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The Art of Dollmaking: Dolls By Bourke

This interview first appeared on WATERMARX GRAPHICS‘ blog ( a blog dedicated to celebrating the craft of letterpress and paper design )dollsbybourke 

Recently we bought a beautiful, customised doll for our daughter from Dolls By Bourke. Not only is Bourke, the man behind this venture, a clever graphic designer in his own right (and one half of the dynamic duo, Kinski & Bourke who built this site) but his handcrafted creations are taking the design community by storm. It’s just another example of this renaissance of craftsmanship we are enjoying here in Australia. Just like letterpress, his work bears the mark of craft – it’s handmade not mass made – so each doll is unique and the product of time and care.

How did you begin making dolls?
I serendipitously found myself in an Eckersley’s shop one day. Being surrounded by crafty things got me in the creative spirit, and I’d wanted to cultivate an artistic hobby for some time that was not my job. So I bought some clay!

Do you model your dolls on real people or your imagination? 
Both. At first it was just my imagination, but then my nephew’s first birthday was coming up and I thought a doll fashioned in his likeness would make an excellent and special gift! Then people began asking me if they could commission me to make a doll version of their friend/baby etc. But I don’t want to limit myself to just traditional dolls. At the moment I’m working on a doll that has ‘died’ named Gina – she will be a complete skeleton and have her own casket – I am very much looking forward to experimenting with paints and textures to create the look and feel of decay. I have a lot of ideas brewing and it would be great to have an exhibition some time. I want to start sculpting birds and other animals, too.

How long does it take you to make one?
It depends. I’m a graphic designer by day, so the amount of time I can spend sculpting depends on my current workload. It takes a while for the clay to completely dry so a project can be on hold for several days or sometimes even weeks before I can do any more work on it. Once the sculpture is dry, the most arduous process of sanding begins – I like the dolls to have very smooth surfaces, so firstly I start with a course sandpaper and then move on to a fine grit sandpaper to get the smoothest result. My Dremel power tool often comes in handy for sanding and polishing. Painting doesn’t take too long. But making an outfit is pretty time consuming – lots of sewing and measuring. I had no experience with ‘couturiering’ so it’s been a learning curve. Short answer: about a month.

What is the history or tradition of doll making? 
In ancient times dolls were often used in magic rituals. Sometimes the doll would be given to children to play with afterwards, but oftentimes a doll would be considered too laden with supernatural powers to be given to a child. There have been a lot of South American child mummies unearthed, perfectly preserved, clutching their crudely made dolls – cute but also sad. Come to think of it, I’d like to make some ritualistic, tribal-type dolls. It’s this aspect of the history and traditions of doll making that interests me, rather than the idea of an old man or lady tinkering in her workshop while drinking Earl Grey.

What are some reasons to have a doll made by you?
It makes the perfect gift. My sculptures are completely handmade and one-of-a-kind, no copies and no moulds. You will have a unique treasure that nobody else owns. Use it as a paperweight or a conversation starter.

How can one order a customised doll?
Head on down to my website Dolls By Bourke and let me know what you have in mind. If your doll is going to be based on somebody living or dead, I will probably request some photos I can use as reference.

 

Courtesy of Watermarx Graphics www.watermarx.net

NSW Winter Weekender | Cultured Canowindra

 

Suffering from a decidedly soggy case of the sniffles we bypassed the ambitious original plan to let Brünhilde (the beloved KTM 900 mortorbike) stretch her wheels and opted to hire a car. We got a pretty good deal through Thrifty with a few insurance upgrades thrown in and a 15% discount thanks to my membership with NRMA (just book online to reap the rewards, otherwise it’s 10% over the phone) and roared over the Blue Mountains in a nifty Suzuki Swift.

Our destination was Canowindra. Only 4 hours from Sydney, Canowindra has the misfortune of a perpetually mispronounced appellation. Out-of-towners are spotted instantly for asking; “How far to Cann-oh-win-dra?” Where locals and those in-the-know realise that it should be: Ca-nouwn-dra. (Obvs.)

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We pulled into Orange to breakfast at Factory Espresso. This mod-oz brunch spot would be right at home in Newtown or Prahran. Housed in an old mechanical workshop, it is complete with a coffee roastery out the back and they serve house-brewed blends such as The Godfather and Decaf Redux which you can try as a syphon, cold drip and pour over coffee experience. I had the tapioca porridge, he had the eggs.

A little intimidated by some local wineries “bookings only” policy for cellar-door tastings, we found Canobolas-Smith (between Orange and Canowindra) for a taste of the local fruits of the vine. Murray Smith, I later learnt, was one of the early pioneers of the wine-growing scene in Orange. He’s been at it since the 1980’s but has kept the place a friendly, hands-on operation. The viticulturist amused us with tales of the Australian wine tasting scene while we sipped his spectacular chardonnay. I bought a bottle for $40 which left me feeling a little robbed but it did taste great.

The superstar standout treat of the trip was pulling up into Belubula Cottage  , overlooking the Belubula Valley, just outside town. This place was recommended to me by the owners of taste Canowindra but my expectations were not high, so imagine my surprise and delight when the manageress, Marg, emailed me asking my favourite foods for breakfast! I should have known then I was in for something special.

We entered the little self-contained cottage to cosy heating and a kitchen full of treats like marshmallows and drinking chocolate, freshly bakes bread and butter, a stack full of Country Style magazines and bath salts just waiting to be sprinkled into the clawed bathtub which overlooks the bucolic vista outside. The place was heaven and redefines country hospitality. Marg had thought of absolutely everything, from plush robes hanging in the bedroom (think about it, when was the last time your hotel gave you that) to cooking spices to go with the eggs and bacon she popped in the fridge. I have not stayed anywhere like this for years and couldn’t recommend it more highly.

Then, finally, we arrived (via the local, and only, cabbie in town) at Taste. A cultural hub in the rolling hills of the Central West, this is the place to taste the region’s best wines, enjoy gourmet food, arts and music, Bob and Marg Craven have created a perfect little niche. We had booked tickets to see the Deborah Conway and Willy Zygier show and dinner they were hosting, and we weren’t disappointed. Treated to the best seats in the house, we listened to the pair sing and play their way through their new album Stories of Ghosts . Conway’s acerbic humour and sarcasm are nicely counter-weighted by Willy’s chill-factor but they are both a very entertaining pair. Washed down with a local red, we were escorted back home by our friend the taxi man, and curled up in our cast iron bed to fall asleep listening to the rain gently drum the roof.

Story by Estelle Pigot

CLARE BOWDITCH – Winter Secrets Tour 2013

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Clare Bowditch Winter Secrets Tour 2013

with special guest SPENDER

Saturday 17th Aug

 Byron Community Centre

 Tix: $43 Pre / $48 Door – 8pm start

www.clarebowditch.com

In the spirit of “Random Creative Adventures”, Clare Bowditch is celebrating the release of her new single “One Little River” by heading out on the road with a new band.

Winter Secret is a concept and an experience… that sells out every year.

CB takes one super-talented collaborator (last time it was Lanie Lane, this time it’s new wunder-kind Spender), and creates an absolutely mind-blowing show that travels all around Australia and offers the opportunity for audience members to join the band for an incredibly unique and unforgettable night. One really talented musician in each state joins Clare on stage for a cover of One Little River and be in the running for $1000 worth of prizes (info on the audition process at www.clarebowditch.com -  Clare chooses all winners).

The inimitable female singer songwriter Clare Bowditch has had a busy few years as a mum and evolving performer. In 2012 she was placed her into the heads and hearts of 10’s hugely popular TV show Off spring. 2011 she was crowned Rolling Stone Magazine’s ‘Woman of the Year’ for her contribution to culture. She was also handpicked by the legendary Leonard Cohen to open shows on his Australian tour.

Winter Secrets is moving, heartfelt, hilarious, and authentic.

Don’t miss out…here’s what the reviewers said:

 

REVIEWS FOR CLARE’S LAST WINTER SECRETS:

“This woman is without a doubt, one of the most entertaining artists I have ever had the pleasure of seeing perform live. I came for a music show and instead received a comedy set” – fasterlouder.com.a

“I say ‘extreme’ because it was the most involved I have ever seen members of an audience… The spectacle showcased by Clare Bowditch was testament to her being not just a talented lady, but an entrepreneurial performer with an ability to keep the spirit and soul of her music alive after many years round the traps. This is a major feat” - artshub.com.au

“With her Winter Secrets tour, Clare Bowditch uses music, pantomime, unexpected comedy, a few dance lessons and audience participation to create a safe space to open up in.” - Rave Magazine

Hard Stuff – The Hunt

FILM REVIEW: THE HUNT

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REVIEWED BY CRITIC, FILM BUFF & BEER CONNOISSEUR F.P. BLUCK

PLACE: Palace Electric, Cinema 7

PIC: The Hunt

PEEPS: About 10 present

 

Palace definitely has better previews than some others: Behind the Candelabra (Michael Douglas and Matt Damon play house as Liberace and friend) and a French thing called In The House, which looks better than ordinary as a talented student turns creative writing into something more visceral. The ads were pretty much yada yada yada; real estate, Honda, food. Coffee beforehand was ok.

The Hunt is about as far from Man of Steel or any other redrawn cartoon as it is possible to be. (Not that I’ve seen Man of Steel yet but the previews give little ground for expecting more than a surface level sweep and less irony than a Macca’s commercial). Full of complicated people (you know, like actual humans) and empty of CGI or other whitewashes over an average production. It’s set in a small, close-knit Swedish community where people go about their daily lives, brightening them with deer hunting and (more particularly) the celebration of a blokey culture around the business of killing Bambi and friends. One member of the group is Lucas (Mads Mikkelsen), helping out in a kindergarten after the local boys’ school closed; his duties seem mostly to involve being jumped upon by small, giggling children. Lucas is estranged from his wife and desperate to see more of his teenage son Marcus. His best friend is Theo (Tomas Bo Larsen) whom he has known since childhood, but he is slowly drifting into a relationship with Nadja (Alexandra Rapaport).

The event that turns an idyll into a drama is that Theo’s daughter, Klara (Annika Wedderkop, in a performance of stunning maturity for a very young child), accuses Lucas of sexual abuse. The response of the kindergarten principal, Grethe, is completely understandable but it creates an impossible situation. Lucas’ lifestyle and relationships are destroyed in a sequence that plays out over a grey Scandinavian winter, even as he tries to go through a semblance of his normal life. He and Marcus encounter violence and rejection from those who, reasonably enough, are repelled by the monster living in their town.

twoflatwhites_thehunt-filmreview

Too often, films find an easy way through something that challenges the way a society sees itself, and that happens here, to some extent. But this film also creates a jumping off point for a debate about one of the hardest issues in public policy and private conduct; at what point is a threat, which may or may not have substance, sufficient to warrant a destructive response? No-one wants a paedophile in his or her neighbourhood, town, state or (in fact) dimension, and for good reason, they are horrible and should not be able to give effect to their desires. Yet, at what point in the matrix of reliable evidence and gravity of threat is it reasonable to react? Where evidence is recognised as unreliable, at what point is it sensible to disregard the threat it engenders?  Can a community, and should it, act so as to restore a social position?  Can we forgive a wrong that may never have been, and can a victim forgive a wrong done in anger and just outrage?

See it with a teacher, a philosopher, a police officer, but allow time for its complexity to sink in before speaking. If thinking about the plot and its implications gets too hard – as it must – think about some riveting performances and a landscape that seems to require seriousness of thought.

Four flat whites.

FPB

Heath Cullen, Wandering Star

 

Heath_web

Heath Cullen was raised and lives in the Bega Valley in a dairy shed on his mother’s property. He has no plans to move from his little community of Candelo because he cherishes the peaceful surrounds and the fact that he can play his guitar as loudly as he likes without any complaints from neighbours. But last year he went wandering the world. Estelle Pigot, from Regional Arts NSW, discovers what he found out there.  [Story curtesy of Regional Arts NSW]

Having spent a decade touring Australia as a session guitarist and producer-for-hire (working with the likes of Kate Fagan, Jackie Marshall and Tim Freedman), blues and roots singer-songwriter Heath Cullen released his first album A Storm Was Coming But I Didn’t Feel Nothing in 2010. It was recorded in his hometown, the tiny village of Candelo, NSW and was a worthy debut. Commentators likened Cullen’s sound to that of music greats like Cormac McCarthy, Patti Smith and Townes Van Zandt.

Then, last year, a lifelong affair with the music of America’s 1950’s and 1960’s was enough to lure the country boy from his sleepy home to LA on a journey collecting stories and sounds. He travelled through the United States on a journey he describes as “a pilgrimage through the musical holy land of the American south”. read more on Heath Cullen, Wandering Star»

Hanging On – The Hangover

The Hangover III

 the-hangover-3

FILM REVIEWED BY CRITIC, FILM BUFF & BEER CONNOISSEUR F.P. BLUCK

PLACE:LImelight Cinema 2

PIC: The Hangover III

PEEPS: 2 present

LImelight ads are sort of different.  Foxtel this time, plus a couple of ISPs.  Previews for The Heat (ill-matched cop buddy movie with women), Fast and Furious 6,  Grown Ups 2 (I’ll just say it includes Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Chris Rock and David Spade before disinfecting the keyboard) and and Superman:  The Unpteenth Remake or whatever it’s called*.

“When I became a man, I put away these childish things**”.

This is number three in the franchise, as the title suggests, and it looks like it has run out of steam***.   Alan (Zach Galifianakis) has been off his medication for a while and is clearly becoming an ageing embarrassment to those around him.  Essentially, he’s a  non-too-stable 13-year-old in a chubby 42-year-old body.   So, naturally (this being the USA) his friends arrange an intervention where he is prevailed upon to enter treatment.  They (Bradley Cooper as Phil, Ed Helms as Stu and Justin Bartha as Doug) have all started to act like adults, and they offer to take Alan to the treatment facility.  Meanwhile, Lesley Chow (Ken Jeong) has staged a Shawshank Redemption escape from prison in Thailand.  Can we see where this is going? …Because if we can’t, we’re probably the target audience for a film like this****.

THE HANGOVER PART III

It’s not as vile as some reviews may have suggested.  There are some OK sight gags but they are overpowered by the racial/sexual overtones surrounding the treatment of Mr Chow***** and the mental condition of Alan.  It sets out to be a movie about Alan’s much delayed attainment of maturity.  By definition, this forces the other members of the group to emphasise safe, caring, suburban values.  In a way, the discomfort shown by Phil at some of the things said and done is as much about the fact that Bradley Cooper’s career has moved on and up and that returning to this particular bowl of nonsense isn’t likely to do him any good.  Ed Helms has a growing status as a character actor but it is difficult to see where Galifianakis can go next.

 

Two flat whites.  The thing cost $62 million.

 

FPB

 

* – ok, I checked.  It’s called Man of Steel and gives Our Russ an opportunity to intone in a voice that could sell drinking chocolate to anyone.

** – I Corinthians 13:11

*** – with that said, even I could see a couple of start points for another one.  Don’t. Go. There.

**** – grubby minded teenagers fed up with constraints and having to do homework, and such.

***** – hint.  The fact that someone is Asian and effeminate does not make everything that person says or does funny.  And people with mental illness have not been used as sources of amusement for many years in some societies.

Rights! Comedy! Action!

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Rights! Comedy! Action!  is coming to Sydney for May.  Hosted by ActionAid Australia it features an all-female line-up of Australians top comedy talents united to fight injustice with laughter as part of this year’s Sydney Comedy Festival

Judith Lucy, Wendy Harmer, Claire Hooper and Gina Yashere are all part of the show which is on at the Enmore Theatre on the 9th of May at 9.30pm.

ActionAid Australia’s Holly Miller says that Rights! Comedy! Action! is an exciting moment for Sydney, and for women’s empowerment internationally. “Laughter is a symbol of women’s empowerment, and we’re really excited to be working with the Sydney Comedy Festival and a group of such inspiring women to provide Sydney-siders with an opportunity to stand in solidarity with women all over the world, simply by coming along and laughing together.”

  ActionAid is a global movement of people working together to further human rights for all and defeat poverty. All proceeds from the event will go towards ActionAid’s work empowering women. 

Tickets are selling out, so hurry! Tickets are $39 or $34 for groups of 8 or more.                                                    

Fort more information or to book tickets go to ActionAid Australia’s website

The Loop Relaunch Party

estelle pigot _the loop relaunch

 

On Thursday 11th April, creative portfolio website The Loop, some of Australia’s finest creative industry figures to celebrate the relaunch of their site.

Guests were given the opportunity to view some of the outstanding work that exists on The Loop. In the run up to the event, creatives with profiles on The Loop were  invited to exhibit at the party, giving them the opportunity to not only attend and network with some of the biggest names in the creative industry, but also to showcase, discuss and sell their work.  Works by Ben Brown, Simone Darcy, Hayley O’Connor, Meeri Anneli, Julia Ockert and We Buy Your Kids were on show.

Design Federation’s Estelle Pigot attended and had the chance to catch up with Twitter acquaintance, James Noble, of Carter Digital, in the flesh. Carter Digital were appointed by The Loop to drive the design and development of the website’s redesign, creating a site that’s clean, easy to navigate, non-obtrusive and with very clear calls to action. The greatest challenge for these “Digital Httpsters” was to meet the highly aesthetic design expectations of the community The Loop represents? A challenge that would intimidate even the most experienced of designers.  They pulled together a team that included Sex, Drugs and Helvetica and Positive Posters founder, Nick Hallam, and delivered a damn fine job.

The Loop has grown to be Australia’s leading destination for creative professionals – it connects creatives with companies, collaborators and job opportunities from design and development to account management, animation and production.

The party took place at MTV, in Surry Hills and drinks were on Rekoderlig Cider, Mount Franklin, Little Creatures, Ketel One Vodka, Jim Beam and Jagermeister.

Create you The Loop profile today and connect to your creative community.

 

Image: Estelle Pigot at The Loop relaunch party

The Gourmet King Unlocks His Treasures

 

josh rea

The world’s finest high-end foods and spices once attainable only by top chefs are now available to the public. The opening of retail store Gourmet Life in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs sees products used by such names as Quay’s Peter Gilmore, Est.’s Peter Doyle and Aria’s Matt Moran in the grasp of every lover of fine food. Brainchild of importer Josh Rea, Gourmet Life is an Aladdin’s cave of culinary and gourmet delights set to change the scope of the city’s food scene.

Josh has unearthed more than 1000 unique products to grace his store, from Rome’s oldest coffee to Europe’s most sought-after fresh almonds and hazelnuts that burst with genuine flavor. But his piece de resistance are his ranges of the world’s finest black caviar, truffles and wild mushrooms – each the largest of any in Australia and available only through his newly opened outlet. Indeed, nowhere else in the country can such an extraordinary range of produce be found.

Over the past decade Josh became renowned through Sydney’s leading restaurants as the supplier of rare, high quality products starting with vanilla and saffron. His dedication to excellence saw him succeed where others had failed: for instance he was the first to bring fresh porcini mushrooms – the king of their kind – into Australia and he remains the country’s sole importer of the delicate morsels. “We nailed the quality aspect of importing fresh porcini and it went gangbusters with all the leading restaurants,” Josh recalls.

 But the price of this success meant Josh’s home-based business took over his life. “We couldn’t fit all the hazelnuts in the hallway of my house anymore”, he says. “We had Mediterranean sea salt stacked to the roof. There was no restaurant we weren’t supplying.” The only way forward was to find a willing retailer to taking on his highly delicate produce, but when this proved impossible, Josh took matters into his own hands and Gourmet Life was born.

It is little wonder that Josh’s dedication has seen him become Sydney’s newest and best fine food purveyor.  Only at Gourmet Life can customers buy such delicacies as the world’s only sustainable caviar, Mottra of Latvia, which is gently milked from the sturgeon before the fish is returned to the water. The store’s hazelnuts are the world’s most sought-after, hand-picked and sorted by an Italian mother and daughter team using methods passed down through generations. Gourmet Life also sells rare wild French asparagus from the Pyrenees Mountains, harvested straight after its month-long growing period, as well as chocolate deemed the finest in the world. Josh has just become the sole purveyor of leading French foie gras brand Castaing, a favourite with Michelin star chefs. Gourmet Life is also the only supplier of beluga caviar in Australia.

 

Some of the treats available at Gourmet Life include:

  • Rome’s oldest coffee label, Sant’ Eustachio
  • Jams crafted by 2 Michelin star Chef Moreno Cedroni presented in hand-made stackable Venetian glass jars. Varieties include strawberry lemon thyme, and tangerine and organic fig with violets
  • French spice range Terre Exotique and its unique varieties including Yuzu zest and Espelette chilli
  • A L’Olivier olive oils, chutneys, pastas, mustards and vinegars
  • The globe’s sexiest bottles of olive oil from Spanish producer Pepa Olivar
  • Hazelnuts from Nocciole d’Etite, Europe’s most renowned producer of the variety.
  • Homewares from Galateo and Friends
  • Chocolates by Catalonian artisan chocolatier Xavier Mor

 

Gourmet Life is far more than just a shopping or browsing experience. Each brand has a story and staff can take customers on a sample tasting through the store, explaining the background of each so buyers fully appreciate products’ unique qualities. Prices are affordable, too, ranging from well under $10. Black caviar costs from $4.50 a gram.

Whitebread Magic – The Incredible Burt Wonderstone

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FILM REVIEWED BY CRITIC, FILM BUFF & BEER CONNOISSEUR F.P. BLUCK

PLACE: 10:10, Hoyts Woden, Cinema 8.

PIC: The Incredible Burt Wonderstone.

PEOPLE: One, un, uno, ein.

If one is the only one in an enormous cinema, and one still sits in the allocated seat, should one give a damn?

The ads include the now-grating PillowTalk summer ad – we’ve been having single digit nights for a while here, and summer is probably over. Other highlights include Nepali food, sportspeople counselling against drinking and driving. Lexus. More previews than one could possibly absorb and enough to create some concern about what was about to appear. The Host (Stephenie Meyers and aliens or something), Iron-Man 3, GI Joe:Retaliation, Man of Steel*. And Scary Movie 5, which looks like the usual chundering of cliches, but this time with Charlie Sheen and Lindsay Lohan**. How the potentially quite good have fallen!

And it was a decline from grace that we (well, I) saw in the feature. The small boy who became Burt Wonderstone (Steve Carell) was small, geeky and neglected in 1982 but found a love of magic and a friend, who became his side-kick/co-star Anton Marvelton (Steve Buscemi).

Years later, they strut the stage At Bally Casino in Las Vegas, delivering the same show every night for proprietor Doug Munny (James Gandolfini), while leading a life of prodigal luxury. The fall is fast, with the arrival of Steve Gray, the Brain Rapist (Jim Carrey), a magician whose work and persona are provocative, abrasive and disturbing. The team breaks up, and finds different grades of misery while Steve Gray goes from strength to strength and Burt finds counsel in the old magician Rance Holloway (well-played by Alan Arkin.)

olivia wilde wonderstone

So, will the boys get back together? Will they recover their old status? Will Steve Gray get a big smack in the face with a hubris pie? Will Burt get Jane (Olivia WIlde) the girl he really loves**? Is this an American movie?

This movie is pretty competent and fairly harmless, the latter of which is its main problem. Even the out-there stunts of Steve Gray are merely unpleasant rather than genuinely confronting. Probably safe for most audiences, like most big-stage magic acts. But there is, with respect, no magic in it.

Two skinny flat whites. Some kind of artificially-sweetened, gluten-free pretend biscuit.

FPB

* – yup, another Superman movie. This time, though, there seem to be some lovely shots of small-town America before the silliness starts.

** – he could have been a great actor, but remains my wished-for role model. She less so.

*** – he’s 50, she’s 32. Has my whole life been missing something?

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