig's legs meant we couldn't jam it into the car boot or the back seat, so I had to squish it onto my lap, we set up for a craft afternoon. Her gorgeous kids were at first a little nonplussed by the giant piggy, which was a different colour every time they looked in on us!

Our papier-mached porker Horatio has been smoothed, the gap between his head and body filled out, completely painted with gesso (a white acrylic base coat) and we've collaged the sky across the top half. (It does remind me slightly of a turtle... one difficulty has been that Jane and I each took a side and agreed to cover half way down, ending at the middle wire - unfortunately the irregular twisted nature of the wire base means that one side now has much more sky than the other.) Rather than simply sticking with dark blues, we took inspiration from Van Gogh's Starry Night and included scraps of orange and yellow - they're at the opposite side of the colour wheel to the blues, and really add contrast. The sparkly silver cardboard stars are proving a challenge to stick down: the body's such an irregular curvy shape that the points keep spiking up.

And, alas, one sandal has fallen apart. I only had it for 18 months and now am stomping around in trainers, feeling way too hot. What can I do with 1 and a half sandals? It's a shame they can't be recycled somehow - unless I create a Crocodile Dundee's Legs style art piece as they have in Hahndorf...

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Friday, February 23, 2007


The pig begins

This is the pig, the open flap in its belly closed with cable ties: I'm cladding it in papier mache for strength. Thankfully various people are giving me a hand. I've made the paste using some flour that expired in 1998: see, you wouldn't cook with it but because I'm all about recycling, I have found a use for it! Actually, it's pretty gritty to touch in the papier mache. I'm also finding that the very fine chicken wire has a lot of sharp spikes that stick out through the mushy newspaper.

All this is taking place on our kitchen floor. Oh, how great it would be to have a studio of my very own!


Wednesday, February 21, 2007


A good day for vegetarianism

I cannot find anyone to watch Status Quo with me. I took home the DVD from the magazine office to review it, but everyone I mention it to looks at me askance. I selected it purely because last week I happened to catch part of a documentary about Live Aid, featuring Rick Parfitt and Francis Rossi - and more than any of the other stars of the 80s, they really struck me as being typical down to earth, humorous dads who just happened to have forgotten large chunks of the last 20 years. Now I'm running out of time and still haven't sat down with it.

I purchased a whole roast chicken that I really felt like enjoying. The checkout guy wrapped it separately and handed me all my bags. Or so I thought. I got home, unpacked, then realised I was missing a chook. And that the supermarket was 20 minutes walk away so would definitely be closed. I am growling with rage, frustration, hunger pangs ... and worry at the thought of a warm chicken spreading bacteria across the supermarket. See, I only think of others! Pete finds this funny. But then, he is a vego.

I finally finished my collage for the creativity group, which I was surprised to find illustrated a lot of things for me. The photo shows the potential pig...


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Tuesday, February 13, 2007


An interesting interview

Today I spotted a cyclist with tinsel woven through her bike baskets, a cheerfully eccentric sight. There were a group of kids in their early teens outside the State Library this evening, hanging out and stepping from side to side and throwing hand gestures. When I walked past them, I realised that they were, fairly quietly, and intermittently breaking down into laughter, having some kind of rap battle! It was awesome - after being indoors reading and writing, to have such an organic spoken word performance just happening right there filled me with hope. Adelaide seems an intellectual and creative place - there really is a lot of interest in the arts here. I would have stopped to listen, but the kids were clearly doing it for their own entertainment rather than as a public performance. Sure, it happened in the 'everyday life' of 8 Mile ... but it surprised me to see it in South Australia!

I interviewed a south Australian guitarist-singer-songwriter, Laura Hill, this morning. She was different to the usual groups that I talk to for various reasons. Firstly, talking to just one person instead of a group, it's much more of a fair conversation. No-one's worried about saying something their bandmates will tease them for later. We could talk about much more personal issues - her mother's serious illness and how it motivated her to seize the day, overcoming stage fright and gaining the confidence to perform her own work, and what really troubles her about the music industry.

Then there were some things that struck me - and this is just my interpretation here - as being particularly applicable to women talking together, something I first studied as part of the Women's Folklore and Feminist Theory unit I took at uni. Firstly, when talking about following her dreams, there was a real acknowledgement of the doubts and difficulties she'd had to work through, and the impact of her decisions on her family and friends - none of that arrogant solo over-confidence I've occasionally observed with guys on the same kind of path.

She was also really interested in me, where I'd travelled, and what my dreams were - a slightly disconcerting experience for an interviewer to be put on the spot and asked about their musical background as well! (For a much more intense example of this, when the Australian Michael Parkinson, Andrew Denton, invited Richard E. Grant onto his chat show to plug Wah-Wah, Withnail completely turned the tables on him, having done a frightening amount of research into Denton's upbringing, star sign, and even how he reconciled with his estranged wife. I was watching it with friends in Melbourne thinking, "Wow! This is live TV and it's completely unpredictable!" Then a woman in the audience had a coughing fit and the onstage challenges momentarily ceased as they both strode out to pat her on the back and give her a glass of water.)

And finally, she was really keen to credit everybody who'd helped and supported her on her journey, from her parents to her partner to the members of the girls' surf club she founded. She made sure to mention every musician who'd assisted with her album, and stressed how much of a collaboration it was, even down to the fact that the cover photos were done as a mutual exchange with a photography student who needed to build up a professional portfolio. This just seemed really, well ... refreshing. I told her so, and at first she wasn't sure whether or not I meant it as a compliment. But it really was a tribute to her attitude. I hope she makes a go of it: the article will be out this week and her album launch is on the 3rd of March.

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Monday, February 12, 2007


Reasons to be cheerful

1) Finding a fantastic hidden gem known only to art teachers - the Adelaide Recycling Centre, or That's Not Rubbish! as it's known. All kinds of scraps and fabric ideal for collage and projects, and run by a couple of really interesting and friendly women. If you want to go there, take a friend to map read and be prepared to ask passers-by for directions, though. It is a well-hidden gem.

2) Driving along, talking about depression and doom, wondering what I'm doing with my life, when on the radio we suddenly hear Sir Mixalot. That song is guaranteed to have us geeky white girls slapping the air and shaking it like slightly less coordinated versions of Cameron Diaz. "My anaconda don't want none unless you've got buns, hon!" Ah ... good times.

3) My wonderful photographer friend Rene has a website at - everybody should visit here for some surprising moments of restfulness, inspiration and startling beauty. I first met Rene when I made cups of tea for a bunch of random travellers in a Prague hostel. (Note to prospective British backpackers: you can always introduce yourself to people with tea and sympathy! I like the scientific Tetley's drawstring teabags best for making a first impression.) Karen and I travelled with him and Tymen through the Czech Republic, Austria and Hungary, saying a sad goodbye to these energetic guys in Budapest. We were overjoyed to get a call saying they'd come all the way down to Romania to hang out with us!

Former bookshop owner Rene has a broad smile, an infectious laugh, and the most unique Canadian accent I've ever heard. My sister and I stayed with him in Edmonton when we were doing our cross-Canada pilgrimage. Randomness attracts him: one night he took me along to a club night where he was photographing a latex spiderwoman. I saw his cross-processed prints of a previous theme night featuring kitty-cat dancers tangled in balls of wool. He also taught me some of the few photography facts I've remembered: what cross-processing is (well, I can recognise it when I see it, but don't ask me to explain it); and that when having a black and white portrait photo taken, ladies may request a red filter over the lens to even out the skin tone. Talking of which, he owes me either a photo or a bottle of red wine. Murfatlar would be nostalgic...

4) I had a brush with local fame when as I was waiting at a traffic light, behind me I heard a resonant "LAAAH!" It was the sort of Singing Voice that clearly belonged to an Actor warming up his Vocal Instrument. Sure enough, I turned round and recognised the chap. "Weren't you the First Voice in Under Milk Wood?" "Why yes! Yes I am!" he said delightedly, pumping my hand. It was apparent from his delight that he hadn't yet been Spotted very often. When I informed him that I'd reviewed the production and singled out his Welsh accent as notably convincing, he rose several feet into the air and strode across the street beaming. It's good to make someone's day!

5) Pete and I had a near-miss brush with real fame: Tenacious D were in town! We were walking through the CBD when I got a text message from Susie saying "I'm on the bus and could swear I just saw Jack Black standing outside Hotel X!" We had to hunt him down, of course, but by the time we reached the hotel, pens at the ready for autographs, he had gone inside leaving a small gang of hardcore fans clutching signed posters. "Is he coming back out?" I asked. "He didn't say," one responded dogmatically, "but he might. So I'm staying put." He unfurled his poster and permitted me a glance at the great man's scrawl. Somehow I expect celebrities to have more flamboyant handwriting than the rest of us, for their signatures to feature stars and hearts or in this case thunderbolts. But no. (I can't talk though - my "Rosie" has often been misread as "Kevin".)

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Wednesday, February 07, 2007


Dammit, where'd my hard-won equilibrium get to?

Hey, ex-boyfriends! Want to really annoy your ex-girlfriends?

How about

a) turning up in their new city with only 8 hours advance notice

b) expecting that they'll drop everything to entertain you, which they do because in theory you both want to be friends, and they want to prove that your initial impression of Adelaide wasn't fair

c) keeping them hanging on waiting for you to phone as if the last 8 months haven't taught them anything

d) inviting yourself over for Sunday morning brunch, even going so far as to request that you be served chai tea

e) politely asking when you should arrive by - your ex-girlfriend will say 11am at the latest - but she doesn't really mean it! No, it's fine to shamble along after 1pm. Just fine.

Yes, it was pretty awkward. I don't know where all the affection and good wishes went, or all the love that we had for three years ... even being able to hold a conversation without judging and irritating each other. Perhaps I was building it up too much, thinking that I'd finally get some closure - but I guess I just ended up thinking, wow - we really have so little in common. How come we didn't argue more? How could this guy's opinion have been so important to me for so long? And how come it took until 10 minutes before he left to actually express any of this irritation, rather than bottling it up?

I guess sometimes you can get on fine over the phone and email, but in person ... all the stress returns. Like I constantly say, and most of the time believe, I want us both to be happy, and clearly we can't make each other happy.

Pffff. Oh, I have new reviews published:

an interview with the creative genius behind Quiet Child

reviews of a cool jazz trio whose music I found challenging to describe - let's face it, I'm no Whitney Balliett; Kiwi dub/roots stars the Black Seeds; and Sugababes' Greatest Hits

and a review of something rich and strange, Highway Rock'N'Roll Disaster.

Plus, I do have good news: Nia, a friend from uni, has taken the big decision to come travelling, and may be doing a working holiday to either Australia or New Zealand! It was just lovely to hear her voice again. Sometimes it's your old mates who know you best and make you laugh the most ...

or perhaps a random hilarious mate from purgatorial times fruit picking in Queensland, who phones up after a year, bringing up times that were pretty funny in retrospect (Maverick had set out into town on payday with the idea of going food shopping and bringing us a loaf of bread. Several hours later, with no sign of him, we set off in the car and were greeting by a drunken lurching yelling Maverick, brandishing shopping bags, who tumbled under the stationary car and couldn't extricate himself. "Rosie! Beautiful Rosie! I have your bread!" he cried, handing out with exaggerated care a squashed and mud-splattered loaf. Several friends gathered round to haul at his limbs and finally removed him. He waved us off, clutching his head - a cheerful soul, and someone I'd definitely look up in Sydney!)

... or sometimes it's tea and sympathy with a housemate who gives the best advice. I started writing this feeling pretty grumpy, but actually I have a lot to be grateful for.

Fingers crossed for the wishing pig!

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