Monday, 15 September 2014

Keeping Paris Beautiful

I don't know that I would have paid any particular attention to any of this if I hadn't watched Griff Rhys Jones' Greatest Cities of the World- Paris in 2012 as part of the exhaustive preparation for my 2013 Paris trip. The show had a particularly fascinating section on the literal army of green clad people who keep Paris clean and looking her best- The Proprete de Paris.

So I was interested to see it all unfolding before my eyes on my early morning walks last year.

The workers always seem happy
 to be at their important task

Those trucks get everywhere

Clearly there is no water shortage in Paris as they flush the gutters each morning.

There are two water types in Paris- treated drinking water
 and untreated water for flushing the streets

There is always a green broom
like a little tree at the ready nearby

If the drain water isn't enough
they come along with a truck

The Proprete de Paris also take a more proactive approach to preventing rubbish buildup. Whilst picnicing on the Seine one evening (a must do Paris activity) another friendly worker was hanging out rubbish bags to the happy crowds enjoying the incredible Paris summer evenings.

They were out in force too on
Bastille Day at the Champ de Mars
keeping everything nice for the masses
I hadn't noticed Paris' recycling efforts as much before, but it's there if you look.

There are a few designs of street side
bottle recycling centres

My local recycling station on rue de Sevres
I personally helped fill it
with quite a lot of  champagne and red wine debris

It is a noisy process (but rather fun) so they respectfully
ask not to dump your bottles between
2200 and 0700

Parks have bins for general rubbish in green
and recycling in yellow

Dreaming of France is a wonderful Monday meme
from Paulita aAn Accidental Blog

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Rules of Summer

Rules of Summer was actually one of the very first books that I read that was later nominated for the CBCA Books of the Year 2014. I saw this book in the shops before I first saw any reviews anywhere, and was of course immediately drawn to it, as I am drawn to any other Shaun Tan work. For a while then it was everywhere. Jennifer Byrne on Tuesday Book Club Dec 2013 edition proclaimed it "surreal for adults, delightful for children, a joy of a thing". Stephen Romei featured it in The Australian's Hot Reads for Summer 2013

His new one, the beautiful, haunting picture book Rules of Summer, which says so much with so few words, is one of the standout books of the year, full stop.

I bought it. I read it. A few times. And I don't think I quite understood it. I didn't know what to say, and so was reluctant to blog about it. I didn't immediately love it, and I've loved and admired Shaun Tan for some time. I wanted to like it, and I didn't want to be disappointed with a Shaun Tan book. So I let this post slip away unwritten, and left Rules of Summer on the shelf. I blogged about every other book shortlisted for the CBCA Picture Book of the Year 2014. And then last month Rules of Summer won Picture Book of the Year. Clearly it was time to look at this  book again.

And I still didn't understand it! I reread it several times once more. I needed to find the Teachers Guide and Shaun Tan explaining the book to me on youtube for help.

In the video Shaun tells us that he likes mysterious imagery, and that in Rules of Summer we're left with "a bit of a puzzle to what is exactly happening". He likes it to be not entirely clear as to what is going on and he leaves it to the readers imagination to construct what is going on. Perhaps this is where I'm failing? Rules of Summer is open to being read in all sorts of ways, that it does not have a linear or kinetic structure.

This is the sort of book you could open on any page and spend five minutes or an hour pondering the image. Close the book, and that would be sufficient experience. 

I love hearing about his creative process in the video. He doodles and draws, without worrying about meaning or content, and later spools out random ideas, like free association or daydreaming. And I come to realise why I'm not a creative person- my mind just doesn't work like that. I still admire Shaun Tan enormously and will avidly seek out his next book, it's just that Rules of Summer didn't strike a chord with me as clearly it did for many other readers.

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Orange Regional Gallery

Regional art galleries often offer up amazing gems, like last years amazing Wunderkammer exhibition. They're usually relaxed and rather uncrowded. I recently visited Orange Regional Gallery again and was wowed by each of the three exhibitions currently on. Sadly two of them finish tomorrow.

Gallery One had Does Humour Belong in Art? (until September 28 2014)

Dali 2013 - Danno

Still Life 2014 - Terry Dacht-Ullman

There's fun and interest everywhere

The Hulkificaiton of Mr T 2014 - Mike Foxall 

Cocoon - Tony Giles 

Assorted Illustrations - Annie Walker 2013

Untitled - Will Coles
these solved a mystery for me

Prince of Denmark (for Alan) - Claire Healy and Sean Cordeiro

Gallery Two had the incredibly beautiful With One Stroke, an exhibition of work by the International Chinese Calligraphy and Brush Painters Society. Their ink is made from the soot of pine trees, and fashioned into these beautiful images.

The essence of this art is that it is non-representational but must contain the essence or 'soul' of the subject. 

Springtime -
Martha Goedings ( The Netherlands)

Spring Cherry Blossoms
Camp Fire
Ransui Yakata (Japan)

Kalpa MacLachlan (The Netherlands)
(I love puffins!)

The tools of the trade

While The Green Desert was upstairs in Gallery Three. A collection of extraordinary photos of Lake Eyre/Kati Thanda  by Peter Elfes.

The Tangerine Sea II 
Reflections III

The Tangerine Sea I

Three rather different exhibitions. All fabulous.

Orange Regional Gallery
151 Byng Street
Tues- Saturday 10-5
Sunday/Public Holiday 12-4

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Monday, 1 September 2014

Yves Saint Laurent

I went along to the movies this week to see the new Yves Saint Laurent biopic. I didn't know much about it, apart from the fact that YSL was French- well Algerian as it turns out, and obviously a famous designer- even though I am barely aware of fashion I still knew a little of YSL.

Told by his partner and business partner, Pierre Bergé, reminiscing after YSL's death in 2008, the movie is then a somewhat linear narrative- from YSL's early days with Dior, his disastrous conscription to military service, and setting up his own fashion house.

We see his beautiful, elegant classic designs of the 1950s and 60s, his groundbreaking Mondrian collection of 1971, and even YSL had questionable taste in the early 70s after that.

YSL Mondrian dress on display at the
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, 2013
It was interesting to see how formally collections were presented in the 50s and 60s and how this (d)evolved in the 1970s. YSL is not depicted as a nice man, and I was left with little empathy for him. Actually both Yves and Pierre act deplorably at times, and we weren't really shown why. Paris of course featured quite a bit with much of the movie action happening there. Paris hasn't changed all that much since 1850 so you can easily dress up the characters, change the cars and suddenly it is the 1950s. There are more than enough Paris streetscapes to keep the Paris voyeur happy- YSLs apartment has views over the Arc de Triomphe. And it is all beautifully lit and filmed. 

The first 10 minutes or so before the titles had bizarre subtitling, with about one sentence in 5 subtitled in English. My rusty French was struggling to keep up. Thankfully it improved after the opening credits, and most of it then seemed to be subtitled, but the subtitles were way too low, and it was hard to read them and watch the actual movie at the same time.

Sadly I was very tired this day and when I fell asleep (as I often do at the movies) it was 1976, and I woke only in the last 30 seconds or so. I'm not sure how much I missed...

Dreaming of France is a wonderful Monday meme
from Paulita at An Accidental Blog

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Sydney Biennale 2014

Way back in May I had a visit to the Sydney Biennale for the first time in many years. Decades probably. I remember seeing it at the Art Gallery of New South Wales in the 80s or 90s.

This day was my first trip to Cockatoo Island.

Being on Sydney Harbour is always a joy

Particularly on a gorgeous afternoon

Soon enough Cockatoo Island loomed up

Everyone had their cameras out, even the fashionista types
A Diana camera
We spent a lovely few hours checking out the art. 

Tori Wranes- The Rock 2014

and small
Matt Hinkley- Untitled 2013
The Biennale makes use of the old industrial buildings
and also the old convict era buildings
Christine Streuli- gradually_real 2014

Kate Daw- Green Lamp 2013-4
a tree falling in the woods kind of installation
you may not see it, but it's still there

Late afternoon light on Sydney sandstone. Gorgeous. 
Even seagulls look gorgeous against the late afternoon light

A new view of the bridge 

It was a perfect afternoon
Sydney Biennale finished in June. You'll need to wait til 2016 for the next one.

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