Spring has sprung

Spring has sprung
Roses at the Cottage

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Australian Impressionists in France - right here in Melbourne!

What a surprise!
What an exhibition!
In my opinion it leaves the current NGV Winter Masterpieces blockbuster Monet's Garden for dead! (see my post 21 May). But then I'm not an art connoiseur - far from it! I just enjoyed it more. And the feedback from the 'desk' at the Gallery is that the response has been much the same from those who have gone. What a pity it is not well publicised because it deserves to do well. And what a pity there wasn't a combined Monet's Garden and Australian Impressionists ticket offered.

You'll see some familiar paintings and some that have travelled a great distance - from the UK and from Paris and the States to name just a few. And the marvellous thing is that the Australian Impressionists exhibition is not crowded - sadly. You'll be proud to be an Australian. It features Australian artists of the late 19th and 20th centuries who spent time in France.
The green parasol 1912 - E. Phillips Fox (NGV)
As Auguste Rodin wrote to the artist John Russell "I rank you high in my estimation as a painter and you owe it to yourself to do likewise". Not a bad endorsement! And the bronze bust Rodin did of Russell's wife Madame Marianna Russell is beautiful. Sadly as would be expected photographs weren't allowed and the website features some of the less interesting and inspiring works.
Peonies and head of a woman (c. 1887) - John Russell  (NGV)

As it says on the NGV website: Claude Monet demonstrated his Impressionist technique to John Russell; Charles Conder trawled the cabarets of Montmartre with Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec; and Vincent van Gogh considered Russell a friend. In France, Australian artists engaged in personal and artistic exchanges with artists from around the world. 

Through the inclusion of key works by French, British and American artists the exhibition also places the Australians’ work within an international context of Impressionist art. 

Look for the Charles Condor painting owned by our own Barry Humphries (he collects Condors!) And look for a very special painting by Sir Hans Heysen (not his usual iconic gum trees) but the boulevard in Paris. For me this was the standout painting (small) in the exhibition. I didn't even know that Heysen went to Paris. And of course I can't find it on the NGV website or even on Google to share with you. 
Mrs Conder in pink c.1901 - Charles Condor (NGV)
Sit down between galleries, put on the earphones and listen to letters written by Vincent Van Gough to John Russell. Listen to what E Phillips Fox wrote to Hans Heysen and to Charles Condor's letters to John Roberts. There was a fascinating formality even between friends at that time.  

So get thee to the exhibition sooner rather than later. Me thinks that this will take off when word of mouth gets around! It runs at The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia at Federation Square until 6 October 2013 (closed Mondays).

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Ye Olde Richmond Theatres

Meeting up with an 'old' Richmondite recently (he has returned to Australia after 60 years abroad) I was fascinated to learn that one of his fondest memories as a child was visiting Ye Olde Picture Theatre (my words!) in Bridge Road. Where was it I wondered aloud? We were sitting having a coffee at Chimmys just a hop step and a jump from it and it's almost next door to the Richmond Town Hall. I pass it every day. I'd never 'seen' it. 
The picture theatre - you can see the old roof behind
And so I took a different type of stroll through Barbeques Galore. I wasn't looking for a hotplate, BBQ tongs or a $10,000 outdoor kitchen (what's all that about!) instead I was looking up. I couldn't believe that I have missed it on all my previous visits. And yet there was the theatre staring me in the face. 
The old arched roof looking towards the 'screen'
I will never pass by without a certain knowing of what it was. No doubt destined for the wreckers eventually.
Looking up to the projection room (3 projector 'holes')
However there is one extraordinary theatre where the inside is 'Heritage Listed' and will therefore be saved. Well it would help if the owner was subsidised to 'save it'. On a recent visit I had the priviledge of being shown around - tiptoeing through the 'Staff Only' doors. It's an extraordinary building which is stuffed to the rafters (literally) with new and used furniture, kitchens, bathrooms, office furniture (well almost anything you may need!). Let me take you for a walk through this extraordinary building that we know as Swan Street Sales Auctions (I love that Auctions still features on the building and their promotional material). 
What a beautiful old building
The last time it was used as a theatre was for the 1956 Melbourne Olympics. Since 1958 it has operated as Swan Street Sales Auctions. You will find it at - surprise surprise - 365 Swan Street between Coppin and Burnley Streets.    
Just look at that roof above the proscenium arch

A view from the 'gods' - the stage is full of mattresses
The dome with perfect  acoustics
The $10,000 renovation of the left hand 'box'

The unrenovated 'box' - note the 'hanging' columns & raw brick walls
Très élégant (!) bar on the upper level (now the staff bar!)
The other side of the beautiful but crumbling arch over the stage
How much more fun to go to the movies (can you imagine The Great Gatsby in 3D here!) than the soulless modern cinemas serving popcorn, icecreams and drinks (probably a bit more comfortable). And to see a live show - amazing. The only live show nowadays is the bargain shopper.

If you've never popped into either building - do so. It will take you back to another era - one that is fast disappearing.

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Craft Victoria

Looking for an unusual gift? Wanting to see some craft talent in downtown Melbourne? Then if you haven't visited this showroom then do take a few minutes to stop by and explore. Craft Victoria can be found at 31 Flinders Lane (between Russell and Spring Streets). It's open 10am - 5pm Monday to Saturday. The talent and ideas that seem to abound in this city never cease to amaze me. 
Quirky individual gifts
Of course gift shopping doesn't have to be for someone else! It can always be for you! And what a nice memory of Melbourne!
A window display of beautiful ceramics
It's a small but interesting space with regular exhibitions showing a variety of artists. Surprisingly Craft Victoria has been 'in the business' of showcasing craft for 40 years!
A simple and stylish exhibition space

So if you're passing do pop downstairs and have a browse.It's a great end of town. Restaurants, bars, galleries and more.

Bowen Cottage client comment: We've arrived and it's beautiful

Monday, 3 June 2013

Let sleeping dogs lie!

I received one of those 'share-with-a-million-people-emails' from a dear friend recently which I have to say 'tickled my fancy'! I'm a dog lover although I'm sadly without one at present - and I must admit I'm enjoying the freedom that it brings! 
The late (Santa) Lucia guarding the front door of the Cottage
One of the reasons for setting up Bowen Cottage as dog friendly accommodation was because of the difficulty I had encountered travelling and having the choice of either leaving my dog/s in the hands of well-meaning friends, or students of well-meaning friends, or taking the expensive route of a holiday at deluxe pet lodgings on the outskirts of the city where they were picked up and returned in their own Mercedes taxi! It got harder and harder to justify the expense so that I could take a holiday!

So when I received this email it struck a cord with me:
A man wrote a letter to a small hotel in a Midwest town he planned to visit on his vacation.
He wrote: "I would very much like to bring my dog with me. He is well-groomed and very well behaved. Would you be willing to permit me to keep him in my room with me at night?"

An immediate reply came from the hotel owner (read Bowen Cottage owner!) who wrote:
SIR: "I've been operating this hotel for many years. In all that time, I've never had a dog steal towels, bedclothes, silverware or pictures off the walls. I've never had to evict a dog in the middle of the night for being drunk and disorderly. And, I've never had a dog run out on a hotel bill. Yes, indeed, your dog is welcome at my hotel. And, if your dog will vouch for you, you're welcome to stay here, too."

Now I hasten to add that my lovely clients have never taken towels, bedclothes, silverware, pictures or any other parephenalia from the Cottage. And none have been drunk and disorderly (that I know of!!) And they all pay their bills before they arrive!

Let sleeping dogs lie!
I think the photo above which was included in the email certainly tells a story. I thought it was rather cute (non dog lovers might not agree!).  I'm always fascinated by our clients who describe their dogs in glowing terms when requesting accommodation (for them and the dogs!!) It's a delight to read them. Of course sleeping in their parents bed is an absolute no no in the cottage - we provide dog beds!

Dog owners who stay at the Cottage are fascinating. I loved this text I received recently: "Dogs went to the dog park this morning. It was freezing but they loved it. They met a lot of new friends and introduced us to a lot of the owners this afternoon who advised us on great restaurants and things to do. See it's worth bringing the dogs! They even know their way back to the Cottage better than we do."  The dog's names - Gnarls and Ella but we've recently had Tickles, Crash, Lochie and Duncan and Miss Daisy - and that's just the tip of the 'dog'berg when it comes to pet names! Heaven!

Oh and if you don't like dogs, or don't want to bring them with you then the Cottage is still terrific! After all with comments like this one why wouldn't you want to visit. "Absolutely loved our stay. So much nicer than a hotel. I will recommend it to friends and colleagues - with or without pets!"