Wednesday, 31 October 2007

artist lizzie buckmaster dove

But I will tell you that these artworks are by Lizzie Buckmaster Dove, an artist who I discovered while researching an article for real living. An Australian artist who lived in the UK and Spain for six years, Lizzie has previously worked with mosaics, illustrations and graphic design. I haven't seen that work, but these 3D paper constructions are sublime.

Photo courtesy of Lizzie Buckmaster Dove and NG Art Gallery.

Tuesday, 30 October 2007

varuna - the writer's house

These are pics of Varuna - The Writer's House in The Blue Mountains. It is where I might get to stay if I make the shortlist for the HarperCollins Varuna Awards For Manuscript Development. I'm not usually a patchwork quilt kind of girl, but I can definitely see myself there writing away. Fingers crossed!

Monday, 29 October 2007

writer pip harry

Pip, a day-maker and writer, on safari in Africa.

Sometimes you meet someone and they make your day - just give that extra little boost you needed. That happened to me late last week when I was fortunate enough to meet Pip Harry. Over lunch at a work function we got talking and she truly changed my outlook ... and my weekend! You see, Pip is a writer, too. She's worked as a journalist for many years and has also been trying to get published. She told me about a writers program at Varuna for near-completed manuscripts. Basically the lucky five who are selected get to workshop their novel with editors from HarperCollins with a view to publication. The applications close on Wednesday so I've been frantically polishing mine all weekend. But more than anything, Pip made me realise that all the feelings I've had about my creative writing are ones she has experienced. The great news? I'm normal! Here's Pip's story.

How long have you been a writer? Since I learnt how to grasp a crayon in my chubby paw. I've been paid money for it since 1997, when I took my first job as a part-time editorial assistant/coffee fetcher on a running magazine.
What's been the highlight so far? Getting to write stories that make other people (and me) feel good. Recently, I've loved writing for Notebook magazine about volunteer groups, people making positive changes in their lives and strong, interesting relationships. Travel writing in general is pretty great too and as an entertainment reporter I've met and interviewed so many amazing, talented people.
What are you looking forward to? Going to Beijing and Tokyo in four days for a press trip!
Who inspires you? I volunteer with a group of homeless writers at the Edward Eagar shelter in Darlinghurst. They inspire me with their unadorned, powerful words and their fight to exist in a world they find challehnging.
What are you passionate about? Ocean swimming, creative writing in all it's forms, my family and partner.
What's been your best decision? To leave my desk job and work from home as a freelance writer a year ago. It's given me the freedom to write about things i care about, on my own terms and to spend lots of time squeezing my nine-month-old niece, Liv.
What would you do differently next time? I would avoid that patch of ice at Treble Cone ski resort in New Zealand, so I didn't tear my calf muscle in two.
10 years ago, did you think you'd be where you are now? No. Ten years ago I was living in Melbourne, nannying part-time and considering teaching because writing just wasn't paying the bills. I think I was sleeping on a friends couch and desperately cold calling magazine editors begging for work.
What’s next? I want to finish a novel I'm working on (slowly!) for young adults, and perhaps study for a masters degree in creative writing at UTS.
What book are you currently reading?
Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld, a very smart teen novel; Heat by Bill Buford, a delicious novel about Italian food and cooking; and the UTS Writers Anthology, 2007, a collection of really excellent short stories.

Saturday, 27 October 2007

creative homes

I'm taking a bit of a risk with this post. I'm off to a birthday party later this evening and want to chat about the gift I bought for my friend. So, Fleur, I hope you're not reading this! (I figure she's busy having a special birthday lunch and chilling out today.) I always find it so hard to buy gifts for people because I HATE giving something that doesn't mean anything. The present must correspond to the person and, I have to admit, be something that I like too (something that I'm happy and proud to give). Often the question I ask myself is, "Would I want to receive this as a gift?" The presents you would buy yourself are usually the best ones to give. So when I was looking for a great interiors book for my friend Fleur, I decided to buy Creative Homes: Inside the Private Worlds of Australia's Style Makers, edited by Karen McCartney (who is also editor of interiors mag Inside Out). It has so many beautiful homes that I hope my friend finds it inspiring as she decorates her flat (she bought one in Paddington earlier this year). But I have to say, it's hard to find an interiors book that isn't hardback (ie, very expensive) and yet still something you'd be proud to place on your coffee table. The other book I had in mind was Home Is Where the Heart Is by Ilse Crawford, which we use as a reference book at work. But do you think anyone had it in stock!!!

Friday, 26 October 2007

artist chelsea lehmann

Okay, okay. What I'm saying is "when two sets of eyes don't meet" and share the same viewpoint. But you get the idea. D was held back at work last night while I walked around Art Sydney 07 and I found this beautiful painting. I'd actually seen it before when I'd been researching for the "Yes, you can buy art" feature for real living a few months back. It's the work of Chelsea Lehmann and I find it haunting, like something out of a 18th century novel. Unfortunately, when D arrived he didn't feel the same way. And when you're buying art (or furniture or bed linen or any number of a whole host of things that belong in the home) I believe that both partners have got to love it - well, at least like it. Some friends are lucky enough whereby their partners say, "I've got no idea about this interiors stuff, you just fill the house with what you like." I'm lucky enough - I think it's good that D has an opinion - and unlucky - not so great when we don't agree - that he cares about what goes in our home. Most of the time we have a similar aesthetic vision. But sometimes, like last night, it goes a little haywire. So, what to do? I love this piece. It's affordable ($795) but he's not bothered by it. I'm such an impulsive buyer that it's going to take all my willpower to not rush back to the fair and buy it. Oh dear...

Photo courtesy of Chelsea Lehmann and Arthouse Gallery

Thursday, 25 October 2007

art sydney 07

Nicholas Harding, Magnolia (June) 2007, Rex Irwin Art Dealer.

Ross Tamlin, Rose Bay, Rushcutter's Bay Gallery.

Martine Emdur, Silk, Arthouse Gallery.

Art Sydney 2007.

Tonight is the first night preview of Art Sydney 07 and I hope to get along at some point this weekend and buy one of the above paintings. Okay, so I might be a dreaming a little. But I enjoy indulging these fantasies. More than 80 galleries will be exhibiting and 1000s of artworks - at all price ranges - will be available to view and buy.

Photos courtesy of artists, representing galleries and Art Sydney.

Wednesday, 24 October 2007

designer jodie fried

Jodie making a difference in India.

Jodie at the Bholu studio in Surry Hills, Sydney.
The latest range from the Bholu collection incorporates linen.

Jodie has branched out to create children's toys, too.

Jodie Fried is one amazing woman. She has taken a side project - using traditional Indian embroidery skills to create beautiful homeware products - and turned it into a thriving business. While Jodie trained as a set and costume designer, she now focuses on Bholu - the Gujarat word meaning "child". I met and have kept in contact with Jodie via real living, and let me tell you her warm, genuine enthusiasm is incredibly refreshing.

What are you passionate about? I am passionate about people, new places, and being out of my element. I love new challenges and collaborations in different cultures, languages and bringing what i can to a project.
Who inspires you? There are so many amazing people out there doing incredible things, it is hard to pin point only a few. Daily I meet and read about people who bring me inspiration in so many different ways. One of the most inspiring people I have met is an Indian man called Jayesh Patel ( Jayeshbhai is the founder of the NGO Manav Sadhna ( in Ahmedababd, India at the Ghandi Ashram, which we support. I met him eight years ago and I have forever been in awe of his incredible sense of compassion, selflessness and generosity. If I could have half of what he has in his little toe, I would be happy! My gorgeous partner Greig Fraser (, who is a cinematographer, has been a great source of inspiration for me. He has taught me about being open and confident and to SHARE AS MUCH KNOWLEDGE AS YOU CAN WITH THE PEOPLE AROUND YOU. He is big on sharing his trade secrets and encouraging young, up-and-coming professionals in his industry. He has been a big cheerleader of mine to encourage me to jump and fly and follow my dreams and enjoy taking risks. I am often inspired by other young people who are doing what they can to help global change and awareness. I recently found this inspiring group of people who are the souls behind a project called Global Oneness Project.
What’s your motto in life? My motto is to JUMP AND FLY, FOLLOW YOUR DREAM AND THINK WITH YOUR HEART. We all have the strength to do this, it is just about actually taking the jump and enjoying the ride. There is not point in doing it if you don't have fun during that freefall! Give and share whatever you have, life has a superb way of bringing things back to you.
What lessons have you learnt so far along life’s journey? Never see a door closing as a lost opportunity, it just means something better is waiting just around the corner. Embrace every moment as if it was your last and live for each moment, don't wait until tomorrow. Remember that everything around you is materialistic, IT IS THE PEOPLE, EXPERIENCES, SMILES, LOVE AND LAUGHTER YOU WILL REMEMBER. From my travels, I have learnt that I am a very lucky person and compared with so many people in this world, I have so much. Meeting people from all walks of life and different socioeconomic areas provides a very clear perspective about what we all are so lucky to have day to day. I think this is important to be reminded of.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to pursue their passion? Follow your dream, listen to people, talk to people, hear their stories, experience as much as you can and then pass on your knowledge and support to someone else who might need it. Embrace new opportunities, and the hurdles when things don't go to plan, it might just be the lesson you needed. Make mistakes, as many as you can, as early as you can, but remember not to make them twice. A small mistake at the beginning of your passion might prevent a bigger one later down the track. YOU ARE ONLY AS GOOD AS THE PEOPLE AROUND YOU. Find a good network of people with skills you can draw on, in the early days this is very important. My biggest advice to someone pursing their passion is to find and identify mentors. They may be people you simply admire from afar, or they may be an active mentor who you can meet and use as a sounding board and for some external advice. Listen and talk to as many people as you can, take it all on board and then follow your instinct. The rest will follow.

Photos courtesy of Jodie Fried

Tuesday, 23 October 2007

fever italia

It seems appropriate to write about my new favourite find as I dash out the door to my Tuesday night Italian class. This CD - Fever Italia - was advertised when I went to the Italian Film Festival recently and I'm so glad that I managed to grab a copy. It's the perfect chilled-out CD to listen to while unwinding from a day at work ... or sipping a Chianti. If you've enjoyed any of the "So Frenchy, So Chic" compilations, you'll love this. Enjoy!

Monday, 22 October 2007

artist antonia pesenti

You might have come across Antonia Pesenti via some magpies on an Inside Out notebook earlier this year. Or you might have seen her illustrations in Real Living, Australian Gourmet Traveller, The Bulletin or one of several Murdoch Books jackets, such as Paris On A Plate. While she trained and has worked as an architect, Antonia's "sideline" of working as an illustrator is fast becoming a full-time occupation. She also designs and produces limited-edition products with her partner as mobilet. Oh, and she lived in Paris for eight years working for the likes of Philippe Starck. I managed to grab a frantic but fun email from Antonia while she's travels around France with her partner and energetic 18-month-old son. She's also got a cute blog Maisonette.

What are you passionate about? architecture, design, art, wylies baths, cities, my partner + my son.
Who inspires you? architects like jean nouvel/OMA/Diller + Scofidio, Herzog et de Meuron, designers like Hella Jongerius, Enzo Mari, Patricia Urquiola, artists like Gordon Matta Clark.
What’s your motto in life? don't like mottos...
What lessons have you learnt so far along life’s journey? too many to start listing, many learnt the hard way....
What advice would you give to someone who wants to pursue their passion? go + live overseas ... work with + learn from + be inspired by the best in your field/stay curious/work hard.
What book is currently beside your bed? still trying to finish a book on Hella Jongerius's work that was given to me for my birthday. piles of magazines.

Images courtesy of Antonia Pesenti

Saturday, 20 October 2007

dear healey

If I were ever to be unfaithful it would be with a car like this. Sure, it needs a little tlc - but don't we all!

Friday, 19 October 2007

writer carmen michael

How long has it been since you raced through a book? For me it happened this week - it took only three days to read Carmen Michael's fascinating travel memoir about running away from "nine-to-five" life to live Rio de Janeiro. I didn't realise how little I knew about Brazil's vibrant culture until flying through stories about samba and the bohemians in Santa Teresa.

Many people dream about running away from “nine-to-five” life but nothing becomes of it. Why do you think you went for it? I was going crazy in the mainstream world. The mind-numbing repetitiveness of nine to five and society’s obsession with buying houses was worse than any mental institution. It seems hard to believe that evolution has led humanity to this point. When I decided to stay on in Rio, I honestly believed I had nothing to lose.

Did you ever feel pressure from friends or family that you were doing the wrong thing? If so, how did you respond to them? Luckily my parents are fiercely independent people, so they understood my need to get out of the "system". It drove them mad, too. Harder to explain, though, was what I was doing in Rio and why I was taking on a life of a penniless writer. That was why I wrote the book. It was my way of explaining to them what it was that made me run.

Did you ever question your decision? No. I do have a greater concept of what I have given up – stability of income, that sort of thing – but they are not things that would have ever turned me around.

Who did you look to for inspiration? The people who feature in my book – namely Chiara, Carina, Gustavo and Fabio – were my greatest inspirations. They were prolific characters with extraordinary perspectives and experiences, and there is not a day that goes by that I don’t remember something they said or did that changed my life.

What made you decide to write a book? I was a closet writer of tortured diaries and angst-ridden poetry for a long time before I found my subject in Rio de Janeiro. The cat got out of the bag when I started writing epic emails to friends and family about life in Brazil. They forwarded the emails onto other friends who forwarded them onto others and I would find myself getting emails from complete strangers saying, "God, I loved that part where you fought off five cowboys with a bottle of Jo Malone perfume." I decided there was a story in it and put it down.

How did you find that process? The creative process is a strange and wonderful experience. Everybody is different. I see inspiration and creation as separate processes. Inspiration is fluid, spontaneous and unconstrained. The creation is disciplined and structured. When I was "researching" Malandros, I would be out at clubs and cabarets every night until seven in the morning. But when I came to write about malandros, I would rise every morning at seven, write uninterrupted until midday and then go running on Ipanema beach in the afternoon to clear my head.

Which writers do you admire? I seem to always return to classics like Victor Hugo, Ernest Hemingway, Borges and Dostoevsky, but I cannot live without the storytellers. A novel of Tim Winton, Peter Carey or Isabelle Allende is just as important to my life. I also love the novels of Brazil’s Machado de Asoss. William Dalrymple's City of Djinns about Delhi was definitely an inspiration for my current book.

Do you have a credo that you live by? No, but there is a quotation of Oscar Niemeyer - the one-hundred-year-old Brazilian modernist architect – that seems to return to me at critical points in my life. He said, “Life is more important than art."

What would you say to someone who is struggling to find the courage to pursue their passion? I will borrow one more quotation, from Nick Cave this time, and that is "it’s a beautiful life if you can find it". If you are lucky enough to even have a passion, then you have no options except to pursue it. The other road, of denying yourself, is far more treacherous. And don’t ever be afraid of failure. It is the ultimate indulgence, a warm mucky bath in which every artist wallows for some time, not to mention the source of inspiration for years to follow.

Photos courtesy of Carmen Michael.

thank you anna!

I want to send a huge thank you to Anna Spiro from Absolutely Beautiful Things for featuring me on her blog yesterday - I was blown away.

PS This beautiful thank you card is available from Imprintables.

Thursday, 18 October 2007

isabella blow

Alexander McQueen recently dedicated his Paris Fashion Week show to the late and great Isabella Blow. She has always been such an inspiration to me because she lived life on her terms and refused to be a wallflower. Blow was also mentor to the likes of Philip Treacy (whose hats she wore with aplomb) and McQueen, famously purchasing his entire graduate collection. As someone who sometimes baulks at the cheek-kissing nation we've become, I love her comment about why she wore the hats. She told journalist Tasmin Blanchard that they were to keep people away. "They say, Oh, can I kiss you? I say, No, thank you very much. That's why I've worn the hat. Goodbye. I don't want to be kissed by all and sundry. I want to be kissed by the people I love." It is fitting that instead of a wreath of flowers on her coffin, a Treacy hat was laid to rest with her. There is a danger that she's the last of the English eccentrics - I hope not.

Wednesday, 17 October 2007

blogger victoria smith

Victoria Smith is definitely one of the standout people I've interviewed for Real Living. She's full of life and makes me want to rush to San Francisco and meet her face to face. You just know you'd have a blast. Her apartment is featured in the latest issue of Real Living, and I have to say it's one of my favourites: cheery and welcoming and definitely not precious. Oh, and check out her blog SFGirlByBay.

What are you passionate about? Lately I'm very inspired and passionate about the design community we bloggers have brought together. With little or no effort at all a community just formed on its own - with indie artists, crafters, gallery owners, interior designers and design bloggers. I love that everyone helps and supports each other in spreading the word about our individual work. I'm passionate about being a continued part of that community and helping it grow.
Who inspires you? I get a lot of inspiration from other bloggers like Jan fro and Grace at I also am really loving the Swedish blogs - they have a great sensibility and style to them. I like and - both are great. I also find quite a bit of inspiration on - there are loads of talented photographers and designers on and I can look for hours at photos from all over the world. I recently did a post on a Portuguese Interior Designer and featured her home - it's amazing:
What's your motto in life? Well, lately it's: "Live life like you're gonna die. Because you're gonna." — William Shatner. In other words, I'm all about taking risks right now and trying not to let fear of failure block my way. I try to be authentic and live an art-filled life.
What lessons have you learnt so far along life's journey? Oh, too many. I think I'm a late bloomer. That's what my mum says. I'm in my forties and just getting going on what I really want to do with my life. Again, I'd say I'm learning not to let fear keep me from what I really want. I also think it's important to be gracious and kind with others and have a bit of manners. Too much of that has gone by the wayside in our culture, and I don't feel good about it. So I try to do my part to reverse that.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to pursue their passion? I'd say do it. If you have to make some sacrifices to get where you want to be, it will be worth it. I think corporate America, or perhaps any other country, is about the bottom line and there's not a lot of loyalty out there. Be your own boss, or work with others that have similar goals. If you love it it won't feel like work. That's how I feel about the blog. I go home from work and write every night. I don't watch TV anymore, it takes up too much space and distracts me. But blogging away every night until 11 or 12 makes me happy. A little sleep deprived sometimes, but I love doing it, so again, it doesn't feel like work to me. I recently cut back to a three-day work week so I can blog from home on Mondays and Fridays. I worked 14 hours yesterday, writing, researching - it was all great fun!
What's your favourite book? It's kind of an obscure one - My Year of Meats, by Ruth L Ozeki. I also love, love Catcher in the Rye, but who doesn't?

Monday, 15 October 2007

italian film festival 2007

What is there not to love about Italian culture! If you haven't discovered for yourself yet, there's still time to check out the Italian Film Festival. But it finishes tonight so you'd better hurry. Yesterday I managed to catch the charming Centochiodi (One Hundred Nails) , which screened at this year's Cannes Film Festival as a tribute to director Ermanno Olmi, who won the Palme d'Or in 1978 for his film The Tree With The Wooden Clogs. It follows a university professor's retreat to a small and quirky regional town. Oh, and there is an unofficial soundtrack CD to the festival, which I definitely am going to get hold of - Fever Italia.

Photo courtesy of
Lavazza Italian Film Festival 2007.

Saturday, 13 October 2007

curlewis st, bondi

These three very cool shops are all on my street - how lucky am I! (It's been a while coming, this reverence for Bondi, but it's finally happening.) The first shop is Funkis - number 23 - which sells a great assortment of homewares such as Marimekko and Iittala. Stop at The Shop & Wine Bar - number 78 - for a refreshment - the closest Sydney comes to a hole-in-the-wall-type bar/cafe under its current licensing laws. And a little further down is the recently opened Tea Petal - number 110 - which not only sells gorgeous flowers but the beautifully made Scyrte shirts. And if you've got time check out Moloko for vintage furniture and Pablo Nevada for glamorous clothes. Welcome to my neck of the woods.
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