Up close and Personal with Saxton Speakers

I was fortunate to be invited to attend the Up Close and Personal Sessions presented by Saxton Speakers Bureau at this year’s AIME conference in Melbourne. This is the second year I have gone along to these excellent sessions.


The first session I attended was called “The future…what’s happening and how will it change our world?” It was moderated by financial journalist Alan Kohler and the speakers on this panel were Matthew Michalewicz, Clare Payne, and Dr Hugh Bradlow. They discussed Artificial Intelligence, self-driving cars and how these will impact our lives in the very near future.

Reminded by the gorgeous display installation at AIME of the NGV during the lunch break I hopped up to see the Triennial exhibition. I loved walking through the experiential artworks that were so unique and varied from one another. My favourites were: Xu Zhen’s monumental installation Eternity-Buddha in Nirvana…, 2016–17 that combines replicas of famous Buddhist and Western classical sculptures; the work by Buenos Aires–based artist and designer Alexandra Kehayoglou who uses hand-tufted wool rugs to draw into focus landscapes under threat; and the swirling immersive digital installation of TeamLab. Ron Mueck’s work call Mass which was a room of over-sized human skulls was quite awesome to stand amongst and a very popular installation.IMG_9437

The second session “Resilience and acceptance…two powerful life-changing tools” was moderated by broadcaster Richard Morecroft. The speakers were Nasir Sobhani, Sam Bloom, and Jules Allen. This tear-jerking discussion pulled at the heart strings with stories about how ordinary people face extraordinary challenges and they shared the lessons that we can all apply to our personal and working lives. The strong message that came from this talk is that rather than learning ‘resilience’ we would do better to live with the attitude that every individual matters.

The AIME exhibition itself is well organised and utilised current technologies well with a real effort towards digital processes to save on printed paper brochures. There was a remote assistance ‘person’ available on several screens to answer any questions. It was a bit disconcerting when I asked the ‘person’ where the theatre was located.


One particular installation held my interest as I watched a man wearing Virtual Reality glasses build an abstract 3D replica of Melbourne using a VR drawing tool. Apparently there are only two of these technical experts in Australia at present. His representation of Melbourne’s details was displayed on a screen and you could see his work as it evolved. As an ex Industrial Designer I envied this technology that was not around when I was active in this field, and I could see the many applications for this tool.

Appreciating Hokusai

Japanese Art has always been a style I love. The design, composition, colours, graphic style, use of line, and deft touch is to be admired. Who can go past Hokusai?


So not only did I jump at the chance to see the Hokusai exhibition at the NGV; I decided to invite an artist I know, Irene Crusca, to give a talk on the topic at the library where I work. The timing of this was intentionally aimed to be while the exhibition was still on, so that if people felt moved by what they heard, there was still time to go into the city to see the artworks up close.

Irene gave a thoughtful and well-prepared presentation easily filling the hour with commentary on the man and some of his works. She explained about the important contributions he made upon the international art world at that time.

Of course The Great Wave is an iconic image recognized by most. It is simply beautiful. At the exhibition I loved seeing Mt Fuji depicted in so many scenes. I love the waterfalls, and the little human figures everywhere going about their daily activities, sometimes humuorously.

The NGV did a fabulous job displaying many of his sketchbooks under glass protected from willing hands. Then on a screen digital images of his sketches appear in sequential arrays. Who would have the time to sit and admire them all?

I have invited Irene back next year to talk about her work as a portrait artist.



To sit or not to sit

Art, music, love, life and loss: a novel that weaves these themes together falls into a favourite genre for me. And obviously for many others, given that Heather Rose has won the Stella Prize for her 2017 novel The Museum of Modern Love.


I love it when I discover something new that I had never heard about before, and I confess that I had never heard of the artist Marina Abramović before reading this novel that is inspired by her work.

The Artist is Present was an amazingly popular artwork that Marina performed at MoMA in 2010. For seventy-five days Marina sat while individuals sat across from her one after another. 1,554 people sat while another 850,000 observed from the sidelines, many coming back.

Here is a video clip from the last day of her sit. And here is another astounding video of when Ulay came back to see her after their epic parting on the Great Wall of China years before in 1988.

Heather Rose writes:

The days had been fields of faces, bright, unique, vivid, strange. …Every face told countless lives and memories and part of humanity she had never glimpsed, not through all the years of seeking.

But it is the intertwining story of Arky Levin that gives this work of fiction life and opportunity for exquisite prose.

His hands ran up and down the keyboard…He heard the theme that would run in and out of the film, threading the scenes together. Raindrops falling on leaves, a moon in the sky and this lovely melody.

He is a sad, reserved, composer of film scores: a private man who is reluctantly drawn into this temporary and unusual life that surrounds Marina Abramović as she sits and gazes into the eyes of strangers at MoMA.

Rarely do I give a 5-star rating on GoodReads. Thank you Heather Rose.

Paris Letters

Janice Macleod, the author of the book Paris Letters, inspired me to try my hand at a bit of drawing once again. She makes a living selling her letters online. These letters are hand written and illustrated with simple pen and water colour sketches. And of course this all began in Paris.

I love using Instagram to share beautiful photos of our world and so I thought I could begin by copying some of the photos I had already taken. I love this one of cherries in a glass bowl for it’s cheery Christmassy feel. Here is the original photo taken by me, and my sketch. And this I used for Christmas cards this year.

Christmas cherries 2014

Christmas cherries 2014

Pretty pictures

Like so many of us, I love art. I love to look at artworks created by artistic souls. I appreciate the creative process and the results of that pursuit. My first academic study was Art & Design. I have drawn and painted my share of artworks, but don’t call myself an artist.

I am lucky that in today’s libraries art is considered an authentic way to showcase the creativity of those in our community. The last public library service I worked in had a successful and inclusive local community art program that invited and encouraged anyone to submit works into the program. The library became a gallery that showcased new works every three months. Beginning artists had a place to try out their talent and successful pieces were often sold to art appreciators.

I am lucky again in my position at the public library where I now work, as I currently look after the Art for Loan Program. This program differs in that artists can include their works in the program and people who join the program can loan artworks and take them home to enjoy for 2 months. Then change them over for other works. The library again becomes a gallery where artworks are showcased and we all get to enjoy the creative efforts; and pretty pictures.

archibald_proze_showToday I visited the Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery to see this year’s entrants for the Archibald Prize. It was busy with many other interested people keen to see these works. My favourite was the work by Anh Do of his father Tam Do. I didn’t realize Anh Do has this amazing artistic ability. I love the thick rough swathes of paint. The bold ‘unreal’ colours expertly and yet roughly placed to give form and light to the portrait. This photo of a postcard does not do it justice. The other portrait I loved was by Qiang Zhang of Yang Li. It shows a similar approach with bold thick imprecise brush strokes that give form to a large headshot.

My husband loved the portrait of Nick Cave, Citizen Kave by James Powditch. It intentionally looks like a movie poster and suggests a great movie with a cast to excite movie-lovers: Johnny Cash; Debbie Harry; Robert Mitchum; Tom Waits; and others.

Time rolls away

Wow! Two months of 2013 have disappeared already. And it’s been busier than ever. What can I tell you about my work at the library so far this year?

We installed new movable shelving for our non-fiction collection in our main branch which entailed a team effort of unloading, loading, reloading, unloading, reloading books by hand. But the end result is very pleasing and we have just ordered the display fittings that go along with this new configuration. The plan is to rearrange the non-fiction books from Dewey to shop-style subject categories. Then we will need to get some new signage to suit.

We have also embarked on the RFID implementation. At present we have completed one small branch and almost finished the second small branch. Then it is just the tagging at the main branch to go. Another team effort is required to get this job done, and everyone is stepping up to the plate. This new technology will allow customers to check out their own items giving them more privacy and independency. It will also free up our staff so they can provide some deeper and more meaningful conversations with the customers.

I have completed and passed two subjects for the Master of Information Studies and have just two to go. I have started Social Networking for Information Professionals.

Next weekend is a long weekend here in Victoria and I will be going along to the Annual Port Fairy Folk Festival for the fourth year in a row. Last year I had the pleasure of seeing a band called Tinpan Orange and just love their song Every Single Day.

Time rolls away, it rolls away, every single day it rolls away…”

My youngest son was married last month and that was a fun event despite my mother passing away the week before and her not being there (in body) with us all.

The Tomorrow’s Library discussions continue.

Our current open art exhibition is ‘Sunflowers” and we have received many bright works of art from local people. It is always such a privilege to receive and hang these creative pieces. I totally love the idea of inclusive community art, because after all we are all creative to some extent.


Yesterday (on a Sunday) I attended a workshop Social Media for Small Business and the Arts presented by John Paul Fischbach and Criag Lambie of Auspicious Arts Incubators. It was a really worthwhile session and these guys really know their stuff. I got a lot out of it and wrote my notes to Twitter until my phone battery went dead. It really gives me a better perspective for revamping the social media presence of our library.

I am currently reading Wild: from lost to found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed (this is my favourite genre – true travel stories with a twist or quest) and Face2Face by David Lee King. I am listening to Little Stories by Harry James Angus and podcasts of the Midday Interview with Margaret Throsby and This is Your Life by Michael Hyatt.

The creative stream

I was reading the Saturday morning newspapers; Michael Leunig’s article “Into the Unkown” in The Age; when halfway through his discussion about the creative process, I remembered my dream from the previous night.

In my dream I had seen a piece of art hanging on a wall. It was a moving image of an underwater scene with only the soft light-filled sea-green water and the head of a teenage girl who was looking out at the viewer and smiling with blonde hair adrift in the currents. And as I looked the girl came forward “out” of the scene. As she emerged from the flat wall image she became a white paper cut-out silhouette that protruded into the space of the room.

When I awoke and remembered the image I realised this artwork was a combination of the two exhibition themes that we have running in our art exhibitions this year; “from the deep” is on show now, and “off the wall” is our next exhibit.

So I paused from reading the newspaper, wrote down these remembered thoughts about the image in my dream, and then returned to reading the Michael Leunig article. “He gets an idea for a painting. The muse has paid a visit, the light has come on, inspiration has struck – whatever – and now the idea must be given form. The urge is powerful…” So I acknowledge that my idea is there. But I lack the confidence and impetus to act further and try to transform the idea into a painting/image/sculpture. I give up before I even begin. I know from past experiences that art ideas not given life grow stale quickly and lose their power; lost opportunities for creative expression.

Michael Leunig continues, “It looks competent enough but lacks the spark and mystique that was in his mind at the beginning. Something has been lost in the translation. How odd; it is not transcribing.” Yes I know this all too well. And this is where I give up. But Michael Leunig tells us to press on, to continue through the negativity, self-loathing, and feelings of failure. He says that in the abandonment of the ego, we will discover authenticity in our creative work.

The image in my dream reminded me of an exhibition of artwork that I had seen at Salamanca Arts Centre in Hobart last year. In a darkened loft there were several life-sized still life works. The medium used was video, so these “still life” images were of a scene that moved, but repeated itself over a short time span. One was of a cocktail party where the guests were artfully placed and dressed and they were seated around a coffee table eating antipasto and drinking wine. It was strange to stand there like a voyeur staring at these people and then seeing the repetition of the loops in the video. There were others: one of a person driving; another looking through a doorway screened by dangling beads; and more I can’t remember.

I wish I could tell you who the artist was. I have searched online with no success. I have emailed the gallery in the hope they will tell me. Stay posted and I will tell you when I find out. In my online search though, I did find some amazing art works of video art by other artists, so it was not wasted time.

Thank you to Sue from Salamanca Arts Centre for letting me know that the artist is Derek Hart and his exhibiton was titled “Film Stills“.

Too many cups of tea

The first week of my new life was busy, full, and different. I travelled every day between the place I am living temporarily and the town where I am working. It is a seaside rural community with lots of space to think. I like that. It is a landscape that stretches out to the horizon. There is a lot of sky and fields of farmland. The smell of cut grass dominates as the farmers clear their fields and make hay bales for stock feed in readiness for the dry summer ahead.

This week I saw a koala walking along the side of a busy road in the middle of a large town. I worried it would be hit by a car. Eventually it scampered to the grass of the foreshore near the sea but there were no trees for it to find refuge in. Surely dogs must be a problem for koalas, if not the traffic.


I saw whales just off the headland slapping the water with their grey and white fins. I walked to the red and white lighthouse and sat and watched some yachts sail by. The weather has been perfect since my arrival and contrary to my perception of the weather in this part of the world. Every day I drive past the wind turbines that dot this windy coastline. They were still for most of the week.

I have met lots of people for the first time and I find the country attitude refreshing and I will need to relax my city-dwellers angst to adjust. I didn’t realise the extent to which I actually had been urbanised after all.

I went along to a community art auction that was raising funds for the local hospital. It was held at the primary school but was in fact a formal event where everyone dressed up in suits, bow ties, and frocks. The guest speaker was the events coordinator from Federation Square in Melbourne. The theme for the art was “tea pots” and anyone could enter. A decorated tea pot along with a painting were entered and then auctioned. It was an inclusive and encouraging creative endeavour where entrants did not seem shy about their amateur creations. Some were poor while others surprisingly good – surprising for the amateur artist. Of course some practiced artists included work and these were fetching prices at this auction of $1000. One ceramic teapot in particular reached this amount, but the artist was an established ceramic artist from South Australia. I actually bought two paintings by default really as the final bidder in the silent auction items.


While living temporarily in accommodation with family I feel unsettled for being “homeless” and away from loved ones. One can’t really do the things at home that is routine and taken for granted. So making cups of tea is the thing to do. It is something. But I don’t need that much tea in my system.

Today between cups of tea I helped in my sister’s garden, went for a swim at the beach, made a curry for dinner, listened to the birds as I rocked in the hammock under the pine trees. Meanwhile my husband, still back in our old life for the time being, told me by telephone that he went fishing and caught three large snapper.



Finding bliss

Fourteen blissful moments stand out from my busy tour of Europe; moments where my soul was filled with joy, awe and contentment. This was the beauty I was aching for and found in these moments. Each experience stands alone complete in itself as if within a glass bubble – a diamond.

  • Discovering the Lion of Lucerne which sits upon a ledge on a cliff in a quiet grotto amidst the busy city streets of Lucerne. I stood spellbound as I felt the sorrow and serenity of the Lion’s message.
  • Seeing the huge statue of Jesus with outstretched arms accepting all, as he stands on an outcrop on the lakeside at Lucerne. We spend a quiet moment taking in the bliss while drifting on the calm green waters.
  • White swans and brown ducks paddling briskly on the rapid moving crystal clear Alpine water of the Reuss River that runs through Lucerne. Children feed the ducks at the water edge on steps below the Roccoco Cathedral perched on the banks. An old roofed wooden foot bridge crosses the river and is adorned with flowers of purple, white, yellow and pink. Meanwhile colourful flags flap in the summer’s breeze heralding the Yodeling Festival that has attracted crowds of people dressed in traditional costumes. We wander.
  • Seated on a balcony at Engelberg I listen to birds singing tunefully and sweetly (no Aussie squawking here). I also hear the rushing water of the swift Alpine stream that runs through the town. The church bells chime for the 6am call to prayers at a nearby monastery. Cow bells clang from the fields nearby. The warm air stirs the red and white Swiss flags atop the chalets. The sun has risen and strains to penetrate its rays into the darkened valleys and forests, still working to melt the remaining snow upon the mountain peaks.
  • Returning to Innsbruck from nearby Rinn we travel down the mountains listening to “The first time ever I saw your face” by Roberta Flack on the bus sound system. The sun slips behind snow-crested alps, glowing golden swords of light that swathe the already picture-perfect landscape into an impossibly more beautiful scene.
  • Burano is a tiny residential island in the lagoon near Venice. Casanova once lived here. Canals wind through the village. The houses are painted different colours, traditionally so that the fishermen could identify their own house when returning by boat in the frequent fog. Our stomachs full and content from a fantastic local seafood feast, we wander along the canals in the hot afternoon sunshine, looking in shops for souvenirs.
  • Seeing the masterpiece of Michelangelo at the Sistine Chapel I sit with my back against the wall gazing up like the crowds of people gathered to do the same. The paintings glow with the bright colours looking as fresh as if Michelangelo had just left the room. How lucky I am to see the paintings now after recent removal of decades of built up grime.
  • Tony’s Bar in Sorrento stopped us in our tracks and we succumbed to the quirky and inviting makeshift bar set up on a cobbled carpark. The animated Italian waiters offer us seats, drinks, music and conversation. The ladies have Bellinis and the men drink beer. We listen to Dean Martin sing That’s Amore and watch with amusement as the crazy traffic of small cars and mopeds whiz by.
  • We queue outside the Galleria Acadamie in Florence waiting for our turn to see the Statue of David. The street is narrow, hot, grimy, and the wall beside us is covered with graffiti. An unlikely home for David I think. Inside though the first glimpse of his glowing white perfection is stunning. How did Michelangelo create such a beautiful image of man? It has such grace and beauty and emotion and there must be no finer work of art on this Earth.
  • Sparkling summer rain fell gently as we took shelter in a tiny shop entrance in the hilltop town of Saint Paul de Vence in France. The artfully arranged cobblestones glistening in the wet. Exquisite art, jewelry, lace, weavings, clothing fill these unique ancient stone shops. We share a Croque Monsieur, talk to the shop keepers, buy some gifts, and feel happiness that communities like this still exist in our multi-national corporate world.
  • We rested in the shade sitting on the grassy river bank beside the Pont d’Avignon. Free from vendors and the hustle and bustle of the busy streets we watched people walk to the end of the ancient arched bridge where it ended in ruin mid-stream. Meanwhile black dogs swam after brown ducks in the water. Boys paddled yellow canoes and cruise boats motored up and down the river.
  • The French experience enveloped me at Beaunne, a small quaint stone village in the wine region of Burgundy. We sat drinking coffee outside a café watching locals shop, read newspapers, walk small dogs and deliver goods. I speak French to the shopkeepers. We buy local red wine and gaze at displays of frois grois, snails, terrines and pates in shop windows.
  • Laugh, laugh laugh! The weird French acrobat/comedian had me laughing the minute he appeared on stage at the cabaret show at Nouvelle Eve in Paris. His act was not original but the practiced skill with which he delivered his silly antics was masterful. He milked the audience and I was hysterical, tears pouring down my face. After his final bow I gasped for air, exhausted from the laughing, my cheeks sore from the strain.
  • Blue lights twinkled on the Eiffel Tower. We stood on the bridge nearby where the small Stature of Liberty greets visitors who arrive on the Seine. The hand of the statue reaches up towards a small half moon. We group together in the warm night air under street lamps helping each other try to capture that perfect image of the twinkling Eiffel Tower at night with our digital cameras. We all hoped for a special image that would help our memories preserve this unique moment forever.