Friday, November 30, 2012

Greek plates at a car boot sale

This morning I went up to the local church carpark for the monthly car boot sale and noticed these two Made in Greek plates. Are they valuable I wondered?  Probably they are made for tourists and are copies of ancient Greek designs. On the back is written Handmade in Greece  N=ov 923. The woman who sold them to me said they came from an estate - the leftovers in a house after a sale.
Later, after a search on google I located a similar plate at the British Museum Shop.  And some details:

Plate in British Museum Shop – price  pounds 199
Handmade and hand-painted ornament that is based on a piece of pottery,Achilles & Penthesilea, held within the British Museum collection. 

The original dates from around 540-530BC, and is attributed to Exekias, an ancient Greek vase- painter and potter. Much of his work included scenes from Greek mythology. He was known for his ability to capture the most critical points of a story and illustrate them into one simple scene. This magnificent design portraying Achilles killing Penthesilea is such an example... 

This plate is made using the same traditional method that Exekias used thousands of years ago. The technique, which is called Six's technique, involves laying figures in white or red on a black surface and incising the details to reveal the black base colour. Exekias was perhaps the finest of all painters to use the black-figure technique. 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Hot November night

from w

Hot November night  3 a.m.

The moon blurs beyond the jackaranda
As Radio Magic and the Seekers befriend,
Rocking riding rolling out on the bay
all bound for morning sound many miles away.

Iced coffee, with heart shaped blocks of  ice sooth.
The arthritus has not kicked in
With the 26 degree heat, a blessing.

Then I think of army tents
On a ravaged island,
Unwelcome strangers
       All bound for mourning sound
Many miles away.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Barwon Edge Boathouse

from w

The first of the Christmas breakup parties was on Monday, a lunch at the Barwon Edge Boathouse with my friends in our book club. We had read 'Cold Comfort Farm' for the last month and talked about that first, then had nicely made meals for about $22. My vegetarian ensemble in a spicy sauce was tasty so I'll have  go making it at home. I took some photos of the waterlilies in the nearby pond. This restaurant is away from the city streets. Instead it's near the Barwon River, though hidden, and is set in an expansive green environment. Very agreeable. I'd been there only a couple of times before, one time making a few sketches. Today there's another lunch, this time with about sixty women in church groups. The Christmas season is upon us and many of us eat too much, while half the people in the world barely survive.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Day of Sharing

from w

Yesterday afternoon we had a lovely time together with Uniting Church friends from a variety of language groups, singing, eating, a fine sermon by Rev Swee on 'spaces between people' and an emphasis on hospitality. St Albans Uniting Church in Melbourne was once a small wooden chapel and now it's an excellent modern building, much larger,  with lots of light and colour. The event was organised by the Presbytery of Port Phillip West and our small Fijian group from Altona Meadows/Laverton took part with prayers and a hymn.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Vintage cars for 80 year celebration

from w
This afternoon we had a look at a long line of vintage cars at Johnstone Park near the library, mainly from the 20s and 30s, for the 80th celebration of the Great Ocean Road that goes from about Barwon Heads to Warrnambool.  They certainly were different to today's cars! The project employed men who had been in the 1st World War and had no work so it was a massive task to build a road that winds around mountains all the way along the coast.

Today it is a tourist mecca, especially to towns such as Lorne, Apollo Bay and Port Campbell.

The drivers will follow this road over maybe five days and when they get near Lorne it will be interesting as the place is jumping with the Schoolies and very very busy. We talked with some of the owners and many had driven on the freeway from Melbourne going at about 40 or 50 k flat out.  At the park there was a small ceremony with Colin Mockett dressed up as Mr Hitchcock who initiated many great projects in the Geelong region nearly a hundred years ago. The Hitchcock name is here, there and everywhere in Geelong!

notes from website about the RACV tour this week.

The Great Ocean Road was conceived by the Mayor of Geelong, Howard Hitchcock during the First World War as a need to link the coastal townships from Barwon Heads to Warrnambool. The Great Ocean Road Trust was formed, and began seeking donations for the Road’s construction. With an employment shortage at the time, upon return from their duties, soldiers from WWI gained employment on the construction of the Great Ocean Road. They carved their way into the cliffs with nothing more than pick-axle & shovel for thirteen years, before the Great Ocean Road was officially opened in Lorne on 26th November 1932. The Great Ocean Road has become recognised as the World’s Longest War Memorial, and in 2011 was  given the honour of National Heritage status.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

After visiting a nursing home

from w
I wrote this a few year's ago after visiting my elderly mother when she was in Special Care at the Swan Hill District Hospital. She had all her faculties but her body let her down and yet lived amidst a variety of elderly patients who had dementia and various disabilities.  I  sympathised with the men and women there, though I barely understood their situation, being  able-bodied myself then.

Waking in the Night

The nurse, a new migrant
rouses from the nest of duty,
props her ‘New Wife’s Kiss’ on her desk,
cat-limps down the corridor to my bell.
An azure night mocks, making the hours bleaker
as a car skids on an icy highway.

His absence, their absence,
my heart grows still,
perhaps they are just busy.
This is the House of God in waiting.

What use is my former humour
as Telemus scoots by in his chair
shouting for his Mana.
He’s half my age but there’d been an accident
in Greece. No more fish and chips for him.
With the build of a strong athlete
he wheels himself, shouting out ‘Mana!’
Wearing his bright beanie by sun or moon.
he shares our bathroom,
urinous from the constant drips in us
Legless or mindless, cut off
at the knees or from words,
this is our day in a four-bed ward.

The nursing station lights bring out Sylvia,
porcupine eyes, with a tray of pills
without labels that we can read.
No-one notices I hide them all.
She is unfit, roly-poly as a seal
As she swashbuckles about in her tight uniform
removing the residue of our supper.

There is no bravado left in us,
no dignity as they strip us bare
In a pubic shame.

In between the limits of each day,
Hours go by under a  banal television
and one slightly nonsensical Alzeimers
pushes a chair as a vaccuum.
He’s forgotten by attendants at teabreak.
There are many like so
in this Special Care Unit.

After a cardboard breakfast
I weigh sixty kilos this morning.
Once I walked miles at golf,
strutted in my turtle-necked sweater
before the smooth bedroom mirror.
Now the future is less familiar
And I am just a pinched face
amidst these declining thoroughbreds
near my age, some twice my weight.
We are all old-timers, senior citizens,
Some of us locked in memory
And I now wake in fright.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


from w
Here are some sketches - mainly pen - when I was at Barwon Heads - rocks and shoreline, and along Western Beach, Geelong. Also two of snow as seen from a train - in the region of Castlemaine.  When people ask why do you draw, sketch, paint  -  take a sketchook everywhere you roam, I think it's because we want to capture shapes and textures that are interesting, not always sublime, but where the details make up a kind of rhythm like music. I like to see repetition in a picture and curved lines. Ruskin says that everyone should draw as well as write, in order to OBSERVE the details, and that's fair enough.

I wrote a poem after that train trip from Melbourne towards Bendigo when the land was covered in snow and I had made those little black and white drawings.
Two Journeys

I watch the Macedon landscape from the train,
A burnt hillside and atonal Heysens,
Until passengers stir and buzz, interrupt my pain.

The whitened land is webbed in black meanders,
Corel-draw, photo negatives with textured dots
As snow covers the world with a magic glissando.

But now, I crawl through embers that have gone
Cold, rejection hisses an errant flame. I softly
Weep for that which might have been,

A look, a gesture, a ‘come on’, but on the way
The bliss has gradually dissolved to sludge.
No matter, let Pachelbel’s Canon ungently play.

Again the land is blurred, depressed like me, 
No longer a silken creped euphoria;
A straggly blonde unkempt and tired land.

I too lack sparkle, stare in silence, ‘You pine
For love, but it’s ephemeral,’ they day. I write
Bleak letters and wonder why the grey line

Is no longer feverish, touching. There’s no gain
To write but say, I loved. Yet, I remember the day
The snow danced a tarantella at Castlemaine.

Visitors from Hamlton, New Zealand

from w
Today we were delighted to have four visitors from Hamilton, New Zealand, nurses in Australia for a few days to attend the South Pacific Nurses Forum. All the women came from Peceli's province of Macuata in Vanua Levu, including Asena our niece, Laisa a friend from a long time ago, and as usual everyone is connected anyway. They came down to Geelong by train and came to home for a while, then we went to check out opportunity shops, the visitors then roamed around the city shops, and then we had a barbecue at Eastern Beach.  It was truly a lovely day of catching up with one another with news of family, Fiji and New Zealand.

Friday, November 16, 2012

The reading room

from w
One of my favourite places in Melbourne (and I suppose any library for that matter)  is the domed Reading Room of the State Library of Victoria.  There's some celebration going on at present, maybe a centenary, and there are exhibitions and special programs, but with  crook knee I can't just run to catch a train and go up to the city.

 In the late 50s I spent many hours at the SLV researching art, and occasionally quietly photocopying music - which is probably illegal these days - and in later years discovering gems in the Latrobe local history research room when I was looking up information about the Loch Ard shipwreck story, finding photographs, or finding archival books about Fiji. Once upon a time cards were used to find books, but now it is all digitized and so much easier.

Here is a collage of photos about the SLV from pictures I found on the web.

A blog about art in Geelong region

from w
I discovered an interesting blog about art exhibitions in Geelong region and here are a few examples from the blog.  There are lots of interesting artworks listed on this blog.

Robyn Mayo, Tropical Banksia with insects, 1996. Etching. Collection: Art Gallery of Ballarat. Purchased with funds from the Joe White Bequest, 2011.

Amanda Johnson, Supported exotic — Dracaena Draco (Dragon Tree) 2010, synthetic polymer paint and oil on canvas. Courtesy of the artist.
Alison Munti Riley, Ngayuku Ngura – My Country, acrylic on linen, 101.5 x 152.5 cm. Image courtesy Metropolis Gallery.
Black and Gold, Neville Pilven. (Image courtesy Salt Contemporary Art)
Matthew Harding, Centripetal.
Craig McDonald, Observer.
and one old photo of Eastern Beach Geelong.