30 kinds of wonderful: 24. Longest birthday ever.

•January 28, 2012 • Leave a Comment

OK, so I’m doing this thing where I’m counting down to my 30th birthday with 30 kinds of wonderful. If you need to catch up, just start here.

Now let’s go!

24. Longest birthday ever

I like to think of my 27th birthday as my birthday in the sky. My logic was that since I’m so obsessed with travelling (hell, I even love airports!) it might be fun to fly about as far as it’s possible to fly in a day, on my birthday. But of course!

My birthday went like this…

We wake up… “happy birthdays” and all that.

We prepare to depart for the airport. Qantas calls. “Your flight has been delayed 6 hours” (have I ever told you just how much I love our national carrier?). We go to breakfast. Which rolls on to lunch. Then our house sitters turn up, so we head to the airport. Where we have beers watching the planes take off.

At last we take off, and eventually reach San Francisco. After a lecture on (our lack of) matrimony by a patronising, obnoxious and aggressively religious USA customs officer we find ourselves delayed in San Francisco as (surprise surprise) we have missed our connecting flight. We convince the USA officials to release us into their country and make our way to Haight Ashbury via a badly planned route involving 45 minutes of trudging up hills carrying our luggage. We have more beers in Haight Ashbury and return to the airport.

We set off for Vancouver, arriving just in time (ignoring the mandatory 55-minute unexplained wait) for the last shuttle bus of the night to Whistler. We arrive in Whistler at 11:45pm, still on my birthday. Longest birthday ever? I believe so! Just as great as I expected it to be? Absolutely!

And how awesome was Whistler? So awesome. Just look at this… The sky actually sparkled with ice/snow crystals. I’ve actually never seen that anywhere else. Stunning.

Somewhat unrelatedly, I then got to visit my very cute nephew (and his parents) in Boston. Here he is, humouring me by pretending to enjoy colouring in my cartoon animals.

30 kinds of wonderful: 23. New toys.

•January 28, 2012 • Leave a Comment

OK, so I’m doing this thing where I’m counting down to my 30th birthday with 30 kinds of wonderful. If you need to catch up, just start here.

Now let’s go!

23. New toys

I think we’ve pretty clearly established a few things so far. I like travel. I am an obsessive hobbyist. And thematically I bounce all over the place. I’m also pretty girly, as has been pointed out to me by several readers recently. All true.

I really, really like new toys (how very “30 going on 3” that sounds). My two latest acquisitions are an electric keyboard (more on that in another post) and a sewing machine – my early 30th present! Love love love!

Two of my favourite things, The Spruce and 60s furniture, don’t go so well together. So my first project with my new toy was to rustle up some protective covers to protect my beloved sofa from my beloved dog.

Here is the Spruce modelling my fine upholstery efforts (thanks Design Sponge for the awesome tutorial, by the way!). She is looking rather elderly and dignified. With age, her inner greyhound seems to be revealing itself more. Unlike our cats, who all adore modelling for the camera, the Spruce always gets stressed when I photograph her. I like to think that she’s concerned that I’m stealing her soul but my rational side suspects it might just be the shutter noise. You can see here how she steadfastly avoids eye contact throughout.

30 kinds of wonderful: 22. Going all the way round.

•January 25, 2012 • Leave a Comment

OK, so I’m doing this thing where I’m counting down to my 30th birthday with 30 kinds of wonderful. If you need to catch up, just start here.

Now let’s go!

22. Going all the way round

I can thank my first ad agency for infecting me with the travel bug. When I was 21 they awarded me Employee of the Year (boy was I eager in those days) and gave me $10,000 to travel around the world. (Well, maybe it was tickets to the Cannes Advertising Festival but I got creative with the route there and back). It went like this…

Tokyo. Home of giant traffic cones…

… and super cool bar toilets…

Amsterdam and Rotterdam. Where I looked quite stoned but actually wasn’t…

Paris. Where we picnic-ed by the Seine.

The fast train to Nice, where we met this friendly dog.

Nice, where we gazed onto terracotta files from the rooftop pool…

… and visited a night market or two…

London, where we pottered around Notting Hill…

And I photographed lots…

… and lots of second-hand items…

… and we enjoyed the shop window design…

… and had coffee in Clerkenwell…

And then strode around Portobello Road in the wee small hours.

And New York, where we learned that pigs really can fly (look at the shadow)…

… and they like window shopping as well.

30 kinds of wonderful: 21. Museums and dioramas.

•January 24, 2012 • Leave a Comment

OK, so I’m doing this thing where I’m counting down to my 30th birthday with 30 kinds of wonderful. If you need to catch up, just start here.
Now let’s go!

21. Museums and dioramas

Nerd alert on this one. I have a deep passion for dioramas, and have had for as long as I can remember.

Basically my favourite place as a child was the Australian Museum. I adored its silent, dusty, darkened rooms. The weird boxes filled with sagging stuffed birds and dull insects where you pressed a red button which was meant to illuminate the display but normally didn’t contain a lightbulb.

The dingier the better.

I also liked rattly dinosaur skeletons so much that I did two weeks of work experience at the paleontology department of the museum as a teenager. It was bliss. I opened a cupboard down in the basement and found a T-Rex skull (shriek!). And then I spent a day in a warehouse with creepy stuffed giraffes in plastic bags peering over my shoulder. I stuck a shattered sauropod (you and I call it a brontosaurus) femur together with glue – it was taller than me and many times heavier, for the record. I even met the creepy bug guy who stole all those artifacts.

As such I get quite mad when I hear that museums must modernise to attract and entertain a new generation. No they shouldn’t!!! If kids have insufficient imagination or attention span to appreciate how incredible natural things are without bells, whistles, flashing lights and videos I very much doubt they’ll get much out of it with all the ridiculous frippery added.

Grumble grumble kids these days. Hrrrumph.

So anyway. Thankfully a few places respect and appreciate the museum displays of old. The American Museum of Natural History in New York being one of the very best. Honestly, how awesome are these dioramas?

Possibly the most incredible museum display of all (my opinion of course) can be found in the Peabody Museum at Harvard University, Boston.

They have cabinets… a whole room… filled with glass flowers!

Coolest thing ever? I know, right?

I am somewhere beyond devastated because my own photos of these exquisite creations have been lost. Livejournal ate them and my hard drive died with them on board. I am so bloody torn apart by this that (one of these years) I will book tickets to Boston and re-photograph those flowers. Just watch me. You’ll have to make do with this little picture from the glass flowers page for now though.

And while I’m in Boston I’ll go back to the Isabella Gardner Museum as well. That is one wild and wacky collection and there is nothing nicer than seeing the courtyard in bloom in the midst of a snowy Boston winter.

30 kinds of wonderful: 20. Middle Earth (or NZ to you and me).

•January 24, 2012 • Leave a Comment

OK, so I’m doing this thing where I’m counting down to my 30th birthday with 30 kinds of wonderful. If you need to catch up, just start here.
Now let’s go!

20. Middle Earth (or NZ to you and me)

How much do we love New Zealand? With all our hearts, bro!

I used to quip that I was having an affair with Melbourne. Not so anymore, Melbourne has totally been replaced by Queenstown! It’s only three hours away from Sydney by plane and has mountains and lakes and forests and hobbits and… (OK, maybe not hobbits?). And SNOW!!!

I feel a bit lousy palming such a flimsy film on to you, but here’s a hasty little edit of a whole lot of travelling around Queenstown and Wanaka. Seems like a lot of driving and not much snowboarding? True, bro! That’s part of the whole NZ snow vibe. You don’t stay up on the hill so you get up at sparrow’s fart, wave to the sheep and get driving. At the end of the day, you drive to the bottom of the hill and go straight to the pub. Choice, bro.

I slipped a few shots of me on a stretcher in just for authenticity. Enjoy.

By the way, the track is my absolute favourite right now… “Who cares what the question is” by The Bees. It was released in 2007 so basically, I’m slow.

30 kinds of wonderful: 19. Wild things.

•January 23, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Image illustrated by Maurice Sendak, via Monster Brains.

OK, so I’m doing this thing where I’m counting down to my 30th birthday with 30 kinds of wonderful. If you need to catch up, just start here.
Now let’s go!

19. Wild things

I thought it was time that I did another less literal “wonderful” post. So here’s another little string of things I find really wonderful.

Firstly, the Fleet Foxes, and if I have to get more specific, this video by Sean Pecknold:

It was actually the Fleet Foxes who inspired this whole 30 kinds of wonderful journey. I was sitting there at the Sydney Opera House, utterly mesmerised by the unreal visual DJing that accompanied their show, and the wonderful thing came to me. Their music gives me shivers.

What I love about this video is that all the weird and wonderful things that come to my mind when I listen to the Fleet Foxes seem to make cameo appearances in it.

There are some dancing monsters that remind me of the monsters in Where The Wild Things Are. This was my absolute favourite book as a small child. If I was ever brave enough to get a tattoo, it would be a Wild Thing. I thought the film was pretty cool too, but in my heart of hearts I still love Maurice Sendak’s illustrations the most. Monster Brains has a nice image gallery and interview with Maurice Sendak online if you’d like a look.

Image illustrated by Maurice Sendak, via Monster Brains.

Also in this Fleet Foxes video is a flying dragon that reminds me of Falkor the luckdragon in NeverEnding Story. Once again, I’m really referring to the book rather than the film. I only happened upon this as a teenager but I know my childhood self would have been transfixed by this book. I think it’s time to read it all over again.

And finally, because I’m now on a bit of a tangent, my favourite fairytale for adults, Pan’s Labyrinth.

So, Wild Things for children, teenagers and adults. In the words of Maurice Sendak… “let the wild rumpus start!”.

30 kinds of wonderful: 18. Porcelain.

•January 23, 2012 • Leave a Comment

OK, so I’m doing this thing where I’m counting down to my 30th birthday with 30 kinds of wonderful. If you need to catch up, just start here.
Now let’s go!

18. Porcelain

Oh, I am so excited about this one. After many months, I am finally (well, as of tomorrow) going to be enrolled in a bright shiny new Masters Degree (a Master of Fine Arts). As long-term readers will know, a couple of years ago I enrolled in an M.Art majoring in Sculpture because I had this weird moment of serendipity/kismet/something and just decided one day that I would return to uni.

More on that… it actually happened because I went to the COFA fair one spring and for no apparent reason wandered into the ceramics labs. I smelled the clay, the kilns, that art school smell which you probably know, you just don’t realise you know it. And I had this incredibly strong sense that this was where I wanted to be. So strong that within 24 hours I was signed up for a postgraduate information night.

I call it kismet because it undoubtedly changed my course in life. In starting my sculpture studies it turned out that my first instinct was correct, it really was ceramics I was drawn to. And more specifically, porcelain. Every day, I feel a little surge of joy and hope whenever I think about porcelain.

My decision to change degrees was really motivated by wanting to concentrate very specifically on my particular approach to porcelain (which is so time-consuming that I’ve only created two sculptures thus far). This is a research degree, so it means that I will work towards developing an entire exhibition and accompanying text/catalogue. It is just so wonderful that the facilities and opportunities exist to allow me to do this. And I can’t wait to get started…

I’ve written a lot about porcelain on this blog already. Here, and here, and here, and here, among others. And you can expect a lot more from here. I start in earnest at the end of February!