Sense of Place

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JD Mittmann curator of “Frank Hodgkinson: Sense of Place”

Post by Hannah Raisin

Burrinja Curator JD Mittmann has been working on a new exhibition exploring the work of one of Australia’s most important abstract artists. Frank Hodgkinson: Sense of Place is currently in the Burrinja Gallery until 5 November, this compelling show features a number of artworks never exhibited in Victoria. I caught up with JD to discover more about the exhibition and how his research and understanding of the artist have shaped the exhibition.

When did you first encounter Frank Hodgkinson’s work and what drew you to it?

Strangely, my first encounter with Frank Hodkinson’s work goes back to when I started working at Burrinja in 2011 when a large canvas painting sat in the corridor next to the gallery. Neil McLeod owned it and had “parked” it there. The piece was impressive, quite similar to the work ‘Evolution’ which is in the exhibition.

It was not until years later when a collector friend of mine in Sydney mentioned Hodgkinson again, I recollected the work, and it appeared that Peter knows Franks’ wife Kate very well.

Learning that Hodgkinson was not only one of Australia’s most prolific abstract artists and illustrators but also had spent time in New Guinea and Arnhem Land made it a perfect fit for us, given the nature of our collection.

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JD Mittmann hanging one of the works.

How did the idea for Sense of Place come about?

It was the artists strong connection to the places he travelled to and lived at that presented the title. Hodgkinson immersed himself in Spanish culture and tradition when he lived in Spain (on the Island of Mallorca) in the first half of his career. Later, the tropics of New Guinea and its tribal cultures became an inspiration and then, at last, Australia’s Top End and Aboriginal culture and rock art in Arnhem Land drew him in.

The works in the exhibition, Hodgkinson’s oeuvre altogether, give the viewer this strong sense of how connected he was to landscape, fauna and flora. He was a keen observer and his drawing and illustrations prove this.

In the process of curating the show you visited the Hodgkinson estate and spent time with his wife Kate. Can you describe some of your impressions of the artists working environment?

Frank met Kate (a potter who became his third wife) on Clifton Pugh’s bush property Dunmoochin, near Hurstbridge in 1970. They travelled around Australia for a few months before returning to Sydney where Frank originated from. He had always admired the Hawkesbury River region and it was there that they eventually bought a property perched on a cliff overlooking the O’Hara Creek. Right in the middle of the bush.

Frank built a house and studio. Needless to say that he was totally at home there, studying, drawing and painting banksias and eucalypts. They called the property Geebung, after the local trees. It is beautiful. Peaceful.

The house is filled with objects Kate and Frank collected on their travels. Many carvings from New Guinea, barks and sculptures from Arnhem Land adorn the living space. The garden is filled with sculptures and pottery they both produced. As a visitor you get a sense of the creative energy.

The exhibition showcases Hodgkinson’s work along with a number of cultural artefacts from various collections, can you talk about the relationships between the objects and the artworks and how you have woven them into the exhibition.

The objects reflect Frank and Kate’s deep admiration for Indigenous cultures. Frank studied them and illustrated them. For the exhibition we selected some which appear in his published diaries. We present them with the corresponding original illustrations so visitors can make the connection.

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Did the experience of visiting Hodgkinson’s studio and home change the way you perceive his work?

It did. I think you always get a better picture of a person if you see the space they inhabit, the kitchen, the book shelves, the art, and of an artist if you get access to the inner sanctum – their studio.

But it was the research and study of existing literature about the artist which painted a picture of Frank Hodgkinson, the artist. And lastly, reading his own writings: He was a brilliant writer and deep thinker. He thought and wrote about art, drawing and seeing. There’s a line he wrote about drawing that stuck with me: “You have to draw a line around the think.”

Through the show have you discovered any of Hodgkinson’s works that totally blew you away or surprised you?

It’s difficult to point to a particular work, he was very skilled and the output is broad. Perhaps ‘Artist Camp’ surprised me: I did not expect to discover a figurative portrait. Certainly, not showing Clifton Pugh and Dr Colin Jock-Hinton in the nude painting, mind you.

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What do you think are some of the most valuable experiences in the exhibition – what will viewers take away?

I would encourage viewers to look closely. When we describe him as an abstract artist we don’t do him justice. Many of his works are filled with details, sketches, shadowy figures, plants and animals, skeletons.

Even the most abstract paintings in the exhibition from his ‘Beginnings series’ (which he produced in the 1990s) draw the viewer deep into the cosmos, into the swirling soup of creation, and towards Big Bang’s enormous blast. It’s full on.

Sense of Place includes work from the artists periods in Spain, PNG and Arnhemland. How do you see the work in the exhibition changing through these geographic and cultural influences?

That’s right, and we also present paintings which related to Quinkan Country in Northern Queensland and the Bungle Bungles. What is apparent is a departure from the heavy textures of the Spanish period when Hodgkinson really became an abstract painter and received much acclaim for his work. But upon returning to Australia he took another direction. The ‘heaviness’ and darkness of the early period did not suit the Australian light and landscape. The colours change, and so does the depth of painting.

Hodgkinson’s published diaries are on display in the exhibition. Can you describe the experience of spending time with these intimate records and how they have shaped your understanding of the artist?

As with any diary you read you get to see the world through the eyes of the author. Hodgkinson was very good at illustrating his environments with words, describing plants and animals down to their scientific latin names. He was truly fascinated. And then there are the events and people he encountered during the travels. They are beautiful books.

Do you have a favourite work or series in the exhibition?

I wander through the exhibition every day, never getting tired of looking at the works. I guess what draws my attention really depends on my mood. As much as I am attracted by the darkness of Deya, I love the happy joyfulness of She Sang Him a Crocodile. Polar opposites perhaps, 30 years apart? And a life’s work in-between.

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“Deya”

Frank Hodgkinson: Sense of Place is on at Burrinja Gallery until 5 December.
Cnr Glenfern Rd and Matson Dr, Upwey.
Tues – Sun 10am – 4pm.
Tickets Adult $10, Concession/Seniors $7, Burrinja Members $5

Enter the draw to win a special Arts and Culture Indulgence Package worth of $500 including theatre tickets and dinner for 2 plus a night in the gorgeous Twilight Cottages, when you purchase tickets to the exhibition.

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“She sang him a crocodile” oil on canvas.

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Simon Storey in Burke and Wills Grand Adventure

Burke & Wills come to life

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Local actor Simon Storey and family, Tina, Amelie and Sam have recently returned from a three and a half month trip around Australia. But this wasn’t your typical family treck to see our beautiful country, it was a tour of The Burke and Wills Grand Adventure! Along the way they stopped at different towns on the trail taken by Burke and Wills performing a show which they have written and included the whole family.

Their show about Burke and Wills tells the story from the perspective of John King, the only survivor of the fatal race-to-the-Gulf, portrayed by Simon as a ghost. Amelie, his daughter plays a recalcitrant teenager more interested in playing with her mobile phone than learning about history, who slowly gets drawn into the story. It is an interactive show for ages 7 to 70 and beyond.

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During May, June, July and August they took this production on tour and followed the Burke and Wills route from Melbourne to the Gulf of Carpentaria performing at various schools, Civic Halls, sheds and outdoors to launch their company, having started from the Burke and Wills Cairn at Royal Park in Melbourne. It was truly a grand adventure for them and they met many interesting people along the way, among them the child John King fathered with one of the Yandruwandha women he stayed with after Burke and Wills died. “We were fortunate enough to meet one of his living relatives at our Cooper Creek show. It is a fascinating story which not many Australians know about,” said Simon.

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Performing their show at small outback towns is a rare treat for some remote communities who have limited exposure to live performances. The show also concludes with a question and answer session allowing audiences to learn more about this important part of our history. As Leanne Hohnke-Jansen, Principal of Bedourie State School states Bedourie is a small isolated town situated on the edge of the Simpson Desert, so the opportunities for residents to view ‘Live Theatre’ are far and few between. However, this changed when the Storey Players provided us with an amazing performance of their own take on the Burke and Wills expedition – an expedition that passed quite near to our town. The audience ranged in age from six to sixty plus, and everyone was mesmerised by the drama”

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The Storey family will be having one public performance locally of their show on Saturday October 14 at Burrinja. 

Some quotes from recent shows:

“The use of lyrical text, humorous exposition, visual set pieces, and poignant sound choice left me engrossed, joyful, dismayed and even a little tearful.” 

“We really appreciate opportunities like this as they are rare to our remote community, and cannot thank you enough for coming to visit, entertain and educate us”.

Where: Burrinja Black Box Theatre.
When: Saturday October 14th 4:30 pm.
Price: $18.00 all tickets – $16.00 groups of 4+
Book your tickets here.

To find out more about the Storey players go to www.thestoreyplayers.com

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burrinja makes the top ten

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Post by Adriana Alvarez.

It looks like the secret is out. Burrinja is one of the top ten places to visit in Melbourne according to UK Guardian. The post by their Australian reporter mentions it in regard to getting in touch with “traditional owners” making reference to Lin Onus’ Fish and Leaves artwork as one of it’s highlights as well as exhibitions, music and theatre.

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And indeed Burrinja is a great place to see indigenous art as it manages a rare public collection of over 600 items of Aboriginal and oceanic art from Papua New Guinea. The collection was donated to the Shire of Yarra Ranges in 2001 by Neil McLeod, a local resident and renowned photographer, book author and field collector.

But this is not the only thing on offer at Burrinja.With multiple gallery spaces for touring exhibitions, a large 400 seat theatre for live productions and artist studios and workshop rooms, it’s a hub for creative locals who can find great inspiration within it’s walls. With workshops and activities for people of all ages and abilities Burrinja encourages community engagement and inclusion. It’s support of local artists, projects (like the hillscene magazine and hillseneLIVE), festivals and events fosters a vibrant creative community, living up to it’s mission of “creating community through the Arts”.

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A visit to Burrinja isn’t complete without wandering through the Art of Place Indigenous Cultural Garden, a place to reflect, learn about and celebrate the local indigenous culture. Take in one of it’s many exhibitions, grab a gift in the gallery shop, see a show or enjoy a great coffee and meal at the Skylark Room which features brilliant music in the evenings and weekends.

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So it looks like is right in naming Burrinja, one of the top ten treasures in the ‘world’s most livable city’. And we’re lucky to have it right on our doorstep.

Find out more and see what’s on at Burrinja here.

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belgrave farmers market reboot

Belgrave Farmers Market

The Belgrave Farmers Market began last year with great promise, but after a few markets and a relocation, it was put on hold for a while. Now they are back. I spoke with Gourav and Liz from the steering committee to find out what’s been happening behind the scenes and what to expect from the new, improved market.

The Belgrave Farmers Market was started a year ago at Mater Christi School. Unfortunately after a few markets, there was a slight hiccup when the key person that was running it  relocated from the area so it was closed down. A few dedicated locals realised the desire for a farmers market in Belgrave and a new steering committee was formed early this year.

Farmers markets require 3 simple, but key ingredients – patrons, stall-holders and access. We reviewed the first avatar, and determined that the market suffered on all 3 counts – sustained lack of patronage, insufficient stall-holders (especially fresh produce) and the lack of adequate parking and ease of access to the marketplace.

The reformed version of the market (which started in June) changed some of this – we relocated the market to St Thomas More Primary School, which provides a lot more parking and is closer to many amenities; and we had an organic produce stall. That helped prove that a market could work – patronage was loyal, and some really good producers were willing to participate – however, we were unable to attract stallholders in sufficient numbers to the market. This is due to the fact that there are plenty of farmers markets in existence, and consequently many potential stallholders have conflicting commitments. As a team, we realised that we did not have sufficiently deep networks or relationships to promote the market to potential stall-holders, and needed someone who brought those networks with them. We decided not to risk the market, still in its infancy, from getting a reputation of being too small, and took a break over Winter to review our options.

Luckily we have had Regional Farmers Market come on board to assist – it is an organisation started by Peter Arnold, but now actively managed by Claire and Melissa. They are almost the pioneers of the current form of Farmers Markets in Melbourne and have been doing this for 20 years. They manage farmers markets across the city, among others, the Bayside, Heathmont, Beaumaris and Williamstown Farmers markets – and bring a wealth of experience and the right connections that, we believe, can build and grow our market. They are responsible for getting stall holders through their large data base. There will be over 20 stall holders at the new re-launch on 23rd October.

One of the other key decisions that the committee made was to evaluate moving the Market to a single day – on the 4th Sunday of every month. The fabulous Big Dreams Market is held on the 2nd Sunday, and the gap of a fortnight should give sufficient ‘breathing room’ to both the events. In addition, there will be sufficient variation in the composition of the stallholders to be able to keep the visitors (i.e. You!) engaged and returning every fortnight.

We would like to see the Belgrave Farmers Market become the “go-to” market for producers in the Dandenongs and the Yarra Ranges, and for it to become a hub for organic and bio-dynamic producers in the Eastern suburbs. Obviously, this will take some time to accomplish – but I believe that we have the right ‘mix’ of people and attitude in the Hills, and in our new Market managers, to see this through. We’re also looking for locals who are interested in the journey forward to join the Belgrave Farmers Market steering committee. They just need to bring their enthusiasm and a ‘can-do’ attitude.

Belgrave Farmers Market
Sunday 23rd October 9am-2pm
St Thomas More Primary School, Reynolds Lane, Belgrave

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Beneath the surface

Post by Adriana Alvarez.

It’s opening night at What Lies Beneath, a group exhibition currently showing at Burrinja, and the crowd is lively and sociable. We are greeted by gorgeous fruit platters, nibbles and wine at the entrance. Inside a woman painted white and wearing an eco-dyed wedding dress mingles in the crowd. The works around the gallery offer a myriad of sights and sensations waiting to be devoured. It’s shaping up to be a great night for this group of artists.

What Lies Beneath is an exhibition of works emerging from a series of eco-printing workshops lead by local artist Jacqui Grace and soul crafter Rebecca Funk. Eco-printing engages the pigments in leaves, natural fibres, metal and heat to create prints and imagery that resonate with an organic and unpredictable nature. The workshops were held over two weekends in Winter. “We did the workshop so we could let people engage in the process of eco-printing to take some time to see what would emerge as they stayed with a theme” says Jacqui Grace. “And because from previous workshops I’d done such an amazing body of work comes out just after one day. I thought what would it be like just to display this and let people curate their story. So that’s why we did the workshops and an exhibition at the end.”

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At the opening night a dance performance and poetry reading is followed by the unravelling of a large piece of silk, a collaborative piece made by the group during the workshops and which had been sitting in the dye until this moment, waiting to be unveiled. Everyone had contributed with words written on paper and other pieces gifted to the creative process. “It’s amazing how cohesive the group was right from the beginning,” says Michelle Morgan one of the artists. “I felt like there was a real community of support, it was really quiet beautiful.”

This exhibition has a lot of heart and emotion. Beautiful, strong organic colours mingle with subtle natural imprints in the works. The theme What Lies Beneath lends itself to a lot of probing and questioning. As ‘what lies beneath’ is usually something we try to keep hidden, buried deep.

Works such as Amanda Scott’s Little Books of Experience – Perfectionism, Depression, Fear and Joy, which viewers are invited to look through portray the idea of a guarded inner life. These are paired with an installation of a silk dyed dress, a lace umbrella and a birdcage, which express the feeling of fear turned to joy at the unexpected outcome of the work.

Kate Heron also offers an interactive experience with her work Unravelled, which has a set of boxes to open and look inside, illustrating a complex journey of emotions such as fear, shame, disappointment and cowardice, all emotions to be overcome. A mantle sitting on a wire cage shoulder mold extends the piece, acting like a ghostly figure in the space.

Michelle Morgan whose work includes a dyed wedding dress, which she wore on the opening night as part of the performance, agrees that it was an emotional experience. “Every step of the way it was a real process of fear and risk and having to step over that fear edge, it was quite amazing. So for me the dress is kind of an embodiment of being able to take creative risks. And kind of living that through the workshop is now flowing into my life as well. So noticing those moments where I’m in fear of doing something in my life and actually going, ahh this is another moment of risk and actually having the courage to do it. So I’m so grateful for that… what happens inside the workshop flowing into my life.”

Journey’s also feature heavily in the exhibition, such as Cassandra Barrett’s work which shows the journey of What lies beneath. From the beginning circle of gathering which embodies the group energy through the impediments on the journey, digging deep for insights; to a dream catcher that incorporates pieces from her grandmothers and mothers sewing kit, linking to the past then leading to the final pieces which were the jewellery attached and woven through wire and silk. Many of the works, like this one, incorporated elements from the dyeing process including rusted metal parts, organic matter, scrolls, papers and twine but with their own individual touches. Cassandra’s work includes encaustic wax, photography and drawing to create transparent evocative effects.

Kate Borradaile, whose works include photography, botanical matter and the elements of the process said, “the theme of What Lies Beneath intrigued me and I jumped in, eager to discover more about the eco-printing process and about myself. My pieces in the exhibition show parts of my process; the initial gathering of leaves, discovery of age-old rage within, of impossible and fleeting beauty in the eco-printing process and of the transcendence from tragedy to seeds of knowing. Such discovery!

The thing that strikes me about the exhibition is that all the works are beautifully differentiated, despite sharing the same process of creating works through the eco-printing process. Many have used wedding dresses, which were sourced by Jacqui from a supplier that was closing down, but they are all presented and crafted in very different ways. Some like Diane Glendale’s The Bridge of Time as installations with multi media, film and painting. Others like Jacqui Grace’s includes a book of process made from silk and sewn with poetry. Her dresses embellished with fur, rusted frying pans, chicken wire and rose thorns.

Rebecca Funk agrees “the container was eco-printing but definitely everyone took it in such different directions.” Her work of a standing figure with a hole at it’s heart that you can peer through was dictated by a wool scarf that she had dyed with a heart on it. “It lead me to a whole exploration about armouring, my defensive postures in life,” says Rebecca. “So a piece emerged about peeking through my armour to my heart and it’s actually been a piece where I can stand at the heart space and look out and looking out it’s such a limited perspective, I kind of want the armour to move back a little bit. So it’s entirely dictated by what came out of the eco-printing, I didn’t set out to make a certain piece.”

There’s so much going on in this exhibition it’s difficult to mention every work and story. What’s clear is that it was an intense and emotional journey that included both individual awakening and a spirit of community. This exhibition contains all my favourite things. Beautiful fabrics, paper, words, organic colours, natural processes, the delight of the unexpected and the spirit of collaboration, making this an exhibition well worth visiting more than once.

What Lies Beneath is showing at Burrinja until August 7.

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Photos by Kate Borradaile  www.kateborradaile.com.au

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students inspired to have a heart

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VISUAL Communication students from Mater Christi College recently entered a Victoria-wide student art competition, Our Sunset, My World.

This Exhibition is a very special one. The theme, Our Sunset, My World, is to inspire students to appreciate and value the rich diversity of our world and their place in it through their art. The Exhibition will have the dual purpose of highlighting students’ art while raising awareness and funds for disadvantaged children in Cambodia, providing them with much needed opportunities for education and a future. All student artwork will be sold through a SILENT AUCTION process.

Students from over 100 schools entered artworks for the competition run by Have a Heart Cambodia. Find out more about Have a Heart Cambodia on their facebook page.

All six Mater Christi students that entered were selected to have their work exhibited and sold at the exhibition. This event will be held in the Atrium and the Edge Galleries at Federation Square on Saturday, 23 July. The exhibition will form part of the Cambodian Arts and Cultural Festival.

Year 10 student, Madison Winkler, said the Cambodian situation inspired her work. “My design juxtaposes the developed society that we live in, with that of Cambodian children, by illustrating key factors of everyday living in the two scenarios, through a series of playing cards,” she said.

Another successful entrant, Molly O’Bryan said, “Through my artwork, I wanted to depict the independence of Cambodian children and highlight their vulnerability”.

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Pictured are Mater Christi College students (left-right) Madi, Molly, Stephanie, Jocelyn and Stacey with their work. At the front right are portraits by student Renee.

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hillscenelive needs you

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Post by Adriana Alvarez.

Planning has been underway for hillsceneLIVE 2016. This year’s festival will comprise a full series of Artist professional development, workshops and forums throughout the year, and a big three day festival in October 2016. Yes, that’s right!  In 2016, hillsceneLIVE will be a full weekend festival. And we need your help to make this ambitious program a reality.

To make hillsceneLIVE happen we are running a crowdfunding campaign, in order to deliver the biggest and boldest festival to date.

We have been fortunate enough to be supported by Creative Partnerships Australia, through their MATCH program, meaning that every pledge you make will be matched dollar-for-dollar – provided we reach our target.

How often does $20 instantly become $40?!?!

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See our hillsceneLIVE pozible campaign.

Your pledge to this campaign is an investment in the future of the Australia Arts sector, creating a vibrant and dynamic creative sector right here in our own backyard.

hillsceneLIVE is the only program of it’s kind in the Dandenong Ranges, which fringes onto regional Victoria. It is the only program that brings together artist of diverse practices, in a supportive and developmental capacity.  Through the program dozens of artists have been supported to create new work, ask new questions (of themselves and the world), and forge partnerships with other artists, makers and the community.

The campaign funding will be used to help the festival achieve it’s goals of supporting artists and their development. This includes supporting artists with marketing, production,venue, mentoring and a small fee. Due to a strange twist of circumstances, this pozible campaign is the major source of funding for the project in 2016.  With your support, we can roll out a super successful festival and support a bunch of artists who continually enrich our lives!

To find out more about hillsceneLIVE go to hillsceneLIVE.com

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HillsceneLIVE has been made possible through the support and partnership of Burrinja cultural centre.

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Incredible Bakes cookbook by Carolina Griffiths

Delicious sugar-free baking

Incredible Bakes cookbook by Carolina Griffiths

Post by Adriana Alvarez.

Do you or your mum love cooking? Are you interested in healthy eating? If you are here’s a treat which is just in time for Mother’s day. On Saturday 7 May (the day before Mother’s Day) Auld Alliance Merchants in Olinda is having a book signing and tastings from Caroline Griffiths new cookbook  Incredible Bakes.

From 10.00am onwards Caroline, a Melbourne author, renowned cook and nutritionist will be in store to talk about her cookbook and offer some sweet treats. You can pop in to the shop to buy a book, get it signed and taste some of Caroline’s delicious treats plus get 10% off products in the shop if you purchase a book in store.

This is a sweet baking book with a difference – all the recipes are free from refined sugars. Not that you’d notice it. The recipes are triple-tested and completely delicious. Rather than use refined sugar, which has been shown to adversely affect health, author Caroline Griffiths has added sweetness using natural fruits and, occasionally, other non-fructose sweeteners, including rice malt syrup. Recipes include baking classics, such as shortbreads, cheesecakes, cookies and cupcakes, as well as more contemporary bakes, including macarons, cruffins and donuts. With a section on over-the-top celebration cakes as well, Incredible Bakes will have you covered.

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Lorna Jane (left) with Caroline Griffiths and recipes from her cookbook.

Caroline Griffiths has a wealth of experience as a cook, writer and food stylist working as a ghost writer for many “famous” cooks and chefs as well as contributing to the Australian Women’s Weekly. She is a passionate food expert with over twenty-five years of food industry experience who loves to create recipes that are flavourful, wholesome, creative, and achievable.

“Caroline and I are friends and when I heard she was launching her book I thought it would be a great idea to harness the book release in my shop for the local community’s sake and to offer a little something fun to enjoy,” said Lorna Jane, director of Auld Alliance Merchants. It’s also a great Mother’s Day gift idea if your mum appreciates delicious food with a twist.

Auld Alliance Merchants situated in Olinda sells a curated collection of global and local homewares and gifts, alongside vintage French furniture.  They also offer alliance services, being Interior Decoration, Styling, Staging and Garden Design. They are also an official stockist of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint™, the decorative and DIY paint which has had a global following for 25 years.

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Auld Alliance Merchants (formerly Metisse)
Shop 8, 540 Mt Dandenong Tourist Road, Olinda Vic 3788
www.auldalliancemerchants.com.au

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Movers and groovers, shakers and makers.

Post by Gareth Hart.

Dance Here is a month long program of dance ‘happenings’ around the Yarra Ranges.

Pioneered by Yarra Ranges Council, the program sees over 75 events taking place in unexpected and exciting ways and locations around the Ranges.

From pop-up flash mobs and dance parties, to workshops and taster classes, to performances, Dance Here is for movers and shakers of all kinds.

The project is an extension of ‘Dance Tracks’ a three year focus from Yarra Ranges Council, in developing the artform of Dance in the region. The major difference here though, is that the whole project is driven by the community.

In late 2015 Council embarked on a public Expression of Interest process, asking for artists, individuals and groups, to propose a dance activity to take place. The result was overwhelming, with some 55 applications received. A majority of these projects were funded by council (many involving multiple events and occurrences), and thus an ambitious month-long program of events now takes place.

Some highlights of the program include a world record attempt for the biggest progressive dance, a hip-hop flash mob, performances on the streets of Healesville, workshops by some incredible local artists, performances along the bus routes in Yarra Glen, Dance classes for boys only, silent discos, archival dance footage screenings, and so much more.

I personally have my toes dipped in three projects, one being the presentation of a dance installation titled “home is where the Art is”, which is a reconstruction of the sensory memories of my (now demolished) childhood home. It’s a short work of approximately 10 minutes for one person at a time. As a work that has such limited capacity (over three hours, only 18 people will experience the work in total), it is not a project that can easily secure presentation opportunities. So funded and fully supported initiatives like Dance Here are vital to it’s life. Tracking further along this train of thought, initiatives like Dance Here are imperative in allowing artists to dream, to create boldly, and to be instilled with belief from our local community.

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I was recently asked on radio if this was the only program of this scope in Australia. And to my knowledge, yes, it is.

According to organisers, Dance Here is “a vibrant month-long program of dance and movement workshops, performances and pop-up events happening across the region”. What I personally find inspiring however, as I read through the program of events, is that the vibrancy is held within the array of talented people we have living in this region, and the incredible ideas that they bring to life on a regular base.

Dance Here promises to be a month of events quite unlike anything else the Ranges has ever seen. My advice? Get amongst it, especially as it all kicked off on March 15th.

Oh, I forgot to mention that all 75 events are free.

Clearly there are no excuses for busting a move.

www.yarraranges.vic.gov.au/dancehere

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Burrinja climate change Biennale

There’s still time to catch the inaugural 2015 Burrinja Biennale shortlist exhibition which includes 20 artists from across Australia. The exhibition is immersive and experiential, featuring contributions from small works on paper to large scale projection and performance. As the first Australian Biennale of its kind, the Burrinja Climate Change Biennale will strive to create a dialogue over time of the changing environment and our attitudes around climate change which will affect us well into the future.

At the opening last October one of the judges Wendy Garden, Senior Curator at Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery, spoke of the high quality of the work exhibited and the reason why they chose the winner, Joy Serwylo’s piece At this point of time, it appears that we have not yet established a plan “B”.

At this point of time, it appears that we have not yet established a plan _B_

“It’s a very sophisticated work.” said Wendy Garden. “It also has a really strong element of humour in it and it’s that whole notion of when we laugh we let our guard down and our resistence to something so then we’re more likely to have our opinion change. There’s the notion of journey to other places and taps into that whole belief we have of colonisation to solve our problems, you know ‘Ok we’ve stuffed this planet we’ll go and find another one and colonise that instead’. Her work in a very sophisticated manner taps into all of that. The whole colonial history of journey to other different countries, that whole idea of the promised land and always looking for the other… At the moment it also has a reference to refugees, having to move. We are quite a migratory species but it’s about what we leave behind. A destroyed planet.”

Barbara Oehring-The winner

From left: JD Mittman, Wendy Garden, Joy Serwylo and Ross Farnell.

Local artist Joy Serwylo, a woman of few words but many inspiring ideas, said “I’m really excited that it’s one of the hills folks that’s won it. It’s great to have an exhibition with a prize that draws in people from outside and everywhere. It ups the quality of the work but it’s still very much a hills community here and I would have been happy if any of the hills artists had won.” She thinks the title of the work speaks for itself and also contributed a series of interacive works for the opening of frozen iceblocks. The centre piece being one inside a large tank with a miniature landscape. As the iceblock was slowly melted, covering low lying islands, it graphically showed the effect that climate change could have to visitors.

Burrinja Biennale collage
Barbara Oehring-Burrinja Biennale installation

There are many beautiful and provocative pieces in this exhibition such as;
Lisa Roberts Living Data: Align 01 – a digital animation projected onto a series of hanging silks with sound.
Eva Glac 3 Banksia pods after the fire – a series of large porcelain pods charred and painted with black glaze and copper lustre.
Ches Mills Extinction- Acrylic paint, mixed media on canvas of fossils in a strata profile showing extinctions from the past till the present.
Hartmut Veit Material vilification – Brown coal and neon sculpture of a crown of thorns, and Intra-action, Hazelwood brown – coal from Morwell spread and a gallery floor and walked through by visitors leaving their footprints speak of our ambivalent relationship with this generator of energy.
Stephen Powell Hope Gap – Panoramic photograph of a farmer stubble burning his crop set against the wind turbines in the landscape.

Eva Glac, 3 banksia pods after the fire (serotiny series), southern ice porcelain, black glaze, copper,

Eva Glac ‘3 Banksia pods after the fire’

Ches Mills, Extinction, acrylic and mixed media on canvas, 2015

Ches Mills ‘Extinction’

Veit Hartmut, Material Vilification, brown coal and neon sculpture, 2015

Hartmut Veit ‘Material vilification’

Veit Hartmut, Intra-action (Hazelwood brown coalMorwell)2,  coal dust printpainting, 2015

Hartmut Veit – ‘Intra-action, Hazelwood brown’

Burrinja has minimally labelled the works with only the artists name and title, allowing the visitor to experience the impact of the work for itself. A QR code beside each piece allows you to view the artists statements online if you wish to find out more. This exhibition has so much to offer in it’s portrayal of a world that is on the brink of a tipping point.

On till 31 January at Burrinja – Cnr Glenfern Road and Matson Dr, Upwey

Photos courtesy of Burrinja. Photos of opening by Barbara Oehring.

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