spring has sprung

One of the best things about living in Tasmania is the four distinct seasons. As winter comes to an end, the stark beauty of the garden changes with the appearance of the first green shoots of spring bulbs.

The daffodils were culled last year and hundreds of bulbs were given to a friend to enjoy the splendour in her own garden. There were plenty left to put on an impressive show.

The delicate hyacinths briefly add colour to the rosemary hedge.

Iris Florentina never disappoints, they seem to appear in a new spot each year but I’m not sure I can bring myself to cull them.

Snowbells and Spanish bluebells commingle with the daffodils and irises

while the elegant arum lilies would monopolise the entire garden if not kept in check.

Blossoms are appearing on the fruit trees, hopefully the Roaring Forties won’t come too soon and blow them away, it would be nice to have some fruit this year.

The grevilleas are ready for the birds and bees

and the clivia are managing to withstand the wildlife.

New leaves on the Pieris are a wonderful shade of red, soon to turn green and await the pendulous white “Lily-of-the-Valley” flowers.

The Waratah is in full bloom

with the magnolia

and rhododendrons not far behind.

As the weather warms up, the garden will become an ever changing palette until winter slumber and the cycle will begin again.

The Hotel Windsor

Our wonderful trip to Victoria was coming to an end and one of the things we had planned for our last day was Afternoon Tea at The Hotel Windsor. Established in 1883, this magnificent building was then known as The Grand Hotel and soon became recognised as the most stylish and luxurious accommodation in Melbourne.

The property changed hands in 1886 and soon after, under the influence of the temperance movement’s teetotal ideals at the time, became The Grand Coffee Palace. Apparently, serving coffee isn’t quite as profitable as serving alcohol and ten years later, the liquor license was reinstated and The Grand Hotel was reborn. The name was changed to The Windsor following a luncheon attended by The Prince of Wales in 1923. Expansions, renovations and changes of ownership have ensued over the years and, under threat of demolition in 1976, the Victorian Government bought the hotel. As we stepped into the foyer, we were instantly transported to a time of elegance and etiquette.

The arched entrance to The Grand Ballroom features etched glass panes and cut ruby glass

and the cantilevered Grand Staircase, built of Stawell stone, rises 75 feet above the lobby.

Even the Ladies Powder Room has an air of grandeur.

The sumptuous One Eleven lounge is the setting for The Windsor’s Afternoon Tea, a Melbourne institution served since 1883.

The custom of afternoon tea is said to have originated around the time gas lighting was introduced in the 1800s in Britain. This meant people could stay up later and eat their evening meal later, leaving a longer gap without food. One of Queen Victoria’s ladies-in-waiting is credited with the innovation when, in 1840, she began inviting friends to join her for afternoon beverages and delicious snacks. By 1880, the trend had spread to the homes of the upper classes and tea shops appeared across the country. After years of believing this to be called ‘High Tea’, I have discovered this is not the case. ‘High Tea’ was a substantial meal eaten at a high table by the working classes at the end of the day, around 5pm. What we were about to experience is known as ‘Low Tea’ in reference to the low drawing room tables the tea and delicacies were served from in upper class homes. By that definition, ours was probably ‘Middle Tea’. Greeted with a flute of sparkling wine, it wasn’t long before a three-tiered cake stand laden with mouthwatering morsels arrived.

The menu changes seasonally, our winter warm savoury appetisers were roasted Jerusalem artichoke tart with ricotta, thyme & fine herbs and parmesan crusted gougere with a delicious Gruyere filling.

There were three varieties of melt-in-your-mouth ribbon sandwiches; free range egg with saffron aioli & mustard,smoked chicken Waldorf salad with Victorian walnuts and cucumber with peperonata & Yarra Valley fetta.

The patisserie presentation was exquisite, we couldn’t decide which to devour first; the pistachio macaron with roasted pistachio & Sicilian pistachio ganache, the vanilla and yuzu religieuse with vanilla bean mousse, yuzu sauce, cremeux & almond sponge or the longchamp with milk chocolate mousse & crispy hazelnut praline.

On arrival, we were asked to choose from a selection of eleven teas which were now served in individual silver teapots with an accompanying pot of hot water for those of us who enjoy our brew on the weak side. Freshly baked traditional and raisin scones with housemade jam and double cream completed the indulgence.

The two hour session seems ample when booking but we could happily have lingered all afternoon.

paper on skin – the film

Last Friday evening, we attended the premiere screening of Design Eye Creative paper on skin 2020 – The Film. It was wonderful to watch these fabulous garments brought to life on the big screen and to have been a part of the journey. The film can be viewed as a whole or in sections and another presents a forum with the judges explaining their rationale. They can be viewed on the Burnie Arts Council website here, sit back and enjoy.

Winner of the $5,000 Design Eye Creative Major Award, Waratah by Amanda May (VIC)

Kings Domain

After a couple of hours absorbing the exhibitions at the NGV, we made the most of the winter sunshine with a stroll through Kings Domain. Established in 1854, the mix of deciduous and evergreen trees, both native and non-native, in the 36 hectare parkland renders a beautiful autumn aesthetic.

Myriad memorial statues and sculptures are scattered throughout the Domain making for a very interesting amble. The Walker Fountain was donated in 1981 by former City of Melbourne Mayor, Ron Walker and his wife, Barbara. With 46 underwater lights and 144 individual streams of water, I imagine it would be a spectacular vision at night.

The parks namesake, King George V, is memorialised with a lofty bronze, granite and sandstone sculpture. Following his death in 1936, a public appeal was launched to secure funds for the memorial, however, World War II delayed the construction and it wasn’t unveiled until 1952. A statue of the late King in full Garter Robes, wearing the Imperial Crown and holding the ceremonial sceptre and orb, stands on the eastern side. Because the sun was in its descent, I have captured the western face and the statue representing Maternal Britannia holding a cross and olive branch in her hands, symbolic of love and peace. The two children represent the Dominions and Colonies under British rule, while a lion and unicorn holding armorial shields flank the base.

Arriving in Victoria in 1899, Russian immigrant Sidney Myer is probably best known for his successful retail businesses. He was also a violinist with a passion for music and initiated a series of free open air concerts in the Botanic Gardens with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra in 1929. He had expressed a wish for these concerts to continue and, following his death in 1934, the Sidney Myer Charitable Trust funded the design and construction of the Sidney Myer Music Bowl. Opened in 1959 by prime minister Robert Menzies, the venue holds the record for the largest crowd ever at a concert event in Australia when 200,000 people attended the 1967 Seekers homecoming concert. Officially, there is fixed seating for around 2,000 people and the surrounding lawn area can accommodate a further 10,000.

On this day there was an audience of one, a slender young woman seemingly captivated by the music. Miraggio, also known as Seated Figure, by Pino Conte was donated by an anonymous ‘Lover of Italy’ in 1964 and was installed following re-landscaping of the site in 2001.

Through the trees, sleek glass edifices tower paradoxically with the elegant belvedere tower of Government House.

The Seeds of Friendship sculpture was installed to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli landings in 2015. Two hand-carved granite seed cones, a pine from Turkey and a casuarina from Australia, represent the fallen, the seeds of friendship and the future. The filigreed stainless steel wreath is designed for placing remembrance poppies of which a few knitted perennials are scattered around.

The Shrine of Remembrance is an astounding structure, originally built to honour the men and women of Victoria who served in World War I, it is now a memorial to all Australians who have served in any war. The design is the winning entry of a competition in 1922, won by two Melbourne returned-soldier architects, Philip Hudson and James Wardrop. Controversy ensued and the seven year construction finally began in 1927.

Other memorials have been added to the site since the opening in 1934, including the Second World War Memorial Forecourt. The carving atop the Cenotaph depicts six men in the uniforms of the Navy, Army and Air Force carrying a dead comrade draped in the Australian flag. At the base, the Eternal Flame, symbolising eternal life, was lit by Queen Elizabeth II at the dedication of the Forecourt in 1954.

Two replica statues, entitled “The Driver” and “Wipers” were relocated from the front of the State Library to the Shrine grounds in 1998. They commemorate the thousands of Australian lives lost during the fighting at Ypres (‘wipers’ was the way Australian and British servicemen pronounced Ypres during World War I).

We had both spent time inside the Shrine on previous occasions, a remarkable place to visit. Too soon to return cityside,

we continued our trajectory to the Royal Botanic Gardens. Entering the gate adjacent to the Melbourne Observatory,

we hadn’t gone far when, in true Melbourne style, the heavens opened in spectacular fashion. Leaving the lovely autumn hues to their dousing, we retreated to the comfort of a beverage on Southbank.

paper on skin

The inaugural paper on skin competition transpired in 2012, the brainchild of Burnie denizen, paper artist Pam Thorne. The concept of wearable art links a strong history of paper making in Burnie with the creative talents of local and international artists. When we learned the major sponsor had withdrawn, we didn’t hesitate to offer our support and so, Design Eye Creative paper on skin 2020 became the new incarnation. Usually, the competition culminates with a gala parade and award evening, however, with the advent of social distancing regulations, a new strategy emerged. The award ceremony was live-streamed through Facebook followed by an exhibition of the garments at Burnie Regional Art Gallery for four weeks. In lieu of the catwalk parade, a series of films have been produced to allow a greater audience appreciation. We were privileged to witness some of the filming at the Burnie Arts & Function Centre. Tasmanian artist, Marion Kennedy, was on hand for last minute adjustments to her entry, Fathoms

and the seemingly simplistic Flow will be explained later.

The movies will be released on 4th September and I will publish the links when available. Meanwhile, join me at the exhibition. The competition is not themed and each entry, which must be made from at least 80% paper, has its own story. Guardian of the Southern Convergence, made with hand dyed indigo kozo paper by Liz Powell & Dr Denise N Rall (NSW) is based on the Antarctic Convergence, the threat from environmental change and the alliance of countries protecting it from exploitation.

Over 2,300 folded paper and silk paper spheres have been mathematically engineered and sewn together to create Flower of Life. Brielle Killip worked with Chris Geissinger & Jennifer Garber (Denver Colorado, USA) to produce a garment that is both a bold statement and is comfortable to wear, earning them the $2,000 Runner-Up Award as well as the $500 Public Vote Award.

When Queenslander, Karen Benjamin, conceived her idea for Flow, she had no idea how pertinent her entry would be. Made from toilet paper, each circle has been coloured with permanent marker and hand stitched, creating the illusion of flowing water. The degree of difficulty was enhanced when pandemic panic buying brought a halt to production but, on the up side, the idea for the face mask accessory was born.

Burgeon is an interesting collaboration between Portuguese paper artist and jeweller Renata Fukuda & fashion designer Marta Lisboa, playing with proportion in unpredictable ways.

Lorreny Vera from Victoria has tapped into her Venezuelan roots to create Queen Guacamaya, the queen of the jungle.

Toyo paper braid is the basis for Calligraphica by RR Pascoe (NSW) who has been creating artworks from reclaimed and sustainable materials for more than two decades.

Jade Kahle (VIC) has mastered the art of knitting and crocheting with paper string, enjoying the texture, stitch definition and sculptural effects to culminate in her entry The Esther Dress.

Paper card was the material of choice for Janine Hilder (VIC) for her pastel creation, Lantern Lass.

Although we had a preview of Fathoms at the filming session, I hadn’t realised the detail of the underwater world featured on the gown.

It may not have won any awards but Connie’s Coat stole my heart. A wonderful collaboration between Anne Gason, Barb Adams, Chris Rose, Chris Smith & Gail Stiffe (VIC), the handmade paper gives the illusion of a well-worn coat with a treasure in every pocket. There is a story behind this garment; “The Coat of Connie McBride: Connie sailed from Dublin to Melbourne in 1885 with her brother Darcy. After a few years trapped in the city slums they travelled to Jamieson VIC to prospect for gold. Darcy moved to Beechworth, but Connie befriended the publican of the ‘Diggers Exchange Hotel’ where she worked until it closed in 1911 due to the actions of the ‘Liquor Licence Reduction Board’. Connie lived until she was 95 (died 1970).”

46.Connie's Coat

Plotting paper has been used by Laila-Inga Mueterthies (Germany) for her piece, Papyria.

Stunning by design, the kozo and recycled paper entry Snowy Mountains Dreaming by Polly Crowden (NSW) pushed the boundaries of ‘wearable’.

Technology, art and fashion synthesise in Rockabetty by Tara Morelos & Liz Bradshaw (NSW).

If you have ever enjoyed a cup of tea you will appreciate the ingenious re-use of tea bags in New Life. Denise Lamby (QLD) spent hours drying soggy tea bags to reincarnate them in a fabulous, colourful art form.

The throwaway culture of the fashion industry is highlighted in the entry from Kate Dunn (NSW), Exposure.

The enigmatic Foggy Lady by Mali Klein (Netherlands) comprises an ensemble of handmade paper dyed with natural pigments.

Local Burnie artist, Joan Stammers, has created a spectacularly grand costume using recycled papers. The floral trimmings on Let them eat cake would be worthy of any garden competition.

With her 100% paper entry, Loong (Dragon) Tale, Simone Guascoine (NSW) has used sewing techniques taught by her grandmother to create her Japanese themed outfit.

The winner of the $5,000 Major Award, Amanda May (VIC), designed a beautiful, bright representation of the Australian native flower, Waratah. The vital work of our Australian native bees hasn’t been forgotten with the eco-addition of a Blue Banded Bee.

The pretty Pretend Print-cess by Kelcie Bryant (NSW) is reminiscent of a feminine sundress accompanied by a playful rabbit mask.

Handmade paper has been used by Amee Dennis (NSW) for her creation, Study of Grass.

The TasmAsian by Cynthia Hawkins is an intriguing fusion of her Malaysian roots and adopted home of Tasmania.

A second entry by Laila-Inga Mueterthies (Germany), Showtime, is truly stunning. With the use of plotter paper, we are taken back to a time when style meant elegance and sophistication.

Another local entrant, Chloe Townsend, has successfully transformed her concept to reality with the aptly named Flame.

With so many fabulous entries, choosing one for my public vote wasn’t easy but Musings On Things Ethereal by Kathryn Wilkinson (NSW) was outstanding. Mulberry paper, teabags and silk organza combine perfectly in this stunning creation, I would love to add this to my wardrobe.

Donna Vo (NSW) has used artisanal Japanese washi paper along with paper raffia for her composition, The Shedding. Her piece, “represents the shedding of ideals placed on a female as a child, a young adult and as a mother.”

Inspired by the natural world, Svenja (QLD) has shared her fascination in her design, Cosmic leafy sea dragon.

Unfortunately, two artists missed the judging due to upheavals in the postal system. Romanian Antoaneta Tica was selected as a finalist but her work was stranded when international freight and postage lines closed. However, she organised a photo shoot and it can be viewed on the paper on skin Facebook page. Tony Williams (Cleveland Ohio USA) also encountered problems with freight and his three entries arrived after the judging and filming but in time for the final week of the exhibition. Tony’s spectacular creations can also be seen on Facebook.

131.Film