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THE MELBOURNE

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THE MELBOURNE REVIEW

TONI MATICEVSKI From an industrial warehouse in Yarraville, taking the fashion road less travelled

ISSUE 15 JANUARY 2013

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CHILDHOOD OBESITY Professor Avni Sali discusses preventative measures based around family and community

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SUMMER SONGS Phil Kakulas takes us on a journey through ten favourite summery classics, from The Cramps to Little Red

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Welcome Contents Profile

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Politics

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Business

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Summer Reading

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Health

20

Columnists

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Books

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Performing Arts

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Visual Arts

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Food. Wine. Coffee.

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37 KENNETH JACK At Bayside Arts & Cultural Centre, a journey through the work of Kenneth Jack is a journey through both a continent and an artist’s life

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LETTER FROM EUROPE

SIMONE WEIL

SUMMER READING

Alexander Downer warns against any UK attempt to break away from the European Union

A new translation from Simon Leys brings the French mystic and social activist to life once more

Extracts from Meg Mundell, Patrick Allington and Amy Espeseth

Deconstruction 46

Audited average monthly circulation: 64,856 (Oct 11 – March 12) 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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CLEVER SUNSCREEN

GERMAN NOISE

RADIANCE

Australian research into sunscreen effectiveness is leading the world

After many years away, German outfit Einstürzende Neubauten return to Melbourne

Wendy Cavenett visits the small but exquisite collection of neo-impressionists at the NGV

OUR MONTHLY FORM SECTION ON DESIGN, PLANNING AND ARCHITECTURE WILL RETURN IN FEBRUARY.


the MELBOURNE REVIEW JANUARY 2013 5

THE MELBOURNE

review

General Manager Publishing & Editorial Luke Stegemann luke@melbournereview.com.au

Contributors

Andrea Frost

Peter Singline

Patrick Allington

Byron George

Katherine Smyrk

Art Director Sabas Renteria sabas@melbournereview.com.au

David Ansett

Dave Graney

David Sornig

National Sales and Marketing Manager Tamrah Petruzzelli tamrah@melbournereview.com.au 0411 229 640

Alexandra Aulich

Kerryn Greive

Shirley Stott Despoja

Nina Bertok

Phil Kakulas

Peter Tregear

Daniella Casamento

Tali Lavi

Evelyn Tsitas

Wendy Cavenett

Meg Mundell

Simone Weil

William Charles

Lou Pardi

Alexander Downer

Paul Ransom

Photography

Amy Espeseth

Kate Roffey

Matthew Wren

Arabella Forge

Avni Sali

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Our cover Lotte Betts-Dean as Princess Aurora in the Victorian Opera production of Sleeping Beauty. Image by Martin Philby. See page 28

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Profile to a scene . . . [and] really make someone stand out or be recognisable . . . It was this kind of idea of . . . creating a different language for a person without them speaking.” If one attempted to describe what kind of utterances or pronouncements compose the language articulated by Maticevski’s clothes, there would be shifts between statements stark with determination and others laced with a decadent poeticism. Some of his gowns have been compared to millefeuilles. There are cascading details that evoke rhythms of the sea or exotic flora, sculptural lines that are severe or architectural and beauty that shimmers, sometimes extending to the point of morbidity. The darkness present in Maticevski’s work has often been observed. He says that he never quite understood it until he came across a Macedonian poem, regretfully lost but half remembered as “with a free and boundless joy they still live in a melancholy that is at the blood of all their passion and happiness”. Encountering it led to an epiphany regarding his family’s worldview, one he says corresponds to a distinctly Balkan melancholia. For Maticevski it has translated into a gravitation towards, a seeking out of, lost beauty. He entertains the notion that those who end up wearing his creations are subconsciously attracted to this idea that underpins much of his work: “everyone has got an experience or a memory or a feeling of sadness that they carry”.

Toni Maticevski Taking the fashion road less travelled

Tali Lavi

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t’s fitting that showcased in the current ‘Ballet and Fashion’ exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) are two Australian designers whose creations mesh fashion and art and whose names are synonymous with craftsmanship. Their heritages draw upon two dominant strands of the Australian cultural landscape. Akira Isogawa’s Eastern ethereal aesthetic emanates from his ‘Romeo & Juliet’ costumes for the Australian Ballet whilst Toni Maticevski’s aesthetic of beauty heralds from a more European notion rooted in darkness, evident in his black plumed tutu designed for BalletLab’s ‘Aviary’. The designers seem to mirror their associated ballets with the latter being a more transgressive dance piece, an avant-garde spectacle. People who are familiar with Maticevski’s label and its relationship with glamour and the cutting-edge, would not situate it in industrial Yarraville with its semitrailers and brutal metallic landscape. But it is from here that his ‘little hub of creativity’ operates. Outside the business of heavy machinery resounds. A bell is rung, a nondescript door opens and a sanctum is revealed. A calm, cool industriousness resonates in this capacious space though what happens within it is verging

on the miraculous. As Maticevski intimates, “I feel like I work to the capacity of five people and I think that [General Manager] Dayna works to at least three.” Today, the mystery is heightened by racks of carefully constructed clothes sheathed in protective fabric; the studio is soon to acquire a new coat of paint. Two framed prints which might be Bill Hensons but are actually stylised brand images, catch the eye. The workspace itself is screened off but the source of its energy sits before me. There is something otherworldly about Maticevski. He might easily be imagined as belonging to an earlier century, a towering fop at the courts of Europe; pale-skinned, dark-haired and aristocratic of bearing. This impression, suggested by the self-tailored cream linen coat he’s wearing – he makes menswear for a choice few, including his partner Rohan – is furthered by his mannerisms and quietly spoken ways. If this falsely evinces an image of delicacy it would be misleading , for Maticevski radiates a strong sense of control and inner vision that direct him to take the road less travelled. Throughout our conversation, he makes clear that the decisions he has taken have been unconventional but significant for his development and artistic autonomy,

among them the often cited turning down of an internship at Donna Karan in New York over a decade ago and leaving Cerruti in Paris to come home and establish his own label. Some decisions have led to raised eyebrows among fashion onlookers and analysts who wonder how to place this designer who refuses to subscribe to a generic business model or pander to safe tastes. After several successful showings in New York with his own label, Maticevski discarded the hype of the big performance, instead concentrating on his ready-to-wear, a bridal range and the more luxe Toni Maticevski Collection alongside his private commissions. After five years of this low-key approach – if one can employ the term ‘low-key’ when referring to anything this man of prodigious output does – in 2011 he returned to the show. The Australian fashion industry and its followers celebrated. Dreams of being a couturier came early. On the verge of entering his teenage years, Maticevski found himself gazing in awe at a Balenciaga retrospective at the NGV. It was a definitive moment. “I was in love with the craftsmanship and that whole idea that Balenciaga sat there and created these shapes and volumes of things around a body that can be worn. You know, that could elevate a person

Although thoughtful, Maticevski himself is not doleful. He is quick to laugh and there is the undeniable energy that comes from a life bound up with passion. He engages in the pastimes of painting and drawing, with a sketchbook always at the ready, but when questioned about other loves, loyalty to his pursuit is sacrosanct. “I really love my work. The thing that I … find hardest is sometimes not being able to fulfil all my ideas and that’s where I get really agitated. But I’m really driven by it more and more. The more I take it back and own it, I feel more and more inspired and itching to do it.” His elegant hands dance around as he talks so that during the conversation, this break from sketching or cutting or sewing, one feels that they are constantly engaged with possibilities. The propulsion to feed his creativity was met at RMIT University where he completed his Bachelor of Arts in Design with honours but his experience there was heavily directed by his self-discipline, his ability to withdraw from the world or any potential diversions from his creative path. Lunchtimes were spent in the library making his way through the stacks, moving from fashion to reading physics, anatomy, science and mathematics. Although burdened with the feeling that he didn’t “know anything . . . [he continued] absorbing shapes and colours and volumes and weird explanations” that nourished this almost gluttonous visual appetite. There is an intensity apparent in the recounting of this tale that reveals the insatiable processing of visual cues to sustain his creative process. As a boy, Maticevski was constantly making things, enlisting the help of his mother’s wardrobe and any soft furnishings in his family home. “I was using blankets and doonas and stitching them in with a belt”. Even back then,


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Profile to most traditional profit models. His rejoinder to makers, “you have to put that tuck in there because that actually serves a purpose” is in keeping with his ethos. Every move is conscious. Collaborations with Phillip Adams, director of BalletLab, and design company Three Deep are a source of fulfilment. He terms it a ‘crosshatching’ of their work, “so [that] we’re all kind of carrying each other or moving each other”. It’s an inclusive notion of an artistic community, a gentlemanly view in line with his antipathy to unkindness; he doesn’t engage in Twitter because he feels it encourages nastiness, this not being his style.

As a boy, Maticevski was constantly making things, enlisting the help of his mother’s wardrobe and any soft furnishings in his family home. ‘I was using blankets and doonas and stitching them in with a belt’. Even back then, there was this endless drive being fed by his environment.” there was this endless drive being fed by his environment. And his family leaving him be. “It was interesting because no-one really secondguessed it or no-one went, ‘You’re a boy, you shouldn’t be doing that’, but it was more like, ‘That’s just Toni, we’ll let him do things his own way, we’ll let him figure it out.’” This latter statement is one that echoes throughout his account, one upon which his creative ideology seems to hinge.

Much later, after graduating and having become an established designer, Maticevski says he was surprised by a disclosure from ex-teacher Karen Webster, former director of the L’Oréal Melbourne Fashion Festival and now Program Director of Fashion at RMIT, regarding the quandary teachers had when it came to their unorthodox student. Unsure how to respond to his independent spirit, they set him separate projects more in line with what he was creating.

It’s a credit to their vision that they enabled him to foster his own pathways instead of quashing this rawness of talent. There is the feeling that Maticevski is positioning himself in a landscape where he feels that “the artists are being weaned out, your [ John] Gallianos and [Alexander] McQueens gone”. He is doing so the only way he knows, guided by an inner knowledge and antithetical

Maticevski’s version of fashion is one pulsing with art but he doesn’t make clothes with the intention of them being encased in glass. To him, their allure resides in their three-dimensionality and their purpose lies within the inherent “instant connection with a person” they engender. A few years ago he curated a retrospective of Robert Fritzlaff for the National Trust of Victoria. It brought to light for him a talented couturier who had been denied historical recognition and he hopes that his own work won’t disappear “in forty or fifty years’ time”. Alicia Keys is belting out Girl on Fire in the background and, in his measured way, Maticevski is also alight, indefatigably weaving, with artistry and originality, creations of seduction and grandeur. tonimaticevski.com


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Politics A congestion charge similar to the cordon-based charge introduced in London has also been mooted as an option for Melbourne’s CBD, although strictly speaking, the real aim of this type of initiative is to limit traffic volume rather than to raise infrastructure funds.”

Naming the price to reduce transport congestion Kate Roffey

services in other areas, or increased taxes.

ithout doubt one of the best things about working in Melbourne in January is the significant decrease in congestion on the roads and crowding on trains and trams as you make the daily commute to work. To say Melbourne has a transport infrastructure problem is an understatement. For years we have discussed and dissected our infrastructure problems and have unanimously concluded that our current rate of build in no way meets current demands. What we haven’t done is pushed the discussion to the next level and asked the hard question – just how much do we really value more efficient transport options?

To make substantive inroads into our infrastructure demands, we need to change our mindset away from relying primarily on government only funded construction, and seriously start considering alternative user pays options to generate essential funding.

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As our infrastructure backlog grows, the construction costs of meeting the needs of Melbourne’s population today far outweigh available funding pools. We are now at a point where the infrastructure challenge facing us is beyond the capacity of any State Government budget alone, or State and Federal Government budget combined for that matter. Given that the options for Government to increase spend on infrastructure are to either divert existing funds away from current spend on essential services like health, education, fire, police or ambulance, or to raise taxes, the bottom line is if we want to continue to rely on Government funds alone, we will pay, either through decreased

When we talk about dollars it is essential to understand the very clear distinction between funding and financing. Financing is money raised to help pay for construction. We often hear comments about super funds and overseas investors needing to be more active financiers. A good supply of willing financiers is not the limiting factor in meeting the high costs of major infrastructure construction – repaying that finance through a secure funding source is. Any money ‘borrowed’ via financing is in effect a ‘loan’ that will have to be repaid, and if Government funding alone cannot meet the cost demands, then alternative funding sources must be found – and that means user pays. This is the decision Melbournians must make. If we are to accelerate our infrastructure build, we must look for innovative and creative means of generating funds via appropriate direct and indirect funding mechanisms.

We are already familiar with direct funding charges like road tolls and parking levies, such as the parking levy that was introduced in the CBD, Southbank, Docklands and St Kilda in 2006. A congestion charge similar to the cordonbased charge introduced in London has also been mooted as an option for Melbourne’s CBD, although strictly speaking, the real aim of this type of initiative is to limit traffic volume rather than to raise infrastructure funds. What we are not so familiar with are a range of indirect mechanisms that can also be applied to include other beneficiaries of infrastructure value uplift, such as businesses, land owners and developers. Because indirect mechanisms are arguably harder to clarify or implement, they are often overlooked as options in exchange for easier to implement direct charges. Ignoring these options, however, not only limits the possible funding opportunities available, it is also unfair as both direct and indirect beneficiaries alike should be making a reasonable contribution to the funding pool. Numerous successful projects prove that indirect mechanisms can be very effective in helping to generate funds. The Melbourne Underground Rail Link or ‘City Loop’ as we know it, included a Benefitted

Area Levy mechanism whereby CBD businesses who benefitted from the improved city loop infrastructure paid a levy to help contribute to the cost of construction. On Queensland’s Gold Coast, benefitting rate-payers will be charged a $111 annual transport improvement levy to help fund Stage 1 of the Gold Coast Rapid Transit light rail project. Surrey, in Canada’s British Columbia province, after identifying a significant funding gap in its 10-year transport servicing plan, introduced a range of redevelopment related property taxes and development charges to help fund public transport initiatives. In Los Angeles, the LA 30/10 initiative has applied a specific one-half cent sales tax across the entire county to generate funds to fast-track the delivery of 12 new transport projects over a 10-year period. Interestingly, this funding proposal was voted in by more than two-thirds of LA County voters who realised that the only way forward was to start making a funding contribution. In the case of all the initiatives mentioned above, there was a clear and demonstrable link between the charge, tax or levy the beneficiary pays, and the infrastructure improvements received in return, and this is an absolute must for success. Evidence shows that people are much more open to contributing if they can actually see their dollars at work. Solving our infrastructure funding issue won’t be easy, and there is no simple one-size-fits-all solution. The only certainty is that as Melburnians we need to stop thinking of this as a ‘government only’ issue, and start taking some responsibility for our own future by embracing more innovative and creative ways to accelerate our infrastructure build.

INFORMATION Kate Roffey is Chief Executive Officer, Committee for Melbourne


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Politics right to remain outside the euro. That was the one really valuable contribution Gordon Brown made to Britain. But it would have been far better if Britain had stopped the euro in the first place. And that’s the problem. France and Germany are making the policies and Britain allows them to do so. And only once the policies have been made does Britain object. No British prime minister has managed the EU relationship effectively since 1973. Even Margaret Thatcher struggled with Europe. Well now there’s a debate about whether Britain should remain in the EU at all. This is gaining considerable momentum. Opinion polls show more Britons would rather leave the EU than remain in it. There is an important political angle to this which is causing an excruciating dilemma for the Prime Minister, David Cameron. The antiEU UK Independence Party is polling around 10 per cent of the vote. Most of these voters are disillusioned Conservatives. They’re not just driven by EU issues; plenty of Conservative voters are unhappy with the performance of the government in general and UKIP is somewhere for them to park their votes rather than switch to the opposition Labour Party. So Conservatives from Cameron down want to win back these voters and they see Europe as a way of doing it. They believe – mistakenly – that downgrading still further Britain’s role

Letter from EUROPE Alexander Downer

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his summer my reading included a stunning new history of the causes of the First World War called The Sleepwalkers, written by the Cambridge based historian Christopher Clark. The book is a confronting reminder of how power politics and nationalist rivalries plunged the world into a war which killed over 16 million people. At the same time, I was also struck by the current debate in Britain about its membership of the European Union. As someone who spent several years living in Brussels working at the Australian Mission to the EU, I’ve embraced with some passion the leitmotiv of the European Union: that Europeans will avoid repeating the horrors of the 20th century by restructuring the whole continent in a co-operative Union.

in Europe will do the job. It won’t. Good economic management will kill off UKIP, not euro scepticism. The worry about Britain is that it is sleepwalking out of the EU. No one is explaining the case for Britain’s EU membership. They should. If Britain leaves the EU it will be substantially weakened both politically and economically. Politically, Britain will lack the strength it gains from being part of a 27 member transnational organisation which is, collectively, the biggest economy in the world. Economically, Britain risks that free access it has to a market of 500 million people as well as the benefits of a liberal investment zone. So leaving the EU would be suicidal for Britain. It would leave it cold and alone in North Western Europe. Even its closest ally, America, wouldn’t want to see that. As a great friend of Britain’s, we should be telling the British government it’s in Australia’s interests as well as their own they remain active in the EU, not withdraw into undignified isolation. Sure, the EU has its weaknesses. It has huge weaknesses. But Britain needs to work to rectify them. In 1914, Britain should have been trying to constrain Austria, Germany, Russia and France but instead just sat back and let war happen. They should learn the lessons of history.

At one level, the European project has been a stunning success. The French and Germans work hand in hand, day by day to manage harmoniously the affairs of the Continent. And for all the uncertainties of the euro in recent years – and the euro was a mistake – the ugly power rivalries and obsessive nationalism of Europe have been tamed. Then there is Britain. It decided not to join the European project at its birth in the 1950s. It was a huge mistake. In 1957 Britain was the most powerful nation in Europe. It could have moulded the new European institutions to its liking and been at the centre of Europe’s power structure. Instead, it chose to remain aloof with its traditional European policy of what was once called ‘glorious isolation’. Finally, in 1973, Britain joined the EU but by then all the rules and institutions had been set up by the French and Germans. As a new member, Britain just had to go along with those rules. For the British, it was like a rugby player joining a soccer team.

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Since 1973, Britain has gained economically from the EU. It has increased its trade, helped with investment flows and the EU has been an important source of skilled and semi-skilled migrants. These days, London is the fifth largest French city in the world. Yet Britain has failed to make the most of its EU membership. It has marginalised itself too often allowing the French and the Germans to continue to dominate the EU agenda. Mind you, Britain was

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Politics

On the Abolition of All Political Parties

Simone Weil in Spain, 1936.

Before she died at the age of only 34 in 1943, French philosopher Simone Weil left behind an intense body of work around Christian philosophy, mysticism and political activism. One of her most famous essays has been newly translated into English by renowned essayist and critic Simon Leys. Simone Weil

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hen someone joins a party, it is usually because he has perceived, in the activities and propaganda of this party, a number of things that appeared to him just and good. Still, he has probably never studied the position of the party on all the problems of public life. When joining the party, he therefore also endorses a number of positions which he does not know. In fact, he submits his thinking to the authority of the party. As, later on, little by little, he begins to learn these positions, he will accept them without further examination. This replicates exactly the situation of whoever joins the Catholic orthodoxy along the lines of Saint Thomas. If a man were to say, as he applied for his party membership card, ‘I agree with the party on this and that question; I have not yet studied its other positions and thus I entirely reserve my opinion, pending further information,’ he would probably be advised to come back at a later date.

In fact – and with very few exceptions – when a man joins a party, he submissively adopts a mental attitude which he will express later on with words such as, ‘As a monarchist, as a Socialist, I think that …’ It is so comfortable! It amounts to having no thoughts at all. Nothing is more comfortable than not having to think. As regards the third characteristic of political parties – that they are machines to generate collective passions – this is so spectacularly evident that it scarcely needs further demonstration. Collective passion is the only source of energy at the disposal of parties with which to make propaganda and to exert pressure upon the soul of every member. One recognises that the partisan spirit makes people blind, makes them deaf to justice, pushes even decent men cruelly to persecute innocent targets. One recognizes it, and yet nobody suggests getting rid of the organisations that generate such evils. Intoxicating drugs are prohibited. Some people are nevertheless addicted to them. But there would be many more addicts if the state were

to organise the sale of opium and cocaine in all tobacconists, accompanied by advertising posters to encourage consumption. *

*

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In conclusion: the institution of political parties appears to be an almost unmixed evil. They are bad in principle, and in practice their impact is noxious. The abolition of parties would

prove almost wholly beneficial. It would be a highly legitimate initiative in principle, and in practice could only have a good effect. At elections, candidates would tell voters not, ‘I wear such and such a label’ – which tells the public nearly nothing as regards their actual position on actual issues – but rather, ‘My views are such and such on such and such important problems.’

Master of Stillness: Jeffrey Smart paintings 1940-2011 21 December 2012 – 31 March 2013 CURATOR: Barry Pearce A Samstag Museum of Art exhibition in partnership with TarraWarra Museum of Art

PUBLIC PROGRAMS: (Visit website for details) Sunday 10 February 2013, lecture by Barry Pearce Sunday 10 March 2013, lecture by Leon van Schaik 311 Healesville-Yarra Glen Rd, Healesville Open 11am – 5pm, Tuesday – Sunday Exhibition open 7 days a week from Boxing Day to Australia Day Phone: (03) 5957 3100 Email: museum@twma.com.au Web: www.twma.com.au ADMISSION: Adult – $12.00 Concession – $8.00

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Politics Elected politicians would associate and disassociate following the natural and changing flow of affinities. I may very well agree with Mr A on the question of colonialism, yet disagree with him on the issue of agrarian ownership, and my relations with Mr B may be the exact reverse. The artificial crystallisation into political parties coincides so little with genuine affinities that a member of parliament will often find himself disagreeing with a colleague from within his own party, and in complete agreement with a politician from another party. How many times, in Germany in 1932, might a Communist and a Nazi conversing in the street have been struck by a sort of mental vertigo on discovering that they were in complete agreement on all issues! Outside parliament, intellectual circles would naturally form around journals of political ideas. These circles should remain fluid. This fluidity is the hallmark of a circle based on natural affinities; it distinguishes a circle from a party and prevents it from exerting a noxious influence. When one cultivates friendly relations with the director of a certain journal and with its regular contributors, when one occasionally writes for it, one can say that one is in touch with this journal and its circle, but one is not aware of being part of it; there is no clear boundary between inside and outside. Further away, there are those who read the journal and happen to know one or two of its contributors. Further again, there are regular readers who deriveinspiration from the journal. Further still, there are occasional readers. Yet none would ever think or say, ‘As a person related to such journal, I do think that …’ At election time, if contributors to a journal are political candidates, it should be forbidden for them to invoke their connection with the journal, and it should be forbidden for the journal to endorse their candidacy, to support it directly or indirectly, or even to mention it. Any ‘Association of the friends’ of this sort of journal should be forbidden. If any journal were ever to prevent its contributors from writing for other publications, it should be forced to close. All this would require a complete set of press MR ad 4/1/13 3:21 PMforPage 1 regulations, making it impossible dishonourable

publications to carry on with their activity, since none would wish to be associated with them. Whenever a circle of ideas and debate would be tempted to crystallise and create a formal membership, the attempt should be repressed by law and punished. Naturally, clandestine parties might appear. It would not be honourable to join them. The members of these underground parties would no longer be able to turn the enslavement of their minds into a public show. They would not be allowed to make any propaganda for their party. The party would have no chance of keeping them prisoner of a tight web of interests, passions and obligations. Whenever a law is impartial and fair, and is based upon a clear view of the public interest, easily grasped by everyone, it always succeeds in weakening what it forbids. The penalties that are attached to infringements scarcely need be applied: the mere existence of the law is itself enough to neutralise its target. This intrinsic prestige of the law is a reality of public life which has been too long forgotten and ought to be revived and made good use of. The existence of clandestine parties should not cause significant harm – especially compared with the disastrous effects of the activities of legal parties. Generally speaking, a careful examination reveals no inconveniences that would result from the abolition of political parties. Strange paradox: measures like this, which present no inconvenience, are also the least likely to be adopted. People think, if it is so simple, why was it not done long ago? And yet, most often, great things are easy and simple. This particular measure would exert a healthy, cleansing influence well beyond the domain of public affairs, for the party spirit has infected everything. The institutions that regulate the public life of a country always influence the general mentality – such is the prestige of power. People have progressively developed the habit of thinking,

in all domains, only in terms of being ‘in favour of ’ or ‘against’ any opinion, and afterwards they seek arguments to support one of these two options. This is an exact transposition of the party spirit. Just as within political parties, there are some democratically minded people who accept a plurality of parties, similarly, in the realm of opinion, there are broad-minded people willing to acknowledge the value of opinions with which they disagree. They have completely lost the concept of true and false. Others, having taken a position in favour of a certain opinion, refuse to examine any dissenting view. This is a transposition of the totalitarian spirit. When Einstein visited France, all the people who more or less belonged to the intellectual circles, including other scientists, divided themselves into two camps: for Einstein or against him. Any new scientific idea finds in the scientific world supporters and enemies – both sides inflamed to a deplorable degree with the partisan spirit. The intellectual world is permanently full of trends and factions, in various stages of crystallisation. In art and literature, this phenomenon is even more prevalent. Cubism and Surrealism were each a sort of party. Some people were Gidian and some Maurrassian. To achieve celebrity, it is useful to be surrounded by a gang of admirers, all possessed by the partisan spirit. In the same fashion, there was no great difference between being devoted to a party or being devoted to a church – or being devoted to anti-religion. One was in favour of, or against, belief in God, for or against Christianity, and so on. When talking about religion, the point was even reached where one spoke of ‘militants.’ Even in school, one can think of no better way to stimulate the minds of children than to invite them to take sides – for or against. They are presented with a sentence from a great author and asked, ‘Do you agree, yes or no? Develop your arguments.’ At examination time, the poor wretches, having only three hours to write their dissertations, cannot, at the start, spare more than

five minutes to decide whether they agree or not. And yet it would have been so easy to tell them, ‘Meditate on this text, and then express the ideas that come to your mind.’ Nearly everywhere – often even when dealing with purely technical problems – instead of thinking, one merely takes sides: for or against. Such a choice replaces the activity of the mind. This is an intellectual leprosy; it originated in the political world and then spread through the land, contaminating all forms of thinking. This leprosy is killing us; it is doubtful whether it can be cured without first starting with the abolition of all political parties.

INFORMATION This is an extract from On the Abolition of All Political Parties by Simone Weil, translated by Simon Leys, published this month by Black Inc., $16.99. blackincbooks.com

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12 the MELBOURNE REVIEW JANUARY 2013

Business The dominance of two XXXX brands suggests either a very active digital media campaign, or an unfortunate overlap with searchers of the adult entertainment kind.”

Australia through Zeitgeist eyes Peter Singline & David Ansett

E

ach year Google publishes its Zeitgeist report, a summary of the mountains of data they collect based on the search behaviour of the ‘hooked-up and linked-in’ citizens of the digital world. Previously, we have had annual snapshots of the nation, utilizing traditional market research to conclude who we are, what we think, and what we do when the lights are on and when they’re off. But because you never ever seemed to be personally included in the survey, or your cynicism has you feeling that the people only really answer what they think they should say, rather than what they actually do or think, you are often left wondering if they were a true reflection of our nationhood, warts and all. But Google’s Zeitgeist is different. It is not asking individuals ‘what they search on the internet’; it is reporting on exactly what they do search. Given that a 2012 report by Swinburne Universities ARC Centre reports that 87% of Australians had used the internet in the past three months, it is truly representative of where our interests reside. Google’s report is filled with sparkling insights into the brands that genuinely capture our interest across a number of categories – even if they’re not the most aspirational of their peers.

Here are how some of the categories researched play out: Most searched car brands: • Toyota • Ford • Holden • Nissan • Honda

• Mazda • BMW • Hyundai • Subaru • Suzuki

At first glance the list of car brands makes a lot of sense with a reasonable correlation between online search and sales data. The interesting car brand here is BMW, the only European car on the list. The BMW brand sells on aspiration and has very strong ranking in online searches relative to the number of cars it sells. Most searched fashion brands • ASOS • Forever New • Country Road • Witchery • The Iconic

• Victoria’s Secret • General Pants • Mimco • Portmans • Lorna Jane

As a snapshot of a category, this search data is strongly skewed towards women’s fashion. Men

really don’t get a look in. Forty percent of the top ten fashion brands searched for are online offers; ASOS, The Iconic, Victoria’s Secret and General Pants. While online retailing still only accounts for around 5% of all retail spend in Australia, it is nevertheless a reminder that if you’re in the women’s fashion game there’s a compelling need to develop strategies to compete against online retailers. Most searched Australian athletes: • Stephanie Rice • Sally Pearson • Tomic Bernard • Lleyton Hewitt • James Magnussen

• Cadel Evans • Lauren Jackson • Lissel Jones • Anna Meares • Liz Cambage

Interesting by way of the potential for sponsorship and brand alignment these Australian athletes represent. With the exception of ‘bad boy Bernard’, an appearance on this list represents the widespread interest of a big chunk of the Australian population, providing a clear insight into which sporting star personal brands carry the most brand interest. Whilst it’s been an Olympic year, spotlighting our swimmers, what is more interesting is the focus on international sports and sportspeople and the lack of representation of athletes from the strongly dominant domestic sports of AFL, Cricket and Rugby. Most searched food & beverage brands: • Pizza Hut • McDonalds • Coffee • Lite N Easy • Eagle Boys

• KFC • Dan Murphy’s • Subway • Dominos • Hungry Jacks

The prevalence of fast food chains suggests membership of this top ten list may be skewed by a search for nearest store location and home delivery

details. But beyond that we get some insight into a pecking order of interest in a number of brands that offers up some surprises. The non-delivery fast food brands still have a very strong showing, as does the Woolworths Ltd owned Dan Murphy’s as the only liquor brand on the list, demonstrating brand dominance in that category. Also of interest is the Pizza category which represents 30 percent of the top ten searched brands – possibly skewed by the home delivery habits of pizza lovers. But what is most interesting is the dominance of Pizza Hut, a brand that’s been trying to reinvigorate itself and has the least number of stores of the big three with 270. Eagle Boys Pizza who come in at number five have around 300 stores, and Dominos who dominate the pizza landscape with more than 400 stores were the least searched brand of its peers – a result at odds with what their scale should provide. Most searched beer brands • XXXX • Carlton Draught • XXXX Gold • Skinny Blonde • Crown Lager

• Tooheys Extra Dry • Tooheys New • Victoria Bitter • Melbourne Bitter • Brisbane Bitter

When it comes to beer our search habits are strictly old school. With barely an imported or boutique beer to be found, the Zeitgeist list of most searched beer brands reads like a back porch beer fridge anywhere in suburban Australia. The dominance of two XXXX brands suggests either a very active digital media campaign, or an unfortunate overlap with searchers of the adult entertainment kind. As with any report of this nature, the interest is in the detail rather than the ability to draw any sweeping conclusion on what it all says about us as a nation. But like a good session of people watching, the delicious detail reveals a deeper glimpse of our friends, neighbours and fellow countrymen – a fascinating perspective that perhaps allows us to see a truer, sharper picture of ourselves.

INFORMATION Peter Singline and David Ansett are co-founders and directors of Truly Deeply, a Melbourne based brand strategy and design consultancy. trulydeeply.com.au


14 the MELBOURNE REVIEW JANUARY 2013

Feature THE CHAMBER Meg Mundell

I

f she’d quit smoking the week before, like she’d planned, Penny never would have found the gun. That summer a heatwave was crisping the hedges, killing old people and making the birds pant helplessly, beaks agape. Bushfire smoke drifted into the city, tinting the daylight amber and giving the air a sweet, woody scent. Walking home from work that night, Penny was pissed off, and she’d flicked her cigarette butt into the bushes without thinking. As she stamped out the butt, she spotted something nestled in the parched shrubs, a shape glinting under the streetlight. At first she thought it was a toy, some plastic replica lost in a game of cops and robbers. But when she picked it up, the weight of it sent a quick thrill skating through her. She checked the street: empty. A childish thought skipped across her mind: finders keepers. Penny put the gun in her shoulder bag and walked away quickly, her blood banging out a loud pattern. Maybe it was a good-luck omen; what had her fortune cookie said this morning? It is better to be the hammer than the anvil. She smiled: some good luck was way overdue. She rolled another smoke and decided not to head home just yet. Her housemate spent his life inhaling bongs in front of the twenty-four-hour news channel, and she wasn’t in the mood for him. She walked faster than usual, taking long strides, a new confidence welling up inside her. Her bag swung heavy on her hip and she felt strong. Next morning she phoned work to ask about the roster. The manager picked up. A sour man with a neurotically thin moustache, Greg liked to play favourites, and Penny wasn’t one of them. His answers were curt, and he kept saying her name like it tasted bad. No shifts available next week, Penny; I’m in the middle of a stocktake, Penny, we’ll be in touch if we need you. She hung up and swore at her bedroom wall. Five weeks into the job she’d balanced the till wrong twice, and yesterday had lost her temper with two pimply jerks in the fruit aisle who’d made repeated enquiries about ‘them melons’ while gawking at her chest. Penny was sick of it, all the ogling and moronic comments, and her reply had been quick-witted and lacerating. It had also been loud. The two creeps slunk away but Greg appeared at her elbow. Next thing she was in the storeroom listening to him cite a long and viciously exaggerated list of her shortcomings as a grocery worker. He refused to let her explain, so she’d been reduced to glowering. Out in the lounge room her housemate Derek was hunched over a breakfast of Cheezels, watching TV with the curtains shut. Onscreen the bushfires devoured whole swathes of the map; the camera panned across the blackened shells of homes, and emergency workers led weeping people through the smoke. ‘Hey,’ said Penny. Derek grunted a hello.

She took her daily fortune cookie to her room: Today is the tomorrow we worried about yesterday, it informed her. What the hell was that supposed to mean? Her sketchpad lay on the desk. Penny regarded the gap beneath the wardrobe for a while. Then she kneeled down and slid the gun out, positioned it in the sunlight, and began drawing. It was a beautifully designed thing. She sketched its outline, blocked in shading, copied the curlicued logo and the tiny writing stamped into the metal. The final result wasn’t bad. At least she could still draw.

A sour man with a neurotically thin moustache, Greg liked to play favourites, and Penny wasn’t one of them.” The firing mechanism was hidden somewhere inside. Fiddling with guns was a bad idea, but if she was careful … A childhood spent dissecting household appliances and copping whacks around the head from her stepfather had taught her how to put things back together properly, to treat machinery with respect. She tried a small catch, and the cylinder gaped open. A light tremor went through her. There were six bullets inside. That night she opened all the windows wide, but the house would not cool down. Derek was sucking at his bong like an asthma patient taking bottled oxygen. On TV a suspected arsonist was being taken into police custody, a towel draped over his head as the cops held back an angry crowd. ‘Don’t you get sick of watching that stuff ?’ Penny asked. Derek, busy packing a cone, didn’t reply. ‘I’m going for a walk. Have a good night,’ she said, not bothering to hide her sarcasm. Penny set out for the field by the airport, where you could lie back and watch the planes, pale bird-bellies exposed as they rose or sank toward their destinations. She crossed the bridge over the aqueduct, a dry concrete avenue with a channel running down its middle, a strip of black water at the bottom, and slipped through the wires of an old farm fence. A big jumbo lumbered over the tarmac to the runway entrance, and then squatted under the lights as if gathering up courage. The engine screamed as the spindly front wheels left the ground, and the huge beast heaved itself clear

and tore right over the top of her. Its stomach slid past, white and vulnerable. When she reached into her bag to roll a smoke, there it was, wrapped in a scrap of velvet. Carefully she held the gun aloft. Its blueblack metal gleamed in the airport lights as she weighed the heft and menace of the thing. She’d read up on the model: the cylinder contained six chambers where you loaded the bullets; when the gun fired, one bullet shot out, the cylinder spun, and the next one was right there, ready to go. How would it feel to point a loaded gun right at someone, someone who had it coming? Greg’s smirk fading, those assholes who’d taunted her falling silent, backing away. Her stepdad losing the upper hand for once. Yes, she thought, a cold kind of pleasure blooming inside her. She had some idea how it would feel. Two days passed in a blur of heat. Penny left her CV at a couple of cafes and registered for the dole. The woman behind the desk asked questions and noisily banged Penny’s replies into her computer. ‘What was the reason for leaving your last job?’

‘It wasn’t really a proper job,’ Penny said, ‘just shifts here and there. They’ve got none at the moment.’ The woman looked up. ‘They just stopped calling?’ Penny nodded and the keyboard clattered for what seemed like a long time. Go confidently in the direction of your dreams, one fortune cookie had instructed. But sometimes that recurring dream came: the one where she lay wide awake, frozen motionless, feigning sleep as she watched the silent shape of a man standing at the foot of her bed. Her dreams had nothing good to say. Now, after dark, she’d go out walking. ‘Later,’ she called to Derek as she left that evening. The day’s heat radiated off the footpaths, sending hot swirls around her bare legs as she crossed the road to cut through the park. She was less than halfway across when she heard the footsteps. The man was behind her and gaining steadily. It sounded as if he was


the MELBOURNE REVIEW JANUARY 2013 15

Summer Reading She wasn’t sure what to say. He’d never told her he had family up in the hills; but then again, she’d never asked. She felt a faint sense of shame. How would it feel, sitting there watching the fire devour whole towns, knowing someone you cared about was in its path? She got two icy poles from the freezer and offered one to Derek. ‘Thanks,’ he said. It was mid morning when Penny left the house. The sun leaked across the sky like something bleeding, and in the amber light her shadow on the footpath took on a strange terracotta hue. She walked out to the bridge over the aqueduct. For a while she stood there in the heat, watching the planes take off and rise up into the hazy air. She took the gun from her bag. One by one, she took all six bullets from their chambers and dropped them into the water, which swallowed them with barely a sound. Then she placed the gun on the ledge of the aqueduct and walked away: not slow, not fast, just heading home.

INFORMATION wearing heavy boots, like the ones worn by tradies. Walking faster would do no good; she was still a long way from the far side. She had two choices: run, or turn around to face him. She slid her hand into her bag and felt her fingers slot neatly into the gun’s handgrip. As she turned she heard him speak: ‘Hey. You got a light?’ Penny kept her voice level. ‘No,’ she said, ‘and you better just keep walking.’ It wasn’t until he laughed, a dry noise with no humour in it, that she took the gun from her bag and held it low against her leg. ‘You were the one just walking,’ said the man in a pleasant voice. ‘Now you’ve stopped, so I’m asking if you got a light.’ She thought fast: should she pull back the hammer, or was the first shot primed to go if you squeezed the trigger hard? ‘No, I’ve quit,’ was all she could think to say. ‘What you doing out here by yourself ?’ he asked, and this time he made no effort to sound friendly. She had no idea where the words came from: ‘I’m looking for assholes. Are you an asshole?’ The gun was raised now, pointed at his middle. ‘What’s that you got?’ The man’s outline shifted, craning a little closer. ‘What is that?’

the high screech of cicadas and her own shallow breathing. She turned and ran, her heart slamming in her chest. Out under the flight path she lay in the grass and tried to slow her breath. She had been lucky, she reasoned; if she hadn’t had the gun, it could have happened to her all over again. But she knew it was not quite that simple, because without the gun she’d never have cut through the park at night in the first place. The thing that had saved her … it was the same thing that had led her to take the risk. And what if she’d pulled the trigger and shot him, right there in the dark? How would that really feel, afterward? One split-second decision, one chance encounter, and your whole life could switch course, events tumbling on uncontrollably like those rows of falling dominoes. You can’t reverse things: once the bullet drops into the chamber it’s too late. In the sky a plane was circling, coming in to land on her runway. She cradled the gun against her stomach and tuned in to the approaching roar.

‘Cousins. My mum’s sister. Probably lose the house, but everyone got out in time.’

This story is taken from Meg Mundell’s collection Things I Did For Money (to be published by Scribe on February 4, e-book $4.99)

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Next morning Derek was watching the bushfire coverage again. ‘Can’t we watch something else? This is depressing,’ said Penny. ‘There’s a cool change coming through,’ he said. ‘I wanna see what happens.’

Penny tried to keep her voice strong. ‘Go away. Just go, right now.’

In the kitchen she snapped open a fortune cookie: Something you lost will soon turn up. She was thinking this over, trying to recall all the stuff she’d misplaced over the years, when the TV noise cut off abruptly and she heard Derek speaking on the phone. Something in his voice, an anxious note, brought her back into the lounge room.

His footsteps began retreating. ‘Crazy fucken bitch,’ she heard him call back. Penny listened until there was nothing but

‘So they got out?’ Derek was asking. ‘They’re safe, they’re going to be OK?’ He let out a long breath, nodding.

Then he backed off and she could just make out his hands, lifted up in front of him. ‘I just wanted a light,’ he said. ‘You need to fucking relax.’

Penny waited until he’d hung up. ‘Everything all right?’

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16 the MELBOURNE REVIEW JANUARY 2013

Feature

It’s a dry heat Patrick Allington

O

n day eleven of the heat wave, year two of the drought, in the seventh month of my thirty-ninth year, I stood in the queue at Kappy’s Emporium, wedged against a shelf of stovetop espresso makers, waiting to buy coffee beans. Just like every previous day of the heatwave, I was dressed in my favourite T-shirt. Pale blue and getting paler by the hour, it had become tight across the tummy since I’d settled into a lunchtime routine of calzones on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and prawn laksas on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. My T-shirt had the words ‘It’s a dry heat’ stamped across an earth-red map. I’d handwashed it each night so that I could wear it again the next morning. Mindful of water restrictions — I could resemble an upstanding citizen when the mood took me — I poured the soiled water onto the couch grass that still covered a few patches of our dusty backyard. ‘You should talk to the garden,’ Rosie had taken to telling me. ‘It helps it grow.’ ‘That’s a ridiculous thing for a scientist to say,’ I always replied. It was exactly the reaction Rosie pined for — she knew it and I knew it — but I couldn’t help but get grumpy. Deep down, though, I wondered if she might be right. When she wasn’t watching, I gave it a go. ‘Pull yourself together,’ I muttered at the lemon tree as I dripfed it from a bucket. ‘Consider yourself lucky you’re not trying to grow new shoots in African soil,’ I told the azaleas. ‘It’s a dry heat,’ I explained to the patch of green that speared from the gap between the concrete and the tool shed — it was a weed, and inedible, but I admired its resilience. Kappy’s door opened. The bloke who entered was like a cowboy emerging from a fine-grained desert, staggering and swooning, shot through the heart by a bullet that drew no blood. As he collapsed, gasping for breath, I reached around him and closed the door. That’s when I noticed the vintage coffee siphon on a shelf, a steal at $249.95. The Bakelite lid was in terrific shape. The cork on the neck was mouldy. But then I held the glass up to the light and spied a faint crack. ‘Ah,’ I murmured. ‘So close to perfect, so fatally flawed.’ Having lost my spot in the queue, I settled in behind cowboy man. I couldn’t help but notice that perspiration had turned his white shirt translucent, exposing on his shoulder a multicoloured tattoo of Saturn.

I tapped the tattoo. ‘Take your holidays there, do you?’ He turned and gave me a slow careful vicious stare. ‘Five hundred grams of Guatemalan single roast, ground for a dripolator,’ said the woman at the front of the queue. I peered at her. Her faded yellow tent of a dress matched her straw-coloured hair, although the tips of her hair were tinged pink. Her earrings nearly touched the floor. ‘Cyndi?’ I called. ‘Cyndi Lauper? Is it really you?’ ‘Wait,’ she said, one hand raised. ‘Are they fair trade?’ I groaned, as if somebody has laid me out flat and dropped a brick on my chest. ‘Oh Cyndi. Not you too.’ Cowboy man turned and peered at me. ‘Why so cynical?’ he asked. I was about to reply ‘What’s with the Hitler look?’ but after the incident with that nice Indian woman from the flats at number 7 —she’d admitted that she didn’t grind her own garam masala, I’d screamed ‘Stop assimilating’, she’d gotten all teary, her daughter had chased me home — I’d promised Rosie that I’d be nicer to people. With a surge of generosity — maybe Rosie is right, I thought, maybe pleasantness does bring its own rewards — I decided that cowboy man wasn’t to blame for the sharp way his hair parted on his Aryan-white scalp or for the dark red smudge

of heat rash that formed a historically appalling rectangle underneath his stub nose. I grinned and shrugged in my boyish way, and flopped my hair about for good measure — if you’ve got it, flaunt it, especially if you don’t have much else going for you — and demurely waited my turn. But cowboy man wasn’t done. ‘I think it’s a mighty fine thing,’ he said, ‘that we in the Western world, we high-end consumers, we privileged few, finally, after decades of oppression, yes oppression, there’s no other word for it, I’ll say it again, oppression, have the opportunity, should we choose it, should we accept the challenge, should we have the courage to look ourselves in the mirror and see ourselves for the pathetic hypocrites we really are, to do the right thing by some of the most wretched people who walk this earth, by entering with them into a partnership of equals in the best traditions of the brotherhood and sisterhood of man.’ ‘I was wrong,’ I said. ‘You’re nothing like Hitler.’ ‘Excuse me?’ ‘You’re more like Jesus on Easter Sunday morning, standing in front of the cave with the boulder rolled back, rubbing the conjunctivitis out of your eyes, shaking off the rigor mortis, dabbing your bleeding hands and feet with a man-sized Kleenex.’ ‘Whatever you reckon, fella,’ cowboy man said. He yawned and turned his back on me. ‘You’re Jesus done up in a 100 percent brushed cotton shirt made in Vietnam by some growthstunted, napalm-ugly seven-year-old who earns five cents every two years, which he sinks into his heroin addiction and helping feed his nine brothers and sisters.’

The woman in the yellow dress tried to squeeze past me but I grabbed her elbow. ‘I’m your biggest fan,’ I said. ‘I’ll never accept that Madonna made it bigger than you.’ She shrugged free of me without a word. ‘No chance of an autograph, then?’ ‘I’ll have 250 grams of East Timor Fair Trade Blend 2,’ cowboy man said. ‘Ground for a stovetop espresso maker, please.’ ‘The East Timorese must be dancing in the streets,’ I said. ‘Hey, every little bit helps. Just because you don’t care about the evils of globalisation, doesn’t mean the rest of us can’t do our bit.’ ‘It’s one big party over there in Timor. We’ve stolen all their gas and oil but, hey, some destitute farmer’s gonna clear a full 75 cents on your bag of coffee. Good. On. You.’ Cowboy man sighed as he signed his credit card slip. ‘Doing your bit to help the impoverished Visa Corporation, eh?’ He swivelled on his Nikes and stalked out of the shop. I stepped up to the counter. ‘Good morning, Henry,’ Walter said. His forehead was creased. He withheld his gaptoothed smile. ‘How are you, dear?’ Gitta said, an unfamiliar fire in her eyes. ‘How’s your lovely Rosie?’ ‘She’s never better. I’d go as far as to say that


the MELBOURNE REVIEW JANUARY 2013 17

Summer Reading she’s fair trade.’

consciously seek out books that challenged our Christian beliefs—I disliked profanity and abhorred violence— but many of the books I read presented a different world than the one that I knew: a world where authority was questioned, other religions existed as options, and sexual relations were not governed solely by the Bible.

‘Excuse me but we believe in fair trade here,’ Walter said, addressing the room. ‘Okay, what do you want today? Come on, we are busy, very busy.’ ‘The usual, I think,’ I said with a wink. Each time I bought coffee beans from Kappy’s, Walter concocted a different blend. Each time he wrote the details on a card that I read only after I’d made and drunk the first cup. At that first sip, I wanted to think about the nose, the body, the taste, the aftertaste. I didn’t want to wonder if the slopes of Kilimanjaro really were misty or if the Blue Mountains really were blue. I didn’t want my head filled with guilty thoughts about destitute Tanzanians who ate gruel and slept in locked sheds. Or about the East Timorese, poor bastards. Sometimes Walter knew straight away what mix of beans to give me, as if he could predict the fluctuations of my mood for the upcoming week. Other times he whispered suggestions to Gitta. She either nodded, four short sharp bangs as if she was hammering a nail into wood with her chin, or pursed her lips so hard that it was a wonder she didn’t draw blood. Not today. Today they turned away from me, their podgy midriffs merging as they conferred in Dutch. ‘Well? What’s it to be?’ I said. ‘No, don’t tell me.’ ‘Today you get nothing,’ Gitta said. ‘No coffee for you.’ ‘But — ’ ‘You are too rude. I am ashamed to call you my friend,’ Walter said. ‘Come back next week and we will serve you,’ Gitta said, ‘but only if you behave. Can you? Can you behave?’ ‘I don’t have a clue what you’re going on about,’ I said. ‘I really think —’ ‘You do not shake up women in this shop,’ Gitta said. ‘Never never never.’ ‘That’s not what …’ I paused and breathed deep into my lungs, just like Rosie had suggested I do at moments like this. Eyes closed, I watched myself take hold of Cyndi Lauper’s elbow. My little joke. Except that I’d grabbed her rough. Except that I’d barked at her. ‘Oh no,’ I whispered. ‘Not again.’

INFORMATION Patrick Allington is the author of Figurehead (Black Inc., 2009) and is a Visiting Research Fellow, School of History & Politics, The University of Adelaide. This is an extract from a novel in progress, Potatoes In All their Glory.

Travelling by the Book Amy Espeseth

T

he course of my life was set when I was seven or eight: my maternal grandparents took my older sister and I on an epic pilgrimage to retrace the life of Laura Ingalls Wilder. Starting from Laura’s birthplace in Pepin, Wisconsin (Little House in the Big Woods) we followed the family’s path through various historical locations in Minnesota and the Dakotas. In a rusty motorhome packed with cheese sandwiches and fierce devotion, we visited museums, amateur re-enactments, and fullscale outdoor theatre productions of the tales. We travelled from the big woods to the prairie, and from the banks of the Plum Creek to the shores of Silver Lake. After pretending to endure the long winter to make it back to the little town on the prairie, we again enjoyed the happy golden years of the Ingalls family and then shyly envied the romance of the Wilders’ first four years. The Little House books are fiction but were based on the recollections of Laura’s pioneer childhood in the American Midwest of the late 19th century. To my sister and I—and many Little House fans, I’d guess— Laura was absolutely real, and our reverent visit to the collapsed prairie dug out that was ‘possibly’ the family’s home and our quiet tears at the family dog Jack’s ‘probable’ grave were more proof that the Ingalls family had shared our land and water. As Wisconsin girls, both Laura and I had lain awake at night fearful of the owls and wolves in the woods, just like both my sister and I now wore matching prairie dresses our mother had made for the trip. We were the same. Living through the Little House books nurtured a love of reading that has stayed with me. Growing up within a Pentecostal Christian family, my siblings and I were shielded from much of popular culture: television, movies and music were monitored and often vetted. My grandmother pre-read any book she considered giving to us, prayerfully checking the text for themes and ideas that might harm our carefully protected worldview. But I was always a voracious reader and allowed, unlike some of my church friends, to read practically whatever I wanted from the library. As a child, I did not

While my grandmother read the Bible in its entirely every year—and my youth pastor did as well, in different languages in which he wished to minister— I struggled to make it through my daily devotions. I’ve certainly read the complete scriptures more than once and memorised great swaths, but the parables and psalms had to share my reading time with perhaps-telling favourites. I loved A Little Princess (1905) by Frances Hodgson Burnett, and its maudlin story of the seeminglyorphaned Sara Crewe struggling to find herself and her family while exiled at Miss Minchin’s Boarding School. Another favourite, The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner (1924) explores the life of four orphaned siblings living in an abandoned boxcar in the forest until they are rescued by their grandfather. My most beloved book was Island of the Blue Dolphins (1960) by Scott O’Dell which relays the true story of an Indigenous girl living alone and by her wits on a Pacific Island in the 19th century. As a child in the early eighties, my reading preferences were decidedly old fashioned and seem to reveal a lonely girl yearning for even more isolation. I decidedly avoided the books that raised titters among my classmates including Virginia Andrews’ Flowers in the Attic series, everything by Stephen King, and anything with any satanic mentions of witchcraft or wizardly activities. (In a different generation, Harry Potter would never have been a friend of mine.) Admittedly, I did check out and read some of the books rumoured to be naughty, including Judy Blume’s frank discussions of puberty and sex in Forever and Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret. Standing in between the modest stacks at the library, I even peeked into the coming-of-age tale, Go Ask Alice. I thought this was a story so dirty, its author wasn’t willing to be named—and I wasn’t willing to have my name written onto the circulation card waiting at the back of the book. Although my reading was limited by what I thought acceptable to my family and church, I read almost everywhere: in bed when I was supposed to be sleeping, at the lake when everyone else was fishing, even in the van during long family vacations. I pushed the boundaries of tolerability by reading Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy while we visited Yellowstone National Park, looking up from my elves and dwarves to briefly acknowledge geysers and moose. In high school, I remained in an advanced placement English class that fellow church members had abandoned due to controversial discussions regarding challenging books like The Grapes of Wrath and War and Peace. My reading provided an escape, a way of traveling and visiting other lives and worlds. Of course, I didn’t always understand those people and their ways: as a young child, I convinced my mother to make me a water-chestnut sandwich—which I enthusiastically ate—while trying to recreate Paddington Bear’s watercress. But I loved peering outside my rather restricted world, past the trees and farms and into a world of cobblestone sidewalks and talking bears. And it was this aspect of my reading that I could see would become a problem. During a particular devout period in high school—years filled with youth rallies and summer mission trips

that included street corner proselytising in Chicago and volunteering in orphanages in Guatemala—I identified books as a distraction from God and attempted to curb, or at least direct, my reading habits. Perhaps predictably, I failed: after I graduated high school, my undergraduate years at private evangelical colleges saw my major change from international missions to English literature. By this time, in my early twenties, I had realised that the world was a different place from what I had understood it to be as a child. For the slide was in motion: now my reading ensured relentless exposure to concepts — evolution, feminism, postmodernism — that seemed to directly contradict my carefully crafted and guarded worldview; I started to question more. And after I immigrated to Australia, I started to write—surprisingly, stories from the place and worldview I thought I had left behind. With the publication of Sufficient Grace in 2012, I am on the opposite side of the page: I have written recollections and imaginings of my home, changing many things and leaving some things the same. Folks can now read the story that came to me through my years of living in the woods with the scriptures and the hymns as friends—just like Laura. Reading brought me through my childhood and from a place so far away; reading returns me to my home.

INFORMATION Amy Espeseth is the author of Sufficient Grace, (Scribe $29.95).

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Biotech Clever SPF: Chemistry and the concoction of sunscreen Kerryn Greive

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he formulation of sunscreens has been described as an art, rather than a science. We have come a long way since the first effective sunscreen, thought to have been developed in France in 1938 and delivering a sun protection factor (SPF) of 2. With Australia having the highest skin cancer rates in the world, getting the best possible protection from our sunscreens is essential. Making up 80% of all new cancer cases diagnosed in Australia, skin cancer costs the Australian government almost $300 million to treat each year. Studies from Dr Adele Green’s group working with the residents of Nambour, Queensland, show that regular sunscreen use is an effective and cost-effective way to prevent skin cancers, including melanoma. Sunscreen and SPF The most common indicator of the protection offered by a sunscreen is the SPF on the front of the bottle. The SPF of a sunscreen is the ratio of the time taken to burn without the sunscreen to the time taken to burn with the sunscreen. So if a person burns in 10 minutes without the sunscreen and 300 minutes with the sunscreen, the sunscreen has an SPF of 30. The caveat is that the person must apply the right amount of sunscreen and reapply as directed. The SPF is commonly thought of as a measure of how well a sunscreen protects from UVB radiation (290–320 nm), but it is more correctly a measure of erythemal radiation. Erythemal radiation comprises 85% UVB and 15% UVA (320–400 nm). If a sunscreen only protects from UVB, it could never achieve an SPF of higher than about 6–7. It is only by protecting from UVA radiation as well that a sunscreen can achieve the SPF values Australians are accustomed to seeing on their sunscreens. Australian sunscreen packaging includes the words ‘broad spectrum’. This term deals specifically with the protection the sunscreen offers from UVA. In 1986 Australia became the first country to mandate that all sunscreens test and label for UVA protection. With the increase in SPF to 50+ this summer, a new test has been developed to better reflect the UVA protection

offered by the sunscreen. Although the term ‘broad spectrum’ will still be used to indicate compliance with this test, the sunscreen will be required to offer a level of UVA protection in proportion to the labelled SPF. The World Health Organisation has declared both UVA and UVB to be carcinogens, so protection from both is vital for the health and wellbeing of Australians. Formulation challenges For a formulator of sunscreens, the challenge is to make a highly protective sunscreen that is cosmetically acceptable, thus encouraging people to wear it every day. The first widely used sunscreen contained red veterinary petrolatum as the sunscreen active and was a disagreeable red, sticky substance similar to petroleum jelly. Thankfully today, the understanding of how to make a quality sunscreen has improved immensely and involves balancing the technical demands of good sun protection with consumer demands for a light skin feel. While consumers will usually tolerate a medical ointment feeling a bit ‘icky and sticky’, when it comes to sunscreens they demand the elegance and skin feel of cosmetics. This duality of demand is both challenging and exciting to a sunscreen formulator. Sunscreens in Australia have to fulfil a range of obligations, from those that are worn every day as part of a general skincare regimen, to those that need to be water resistant for four hours under the harsh Australian sun. In Australia, if a sunscreen claims to deliver water resistance, then it must be able to deliver the SPF on the label, after the water resistance period. For example, a sunscreen with an SPF of 30, four hours water resistance, must still be SPF 30 after the person has been in the water for four hours. This is in contrast to Europe where the sunscreen can lose half its SPF over the water resistance period, making an SPF of 30, four hours water resistant, only SPF 15 after the wearer has been in the water. Additional considerations are the pH-sensitive nature of zinc oxide, the different impact that salt water or chlorinated water can have on a sunscreen, and whether the sunscreen is to be used primarily on the face or the body. For sunscreens that deliver water resistance, the base of the sunscreen must be designed to resist being washed off while the consumer is enjoying

the water, but be able to be washed off at the end of day. This process involves the careful selection of film-forming ingredients that will allow the delivery of water resistance without making the product feel heavy and thick. The higher hurdle that Australian sunscreens must pass means that they are the most protective in the world. But how are manufacturers going to create SPF 50+ sunscreens without cramming more sunscreening actives into their products? Although sunscreens are very safe and skin reactions to them are rare, there is still a risk that more sunscreen actives could mean more skin reactions. Making a cosmetically elegant and highly protective sunscreen is not as simple as taking a body lotion and tossing in a few actives; several key factors have to be optimised to deliver technical and cosmetic brilliance.

Chemical and physical action Sunscreens have two classes of active ingredients: those that work by chemically converting the UV radiation to light or heat, and those that physically block the UV radiation, reflecting it away from the skin. Colloquially these are called ‘chemical’ actives and ‘physical’ actives, and each requires a different approach to enable them to be incorporated optimally into a sunscreen. The advantage of chemical actives is that they deliver a clear finish to the sunscreen when it is applied to the skin and they are widely compatible with other sunscreen ingredients. Physical actives, however, are less irritating. The physical sunscreen actives titanium dioxide and zinc oxide can come in micro or nano sizes. Recently, a lot of media attention has been directed at the nano form of these materials. In use for over 20 years, nano titanium dioxide and zinc


the MELBOURNE REVIEW JANUARY 2013 19

Biotech Sunscreens in Australia have to fulfil a range of obligations, from those that are worn every day as part of a general skincare regimen, to those that need to be water resistant for four hours under the harsh Australian sun. ” chemical sunscreen actives, the formulator must select the solvents carefully as each active may be better potentiated by a different solvent, but too much solvent in the base and the final sunscreen will be too heavy, oily or greasy. To get the most out of physical sunscreen actives, dispersing agents are essential to ensure a quality SPF. While it is possible to find sunscreens with just chemical or just physical actives, the most common approach is to use both, as they work synergistically to improve SPF. If in doubt, toss it out Unlike many topical cosmetics, if a sunscreen begins to break down, physically or chemically, the SPF protection will also start to break down. This cannot be remedied by giving the bottle a good shake; this may make the product look intact, but the protection will not be. Sunscreens with an SPF above 15 will always have a ‘use by date’ and a ‘store below’ temperature on the pack. If the sunscreen has expired, the sunscreen actives may have degraded to a point that the SPF can no longer be guaranteed. Under hot conditions, such as in the glove box of the car, the breakdown of the sunscreen actives and product will be accelerated. In general, for sunscreens the breakdown rate doubles for every 10°C the product is above the recommended storage temperature.

oxide allow formulators to produce sunscreens that are minimally whitening on the skin. The concerns were based on results using unrelated nano materials such as gold and quantum dots. However, research by universities, industry and regulatory agencies around the world on nano titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, as used in sunscreens on human skin, have concluded that these nanoparticles do not get through the skin and do not pose a risk to human health. The Therapeutic Goods Agency of Australia has released a review on their website supporting this finding. Chemical actives need to be dissolved into the sunscreen base, while physical actives need to be dispersed. The better the distribution of each of these components in the final sunscreen base, the better the sunscreen efficacy, or SPF, will be. To optimise the performance of

Making the most of sunscreen Apply and reapply correctly. Studies published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology and Skin Pharmacology and Physiology show that consumers apply a quarter to a half of the sunscreen they should to achieve the SPF on the bottle. Applying half the sunscreen means that the SPF protection is reduced by up to two-thirds. Shake the bottle well before you squirt any sunscreen out. This mixes up all the particles and distributes them evenly in the container. Most adults should use about 35 ml or 1 oz. of sunscreen to cover their whole body. That’s the same amount that would fit into a shot glass. Most people don’t apply enough sunscreen. It’s OK to use more than you think you should.

knees and your legs. Some studies say it’s a good idea to reapply your sunscreen after you’ve been in the sun for 30 minutes. This makes it more likely you’ll get the places you might have missed. Reapply the same amount of sunscreen every 2 hours, even if you haven’t been sweating or in the water. Reapply sunscreen as soon as you get done swimming, toweling off, or sweating heavily. Yep, the whole shot glass full.

INFORMATION Dr Kerryn Greive is Scientific Affairs Manager, Ego Pharmaceuticals This material was first published in Chemistry in Australia, the magazine of the Royal Australian Chemical Institute. raci.org.au/chemaust

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Health Childhood Obesity A family and community affair Professor Avni Sali

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ates of childhood obesity are now increasing with each generation. Children today not only will, on average, be heavier than their parents but also, for the first time in recorded medical history, will potentially face a reduction in average life span, meaning they will live shorter lives than their parents’ generation. This is alarming given modern medicine has, for decades, increased average life span. Obesity increases the risk of death far greater than does smoking. Statistics indicate that one-third of children in Australia are classified as overweight or obese. The obese child typically becomes the obese adult and the need to address issues of weight gain very early in life is now considered one of the most important interventions we can make in an attempt to reduce adult obesity and mortality. At the core of Integrative Medicine is an approach to health that is preventative and health creating. Integrative Medicine provides us with an opportunity also to look beyond the individual or self to focus more comprehensively on the family, children and the future. Studies indicate that obesity runs in families. The news that obesity is on the rise is not unfamiliar. Every day we are told that obesity rates are unacceptable and most people can list the reasons why – too much screen time, too much junk food, not enough activity and so on. But knowing about obesity and doing something about it (which involves real and lasting behavioural change) is clearly a more

difficult transition than we, as a population and as healthcare providers, can manage on our own. Through Integrative Medicine, we can develop programs that provide a wealth of opportunities to bridge the gap between knowing what to do and actually doing it. While diet and exercise are the two main weight management strategies offered, the integrative approach also looks at issues related to environment, stress, culture and family structure. Weight and mental health are listed as the two most common health issues for children. A study from 2012 indicates one in seven adults experience severe stress, with stress levels in young people higher than those in older people. Paediatric depression, anxiety and stress are emerging as significant health issues, and youth mental health is now a priority in healthcare. Over thirty years ago, I conducted research into the eating habits of primary school children – over one-third were obese or overweight, two thirds did not consume adequate fruit and vegetables and over a third suffered from constipation. With research findings today showing similar trends we need to approach children’s health, and in particular children’s obesity, from a fresh and integrative perspective. It is important to start before a child is even born. High birth weight in infants, the mother and father’s BMI (Body Mass Index), rapid weight gain in infant years and having an overweight mother who smoked in pregnancy have all been shown to increase the risk of obesity in the childhood years. Mothers who were overweight before becoming pregnant had children that were up to four times more likely to be overweight by age seven. Children of smoking

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the MELBOURNE REVIEW JANUARY 2013 21

Health mothers (during pregnancy) were 47 percent more likely to be overweight compared to children of non-smoking mothers. In contrast, infants who were breastfed for longer than one year were less likely to become obese children. It appears that the early introduction of solid foods may be linked to excessive weight in preschool years. Even those who were breastfed only briefly had less weight gain. The decisions a mother makes about nutrition and food intake during her pregnancy will influence the child’s propensity towards obesity through genetic changes of the foetus. The changes to carbohydrate metabolism, more specifically glucose, influence the various developmental tasks and phases involved in the growing foetus, and become specific and deeply coded physical and genetic programs that the child carries for life. Research shows that exerting excessive control over what and how much a child eats may contribute to that child becoming overweight. Quality relationships, such as developing strong emotional bonds with children in their early years, can have a significant impact on obesity rates in adolescent years. Parenting styles that respond to a child’s emotional states with comfort, consistency and warmth may provide a sense of security and attachment that helps a child manage stress levels throughout their entire lives. The effect of stress on the human body is now understood to be directly related to weight gain as the increased cortisol related to stress and anxiety has an effect on insulin levels and a series of complex biochemical reactions in the brain and body. Children, just like adults, can benefit greatly from learning stress management and relaxation techniques, and sound sleep behaviours. Inadequate sleep for children is directly linked to obesity. In children each onehour reduction in sleep was associated with a 40 percent increase in the risk for obesity. Although average sleep varies by age, research indicates approximately ten and a half hours sleep a night is required by primary schoolaged children. At school, something as simple as children having recess directly before lunch (rather than lunch first) resulted in a higher consumption of vegetables and fruits, better behaviour in the afternoon and a reduction in

Research shows that exerting excessive control over what and how much a child eats may contribute to that child becoming overweight. Quality relationships, such as developing strong emotional bonds with children in their early years, can have a significant impact on obesity rates in adolescent years. ” shown to be a factor in weight gain.

visits to the school nurse of over 40 percent. Strategies at a collective level, even those as simple as a rethink on school lunchtimes, are now considered essential. The World Health Organisation considers obesity a global epidemic similar to cancer or diabetes and one that needs a collective approach, not only a focus on the individual. Family and community, plus an integrative approach, are key. Although genetic and environmental factors play a role, the family influence carries the most significant ‘weight’ in how children develop and sustain eating behaviours, attitudes to food, over-feeding and knowledge about foods in general. Research shows children who cook are hungrier for healthy foods. How babies are weaned can impact on their preference for healthier foods. A new study by psychologists at The University of Nottingham has shown that babies who are weaned using solid finger

food are more likely to develop healthier food preferences and are less likely to become overweight as children than those who are spoon-fed pureed food. While nutrition and exercise are essential components of a healthy lifestyle, research is now showing us a range of factors that influence how we think and behave around food, and how our bodies process or manage energy in and energy out. For example, we are developing a better understanding about the role environmental toxins play in obesity (and in health generally). Phthalates, a humanmade, endocrine-disrupting chemical which is found in cheap chemically processed foods, mimic hormones in the body which are linked to childhood obesity. Another emerging aspect to do with weight management is the role of the numerous gut bacteria. The disruption of gut bacteria by poor diet and antibiotics is

The National Institute of Integrative Me dicine, supporte d by the Ponting Foundation, is developing a pilot program for school-aged children that focuses on children’s wellness through a totally integrative approach. This community-based, multifaceted, holistic and integrative approach will focus on children and their families within a supported environment. Children will learn new ways to live well that will not only create healthy models for their future, but also create lasting change for families today.

INFORMATION 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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Columnists THIRD AGE Getting up close and personal with the past Shirley Stott Despoja

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hird Agers know better than to make a big deal about New Year. It is just another January with things lurking in it. But this year I have to carry out a vow: to go through my papers. On the stroke of midnight, a fine sweat on my brow will break out, and with it that nasty little squeezy feeling in the chest which people of my age do not relish at all. It’s time. To get up close and personal with the past. 2013 is the year when I will closet myself with boxes of papers, cuttings, letters, unfinished novels, court judgments (all in my favour in case you think I am a mug), marginalia, memorable quotes… the detritus of a writer’s life. Yellowing newsprint is the most interesting; past written threats to my life and wellbeing are the scariest (one of the things that really got some men going ape in the 80s was the proposal to admit women to the fire brigade). And there are the lovely ones. These belong to pre-internet days, when people who liked what you wrote picked up a pen, some nice notepaper and wrote, without benefit of hashtags. It was a deliberative act, not an impulsive sign-in to Facebook with something like: “Kool wot U wrote, hugs XXX.” Yes, enough of that. All this paper I must sort through tells a bigger story. It chronicles my contact with the social and political changes of 50 or so years. Julian Barnes has one of his characters, not the brightest of a bunch of pretentious schoolboys in The Sense of an Ending claim that history is the memory of survivors. People of my age are survivors of some of the most radical, concentrated changes ever. We survived the wars our fathers and mothers went to, the wars our fathers and mothers engaged in at home, political fights about education (free? private? religious? secular? tertiary fees?), advocacy for women in the work force, for women everywhere, the outing of criminal assault in the home; the gradual, perilous uncovering of the prevalence of incest, and later on, the discovery that people could finally talk out loud about sexual abuse, especially of children. These are just a few of the changes. We went from pretty young things with hats and gloves to tough women in jeans; from people who largely did what they were told, to people who questioned everything. But history is more than memories. Documentation is necessary. Another of Barnes’s smartarse schoolboys says that history is “that certainty produced where the imperfections of memory meet the inadequacies of documentation.” It’s clumsy and his teacher shoots holes in it, but the story of the protagonist’s life – a 60-ish overcautious, self-regarding man – takes off from there in a riveting novel about ageing, memory, missing documentation, regret, and the horrible truth that the lessons you learn about yourself in old age come too late to be useful. The points made about needing documentation stand up. I know that some of us wake in the night

with the thought: I must tell my daughter/son/ grandchild that. Before we fall back to sleep we recognise that what seems so important to us will not likely catch the attention of the younger person. If siblings cannot agree on their family history, people separated by generations will likely regard our memories as at least part fiction. What we need is documentation to back up our stories. As Barnes’s ageing narrator says, “as witnesses to your life diminish” there is “less certainty as to what you are or have been.” Even if you have kept records, they may prove to be wrong or inadequate. Perhaps I am talking myself out of getting my papers in order. But someone has to do it, I suppose, even if it proves to be just an inadequate record of my past, totally fallible as history and makes me have a little cry. When I heard of Dame Elisabeth Murdoch’s death at the age of 103 in December, and read many tributes to her intelligence and understanding – observable in TV interviews late in her life – I recalled that about 18 months ago Peter Coleman, a columnist for the Australian segment of The Spectator, expressed regret that Dame Elisabeth had co-signed a letter to The Age supporting the carbon tax. He wrote: “She is a grand old lady and a great Australian. But there is no evidence that she has made or can make an independent assessment of the issue. At 102 it is not surprising that she has had some difficulty in following the debates or always staying awake during discussions.” Breathtakingly patronising, but that is not the point I am making; which is that Peter Coleman was 83 when he wrote this. He appears to believe in a hierarchy of the old. Are you young enough to have an opinion at 83, but not at 102 (as the great Dame was at the time this was published)? She must have wanted to box his ears.


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Columnists IRREGULAR WRITINGS Beck’s Songbook Dave Graney

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eck’s new album Song Reader came out in December. Only it is not a recording, it is a songbook. Sheet music for the purpose in that the person who buys it, brings the music to life. It’s out through an online publishing operation called McSweeney’s Internet Tendency – the link is here: mcsweeneys.net/pages/song-reader. The site describes “Twenty songs’ worth of sheet music, assembled into twenty individual song booklets, each decorated with ‘full-color, heyday-of-home-play-inspired art,’ and stored in a “lavishly produced hardcover carrying case.” Quite a daring idea. I looked at some online responses from people to the idea. Readers’ comments. As in most of these areas, the response is almost totally given to smartarsery and illinformed nonsense. The first, hot thoughts, never the third or fourth more considered ones. I read a great interview with Beck where he talked of his interest in the project going back more than a decade. He wanted to take the time to have the right songs. He talked of how differently it made him think of what an actual song was. Recording and working a persona in a performing sense was what he’d been used to. This way, he talked of the songs having to have some crude power to come through in this most primitive way. He said that you had to write in very universal terms, almost on the edge of corniness and vulgarity. It was no place to be cool. He then talked of songwriters like Hank Williams and John Lennon who had done this. The songs had to be simple but strong. He mentioned a hit song by Bing Crosby in the 30s selling 53 million copies of sheet music – when the population of the USA was roughly 104 million. Jon Rose, in a 2007 Peggy Glanville Hicks lecture “Listening to history: some proposals for reclaiming the practice of music” tried to illustrate how close Australian people once were in relation

Beck

to making music – that it was not a distant, mostly imported experience. “…. notion of one piano for every three or four Australians by the beginning of the 20th century could well be close to the mark. Here’s some statistics just from the Port of Melbourne for that year: 01888: 3,173 upright pianos and 1,247 organs were imported. By 1909 - 10,432 imported pianos. 1910 - 13,912 imported pianos. 1911 - 19,508 imported pianos. 1912 - 20,856 imported pianos. That’s 64,708 imported pianos in just four years”. Those people would have been buying sheet music and playing the songs themselves. They were so much closer to the stuff. They were in it, they had to dive in and swim. I do a radio show with Elizabeth McCarthy

called Banana Lounge Broadcasting on RRR in Melbourne and we had the honour of the Pretty Things coming in to the studio. I tried to tease out of them what it was like to be involved in British music in the early 1960s. I asked what they’d thought – as Londoners – of The Beatles. (Hoping for an early reflection of the UK North/ South divide). Both Dick Taylor and Phil May said they’d loved them. Dick said he’d first heard Love Me Do while sitting around with former band member Keith Richard. I asked how they heard it, trying to get out to the listeners how radio had changed. He said it was mostly people listening to records in each other’s houses. There was a one hour pop show on the BBC once a week. Otherwise, radio was for live performance and orchestras. For many years there were Musicians Union regulations for playing records and the use of tapes to pre-record programmes in both the USA and the UK. (Bing Crosby made a lot

of dosh out of tape – and started the idea of prerecording his radio shows so he could tour as well). Sheet music was big. Until Buddy Holly and the Beatles, artists did not write their own material. The A&R man put the songs with the performers. Artist and Repertoire. Then it all went to hell. Songs were written by ugly professionals – in hit factories. 9 to 5! First Tin Pan Alley in the world of musicals and then the Brill Building in the age of the transistor radio. The Beatles ruined that one too! As Mark E Smith noted, “Four proletariat idiots! En route to Candy Mountain!” If that wasn’t bad enough, the digital world fell on us and the whole world is now creative. And the notion of copyright is theft – disallowing the possibility of somebody having something! As David A Jasen says in Tin Pan Alley, “Between 1900 and 1910, one hundred songs were said to have sold more than one million copies each – and this to a national population of just over ninety million. The songs sold for an average of 50 cents a piece, when the average take-home wage of a family of four was $12.75.” Beck’s idea may be a return to something older but as every idiot I’ve met in the music business loves to parrot, “a song is a song”. Well, as every songwriter knows, the great freedom that comes when you try to write a song for a specific other person (rather than yourself ) – a person you can see and imagine – is so different to finding and filling in some more blank space in your own façade. Beck had to confront all these ideas with this songbook. I’m getting a copy. I hope it has chord charts for guitar. I am blind to the flyshit.


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Socials DIA DINNER – FIRE AND ICE Under the theme of Fire & Ice, the Design Institute of Australia (Victoria branch) held its annual dinner at roof-top venue Luminare, where guests enjoyed canapÊs followed by a gourmet dinner. The festive mood was complemented by stunning views of the Melbourne skyline. Photos: Matthew Wren

Caroline Geneva and Polina Radchenko.

Danni Tan, Jason Tan and Alli Harper.

Susan Harris and Ian Close.

James Marks, Anne Tolevski and Chris Tolevski.

Erin Lacey and Claire Ord.

Miriam Fanning and Felicity Watts.

Rosemary Simons and Martin Lilford.

Simon Marriott and Michael Hall.

Stephen Langdon and Rob Pataki.

THE WILLIAMS AT THE OLSEN

Will and Natalie Deague with the Williams sisters.

Riana Teo, Emma Low and Donna Shadlow.

Josh Thomas and Tom Ward.

Sisters Venus and Serena Williams gathered a huge crowd at The Olsen Hotel in South Yarra while practicing their serves and warming up their backhands in preparation for the Australian Open. However, instead of tennis, they downsized their racquets and opted for a game of ping-pong. Meanwhile, a cocktail event carried on around them, with a host of celebrities and familiar faces in attendance. Photos: Liz McLeish

Kristi Townley and Sally Klopper.

Anton Young and Natasha Leigh.

Camilla and Natalie Deague.

Serena Williams and Venus Williams.


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Socials PRESS PARTY AT LILLY & LOLLY The secret is no longer confined to Sydney – the champagne was flowing last month as Lilly & Lolly opened their doors in Albert Park. A space dedicated to both children and adults, guests celebrated the unveiling of this new store with its special array of kids’ furniture, linen, décor and gift ideas.

Photos: Matthew Wren

Bruce Jacobs and Helen Jacobs.

Alex Blacker, Faith Maguire and Phoebe Butler.

Darren Walker, Tim Butler and George Manos.

Diane Torrisi and Peter Varnier.

Megan Butler and Ashling Punnett.

Sheriston Sheridan and Helen Mall.

PHOTO BY: SDP Media

featuring tailored flared trousers and pinafores in luxurious fabrics such as wool and velvet. The looks are lightened with a fun, modern take on the paisley print, adding a spectrum of colour and pop to the proper, preppy style.

New Designers at Yering Station

A

s a passionate supporter of the arts, Yering Station is committed to the growth and development of Australia’s

vibrant art and fashion industries. Yering Station was proud to partner the fabulous Melbourne Spring Fashion Week again in 2012. To celebrate their partnership, Yering Station and MSFW have teamed up to create the ‘MSFW New Designer Exhibition’ within the gallery in Yering Station’s spectacular Cellar Door. The exhibition will showcase the next generation of ‘wave makers’ including Project Runway winner Christina Exie, Oracles, Raggatt and J.K. Kirk. The latest Oracles collection for Winter 2013 takes style cues from smart dressing of the 70s,

R AGGATT produces g arments by manipulating folds to create drape, disrupting the usual pattern cutting techniques and replacing it with sculptural and unexpected forms. It is an exploration on shifting seams and producing clothes with substance. The Spring/Summer 2013 collection focused on the X, the form of the X acting as the framework in which to direct the folds, drape and volume of the garments. The use of folds, seams, tucks and knots were employed to create the X folds seen throughout the collection. J. K. Kirk’s latest collection of accessories is handcrafted using materials from the traditional to the exotic, including leather, sterling silver and human hair. They are intriguing due to their atemporal and often androgynous qualities. Each of Christina Exie’s pieces have endured an intense design developmental process; extensive research into an idea to form a concept, intricately detailed pattern making, mostly hand constructed with the use of sculpture, hand stitching and moulding techniques which are all finished with precision.

INFORMATION The New Designer Exhibition runs from January 25 – February 25 at Yering Station, 38 Melba Highway, Yarra Glen, 3775 yering.com


26 the MELBOURNE REVIEW JANUARY 2013

Books

The Best Australian Essays 2012 Ramona Koval (ed.) Black Inc. David Sornig In the final essay of The Best Australian Essays 2012, Nicolas Rothwell makes a convincing, if idiosyncratically digressive argument that between the 18th Century Frankist cult of revolutionary Judaism, which sought to ‘smash this false world’s laws; pollute every religion and every positive system of belief,’ and the emergence in 1972 of the Papunya art movement, there is a common thread. Like Frankism, Papunya was intended to transgress. It broke for all time the old tradition of keeping secret the sacred symbols of culture; it forced the death of old ways of believing, so that new ways could emerge. This theme of endings, or at least the reckonings they prompt, seems to have caught the ear of the collection’s editor, Ramona Koval. The essays she has collected ask: How did we get here? What does it mean to be here? Is this really the end? Is there a way forward that we can live with?

John Bryson writes on the final ruling in the Azaria Chamberlain case, reminding us of the shameful trial by public opinion that characterised its long, cruel history. Gillian Mears is heartbreaking on horse-jumping and the irrevocable claim that multiple sclerosis has made on her body. Tim Flannery marks the end of the life of Robert Hughes, and there are a couple of centenaries of birth as well: Gideon Haigh on the prolific American interviewer Studs Terkel, and Andrew Ford on another American, John Cage. Of the essays that give the collection its political colour, the most interesting are those that deal with the character of national leadership. The 2010 collapse of Kevin Rudd’s prime ministership became current again when he unsuccessfully re-challenged for the Labor leadership in February. Here, the events surrounding Gillard’s challenge in 2010 and its meaning are told by two insiders, James Button and Rhys Muldoon, whose sympathies for Rudd are at some divergence. For two-party balance, Koval has chosen an extract from David Marr’s Quarterly Essay on Tony Abbot, which famously shows the Liberal leader to be nothing if not a consistent political destroyer. The national tendency toward political destruction appears both petty and maddening in the light of Robert Manne’s apocalyptic assessment of the state of the battle between climate science and the vested interests of denialism. In this context, the Gina Rinehart of Nick Bryant’s portrait of her tips from someone who might even be deserving of sympathy, into a clear-eyed player whose self-interested reach for the growth of the mining industry is positively malevolent. This interest in the difficult relationship we have with the natural world extends also to our relationship with animals. Anna Krien writes with balance on the slaughter of live-export cattle in Indonesia, Romy Ash considers the transformation of a rabbit from an animal into meat, and Helen Garner is brief but disturbing on the mutiny of her daughter’s dog while it is assigned to her care. Perhaps, more than any other, these essays are trying to make sense of something the culture is facing, an ending, an apocalyptic transgression of the kind Rothwell imagines, doing the work we might need to do to rethink of ourselves as the thing we really are: just some other kind of animal.

Artful

1953

Ali Smith Hamish Hamilton

Geoff Page University of Queensland Press

Tali Lavi

William Charles

There is a double entendre at play within this title, for brimming with references to works of art, the book is both ‘art full’ as well as having been ‘artful[ly]’ constructed by Ali Smith. A series of four lectures delivered at Oxford University, it defies placement within any literar y genre, for although it journeys throug h the portrayal and construction of love and mourning through the prism of literary and cultural analysis, it simultaneously masquerades as such, being fiction. Amongst the recent resurgence of memoirs in which writers turn to fiction or art for meaning, the lesson here is subverted, for its frame is art itself. Like the Artful Dodger who bursts into the narrative, ‘a work of shifting possibility’, so is that which we a re conscious of reading. Smith is a trickster but one with a tender heart. Artful is a kind of grand joke full of pathos, intelligence and humanity and, unlike a lesser one of its kind, it leaves us with a sense of wonderment at its virtuosity. One might be tempted to shout ‘Brava!’ at its end.

1953 is both a pulse-taking and a crosssectioning, a feeling of the heartbeat and a peering into the layered veins of Australian social history. In this volume poet Geoff Page visits the remote (semi-fictional) Australian town of Eurandangee on an apparently quiet Tuesday, February 17, in 1953, at precisely 2:30pm in the afternoon. Taking that singular point in time, his eye and ear casts around the town to uncover the dense textures of life as it is being lived – in the council chambers, the high school, the Greek café, the mine, the farm, the pub, the railway line, the drawing rooms and waiting rooms, the wasteland where groups of Aborigines stretch out under trees to drink sweet sherry. This was the Australia that rode on the sheep’s back, with the clip famously worth a pound a pound. We all know the sensation of passing through sleepy rural towns mid-afternoon, under a blazing sky, squinting from the light, walking into the deep cool shade of retail spaces and wondering whether much ever happens there. What Geoff Page has done with 1953 is show, through a

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the MELBOURNE REVIEW JANUARY 2013 27

Books most brilliantly executed series of monologues and verse portraits, that indeed there is life, and beauty, and courage, and desire, and frustration. The heart beats here as strongly as at any other point in time or space. Post-war Australia is now a very faded time. In 1953, Page’s Australia is a world before our new technologies of communication, before multiculturalism, before the enlightened social engineering of the present. It is an Australia white, mostly male and rural. From the moral heights of the present day it could be easy to sneer at this lost world, but Page is far too deft. This is a love letter to an Australian society superficially very different but as deeply complex and as richly layered as today; where surface uniformities masked buried webs of ambition, love and pulsing, restrained desire; class envies, rules of behaviour and respectability. This is the Australia from which many of us, or our parents, emerged, and this book does us a service as valuable as any social history of the 1950s in explaining, and celebrating, without the need for academic analysis, the currents that rushed through our towns like dark underground streams. 1953 operates as a kind of poetic anthropological study, without judgement or analysis of the flaws of its actors. From adultery to war vet trauma, to fettlers and cops, shearers and country doctors with their receptionists, from the telephonist with a handle on every town conversation, to frustrated housewives looking to the exotic world of distant Sydney, this tender yet thrilling portrait celebrates the rich human drama of a society and time for which now, all too often, condescending terms such as ‘hetero-normative’ are invented. Not quite the redneck world of Les Murray’s famous poems, this is nevertheless a white bread, milk, potatoes and carrots and mutton Anglo Australia. Not an immigrant in sight beyond the token Greek marooned in his café serving steak and chips, having banished baklava as something locals were not yet ready for. Uncovering layer by layer, Page’s narrative poem reveals many of the foundations on which contemporary Australia was built – sacrifice, an understanding of isolation, fear of the outsider, and bloody hard work. Once again, UQP flies the flag of Australian poetry. This stunning volume must be an early contender for many a ‘Best of 2013’ list.

Dear Life Alice Munro Chatto & Windus Tali Lavi

Street to Street Brian Castro Giramondo William Charles A new series of the innovative and quite brilliant ‘Shorts’ from Giramondo opens with this Brian Castro novella in which contemporary writeracademic Brendan Costa takes on the biographic challenge of Australian poet Christopher Brennan. As Brennan emerges from his own mythology, a towering figure steeped in classicism, while drenched in alcohol and social failure, Costa himself must confront questions around notions of art, creativity and his own failure (that most grievous yet least examined of modern sins, along with its handmaiden, guilt). Castro has written a compressed, musical and remarkable work, a triumph of exquisite prose and dry humour. Few Australian novels in recent memory contain such a shimmering opening chapter, encyclopaedic and rich in lyrical imagination, and then manage to sustain that heightened sense of imagery, learning and excitement throughout. As the complex frustrations and triumphs of the life of a poet such as Brennan build, both the poet and his biographer Costa are magnificently drawn with feet of clay. Street to Street is a paean to the creative life with all its costs and burdens. Both Brian Castro and this slim masterpiece are to be cherished.

In a Paris Review interview of nearly two decades ago, Alice Munro claimed that her early writing career had used up her childhood memories. Then The View from Castle Rock appeared in 2006, an interplay between ancient family history, fiction and memoir. Now, at the formidable age of 81, Dear Life’s ‘Finale’ acts as an addendum; an autobiographical quartet of fragments that reveal the emotional and geographical terrain of her childhood’s sometimes stark reality, a domineering then ailing mother, differences of ambition and feeling that set her apart from her rural peers. Even so, Munro is the antithesis of the egoistic writer. Although spokesperson of the dislocated and the marginalised—by gender, indigence or experience—she has never sought out or laid claim to this mantle. Parallels deepen between her work and that of another short story doyen, Janette Turner Hospital, and there is something in ‘Finale’s form, the last movement in this literary concerto, that is akin to Patti Smith’s Woolgathering, another strange, almost transcendental rumination of a rural upbringing. But first we are thrust into the world of fiction; ten stories, largely fecund with Munro’s elegant and earthly cadences and masterful observations which make her both of the people and somehow removed from them. The Canada she portrays is one of frontiers that threaten to overwhelm. Physical ones, as in the solitude of a school in the woods (‘Amundsen’) or the snow filled countryside plain where a wolf appears as if an omen of the greater danger to come (‘Gravel’), appear alongside privately constructed frontiers of a World War II veteran (‘Train’) and socially constructed frontiers (‘To Reach Japan’). The history of the last century is evident as is the sense of being in a time but not belonging to it, of being denied passport by virtue of gender—society’s expectations are at a disjuncture with some of these women’s inner lives—or in the case of the fictional

writers within, a sensibility of style that has been supplanted by another. Religion, both its oppressiveness and its unravelling, is present but faith and faithlessness are at the heart of most actions, sometimes devastating (‘Train’ and ‘Corrie’) but never overplayed. The writing slips from measured to a striking sensuality of prose, ‘I took to folding myself in, with a velvet stillness’ (‘Amundsen’), ‘That was where the word poetess came in handy, like a web of spun sugar’ (‘To Reach Japan’). The narrator of ‘Gravel’, someone who eschews bitterness for all their entitlement, cannily observes, ‘All the eviscerating that is done in families these days strikes me as a mistake.’ This statement would sound apposite emerging from Munro herself for her memoir contains a residing acceptance at variance with rather more contemporary positions of angst or self-flagellation. The word stoic is perhaps associated too easily with conservatism and her commitment to truth telling and addressing of subjects have been anything but: mothers and single women having affairs, taboos of incest and suicide pacts, albeit not undertaken. And all of this without a whiff of gratuitousness. Life is to be grasped at, as the title suggests. What might have been a time of gloaming for Munro is one of continued intensity. I hope it is not too greedy to want more.


28 the MELBOURNE REVIEW JANUARY 2013

PHOTO BY: Martin Philby

Performing Arts

Sleeping Beauty Awakes, and Sings Peter Tregear

F

or those who don’t care much for it, and even less for the state subsidy it commands, opera can appear to be little more than a museum culture, with little to say about, or to, contemporary Australia. In response, we might challenge the presumption that museums are inherently bad things, or that contemporary Australia should eschew historical depth. Victorian Opera nevertheless seems brave to try to reintroduce Melbourne audiences to another old (and old-world) genre of music theatre, the Pantomime. In fact the company is guided in part by the considerable success of their first foray, last year’s production of Cinderella. Their 2013 season opens later this month with Sleeping Beauty, which, like its predecessor, is also conceived and conducted by founding Music Director (and now Conductor Emeritus) Richard Gill. The origins of Pantomime can be traced to the commedia dell’arte, a comic style of theatre based around stock characters and comic scenarios that began in sixteenth century Italy. By the eighteenth century it became common in English theatre in particular for a scene based around the courtship of two characters from the commedia dell’arte (usually Harlequin and Columbine), to be interpolated between acts of a serious drama. Then, in 1728,

the runaway success of John Gay’s The Beggar’s Opera (1728) helped established a free-standing genre of comic music theatre in which the audience was warmly encouraged to hum along with the music and identify directly with the characters. Ironically, Gay wrote his work more as an anti-opera than an opera; one of its chief targets for satire was the English nobility’s obsession with Italian opera and he created his score by borrowing musical sources from Handel as well as from popular street songs of the day.  In the form that Gill has reintroduced it, the Pantomime (or as it better known in England, the “Christmas Panto”) is a particular, if not downright peculiar, offshoot of a mix of these satirical and comic traditions.  Typically, a well-known fairy tale is taken as the dramatic skeleton around which a “strange, admirable, absurd, inscrutable thing” (as one critic described it in 1870) is formed. Just as was the case with The Beggar’s Opera spoken words are interspersed with musical borrowings. The extraordinary reception by Victorian England of the fairy tales published by the brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen enabled these tales to replace the stock stories and characters that had sustained the currency of the commedia dell’arte. A successful Panto, indeed, depends on the audience knowing the

basic outline of the plot in advance; its chief comic and dramatic vehicle is cliché. “Oh no it’s not!”, I hear you cry. “Oh, yes it is”, the Fairy Queen responds. (She is, of course, behind you). The particular kind of slap-stick humour common to Pantos is especially appealing to children, but the dialogue is also usually full of injokes, topical references, audience participation, gender-defying roles, and (if you listen very carefully) mild ‘adult’ themes. But Pantos do more than just provide ‘fun for all the family’. As incoming Artistic Director of Victorian Opera, Richard Mills, noted: “One can never underestimate the impact a performance will have on a young person particularly if the work speaks to them.” In short, a good Panto is a great way for people of all ages to discover or rediscover the power of musical storytelling. In England, indeed, the Panto has become for many people, adults and children alike, the first live theatre they encounter; for many more it may be the only such theatre they will ever encounter. The Panto is in fact now the single most popular form of theatre there; the cornerstone of many a regional theatre’s financial stability as well as their audience development programs. The English Panto has also become one of the few remaining spaces where communities consider themselves licenced unselfconsciously to sing en masse. This fact has not been lost on

Gill who, if Cinderella proves to be any guide, will no doubt slip in some audience “musical development” opportunities. If there is one thing that unites his work as a composer of a Panto, as a director of an opera company, and as a life-long music educator, it is that he wants more Australians to sing, more often. Thus grounded, opera is definitely not a museum (oh no it isn’t!) and it is most certainly not behind us…. The cast of Sleeping Beauty includes Melbourne operatic luminary Suzanne Johnston reprising her role as Ticketty-Boo, alongside Jonathan Bode (Darcy the Jester), Oliva Cranwell (Queen Clementine), James Payne (King Florestan), Dimity Shepherd (Dargonelle/Chenille), Lotte Betts-Dean (Princess Aurora), and Daniel Todd (Prince Waldheim).

INFORMATION Sleeping Beauty shows at Her Majesty’s Theatre from January 17 to 19. Sleeping Beauty has a running time of 60 minutes and Victorian Opera advises that it suitable for adults and children aged 6 and up. victorianopera.com.au/what-s-on/sleeping-beauty/


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Performing Arts

A delicious accident Nina Bertok

E

ver since first stepping onto the stage with her band Nouvelle Vague in 2004, French songstress Mélanie Pain has found that life is full of “delicious accidents”. On her second album, Bye Bye Manchester, Pain sings in both English and French about a series of seemingly random coincidences which led her to where she is today as both a musician and a person. It’s also an album about giving things a second try, maybe even a third go – or a sixth or seventh... “There’s a song I’ve written that describes this perfectly,” Pain says of the track titled 7 Ou 8 Fois – both featured on Bye Bye Manchester and the highly successful annual compilation album So Frenchy So Chic 2013. “In French, it means ‘seven or eight times’ and it’s a really important song for me because it really talks about the general idea of the whole album. Sometimes it takes seven or eight attempts at something to finally make it. One day, when you don’t expect it, something finally happens and it all seems worth it. It’s about

not being afraid to take risks all the time and to just keep trying again even if things don’t work out the first few times.” A particularly special project for Pain, Bye Bye Manchester sees the singer take on beat-making duties on her sophomore effort, an album she calls the “most personal thing she’s ever written”. Having the opportunity to record in one of her favourite getaway places, Manchester, UK, was also an extra bonus. “Some people run away to Bali to get away, I go to Manchester!” she laughs. “I know it might sound strange to some people because Manchester is rainy and not the place you think of to go on a holiday. I’ve just had a fantasy to go and write an album in Manchester – I’m French, though I’ve always been attracted to the UK musically and I’m a big fan of The Smiths. So I went there and I just decided to write some beautiful songs by myself and it was a kind of a retreat. I love the rain. I stayed in this little bedroom by myself for a few months and just wrote and wrote. I think you can really hear this because I used only small toy instruments, like an old, small Casio synth. I wanted to get this sound through to the listener, the sound that translated my special tie to Manchester.” Another reason, as Pain jokingly adds, was due to her recent transition from purely singing to making her very own beats. As a result, Pain’s

second instalment sees her also waving ‘bye, bye’ to her folksy 60s stylings and welcoming in a more electronic approach to songwriting, as well as a special guest appearance from Ed Harcourt [Black Widow]. “That’s a really big thing for me – that I was able to write my second album pretty much all by myself. It’s been a big year for me because I’ve achieved what I wanted, which was to write something really special and really personal. I used to sound really retro and folky, very 60s, and this time I tried not to listen to any music from that era. I’m not really a musician, I’m really a singer first and foremost, but now I think I could be both someday. I think you can hear that I wrote all the chords myself because they’re very simple. I wrote all of these songs without any musical references, I just wanted it to exactly reflect my state of mind. The first album [My Name, 2009] was full of beautiful songs about love and asking who I was... This album is less about asking the questions and more about finding the answers.”

INFORMATION Mélanie Pain performs at So Frenchy So Chic In The Park at Werribee Park on January 20.

Mélanie Pain

cartellmusic.com.au/sfsc

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30 the MELBOURNE REVIEW JANUARY 2013

Performing Arts

Architectural manoeuvres in the light

Returning to Australia for the first time in over twenty years, notorious German noiseniks Einstürzende Neubauten are neither Cold War relics nor industrial anarchists. To suggest otherwise will only make band leader Blixa Bargeld cross. Paul Ransom

I

n the testosterone-fuelled fantasy sphere of rock & roll, rampant destruction is generally celebrated. Whether it is instruments, eardrums or entire venues, a little sonic and cultural carnage is part of the myth making process. That an arch, avant-garde troupe of German experimentalists should achieve such ‘legendary’ status might seem counter-intuitive; but Einstürzende Neubauten are what music scribes like to call ‘godfathers of industrial’. Echoes of their post-rock sound can be found in everything from the Teutonic stomp of Rammstein to the robo-pop of bands like Depeche Mode. Mention ‘industrial’ to band leader Blixa

Bargeld, however, and the response is terse. Indeed, he is adamant that the band he cofounded on April Fool’s Day 1980 is not, and never were, industrial or revolutionary. “I’m sorry, but that’s your interpretation. I never called it industrial. We never tried to be destructive,” he intones from his apartment in Berlin. “It was just things that happened, like when children play and things go kaput; and I certainly never made any statements about old buildings being better than new buildings.” That a non-industrial (but clearly experimental) Berlin band should be inextricably linked to architecture is right there in the name. Einstürzende Neubauten is most oft translated as ‘collapsing new buildings’; with their moniker making specific reference to what Germans call neubauten, the new buildings that sprang up after

1945 to replace those destroyed during WW2. Typically, the neubauten are considered inferior both aesthetically and structurally to their pre-war counterparts, the altbauten. Reflecting on this, Bargeld recalls the Cold War divide that once cut his country and hometown in two. “After the war, in the west at least, you could make a fortune if you had a building company; but in the east they repaired as much as they could. You could still see the bullet marks from the second world war.” As a native of West Berlin, Blixa Bargeld, (born Hans Christian Emmerich in 1959), grew up in a walled city steeped in the pre-apocalyptic atmosphere of the Cold War. It’s a milieu now lost, transformed by history, but one captured beautifully in films like Wim Wenders’ Wings Of

Desire and in the city’s penchant for making art out of nuclear Armageddon. “Historically, looking at it, I probably was at one of the epicentres of the Cold War but it played absolutely no role in my day-to-day existence,” he reveals. “To me, living in Berlin felt so absolutely normal that I never thought it was exceptional.” It was into this political and cultural enclave that EN first emerged; the band’s early work shaping itself around the use of improvised instrumentation, often made from scraps scavenged from building sites, and Bargeld’s deep, shouted, blood curdling vocals. Albums like 1981’s Kollaps and 1983’s Zeichnungen Des Patienten O.T. not only gained them a burgeoning fan base but attracted the attention of Nick Cave, who famously described Bargeld’s vocals as being something “you would expect to hear from strangled cats or dying children.” Indeed, Bargeld was with Cave (as one of the Bad Seeds) in November 1989 when Berlin, Germany and the geo-political map of the world lurched into a new era. “When the actual wall fell, when they opened the border, I was right there in the recording studio with a famous Australian singer mixing one of the pieces that later came out on the record and suddenly the street, which was usually empty, was full of people,” he recalls. “We first saw it on television and then we looked out the window.” By that stage, Bargeld was enjoying the fruits of success as a member of Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds and the fall of the wall coincided with personal and creative change. “Very soon after that I left Berlin. I lived in San Francisco and


the MELBOURNE REVIEW JANUARY 2013 31

Performing Arts Historically, looking at it, I probably was at one of the epicentres of the Cold War but it played absolutely no role in my day-to-day existence. To me, living in Berlin felt so absolutely normal that I never thought it was exceptional.”

Blixa Bargeld

then for seven years in Beijing … Now I’m back in Berlin; but the city where I was born and grew up simply doesn’t exist anymore,” he observes. “In fact, where I’m living now is uncharted territory for me. I don’t know my way around. It’s like a completely new city.” Bargeld’s current domicile is in what was once the city’s Weimar era red light district. “After that, in the old east, it was a poor area but now, it’s all cleaned up. They’ve made it respectable,” he laughs. “Maybe that is not so good.” If 1989 transformed the city, the new era

also heralded audible changes for Einstürzende Neubauten, as their earlier avant-garde edge morphed into more traditional song forms, with Bargeld singing rather than shouting and softer electronic sounds making their way onto records like Tabula Rasa and Ende Neu. Reflecting on this, Bargeld insists that EN never truly had a mission statement. “A lot of things were not so much artistic decisions as they were decisions that came out of a particular life situation,” he explains. “It was not that I thought, ‘oh, now it’s time to bang on some metal’ it was more the fact that we didn’t have anything. We could not afford instruments. We’ve always been poor so we had to find a different way.”

As the twentieth century drew to a close the band found itself being referenced by all and sundry in scenes as diverse as dark wave techno and nu-punk. With songs like Blume and Stella Maris, and their infamous expulsion from U2’s Zoo TV tour, Einstürzende Neubauten became a name to drop; not that they were ever what you could call famous. Far from settling with their modicum of cachet, the band leapt feet first into the age of the internet in 2002 when Bargeld and his wife Erin Zhu created neubauten.org and moved the locus of their activity online. “We invented crowd funding,” Bargeld declares proudly, pointing to a range of albums, DVDs and even USB sticks aimed at the band’s pro-active web following. If all this has helped to sustain EN into their fourth decade, it is their reputation as an unusually ferocious live act that really gets fans and critics buzzing and quite possibly spurred The Drones to invite them to Australia to play at ATP’s I’ll Be Your Mirror event in February. For Blixa Bargeld and the rest of Einstürzende Neubauten the antipodean invitation represents the end of a significant hiatus. “The first time we’ll come together is when we’re in Australia,” he confirms. Creatively, what this represents is the opportunity to look back over a thirty-two year career and once again reinvent. “The songs will all come out new again,” Bargeld says simply. “Looking at such an extensive back catalogue,

and we are able play about ninety percent of that, we can make our choices wisely; but obviously we are limited by what we are able to take to Australia. Weight limitations,” he notes wryly, referring to EN’s onstage battery of improvised instruments. On a personal note, it will be Bargeld’s first trip to our shores since he left The Bad Seeds in 2003. “At the time that I was still playing with Nick I was in Australia every year but I haven’t been there since. Has Australia changed in ten years?” he wonders aloud. Just as the Berlin of his childhood has irrevocably altered, so too has the Melbourne with which Bargeld was once so familiar. “I spent a considerable amount of time in St Kilda. My first couple of times in Australia I spent there. That was in the early eighties. Then, when I was there in the late nineties I thought that St Kilda had changed quite a lot. Gentrification, that’s what it looked like to me,” he concludes, laughing at the suggestion that even in St Kilda the neubauten are everywhere.

INFORMATION Einstürzende Neubauten play All Tomorrow’s Parties Altona on February 17 and Palace Theatre, Melbourne on February 19. neubauten.org atpfestival.com/events/australia2013.php thedrones.com.au

★★★★★ “A striking performance” THE IRISH TIMES

Fishamble

Performed and Sung by CAMILLE O’SULLIVAN accompanied on piano by FEARGAL MURRAY Directed by ELIZABETH FREESTONE Music by FEARGAL MURRAY and CAMILLE O’SULLIVAN

“A triumph”LIBBY PURVES, THE TIMES

SILENT

WINNER BANK OF SCOTLAND

HERALD ANGEL AWARD OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCE CAMILLE O’SULLIVAN

SOUTHBANK THEATRE, THE SUMNER JANUARY 31 - FEBRUARY 2, FEBRUARY 6 - 9 8PM & FEB 10 at 5PM Book at mtc.com.au/lucrece.aspx 8688 0800 Presented by Arts Projects Australia With the support of Culture Ireland and by arrangement with Sydney Festival and Melbourne Theatre Company

SOUTHBANK THEATRE, THE LAWLER 5 - 10 FEBRUARY Book at mtc.com.au/silent.aspx 8688 0800


32 the MELBOURNE REVIEW JANUARY 2013

Performing Arts

WORDS & MUSIC That Summer Feeling Phil Kakulas

F

ix yourself a cold, tall drink then sit back and relax as Phil Kakulas presents his favourite summery songs in an eclectic playlist that’s sure to cool you down this January.

Human Fly – The Cramps Summer = flies, right? So let’s kick this off with the first track from The Cramps’ very first EP. Recorded in 1977 this heralded the arrival of psychobilly, that twitching fusion of punk attitude and rockabilly music. ‘I got a garbage brain, it’s driving me insane’ sings Lux Interior as he takes the lead role in his own 50s B-grade horror flick. The Water Was Red – Johnny Cymbal Growing up alongside the shark infested waters of the Indian Ocean taught me that a beach setting is not always a pleasant one, as demonstrated by this lost gem from the early 60s by ‘Mr Bassman’ Johnny Cymbal, in which tragedy strikes a teenage couple taking a romantic, twilight swim. The water is red: first from the setting sun and then in turn from a fatal shark attack on the unfortunate girl. Finally, in the third verse, her aggrieved boyfriend kills the shark. It’s a teen tragedy of the highest order, Cymbal’s ambition so overreaching that you just want to hug him for trying. Rocksteady – Alton Ellis Spearheaded by Ellis’s song of the same name, Rocksteady was a short-lived musical style bridging ska and reggae that rose to popularity during a particular long and hot Jamaican summer in 1966. Wilted by the weather, local musicians dropped ska’s furious tempos in favour of a more laid-back approach dominated by vocal harmonies and sultry brass arrangements as typified by this classic track. Cool Water – Maurice Frawley Frawley first made a name for himself in the 80s as one of Paul Kelly’s Dots, co-writing Look So Fine (Feel So Low) with Kelly before heading out on his own. In the 90s he formed Working

Captain Beefheart

That Summer Feeling – Jonathan Richman ‘Do you long for her or for the way you were? That summer feeling’s gonna haunt you one day in your life.’

The Cramps

Class Ringos and together they worked the stages of St Kilda (and beyond) for more than a decade. Frawley’s gone now and sorely missed but he left behind a collection of songs anyone could be proud of. Cool Water typifies all that was great about his writing; it’s earthy and knowing with the parched, creaking quality of a hot summer’s day. Tropical Hot Dog Night – Captain Beefheart Like two flamingos in a fruit fight! This is tuttifrutti, mutant Latino music that’s hot, steamy and drunk with lust. ‘I’m playing this music so the young girls will come out to meet the monster tonight’ sings Van Vliet, coming on like a tripped out Howlin’ Wolf on the prowl at carnival time. ‘Everything’s wrong at the same time it’s right!’

Full Moon – Eden Ahbez Proto-hippie Ahbez was living under the letter L of the Hollywood sign above Los Angeles when Nat King Cole had a massive hit with his song Nature Boy in 1948. In 1960 he combined beat poetry and ‘primitive rhythms’ to produce this definitive piece of musical exotica in which heaven and earth become his ‘great open cathedral’. Coca-Cola – Little Red Being partial to an icy-cold Coke, this salute to that small miracle of sugar, caffeine and bubbles by Melbourne band Little Red really hit the spot with me. Its 60s inspired beats and harmonies are just the thing to quench a summer thirst.

MCO 2013 Concert Series at Melbourne Recital Centre Artistic Director, William Hennessy

Subscriptions are now open! Subscription details: www.mco.org.au or call 03 9650 3365 (BH) Flexible 3, 4 & 5 concert subscription packages available

This ode to innocence by The Velvet Underground’s biggest fan speaks of warm summer nights and youthful love played out in suburbs around the world. It also comes with a warning to the young: live now, in the morning of your life, because ‘if you wait until you’re older a sad resentment will smolder’. With trademark nylon string guitar, nasal vocal tone and humorous, insightful lyrics that perfectly capture ‘that summer feeling’, this is Richman at his endearing best. Youtube links to all of these songs can be found in the online version of this article at our website.

INFORMATION Phil Kakulas is a songwriter and teacher who plays double bass in The Blackeyed Susans.

EROICA - February 17 & 18

BRIO - September 1 & 2

Merlyn Quaife, Soprano Graham Abbott, Conductor William Hennessy, Director

Aura Go, Piano Michael Dahlenburg, Conductor William Hennessy, Director

PROMETHEUS - April 28

TRINITAS - November 3

David Griffiths, Clarinet Fabian Russell, Conductor

Benjamin Martin, Piano William Hennessy, Director

Rota, Britten & Beethoven

Beethoven & Douglas Weiland

OCTET - June 30 Sharon Draper, Cello William Hennessy, Director

Stravinsky, Haydn & Mendelssohn

JS Bach, Schubert & Beethoven

Barber, Benjamin Martin, Elgar & Mozart


the MELBOURNE REVIEW JANUARY 2013 33

Performing Arts

Let the famous acts begin... Katherine Smyrk

T

here may have been scorching heatwaves and plenty of days on the beach, but summer in Melbourne does not fully arrive until early February. That’s when the Famous Spiegeltent shimmies, sparkles and sashays its way back into town for more than two months of glittering entertainment. This ‘tent of mirrors’ hosted Marlene Dietrich in 1920, and has since reflected the performances of thousands of artists across the world. Every year Melburnians are delighted as they sit under the velvet, brocade, mirrors and stained glass of this roving entertainment salon and this year will be no different. The season kicks off with the Opening Night Gala, a red-carpet affair where audiences can be tantalised with a taste of some of the performances to come and rub shoulders with the performers themselves; all in the theme of 1930s glamour. And then begins the colourful flurry of

live music, comedy, cabaret, circus and kids entertainment. Australian music will be representing strongly, with shows from artists such as Lior, Katie Noonan, Kira Puru & the Bruise, Renée Geyer, Tex Perkins & the Dark Horses and Kate Ceberano. For a more intimate musical affair, audiences can pop along to The Story so Far, a series of live chat shows hosted by 3RRR’s Jacinta Parsons and Sunny Leunig. They will be chatting with artists such as Mick Harvey, Russell Morris and Paul Dempsey and hearing some of the songs that have shaped their careers. For those looking for a chuckle, there’s plenty to see. Irish troupe Ponydance will be presenting their show Anybody Waitin’? The winners of the Adelaide Fringe 2012 Best Dance Award will deliver unique comic dance coupled with plenty of energy and audience participation. The Dirty Brothers will be arriving back from touring Europe with their visceral theatre show The Dark Party. A combination of slapstick, circus performance and jaw-dropping pain tolerance, this show will leave you both horrified and charmed. Parents can keep the kids busy with plenty of delightful activities; from Holly Throsby performing songs from her children’s album See to the Boon Wurrung Ngargee workshop, where the whole family can learn, sing and dance the stories of the land upon which the Arts Centre sits.

The Famous Spiegeltent shimmies, sparkles and sashays its way back into town for more than two months of glittering entertainment.” For those venturing out a little later, Club Spiegel is back. From 11pm on selected Friday and Saturday nights, bands including The Woohoo Revue, The Perch Creek Family Jug Band and Tuba Skinny will be getting people up and onto the dance floor. For an even later crowd, The Shuffle Club will take the second set from 12:30 am, featuring some very special guests. And in among this cacophony of colour and art and celebration will be countless other outstanding cabaret, drag diva and burlesque shows. The Famous Spiegeltent comes to Melbourne every summer to make sure that the year is started with a roar. Be sure not to miss it – from February 5 to April 21. The Dark Party spiegel.artscentremelbourne.com.au

EMILY VIOLIN

THERE’S SOMETHING SPECIAL HAPPENING AT THE AUSTRALIAN NATIONAL ACADEMY OF MUSIC.

A NEW AGE FOR MUSIC

Be part of the ANAM story in 2013. Become an ANAMates member for only $60 and enjoy access to over 150* exhilarating music performances by some of the finest musicians of our time. Book now anam.com.au or 03 9645 7911 In residence at the South Melbourne Town Hall *exclusions apply


34 the MELBOURNE REVIEW JANUARY 2013

Visual Arts Radiance: The NeoImpressionists Wendy Cavenett

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t was the American author, poet and philosopher, Henry David Thoreau who once said, “It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” Beautiful and thought-provoking, it’s an observation that befits the spirit and scope of the National Gallery of Victoria’s current exhibition, Radiance: The NeoImpressionists. Curated by Mariana Ferretti Bocquillon (Directeur Scientifique of the Musée des Impressionnismes, Giverny) in consultation with the NGV, Radiance – with its appealing curatorial themes including Neo-Impressionism and the city, The lure of the sea and Anarchy’s Arcadia – is as much about the great personalities of the artists and their intellectual vigour, as it is about the immediacy and profound beauty of their work. Featuring 78 paintings, the exhibition offers a unique overview of the movement’s birth and development in France and Belgium from 1884 to the outbreak of World War I. The emergence of Neo-Impressionism is paralleled with the unexpected friendship that formed between two gifted Parisian artists, Georges Seurat and Paul Signac, who met in 1884. Radiance features an incredible selection of each artist’s work, offering Australian audiences the chance to see some rare pieces by Seurat who died aged 31 having produced few works. Move around the gallery space and see a world of shimmering surfaces, of grand portraits, and sublime landscapes and sea vistas. Rarely is the spirit of modernity – embodied in the moment by its artists – seen by 21st century eyes, eyes that glance upon busy surfaces and backlit screens that

seem to be so vastly removed from what the NeoImpressionists wished their viewers to experience: the continuity between the painted and the real, the linking of lives to meaning through colour and light, and a vision that the idyllic landscape can somehow ‘embody the anarchist ideal of natural order and harmony’. Neo -Impressionist paintings – often composed in the artificial light of the studio – convey a sense of wonder, the surfaces of canvas or board carrying the Divisionist painting technique that distinguishes this movement. Imagine if you will, the Neo-Impressionists applying individual colours directly onto the canvas using ‘dabs’ or ‘touches’, placing sideby-side strong opposing colours in solid blocks or patches of paint. Scenes or subjects would be meticulously studied, and compositions created to emphasise the optical effect this technique (often more organic and instinctive than historically recognised) produced. “They felt that the mixing of colours created a grey sludge in the viewer’s eye,” Dr Ted Gott, NGV head of international art, said recently. “And by laying side-by-side complementary colours, they felt that the clash of those colours on the canvas would create a flash of light in the retina, which would make their paintings seem even more luminous. “Ideally they hoped that in the very best of their work, these individual dabs of colour… would actually blend and create a third colour in the viewer’s eye.” With the life and work of Seurat and Signac informing the mood and range of the exhibition, viewers also have the opportunity to see the work

Maximilien Luce, French 1858–1941. Cathedral at Gisors (La cathédrale de Gisors) 1898. oil on canvas.

of other Neo-Impressionists including Camille Pissarro, Maximilien Luce, and Henri-Edmond Cross. Cross’s The beetle (1906-07) (Le Scarabée), and Mediterranean shores (Bords méditerranéens) (1895), epitomise the exhibition’s Anarchy’s Arcadia section with radiant surfaces and scenes

of harmony where beautifully realised people share the idylls of nature. “Until now,” wrote Cross in a letter to Signac in the mid 1890s, “… pictures dealing with the theme of anarchy have always depicted revolt directly or indirectly... Let us imagine instead the dreamed of age of happiness and well-being

exhibition current until 9 march —

design between tradition & innovation 55+ international designers play with the past to reconsider the future

“These works are about the design of the world – not just about the world of design.” dr arpad sölter director, goethe-institut australia

RMIT Gallery 344 Swanston Street Melbourne 3000 / Monday – Friday 11– 5 / Thursday 11– 7 / Saturday 12 – 5 / Closed Sundays / Free entry Tel 03 9925 1717 / www.rmit.edu.au/rmitgallery / Like RMIT Gallery on Facebook / Follow RMIT Gallery on Twitter @RMITGallery

RMIT_MelbRev.77x520_final.indd 1

— all welcome free entry


the MELBOURNE REVIEW JANUARY 2013 35

Visual Arts

Henri-Edmond CROSS. French 1856–1910, Mediterranean shores (Bords méditerranéens) 1895 oil on canvas. Collection of Lenora and Walter F. Brown. Photo: Steven Tucker.

Rarely is the spirit of modernity – embodied in the moment by its artists – seen by 21st century eyes, eyes that glance upon busy surfaces and backlit screens that seem to be so vastly removed from what the Neo-Impressionists wished their viewers to experience.” created. Many French Neo-Impressionists grew up during the Franco-Prussian War (18701871) and lived through the disastrous events that followed. By the 1880s, Paris, like many great cities of the world, was experiencing rapid change – Luce’s Cathedral at Gisors (La cathédrale de Gisors) (1898) is a memorable example of this. Conversely, cityscapes were completely abandoned in favour of idyllic seascapes that play beautifully with the viewer’s eye, and offer a sense of freedom from the oppressions of any age.

Paul Signac. French 1863–1935, Saint-Tropez. Fountain (Saint-Tropez. Fontaine des Lices) 1895, oil on canvas.

and let us show the actions of man, their play and work in this era of general harmony.” The works of Belgian artists, Georges Lemmen and Théo Van Rysselberghe, considered the movement’s primary portraitists, also feature prominently, Van Rysselberghe’s Émile Verhaeren in his study (Rue du Moulin) (1892) – thought

of by many as ‘the’ Neo-Impressionist portrait – a testimony to the beauty of surface and the strength of the friendship between artist and sitter. As with 2012’s Napoleon: Revolution to Empire, Radiance owes much of its power to the historical context in which the works were

Radiance is the first comprehensive survey of Neo-Impressionism in Australia. It is art at its most pleasurable and sublime, and augurs well for the NGV’s highly-anticipated Monet’s Garden: The Musée Marmottan Monet, Paris, next in the Melbourne Winter Masterpieces series, opening May 10.

INFORMATION Radiance: The Neo-Impressionists shows at NGV International, 180 St Kilda Road, until March 17, 2013 ngv.vic.gov.au

Summer rolls on... W

hat with Radiance, Thomas Demand, Jeff Wall, Indonesian Art, Ballet & Fashion and a host of other exhibitions, there are plenty of reasons to get down to the NGV in the second half of a long hot summer. But it’s not all gallery visits. Starting on February 3, the NGV Summer Sunday Sessions kick off at the Grollo Equiset Garden at NGV International, and will run for the whole month, each Sunday from 1 – 5pm until February 24. And it’s all free. What’s on offer? There’ll be a BBQ on the lawn for families to kick back, and a range of DJs including Andras Fox, Thrupence ( Jack Vanzet), Mike Gurrieri and Edd Fisher, supported by Nova and Network Ten. Part of NGV Summer Sunday Sessions, there will also be a series of special forums as a precursor to the highly anticipated Melbourne Now exhibition scheduled for October 2013. NGV Director Tony Ellwood emphasises that “the Melbourne Now forums held at the NGV this summer will look at the latest ideas behind art, design, fashion, architecture, film and music – the issues facing the cultural community in Melbourne, led by voices from Melbourne’s cultural and creative sector.”

New Olds is an exhibition of the Institut für Auslands-beziehungen e. V. (ifa) / Institute for Foreign Cultural Relations, Stuttgart, Germany, www.ifa.de

10/01/13 1:03 PM


36 the MELBOURNE REVIEW JANUARY 2013

Visual Arts

Image Mark Ashkanasy, RMIT Gallery, 2012.

When everything old is new again: Volker Albus talks design

Evelyn Tsitas

A

s Professor Volker Albus prowls around the various gallery spaces at RMIT Gallery, unpacking some 63 large crates, and pulling out Modern European furniture, it’s like he is greeting old friends. And in a way, that’s exactly what the German designer is doing. His current exhibition, New Olds: Design Between Tradition and Innovation, is the third major show Albus has presented at RMIT Gallery over the past decade. The designs in New Olds are very familiar to him now, as this travelling design exhibition is showcasing in Melbourne after tours in Israel and India. Yet he never fails to be amused by some of the designer’s whimsical tricks – the flexible ornate candle holders by David Hanauer which wobble but stand erect when a candle is lit. The dark souvenirs by Constantin Boym, with their macabre celebration of disasters like the Parisian tunnel where Princess Diana was killed or the nuclear reactor at Chernobyl. Some works look very familiar, such as the wooden three dimensional moose head. Albus, senior Professor at Karlsruhe State Academy of Design and renowned as an outstanding exponent of new German design, agrees; he says that while much of the work in the exhibition is intentionally

experimental, other designs have found their way into the commercial stream. “Tradition is a main issue of our culture and that was the inspiration for this exhibition. I think we are, in Europe, more aware of our culture, and look to it when designing the new. But what concerned me when travelling in South East Asia was that young designers focus very much on what is going on in Europe and in America. They try to be more European than the Europeans themselves,” Albus observes. “I want to remind people to look first and to start with their own culture. I want to remind them that when they start thinking of design they should think of what is happening in their country. That goes for everyone. “I am annoyed that so many Germans think we have to eat pommes frites instead of the traditional style German potato. We are not French. We shouldn’t try to be. I apply the same standard to design. Look to your own culture first, and play around with that.” Despite the fact that New Olds is presented with the support of the Institut fur Auslandsbeziehungen (IFA – The Institute for Foreign Cultural Relations)

and in cooperation with the Goethe-Institut, Australia, Albus is adamant that it is not seen as simply a German design exhibition. In Melbourne, Albus chose work by designers Tim Collins, Dale Hardiman and Scott Mitchell. For Hardiman, a young RMIT design graduate, the exhibition is not only an opportunity to see first hand items he has studied and admired over the years, but also a privilege for his work to sit with the likes of designers such as Studio Makkink & Bey, Bo Reudler Studio and Khashayar Naimanan. While all three Australian designers’ works sit well within the exhibition, they are indeed reflective of the local culture. Hardiman uses local twigs for his lights, and has made a “cook your own eco seat” version of a child’s stool. Collins’ computer key seats seem like iconic, robust outdoor stools made for Aussie barbeques, while Mitchell has teamed up with Melbourne abstract artist Karl Wiebke to modify a 1970s Bang & Olufsen stereo using one of Wiebke’s paintings and about 800 of the songs digitised from the painter’s extensive music collection. The idea that design strength comes from cultural heritage, and an often subversive take on that heritage, is in evidence in the pieces Albus has selected for New Olds. He excitedly picks up a plate by Khashayar Naimanan, telling me the story behind the piece. His face lights up – it is these back stories he wants to share with visitors, and has painstakingly supplied little vignettes of the items in handouts that gallery visitors can read. “This is a particularly subversive piece by Naimanan, as he takes the porcelain manufacturer’s seal – the famed Nymphenburg porcelain manufacturer – and places it on the top surface rather than underneath. Because we all know that visitors are only interested in how much you spent on the piece, not on the actual design,” Albus said. “It also taps into that idea that every design object now should be stamped with the insignia of prominent fashion houses. The mark is more important than the item.” For Albus, good design is all about the important balance between function, configuration, material,

Scott Mitchell / Karl FM / Wall hanging / 2011.

stability and the price at the end of the process. While there are many pieces in New Olds that will bring a flash of recognition or a wry smile at conventions being challenged, the curator wants visitors to understand that, like a couture fashion exhibition, not all pieces have to be practical or indeed, bound for the showroom. “I don’t want to be nostalgic with this exhibition. Yes, some of these pieces are very experimental – they show how you should leave all borders behind and think very open, by looking forward as well as looking back. The fact that many of these works are innovative and may not be a commercial success is very important for me,” Albus said.

INFORMATION New Olds: Design between Tradition and Innovation shows at RMIT Gallery, 344 Swanston St, Melbourne, until March 9. rmit.edu.au/rmitgallery


the MELBOURNE REVIEW JANUARY 2013 37

Visual Arts

The Kenneth Jack View

Jack’s return to realism in the late 60s was in response to his environment. It is interesting that the visual vernacular that he ultimately settled on arose from a dialogue between himself and his subject matter, rather than any external influence of aesthetic fads. Though he had always travelled, Jack retired from teaching in 1968 and was able to cover greater distances through areas such as Central Australia and Queensland. These working trips moved Jack’s art in a new direction; a renewed appreciation of the Australian space, one deserving of light, shade and depth in its representation. This return to realism and traditional perspectives, which many of his contemporaries had moved away from, marked a new, mature phase of his career.

Kenneth Jack AM MBE RWS 1924-2006 Alexandra Aulich

T

he Kenneth Jack View is as much a journey through the beauty and vastness of this continent, as it is through an artist’s working life. It is a story that begins with an eight year old boy drawing a Melbourne tram scene in his sketchbook and watching his father work as a commercial artist for Vic Rail, through to becoming an internationally recognised watercolourist some years on. Throughout the intervening years Jack was a prolific painter and printmaker, and a dedicated teacher.

Jack’s watercolour skies are one reminder of the way a painter labours over the perfection of their art; it was an anxiety Jack mentioned in a letter to Lloyd Rees, an artist with whom he had developed a firm friendship. Capturing the truth of what one saw, and translating this vision into something meaningful was what he strived for.

Kenneth Jack’s view of Australia: from small towns, landscapes, and architecture, there is reward for anyone who takes the time to contemplate the works in this survey exhibition. The viewer may find a familiar town such as Albury, Echuca, or Hobart. Perhaps it is not a place but rather a nostalgic element to engage with; the colour of the sky at a particular time of day, the hot midday sun of regional Victoria in a flat dry landscape. This can be the experience offered by realist art, and by the very nature of Jack’s subject matter. With a wanderlust instilled in him from an early age by his father, Jack travelled and explored Australia extensively. His figurative paintings and prints depict the landscape, regional towns and urban architecture and give us a lasting visual story of a continent that he clearly loved and felt a great affinity with. His time in service with the RAAF working as a survey and cartographic draughtsman from 1942-45 utilised his talent of drawing, a skill that would remain a guiding principle throughout his artistic life. An unofficial war artist, he produced some 500 drawings while serving in New Guinea, Morotai Island and North Borneo. This collection is now housed at the Australian War Memorial. Jack’s drawing talent was recognised from a young age. At 23 he received a major commission to contribute more than thirty drawings for John Ure Smith’s significant 1948

Fascinated with light and its emotive potential, he experimented with how a break in the clouds can let a few intense rays of sunlight illuminate part of the landscape; the scarcity of tone a hangover from his printmaking days. And yet despite the apparent ‘realness’ of his paintings, Jack never deliberately set out to paint a preenvisaged landscape.

Kenneth Jack, Tower of Babel 1962 (Detail), lino and woodcut on paper, 52 x 34cm.

publication The Melbourne Book. The two then went on to work on another publication The Charm of Hobart, with 52 architectural illustrations by Jack. Known predominantly as a watercolour artist, Jack was also a printmaker for a number of years, mastering all matter of techniques: engraving, lithography, linocuts, and silkscreen. Jack’s introduction to printmaking in 1946 was in Ben Crosskell’s Saturday morning class at RMIT. In 1952 he attended weekly classes where established artists demonstrated the different techniques to the students. It was a time of rapid development and exploration of many mediums for Jack, and an exciting time for printmaking in Melbourne.

By 1956 Jack was Senior Lecturer in painting and printmaking at the Caulfield Institute of Technology (now part of Monash University). His contributions to the visual arts while working in education were many and varied, and under his leadership a separate painting and printing department were established at the institute. He was himself a master printmaker, and wrote about the pleasure of pulling his own prints. Modernist influences bought about significant changes in Jack’s work. The Kenneth Jack View presents oil and acrylic paintings as well as linocuts from the 1950s and early 60s when he embraced the flat picture plane. As acrylic paint became freely available and affordable, Jack began to work in, and enjoy, this new medium.

Jack’s first trip outside of Australia was in 1973 to London to view a Lloyd Rees exhibition, the overseas travel providing new subject matter for the artist. A selection of watercolours from France and Scotland, along with the interior of Chartres Cathedral is included in the exhibition. In launching a major exhibition with an extensive display of watercolours as well as lesser known earlier works, The Gallery @ BACC presents Jack as an innovative artist who carved out a place for landscape in a particularly individual way.

INFORMATION The Kenneth Jack View shows at The Gallery @ Bayside Arts and Cultural Centre from January 19 to March 3. bayside.vic.gov.au/thegalleryatbacc


38 the MELBOURNE REVIEW JANUARY 2013

Gallery Listings TarraWarra Museum of Art

Heide Museum of Modern Art

Until March 31 311 Healesville-Yarra Glen Road Healesville twma.com.au

Until March 11

Master of Stillness Jeffrey Smart paintings 1940 – 2011

Louise Bourgeois Late Works Albert Tucker Travellers’ Tales Until February 10

Caleb Shea The Peasants are Revolting Until March 24 7 Templestowe Road, Bulleen heide.com.au

RMIT Gallery

New Olds – Design between Tradition and Innovation Until March 9 Storey Hall, Swanston St, Melbourne rmit.edu.au/rmitgallery

Bayside Arts & Cultural Centre

Hawthorn Studio & Gallery

The Kenneth Jack View

James Makin Gallery Tim Burns Recent paintings

Summer Exhibition

January 19 – March 3 cnr Carpenter & Wilson Sts, Brighton bayside.vic.gov.au/thegalleryatbacc

Exhibiting over 20 new and established artists works in Painting, Sculpture, Print and Tapestry. Oils on Canvas 635 Burwood Road, Hawthorn East hawthornstudiogallery.com.au

February 7 – March 2; Opening February 7 from 6-8pm. 67 Cambridge St, Collingwood jamesmakingallery.com

National Gallery of Victoria Negotiating this world Until February 25

Radiance: The Neo-Impressionists Until March 17 NGV International 180 St Kilda Rd NGV Australia Federation Square ngv.vic.gov.au

McClelland Gallery Monash Gallery + Sculpture Park Janet Laurence of Art The Alchemical Garden of Desire

Melbourne Art Rooms

PEACE: º South Collective exhibition

Until March 3 From February 8 360 - 390 McClelland Drive, Langwarrin 860 Ferntree Gully Rd, Wheelers Hill mcclellandgallery.com MELBreview1/4pagePRODUCTSoct 27/9/12mga.org.au 12:04 PM Page 1

Hitesh Nitalwala Joan Ross

February 5 – March 3

Paper Nights

418 Bay St, Port Melbourne marsgallery.com.au

Jewish Museum of Australia

EPIC! 100 Years Of Film And The Bible Until February 3 26 Alma Rd, St. Kilda jewishmuseum.com.au

Anna Pappas Gallery Project 13: Jamais Vu

From February 12 2-4 Carlton Street, Prahran annapappasgallery.com

Unique books, art and design by Maree Coote including The Melbourne Book, The Art of Being Melbourne, The Melbourne Scarves, The Melbourne Coasters, The RooLamp, The Melbourne Tea Towels, The Melbourne Cups & Saucers, The Melbourne Cushions... and more. The ultimate traveller’s takeaway.

Beautiful, Original, Meaningful Melburniana since 1994

GALLERY | STUDIO | STORE 155 Clarendon St., South Melbourne Vic 3207 Tel 03 9696 8445 www.melbournestyle.com.au


THE MELB OU R N E R EVIEW JAN UARY 201 3

Food.Wine.Coffee FINE DINING

SUSTAINAB LE FOOD

COFFEE

WINE

The Breslin Despite sitting on a river, Melbourne isn’t particularly well-known for waterside dining. A new addition to Southgate brings one more opportunity to watch the rowers go by.

GRUB FOOD VAN Arabella Forge visits a unique Fitzroy eatery tucked away in a former car park.

40

A RESOLUTION TO BLEND The new year is a time for resolutions and blending Andre Frost looks at four wines that do it perfectly

42

Deconstruction Daniella Casamento looks through the revamped venue Silk Road on Collins Street

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40 the MELBOURNE REVIEW JANUARY 2013

Food.Wine.Coffee

Grub Food Van Arabella Forge

I

f home-grown vegetables and über-hip food vans are the latest trends in Melbourne’s dining scene, then Grub Food Van has hit the bulls-eye. Tucked away in a former car park in the hub of bustling Fitzroy, Grub Food Van is an amalgamation of stylish recycled wares, beautiful and lustrous-looking plants and a menu rich with innovative picnic-style grazing food. Owners Tim Mann and Mark Murphy perhaps didn’t know what they had got themselves into when they transformed the former car park in Moore Street into an indoor greenhouse, soon to be accompanied by a caravan-style food van at the front of the premises. What began as a somewhat ad-hoc arrangement soon settled itself into openplan, well-designed eating space. And whatever their formula is, it appears to be working. In the ten months that they have been open, the restaurant has risen in popularity and is now seen as a trademark location for the hip Fitzroy postcode. The menu is divided into three sections: kick-start, after midday and highway truck stop. The trademark grub tiffin is a mix of novelty and practicality; a small, stainless steel container designed like an old-fashioned lunchbox that has a variety of sweet and savoury salad combinations inside (it makes the old style plate and cutlery setup seem so very last year). The watermelon, mint, fetta and prosciutto arrangement is a simple, but foolproofly-delicious combination and the dates, brazil nuts and pecorino collection is a perfect pickme-up after a long night out. If you choose to loiter at the bar with the Fitzroy crowd, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the wine list collated by head sommelier AnneMarie Banting (The Lake House) and the exotic beer/cider/cocktail list put together by Kim Scott (Pei Modern). It’s more than the standard foamon-the-top brews that you’ll find along the main Brunswick Street drag.

Getting back to the food, the selections of terrines – such as rabbit and prune, pork and rosemary or duck and pistachio – are a nostalgic nod toward old-style picnics at the garden. And similarly, the fennel tart – a time-tested trio of caramelised fennel, onion and rosemary – is reminiscent of grandmother’s Sunday lunch. There is not necessarily a set of guidelines behind the choice of produce, however there is a clear bias toward ethically-sourced and locallygrown produce. Head chef Rebecca Crighton (Cuda, Rockpool and The Point) has developed the menu with a strong seasonal emphasis and, of course, a fair few pickings from the garden too. Speaking of which, if you get excited by the view of a clambering bull’s heart tomato, or a sprouting alpine strawberry, this is the place to go. While small-scale vegetable patches and mini-plots are the new trend amongst chefs and restaurateurs, this place takes it out to a whole new level. Set among an indoor greenhouse, with plants and recycled furniture being the main display, it is virtually impossible not to while away the time staring at the billowing sunflowers or looming pots of string beans. Take your eyes away from the garden for a second and you will notice an exceptional array of recycled – how to describe it – ‘stuff ’. There’s a cutout of a life-sized human figurine transformed into a fishpond, a bicyclewheelbarrow laden with recycled pots of herbs and my own personal favourite, a water-container re-invented to cover a light-fitting. It’s re-used and recycled stuff at its best, and it will make you think twice about ever throwing anything out again.

The Breslin Despite sitting on a river, Melbourne isn’t particularly wellknown for waterside dining. A new addition to Southgate brings one more opportunity to watch the rowers go by.

INFORMATION Grub Food Van 87-89 Moor St, Fitzroy, Melbourne 9419 8991 Opening hours: Closed Mondays. Tuesday, Wednesday and Sunday: 8.00 a.m. - 4.30 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday: 8.00 a.m. - 8.00 p.m. Opening hours are sometimes weather-dependant. And the van is often open later into the evenings with bar and bar snacks on warmer nights. grubfoodvan.com.au

Lou Pardi

T

he latest Zampelis Group venture The Breslin opened five months ago. A large eatery with a particularly masculine fit-out to match the restaurant’s whole-animal approach offers a restaurant and bar, with outdoor tables for either option. General Manager of The Breslin, Almir Trnka has been with Zampelis Group for ten years and worked at Waterfront, Rococo and Silk Road before the opening of The Breslin about six months ago. The restaurant shares its name with New York steak house The Breslin. “We’re not a steak house, we’re a meat house,” says Almir. “We focus on nose to tail, the whole carcass. We get a whole pig and we put it on the rotisserie. The whole emphasis of the venue is that we don’t buy anything in cryovac.” The sealed-air packaging of meat may have seemed like a blessing when it was introduced, but Almir says it changed meat as a product. The meat delivered to The Breslin is a whole carcass (or a portion for larger animals) and it’s aged and butchered on site. “Before the 1960s that’s how steaks used to come into restaurants – that’s how they used to be served. People were getting the real flavour of the meat – after the 1960s lots of people were buying cryovac,” he says.

“The butchers where you source your meat, the meat used to have to be hung for 28 days for all the blood to run out and all the liquids and still stay nice and moist – nowadays the butchers tend to leave it for ten days and then sell it – so the public doesn’t really get to experience the real aging of meat.” Buying whole carcasses also means a nose to tail approach can be used. Almir has found that once people try more adventurous cuts – like beef cheek and lamb brains, they enjoy it. “We’re teaching the clientele on venturing out from the mainstream and being a little bit wilder,” he says. “They like it. We do whole animals so you can come in and do a whole pig or a whole lamb and the chef carves it up at your table.” A table having a whole lamb were pleasantly surprised with the lamb brains, which Almir describes as “a lot more juicy – a little bit strainy but I like the texture, it’s a bit soft and if it’s grilled it’s a bit smoky. A little bit firmer than a liver.” All meats are sourced from a 100km radius of the restaurant, and a majority are sourced from Gippsland by Chef Timothy Menger. In all there are 12 chefs in the kitchen, together with an impressive array of BBQ grills and rotisseries. Despite being on tourist-haven, Southgate, the crowd is predominantly locals. “That’s the good


the MELBOURNE REVIEW JANUARY 2013 41

Food.Wine.Coffee

Meatball & Wine Bar There’s a lot of good eating to be had on Flinders Lane. So opening a new restaurant, let alone one focussed solely on one food might be considered a risk. Luckily, it’s excellent.

Lou Pardi

M

eatball & Wine Bar opened in August 2012 and from day one was a solid outfit – good food, good drink, great service. That was part of owner Matteo Bruno’s vision. “To create a venue which is comfortable and inviting and feels like it’s always been there. Amazing service, incredible food – a place to go with friends or on a date. I want to create a place that is 100% reliable,” he says.

thing,” says Almir. “That’s what I enjoy. Once people come in and try it, we have a lot of regulars.” Whilst the restaurant’s only young, Almir’s been impressed with its performance. “The business itself is hitting margins that we never expected – exceeding our expectations,” he says. Forty percent of business is done over the large bar which has a comprehensive cocktail and spirits offering. Almir’s recommendation for those first venturing into a more adventurous cut of meat? “Beef cheek it’s sort of like the eye fillet of the steak – and comes with a nice pomme puree and red wine jus.”

INFORMATION THE BRESLIN BAR & GRILL 2 Southbank Boulevard, Southbank 9686 2110 Lunch and dinner: Monday - Friday breslingrill.com.au

Matteo spends much of his time travelling the world as a film and television producer, and the concept for Meatball & Wine Bar came to him on his travels. “I was filming an Italian food series in Venice earlier this year and loved how the Italians revered singular ingredients – they have festivals devoted to a specific type of lettuce from a particular region, or a festival devoted to a type of broad bean or a style of salami. Then in the US I noticed singular product restaurants all over the place: macarons,

sausages, muffins, meatballs, Rubin sandwiches, etc. They do one thing and they do it well. That’s what I wanted to do in Melbourne – and my background of having a father in the meat industry and being Italian – pointed towards meatballs.” The meatballs on offer range from pork, beef, chicken, fish and vege, with your choice of sauces and accompaniments (‘Things to lay your balls on,’ your host will say, with a cupping gesture. Try not to blush.) For my vote, it’s the chicken, pistachio, muscatels and parmesan meatballs with the green sauce (pesto salsa verde) on sheets of homemade pasta ($18). Matteo’s choice? “I currently love the beef ball with red sauce on super MB smash. The tender beef ball, which should fall apart on touch, covered in the rich Italian red sauce and lovingly cupped by the spud-smash – is exactly the kind of food I can go back for, time and time again.  The meatballs are almost out-shone by a delectable collection of cheeses and cured meats. “There are not many things I love more than cured meats,” says Matteo. “I am currently shooting a TV series for Foxtel called Ask the Butcher – and we visited a number of producers, including some cured meat makers. I tried all kinds of offerings and settled on an Italian guy who uses his grandfather’s methods when curing meat. They only use the best pork and treat every single process with love and care. These guys are super passionate about their products and it shows on the plate.” The capocollo, fennel salami, truffle salami and Prosciutto Di San Daniele are as good as any you’ll find in Melbourne (charcuterie board - $24). There’s also a wagyu bresaola (air-dried, salted beef which is aged) for real meat fiends ($22).

The mozzarella is also outstanding. “I wanted to use someone local for our cheeses,” shares Matteo. “Italian cheeses like mozzarella come into Australia frozen, so I looked for an artisan maker in Victoria so we could access these products as fresh as possible, using locally sourced cows’ milk.” The resulting cheese board ($24) of fior di latte, diavoletta (smoked cheese, with olive in the centre) and mozzarella di bufala is a thing of beauty. There’s also a buttery, gorgeous burata ($16.50) for those whose palate craves sweeter creamy numbers. Desserts at Meatball & Wine Bar are the supersweet ‘Whoopie Mac’ – ice cream sandwiches. They’re ok for sweet-tooths, but if you’re pressed for time (or stomach capacity) I’d concentrate on charcuterie and cheese before dessert. The Meatball & Wine Bar are planning to open new venues in Melbourne, Sydney and Perth. They’re also open for breakfast weekdays and brunch on weekends.

INFORMATION Meatball & Wine Bar 135 Flinders Lane, Melbourne 9654 7545 Breakfast: Monday – Friday Brunch: Saturday – Sunday Lunch and dinner: Monday – Sunday meatballandwinebar.com.au


42 the MELBOURNE REVIEW JANUARY 2013

Wine

WINE REVIEWS by ANDREA FROST

U

A RESOLUTION TO BLEND

pon reflection, Christmas required a lot of integration: family and families, love and laughter, new partners and old grudges, in-laws and outlaws, rivalry and revelry. Given this, it seems fitting we talk not of de-toxing or hangover cures or other such seasonally alcohol related themes, but of blending. Mixing different things together and getting a better result than what you started with

takes a certain skill. In wine, the process of vinous improvement from blending has been happening since the Persians first stumbled

across naturally fermented grapes thousands of years ago. Most wines are blends – whether a blend of

Voyager Estate 2012 Sauvignon Blanc Semillon

Brash Higgins Semillon/ Riesling Field Blend

Kangarilla Road Terzetto 2010

Margaret River RRP $24

McLaren Vale RRP $45

McLaren Vale RRP $22

different batches made from the same variety, a blend of different varieties or a blend of different vintages. In all instances, the idea is to create a wine that is greater than the sum of its parts. Here’s a selection of blends for your mixed up pleasure. As for the best component parts for the festive season; well, we’ve got another year to think about that.

Wolf Blass Black Label 2008

Barossa Valley RRP $130

voyagerestate.com.au

brashhiggins.com

kangarillaroad.com.au

wolfblasswines.com

Some things just go together. It’s as simple and complicated as that. Simple because it just is and complicated because it’s hard to know precisely why. Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon are two varieties that grow well in Margaret River and do well when blended; so much so that many call this blend a ‘classic’. It could be the way the two varieties complement each other like polite ladies at lunch. But I can’t help but wonder if it is because when you drink a Margaret River Sauvignon Blanc Semillon, you’re also blending it with blue skies, balmy afternoons, fresh seafood, a pleasing view and casual company. And in my mind, that is enough to cement anything into the realm of a classic. Tropical fruits and citrus abound with texture and balance and crisp dry finish. Drink now and drink ice cold.

Way, way back, sometime between the Persian wine discovery and last century, winemaking and viticulture was a lot less precise. Detailed information on the thousands of different varieties available was scarce. As a result, fields were often planted to a potpourri of different varieties and made into wine. Such wines were called ‘field blends’. As the wine industry progressed, more precise viticulture came to be admired and field blends all but died out. However, as certain pockets of the winemaking world are turning to the past to create the future, I think we’re seeing a few more of these field blends. This field blend from McLaren Vale’s Brash Higgins is made from Semillon and Riesling. A complex and delightful wine; the nose has aromas of citrus, lychee, vanilla and jasmine, while the palate is complex and textural from the wild yeast fermentation and some time in barrel. Refreshing, unique and an intriguing field blend.

Many of the world’s most famous wines are blends. The particular blend is so crucial to the wine that it is written in law; Champagne, Bordeaux, Châteauneuf-du-Pape can only be made from certain blends. Australia doesn’t have such restrictions on what can be grown where or blended with what so winemakers are free to plant, blend and experiment with any varieties that pass muster through quarantine. This wine is reason to be thankful for such liberal blending laws. It is a unique blend of Sangiovese, Primitivo and Nebbiolo making an alluring and complex wine with layers of spice, red fruits, rose and liquorice. Medium bodied, it has engaging tannins, a complex palate and a long and lovely finish. This is the first release of this blend; let’s hope it is not the last.

As well as wine, varieties and regions, this wine blends history, lore and legend. Wolf Blass the man made a name for many things including his skill for making blended wines that made an impact. The Wolf Blass Black Label is the most famous and awarded of these wines. Each year, the objective for the Black Label is to make the best red wine from South Australia and melds several things to achieve this. This wine is a blend of varieties – Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz and Malbec. A blend of regions – Barossa Valley, Langhorne Creek and McLaren Vale. And a blend of history – it is the 36th vintage release and has won the Jimmy Watson trophy an unprecedented four times since it was first released in 1973. Deep, dark and intense, this wine brims with blackcurrant, plummy fruit, vanilla and coconut and a mouthful of tannin. A big, intense and wildly successful blend.


the MELBOURNE REVIEW JANUARY 2013 43

Cafés

Friends of Mine Lou Pardi

A

t the other end of Swan Street in Richmond in a corner building with charming yellow shades you’ll find a counter with take-away treats and a barista pumping out take-away coffees.

If you’ve got a little more time, meander inside to the communal table or take a seat in one of the dining rooms. From the first you can watch the pass and ogle someone else’s meal, or in the furthest, enjoy a little more privacy for business or pleasure. The Friends of Mine menu is a thing of beauty – just think if all of your favourite dishes were going to a fancy party and made themselves of the best produce, with a little extra something. That ham and cheese croissant becomes ham off the bone, béchamel sauce, Emmental cheese and truss tomato ($7.50), the essential ‘HUNG’ over’ breakfast comes with herb and cheese toast, poached eggs, bacon and avocado

Bayte

I

n no-man’s-land on the Collingwood side of Johnson Street is a secret treasure in Bayte. The middle-eastern eatery offers up homestyle Lebanese fare. Coming in off the street you’ll find a couple of dining rooms and out the back a lovely courtyard. There’s plenty for the breakfast sweet tooth here, from fresh Tasmanian honeycomb ($8.50) to the Atayef bi Ashtah ma’ Dirra’ al Joz (ashtah clotted cream filled semolina pancakes with rosewater syrup and walnut crumbed fresh nectarines - $14.50). For those who can handle a heavier savoury meal at breakfast time, try the Beyd me li bi Summa el Kafta Meshwi (sumac spiced fried eggs served with barbequed lamb kafta skewers and baba ganoush - $14.50). Lunch offers up more Mediterranean delights with wraps, dips, mains and salads accompanied by a small international wine and beer list, cocktails and the Lebanese aniseed spirit, Arak. With all these fantastic sauces and new drinks to try, hours can easily drift away, and things can get a little sticky. There’s a sink big enough to bathe a small child in the unisex bathroom, if it comes to that.

INFORMATION BAYTE 56 Johnson St, Collingwood 9415 8818 Breakfast and lunch: Monday – Friday

($18.90) and at lunch time your steak sandwich is stacked with Hopkins river beef, beetroot and blood orange relish, Maffra aged cheddar, caramelised onion, bacon and a poached egg ($24.90). Delicious.

INFORMATION FRIENDS OF MINE 506 Swan Street, Richmond 9428 7516 Breakfast and lunch: Monday – Friday Functions and private dinners: by arrangement


44 the MELBOURNE REVIEW JANUARY 2013

Feature THE POINT

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he Point Restaurant upholds a superlative standard of fine dining. Established for 16 years now, the restaurant continues to build on the strengths of a spectacular lakeside setting and dedicated team to uphold its reputation for excellence and offer a complete dining experience.

Optic

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e rallied between the Grilled Lemongrass Chicken Skewers and the Zucchini Flower Fritters at Federation Square’s Optic Kitchen + Bar. When we got to deuce for the umpteenth time, we agreed on a draw and ordered one of each. In the end both items were declared a winner! Optic Kitchen + Bar is the perfect place for a drink, a light meal or something more substantial before or after the tennis. In fact, its location at ACMI in Federation Square makes it the ideal place to refuel if you’re watching the tennis on Fed Square’s big screen, heading to Melbourne Park or just enjoying the city. Optic’s menu, which has just been refreshed, offers a selection of minors, minis or majors, depending on how hungry you are. There is a good

selection of beers and cider on tap and a generous choice of reasonably priced wines which can be enjoyed at the bar, in the restaurant or lounge area or outside overlooking Main Square. There are tasty options for the juniors too, all under $10. My team mate is already contemplating the next match at Optic Kitchen + Bar – maybe we’ll organise a group of doubles and get stuck into the Tasting Boards being shared by many other teams. But then again, the Spaghetti Seafood with diver scallops, tiger prawns, mussels, flathead and a grilled Moreton Bay Bug sounds like it has a lot of bounce. In fact, I think that could be an Ace!

Executive Chef Justin Wise takes a contemporary approach to classic cuisine, with a focus on Australia’s finest beef and luxurious ingredients. Wise, The Age Good Food Guide’s Young Chef of the Year in 2009, contributes passion and exceptional skill to the execution of the broad menu. New Summer dishes include heirloom tomatoes set into a terrine with Ortiz anchovies, parmesan-crusted Patagonian toothfish and a stunning Western Plains suckling pig served with radish salad, blood plums and liquorice sauce.

The extensive wine list curated by sommelier Jane Semple offers examples of benchmark international wines, as well as innovative styles from boutique producers, all delivered with grace, good humour and a wealth of vinous knowledge. The Point’s secluded setting on Albert Park Lake would make the perfect spot to celebrate Valentine’s Day. The Valentine’s Dinner menu, priced at $220 per person, features five courses and includes a glass of Louis Roederer Champagne on arrival. Matched wines with each course are also available, from $75 per person. Reservations are available from 5.45pm, in time to catch the sunset. THE POINT RESTAURANT The Point Albert Park, Aquatic Drive 9682 5566 thepointalbertpark.com.au

Optic Kitchen + Bar ACMI at Fed Square Open Breakfast til Dinner 7 Days 8663 2277

Welcome to a

TA R R A W A R R A

summer


the MELBOURNE REVIEW JANUARY 2013 45

Summer Dining

Waterfront

L TarraWarra Estate

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or a perfect day out in the beautiful surrounds of Healesville, TarraWarra Estate will be open 7 days from Wednesday December 26 through to Sunday February 3. The restaurant will feature a seasonal summer menu with produce from the estate’s own kitchen garden, matched to TarraWarra Estate wine. In our Tasting Room, you can sit down for an informative wine flight with our staff or taste through the range at the counter. The feature wines of this summer are the 2011 Pinot Noir Rosé and the 2011 Viognier Roussanne

Marsanne; both of which are fresh, approachable and food friendly wines perfect for sunny days on the sweeping lawns at TarraWarra Estate. And not forgetting, of course, the art collection on offer at TarraWarra Museum of Art – going perfectly hand-in-hand with a visit to the Estate.

ocated at 1 Station Pier amongst 270-degree bay views, Waterfront Port Melbourne is a true oasis for alfresco dining, functions and a resort style seafood experience that truly sets it apart in the bayside culinary scene. As you step through the garden-inspired entrance, you are greeted by a grand live seafood tank that showcases the quality of the restaurant’s produce. You can then continue on past the vodka & ice display at the marbled main bar, but prepare to be distracted by the striking orange, wicker & blonde wood outdoor terrace that is flushed with sun, sea breeze and the relaxing sounds of Port Phillip Bay.   The terrace also features a glass-enclosed deck that brings the bay views inside to make sure that diners can enjoy pairing perfect cuisine, wine & views regardless of Melbourne’s weather. With

a beautiful function space upstairs that holds up to 220 guests. Classically renowned for serving the finest produce from the land and sea, Waterfront Port Melbourne’s menu is in itself a view. With options featuring modern Australian dishes with strong seafood influences, you will return again and again to enjoy the live tank, grilled and sweet specialties. The seafood paella for two ($65) is a popular choice for diners, who can find expertly matched wines on Waterfront’s extensive list of wines, beers & hand-crafted cocktails. WATERFRONT 9686 9766 waterfrontsouthgate.com.au

TARRAWARRA ESTATE restaurant@tarrawarra.com.au 03 5962 3311 tarrawarra.com.au

middle brighton

The Baths Middle Brighton is a historic landmark housing a Cafe & Bar, Restaurant, Private Dining Room and Kiosk and one of Australia’s only remaining open water sea baths. The Restaurant offers a $38pp 2 course and $45pp 3 course lunch special menu including a glass of wine, Monday – Saturday Enquire about our special set menu for Valentine’s Day dinner!

251 Esplanade, Brighton T: 03 9539 7000 F: 03 9539 7017 www.middlebrightonbaths.com.au


46 the MELBOURNE REVIEW JANUARY 2013

Deconstruction

Silk Road Daniella Casamento

B

ehind the conservative 1929 façade of the heritage listed former AMP Building on the corner of Collins Street and Market Street is the opulent Silk Road, which opened back in 2008. The function venue is renowned for its interior, the focus of which is a pair of enormous chandeliers with Swarovski crystals overseen by a statue of Marco Polo on horseback, the centrepiece of the Venetian Bar. But clues remain of the building’s former life. An inscription in stone on the Collins Street façade, a three figure statue above the arched entry and a brass plaque all contribute to telling the corporate history of the building. But most fascinating is the original wrought iron security

door at the threshold which descends into a void concealed by a narrow metal trap door. A Latin inscription in the highly detailed mosaic tiled floor at the entry lobby reads ‘AMICUS CERTUS IN RE INCERTA’, the motto of the AMP Society translated as ‘A sure friend in uncertain times’ and which is also engraved below the three figure statue. This former corporate head office is now an entertainment venue with private bars that can be reserved for high end corporate events and celebratory drinks for all occasions. Asian and European artefacts sourced for Silk Road reflect the lavish culture of the historical trade route across the continent to East Africa and north to Europe. Drawing on the theatrical elements of these cultures and the decorative features of the historical building, Silk Road is an elaborate design that befits the philosophy behind the name. Dark and moody large scale reproductions of paintings by the Italian Baroque artist, Caravaggio, overlook the entire ground floor chamber which retains much of the original detail. The voluminous space allows for a largely selfsupporting structure, no doubt a requirement of the building approval to protect the heritage value of the site, resulting in the ground floor,

mezzanine and private suites which allow Silk Road to cater for a capacity of 900 patrons.

concealed space located behind the Venetian Bar. The dark stained timber floor and dark finishes here contrast with the illuminated golden translucent quartz stone top.

The atmosphere of the St George Wine and Cheese Room, located on the corner of the ground floor, is entirely different to the main bar and mezzanine level. Large windows with low level glazing film retained from the time of AMP provide patrons with a degree of privacy from Collins Street and add to the desired New York lounge bar appeal. Wall mounted metal wine racks take full advantage of the lofty space and deep recesses in the perimeter wall provide for secure display of premium wine. Club style leather armchairs are appropriate for the lounge which also has a private bar.

Upstairs, Caravaggio’s ‘Judith Beheading Holofernes’ flanks the wall behind the Champagne Bar, normally an incongruous feature in an entertainment venue but entirely suitable within the realm of this space. This vantage point takes in the entire room with views to the Gold Bar opposite and into the VIP rooms which sit at the top of the arched windows.

Also on the ground floor, the Dynasty Bar with red and gold décor has a particular focus on Chinese culture and is considered the lucky room for business deals and celebrations. Here, the large arched window is finished in gold leaf and features shelves that exhibit aged cognac and Chinese artefacts.

INFORMATION

Between the ground floor and mezzanine is the Mediterranean Tapas bar, efficiently elevated to conceal underfloor services while providing an opportunity for dining in a semi-

It is the constant transition between the light of excess and dark theatricality that is the essence of Silk Road.

SILK ROAD 425 Collins Street Melbourne 9614 4888 silkroadmelbourne.com


CELEBRATE TODAY LIVE IT AGAIN TOMORROW Australia Day isn’t just about celebrating our beautiful beaches and wide-open spaces. It’s not just about celebrating our rich diversity of cultures, or the fact we take our sport more seriously than we take ourselves. And we’re not just celebrating because we have a day off to share with our family and friends. Wherever our personal stories begin, we’re celebrating on January 26, because tomorrow we get to live it all over again. To find out about celebrations near you, visit AUSTRALIADAY.ORG.AU


SALE ON NOW

AT LYGON COURT

Lygon Court, 380 Lygon Street, Carlton

www.lygoncourt.com.au

The Melbourne Review January 2013  

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