Tag Archives: art

It was in my pocket the whole time: Discovering Orla Kiely

There’s a new Coles in town. Because what this city needs is ANOTHER supermarket. I hadn’t bothered with it at all, even though it’s in my part of the ‘hood, mainly because I’m a Woolies girl with the very occasional trip to Aldi when no-one is looking for the fresh, refrigerated pasta.

This morning, however, Easter Saturday, I had to buy one thing – an easter chocolate for my sister. I had seen the crazy amount of cars at Sugarland (ahem, Stockland) on Thursday so I suggested to my shopping partner (me Mum) that perhaps we should duck into the new Coles.

It was very shiny and new with lots of cheeses and a deli where you can pick your own olives (although I did wonder why there wasn’t a proper sneeze cover thing over them). And then I saw it. The muesli of my dreams. Not in taste terms you understand because I haven’t tasted it. But in beautiful packaging terms. Dorset Muesli in a beautiful blue cardboard box with a pretty leaf design. And it was on special. Always on the hunt for a new and exciting breakfast cereal I picked it up. Me Mum informed me that she had tasted it on holidays in Grafton last year and it was good stuff. That sealed the deal. I found my Lindt chocolate (on special) and a new 3 dollar notebook, whipped through the self-serve and that was the end of that.

Later that day, in a fascinating Dorothy Parker-esque exchange of texts with my friend the artist who writes beautiful blog posts right here, I mentioned the thrilling excursion to Coles and my discovery of a new muesli. I even (and you may want to sit down for this because it’s pretty heady stuff) took a photo of the packet and sent it to her.

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And after finally reading the fine print I made a hilarious joke.

Perhaps it should say “honest, tasty and royal” I texted in a humorous reference to Prince Charles. Ha ha ha. Indeed.

Smart, well informed artist friend noted kindly that that was mildly amusing. She also noted (and here we start to get to the point) that the packaging was “Orla Kiely homage in design”.

hmmm. I thunk for a moment, having no point of reference for this so called “Orla Kiely”. I texted back. *googles Orla Kiely*. See how I used the little asterisks like cool people do when they want to show that they are taking an action.

What the heckfire? My browser went bonkers showing me beautiful designs from Orla Kiely. Where I have been? Under a rock. Perhaps. I found homewares, bags, clothes, watches and more. Within a few minutes I was rocketing around eBay looking for bargains like there was no tomorrow. I fell in love with teapots, cushions and dresses.

I also researched Dorset Cereals.  Had Orla Kiely in fact designed their beauteous packaging which had captured my muesli-loving heart? Nope. But their 2006 rebrand “acknowledged the influence of Orla Kiely”. Nice work Dorset Cereals. I’m guessing that was a cheaper design option.

I know what you’re thinking. Interesting story Wendy but not really fascinating enough for a blog post.

Wait. It gets better. Or longer. One or the other.

Later today it was walking time so I grabbed my phone and made to leave the house. Now I’ll just point out that this is the same phone that I have been carrying around in a phone case that I got for Xmas (4 months ago) and chose myself from one of those el cheapo places in the middle of the shopping centre.

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Yes. Your eyes do not deceive you. Orla Kiely. (Although I’m imagining it is a knock off as it was only about 20 bucks). Nevertheless…….

So what does this tale of new grocery adventures, muesli from Dorset, discovering new designers whose aesthetic you immediately fall in love with and being such a numbskull you don’t even realise you’ve already discovered it and have been carrying it around on your phone for months all mean?

I don’t know but if you’ve got any clues please let me know.

How do you “cope”?

Firstly, congratulations to me for waiting 24 hours to write this post instead of ripping it yesterday when I had my Ranty McRantface happening.

Breathe.

In through the nose.

Out through the mouth.

Repeat for 24 hours.

But, I hear you ask in great wonderment, what had you so riled Wendy that you were ready to claw someone’s face off just like in the movie Face Off (note: haven’t seen Face Off so I’m not sure if that is the plot but let’s say it is for the purposes of this post)?

Excellent question lovely readers. You’re very lovely. Well done.

Let me eventually get to the point by restating to you a question that was asked of moi twice in a 72 hour period by intelligent, bright people who I really like and have lots of time for.

Q: Say Wendy, how do you cope, you know, intellectually, living in Bundaberg?

WTF. Had they turned into snobs while I wasn’t looking? Or were they really curious? Either way Houston we have a problem. Before we get down to business, I’ll just point out a couple of things.

  1. This is not the first time in my life I have been asked this question
  2. One of the questioners actually lived here for 20 years, raising a family, working, doing stuff, you know, the whole box and dice.

(Two things. I pointed out two things)

So I guess the thing about this question is it immediately implies that Bundaberg is an intellectual wasteland located in a cultural desert devoid of anyone of any smarts, interestingness, capacity to hold a conversation in words of more than one syllable, ability to form opinions about the world and our place in it and other such qualities which are clearly available only to those who are blessed and clever enough to be living in our capital cities and their immediate surrounds.

I may exaggerate here given that part of my reaction to the question was to feel tremendously insulted and patronised. As a result, in both instances, I stumbled out a response that probably appeared to apologise for my life and did nothing to further either questioner’s impression of the aforementioned intellectual wasteland that, in their minds, is regional Australia.

I tweeted out a little of my rage yesterday afternoon and as usual Twitter came back with the commonsense and support I have come to expect from my little corner of this life-saving social media platform. Thanks twitter sphere. Ace.

So in no particular order here are some of the things I shoulda/coulda responded with:

  1. I don’t understand. I’ve spent so long repressing any semblance of my intellectual capabilities and dumbing myself down so I can fit in with the locals that I don’t reflect on my life or my circle of like-minded people. I just play the pokies from 11am onwards using my Newstart allowance while I leave the kids in the car with the family pet during the long hot days of summer.
  2. Mmmm, cope intellectually you say. Well, I’ve just this minute arrived from a string quartet rehearsal where we worked on the first movement of Schubert’s String Quintet in C Major under the guidance of a retired professional musician who (among other things in a long and successful career) was a close personal friend of Sir Neville Marriner from the Academy of St Martin in the Fields. Perhaps you’ve heard of them? No? Heavens to Betsy and you call yourself chockas with culture living down there in the big city.
  3. Cope? Intellectually? Well I’ve never had to worry about those two words in the same sentence or question before. I’ve been too busy chatting with my awesome friends and family about things like music, art, education, politics, and other such topics on a daily basis. Perhaps you’ve heard of them. They’re quite popular as conversational issues.
  4. Intellectual coping skills? Oh no. I don’t have any. I just wake every morning weeping at my own idiocy for living here where it only takes 5 mins to get to the grocery shop, beach, doctors, movies, cafes. Did I mention there are no toll roads or confusing tunnels and we have real chai available? Oh we’re also able to listen to exactly the same radio programs on RN AS YOU CAN IN THE CITY and we do also have the same TV stations. Have you heard of Netflix, Stan, ITunes? NO – of well we have access to them too so we keep up pretty well.
  5. Social media? Oh, sorry, you refuse to use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Social Media platform of your choice. How do you manage to read the New York Times, The Guardian, Slate, The Atlantic, The Saturday Paper, read First Dog on the Moon cartoons, read Longreads, and the zillion other great intellectually stimulating and interesting stuff that comes into my phone everyday? What’s that? You subscribe to The Australian? In hard copy? Oh….I’m sorry. I didn’t realise.

Okay, so maybe Ranty McRantface hasn’t disappeared completely (and perhaps has been joined by Sarcastic McCynicalFace) but I’m tired of this garbage. Let me state in no uncertain terms just so we’re all clear.

There are smart and stupid people everywhere. Yes. Everywhere. Even in the city.

There are good and bad people everywhere. Yes. Everywhere. Even in the city.

There are boring people everywhere. Yes. Everywhere. Even in the city.

There are kindred spirits for each and everyone of us. Sometimes they’re in the city and sometimes they’re in the regions. Sometimes they’re online and you’ve never met them IRL. That doesn’t even matter. I “cope” by seeking them out. By stumbling across them and being delighted. I do just what you do living in the big smoke. We’re all the same.

So check your metropolitan-intellectual privilege at the door please if you’re coming to visit me. I ain’t got time for that shit.

Shout out to my tribe of kindred spirits. You’re all totes amazing.

Nature vs inertia

I’m at an art hideaway – housesitting, pet minding, chicken whispering, plant watering, painting and refuelling.

I’ve brought some pieces to finish for delivery to the gallery in Brisbane late next week and naturally, because there’s a sense of ‘deadline’, I’m goofing off! I’m spending the days moving between the pillowed chairs on the spectacular verandah, the pool lounges, the meandering mown tracks in the paddocks, and the glass palette and paints on the table out back.

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Eggsistential angst: local critic passes between me and the easel.

Yesterday I spent 6 hours at the easel, today 4. A decline towards the weekend? Definitely.

Some of what I’m painting right now is a bit of a mystery. It is challenging, and rewarding: using some elements/marks/motifs that have been developing throughout this year and using them in ways that I’m not sure are working. And trying to make them work, when they’re not working. And then going and sitting in a comfy chair when they stop working, and wondering ‘WTF’?

Author of beautiful fiction and National Treasure, Tim Winton, has just released a new book—a memoir called ‘The Boy Behind the Curtain‘—which I’m yet to read. As always, there are some stated gems in this nearly hour-long interview on ABC radio. Australian friends, have a listen.

He refers to his first childhood trip to a major art gallery with his family, barefoot, as “an introduction to what people were capable of, beyond the world that I lived in“. What a beautiful way to describe something new and mysterious.

He weaves a link between his beloved surfing and being a writer – long hours of contemplation, waiting for that wave to come over the horizon and carry you in. In commenting that the point of surfing is that “well, there is no point” he also says:
“Art doesn’t need a point. It is. There’s something liberating in it’s lack of utility. It doesn’t have to do a job, and even if it’s there to celebrate beauty and to provoke and promote contemplation and introspection – that’s use enough in my view.”

And while I’m hearing what I want to hear in this interview, and grappling with abstracted elements alongside representation, I’m listening harder to his comments about writing non-fiction and fiction:
(With non-fiction) I feel like I have to get it right. In short story and novel writing I only have to get it right in itself, i have to get it organically right and i have to make it true to itself and coherent. It doesn’t have any other responsibility.”
Surely this is similar when a visual artist steps away from realism?
So, yes the artwork needs to be true to itself, to have reached some point of resolution.  But it probably only needs to be coherent to me – to be coherent to others is a bonus.
Mystery. It is.

Red light specials

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I’d spent the morning with the calculator, thinking about my household budget, savings, the need for savings, groceries, electricity, insurance, car registration and all that other kind of boring detail that seems to be part of living  as a single lady in a medium-sized regional town in a pretty small house. I drew up (yet another) plan for distributing my salary into various bank accounts. Oh yes Queen Bey and I have tonnes in common.

So I had a plan. Spend as a little money as possible. Be prudent.

I’d first seen the red gladiolis a few weeks ago in a Facebook post from the artist otherwise known as Jenny McDuff. I kept thinking about them. I’d click on the image. I’d look more closely. It was red. And gold. And shadowy. And rich. And gorgeous.

Then I saw the red gladiolis on Friday night in real life. I kept looking at them from across a crowded room. I sometimes lost my place while I was supposed to be concentrating on playing the violin. Was anyone buying the gladiolis? Why weren’t they? Didn’t anyone else want the gladiolis as much as I did? What was wrong with everyone? I looked at the exhibition catalogue.

It’s “sensible money saving time” Wendy.

You don’t “need” the red gladiolis.

But I “want” them.

I talked with Jenny about the gladiolis. Quite possibly I bored other people in the room by talking about them. “That one is my favourite”. They nodded politely and made the appropriate, agreeable noises of people who had their eyes on other things.

More than once I said it. Then I went home. Sans gladiolis. Economically virtuous.

Art doesn’t work like that though. It doesn’t care about my economic virtue. In fact it laughs in its face as it calls my name and pulls at my heart strings. It defies plans and instead brings joy into our life in the form of red gladiolis.

Those gladiolis were calling my name in all their redness.

I returned today. I looked at them again. I stood up close. I stood far away. I pretended to be interested in other things. I wandered about. I made admiring noises about lots of other pieces. They were nice.

But they weren’t the gladiolis.

Finally, I couldn’t stand it any more.

(There are no pockets in coffins my Nana used to say. Wise wise woman*).

WHAT IF SOMEONE ELSE GOT THE GLADDIES? I shouted to myself quietly. In my head. Not out loud. That would have been weird and totally illogical and probably some of the nice Woodgate residents may have ushered me into a quiet corner and offered me a glass of water.

The gladiolis are now at home. With me. On the wall near the piano. Radiating gloriousness throughout the house. Economic virtue and plans be damned.

I’m not even in the same room as I type this and I can feel their warmth.

I know they’ll be there when I’m asleep, when I’m at work.

With me.  Where they are supposed to be.

*It’s worth noting that my Nana also had a huge shoe collection. She also loved a red light special – two values she passed on to me. Who doesn’t love lots of shoes? Also, bring back the red light specials large chain stores. They were lots of fun…for a 7 year old girls and her Nana).