Archive | February, 2013

Just fricking chase your dreams

19 Feb

This blogger is inspired.

Here’s why:

Number one: I’ve spent the morning reading the memoirs of Grace Coddington. Look her up and you’ll understand.

Number two: I was at the National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA) last night for a writer’s forum (“any theatre that doesn’t try to change their audience is a waste of time” — playwright Steven Sewell) and staged reading of Steve Yockey’s new play, Pluto. Despite a discussion on the writer’s political responsibility, I was most moved by a woman in the audience who stood up to ask a question of the panel. More than sixty years old, she expressed a frustration at not being able to get her own plays produced, and wanted to find some kind of encouragement (annoyingly, they didn’t offer much).

I’ve been thinking about this woman all morning. I want to know her; I want to know what she has done with her life. But I don’t, so allow a little conjecture. This woman is probably retired, has probably raised a family or faced the hardships of the workforce for forty years (or both). She’s at the tail-end of her life (but, as an aside, still undeniably beautiful — what well-kept hair!!), and many would say she has achieved all she needs to, and can now live a quiet old life as a retiree.

But no! She has decided that now is the time to launch her career as a playwright. All the things she has seen, learnt and experienced are being scripted by her for an audience to view on the stage. What courage.

Determination, resiliency, strength of character.

Wow. Imagine being so ambitious and driven even at that age. It’s easy for me to be ambitious and driven now: I’m filled with the naive idealism of a 22 year old. But will I be like that in fifty years? If all of us could live like this woman, constantly striving for more, unafraid of failure and never settling for mediocrity, IMAGINE WHAT WE COULD ACHIEVE!

Number Three: I have been looking through photos from summer, and have found these. I have been a very bad blogger and never shared this amazing experience with you. The show was Concrete and Bone Sessions (created by the Aussie company Branch Nebula: “a ravenous appreciation of so-called low brow culture”), an electric piece of theatre performed at the skate park in Dulwich Hill. A combination of dance, Parkour, skateboarding, BMX, Free Running and break dancing (all to music and the setting sun), this was a display of endurance, crazy-ass skill, and a total lack of fear (the paramedics were on standby).

Take a look. Imagine having this much passion and drive. Throw yourself (literally) into what you love, and this is what you’ll produce:

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(the guy underneath is on a skateboard)

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Until next time: work HARDER, fight STRONGER and above all, STAY TRUE to the essence of your dreams.

There is no limit.

xx

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I’m taking you on a date, this time for cake.

10 Feb

Hello lovely reader!

Here I am, still in bed: nursing a sprained ankle and reading my new fashion tomes with Feist’s “The Park” on repeat.

…But let’s get to the point.

I want to take you out on a date. To my newest, most favouritest cafe on Oxford St (Paddington). I’ll pick you up in my Lamborghini with a bottle of Verve in the back.

Ready? Alright darling, let’s go!

When I walk you into Ampersand Cafe and Bookstore, you’ll be greeted by very friendly baristas, (but not too friendly; you’re my date, remember). The one with the little beard will be wearing his bowler hat, and he might give you a wink. I’ll buy you a large latte, and a huge serving of Eggs Benedict AND the Apple and Berry Crumble (because you are lovely and don’t need to watch your weight). We will talk for hours as the soft morning light tilts through the open windows, nestled in red velvet arm chairs and watch the hustle of Oxford St speed past us.

Where would you like to sit, my dear? On the ground level you can sip your cappucino with a group of cheerful strangers on the sidewalk (on the little communal tables and stools, surrounded by colourful murals on the brick walls).

That might sound good, but I think I’ll take you upstairs to the second level. There, it’s like being in a great uncle’s library.

“Welcome to my estate”, he says in his silk dressing gown, waving cigar ash nonchalantly onto the Persian carpets. “Make yourself at home, my dears. Feel free to read the books, I’ll have your breakfast sent up. Be sure to try the eggs, they go so well with EM Forster!”

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All the books in Ampersand are for sale. So we can read poetry to each other over breakfast and I’ll buy you a first-edition as a keepsake. After the second round of coffee and large slices of cake, we can browse through the floor-to-ceiling shelves of fiction and art books upstairs, then meander down to the lower ground level to the non-fiction. You’d like a $1 bargain book? Of course! Outside on the pavement. And just between you and me, any place with Gertrude Stein on the wall deserves my eternal respect.

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If, for whatever reason, you would like to return to Ampersand Cafe and Bookstore without me (please don’t tell me it’s to see the barista), find it here (78 Oxford St. Open 7 days).

Here are the books I bought for you:

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“The subject of underwear can still evoke smirks and titters but it arouses a kind of sociological fervor in me, for whom its history sheds light on women’s long battle to attain freedom and social equality. I hope to show that it gives insight into our past and perspective to our present…” — Elaine Benson, p. 9.

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After our date, you’ll keep the books and a takeaway latte, and I’ll treasure the faint scent of Dior which you leave in the car.

Don’t worry, I won’t forget to call.

xxx

Vivian Chan Shaw: a retrospective

6 Feb

Life can be so serendipitous.

This morning, by chance, I stumbled into one of the most inspiring fashion exhibitions I have ever seen.

Until February 13, the Whitehouse Institute of Design in Surry Hills is hosting a 40 year retrospective of designer Vivian Chan Shaw. I took my mum to Whitehouse this morning to show her the school, only to discover that it was the first day of the exhibition celebrating one of Australia’s most formidable and courageous designers.

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Vivian Chan Shaw began designing fabric garments in 1972 and soon moved onto knitwear (she’d been knitting from five years old). Her knitwear was ground-breaking: her bold, beautiful colours, continual references to nature, her evening wear, and incredible seamless designs – all made individually on a hand loom – brought her international acclaim. Her label has forever changed the face of knitwear, proving that it can be used to produce much, much more than a token sweater.

Mum and I had the fortune to meet Claudia Chan Shaw, Vivian’s daughter and collaborator: an intensely beautiful woman, she spoke to us personally about the creation process (“yes, we’re crazy”). What a creative, talented and inspiring woman.

Enough of my talk.

See the exhibition for yourself:

6-13 February

Whitehouse Institute of Design, Sydney

2 Short St, Surry Hills

10am-5pm (daily)

Cost: Free

Here’s a taster:

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Vivian’s jewellery: hand-knitted wire.

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You have to go and see these pieces in the flesh. The craftsmanship, expertise and creative vision (spanning 40 years, no less) will blow you away.

The exhibition is on level 5 of the Whitehouse Institute. Speak to the lovely receptionist and he’ll show you the way upstairs.

You can also visit their flagship store in the Queen Vic Building (get off at Town Hall station): shop 33, level one.

Wowza.

xx

I’ve got a secret called Cantina Bar

3 Feb

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Welcome to Cantina Bar: the home of Mexican street food in the heart of Balmain!

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An intricate web of prayer flags lace the ceiling and framed portraits of Freida Carlo lookalikes cover the walls. The place is cosy and intimate, and will serve you an amazing spread of quesadillas, tacos, nachos and anything that pairs well with salsa and hot sauce (and not your average hot sauce, either; Charlotte discovered some questionable looking bottles). Be prepared to wait a little while for a table on weekends (but we waited only 15 minutes, so don’t worry): friendly bar staff keep you entertained as you choose from their solid list of cocktails, imported beers and wines, and you can always watch one of the old Latin films projected onto the wall.  The food menu is designed to be shared, so bring ya mates and order a few plates. And what’s even better? You won’t find anything cheaper in this part of Sydney. Win for the masses!

Cantina Bar can be found here: 350 Darling St, Balmain, 2041. Open Tuesday-Sunday 5pm-midnight. Now goooo!!

Let me know if you can handle the hot sauce (and what you think of the Dominatrix “Hurts so good”, complete with cufflinks)…

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Char, Thea,Ashley and I met here last night to make mischief. I’d like very much to go into details… but what happens in Cantina Bar stays in Cantina Bar (and a girl never tells).

But what I can tell you is that we all ate too many tacos, drowned Churros in chilli chocolate, and drank champagne until closing. For her birthday, Thea gave Char the latest Vogue and a bunch of flowers (the way to a girl’s heart… boys, take note). We laughed a lot and cried a bit.

Some things I realised last night:

1. Most things are not black and white, and I should stop giving advice based on the assumption that they are.

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2. I don’t know anything. At all. (Aristotle got it right).

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3. Char, Thea Jane and Ash are three of the strongest, most resilient women I know: if I had a heart half as big and strong as any of them, who knows how rich and bold my life would be. Each of them have a particular beauty and strength of spirit (Char’s perceptiveness and kindness; Thea’s understanding and compassion; Ashley’s forgiveness) to which I will always aspire.

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4. Tacos always go well with champagne. Always.

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5. Oh my God, you are one beautiful person!

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P.S. Sorry for the poor quality iPhone photos. But I didn’t want to get salsa in my DSLR!

Now go eat tacos! Lots!!

xxx

Bat for Lashes

1 Feb

Heavy rain has descended upon Sydney once again.

Inevitably, the downpour began as soon as I started walking home from work: the girl who finally reached this terrace house was a shivering and saturated version of myself.

As I write, the rain is a constant thrum upon the roof and the oak trees outside my window shiver in the storm. Thunder punctuates my paragraphs.

This time two days ago, the sky was a beautiful blue, and I sat on the grass drinking champagne with Thea Jane and Charlotte. Who would have thought?

We were celebrating their birthdays! Hooray! Both of them were born on January 31, and no, they’re not related! I had planned a wonderful little evening on Wednesday for them: I had visions of a candlelit dinner, strawberries in champagne, homemade chocolate truffles… trust me, that vision is still in my head and boy, is it wonderful. However, one thing led to another that day (which merits another blog post entirely, stay tuned), so I ended up being half an hour late to my own house where Char and Thea were waiting. Finally, frazzled, stressed and carrying a fat-ass watermelon (an impulse buy/ thought it was a good idea/who knows how I’ll eat a whole watermelon all to myself), I stumbled into my house, and needed C and T to pamper me for a while instead.

But anyway. Grandiose visions had to be laid aside somewhat. Instead, we drank our champagne (with strawberries, still) as we did the beauty routine in the bathroom, and I made a super-speedy dinner of lemon and chilli angel-hair spaghetti (with champagne… and strawberries). Presents were given (Thea: Sophie Dahl’s cookbook Miss Dahl’s Voluptuous Delights; Char: a pair of Ralph Lauren tweed trousers, the perfect fit), another coat of mascara applied, and we stumbled outside to catch our train.

Why? Because we were heading to the Enmore Theatre, to see Bat for Lashes! That’s why!

If you don’t know Bat for Lashes, get out your surfboard and jump on youtube. Or better yet, listen to this:

The story of her two and a half year process of making this album is so inspirational. Hitting a complete creative wall, she couldn’t write a single song to match her previous album. Exasperated, she called her friend Thom Yorke (yep, the Thom Yorke), who told her to  explore creative means other than songwriting. So she took up contemporary dance, and through this, she was able to once again find her voice in song.

I just find this story incredibly inspiring. Bat for Lashes refused to give up. Artistic inspiration is not received; it is sought out, it is achieved. The journey of Bat for Lashes is one of utter determination and perseverance. She’s a woman of action!

And also, she’s just a damn fine performer. What all three of us loved about her was that she refused to be anyone other than herself. She came onto stage wearing a matching rainbow skirt and cape (courtesy of Romance was Born), and sang with her heart on her sleeve. And this is what people respond to: confidence in one’s individuality. This combined with an openness and willingness to connect with others on a deep, emotional level. And also she’s just got a hot body, and is a super cool dancer, and she totally rocks that little black bob.

But anyway, long story short: I just want to encourage all of those artists out there, to keep at it. Man, it’s hard sometimes. But persevere. Keep your heart in it, and anything you produce will be evident of that. Never lose sight of what you want to achieve, no matter how frustrated or exasperated or uninspired you feel.

And if it gets really bad? Have some champagne and pasta with the girls.

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Happy Birthday my darling girls! You’re looking mighty fine… xx

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P.S. To all you loyal readers out there (I can’t believe how many there are of you!): I’m so honored to have you reading my humble little blog. You make me so happy!!

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Bisous, bisous! x