Month: March 2012

and the archibald goes to…

V V V The well-known Australian artist Tim Storrier has won the country’s most prestigious art award for portraiture, the Archibald Prize. The prize was first awarded in 1921, with the winner receiving £400. Today, the prize is worth $75,000. According to the official guidelines, the winning portrait should be ‘preferentially of some man or woman distinguished in art, letters, science or politics, painted by any artist resident in Australasia during the 12 months preceding the [closing] date’. You can view Storrier’s winning self-portrait here. There are also some amazing pieces among the forty-one works that made it to the finals. V For more info, check out these links: Wikipedia’s Archibald Prize page ‘Tim Storrier wins Archibald Prize’ story from The Age, 30 March 2012 Tim Storrier’s website V Advertisements

Little Saigon Market

One of the truly wonderful things about Melbourne is its rich and varied multiculturalism. According to the 2006 census, this city is home to the second-largest Asian population in Australia, including the country’s largest Indian and Sri Lankan communities. We are made up of 180 nationalities who speak 233 languages, and almost a quarter of our inhabitants were born overseas. For a travel junkie like me, access to a range of cultures is a necessity. And one of the best places to indulge my addiction is Little Saigon Market in Footscray. If you come here around closing time – between, say, 5.30pm and 7pm, especially on a weekend – this place will be in full swing. Vietnamese-speaking fruit vendors will push trays of exotic-looking fruit slices under your nose, urging you to sample and buy. You can pick up entire bags full of fruit and vegetables for a pittance, then duck across to the meat and fish counters for your week’s supplies. The noise and the bustle is fantastic; you really will feel as though you have …

Meet me on the steps

  Those steps. Those clocks. That dome… Melbourne just wouldn’t be Melbourne without Flinders Street Railway Station. ‘On the steps’ or ‘under the clocks’ (one and the same location) is the traditional meeting place for converging Melburnians, which is why you’ll see so many people loitering under the front arch of the station. This is probably the city’s best-loved and most iconic building, and has been acknowledged as such by Heritage Victoria. The station started life as a pile of sheds back in 1854, but after a few decades the city decided it needed a more permanent building, so a station-designing competition was held. A couple lads named James Fawcett and HPC Ashworth won the gig (and £500) and the new station was completed in 1910. One lovely little piece of trivia about Flinders Street Station is that the retro clocks adorning the front of the building really are quite seriously retro – they are originals dating back to the 1860s. Apparently, during the early 1980s the clocks were removed and digital replacements were due to …

A survival guide

  Whenever I travel outside Australia, one of the most common questions I’m asked about living in this country is, ‘How do you survive?’ Somehow, what with the over-excited nature documentaries made by folks like the Discovery Channel, foreigners seem to have the impression that we Australians live in houses crawling with every creepy, poisonous and otherwise deadly creature known to (wo)man. It’s true that Australia is home to a frightening number of venomous snakes; we also have a few scary spiders, and in some waters you may be unlucky enough to come across a crocodile or a shark (or poisonous jellyfish or those icky stonefish that are pretty much undetectable when they lie in among the rocks). But here’s the reality for an inner-city Melburnian: the number of deadly creatures you’re likely to encounter in a year will probably be zilch. The most credible threat comes from the Redback spider, a member of the widow family. These little critters can be deadly, but since the invention of a commercially available anti-venom in 1956 there have …

platform artists group inc.

    Platform Artists Group is a not-for-profit organisation that was established back in 1990. This artist-run initiative showcases artworks in two public spaces: the windows in the Campbell Arcade (also called the Degraves Street Subway) and in the Majorca Building in Flinders Lane. The Campbell Arcade is an interesting sight in itself. Built in 1956 for the Melbourne Olympic Games, this space is a great example of Art Deco architecture. There are also a few cafes and sweet little shops down here that are fun to explore on a rainy afternoon.  

happy hunting

V V If you’re from far-off lands, you may be surprised to discover that clothing stores in Australia tend to be quite pricey. It’s much more difficult to find affordable, good-quality clothes in Australia than it is in many European countries, for example. Thankfully, Melbourne is littered with op shops, which will save you from public nakedness as long as you have some spare change in your pocket. The main charity shops are the Salvation Army stores (‘the Salvos‘), the Brotherhood of St Laurence stores and St Vincent de Paul (‘Vinnies‘) stores. These places also usually sell furniture, books and knick-knacks. The mammoth Savers second-hand stores are often mistaken for charity shops but they in fact operate for profit. There are also a growing number of small independent thrift stores scattered throughout inner-city Melbourne that sell hand-picked (mostly vintage) wares. Essentially, these stores do the op-shop rummaging for you, but you pay for the service with higher prices. Not only are op shops kinder to your pocket-book than the usual clothes stores, they are also a …

my favourite room

V V I’m going to make a bold statement. I think the Screen Worlds exhibition at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) is one of the best exhibitions I’ve ever been to. Ever. In the whole world. Or maybe I should amend that to ‘most entertaining’ exhibitions ever. I’ve never studiously read through all the exhibits as I would in a normal museum because at Screen Worlds I’m always too excited to go try out the next activity. There’s a time-slice animation booth, where you can make a Matrix-style video and email it to yourself. (Here’s mine.) Or you can try the Shadow-Puppet-Style Projector Thingo. Or you can step into one of my favourite rooms in the world: The Dark Room With The Weird Light In It (you can tell I’ve done my research, can’t you?) The point is, you may not learn a whole lot at Screen Worlds, but you will rediscover your inner child who just wants to push all the other kids out of the way for a shot on the …

q&a

Qanda – that word won’t mean much to non-Australians. To be honest, it probably doesn’t mean much to a fair slice of the Australian population, either, but I wish it did. It refers to Q&A, the live panel-discussion television show aired by the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) every Monday night, in which questions are put to a panel by audience members. Moderated by veteran journalist Tony Jones, the panel generally features five experts or public figures of some kind: political and social commentators, writers, politicians, economists, academics…  anyone with something to say. (This week’s show, for example, featured Australian feminist Germaine Greer and conservative American ‘porn pastor’ Craig Gross, among others.) During the show, twitter comments using the hash-tag ‘qanda’ are also aired, giving it an interactive element. If you’re new to the country, much of the discussion of domestic politics on Q&A will probably go over your head; even so, the show may be useful in helping to wrap your brain around how Australian politics works and, more interestingly, how Australians view different issues. But it’s not all politics. …