Tuesday, 31 December 2013

2013. The year that really, really was.

Well 2013 has definitely been one for the books. As its final moments eek away I’m still grappling with everything that I saw, did, ate, accomplished, learnt, discovered and appreciated. I’m really not ready for 2014 to start and feel like I’m being dragged along, heels firmly entrenched, towards Getting On With Things when I’m still not ready to let go of London. So, really, New Years Eve is the perfect excuse for some indulgent looking back. And there’s a lot to twist the neck for….

Thursday, 26 December 2013

Crafting Christmas


So it rained on Christmas Day. My sardonic inner Londoner appreciated the nod to all things internal winter of discontent and/or Christmas 2012. My outer trying-to-be-literally sunny Sydneysider however, was a little concerned the downpour would ruin her decorations.


Someone has been channelling their angst into craft.


Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Phantom limbs

I can’t really account for the last month. I can’t quite believe it’s been a month. Four weeks sounds less scary. Closer to London, not increasingly, terrifyingly, further away.

On the ferry to Manly
It’s good to be home, where home is a moving feast of emotions attached largely to family members and friends. Sydney is eluding me for the moment. Things familiar and comforting are the people who know me best, who acknowledge the last five years and what they’ve meant/involved/provided and who offer the proverbial gentle hand (and/or kick up the arse) to start getting on with things here.

But I ache for London. Like a crack whore wanting one more dose of the possibilities.

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Comings and goings

So we’re back. And it feels….

Familiar.

And strange.

I’m just freewheeling with my emotions at the moment – ignoring the stunned, slightly dazed feeling that comes from a cocktail of jetlag, overwrought emotion, uncertainty and exhaustion – and focusing on the minute to minute. And the truly genuine joy at being back amongst the family.


Monday, 21 October 2013

The Last Weekend and Several Last Suppers

It’s been an epic last weekend in London with all the requisite factors – alcohol, tears, museum visits, high teas, posh meals, public transport fails, contemporary art piñatas and pouring, sobbing rain.


I’m exhausted, a little overwrought, foggily dazed and both dragging my feet and ready to pull the pin. 

I might be flexible but I don’t thrive in limbo.

Friday, 18 October 2013

Launch



Today has been a big day. Against all odds and despite all signs to the contrary over the last couple of years, 21st Century Portraits is now out in the world and tonight it launched at the National Portrait Gallery.

Monday, 14 October 2013

A bout of lasts

It’s a strange feeling sitting here in our flat, contemplating our last remaining night after three and something years in shitty old Hammersmith. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve loved our little house and life here nearly overlooking the Thames but I ain’t going to miss this particular patch of west London.


I honestly thought I’d dread this moment but after nearly a month of packing and sorting and chucking and, let’s be honest, low-grade bickering about whether or not we really need to pack the enormous French dictionary when neither of us speak the language and realistically never will, well, I’m just ready to pull the cord.

Thursday, 10 October 2013

21st Century Portraits

Today is a BIG day. Like, 245 pages big. The Book is now on sale.


It’s terrifying and exhilarating and frankly strange to think that all my words are now out there in the world for public consumption. We’ll try not to go near that other c word (criticism) for now.

I’m incredibly proud of how hard I worked to help make this book happen and hope that anyone with the excellent sense to buy it (…) appreciates its provocations, its beauty and its best intentions.



I always said I wasn’t going to leave London until the bloody thing was published and so here it is, and now here I go, in just two and a half weeks time. Talk about back to back Significant Life Moments.

Saturday, 5 October 2013

First the boxes....

GONE.


Two more weeks and so will we be.

Our marriage survived the packing (just), the house is still a mess, the heart a little heavy (hug me and I cry) but for the first time is that a delicate whiff of ready anticipation?


Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Sookiness and Sadler's Wells

Last week was hard work.

There were tears. Yes, more tears.

There were big days and late nights, a bit of packing and a lot of melancholy conversations about saying goodbye to great people and exciting projects in pursuit of an as-yet-unclear Next Life Stage.


It’s been hard balancing the increasing, lovely, enthusiasm of our families for our increasingly imminent return with the rising tide of panic and anxiety and sadness and uncertainty that comes with calling time on five years. I’m aware of the first world nature of my problems – having to give up an amazing job and say goodbye to amazing friends to move to another pretty amazing country (despite the fuckwit running the place) where amazing family and other amazing friends live and where there will hopefully be other amazing job opportunities and if not, well at least there will be amazing beaches and amazing coffee. 

There’s lots that is amazing, see.

And yet…

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Amsterdam. Or, My Last European Adventure For A While.

So my last European jaunt c.2008-2013 is officially done. And it was delightful.

Gem and I started talking about a weekend away months ago, when her UK trip was first mooted and credit to us both for actually booking the fucking thing and not just talking about it as something we should totally do.


I’m not sure how we decided upon Amsterdam but I was happy to go, never having been before, and happy to look past the weed and porn clichés in the hope of experiencing something memorable for all the right kinds of reasons.

Friday, 20 September 2013

The problem with Australia

So I went to the press preview for 'Australia' at the Royal Academy on Tuesday. I'm writing a review for Artlink and for a couple of weeks now I've been worried my instincts (that it would be disappointing, conservative, terrible... that my snobbery and cultural bias would cloud my objectivity...) would get in the way of me looking at the show with an open mind.


And so I tried. And failed. Because it really isn't great. Does it warrant the casual racism and vitriol dressed as criticism it's receiving in the British press? Well, no.  But it's not great. It's not even very good. I'm going to need to leave my thoughts to marinate for a while yet in the hope that something by way of coherent argument emerges. Because right now it's just an exasperated mash of frustrations.


I can't believe this is the same institution that hosted the seminal Sensation back in 1997. I mean, where's all that curatorial chutzpah gone?

What a missed opportunity. National Gallery of Australia, I'm blaming you too.

Monday, 16 September 2013

Art, liquor, laughs and boxes of tears.

It's been a big week. Some art. Some liquor. Some laughs. Some boxes. Some tears.

Basically in that order.


On Thursday we organised an art tour for a crowd of 16 to 25 year olds to visit the new Artangel Commission near Goodge St. I have a bit of a professional crush on Artangel and the work they do, which is ostensibly commissioning contemporary artists to make site-specific works in non-traditional art spaces. The Roger Hiorns I dragged Lovely Boy to see a few years ago was one of theirs, as is the tug boat currently parked atop the Royal Festival Hall on Southbank.

Image courtesy: Southbank Centre

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Something to sing about

Oh I’ve had a lovely weekend.

Visits from best friends from home are just the tonic to my life gin. It means to be pajamed until 2.30pm, talking and laughing and drinking tea. It means desperately absorbing the ease and familiarity, wit and delight of a dear friend, like sunshine on an increasingly autumnal day, so enormously grateful in the knowledge that you can live on the other side of the world for five years and still pick up like it was yesterday.


It’s been a lovely, lovely weekend.

Thursday, 5 September 2013

I totes have a problem

I had the chance to go to Margate yesterday. We took a group of young people from work for an away day and so I was pretty happy with myself - killing two birds with one stone - what with a new work opportunity and a trip to Turner Contemporary. Win. Win.

Margate has piqued my curiosity for a while now – it’s Tracey Emin’s hometown and despite recently being named one of the most deprived seaside towns in the UK, is home to a major contemporary arts museum that recently welcomed it’s millionth visitor since opening in 2011. It also has an old town that’s becoming increasingly well known for its vintage and antique furniture shops. You can see the appeal, no?

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Ode to Berlin

So, Berlin.

Berlin was, well, it was wonderful. I love Berlin. I love its history, its architecture, its graffiti doused scrappiness, its people, its wide streets, its bars, its flea markets, its café culture, its energy, its bike friendliness, its green spaces, its ease and in the summer, its beguiling weather. All of it and so much more I just love.


In case you haven’t gleaned, my affair with Berlin is not a recent thing. Really, it goes all the way back to 2006 when it changed my life.

Monday, 2 September 2013

Golden Thistles and golden weekends

The sunset out of Maidenhead. 
So last week was all panic and post-it notes and well, a bout or two of overwrought, overwhelmed tears (one of which may or may not have been at work….) But this weekend just gone has been the loveliest – an abrupt and necessary circuit breaker – and the chance for some perspective on these next seven weeks, which seem to be tripping over themselves in the hurry to be over and done with.

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Panic and pink post-it notes.

So Berlin was wonderful. Sunny, charming, intoxicatingly cool and laid back and just, perfect. I couldn’t have asked for four more lovely days.


All of which I’ll get to tomorrow, hopefully. Because right now I’m swimming in pink post-it notes and panic.

Thursday, 22 August 2013

The first of the lasts. And another first.

I should be packing for Berlin (I did mention I was going to Berlin somewhere back there didn’t I? August long weekend? Plane tickets a birthday present from the husband? Pilgrimage to my favourite city One Last Time? Ringing any bells?)

Anyway – we’re off tomorrow after work and I am so looking forward to it. Four days to bike around, eat good food, drink wine in the sunshine and trawl flea markets for treasure. Happiness on a stick.


Monday, 19 August 2013

A Chinese revelation and not just any wine bar


It was Lovely Boy’s turn to discover somewhere new this weekend, after my Oval revelation on Tuesday. 

It’s just a disgrace that his discovery was Gordon’s Wine Bar. I mean, the man has been in London for near on a decade and by his own admittance has walked down Villiers St on his way to and from Embankment station more times that he could contemplate. And yet he’d never heard of Gordon’s, much less crossed the threshold down into it’s dark and atmospheric space. It’s a fucking travesty of the highest London order. One I remedied pretty quickly.

Friday, 16 August 2013

An Oval gem

I suppose it’s true for any city really, but I love, love, love the fact that after five years in London I’m still discovering, and being introduced to, new places in London that tickle my aesthetic and cheap wine imbibing fancies.


Sunday, 11 August 2013

A visit to the Young Vic

Two of my favourite things converged this week – old, dear friends in town and a trip to the theatre.

Back in my Bondi days O and I dedicated every Wednesday morning during that prolonged moment of ‘06 otherwise known as occasional-part-time-work-but-really-just-unemployment to pottery classes at the Pavilion. It was cathartic, creative, messy and always ended with a smoothie and a stroll along the promenade. For tense, frequently miserable days, they were a consistent weekly highlight.


After several terms we had more ceramic arte than we really knew what to do with but that was never really the point of the exercise.

Thursday, 8 August 2013

I wrote a book.


Elsewhere in the world brilliant friends of mine are on the brink of delivering small humans. This week, yesterday, I was borne of a book whose labour has only taken three and half years. I feel overwhelmed, elated, terrified and not sure what to do with it. I just keep staring at it. For several hours last night it went like this:

(Dazed wandering about the house, book invariably clutched to chest or held at a length with look of clinical curiosity.)

“It’s a book. I wrote a book.”

“I, me, I wrote a book.”

“I wrote this.”


“A book.”

“It’s a book, an ACTUAL book.”

“Oh my god I wrote a book.”

(Ongoing disbelief and dumb wonderment etc. etc.)

Monday, 29 July 2013

Sunshine and saints alive

It’s stinky sweaty hot in London right now and its been this way for several weeks. Frankly, if it carries on any longer we might actually have to start calling it a summer. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

Only in London could pubs and flower
baskets seem such natural companions
It’s been a strange, busy, exhausting couple of weeks – the heat not helped by the cold I seem to be coming down with – or the fact that Lovely Boy and I have finally called time on London, having made the humongous decision to go back to Sydney at the end of October. I sobbed telling work, absolutely well and truly lost my shit about it. There was not a single toy left in the pram because I love the people I work with and I love my job (case in point: they were amazing and supportive and inspired and wonderful.)

Friday, 26 July 2013

Dear London, we need to talk

Dear London,

Don’t think this letter isn’t hard to write. It is. I’m surprised at how hard it is because it turns out my feelings for you have grown profoundly over the last five years and I would call it love. I do love you London. But we both always knew it wouldn’t be forever.

I wish I didn’t have to break it off (not least because I typically prefer the exquisite agony of the dumped to the all-consuming guilty relief of the dumpee…) but don’t you agree its best we part as friends, with fond memories intact, on good, nay great, terms and happy in the knowledge that we really gave it a go and for a while it was wonderful. Because it was. It is. It’s just time we started seeing other cities.

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Lido love


I miss swimming. I miss ocean swimming, I miss outdoor, non-chlorinated swimming. I miss having no excuse not to go swimming...

All of which is a whiny roundabout way of telling you I went swimming this morning and I freaking loved it. I've ditched Camberwell Leisure Centre, as clean and relatively convenient as it is because I haven't swum outdoors since Mexico and deep in my bones I need to be back in the water and under an expanse of (blue but grey will do if it must) sky.

Monday, 22 July 2013

The art of Peckham

After all the gallivanting of late I was pretty excited to have a weekend kicking about in London – especially now that summer has announced itself with ferocious good will.

This last weekend has been about two things mostly: Peckham. And Art. And not just because I had to work on Saturday afternoon…

Bold Tendencies, 2013
As all weekends do, this one kicked off on Friday evening. I’d managed to guilt Lovely Boy into joining me for post-work drinks in Peckham. His “but it’s just so…. far….” line didn’t really garner much sympathy. 

Me: “Oh you mean that journey that I make twice a day five days a week? That one? Too far? Really?”

Him: "...I'll meet you there." 

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

The pleasure that is Paris

“I’m not sure I can be bothered with Paris.”

Said my lovely, lovely husband on the eve of another decadent weekend away. I mean, talk about first world problem, talk about fucking sacrilege, more like.

I'm developing an unhealthy obsession with Paris doors
Last weekend we were in Reykjavik with LB’s parents, several weeks before that we were traipsing through France and Italy with my parents and this weekend just gone we’ve been in Paris, with my aunt and uncle on their virgin European adventure. I get the exhaustion – I myself may have also complained about it in recent weeks – but BUCK UP kiddo, it’s PARIS! And I love Paris, even when it’s nine degrees and raining.

Friday, 12 July 2013

Reykjavik

So Reykjavik is a funny little place. And I’m being literal about the little. Perhaps my expectations of a European capital city have been mis-managed after jaunts to Berlin, Istanbul, you know, Paris, but Reykjavik, as I suppose naturally befits the capital of a country where there are more sheep than people, is small, kooky, quiet and strangely, wonderfully contradictory.

Inside Harpa, Reykjavik

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

First class problems.

I was on the bus this morning, on my way to work, blah blah blah, on the phone to my sister.

Her: How are you?

Me: Oh, I don’t know. Tired. Hormonal. Busy. Distracted. In need of another day of nothing but we’re away this weekend in Reykjavik and away next weekend in Paris, which I’m really looking forward to but I’m going to be so tired.

(Pause.)

Me again: I know, I know, my life is a series of first-world problems. I should just shut the fuck up.

Her: No, no. Reykjavik one weekend, Paris the next – that’s not a first world problem. That’s a first class problem. So yes. Shut the fuck up.


Did I mention I’m off to Reykjavik on Friday with Lovely Boy and his parents? Whale watching, blue lagooning, eating, wandering. If only all my first-world problems were this awesome.

Monday, 1 July 2013

Sunshine. And a look back at Venice.

It’s a beautiful, nay, glorious day here in London. It’s hot. As in SUNNY. You know, Properly Warm. And SUNNY, did I mention that? And so what have we done?

This isn't London. Obviously.
Absolutely nothing.

Monday, 24 June 2013

Pimms and Penguins

On Friday night Lovely Boy and I went to the Zoo. The first and last time we were here was just over four years ago now: on A Date. One of our first dates actually and it made for the ideal location given our awkward, bumbling, out of practice romantic intentions. Oh look a monkey! A pretty bird! A meerkat! etc etc.


This time around we're husband and wife and while arguably less bumbling, there was still lots of awkward distractions. Oh look! A man in a tiger print onesie! Oh look! A group of adult women getting their face painted! Oh look! Those two came dressed as a camel! etc etc.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

All I want for my birthday is f-ing sunshine

So I had a LOVELY birthday. Lovely. There was colour, there was alcohol and there was a poem – a rhyming one at that – about my apparent love of profanity. I should qualify that most of the poem, written by my lovely husband, concerned the fucking dreadful English weather but I concede there may be some truth amid the rhyming couplets, shit weather or not.


I mean when I say shit weather, it didn’t POUR, but there was enough consistent drizzle to warrant concern about my new purple Parisian shoes and not even the faintest lick of lily-livered sun to give hope to proceedings.

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Goodness me I'm almost thirty-three.

Goodness me I’m almost thirty-three.

Another birthday and what looks like being another shit faux-summer day with a teenager for a temperature #forfuckssake

But putting the weather aside for a moment, I’m excited about 33. I definitely prefer the odd numbers but beyond that, it feels like a good age, a good moment. It’s not 34-and-my-god-your-reproductive-window-is-now-officially-waning and it’s not 30-my-god-you’re-twenties-are-over. I think it’s my new Barbie age.

If only my Barbie age hadn’t been 27.

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Party’s over syndrome

So the party is well and truly over. We got back to London on Monday, Mum and Max left last night and this has been the brutal shift in my reality:


I’m not expecting sympathy. I don’t deserve it (not least because I’m off to Reykjavik in three weeks time…)

But between now and then there’s still in excess of 300 emails to get through, 1000 words to write up on the Biennale for Artlink and my birthday this Sunday to contemplate.

What a killer trip – ParisProvence and the Luberon, St Remy and Aix, Arles, Nice, northern Italy, Venice...

It’s been amazing, folks. AMAZING. 

Saturday, 8 June 2013

Oh hey, Venice...

Just a quick one to say...

Oh Venice, I do love you.


It’s going to be a busy, dizzy, dazzling couple of days and I CANNOT WAIT.

I dipped my art toes this afternoon, disappearing off to spend a couple of hours at the British Pavilion, under the guise of work, to make a short film about what it's like to work as a steward at the Venice Biennale. Hashtag Frequently Love My Job. 

I  left Mum, Max and my Lovely Boy to drink beer and soak up sun. They coped. 


Anyway, tomorrow it is ON so you better bring it, biennale. Because me, my semi-art-literate family and an Artlink commissioned review are coming for you. 


Friday, 7 June 2013

Mantua, mouthfuls and a lesson about vinegar

So Mantua is a charming, funny little part of the world. Shakespeare banished Romeo to Mantua in the late 16th century so I’m not sure what it was like then, but today there’s definitely worse places you could send a lovesick teenager I’m sure.


I mean, don’t get me wrong, it’s a beautiful, quiet, medieval town surrounded by miles of farm land that’s only punctuated by other quiet, medieval towns, but the eating is good, the cocktails are pretty sensational, there’s a stunning theatre built entirely of wood and it’s easy driving distance to a whole number of other great spots, like Lake Garda to the north and Modena to the south, where you can do things like learn about balsamic vinegar and eat at the number three restaurant in the world.

At the risk of sounding repetitive, or worse, smug, it’s been, yes, another good couple of days

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Lunch with Leger. Or why Nice is nice.

I’m getting used to this grand tour style of travel – gallivanting from one part of the world to the next in search of enlightenment, that in our case comes dressed as more pink wine, more art, more food, more architectural and geographical appreciation and more pink wine.


Today was our last day in Nice. Already. It’s been a beautiful, relaxing, ideal couple of days, an ideal post-script to a brilliant, curious week spent exploring Provence.

Friday, 31 May 2013

Let's Go to Arles, Darls

Today was incredibly moving. Just on the outskirts of St-Remy, a 20-minute amble from the centre of town, lies the Saint-Paul-de-Mausole asylum where, for 12 months in 1899, a deeply troubled Vincent Van Gogh was a voluntary patient. During his stay here, Van Gogh painted over 150 works, many of them now iconic and decorating the walls of the National Gallery in London, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and countless student flats around the world.

Vincent Van Gogh, Irises, 1899

Thursday, 30 May 2013

Food porn et Paul Cezanne


Another cracking couple of days chilling in Provence with LB and Le Parents. We spent the best part of this morning having indecent thoughts about cheese and prosciutto and fresh strawberries and macaroons and more cheese and more olives and warm baguettes at St-Remy’s weekly farmers market. (I just started typing an analogy about food porn and this market taking things to the next level but it started to get a bit unseemly so I deleted it. So I’ll just say this: Oh. My. God. Best farmers market. Ever.)

Monday, 27 May 2013

Provence (and my 200th post)

The surest way to my heart is through a flea market.  So St-Remy and I are sure to become very good friends.


What a seriously beautiful town. Not a lick of lavender to be had anywhere in bloody Provence (seems the shitty spring weather wasn’t just restricted to London…) but there are poppies and wildflowers everywhere and in St-Remy, even without the constant sunshine (see previous point about shitty springs) there’s a lot to love, not least the fact that I see Van Gogh paintings in every field. But I'll get to that…