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viro and en e r u t ul ity, c commun

Summer Issue 25 * 2016

re, o l a e! g r s o t hand the hm -made holidays, artis c u mai dm n a n co ics rner, o t a n a f c i rgan


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editor’s rave Summer is here and with it comes the hectic start to the holidays. There’s a whirlwind of getting together with friends. Christmas and end of year parties and lots of shopping for gifts, Christmas tree decorating and sending out cards. Add a hillscene deadline into the mix and you’re heading into chaos. But it’s not all doom and gloom, getting together with family and friends is often a pleasure and the hillscene is also one of those jobs that offers a great deal of satisfaction. Take our Christmas photo shoot for example. Instead of going out to find all our gifts we decided to make a little something of our own for a (partly) hand-made Christmas. This means a photo shoot so here’s our chance for a get together with work colleagues (and friends) at Burrinja. Enter the editorial team with Jen Angel coming to photograph our wares. Now the fun begins. I had an outdoor shoot in the garden planned in my head but it had been raining so that idea was out the window. But being the resourceful types we are, we went out hunting for garden props to bring the outside in. A branch, a black blind drawn, some bulldog clips, blue tac and a bin to rest our hand-made goodies on and you have a pretty good indoor styling session, with Gareth chiming in the background how much he loves his job. I agree, a chance at an

impromptu creative session was something I didn’t want to miss. And the photos turned out beautifully, see for yourself on page 14. The Summer issue is jam packed full of creative sessions impromptu and planned. Artists and other creative types that are busy making their ideas come to life. Probably rushing around for the hectic holiday rush and hopefully enjoying every minute of it. Hope you all have a Merry Christmas, a creative holiday season and an inspiring year ahead.

Editor/Designer Adriana Alvarez Cover Ella Ruby Editorial Committee Adriana Alvarez, Ross Farnell, Amy Middleton, Gareth Hart, Anna James, Justine Walsh and Jen Angel. Contributors Ella Ruby, Daniel Bornstein, Sabrina Tes, Gareth Hart, Max Lees, Hannah Raisin, Shaun C. Duncan, Kat Tramoy, Cathy Ronald, Justine Walsh, Fergus Floyd, Jen Angel, Tiffany Morris North, Makayla Rimington, Katherine Reynolds, Jaccob McKay and Adriana Alvarez facebook: The Hillscene blog: For submission and advertising enquiries email: Printed by Ferntree Print on Envirocare 100gsm recycled paper. © Copyright 2016

The hillscene is created in partnership with Burrinja Proudly sponsored by Photo by Gareth Hart


Photos by Daniel Bornstein

WOW! Great Cover Words by Gareth Hart and Ella Ruby Can you tell me about this cover image? What’s the story behind it?

The Green Man figure is in a state of reflection, their thoughts like a body of water leaning against their head. It is an ode to the ocean as a healing tool for processing. Lovers kissing and interlocked hands reflect the universal story of connectedness, alongside tears of loss. The menorah candles reference my Jewish roots, and fire as the essence of spirit. The owl watches over, a symbol for the transformational magic of struggle. You created this for the recent hillsceneLIVE festival, how was your experience of the festival?

Emotionally powerful and fun. Many of the artists facilitated works that delve into the most vulnerable places of our psyche. The supportive environment gave permission for us all (performers and audience) to witness aspects of the shadow self in a beautiful and poetic way. My work Project Journey was set in a small intimate room, with artwork and audio that explored the journey of suffering, and the tools we find that meet and mend the soul in times of difficulty. The audience was invited to write a response to


questions placed along the walls. The space filled up with deeply personal reflections, memories and insights. I was deeply moved by their willingness to enquire into these private themes, and witness other people’s stories too.

You have a strong connection with the Dandenong Ranges, can you tell me about this?

While living in the Dandenong Ranges for two magical years, I was surrounded by a supportive and vibrant creative community. I lived with two talented artists and was a member of the Tiffaney Bishop Collective, painting and playing music in the lively artist’s run studios. Breakfasts at Earthly Pleasures, summer days swimming at Selby lake and evenings spent sharing wine and poetry at Ends of the Verse, at Oscar’s Ale house. I played one of my favourite folk sets at End of The Line Festival. There were such high vibes that day, friends jumped up and danced right by the stage.

I see that you are quite a multi-talented artist! Other than your visual arts practice, what other practices do you engage in?

I make folk and electronic music and studied composition. He Sees all the Galaxies is an electronic song I made, using recordings of chirping birds, the river stream and my footsteps on a walk through Sherbrooke Forest. Which artists really inspire you?

Del Kathryn Barton, Vali Myers (as well as her life, it is a work of art), Chagall, Elena Stonaker and Balint Zsako.

What is next on the creative calendar of Ella Ruby?

I’ll be exhibiting a collection of water colour paintings, including works from Project Journey, November 28th December 21st. They will be up at Little Deer Tracks, a sweet artist run cafe in Coburg.

I’ll also be running an Intuitive Drawing workshop at Folk Rhythm Life Festival with visual artist Shelley Krycer. We will facilitate a range of playful exercises that allow the five senses to inform explorative drawings.

Find out more about Ella Ruby on Facebook or Instagram via @ellarubyraindrops and online at or

Photo of Project Journey at hillsceneLIVE by Sabrina Tes


Tribute to Alex Legg Words by Max Lees

The Alex Legg Memorial Foundation (ALMF) was established in early 2015, after the sudden, untimely death of Alex Legg, an exceptional singersongwriter, raconteur, mentor, larrikin and treasured friend of a great many people in the Hills region and beyond. Alex was very generous with his advice and time to all in the Hills musical community, regardless of where they were in their career. The jolt of his sudden passing had left many of us terribly saddened, but also galvanised and inspired to perpetuate many of the things he stood for in music. This has resulted in the establishment of several activities overseen by a small committee of his friends and musical associates, who are ably supported by many others in the community. This is all done on a voluntary basis, and any money raised goes back to fund the activities of the ALMF. The overriding focus of this group is to continue supporting and mentoring musicians – particularly, but not exclusively, younger ones – in the development of their careers in any way we can. Because we have access to an extensive network of contacts, skills and experience available to us, there are not many areas where we cannot provide some assistance to up-and-coming musical artists. Stagecraft, voice production, recording, music publishing, songwriting development, professional contacts and technical advice are but some of the areas where the ALMF and their extended community are able to assist. A series of activities and events have also been established to facilitate interaction between the ALMF and the music community in general. Every Wednesday night at 7.30pm, the ‘Leggacy Sessions’ take place at Oscar’s Alehouse. This is an open-mic event where musicians at any stage of development are encouraged to perform their material. We have organised a special part of the night where a feature artist is showcased and given extended time to present the audience with their latest musical offerings. We have occasionally been wowed with surprise guest appearances by well-known artists who are associated with our activities – Lloyd Spiegel, a close friend of Alex Legg and the ALMF, springs to mind.


Every year we provide a scholarship for a musician to assist with the development of their career. In addition to mentoring and supporting their career, there is a monetary component of $3,000 attached to the award. Entrants are encouraged to apply via an application and assessment process, and the winner will be announced and presented with the award towards the end of the year at an annual concert. This year, the concert is being held at Oscar’s Alehouse in early December. The event includes performances by well-known musicians, and, this year, will include Lloyd Spiegel. Fundraising is part of the function of the ALMF, and our income to pay for the scholarship is derived in part from the open-mic nights and an annual raffle we run each year. Through Lloyd Spiegel, we are able to purchase a limited edition Cole Clark guitar, the same as the one Alex played, but with the addition of Alex’s signature on the fretboard and an engraved lyric or title from his collection of songs. The raffle is drawn at our end of year concert. In addition to the above, we have embarked on a series of showcase events where four acts, one being a headliner, perform for the night. These occur at the rate of one or two per month, depending on venue availability, and gives developing artists the opportunity to gain experience performing with seasoned musicians. Having set all this activity up in the memory and name of Alex Legg, many of us have mused on what Alex might think of it all. We anticipate he would probably wonder what all the fuss was about – but then he didn’t have the benefit of seeing himself from our perspective, did he? Find out more at The Leggacy Sessions or The Alex Legg Memorial Foundation on Facebook.

Spirit of the Arts is an arts centre open to the community and aimed to inspire the young and the old to be involved in the Arts, theatre, fitness and other community activities. The centre houses three beautiful studios plus a 50 seat cinema style theatre or cabaret lounge. Spirit offers a wide range of sessions in dance and fitness for all, as well as space for hire to those who would like to showcase their talents in arts or crafts. It is also the home base of THE AUSTRALIAN MUSICAL THEATRE & DANCE ACADEMY (AMT), a thriving theatre school for youngsters, specialising in all theatre and dance genres from Age 3 to adult.


Spirit of the Arts and the AMT programme offers a wide range of sessions and activities for all levels and all age groups, including adults. SPIRIT OF THE ARTS • 9A ROSE STREET, UPPER FERNTREE GULLY Tel 0422 101092 • •

Forest foodies flocking for a fix Words by Hannah Raisin Whether we have grown up in the Hills, or have moved here for a healthier or quieter lifestyle, many would agree that the green of overhead trees beckons us from the city. But most of us food fanciers have kept one foot in town, commuting to the bustling centre for gastronomic satisfaction. However, it seems like a new wave of great food is afloat in the tides of change as Upwey greets a growing movement of flavour destinations. For weeks, I had been peeking through the brown papered windows of the newest jewel on Upwey’s gastro-crown, hearing whispers of a Flower Drum trained chef in the kitchen. In its first weeks of service, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to visit The Main Corner (TMC) in Main Street Upwey, to sample its offerings and catch up with local restauranteur Lisa… and yes, Flower Drum trained head-chef Tony Wong, who also happens to be Lisa’s father-in-law. Lisa has been in the Hills for thirteen years, since making the tree change to bring up her young family. She tells me, “moving to the hills was the best thing I ever did”. But for almost half of her time here she has been scoping out different shops and cooking up her vision for this epicurean fantasy. She describes her concept as a destination for brilliant food that is relaxed and casual: “it’s all about sharing great food in an easy-going, rustic


and elegant environment.” Even encountering TMC from the street, you can’t help being drawn into the colours and textures of a mural by Sydney-based artist, Kerrie Brown. Lisa fell in love with Kerrie’s work when she discovered it online and commissioned her to create something that encapsulated her vision of TMC. For Tony, TMC days begin with an early morning trip to the markets, sourcing the best and freshest local produce for dishes like the Salt and Pepper Calamari (or is it Squid?) and Crispy Skin Duck that are becoming local favourites. The markets also inspire seasonal specials like Blue Swimmer Crab, while offerings from Tony’s own fruit trees – including his current cumquat jam – also make special additions to the menu. Lisa tells me, “we have been booked out every night since we opened. The feedback has been so supportive and people are loving being able to walk here”. With Tin Pan Alley across the road, and The Fat Goat – a craft beer, gin and tapas bar – opening soon, Upwey really is blooming into a food destination. As Lisa says, “people will come here to wander and discover a vibrant strip of quality eateries.” On my way out, Lisa asks us if I have any suggestions for TMC – she is loving feedback from local customers and hopes the menu will grow and shift to accommodate patron’s tastes.

“I love feedback from the community – we are all about our customers.” I was very impressed with a beautiful selection of dishes from the sharing menu, including a sumptuous Tofu Custard, delicate Grilled Miso Eggplant and flavoursome Barramundi Fish cakes. I have also been eyeing off exciting desserts and a fabulous breakfast menu. Lisa tells me they are crafting more vegetarian dishes, and I note their extensive gluten-free options.

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“We recently joined the Coeliac Society and it has been great to learn all about how we can accommodate the different needs of our community.” As I wave goodbye to the kitchen staff and step back out into a sunny Upwey afternoon, soft, playful jazz seeps out onto the street, a symbolic soundtrack for the shades and flavours I am picking up on this shifting palette of our town. Find out more about The Main Corner at

fabric of life

counselling & psychotherapy

Call Mali at Fabric of Life Counselling and Psychotherapy on 0432 027 078.

Botanical beauty Words by Adriana Alvarez Stepping into Amy Duncan’s light filled studio, you get a real sense of her love for all things natural. There are flower cushions on the sofa, botanical books dotted around the space, pictures and posters of flowers hanging on the walls, as well as some of her own botanical paintings and sketches. Amy’s inspiration for her work is clearly evident. When Amy started botanical painting classes in 2009, she had no intention of it ending up as part of her job. Having been a tattooist for many years, the botanical classes she took up as a hobby have since informed her work, and now she is well known for specialising in botanical style tattoos. Her love of plants is what led her to the classes, and that love and attention to detail shows in her work, which is beautiful and vibrant with a strong yet delicate graphic style. “In the past, I tried to do much more traditional tattooing styles like Japanese tattooing and American traditional tattooing and none of them ever felt like the right fit for me. So tattooing plants just felt much more natural and intuitive… I feel like the way they drape over the body is quite elegant and it’s not hard to make flowers and plants look beautiful on the skin and I think they’re a very timeless subject matter. I don’t feel that

people are risking being embarrassed of them when they’re older. Which is always a risk with tattooing at the end of the day.” Amy has always loved drawing, and since she was very young, she knew she’d pursue a career in the arts. So when, as a teenager, she discovered tattooing and alternative culture, she was excited by the art form. After getting some tattoos, she soon decided that she could become a tattoo artist. “Previously it had been too intimidating, the idea of marking people permanently seemed outrageously scary. I realised after getting them done, it demystified it a little bit, and I thought it was something I could pursue and potentially be good at.” Although she began a visual arts degree, she didn’t enjoy it and dropped out after about ten weeks. Instead, after a few years of waiting, she secured an apprenticeship with a tattoo shop in Adelaide, where she grew up, spending four years practising and perfecting her craft on customers and willing friends. Around 2009, she and husband Shaun moved to Melbourne to pursue careers in the arts, and eventually moved to the Hills to bring up their son where he would have easy access to the natural landscape.

Photos by Shaun C Duncan

“We realised at some point that we kept visiting beautiful places on the weekend so that we could get our dose of nature. Why are we just going to these places on the weekend rather than just living there? We love it here. It’s beautiful – we feel grateful every day.” Next year looks set to be a big one for Amy as she will be part of Dandenong Ranges Open Studios, which she joined as a way of connecting with the local arts community and meeting other artists. She’s also working toward an exhibition of still life paintings at Burrinja in June or July. Her paintings, like her tattoos, are incredibly detailed, rich and lush. It’s a passion she picked up when she travelled to Amsterdam and saw paintings by the Dutch and Flemish Baroque masters.

“I really enjoy painting and I don’t get to do it often enough. I adore still life painting and I’ve been busily working on my flower arranging skills to get better at making arrangements to paint. That’s my current project.” Her painting satisfies a craving for personal expression that her tattoo work, essentially being a commission, can’t fill. Whatever form of expression she chooses, it’s clear that Amy’s craving is to have a passionate life. Passion is a word that crops up a lot in our conversation, whether it’s a love for plants and nature, tattooing or painting. It’s her passion for beauty that shines through in her studio, her work and her life. Discover more of Amy’s work on her website


Photo of Joanna Mercer by Kat Tramoy

Fantastic organic Words by Adriana Alvarez and Joanna Mercer

The first thing that struck me about the

Organic Fanatic, was the lovely smell. It’s an organic shop filled with healthy products, beautiful flowers and creative displays that makes you feel at home straight away. Joanna Mercer explains their philosophy. Tell us about your business. What do you do? We opened nearly three years ago. We sell fresh Certified Organic and bio-dynamic fruit and veg, certified organic/ bio-dynamic dry-goods, dairy and meat. We also have an abundant selection of flowers and create garden inspired posies and arrangements. Our flowers are all locally grown and I collect them myself from Monbulk and Silvan and sometimes my own garden!

Why did you decide to open an organic shop here? We live up here (Kalorama) and I had wanted to


run my own business for some time. We eat organically, I love wholesome food and cooking and am a florist by trade. So I thought what would be more perfect than to combine two of my passions under one roof. In all honesty it was driven mainly by a strong gut feeling that this is what I was to do.

What is unique about your business? The shop is an ever changing space full of inspiration, colour, positivity and creativity. Sometimes people just pop in to smell the amazing combination of aromas, fresh organic bread, fruit, seasonal flowers and essential oil soaps. We use lots of vintage containers for displaying our fresh produce and flowers and we really put stock into the displays. We also connect with the local community by donating numerous gifts to the local schools for fund raising.

Photo by Cathy Ronald

Do you see this sort of shopping (local and organic) as being the future of shopping? I do. I think with the emergence of impersonal technology such as ‘self service’ in supermarkets people are craving the simplicity and social interaction of the good old days. We have a bulk section which uses minimal to no packaging (people are encouraged to bring their own containers). I think for the sake of the environment that this has to be the way of the future. Where do you see your business in 5 years time? By that time we will have expanded to online service and will be running workshops, both health and flower related. The Organic Fanatic – 234 Ridge Road, Mount Dandenong Facebook The Organic Fanatic

Tai Chi & Qi Gong Belgrave Ferntree Gully Silvan Upwey Have you ever thought about trying Tai Chi or Qi Gong…? These Chinese healing arts aim to improve your well-being from your breath, focus, balance & co-ordination to

flexibility, fitness & more… Your first (weekly) class is free !! So come along & find out what these arts could do for you.

SUMMER BREAK WORKSHOPS: Saturday 21st January, 2017 ~~ Taoist Meditation ~~ Dao Yin Qi Gong ~~ Upwey Community Hall, 1443 Burwood Highway BEGINNERS WELCOME

Weekly classes resume: 30th JANUARY, 2017

See website for timetables & workshop details

0437 949 919

Chi Generation Tai Chi

Please call Su to book your class

Holiday Spirit Words by Adriana Alvarez

As you may know, we at the hillscene love to shop local and hand-made. So for the last few years we’ve shown you where find great Christmas gifts close to home. This year we thought we might do something a little different. We decided to make something, potentially out of recycled materials, to inspire you to think of ways to have a more sustainable holiday season. Of course there isn’t enough time to make all your gifts or decorations, so we still encourage you to shop local, recycled/upcycled and hand-made but there’s always an opportunity to add a little hand-made individuality of your own to your celebrations. Here’s our creative ideas.

Paper daisy wreath by Adriana Alvarez I have always loved paper daisies. They look and feel like paper and they last really well. I was given this beautiful bunch and decided to make a wreath out of them once the green stalks had died off. It’s amazing what you can do with a piece of cardboard, a glue gun and a couple of hours. All ready to decorate my front door this Christmas. Recycled pages wrapping paper by Gareth Hart

Upcycled wrapping paper – this happens to be the longitude and latitude pages of an old atlas, and some silver tape that I found in the dusty corner of the stationary cupboard. Other ideas could be pictorial books – think landscapes, old art books, anything!

Catalogue Christmas tree by Makayla Rimington

Just by folding the pages of a magazine or catalogue a few times, a Christmas tree can be made. The trees can be left plain or decorated with paint or glitter (or both!). Tutorials can be found on YouTube. Tree decorations and hand-made wrapping paper by Tiffany-Morris North

I always love to take time to wrap my presents. I carve my own stamps and block print on brown wrapping paper. With scraps of felt, I stitched a few hanging decorations together, inspired by intricate iced gingerbreads. And for a bit of Christmas glitz, I crocheted in silver around some small marine glass buoys. You can find more of Tiffany Morris-North’s work at Leaf Studios in Kallista.

Photos by Jen Angel - Facebook Istoria Photography

The whole cake Words by Gareth Hart Here at the hillscene, we love collaboration. We also love ideas and projects that are ambitious and rich. The Whole Cake, a new dance work by local artist Viv Rogis, is all of these things. With some funding support from Yarra Ranges Council, Rogis set out on a six-month creative journey, exploring how the modern woman could ‘have her cake and eat it too’. This process involved social research within the community, exploring the relationship between food and life, and the development of a new live dance performance that brought all the disparate elements together.

Along the way, Rogis teamed with up Joanne O’Rourke from Watts River Cafe, a local chef who translated Rogis’ many ‘cakes’ of life, into actual, edible cakes – digestible pieces of art. It is an unlikely partnership, but then again, the most exciting and poignant partnerships are often the surprising ones. “Food is such a universal experience” says Rogis, “and dance is thought of as an uncommon, often unknown experience. I wondered how putting the two together, right at the creative core of an idea, could facilitate a different kind of audience experience of dance.”

The resulting performance, held at the Memo in Healesville, was an insightful, intelligent and inspiring reflection on the juggling that this artist/ mother/volunteer/partner/community worker/house manager deals with on a daily basis. The performance was riddled with intelligent and insightful metaphors, with each cake being a reflection of elements of the performer, a harmonious meeting of ingredients, art and self.

Fusing a very well-crafted script with insightful social research and intricate choreography is never an easy task, but Rogis performs the work to an incredibly high standard, showcasing the depth of her training and career as a modern/contemporary dancer, and doing this all whilst maintaining a beautiful honesty in the work.

At its core, The Whole Cake is a collaboration between dancer and baker, between arts and social research, between the multiplicity that we each adopt as we walk lightly through each day. Of the collaboration between herself and O’Rourke, Rogis mentions:


“It was an amazing, collaborative relationship that had me viewing food in an entirely new way. It was delicious and delightful! I think I may have begun a new obsession!” Of course, a work like this, which offers insight into social values, gender stereotypes and issues of modernity, will inevitably be a very difficult task. Rogis herself acknowledges this, and speaks openly, stating:

“I struggled throughout with the balance of universal versus individual content within the show. At times I felt very exposed and at others I felt there were important things that needed to be said, even if I didn’t have firsthand experience of it. I was constantly trying to broaden the frame of reference so that it didn’t become a piece for one interest group only, or purely autobiographical, but instead would act as a mode of communication about a specific group of people meant to be received by a larger audience.” The intersection of social research and dance is often framed within a historical context, and is held inside a prism of looking back. We study the great dance halls of The Depression, we understand the importance of dance as a storytelling device for many older cultures, and we know that social and class values often played out in the grand palaces of Elizabethan England. Rarely in contemporary society do we use dance and movement to analyse our contemporaneity so explicitly as within The Whole Cake. Speaking on this, Rogis mentions:

“I actually believe that artists are already social researchers. We are all processing experience and information through the lens of our own experience. Now I have a new language and understanding of a process that I was already engaged in that has deepened my capacity as an artist who asks questions and wants to make work that is drawn from and embedded within human experience.” The Whole Cake was an insightful and skilful reflection on contemporary life and the preface we all maintain: that the juggling is never too much. It was indeed a work that broadened the frames of reference for our own lives, and connected the audience in a shared experience, refracted through the performance itself. At least for this busy little beaver it did.

Keep up to date with Viv Rogis’ next project at

The whole cake: the menu! The Artist’s Cake

– A sweet, chewy, juicy lime and coconut almond meal cake with cream cheese frosting, mountains of meringue and caramelised lime slices. Solid, stick-inthe-teeth chewy; a sweet, complex cake of artistry. Bedrock of my being.

The Community Cake

Photos by Fergus Floyd

A chocolate mousse filled, thin biscuit pie crust supporting many different fruits arranged in a geometry of simultaneous separation and togetherness. An acknowledgment of the way we all are part of something larger than ourselves, and even though we may exist in a defined space, we share a larger defined space with others.

Partner Cake

– A firm biscuit base supporting rich flavours of thyme, sage and sweet roasted garlic in a blue cheese cake. We looked for more nourishing flavours for this one. A savoury cake, rich and full.

The Cake of Motherhood

– A beautiful, sun shaped ricotta and spinach pastry, served with blood red – but sweet – beetroot relish. So much to be said, but actually the cake says it all.

Home Manager’s Cake

– A heavy ploughman’s cake topped with crumble, dancing dried peaches, goji berries, nuts and seeds. Served with natural yogurt. A heavy, crumbly cake that defies being, neatly cut and served. It’s messy and unpredictable and while it can taste sweet and be nutritious, it’s not easy.

Simple Vegan Lemon Cake of Self

– After exploring the complexity of life, it was almost a relief to come to the realisation that the self can be very simple and satisfying.


cafe tarts The Botanist Cafe - Belgrave Review by Tiffany Morris-North A new discovery in Belgrave! The Botanist Cafe at Trees Adventure Glen Harrow. Unfortunately only open on the weekends at the moment but well worth putting it in the diary. We entered through an archway of climbing pink roses, like going to The Secret Garden, into the cosy cottage with vintage touches and found a table in the outside courtyard which is surrounded by gardens filled with herbs, foxgloves and lavender. I ordered the Croque Monsieur which was possibly one of the best I’ve had. The ham they use is freerange and is really tasty and generous. We also tried the turkey and brie roll served in a charcoal bun, again, a generous amount of turkey breast and double brie. The breakfast frittata was also a stand out. All served with a side salad and garnished with fresh flowers from the garden. Everything on the menu and in the display looked fresh and appetising. More importantly, the coffee was up to standard. The cakes and sweets on offer were hard to resist. We tried the almond croissant and the cronut (something I haven’t tried before). Filled with strawberry jam and iced on the top, this cross between a donut and croissant was sticky, sweet and crunchy. But, we all agreed the almond croissant was the winner! The service was relaxed, friendly and helpful and the prices are on par with most cafes in the area. The cat’s out of the bag, you really must try this hidden gem in Belgrave! Glenharrow - 21A Old Monbulk Rd, Belgrave. Facebook - The Botanist Cafe


The Keyhole Kabaret Lounge A new exclusive nightspot, that will offer ‘a little more sophistication’ for a night out in the hills. The Lounge will offer themed production shows all year round with professional dancers and singers, table nibbles and drinks, followed by dance music for an end of night boogie! The Keyhole Kabaret Lounge offers various packages and themed shows that are affordable for a night out with friends, a group or a work party.

Cabaret, nibbles, drinks and a boogie – what more could you want for a night out! For bookings call 0421 284868 or email



in Upper Ferntree Gully



‘Girls Just want to …. (for the ladies & brave men) ‘Round the World’ (created for everyone) ‘Musical Madness’ (for adults only)

The Keyhole’s first debut show

‘Girls just want to…’ opens in February 2017. Ladies - if you are looking for a fun night out (brave men welcome!) this is a show you shouldn’t miss! Celebrating music from female icons of the past and present, this cheeky show incorporates comedy monologues and music with a talented cast of dancers & singers. We dare you not to giggle, bop and sing along!

Of the Earth permaculture Words by Justine Walsh Edible landscapes. Educational workshops. Community project management. Sustainable building. Permaculture design. This is the way Kegan Daly introduces his business, Of The Earth. Kegan is a very practical and passionate person, whose desire to shift the current paradigm and flourish through continuous development – personal, local and global – drives everything he does. I spoke to him about his business, his recent move to the Dandenong Ranges and his reasons for basing his life and work in this beautiful community. Kegan began Of The Earth in 2015, just after returning from the United States. While in the US, Kegan toured around on his bicycle, working on various sustainability projects and attending the Earthship Biotecture Academy in New Mexico. One particular project in the North West region (working with a chef who wanted to grow his own food) inspired him greatly. Meeting people who shared common interests and values provided him with a deeper insight into the feeling of community.


“I found an example of a welcoming, accepting, nurturing and inclusive community who also acknowledged and valued each individual’s unique input.” His move to the Dandenong Ranges has certainly been informed by these experiences, especially the process of building his business over the past year and all the challenges and discoveries it has provided him. He was initially drawn here by the pull of friends and mentors moving to the area. He observed that there must have been something particularly special about the Hills if some of his biggest influences, inspirations and closest friends were drawn to Belgrave and surrounds, engaging with exciting arts and environmental projects. Local artist Amy Duncan, lawyer Elicia Savvas and conservationist/bird lover James Frazer are among the locals who helped influence Kegan’s decision to base his life and work in the Dandenongs. Amy’s friendship and passion for creativity and the representation of beauty in the natural world had inspired him deeply since they met in 2003, as has

Amy starting her own business, Artemisia Custom Tattooing in Tecoma. Having met James and Elicia at Flinders University in South Australia, he learned a lot about radical activism and permaculture, thereby seeding a fertile passion and purpose from a previously barren state of jaded disengagement. “My involvement [in activism/permaculture] led me to the knowledge that agriculture and construction were the two major industries that contributed to the destruction of the natural world. I saw that our society had done it very wrong.” Believing that there are better ways, Kegan has directed his life’s work and energy into developing the skills and knowledge that create solutions to these two major destructive industries. His decision to create a business was important to ensure he could have an “independent, productive, sustainable and practical way of reflecting the role we all should and can play to affect our current situation positively. All individuals, of course, have different things to offer and everyone does things differently. That is community. I developed my skills and knowledge so I can embody the raw essentials for survival and share this with others.” Of the Earth has recently been accepted to be a part of the committee for EPIC, a new permaculture project based at the George Tindale Gardens in Sherbrooke. Part of his aim through this is to work with locals to share, learn, and contribute what he can to the community. Holistic, whole-property design and implementation is Kegan’s major focus for the business, to help people transition into a sustainable, self-sufficient lifestyle. House, garden and lifestyle are designed in a mutually beneficial manner, ensuring they feed into each other in a minimum input, maximum output system. Kegan’s values also display his desire to think big, as well as acting in a multitude of small ways. Retaining a holistic perspective while working on local and specific projects is his way of ensuring a global reference point.

By utilising his range of practical and theoretical skills in permaculture, horticulture and natural building in the local area, Kegan wants to provide something that he has often found missing from the process – a sense of continuity. It is essential that Kegan’s work is ongoing – by keeping up relationships and building networks, he wishes to develop constructive ways of engaging with the community that keep growing as time goes on. Looking at the enduring regeneration of local landscapes means being engaged for the longterm, and although he knows as well as any of us that the best laid plans often go awry, that does not lessen his commitment to basing himself in the hills. “I have found that I resonate with the Dandenongs culturally, ethically… holistically. Who I am as a person, the people, the land, the birds… it feels like home in a way that nowhere else has. Having seen a lot of Australia recently through my work, it seems quite unique – there is a shared ethos, a culture of creativity and tendency toward self-reliance. It is why there is such a strong community I suppose – regardless of context, we’re all here for a reason. There’s a current running through the bioregion that is the Dandenong Ranges… it’s very special. There’s a lot to keep discovering but it feels like where I need and want to be.” Find Kegan on Facebook and Instagram, or head to his website at


Katherine (left) with some of the other artists at the Emergence launch.

Emerging curator take a bow Words by Katherine Reynolds

emerging to come forth into view or notice, as from concealment or obscurity curator a person who selects content for presentation Increasingly over the last few decades, as the creative industry changes, artists and creatives have had to find new ways to show their work and to provide opportunities for networking and professional development. One in particular came about with the rise of artist-run spaces: the role of the artist-curator. Today, we see many artists curating exhibitions and managing events, as well as continuing their own practices. I have just recently found myself entering into this merged role after years of watching and assisting with exhibition changeovers at Burrinja and wondering what it took to create such amazing displays. In May this year, I became aware of a free exhibition slot that was coming up; I thought, why not give it a go? After being given the go-ahead, I found myself curating my first exhibition with barely six weeks lead time. This exhibition, Emergence, consisted of the work of seven emerging artists, including myself, from across Melbourne. All were friends, and many had very little experience of participating in group exhibitions. While planning for the exhibition, I took into consideration the fact that many artists (including myself) aren’t brilliant at meeting deadlines, so I set early dates, wrote up an artist agreement and provided them with all the information they could ever need. The artists I worked with are incredibly talented people, and are all valued friends, but I learnt a lot very quickly during this time, such as that there are


always more expenses than you expect, and no matter how much information you provide or how clear it is, artists will not read it properly and miss deadlines. The success of Emergence really validated my interest in working in the areas of curating and management. This arises from my belief that emerging artists and creatives don’t get the support they need in the early stages of their careers, causing many to abandon their dreams when it all becomes too difficult. By facilitating exhibitions and events, I hope to be able to provide participating creatives with information and skills that assist them as they navigate the difficult and competitive world of the creative industries. With future projects, I hope to work more closely with the artists involved, learning what they need to learn, and providing them with more than just a wall or plinth to put their work on. When thinking about artists that I’d like to work with, I generally look for those that are willing to take a bit of a risk and try something new. An important thing about all the artists that I approach is that they are working to progress their creative careers. There are a lot of early career artists that sit around and wait for the opportunities to come to them, but the ones that are actively going out and participating or engaging with the arts are better to work with, as they demonstrate commitment to their learning, development and creative practice. As more funding is cut, and as more people consider having a career in the creative industries a “lifestyle choice”, it is more important than ever to provide platforms for emerging artists to present

Photos by Jen Angel

their work. Providing opportunities for creative people to show their work and participate in events shows artists that the creative industries are valued, and that it is possible to have a career in the field. I also believe that it is really important for emerging artists to work, not only with established and experienced curators, but also with emerging curators like myself. As they know less about the conventions of curating, emerging curators are often willing to take a more experimental approach to the display of exhibitions. Being in a similar stage of career, the emerging artists and curators are

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able to relate to each other and form connections. Right now, I have so many varied ideas for exhibitions and projects. Similar to all creative practices, I know it will take a while to settle into a mode of working and thinking that works best for me. But for now, I’m enjoying working on a range of ideas and concepts, thinking about how I can involve artists with existing works, and also with those making new work. There are a few interesting projects already lined up for 2017, so keep up to date at and by subscribing to my email list.

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Photos by Jaccob McKay

Created with a little hills magic Words by Makayla Rimington. Nestled in the picturesque town of Olinda sits Olinda Collective, a small shop brimming with artwork and wares from many local artists. Welcoming and warm (which is needed in the sometimes chilly hills), the store boasts various unique and mostly handmade crafts, a visitor can expect to spend some time gazing over the wide range on offer. Among dainty fairy lights hanging over an array of beautiful handmade jewellery, metal wares and small, mesmerising photographs, you find Jaccob McKay’s Studio. From rings crafted from sustainably sourced wood, to tiny acorn earrings, Jaccob’s work is unique and charming. Jaccob loves nature; he photographs the surrounding hills and trees every chance he gets.

“The thing I really love is nature and landscapes, especially living around here with all the forests. Every time there’s a bit of fog I rush out and take photos.”


It is evident from the way Jaccob talks so passionately about this area, that nature and all it has to offer is a real inspiration. Jaccob is a mostly self-taught photographer, with help from his mum, who also works in the field. He has found talent for an array of subjects, from the still forest to lively weddings: “I’ve been a photographer for over five years, doing weddings and families. Weddings are really nice, all the love and happiness”. Jaccob’s images have a still, dream-like quality to them, but this isn’t because he edits his photos for hours. Instead, it’s mostly “capturing what’s there, capturing that moment and sort of transforming that into something a bit magical”. There must be something about the light that pairs so beautifully with the nature of the hills, and this definitely shows in Jaccob’s engaging photographs.

“This sort of environment is healthy for your mind and brings that [creativity] out in people.”

The hills can expose the best in artists, including Jaccob. His images highlight his love and care for his surroundings, and, the area is the perfect canvas.

About two years ago, Jaccob had the urge to create an oak leaf necklace from an old piece of copper; he then needed a box to put it in. Instead of outsourcing this work or purchasing a jewellery box from the internet, Jaccob created each piece himself. With a focus on the natural aspect of his work, Jaccob began creating jewellery from sustainably sourced materials. The love of nature, bush walking and just being connected to the area gives Jaccob all the inspiration he needs. All of the wood used in his pieces is sustainably sourced, mostly from private properties after a storm or landscaping. The metal is also gathered from scrap or pre-used water and gas piping. “I hate having to buy parts; as much as I can I try to get sustainably sourced wood. I go and chop it down or get it from the side of the road. It’s important to me to reduce my impact and I’m always trying to find ways to reduce it even more.” This distinctive aspect to Jaccob’s work gives a great story to the locally made and sourced timber that is showcased brilliantly in his wares. His individual creations are often seen by customers wanting a unique piece for a wedding: “it’s probably one of my most favourite things to do, I love getting custom orders”. The textures, shapes and patterns seen in Jaccob’s jewellery line bring home his appreciation for all nature has to offer. Jaccob seems to have the best of both worlds when it comes to work. Editing his images can get a little monotonous, so being able to recharge in the forest brings life back into balance.

“The air is nice and it’s peaceful. When things are getting a bit stale, I just like to go out and lay down in a forest.” Jaccob’s photographs and jewellery line are enhanced by the gorgeous surroundings of Olinda, and it shows dramatically in his creations. His bespoke items and striking photographs are truly beautiful. You can find Jaccob McKay instore at Olinda Collective every Monday. He is also a regular at the Belgrave Big Dreams Market.

Country market supports Cockatoo Words by Gareth Hart There is something quite amazing about a community caring for and creating opportunities for themselves. I have been a resident of Cockatoo for the past four years, and I am continually discovering new ways that the people of this community support each other. One of these ways is through the Cockatoo Country Market. Sitting in the wedge between the suburban chaos of Pakenham and the rolling fields of the Yarra Valley, Cockatoo is geographically curious. It is neither the Yarra Valley, nor a suburban sprawl town, and it is more foothills than mountains. As you drive through, you may be forgiven for missing the small strip of shops as you head out toward Gembrook, or descend toward Emerald. But stay and stop for a brief moment and the pulse of this town is tangible. In such a vibrant community, why is there no community market? This question must have been asked rather loudly by some locals, because for the last two years, the Cockatoo Country Market has been growing steadily into the important cornerstone it has now become. The market is run by a team of volunteers, with ten members helping out since 2014, and a current committee of five passionate locals. The market features some tried and tested favourites: handmade clothing, haberdashery, cakes, fruit and vegetables, and more. But like the town itself, the market has a rich undergrowth supporting it. Dig a little deeper and you will find a community food exchange (too many tomatoes at home? Swap someone for potatoes!), a rotation of local community groups fundraising through freshly cooked breakfasts, and a community grants program supporting charities and causes important to Cockatoo. It is this latter element in particular that inspires me. Anyone who reads the hillscene regularly will have heard me beat the drum of arts funding and fading support for the creative community at a governmental level. With decreased funding available for community and cultural enterprises, how refreshing that on my doorstep there is a progressive, supportive and innovative funding platform! Cockatoo Country Market uses the profits raised


from stallholder fees to give out micro-grants to Cockatoo groups who need a helping hand. Kristy Glasson, Grants Officer for the market, tells me that the grant system has been established to “encourage local community groups to work together, to help start new community groups and to support community groups that help make our town better.” The grants are focused on “local not-for-profit community groups whose main area of operation is in the Cockatoo township for projects that benefit the local community”, says Glasson. Locals helping locals do excellent things locally? Sounds great to me! I asked Kristy what the community response to the grant program had been like so far, and her response was an emphatic “fantastic!” “We have so far helped nine community groups… with equipment, advertising, uniforms, training costs and recreation. We hope we have enhanced morale and general wellbeing within these community groups and in turn the greater Cockatoo community.” To date, the market has awarded more than $4, 000 to community initiatives and shows no signs of slowing. With a twilight market celebrating its second birthday on March 4th, regular markets in the meantime, and recently winning the Cardinia Shire Council Community Event of the Year, 2017 promises to be an exciting year for Cockatoo Country Market and the community who love it. For more information on the market or the grants program, jump over to Facebook:

Receiving the Cardinia Shire Council Community Event of the Year Award

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Flower wreath by Adriana Alvarez. Silver ball and hand-made wrapping papers by Tiffany Morris-North. Photo: Jen Angel Styling: hillscene editorial team

Celebrate Summer

Profile for Adriana Alvarez

Issue 25 online  

Summer 2016-2017. A Maga'zine' about all the interesting people and things happening in the beautiful Dandenong Ranges.

Issue 25 online  

Summer 2016-2017. A Maga'zine' about all the interesting people and things happening in the beautiful Dandenong Ranges.

Profile for hillscene