30th September 2015 Film & Photography Written by Hannah G

Streets of Sydney AKA The Trigger for My Existential Crisis

I think it might be time to re-evaluate my life choices… the deeper I dive into More Chillis take on Sydney’s suburban stereotypes in Streets of Sydney, the more I fear that I fit the mould of a ‘fart sniffing, lactose intolerant inner city blogger’. Fuck, now I’m definitely reconsidering buying into Yeezy Season 2

Streets of Sydney is a brand new ‘mockumentary’ web series dedicated to those most magical creatures… Sydneysiders. The eight part web series, launching today, takes you on a journey across this special city to meet all the locals; from Chase Burns a Fast & Furious loving ‘rev-head’ from the Western suburbs to Prudence Wright-Way, the supremely wealthy North Shore matriarch. More Chillis hits the nail on the head… and cuts a little close to the bone. You’d be hard pressed not to see a little of yourself in their disturbingly accurate satire.

I can’t stop cringing, I think I might give up my morning ‘decaf soy latte with half soy milk half boiling water’ just to save face. Ugh.

You can learn more about Streets of Sydney here or give them a little like right here.

21st September 2015 Arts Written by Leigh Lemay

Refreshionism: Just What the Doc Ordered...

The first time I saw one of Doc Vegasartworks, Nothing Is Sacred To a Refreshionist (2015) (pictured below); it jumped out of the computer screen, punched me in the face and kicked me in the gut! As I picked my jaw up off the keyboard, I thought, Fuck. Yes. Finally!Some would argue not a very intelligent response, but intellectualism comes after emotion in my books. If an artwork smacks you in the face, its got to mean something. What made the discovery even more appealing, was the fact that the page members had erupted into a frenzy. There were as many shock-horror responses as there were appreciative and congratulatory ones. Actually, if I am to be honest, there were more people offended by the piece, than not. The demands to have it taken down came thick and fast, and that really excited me. Controversial art! What ensued was a debate on what constitutes art; to such an extent, that Docs artwork served as a catalyst for a breakaway group of artists to branch off and create their own Facebook page. I have to say, the artwork in that group, is far more interesting than the page that set the scene. Condolences to the naysayers, but in an endless sea of moored yachts and puppy paintings, youve got to love it. The truth is, I find a lot of art on social media prettyor polished, and although technically good in some cases, I rarely come across works that are thought provoking, risqué, brave or new. But in this instance, it was more than that. There is something honest in Docs imagery, intimate and maybe even poetic.

Nothing Is Sacred To a Refreshionist

Doc Vegas has been reviewed, mentioned or featured in several art publications, mostly in the days before the advent of the Internet. All of these publications featured articles on his upcycled, sculptural furniture known as Tribal Deluxe. These works were made in collaboration with another artist named Michael Murphy. Two of the Tribal Deluxepieces were purchased and are now in the private collection of the curator of modern art at the Queensland Art Gallery.

In the late 1970s, Doc began the process of taking something that is old or discarded (i.e. furniture and paintings) and turning it into something more beautiful. Better known as upcycling; it is about taking the has beenand creating what could be. Its about finding magic in the mundane and elevating it to the extraordinary;

I was doing this sort of work before it became a movement; before the word upcycling was invented. Around the late 70s and early 80s, I was recycling/upcycling things into art. It is I that claim it is now a new movement. I was one of the first, if not the first and am cutting edge in this style/movement [sic]. An example of cutting edge would be my current work.

Not averse to the constant improvement of his skills, Doc has completed a Tafe Certicate III in Art and Design (painting). He completed this course in a bid to learn composition and colour theory; knowledge that would enable him to create better sculptures and sculptured furniture.

It is also exciting to mention, that he has also been discussed (under his real name; Doug Elliott) in a magazine entitled; Australasian Fighting Arts (a martial arts magazine). He has trained and taught Karate and Aikido and in 1984, he was a finalist in the Kyokushin, Full Contact, Open World, Karate Tournament in Tokyo.He was also NSW full contact Karate champion 1983 to 1985.

An unenlightened observer will see a great dichotomy occurring in an aggressive form of thuggery (full contact Karate) and a gentle and delicate expression such as painting. From a more enlightened perspective there is no dichotomy; indeed there are many common factors worth discussing. Martial arts are a way to peace. Painting and Karate, Aikido and Jujitsu (all of which I have studied), although physical activities, are foremost activities of the mind. In martial arts there are common factors to other arts such as composition, rhythm, harmony and intent. Intent is probably the most powerful factor and the most mindful. Intent requires strong focus.

Ki is the Japanese word for universal energy, Ki can be best seen as intention in action. I was fortunate enough to have trained with certain Ki masters who taught me the art of extending Ki, or sending Ki beyond the body. We all do this albeit in an unintentional and unfocused way. Deliberately sending Ki is an incredibly powerful action of the mind. It is an action that leads to creation. The mind creates the physical. In its expanded form, Ki extension is the mindful act of creation.

Aha! A philosophical approach to creativity, and one of the subjects I love most! There is a wonderful artistic enterprise called, The SenseLab; which is a research laboratory for thought in motionand is something I came upon via my own research whilst at university.

Via an event-based practice, The SenseLab unites philosophy and art in a trans-disciplinary encounter that encourages the unleashing of new tendencies that may unfold.

They are interested in reorienting what they call the research-creation concept, away from the commonly assumed goal of cultural capital, and instead move towards the artistic thinking in the doing. For them, the research-creation concept is viewed as an internal connection rather than an external coupling, and is a mode of activity in its own right.

Art is the thinking in the doing just as philosophy is the doing in the thinking.- Brian Massumi

To elaborate on this topic, would be to go beyond the scope of this article; however, if you are interested, I absolutely recommend that you head on over to their website and take a look at what theyre up to. Suffice to say, Doc is not alone in recognising the importance of intent.

Intention. Lets think about that word for a minute. On the surface, it basically means having a plan. It could even be construed as a hope. Certainly Docs pieces embody an element of hope? Hope in the resurrection of what appears to be long gone; hope in the battle against excessive consumerism; hope in the celebration of the human form in all its guises. All positive. But the word intention can also be read as animus (the mind), and from there, it really isnt all that difficult to flip the coin over and rest on animosity. You see, it depends from where intention resides. I dont think anyone can deny, that there is something antagonistic in Docs works. From my perspective, it partly explains the frenzy I witnessed in the first place.

I became fully realised in moments of violence. As a nightclub bouncer I had more than a thousand fights; some with men that were monsters and some with groups of these monsters. I have never been badly hurt nor have I ever had an assault charge. However, as a result of a serious altercation, I ended up having to piss off out of Sydney and move to the tropics in 1989, to avoid being murdered.

The marriage. The Yin and the Yang. The negative and the positive that lives in us all. THIS is why the artwork of Doc Vegas stirs my senses and fans my flames.

Untitled 1

Indeed, when it comes to positivity, Docs career as an artist has gone from strength to strength. He began his creative career as a fitter and turner; who then became a sculptor and furniture maker; culminating in a decade-long art bender and now makes paintings.

From a platform of an old print, photo or painting; the finished artwork performs differently under different light conditions. In daylight and normal lighting, they are bright with a fashionable combination of fluorescent and metallic finishes. These and other elements; such as sparking glitter, sparkling jewel-like objects and interesting light-reflecting surfaces. These I use as a lure to draw the viewer into the picture plane and keep them there. To be entertained by the crazy contrast of a Victorian woman wearing nothing but tattooed lingerie and jewellery, or an antique family portrait which gets a funky hand-embellished treatment. Often the frame becomes part of the picture. With the lights off, they have glow in the dark elements such as primitive, tribal patterns, which present a totally different image. If you shine a light (such as a torch or car headlight) at them, there are elements made of modern light-reflective surfaces (as in safety wear and signage) which will light up like a bulb; presenting to the viewer a completely different picture again. It is a new dimension in the age-old artist exploration of light and shade. It is a new dimension because of modern materials, previously unavailable to artists.

This does not mean that Docs creations do not contain elements that adhere to tradition or respect good, solid foundations;

In my work I also use compositional guides, such as the rule of thirdsand the golden mean. The works need this element because some of them are so out there, they would visually sink.

These days, Doc Vegas paints more than he sculpts. Although he does, bust out occasionally and make a mad piece of furniture.

Untitled 3

What I really love about Docs work is the principles behind what he does and why he does it:

 

REFRESHIONIST MANIFEST0

I call artists to take hold of the old and make it new.

Take tired old second-hand art and do it a favour.

Refresh, Renew, Redirect, Re-mix, Recycle.

Take it to somewhere new and show it how to have fun.

Joy is the philosophy of now.

Refresh old art with your own talents to engage the viewer in a moment or two

of grins, smiles, giggles and laughs.

I call all artists to use and abuse old art and refresh it

with your version of modern fun.

Old Paintings, Prints, Photos, Architecture, Music, Dance and Fashion. Nothing

is sacred to a Refreshionist.

It is time to stick some fun up the arse of boring old art.

Welcome to the art movement of the 21st Century

DOC VEGAS July 26 2015

 

Given all of this; I dont necessarily claim this to be myart movement. I just claim to be one of the founding fathers and to be one of the artists leading the charge. I see in the pursuitof upcycling, many are doing their bit. As one of the founding artists, I may well be the first to claim this is a movement. At bestit is a movement. At worstit is a branch of second generation Pop Art.

Well, whatever it is Doc, it sure is refreshing, and I for one, cannot WAIT to see some more of your brilliance.

Untitled 4

Doc Vegas has just opened a Facebook page for his artwork. Head on over and check out his work. He has also recently entered his works into the Piece Gallery Art Prize in Melbourne, and we wish him all the best!

His artwork can also be found in Melbournes ArtBoy Gallery.

11th August 2015 Just Listen Written by Warholst

The Maker's Soundtrack

Making your own stuff can be pretty great. There’s something deeply satisfying about sitting back and admiring the fruits of a good DIY session. But do you know what is even better than making? Making to music!

We love makers here at Warhol’s Children, so we have put together some tunes for you to create to. And as an added bonus, if you’re in need of some DIY project inspo we’ve got that sorted as well… try getting stuck into some do it yourself jewelry. Go ahead, make yourself something pretty, or make a shiny shiny bauble for someone special instead. You know you want to!

Happy creating!

Lots of Love, WC x

2nd July 2015 Trending Conversation Written by Katrina Williams

Us and Them

There's not much that stops you in your tracks these days, the world moves at a faster pace than ever and we’ve been too busy to notice the acceleration. It seems that now all we can do is try to just keep up the pace.

The way we* relate to the world around us and others in our world has been slowly but surely reduced to mostly superficial interactions as we move from one thing to the next, pedalling hard and wondering where the day went. The valuable time we do have, we invest selectively and unfortunately it doesn't often get given to someone or something not connected to our immediate needs.

*And who is 'we'? 'We' is an imperative word in a world context and for the purposes of this writing, important to reflect on. 'We' usually refers to your own. That is, your family, your friends and you. However, this ideology was challenged in an excerpt from 'Love Over Hate, Finding Life by the Wayside' by Graham Long which talked about the homeless who are disconnected from society and defines 'we' as finding the joy of being human by simply being together.

That is together, as a world community and not as isolated masses.

Furthering the distance between us as individuals, is the amplified notion cooked up by the powers that be that ‘ourselves and our own’ should have more than we actually need. When we’re made to believe one of our main purposes in life is to build up assets and a small fortune of our own and that we must endeavour to do so at a break-neck pace, we can only afford to look out for ourselves and this effectively creates ‘us’ and ‘them’.

While we've taken care of 'us', we've looked on at the bad and good happening to 'them' and for some time now we've been conditioned to look away from the misfortunes happening to 'them'. It doesn't seem to occur to us that including others in 'we' could be easily done and that it could be a win-win scenario for all.

Kenneth Branagh recently highlighted the distinct yet common lack of empathy and kindness in society when discussing his direction of the new film remake of Cinderella. In his new version he says he has aimed to emphasise how the fairytale character demonstrates 'kindness as a super power'.

Cate 'Queen of the World' Blanchett, (I’m not a fan of the phrase 'girl crush' but if I had to admit to one, mine would be on Cate) who plays Cinderella's evil stepmother recently elaborated on Branagh's declaration of kindness as a superpower when discussing how the movie had been brought into contemporary context. “In this cut-throat world where economics is everything, if you stop and pause, have empathy and kindness towards someone, then people can walk all over you. The fact that [Cinderella's] goodness and kindness triumphs, that it really truly is a super power, is a wonderful message in the contemporary world” said Blanchett.

Needless to say, fairytales by definition don’t provide the most realistic expectations for actual life but some do have important messages and morals to their stories and in this instance, Branagh's and Blanchett's perspective and commentary on this fairytale make a vital point.

The question is, how does this idea play out in real life? Any act of kindness is invaluable and not to be measured for its magnitude but there are ways of making a simple act more powerful with the same amount of effort. Again, how? Well, there are many ways...

The phrase 'paying it forward' might sound familiar to some as a plot for a B-grade movie based on a plot for a book. However, the phrase is actually an age-old concept that has appeared in texts over time, even dating back to the plot of an Athens play in Ancient Grecian times. 'Paying it forward' is the idea of the beneficiary of a good deed repaying this deed to another instead of the original helper, for those of you who didn't end up watching a bunch of Haley Joel Osment movies in the late 90's and early 00's (it really wasn't avoidable), including the eponymously named, Pay it Forward.

Contrary to what some cynics reading this might think, there are people successfully carrying out this notion through conscious actions as you read this. Once upon a time, I was mindlessly trawling my Facebook feed and came across something that made me think about how I relate to the people who make up this little place we know as the world. What I stumbled upon was a story about a couple who had built a not-for-profit based on the 'paying it forward' concept. This couple had suffered through one of life's unexplainable tragedies, the loss of their young child, Rees Specht. The Specht's were overwhelmed with emotion when their community rallied around them during this tough time by bringing them supplies and offering services with no charge. As a result, they were inspired to show the same kindness they received to others in society and at the same time, found a way to carry their child's memory and name on. How they did this was via using the 'pay it forward' concept and spreading the word about it through the creation of The Rees Specht Life Foundation.

They kick-started this project when they were in a fast food drive-through and paid for the car behind them. The car they paid for then paid for the car behind them and the chain reaction continued until the morning rush was over and there were no more cars for a time. Their foundation's mission is to 'cultivate kindness' through promoting community, compassion and respect.After the drive-through success, the couple created 'pay it forward' cards which they issue to people whenever they carry out an act of kindness with the hope that each person in turn will carry out their own act of kindness and a chain reaction will ensue (as the card instructs).

This project isn't an isolated occurrence; a very successful 'pay it forward' scheme is in place at a pizza parlour in Philadelphia, incidentally the poorest large city in the U.S.A. One day a customer walked into Rosa's Fresh Pizza and surprised owner, Mason Wartman when they placed an order and also pre-paid a slice of pizza ($1) for the next homeless or needy person to walk into the store. Wartman wrote the pre-paid receipt on a post-it note and put it on a wall behind the register and since this act, word soon spread and now the wall has become a mosaic of countless post-it notes and a symbol of compassion. Rosa's has provided over 10,000 slices to those in need since that day and is a prime example of what good comes from relating to one another as 'we'.

Of course there are people around us doing kind things everyday. If you tune in and look up, you’ll likely find that you will witness random acts of kindness and realise how these moments are the magic of everyday life. Many of us can say that we try to do our part to make the world a better place through small yet meaningful acts. However, just like any world aid initiative, imparting skills and knowledge to people to pass forward to others in their community is what creates real change and empowerment. Bridging the divide between 'us' and 'them' and growing a more compassionate and connected community will only happen in the same way, where a world of 'we' is created through a chain reaction effect. So how do you impart this message to others and cultivate this effect without ostracizing or shaming people while sounding like a self-righteous TV evangelist? Don’t just talk about it; do something with your own superpower. Carry out a random act of kindness simply because you can and not necessarily because a noticeable opportunity presented itself. The next time you’re on the receiving end of some kindness, pay it forward with no agenda. Your compassion could inspire another compassionate act and a chain reaction will ensue.

Image: Katrina Williams

25th June 2015 Education Written by Maureen Huang

Parlez-vous Français?

Learning a new language is more than just a learning experience. It’s a commitment to a new you, a commitment to a different culture, and a commitment to all the mind blanks, pitfalls and vulnerabilities that come with it.

Learning French for the past 2 and a bit years has definitely challenged my perception of how much I know of the English language. Don’t get me wrong; learning a language can make me feel like little kid in an adult bookstore. I see words I have no idea about, and when I try to pronounce these words, I start giggling at the sheer sound of them. I still remember saying ‘oui’ for the first time while trying not to laugh at my petty attempt to incorporate a Parisian accent into another word for doing a number one. Fast forward a few lessons later and I was learning how to describe my bedroom. How this would come up in natural conversation? I don’t know, but being tested on introducing myself and describing my surroundings just became a regular thing. I have no doubts that my French beginners teacher basically knew my bedroom like the back of his hand by the time I had finished the level.

It’s all fun and rewarding until you find out that you’ve spent 2 years learning the equivalent of what a11 year old French student would learn in primary school. So to serve as a reminder to me as to why I’m actually trying to do this whole ‘learning a language’ thing, I’ve tried to sum up the many perks (and a downfall) of learning a foreign language.

Bilingualism

Remember what I said about how learning a new language is a commitment to a new you? I don’t just mean that in a figurative sense, as Charlemagne says “To have another language is to possess a second soul.” I know it sounds a little crazy but when you learn another language, you think in that language.

There have been countless times where I’ve talked to myself in French, both in my head and out loud, and realised half way that I’m actually using the language in everyday life (in the correct manner? Now that’s another question completely). And although it takes a while to get there, I guarantee you that the many ‘aha’ moments you confront outweigh the time and effort to reach that point.

Increased Cultural Sensitivity

Not only do you learn to speak the language better, learning a new language can help you be more aware of different cultural settings. Many cultures have different ways of behaving which are deemed acceptable. Learning a new language helps you build bridges across cultural gaps, helping you to shape your cultural fluency. Why do the Japanese make an effort to slurp their noodles? Why do the Taiwanese handle business cards with the utmost sacredness? Why does your friend ask you to leave your shoes at the entrance? These may be weird to some but learning a new language may give you a new respect for why people behave the way that they do.

Makes you Smarter

If this isn’t convincing enough, being able to speak a foreign language makes you smarter. Learning a foreign language enables your brain to recognise, make meaning and communicate in different language systems. Studies show that students who study foreign languages score better on standardised tests than those who are monolingual, people who are bilingual are also more perceptive to their surroundings, and their enhanced understanding of grammar, conjugations and sentence structure help improve their own English.  

Job Prospects

If you’re looking for a job, it isn’t just enough these days to own a degree. The difference between landing that job requires the ability to stand out from the crowd, and learning a new language may just be that one-way to stick out.

Knowing a second language can also lead to salary bonuses, according to The Economist here are a few secondary languages and their bonuses.

 -Spanish: 1.5 percent bonus

 -French: 2.3 percent bonus

 -German: 3.8 percent bonus

Language Faux Pas

There are very few downsides of learning a language. However, the potential for making awkward language blunders is one. When you’re struggling to find a word in French, you may resort to using an English word in a French accent. Sadly, this doesn’t always work (not speaking from experience or anything…). One of the French faux pas I can think of is the word ‘excité’, which very well sounds like the English word ‘excited’. Say for example you were writing a letter to a friend saying you’re very excited to see them. Using the word ‘excité’ sounds very tempting, right? No my friend, don’t slip into that trap. If you used the word ‘excité’ you have just said you were ‘aroused’. You’ll get more than just a few weird looks if you use that word in front of your French-speaking friends.

So there you go, if there were anything as equally frustrating as it is rewarding, it would be learning a new language. Apart from all the bragging rights learning a foreign language comes with, it is hard work. But when it comes down to it, it definitely feels good walking around with another moderately speaking French buddy pretending to communicate fluently in French. Then again, that good feeling may turn into embarrassment. We’ll take it as it comes.

24th June 2015 Technology Written by Hannah Greethead

3D Printing: Everything’s Gonna Change

3D printing has been around for a little while now, and it is starting to become clear that the future of this technology is set to be revolutionary. It’s tough to imagine any new development having more influence than the Internet, but 3D printing might just be the one… Imagine a world where you can send people objects in an instant, it’s less like email and more like a fax machine, with products transferred instantly and printed on the spot. 3D printing will disrupt traditional manufacturing and consumption chains, it will change our economy and even the way that our societies function. Pretty crazy! So that might be what is in store for the future, but what about right now?

The 3D printing industry is a lively one with a growing international following. Domestic 3D printers are now relatively accessible (although some are said to be more akin to the $30 printer that sits under your desk than to an awesome machine that perfectly builds any object that you can imagine) and there are now a number of companies offering 3D printing services, all you need to provide is a digital file of your design. But where do you look when you want to learn more about this growing industry? I recommend that you start with an industry insider… Angus Deveson is more than just a 3D printing enthusiast, he plays an active role in the 3D printing community in Australia, having worked for 3D printing companies in Sydney and Freemantle. Angus shares his experiences and advice on his YouTube channel, Maker’s Muse. His thoughtful comments are a great place to start if you’re keen to learn more about this exciting manufacturing technology. Check out his tips for making money in the 3D printing industry below.

 

 

Image: Angus Deveson via Maker's Muse

 

3rd June 2015 Arts Written by Leigh Lemay

Calling all SINners: Join the Global SIN, Art without Boundaries and POWer

Belaxis Buil is a Miami-based artist who studied at the New World School of the Arts (University of Florida). Graduating in 2006 with a double major in Dance and Sculpture and a minor in Art History, she graced the Dean’s List and has been a professional artist for nearly a decade. She is the founder of a recently formulated artist initiative entitled, SIN and has worked with organisations such as Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict (GPPAC), North America, and Mexican enterprise, Servicios y Asesoria para la paz, (SERAPAZ; Services and Consulting for Peace).

 

Leigh: What inspired you to start up SIN?

Belaxis: I was interested in finding artists on a global scale that were producing work that was confrontational and controversial; that raised questions relating to social and political events. It was also a way for me to start motivating other artists who aren’t creating works of this nature, to become engaged in what is happening in the socio-political realm. I wanted to create a universal network of artists, predominantly on the Internet. SIN’s intention is to enter the virtual realm with a technological agenda, rippling into the far reaches of cyber space, then presenting the works to political organisations, infiltrating the creations with ideas similar to those of political discussion[sic]. The uniqueness here however, is that the created work would be conceptual, honing in on unbiased visual imagery. The stance would be unbiased because I would not want any party, entity or community to feel threatened, forced to become involved or blamed to [sic] a reoccurring concern, but more so see and feel the experience creating conflict. By engaging a person to become wrapped in situation, perspective and opinions shift and evolve.

 

Leigh: Why have you chosen the Internet as your major platform?

Belaxis: The Internet is global, it is visual, it’s easily accessible and it’s fast. We reside in a hyper-stimulated technological world and because of this, it is an effective approach to discourse relating to important social matters.

 

Leigh: Why is it important to have a collective like yours operating in the art world?

Belaxis:  I believe that SIN is an important addition to the art world because the focus point is a bit more extensive than just fine arts [sic] hanging on a wall or standing as a 3-dimensional piece in a home, collection or institute. It is work that addresses politics, religion and social issues per se, so it becomes an historical piece that changed history [sic]. Further, I want to create a bridge between the community and the powers that govern us, so that we can start presenting issues as imagery that are not based on just one voice. People have the tendency to drown out words when there is too much being spoken, but when they concentrate on images alone, they’re more likely to pay attention to what is being said.

 

Leigh: What was your most recent project?

Belaxis: My most recent project was being a part of a group exhibit called, Alternative Comtemporaneities: Temporary Autonomous Zones (TAZ) at the MOCANOMI (Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami). Curated by Richard Haden, approximately 50 artists from Miami were selected to show their work. TAZ “alludes to creating temporary spaces that elude formal structures of control…thus creating the foundation for authenticity and spontaneity”. It was a very radical exhibit that received a lot of attention because of MOCANOMI’s history of political upheaval in the last yearand a half or so. It was also an important exhibit because a lot of Miami artists have a supposed reputation for not being outspoken…but I don't think I have that reputation.

 

Leigh: What is your next project?

Belaxis: Let’s just say; Morocco, people and…

 

Leigh: What do you hope to achieve with SIN?

Belaxis: A project-based organisation who is eventually an important sector within the government structure. SIN would ultimately become an innovative diplomat, who would visit a conflict in order to do field study and analyse the situation via performance research and social art practices. Hopefully SIN would master the craft of conceptual dialogue to disengage tension.

 

Leigh: If you could say one thing to the governments of the Western World, what would it be?

Belaxis: If I could say anything to the government, I would not say anything at all. Everything has been said. I would just ask them to look and listen.

 

Having finished my degree in Fine Arts only six months ago; I still struggle with where in the art world my place should reside. Who am I as an artist? Am I a painter? Am I a photographer? Am I conceptual? Do I care about sales, or am I in it solely for expression itself? Do I create what the majority lean towards, or do I create whatever the hell I want to? Perhaps the biggest question of all for me, especially after contemplating my interview with Belaxis Buil, is, 'Do I have something to say?'

I can’t help but recall the moment at art school, when in front of the class, my professor urged another student not to be political in their work. It was an artwork about their native country and the associated atrocities being committed at the time. While it’s true that perhaps not all of us could relate on an experiential level, it was certainly obvious to all that the artist was passionate about their subject.

Aside from empathising with the general humiliation that can be felt when a teacher’s critique is not what you want to hear, I remember feeling torn between the impartiality expected from students of institutionalised art and the undeniable sense of being chastised and contained. If artists are not permitted to comment on the world around them, then who is? Could it not be construed as tragic, were our society to be stripped of deeply, political works like the famous painting, The Third of May 1808 by Francisco Goya, or William Blake’s poetic call to arms in, Jerusalem?

Subscribers to the Bellian philosophy of art may agree that, “To associate art with politics is always a mistake” and “to appreciate a work of art we need bring with us nothing from life…” but is this really possible? Are we not fundamentally made up of each experience from our birth to our death? Can we really remain impartial when we witness what we deem to be an injustice? Can we afford to be silenced?

“I don't think artists can avoid being political. Artists are the proverbial canaries in the coal mine. When we stop singing, it's a sure sign of repressive times ahead.”
—Theresa Bayer


Belaxis Buil can be contacted here.
Image: SIN & Belaxis Buil

29th May 2015 Technology Written by Hannah Greethead

Intelligent Futures: Does Science Fiction Have a Role to Play?

Marvin, Douglas Adam’s deeply depressed android creation was given what some might consider to be a rather cruel gift… not only was he bestowed with unfathomable intelligence, he was also the recipient of a gamut of human emotions. This combination of smarts and feelings, mixed with the menial jobs often tasked to him by the rouge president of the universe Zaphod Beeblebrox led Marvin into a permanent and unrelenting state of despair. Now you might think, surely a bored, depressed robot is just the stuff of stories. But, it might just be time to think again, autonomous robots and Artificial Intelligence is no longer the stuff of the far future or simply flashy action film fodder, no, this stuff is starting to get real.

The UN recently staged a conference focused on discussing the use of autonomous killer robots and determining whether the use of such technology could potentially violate human rights and the laws of war. Director of the Ethics and Emerging sciences group at California Polytechnic State University, Patrick Lin, has weighed in on these deliberations, pointing out, in this article, an inherent need to ‘personify’ robotics, questioning whether human standards should really be applied to objects that don’t have any capacity for moral concern. We might dismiss this as a problem for future humans to deal with, but the reality of AI is fast approaching, and it has me wondering, where do these ‘human’ expectations for robots and AI come from?

Where else to look but that enduring fictional genre… science fiction? Science fiction (aka Scifi) has long used the cutting edge of science and engineering as fodder for the imagined futures of humanity. Within this realm of imagined futures, the development and evolution of Artificial Intelligence (AI) stands out as a Scifi favourite. From Isaac Asimov to Spike Jonze and Douglas Adams in between, it’s hard to find an example of a fictional future that doesn’t contain human-like robotics and AI. It seems to me that there is a very strong link between these historical, fictional visions for Humanity’s future alongside autonomous robots, and the contemporary, cutting edge of robotics.

Across the world there are a number of organisations working to develop artificially intelligent, human-like robots. Hanson Robotics in the USA have built a series of robots that have been designed to appear as human as possible, from their ‘frubber’ skin and expressive faces right through to their ‘personalities’ the resemblance is a little eerie at times. One of Hanson Robotic’s most prominent creations is BINA48, a robotic bust that has been bestowed with the looks, memories, ideas, feelings and beliefs of a real individual, a woman named Bina Apsen. By giving BINA48 all of these ‘human’ characteristics and information, the hope is that ‘she’ might be able to evolve her own intelligent consciousness. Another company, Hiroshi Ishiguro Laboratories have a similar approach to the development of human-like AI. Their robots are designed to appear like real humans, they also have two models, the Geminoid HI-4, which has been developed to have a larger degree of autonomous ‘behaviour’ and the Geminoid F (a robot I had the pleasure of ‘meeting’ back in 2013), a ‘lite’ version of the Geminoid HI-4 that has fewer autonomous capabilities. A third example of an attempt to create a hyper-real, human-esque robot is apparent in Akio. Designed by robotics enthusiast Dr Le Trung, Akio is one man’s attempt to create a human-like robotic companion to assist individuals with domestic tasks. Akio’s has been given the appearance of a young woman, however, has not be explicitly based on a particular human individual.

All of these robots, developed in a bid to create an autonomous intelligence, have been given human attributes, both in their form and with the information that is intended to define their ‘personalities’. I can’t help but think that these attempts to recreate human intelligence stem not only from our inherent narcissism as humans, but also from what we consistently see in science fiction. In every story that I can think of artificially intelligent robotic characters almost always take on human characteristics (no matter how flawed they might be). Consider Ultron, the main antagonist of Marvel’s latest blockbuster generates a machine-made body that looks distinctly human, or the aforementioned, perennially depressed android Marvin. Similarly, Samantha, the nearly omnipresent operating system in ‘Her’, does something extremely human when she falls in ‘love’ (even if it was with hundreds of different people all at once).

Speaking of ‘Her’, it seems that a ‘Her’-like world is set to occur in a not too distant future. Google is in the process of developing new technology that could enable computers to develop ‘common sense’ within a period as short as a decade. That’s right, soon we might be talking to our computers as though they are our friends… I wonder how that will change the current social isolation that seems to be developing out of our Internet oriented societies? Rather than being a device that allows you to remotely connect with your friends, your computers and phones can become your friends instead…

It seems that there are clear connections between what has been presented in science fiction and what we are now seeing at the cutting edge of technological development, but there’s also a chance that this obsession with artificially emulating human intelligence doesn’t derive from scifi at all and maybe it’s all in the spirit of competition, with these developments entirely focused on developing AI that is capable of passing the Turing test. This test, founded on the work of mathematician Alan Turing, has been developed to determine whether a machine is ‘intelligent’, based on its ability to ‘trick’ a human ‘judge’ into thinking a machine is also human. Add some money into the pot (there are a number of prizes on offer to anyone who can create such intelligent programming) and you’ve got even more motivation to focus on the creation of human-like artificial intelligence.

It seems that we are incapable of separating intelligence from humanity. We cannot envision that any other intelligent, autonomous ‘being’ could have intelligence or abilities that are not rooted in humanity. And, as we see in the aforementioned discussions on the use of autonomous robots in war, that is, we are starting to apply human standards, morals and ethical expectations to machines. Perhaps we need to look elsewhere for inspiration when it comes to the development of AI, to create an intelligence that is something other than Humans 2.0…. what do you think?

Image: Hannah Greethead

14th April 2015 Music Written by Jessica Chehade

The Artist's Perspective: Where Art Thou, Success?

Work, of any kind, is demanding. It requires effort, time, and persistence. But artists’ work, that which is gruelling and rewarding all at once, can provide boundless inner joy once completed. That is, until the next audition, due date, or exhibit…

Miss Sarah Kristine is a 23-year-old singer, dancer, and actor. She featured on Australia’s Got Talent 2013 and The Voice Australia 2014. She’s performed in musicals of The Wizard of Oz and Hairspray, and I have had the pleasure of hearing her versatile and captivating vocal chords live in theatre and concert.

When I spoke to Sarah I tried to dive into her pool of thought, I wanted every drop of her creative juice to seep through my own fingertips and help me write. I sought to know for all the artists out there how one deals with the obstacles of an artists’ plight, I mean, flight.

I meet Sarah at Badmannercafé in Parramatta, It’s 9.30 on a Tuesday morning and she’s still in her workout gear having come from ballet class. She looks surprisingly awake and fresh for a Tuesday morning and I find myself in awe of her already (although this might be because I rarely rise before 9am). We take a lengthy look at the menu and place our orders. “Two soy caps, thanks.”

I spit some questions out in the void for us to have a chat about,

  1. A brief outline of your typical week and how it benefits you as an artist?
  2. What is your ultimate dream/goal?
  3. How does what you’re doing now contribute to this dream/goal?

Sarah is warm and down to earth. As we speak I can see in her eyes the fire and passion of a dedicated artist. She tells me she’s struggled with the daily grind, but seems to welcome it. It makes sense to me, because how can we succeed if we don’t work hard for what we want?

“My week as an artist can be an emotional journey” she says. She works two jobs, one as a singing and dancing teacher three times a week and two days as a receptionist for a construction company. She takes two ballet classes a week and slogs three sessions of boot camp, otherwise she can be found at an acting class one night a week and practising her singing every night.

“Aesthetics are undeniably a huge part of the industry. Therefore, nutrition and exercise are a huge part of my week.” But that’s not the sole reason for her busy regime as she admits that all these activities “benefits me on three different levels; mentally, physically, and disciplinary.” I tell her I’m sure we can all appreciate the need for disciplinary routines as the motto I feel can sometimes inhibit us and prevent the active pursuing our goals. She agrees.

“Inspiration is a dirty word for the creative soul. I believe that completing tasks like finishing a song or starting one, is the very same as an accountant going into their office each morning. It's work.You have to get it done to reap the rewards.

Sigh

But she doesn’t stop there. In order to be on top of the music industry and get herself known and circulating the right places she attends auditions, acting classes, attempts song writing and researches. A huge part of research, networking and publicity involves social media now. Sarah describes the upkeep of social media as “gut wrenching” but even if labouring over Facebook posts and Instagram disheartens you, “we must acknowledge the dominance of social media” she asserts, “irrespective of our liking it or not”.

“I do wish for recognition and for people to admire my work... but ultimately, doing what I love every day and making an income off it is the goal.”

For Sarah, “dreams are goals”, so set the tasks daily that enable you to reach your dream and you’ll be on the right path. “What I am doing is not a routine for before I reach my dreams, I do what I do now as a way of life." She admits there's always more to be done, and she's happy to do it, if it means getting her where she needs to be.

“At the moment, my plan is to invest in an appropriate laptop and music production program to have the ability and freedom to create my own work. My goal within the next three to six months is to have an EP of about five songs. Put them out there in the world of producers and social media and gage the feedback.

Despite the slumps of insecurity, self-doubt and criticism she admits even she goes through, “my aim is to live for the needs and demands of the present day to overcome that” she says. “Yes-sometimes it's hard to wake up at 5:40am to get ready for boot camp. But this is character building! It’s like that moment where you realise, even though you don't want to complete that song, you have the ability to do it. So you do it. Then, once completed (like exercising) you feel elated and strong. A strength that drives you to the next item on your to do list.

Well, her bravado and vibrancy are infectious. I believe she'll achieve her dreams because where there's passion and dedication there must be success, even if it's measured on a daily basis. And hey, this article got written didn't it? Inspiration can only happen when you decide you're ready to succeed.

Image by Carol Matt via The Monday Jam

30th March 2015 Trending Conversation Written by Jessica Chehade

Suffering from PHS? You’re Not Alone Weary Traveller

Post holiday syndrome has been experienced by many a traveller. The melancholy sensation that overwhelms you upon your return home from a trip abroad is entirely valid. There are countless blogs that record travellers’ adventures and the post travel blues that follow. Independent travellers and bloggers, Nomadic Matt and Kristen Sarah are examples of travellers who have experienced and written of the after effects of returning home from holiday. There is an increasing number of blogs and articles online that identify a feeling of emptiness and loss of motivation or joie de vivre in individuals post-travel, either on holiday, student exchange or other adventures abroad.

Amidst all the personal accounts of post holiday syndrome, post holiday blues, post vacation syndrome or what I like to call post travel depression, I was curious to find out if there is a legitimate diagnosis for this feeling or sensation. Many of my international friends and I have expressly admitted to each other we yearn for the day to relive our travel experiences. In my search for validation I discovered that Prof. Humbelina Robles Ortega of the University of Granada, Spain, has officially diagnosed “Post-Holiday Syndrome”.

Professor Humbelina R. O. state’s that the main cause of PHS is that work is associated with “no good moments” as was quoted in an online media release. People who experience PHS may exhibit symptoms such as muscular aches, anxiety, drowsiness, depression, and general feelings of unease and discomfort with their daily routine. Never fear weary travellers, if you have felt this way at some time upon your return home there are ways to repel the post-holiday blues.

Medical News Today outlines ways in which you might overcome PHS and create a lifestyle that you enjoy rather than living for the holidays. For instance, you might decide to shorten the duration of your holiday so that you separate your time off work into two segments in the year, rather than one large segment. Maybe you’d like to establish a period of “re-adaptation” so that when you return home from a holiday you have some days off to come to terms with where you are before returning to work? Small changes like these may help to prevent the overwhelming discomfort of coming home and the traumatisation that comes with significant lifestyle change.

One of my personal favourite tips is to plan other exciting events to attend during the year and extracurricular activities to do. This way, you’re keeping yourself engaged and enthused throughout the year and don’t feel as if working is preventing you from enjoying life. Rather, let every day present itself as a new opportunity for exploration and intrigue. New adventures can begin anywhere.

Image by Jessica Chehade

26th March 2015 Trending Fun Written by John Ma

The Kiss

If Fair Day was a family affair, and the Harbour Party was a grown up’s shindig, then The Party was one big sloppy kiss! Much like the ‘Parade Portraits’, The Kiss is all about the people and their moment. And as the title suggests, it’s all about kissing.

Throughout this eight part series, I hope I was able to bring a little love, passion, and fun into your world. I hope this has shown the world what the Sydney Mardi Gras was like, inside and out. And I really hope that we can go out like these guys and share our love with the world.

So no more from me. If we’re gonna use our mouths, then we should use it to kiss someone we love. And for whatever reason if you need inspiration, then look no further! Because don’t these guys look like they are having fun?

JohnMa Kiss 1

© John Ma

 

JohnMa Kiss 2

© John Ma

 

JohnMa Kiss 3

© John Ma

 

JohnMa Kiss 4

© John Ma

 

JohnMa Kiss 5

© John Ma

 

JohnMa Kiss 6

© John Ma

 

JohnMa Kiss 7

© John Ma

 

JohnMa Kiss 8

© John Ma

 

JohnMa Kiss 9

© John Ma

This is the end of the official coverage of the 2015 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, but if you need more you can head here, theres lots more to see!

And until next time… Much love and happiness!

23rd March 2015 Trending Fun Written by John Ma

Twinkle Twinkle Little Party

JohnMa 01 Invasion

Zombies © John Ma

Oxford Steet was laid to waste. Fish and chips and kebabs refuelled tired bodies as the hordes of party zombies descended onto the Hordern Pavilion.

 

JohnMa 02 GoodAndEvilAndStringCheese

Good, Evil and String Cheese © John Ma

The bodies flowed through the gates. There was a nagging feeling that serious choices had to be made that night.

 

JohnMa 03 Union

Union © John Ma

Aussie girl meets Brazilian girl. They fall in love and decide to get married. The ceremony took place on one of the floats in the parade. Imagine what their kids will look like.

 

JohnMa 04 Entourage

Entourage © John Ma

Some rolled deep.

 

JohnMa 05 Razzle

Razzle © John Ma

Dazzle

 

JohnMa 06 Gaga

Gaga © John Ma

 

JohnMa 07 BigRooms

Big Rooms © John Ma

There were lots of big rooms like this and all of them boiling with human energy.

 

JohnMa 08 TheMenu

The Menu © John Ma

On full display.

 

JohnMa 09 NeonPeaces

Neon Peace © John Ma

They came in neon and peace.

 

JohnMa 10 Deuces

Deuces © John Ma

Two is better than one.

 

JohnMa 11 Bodies

Frenzy © John Ma

It was like a feeding frenzy.

 

JohnMa 12 Victors

Victors © John Ma

He is a winner.

 

JohnMa 13 Jocks

Jocks © John Ma

Fully sick jocks!

 

JohnMa 14 Unicorn

Unicorn © John Ma

 

JohnMa 15 Rider

Rider © John Ma

Some were just riding it out.

 

JohnMa 16 Teleporter

Teleporter © John Ma

If you let it, you can imagine it’s a teleporting machine.

 

JohnMa 17 Pray

Pray © John Ma

Sometimes this happens when I stand up on high places. I hope I granted him what he prayed for. I gave him the only thing I could, and took his portrait in this raving mass of Mardi Gras excitement.

 

JohnMa 18 MadMaxine

Mad Maxine © John Ma

Definitely teleported here.

 

JohnMa 19 Twinkle

Twinkle © John Ma

I caught one twinkle.

 

JohnMa 20 Selfless

Selfless © John Ma

Some friends are just so selfless when they are taking selfies.

 

JohnMa 21 FairyFloss

Fairy Floss © John Ma

 

JohnMa 22 DanceFloor

Dance Floor © John Ma

The struggle and hassle of walking through the crowd is easily justified by what you’ll find. I found him in the middle of the buzzing balminess.

 

JohnMa 23 Pasties

Pasties © John Ma

Sometimes when you lose a pastie you just have to make do.

 

JohnMa 24 Fairytales

Fairytales © John Ma

Someone playing with the teleporter again.

 

JohnMa 25 RockOn

Rock On © John Ma

By now I had no idea which one of the big rooms I was in. The Party kept on and I held on.

 

JohnMa 26 Poof

© John Ma

And like magic, she appeared again.

 

JohnMa 27 Casualties

Casualties © John Ma

There were bound to be some casualties, and not everyone was going to walk away unscathed.

 

JohnMa 28 DumpOut

Bump Out © John Ma

I honestly can’t remember the party ending. But if I had to imagine it, it would be like this.

20th March 2015 In Conversation Written by Hannah Greethead

Wanderlust, Sometimes You've Gotta Answer the Call

Wanderlust comes knocking everyone’s door at some point. Some people wait for it to go away, but others, like Craig and Aimee of Kinging It, open the door and walk right out with it. This adventurous Welsh couple is all about getting out there and seeing it all. If you can't go on your own escapade, you can live vicariously through them by watching their in depth video updates on Kinging-it.com, an online diary where they chronicle all their adventures.

Check out their recent trip to Australia where they visited Melbourne, Perth and Sydney.

 

Image

18th March 2015 Trending Fun Written by John Ma

The Parade Portraits

The passion, pride, and performance of Mardi Gras is encapsulated and personified by its people. In and out of it - watching and playing in it. It is the people that make up the whole thing.

I love photographing humans. The results always astound me. Mardi Gras is my rabbit hole. I won’t ruin this with words. This is all about character, so I’ll let character speak for itself.

JohnMa 01 OldVic

Old Vic © John Ma

 

JohnMa 02 Invaders

Invaders © John Ma

 

JohnMa 03 PomPoms

Pom Poms © John Ma

 

JohnMa 04 BladesOfGlory

Blades of Glory © John Ma

 

JohnMa 05 BangBang

Bang Bang © John Ma

 

JohnMa 06 NoHands

No Hands © John Ma

 

JohnMa 07 Footpath

Footpath © John Ma

 

JohnMa 09 Folks

Folks © John Ma

 

JohnMa 10 Pipes

Pipes © John Ma

 

JohnMa 11 Madame

Madame © John Ma

 

JohnMa 12 Ghosts

Ghosts © John Ma

 

JohnMa 13 Dos

Dos © John Ma

 

JohnMa 14 Gimps

Gimps © John Ma

 

JohnMa 15 Traditions

Traditions © John Ma

 

JohnMa 16 WarPaint

War Paint © John Ma

 

JohnMa 17 Partners

Partners © John Ma

 

JohnMa 18 CrewCut

Crew Cut © John Ma

 

JohnMa 19 Girls

Girls © John Ma

 

JohnMa 20 MardiGras

Mardi Gras © John Ma

 

JohnMa 21 Slip

Slip © John Ma

JohnMa 22 Melodrama

Melodrama © John Ma

 

JohnMa 23 Eve

Eve © John Ma

 

JohnMa 24 78ers

78ers © John Ma

 

JohnMa 25 Pixie

Pixie © John Ma

 

JohnMa 26 Feathers

Feathers © John Ma

 

JohnMa 27 Pink

Pink © John Ma

 

JohnMa 28 Looks

Looks © John Ma

 

JohnMa 29 Pigtails

Pigtails © John Ma

 

JohnMa 30 Umbrella

Umbrella © John Ma

 

JohnMa 31 Shatter

Shatter © John Ma

 

JohnMa 32 Glory

Glory © John Ma

 

JohnMa 33 Sweetness

Sweetness © John Ma

 

JohnMa 34 You

You © John Ma

These portraits represent just a few of the characters from the parade, if you're keen for more, you can check them out here

16th March 2015 Trending Fun Written by John Ma

Mardi Gras 2015: The Parade Route

JohnMa 01 Backdrops

Backdrop © John Ma

I was late reaching my media bay when the Parade officially started. Being ushered by security and event organisers, I rushed up the empty parade route of Oxford St. Not far behind me was the very beginning of the parade, and behind them was the setting sun that silhouetted the city. The energy had been building up all day, and as the waiting crowd caught sight of the marching paraders, the noise in the air wasn’t just cheers, it was a delight.

 

JohnMa 02 Fiver

Fiver © John Ma

Every float and participant was in one way or another, trying to touch and engage with someone. Some did it physically, some did visually. But either way their invitation was undeniable.

 

JohnMa 03 Unisons

Unison © John Ma

As you can see, some of the floats stuck very closely to their routines.

 

JohnMa 04 Neptune

Neptune © John Ma

Greek mythology would be so laid back if this guy had been a part of it.

 

JohnMa 05 Strokes

Strokes © John Ma

The Different Strokes Dragon Boat team.

 

JohnMa 06 Zoom

Zoom © John Ma

The night was zooming by and I didn’t want it to end too quickly.

 

JohnMa 07 Ruffles

Ruffles © John Ma

Luckily some of the paraders were less frenetic and took their time making their way along the parade route. Clearly not letting the hype ruffle their ruffles.

 

JohnMa 08 Baton

Baton © John Ma

It’s pretty safe to say that no baton was ever waved so eagerly before, nor after, this shot was taken.

 

JohnMa 09 Uniform

Uniform © John Ma

If you have a thing for men in uniforms… You’re very welcome. But for those who are a part of any long established institution where truly expressing yourself can be a difficult thing - This will hopefully give you some encouragement.

 

JohnMa 10 Glisten

Glisten © John Ma

Epically Drag.

 

JohnMa 11 Closets

Closets © John Ma

The metaphor was proud and clear and the colourful doors rolling down Oxford St provided a wonderfully surreal setting for me to photograph.

 

JohnMa 12 BeachBums

Beach Bums © John Ma

Lifesavers have been part of the Mardi Gras institution for a long long time. Budgie smugglers and little bikinis, twirling and twerking, shaking and grinding… I’m cool with that. 

 

JohnMa 13 Firebugs

Firebugs © John Ma

Emergency services was out in force, waving the flag high and representing the proud.

 

JohnMa 14 Precipitation

Precipitation © John Ma

Abstract installation art with a chance of local precipitation?

 

JohnMa 15 Twirl

Twirl © John Ma

There was so much twirling going around. And around. And around. And around…

 

JohnMa 16 CleanUpCrew

Clean Up Crew © John Ma

I don’t know who hired these guys to do the clean-up, but they did a pretty shitty job.

 

JohnMa 17 FollowTheGlitter

Follow The Glitter © John Ma

If there was any bright side the terrible job done by the Clean Up Crew, it was that finding your way to The Party of all parties was really really easy. Follow the glitter!

 

JohnMa 18 Maniacs

Maniacs © John Ma

Before we could get to The Party, I first had to dodge a horde of maniacs that were grabbing and running away with anything that wasn’t tied down.

13th March 2015 Trending Fun Written by John Ma

Mardi Gras 2015: Before the Parade

JohnMa 01 WaveIt

Wave It © John Ma

This year is my first year back after many years away from the event. I forgot how much I loved Mardi Gras and it reminded me of how much I had missed it.

The day started in the early afternoon. I went to Mr. Crackles to get my fix then headed down Oxford. When I got to Hyde Park, which is where all the floats were getting ready and warming up, everyone was getting into the spirit in the most passionate way!

This is one of the flag bearers. He was happy waving his flag. His happy, big green flag. His simple contentment made me happy and I think it made everyone else around him happier too.

 

JohnMa 02 Sparkles

Sparkles © John Ma

It ain’t no Mardi Gras without sparkles! I didn’t put any on and I still woke up the next day with sparkles in my bed.

 

JohnMa 03 BlownUp

Up © John Ma

Gusts of winds came up Liverpool St, carrying the balloons into my face and the perspective gave me this shot. This is just one of many more that I couldn’t fit them all here so I’ve curated them into an extended series on my Facebook page.

 

JohnMa 04 Victoria

Victoria © John Ma

Opera on Oxford.

 

JohnMa 05 HangOut

Show Off © John Ma

Clearly he was just trying to show off and objectify himself to the public. And clearly it worked.

 

JohnMa 06 But

Angles © John Ma

Drifting through the frenzy of people I felt someone tug on my arm. I turned to find a big toothy smile saying something to me that was drowned out by the music. And before I could ask her, she spun around and posed. Seeing the fun we were having, the girl in the bowler hat jumped into my frame and wanted a piece of the action. I kindly obliged, being the nice person I am.

 

JohnMa 07 Daffodils

Daffodils © John Ma

The Parade hadn’t started. These were just warm up poses.

 

JohnMa 08 Score

Score © John Ma

I think a lot of us can relate to this girl.

 

JohnMa 09 BBall

B-Ball © John Ma

Multi-tasking

 

JohnMa 10 Feast

Feast © John Ma

Gimps don’t just eat. They feast.

 

JohnMa 11 Line

The Line © John Ma

The girl in front of me growled with a heavy Irish accent at the people inside the cubicles to get out. And next to me was a tiny girl wearing a wrestling uniform. Her uncle, I think, was the wrestling club president. Surreal and uncomfortable is the simplest way to put it. 

 

JohnMa 12 DrumAndBags

Drums and Bags © John Ma

Ancient sounds and celtic garbs filled Hyde Park on a Sydney weekend. And kilts are just so cool!

 

JohnMa 13  Droogs

Droogs © John Ma

Viddy well, little brother. Viddy well…

 

JohnMa 14  Blush

Blush © John Ma

Kinda sorta made me blush.

 

JohnMa 15 Champagne

Champagne © John Ma

The city can be a fast moving, unblinking, cold hearted bitch. But Mardi Gras turned it into a bubble bath.

 

JohnMa 16 TopCop

Top Cop © John Ma

The top cop completes the final inspection.

 

JohnMa 17 TheBeginning

The Beginning © John Ma

The start of the parade down Oxford Street for the 37th time.

 

JohnMa 18 PotOfGold

Pot of Gold © John Ma

The end of the rainbow is here. Let’s go find that pot of gold.

13th March 2015 Film & Photography Written by Erin Cook

Anne Lynn Sawyer: Seeking Beauty in Nature (and Finding it)

If you’re reading this article right now, there’s a distinct possibility that you’ve got a few creative bones in that body of yours. You’ve made your way to the Warhol’s Children website and clicked on a link that looked a little bit arty. Perhaps you were looking for a bit of inspiration? Or maybe you’re suffering from creative block? Well, read on, dear reader, because Central Coast photographer Anne Lynn Sawyer might be able to help you out.

Anne’s photographs and illustrations are centered on the timeless concept of beauty in nature. Rather than torturing herself by looking inwards for inspiration, Anne prefers to look outwards. She looks outside of herself and outside of her windows in search of material to inspire her art. Nature is her vice and there’s a big wide world to keep her occupied.

Her work is created in the space where her two main interests, art and nature, collide. Anne’s creative practices are so intertwined into her life that she refers to her art as her, “beloved, if not demanding life companion,” before continuing, “we never get bored with each other.” I sat down with Anne to chat about her artworks and the inspiration behind them. It quickly became apparent that she’s just as in love with her ‘demanding life companion’ as she was when they first met…

Erin Cook: Have you always been passionate about creating art or is it something that has developed in recent years?

Anne Lynn Sawyer: The urge to express myself creatively has directed much of what I do for as long as I can remember. As a young child I would draw, colour in pictures, and make all manner of things from what I found around me. I feel truly blessed to have been provided with the sensitivity to see the world around me with creative eyes.

E: How do you view yourself? Are you a photographer, artist, illustrator or perhaps, all of the above?

A: I guess the closest answer to that would be, all of the above, as I draw on facets from a number of disciplines in my work. However, photography has provided me with a tool to amalgamate many of my interests and creative studies.

E: There is an overarching theme of nature throughout your work. Did this occur organically or was it a conscious decision?

A: My passionate love of nature has also formed an enduring part of who I am and has therefore fuelled and provided an infinite source of inspiration for my art creating. I view creative imagery as a powerful tool in the development of awareness for the beauty, diversity and gift of nature and the dire need for humanity’s respect through more sustainable practices.

E: Most of your photographs are instantly recognisable as your own. When creating new works, do you have a set process?

A: The development of a recognisable style for any artist is desirable and actively cultivated as a method to promote and identify your work as your own. However, having said that, I don't consciously follow a process, but merely answer what feels right when I am working. I guess to evaluate my process it would more closely constitute a constantly evolving series of experimentations rather than a ridged discipline. By working in this fashion, I remain fresh, engaged and am always learning throughout the development of new work.

E: How do you get the creative juices flowing when you're stuck in a rut?

A: I guess there are many ways I use to inspire myself to create...I like to go for a walk and just look about me, there is always something interesting out there in the big wide world.

The time of day you choose to photograph can open u a myriad of opportunities for capturing enhanced textural shots as the light is angled strongly in the early morning or as sunset approaches. I go looking for the shadows, which are cast by everything on bright sunny days. Shadows remove the confusing detail and reveal fascinating shapes, which have become altered, often eccentric versions of their creators.

I believe that all of us should view the work of artists and creatives as often as possible; their work is an endless source of inspiration...galleries, street art, craft markets, books, magazines, the internet.

Taking a class in a previously unexplored art form or craft is also a wonderful way of reawakening what lurks deep within the creative Aladdin’s cave that lies in all of us.

E. Do you have any advice for budding young photographers? 


A. Practice truly seeing...learn to look more closely and imagine the potential in everything around you...that which seems insignificant and ordinary may be reinvented by open eyes and an open mind.

Sometimes, the best way to get out of a creative rut is to find out what inspires other creative minds. Anne’s enthusiasm for her art shines through her words, especially when you add nature to the mix. If that doesn’t inspire you, I don’t know what will. Now stop procrastinating and hop to it!

Image: Anne Lynn Sawyer

12th March 2015 Arts Written by Maureen Huang

Two Worlds Collide with Stephanie Gray

When I stumbled upon a card of a hand-drawn bouquet of dried flowers, I became lost in the abundance of brown wilted leaves, inklings of red in roses with her heads faced down, and delicately drawn stems protruding in dozen different directions. As my eyes slid across the bottom of the page, there scrawled in black ink was the word GRAY. ‘Who is the one called Gray who created this card? I must find them!’

This was how I discovered Stephanie Gray.

Science and art: two worlds that seem to be on completely different ends of the spectrum. Stephanie Gray, the gal in between it all. With a science degree under her belt and a heck of a talent for watercolour and drawing, Stephanie is more than your cut-copy artist.

After having spent most of her childhood and adolescence in Bristol and the South of France, Stephanie sought a change of scenery. And a change of scenery she got. Now Stephanie is based in Sydney, and being thoroughly adjusted, Stephanie says her heart lies in Australia. “There is so much opportunity here and so much that I want to do! I love to be warm and love lengthy, light-filled days; these are the things I need to get my to-do list done.”

In order to pinpoint the catalyst of her creative career, we decided to take a trip down memory lane. Stephanie’s love for drawing and all things creative started from picture books. “I was a quiet child and I really enjoyed reading, especially books about little girls and gardens and fairies… I used to copy out the words and illustrations from these books and my mum would staple them together for me when I was finished. I suppose this is where it all began!”

As Stephanie’s passion for art continued to grow, she decided to develop her art alongside her science career. Having graduated with a Bachelor of Science at UNSW, it’s hard to believe choosing such a completely different pathway enabled her to enrich her love for all things creative. “I think that doing a very specific content heavy degree just highlighted the appeal of composing pictures and not words, so I think it has made it easier for me to find inspiration… it was lovely to have such separation between work time and playtime… After I graduated I was so excited to dedicate myself solely to art!”

And thus, her art label Erlenmeyer Art was born. Now you might be thinking, wait, her name is Stephanie Gray? Sounds nothing like Erlenmeyer. Well this is where Stephanie’s science background really shines through. When I asked her where her art moniker came from, she gave me a mini science lesson in return (or in short highlighted my total ignorance towards all things ‘science’). “Erlenmeyer is a reference to the German chemist Emil Erlenmeyer, who created a special flask and contributed significantly to the development of theories of molecular structure.”

But before the Erlenmeyer label represented her art, it was the title for her and her partner Byron’s jazz duet. “I had to take analytical chemistry for my degree and this is where I met my partner, Byron. He and I are both jazz musicians and when we found each other we formed the Erlenmeyer Duet, using the name because it sounds beautiful and elegant and that’s what we were trying to create with our music. Since then I’ve extended the name to represent my art because I am so attached to it and because I strive to achieve the same principals in my artwork as in our music.”

If there were one word to describe Stephanie’s work it would be ‘detail’. Precision is something that gives her work character. Along with detail, her subject matters can change from meticulously drawn dried flowers to a quirky pet name inspired walrus. From flowers to walruses, when trying to pin down her sources of inspiration, Stephanie showed me that inspiration can be found all around us. “Most of my pieces are created as gifts for friends and family… honouring their hobbies or favourite places. I also feel very inspired to do illustrations portraying the skills or beauty of people or things: wilted bouquets of flowers, a musician mid-performance, a little boy’s face after he’s dropped his ice-cream.”

Along with managing her etsy store, Stephanie’s also working on various other projects. “Currently I am working on a playing card deck that features illustrations of steam punk machinery. (kind of like the one featured in the picture at the top of this page) I find it so interesting to design playing cards because you have to identify competitive hierarchies within a theme and work out cohesive images for the back design and the jokers, as well as the typography work that is involved for lettering and numbering.” Together with this, Stephanie is also looking forward to putting on her first exhibition later on this year. Talk about being busy.

What attracted me the most towards Stephanie’s work was its personalised and homemade quality. Not only do you see this in her work, but also through the way she gets her art out to the public. Stephanie often runs a stall selling her originals, prints, gift cards and custom-illustrated playing cards at the North Sydney Markets on Miller Street, while also selling her stuff weekly at Paddington Markets. She often reminds people of her presence on her instagram posts, and encourages people who know of her art to come and say hello.

Interviewing Stephanie definitely felt like meeting and getting to know one of your closest friends for the first time: warm and cosy. This feeling reflects the way you feel when you stumble upon Stephanie’s work.

If you want to check out more of Stephanie’s stuff, you can find her on her website, etsy, facebook, instagram and through her little section at The Makery on Oxford Street, Darlinghurst.

Image: Stephanie Gray

10th March 2015 Trending Fun Written by Prashansa Maskey

Tread Lightly

Note to self: Do not get too excited about a book in its initial stage. Do not crazy Google it and then find out that that book series is also currently a TV series. Do not get obsessed with the actor playing the lead role, thus crazily Googling him as well only to end up watching an interview of him where he subtly reveals the possible ending of the book series.

This is my life. Unintentionally finding out the ending of movies and TV shows, and stumbling into spoilers on the Internet is what I am good at. As superpowers go, this one sucks big time. Why can't I have something nice like, I don't know, the ability to write cohesively while trying to be funny and sarcastic and get to the point without wasting too much of my word count? Ugh. Struggles.

In today’s culture of mass media consumption and high dependence on social networking, spoilers are unavoidable. If you’re in close proximity of twitter or tumblr and haven’t yet seen the new ‘The Walking Dead’ episode, the logical thing to do is avoid ALL social media. But it’s easier said than done, isn’t it? You cannot help but click on that tiny blue bird. You’re innocently scrolling through your homepage and BAM someone is live tweeting ‘Revenge’ and you find yourself reading about who Emily plans to kill in this week’s episode or see a GIF of (SPOILER) *ahem* a train scene from *ahem* ‘House of Cards’ (That is actually how I found out about it. I saw a GIF of it on tumblr).

Many times when I have read a spoiler or accidently heard it, it has been my own fault. I shouldn’t have been looking into #JohnLock tags on tumblr when the new Sherlock episode was just loading onto my computer. IMDB-ing an actor and looking into their filmography to find out that they have only worked half-way through the third season of a highly volatile, character killing TV show is usually not a good idea. Watching cast interviews and panels if you’re just starting out a new show is also not recommended. Questions will be asked and spoilers will be heard.

With April approaching and the promise of a new ‘Game of Thrones’ season on the horizon, the mother lode of spoilers are about to hit us. For those of you who manage to watch the episodes as soon as they get aired, good for you. For those that have read the book… even better. You have so much leverage to blackmail your lazy GoT watching but not reading friends, you have no idea. But for those of us, who don’t get to catch up as quickly, please show some respect. It is totally not cool to write up a snide status update about the most recent GoT death and be a smartass. One girl had the audacity to actually record the ‘Purple Wedding’ death of you-know-who (not Voldemort) and post it on her Facebook merely minutes after it had aired. I mean don’t you have a conscience? How about I tell you what actually happens to the Arya Stark? You know I won’t actually say anything because I am a good person and not because I haven’t read the books and have no idea what actually happens to Arya Stark.

Okay, I get it. You’re feeling a lot of feelings about what you just watched and need to talk about it or refer to it in some way. It’s totally fine to do that. But please show some courtesy and include a little heads up with a ‘spoiler alert’ and continue with your rant. If people still choose to read on then ‘they stupid’ and deserve what they get.

On the other hand, there is so much pop culture thrown at us today that unintentional revelation of movie plots and book endings are inevitable. Movies referencing TV shows, TV shows quoting movies, it’s all so mixed up and the next thing you know you find out the plot twist of ‘The Sixth Sense’ while innocently watching ‘Scrubs’. Similarly, the infamous ‘Luke, I am your father’. It doesn’t take a genius to figure that out. It’s ridiculous. Everything and anything can ruin it for you. So, 'maybe your best course would be to tread lightly'. 

Also, basic Internet etiquette doesn’t apply to TV shows and movies that released months/years ago. I haven’t watched or read ‘Gone Girl’ yet and the opening act at this year’s Oscars broke my heart. Anna Kendrick, I did not see that coming. But that movie has been out there for what, five months now? It’s not really fair of me to whine about a movie that was at my disposal to watch for months. Everyone was basically obsessed with it. You’re expected to watch it to keep up with the times and stay cool. I am not cool. I only have myself to blame for being lazy. Similarly, you can’t really expect someone to save you the ending of ‘Fight Club’ because if you still haven’t seen it, then you’re not living your life right. Go watch it NOW and prepare to have your mind blown.

Are you done watching 'Fight Club'? Cool. So, moving on to more important things in life and the reason for this unnecessary rant, books. You do not, under any circumstances, no matter how much you despise that person, give away the ending of a book. Don't be that jerk who looks at the cover of the book that someone is reading and goes 'haha the wife kills him in the end'. If you are that type of person then to quote an old wise guy, "You are the worst. Instead of blood, your heart pumps liquid suck!" How are we still friends? Why are you even reading this?

To read a book is beautiful. When you’re reading a book and it manages to strike the perfect chord, you’re transported to a whole new world where the characters are real. Your own emotions and feelings are mirrored by theirs. You feel their anger and happiness. It makes you want to giggle like a love struck teenager or straight up bitch slap Umbridge. It’s a big feel-fest. You picture scenes and see it all play out in your mind. You imagine being in them. Goodreads user Cara describes it best, ‘You are the protagonist.’ It’s your story just as much as it is the authors. To quote the same old wise guy, ‘Books belong to their readers.’(I live vicariously through John Green quotes. Can you tell?).

You carry that book around with you. You sleep beside it. You even take it to the bathroom (hey, we’ve all done it!). The point is you’re intimate with an inanimate object (Maybe E.L James can write about that). Then you reach that part of the book that you know is coming, but have no idea what it is and how it’s going to hit you. But when it does, oh, when it does, you’re completely awestruck by the genius of that author. You cannot help but think how beautiful the human mind is to be able to come up with a sequence of words and make it work brilliantly as a story. It is amazing. It is a different kind of high.

Now to have all of that taken away by some punk ass losers who think they are cool? Some people love movies while other love books. They might love TV shows, graphic novels or whatever. It doesn’t matter. The only thing that matters is that you show people the respect that they deserve and let them be. Think about the 13 year old who has just started to watch ‘Gossip Girl’ and has no clue who Gossip Girl is. She is really excited about how cute Nate and Serena look together. Now, would you want to spoil it for her? What if you tell her who the real Gossip Girl is and she cannot stop thinking about that person as Gossip Girl and then decides to give up on the entire series? Think about all the good Blair wardrobe moments she will be missing out on. Think about all the ‘OMG’ moments you had while watching it. Think of all the feelings that you felt and the long conversations that you had with your friends about it. Would you want her to miss out on that?

So please, spare me the spoilers and let me eye-roll my way through my newsfeed in peace. Don’t humiliate yourself with your half-wit Facebook statues about who died and who killed who because (a) Its Facebook and you’re already lame and (b) YOU SUCK!

P.S. Snape kills Harry in the end.

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6th March 2015 Trending Conversation Written by John Ma

Midnight Masquerades, Harbour Party by Night

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Cops are Tops © John Ma

Mr 5.0 was straight up framing dudes.

 

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Pick Up © John Ma

Some were very kind and offered me a ride on their shoulders.

 

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Skyline © John Ma

The view from up here ain’t that bad.

 

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Shine © John Ma

There were stars in attendance too… But they already get enough shine.

 

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Who Is This Girl © John Ma

This girl and her outfit though definitely did not get enough shine.

 

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Glitterland © John Ma

I think they came from Glitterland.

 

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Shoulders © John Ma

The view from there looks pretty decent too.

 

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Queue © John Ma

Take a ticket and head to the back of the queue please.

 

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Snacks © John Ma

Nom nom

 

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Centre of Attention © John Ma

She really really really wanted me to take a photo of her. Like really.

 

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Lime Light © John Ma

Everyone got a bit that night.

 

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Arm Candy © John Ma

And as it got later, some couples were craving a little alone time.

 

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Blurred © John Ma

I tried to stay lucid for as long as I could, but hey I’m human… And eventually things got blurry.

 

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Masquerade © John Ma

And when the masquerade came to an end and the crowd floated toward the exits, I walked past the great big disco ball and still thought it was pretty cool.

6th March 2015 Trending Conversation Written by John Ma

Summer Kissed, The Harbour Party by Day

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Gatecrashers © John Ma

The harbour view and the ocean breeze was spectacular in the most Australian way. The party kicked off in the early afternoon and went well into the night. But while the sunshine lasted, summer flirted with everyone.

If Fair Day had been a family affair, the Harbour Party was what happened when the kids went to bed. So as the babysitter minded the kids, the grown-ups played dress ups, and even the gatecrashers came in style.

 

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Dame © John Ma

And of course a Mardi Gras party wouldn’t be a party without a dame or two.

 

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Beachy © John Ma

Personally I found the beach chairs to be a godsend. I got to rest my feet while getting some shade, and practiced getting over brain freezes from the vodka mango slushy. 

 

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Disco © John Ma

When my brain unfroze I went back for seconds, then I looked up at a great big disco ball hanging over the Sydney skyline and thought that was one of the coolest things ever.

 

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Dujour © John Ma

Peace and love from DJ Du Jour.

 

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Harbour Party © John Ma

It would have been a good day even if the party ended right there and then. But wait… There’s more!

 

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Beefy © John Ma

The beefy crowds kept rolling in.

 

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Safe © John Ma

Is that bird? Is that a plane? No… It’s a fucking condom.

 

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Passion Gives You Wings © John Ma

After the floating condoms came the butterflies.

 

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Punter © John Ma

And then the shirts disappeared.

 

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Banana Boat © John Ma

For some, the party peaked a little too early.

 

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Smoke on the Water © John Ma

For others, the real party had just started.

 

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Interlude © John Ma

The setting sun felt somewhat like an interlude. The briefest of interludes…

 

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The Horde © John Ma

Since the sweaty restless crowd and inpatient night had waited long enough.

25th February 2015 Trending Conversation Written by John Ma

Pride in the Park, Fair Day

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Hello Stranger © John Ma

I ventured into Fair Day as a blank canvas. I wanted to experience the event through what I encountered alone, and so I avoided any PR material that was available to me. As I walked onto the grounds of the park I was immediately greeted by characters that only our special Mardi Gras can bring out.

 

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All You Need Is Love © John Ma

It’s heart-warming to see our future generations so colour blind and oblivious to the present divisions of our society. At a time when the adults are arguing amongst themselves because of the walls we’ve built up along the way. These little ones are emerging through the noise and learning about the world by seeing that all you need is love.

 

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United Colours © John Ma

Not surprisingly there was sass everywhere that day.

 

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Some Don’t Need a Stage © John Ma

See… I told you so.

 

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Divas © John Ma

A large part of the fabulousness of Mardi Gras comes from the drag queens. The flamboyance and colour of these beautiful ladies are iconic to their image. So when capturing Kara Zmatiq during her performance, I wanted to visualise her in a way that wasn’t dressed by the usual symbols. This black and white image was to me, a way of seeing these talented ladies as a timeless classic.

 

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Monkey See © John Ma

PDA (public displays of affection) at any Mardi Gras event is never an issue. And if you had an issue with it… Too bad!

 

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Marilyn © John Ma

As I peered through my lens and watched the crowds all day long, seeing face after face glide past my view, this lovely little lady reminded me that sometimes I’m not the only one watching.

 

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Heels © John Ma

Some girls complain about the pain that their heels give them after a night out… some girls.

 

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Fair Day © John Ma

Is there a better feeling than the arms of a loved one holding you close?

 

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Do The Right Thing © John Ma

Not everything was about glamour. Sometimes it’s a case of a round peg in a square hole, and you just have to make it work.

 

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Encore © John Ma

Fair Day was filled with commotion and jam-packed with acts and performances. But even as the last light of the day started to fade, for some that only meant that it was time for their encore.

 

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Goodbye Stranger © John Ma

I couldn’t help but smile when just as I was leaving Fair Day, I caught my welcoming party on the other side of the road leaving as well. Still very much in character and with all the exuberance of the day, this lovely lady seemed to remember me and gave me one last hurrah. This frozen goodbye only made me look forward to the next event that leads us just a little bit closer to the final parade.

19th February 2015 Just Listen Written by Ainslie Daniels

Olly Friend, Ones to Watch

The four-piece ensemble, known as Olly Friend have only been together since May. But when they play, these four unassuming lads from country Victoria have you swept away in a fierce current of heavy bass, hard-hitting drums, and hopeful, determined lyrics at just the right tempo. They formed when Oliver Friend, enjoying life as his own musician, met drummer Nick, and lead guitarist Tyler at a time when he was really wanting to head in a new direction, stepping away from the indie-acoustic vibe that his voice seems perfect for.

Young Nick, who is fresh out of school, has talent far beyond his 5 years of drumming. At their first ever NSW gig, in a bar in Wollongong, it was Nick's gung-ho drumming that had your feet moving before you knew what was even happening. Don't even get me started on the drum solo that ended the performance...

Tyler, who looks like he could have found a career on the sports field due his sheer height, lends some backing vocals that create the kind of harmonies that seem to strongly contrast the band's hard hitting style, you could almost overlook them. And then there's Brady. Every band needs a good story, and the story of how they acquired Brady kicks them off on the beginning of their adventure as a four-piece band. When I first got in touch with the boys about doing an interview and coming to one of their shows, Olly Friend was a three piece. Three weeks later, there's a full-of-life bass player added to the mix. He jumped in just in time to drive ten hours overnight from Warnambool, Victoria, arrive in Wollongong at 3am, for their first ever NSW gigs. Tyler did all the driving; the four of them, along with Olly's girlfriend were packed in 'bloody tight, gear stacked all around us'.

Talking to Olly and Brady before the show, they can't remember the exact details of how it happened, but the gist is, there was a drunken night, they woke up, and Brady was in the band. And it works. Brady, who was working on his own solo project, loved Olly' songs and believes in what he's doing, so much so that he couldn't not be a part of the band. The four of them on stage are easy to watch. Plenty of energy, stunning vocals... and entertaining. The thing about spending time busking, is you really learn how to work a crowd.

Playing good music and having an adventure is paramount to these boys. They're not interested in air time or talent shows. They really want to earn their place in the music industry, without the politics, just enjoying themselves and making music with their mates. They'd rather have a legion of fans 'paying to see their small gigs, than play at Wembley. Brady looks at Olly, gob-smacked, then bursts out laughing. 'Nah man, it'd be awesome!' For now though, the boys want to rough it in the commodore, 'get a shit load of stories and just have an awesome adventure with mates', beams Brady.

There is no doubt that the boys are still green, however the live shows point to a future sound that will step away from their first offering as as a foursome. Listening to Olly Friend live, their talent is unmistakable. Their sound, indie-rock. Loud, indie-rock. When you step away and listen to their EP, 'As We Grow Older', you can appreciate the lyrics and subtleties of great music composition. The EP though, is a slightly softer sound from their live performance. The boys aren't worried about that though. Their sound is coming together, and it's one of the reasons they only wanted to release a four track EP. 'You're first debut album is a stamp of who you are,' says Olly, about the decision. 'We really need to make sure our debut album is us.' By getting their sound out so early, they'll have a great record of the bands arc.

Whilst Olly said he's had trouble letting go of control, his trust in not only the boys' musicianship, but also in their vision for the band as a whole, ultimately outweighs any concerns he has. It’s paying off. Having the pleasure of listening to Olly's solo album, and enjoying his solo efforts, there's no doubt the cohesive effort of these four Victorian lads is anything less than exciting. Whether you're driving a little too fast as you listen to 'Runaway', or reminiscing throughout 'Let It Go', you can't help but get excited about what the boys are going to do next... and if their cover of 'Big Jet Plane' is anything to go by, they're going to do whatever the hell they want, really bloody well.

Image: Ainslie Daniels

10th February 2015 Music Written by Ainslie Daniels

Angus and Julia Stone Roll Back Home

You could be forgiven for thinking that a self-titled album for an artist's third studio release is lacking in creativity. When you take a step back and look at the whole story of Angus and Julia Stone, however, you'll quickly realise there really was no alternative. The incredible duo burst onto the scene in 2006 with their single ‘Paper Aeroplane’, and garnered international attention immediately. Before they knew it they had five ARIAs and were touring around the UK and Europe.

Fast-forward to 2009 and their single 'Big Jet Plane' made the number one spot on the coveted Tripple J Hottest 100 list. By the end of 2010, brother and sister wanted to stretch their legs and explore their own music. Their third studio album, with its first single and video clip ready to go, was shelved and left to collect dust in 2011.You have to remember, the pair never set out to be a recording duo. Julia was singing back up vocals for Angus when they were originally signed.

Both brother and sister had independent success. Angus' first professional, and beautifully unexpected moment came when he was living in LA. Angus, nonchalant, recalls of his collaboration with surfing legend Kelly Stater, "His manager just rang me up and said he really wants to meet you... So I drove over there and had some beers and ended up writing a song'.

When you talk to Angus Stone, it's easy to imagine him chilling out on the beach, or on his farm, far from the circus of the media industry. When he's not making music, Angus goes back to his early days of carpentry, orchestrating jobs with, and for friends to complete construction. You almost get the sense he can't be bothered with the PR side of the music business, and who could blame him? However, you only have to ask him about the music for him to get passionate. "It's everything to us," he says, of what it means to him and his sister.

This self-titled third offering from the brilliant siblings, is a first, in a sense. For their previous releases, the albums would alternate between songs Angus had written, and those written by Julia. Their latest album is completely attributed to music legend, Rick Rubin. Both were well into their solo paths when Rubin called, "We really had to think about what it meant to come back together, to record again". With Rick's team, Angus and Julia, for the first time, wrote songs together. Swapping ideas, going back and forth, this album truly is 'Angus and Julia Stone'.

When I asked about the creative process for the album, Angus simply said "stylistically, it was really unhinged, we didn't t know where it was going to go. It was all based on emotion and how it felt to us". Emotive and unhinged, collectively, is a great way to describe the stones and their approach to life. I asked Angus if he believed in grabbing the unexpected things in life when they came up, and the response I got was lovely. "I'm a huge believer in that the most beautiful things come from the unexpected." This belief ties into how he hopes people discover the music made by Angus and his sister. Whilst he believes social media is having a positive effect on the music industry, he thinks there's potential for over-saturation by an artist. When I used U2s stunt of downloading their album to everyone's iTunes, he said it took away the magic of discovering a new artist. Instead he suggests that when you discover an artist in your own time, having a smoke with mates, or just stumbling across a new song, the impact is far greater, and the music means far more, than simply having it thrust in the faces of the masses.

For those that are discovering Angus and Julia Stone on this new adventure, their experience, definitely, will be magic. Their Australian tour commenced on February 4 in Perth.

Image courtsey of Mad Dog Publicity

5th February 2015 Just Listen Written by Warholst

A Certain Kind of Vibe

 

Here’s to a dreamy weekend.

Mwah xx

 

Image: Hannah Greethead

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