Winter starts tomorrow and I always look forward to making it past the solstice on 21 June – the days already feel long enough without there being less daylight. It’s not my favourite season but in this strange year, June actually means the easing of social distancing restrictions in Victoria and something to look forward to.
From FOMO to FOGO (fear of going out) – it’s definitely a weird feeling to start catching up with friends and family and it still feels counter-intuitive to not hug people after so long in lockdown. As a family, we will be taking it very easy and not rushing back to public indoor environments. The pandemic has accelerated the digital disruption and then some – the technology to work from home has been there for a while but it has taken COVID-19 for it to happen at scale almost overnight.
I have been a little sad this past week looking at the imminent David Jones store closures including the Melbourne CBD men’s store in Bourke Street. My heady days in the late 1990s as their PR saw me working many glamorous events from the European and Australian Designer Collections parades on level 3 of the women’s store, food store events for people like celebrity Italian chef Antonio Carluccio and holding back the hordes lining up to have their Royal Doulton pieces signed by Michael Doulton in the home store. I was there for a number of very exclusive events including the launch of the Melbourne Bulgari store, a Vogue high tea event for the Melbourne Fashion Festival and other high fashion events – the highlight meeting a number of Australian and international fashion designers and make up artists including Akira Isogawa, Alannah Hill, Rosemary Armstrong from Tea Rose,Napoleon Perdis and Sue Devitt.
It is the end of an era and it’s been similar looking at Newscorp and the closure of regional and local newspapers including our very own Heidelberg Leader. Many of my media and communications colleagues got their first start working at regional newspapers as cadet journalists – it was a rite of passage for some. You can’t hold back the future and I am hopeful that other business models will replace what’s come before – life really is about adapting to change as the only constant and we have never been in more of a state of flux than right now.
The Melbourne Art Fair was supposed to launch tomorrow but has been shifted to 4 – 7 February next year – I’m sure a difficult decision for the organisers but perhaps the right call to make in this uncertain year. Speaking of art, there is a currently a call out for entries for the A1 Darebin Art Salon being held from 10 July at the Bundoora Homestead Art Centre with many galleries and museums opening from tomorrow.
While it’s probably not a great time to be selling a house – 12 The Esplanade in Fairfield has caught my eye. It’s a mid-century marvel designed by modernist architect Neil Clerehan with gardens by landscape designer Gordon Ford and located in a cul de sac right near the Yarra river. It will make a beautiful sanctuary for one lucky family. Further out on the Hurstbridge train line, 1 Kenarra Court in Hurstbridge has also caught my attention for similar reasons.
Modern loves for a modern life – the times they are a-changing…
The La Trobe University Distinguished Alumni Awards were held on Monday evening and it was a long day and night for me. They are an annual event which were held in the city at Metropolis Events at Southgate which offered glittering night-time views of Melbourne and it was spectacular to get there late afternoon where we could see Arbory Afloat on the Yarra opposite us.
I got to mingle at the start of the evening talking to a number of high profile people I’d previously worked with when I managed the Bold Thinking Series including Virginia Trioli (who was one of the winners) and her partner Russell Skelton, Tony Walker, Geoff Walsh and Professor Jenny Graves AO plus a number of other leading academics and industry professionals with ties to La Trobe. Prior to the Awards, guests were also treated to a surprise performance by the Australian Ballet School – one of the University’s partners.
Writer and academic Dr (now Professor) Clare Wright was MC with Chancellor John Brumby AO making presentations along with Vice-Chancellor John Dewar to the stellar lineup of winners, which included Young Achiever Awards to Melbourne AFLW player Daisy Pearce and surgical resident Dr Batool Albatat; rural women’s pioneer Alana Johnson, epidemiologist Dr John Hopper AM, SecondBite co-founder Simone Carson AM and ABC Melbourne Mornings host Virginia Trioli completing the field.
My wider team and La Trobe staff were given the beautiful floral table decorations at the end of the night and so I have stopped to smell the roses and enjoy the beauty of life this week, knowing that lift itself is a gift.
If the weather holds, the Malahang Festival is also on this Sunday in Heidelberg West as well as the Public Run Day at the Box Hill Miniature Railway. Strange to think our Spring weather has been so mild this year and my thoughts have been with our NSW neighbours up north battling those horrific bushfires this week. Stay cool…
It’s the name of the first Bold Thinking Series lecture for 2019 at the State Library on 14 March and my former team and I had managed to nominally program most of this year’s content late last year including having some initial meetings regarding this event. People are living longer (and stronger) and in many ways, we need to prepare for the 100-year life as a new kind of normal. The Bold Thinking event will consider whether we’re overdoing sporting excellence but in a country where overweight and obesity have been on the rise, I tend to think it’s the opposite in many ways. I also read the news last night about Julie Bishop resigning from Parliament and am really glad I got the opportunity to work with her on one of her last public events as a working politician last November. It is a loss for Australian political life and I hope there may be someone like her who advances in the ranks sometime soon.
I’ve been in my new job in the Advancement Office (as it will soon be known) at La Trobe for a month now and I’ve been really enjoying it. My head has started to spin less as things become more familiar and I’ve started crafting a more strategic communications approach in terms of engaging Young Alumni (graduates Under 35 years) this year and beyond.
Speaking of fitness – I’ve walked past the new Wellness Station on Burgundy Street in Heidelberg – it’s been beautifully kitted out and offers reformer, mat pilates and barre classes in terms of exercise physiology if you’re interested in giving it a go.
Healing Practices – a new exhibition which explores contemporary art’s relationship to the compensatory and copying mechanisms borne in response to trauma also opens at the Bundoora Homestead Art Centre on 7 March and runs until 5 May. Perhaps a good one for us all in terms of examining our attitudes towards mental health and self-care.
A couple of other local events to mention too today. If you’ve got a toddler in the house then the Banyule Kindergarten Open Day is on tomorrow. Mr Rosanna and I were never thinking that far ahead before we moved to the area but some people have already decided on high school and want their children to go to the feeder kinder to the feeder primary school that then feeds into their chosen secondary school. At any rate, it’s a good exercise in finding out what’s closest or most convenient for you and if you can walk there or avoid going down major roads, that’s always a bonus.
At the other end of the spectrum if you have a classic car lover in your circle Springthorpe’s 6th Annual Classic Car Show is being held on Saturday 10 March at the Village Common in Macleod. I’ve always loved the look of vintage Volkswagen Karmann-Ghias although I think it would be handy to have the inner mechanic in you if you ever bought a vintage car.
Do you make your own luck or is it something that just happens? All I know is that while bad things happen to good people, a lot more good things happen to good people and that most people in the world are good as I tell my children.
I had a colleague who attended the recent La Trobe PG Expo with speaker Todd Sampson and her take out regarding his advice was that we apparently grow more arrogant and inflexible as we get older. All the more important I think to stay flexible (and active) in mind and body, to stay humble (and grateful) and to stay brave. We can lose courage as we grow older and grow more fearful but I think that’s the challenge of life and the journey that life itself presents.
Lucky is the name of the exhibition that opens at Bundoora Homestead tomorrow that explores the history and effects of gold mining and the pursuit of wealth in Australia interrogating the Australian dream of finding a better life – a fair go – in the context of cultural, racial and political inequalities. It sounds absolutely fascinating and given that my ancestors came here in the time of the gold rush, a very relevant one for Asian Australians.
Speaking of political, my lecture with the Honourable Julie Bishop MP is now completely sold out but you will be able to watch the livestream. I am looking forward to meeting her next week and hearing what she has to say, particularly her personal reflections on leadership, lessons learnt and being a female politician. She held nothing back in her recent talk at a Future Women event where she said, ‘If you’re trying to be a man, it’s a waste of a woman’. Strong words indeed…
It’s beautiful today and if you’re a fan of the great outdoors, Twilight tours have started at the La Trobe Wildlife Sanctuary including one this Wednesday night and you do need to book. You can also do tours during the day as well as private tours. It’s also an interesting place to hold an outdoor birthday party if you’re more adventurous. La Trobe is actually part of a major eco-corridor in the north-east and there’s been an Indigenous naming competition going on at the University the past few weeks.
I was at Rosanna Library very briefly today and the Seniors Festival is currently on with an Engaging with Ageing art exhibition launching at Hatch Contemporary Art Space in Ivanhoe this Wednesday night. As a young person, you don’t think about getting older but all of a sudden it happens and I have to say I’ve been very inspired by the many older people in my life who have remained very young at heart and youthful (but not immature) in their outlook. Age is a state of mind and hopefully some hard-earned wisdom and experience accompanies ageing as we grow older.
It’s History Week as well next week and the Bundoora Homestead Art Centre is holding a special program of events to celebrate as well as having recently launched seven different exhibitions last week including photographic exhibition The family mantle.
Finally, for those of you who are contemplating any form of post-graduate study, La Trobe University is holding its inaugural PG Expo at the Melbourne (Bundoora) campus next Tuesday 9 October including keynote speaker Todd Sampson (pictured above) as part of the evening program. I’ve attended a number of Masters information sessions in recent years and while I still haven’t quite landed on my course of choice, education is the key to a better life and I’m not sure if you can ever put a dollar value on that.
I’ll be back later this week with a new local profile on someone quite fitting for Spring.
I read Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie while I was away – it’s loosely based on the ancient Greek story of Antigone which I thought was a fitting read in Greece. It’s relatively short but breathtaking – I won’t reveal the end but it was a cracking read. I’ve since moved on to one of Mr Rosanna’s books by Gail Honeyman called Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine, which is by turns hilarious and tragic at the same time. I’m not yet sure what has happened to poor Eleanor in her short life but the beauty salon incident in the early chapters had me laughing out loud while I was at swimming lessons last week.
I also wanted to mention that local writer, editor and publisher Blaise van Hecke from Busybird Publishing is having her book launch this week – a whimsical memoir of short stories based on her unconventional childhood called The road to Tralfamadore is Bathed in River Water. Also launching this week is the A1 Darebin Art Salon at Bundoora Homestead Art Centre showcasing the work of local artists and For I have learned to look on nature at Hatch Contemporary Art Space in Ivanhoe – an exhibition of tree portraits by local artist Fran Lee using the words of William Wordsworth’s poem.
Despite the cold and wanting to hibernate instead, I dragged myself out on Saturday night as I had a friend in town from Brisbane but ended up having a great night out at Garden State Hotel in Flinders Lane which was going off inside despite it being the middle of winter, having dinner in a cosy booth seat for four at the Garden Grill. The whole place is very noisy and half of Melbourne was there enjoying the footy on TV in the pub section at the front through to counter meals in the middle and underneath, so I was glad to have booked somewhere quieter at the back where we didn’t have to yell at each other. The food was excellent – I had the roasted fish special and shared a coconut sorbet dessert with my bestie Jules. It also helped we had a handsome French waiter called Carlito but besides his looks (!), the service was excellent and it is a place for more serious dining and drinking by the looks of many of the all male tables of diners around us. I was also spoilt by Jules who gave me a belated birthday present – a handmade bowl (she is a woman after my own heart) by Byron Bay based homewares company Kinfolk & Co. which is now housing my fruit on my kitchen bench.
Grant and Mary Featherston’s aptly titled exhibition will open on 30 June at Heide Museum of Modern Art in Bulleen and it will be great to have some local inspiration in the depths of Winter to go and visit. If you’re a fan of Australian modernist furniture design, this one will be good to see over the coldest months of the year – if you ever find a vintage piece yourself – they look fabulous in many of the 50s, 60s and 70s houses in Melbourne’s north-east as well as many of the Alistair Knox mudbrick homes commonly found in Eltham and its environs.
It’s quite the cultural month in that artist-in-residence John Brooks’ exhibition has opened at Bundoora Homestead Art Centre this week (with entries also being open for the upcoming A1 Darebin Art Salon) as well as the 2018 Banyule Arts and Culture Program launch and Telling Stories exhibition opening (with works from the Banyule art collection) at Hatch Contemporary Arts Space in Ivanhoe.
As for me, I subsequently got sicker this week after dragging myself to work last week and have succumbed to a chest infection and now on antibiotics which has been no fun at all. Needless to say, I will be taking myself back to regular classes at Cinch Training in Macleod next term in an effort to develop some strength and stamina, which has been missing from my life these past few months, and has culminated in me being the most ill I’ve been in the past five years.
On a brighter note, I have been indulging in different cups of specialty tea the past few months instead of having coffee in the afternoon. Two lovely brands if you can find them around which have turmeric in them include The Fitzroy Naturopath and Bestow. If you like chai which I find particularly nice with Bonsoy milk and honey, there’s a great local brand made in Templestowe called Chai Walli, that is available from Leo’s in Heidelberg. Stay warm and stay well my friends…I think I need a holiday!