Spring has sprung

Spring has sprung
Roses at the Cottage

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

And they're racing - again!

I've talked in the past about my involvement with the Spring Racing Carnival (see earlier post here) so it's always a relief to 'do anything but go racing' at this time of the year! In fact I was reminiscing the other evening with my good friend who was the former Marketing Director for the TAB (now Tabcorp). In my past life the TAB was a great client for my company for over 14 years and I worked closely with Maurice to achieve some pretty great results. Maurice and I had just attended a meeting at our local Yarra Council regarding yet another over-development application and as we wandered home - he to his magnificent Edwardian home in Waltham Street on Richmond Hill - we laughed with relief that we 'don't have to do it - or go - ever - again'!
The boomtime home on the hill (hard to see through the greenery) - look at that gargoil on the roof!
But that doesn't mean that others really love this time of the year because of the racing, parties, dress-ups and much more. It just ain't for me (or Maurice!)

I've written about a well known local Richmond artist - who is also busy 'decorating' the blank walls of Richmond (see earlier post here). Nick Howson has had another wonderful time under the railway overpass in Swan Street (just near the T of Swan and Lennox Streets). 

Swan Street railway under/overpass - near Richmond Station
I photographed the artwork on a bright sunny day with shards of light slashing them through the darkened 'tunnel' - so forgive me for their 'impurities'. 

Number 3 heads off towards Punt Road!

Number 5 looking behind!

Number 7 - working hard (put that whip away!)

Number 9 - flying along the wall!
Do pop along and see them. I have to admit I must have driven past them a 1000 times and only registered on them recently. It's amazing what you can pass with your eyes open and yet not see!

And if you are off to the races - perhaps a bet on 3, 5, 7 or 9 will bring you luck - or not! Enjoy. 

Bowen Cottage client comment: Just lovely to have a home to stay in rather than an impersonal hotel room. So quiet and yet so convenient. The little touches make such a difference.    

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

The King Sun

Sitting at my kitchen table with the sun streaming in on my back this week I felt that summer really was on its way. It reminded me of a wonderful ABC documentary on one of our national living treasures - John Olsen the painter - a young and vibrant 86 year old. (you can see and listen to him on a short utube video creating it here - I recommend it) It was a marvellous programme. His King Sun painting can be found at 1 Collins Square - which is located in Docklands - along the extension of Collins Street just past Spencer Street. I decided to go and take a look - and how glad I am that I did. It was wonderful.

But first I had to find it! 2 buildings towered over me. I had expected to be 'greeted' by it due to its size - but no. So I thought I would pop into a travel outlet to ask directions (for the sake of courtesy I won't name it!). "Do you know where the huge painting of the sun is?" I asked. I was greeted by a blank stare. "It's was recently featured in a wonderful TV programme" I continued. (I didn't mention the ABC!) After a bit of pondering and with her face screwed up came this reply "Oh you mean that big yellow thing. I wouldn't really call it a painting" she replied! Trying not to look too stunned by her response I received instructions regarding where to find the 'big yellow thing' and off I went!
The King Sun or in anothers words "that big yellow thing"
Shards of sunlight across The King Sun
And there it was in all it's vibrant glory in the foyer of the Commonwealth Bank and Transurban reception area. It was magnificent. And to make it even more interesting shards of the suns rays were touching the surface. The 'big yellow thing' looked alive.

The mural is so large that Olsen needed not only to stand on a series of 8 wooden panels and use brushes attached to long sticks to paint but also required an assistant. He was also hospitalised during the creation. A longer version of the programme and some still photographs can be found here
86 year old John Olsen with cane and beret

I love John Olsen (his daughter is the creator of the marvellous Dinosaur Designs) for his talent and for his enthusiasm for life (which you will see on the video link above) But it hasn't always been this way. A few years ago I read an article about him in which he spoke about life and his 2 failed marriages. And yet he still had the optimism to think that number 3 might be the one for him - at the age of 60! This is what he said:

"I am in the transit lounge of hopelessness, 
ready to rush to Gate 19 for the Flight of Hope"

And I'm pleased to say that a mere 25 years later number 3 is still the one!

Thank you John Olsen for your prolific output of paintings and for giving Melbourne The King Sun. It's worth a visit - as is the Art Series Olsen Hotel in Chapel Street (near the corner of Toorak Road - each room is 'Olsened'!). If you are in the Docklands area (near the Southern Cross Station) then do pop in to see 'that big yellow thing'.

Bowen Cottage client comment: It's been Gr8!!

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

From Shoe Factory to Art Gallery to Apartments

The story of Richmond can be told through the history of one of my favourite buildings at 10 Waltham Place, off Church Street. I first knew the building as a rather exotic (in its day!) art gallery. I asked an 'old' Richmondite recently what the building had previously been as I had always thought it was a wool storage facility but apparantly it was a shoe factory?!
Waltham Place - 3 storey apartments with 'workers cottages' in the foreground
It used to be Pinacotheca Gallery - which was the term for an ancient Greek or Roman picture gallery. The final show at Pinacotheca was in 2002 and it was then converted - rather sympathetically in my opinion - into apartments. At the time we all thought that 3-storey apartments would be too difficult (all that climbing) but there is now a plethora of unsympathetic 3-storey 'townhouses' sprouting like weeds in this soon to be ruined suburb. 
Perhaps it is worth climbing 3 flights - look at the view from one of the apartments! (hockingstuart)
I doubt that the shoe factory workers would recognise the inside of their 'factory'
Fortunately I was able to use my favourite Google (!) and there I found the history of 10 Waltham Place in the Australian Heritage Database (view here). I loved part of the story. Henry 'Money' Miller (a prominent landowner and politician - nothing has changed!!) built it in 1881 and it was leased to a local shoe maker - John Bedggood (some of us may still remember Bedggood shoes - if I recall they were mainly school shoes in my day!) The factory was extended in 1890. Bedggood was a prominent member of the Wesleyan Methodist Church which is located on the corner of Waltham Place and Church Street. 
The old Wesleyan Methodist (now Uniting) Church (corner Church Street) looking towards the workers 'cottages' and the shoe factory
The seven 2-story terrace houses next to the 'factory/gallery/apartments' were built to house the workers at the factory - harking back to the days of workers cottages in Britain.
A simple workers cottage at 12 Waltham Place

Would the shoe factory tenants recognise this cottage now?!
What a change Henry 'Money' Miller, John Bedggood et al would see if they returned today. 

Pretty Peppercorn Park opposite the workers cottage - gorgeous

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

One of my favourite walkways

It never ceases to please me when I walk to the top of Bowen Street, turn right (there is no left!) and walk north. Suddenly you come upon a set of rather gentle broad steps that are lined on either side with silver birches and an underplanting of ivy and other greenery. It's such a surprise in an inner urban environment. 
Looking from the top down to Highett Street
Walk down the steps and you arrive at Highett Street - one of the prettiest tree-lined streets in Richmond although sadly it is becoming rather a busy thoroughfare. And then right across the road is the Cottage 'local' - the Kingston Hotel which has a lovely courtyard out the back. During your stay why not try their Steak and Pie night on a Wednesday or their Duck and Pinot night on a Thursday or if you're a trivia buff then it's on a Tuesday.  Of course you can just pop in for a before or after dinner tipple if you don't want to linger!
The Kingston in pretty elm-lined Highett Street
So take yourself for a walk and enjoy this little hidden gem in Richmond. It always gives me pleasure. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.
Looking up from Highett Street toward Bowen Street in dappled sunlight

Bowen Cottage client comment: We thoroughly enjoyed our stay. The Cottage is very comfortable and well located and you thought of everything we and the dogs might need.

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

NGVA - Aboriginal Art

One of my favourite 'pop-my-head-in-and-have-a-look-when-I'm-passing' galleries is at the Ian Potter Centre - National Gallery of Victoria (NGV Australia) at Federation Square. The ground floor gallery just behind the reception area is a wonder of all things weird and wonderful created by some highly talented indigenous Australians. I am particularly enamoured of the Totem Poles which are often clustered together in the first gallery - although the exhibitions are always changing. There is something rather majestic and proud about each of them. They stand tall.
Indigenous Totems - not as tightly packed as usual!
Each is different, each represents a different story
It's such a light and airy space. Of course the NGVA has the enormous Emily Kame Kngwarreye painting in their famed Indigenous Collection and I am also particularly fond of their Clifford Possum paintings but the 'instillation' that stunned me recently was made entirely with wire - it stopped me in my tracks. 

Created by Lorraine Connelly-Northey it is titled: Possum skin cloak - Blackfella Road (2011-13) and it's entirely made of weathered iron, tin, fencing and barbed wire, with wire ties.
It's all wire and metal and much of it is barbed wire - amazing
Lorraine explains that:
It is her interpretation of a possum-skin cloak. The barbed wire signifies the descecration of Aboriginal skeletal remains, occasioned by the construction of an unsealed road near Swan Hill. The circular forms indicate different modes of transport using the road. The fringe of the cloak represents hunters and gatherers whose remains were descerated.  

Up close you can see the metal hands that surround the instillation - a very powerful image

I thought it was wonderful from afar, but up close you see the work that has gone into it - and using such harsh materials - it takes it to another level. My fingers hurt just thinking of the bending and weaving that was required. And my heart hurts to hear the story. I encourage you to visit the NGVA - it's never crowded (sadly) and it's always rewarding.

Bowen Cottage client comment: Bowen is so beautiful, well presented - we had a great time here, it was so good