Saturday, 15 April 2017

This is Real This is Me

When you peruse the biography section it is only natural that  you come across a wide variety of stories, lives and experiences. Some are about hardships and overcoming challenges, some are muses on life and others about a life full or half lived. I'll be honest with you when I say that the first thing I do when I pick up a biography is to flip to the middle, glossy white coloured section that has all of the photographs or pictures of the said life. I find that it's a good summary about what you'll sort of find in the book. Maybe I'm just a lazy reader! Or maybe a pictorial learner.. 

Anyway we have two somewhat juxtaposing titles to share today. 

Dear Quentin, Letters of A Governor General
Apparently she wrote 50 letters a week...

You can read more about the book here

My Life as Eva, The Struggle is Real   
Sharing the inside thoughts of Eva Gutowski, Youtuber!

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Feel The Music

It makes sense that you listen with your ears to music - after all, that's what it's there for, but using your hearing receptacles are not the only way to enjoy it!

It popped up again on the ABC a few weeks ago (and from a few years before that) - the work of Amber Galloway Gallego. In fact, she is a pioneer of the industry, signing in real time - not just the words but the situations - of the music! 

See more here, video from the ABC article


But it is definitely interesting and important to consider how all of us 'listen' to music.
And of course, if you're not going to listen to music you can always read about it!

Some of our top picks are:

DIG by David Nichols
"The period from 1960 to 1985 saw Australia casting off its colonial cultural shackles and taking on the world. Dig is the first in depth account of the massive upsurge in musical creativity that swept the country during those years, and David Nichols is the perfect guide, combining scholarly research with narrative flair in this enthralling and authoritative history." [from the blurb] 

EVERY SONG EVER by Ben Ratcliff

'A remarkable new book ... goes leaping from Beethoven to Big Black, from Morton Feldman to Curtis Mayfield, identifying continuities while delighting in contrasts' Alex Ross, New Yorker
For the first time ever, we have all the music in the world to choose from. As Ben Ratliff, one of America's celebrated music critics, shows us, it's time to listen in a new way too. Opening our ears to unexpected connections, new experiences and little-known delights, this book will change the way you appreciate music forever.
'Masterly ... An instructive guide to opening one's mind and compiling a new kind of playlist ... succeeds brilliantly' John Clarke, Independent
'Smart, provocative ... in every case informative' August Kleinzahler, The New York Times Book Review
'Like a trip into the world's coolest record store' David Browne, Rolling Stone

Both of these books are sure to have your toes tapping and songs stuck in your head in no time

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Why Can't You Give Your Presence for your Present?

Since working at a bookshop, I've given almost every single person a book for their birthday. *Hot tip, if you want a new book invite me to your party ;) But anyway, moving on, it's both the lazy and non lazy approach because anyone who has had to buy a book as a present knows how many ways it can go a little bit wrong. The problem is, when you know them and are friends (clearly, you're celebrating with them) but you are just short of that knowledge of what is it that they have on their shelf. You find yourself questioning everything: do they need a book about hats? have I ever seen them wearing hats? who is their favourite characters from history? what is their favourite cuisine? do they even like reading?! And the list goes on. Well, my friends, here are some of my tips for choosing a book as a present! Goodness knows I need all the help I can get!

  • Not to be picky but I think in these instances, hardcover really does give the gift an extra layer of special(ness) 
  • I tend to go with non-ficton here because unless it's a classic, I feel like it ages less quickly as something you can keep on your shelf and keep referring too over the years
  • Especially if it's about a subject that the receiver really likes - there are some pretty specific categories out there!
  • Sometimes it's hard to know what kind of book they'd lean towards but in the event that you have absolutely no idea, I usually look in the biography or coffee table book section, be it history, photography or other general interest. 
  • But think outside the square! Where did they go for their holiday recently? What do you do together? That might help you to think of some ideas
PRESENT FOR A CHILD (who you may or may not know)
  • I think I've somewhat covered this before in a previous post so let's deal with selecting presents for kids you don't know  
  • The first question focuses on you: what kind of book do you want to get for them? Fiction (and if so: serious, challenging, funny, to increase their confidence - it's all up to you), an activity book perhaps, a picture book or if they're under five - something for them to play with now or keep for later?
  • Once you've identified that a friendly staff member will help you pick out something fitting!

Of course it would be much easier if your present could just be your presence

Saturday, 4 March 2017

Marching Towards Better Design

It is officially, one hundred percent now March. Uni is back, school is in full swing and your holiday tan may or may not have already worn off (say hi to your melanin for me) so it seems that all is normal in the world. Actually not all is normal because the hot weather seems to be coming now but indeed that is an issue for another time. 

But do not despair! Because March contains one of the swishest festival/weeks of the year! That is, MELBOURNE DESIGN WEEK from 16-26 March!

 Organised by the NGV, it's a week of talks, exhibitions, book launches and events!

Here of some of my picks (all blurbs from the NGV website):

PANEL: Does Blak Design Matter
As Australian Indigenous designers are leading a movement away from collaborative or consultative models to Indigenous-led design, the question is posed; what is meaningful Indigenous design, and why does it matter? From interior and product design to landscape, architecture and town planning, this panel, hosted by Daniel Browning, examines the practices of some outstanding Indigenous designers and interrogates how Indigenous design is defined, received, and made visible in Australia’s contemporary design environment. 

Open State: Planex Tour
Presented by Open House Melbourne
Take a tour of one of Victoria’s leading steel furniture manufacturers to see robotics and automation in action. An Australian family owned furniture designer with over 40 years experience manufacturing steel furniture, Planex demonstrate a commitment to designed-in longevity with the ability to reuse, reconfigure and recycle. They like to call this ‘built-out obsolescence’ which forms the basis of their design philosophy. Designed by Inarc Architects and winner of the RAIA ‘Best Commercial Building: 2004’, Planex’s 7000m2 purpose built, solar powered production facility has become a benchmark for Australian manufacturing. Presented by Planex the tour will run for 45 minutes and feature the product showroom, manufacturing plant, steel punching line, powder coat line, followed by coffee and tea with an opportunity to meet designers and architectural consultants.

Presented by RMIT Design HubRMIT Design Hub are hosting a special celebration for the exhibition High Risk Dressing / Critical Fashion as part of Melbourne Design Week. The party includes D&K’s performance All or Nothing and a live DJ set by Andras & Lewis Fidock, presenters of RRR’s Strange Holiday. High Risk Dressing / Critical Fashion looks at the ideas and community coalescing within contemporary fashion practice today through the lens of Melbourne’s Fashion Design Council (1983 – 1993). The exhibition also features a new ‘collective’ of contemporary fashion practitioners that activate the space through a program of fashion presentations, performances, films, publications and residencies

And finally, to cap things off, the annual Melbourne Art Book Fair!

This fair has books from a myriad of independent, cutting edge and international art book publishers. 

It's a bit hard to explain so just get down there and check it out for yourself!


Saturday, 25 February 2017

A Stellar Stella Prize

I knew that the Stella Prize was an  Australian literary prize for writing by women but what I didn't realise was that they are so much more than that! Indeed (if I'd just read their website more thoroughly) they are an 'organisation that champions cultural change'.

There are a number of ways they do this - one, the prize itself - as can be seen here the current disparity between recognition of male and female writers, then there's their schools program and workshops! Plenty to inspire, aid and abet young (and marginally older) authors!

Last Thursday I attended the first in the 'Provocations' series which was a panel of Rebecca Lim, Leanne Hall and Alice Pung discussing 'There is no one way to be Asian in Australia'. It was an insightful and interesting topic that touched on issues such as the homogenising of Asian Australian authors into a singular narrative. The trio talked about how they had never been on a panel together before as they were sort of seen as 'interchangeable' despite all coming from wildly different Australian Chinese backgrounds - one whose family came as refugees, another as economic migrants and finally another whose families (both Chinese and Anglo) had arrived in Australia in the late 1800s. Another interesting point made was that in the absence of stories they felt they could relate to, they would often turn to writings on other cultural experiences such as writings by Jewish writers or about the Civil Rights movement in the USA. There will be a number of panels and then subsequent relating blog posts too.

Personally, I just want to read a book for once where the story and life goes on but the character just happens to be of Asian background and it's not focused on as a major part of the story. I 100% see the value and benefit that migrant stories bring to Australian literature and indeed they should be told and shared but why can't there be stories about other themes as well? Benjamin Law said of his TV show The Family Law (loosely based on a book) that it's actually a story about a family going through a divorce and relationships rather than about being Chinese. This is what we should be reading and watching (not necessarily about divorce but whatever is applicable). 

Which then makes me think of 'if it's not there then write it yourself!'. As I've touched upon before, for me it's the challenge of remaining committed to the story and sitting down to write. I've started doing a bit of non-fiction which I think is easier for me to put down on paper. 

Luckily aforementioned author Rebecca Lim has begun a great writing initiative for children's to YA aspiring/authors called Voices from the Intersection with a publisher pitching event on March 5 (find out more here).

Otherwise there are a few other publications/groups that tackle the arts from a diverse range of backgrounds. If there's anymore that you know of/frequent please comment them below!

Peril Magazine - Writings on Asian Australian areas of interest 
Still Nomads - Nomadic culture '

Or you could always write your own zine...

Oh! And this is our 100th blog post! Celebrate :)

Saturday, 18 February 2017


From January through to April is the Asia TOPA festival! It stands for the  Asia-Pacific Triennial of Performing Arts and is a showcase of the cross culture exchange of our nearest neighbours (minus New Zealand (sorry New Zealand). Ranging from theatre, performance art, music and art, there's sure to be something for everyone!

Check out their website here!

So far I've been involved in a performance art piece called the People's Currency which involved signing up to a five minute 'workers contract' and then you decorate a plaster iPhone with gold leaf and then presenting it for evaluation by the 'Commander' who will 'pay' you. I learnt that five minutes goes by very quickly and also that if you can, you should participate in public calisthenics when wearing a white PVC apron and hairnet. 

I also saw the ballet the Red Detachment at the State Theatre which was indeed a spectacle featuring many iconic scenes and costumes. It was an interesting consideration of the intersection of the arts and politics as well as how the arts can be instrumental in altering public opinion or perceived public opinion.  

And if you can't make it down there we have some books that might give you some insight too!


Sunday, 12 February 2017

Farewell Babette Cole

Just under a month ago we learnt of the passing of highly acclaimed and highly hilarious children's author and illustrator Babette Cole. 

Definitely a staple of my childhood she produced books such as Dr Dog, Princess Smartypants and Hair in Funny Places. Always clever and always funny, her books introduced kids to both the facts of life and the absurdities of imagination. 

You can read her obituary from the Guardian here. And here's her website! Honestly though, I do find her very funny and she would easily be at ease doing cartoons for the New Yorker or something. It's sad that there will be no more new books from Ms Cole but at least we can muse and laugh over the large collection she has remaining!

Such as