Category Archives: Uncategorized

A pilgrimage

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Taylor’s Lake, Grampians, Victoria.

In late November I reluctantly abandoned my convalescing husband, and travelled to Adelaide to visit my Mum and rest of the family in commemoration of my late sister Kate’s 40th birthday. Mum and I enjoyed a long-planned trip to visit the Grampians in Victoria – staying in Mt. Zero, a location where she and Kate had stayed many years ago. In spite of some wild and windy weather we had a poignant time revisiting the places she had been with Kate. Here is a record of the trip, including some images taken in another of Kate’s favourite places, the Belair National Park.

We visited several lakes in the area – Lake Lonsdale, Lake Natimuk, and Taylor’s Lake. The last was the only one with any water, in spite of the promises of tourism websites. The last day of our stay had wild 35º winds and dust storms, and the effect of prolonged drought upon agricultural (wheat cultivation) areas such as the Wimmera was clear. Water management and environmental conservation is a critical issue in Australia, particularly for regional areas, yet it does not often appear in the headlines of our media.

I love to get into rural Australia and get a feeling of the ‘real’ country, away from our comfortable urban fringe. Here’s a gorgeous country store in Dimboola, selling all kinds of crafts, cakes, jams, plants, second-hand books and remaindered stock of toiletries – a school fete all in one shop 🙂

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Mum is buying a cake for our dinner; check out the guy in top hat and steampunk goggles 🙂

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Blast from the past

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Belinda Allen, Manifesto/Self-portrait, 1981, hand-coloured silver-gelatin print, 50 x 60 cm.

The internet is amazing! While holidaying on lovely Magnetic Island in July I received an email from Sally Northfield, an organiser for the AS IF Festival, celebrating the Women’s Art Register based in Melbourne. She had dug up on old (I mean oooold!) picture of mine and wanted to use it on the website. How amazing that she was able to find my image, find my email address and contact me while I was holidaying 2000 kilometres away! The festival is on now with events until November 7 – here’s the website, and here’s my pic, promoting the Art+Feminism Wikipedia Edit-a-thon on October 31 🙂

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Chris and Murray River

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So thrilled to have one of my portraits again selected for the 2015 Olive Cotton Award. This time it’s Chris and Murray River.

Friends and family will know that I and my artist husband, Chris Lawrie, have done many inland camping trips in recent years, and the mighty but much-degraded Murray River has been the focus of several of those. For Chris, whose Scottish ancestors were among the first settlers in South Australia, travelling around the country they settled back in the 1830s and 40s is poignant. European settlement, as well as crucial stock droving routes, depended heavily on this river. And so did local indigenous people. This portrait ponders what constitutes ‘belonging’ to land, a question that continues to resonate.

My exhibition “Too much ask …” back in 2011 was based on both the landscapes around the Murray River in Victoria, NSW and South Australia, and the journals of early explorers and pioneers in the region.

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Gunyah mandalas

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In 2006 I experimented with video using the technique I had already been using to create photographic nature mandalas. Gunyah mandalas videos were shot down at my local beach, and composed in Adobe After Effects. I expect that it’s all much easier now in iMovie etc 😉

This set was exhibited in the Blake Prize in 2006. After all this time I’ve finally put these online, in anticipation of having creative time over this summer to revisit video play 🙂

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sub/text (delhi-kashmir-ladakh)

road workers and prayer stones
subtext – workers 2 (Ladakh)

Travelling in India you can’t help but be struck by the social inequities. The caste system is alive and well. As ‘wealthy’ tourists we are served by many Indian workers, who cannot imagine the lifestyle options that we Westerners enjoy.

Major monuments, old Mughal palaces now open to tourists, are still maintained by an army of low-caste (and minimally paid) labourers, gardeners and construction workers – it resembles modern-day slavery. The roads of Kashmir and Ladakh traverse steep and barren terrain, and road crews camp alongside the roads and perform the necessary maintenance work, in all weathers. What are they thinking when I wave as I ride by?

In these images, taken in Northern India (Delhi, Kashmir and Ladakh), pictures of workers are juxtaposed with local found texts – plaques describing the rich Mughal history, graffitied pavilions and tombs, Buddhist prayer stones and election posters.

‘sub/text’ Images

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Recovering roots … postscript

Thanks to everyone who supported us at the exhibition opening, and especially to Sally King who said some very generous words to officially open the show. Some images of the exhibition and the opening are now online. Were you there?
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Recovering Roots

Recovering Roots … exhibition is opening on Saturday May 31, at Hazelhurst Community Gallery, with Christopher Lawrie. My great friend Sally King will be saying a few words in our defence 🙂 Hope to see you all there!  Following the opening it’s open every day until June 11, including the long weekend.

My contribution, The Timeless Land, combines pages of classic literature and historical texts with contemporary landscape photographs across several Australian states.
More information about the exhibition.
My images for The Timeless Land.

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1983

Michael and me in Richmond Park
Michael and me in Richmond Park

I recently found out that an old friend from London died last month. Michael had just turned 60 and I hadn’t seen him for 30 years. He lived in Albuquerque for the last 20, and we exchanged Christmas letters for most of those years.

Michael and Mark, Richmond Park
Michael and Mark, Richmond Park

Michael was a friend of another friend, Mark, whom I met in the Greek islands and then spent time with when I was based for several months in London in late 1983. Mark, Michael and I were the greatest philosophers on earth, or so it seemed as we talked late into those London winter nights.

In philosophic mode
In philosophic mode

I came home to Sydney in February 1984 and have never met those old friends again …

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a window to the wild side

Lou Reed, Adelaide, Nov 1977
Lou Reed, Adelaide, Nov 1977

Lou Reed has been part of my cultural landscape since the early 70’s when he released the Bowie/Ronson-produced Transformer in 1972, and I then became aware of the Warhol-curated first Velvet Underground LP from 1967. I was 16, and aspired to art school, a rock lifestyle and all manner of bohemian excess. While the reality of my life turned out to be somewhat more prosaic than these fantasies, Lou was always there showing how to stay wild.

I first saw Lou Reed play in the Sally Can’t Dance tour of 1974, at the Festival Theatre in Adelaide. I loved the ‘glam’ of Transformer and was a little shocked by his blonde ‘junkie fag’ persona. I was 18, and wore a vintage wedding dress. The support act was AC/DC – then unknown outside of Sydney pubs – is it my imagination that they wore satin, as befitting that glam era?

The next time I saw Lou was in 1977, the Rock and Roll Heart tour, also in Adelaide – with dark curly hair and much beefier, he must have cut down on the speed. I had taken up photography at art school and the photos above are from a blurry, spotty roll of Tri-X that I shot on my student Pentax. I remember Berlin as one of my favourite albums from these art school years, and still have my old scratched vinyl.

It was many years later that I caught up with Lou during his Ecstasy tour of 2000, in the baroque splendour of the State Theatre. By then I had moved to Sydney, travelled in Europe, and had two teenage sons. The band was amazing, including electric violin (his wife-to-be Laurie Anderson had played on the album), and it was a sublime concert, with Rock Minuet a transcendent highlight.

The final concert I saw was the great reprise of his album Berlin, that was performed at the State Theatre in early 2007, with a band comprising original personnel from the band (Steve Hunter) and some new  favourites (Sharon Jones! Antony!), as well as a Julian Schnabel set design.

On Lou’s last visit to Australia in 2010, he and Laurie curated the Vivid Festival at the Sydney Opera House. Would have loved to see him perform again, but couldn’t quite take to a live revival of Metal Machine Music, so we saw Laurie Anderson in concert instead, a sweet and perceptive story-teller, so glad I did.

Vale Lou.

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eportfolios …

As a creator with multiple aspects to my work, I love e-portfolios, and have several! This blog is my art e-portfolio, I have another site for my educational and research work, and then there’s my Creative Becoming blog, where I try to bring together my creative, professional and research interests 🙂

So this week I was at a forum on e-portfolios in education, looking at how portfolio learning can allow formal learning programs to support the lifelong and life-wide learning journey. Anyone interested in looking at the poster I presented (A learning portfolios approach to academic development), can check it out over on my Creative Becoming blog: eportfolios for academics.

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