Issue 27

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Winter Issue 27 * 2017

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viro and en e r u t l , cu munity

The hillscene is created in partnership with Burrinja

/ 12 MAR / 9 APR / 14 MAY / 11 JUNE / 9 JULY 2017 1312 FEB AUG / 10 SEP / 8 OCT / 12 NOV / 10 DEC


Greek Goddess - Wed 28 Jun, 8pm


The Crow Family - Sun 30 Jul, 2pm


Discover the true story of how one actress took on the Greek army, and won. Maria Mercedes conjures the flavours and textures of Melina Mercouri’s world, with this captivating cabaret accompanied by piano, guitar and bouzouki. Swirl up into this tantalisingly gentle, intimate, and beautiful musical tale about remarkable creatures and what makes us human.

Burrinja is part of a Producing Consortium including Gasworks Arts Park, identifying, developing and supporting new independent performing arts work. Stay for a drink after the performance and meet the performers in our intimate Black Box theatre.


Larry Paradiseo and The Fabulous Dame Farrar - Sat 12 Aug, 8pm Cabaret tour de force: Carita Farrer Spencer brings you her alter-egos...theatrical cyclone one The Fabulous Dame Farrar and International sex symbol Larry Paradiseo in this world class Double Act (with herself).




Burrinja | Cnr Glenfern Rd & Matson Drive, Upwey | ph: (03) 9754 8723 | w:

editor’s rave featuring artists experimenting with the new. Plus a few more articles to wet your appetite this wintry season. Winter is a great season to hunker down and get creative. Whether you’re rugging up and going out or getting cosy and staying in, what will inspire you?

Wow, winter really snuck up on us fast. Autumn was so beautiful and now the cold weather has truly begun. It also meant that I had neglected the hillscene, partly due to a busy work schedule. Luckily for me, I have a great team to work with and once I set myself the task of getting the issue started it seemed to come together very quickly as there’s always plenty of things crossing our paths to report on. This issue is packed with artists galore. Whether they be new to the hills like our cover artist Miranda Skoczek or have been here since they were wee tots. They’re painting or experimenting with new techniques, like Michele Fountain creating art for an upcoming exhibition. Releasing new music like The Bean Project and taking it to the world or perhaps finally having the confidence to write your first album like Edward Willoughby, they all have inspiring stories. One such story is that of Rose Amara, whose project Mamma Mandala was started to raise money for her son’s much needed and expensive treatment for Diplegic Cerebral Palsy. Reconnecting with her creativity also helped Rose through this challenging journey. The story of film maker Gregg Brown was written by one of our new recruits, Jo Brown (no relation). Jo is a young up and coming writer you will be hearing from in future issues. The Dance X project, a multimedia exhibition, delivered by the most prolific dance artists in the hills Gareth Hart, Viv Rogis and Gulsen Ozer is another story

Editor/Designer Adriana Alvarez Cover Miranda Skoczek Phases (Crazy patchwork) Editorial Committee Adriana Alvarez, Ross Farnell, Amy Middleton, Gareth Hart, Anna James, Justine Walsh and Jen Angel. Contributors Miranda Skoczek, Gareth Hart, Eliza Philips, Michele Fountain, Cathy Ronalds, Jo Brown, Vivienne Rogis, Gretel Taylor, Fergus Floyd, Neil Creek, Brent Dakis, Darren Clarke, Kaiyah Atriedes, Rose Amara, Tiffany Morris North, Fiona Talmi 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


Photos of Miranda with works in progress by Gareth Hart

WOW! Great Cover Words by Gareth Hart After hearing her name around the creative circles of the hills for the last few months, I finally had the chance to meet with Miranda Skoczek. I am humbled to be invited into the home of this talented painter. She is busy. In high demand with a Melbourne exhibition just finished, a Sydney exhibition opening in three days, plus a collaboration with the Design Files about to launch – it is no surprise that Miranda is running a little late for our chat. I am sitting in the lounge of Miranda’s personal home. Her Aunty has let me in, and now I wait. And yet, I feel like I have already begun to meet Miranda, in her absence. I am given time to really see and absorb this home environment – which is an introduction to the artist herself. As I look around casually, I am met with a range of images. A meticulously crafted and colour coded bookcase adorned with worldly treasures in ceramic, coral and glass fill the back wall – an introduction to the artists sense of painted assembly within her own


work. Scurries of hot pink flood the room with a cushion, a strand of pink wool on the back of a chair, a pink comb, a pink pom pom hanging from a light fitting – all alluding to the bold colour palette the artist uses. Miranda’s Aunty makes me tea and talks to me of the pride she holds of her niece – and I sense the importance of family.

After being lost in the worlds of textures, books and colour in the house, I see Miranda pull up outside. I suspect she does not know that I am inside, nor that I watch her walk up onto her balcony before coming inside. She notices her oversized pot plant, and with such meticulous intent, rotates the pot what must have been about 5 degrees. And again, I see so much in the moments that are unspoken. I see the

Ode to Klee

Out of Body

brain of an artist who sees with such meticulous detail, and has a deep sense of the visual relationships between objects and colour. Miranda enters and we instantly begin talking about how Miranda’s recent move to the hills has provided a sense of connection, and an incredible outlook both physically (her balcony has a stunning view!) and metaphorically.

“I don’t mind that people read so deeply into my work” Miranda professes, “but really I want my work to be immersive and that people love. I want to create beautiful work. Lot’s of my peers would cringe at the idea of art for arts sake!”. We laugh a little, but the jovial cannot hide the truth: that Miranda’s work is created with deep attention to form, colour, detail and aesthetics.

Inside this micro-moment I understand two more things about Miranda and her work: They are impulsive, yes, and yet based on a subconscious sensibility, and secondly that they are fun. I am hesitant to read too much into Miranda’s work, but with a Masters degree under my belt and a background in conceptual and experimental live art, I simply cannot help it! Her work is characterised by bold, contemporary colours and a fluid geometry.

For an artist who places a high priority on beauty in her work, and is not necessarily creating work to inspire deep contemplation, Miranda has certainly sparked some brain waves for me! This, for me, is the strength of Miranda’s work: It is wholly, and all at once: immersive, engaging, dynamic and deeply contemplative. I cannot wait to see what this bright spark comes up with next.

“I found a house online, drove up to the Dandenongs the next day to see it, and within two days had been accepted as a tenant! Yes, I’m impulsive”. We both laugh. We talk at length about how the Dandenongs are a supportive community, how they are ideal for her son, Harper, and how the sense of time has helped slow things down a little bit.

Miranda herself professes that there are no intentional social or political undertones of her work, and yet I cannot help but feel the frenetic energy of creative mind is bustling onto her canvases. I look a little deeper, notice the layers upon layers of paint already present even on works in progress, and I take the time to think. About the hot pink of human skin, the vibrant blues of thought, the seemingly random yet oh-so-meticulous brushstrokes … and I cannot help seeing an interrogation of humanness within Miranda’s work. Bold brushstrokes hint at the flurry of emotion, pink hues nod at human skin tones, and layers upon layers of paint pay homage to the complexity of human thought.

In fact, listening to Miranda speak so deeply and with such intent about her own work, I cannot help but remember that for an abstract artist, process is paramount. For Miranda, it’s all about the process, “I work on four or five paintings at a time. When I get stuck on a painting, I move on to another, and come back later. And you can just feel when it’s finished.”

Keep up to date on instagram: @mirandaskoczek


Ample life Words by Gareth Hart

Hills foodies and those with a conscience might be familiar with the name Ample Food Store. Ample Foodstore is a small Hills based online organic & health food store delivering across the Yarra Ranges & Yarra Valley, with an emphasis on local produce. Ample bring organic produce, veggie boxes and delicious artisan bread, right to your door! (Yes, they deliver!) Ample Foodstore is run by local artist and activist Eliza Philips. Many of you may know Eliza for her deeply moving and considered collage work which often oscillates around ideas of social inclusion, humanitarian issues, social justice and more. According to Eliza, on top of a creative practice, a family, her volunteer work with Kindred, and now owning Ample Foodstore, “definitely takes up more of my creative thinking space, but I’m just grateful to be working with something else that I love which is food.” Ample’s motto is ‘food with thought’.


It is not news to hear that a creative practice connects us to something greater than ourselves. Creativity allows us to explore the complexities of human existence, to ask big questions of the world, and to allow ourselves to challenge our perceptions. It also connects us in very real ways. This is summed up very succinctly by Eliza, stating “Food with Thought goes beyond just looking at the quality of food we are eating. Choosing organic food means so much more. Organic farming without synthetic chemicals or GM is better for our flora, fauna and waterways. Organic products are free from synthetic colours, preservatives or GM ingredients. Choosing certified organic also protects animals and humans. Organic certification means animal products must be free range and cruelty-free. Fair work practices must be adhered to so worker’s rights are protected even where the food is produced overseas. So it really becomes an ethical and socially responsible choice.”

The synergy between Eliza’s creative practice and her business practice seem rather aligned. Whilst the multiplicity of life is no doubt demanding, it is heartening to hear of an artist finding work that is so strongly supported by the value and belief system of the artist. Eliza herself recognises this. “As I’ve gotten older (and the world and politics get crazier) the values of social justice & social responsibility have become more important to me. My artwork is often rather political and driven by both an empathetic response as well as the need to raise awareness of inequalities and injustices. I’m also hoping that Ample Foodstore can contribute to educating and inspiring people to make more ethical choices.” It has long been known about the links between healthy minds and healthy bodies. Ample Foodstore and Eliza’s journey exemplifies these ideas, and provide a strong model of leadership

for others to follow. “Art is crucial to maintaining my mental health, and now Ample is helping me take care of our family’s physical health.” This journey is also exciting for Eliza and her family. As they dive into the depths of business ownership, one can only imagine how much growth and insight this will give her family, her creative network and all of those who surround her. For Eliza, the joy of this adventure is in the unknown and the discovery. Something artists often remark upon as well, when asked why they enjoy their creative practice. “I also love the concept of social enterprise and would like to build something that can effect some kind of social change as well. For now though, I’m just enjoying this new journey where I get to learn new things, eat great food and share it with my community.” Jump on board the organic journey via:



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8 WEEK BEGINNERS CLASSES 11:15am Monday - Qigong - Upwey 9:30am Wednesday - Qigong - Monbulk 6:00pm Thursday - Tai Chi - Belgrave 9:30am Friday - Tai Chi - Upwey In Taoist thought, we live according to nature and the seasons. Emerging from the blanket of winter, spring is the time for growth, the time to begin our journey. Please call Su for further information

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Dynamic textures Words by Gareth Hart and Michele Fountain Michele Fountain, of Metafour studio is a dynamic artist. It shows in her brightly coloured and textured studio at Burrinja. Big, bold weavings adorn the wall, sitting softly next to some delicate printmaking experiments, and further down the creative rabbit hole we discover poetry, text, fabric, copper and wire art! Michele has been in residence as a Burrinja Studio Artist for the past two years and 2017 is shaping up to be a big year for her. After the flurry of Dandenong Ranges Open Studios, and on the eve of two fairly large projects about to launch, I asked Michele to tell us a little more about it all. Where did your creative journey start for you? I started as a handweaver, with a short course at the Handweavers and Spinners Guild of Victoria years ago. I loved everything about the process of creating cloth and that craft remained my main focus for about five years. It’s down to the support and encouragement of the arts community people like CJ Baxter who ran Limerance, and Jessie Yvette Journoud-Ryan - who gently nudged me away from thinking of ‘my hobby’ and started me thinking of my art. Handweaving is still my go-to skill, and I still make wearable textiles, but more often my weaving is part of an art piece these days.


Who is your greatest inspiration? David Bowie. In my personal philosophy, art should create space in the world. It should let at least some of the people who encounter it breathe a little deeper, find some more room to move in their lives. Bowie pushed boundaries his entire artistic life and he didn’t care if anyone understood what he was doing - he was making space and the kind of space he made let me live. His breadth as an artist is astounding. Your practice seems to constantly evolve with new creative interests – why do you suppose this is? Was there a catalyst for this? I’m like the Elephant’s Child in the Just So Stories - insatiably curious. Every new skill I pick up helps me push my ideas forward, and not always in the way that skill was intended to be used! Do you see a link between your textile work, your printmaking and your photography?

Texture is my first love, and I think that shows up in everything I do. (This week it’s copper sculpting.) Can you tell us about your upcoming group show? Jessie Yvette Journoud-Ryan, Amy Duncan and I are presenting a show in the Burrinja Gallery -

Top photos by Cathy Ronalds

which I’m really excited about. It’s called The Road, and it’s a photography show exploring the towns along the Hume Highway - a route I have travelled often. I’m so looking forward to sharing those towns with you. The show runs 16 August to 23 September at the Mooroolbark Community Centre. Do you get any downtime!? How do you spend it?! I play a lot of Bejewelled, and read. Paintbrush, Loom & Hammer: Three Variations on a Natural History Theme. I’m so excited to be working with these ladies. Jessie’s sculpture is always amazing and I absolutely love what she’s created for this show. Amy runs Artemisia Custom Tattooing and is just the most wonderful artist - her oil paintings are gorgeous. And my work for this show uses textile art, sculpture and printmaking techniques to explore our delightful theme of flowers and the natural world. The opening is on Saturday 24 June from 6 - 9pm, and the show runs 24 June - 23 July.

Now tell us about your upcoming solo show? My first solo show opens on Thursday 17 August at the Red Earth Gallery in Mooroolbark. The work was selected to be part of the Yarra Regional Exhibitions program this year,

What is something people may not know about you? If I had a whole other life to live, I’d want to be in science and engineering. I love playing with the mechanics of things, figuring out the why, the how, and the what if. It’s probably why I keep collecting new mediums of expression - learning how things fit together is what keeps things interesting. Make sure to keep to date with all the exciting future projects from Michele and Metafour studio via:

Photos by Gareth Hart


The Alchemist Words by Jo Brown

“I’ve discovered that there’s this little internal alchemist that’s switched on. It’s a really simple idea. I just want to play my part. We all have skills, and it’s really frustrating to be sitting on your hands waiting for things to happen.” From humble refrigeration fitter to acclaimed filmmaker, Gregg Brown is an asset to our community. Gregg came from a blue collar family, and had always been encouraged into a trade. Yet after a spate of electrocutions, he began to doubt his career choice. “I was waking up on the concrete again and again, and I realised, one of the last things I was doing, before I got hit, was I was starting to draw” Arguments can be made that drawing with live wires is not the wisest decision, but it was the proverbial light bulb moment, if you will, for Gregg. Surrounded by creative people bought into his life by his wife, he was able to take those moments to reinvent himself.

“Between 21 and 28, that epoch, where you’re just out, with a bit of money in your pocket - if you’re fortunate - and you’re out exploring the world. I found there were people doing amazing things, just recreating themselves.” After the passing of his father, Gregg found many of his old super 8mm films left behind. This film type was from a camera introduced in the 1960’s which allowed users to create colourful, albeit slightly grainy, three minute home films for the very first time. Gregg explained that as super 8 film was so expensive, you had to be mindful with what you chose to film. “It cost roughly $100 to process three minutes of film. You have to be really careful, what you commit to, when you press that trigger...That gave me an appreciation for beauty, and stitching those shots together” The first film Gregg made was an experiment with pace. He went to the butcher, bought himself eight pigs trotters and, come evening, stood them up outside under a couple of lights. Using stop

motion animation, the trotters were chased around his back yard by a three-legged barbeque, dragging its gas bottle behind it. It was with this short film “Chasin’ the fat” that he entered, and subsequently won, a competition sponsored by SBS. His film was debuted on Eat Carpet, an Australian series which showcased short films from around the world. Gregg recalled the final night of the competition, when the winners were announced at a screening at the Sun Theatre, in Yarraville. “When mine got called up as the winner, I was really shocked and disappointed. Mine was just an experiment, an experiment with pace. I didn’t make a film after that for about five years. I was really disillusioned with people. It [the film] had no took me a while to get the idea that you know, we have different eyes.” Eventually Gregg returned to the world of filmmaking, working as a teacher at Chisholm TAFE in Dandenong. In addition to this, he worked with at risk teenagers through a drug and alcohol awareness program run by Dandenong Youth Services, as well as helping out at the Eastern Mental Health Service in Ringwood in a similar capacity. In each of these roles, he uses film to help these kids connect. “Film is the modern day has the power to transform people.” After a time, Gregg begun to feel burnt up, and decided to turn his considerable talents to making projects for himself. And by ‘projects for himself,’ he meant working alongside the community to help people in any way he can. “Best case scenario is to work with the expert...I am only as strong as

the weakest person...I’m surrounded by experts in Photos by ????? their own field.” The expert in question is Tiffaney Bishop, founder of the Tiffaney Bishop Collective (tbC), an artist run collective that offers young people a studio environment and helps them launch their careers. Gregg and Tiffaney collaborated on a film showcasing the revamping of Blacksmith Way in Belgrave, covering the back of the shops and cafes with street art - take a walk down Blacksmith Way from Belgrave station and be amazed at their colourful transformation. More recently still, Gregg is working alongside another local, Louise Reed-Simmonds, co-founder of Thrive Cambodia, a Tecoma based non-profit. Thrive is an education focused organisation that has established an English - Khmer school in central Cambodia. Currently Louise and her organisation are building a hospital, and are half way through the project. This is where Gregg steps in. “I’m by no means someone who gives a lot. It’s much easier to get involved in something when you look at the skills you’ve got. And the skills might just be time.” Gregg has been shadowing Louise and capturing her visions as they crowdfund for the second $20,000 of the build. “If you can align the belief in the film with what people genuinely believe in, then you’ve got a good film. Hopefully we can do that, and raise a few bucks.” How glad are we that Gregg got a couple of electrical shocks and left the refrigeration trade. To learn more about Gregg Brown visit


Anne Hamilton Byrne

Eildon children lined up by height

A different sort of Family Words by Gareth Hart

Sitting in the back row of one of the intimate cinemas at the Cameo in Belgrave, I feel my heart rate increase. I am waiting for a documentary to start. A documentary that has historical and cultural ties to the Dandenong Ranges, and not in the celebratory way we usually know. I am waiting to watch a film titled ‘The Family’ about a religious sect of the same name that was born out of a property in Ferny Creek. For those who don’t know of this local history, the film’s website introduces the story quite well… Anne Hamilton-Byrne was beautiful, charismatic and delusional. She was also incredibly dangerous. Convinced she was a living god, Hamilton-Byrne headed an apocalyptic sect called The Family, which was prominent in Melbourne from the 1960s to the 1990s. With her husband Bill, she acquired numerous children – some through adoption scams, some born to cult members – and raised them as her own. Isolated from the outside world, the children were dressed in matching outfits, had identically dyed blonde hair, and were allegedly beaten, starved and injected with LSD. Taught that HamiltonByrne was both their mother and the messiah, the children were eventually rescued during a police raid in 1987, but their trauma had only just begun. With survivors and cult members telling


their stories alongside the Australian and international detectives who worked the case, this confronting feature documentary exposes not just what happened within the still-operating sect but also within the conservative Melbourne community that allowed The Family to flourish. Source: The documentary, written and directed by Rosie Jones, takes an interesting angle, focusing heavily upon the psychological impact and trauma of the young children implicated in the sect, as opposed to dwelling heavily on the scandalised happenings of the sect or giving credit/discredit to the sensational rumours of the sect’s operation. What this does in effect, is to create a personal not political narrative in the documentary, drawing the power of film away from gossip and scandal, and more into the inter-personal and psychological sphere. As I watched this narrative unfold on screen, I found myself a little lost in the emotion and less in the historical impact of the Family. Ultimately, the power of this film lies within the simple truth and the power of documentary as a form itself: the people on the screen that we get to know, are the people most affected by the content of the film. It is a relatively simple truth, but when comprehended makes this film a powerful one.

Throughout the documentary, we meet a range of people who had personal connections with The Family: from children (now adults) who grew up in the sect at a second property in Lake Eildon, to police officers who investigated and ultimately raided the sect, to a current member and devout believer of the sect, a picture of unease and unwell is painted. The police raided the Lake Eildon property after significant research and evidence into claims of child abuse from previous residents (children), which consisted of intense verbal abuse, physical abuse, the administration of the drug LSD, and even the adoption of children that the sect stole from hospitals. For a close knit and tight community, this is the stuff of absolute nightmares. Ironically, Hamilton-Bryne contributed to the chilling visual power of the sect, by requiring the young children to all have the same white bleach-blonde hair, and dress in identical clothing. This style of homogenisation is fearfully reminiscent of some important moments in political and religious history where atrocities were committed in the name of something greater. Within the comfort of my Cameo seat, I am dwarfed by the projected images of human beings. The metaphor of scale is not lost on me, and from inside the cinema scarcely 10kms from the sect’s meeting point, I hear the immense stories and see the huge faces of those affected by this story. It is almost like the cinema screen is screaming at me, on such a grand scale so that I can do naught but listen.

Reflecting on this documentary, I cannot help but ponder some of the more philosophical areas that the film probes, namely around the idea of a family unit itself, and what innate needs we harbour in relation to gathering en masse. The inherent element of congregating is, as I perceive, one of the strengths of all religions. Unfortunately, this primal need to magnetise critical mass can become askew when political, religious or divisive prisms are at play. The Family is one such story, of a woman who had a need for community, but went about it in all the wrong ways.

Five of the blonde boys raised at Lake Eildon

an eclectic mix of local culture experience a ‘hillscene’ moment magazine & blog

Photos courtesy of The Bean Project

The Bean Project Words by Adriana Alvarez Ben Langdon and Bryce Torcano are the founders of The Bean Project. A “folky, brassy, groovy singer song writer kinda music” duo, who have recently expanded to include a few more band members and create a richer sound. The band is primarily jazz trained but with folk and country influences mixed in to create a unique and quirky sound.

When I spoke to them you could see the great connection between the pair who are often laughing and adding details to complement each other’s stories. I imagine this comes from a shared passion and having known each other for a long time. “We’ve been playing together three and a half years with this line up, the two of us. And we’ve been playing with the rest of the band for almost 12 months now or just over it” says Ben.

The pair met while they were both at high school. Ben grew up in the hills but moved to Balwyn where he went to high school. Bryce went to Upwey high school where he met Ben’s best friend from primary school. When Ben and his friend formed a high school rock band they wanted some “brass” and Bryce was the only horn player they knew. “I think you wanted a trumpet but… I only got the gig because you didn’t know any trumpet players” jokes Bryce.


Clearly the combination worked since they are still playing together and have two EPs under their belt. They also won the Folk Alliance of Australia’s Youth Artist of the year in 2016. “They do great work for the folk people of Australia.” Says Ben. “We were the Youth Artists of the year in 2016 so we had the opportunity to go to Kansas city in February and go to the Folk Alliance International conference concert where we met heaps of folk people from all around the world and so those opportunities are hopefully going to open the door to us within Australia but also internationally.”

It also means they’ll be playing at this year’s event and watching the next Youth Artists of the year be chosen. “Which I’m looking forward to actually and then we get to work with them and tell them what to do and what not to do from our experience the previous year.” After a three month tour when they spent an “intense amount of time together“ sleeping in their car, they decided to add some more band members to expand the sound, helping them do more festivals and enjoy themselves more. “Well it’s just different, to play with a bigger sound and get people dancing, which is also fun.”

They’ve started playing lots of festivals recently including Cygnet Folk festival in Tasmania, Blue Mountains music festival, Port Fairy folk festival and locally the Healesville Mini Festival. All of this means that they have gained some traction and credibility and with more people listening to their music it helps to build a fan base. They’re planning to go to the National Folk Festival next year as well which they haven’t played before to potentially larger audiences The friendly banter between the two, their youthful optimism and fun loving attitude seem to reflect in their music which has a whimsical, playful quality. Ben primarily writes the songs and then together they take them to the band to workshop from there. While their music is playful, their attitude to it is not. They and all the band members studied music at University so the plan is to make this their career. June looks like being a big month for The Bean Project as they are releasing they’re debut album Naked Trees. They launched the single Gaps at Sooki in Belgrave earlier this month and will be launching the album at Skylark Room on July 22. It’s an exciting prospect for the band and they will be

playing gigs locally and further afield to promote it.

With the wider world beckoning and the band taking off to new heights, it’s nice to see that The Bean Project has had a few local gigs lately. “We consider ourselves hills people at heart. These are our hometown shows.” Perhaps the essence of the hills is intrinsically embedded in their music as well as their hearts. To find out more about The Bean project

Naked Trees is the debut album by The Bean Project consisting of ten songs that feels somehow comfy and familiar even on the first listen, like catching up with an old friend for a heartfelt chat about the trials and tribulations of life.

The single Gaps, a toe-tapping tune which is very catchy, is currently number 2 on the Triple J Unearthed Roots charts. A tune that gets under your skin and feels like an upbeat sunny day. Sometimes old school big brass sound but with a cheeky new millenium nod. The simple yet rich mix of acoustic, brass and whimsical lyrics are a great combination and every tune gets you swaying. Some are slower melancholy tunes yet still hopeful, others have a beautiful lounge feel, like stepping into an old jazz musical movie (which I’ve always loved).

Their influences like jazz, country, folk and even ragtime are noticeable yet the mix of styles makes their sound unique. A cover of Jonny Cash’s Ring of Fire with a fresh brassy take gives a nod to this inspiration. All in all a well rounded set of tunes that will get you moving, thinking and generally wanting to hear more from this up and coming band. Well worth a listen.

The Bean Project are: Guitar/vocals - Ben Langdon; Horn/backings - Bryce Turcato; Trombone - Ellie Lamb; Double bass - Isaac Gunnoo; Drums - Maddison Carter Naked Trees will be released on 22nd June at


Explore & experience Dance X

Words by Gretel Taylor

Dance X is an exhibition that playfully encourages people of all ages to move: creating opportunities through which viewers are enticed to ‘dance without realising they are dancing’, as artist Viv Rogis describes it. Viv Rogis, Gareth Hart and Gulsen Ozer, the three lead artists on this exciting new project, evolved their curatorial concept in a spirit of pooling their dance, spatial and technological knowledge to create an installation specifically for Yarra Ranges Regional Museum. Whilst most of the works combine dance and technology, including 360-degree HD video, X-Box and gaming technologies, other works employ ‘low-


fi’ materials such as cardboard boxes and flash cards. The six installations that comprise Dance X encourage experiential participation and (gently) impel the viewer/participant to move. The three renowned dance artists are all residents of the area and have shared interests in placebased research and practice, as well as in motivating community participation. The link to environments of the Yarra Ranges, as well as the inclusion of other local dancers in some of the works, layered upon the architectural site of the Museum in Lilydale, gives the exhibition a distinctly local connection. Yet it also extends beyond these place associations. Viv Rogis has created a choreographic game Chance or Choice, (the title/concept referencing modern dance innovator Merce Cunningham) whereby she invited local dance artists to be photographed arcing and stretching in relation to their favourite trees of the area, demonstrating potential choreographic shapes on flash cards. The program includes a series of workshops by Rogis, an established dance teacher, facilitating children of various age brackets (from 3 years old!) to create their own dances using her game, which originated from her explorations with young children in her dance classes. Gareth Hart’s 360-degree interactive film this is all a little bit queer, isn’t it? features six performance artists enacting distinct and bizarre acts in the stunning Redwood Forest outside of Warburton. Viewers explore this dynamic between real and surreal, self and other, via iPads in a ‘choose your own adventure’ experience, through which they themselves are inadvertently moving in relation to the projected image. Many people still think of dance as something spectacular or virtuosic, but Gulsen Ozer’s installations draw attention to – and offer the viewer an experience of – the close-range engagement with one’s own body and surroundings that a dancer’s sensibility entails. A recorded reading of Steve Paxton’s 1970s ‘small dance’ which brings intimate focus to one’s eye socket and movement of the base of the skull,

Photos by Vivienne Rogis, Fergus Floyd and Neil Creek

accompanies a neon sign reminding the viewer/ participant that You are Here. In Duet the viewers walking within a 5 metre space relates to a video image of a dancer who appears to imitate your speed and proximity, we realise that this pedestrian action is potential choreography. Duet communicates an expanded understanding of dance and affirms to participants/viewers that anybody can dance. Ozer’s Virtual Dance Class brings the viewer/ participant into an immersive experience of a youth ballet class (of local dance students taught by Viv Rogis), via a headset and google pixel phone, whilst the viewer is physically stationed at a ballet barre. Like You are Here and Duet, Ozer has directed and designed this work using simple, formal aesthetics, for clarity of experience and reception, given that in the 360-degree format, ‘you can’t direct the audience’s gaze’. In contrast to the lack of, or ‘exploded’ ‘frame’ of the 360-degree surround video, Rogis’ In and out of frame offers an alternative to the technological interfaces (which can be mysteriously mind-blowing to un-techno types, such as the author!) This work invites viewers/participants’ exploration of ways of seeing through the familiar form of cardboard

boxes: breaking down the processes of perception and selection that are under way in the transition from live performance to a filmic point of view. Dance and the gallery or museum are not new bedfellows, but this sort of experimental, participatory adventure is a rare treat in the outer suburban/regional zone we inhabit. Dance X promises to be fun and welcoming, with ‘userfriendliness’ a major aspect of the project. Having predominantly worked in dance contexts, creating installations in which the viewer becomes the performer was a particular challenge and opportunity for these artists. The project, supported by a Yarra Ranges Council Arts and Heritage grant, has enabled Ozer, Hart and Rogis to explore and expand their dance practices through the interaction with particular technologies and the theme of viewer participation. The three agree that the duration of the exhibition (three months) will also allow them to witness how participants engage with the works, which may inform further iterations and future explorations. Dates: Wed 10 May - Sun 30 July, 2017 Venue: Yarra Ranges Regional Museum 35-37 Castella St, Lilydale


B&W photo by Brent Dakis

Skylarking around Words by Brent Dakis.

Over the past 12 months, Hills dwellers may have heard it through the grapevine that there is a new beat pulsating from the back streets of Upwey. The Skylark Room, a seductive and inviting space, has now nested at Burrinja Cultural Centre, and is rapidly carving itself a groove in the local arts and music scene. Presenting as a casual, family friendly cafe by day, The Skylark Room has very quickly become the space of preference for day outings, meetings, and mothers group catch-ups. It’s popularity is fueled by its proximity to the local park, it’s warm open space (that is fully pram and wheelchair accessible), with plenty of parking, high quality coffee and menu selections, it’s no wonder people are flocking to the space. When the sun goes down, The ‘Lark (as it is affectionately nicknamed) transforms into something completely different, a sultry, intimate music venue and restaurant quickly developing a reputation as ‘the’ venue for musicians wanting to play to a ‘listening’ audience. Invoking notions of a back alley jazz bar during the prohibition age along


with its powerful combination of dawn and dusk offerings, this venue shows no signs of slowing down. It should come as no surprise that The Skylark Room oozes creativity from the fabric of its voluptuous velvet curtains and the glint of its copper bird cages. The space is run by three of the Directors of the End of the Line Festival (EOTL, ran in Belgrave over 2012, 2013 and 2015), with Kathleen ‘Snowy’ Snowball, proudly at the helm. The Skylark’s partnership with Burrinja is a powerful one. Aside from the cafe and in-house evening events, the ‘Lark is also busy servicing Burrinja’s acclaimed theatre shows, exhibition openings and catering to the many forums and conventions conducted in the wider centre. Most powerful is the fact that a percentage of The Skylark Room’s sales go back to Burrinja each month. So when you purchase something at the venue, your contribution is two fold, not only are you supporting a small local business, but you are also supporting the wider arts community.

Photos by Darren Clarke

The venue is also reaching out to conduct community arts initiatives, with the most recent being the 6 session ‘Tune Up’ Music Industry masterclasses. Partnering with local radio station 3MDR and the renowned recording studio Rangemaster, they have gathered expert speakers from key components of the music industry including the community radio sector, production houses and organisations such as APRA AMCOS, Ditto, and Music Victoria to participate in open forum discussions for eager-to-learn musicians. They are rather tight lipped with current ‘in the works’ projects, but there are clearly some rather exciting tertiary projects on the horizon in the space. Something about ‘long-tabled exhibition dinners’ and ‘new festival concepts’ may have been mentioned. Aside from their efforts to continue to grow a space that harbors creative energy in all its mediums, the space boasts an incredible array of high quality food and drinks, largely sourced from local and free range suppliers. Head Chef Faith Samuel, along with a dedicated kitchen team, are setting the venue as a food destination in its own right, whilst reviving the lost art of ‘dinner and a show’. Since joining the team late last year, Faith’s strengths in tailoring menus for private functions has seen the space become a popular choice for parties and intimate weddings. Open as a cafe 6 days a week (10am - 4pm, Tuesday to Sunday), and often with live performances 3 nights a week, The Skylark Room shows a lot of promise to become a quintessential Hills venue, injecting passion into the community whilst holding a space for those of us who love to digest art in all its forms. If you are yet to indulge your senses, it’s high time you did! For more information and to keep up to date check out The Skylark Room’s Facebook page - theskylarkroom, or pop in to grab the Gig Guide from the venue’s friendly staff.


Musical reflections Words by Edward Willoughby I’ve got a lot of time for music. I love long songs, and I love listening to whole albums from start to finish, allowing myself to be immersed in distant sonic landscapes. I come from a time on the cusp of a massive shift in music consumption, just old enough to remember when whole albums could be considered classics. I’m talking about the kind of album that is a collection of songs that are each individually self-sufficient, but together speak to each other and flow in a way that can tell an even bigger story. These are the kinds of experiences that mark a time in your life, rather than just a mere moment in time.

Many of my early favourite albums came from my parents’ collection including Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Rumours,’ and Pink Floyd’s ‘Dark Side of the Moon.’ Others I discovered through my older brother and his friends, such as Radiohead’s ‘OK Computer’ and The Smashing Pumpkins’ ‘Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness.’ When I was old enough to start seeking out my own interests, I found myself in a long love affair with Tori Amos’ ‘Little Earthquakes’ and later, Joanna Newsom’s ‘Ys,’ both of which unified my love for classical and contemporary music in their unusual songwriting.


About three years ago, I had the realisation that I was feeling confident enough with my composing to start writing an album of my own. I’d been making music for years, mostly for piano, but this album was to be my first time weaving words into my songs. I took up the challenge of learning how to match up the narrative contours of musical form and word-based form, so that they fit each other like a glove. This idea of contour seems to be a fitting metaphor, both for the creative process I embarked on, and for the title of the finished work I arrived at: ‘Moving Mountains.’ Contour was the concept by which I was able to ‘sense’ most of this album, relying on intuition to let the shapes of music and narrative guide me. Between sparks of inspiration that lit the way, the rest was like

feeling your way along a wall in the dark – only the wall wasn’t a straight line, and there were plenty of gaps that asked for a leap of faith. Mapping out the topography of each individual song as well as finding a sequence for the songs to flow in was a process of connecting dots.

The musical components of the album relied heavily on memory to hold on to ideas and to develop them. While I am musically literate, I’ve always hated reading and writing music, so what I was working on was mostly kept in my head. Though I occasionally recorded very specific details I didn’t want to forget, or marked out larger formal ideas in shorthand, I preferred to let my mind do most of the work. This allowed me to keep ideas more pliable, and also to weed out unremarkable, forgettable ideas.

The word-based component was more a process of filtering. Sometimes I’d have fragments come to me and I’d know exactly which song it was for. Other times, I’d have sprawling pages of brainstorming or sometimes just single words, unsure of where they would fit. I had vast collections of notebooks, and eventually distilled them down to a single notebook for each song, pulling some ideas forward to the next page, and leaving others behind. The organization of these

snippets to flow and become verses was informed by the shape of the music, and then the music started to be shaped by the contour of the words, until they finally met each other halfway. The melody and chords would tell me what a song was trying to say, or the words would suggest which way the melody and chords might turn.

None of the songs fully revealed themselves until I had discovered a sequential flow for the album. Things came into focus at a

certain point, as the songs started talking to each other. It became a chain reaction where one song would hold the key to another, and then that idea would allow me to solve the next problem. I make it sound fast, but it was an excruciatingly slow process, except for one magic weekend towards the end, where everything aligned. Even then, it took another few months to tie up the last of the loose ends and put my perfectionism to rest.

There were many times when I really questioned whether I would ever see the end result, as I worked through the setbacks, struggles and self-doubt all artists experience. Getting there was anything but straightforward, and I went down many dead ends, but eventually each tiny step cleared a way forward. From beginning with a collection of unrelated snippets, sensing a connection between them, and then letting the sprout from that seed unfurl, I was able to follow down a path, never seeing more than two steps ahead of myself.

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Eclectic emporium thrives Words by Adriana Alvarez and Kaiyah Atriedes Tell us a bit about your business KAIYAH has been trading for a year and a quarter in Belgrave and the title is the first name of one of the co-founders. The origins of this mysterious name are diverse, unusual and unique – and that describes many of our products which are often handcrafted or handmade. The beautiful and conspicuous Crimson Rosella, which is native to and often sighted around the Dandenong Ranges, was the inspiration for our crimson-coloured logo designed by a local graphic designer. Our eclectic range of products includes: home wares and soft furnishings; Moroccan pouffes and leather goods; jewellery and fashion accessories; handicrafts and fair trade goods; Torres Strait Islander artwork and Papua New Guinean artefacts; restored and upscaled furniture; and other one-off, unique or interesting products. What drove you to operate a business in the hills? We searched for six months before finding a suitable store in Belgrave. We had previously researched the area to discover that it is much sought after and retail vacancies are very rare – In fact it was kismet that we were able to take over the lease of the previous store. We knew the hills would be ideal, with a diverse range of customers and being well-known for its bohemian and artistic atmosphere. We are particularly grateful for the support and ongoing patronage of local


hills residents who make up a large component of our customers, along with suburban and interstate visitors to the hills and occasional international tourists too. What is unique about your business? Many of our products are exquisitely handcrafted and some are one-off pieces which makes them individual and special. We procure products throughout Australia, including the remote Torres Strait Islands, as well as internationally from countries such as Morocco, France, Turkey, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and Peru. A number of our overseas suppliers had never exported to Australia before we established relations with them and we also make occasional buying trips seeking out interesting or unique products, sometimes in unusual or difficult to reach locations. This means that a fair proportion of our products cannot be authentically found in any other store in Australia. How does your business fit into the hills ethos? Some of our products have been cleverly and expertly crafted from recycled materials and we are very pleased to have a number of local artisans as suppliers. We have also proudly supported local community events such as the Belgrave CFA Annual Winter Art Show, SelbyFest and the Belgrave Lantern Parade.

Photos by Kaiyah Atriedes

Describe a usual day for you in your business. There is no usual day in our business as we need to be jack of all trades being a small start-up enterprise. When not serving customers, we could be planning a new window display or store layout as we place a huge emphasis on visual merchandising and presentation. We could also be sourcing new stock, making customer deliveries or attending to the voluminous administrative work that is required behind the scenes. As we import a large amount of stock the overall process is rather time consuming, this is often done in the evenings on any given day when our overseas suppliers are actually open due to international time differences. We are also currently in the process of taking hundreds of photographs and writing product descriptions for our new online store which will be launched in the new financial year. Where do you see your business in 5 years’ time? We envisage opening several more stores throughout Australia and having a greatly expanded online presence. These physical stores will most likely be located in areas similar to the hills and not in large, banal shopping centres. Where can people find out more? Customers are always welcome to visit our store and make enquiries about the origins and stories behind our enigmatic assortment of products. We also have

a FaceBook page and our new online store will contain detailed information. What do you like about living in the hills? If we climb the steep terrain 100 metres to back of our property which abuts the Dandenong Ranges National Park, we feel like we are in the bush in the middle of nowhere. Conversely we can walk 100 metres in the other direction and be in a charismatic little village where the locals are very friendly and know each other. We are always enraptured by the local native fauna and share our property with wallabies, echidnas, blue-tongue lizards and ring-tail possums, along with a plethora of beautiful birds such as King Parrots, Crimson Rosellas, Kookaburras and Australian Wood Ducks. We also have occasional visits from some non-native species too such as dear, foxes and rabbits which were introduced to the hills. Anything else you’d like to add? Our current winter hours are: Wednesday to Saturday 10.30am - 5pm, Friday 10.30am - late, Sunday 11am - 4pm. Closed Monday & Tuesday. We are located at Shop 2/ 1642 Burwood Highway, Belgrave (03) 9752 6780. online store launching soon.


Mamma Mandala Words by Rose Amara.

Ever since I can remember, drawing, painting and creating has always been both a passion and an outlet for me.

I use it as a way to reconnect with myself, to block out the noise and distractions of the busy world around me and sit sweetly in the space in between. A way to listen to what my mind is saying and doing, slow it down, and connect with others. I love to create. It really invites me into a space to express, experiment and embrace process, change and evolution at their very core. I love the way it makes me feel - alive, passionate, excited, free.

Prior to motherhood, I worked as a professional face and body artist, painting at parties and events in Australia and overseas. It brought me such joy to see others light up with smiles and laughter. I enjoyed witnessing the instant ripple effect that something I created, had on other people. It was and continues to be a medium I enjoy using, particularly because of its short, vibrant, joyful and impermanent existence. It invites people of all ages to step into a creative space themselves, to become a different character or colours and see how it feels!


Fast forward a few years, my mother passed away and I fell pregnant with my first child, Beau, almost simultaneously. Shortly after that, my unborn child was diagnosed with Gastroschisis (his intestines were growing outside his body). When Beau was born, he underwent gastrointestinal surgery and spent 6 weeks in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). We were then informed Beau had brain damage in the area of his motor skills affecting his lower limbs, and he was diagnosed with Diplegic Cerebral Palsy. As you can imagine, everything felt a little overwhelming - emotionally, physically, mentally... so much was going on. I barely had a chance to digest my mother’s death, before I was faced with a whole new, completely unknown world. I felt like a deer in the headlights for a long time! I powered on, caring for my beautiful newborn, worried, scared, confused, exhausted. Completely uncertain about what the future may or may not look like.

I was so focused and busy navigating this new chapter of our lives, medical appointments, hospital

appointments, therapy, tests, doctors, research, etc. that I forgot about myself, and taking time out to take it all in and process everything that had happened over the last few years, including grieving for my mum, who was also my best friend. I really had to get back to my core, back into “me” and remember what it was that helped me process everything, what made me tick and feel good - I needed to create!!

I have always loved mandalas. I love the way they look, the way they feel, the way you can get lost in them for moments, minutes, hours; and the way they can tell a completely different story to different people. The thing that was most important during that time though, was preparing a foundation and structure to create upon. It was almost like creating a space to express and process how I was feeling. A space to take some time out and refill my own cup again, finding that space between, again... So I began. Whilst all of this was happening, we found our way to a specialist intensive therapy clinic called the NAPA (Neurological and Physical Abilitation) Centre, who could help our son Beau with learning to move, walk and live independently. We were lucky enough to get a spot in one of only 2 centres in the world - Sydney. Beau completed his first 3 week session, and the difference in his morale and his physical gains were undeniable. We were blown away - we had to bring him back!! But this therapy is also extremely expensive (approximately $13,000 each time we go) and it’s not funded. We had to figure out a way to get him back there ASAP!

And so, Mamma Mandala was born. I started creating artwork to sell and auction, to help our fundraising efforts so we could get him back there. I created a small gift card range and from there onto working with Hardwood and Birchwood and also creating abstract artwork on canvases. My love of art and my outlet suddenly took on a whole new meaning. I wasn’t just creating as a process for me anymore, I was doing something I love, for someone I love! Where there is a will, there is a way!

To this day, we have managed to get Beau to five 3 week intensives in the last 12 months which has seen him go from only being able to take a couple of independent steps, to now walking almost completely

independent of his walker and even learning to jump in the air, which is one thing we were told he would never be able to do! He has worked so hard to get to this point, with such determination, dedication, tears, excitement, goals met and exceeded, yet there is still a long road to travel before we can stop. Surgery in the USA, more intensive therapy sessions at the NAPA centre in Sydney, and Feldenkrais therapy are still on the cards!

The journey so far has been a rollercoaster, we have had our fair share of ups and downs and inside-outs, but if there are two things that I have learned through all of this it’s... Never EVER give up. Ever. Not on yourself, not on your dreams, not on someone else’s dreams. And, it’s all possible. It’s in the focus, the dedication. Plus be gentle and kind with yourself, befriend yourself. Invite the things into your world that make you feel good, that make you sparkle from the inside out, and do them! You can find me at the Hills Art Market in Emerald on the 2nd Saturday of every month, painting fabulous faces, creating live and impermanent art on walking canvases. 100% of proceeds from the day go straight to Help Beau Give His Walker The Boot. All of my artwork can be found online via: Facebook: Instagram: @mamma.mandala and

To follow Beau’s Journey: www.gofundme/helpbeaubootwalker

cafe tarts The Deli Platter - Olinda Review by Tiffany Morris-North We went for a drive up the mountain this time, to Olinda, but not the usual tourist stop of village shops. Keep driving along the Mount Dandenong Tourist Road until you come to the next little strip of shops. This is where we found The Deli Platter, a busy little cafe/deli. The menu included, amongst regular favourites like eggs benedict, a few exciting additions. I would’ve loved to try the coco-nutty granola but just can’t bring myself to order what is essentially muesli instead of eggs with all the trimmings, no matter how delicious and amazing it sounds! We ordered the eggs truffletto – scrambled eggs drizzled with truffle oil and shavings of truffled pecorino with a side of mushrooms, and the balsamic tomatoes with mushrooms, avocado and feta. My friend tried a turmeric latte and I tried a bulletproof coffee ( a coffee with the addition of butter and special ‘brain oil’) which I surprisingly enjoyed! We then treated ourselves to a Portuguese tart and a slice of paleo chocolate brownie. Often the word paleo puts me off because the ingredients that constitute ‘paleo’ often compromise flavour and texture but this time I was proved wrong. It was delicious! The prices range from about $17.50 to $22.00 for a caveman breakfast - poached eggs, spinach, bacon, chorizo, avocado and feta. It is really lovely to eat in a place that is so passionate about good quality fresh ingredients instead of cheap alternatives, using free range eggs and only butter or olive oil instead of canola or vegetable oils. Fresh, healthy, home-style cooking. Glutenfree, dairy-free, fructose-friendly vegan options also.It was so nice to see the glass cabinet filled with imported artisan cheeses and deli meats as well as ready made meals. Worth driving that extra couple of minutes up the Tourist Road. 1514 Mt Dandenong Tourist Rd, Olinda.


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