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THE Melbourne

REVIEW Issue 25 November 2013

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BIG WEST FESTIVAL Roadside Haiku weaves through Big West, a ten-day celebration of Melbourne's most diverse suburban region

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ALL THAT GLITTERS

DESIGN BY COLOUR

Luke Slattery surveys the proliferating think tanks and policy institutes in Australia

The Art Centre puts its dazzling collection of performing arts costumes on display

Looking at the latest trends in design, colour and textiles

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THE BATTLE FOR INFLUENCE


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BMW Melbourne – Kings Way 209 Kings Way, South Melbourne. (03) 8699 2888. bmwmelbourne.com.au LMCT 8155


4 The Melbourne Review November 2013

WELCOME

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General Manager Luke Stegemann luke@melbournereview.com.au Art Director Sabas Renteria sabas@melbournereview.com.au SENIOR STAFF WRITER David Knight DIGITAL MEDIA COORDINATOR Jess Bayly jessbayly@melbournereview.com.au ADMINISTRATION Kate Mickan katemickan@melbournereview.com.au

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Advertising Executives Nicoletta Chul nicolettachul@melbournereview.com.au 0432 549 555

Bendigo Art Gallery opens another innovative fashion/art exhibition.

Sarah Nicole Lee sarahnicolelee@melbournereview.com.au 0435 798 816 Karen Lawson karenlawson@melbournereview.com.au 0421 701 709 Ellen Murphy ellenmurphy@melbournereview.com.au 0412 440 309 Photography Matthew Wren For all advertising enquiries: advertising@melbournereview.com.au Please send all other correspondence to: editor@melbournereview.com.au Distributed by Melbourne Distribution Services. 0425 320 251 MANAGING DIRECTOR Manuel Ortigosa

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GEOFFREY DONNAN

BREZHNEV’S MOSCOW

LOU REED

Wendy Cavenett profiles the groundbreaking Director of the Florey Institute.

Sheila Fitzpatrick’s memoir of 1960s Russia is full of human warmth.

Phil Kakulas celebrates the life and songs of a true New York original.

Publisher The Melbourne Review Pty Ltd Level 13, 200 Queen Street, Melbourne Vic 3000 Phone (03) 8648 6482 Fax (03) 8648 6480

INSIDE Profile 06

Disclaimer Opinions published in this paper are not necessarily those of the editor nor the publisher. All material subject to copyright.

Business 10 Feature 12 Health 14 Columnists 16

38 THE MELBOURNE

review

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WINES OF TASMANIA

NEW SUBURBAN

Andrea Frost chooses a fine selection of Tasmania’s cool climate wines.

Leanne Amodeo enjoys Stuart Harrison’s new survey of suburban architecture.

Books 18 Performing Arts 20 Visual Arts 27 Food.Wine.Coffee 35 FORM 41


The Melbourne Review November 2013 5

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WELCOME CONTRIBUTORS

OUR COVER Roadside Haiku at Big West Festival Image: Carla Gottens; design: Will Mahon See page 20.

WIN!

Patrick Allington

Suzanne Fraser

Edwina Preston

Leanne Amodeo

Andrea Frost

Kate Roffey

FOR YOUR CHANCE TO WIN, ENTER YOUR DETAILS AT MELBOURNEREVIEW.COM.AU

The Garden of Sorrows The Garden of Sorrows exhibition at Steps Gallery Carlton features 80 original etchings by Marco Luccio, 60 of which are in the hardcover book of same name by awardwinning author John Hughes.

Hannah Bambra

Jane Goodall

Avni Sali

Claire Beale

Ted Gott

Margaret Simons

Daniella Casamento

Dave Graney

Luke Slattery

Wendy Cavenett

Phil Kakulas

Anna Snoekstra

Kim Chadwick

Stephen Koukoulas

David Sornig

Wednesday November 20 – Sunday December 1 Palace Cinemas Australia’s inaugural British Film Festival opens this November. The festival features an exceptional selection of 14 highly anticipated contemporary films and five quintessential classics.

William Charles

Tali Lavi

Shirley Stott Despoja

Insitu Laneway Festival of New Music and Art

Marianne Duluk

Lou Pardi

Peter Tregear

British Film Festival

Saturday, November 23, 3pm Somerset Place Presented by Melbourne Music Week & Gallery One Three, art includes solo exhibition + live projections by Nick Azidis and music by Michael Ozone, Friendship and Sekkt.

This publication is printed on 100% Australian made Norstar, containing 20% recycled fibre. All wood fibre used in this paper originates from sustainably managed forest resources or waste resources.

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6 The Melbourne Review November 2013

PROFILE

Professor Geoffrey Donnan, AO Director, The Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health by Wendy Cavenett

G

eoffrey Donnan remembers his nervous moments as a teenager standing in the engineering row on enrolment day at the University of Melbourne. It was the late 1960s, and the young man who had graduated from Geelong College with exceptional grades and an aptitude for sport, was wavering between a life as an engineer (like his father) and a life in medicine (like his maternal grandfather). “I really didn’t know what to do,” he says, “and then at the very last moment I jumped rows, and chose medicine. It was the best decision I ever made.” Today, Professor Donnan is one of the world’s most respected leaders and clinicians in stroke research. He has worked extensively

in Australia and overseas, and has made significant contributions to advance stroke diagnostics and treatment. The former president of the World Stroke Organisation and past director of the National Stroke Research Institute (1994-2008), he is currently Professor of Neurology (University of Melbourne, Austin Hospital), and director of The Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health, the largest brain research group in the Southern hemisphere. Formed over a five-year period – with the amalgamation of the Brain Research Institute, the Howard Florey Institute and the National Stroke Research Institute in July 2007, and the Mental Health Research Institute in 2012 – the Florey employs 500 staff and educates more than 100 postgraduate students each year.

“Science requires a special kind of skill,” Professor Donnan says. “You have to have the basic intelligence and drive, but it’s no good just having that. You almost need to be a Renaissance person to do brilliantly because on the one hand, you need to be working at a subcellular mechanism, and on the other hand, understanding where that fits in the world.” When we meet, it’s almost midday and Donnan’s office, which overlooks the wide streets of Parkville, is filled with a warm, natural light. We shake hands and sit at a large table that is positioned in the middle of the room. His office, an ordered, purposeful space is comfortable, understated, and quiet apart from the soft blips that signal the arrival of the many emails that fill his inbox over the hour and a half we talk. A wise, gentle man who gives the speaker his full attention, Donnan is both philosopher and visionary, discussing the importance of ideas and of good leadership, of finding balance in one’s life (and time to think without distraction), and of the pivotal role mentors can play in your life – “[Professor] Austin Doyle was my mentor number one, and Dr Peter Bladin, my mentor number two.” He then adds: “My grandfather was my mentor as well”. Born in Sydney in 1948, his family moved to Melbourne when he was quite young. They settled in country Victoria – firstly in the small northeast Victorian town of Bobinawarrah (near Wangaratta), and then in Geelong. “As a child, I was very close to nature,” he says. “I became very self-reliant as a country boy – living there helped me understand the idea of life and death and the balance you need to survive.”

You almost need to be a Renaissance person to do brilliantly because on the one hand, you need to be working at a subcellular mechanism, and on the other hand, understanding where that fits in the world.” And survive he did. He recalls the first day of university – “I remember we were shown open heart surgery,” he says. “It was February and very hot. Friends were passing out, but I was fine – well, not too bad. You become desensitised very quickly.” As a resident at the Austin Hospital in the 1970s, he trained in Neurology, with Professor Doyle as his mentor. He says of the 30 or 40 neurology patients on his ward, most were stroke patients, but there were “no treatments for them – zero”. Nobody seemed to know much about stroke – just a crude understanding, he says, but he realised it was a big problem, and decided to specialise in stroke research. Listen to Donnan talk about his career and one is privy to the development of neuroscience in Australia, particularly Melbourne – from the introduction of the first CT scanner in 1977 (“imaging changed brain research forever,” he says), and then shortly after, MRI, PET,


The Melbourne Review November 2013 7

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PROFILE and ultrasound technologies, to mapping the genome, completed in 2003 – the science world’s equivalent to landing on the moon. It was amazing, Donnan says. “From nothing to everything: imaging and genetics blew brain research open, so it’s been terrifically exciting. I couldn’t have been luckier.”

MAPPING OUR WORLD

In 1978 he helped establish (with Professor Stephen Davis and Dr Peter Bladin) Australia’s first stroke unit at the Austin Hospital, and in 1996, a year after the introduction of thrombolysis, the clot-dissolving agent used in the treatment of stroke, co-founded (with Professor Davis) the Australasian Stroke Trials Network (ASTN) to conduct acute stroke treatment and secondary prevention trials in Australia.

Te r r a I n c o g n i t a To Au s t r a l i a

“Science really is a fascinating world,” Professor Donnan says. “It’s detective work, because we’re trying to solve big questions – literally transform the way we think, and transform the health of mankind.” Today, he says neuroscience is “the new black”. Everyone is doing it, which is important, he adds, because a “disease of the brain or mind will affect 75 percent of Australians in their lifetime.” It’s an alarming statistic. Alarming also is the fact that stoke is the second biggest killer among Australians and the leading cause of disability. Stroke occurs when the supply of blood to the brain – carried by arteries – is suddenly interrupted. The reason? The artery may be blocked by a clot or plaque, or it may have broken or burst. If blood flow stops, the brain is starved of oxygen, and brain cells in the affected area die. If the stoke is diagnosed quickly and thrombolysis administered within three hours, brain cell death can be limited – even stopped – and disability reduced (amazing considering two million neurons are lost every minute during stroke). The challenge now is to improve diagnostics and extend the three-hour window of opportunity, especially for those who have a stroke in their sleep (20 percent), or for those who arrive for treatment too late. Recently, Florey stars Professor Chris Bladin (son of Dr Peter Bladin) and Associate Professor Dominique Cadilhac, won an eight million dollar grant to extend a telemedicine stroke diagnostic program (based on pilot work with Bendigo Health) into the Loddon-Mallee region over the next two years, and into other parts of Victoria by 2018. Based on treatment statistics from Bendigo Health, “the number of stroke patients treated has increased by eight percent,” Associate Professor Cadilhac says, “and there has been a 40 percent improvement in the time it takes to treat a stroke patient.” ThesePARTNERS are impressive results. “There is so much GOVERNMENT AIRLINE PARTNERS great work happening at The Florey,” Donnan says. “It’s an incredible team.”

Australia. These days Donnan spends a great deal of time writing grants with a 16 or 17 percent success rate. With greater competition and no increase in funding through the National Health and Medical Research Council for more than a decade, money is tight. Earlier this year, along with Jim McCluskey (Melbourne University deputy vice-chancellor and head of research) and Doug Hilton (director of the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute), Donnan spoke publicly about the importance of the McKeon review – commissioned by the Gillard government in 2011 and released earlier this year – that outlines a 10-year plan for the health and medical research sector in Australia. Its focus on increased sector spending and the potential to transform the way funds are allocated, would, says Donnan, revolutionise the health and medical research industry in Australia. He remains optimistic. Professor Donnan is a great believer in the collaborative process. It’s an insight that says something fundamental about who he is, about an appreciation of what people can achieve when they work together – sharing knowledge, building teams and networks, achieving better PRINCIPAL PARTNER GOVERNMENT PARTNERS outcomes for public health. “I love teamwork,” he concludes. “If you build a good team around you, it’s one of the most rewarding things in life I think, because they become lifelong friends – you trust them and MAJOR PARTNERS they trust you. It’s terrific fun. I feel very lucky to have so many good people in my life.” National Collecting Institutions Touring & Outreach Program

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Incredible also is his ability to remain optimistic (and realistic) about the state of health and medical research funding in

L o s e Yo u r s e l f i n t h e Wo r l d ’ s G re a t e s t M a p s

Fra Mauro (c. 1390–1459), Map of the World (detail) 1448–1453, Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana, Venice. The loan of the Fra Mauro Map of the World has been generously supported by Kerry Stokes AC, Noel Dan AM and Adrienne Dan, Nigel Peck AM and Patricia Peck, Douglas and Belinda Snedden and the Embassy of Italy in Canberra.

IN PARTNERSHIP WITH


8 The Melbourne Review November 2013

SOCIETY

THE BATTLE FOR INFLUENCE The first months of a new government is the perfect time to look at the role proliferating think tanks play in influencing public policy change.

by Luke Slattery

T

he first rule of think tanks is that they are not really think tanks at all. The word tank implies insularity yet bodies such as the Centre for Independent Studies, the Grattan Institute, the Institute of Public Affairs and the Australia Institute are powerfully engaged with the world. Nor is abstract thought core think tank business: these institutions are chiefly concerned with the generation of public policy. It’s hard to imagine any of them, irrespective of

ideological inclination, disavowing Karl Marx’s axiom that the point of philosophy is not so much to interpret the world as to change it. There are times in the life of these policy change agents when they themselves become hostage to fortune, and the first few months of a new Government is an ideal time to observe them in flux. In the next 12 months think tanks aligned to the right are expected to thrive as their advice is brought to bear on

design + craftsmanship

From left to right: John Daley, Richard Denniss, John Roskam, Greg Lindsay and Michael Fullilove.

government decision-making. But nothing is straightforward in the world of policy advocacy, in part because no one segment of the ideological prism owns any one policy: climate change being the most obvious case.

case of them saying, ‘We’ve read your published piece on such and such and would like it if you could come and talk to us’. And sometimes we’ll meet at a third party event and strike up a conversation.”

It’s also the case, as The Grattan Institute’s chief executive John Daley points out, that a party in opposition is more likely to undergo a process of policy reflection and renewal than one in government, and it’s at such times in the political cycle that they are most in need of independent advice. So business might be expected to pick up for think tanks attuned to Labor and, paradoxically, soften for those of the right. “Oppositions lack the resources of a bureaucracy helping them to dream up good ideas so think tanks can have more of an impact on them,” Daley says. “In general think tanks have better relationships with shadow ministers than ministers.”  

The political cycle is not the only thing altering the milieu in which think tanks operate at the intersection of information, debate and policy: the fragmenting media landscape is also a force for change. The Lowy Institute for International Policy, the nation’s most highly ranked policy institute globally, maintains a non-partisan approach to policy advice. “New media technologies create opportunities for a think tank such as the Lowy Institute,” says executive director Michael Fullilove. “More than five years ago we led the think tank market in establishing our own blog, The Interpreter, now recognised as one of the world’s liveliest forums for the discussion of international affairs. More generally, the new technologies make it much more feasible now than it was a couple of decades ago for Australian scholars to publish in the best forums in the world, for instance The New York Times or Foreign Affairs. There is no reason why an Australian who has something to say, and the ability to say it elegantly, should not reach an international audience.”

Daley’s institute, founded five years ago with matching grants totalling $30 million from the Commonwealth and Victorian governments, declines commissions from political parties and corporations. “The minute you do that it’s hard to maintain your independence because you’re thinking about what to say in your next report, if it’s going to offend the corporation or government department you’re going to be pitching to in a few days,” he says.

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The Grattan institute, though fiercely independent, is by no means disengaged from the political realm. “We talk to a wide range of public servants, advisors, ministers and shadow ministers,” Daley says. His reflections open a view of the traffic between policy institutes and government. “Sometimes it’s a matter of us saying, ‘We’ve got some work underway on X and we think you might be interested, we’d like to come and talk about it’. Sometimes it’s a

The nation’s most voluble think tank is the Institute of Public Affairs, helmed by John Roskam. A political scientist with close Liberal Party ties who describes himself as a liberal conservative yet rejects the tag right wing – “that to me means Pauline Hanson” – Roskam runs a consistent free-market, at times libertarian, line on everything from public funding of the ABC to state surveillance. Asked about the impact of media fragmentation on his ability to find a voice in the Australian political conversation he answers emphatically: “It’s


The Melbourne Review November 2013 9

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PUBLIC POLICY fundamental objective was to examine that, and while a lot of it does have implications for policy I think we need to think a little more broadly on issues.” To that end the IPA holds an annual lecture on religion, and leavens its diet of talks and papers on the failings of education and multiculturalism, the need for tax and health reform, with others on subjects such as Images of Liberty and Power or the role of Enlightenment values in Australia’s foundation. Though different from many other think tanks in its desire to remove itself from the cut and thrust of policy and survey a more varied cultural canvas, the CIS has much in common with other think tanks. Lindsay concedes, for example, that he has a different relationship to the new government than he did with the old. And yet some things, in think tank land, never change. “We made a fair effort with the previous federal government and we got on well with some and others made us tear our hair,” he says, “but that could happen with this lot too.”

fantastic. We’re now able to get our views across to friends and foes at the push of a button and marginal cost.” He is wary, however, of being too closely identified with one side of the ideological divide, arguing that the IPA’s recently vocalised support for the proposed takeover of GrainCorp by the US agriculture behemoth ADM found support in the ALP, while the institute and the Greens take a similar line on civil libertarian issues such as surveillance.  

Denniss draws a sharp distinction between policy think tanks and politicians: the former “speak on behalf of their research” while the latter “speak on behalf of a constituency”. Part of his job, as he sees it, is “to tell a politician that if you don’t do X on behalf of the large numbers of people who care about X I’m going to tell them how disappointing you are. It’s a very direct and effective way of influencing the political mind.” It’s less effective, he admits, if a party has decided that it can get by without the support of a particular constituency, or if its support from that constituency is rusted on. “Then you might struggle,” he says.

And in a sign of the IPA’s growing confidence Roskam adds that he will be pressuring Tony Abbott to make good on policy reforms that the institute has been advocating, such as a carbon tax review, reform of the national curriculum, and the repeal of section 18 c of the Racial Discrimination Act. Nor is there anything shy about his broader ideological aims. “We talk here about swinging back the pendulum,” he admits.

The strategy pursued by Denniss is largely indirect. “I don’t go out of my way to lobby politicians,” he says. “On a wide range of issues we seek to influence the public mind, as well as the minds of non-government organisations and business leaders. In the battle for influence we wield evidence and ideas, commentary and debate. For me it’s not so much a question of whether or not I can get a meeting with the minister as whether or not our ideas are likely to be influential in this environment.”

At the opposite end of the policy spectrum is The Australia Institute, which styles itself a “progressive” think tank. The institute is led by economist Richard Denniss, formerly a strategic advisor to the Greens, and he plans to focus in the medium term on social

The Centre for Independent Studies, while it shares a similar disposition to the IPA, adopts a quieter and more cerebral approach to its work. “We are a little unusual,” admits its executive director Greg Lindsay. “That might be a reflection of my background. When I started

the CIS in 1976 I was not an economist; I was not a policy person; I did mathematics and philosophy at university and I was concerned with the things that make societies free. Our

lowyinstitute.org ipa.org.au grattan.edu.au cis.org.au tai.org.au

July – December 2013

Image: Heidrun Löhr

Roskam, who as IPA executive director since 2004 has seen two changes of government federally, concedes that the biggest change to date in IPA business comes in the form of “new members of parliament requesting information on a range of issues. But on another level it doesn’t change much in that we will continue to do policy for the long term irrespective of who occupies The Lodge. Given that we are a free market think tank we hope to be spending less time defending our existing freedoms and more time expanding our freedoms.”

issues such as equity, and in particularly on the uneven distribution of wealth from the mining boom – the “winners and losers”, as he puts it. The institute is also vocal in its questioning of coal seam gas exploration, and raises a strongly reasoned opposition, in the language of classical liberal theory, to the lack of competition in the Australian banking industry.

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10 The Melbourne Review November 2013

BUSINESS A Lingering Grandeur The clock is ticking for this magnificent Melbourne icon by Kate Roffey

I

recently had the opportunity to visit the closed off areas of the Flinders Street Station building thanks to Committee for Member Metro Trains as preparations get underway for yet another attempt at redevelopment.

Housing: The Temperature Is Rising The RBA may need to deal with the ongoing rise in house prices through policy change, shifting the imbalance in the economy away from housing towards a different sector. by Stephen Koukoulas

A

t its core, the global financial crisis was driven by a collapse in house prices.

As house prices plummeted around much of the industrialised world, various interest rate derivatives that were based on mortgage valuations became worthless, which effectively bankrupted many of the world’s largest banks. Those banks stopped settling transactions with each other and the global financial system all but ground to a halt. It caused mortgage holders in many countries to default on their debt obligations in a way never before seen, meaning consumer spending fell and unemployment skyrocketed. This background of the devastating impact of a house price crash is why many global investors cast an eagle eye over the position of housing in Australia. They are frequently wondering whether Australia has a house price bubble akin to the troubles that dogged the likes of the UK, the US, Ireland and Spain, among others. To be sure, Australian house prices are marching higher – up about 10 percent in the last year alone. Unlike many other parts of the world, house prices in Australia are higher

now than ever before. In many other countries, house prices fell 30, 40, 50 percent and more, and are still lower than the level of five or six years ago despite a recent recovery. It is clear that Australia, at least for now, is different. Demand for housing is being driven by a surge in population growth, mainly as a result of a high immigration intake. Whether these extra people buy or rent matters little – demand for housing is robust as a result. At the same time, the amount of new residential construction has been subdued, certainly below the rate required to house the extra population. This is in stark contrast to the housing bubbles in the likes of Spain and even the United States where a house building frenzy accompanied the surge in house prices in the period to 2007 or 2008. Until new housing construction increases in Australia and sustains a pace that firstly houses the population increase but also supplies the current shortfall, house prices will remain supported, simply as a result of the shortage of supply.

A further supportive influence is the current low level of interest rates. This has a two-fold effect – investors are attracted to housing given the scant income in the likes of bank deposits and share dividend payments, but low interest rates also lower the threshold for investors to gear-up and bid up house prices. The rise in house prices is an issue for policy makers and the Reserve Bank in particular. While a target for house prices in not within the RBA’s remit, it knows too well the pitfalls for the economy from having an unchecked house price acceleration, even if it is seemingly based on fundamental supply and demand dynamics. This is why the RBA is turning its mind towards ending the interest rate cutting cycle and moving to a period of interest rate increases even as the currency remains overvalued in its assessment.   If the Australian dollar were to fall, particularly in the context of the US Federal Reserve ending its incredibly stimulatory monetary policy settings, the RBA would no doubt move rapidly to increase interest rates to crimp the house price lift before it becomes too large a problem. Even if the Australian dollar remains strong, the RBA may still have to deal with the lift in house prices through a policy change and shift the imbalance in the economy away from housing towards a different sector. It would no doubt prefer house price growth to ease of its own accord, even though this rarely happens. Rather, interest rate rises may soon be needed to take the heat out of housing

»»Stephen Koukoulas is Managing Director of Market Economics. marketeconomics.com.au

As many will be aware, the Australian and Swiss design team of HASSELL + Herzog & de Meuron won an international competition to redesign Flinders Street Station. While this design competition focused largely on the functionality of the station as a passenger terminus, my interest was captured by the beautiful and historically significant station building itself. Completed in 1909 and opened to the public in 1910, the Flinders Street Station building is a Melbourne icon. It is so much a part of Melbourne culture that the simple sentence ‘I’ll meet you under the clocks’ needs no further explanation. The building – coincidentally the result of an 1899 design competition – was the first railway station in an Australian city and in the 1930s Flinders Street was the world’s busiest train station. At the time, 240,000 passengers a week transited through Flinders Street – more than double the number of people using New York’s Grand Central Station. Originally home to the Victorian Railways Institute, along with the ticketing booths, waiting rooms, baggage stores and office spaces, the building included an array of recreational spaces added to provide opportunities for railway staff to ‘improve themselves and increase staff morale’. These areas included the ballroom (originally a lecture theatre), gymnasium, billiards room and in 1933, a childcare nursery – one of only three of its kind in the world at that time. In 2013, the building tells two very different stories. The Swanston Street end is still functional and in use for office space and training rooms. In stark contrast, the Elizabeth Street end of the building is mostly closed due to its increasing state of disrepair. When upgrades were done in the 1960s to rewire the building and the 1980s to reseal the roof, only the part of the building near Swanston Street was refurbished due to financial constraints. As a result, the deterioration of the rest of the building is advancing rapidly. Despite this, the building itself is solid and the original grandeur apparent. The


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LOCAL ballroom and gymnasium still exist on the third floor. Original timber floors, balustrades, fenestration, stained glass panels and the vaulted pressed metal ceilings are mostly intact, albeit falling into a state of significant disrepair in some areas due to water leaks. Walking around this building is like taking a historical virtual tour, and if something isn’t done to reverse the increasingly rapid deterioration soon, a virtual tour is all that will be left. Raise the question of whether or not we should restore the building and the overwhelming response is ‘Yes!’ Ask who is going to pay, both for the restoration and ongoing upkeep, and the answer is not so clear. As always, the true test of our love of this cultural icon will come down to dollars. Whilst we are all keen to have the building preserved, are we willing to dip into our own pockets to see this historical landmark returned to glory? Or do we simply add it to the ever increasing list of items we expect our taxpayer dollars to cover along with roads, railways, trams, schools, police, hospitals… you get the picture. Even if restored, we still need to answer the question of how we continue to pay for the upkeep of the building going forward. Too often, we conveniently forget any building needs a long-term maintenance funding plan.

From an operational perspective, a commercially viable model that will generate income that can be used for upkeep makes sense. It does not, however, easily fit with the popular option of opening the building up for public uses like art galleries and festival spaces. If we fail to sensibly consider some kind of income generation to contribute to the maintenance and upkeep of the building however, in another 40 years we will be having the same discussion around finding significant funds to attend to a building that has once again fallen into a state of disrepair. Sensible long-term decisions around the restoration and future life of this building we value so highly are long overdue. In 1983, our Flinders Street clocks were taken down and replaced with digital flip board displays as part of a redevelopment of the station. This move to the modern was met with so much public outrage the original Bathgate indicators were reinstated to their rightful place above the steps within one day. As we ponder the future of Flinders Street Station yet again, time will tell just how much we value this grand old marker of our history.

»»Kate Roffey is CEO, Committee for Melbourne. melbourne.org.au

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12 THE MELBOURNE REVIEW NOVEMBER 2013

FEATURE

AN ALL TOO HUMAN ENEMY From Melbourne to Oxford, Moscow to Chicago, the career of leading Soviet and Modern Russian historian Sheila Fitzpatrick comes to vivid life through the portraits of those she met and worked with. Here the focus falls on the Moscow years.

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or most, at this remove, the Soviet Union of the 1960s is an entirely lost world. If it exists at all, it is under a layering of easy clichés: cosmonauts, athletes, chess players, a nuclear arms race, heroic dissidents, gulags, ongoing political repression and social deprivation. From the vantage point of fifty years the human subtleties vanish; the personal dramas of everyday life – love, ambition, jealousy, pride and selflessness – disappear below the forgetfulness built up by time and the residue of political enmity. Adding to the lack of comprehension, the current Russian regime under Vladimir Putin has hardly enamoured itself with either progressive liberals or conservatives of the west. Into the world of Brezhnev’s Russia all those years ago came a young Melbourne woman, via Oxford University and a British Council exchange: Sheila Fitzpatrick, daughter of socialist author, journalist and political economist Brian Fitzpatrick, was in Moscow to pursue her study of the figure of Anatoly Lunacharsky, the first Soviet Commissar of Enlightenment, who guided the new political system’s educational and cultural order from the Bolshevik Revolution’s first days until 1929. Arriving in Moscow, Fitzpatrick felt at home after the rigidity of Oxford. For all its superb political and social analysis of the period (as she

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recounts her many adventures in following the often difficult path towards her doctoral thesis amongst the Russian archives) what comes bursting from the pages of Fitzpatrick’s brilliant new memoir, A Spy in the Archives (Melbourne University Press) is the human dimension of this lost society. The sheer warmth of the people who fill Fitzpatrick’s narrative melts away the sub-zero winds, the deep drifts of snow, the plates of ice, the humourless bureaucrats and the long faces on the shivering queues of hungry shoppers. “Russians,” says Fitzpatrick in a letter home to her mother at one point early in her time in Moscow, “even when they are sophisticated, are not self-conscious…” This was a culture and society whose people remained unconquered by the indescribable sufferings of the twentieth century’s wars and disastrous political experiments. Fitzpatrick describes a people in love with ideas and debate, constantly challenged by the authoritarian nature of their political system but undaunted by it: “People had the ability to launch into really quite detailed and well thought-out analysis, which came out very fluently and without the embarrassment that I think an Australian would normally feel,” she says over the phone. This is part of “a very deep intellectual seriousness” declaimed without inhibition, a talking from the heart and head. “The way Russians interacted with their circle

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Photos: CourtesySheila Fitzpatrick

BY LUKE STEGEMANN

Sheila and Igor Sats, in his study, 1969.

of friends – that was one of the very attractive features of the society. As soon as you gained admittance to a circle, you were part of a very open group, where people spoke freely and of things they thought were really important – which of course often we don’t.”

and loves of her life – the down-to-earth Igor Sats (Lunacharsky’s secretary, assistant and brother-in-law) who eschewed all comforts and privileges, and the cultured if somewhat snobbish and headstrong Irina Lunacharskaya, adopted daughter of the rehabilitated Soviet commissar (and niece of Igor Sats, whose sister was Lunacharsky’s second wife – the circumstances of their union were inevitably scandalous for a puritanical Bolshevik old guard). Igor Sats (who also claimed to have shared a Polish lover with Stalin in the 1940s, though one assumes the surly Georgian knew nothing of this double-crossing) and Lunacharskaya became beacons guiding

By her own admission incredibly shy, yet intellectually as sharp as a tack and with an increasing fluency in the Russian language, Fitzpatrick set about writing a thesis on Lunacharsky to meet her own demanding criteria, rather than those her hosts might have wished to see her follow. This brought her into contact with two of the great influences

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FOLLOW US ON FACEBOOK AND TWITTER The Melbourne Review Quality writing on the arts, culture, ideas, knowledge, health, science, politics, design, planning, entertainment, gastronomy, technology, business and finance. facebook.com/TheMelbourneReview THe MeLBOUrNe

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FEATURE Russian families during World War II, and in particular the orphaning of an entire generation of children then growing into adulthood in the 1960s. Many of this generation, if they knew their fathers at all, knew them as damaged, alcoholic, psychologically disturbed, ‘nonfunctioning’ figures, ruined by the experiences of war and the complete lack of subsequent provision of care. Exploring Moscow and its history and architecture in her spare time, there are the surreal anecdotes that closed political and social systems throw up: Fitzpatrick recounts the visit of a German citizen to Moscow in the 1930s who found there were no actual maps of the city (street names changed with the rise and fall of revolutionary heroes) but only a map showing how it would exist, according to The Plan, in 1945. Future perfect: the stuff that writers’ dreams are made of.

Sheila Fitzpatrick by the Moskva River, winter 1969.

Fitzpatrick on this Muscovite stage of her personal and intellectual development. Touching too, though tainted by a later betrayal to the KGB, is Fitzpatrick’s portrait of her university dorm neighbour Galya, a Russian girl from Uzbekistan, whose mother was “a midwife in Samarkand who regularly sent her grapes and jam”. Though not close friends – to Fitzpatrick and others Galya was something akin to a rural hick, a complete innocent abroad in sophisticated Moscow – it is nevertheless through her that Fitzpatrick comes to understand on a personal level the vast dimensions of the grief and loss suffered by

Even to Fitzpatrick, who lived the experiences, the era of Brezhnev and its attempts to control the information citizens received – that world of smuggled letters, books and medicines – seems incredibly distant. “Then, in the 1960s, we were closer to the Great Purges than we are now to the events of the 1960s. By the time I was there, information was coming in, in dribs and drabs, and there were samizdat circulating amongst the intelligentsia, but the old ways of disseminating information, which depended very heavily on the rumour mill as a counter to official propaganda, were still in place.” Censorship in Russia now exerts a much greater influence on television than newspapers, where Fitzpatrick says there is a lively press. The irony of the Edward Snowden saga played out at Moscow airport is not lost on her, finding the United States, old Cold War foe, attempting to control the information flow of one of its citizens in Russian territory – albeit that information is now global, ubiquitous and instantaneous. Leaving aside the question of Russia’s own treatment of certain journalists, the panic around Snowden arose from a sense of sand slipping through fingers. *** *** ***

It’s easy nowadays to cast a knowing laugh at titles such as ‘Soviet Commissar of Enlightenment’, yet the same function is still carried out in our own society, even if we’re too weary, cynical and post-modern to allow that anyone – outside of organised religion – might be in charge of ‘Enlightenment’. Lunacharsky was a kind of primary gatekeeper, a curator, an editor for the nation, an arbiter of taste and content. His functions are fulfilled by our own educated class of gatekeepers – content commissioners, festival directors, gallery curators or magazine editors to name a few. “Somebody,” as Fitzpatrick explains, “who can be a kind of broker between an educated public and the people who run the government. Public intellectuals have some of these functions.” In Lunacharsky’s time, however, the concept of ‘patronage’, while developing, was not yet recognised in public discourse, coming only later when writer Maxim Gorky took over the role. As a Soviet historian, the collapse of the Soviet Union was an astonishing moment – and not always an easy one. At this time Fitzpatrick was training a new generation of historians at the University of Chicago. “There was a tremendous change when the formerly classified archives opened. To have your field of study de-materialise is really quite something,” she laughs gently, “but the opening of the archives was tremendously exciting. It took a decade to get a real sense of what was out there,” Fitzpatrick adds, referring to the mass of information becoming accessible in the vast expanses of the provinces and smaller republics. Igor Sats died in 1979 and Irina Lunacharskaya in the early 1990s. Fitzpatrick’s two closest friends, then, did not see the transition to modern Russia that began with the catastrophic circus of the Yeltsin years. Fitzpatrick is certain they were better off for not knowing the fate of the Soviet Union: despite all the privations of that system, on a purely personal level the end of empire was deeply humiliating for many good people, as an entire world and its certainties crumbled. For Igor Sats, critical though he was of the system, the sense that it had all been without meaning, a lifetime’s work and struggle all for

nothing – he had run away at 14 to join the Bolsheviks – would have been too much to bear. And for Irina, the end of the Soviet Union greatly diminished the relevance and study of her beloved Anatoly Lunacharsky. The writing of Russian and Soviet history is undergoing changes too. The 1990s experience of transitional crisis has in turn underwritten the strength of Putin who, Fitzpatrick says, “can’t afford to ditch the Stalin period as it was a period of Russian greatness. They were a superpower. They ‘won the Second World War’. The sense that ‘we were important in the world’ is terribly important to Russians, and therefore you can’t write Stalin out of history the way intellectuals wanted to do in the immediate aftermath of the collapse”.

»»Sheila Fitzpatrick’s A Spy in the Archives is published by Melbourne University Press, RRP $32.99; E-Book $29.99 mup.com.au


14 THE MELBOURNE REVIEW NOVEMBER 2013

HEALTH Both benign and malignant tumours can present in many different ways – from solid masses to finger-like projections, cysts, calcifications and more generalised tissue invasions. When we consider the normal range of changes a woman will feel in each breast during her monthly hormonal cycle, we can appreciate the importance of knowing not only the breast tissue, but also the way our body responds generally from day to day. Of all the risk factors that have been identified that increase the incidence of breast cancer, many are modifiable by the simple lifestyle choices we make. Conventional risk factors for breast cancer include age, gender, a previous breast cancer, family history of breast cancer, age of first menstrual period and menopause, and age of first full-term pregnancy. Most of these factors are generally not controllable. Other risk factors are, however, much more relevant to the lifestyle choices that are made. Behavioural factors, dietary factors such as high fat and high sugar intake, obesity, alcohol consumption, exposure to environmental toxins and radiation, smoking, and a lack of physical activity also contribute to the incidence rates of breast cancer. These risk factors also contribute to many chronic diseases in society, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes and other cancers.

BREAST CANCER Care for a lifetime of health BY PROFESSOR AVNI SALI

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reast care is a vital component of every woman’s overall approach to health and wellbeing through all the ages and stages of the lifecycle. Particular focus is placed on a woman’s breast health from the fourth decade of life onwards as this is a significant time in which the incidence rates of both benign and malignant activity in the breast and surrounding tissues increase. However, it is worth noting that breast care in the younger years, through appropriate lifestyle practices, especially those related to a healthy diet and exercise regime, can significantly influence disease incidence rates in later years. Breast health is most commonly understood to relate to breast cancer, but there is a range of other diseases and conditions that can affect a woman’s breasts. Benign breast diseases include a range of lesions that can present with a spectrum of symptoms. The most frequently seen benign breast lesions are typically developmental abnormalities,

inflammatory lesions, fibrocystic changes and abnormal tissue clusters. The incidence of benign breast conditions is highest in the 40s and 50s and these changes can occur in both pre- and post-menopausal women. Most benign breast conditions can be treated without surgery and respond well to lifestyle changes. Malignant diseases, such as breast cancer, account for one in three of all cancer diagnosis in women. Breast cancer is the most common of all the cancers in women. In Australia in 2009, there were more than 13,600 new breast cancer diagnoses made in women (breast cancer also rarely occurs in men and for the same time period 110 men were diagnosed). The incidence rate of breast cancer has more than doubled since 1982 and continues to increase. It is estimated that in 2020 there will be over 17,200 new diagnoses. Integrative Medicine offers a timely and extremely relevant set of lifestyle interventions that can provide women with many important tools that can arrest this

upwards trend, and offers both preventative measures and expanded treatment options. Breast cancer occurs when cells in the breast tissue divide and grow without control. All cells go through a natural cycle of life and death. It is when cell death does not occur that cell growth goes unchecked accumulating into a mass commonly called a tumour. Tumours, which may be benign or malignant, are able to establish their own blood supply from surrounding tissue. A malignant, or cancerous tumour is usually slow growing and by the time it is felt as a lump may have been forming for as long as ten years. This underlines the importance of early diagnosis and regular breast health check-ups, including monthly self-examinations. Modern medicine has provided a consistent message to women over the past two decades teaching the importance of regular breast checks. Programs for women to participate in annual medical examinations and diagnostic tests, such as mammograms and ultrasounds are well established, and increasingly diagnostic tests such as MRIs and less so thermography are also being used. Early detection can be lifesaving for several reasons – treatment protocols will be less invasive and potentially more effective the earlier they are started, and early detection also reduces the potential time cancer cells have to leave the tumour site and become blood borne (also called metastasis). Although travelling cancer cells do not always survive leaving the original tumour site, some can, and this creates an opportunity for abnormal cells to again divide and create tumours in new locations.

Research shows that weight control and the amount of physical exercise routinely performed both have significant influence on our risk for breast cancer. Weight control, through the reduction of energy intake, is consistently shown to reduce the risk of postmenopausal breast cancer. A diet that minimises fats, refined carbohydrates and sugars, and contains plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits is always beneficial. The Mediterranean diet, in particular the olive oil, vegetables and seafood, and its associated lifestyle, is often referred to as an optimal healthy diet and can be modified to individual preferences. Integrative Medicine adopts an approach to health that addresses the risk factors for breast cancer and many other diseases. It provides a blueprint for optimal health and wellbeing as well as introducing a range of preventative and treatment options that combine the best of mainstream and complementary therapies and practices. It is now known that a healthy cancer patient will have a better prognosis than an unhealthy cancer patient. Cancer is a profoundly stressful experience, full of unknowns. Psychological and social support for the individual, a group and a family is important and evidence shows can help manage depression and anxiety and improve coping mechanisms. Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction is highly beneficial and has been shown to have positive effects on the immune system. A supportive loving environment can bring meaning, trust and healing to participants and may help improve prognosis. Research has shown that confidence and positive expectations in recovering from breast cancer can influence long-term survival.


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HEALTH Massage can also help with stress reduction and as a consequence improves immunity, which in turn could improve prognosis. While being unwell is often a reason for not exercising, research shows that breast cancer patients who maintain an exercise program during chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatments do better. Exercise, in addition to helping balance energy intake/obesity (and the associated risks factors for cancer generally), has been shown to help with treatment-related fatigue, which is a debilitating side effect. Exercise improves quality of life and helps modulate cell growth and survival in ways that boost immunity and recovery. It can also delay disease progression and positively influence life expectancy. Studies have shown that survival could be improved by 50-60 percent in those who exercise regularly following breast surgery. Other physical therapies such as acupuncture can help in relieving nausea and assist in pain management. Inadequate sleep is an important risk factor for breast cancer, but also could influence prognosis. Every effort needs to be made to ensure adequate sleep. Foods can work to prevent cancer by suppressing growth at the very onset of cancer cells. We also know that foods can work to inhibit and slow down the growth of cancer when it is present in the body. Certain nutrients

can enhance cancer growth, whereas other nutrients can inhibit cancer growth. Beneficial foods can include: • Cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli • Fruits: especially berries, red grapes, olives and olive oil • Seafoods and seaweeds • Soy products such as tofu, tempeh, miso, soy yoghurt and so on, which can reduce breast cancer recurrence by one-third • Yoghurt containing microbes essential for digestive function Nutritional supplements such as Fish Oil can improve the efficacy and reduce side effects of chemotherapy drugs and radiation treatment and have a host of other positive health benefits. Health practitioners may also suggest vitamins and mineral protocols, in particular vitamin D, selenium and carotenoid. A quality multivitamin containing vitamins A, E & C plus folate, may also be beneficial. A probiotic containing friendly digestive system microbes is essential following chemotherapy which destroys these microbes. There are many herbs that offer women support for a range of conditions or symptoms associated with the menstrual cycle and menopause. These herbs can be viewed as excellent for the promotion of women’s health in general and may also provide women

treatment options for benign breast changes, and in the relief of symptoms associated with breast cancer treatment. A common hormonal change following chemotherapy for breast cancer in a premenopausal woman is menopause. Abrupt onset of menopause is usually associated with more prominent menopausal symptoms such as hot flushes. Black Cohosh and soy isoflavones have a long history of use in women’s health and can be useful to relieve the hot flushes associated with menopause, and with the use of the cancer drug Tamoxifen. Vitex (Chasteberry) has been shown to reduce cyclical breast tenderness. There is less evidence supporting the use of Evening Primrose Oil (Omega 6), which is widely used for breast tenderness and premenstrual syndrome relief and is a popular supplement. Ginseng is widely used in Asian countries for fatigue and may be useful for depleted energy levels. Green tea polyphenols have anti-carcinogenic properties and can be protective against breast cancer. Laboratory studies show that polyphenols can inhibit breast cancer growth. Survival rates for breast cancer are measured at five years after diagnosis. For the period ending 2010, the survival rate was 89.4 percent and where

tumours were less than 10mm, 98.4 percent. Progress in drug therapies and improvements in other treatments such as radiotherapy and chemotherapy have also contributed to better survival rates and outcomes for patients. Progressive new treatments in Australia such as hyperthermia – a mainstream treatment in many developed countries – continue to expand the options available that can be incorporated into an individualised treatment plan. Lifestyle factors play the major role in the development of breast cancer. For example, breast cancer is rare in Japanese women, but when Japanese women are born and live in Western countries their chance of breast cancer is similar to the local population. At the individual level, lifestyle interventions can empower breast cancer patients to make choices that can be life enhancing and significantly influence quality of life. For all women, the right lifestyle and approach to breast care is fundamental to health and wellbeing.

» Professor Avni Sali is Founding Director of the National Institute of Integrative Medicine (NIIM). He oversees the facilitation of the practice of Integrative Medicine at the NIIM Clinic in Hawthorn, as well as the promotion of education and research. niim.com.au

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16 The Melbourne Review November 2013

COLUMNISTS Irregular Writings Creative consumers & nostalgic gloop BY Dave Graney

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hy the hell would you want to go back to the age of vinyl? Blahhhhh. Hey this was supposed to be a continuation of last issue’s meditation upon the sadness that is the return of vinyl. But it’s 2014 and writing slow like that is pretty impossible to do. I mean a slow ruminative sequel to a thought piece from the world of a month before. In this world there is the new, but very much settled in phenomenon whereby the audience – the readers – get to talk back. The commentariat is alive and throbbing. It’s no longer a situation where your Pericles or your Tony Hancock or Paul Robinson (Neighbours villain) gets to orate at length and with lashings of pauses and turnarounds and then subsides into silence to better accept the swelling applause. Now the gallery carries on the theme, takes it in hand and moulds it to a tone and a shape more to their preferences and flings it back in pieces into the middle of the flimsy room. Often they start as soon as they sense a stoppage, before the trick is up. There was a dull roar on social media and the home screens with Irregular Writings this last issue, with many a FELLOW opining upon anything to do with the taste or feel of vinyl. People lectured at will to the newly sprung room about the qualities of sound carried by acetate and vinyl and how much “warmer” and fuzzier it was. I did not come to argue that point. I didn’t care, I was just telling the time and worrying as to why this outdated, frankly quaint form of sound carriage had made a noticeable return. I don’t care about the arguments for and against the quality; it’s about the nagging idea that it was another situation where the tail was wagging the dog. Musicians were being told what to do – again. Told to get with it. Like they were silly fools who dreamed sad dreams and right here was a real world, buddy. Nobody ever stops to think that musicians might be ahead of them? They might be the actual fabled canaries in the coal mine – fearlessly running on ahead. I tell you straight. People buying vinyl records is a way for them to be CREATIVE CONSUMERS. That’s it. The future and the past making the present. The future being pretty sewn up. They have all

this technology but it keeps getting contained and constrained. Like the internet is actually possibly HUGE but it’s made itself tiny in these skinny little social networks. All the talk of music is in the same fuddy duddy language as 1962. Before the Beatles. STARS and CHARTS and lame bands of boys singing together or young girls being IT for a summer, before they FALL. What’s OUTSIDE of all that? Where is there an Australian TV show where something genuinely spontaneous or shocking could happen? Is it all just for football players galumphing about like fools? Or panel shows of comedians talking about everything but nothing? Or spaces where advertising copywriters get to rag on that old Murry Wilson (father of Brian, Carl and Dennis) song “I’m a genius too ya know!” That’s what’s so funny about the music scene (which is the pointy end of a larger collection of scenes); it should be going much faster than it seems to. It’s the perception and the sense of possibilities. They’re being geared and braked. What a strange dream I had when I was a boy when AM radio pretty much played ONLY NEW MUSIC? We live in a world where people have been convinced that that is not possible. PEOPLE would just not cop it. Did you know that the early days of radio were only concerned with live music? Also that the idea of a repetitive playlist for radio was dreamed up by two young Yanks after the Second World War after watching drunks play the same song over and over on a  country jukebox? People laughed at them – “Why would you want to hear the same stuff over and over? Folks will not stand for it!” Did you know that Australian commercial radio adds perhaps six new songs a month? Any more would bring the whole shithouse down in a roaring pyre of flames! So commercial radio is a tightly controlled and EXTREMELY limited playlist fit only for a young male builders labourer or his even younger sister who is at high school. For everybody else it’s just a turgid backwash of nostalgic gloop. But why do you need radio when it could all go so much faster? Because music gets a buzz and a resonance when it’s in a tangible or recognisable PUBLIC area. When there’s a chaotic possibility of something coming into you that was beyond your control. Something swept there by powerful, unknowable, unconscious mass impulses. Undeniable ideas from somewhere out there. Otherwise, it’s just people with white wires in their ears shut off from each other. That would be horrible, no? Even if you were holding a new vinyl album under your arm.

Six Square Metres Homesickness BY Margaret Simons

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omesickness can take you by surprise, and right in the midst of the thrill of travel. I am presently in Shanghai, a city that feels like the centre of the world. Manhattan used to feel this way. I imagine London felt like this at the time Samuel Johnson asserted that if a man was tired of London, then he was tired of life. Shanghai is such an exciting place. Last night I walked along the Bund, with colonial buildings on one side of the river and the extravagant present of the Pudong skyscrapers on the other. There is nowhere like this in the world. This is a city caught in the act of destruction and creation. Only a generation ago, there was starvation in this country. The parents of the people who crowd

Longneck A statue to Edith Campbell Berry BY Patrick Allington

@davegraney

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t’s true: Canberra needs an Edith Campbell Berry statue. So what if she’s not real: she’s still somebody to admire, marvel at, gaze upon – worthy of the attention of people and pigeons alike. She’s an innocent young woman who leaves Australia to take on the world. She’s a 1920s idealist who believes that the League of Nations can deliver world peace. She’s a trailblazer, daring and independent. She’s an old woman dimly aware that she’s moving slower and slower through an unfamiliar, aloof world. What a thing it is, the great arc of a life. Even an imaginary life.

the food courts and the shopping malls can remember people eating grass to fill their stomachs. China is a miracle, and I am lucky to be here. And yet. There was a moment yesterday, as I sat on a bus travelling through the frayed outer suburbs of the city, when I wished to be at home pottering in my few square metres of soil. The suburbs of Shanghai are in the process of being destroyed and recreated. From our bus, we could see old men carrying plastic buckets of water on poles as they tended their perfectly square vegetable plots. All around their remnant farms were factories and 20 storey apartment blocks and building sites. These market gardeners will, no doubt about

If Edith awes me, I’m besotted by her creator, the writer Frank Moorhouse. Three cheers, then, that Moorhouse has just been awarded the 2013 Australia Council Award for Lifetime Achievement in Literature, which ‘acknowledges the achievements of eminent literary writers over the age of 60 who have made an outstanding and lifelong contribution to Australian literature’. That mouthful of an explanation has a sharp edge to it. It implies, after all, that Moorhouse is getting on a bit (although at least the Australia Council have stopped calling it the Writers’ Emeritus Award). But although he has, in fact, outlasted Edith Campbell Berry, 74 doesn’t strike me as anywhere close to old for a writer. Or for anybody except a professional sportsperson, defective by 30. Other than kudos and glory, what is Moorhouse’s reward? The Australia Council will lob him a cheque on behalf of a grateful nation. And they’ll host a celebratory function,


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COLUMNISTS it, have been built over by this time next year. Further out, there were fields of rice. Every little farmhouse had a pond crowded with ducks. Every space was used to grow something. The men worked the fields with hoes and rakes, and scattered what looked like fertiliser by hand, out of a bucket. They were all old men. China has now had two decades of the single child policy. Most of those single children will gravitate to the city, carrying solo the hopes and expectations of their parents, and two sets of grandparents. Meanwhile the air was like soup. The pollution in China literally takes your breath away, and makes your eyeballs sting. If you have ever doubted that it is possible for human beings to so damage their environment that it becomes poison, then come to China. The papers are reporting that children are being diagnosed with lung cancer – a disease that normally takes decades to develop – as young as seven. Sitting high up on the highway viewing the farmers from my bus, knowing that they will soon be built over, or relocated, or simply unable to continue, I felt a longing to tend my own little patch. I was wondering if the passionfruit vine had grown to the top of the trellis. I was thinking of my little sundeck, my tomato plant and eggplant growing upside down in their suspended grow-bags, and the lettuce that was just coming into its own. I was wondering whether anyone at home had thought to water the plants. My stomach clenched with longing. At that moment, I thought how fine it is to have a home, to understand its customs and its ways and to plant a seed and watch it grow, knowing that (if it is not tempting fate to think so) life will be much the same next year as it is this. China is a miracle, and a dilemma. It doesn’t have that luxury.

@MargaretSimons

hopefully a long lunch at which guests will linger over the finest known food and drink (this for a bloke who called his memoir Martini). But although that all sounds lovely, it’s not enough. Not even close. The best way I can think of to honour Frank Moorhouse is to read him. And to hassle other people to read him too. So: imagine that I’m a spruiker prowling a shopping strip – dressed in a shiny suit and in shoes with toes that point the way towards universal truth and knowledgs – haranguing you as if Moorhouse’s books are a dodgy mobile phone plan. Or a dose of Scientology: ‘Read Dark Palace. It’ll change your life. Read Loose Living. It’ll change the colour of the sky.’ I mean it. Australia has a mountain of writing awards but the Lifetime Achievement in Literature is a standout – or should be. But did you know that the Aboriginal writer Herb Wharton won last year? Or that Amy Witting won in 2001 or Patricia Wrightson in 2006? I didn’t. I hadn’t

Third Age Old age is... BY Shirley Stott Despoja

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can’t die now: I have enough coat hangers for the first time in my life. This seems a powerful reason for ploughing on further into my 70s. You are sensing that deep down I am a frivolous woman. It is a reaction to all the people taking up laptops and telling people how to be old. I just can’t take it. When I started this column in 2008 no one had a word to say for the old. Now the air is thick with pontifications and I really hate it. My only mantra is: don’t be told how to be old. Listen up. I am the first to say that old people should have jobs if they want them (as I did in my last column). I am the last to say it should be compulsory. The wind is harsh down here in the west, close to the sea. I am so irritated that I walk down the hall as noisily as I can in slappy slippers so that I can hear I am alive above the wind’s howling. I am cross that I can’t stand on the lavatory to hang a picture of a bougainvillea-covered dunny I painted years ago. I stood there for a while thinking I might risk it, then thoughts of a nursing home kicked in and I gave up. Someone will come and put it up for me one day, but that is not the point, darling. My cat is sleeping so peacefully in her basket that I think I should give her a shake so she can wake up and be my friend. I am putting off ringing a human friend because I am afraid of his news. The washing machine tries to walk out the door every time it is on fast spin and the cotton quilt inside is too heavy for me to do anything about it. Old age is a bugger. But most of all I am livid that the author (Patricia Edgar) of a book in praise of ageing* is advocating that the pension age be

even heard of Wrightson, even though she was an acclaimed children’s writer with an OBE. Don’t take this as another ‘why aren’t the arts as celebrated as sports in Australia’ whinge. There’s no particular reason why I should be familiar with Patricia Wrightson (or you with Frank Moorhouse). And there’s not much in this world that can compete with the spectacle of Cathy Freeman winning gold at the Sydney Olympics (that old chestnut?) or Shane Watson pulling a hamstring. But maybe Australian writing needs the equivalent of a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Or at least a Hard Rock Café, where every over-priced burger comes with an underhyped story or poem. I revere Frank Moorhouse because he writes about politics and culture and manners and sex and food and drink – about life seen and unseen – with a glorious abandon built upon a foundation of hefty research and heavy thinking. He writes about difference – different

lifted to 70 and other nasty things “to promote a culture in which working to 70 and beyond is seen as normal”. Aaargh. You see what I mean about everyone having too much to say about old age? If you love old age you want people to share that feeling. Telling them they can’t have the pension until 70 is not the way to go. This rich country can afford to give old people who need it a bit of comfort for their final stretch. And comfort for many people means doing nothing very much: after a lifetime of being at everyone’s beck and call. The people who want the OAP to be raised to 70 are the ones who have a nice little nest egg (of course they worked for it) and are travelling the world. They feel full of life and verve.  But a lot of people had jobs that were anything but challenging and enjoyable. They need to get the hell out of there before they die prematurely. Some of my friends didn’t make it to 70. Well, that saved the nation something, didn’t it? Edgar’s book is about more than the OAP. I think she would be a great person to have on board if you were trying to make a nursing home accommodate the needs of an old person. She’s a bossyboots and it is plain that she can

ideas, different people. Whether he’s offering a portrait of a cross-dressing English diplomat (Edith’s hubby) or probing ASIO or pondering the etiquette of eating alone or defending the importance of committee meetings, his fingernails leave beautiful scratches all over heavily varnished Australia. His non-conformity is not theatrical or antisocial or prurient. His dissent is every bit as celebratory as a giant snake made of beer cups weaving its way around the MCG. His disruptions to convention do not swallow us like a tsunami – he’s more like the tides, day after day pushing sand up and down the coast until eventually the beach ends up somewhere else entirely. The English writer Angela Carter once said that Moorhouse ‘makes you laugh, and think.’ That’s it. That’s it exactly.

@PatrAllington

be very effective. For her, being asked, at 76, if she uses the internet is ageism. And there are stories about some interesting Australian lives, told (rather stodgily) in her book. Hugh Mackay’s back jacket comment “if Edgar’s rational arguments don’t convince you, (he means that ageing is not bad news) her human stories will” is fair enough. So what did I do to overcome my irritation with bossyboots and the weather? A picture came into my mind of an old girl (but younger than I) up the street on her rusty old “girl’s” bicycle. A bicycle like the one I had when I was 13. She tells me off for gardening in my good clothes. She talks and laughs a lot. She’s a real Westie, and still has me on probation I think, as I only moved here four years ago. She is wonderful, even if you don’t know her story. Old age is wonderful. Join me in a glass of wine. Don’t be stupid. Of course you can drink on your own.

»»*In Praise of Ageing, by Patricia Edgar. Text Publishing, Melbourne.


18 THE MELBOURNE REVIEW NOVEMBER 2013

BOOKS

Christos Tsiolkas / Allen & Unwin BY DAVID SORNIG

Like the joyfully immersed baby on the cover of the Nirvana’s Nevermind, Danny Kelly belongs in the water. He’s a swimming prodigy from a working class family who, at fourteen, is deemed as deserving of a scholarship to an elite Melbourne private school and its even more elite swimming program. While Danny has nothing but contempt for what he and his best friend Demet call C***s College, he is encouraged into his single-minded fixation, to prove himself even more relentless than the privileged rich kids at aiming at the dream of winning-at-all-costs. At C***s College, Danny isn’t just beating his competitors in the pool, he’s defeating his own working class roots; he’s defeating the expectations of his schoolmates who never really let him forget that he is not to the manor born. But while the young Danny can’t admit any doubt that he is going to be a champion, from the Nationals to the Pan Pacs and, he hopes, to the Commonwealth and Olympic games, it’s clear, already at the beginning

Hot 100 10 Wines Wine

MURDER IN MISSISSIPPI

TIDE John Kinsella / Transit Lounge

John Safran / Penguin BY WILLIAM CHARLES BY DAVID SORNIG

When John Safran’s Race Relations aired in 2009, a sequence featuring a prank on the prominent Mississippi white supremacist Richard Barrett was cut out of the show on legal advice. When Barrett was stabbed to death in his home by a young black man in 2010, Safran’s antennae lifted and he flew to Mississippi to make sense of the story: was it a race murder or something else altogether? Safran gives an account of his months following up the story through interviews with those who mixed in Barrett’s circle, with journalists, police, lawyers, politicians black and white, with the family of Barrett’s killer Vincent McGee and, in an extraordinary series of telephone exchanges involving the payment of stored value Walmart Green Dot cards and an engagement ring, with McGee himself. Safran follows his own unconventional instincts and is able to translate into prose his talent for extracting out of awkward situations something between entertainment and analysis in pursuit of something close to the complicated truth.

Taking a break from being our nation’s most prolific poet, John Kinsella has authored a collection of short stories charting life experiences (mostly of growing up) in regional Western Australia. Full of that sense of adventure and limitlessness that vast expanses of land and ocean inspire in dreaming children, these tales are a beautiful collection of snapshots, full of dry humour; salt and sweeping winds; wheat silos; wide open roads; beaches that edge the always treacherous, alluring sea; tides, waves and electrical storms; the mystery of adult behaviour; loneliness, lust and confusion. In many, flashes of colour and surreal incident – a rose bouquet, a wandering child, the blood dripping from a sudden wound – light up the dun surrounds. Written in a direct, compelling demotic that seemingly rises from the land itself, from ‘place’, these stories are small masterpieces, little gems cut from life; new narratives that have grown from an adopted land and stake claims to belonging. Difficult to pick favourites, but ‘A Long Stretch of Nothing in the Middle of Nowhere’ with its intense dread and mystery, and a killer (and utterly Australian) final sentence is an absolute highlight.

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2 0 1 3 / 2 0 1 4

OUT NOW A D E L A I D E R E V I E W . C O M . A U

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BARRACUDA

of the novel, where we encounter him as a grown man, tentatively entering the waters of Loch Lomond, that his vision of himself will fail, that he will not take up a place in the national pantheon of swimming’s golden boys. There is no place for the Barracuda among the Thorpedoes and Missiles. When he fails, Danny is left without the language with which to imagine another story for himself; he can recognise no other Danny Kelly but the one in the water that bends and shifts at his will. He falls prey to a self-hatred that erupts in a shameful, violent catastrophe. To survive he is forced to find a new language, to transform himself, to effectively reboot himself. It’s an uneasy and emotionally difficult journey. Tsiolkas builds the novel around a structure in which we encounter Danny in episodes along his timeline in both forward and reverse order. The deepest hell of the catastrophe is not the end point of the novel; it is a launching place that searches for its roots and its long-reaching consequences. While this provides the framework for the familiar exploration of the dark journey of a single character, Tsiolkas has dared himself to go beyond the uncomfortable place between psyche and viscera, beyond the self-absorbed outrage at class rigidity. He applies to Danny Kelly a more mature treatment of familiar themes, an uncovering of the desires that in an overly competitive world are configured to pit people against one another, and finds in them the tools to re-imagine the self, fashion them into generosity, into goodness, even into love. Tsiolkas’ new readers, those who encountered him first through The Slap and its episodic, near soap-operatic dissection of contemporary Australian social mores, will find in Barracuda a novel that seems like the satisfying extended play of one of that novel’s characters. Those who have been following Tsiolkas from his much riskier earlier novels, Loaded, The Jesus Man and Dead Europe, will recognise the breaking of something like new ground here as he continues to chronicle and critique the contemporary Australian mood.


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BOOKS

Bleeding Edge Thomas Pynchon / Jonathan Cape BY Luke Stegemann

Of all the unusual careers American fiction has thrown up – and there have been some mighty contenders – surely none match the continued iridescent strangeness of Thomas Pynchon, an author whose complete personal anonymity is a blank slate counterpointing the overflowing content, prodigious experimental style and teeming knowledge of his novels. Approaching what must be the closing stages of Pynchon’s career, his works fall clearly into two categories: the hectic paranoia of contemporary America – The Crying of Lot 49, Vineland and Inherent Vice – and the cryptic re-writing, via parallel, alternative historical narratives, of the birth and development of modernity and its multiple dark undersides – Gravity’s Rainbow, Mason & Dixon and Against The Day – with his first novel V combining elements of both. Taken as a whole, Pynchon’s novels comprise, it has been suggested, an entire history of the project that is the USA, dark-ambitioned science blending with music hall songs and mathematical conspiracies; bizarre, even

ridiculous characters with fragile human tenderness; a cornucopia of pornographic practices and flights of psychedelia all coming together to describe an entropic arc in which we are all falling into final weightless, exhausted darkness, as modernity, science, capital and history – forces at one point or another believed tamed – turn and treat us as playthings. Pynchon’s latest, Bleeding Edge, falls into the former category of contemporary paranoid slapstick, as he enters an area as yet untouched by his wide ranging vision – the 21st century. It is a perfect marriage between author and subject. Readers familiar with Pynchon’s work will know that plot summaries are by and large pointless; Bleeding Edge is of course sprawling and chaotic, as the world itself is; here is the state of mind, both hallucinatory and predatory, of New York in 2001, as the dotcom bubble bursts. The novel transpires both prior to and beyond September of that year, with 9/11 operating as a briefly mentioned fulcrum around which de-listed fraud investigator Maxine Tarnow investigates a murky swamp of links between new internet technologies, military interests and, as always in Pynchon, the subtle uses of power, surveillance and exclusion. As so often, he has been writing ahead of his time. For those yet to discover this almost unclassifiable author, Bleeding Edge might not be a bad place to start. It lacks some of the majesty of his earlier work, and the jokes don’t always come off, but there are the essential quest and conspiracy, and the trademark densely spiralling plot – above and below ground, real and virtual, legal and counterfeit, tangible and illusory – as Tarnow tracks her way around the deeply breathing NYC, from corpses to outlet stores, from cold war bunkers to speedboats on the Hudson, Russian mobsters to hackers, geeks, stoners and a host of other Pynchon staples – Jews, dope, and very odd combinations of food. Pynchon dares to take language and the imagination places others won’t or can’t; he remains the most beautiful and inventive prose stylist of his generation. And most importantly, his post-modernism does not exclude a warm embrace of those intangibles such as beauty, grace and love.

Cartwheel Jennifer duBois / Scribe BY Tali Lavi

The Amanda Knox story captivated America and Italy a few years ago much as Australia was captivated by Lindy Chamberlain in the 1980s. Both accused were cast as archetypal female villains – Chamberlain became a Medea figure when she refrained from publicly crying over her baby’s disappearance, whilst Knox was a femme fatale murder accomplice so callous as to execute cartwheels at the police station (this was later disputed). Whereas the Chamberlain case took on a mythic quality – the eeriness of the outback, a dingo had taken the baby – the Knox case felt too familiar; it could have happened to anyone’s daughter studying overseas. Besides resulting in two memoirs by Knox and her co-accused Italian boyfriend, and garnering more media attention of late as the Italian courts have ordered Knox to stand retrial after her conviction was overturned two years ago, several of the circumstances and alleged facts of the Knox case are employed in Cartwheel. Relocating the drama to Buenos Aires, the story of American student Lily Hayes who stands accused of the murder of her roommate Katy and of executing a cartwheel in between interrogations unfolds through four perspectives: Lily, her father Andrew who struggles to negotiate the justice system and feelings of parental guilt, her enamoured lover Sebastien and state prosecutor Eduardo. Much of this book is concerned with slippages and mistranslations; cross-cultural disjunctions between a conservative society and that of a seemingly carefree American student, and those that might exist within a family. Early on, a regretful Andrew recollects sending off his daughter with an ‘industrialsized box of condoms’ after sermonising her about ‘the laxity of Latin American sexual standards’. To Lily, this box seems ‘appalling, mortifying, industrial-sized – for cults, maybe, or university women’s centres’; her youthful

performance of sexual freedom belies a more conservative reality. But the performance is made publicly accessible in this Facebook generation, whose every momentary reckless and feckless thought might be traced through emails or texts. Sebastien wonders after looking at Lily’s Facebook page, ‘Were people really this open? Were their lives really this lucky?’ Cartwheel is also about trauma and the different ways of suspended living during and after its occurrence. Eduardo, the narrator least affected by direct loss, despite having grown up in an Argentinean society rife with disappearances and being depressed by his wife leaving him, lacks credibility. However, the question rearing large through this crime story – did Lily do it? – propels the reader till the end. As a novel by a promising young writer (duBois wrote the well-received A Partial History of Lost Causes), it holds parallels with Nicole Krauss’s Great House; intersecting narratives, the mystery at its heart, foreigners out of their depth, trauma inherited with family DNA and a house haunted by loss. Whereas Krauss’s novel reverberates with its characters’ intensities and the effulgence of its language, duBois’s does not. The cartwheel is a potent sign, one resonant with overtones of freedom or joy. Sometimes, and perhaps this is an affect of Lily’s fickleness, the novel takes on a feel of flippancy and lightness akin to the gesture for which it is named.


20 THE MELBOURNE REVIEW NOVEMBER 2013

PERFORMING ARTS roadside traffic boards. The ever-present mobile radio is another way for people to get involved and to reach out further into the community. While Footscray and Yarraville lure visitors regardless, it’s events like Braybrook’s Big Day Out which help communities have their voice heard. From the sculpture-strewn community gardens of Braybrook, mobile radio will broadcast bush tucker recipes and let locals tell their own stories and secrets. As everywhere, the western suburbs are constructed, above all, of families. Wyndham is the fastest-growing suburb in the southern hemisphere and its streets are being swiftly filled with basketball hoops and three-bedroom houses. There is a thirst for togetherness in a community which craves both integration and the right to maintain a sense of individual culture. Arts initiatives and institutions like Footscray Community Arts Centre encourage Polynesian children to keep weaving, young Sudanese boys to attend spoken word nights and kids to make their outlet a creative one. While encouraging others to come over and explore, Big West aims to be a carnival of ideas for and by the people of the western suburbs.

Albinos (Colourless).

BY THE WEST, ABOUT THE WEST, FOR THE WEST Big West returns again in 2013 with a ten-day program of multi-platform arts events which constructively confront. BY HANNAH BAMBRA

T

he western suburbs of Melbourne have for many years been seen by many as a place of gritty, working class ethics and environment, yet the area is changing. The level of construction going on is ruffling some feathers.

A rapidly changing skyline is not the only thing coming up from the inner west, however. There is a bustling arts scene as well as a blend of cultures drawn from and influenced by various migrant groups – something else that might not happen in the eastern suburbs.

“I have seen so many buildings sold to the highest bidder in Sunshine, Footscray and across the Western suburbs,” says Baby Guerrilla, a prominent paste-up artist from Melbourne’s west. “There’s a lot of history that is just being bulldozed. It is an absolute outrage and it wouldn’t happen in the eastern suburbs.”

There is a level of pride and solidarity that comes with living on the ‘gritty’ side of the city. Over ten days later this month, tens of thousands are expected to come together to celebrate the theatre, dance, art, literature and playfulness of Melbourne’s west. The area’s biennial Big West festival has chosen construction as its theme this year to put the

reality of how the west is flexing, building and reshaping into a creative framework. “Although the art scene is different there is a lot more support now,” says Andy Freer, the artistic director of Snuff Puppets, a group who have “stripped down to undies, put on a suit and partied” at every Big West since 1997. “Big West grew out of an artist-run festival... people doing it for nothing. It has basically just grown and grown since but it still has the community at its base,” Freer adds. Motifs related to construction and redevelopment are playfully woven through the festival’s program. Kids now accustomed to construction sites being part of their neighbourhood landscape are invited to help gather objects with a crane on opening night, building a community sculpture through joint efforts. Other events celebrate up-cycling, the use of industrial spaces in theatre, and how residents and artists can bring new life to dilapidated buildings. “Many of the works explore what it means when the boundaries are constantly shifting between public space and private space,” says Marcia Ferguson, Big West’s festival director. Ferguson has made a conscious decision to incorporate street art and media into events to add an element of interactivity. Her roadside haiku initiative sees members of the community emailing through three-line haiku poetry which will illuminate street signs and flash across

From Williamstown to Werribee, one thing especially unique about the arts scene in the western suburbs is the overwhelming amount of physical performance naturally forming and continuing to grow. Director of Albinos (Colourless), Tesfaye Gebrehana, says the volume of dance, theatre and circus being produced in the western suburbs is “because it is in our cultures. We grew up singing and dancing for almost every occasion. We had story tellers and music and it is a part of who we are.” Gebrehana’s comedic play depicts the everyday lives of three different migrant families, touching on topics relatable to their intended audience. The Ethiopian writer and director hopes the play will provoke discussions around “how to resolve problems peacefully, how to communicate, respect for one another, how to integrate with the rest of the society... how to keep and maintain our culture and our identity. “We particularly aim to educate the youth to focus on their education and future. Show them that family, community and school are important aspects of their lives, because they are our future and responsible for running the country.” Although the so-called ‘debate’ around asylum seekers is so topical in Australia, another theatre director from the festival, Kevin Hopkins, struggled to find an Australian play which looked at the human side of the argument. The side which, to Hopkins, is too often left out of the politics.


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PERFORMING ARTS Hopkins found his play, The Container, in England. The performance sees two Somali women, two Turks and two Afghanis in a very real, very cramped shipping container sharing their stories with the audience as they pretend to be smuggled across a border. “It is a challenging production in a number of ways,” says Hopkins. “Physically it is not going to be easy for the audience; it’s cramped and hot... We don’t want to make it a comfortable theatrical experience.” Just like The Container’s confronting approach, the Big West festival has labelled itself ‘radical and spectacular’, wanting to challenge preconceptions of the west by sharing and feeding the energy of its arts scene.

Anthony Marwood and ANAM British violinist Anthony Marwood returns to ANAM for his fourth consecutive year. Over two spectacular performances, Marwood and ANAM Musicians compare and contrast the youthful brilliance of Mendelssohn with Schubert’s joyous Octet, and take the audience on a jaunt through the countryside in Beethoven’s Symphony No.6, Pastorale.

Peoples Day Street Party.

Soar.

conservatives of the day. The generally poor, laneway-framed neighbourhood was ethnically diverse, culturally rich and is now largely remembered as a thriving community. In the context of a different time and place, the messages in performances such as Soar and The Container can be appreciated and

applied nation-wide. If Melbourne specifically is to remain the most liveable city we need to see the west as big, bold and a place for opportunity to flourish. The Big West festival drives that idea, making a whole range of arts practices accessible through a mostly free program of events.

PERFORMANCE #15

PERFORMANCE #16

Friday 29 November, 11am

Saturday 7 December, 7pm

Mendelssohn Octet Schubert Octet

Weill Violin Concerto Beethoven Symphony No. 6 Pastorale

Anthony Marwood violin ANAM Musicians Tickets $25 This performance will be followed by light refreshments and an opportunity to meet the artists.

»»The Big West Festival will be held at a range of venues across Melbourne’s west from November 22 to December 1. Tickets, full-program and more info online. bigwest.com.au

Anthony Marwood violin ANAM Orchestra Tickets Full $55 Sen $40 Conc $35

Venue South Melbourne Town Hall 210 Bank St South Melbourne Bookings anam.com.au or (03) 9645 7911

Photo: Pia Johnson

One of many premiere performances this year is the Women’s Circus’ Soar; the story of a lower-class woman living in Victorian-era Little Lonsdale Street. What was affectionately known by locals then as ‘Little Lon’ was a slumlike district rife with prostitution, working-class migrants and alcohol. The Women’s Circus explores this historic CBD site through their physical techniques blended with traditional storytelling. The more the troupe learned of the history of Little Lon, the more they fed the theatrical elements of their piece. Little Lon was eventually shut down and torn apart by the strong temperance movement and


22 The Melbourne Review November 2013

PERFORMING ARTS

Rienzi A Wagner premiere for Melbourne. by Peter Tregear

I

t’s certainly quite the month, in quite a year, for Wagner in Melbourne. At last, after a protracted, and occasionally fraught, period in production, Opera Australia’s first ever presentation of Wagner’s mammoth four-night Der Ring des Niebelungen has made it to the stage of the State Theatre. Tickets for the performance season sold out a long time ago, notwithstanding that they were reported as being some of the most expensive in the world – more expensive, indeed, than comparable seasons of The Ring in London and New York. Certainly, as far as Australian opera is concerned, an art work that was once ambitiously pitched to the ‘Volk’, has become exclusive territory indeed.  It was a therefore a clever, if not politically astute, initiative of both Opera Australia and Arts Victoria, to develop a festival of public events around the performances in the State Theatre (collectively branded ‘The Melbourne Ring Festival’) that could help democratise the value and impact of these performances. One such event, remarkably, will see the Australian premiere performance by Melbourne Opera of an early work by Wagner, his opera Rienzi. It may be a company lying on the opposite end of the spectrum of public largesse as Opera Australia, but Melbourne Opera is yet able to contemplate such a venture because it can harness the enthusiasms and passions of philanthropists, amateur and professional artists to an extent that makes such an undertaking financially viable. It is surely a worthy one, for Rienzi has considerable historic as well as musical interest. Wagner’s early forays into operatic composition were unabashed imitations of the styles of musical drama popular in the mid nineteenth century. With Rienzi he put his own interpretation on the French Grand Opera style epitomised in the works of Giacomo Meyerbeer, perhaps the most commercially successful of all nineteenth century opera composers. What intrigued Wagner was the fact that, in works like Les Huguenots, Meyerbeer had placed the dramatic form of opera in the service of an historical subject (here the bloody events of the St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre in Paris in August of 1572) in a manner that had made opera the vehicle for a discourse of ideas concerning the philosophy of history, no less. Wagner famously was to become one of Meyerbeer’s harshest critics, but surely this was in no small part because he knew how

close Meyerbeer had got to expressing what would become his own ideal for music drama, one which made it possible, he believed, to deal effectively with broader questions of history and society. The historical Rienzi was a fourteenth century Italian patriot and charismatic leader who fought for a united Italy, and who was ultimately to be murdered by a populace who revolted against him. Today his style of leadership might reasonably be viewed less positively, especially when we consider the fact that both Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler were known to praise him (and to a certain extent were also to share his ultimate fate). Hitler indeed owned the manuscript score of Wagner’s opera, a gift to him by German industrialists on the occasion of his 50th birthday; as a result of such a dubious gift, the score is now presumed destroyed.  We need not fall into the trap of thinking either the historical figure or Wagner’s opera is therefore implicitly a proto-fascist one. Rather,

as one recent commentator has written, by Wagner’s day Rienzi had come to epitomise ‘the romantic stereotype of the inspired dreamer who foresees the national future’.  Wagner adapted his libretto from the novel Cola di Rienzi by his contemporary, the English novelist, poet, playwright, and politician Edward Bulwer-Lytton (1803– 1873). Today we remember Lytton, if at all, as the author of such choice phrases as ‘the great unwashed’, or ‘the pen is mightier than the sword’, as well as the infamous opening line ‘It was a dark and stormy night’, but Lytton was an immensely popular author of his day precisely because he understood the popular force of such idealised expressions of romantic sentiment. At its nevertheless successful premiere in 1842 in Dresden, Wagner’s opera lasted more than six hours – legend has it that he stopped the clock above the theatre stage to ensure the audience did not leave! Ever since, however, judicious cuts have been introduced,

and certainly attendees at Melbourne Opera’s performance need not fear that they are in for a similarly over-long experience. Indeed Wagner himself appreciated the need for cuts. Despite his penchant for grandiose theorising he remained first and foremost a working man of the theatre; he knew what worked and what didn’t. Now we have a chance to hear it for ourselves. The Australian premiere performance of Rienzi may not be staged, but it should be an absorbing theatrical spectacle nonetheless.

»»As part of the Melbourne Ring Festival, Wagner’s Rienzi will be performed at the Athenaeum Theatre on December 8 at 6.30pm. Book on 9650 1500 or Ticketek 13 28 49; tickets $25-$75. melbourneopera.com athenaeumtheatre.com.au


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PERFORMING ARTS

I Am, You Are, We Are

genius of live performance is one that knows nothing of human taxonomies and the stage, that eternally strange and most ancient zone of human occupation, recognizes the elusive gift of presence regardless of any categories of identity. There is a scene in Ganesh Versus the Third Reich when David Woods, playing the role of director in the play-within-theplay, addresses each member of the cast with a succinct endorsement of their personal qualities. He turns to Simon Laherty: ‘Simon, when I say sharing truth, you are doing that. Beautifully. That is the essence of your being.’ It’s an uneasy moment, because the director is acting the fascist in more than one frame of the performance, and his manner is both imperious and patronizing. Yet, in this instance, what he says is immediately recognizable as truth. Laherty has an extraordinary candour on stage. With his deadpan delivery, his unflagging control of timing and his self-contained uprightness, he is one of those performers who share truth and nothing but the truth. The same may be said of each of his peers in the ensemble.

The challenge and triumph of Back to Back Theatre.

by Jane Goodall

I am, you are, we are Australian,’ goes the chorus of Bruce Woodley and Dobe Newton’s song, which has become something of an alternative national anthem. ‘We are one, but we are many’ is its message, although not all of us feel that way, much of the time.

Our conditions separate us: 20 percent suffer from mental illness, half a million are indigenous, 14 percent of us are old, 28 percent are clinically obese, 300,000 are of Middle Eastern appearance and 18 percent have a disability. And what about all those who are accused of being ‘un-Australian’? The problem with sentiments of unity is that they almost always fall back on an instinct for exclusion. A sense of social unity carries with it tacit assumptions of normality, and requires to be maintained through practices of category identification. The battle lines are drawn up through pronouns, as tensions arise between me and you, them and us. The performers in Back to Back Theatre share the outsider experience of being excluded from the norm through being perceived as people with a disability. They know what it is to live with the burden of a category identity, and to be perpetually aware of how this can turn nasty. And they have a way with pronouns. The dialogue is strung between statements harping on what I, you, he, she, we and they are about. Sometimes this has the effect of introducing an edge of unease, emphasizing how all relations here are unstable. ‘You have to trust me.’ ‘I want people to see me.’ ‘We’re all living in a very

different world.’ ‘I don’t know what they’re scared of.’ ‘We feel we are doing the right thing.’ ‘They get very upset.’ ‘He’s the kind of person I deal with.’ The tension ratchets up when the address is more direct, pushing towards interrogation. ‘Excuse me, I am speaking.’ ‘Show me your hands.’ ‘You know what the difference is, between you and me?’ ‘Are you sure?’… ‘Where do I know you from?’ And then there is the outright attack, where ‘you’ becomes an insult in itself, spat out, like a poisoned dart. ‘What are you?’ ‘Look at you!’ ‘You are fat.’ ‘You stink.’ The members of the audience are not spared. ‘You people have come here because you want to see a freak show.’ Dialogue is typically quite sparse in Back to Back Theatre performances. A recurring

technique is to stage a deliberately slow and laboured exchange, in which one character will cross the floor between two others, relaying a statement, and returning for confirmation or clarification. Movement, too, works in extended time frames, and on a stage that is an ocean of space, where coloured area lighting throws moving shadows, sometimes turning the figures into semi-visible silhouettes. Nothing is clear here. When momentum gathers, it’s always bad news because the energy is generated by aggression born of false assumptions.… Questions of identity and category judgement are opened wide in ways that resonate with the largest themes in the history of drama, and the biggest questions we confront as a species. The

It is not easy to write about this work without falling into some untruths of one’s own, however unintentionally. Inevitably, the lens must be turned back from the performer to the audience... What kinds of thoughts, emotional responses and sheer gut reactions are being generated during the performance, and what kinds of after-image does it leave in recollection and reportage? The figure of what [co-editor Helena Grehan] has called ‘the unsettled spectator’ hovers at the margins of discussion, sometimes coming in for direct scrutiny.

»»This is an edited extract from Jane Goodall’s Preface to Back to Back Theatre: Performance, Politics, Visibility, edited by Helena Grehan and Peter Eckersall (Performance Research Books). »»Back to Back Theatre’s Super Discount shows at the Malthouse Theatre, Sturt St, Southbank from November 13 to December 1. malthousetheatre.com.au

NEW SEASON ESTHER WILLIAMS BATHERS INSTORE AND ONLINE 331 Brunswick Street Fitzroy phone 03 9419 6038 info@scallyandtrombone.com.au scallyandtrombone.com.au


24 The Melbourne Review November 2013

PERFORMING ARTS

All That Glitters by Suzanne Fraser

From Rhinemaidens to rhinestones, this operatic milestone has inspired the Arts Centre to present a free exhibition of stage costumes from their own collection, which will be on display in the St Kilda Road building until February next year. All That Glitters includes a compact cross-section of the extraordinary

Barossa is passion. Passionate people with a passion for great food and wine. Handcrafted foods of provenance. Great wines of the world. And they all come from the dirt.

Barossa B e c o n s u med.

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Photo: Jeff Busby

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elbourne in November is a racing town – the season starts, the horses gather, the punters flutter, money, money, money. This year, as the climax of the racing calendar passes, Melbourne is aflutter with an altogether different, although similarly pricey, form of dynamism. Over the coming weeks, the Arts Centre is set to host the first complete production in Australia of Wagner’s mammoth Der Ring des Nibelungen. The month-long event will be elite, glamorous and not a little expensive.

Hugh Jackman as Peter Allen in The Boy From Oz, 2006.

assembly of around half a million pieces that comprise their Performing Arts Collection. Included in the 30 garments going on display are an embroidered cloak worn on stage by Dame Nellie Melba (at one end of the cultural spectrum) and Dame Edna Everage’s brilliant gladioli dress designed by Bill Goodwin (at the other end). Such diverse forms of stage costume are purposefully presented alongside each other without any alternative theme or narrative. According to curator Margot Anderson, “Each costume has its own story; each has standalone

significance in the exhibition.” While operatic costume is the focus of this exhibition – with three elaborate gowns on display specifically designed for Joan Sutherland, for example – the Arts Centre has endeavoured to present a representative account of their extensive collection in this show; featuring pieces from both local and international designers, as well as the various companies from which the garments were acquired (including The Australian Ballet and Bell Shakespeare). This synopsis reflects the many sources that have fed into the collection, as well as highlighting the way the Arts Centre collects its pieces: “The majority of the costumes have been donated,” says Anderson. Along with the principal high-culture notes of this display are distinct accents of pop culture glamour. Counted amongst these is Kylie Minogue’s indefatigably glittering gown designed by John Galliano and worn during her Kylie Showgirl: Homecoming Tour in 2006. In this piece we find a petite cocktail of textures and shiny surfaces, and a structure that appears to puff out and cinch in without restraint. For Anderson, the current exhibition displays the diverse ways in which garments are used to “project a performance in a large-scale venue.” Kylie’s tour de force cabaret-esque gown is a perfect example of such character amplification. A number of costumes from musical theatre of the 1950s and 1960s are also included in All That Glitters, several of which have only recently been through the process of restoration. For Margot Anderson, seeing these pieces transformed through conservation is one of several highlights of the current project. Included in the exhibition is an example of John Truscott’s now famous designs for the stage production of Camelot (1963). After the success of the stage show, Truscott was subsequently invited to design the film version in Hollywood, for which he was ultimately awarded two Academy Awards in 1967 for costume design and art direction. This context highlights the importance of preserving and continuing to display his original costumes – which is the primary objective of the Performing Arts Collection.

Costume worn by Kylie Minogue in Kylie Showgirl: Homecoming Tour, 2006. Designed by John Galliano.

For those cultural punters who were unable to acquire tickets for the upcoming Ring cycle production, the Arts Centre’s exhibition All That Glitters offers an alternative opportunity to engage with the intricacies of stage costume at close quarters. For the lucky ticket-holders, the exhibition provides this opportunity also, as well as serving to contextualise the current staging of Wagner – Rhinemaidens and all – within the history of performing arts aesthetics in Melbourne and beyond.

»»All That Glitters: Costumes from Arts Centre Melbourne’s Performing Arts Collection is on display at the Arts Centre Melbourne, Gallery I, from November 16 to February 23. Admission is free. artscentremelbourne.com.au


The Melbourne Review November 2013 25

melbournereview.com.au

WORDS & MUSIC

Lou Reed

exterior was a vulnerability and tenderness that drew the listener in. David Bowie dominated the turntables of the mid 70s, but as a person he remained aloof. To my friends and me, he was always Bowie but Reed we knew as Lou. His candid songs were a window to his world; a mysterious and dangerous world, populated by outsiders, where the sex was easy and the drugs were hard.

The Other Man In Black

That Reed felt like an outsider was understandable. As a teenager his parents had authorised electro-shock therapy in a bid to cure him of his homosexual tendencies. It didn’t work. Now his defiant, wounded songs gave voice to the marginalised, like an urban Johnny Cash. Yet, where Cash operated within a traditional Christian paradigm of right and wrong, Reed – the other man in black, stood apart. Those old morals had lost their meaning. For a Coney Island Baby only the redemptive power of love remained.

by Phil Kakulas

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he last time I saw Lou Reed was a chance encounter in New York City in 1996. My band were staying downtown, enjoying a few days off between shows. We had scoured Manhattan in search of rock ‘n’ roll landmarks like Max’s Kansas City, the legendary playground of Andy Warhol’s factory scene and home to Reed’s first group, The Velvet Underground. As I explored streets and locations name-checked in his lyrics, it felt, rather wonderfully, like I was living in a Lou Reed song. So it was that one afternoon, with great surprise and perfect logic, I came across the unmistakable figure of Lou Reed himself, dressed in black and ambling towards me with the bowed gait of a cowboy. With him was a larger man in a business suit, the two of them tight in conversation. I tried to affect a manner both casual and familiar as I raised my arm and called out “Hey Lou”. He looked up momentarily and fixed me with a slightly puzzled expression of ‘Do I know you or not?’ “Hey,” he drawled back.   Of course, he didn’t know me – but I sure felt like I knew him. It was already over twenty years since, as an impressionable 14-year-old, I had first seen him at the Perth Concert Hall in 1975. Local glam band Supernaut (of I Like

Ah, but remember that the city is a funny place Something like a circus or a sewer And just remember different people have peculiar tastes And the glory of love might see you through

It Both Ways fame) had opened the evening in suitably gender-bending fashion and then… nothing. With the stage set and the roadies long gone we waited impatiently until the group finally appeared – and proceeded to tune up. Reed ignored us. We loved it. Sweet Jane.   Standing on the corner Suitcase in my hand Jack is in his corset and Jane is in her vest And me I’m in a rock ‘n’ roll band  Reed’s disdain for the audience was dazzling.

“Get funky!” someone heckled. “Get fucked,” Reed replied. I had seen him on TV looking bored and irritated, taunting journalists with outrageous statements about how people should take drugs because ‘it’s better than Monopoly.’ To be on the receiving end of such awful treatment was thrilling. So this was rock ‘n’ roll, I thought.

That night in 1975 a little of Manhattan came to Perth, changing me forever. Now here I was on a Greenwich Village street watching Lou Reed disappear into the crowd. Later, when I caught up with Susans’ guitarist Dan Luscombe, I paid little attention to his unusually agitated state. “I just had a definitive New York experience,” I declared, “Lou Reed just passed me in the street!” “So did l,” he replied. “I just got mugged.”

Ooh isn’t it nice When your heart is made out of ice? Reed may have closed down in interviews but he opened up in song. Beneath the gruff

That’s the story of my life That’s the difference between wrong and right But Billy said that both those words are dead That’s the story of my life


26 THE MELBOURNE REVIEW NOVEMBER 2013

PERFORMING ARTS / CINEMA

BRITISH FILM FESTIVAL 2013 Palace Cinemas presents a treasure trove of both contemporary and classic British Cinema. BY ANNA SNOEKSTRA

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n a valuable addition to its commitment to annual foreign language film festivals, Palace Cinemas is including an annual English speaking festival to the mix.

Kim Petalas, the programming director, spoke about the decision to create the inaugural British Film Festival, saying “We felt it was important to complement our foreign language film festivals with an English language festival. Our audience has always felt a really strong affinity toward British cinema and some of the highly grossing films across our circuit have been British films, like The King’s Speech and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.’ The festival is a mix bag of films. “There’s something for everybody in this festival,”

Petalas states. The program includes big name dramas like the closing night film Philomena, with Judi Dench and directed by Stephen Frears. Audiences will also get the chance to preview the highly anticipated adaptation of the young adult book How I Live Now featuring rising starlet Saoirse Ronan in a return to her native Ireland. There is a selection of independent films that may never otherwise have crossed the ocean to Australian audiences. One of these is Mission to Lars, an engaging and moving independent documentary made by three siblings as they try to help one of their brothers, who is severely autistic, to follow his dream and meet his hero, Lars Ulrich of Metallica.

Jump

Closed Circuit

A highlight of the festival is Good Vibrations. A personal favourite of Petalas, who loved “the energy behind the film; it’s infectious. It really took me by surprise,” and set during The Troubles in 1970s Belfast, the story follows the true story of chaotic and passionate Terri Hooley, who decides to open a record store in the midst of the mayhem. His store evolves into a record label as his passion for an alternative voice against the violence turns him into the ‘godfather of punk’. Funny, poignant and altogether charming, this is a cinema event not to be missed. As well as a great assortment of Australian premieres, there is also a traditional element to the program. “We’ve always had a classic element to our film festivals,” says Petalas, “and the British Film Festival takes this to the next step. One of the initial ideas about putting together a British film festival was the absolute treasure trove of classics that we can tap into. There really was an

embarrassment of riches and we felt that the best way to introduce our British Film Festival was to bring the top five films as voted as BFI professionals and showcase them in our inaugural year.” The top five classics are The Third Man, Brief Encounter, Lawrence of Arabia, The 39 Steps and Great Expectations.

» The British Film Festival runs from November 20 to December 1 at Cinema Como and Balwyn. The festival is supported by special guest Eric Bana who will be doing Q & As after each screening of his film Closed Circuit. britishfilmfestival.com.au/ twitter.com/BritFilmFestAUS facebook.com/britishfilmfest


THE MELBOURNE REVIEW NOVEMBER 2013 27

MELBOURNEREVIEW.COM.AU

VISUAL ARTS

Modern Love at Bendigo Art Gallery BY SUZANNE FRASER

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he recent past can be an unsettling subject of study. It exists in the memory of our own lived experience and consequently, unlike the distant past, it confronts us with the immediate progress of time. Not to mention the total changeability of fashion. Yet if we overcome the uneasiness of looking just behind the present, we can discover anew the excitement of those events, styles and ideas that were groundbreaking not that long ago. In the latest costume exhibition to open at Bendigo Art Gallery, Modern Love, a selection of innovative fashion pieces from across the last three decades is presented as a reflection on the recent past – through a sartorial lens. Loaned from the collection of the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM) in Los Angeles, the pieces that comprise this exhibition are united in their determined creativeness, but little else. This salutation to diversity is a general characteristic of the time period under consideration in this show. As curator at Bendigo Leanne Fitzgibbon is quick to note, “The exhibition is not about travelling back to the 1980s. It is about innovation.”

such details proclaimed a new entitlement to freedom in the way people chose to dress. Over the next few years, Westwood would continue to push against the restraints of convention and bourgeois propriety in her designs. The exhibition proceeds past punk into the high-energy, high-impact design zone of the 1980s – with the diverse line-up of Jean-Paul Gaultier, Yohji Yamamoto, and Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel. The latter of these figures serves to reveal the role of young designers at this time in rejuvenating to the point of revolutionising historic design houses. In Lagerfeld’s redesign of the classic Chanel Evening Jacket (1991), we see a garment that adheres to the basic formula imagined by Coco Chanel, whilst incorporating the sleek, active-wear aesthetic which marked the early 1990s. This decade continues in the exhibition with the designs of John Galliano, Dolce and Gabbana, and Alexander McQueen. In these pieces we find the quintessential “recent past” dilemma: that being the uncanny awareness of familiarity and historic distance.

Moving towards the contemporary, a The exhibition begins at the dawn of punk, highlight of the current exhibition – and at which point Vivienne Westwood set about indeed of the extensive collection of the inverting the norms of fashion and inserting FIDM Museum – is the elaborate Alexander shock and scandal into the neat panorama of McQueen Evening Dress, commissioned by haute couture. Designed in collaboration with the museum in 2010. As Leanne Fitzgibbon her then partner (in love and business) Malcolm notes, in the case of this piece, “the client is McLaren, Westwood’s Bondage Ensemble (c the mannequin”, since the gown was designed 1976-80) incorporates restraint straps into specifically to the proportions of the inanimate the traditional design of a suit; frame. Standing at 190cm tall, the McQueen MELB_REVIEW_AD_3.pdf 1 ironically 6/11/13 1:49 PM

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The diverse garments of Modern Love reject any further classification than the timeframe under consideration. The styles and ideas represented in this show are ephemeral and disparate. Yet the outcomes of such innovations – namely, the clothing – continue to exist as witness to the vivacity of the fashion industry in recent decades. In the lyrics to David Bowie’s 1983 track ‘Modern Love’, the sincerity of contemporary society is seemingly called into question with the lines, ‘There’s no sign of life, It’s just the power to charm’. When considered in relation to the current exhibition at Bendigo, these words are transformed into a celebration of the animating role of fashion in our lives. The bright, shocking, lavish, and minimalist pieces on display enliven the mannequins on which they hang, proceeding to engage you in a conversation on the recent past. Which will charm the pants off you.

The Dax Centre asks for your support to continue its innovative programs in 2014, using its art to increase understanding of mental illness and psychological trauma, connect with affected individuals and communities and counter the stigma of mental illness.

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The present collaboration between Bendigo Art Gallery and the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising emerged out of Bendigo’s phenomenally successful 2012 exhibition Grace Kelly: Style Icon, to which FIDM loaned a piece from their collection. Since 1999, Bendigo has introduced regular fashion exhibitions into their schedule, although it is only in the last few years that this series has built momentum. Having staged largely historic costume shows previously, the team at Bendigo felt it was “a natural progression to now look at contemporary fashion,” says Fitzgibbon. After exchanging ideas with FIDM’s Kevin Jones during his installation trip to Bendigo last year, the current exhibition began to take shape. The context of regional Victoria provides an elegant and interesting context in which to display this snapshot of the Los Angeles collection.

USING ART TO • increase understanding of mental illness and psychological trauma • connect with affected individuals and communities • counter the stigma of mental illness

Please help The Dax Centre use its collection in the way that visionary and pioneering psychiatrist, Dr Eric Cunningham Dax envisaged when he collected (1946–mid 1980s) and salvaged artworks from closing Victorian psychiatric institutions. We are an independent non-profit organisation that relies on the support of the community each year. This appeal is the first of a regular annual appeal – we hope you will participate to make it a success!

Photo: Brian E. Sanderson

THE POWER TO CHARM

display cuts a commanding figure, complete with innumerable layers of tulle and rich detailing across the bodice and skirt which, in total, took two people seven months to complete. This gown also highlights the role of fashion beyond its “wearable” foundations, existing as it does purely as an exhibition piece and thus a performance of creative innovation.

Detail Of Evening Dress. Alexander Mcqueen. Fall/Winter 2008-2009. Courtesy Of The Fidm Museum At The Fashion Institute Of Design & Merchandising, Los Angeles

» Modern Love: Fashion Visionaries from the FIDM Museum, Los Angeles, shows at Bendigo Art Gallery until February 2. bendigoartgallery.com.au

You can donate* or become a friend online at www.daxcentre.org/november appeal, call 03 9035 6258 or email info@daxcentre.org. * All donations over $2 are tax deductible.

NOVEMBER APPEAL THE DAX CENTRE

The Dax Centre, Kenneth Myer Building University of Melbourne, Genetics Lane off Royal Parade Melbourne, Vic 3010 www.daxcentre.org ABN 76 147 566 792


28 THE MELBOURNE REVIEW NOVEMBER 2013

VISUAL ARTS

Into the Unknown

Land emerge from suspicion, hint and fantasy into reality? Mapping Our World: Terra Incognita to Australia, recently opened at the National Library of Australia in Canberra, brings together the finest collection of historic maps yet assembled in Australia that together chart the coming of our region into the modern, European consciousness – our austral terra incognita slowly incorporated into the rational northern mind.

Mapping Our World at the National Library of Australia, Canberra.

BY WILLIAM CHARLES

Photo: Adrian Lambert

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apping can be as simple a thing as X marks the spot – an element of children’s games – and is usually taken for granted given its sheer ubiquity and multiple forms. Yet mapping represents one of the finest conceptual achievements of civilization – a transfer of three dimensional geographic (and abstract mental) space and environment into a specifically designed (usually) two dimensional representation. Maps tell the story of our world and how we navigate it, and what tools are at our disposal to do so. Maps are windows into the art, aesthetics, scientific development and moral universe of their creators, and are like cross-sectional

Petrus PLANCIUS Plancius World Map 1594, 1594 hand coloured engraving. Kerry Stokes Collection, Perth 2010.044.

samples taken from ice or wood: each reveals the conditions of the time in which it came into being. Maps serve to represent not just the known but, even more enticingly, the unknown. In centuries past maps swelled at their corners

with beasts and demons, guarding the uncharted deeps and uncrossed mountain chains, denizens of lands of terror, ignorance and death. The unmappable was a truly awful void; even Satan in Hell had his inscribed place within Dante’s ever-descending, contracting circles of pain. The map has, paradoxically, no boundary: it can represent both factual landscapes and imaginary ones with equal exactitude. While maps allow us to tie and section the world, rope it away behind boundaries, measure its contents and chart its treasures and dangers, chart its points of home and reassurance, at the same time they allow us to create entire worlds anew, worlds without necessary or rational limit.

JEFFERY WILKINSON: UNTITLED 19 OCTOBER - 19 DECEMBER Featuring over 40 works in bronze, ceramic and fibreglass relief by the creator of The Swimmer on the Hampton foreshore in Melbourne, this exhibition provides insight into Wilkinson’s wry sense of humour, socio-political views and technical prowess. Jeffery WILKINSON, Untitled (Horse IV) nd., bronze, 22 x 36 x 8 cm. Image courtesy of the Wilkinson family.

www.bayside.vic.gov.au/thegalleryatbacc

Venue The Gallery Bayside Arts & Cultural Centre Brighton Town Hall Cnr Carpenter & Wilson Streets Opening hours Wednesday - Friday 11 - 5 Saturday & Sunday 1 - 5 Enquiries Phone: 03 9592 0291 Email: bacc@bayside.vic.gov.au Presented by

Maps delight with their colours: empires at a glance, voids of blue; swathes of pink across colonial ambition and desire. Maps invite challenge, conflict and endless dispute: lines drawn across desert sands or over rebellious mountain ranges divide people by cartographic concept and governmental expedience rather than ethnographic reality. Wars are fought over scraps of territory; neighbourhood gangs define the limits of their influence; real estate prices fluctuate on either side of the lines we draw. Little, it seems, remains unmapped in our obsessively technological world: distant galaxies perhaps; the deeps of the oceans; the centre of our planet; desire; the contours of the human heart. But what maps inspired the idea of Australia? In Manning Clark’s History of Australia we read of Javanese who “on finding the current carrying them southward... abandoned their junks and rowed for shore in fear of being drawn into the abyss of Pausengi from which there was no return.” How did the concept of the Great Southern

This is the first time many of these maps have been seen in Australia, rarely coming out of their European vaults. The British Library, the Vatican and the Bibliotheque Nationale de France have all lent treasures that (practically and conceptually) map the journey from ancient and medieval ideas of what lay at the lower ends of the earth, through to Matthew Flinders’ brilliant charting of Australia in 1814. Not only maps: a variety of instruments of knowledge and navigation are on display, including globes, atlases and scientific devices, some drawn from our own national collections. A highlight among these treasures is the Fra Mauro from the Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana in Venice, a two-metre hand-painted disc world that leaves Italy for the first time – its maiden voyage now after 600 years. The Fra Mauro, a large circular planisphere, is drawn on parchment and mounted on wood in a square frame. Unusually for medieval European maps, it is oriented with south at the top. It was created by Fra Mauro, a Camaldulian monk from the island of Murano. Other highlights include the map that first made the Pacific an ocean – Hessel Gerritsz’s Mar Pacifico, Mar del Sur, on loan from the Bibliotheque Nationale De France; Hendrick Doncker’s The Sea Atlas (1659) with its goldleaf illustrations and fantastic guesses as to parts of the world yet undiscovered; an 1842-printed Cosmographia by Ptolemy; beautiful medieval Christian and Islamic maps; and secret maps of Australia commissioned by the Dutch East India company, before completing the journey with examples from Captain James Cook, Louis de Freycinet and Matthew Flinders. The National Library in Canberra is the exclusive Australian venue for this exhibition which runs for a strictly limited season. The exhibition coincides with both the national capital’s centenary year and the bicentenary of Matthew Flinders’ map of Australia in 2014.

» Mapping Our World: Terra Incognita to Australia is on show now at the National Library of Australia, Canberra, until March 10, 2014. The exhibition is free but bookings are essential. nla.gov.au/exhibitions/mapping-our-world


THE MELBOURNE REVIEW NOVEMBER 2013 29

MELBOURNEREVIEW.COM.AU

Photo: Courtesy Studebaker National Museum, South Bend, Indiana

VISUAL ARTS

Raymond Loewy for Studebaker Corporation. Avanti automobile (image from company brochure) designed 1961,manufactured 1963–64.

California Design 1930–1965 at QAGOMA, Brisbane.

BY WENDY CAVENETT

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alifornia Design 1930–1965: Living in a Modern Way – currently showing at the Queensland Art Gallery – introduces Australian audiences to an era of accelerated change experienced in California in the decades before the war, but particularly during and after World War II. The exhibition traces this cultural and design epoch through more than 250 architectural, industrial, fashion and craft design objects that were made, in part, from war industry technologies and a particularly cooperative spirit that gave rise to a distinct form of modernism – “a loose, albeit clearly recognisable, group of ideas” – that is this exhibition’s focus. Curated by Wendy Kaplan, Department Head and Curator, Decorative Arts and Design, Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) and her colleague, Associate Curator, Bobbye Tigerman, California Design breathes life into an era many remember or still experience vicariously through mid-century modern films or the popular Mad Men series. In the gallery space, this collection of objects and artefacts creates a dynamic social and cultural

Says Kaplan: “There was the incredible freedom of having the backyard, the pool, and the patio being an extended living room, which really changed the way people occupied space, making it a much more informal way of life, and in doing so, creating the need for different kinds of furniture and clothing.”

history that celebrates human endeavour and the utopian spirit that every age seems to produce, yet few reflect so vividly in its everyday products and philosophies. Objects such as Mattel Inc’s very first Barbie doll, the Charles and Ray Eames-designed moulded plywood chair, and Mary Ann DeWeese’s 1961 spandex and lycra woven stars and stripes woman’s swimsuit, reflect both the playfulness and optimism of this era as much as the idea that good, affordable design for the masses is paramount, perfectly illustrating the Eames’s famous quip: ‘The best for the most for the least.’ First to be seen are two key examples of California modernism, known for its unadorned, functional, and exquisitely realised objects and design vocabularies – a stunning 1964 champagne-coloured, luxury coupé Studebaker Avanti, and secondly (and most remarkably) a shiny 1936 ‘Clipper’ trailer, its riveted aluminium casing (featured on aircraft fuselage) an aesthetic and design wonder, its futuristic, shimmering surface not out of place in the gallery’s clean, contemporary spaces. Enter the exhibition proper and four thematic sections reflect the rich curatorial threads: ‘Shaping’, which traces the emergence of California modernism; ‘Making’, with its focus on manufacture and production; ‘Living’, featuring housing, home interiors, and possibly the bedrock of California modernism – the indoor/outdoor ideal; and lastly, ‘Selling California Modern’, which tracks advertising and commerce because, as featured architectural photographer Julius Shulman once asserted: “Good design is seldom accepted. It has to be sold.”

Kaplan is quick to point out that while it was a period of unprecedented prosperity and optimism, the threat of nuclear annihilation felt real. Gilbert Adrian’s two-piece black dress from The Atomic 50s collection is a great example of using design to assuage people’s fears, Kaplan says, and is one of the many fashion highlights of the exhibition, as is the golden Margit Fellegi Woman’s swimsuit (1950) – probably made as promotion for Esther Williams’ 1952 movie, Million Dollar Mermaid – and the superb twopiece Swoon Suit (1942). California Design – a landmark exhibition tracing one of the great cultural and design epochs in America’s contemporary history – finds the perfect home in the Queensland Art Gallery, and promises to enthral Australian audiences who will no doubt relate to this optimistic, fun-in-the-sun, middle-class utopia that produced – to borrow Frank Lloyd Wright’s apt description – “beautiful [and affordable] forms for human use”.

» California Design 1930–1965: Living In A Modern Way shows at the Queensland Art Gallery, South Brisbane, until February 9, 2014. qagoma.qld.gov.au/californiadesign

DZ Deathrays / Mushroom 40th Anniversary Concert Thousand £ Bend 2013 / Photo: Noel Smyth

Living in a Modern Way

According to Kaplan, World War II produced the technology to make floor-toceiling windows, and the all-important steel framing that revolutionised housing design. Arts & Architecture (1929-1967) was a big supporter of residential steel, championing its use by sponsoring the Case Study House program, which commissioned numerous bigname architects (including Richard Neutra, Raphael Soriano, Craig Ellwood, and Charles and Ray Eames) to design and build low-cost but practical model homes to help service the housing crisis of post-war America (created by the need to house the millions of returning soldiers and their families). It was the perfect climate for a design and building revolution – particularly in California thanks in part to its buoyant economy, the many big-name architects and designers who lived there (including European émigrés, Neutra, Rudolph Schindler and Greta Magnusson Grossman and natives Millard Sheets, the Eames team and Alvin Lustig) and the benign climate that supported the coveted indoor/outdoor lifestyle.

40 Years of Mushroom & Melbourne’s Popular Music Culture 19 NOVEMBER 2013 – 22 FEBRUARY 2014 An RMIT Gallery and Mushroom collaboration Presented by RMIT Gallery 344 Swanston Street Melbourne 3000 Telephone 03 9925 1717 / www.rmit.edu.au/rmitgallery Monday – Friday 11 – 5 / Thursday 11 – 7 / Saturday 12 – 5 / Closed Sundays Free entry / Public Programs / Like RMIT Gallery on Facebook / Follow RMIT Gallery on Twitter


30 The Melbourne Review November 2013

VISUAL ARTS / ON PERMANENT DISPLAY Whether we take a light-hearted Pickwickian or a more sombre reading of The monopolist, this exquisite little painting invites us to enjoy Buss’s meticulous attention to detail in depicting the cosy setting and furnishings (the carafes, halffilled wine glass and cheerful advertisements for hot roast joints and Ramsbottom ale) that situate so captivatingly this vignette of selfishness and snobbery in the Victoria Dining Rooms.

»»Ted Gott is Senior Curator of International Art, NGV

Edwina Preston

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idiculous and Victorian Dickens’s characters might seem, but they are no more ludicrous than those who inhabit our own times. I can’t help imagining a modern take on Buss’s The monopolist:

Robert Buss, The monopolist 1840. Oil on canvas, 51.1 x 61.0 cm. National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne. Purchased, 1877.

The monopolist The Melbourne Review introduces a new visual arts column, inviting both curators and members of the public to respond to some of the lesser known jewels of the NGV’s permanent collection, from any genre or period. THIS MONTH, Robert Buss’s The monopolist (1840).

Ted GotT

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arly one morning in mid April 1836, Robert Seymour, then one of the most popular illustrators in Britain, blew his head off with a shotgun. It was Seymour who had had the original idea that became The Pickwick Papers, proposing in 1835 to publishers Chapman and Hall that they bring out a volume of his drawings poking fun at

the follies of middle-aged Cockney ‘sportsmen’. The words a young Charles Dickens was then commissioned to write alongside Seymour’s illustrations subsequently became a runaway success that eclipsed Seymour’s own art, leading to the illustrator’s mental collapse and suicide. Seymour was quickly replaced by another popular British painter and illustrator, Robert Buss, who was known for comic paintings in which he gently satirised the absurdities of daily life in

post-Regency and early Victorian England. Already a fan himself of the emerging new writer Dickens, Buss now suspended his own work on a major canvas he was preparing for the forthcoming Royal Academy exhibition, and drew for Dickens and his publishers a range of Pickwickian characters and situations in a manner sympathetic with that of Seymour. Buss’s lively drawings were botched, however, by the journeyman engraver tasked with transferring them to etching plates for printing. Dickens was dissatisfied with the end result, and Buss’s involvement with The Pickwick Papers quickly came to end, a replacement artist for Seymour eventually being found in Hablot Browne (or ‘Phiz’). While stung by his Pickwick experience, Robert Buss continued to read Dickens’s works as they appeared, and frequently created paintings and illustrations of them of his own accord. Given this, it is not surprising to see echoes of the already legendarily stout and bespectacled Samuel Pickwick in the protagonist of Buss’s The monopolist (1840), painted just four years after Pickwick’s first appearance in print.  Buss’s monopolist warms his bottom before a cheery fire in the Victoria Dining Rooms, blissfully oblivious to the plight of a cold and wet workman who reaches a shivering, mittened hand towards the warmth so amply hogged by the wealthy gentleman’s Pickwickian girth. Buss himself proposed a somewhat serious reading of the humour in The monopolist, writing that his painting depicted ‘the class of persons who live by fattening on the poor’.

The room is somewhat more crowded, but we can make out certain personages we know. Sitting upright as a poker in his rocking chair, missing nothing, the ancient news baron and plutocrat, Sir Rupert Murdoch. Beside him, sipping parsimoniously on a sherry and holding fast to a purse full of cash wadded up under her skirts, Dame Gina Rinehart. (The story of her beleaguered relations with her children is a novel in itself, rivalling Bleak House, and entitled Oh, Pity my Fortune!) Sir Clive Palmer, maverick new Member of Parliament, leans heavily on an old-fashioned blunderbuss that threatens accidentally to go off at any moment. Above them, on the wall, is a map of the country, neatly dissected with red dotted lines, with asterisks to represent towns that have recently been excised in the name of progress. Next to this is another map, this one of the world, in which one can plainly see that the vast continent of Africa has been struck out entirely with a black charcoal cross. In the corner, crammed together, is a trio of complainants: a recently arrived destitute family, having fled persecution in their home country and seeking lodgings; a balding school headmaster, whose school for paupers has had its funding rescinded and is about to be closed; a bespectacled scientist, desperate to be heard, who has discovered that the industrial revolution has produced a measurable hole in the sky. In the centre of the picture, Sir Anthony Abbott, lover of antiquated technologies, holds to his ear a conspicuously oversized ear-trumpet to pick up the grievances of his parishioners. Sadly, said instrument is trained in entirely the wrong direction. He cannot hear a thing.

»»Edwina Preston is the author of The Inheritance of Ivorie Hammer (UQP).


32 The Melbourne Review November 2013

VISUAL ARTS

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Monash Gallery of Art

McClelland Gallery + Sculpture Park

Claudia Terstappen In the shadow of change November 9 – January 26 860 Ferntree Gully Rd, Wheelers Hill mga.org.au

2

RMIT Gallery

Music, Melbourne & Me: 40 years of Mushroom and Melbourne’s Popular Music Culture November 19 – February 22 Storey Hall, Swanston St, Melbourne rmit.edu.au/rmitgallery

3

Gallerysmith

Lucas Grogan Quilts Kirstin Berg The Fall November 15 – December 14 170 – 174 Abbotsford St North Melbourne gallerysmith.com.au

Shaun Gladwell: Afghanistan An Australian War Memorial travelling exhibition Made to last: the conservation of art A NETS Victoria exhibition in partnership with the Centre for Cultural Materials Conservation at the University of Melbourne and supported by Latrobe Regional Gallery Until February 2014 360 - 390 McClelland Drive, Langwarrin mcclellandgallery.com

4

Town Hall Gallery

Marker 10 Years of the Town Hall Gallery Collection. This exhibition highlights ten years of active collecting supported by the City of Boroondara. Featuring sixty-five artworks from twenty-three artists. November 22 – January 4 360 Burwood Rd, Hawthorn townhallgallery.com.au

Make art the experience of a lifetime... Adelaide Central School of Art is an independent, not-for-profit, accredited Higher Education Provider that offers intensive training for students looking to develop a career as a practising artist. All lecturers are leading practitioners in the field in which they teach. Bachelor of Visual Art

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• Studio based teaching • Full-time or part-time study • Day and evening classes

Bachelor of Visual Art (Hons) • 34 week academic year • Dedicated studios for BVA and Honours students

Applications for Semester 1 2014 close 6 January 2014 Graduate Exhibition 14 December 2013 - 10 January 2014 View work by the BVA and BVA (Hons) graduates in the Gallery and throughout the Teaching & Studio Building. New Glenside campus opened in May 2013 info@acsa.sa.edu.au www.acsa.sa.edu.au

5

Flinders Lane Gallery

Julie Davidson Offering November 19 – December 7 137 Flinders Lane, Melbourne flg.com.au

6

Marco Luccio

The Garden of Sorrows November 8 – December 1 Steps Gallery 62 Lygon St, Carlton marcoluccio.com

7

Anna Pappas Gallery

Jayne Dyer Just suppose… Matthew Bax Please LIKE me November 6 – 30 2-4 Carlton Street, Prahran annapappasgallery.com

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Geelong Gallery

2013 Geelong acquisitive print awards Until November 24 Little Malop St, Geelong geelonggallery.org.au

9

James Makin Gallery

Joanna Logue New works November 14 – December 8 James Makin Gallery 67 Cambridge St, Collingwood jamesmakingallery.com

10

Without Pier Gallery

Contemporary Group Show: Ben Aitken Kirsten Jackson Christopher Seater Sarah Whitbread November 17 – December 1 Vasos Tsesmelis December 4 – 18 320 Bay Road, Cheltenham withoutpier.com.au

11

Heide Museum of Modern Art

Albert Tucker: Explorers and Intruders Until March 9 7 Templestowe Road, Bulleen heide.com.au

12

Art at Linden Gate

Natural Beauty December 7 to January 20 899 Healesville-Yarra Glen Rd, Yarra Glen artatlindengate.com

13

Bendigo Art Gallery

Modern Love Fashion visionaries from the FIDM Museum LA Until February 2 42 View St, Bendigo bendigoartgallery.com.au

National Gallery of Victoria Edward Steichen and Art Deco Fashion Until March 2 NGV International 180 St Kilda Rd ngv.vic.gov.au


The Melbourne Review November 2013 33

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GALLERY LISTINGS

The Garden of Sorrows

9

Steps Gallery, Carlton by Suzanne Fraser 10

C

urrently on display at Steps Gallery in Carlton is a new series of etchings by Melbourne-based artist Marco Luccio. Conceived in partnership with writer John Hughes, this print series captures in inventive visual vernacular a collection of fourteen contemporary fables written by Hughes and featuring Australia’s native wildlife. This exhibition coincides with the launch of a collaborative book, also titled The Garden of Sorrows, published by UWAP.

11

Originally inspired by the characteristic eccentricities of Australia’s animals, theses fables serve to invert the classic narrative structure of human-to-animal metamorphosis. Here the animals become human. The first thinkers, the first practitioners, the first merchants – all emerge from the forms and habits of the Australian fauna. Hughes thus re-imagines the ancient storytelling traditions of the west – those of Ovid and Aesop, for instance – through the idiosyncratic environment of Australia.

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In Marco Luccio’s etchings, these fantastical, anthropomorphic subjects are realised through the artist’s skilled printmaking practice. This series nevertheless represents a major departure for Luccio, whose previous subjects have centred on architecture and cityscapes.

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After being approached by John Hughes to consider the aforementioned fables in visual form – with the anticipated aim of compiling an illustrated book – Luccio embarked upon the twofold task of, firstly, learning to handle human/animal subjects in his work and, secondly, conceiving a new

sequential visual language through which to bring Hughes’ transformative narratives to life. This process led the artist to spend time in the museums of Melbourne and Sydney, studying and sketching specimens from the collections. In approaching the project in this way, Luccio discovered a fresh and revelatory perspective on the forms of living animals – namely, through their bone structures. As the artist notes, “When you look at these creatures as skeletons, it is a revelation.” Included in the exhibition is a print showing a seemingly medium-sized skeleton upon a branch, with few remarkable characteristics other than a long and slightly curved spine. This image, from the eighth fable of the book entitled ‘The Birth of Agriculture’, turns out to be a study of a koala. Hughes’ stories could very easily translate into caricature-like images; indeed the realisation of human characteristics or emotions in animal forms is a challenge for any artist. For the most part, Luccio overcomes this hurdle by employing only very slight allusions to sentiment, such as an arched brow or wide eyes. The artist’s depiction of human form in the stories is similarly nuanced. In ‘The Birth of Wisdom’, for example, the emu Echo, after encountering her reflection and having a run-in with the goanna, leaps into the hole in a tree and ultimately emerges, after “days

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on end”, as an old, frail, and very wise woman. In Luccio’s interpretation of this scene, the woman has a tree-like appearance and seems as ancient as the very first of anything could be, which is in keeping with the tenor of the fable. The current exhibition of this series comprises 80 etchings, 60 of which are represented in the recently published book. Also on display are examples of the etched plates from which the prints were made, as well as several bone specimens that provided instruction and inspiration for the artist. These works are not simply illustrations of John Hughes’ writing, since Luccio was given vast scope for reimagining the fables in his own visual language; the print series can thus be appreciated independently of the stories. Yet together the words and images create an amalgam that seems to effortlessly withstand logic and reason. After reading the book, at the back of your mind, there is a new history of how the human world began.

»»To accompany the show, the artist is giving a free floor talk on Sunday November 17 at Steps Gallery, 62 Lygon St, Carlton South (bookings essential).


34 The Melbourne Review November 2013

VISUAL ARTS

Nick Azidis 21 Years in the Making by Fatima Jarrari

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any Melbournians have likely experienced the large scale projections being thrown over architectural buildings throughout the city and its surrounds like garments of patterned silk, although few of us actually know much about the artist behind the work. He is Nick Azidis, Creative and Managing Director behind Projection Teknik, set to have his first exhibition in more than 21 years at Gallery One Three this month. Azidis grew up in Melbourne and discovered a fascination for art in secondary school. He went on to study photography, painting, drawing, sculpture, life drawing, film and television and art history at Huntingdale Tech. These studies, combined with seeing scientific experiments being displayed through projectors in science classes, fuelled his curiosity. An interest in new media was bubbling beneath the surface. In the early 90s Azidis was living in the CBD working in the mediums of metal and painting when he discovered projection art. He was introduced to the artform by Pip Darvel aka Depravision / Visidub, and inspired by two of Melbourne’s godfathers in projection art, Ian De Gruchy and Hugh McSpedden, aka Humania. Azidis was inspired by the architecture around him and the ever-changing landscape of the built environment where he was living. He now works closely with Ian De Gruchy who became his mentor.

Soon after this Azidis bought his first projector, and began modifying and experimenting with the light path to create new and dynamic visuals, which led him to start using it for psychedelic parties. From here his projection work started to gain attention and he was asked to do the projections for more events in and around Melbourne, and eventually at events around the country – each time with new and unique images, custom made and mapped to the architectural structures he was projecting onto. Azidis’ biggest gigs to date have been doing the projections for the 2012 & 2013 Australian Open and projecting onto the Sydney Opera House and bridge pylons in 2011. He has also been involved with the Gertrude Projection Festival, White Night 2013, Melbourne International Music Week, Circus Oz, Rainbow Serpent Festival, Melbourne Fringe Festival,

Big Day Out, Melbourne Biennale, a number of advertising campaigns and numerous corporate events. Some of Azidis’ principal influences range from the optical artists of the 1960s such as Bridget Riley, Barbara Januszkiewicz and Victor Vasarely to Japanese woodblock printed patterns, Aboriginal art and Islamic artisan patterns. Also, Piero Fornasetti’s “Lina’s Face” has been a subject of fascination and has featured in many of his projections. With over 1,000 different images of Lina’s face, the eyes, nose and mouth are always in the same position even though the facial structure continuously transforms. For his exhibition at Gallery One Three, Azidis is planning to re-create this effect. He will also display a selection of his abstract, patterned, illusionist paintings. Gallery One Three started in Warburton Lane, Melbourne (known formally as Warburton Lane Exhibits) in 2008. Warburton Lane Exhibits hosted exhibitions, wearable art collections and formal dinners with a look to hosting larger scale events and contemporary art exhibitions. It was when Warburton Lane Exhibits moved one laneway over to Somerset Place that it became Gallery One Three in 2012. It was a difficult year for the gallery but it survived and flourished, hosting a number of internationally recognised exhibitions, multiple L’OREAL Melbourne Fashion Festival events and a Melbourne Music Week event Invisible City 1987. With two levels of gallery to play with and a whole laneway for projections, Nick Azidis – 21 Years in the Making is set to be an explosive exhibition together with the Melbourne Music Week event INSITU opening on November 23.

This year Gallery One Three has established itself as a centre for diverse cultural expressions – be they music, contemporary art, fashion, video, projection, design or architecture. The gallery also looks forward to hosting a contemporary art exhibition coming up in December by award winning Vietnamese painter and sculptor Dino Hien, which is sponsored by the City of Melbourne.

»»Nick Azidis – 21 Years in the Making opens on November 23 at Gallery One Three, 13 Somerset Place, Melbourne galleryonethree.net


THE MELB OUR NE R EVIEW NOVEMBER 2013

Food.Wine.Coffee F I N E D I N I N G • S U S TA I N A B L E F O O D • C O F F E E • W I N E

Ayatana The Windsor end of Chapel Street hides away some gems – locals know Ayatana Thai Restaurant and Wine Bar, but the rest of us are just discovering it. REVIEW BY LOU PARDI / PHOTOS BY MATTHEW WREN


36 The Melbourne Review November 2013

FOOD.WINE.COFFEE Syracuse Restaurant and Wine Bar by Marianne Duluk

I Ayatana by Lou Pardi

T

he Windsor end of Chapel Street hides away some gems – locals know Ayatana Thai Restaurant and Wine Bar, but the rest of us are just discovering it.

Ayatana is over a year old, but it doesn’t show in the slick dining room – mooded up with dark colours. It’s not huge as dining rooms go and it’s a noisy place when it’s full – but you’re soon soothed by the friendly staff (and something from the wine list). The restaurant was co-founded by Piyawut Rungpradit (who goes by Tony) and a couple of his friends, Sitanan Nipatvaranan and Chonticha Laksana. Tony’s wife, Chef Juthamas Vichayaporn heads up the kitchen. Whilst the idea to open a restaurant in Melbourne came to Tony as he identified a hole in the market for Thai food, this is no ordinary Thai. Described as ‘modern Thai’, the menu includes spicy braised pulled beef soft tacos ($10 for two) and tofu brioche sliders ($5.50 each). Generally the chilli has been adjusted to Melbournian palettes – but you’ll still know it’s there. The yellowfish tuna rice paper rolls (four rounds for $12) deliver a staccato punch, but back off just in time. If you’re keen on chilli though, the kitchen is happy to turn up the heat. Pork belly features on both entrées and mains menus. For entrée, nuggets of caramelised crispy pork belly dance across one of Ayatana’s beautiful pieces of crockery with chilli jam, lime, mint, coriander, red onion and fried shallot ($14.90). With four pieces, it’s enough to share along with some other entrées, but noone will be being polite about the last piece. For main, twice-cooked pork belly is stir-fried with

chilli jam, beans and kaffir lime leaves ($23.90). Ayatana’s Massaman is served with decadent slow-cooked lamb shank ($21.90) or braised diced beef ($19.90). For my money, you can’t go past a fresh, light dish and at Ayatana that’s the fish – the steamed barramundi with wild ginger, onion, mushroom, choy sum (Chinese cabbage) and soy sauce ($23.90) – it’s simple, soulwarming fare. For something more indulgent, try the duck in red coconut curry with pineapple and cherry tomato ($23.90), or blue swimmer crab, tiger prawns and calamari stir-fried with tom yum sauce and veggies ($25.90). It pays to book at Ayatana – it’s often packed, even mid-week. It’s a great place to take a mixed group of vegetarians and carnivores – with a generous vegetarian menu including green papaya salad, tempura asparagus and plenty of tofu numbers. You’ll be too stuffed to fit in dessert, but should you have the willpower to pace yourself, there’s salted caramel ice cream sundae ($12.90), warm coconut tapioca pearl and sweet corn ($9.90) and black sticky rice pudding ($10.90) to reward you. Ayatana’s loyal customer base just keeps growing – all that’s required is a larger dining room and some baffle.

»»Ayatana 97 Chapel Street, Windsor 03 95338813 Lunch: Thursday – Saturday Dinner: Monday – Sunday ayatana.com.au

t’s a striking form of theatre, having a vintage Champagne trolley wheeled up to your table. You then have the arduous decision of picking your tipple, which may include Bollinger Special Cuvée or Claude Carré, served in your choice of flute – vintage coupe or tulip stems. A tried and tested favourite, Pol Roger Brut in a tulip stem. Yes, Syracuse’s Champagne trolley is indeed a unique offering. Amid Melbourne’s financial hub in Bank Place, Syracuse has been a celebrated haunt for over fifteen years. Set within a former Victorian-era bank with soaring ceilings, rich timberwork and stately arches, the décor here is classic – not unlike its devoted clientele, who exchange case-notes for crumbed pigs’ tails over lunch. As the sun sets over Melbourne, this atmospherically lit room with flickering candles appeals to intimate groups and wine lovers, whirling glasses of Rhone Marsanne. Owner Richard Moussi has been the driving force behind Syracuse since 2011, hailing from a long-standing background in hospitality. Head chef, Hugh Sanderson, is responsible for the contemporary Victorian menu, with nods to Asia and Europe. His dishes are mature and expressive, presented with modern strokes. Our friendly waiter explains that menu offerings change weekly, depending on the availability of seasonal produce; keeping regulars on their ‘foodie’ toes. Spanning from land to sea, there’s great variety in the entrée plates. Dishes are designed to share and the savoury spring pea custard ($15) is an impressive start. Whipped tofu and avocado is cloud-light, with a subtle sweetness from wakame seaweed and smoky bursts from charred sweet-corn. It’s a wonderfully textural dish, as are juicy cubes of yellow fin tuna ($24). Sustainably farmed on Chatham Island, the citrus driven tuna sits atop a bed of soft Job’s tears (similar to Chinese pearl barley). Smoked caviar and baby artichokes complete the culinary display. The smoked duck ($23) is another dish of fantastic balance. Smoked for several hours in a lip-smacking Pedro Ximénez jus, the duck breasts are dusted with fois gras powder and garnished with vanilla and fennel puree. Fresh strawberries provide a juicy, sweet lift, suitably cutting through the duck’s richness.

More applause for the spring inspired risotto ($29). A surprisingly light dish, cooked in soft mascarpone cream, a winning combination of tangy lemon, asparagus and sprigs of fresh dill bring it home. A pint-sized dessert menu offers the classics, with Sanderson’s crème brûlée ($15) a standout. A textbook brûlée ‘crack’ reveals a light, aerated violet crème and passionfruit caramel base. It’s seductively sweet, not sickly. The wine list is an impressive beast, particularly enticing for those with a penchant for French and Italian labels. We share a bottle of Domaine de Triennes Rosé from Provence: pale salmon in colour, it’s delicately aromatic with wild red fruit evoking memories of lazy spring days. Sanderson’s cooking, grounded in tradition yet with a keen eye on current trends, portrays a sense of adventure and class. So, escape to those grand surrounds, stay for the food and relish a drop or two from that Champagne trolley – disappointed you will not be.

»»Syracuse Restaurant and Wine Bar 23 Bank Place, Melbourne (03) 9670 1777 Breakfast, lunch & dinner: Monday – Friday, 7am – late; Saturday 6pm – late syracuserestaurant.com.au


The Melbourne Review November 2013 37

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FOOD.WINE.COFFEE Pete also came to paleo through a book. He read Nora Gedgaudas’ book Primal Body Primal Mind. He insists that paleo eating is possible even in fine dining. “I’m constantly finding ways around cooking without all the ingredients that cause harm to your health and don’t provide nutritional value. Creating fine dining and home style food that doesn’t aggravate your digestive system and cause inflammation, or mucus, or promote ill health but instead nourishes your body and more than satisfies your taste buds is something that truly inspires me,” he says. He and his team have even started photographing and recording recipes for a book and for sharing on Pete’s Facebook. We do hear of a new approach to food every other week, but Pete thinks paleo will stick. “I think fad diets are unfortunately aimed at people who are looking to lose weight, whereas the paleo diet is aimed at people who wish to strive for optimum health and enjoy good honest food. The weight loss that comes with it is just an added bonus. I don’t believe the gluten free diet is or was a fad either, I believe that gluten is a contaminant and that it’s detrimental to everyone’s health, and unfortunately greedy people jumped on the gluten free marketing band wagon and created a whole bunch of gluten free foods that were just full of junk, so people replaced junk with junk and therefore didn’t

experience the true nature and very real benefits of removing gluten from their diet and replacing it with nutritionally dense foods.” A major hurdle to changing diet is often the time investment. Pete has a few handy tips. “My partner Nic and I lead very busy lives and we can whip up delicious paleo-inspired dishes quickly and with ease. We always have some organic, 100 percent grass-fed mince of some sort in the fridge, which can effortlessly be turned into some yummy meat balls or patties by adding herbs, spices and chopped veggies. We also often keep a whole slow roasted or poached organic free range chook in the fridge which is perfect to chop up and toss through a fresh salad. “The options are endless and when you buy seasonally, eating a paleo style diet is actually less expensive too. The best advice I can share is to keep it simple and don’t over-complicate your meals and use loads of fresh herbs and spices to flavour your meats and vegetables. Also don’t be afraid to experiment when you have the time as you just may surprise yourself as to how deliciously creative you can be.”

facebook.com/peteevanschef

A CELEBRATION OF STYLE

If I Could Turn Back Time It seems there’s a new approach to eating every day, with predictably tenuous justifications. Paleo eating leans on the muscled laurels of the Palaeolithic human – which some say is the best version of the species to date in terms of physical strength.

by Lou Pardi

T

o criminally simplify paleo: before industrialisation, when humans ate meat and vege rather than sugar and refined foods, and

cooked with fire, our bodies processed food well and were strong and healthy. Whilst modern refined foods (sugar, flour and more) may deliver quick thrills, our bodies have not yet evolved to effectively process those foods, resulting in poor condition when we do eat them. Chef Pete Evans, who was lampooned for sharing his penchant for activated almonds (just before everyone else got on board), explains his approach to paleo: “A paleo lifestyle is quite simply about eating a delicious, nutrient-dense diet that doesn’t contain wheat, gluten, sugar, soy and grains; which means loads of fresh, seasonal vegetables, ethically raised meat and poultry, wild caught sustainable fish, eggs, herbs, nuts, seeds, spices and a balanced amount of fresh fruit.” There are plenty of books on paleo. Perfect Health Diet was recommended to me by a friend – she said she felt the best she ever had after following the paleo ideas presented. It’s written by two Harvard professors who had health problems and applied their research minds to finding, as you may have guessed, the perfect diet – which follows paleo principles.

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38 The Melbourne Review November 2013

WINE

Tasmania

Tasmania with Matthew Flinders and noted the suitability for viticulture. Each journey added a new layer to what has become the modern wine industry.

the rugged terrain and complex terroirs. Today, the evolution continues as a new band of explorers focus their viticultural attentions on Tasmania. This activity is driven in part because of the effects of global warming, sending winemakers in search of cool climate vineyards; and part because drinkers have become more aware of the pleasures of cool climate wines, of which Tasmania makes some of the finest.

t is not easy to pinpoint when Tasmania’s wine industry started. Of course there were the explorers who brought European ideas of agriculture and ownership, and in so doing, irrevocably changing the life and landscape of Tasmania forever.

Abel Tasman was the first European to sight the island in 1642 when he sailed by on his warship Heemskerk. Then there was Captain Bligh, who is said to have planted the first fruit trees and vines on Bruny Island in 1788. George Bass sailed up the Derwent in 1802 on his circumnavigation of

Yet no matter how brave the explorers or how bold their plans, none of this would be possible if Tasmania’s natural history hadn’t made it suitable for viticulture. Tasmania’s position on the high latitudes means it is exposed to the weather from the Indian Ocean, Bass Strait and Tasman Sea. These prevailing winds lash the coast with rain and cooling winds. In addition, a series of ancient volcanic uplifts have created the valleys and mountains that contribute to

Bay of Fires Riesling 2013

Tolpuddle Chardonnay 2012

Stargazer Tasmania 2012 Pinot Noir

Holyman Pinot Noir 2012

Tamar Valley RRP $35 bayoffireswines.com.au

Coal River Valley RRP $65 tolpuddlevineyard.com

Tasmania RRP $50 stargazerwine.com.au

Tamar Valley RRP $50 stoneyrise.com

“Find balance and beauty will follow,” says winemaker Peter Dredge of his approach to winemaking across a range that includes still and sparkling wine. “We share our ideas, our knowledge and our curiosity to bring out the best in every parcel of fruit. We balance acidity against sweetness to create delicate Rieslings.” This wine, the 2013 Bay of Fires Riesling, manages just that. An attractive and intriguing expression of Riesling, it brims with aromas of grapefruit, lime, blossom and musk. It delivers more of the same on the palate, all zipped up with a lovely line of acid.

The latest venture from Martin Shaw and Michael Hill Smith of Shaw + Smith in the Adelaide Hills, this project came about when the pair travelled to Tasmania in 2011 ‘for a look’ and came back as owners of the esteemed 25-year-old vineyard. This is the first release of the Tolpuddle label, which includes two wines – a Pinot Noir and this, the Chardonnay, a lean and racy wine of elegance and finesse. Brimming with lemon and citrus notes, the palate offers minerality, some nutty complexity and a long and racy finish. And the name? “The Tolpuddle Martyrs were English convicts transported to Tasmania for forming an agricultural union.”

“Stargazer is about stopping every now and then to look upward towards the heavens,” and is the new venture from winemaker and wine judge Samantha Connew. The label pays tribute to Abel Tasman who “must have spent a fair amount of time gazing towards the heavens”. For Sam, a native New Zealander, Tasman was an obvious link as he was the first European to sight both Tasmania and the South Island of New Zealand. This first release also includes a Riesling from the Derwent Valley. This wine, the Pinot Noir from Huon Valley, spills with cherry, raspberry and herbal aromas while the palate continues with nicely woven oak and a pleasing hint of spice.

Like the original explorers, Joe Holyman has seen a lot of the world. A native Tasmanian, he has completed vintages in Douro, Provence and Burgundy and travelled to many other parts of the world making and drinking wine. In 2004, he and wife Lou returned to Tasmania, purchased a vineyard and started making wine under the Stony Rise and Holyman labels. The results are excellent. This, the 2012 Holyman Pinot Noir is an intense and vibrant wine that brims with red berries and wild strawberries flecked with a hint of spice. The ride continues on the palate with intensity, spice, berry aromas, a firm structure and long and lovely length.

by Andrea Frost

I

For Tasmania’s new band of explorers, the state abounds with new frontiers and possibilities. Here are a few reasons why …


The Melbourne Review November 2013 39

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CAFÉS

Wabi Sabi Salon by Lou Pardi

W

abi Sabi salon on Smith Street has been there for yonks – before the arrival of trendy restaurants and trendier burger bars.

At lunchtime step inside and grab a quick takeaway sushi from the bar directly inside the door or take a seat at the deep brown stained wooden benches and order one of the Bento boxes of the day. Come night time, the menu turns to more sophisticated fare – with smaller bites to share. Make your own selections from the menu – with superb tempura, three kinds of scorched sushi (ocean trout, scallop or king fish) beef and fish sashimi and crunchy gyoza or sign up for the set menu at $45 per head for five courses. If you’re after a more authentic experience, take a seat in the upstairs mezzanine. You’ll need to duck your head and take off your shoes, but seated cross-legged at the tables you can look out over the internally installed rooves of the tables below like a Japanese Mary Poppins.

»»Wabi Sabi Salon 94 Smith Street, Collingwood Victoria 03 9417 6119 Lunch and dinner: Monday – Saturday wabisabi.net.au

TWO NIGHT

Surfing Paradise

La Delicatezza FROM

$239pp

by Lou Pardi

A

n unassuming shopfront opposite the train station in Flemington, La Delicatezza is the street sleeper of cafés. Untangle yourself from the curtain of plastic strips guarding the door and you’ll find a counter laden with salume, cheeses, dips in buckets and more. The menu sprawls across a wall, each roll-filling combination more enticing than the last. For my money, it’s the pumpkin and prosciutto on Turkish, served fresh. You can choose from Ciabatta, Turkish bread, or sandwich bread. If you’re dining with friends, the platters (Greek, Italian or French) are great value and slightly addictive. If you’re of the salad persuasion, there’s plenty here with smoked chicken, falafel, tuna and Greek salads – fresh,

crisp and seasoned well. The service is brilliant, the coffee is excellent and you’re seated in a larder that dreams are made of. Once you’ve stuffed yourself silly you can take home jams and relishes, cheese and even a little sweetie. Let’s keep this one our secret.

Plush designer accommodation Daily breakfast for two adults One hour surfing lessons for two adults

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»»La Delicatezza 1/32 Pin Oak Crescent, Flemington (03) 9372 2822 Morning to evening, Monday to Saturday ladelicatezza.com

Unwind in designer accommodation, fuel up with daily breakfast at the famed Bazaar Marketplace and Hang Ten with a 2 hour surf lesson for two adults. For reservations call 07 5584 1200 or visit qtgoldcoast.com.au


40 The Melbourne Review November 2013

DECONSTRUCTION

Mr Miyagi

of the tongue-in-cheek humour that weaves its way throughout Mr Miyagi.

street power lines and cables that lead to the rear booths, as Japanese alley-like light boxes protrude from the brick walls along the way.

Hidden in the back are three booths, each with the capacity to seat eight people. Mr Miyagi’s nod to the traditional Japanese tea house has wooden shutters that create a contemporary twist along with murals depicting Japanese imagery by artist Tracy Hogan.

The entrance wall features acoustic cardboard tiling panels. The idea was derived from patchwork corrugated iron panels found in old Asian side alleys, giving Mr Miyagi an urban Japanese vibe.

Mesh panels have been used on the walls adjacent to the cardboard tiled walls of the entrance and continue throughout the front section. Designed to function as a more relaxed area for after work drinks, or where guests can sip on sake cocktails while waiting for a table, the mesh paneling continues to the street front. Large windows open out to Chapel Street and low stools by Tobi Munch provide a relaxed and casual feel.

Mr Miyagi’s focal point is the bar. The bar face is cladded with recycled timber tiles, by Urban Edge, that were salvaged from shipwrecks. Complementing the bar’s exterior with recycled timber tops are Steve Edwards bar stools, serving as a perfect perch to watch Michael Forbes create delicious beverages or a sushi-bar style dining area where the Sushi Chef prepares and serves sushi straight on your plate.

The lighting by Please Please Please creates a consistent flow from the front of the establishment to the rear by emulating

A pink neon love heart illuminates the word ‘loser’ scrawled in graffiti-like writing on the wall in the front area, providing a first glimpse

With any interior design brief there are challenges. In Mr Miyagi’s case it was the long wall that runs from the entrance to the back

N

amed after the karate master from the 1984 movie The Karate Kid, Mr Miyagi on Chapel Street is where the Japanese Street Hawker meets the Windsor wine bar. Designed by Eades & Bergman, Mr Miyagi exudes a relaxed, urban atmosphere with a Japanese alleyway feel.  

of the building, which actually worked in the designers’ favour. A pre-existing brick wall that housed undiscovered original windows was exposed during construction. Left in their unique and original state, the walls and windows enhanced the Japanese laneway feel and added a touch of character to the space. Eades & Bergman have successfully created a warm and welcoming space from the cement wall cladding to the recycled timber used extensively throughout. The furniture fittings are casual, relaxed and encourage interaction, while the finer details add an urban, contemporary Japanese twist.

»»Mr Miyagi 99 Chapel Street 03 9529 5999 mrmiyagi.com.au


THE MELB OUR NE R EVIEW NOVEMBER 2013

FORM D E S I G N • P L A N N I N G • I N N OVAT I O N

DESIGN BY COLOUR Looking at the latest trends in design, colour and textiles


42 The Melbourne Review November 2013

FORM

New Suburban

Stuart Harrison’s latest book presents thirty of the best residences from across Australia and New Zealand that celebrate the ideals of the suburban condition. by Leanne Amodeo

I

t’s no coincidence that two of the most compelling photographs in New Suburban feature children having fun outdoors. The sight of a giggling little girl running on the grass outside Six Degrees’ Heller Street Park and Residences and the young siblings jumping into the backyard pool of Victoria Road House by Fiona Winzar is enough to put a smile on anyone’s face. Both scenes may be humble snapshots of Australian family life but they are far from unremarkable; each sums up everything that is right with the suburbs. Is it any wonder the Australian appetite for suburban living has been reignited?

New Suburban is a positive response to this very question and its editor and writer Stuart Harrison presents a smorgasbord of possibilities. His project selection features thirty architect-designed dwellings from Australia and New Zealand that celebrate the ideals of the suburban condition: openness, flexibility, informality, light, proximity to the city and spaciousness. The experience of being outdoors is highlighted throughout the book and pertinent themes of connection, quality of life, sense of place, adaptability and sustainability are recurring.

As an architect and co-host of The Architects radio show on Melbourne’s 3RRR Harrison is well placed to spot current trends in design and urbanism. He is one of Australian architecture’s most vocal supporters and his commentary is always as engaging as it is intellectually rigorous. Thankfully he never relies on mere trend spotting; as a result New Suburban appeals with a timely examination of the reinvented family home. As Harrison lets me know, “We build two types of dwelling en masse in Australia; very terrible large houses and very terrible small apartments, but there is a middle ground”. New Suburban swiftly removes the stigma of living in the suburbs by championing new forms of urban living that comfortably inhabit this middle ground. The complexities of the contemporary family are accommodated and innovative renovations, houses, additions and apartments abound. House Reduction by Make Architecture Studio and MCK Architects’ DPR House are only two examples of such innovation; both are nothing short of dynamic. Harrison also reminds us how important modesty is to good design and this is why the understated Florence Street by Nest Architects’ is just as integral to the examination. It almost goes without saying that all the residences in New Suburban are architecturally

outstanding. The point is to show off the best of the best and Harrison has a very discerning eye. Should he have focused solely on Australian residences (there are only three New Zealand projects included)? Perhaps it’s a marketing strategy employed to broaden audiences? Regardless, Harrison’s selection can’t be faulted and the diversity showcased across 344 pages is impressive.


The Melbourne Review November 2013 43

melbournereview.com.au

FORM This variation makes New Suburban’s narrative all the richer and Harrison’s neat ordering of all thirty dwellings into three chapters provides a tight editorial framework. The most exciting of these chapters is the last, The Suburban Remade, which intrigues because of the hybrid, non-traditional nature of its nine featured residences, such as Andrew Maynard Architects’ Hill House. Each is a delicious promise of what’s to come as we slowly transition towards other forms of urban living. When Harrison discusses each residence he is clear and succinct. His description is excellent and although he relies heavily on architectural vernacular his writing is never dense or alienating. For a book that has the concept of family at its heart, however, what surprises is the apparent absence of the family’s voice from the overall narrative. Yes, a pull quote attributed to the respective owner is included in each residence’s discussion but it functions as a graphic device rather than personalised commentary. Integrated quotes from the owners and architects could have served each discussion very well, injecting greater human interest and insight into each dwelling’s unique story. As with Harrison’s previous book, the very well received Forty-six Square Metres of Land Doesn’t Normally Make a House, Stuart Geddes is again responsible for design. His art direction and layout is much more restrained this time around and it lends New Suburban an easy accessibility that immediately guarantees broader appeal. Forty-six Square Metres sometimes felt suffocated by its own design, often making the editorial seem secondary. This doesn’t happen with New Suburban as Geddes achieves the perfect balance between his dynamic style and Harrison’s solid content. There is real joy to be found in this book. From the use of an opening quote from television’s The Wonder Years to the luscious feel of the matte paper stock and the images of children playing gleefully outdoors, there’s a spirit of generosity on each page and it clearly emanates from Harrison’s desire to share his passion for high-quality architecture. Even before the first project is discussed, his introduction does a good job convincing us ‘suburban’ is not a dirty word and living in the suburbs is no reason to be ashamed. We need to find ways to incorporate those traditional suburban ideals into the way we build and ultimately the way we live.

»»Stuart Harrison’s New Suburban: Remaking the Family Home in Australia and New Zealand is published by Thames & Hudson. RRP: $70 thameshudson.com.au

Weylandts by Daniella Casamento

A

bbotsford is set to become the prime destination for lovers of fine furniture and décor with the launch this month of lifestyle and living retailer Weylandts. Since 1999 the Weylandts brand has become known in South Africa for its quality, diversity and principals of fine living with products sourced from all over the world. Their philosophy is about enjoying the quality of relaxed, good living. “There is a great sense of that in Australia,” Chris Weylandt says. Weylandt has been involved in the furniture industry for more than 25 years having worked in the family business in Namibia and then moving to South Africa to launch their first destination store. He and his partner Kim have since built relationships with many skilled makers of handcrafted products from across India, China, Indonesia, the Philippines, South Africa and Europe. They are excited to bring their unique range of furniture and homewares to Melbourne and have spent many long months sourcing and developing new product for this Australian flagship store. Their odyssey to open an outlet here began two years ago in response to a growing number of inquiries from customers wanting to know “how can we have a piece of it,” Weylandt explains. So he and Kim set about searching for a location that had the right balance of architectural quality and scale. They scoured the inner city of both Melbourne and Sydney, walking the streets to get to know the

environment until they came across the old matchbox factory in tree-lined Gipps Street. At 3500m2, Weylandt says the industrial building, which has a red brick and rendered façade and sawtooth roof, is the perfect size to display the many room settings and large range of products for which they are known. “It’s a fantastic combination of industrial aesthetic and contemporary design,” Weylandt says of the fit-out designed by boutique Sydney practice AN + A. “Architecture is a big part of our retail philosophy.” Growing up in Namibia, a country Weylandt describes as a cosmopolitan former German colony, he was exposed to European furniture through his father’s furniture store. Designs by Arne Jacobsen and B&B Italia were influential in honing his appreciation for elegantly simple yet complex designs. Chris and Kim travel at least six months of the year speaking with local artisans to source and develop new products that cater for the mid- to high-end market. Products are imported in small quantities as new discoveries are made but he says the handwriting is consistent. “The curatorial focus is on products which have an organic, natural quality and combine a high level of skill honed over generations that in many cases is lost,” he explains. “Skills such as weaving, embroidery and wood work have a great inherent cultural value that tells a

story about where the product comes from.” Weylandt works with the makers to develop products that combine these skills with new technology as a point of difference. With such a diversity of furniture and decor available, Weylandt says they present a unique collection of products in each room setting which is often made up with items from 10 countries to get just the right balance and design. “We select what we think is the best and then edit it,” he says. This level of attention to detail broadens the understanding of design for many first time customers who Weylandt says are inspired to start their home décor from scratch. After years of experience in the furniture industry, he understands that clients have an appreciation of design, and look for value and quality. “The change in the market has meant that people take time to research their investment in fine furniture and once that decision is made, they don’t want to wait weeks for delivery.” Weylandts maintains a separate large warehouse and onsite storage to minimise this waiting time for customers. A range of fabrics and leather is also kept in stock which significantly reduces the waiting time for upholstered lounge suites and other items. A significant addition to the old matchbox factory is an in-house café called The Kitchen. Like the other destination stores, it is an extension of the Weylandts relaxed good living philosophy and way of life.

»»Weylandts 200 Gipps Street, Abbotsford weylandts.com.au


44 The Melbourne Review November 2013

FORM

Designer Rugs

Colour Design & Textiles

E

stablished in 1986 by the Tal family, Australia’s Designer Rugs has built for itself a reputation for successfully marrying the very best of rug production techniques with the might of some global, creative heavyweights.

Showcasing the latest colour trends in design and textiles/furnishings.

It’s a an enviable roll call; a burgeoning list of style-makers, artists, fashion industry icons and a two-time Academy Award Winner thrown in for good measure. Catherine Martin, Alex Perry, Akira Isogawa, Easton Pearson, Dinosaur Designs, Camilla … and many more have risen to the challenge of putting their creativity on the floor.

by Claire Beale & Kim Chadwick

With her first collection for Designer Rugs launched in 2008, Catherine Martin drew some of her inspiration from Australia, the feature film she was designing at the time with husband Baz Luhrmann.

Byzantine Princess (c. Colourways 2013)

T

extiles can seduce, excite, comfort and inspire. They respond to our most basic needs, providing tactile solutions to increasingly complex material problems. In times of uncertainty, we look inward to enrich our own private spaces, creating places to hide away and dream, to find fleeting moments of rest, and to indulge in the luxury of collected treasures grown precious with age. Through a considered approach to colour and texture, deeply personal spaces are brought to life. These trends in textiles chart the emotional, intellectual, and even spiritual shifts in direction that impact upon our culture, and thus our lifestyles. Colourways’ recent Trend Forecast launched four key trends for the 2013 – 2015 season connecting nostalgia with pioneering spirit, industrial evolution with precious moments of wonder. No journey is conducted alone and every traveller carries something to treasure and remember.

Pioneering Spirit reflects the landscape in every surface. Like the land, the objects we touch and tend to are true, raw and unembellished. Rough and textured, a path is carved and our roots sink deep into the earth. We frame what we love and value. This is a story of bare truth. The simple honesty of hewn wood. The strength and endurance of homespun wool. The lip coating kiss of buttermilk. The twisting marl of a ghost gum, blue grey lichens vying for a place on the weathered cream surface of a fallen stone wall. The dusty breathy blue of a duck egg is treasured, copied, woven by hand into a moment. Everything is used – recreated and loved again as something new. Emerging textile designer Camilla Stirling’s 2013 graduate project ‘Beneath The Folds’ connects with this textured history, referencing the fragments of a pioneering past as they emerge from beneath the surfaces of the earth. ‘Through the eyes and the hands of the historic naturalist

– the preserver and observer – wearable textile artefacts are manifested as living memories, conveying a sense of place within the folds of cloth’. (Camilla Stirling 2013). Byzantine Princess brings elegantly poised moments of richness and earthly wonder. Like a cat, our senses stretch and flex, luxuriating in our surroundings. Iridescent jewels cascade through a lapis lazuli swirl and puddle at your feet. From an indigo dream, spin in a cocoon of royal intensity and sup on golden stars drenched in burgundy.

“I wanted to invoke the transforming power of pattern, which can change the mundane into the extraordinary merely by its application,” says Martin. “I aimed to design patterns with an inherent integrity that don’t take themselves too seriously – patterns that have a sense of sophistication, fun, luxury and also a sense of history – a vintage sensibility without losing its modern edge.”

»»Claire Beale is Vice-President, Vic/Tas, DIA; Kim Chadwick is Managing Consultant, Colourways.

A wonderful success, this range in time lead to a second release – a limited edition range of rugs emblazoned with a regal cockatoo motif and more recently, in parallel with the release of Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby motion picture, Martin designed a series of art deco inspired rugs, some custom-sized for use throughout the film.

design.org.au/vic colourways.com.au

Designed with the in-house Designer Rugs team in Australia, the process of

There has never been a better time to live or invest in Brunswick East. As creative, diverse and intriguing as their location, our spacious 1 & 2 bedroom apartments are well designed and bursting with quality. All they need is your unique style to make them feel like a home.

– under construction. MOVE IN from march 2014 – New display SUITE at 81 LYGON STREET BRUNSWICK EAST OPEN Sat, Sun & Wed 12-4pm/call 03 9810 2035/LIVEBRUNSWICKEAST.COM.AU

Artists impression


The Melbourne Review November 2013 45

melbournereview.com.au

FORM

Boyac

customising in colour, size, shape and the addition of various materials like silk is a service Designer Rugs offer across almost all of their collections to every client, which appealed to Martin. “I think it is very important for the collection to not just be about style but substance too, which is why I’ve chosen to partner with Australia’s leading brands,” says Martin, “I’ve seen my visions come to fruition in a way that has exceeded my expectations.” Where Catherine Martin’s collections have served to expand our appreciation of what a contemporary residential or commercial rug can be, the likes of Camilla Franks, the force behind the globally sought-after fashion label ‘Camilla’, recently launched a Designer Rugs range that pushed the manufacturing capabilities in new and exciting directions.   Reappropriating the intricacy of Camilla’s kaftan and print designs called for rug manufacturing techniques that delivered up to 27 New Zealand wool colours with a very high density with meticulous carving details, exquisite to feel under foot as much as they are a feast for the eyes. Whilst collaboration may be the latest creative buzz word for many in the design industry, it forms the bedrock for Designer Rugs. The coming together

of creativity with capability and an innovative outlook toward possibility puts Designer Rugs and their family of collaborators very much at the top of the pile.

designerrugs.com.au

Boyac launched into the Australian interior landscape 25 years ago and today continues to bring the best the world has to offer in textile innovation for high-end residential and commercial interiors.  As a leading distributor of luxury textiles and wallpapers, Boyac represents some of the world’s foremost textiles visionaries and designers. Rich silks and velvets, handwoven horsehair cloths and luxurious pure linen weaves are produced, often using the same artisanal methods for centuries, but with today’s contemporary interiors in mind. Boyac brings a wealth of expertise from their impressive line-up of brands including Creations Metaphores. Colour and beautiful materials are hallmarks of the latest collections from this French fabric house, which sits in the Hermes fold. We see innovation rise to a new level in the three individually distinct collections for Creation Metaphores’ brands – Metaphores, Le Crin and Verel de Belval. This year Verel de Belval celebrates 100 years and draws on over four centuries of experience in weaving and elevating silk into an art form. To mark this special occasion Verel de Belval are offering a collectors version of the ‘Tuileries’ warp-

printed range, incorporating made-to-measure embroidery which is delicately adorned by nacreous discs, all of which have been handpainted. This warp-printed technique endows the floral 18th century-inspired design with a subtly faded and delicate appearance. 

boyac.com.au


46 The Melbourne Review November 2013

FORMCOMMERCIAL

The Andalusian B alwyn’s newest residential development, The Andalusian, by Spec Property, breaks new ground in designed apartment living. Situated in fashionable Balwyn, across the road from the iconic art deco Palace cinema, The Andalusian offers a fresh yet original product that is both visually and spatially appealing without compromising the practical needs of the market. This new project offers buyers an unparalleled degree of creative freedom to customise their home and produce a space they can truly feel is a reflection of their personality. Spec property takes sophisticated living to the next level through a motivated vision of colour schemes, use of light and shade and working with a team of architects and interior designers responding to the call for fresh products that appeal both visually and spatially.   The six-storey Andalusian, a mix of one, two and three-bedroom apartments, offers a range of tailored fixtures and finishes to enhance the interiors. Apartments on the first three levels can choose between two colour schemes, with many options to upgrade.

The development’s top level apartments offer even greater scope for personalised design. Buyers can choose from a mixed palette of stone bench tops, timber veneers and luxury accessories, allowing residents the flexibility to create their own unique space and customise their apartment to best suit their lifestyle.

The Andalusian also features innovative new products such as Italian porcelain stoneware from Artedomus. This contributes a unique versatile finish to the level 1-3 apartment bench tops. A range of ceramic gloss bevelled tiles, black chrome tap-ware and wool carpets are also examples of the quality fixtures and fittings featured throughout the Andalusian Apartments. Upgrades have been configured to suit modern living trends. The Andalusian’s residences on levels 4-6 are given the option of two kitchen packages, ‘The Entertainers Package’ for people who enjoy entertaining at home, and the ‘Chef’s Package’ featuring a larger cooktop, two stoves and a ceiling rangehood perfect for the culinary chef.

original product that appeals both visually and spatially, providing comfortable and pleasurable living spaces.

With such a generous range of quality products, palettes and accessories, any combination is guaranteed to produce a beautiful result. The Andulsian offers an

The Andalusian looks set to become a groundbreaking concept in forward-thinking design through this combination of style and functionality.

»»Please visit our display suite for further information, on site at 182 Whitehorse Rd, Balwyn (Tuesday – Wednesday 12pm – 3pm, Saturday – Sunday 11am – 1pm) theandalusian.com.au


Noxon Giffen Architects

MAKE ROOM FOR WEYLANDTS Looking to fill a void, redecorate or just find that perfect piece? You’re sure to find it in our first Australian store. Featuring thousands of contemporary, quality furniture and homeware items that we have hand picked from around the globe. Our collection boasts the rare, the unusual and the beautiful displayed in inspirational room settings. You can also enjoy fresh and seasonal meals from our chic fusion bistro to make sure there’s no void left empty. Opens 15th November at 200 Gipps Street, Abbotsford.

WEY LANDTS www.weylandts.com.au


The Melbourne Review November Issue