Saturday, June 30, 2012

Melbourne Weekends

The Archibald Prize - OK what's that?
I've known about it for years being an art student way, way back - but only taken a mild interest. The Archibald Prize is an Art Competition for Australian portrait artists. I need to tell you that the information that I'm about to relate to you is from research from only yesterday and today. As I said before, I had only a minor knowledge of the competition and the history behind it.

Tarrawarra is an art gallery and also a vineyard.

This year the finalist were all on view at the Tarrawarra Gallery near Healesville in the Yarra Valley, a little less than 60 kms from Melbourne. The Yarra Valley is nestled among rolling hills and mountain ranges. Its a very traditional wine growing district, much the same as Chablis in France and Napa Valley in California. The terrain is similar. I use to cycling many kilometres (miles) of training when I was in my teens and early 20s in the area.

Archibald and Henry Lawson who wrote for the Bulletin.
But back to the Archibald Prize:
The competition was established in 1921 from a bequest by Jules Francois Archibald. In actual fact, Archibald's real name was John Feltham Archibald and he was born in Geelong West, Victoria. During his 20s, he had become a devout Francophile and changed his christian names and later on his marriage certificate, his birthplace was documented as France. Archibald had a passion for journalism and after writing for several regional Victorian newspapers he established with a partner the "Bulletin Magazine". Some very great Australian writers, artists and poets contributed to the Bulletin over the years including Henry Lawson and Banjo Patterson.

The first Archibald Prize winner by W,B. McInnes.
Writer, poet, story teller Banjo Patterson by John Longstaff.
William Dobell's 1948 winning portrait.
And in more recent times, Brett Whiteley's self portrait.
As Archibald's health started to fade in his latter years he bequeathed some of his money to a fountain and a portrait painting competition. The fountain was a testament to his love of France as it was decreed that it was to be designed by a French sculpture. The other bequest carries on today as the Archibald prize for the best Portrait by an Australian Artist.
Since 1921, some of those artists include William Dargie, William Dobell, Clifton Pugh, Brett Whiteley and W.B. Mc Innes but these are only the ones that I'm familiar with.

This year's finalists - I have to admit, I don't know much about, but one of the subjects, and also one of the finalists I do know a little of. He was part of my 60s - 70s period. He was an artist with the OZ magazine published by a group of Australians in the UK, probably not unlike Archibald with the Bulletin in many ways.
Martin Sharp illustrated for the OZ, and also designed posters for concerts by Dylan and Hendrix. He did LP covers for Cream. One of the portraits in this Archibald was by him and of him.

The Winning Portrait
What I did find quietly strange was that this year's winning portrait was of a person without a face, slightly Dali in fact. Judge for yourself!

The winner of the 2012 Archibald Prize was by Tim Storrier - a self portrait.
But this was my favorite. Martin Sharp by Garry Shead was part of my 60/70s era.

Jenny Sages: Self Portrait a grieving widow - After Jack

Luke Cornish portrait of Father Bob, a colorful Melbourne priest. Why has the artist then painted him in black and white?
Cornish said about his subject, "What I like about Bob is that there is no bullshit - what you see is what you get".

Marcus Callum - Self Portrait.
To me, it echos a painting in the style of the past masters, almost centuries ago.

Jun Chen - John Yu with artist
The subject, John Yu is the recipient of an MOA and a COA and Australian of the Year not that I was aware of these awards but both the artist and the subject, both Chinese have contributed to Australia.

Angus McDonald's portrait of Tim Maguire.
The artist described his subject as having a huge personality and said he wanted to paint him as looking at the viewers. You certainly get that impression when looking at this painting at the gallery.

Michael Peck - Self Portrait in the image of my son.
"The warm orange glow is the color by which I remember my childhood in the outer suburbs of Melbourne".
When viewing this portrait, Sue said the same thing - our summers were long and hot.
We travel to overseas and take the opportunity to absorb the local culture by visiting as many of the galleries, museums and cathedrals we can but everyday life seems to exclude doing this in our own backyard.
Well it's time to change this. Isn't that right Sue?

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Have you been to Dole?

Our time at Dijon was drawing to a close - Dole was our last discovery in the department of the Jura and the region of Franche-Comte. The Doubs River runs by Dole and there were some delightfully peacefully scenes by the river and canals the blend together.
It was one of those pleasant days where lunch with a glass of wine in a side walk cafe was what the doctor ordered. We did this prior to discovering the medieval streets of Dole.
The town of Dole is not large, yet not small with a population of a little over 28,000. It's easy to manage in your car or maybe it was that we were there in the shoulder season.
Why did we go there - I'm not quite sure except we highlighted it in our dog-eared "Eye witness travel guide", but isn't that the way to make new discoveries?

We didn't realise at the the time it was the birthplace of Louis Pasteur and where the term "Pasteurisation" originated. Pasteur was born in Dole during 1822 and we saw the home where he entered the world to make his mark in history.

On the higher slops above the old town were these ladies in their hats - so elegant.

Louis Pasteur - a son of Dole.

A lane way leading down to the river Doubs.

Canals mingle with the river Doubs and you walk among the walkways to admire the serenity of Dole.

Dole was no more than an afternoon visit - not sure why, but a town worth a longer visit. Maybe there will be a next time and if not - we can say we saw a little bit of it.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Australian Census

Only this week, the results from the 2011 Australian Census were released through the media. Although a national census, living in Melbourne, the results of our home state of Victoria were of most interest to us.
However nationally we have reached over 21.5M people and the average age of the population is currently 37. That puts Sue and I in the minority. We were once in our 30s - it was a great time. There was an American TV series at the time called, 30 Something. It was our lives.

Immigration has played a big part in Australia's development. Today one in four Australians were born outside Australia. The UK stand on the top of the podium with NZ, China and India following.
Within the household, the report states that there over 300 non-english languages spoken.
Mandarin, Italian, Arabic, Cantonese and Greek are some.

The average weekly wage is A$577 per week with rents rising to an average of A$285 per week.
People actually buying their own home are paying an average of $1800 per month.
This brings us to who lives in these homes - same sex couples were included for the first time in this census, yet many described their relationship as de facto. Children are staying at home longer and the aged are being cared for with their adult children.

Back to our home state and city, Victoria and Melbourne. We have grown to over 5.3M but take into account that you can fit the UK into Victoria and while I'm at it, the USA is about the same size as Australia. WE still have a bit of elbow room, don't we?
We pretty much have an even ratio of male/female with the ladies slightly out numbering the blokes by 100, 000, not that is of interest to me. I'm happily married.

Melbourne, our Home is a pretty good place to live generally. We've been placed at the top of the most livable cities of the world over recent years. Maybe our public transport doesn't match the big cities of Europe or Asia, maybe we are not as pretty or historic but in the scheme of things generally, I think how lucky was I to have been born in Melbourne and Australia. I'm sure most of our immigrants feel the same after making the choice, especially those who have come here seeking a new life from the persecution of non democratic, and war torn countries.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

A Melbourne Weekend

Weekends go quickly - my retired father (91) told me that he only rode his bike weekdays so he would know when it was the weekend. He'd read the paper first to ensure he wasn't in the obituaries and the drive down to the velodrome and do his one hour of riding in circles around the track.

For me its the opposite - I look forward to our weekends but they go sooo quickly and I never seem to get every thing done that should be done. Friday night it was the Argentinian dinner with our MG Car Club. The food was ghastly but we enjoyed catching up with old friends not seen for some time.

Saturday was a morning ride before Sue had me picking up some sofas she bought on E-Bay. She was impressed with $167 bargain and I have to say the effort of picking them up - lugging out the old ones and bring in the replacements was well worth it. The old ones had been destroyed by our recently dear departed cat Rosie.

The sofas are a charcoal grey and blend with the terracotta tiles with charcoal  grout.
This three seater opens to a double bed.
We are also thinking of repainting the family room in off-white with a charcoal feature wall. Do you think that will work?
These sofas are almost new - unmarked, a real bargain.
We thought a quiet Saturday night in front of the Tellie would be nice until we had a call from friends to join them for a dinner of mussels - impromptu dinners are great and so was the dinner and company.

These mussels were so chunky and delicious - in a tomato and olive soup.
I was hoping for rain Sunday morning as I had entered for a Fun Ride and I was looking forward to a sleep in after an already hectic start to the weekend - it was not to be. So at 6.00 am the alarm rang and I organised myself for the "MELBURN ROOBAIX".
Did I hear you ask - what is the Melburn Roobaix?

After arriving at the start, I was confronted by the thousands of entrants waiting to confirm their registrations but all went smoothly. I even met some friends from years gone by when standing in the queue.
This is the bike I rode on the day - it has only one gear and please note my French readers, it has a big "F" on the seat bar to denote my fondness for France.
It has kept me company on a past French visit in 2010.
Well its a parody of the classic bike race - the Paris Roubaix or the "Hell of the North" that is held in April in France.
Our annual classic is held in Melbourne on the cobble stone back laneways and no less gruelling and much more fun.
This year is possibly my 3rd or maybe 4th event. People dress-up in some very weird costumes - it really is a fun event over a 50 kms course.

While I write this, my body is aching from bouncing across kilometres of bluestone cobbles. But while the words appear on the page I think what a great day it was and I'm pleased that it didn't rain.

It seems that I'm being called for dinner - Sue is cooking a free range chicken that has been spatchcocked (by me), roasted and spread with Dijon Mustard then served with an orange scented gravy. Potato and pumpkin with peas - is that the perfect Sunday night dinner?
Hope your weekend was fun as well.

Friday, June 22, 2012


A friend of mine, Ell on Wheels satisfies her cycling passion with an alternative bike and camera these days. She always as far as I remember had a camera ready in her cycling days but now uses her big BMW ex-cop bike to scoot around to search for interesting images.

Just today she sent me a link to a photographic exhibition that she was invited to contribute to.
I assume that she is one of the 150 street photographers included in the exhibition along with 26 professionals.
ONYA ELL and CONGRATS. I shall put the exhibition in my diary and I'm sure Dazza will join me.


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Dijon Museums or a Rainy Day in Dijon

After being away in France during the month of May, we've settled back home and already feeling "home sick" for France.
"Wednesdays in France" is our way of documenting our trips from our first in 2006 which we thought might be a once in a lifetime thing. Since then we've returned in 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2012.
We used to go to Lakes Entrance in the eastern area of Victoria every year with our young boys before they became teenagers. Now they live overseas - we must have given them the travel bug.

Since we posted "Wednesdays in France" last, we were in Burgundy, staying in Dijon. We were radiating out from our base of Dijon most days but the weather on this particular day was fairly average and we decided we would visit two of the museums, Musee Magnin across the laneway and Musee des Beaux-Arts in the Palace of the Dukes.

The Musee Magnin was almost out the door of our apartment building. It is a 17th century hotel (Hotel Lantin) previously owned by the Magnin couple, Maurice and Jeanne whom collected over 2000 pieces of art in the form of paintings, sculptures and furniture.
The Musee Magnin outside the back door of our apartment.

The Musee des Beaux Arts is located in the Palace of the Dukes, again virtually outside our door, the front door. The Palais duc de Bourgogne dominates as you walk from the half circle square. It now houses not only the museum but is also Dijon's town hall. The tourism office is also in the building.

Palais duc de Bourgogne

Both Museums had much to offer in exhibits but many of my photos seem to have gone missing. If you happen to be in Dijon, take the time to wander through these two buildings and enjoy what they have to offer.

I found this little doco on youtube which will give you more of an insight to the Musee des Beaux Arts.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Earthquake in Victoria

As I was posting "Wednesdays in France" about 9.00 PM tonight, Melbourne was hit with a 5.2 earth tremor. The house shook for 30 seconds. I could see the lamp on my desk shake and the light shimmered.
The tremor was in the Gippsland region about 120kms from Melbourne but was felt to the west and also to the north as far away as anther 100 plus kms out of Melbourne.

Think I might go to bed now. Tell you more when I hear the news in the morning.

Damage scene in our backyard after a 5.3 earthquake in Victoria..


AAPJune 19, 2012, 9:17 pm
Melbourne has been shaken by an earthquake measuring approximately 5.2 magnitude.
Reports are coming in from all over the city - from the Dandenongs in the east, Bentleigh in the southeast, Pascoe Vale in the west and through the inner city.
Windows were rattled and floors rocked as the tremor hit around 8.55pm (AEST) on Tuesday and lasted for around 30 to 40 seconds.
The Geoscience Australia website crashed as people flocked online to find out what occurred.
The Bureau of Meteorology said the quake was felt further afield than Melbourne, with reports coming in from Bright and Myrtleford in the northeast and Wonthaggi in the southeast of Victoria.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Warming to a Melbourne Winter

Strange to say "Warming to a Melbourne Winter" but all seasons have their special moments. This Friday night was one.
We decided it was time for the first open fire for our Melbourne Winter. We must be over our jet lag and colds as Sue decided she wanted to start entertaining again and so she invited close friends around for a slipper night of nibbles and wine. A slipper night is where you put on your comfy shoes and just sit back and relax after the working week.

Not really slippers but lilac moccies are more than acceptable.
The small fireplace with a few flames offering a little winter atmosphere.
I tried to arrive home earlier than normal to get our little cast iron fireplace lit. It doesn't give out a lot of heat (we have central heating anyway) but it makes up for that in atmosphere. Sue had invited a close friends to welcome in our first slipper night and cooked up a table full of various delicacies which she will explain.

The Slipper Night Spread.
Baked ricotta with caponata, that is roasted capsicum, black olives, capers, garlic, onion and basil, all cooked up with a little balsamic vinegar, and served with garlic toasts
Baked gnocchi in a cheesy sauce with spinach, pine nuts and currants.
Melon and prosciutto and heated Turkish flatbread
Sauteed artichokes with garlic and chili, and stuffed olives fried in breadcrumbs
Brie with garlic, thyme and a little white wine and cooked in the oven till it melts and served with chat potatoes for dipping.
Pumpkin roasted with honey and sesame seeds and sprinkled with feta cheese.
Of course, just to be healthy, there was also a rocket salad with pears, walnuts and shaved Parmesan, with a pear cider vinegar and honey dressing.
As for the Melbourne winter - the weekend lows were around 10C with highs of 15C to 17C. It allowed me to do my very first substantial ride on the bike with friends since our return from France.
Basically I've had 7 weeks off the bike. I was talked into a 120 kms long slow ride on the Saturday and it really hurt over the last 20 kms. I think I may have even been passed by an old lady with a shopping trolley. Never mind - it will get easier.

Next Wednesday, we'll continue with our "Wednesdays in France" series which follows on from the Dordogne region.

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