Monday, February 20, 2017


Lila Seewoosurrun-Sadaful, NGV International. Photo: Julie Clarke (c) 2017
I spent a couple of thoroughly enjoyable hours today with Lila Seewoosurrun-Sadaful at the NGV International. Lila is in Melbourne for the next two years undertaking an MA by research in Urban Planning at The University of Melbourne and I met up with her at the Gallery in order to introduce her to one aspect of Melbourne under the Welcome to Melbourne mentoring scheme arranged by the University Alumni Association.
Lila is married with two children and has been a town planner in Mauritius for over a decade. She has a strong work ethic, has experience working with engineers as well as being in charge of building inspectors, which she herself has undertaken. Her MA in Urban Planning will augment her extensive skills base and has equity at its core; for much of existing land in Mauritius is currently used to construct high rise buildings, whereas many living in poverty on the island's flat land will be at the mercy of floods due to the affect of climate change on the small island. Lila hopes that her study will enable her to improve the future housing conditions of those in need.
Lila, NGV International. Photo: Julie Clarke (c) 2017
I took Lila to the National Gallery (International) because I wanted to share my interest in contemporary art, however the gallery was in the process of setting up new exhibitions. Instead, Lila and I spent time looking at Mexican and Egyptian stone work sculptures and 17th - 19th Century paintings. I don't remember ever seeing Rembrandt's self portrait and portrait of an old man together, so that was a highlight for me. Lila was impressed by the intricate attention to detail of the clothing and she especially liked a painting depicting two young children surrounded by dogs.
Lila, NGV International. Photo: Julie Clarke (c) 2017
We had coffee outside the Arts Centre because the day, which had begun in typical Melbourne style - cold, grey and overcast, was finally sunny. I have to admit that I could have spent much more time listening to Lila's beautiful French accent and feel honored to have meet such a gentle soul.

Thursday, February 9, 2017


Last week the beautiful, but diseased tree in my courtyard was cut down to a stump. The noise from the chainsaw was horrendous and I had a migraine for two days. Nevertheless at least I don't have to worry now about whether it was going to fall. Unfortunately the tree was providing much needed shade from the burning sun and so my courtyard, which was once a haven is like hades. The birds that I feed everyday - a couple of blackbirds, some doves and sparrows adapted to the fact that the tree was missing and use the tree stump as a jumping off point to the top of the fence. I think they grew accustomed to the absence of branches and leaves faster than I did and I figure that's because they didn't see the tree as I did, being more enveloped within it, whereas I absorbed its entireity.

After reading Hitler's Mein Kamf I've moved on to Arthur Shopenhauer's The World as Will and Representation and although I'm dipping into the large tome, rather than reading it word for word I have to say that I enjoyed the chapter on Aesthetic Pleasure, especially in relation to the sublime. The following quote regarding the sublime character is particularly interesting:

He will observe their faults, and even their hatred and injustice to himself, without being thereby stirred to hatred on his own part. He will contemplate their happiness without feeling envy, recognize their good qualities without desiring closer association with them, perceive the beauty of women without hankering after them. His personal happiness or unhappiness will not violently affect him. For, in the course of his own life and in its misfortunes, he will look less at his own individual lot than at the lot of mankind as a whole, and accordingly will conduct himself in this respect rather as a knower than as a sufferer. (206-207). I'm wondering whether this may be akin to Nietzsche's Ubermensch for it appears to be a spiritual quest?

Over the course of the past week I've been involved in administrative tasks associated with becoming a casual tutor in the Indigenous Tertiary Assistane Scheme at the University of Melbourne. It's a job I held between the years 2009-2012. I'm not sure at this stage how many hours a week I'll be working as it really depends on the students who select me. It's still a week or so before Orientation Week so I'll know soon enough. I also joined up as a Welcome to Melbourne mentor with the University and have been matched with a female town planner from Mauritis who is undertaking an MA at Melbourne University. I've decided to welcome her to Melbourne by taking her to the NGV International in a couple of weeks time.

I feel rather trapped by this hot weather. I generally do domestic things, gymnasium and the like in the morning and then home in the afternoons. I'm really looking forward to Autumn's cooler days. Still, one should not wish their life away.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017


Half an hour before the tribute flowers were removed by SES and Red Cross volunteers from the steps of the old Melbourne General Post Office, corner of Elizabeth and Bourke Street, Melbourne yesterday I went to look at the gifts and cards left by Melbournians to honor those who died after a man in a car rampaged through streets of the CBD and killed pedestrians on 22 January this year. Tragically the death of the sixth victim of the attack had only just been announced.
It was cool and overcast when I arrived at about 9.55 am. The mood amongst those present was quiet and sombre. Visibly upset Melbournians were being comforted by Red Cross volunteers and a female member asked if I was alright because after taking about twenty photographs I stopped to read one of the messages left by a nine year old. Her message began with the words 'Melbourne used to be a happy place...' and it was these words that brought me to tears. For the Red Cross volunteer it was seeing a small soft toy of a pengin with one of its socks missing. A young man standing next to me was crying and I pointed out to him how beautiful the tribute looked, because the sun had finally broken through the clouds and its light was reflecting off the cellophane wrapping on the flowers. The whole scene was aesthetically beautiful and after recognising what I said he stopped crying and smiled. Even though I had seen reportage of this tragic event on television, this event was made more real by the overwhelming tribute, the photographs of the victims and the knowledge that this had indeed happened. All I could think of was 'not our Melbourne'! The flower tribute has been removed but the memory will remain.

Sunday, January 22, 2017


I've never been to a music festival before and so, when I won a ticket to attend SUGAR MOUNTAIN at Victorian College of the Arts (thanks to a Melbourne University Alumni competition) I was naturally excited, but also a little apprehensive thinking about how I was going to cope with the noise and movement, since both can trigger a vestibular migraine. Although the one day festival ran from 11.30 am to 11pm, I decided to arrive early and see as much as I could before the bulk of the crowd poured through the gates.
SUGAR MOUNTAIN was an extremely organized event and we all moved through the entrance quite quickly even though security officers were inspecting the inside of bags. 

Whilst I was waiting I met the very lovely Myriam Bleu, an experimental electronic music performer from Canada who had undertaken a Masters in Classical music, played guitar for years and found that experimentation allowed her to explore her creativity at a greater level. I also met a performer called Young TapZ from New Zealand. 

I didn't meet, but took a photo of Supergroup from London. Their minimalist, colorful works graced the entrance to the festival.

I left at around 3.15pm because I was thoroughly exhausted walking from one area to another - each stage was set up in different areas of VCA;  listening to music, eating my lunch, trying to find a vendor selling coffee and then attempting to locate a seat in the shade.
Much I what I heard I liked, however only survived the onslaught of electronic sounds by the fact that a female security officer gave me some small ear-plugs, which I used whilst listening to the high pitched sounds of Sui Zhen.

I really loved the band with the guy wearing fish-net stocking until the low base rumble was so loud  it felt like an earthquake had traversed my body, causing heart palpitations and I had to get away from their sounds as fast as I could.

I really wish the bands could have turned it down a notch or two. A four year old child walking alongside her tattoo covered mother seemed to express exactly what I was thinking as she had her hands placed over her ears. This all sounds like I didn't enjoy myself and yet I did. The attendees were pleasant, the crowd orderly, the security guards helpful. Here's some random photos of bands and people attending the festival who caught my eye. The only band name I remember was Weyes Blood - I took this photo before their performance.

And finally, a selfie in front of weird mirror distortion artwork.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Dove Skeleton

Dove skeleton. Photo: Julie Clarke (c) 2017
I can't believe that almost eighteen days has already slipped by in 2017. The recent heat wave made Winter dissolve into faded memory, a reminder to me of that old, but wise saying 'even this will pass'. Over the past five days I've read Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf (My Struggle). I wouldn't generally attempt to read a 572 page tome - just the density of such a book would be off putting.
I've been taking photographs of what I'm calling Urban Inscription, I suppose others might call mark making on walls and buildings as tagging or graffiti, but since they form part of the aesthetics of our environment, they add to the flavour of urban life. I'll post them on this blog when I've taken a few more. I find that I almost always take photographs when I'm not ready to paint or draw - the canvas I bought in the new year is still in its wrapper and I'm daunted by the silence of its white, emptiness.
I look out to my courtyard. The half a dozen or so Begonia's are in flower, the black birds, sparrows and doves are eating the oats I provide for them each day. It's quiet, save for the sound of traffic. Things remain the same, whilst simultaneously becoming different.
I finally opened the dove egg that fell out of the nest in mid December. The body of the little unborn dove had dried up. Its skeleton, barely a few centimeters long was all that was inside the shell. A bizzare and somewhat disturbing image. Even so, I photographed it (above).

Tuesday, January 10, 2017


Because I saw and photographed some hot air balloons early this morning, I decided to hunt down other photos I've taken of various hot air balloons I've seen over my place over the past three  years. I hope you enjoy seeing them.

December 2014

August 2014


February 2015

October 2015
December 2015
10 January 2017.
November 2016

Monday, January 9, 2017


I'd been feeling rather confined during the heatwave. Sure, I could get out in the mornings and go to the gymnasium and do a little shopping, but then, because of the radiant heat and temperatures souring above 30C degrees I was trapped inside. It might have been intolerable except that the test cricket was absorbing and although Australia won 3/0, it may have been due to Pakistan's pathetic fielding. Anyway, yesterday I thought it was going to be more of the same, but the cool change occurred around 12.30 and I headed off to the Victoria Gardens shopping centre to check out some post Christmas sales. When I came out of the centre I crossed the road determined to walk along that small walk bridge that traverses the Yarra. It didn't happen due to my balance issues and my slight fear of heights. It's still one of my challenges for the year. I felt at least that I'd achieved something when I took a photo of this wonderful example of urban inscription on a wall near a large empty block in Victoria Street. You will notice the iconic Skipping Girl sign in the distance.
Urban Inscription. Photo: Julie Clarke (c) 2017

I'd planned to go and see Deborah Conway and Willy Zygier who were performing for Sunset Sounds a free City of Stonnington music event and so I took a tram down Chapel Street to High Street, Prahran and then walked the four blocks up to Victoria Park. I was a little disappointed that instead of 6pm, Deborah and Willy were scheduled to begin their performance at 7.30, meaning that I'd be travelling home after dark. However both she and Willy were in the audience and I took a couple of candid photographs of Willy playing his guitar and one of Deborah, Willy (and friend?).

Willy Zygier. Photo: Julie Clarke (c) 2017
Deborah Conway, Willy Zygier and friend? Photo: Julie Clarke (c) 2017
Although I couldn't stay for Deborah and Willy's performance I did hear half a dozen songs from Sal Kimber and The Rollin' Wheel. Sal's music takes listeners on a journey through country, fold, rock and pop. I could tell by the lyrics of her songs that she is greatly moved by people in country Victoria.
Photo: Julie Clarke (c) 2017
She was wonderful and sang with such passion. I took a couple of photographs of her singing, but my favourite is the one I took of her hydrating before she began.
Sal Kimber before the performance. Photo: Julie Clarke (c) 2017
It was a lovely atmosphere in the park. Hundreds of people sitting in what looked like an amphitheatre in the amply shaded park, which was built in 1887. I had never been there before and was amazed that such a beautiful oasis was tucked away in an otherwise built up area.
Crowd in Victoria Gardens. Photo: Julie Clarke (c) 2017

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Water Safety Warning

I'm dismayed that not much has changed over the past decades and that there has been a rise in drowing deaths this Summer.
Article from The Argus, December 2, 1935

Although I could swim a little and had during the summer months of my childhood jumped in rivers and creeks around Wangaratta to keep cool, it was only after my grandmother (who I lived with) moved to Altona that I experience my first real experience of being in deep beach water. My grandmother always anxious when we (my two sisters and myself) headed off, reminded us that our two Aunties had drowned. Indeed on Sunday, 1 Dec, 1935 Margaret Joyce Clarke aged 13 and Isabelle Clarke aged 10, drowned at Elwood Beach. They were two of the five children who lost their lives that afternoon in 88.6F (29C) degrees heat.
My learn to swim certificate 1963

I count myself lucky that in 1963 we were enrolled in a Herald Sun learn to swim program through the local council and I was proud that I could swim 25 yards. I'm afraid that being able to swim meant that I had more confidence than I previously had around water and admit to doing some silly things, like swim to the end of Altona pier where I was pushed and bashed by the surging water and suffered scratched and bleeding legs from the sharp barnacles attached to pier pylons. Later, when I was 18 years old I swam to the middle of Lake Learmonth in Ballarat and back to shore. I was severely exhausted, sunburnt and suffered heatstroke for two days. In 1970 my nephew died trying to save a friend from drowning. Water safety is paramount in my mind because of the trauma it caused to our family.
This blog post is to remind people not only to watch small children around water, but to remind teenagers and older adults that just because you can swim doesn't mean that you can do stupid things or swim out too far in the ocean. Even strong swimmers can drown. Drinking alcohol and going into the pool or beach water is a recipe for disaster as is ignoring information provided by Life Savers. Always swim between the flags, that way if you get into trouble the life savers will be able to see you. Above all, don't get caught up in being competative or macho, it could cause your own death and the death of someone trying to save you! If you can't swim don't be tempted to walk into deep water and above all, don't swim alone.