Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Meeting Frida and Diego

I have been trying to remember how I discovered Frida Kahlo. I guess it doesn't matter but it'd be nice to remember that moment. At first I thought it might have been Salma Heyek's fabulous biopic of her, but that was 2002 and I knew a little of her prior to the film. 

Possibly it was 2000 when my mind was blown artistically in New York. Prior to that I had minimal artistic interest and knowledge, Impressionism, Warhol, Surrealism, Dali, Monet, and Picasso. But spending time at The Met, The Guggenheim, and the MOMA meant I had this crazy introduction to myriads of styles and eras of art and I know Frida had to be part of that. Although that was only 15 years ago and I feel I have known her longer.

I love her sense of style, her strength, her serious gaze, her charm, and most of all her sense of self. This is a hirsute woman, something I can relate to lol, a feminist, an artist, and a unique and charismatic woman, and she simply did not seem to care what others thought of her. I loved this so very much.

Diego I remember very well, he had been commissioned to do a mural/fresco for the Rockefeller Centre or 30 Rock as it is known. I was having a tour of that very building in 2000 and was told this story and how it was meant to be a depiction of Socialism and Capitolism and Rivera added Lenin into the scape. He was immediately sacked and the mural painted over much to the annoyance of many. I remember being really taken by that story, and upset for his loss, especially standing in the space of where it could have still been seen.

Whenever it may have been, all I can say is my love for Diego Rivera and Frida Kahla (but oh, especially Frida) has been long and strong. So when I heard well over a year ago, that an exhibition of theirs was coming to Sydney I was very excited.

And so the time came for me to see it, I took a mid week break and met up with my cousins to share the experience.

I woke early and dragged myself out of bed - I am so not a morning person - and to the train. I love that journey to Central, much to look at out the window and that light napping one can do on a train, waking as you pull into Central, that beautiful old station, it has a lovely romantic feel to it.

I change trains to St James and end up at the edge of Hyde Park looking down Macquarie Street, but dashing to the right towards St Mary's Cathedral and slipping down her side to The Domain, through those magnificent trees to the gallery. It is a short walk but this day the rain was pouring so I looked for a taxi to keep me dry, but none were going my way. Never mind as I smulched through the trees, their canopies along with my brolly keeping me mostly dry.

I dried off at the gallery with many others and met up with my cousins. We purchased our tickets for this and the Archibald, Wynne, and Sulman prize winners and had a little time for a catch up and coffee before seeing the later.

I am a big fan of The Archibalds, such a fabulous array of portraits. So many layers and so much depth. The winner, Barry by Louise Hearman was stunning. An almost photographic portrait of the great man, rarely seen with his guard down, and yet you get that...almost...until you look really carefully and you see the twinkle of Edna in his eye.

We moved through this exhibit slowly and carefully and whilst it was stunning, we were ready for what we had come to see!

As we arrived at the exhibit space large black and white photos of Frida and Diego were blown up and displayed to meet us. It was electrifying.

And then the first section was three television screens showing home videos of the pair, backed by the stunning architecture of the gallery building, it was difficult to know where to look. But really, it was easy, once you glimpsed Frida, smiling and fawning up to the camera you were under her spell, unable to look away, taken in by her beauty and charisma.

And after spending forever watching those video we moved to the first room and saw our first big Kahlo painting. One I had seen many times. It had me transfixed and mesmerised.

In the same room were some nude sketched of Frida by Diego and some of his other paintings. His style is very different to her, very much of it's time and it reflected his heritage within.

From this room we slowly made our way down a long corridor of black and white photos depicting their early life. They were amazing to see and also to lookup and see a large photograph enlarged and seemingly watching over us as we made our way through.

Then a spurt of colour with some coloured photographs. Some letters and artefacts before heading into another room of paintings.

And then the famous monkey painting. It was a trip to see it there for real and to stare at her starring back at you.

And then another beauty, a famous one, with bright colours and intenseness. So magical to see, my heart almost skipped a beat.

And some more by Diego, before another row of photographs including those of her in her funeral bed and coffin, which I found difficult to look at.

A final room had small pencil drawings, so intricate you could barely work out what they were.

And so it was done...I don't want to divulge it all, it is still on for some months, so go and see it yourself!

We finished up with a little shop in the gift shop, not as many Frida things as I would have liked, but I managed to spend a little all the same.

We ended the day with lunch at the gallery restaurant, Chiswick. We shared a table of tapas style dishes, chatted and discussed Frida in awe, and looked out at the million dollar views around Sydney.

And so I bid my cousins adieu and dashed back through the domain in only drizzle now and napped most of the way home, dreaming of Frida.

I cannot begin to say what a day like this does for my soul and my heart, encapsulating oneself in art is a tremendous thing. I highly recommend it!

Monday, July 18, 2016


June was a strange old month, up and down, and all over the shop!
Mostly June was about strange weather that messed up my sinuses. So much so, I had to take time off work because of it, which is a first for me.
I also struggled a little with that bloody black dog during the month, nothing major and my bounce back wasn’t too bad. But enough to make you realise that you can be sailing along beautifully and can really drop back without anything much bothering you. Goddamn little fucker, lol!!!
Having said that I was not alone, many people I spoke to were suffering sinus, anxiety, depression, and other forms of crappy health. So let’s blame June and the weather!

And that’s the thing about talking about such things, you find others suffering similarly and realise you are not alone, and just by chatting you can find yourself lifted.
And sometimes that is all you need you help you from completely drowning, a chat with a friend, an upbeat piece of music or a movie or a book to escape into, a walk in the sun, or something yummy to eat. You gotta do what you can to ensure you feel better!
So as you can see from my June Reviews, I spent a bit of time inside, keeping the weather out and hopefully the demons at bay with much entertainment!
But it wasn’t all doom and gloom!

My gals and I finally checked out the new Gold Cinema at Garden City (it will always be Garden City to me) and what a divine experience that was. We saw The Clooney/Roberts Film, Money Maker, which was really good!

M, P and I saw the play Trailer, at The Playhouse, which was great. A local production about a young teen just out of school and unsure what he wants to do with his life. PIcking up a temporary job and travelling the central coast line trains put him in the orbit of people he probably wouldn’t otherwise meet.

E, C, and I had tickets to our yearly APIA tour, but E became unwell, so Mum and Dad were called upon to accompany me and we had a great time.
Work was busy, we played one of my faves, All About Eve for our Library Movie Night, I’ve been juggling some interesting projects, and doing a lot of school and community liaison.
At Bookclub we discussed The Maltese Falcon, which was a lot of fun.

And we celebrated Mum’s birthday at the pub.
There was the usual walks, markets, and photos taken.


Sunday, July 10, 2016


What I’ve Been Watching
I Am Your Father – this is a doco about David Prowse aka Darth Vadar. It is made more from fandom and goes into the fact he was not cast as Darth Vadar in that final scene in the Return of the Jedi when DV dies and another actor was cast. The doco is interesting and held my attention for the most part and yet it felt a little odd. It tried to involved George Lucas but he would not, which is not surprising and they really did a number on him. Yes, it does seem weird for Prowse not to be in that scene, but all this time later is not going to change anything. Prowse seemed happy enough to go along with it all. I’m mixed about this, guess it’s one to see for yourself!
Tribute to James Burrows  - this was a lovely walk down memory lane with stars of all his television shows talking about his genius. And what genius he has: Taxi, Cheers, Frasier, Friends, Will and Grace and so on. Was a bit of fun.
Ella Fitzgerald concerts – caught all these sassy Ella concerts on Fox Arts (god do I love Fox or do I love Fox!), wow, I have always loved Ella, being a huge Jazz fan, but to watch her sing those great songs, her delivery and poise, man, that’s the bomb!!!
Art docos – I am going out of my ever loving mind with Art docos on Fox Arts, as in docos about Lichtenstein, Warhol, Monet, Impressionists, Stolen Art, you name it....love, love, love!!!
The Man from UNCLE – this was a fun remake, it didn’t take itself too seriously, looked fab and Cavill and Hammer were fab.
MASH –  what a delight to go back to the beginning of this wonderful fave. I am slowly going to watch it all in order, something I have never done. Always watched out of order on tele in repeat mode. I loved the earlier characters, the whole thing has not dated at all. And Hawkeye is still divinely gorgeous and brilliantly dramatic and hilariously funny.
Heroes Reborn – I loved the original series of Heroes, especially those first two seasons, Season 1 in particular was so perfect it almost makes me weep how bad it got in Seasons 3 and 4. It was ahead of it’s time and I think the creators just tried to string it out too long back then to make more money! This reboot really seemed like a great idea, in an era where such things are better received, except it did not have the bang of the first series, it needed a better progression of old cast and young and a less forceful and mean storyline against the heroes. It did reach moments of almost getting there about 3/4 the way through but ultimately was just a poor cousin of the original. Shame.
Hap and Leonard – this is a new 6-parter, sort of a look for lost treasure show, but the treasure was stolen money they ditched years before thought long lost. Hap and Leonard are besties and always up to no good, it kinda reminded me of The Dukes of Hazzard in a way, but less funny. Still funny, but more dramatic.  It was ok.
Banshee S1 – not a bad series about a guy masquerading as the Sheriff he murdered (no one had met the Sheriff before) in a small town where his ex associate/girlfriend is living, trying to make a new life for herself. He’s a baddie trying to make good and maybe see his ex again (even though she is married with children living under another name), but you just know it’s all going to hell in a hand basket. A little brutal and violent at times, but entertaining enough.
Wayward Pines S1/2 I have wanted to watch this for ages, as I am a fan of M NIght Shyamalan and he was attached to it. It is based on a series of books about a strange town where people visit and cannot escape. Superb cast, and a creepy mystery, it tooka  couple of eps, but I was hooked, they do not wait too long to reveal ‘the reveal’ and then you are just trying to work out the truth until the shocking final episode. S2 is nowhere near as good, I suspect there will not be a S3. I want to say why, but spoilers, I am still watching it cause curious, but compared to S1, nah!
Orphan Black S4 – This show is starting to lose me a little, S5 will be the last and I think that is smart. Having said that it is still a great kick arse show with a female lead. Well multiple female leads, given it is about clones. 3
Penny Dreadful S3 – S1 was nothing short of perfection and S2 upped the ante. This 18th century stylised drama featuring all the book characters from that period – Dorian Gray, Dr Jeckyl, Dr Frankenstein, etc – was superb. The cast were superb, especially Eva Green – she was everything, sublimely cool, dark and devious. But S3 just didn’t rate, and it was cancelled, and rightfully so. They went too dark and split character up that worked well together, it was like they didn’t know where to go and set up people to fail. It basically all imploded which is a shame. S1 and 2 are still so very worth watching, but S3 WILL disappoint, believe me.
The Walking Dead S6 – this is my other favourite show, it just gets better and better, the layers and characters have more depth than imaginable. This season raises the stakes even more than before with some gruesome and shocking twists and turns, and some real heart break. And a killer of a cliffhanger ending. Bring on S7!!!! Just Make sure nothing happens to Darryl!!!
Game of Thrones S6 – I think this deserves it’s own blog it was THAT GOOD. I think this was the best season ever, not watching it in one go as I usually do maybe impacted on that, but it had a lot of great scenes. However, I know there are still people yet to watch it, or finish it, so I don’t want to spoil. There were many moments of joy and comeuppance, many deaths and some absolute killer moments, that will still bring me to tears just thinking about. This is by far the best show on television – maybe ever. The stories are remarkable, the sets stunning. By god, it even has dragons. I am thinking of going back to the beginning and watching it all from the start!!!
Secret City – this was a stunning Australian political intrigue/thriller set in chilly Canberra on Fox – headed by the brilliant Anna Torv (who I loved in Fringe) and a who’s who of Australian Actors (standout performance by Damon Herrimon who absolutely broke my heart) this 6-parter had me on the edge of my couch each episode right up until the shocking end!
Rake – he’s back and better than ever. What can be said about Cleaver Greene that hasn’t been said before?! Nothing, this is Australian Drama (comedy) at it’s absolute best. Richard Roxburgh is born to play this rogue, they are intertwined. This season took us to many strange and amusing places, and delivered a shock or two. Well done!
RocKwiz – this series was about the countries (US, UK, Ireland, Canada, NZ, and OZ), and was a load of fun, with some great covers including stand out performances from Kav Temperley doing Dylan’s Hurricane, Sarah Blasko’s Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, and Ella Hooper absolutely nailing Pleasure and Pain (The Divinyls). This is my favourite Australian show, it is so uniquely Australian and pub-rock, I wish they made more! 
Abominable Bride – Sherlock – finally caught up with the next Sherlock instalment. It was good, clever, and the boys as always superb.
What I’ve Been Reading
Roald Dahl – we got a whole new collection of Dahl on talking book read by the UK’s creme de la creme, Kate Winslet, Bill Bailey, Richard Ayoade, Chris O
Dowd, Stephen Fry, Hugh Laurie, Miranda Richardson and on and on. The stand out was Kate Winslet reading Matilda, with a different voice for each character. She was on fire. And Bill Bailey doing a great romping read of The Minpins. All were fab, and it was a fun break in the car to listen to these old faves, no matter I am an adult, Dahl always wrote for everyone!
Wildflower by Drew Barrymore – this was a very lite memoir, but interesting nonetheless. I like Barrymore and I guess everyone knows her story, while she skims over the drama, she delves into the part of her life where she dragged herself back to respectability. And she talks about the people who were there to help her.
I’ll Never Write My Memoirs by Grace Jones (as told to Paul Morley) – now this IS a memoir, what a rollicking, fun, and real read. Grace has been there and done that, long before anyone else and tells us in a very matter of a fact but gracious point! As only you can imagine. It goes through her younger years in Jamaicia and being discovered. Her move to the US, modelling, and then stardom with the Studio 54 crowd, music, and Warhol. This is all killer and no filler. Totally worthwhile read.
Women I’ve Dressed by Orry-Kelly – I feel like I have been reading this forever, it is a large and detailed tome. Plus it’s been popular so I keep sending it back to work for others to read and getting it back when I can. This is a remarkable true story of a wonderful creative Australian and the book the formed the Gillian Armstrong doco of last year. It is his very detailed life story, from rags to riches, from Kiama to Hollywood. Cary Grant’s lover, Bette Davis’ dresser, triple Academy Award winner, and fashion guru to Hollywood. Oh it is filled with sublime Hollywoodness, slightly gossipy, but mostly refined. In fact, you learn a lot from what he does not say, than what he does. Loved this so very much!
My Island Home by Tim Winton – this is a stunning collection of descriptions of places Tim has lived or visited over the years. Imagine the scenes he sets in his novels, well multiply them into little chapters and you have the very luscious My Island Home, Water features heavily as you would imagine and each chapter takes you right into the heart of a place, you can imagine it and almost feel as you are there. This is Winton at his dreamy best.
Public Library and other stories by Ali Smith  - this was an interesting mix of short stories based around libraries, reading, literature and so forth. Some were better than others, but all were interesting.
Almost sincerely by Zoe Norton Lodge – this is a series of short stories about Zoe’s life growing up. They are funny and embarrassing and familiar. I like her style, it is self deprecating and dry.
Here is New York by e.b.white – a lovely long essay that eb wrote for The New Yorker many many decades ago. ABout New York and all there is to love about it, this is a must read for any NYC lover like myself, you can feel the beat of the city in it and whilst some of the places he wrote about no longer exist, a lot of it does and it’s essence has not changed.
The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett  - I had read this years ago and found it difficult to understand, and seen the movie many times. This waas scheduled for my bookclub (by me lol) and I decided to listen to it instead, which was marvellous. It helped he get to the crux of the story much better. It is a classic,  but almost laughable today. No one loved it, but we all appreciated it for what it was.
What I’ve Been Listening to
The West Wing Weekly – this is a fabulous podcast by Joshua Malina (ex West Wing, now on Scandal) with Hrishikesh Hirway and they go through every episode of the beloved show episode by episode from the very beginning. SO far they are only about 1 eps in, and I have listened to 6 or 7. The beauty of this is they can get special guests on the show who were on the actual show! I’m in heaven listening to them dissect each episode. Totally for fans!
Mixed CDs – been listening to a lot of these at work, they are ex ABC discs bought at a fundraiser and passed on to me by a good friend. Perfect easy listening for work.
Prince – still been listening to a fair bit of Prince