A VISUAL LIFE | Creative Direction + Design

DEAR DIARY // earth day 2020

Marking 50 years today is Earth Day 2020 and the theme for this year is climate action. It seems even more relevant now with everything the world is going through with COVID-19. Apart from the obvious health threat, there are the human challenges of social distancing, changes to the way we live and the economic repercussions. It has been well documented how the effects of closing down factories, restricting air travel and limited car usage has drastically improved the pollution in the air, oceans and waterways. Since self isolating, I think most of us have been far more careful about waste and more thoughtful of actual needs over wants. Once the quarantines are lifted, it will be interesting to see if we continue this conscious thinking as individuals. Hopefully the companies and manufacturers also have a rethink about their own practices and learn from these lessons. Every action can make an impact, so if we are enlightened after this we can all bring about change and strive for a new future.

TUCKER TIME // conscious cooking

I feel conflicted about what I should post since we are in the midst of the coronavirus crisis that is changing life as we know it. The tragic pandemic is evolving every day with people all over the world in lockdown or self isolation. Staying at home is the best way to stop the spread of the virus and it’s a simple thing to do. Being isolated allows us to reflect on how we normally live and changes we need to make to adapt to the new normal (for now anyway). Being more mindful as individuals will hopefully make us more aware to prepare for a better future as a society.

I’m generally good with the way I shop and prepare meals, by trying to keep waste minimal and using all my produce. However I’m even more conscious now of letting food spoil, especially since I want there to be plenty of supplies for everyone while also limiting my trips to the supermarket. I’ve searched online for ways to prepare and freeze various fruits and vegetables that I can use at a later time. I had some white cabbage, kale, carrots and celery left so I made this Japanese vegetable pancake stack (recipe here) served with an Asian inspired coleslaw.

Everybody used to always complain of never having enough spare time and now we do. Although it is a stressful situation for most, especially with the threat to our health and uncertainty around finances. Take care of yourself, appreciate your loved ones and try to enjoy the simple pleasures.

TYPE-RIGHTER // state library

Visiting the State Library of New South Wales is always an enjoyable experience and the Mitchell Vestibule quote engraved in the sandstone foyer is a perfect example of classic type that resonates. It hints at the treasures nestled inside the oldest library in Australia that was established in 1826. There is an extensive range of heritage-listed special collections and references, plus my love for reading makes the library a nostalgic haven. Beautiful vintage books are on display with stunning cover designs and elaborate illustrations, providing much inspiration for artists, designers and typographers.

There are multiple exhibitions at any given time on interesting subjects and they are open to the public for free. Sydney Elders by Wiradjuri/Kamilaroi artist Jonathan Jones, tells the stories of four Aboriginal elders (Uncle Chicka, Aunty Esme, Aunty Sandra, Uncle Dennis) with personal accounts of growing up in Sydney, their ancestors, as well as their contribution and legacy in our city. Another exhibit that was impressive and well curated was Dead Central. Taking you back to 19th century Sydney when there was a vast cemetery that opened in 1820, exactly where Central Station now stands. I never knew that a major burial ground with over 30,000 bodies was cleared in 1901 to make way for the station, and I don’t think many other Sydneysiders know this about the historic site. To begin with there is the clever use of type printed on black tape in two lines like a train track running along the hallway leading to the entrance. All the signage, backdrops, photography and displays are beautifully designed and complement the audio recordings and video reels perfectly.

MASTERSTROKE // quilty

‘Self-portrait after Afghanistan’, 2012 (oil on linen)

‘Fairy Bower Rorschach’, 2012 (oil on linen)

‘Margaret Olley’, 2011 (oil on linen)

‘Bedford Downs Rorschach’, 2008 (oil on linen)

There are only a few days left to see the latest exhibition from one of Australia’s most acclaimed contemporary artists (and one of my personal favourites). Ben Quilty’s last decade of work is showcased in multiple rooms at the Art Gallery of NSW, taking you on an expressive journey on how he sees the world. This quote from Quilty himself reflects his social conscience – “My work is about working out how to live in this world, it’s about compassion and empathy but also anger and resistance. Through it I hope to push compassion to the front of national debate.”

His powerful brushstrokes and vibrant colours evoke strong emotions with the content tackling serious issues and reflecting his political views on the injustices in our society. He has campaigned for inmates, refugees and veterans, visually representing their plights and telling their stories. He was also an official war artist in Afghanistan and these paintings in particular show the pain and torment in facial expressions in his renowned vivid style.

Margaret Olley is also one of my treasured Australian artists so seeing Quilty’s intimate portrait of her that won the 2011 Archibald Prize is a special experience. I particularly love his account of her – “Her lack of ego is so appealing. Margaret didn’t understand why anyone would want to see a portrait of her. She’s such an inspiration. She was a feminist ahead of her time. She’s vigorously passionate about social and political issues, as well as art, and is enormously compassionate. Margaret has such an infectious attitude to both life and death.”

A real standout was the room displaying Quilty’s ‘Rorschach’ landscapes which are inspired by Hermann Rorschach’s ink blots used for psychological testing. This series is mesmerising and Quilty used the method of applying thick layers of oil paint, pressing the still-wet panels into six unpainted panels to create a mirror of the original. Documenting significant events in our dark colonial history by depicting areas such as Myall Creek where Indigenous tribes were attacked in a massacre. Ben Quilty shows the juxtaposition of the picturesque with the turbulence of trauma through the blotted, stain effect. Quilty’s art is as confronting as his subject matter and his bold use of paint represents his strong ethics and viewpoints.

INSTA-JAM // farewell 2019

           

Not only is it the end of 2019 but we are also closing off the decade and saying farewell to the 2010s. For many of us it has been a big year with changes, decisions and some turmoil. This uneasy environment has been playing out on the world stage, especially in politics and climate change issues. We still have to focus on the beauty of life and here are the monthly highlights from my Instagram that I hope will reflect some positive vibes. In Australia it’s very tough at the moment with the summer heatwave creating a bushfire crisis. Growing up beside a national park and experiencing this many times first hand, I know what a tough and stressful situation it is to live through. My thoughts go out to all the people affected and in particular the brave firefighters defending homes and protecting lives. I’m using my Christmas wishes for the fires to end soon, bring plenty of rain, safe holidays for everyone and a better start to 2020.

DEAR DIARY // christmas magic

It is less than a month until Christmas and this time of year can trigger panic and dread for many people. So much more gets crammed into our schedules with parties and catch-ups, let alone trying to buy gifts as well. It’s nice to step back and look through the eyes of a child and take in the wonder that we once had for the festive season. Walking through the crowds shopping in the Queen Victoria Building was a more enjoyable experience when I stopped to take in the QVB Swarovski Christmas tree.

Every year the Sydney icon is assembled by over 100 people to become the city’s tallest tree in the historic and beautifully grand shopping precinct. Standing under the stunning stained glass dome, it towers to the 3 floor span at a height of 24 metres. Topped with a gilded star and decorated with over 100,000 ornaments and 65,000 twinkling lights, it is a magical sight. Swarovski crystals adorn the tree and have been encased in a glass stand at the base with multiple curtains of beaded garland strands like icicles. Mirrored prisms above it reflect the light creating a mesmerising spectacle when you stand underneath. Maybe those mirrors were magic and have given me a fresh ‘crystal clear’ outlook?

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