Congratulations to the successful writers listed below. I am still dazed at my accomplishment, a double dip! The two short stories I submitted have been close to my heart for some time and it is truly wonderful to have them recognised.
The Estelle Pinney Short Story Competition is Australia-wide and I am the only member of Society of Women Writers Queensland to win honours this year. Such a privilege!
1st Prize: ‘Baby’ by Jean Flynn (Victoria)
2nd Prize: ‘Tram 86’ by Melanie Persson (Western Australia)
3rd Prize: ‘Remnants of Miriam’ by Gretchen Bernet-Ward (Queensland)
Three Highly Commended:
‘One Hundred Year Old Feet’ by Margaret Ogilvie (South Australia)
‘Mero in the Library’ by Gretchen Bernet-Ward (Queensland)
‘Not Everything is Cut & Dry’ by Maree Gallop (New South Wales)
‘Portraits’ by Megan Hippler (Queensland)
‘The Lies of Love’ by Jo Mularczyk (New South Wales)
‘The Birthday Present’ by Lynne Geary (Victoria)
(Award certificates and further details to follow)
The competition judge, Lauren Daniels, is director of the Brisbane Writers Workshop. Lauren is a qualified editor, author, mentor and trainer of professionals, academics, writers and editors.
Sunday morning dawned bright and clear. First, Jasper Fforde ‘Book Club’ up close and personal on the River Deck at State Library of Queensland, commencing at the civilised time of 10am. I only managed one rather dull photograph because I didn’t feel comfortable breaking the reverent atmosphere. Other times, it’s just not polite.
I waited with a friendly group of fans (all with different favourite books) as savoury snacks, cheeses, fresh fruit and small packs of mixed nuts were being put on low tables between an eclectic selection of chairs. I watched the bar staff setting up with wine and soft drinks. Scatter cushions were put on long low bench seating and I had my eye on a nice cosy corner.
Guest-of-honour Jasper Fforde talked about his 20-year career working in the film industry with some big names before he decided to write full-time. He has 14 books under his literary belt. These books are called post-modern, sort of parallel universe crime novels; he takes our world and tweaks it. For example, Spec-Ops Thursday Next lives and works inside books, and in ‘Early Riser’ the Welsh population hibernate throughout winter with strange dreams and unsettling encounters. Have a read of this New York Times review. Jasper discussed his writing style, his books, and forthcoming standalone ‘The Constant Rabbit’.
Unfortunately I do not remember the name of our moderator, I know she taught creative writing. She kicked off the Q&A session for us but we were a rather sedate bunch so no fierce debates ensued. I asked Jasper about the gender ambiguity of Charlie Worthing in ‘Early Riser’and how it was questioned on social media, adding it must have been difficult to write but it works. The closest example mentioned was Virginia Woolf and ‘Orlando’ which contains gender androgyny.
As we sat and snacked and sipped, the view across Brisbane River towards the city was ever-changing. CityCat ferries, a police patrol boat, the Kookaburra Queen paddle wheeler, and a jet boat or two cruised by, almost like a continually scrolling film.
Time was up! All too soon it was over and I was smuggling a packet of mixed nuts into my bag for later. I decided to get serious with the bookshop and purchased the items you see below.
Part of my Brisbane Writers Festival quirky dream-related book haul.
Last item on my agenda, last but not least, was the Closing Address ‘This Way Humanity’.
Soon evening and 5.30pm arrived, as did the audience who piled into The Edge auditorium to hear Jasper Fforde’s closing words on a pretty heavy topic. He delivered a personal 40-minute speech, going straight to the heart of the matter, raising pertinent questions on our future. He gave examples about past, present and Little Daisy as yet unborn but what of her future. Thoughts on where humanity is headed and the universal importance of literacy and book-reading and how we must dare to ignite and explore our imagination.
To be honest, I couldn’t absorb all of the closing address, a thought-provoking mixture of insights and humour, and I’m hoping it will be available online for everyone to read.
By now I was getting hungry. After a stroll through South Bank Parklands with family, we dined at the delightfully casual South Bank eatery Hop & Pickle where I had a super-duper fresh fish supper.
On the walk back to the bus station, we bought sweet treats from Doughnut Time. Yum!
As you can see, I attended morning and evening events over the four days. I travelled by council bus to and from each event. That adds up to 10 bus trips of approximately 45 minutes duration each. Yes, tedious, but I saved on parking fees and had a relaxing read during the journey. Sometimes the bus was almost empty and on the last night it was packed so I stood up the whole way.
My visits were concentrated on one author (as you would have deduced!) yet each event was varied in presentation and content and I am very happy with the outcome.
I started my journey in the early morning with a smokey orange sky over the city. Here is the same spot four days later looking twinkly in the late evening as I say goodbye to Brisbane Writers Festival for another year. Safe travels, Mr Fforde.
This morning dawned an apocalyptic orange, heavy with outback smoke and dust. Gone was the bright blue of springtime. As I neared the city, gusty winds swirled around, making it difficult to know whether earth particles were coming in or being blown away. Blinking dry eyes, I photographed the pallid light which struggled to illuminate the city skyline.
I was pretty annoyed at the weather’s bad timing. With thousands of people, both local and international, converging on South Bank for the Brisbane Writers Festival, it made outdoor conditions uncomfortable. I spared a thought for the farmers and those suffering terribly as bushfires rage across Queensland. We need our wet season now!
I was trying not to hurry. I could taste the dust as it rasped in and out of my lungs. Nerves and excitement made me shallow breathe, this was the first morning event at Brisbane Writers Festival. After a quick swig from my water bottle, I headed towards State Library. “Slow down”, I chided. “Take a photo of the whales”.
After my paper ticket was beeped, I entered the Queensland Writers Centre rooms, oh, the joy of filtered air. I settled into a well-designed (and comfortable) white upholstered chair ready for “Writing Futures”. Placed in front of me was a bowl of sweets to fortify and information to read. Two people were already standing beside a whiteboard. One was the QWC spokesperson and the other was UK author Jasper Fforde. He was about to give us a three-hour almost non-stop workshop based on his “narrative dare” principle. Pens, paper and iPads were certainly worked overtime!
On arrival next day, a more pleasant day, I turned the corner and there was the solid, colourful comfort of Angel’s Place, a 7.5metre high dome structure which features a print of an original artwork created by artist Gordon Hookey. Angel’s Palace is a multi-disciplinary collaboration that represents the voice of Indigenous Australia and celebrates Aboriginal storytelling and literature in a powerful experience for audiences.
While I was photographing Angel’s Place, I heard a cultured Englishman’s voice behind me, asking a question about the dome. I recognised that voice! Sure enough, when I swung around I saw author Jasper Fforde walking past, heading towards Gallery of Modern Art with others on the “Dream Worlds” panel. A fanfic moment rushed over me. Before I knew it I was following the VIP group. Walk, click, click, walk and they disappeared inside. The audience was ushered in shortly afterwards and we took our seats in Cinema B for some serious (and silly) stuff on sleep and dreams.
Had lunch at home prior to returning for “Early Riser: An Evening Conversation” with Jasper Fforde and hosted by John Birmingham in The Edge auditorium, State Library of Queensland. Tough words, Jasper doesn’t swear but John does, and there were jibes, a bite to their conversation. Jasper talked about the creation of his current book and John advised him not to give away any spoilers.
Below is what the queue looked like while I was waiting for Jasper Fforde’s autograph. And I stood with an old work colleague I met quite by accident. Jasper kindly signed my copy of “Early Riser”, stamped it “This book has been declare SKILLZERO Protocol Approved”—an author/reader joke—and tucked a postcard inside. I asked him what his favourite pet would be, Dodo or Quarkbeast, and he said Quarkbeast (from “The Last Dragonslayer” series) so the family was happy.
You may have noticed that I do not describe the full content of each event. This is personal preference, I don’t want to divulge things which may be copyright.
The organisation and facilities for this experience are first-class and everything ran smoothly. As a past volunteer at other literary occasions, I appreciated the knowledge and friendliness of the current volunteers. Their fluorescent aqua t-shirts stood out!
Another day draws to a close. I looked forward to tomorrow and perusing more free activities, strolling around the abundant bookshop, then chatting at author “Book Club” with drinks and nibbles, sitting on cushions in the sunshine on the River Deck at State Library. It’s not difficult to appreciate the luxury of it all.
Hi there, a diary entry to say that I am locked into five events over four days at the Brisbane Writers Festival and have attended session ‘Workshop: Writing Futures’ with UK author Jasper Fforde in QWC rooms which I thought ran for one hour, instead it turned out to be three hours. Value for money!
Jasper Fforde’s takeaway tip for writers: Plausibility Not Believability. There ain’t nuthin’ that bloke don’t know about writing parallel worlds and alternate futures.
Luckily I had tucked a muesli bar and bottle of water into my bag which helped stave off hunger as I listened avidly to every enlightening word. Jasper Fforde is humorous, full of helpful advice and open to questions. I was bold enough to asked a question or two about his ‘The Last Dragonslayer’ trilogy—although Spec-Ops and Thursday Next will always be my favourite. During the Festival there will be plenty of time for book signings.
Roll on Saturday and a panel discussion ‘Dream Worlds’ in Cinema B Gallery of Modern Art, being recorded by ABC Radio National, with Australian author Krissy Kneen, American author Karen Thompson Walker and UK author Jasper Fforde. They are followed by ‘Early Riser’ Conversation at The Edge, State Library of Queensland, South Bank, then Sunday ‘Book Club’ chat with Jasper Fforde on SLQ River Deck. There is a closing address on Sunday evening ‘This Way Humanity’ and in the meantime I can avail myself of a Festival freebie or two.
Springtime here, it’s dry and unseasonably hot in Brisbane followed by bushfire smoke and dusty high winds so I’ve had to rework my wardrobe. My bus GoCard is topped up, I have the BWF tickets printed, I am good to go. Hopefully I will post more in-depth snippets next week. In the meantime, type Jasper Fforde into my search bar to view my past posts.
The photograph (below) shows the way I walk to State Library of Queensland, underneath the singing whales in the roof outside the Queensland Museum. Always reminds me of the whale in Douglas Adams ‘Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy’.
I’ve been asked if I belong to a writers group. After reaching saturation point with courses and workshops, I decided to get serious and join a writers group. Currently I am a member of two organisations, Girl and Duck.com and The Society of Women Writers Qld Inc. One real and one virtual, both offering the interaction and motivation I crave.
I also belong to two book clubs, one leaning towards the literary and the other crime, but that’s a whole new blog post. Today my information flow is about—
The Society of Women Writers Qld Inc(SWWQ) which provides an invaluable support network for women writers. Members share comments, feedback, achievements and encouragement, or listen to guest speakers at monthly meetings.
In 1925 the Imperial Press Conference Sydney hosted a conference for Visiting Writers and Journalists from the United Kingdom. At that time women were excluded from the all-male journalists’ club. This led to the wives of the delegates and the invited female delegates forming their own group which became The Society of Women Writers. Thus (Dame) Mary Gilmore, Pattie Fotheringham, Mary Liddell and Isobel Gullett became the four Vice Presidents. Zara Aronson was Honorary Secretary; Agnes Mowie and Blanche d’Alpuget were Honorary Treasurers. Abigail Clancy was one of the founding committee’s fifteen members. In 1982 The Society of Women Writers Queensland was incorporated and Mocco Wollert became their first State President. Di Hill is the current State President.
In 1975 Bridget Godbold felt inspired to start her own group of writers in Queensland. While in Sydney for the Society of Women Writer’s Fiftieth Commemoration, she was asked by their Federal Executive to produce a Queensland postal magazine, based on the success of a Victorian experiment called MURU.
Bridget, with four women from Townsville, Boonah, Kingaroy and Burleigh Heads, created MORIALTA. This Aboriginal word means ‘everflowing’ and epitomised their motto to Keep Thoughts Everflowing into Creative Writing. The first edition of MORIALTA was produced in 1976.
Postal magazines are ideal for isolated writers or those who find it difficult to attend meetings. An electronic newsletter is also available.
The Alice Award
Every two years, since 1978, the Society shares the privilege with other States and awards a non-acquisitive bronze statuette, The Alice, to an Australian woman writer who has made a significant contribution to Australian Literature. Well-known past recipients include, among many others, Nancy Cato, Ruth Park, Kate Grenville, Margaret Scott, Dame Judith Wright, Dame Mary Durack, Jill Shearer, Christobel Mattingley, Susanna des Vries, Dr Claire Wright and Sally Odgers.
Ring of Bright Water
SWWQ’s newsletter Ring of Bright Water is compiled monthly and sent to members either electronically (preferred) or via Australia Post, keeping members updated on upcoming events, competitions, publishing opportunities, members achievements, writing and more.
The Society organises an annual retreat, held in October on Bribie Island, north of Brisbane. Here writers can dedicate quality time to their works-in-progress; join structured workshops; begin new work; discuss writers, writing and books and generally share good times with like-minded people.
Competitions for Short Story, Article and Poetry categories are held each year for members and the Estelle Pinney Short Story Competition is held annually and is open to Australian women writers over the age of 18.
The Society publishes anthologies of members work occasionally and supports many other literary events in Queensland. SWWQ is affiliated with Society of Women Writers in WA, VIC, NSW, TAS.
I have entered two short stories in the Estelle Pinney Short Story Competition which closes Wednesday 31 July 2019. At the moment, I am reading The Rose and The Thorn written by member Indrani Ganguly. After attending a meeting with guest speaker Virginia Miranda, author of Flash Fiction Volume One, I enjoyed the writing exercise she set with picture prompts and I’m all fired up on the joys of flash fiction.
‘Awaken’ artwork by Kaurna and Narungga woman Charmaine Mumbulla. Charmaine cares deeply about the 2019 National NAIDOC theme, and about the celebration of Indigenous art and history.
“Early dawn light rises over Uluru, symbolising our continued spiritual and unbroken connection to the land. The circles at the base of Uluru represent the historic gathering in May 2017 of over 250 people from many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nations who adopted the Uluru Statement from the Heart. Our message, developed through generations, is echoed throughout the land: hear our voice and recognise our truth. We call for a new beginning, marked by a formal process of agreement and truth-telling, that will allow us to move forward together.”
As a National NAIDOC poster winner, Charmaine Mumbulla is excited to be part of NAIDOC history. Charmaine plans to celebrate NAIDOC Week by taking her children to the National Centre of Indigenous Excellence to celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and achievements with a community BBQ and entertainment. Charmaine will also be doing some workshops at her children’s school and making their favourite morning tea…Johnny cakes with lilly pilly jam.
My pictorial of the Brookfield Show 2019 is pretty much in the order of how I wandered around this country-style event. Although the local landowners are on acreage, the suburb of Brookfield, Queensland, is no longer strictly a farming district nor agricultural growing region.
Yet every year the Brookfield Show comes along and every year thousands of residents flock through the old wooden gates, keen to sample what is known as Brisbane’s Biggest Little Country Show.
I will loosely describe my photos by what they do and don’t feature:
General store, main entrances and show arena.
Inside Brookfield Hall built 1871 housing the Needlework and Craft Sections.
Scarecrows on the way to the Cake Pavilion and cupcake winners.
Side view of the main arena and medieval-looking food tents.
Prize-winning flower displays and trays of prize-winning fruit and vegetables.
Sideshow alley with a ride pumped up and down at a frightening pace.
This year I didn’t photograph the sweet hand-spun pink fairy floss on a stick.
Side view of the traditional Country Women’s Association tea room.
Woodwork Pavilion (not shown) to racing pigs having a break between gigs.
I purchased a framed mixed media artwork (shown below) from Art Pavilion.
Detoured the snake handling demonstration (not shown!)
Had a rest in the ‘grandstand’ before heading home.
The newspapers which highlight features of the show.
Evening events included live music in the Members’ Bar (aka pub) and ringside nighttime spectaculars featured bucking broncos and fireworks.
The Brookfield Show was the forerunner of our State’s grandest show The Royal National Exhibition but this year I didn’t see (or couldn’t find) any farm animals on Sunday except showjumping horses and pig racing. Perhaps other contenders had already been judged and gone home, taking their ribbons with them.
Nowadays it’s difficult to take photos at events especially where there are children. I am mindful of safety and privacy standards. Usually I wait until everyone has gone out-of-frame before I snap an image. Sometimes this makes it look like the place is empty!
Brookfield Show is held over three days in May and, as the legend goes, it often rains but this year the autumn weather in Brookfield was delightfully warm and sunny.
One of my favourite contemporary children’s writers is Jen Storer. Wise, warm and wonderful, Jen imparts her wealth of knowledge on Girl and Duck online with Scribbles courses, Questions and Quacks videos, Facebook live sessions and a yearly Masterclass.
Here is a letter from Jen Storer
Scribbles Masterclass 2019
Dear Children’s Literature Creators,
KidLit Vic is fast approaching and so is the annual Scribbles Masterclass!
4.1 Hayden Raysmith Room
247 Flinders Lane (That’s right. Across the street from Brunetti!) Melbourne Australia
Friday 24 May 2019
2pm – 5pm
Note: This year we have a SECRET special guest joining us!
If you would like to join me (and my special guest), please CLICK HERE to book your place by Wednesday, 15 May 2019 10pm (AEST). There are still a few spots left.
IMPORTANT: You do not have to be attending KidLit Vic Melbourne in order to join the Masterclass. We are not affiliated, we just time it that way because lots of Scribblers are in town!
*Girl and Duck is a flourishing online community of emerging and established children’s literature creators (authors, illustrators, publishers, editors, designers and enthusiasts) with members from all over Australia, New Zealand, the USA and Europe.
This faded old book jumped out at me. I believe interconnections exist everywhere in many forms but none so strongly as with books.
I spied this hardback ‘In Search of Wales’ by H.V. Morton, with sixteen illustrations and a map, resting on one of the tables at UQ Alumni Book Fair. It was published by Methuen & Co. Ltd London in 1932 and purchased by the Parliamentary Library in Queensland, Australia, on 27 July 1932. My photographs don’t convey the substance of this volume.
Apart from my purchase giving me a tenuous Queensland connection, since I have been blogging I have come to know bloggers from Wales like Book Jotter, and people with ties to Wales, so I guess I was curious to find out some early 20th century history.
There is a city named Ipswich, west of the capital Brisbane, Queensland, and it has Welsh heritage from the founding families, the legacy of coal mines, and street names I can’t pronounce. It was going to be our capital city but being situated inland away from sea ports (and always hotter in summer) Brisbane took over the coveted position.
When I look at the B&W images in this book, I can’t help but feel strong emotion for those Welsh families, the people who came to Queensland in 1851 and started afresh. Whether it was out of necessity, assisted passage, general interest or just sheer bravery, it was a long way to come to start a new life in a totally different land.
The three photos (below) are 1. Cornfields, 2. Druid ceremony conducted by the Archdruid at the Gorsedd Stone, 3. Cockle women of Penclawdd on the seashore. It looks cold! Throughout there are two-page spreads of dramatic valleys, stoney castles and heartbreaking portraits of mining men and soot-covered boys.
My new old book was deleted from the Old Parliament Library catalogue on 22 October 1996 and I wondered where it had been since then. ‘Oh well,’ I thought, ‘I am enjoying it now on 10 May 2019’. Then I saw a small pencilled Dewey notation on the back cover map UL914.29 Mor. It had probably languished in the University Library.
As yet I haven’t tracked down all the details of author, Henry Vollam Morton, and even though he was a well-known journalist and travel writer, the information in the final pages doesn’t give much away. There is an insightful personal comment (photo below) which ends with three tiny icons, perhaps foreshadowing today’s social media links.
Further material tells me that the author’s book ‘…is more than a travel book, it is a sensitive interpretation of a country’s people and their history.’ He wrote a series called ‘The Search Books’ and further along it reads ‘Since that time Mr Morton’s gay and informative travels…have gained him thousands of readers.’
At this late stage, a book review would be rather tricky—okay, it would be hard for me to get my head around. H.V. Morton travels far and wide through Wales and writes in depth. The voice, the style of that era (nicer than brash Bill Bryson) is easy to read and written in a friendly, personal way with warmth in every chapter. Allowing for the off-key words we don’t use today, there is factual information and humorous stories, and in Chapter Six he asks the usual traveller’s question and receives a great reply—
“The first village, commonly and charitably called Llanfair, provides the stranger with an impossible task among the Welsh place-names.
Its title is: Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllandysiliogogogoch This is no joke. It is only too true! The full name, however, is never used but it appears only slightly amputated in the Ordnance Survey maps.
The postal name is Llanfair P.G. or Llanfairpwll. I entered the first inn and said to those who were drinking in the bar ‘I will buy anyone a drink who can pronounce the full name of this place.’
There was an ominous silence until an old man, finishing his beer, stood up and sang it! ‘And what does it mean?’ I asked. ‘It means,’ I was told, ‘the Church of St Mary in a wood of white hazel near a rapid whirlpool and near St Tysilio’s cave close to a red cave’.”
A few years ago I was going through a rough patch in my professional and personal life. I wanted to close the door and read, read, read myself back to normality.
Search and ye shall read
The trouble was I hadn’t seriously knuckled down and read a well-written book for a long time. I felt distanced from northern hemisphere writers (what’s snow?) and never really got the whole Scandi-noir buzz. Several genres, including the ambiguous literary fiction, didn’t hold my interest. I felt I needed comedy, something I could relate to and laugh at. Also I wanted characters and places I understood, and possibly had visited.
Readers of my blog will know I like quirky writing so, rather than reach for self-help books, I began to search for way-out humour on the library shelves. Unfortunately back then humorous Australian writers were thin on the ground so I hung around the bookshops until the next Thursday Next dilemma or Ankh-Morpork debacle was published. Yes, Messrs Fforde and Pratchett saved my sanity with their insane books.
From comedy to crime
After trial and error, and iffy recommendations from friends, I discovered Australian crime writers. The good old Aussie turn-of-phrase drags me in every time. I know the cities, the vast distances between those cities, the weather, the beaches, the Great Dividing Range, the smell of gum trees and especially the food. Our food is a mish-mash of many cultures but in there somewhere is real Aussie tucker and nobody does a Chiko Roll or TimTam like we do. And our criminals are a bit special too.
I read in no particular order (and by no means all our contemporary crime writers) Garry Disher, Kerry Greenwood, Peter Temple, Leigh Redhead, Geoffrey McGeachin, Jane Harper, Robert G. Barrett, Honey Brown, Matthew Condon, Emma Viskic, Adrian McKinty (adopted Irishman) Candice Fox, Shane Maloney, Barry Maitland, Michael Robotham and my absolute all-time favourite, the iconic Peter Corris.
And Peter Corris came with Sydney private investigator Cliff Hardy
Peter Robert Corris (8 May 1942 – 30 August 2018) was an Australian academic, historian, journalist, biographer and novelist of historical and crime fiction. As a crime fiction writer, he was described as “the Godfather of contemporary Australian crime-writing”. After writing 42 books in his PI Cliff Hardy series, from 1980 to 2017, Corris announced in January 2017 that he would no longer be writing novels owing to “creeping blindness” because of type-1 diabetes and passed away the next year.
Naturally I was saddened to learn of his death but it hit me in another way. I never wrote and told him how his Cliff Hardy books lead me into the badlands and showed me that my life was all right. Well, in comparison to the criminal underworld Hardy inhabited. Despite the sleaze, the drugs, the murder, Hardy had his own set of morals, he was a good judge of character and played fair. However, he knew how to defend himself and fought hard when necessary. Forget that it’s fiction. Compared to his daily grind, I had nothing to worry about.
As Bowie said Ch-ch-ch-Changes
These Corris crime novels also documented a changing way of life through Hardy, especially the Sydney cityscape and his beloved Newtown. For nearly 40 years, semi-permanent characters came and went, and mobile phones and laptops took hold. High tech digital devices and spyware increased; electronic locks, security cameras and internet surveillance replaced skeleton keys and good old shoulder-to-the-door. I feel the loss of a metal filing cabinet, its papers viewed by torchlight in the middle of the night.
But through it all, Corris always managed to side-step technology, keeping Hardy real, doing the leg work, nailing the bad guy. His astute observations of human nature, and how he wrote plausible characters, made me feel I’d just met a crooked barrister or a smarmy crime baron.
The book on the right is one of my favourites. Recognise the bridge? These days I do read more widely but I’m missing my yearly dose of hard-boiled Hardy—to use Corris’ own description.
Below I have listed all the Cliff Hardy books even though it doesn’t have the visual appeal of the bookcovers. If you wish to check out more about each story, please visit Allen & Unwin Publishers website:
There could be reprints, anniversary issue, possible screenplay, theatre adaptation, prequel, or Grandson of Hardy for younger readers. I won’t give away the ending of the last book because I expect you to BINGE READ the complete oeuvre, then see for yourself whether or not you like Cliff Hardy’s final installment.
My sincere condolences to Jean Bedford, wife of Peter Corris, and his family.
PI Cliff Hardy book series
The Dying Trade (1980)
White Meat (1981)
The Marvelous Boy (1982)
The Empty Beach (1983)
Heroin Annie and Other Cliff Hardy Stories (1984)
The Big Drop and Other Cliff Hardy Stories (1985)
Make Me Rich (1985)
The Greenwich Apartments (1986)
Deal Me Out (1986)
The January Zone (1987)
The Man in the Shadows: Cliff Hardy Omnibus (1988)
Wet Graves (1991)
Beware of the Dog (1992)
Burn and Other Stories (1993)
Matrimonial Causes (1993)
The Reward (1997)
The Washington Club (1997)
Forget Me If You Can (1997)
The Black Prince (1998)
The Other Side of Sorrow (1999)
Salt and Blood (2002)
Master’s Mates (2003)
Taking Care of Business (2004)
The Coast Road (2004)
Saving Billie (2005)
The Undertow (2007)
Appeal Denied (2008)
The Big Score: Cliff Hardy Cases (2008)
Open File (2009)
Deep Water (2009)
Torn Apart (2010)
Follow the Money (2011)
The Dunbar Case (2013)
Silent Kill (2014)
Gun Control (2015)
That Empty Feeling (2016)
Win, Lose or Draw (2017)
French artist Paul Gauguin (1848 – 1903) used monoprinting to created beautiful works of art. Most were not acknowledged in his lifetime but I had the opportunity to try his technique.
The workshop I attended was run by Brisbane Botanic Gardens Mt Coot-tha. Everyone met at the BCC Library and then walked down to the activity room. Our instructors were Frances and Lee-anne and their introduction covered the evolution of Australian native plants, the background to Gauguin’s work and monoprinting. A monoprint is a one-of-a-kind print that forms part of a series.
It was a two-hour class with about twelve people and we were itching to get started. We couldn’t wait to peruse the beautiful and aromatic array of Australian native plants ready to make our imprints.
Here is my quick overview
Beginners Guide to Monoprinting
You may have read that monoprinting is an age-old printmaking method which produces a single image. I’d have to say that is only partially correct – the image can be reversed or added to several times, each time producing a different image. (See my coloured prints above).
I rolled out four paint blobs (yellow and red) on an acetate pad, added a leafy tree branch and a clean sheet of paper on top before smoothing it out flat. Peel off. Two for the price of one! I placed ferns and leaves with the branch, added fresh paper on top, pressing down hard. I reversed the procedure and did ‘mirror’ images.
You may have heard that you need lino or woodcarving tools. I used a wooden chopstick to press and draw my B&W designs. There were several which didn’t make the grade and I tried to choose the better ones. (See my black and white prints below).
It is thought that you need to work on a glass plate or gel plate, but a sheet of tough plastic (clear heavy acetate) works well with monoprinting paints and is easy to clean. Of course, you can upscale your equipment when your hobby turns into a money-making enterprise.
A special roller isn’t really necessary to spread the paints, you can use a small rubber roller with a plastic handle. No flattening press needed. Once the overlay paper is in place, you can use your hands to smooth the paper flat, or add background patterns through the paper with the tips of your fingers.
Pigmented paints and printing inks produce colours which look great but the traditional black-and-white looks dramatic. I didn’t achieve any depth to my work but the middle black-and-white print (below) is reversed and the hatching in the background was done with the backs of my finger nails.
We ran out of time and I would have loved to have dabbled more. The free class I attended supplied the equipment – plus afternoon tea – and the paper used was office A4 size. It was porous enough and strong enough to take my amateur efforts.
The trick is to work fast, especially in Queensland temperatures, because the paint will dry quickly. Drying caused one of my prints to have a ghostly quality. That was part of the fun – the results were often a surprise.
Monoprinting is a forgiving and flexible technique, experimental yet satisfying, and several participants achieved a pleasing degree of botanical detail worth framing.
Coming out of a hot dry summer, March weather is beginning to soften the sky and offer the cooler, more gentle mornings of autumn. There is no definite change of season, just a calmness, almost a feeling of relief after the insistent tropical heat.
Apart from, whack, an insect, there’s something serene and relaxing about strolling through a garden, touching leaves, sniffing flowers, following a creek and hearing the splash of a small waterfall through the trees.
To quote Rudyard Kipling “The Glory of the Garden it shall never pass away!” so…
Here’s what I experienced one lovely morning…
Arriving early at the Brisbane Mt Coot-tha Botanic Gardens, I strolled through a cool, green gully and thought it was strange to be in a capital city yet hear no traffic sounds. I floated along, enjoying the stillness, until my personal calm was shattered when the garden crew came on duty and the leaf- blowing brigade roared into action. I had to wait until one fellow walked out of shot to photograph Xanthorrhoea australis, the Grass-trees (below; left). The atmosphere shuffled its feathers and tranquility returned.
Wooden bridges and flowing streams…
Leisurely, I followed the meandering paths across bridges and green lawns, enjoying the mild sunshine. Strolling down a slope, I came to a bracken-lined watercourse then walked up a gentle incline towards king ferns, piccabeen palms and towering hoop pines. I’ve never fully traversed the 56 hectare (138 acre) area which displays mainly eastern Australian plants.
You can spot Eastern Water Dragons (lizards) and geckos as they scurry out of sight or get a giggle watching the many varieties of water fowl, ducking and diving in the lake. Feeding wildlife is not allowed and I couldn’t entice them into an appealing photograph.
Sculptural features are ‘casually’ placed throughout the gardens and I think the most alluring is a silver fern seat (below; left) with interesting support.
Beside the pond and beneath the trees…
The Japanese Garden (below; entrance and pond) offers soothing symmetry and a waterlily’s single bloom. Nearby the concert bandstand has grass seating surrounded by trees with foliage of different patterns and colours. Around me, there’s a multitude of subtropical shrubs, cycads and flowers with names I never remember. You will notice that I do not attempted to be horticultural! A bit further along, in the arid zone, resides a sci-fi concoction of exotic cacti. The culinary, fragrant and medicinal herb gardens are pure indulgence. But if herbs aren’t your thing, the pungent eucalypt is my favourite and walking the Aboriginal Plant Trail with its edible food plants.
Biodiversity and water reflections…
The stillness of the morning created pleasing reflections on the lagoon which is fed by rainwater captured from the hills. You can choose between typical heathland or wetland regions made easily accessible for suburban folk. The Conservation Collection includes rare and endangered species in their natural habitats and I entered the steamy, geodesic hothouse (below; left) where equatorial plants are nurtured. My face beads in sweat, it’s not a place for humans to linger too long. Time for an ice-cream!
Tropical Display Dome at Brisbane Botanic Gardens, Mt Coot-tha, is a large lattice structure (geodesic) displaying plants from the tropics. A pathway winds upwards through the dome building, wrapping around a central pond with water plants.
Look outside the Botanic Gardens…
Outside the entry are several buildings of interest: Sir Thomas Brisbane Planetarium (below; saved from extinction by a vocal community uprising) large carpark, small art studio, specialist library and auditorium providing a variety of events. I have booked a place in a workshop Monoprinting Australian Native Plants, so a blog post may be forthcoming. The new Visitor Information centre offers guided walks and Gardens Café has the ice-cream. The two white-coated fellows outside the café are entomologists, surviving statues from World Expo 88.
Pandas and children have a special treat…
The Mt Coot-tha Botanic Gardens Children’s Trail is a hide-and-seek ramble through the shady rainforest garden with special works of art dotted along the way and I couldn’t resist following it myself. Check out the wacky weathervane! And a log for native stingless Sugarbag bees. Mother and baby Panda bears enjoy the bamboo; they are a special fabrication of laser-cut aluminium by Australian sculptor Mark Andrews.
Parks and gardens change with horticultural trends. The smaller City Botanic Gardens are older and more formal, in keeping with the style of previous centuries, but I prefer the softness of Mt Coot-tha Botanic Gardens. As the world becomes more populated and natural plant life decreases, Brisbane city dwellers like me need our botanical gardens to nourish and refresh our screen-dependant interior lives.
Tropical lagoon and green algae swirls at Mt Coot-tha Botanic Gardens, Brisbane, Australia 2019
If you’ve never read a Welsh writer’s work, now is your chance! I’ve been to the library and collected my copy of Under Milk Wood, the radio/stage/film drama by Welsh poet Dylan Thomas to get me started. Read all about Dewithon19 on Book Jotter’s blog….Mwynhewch ddarllen! (Enjoy reading!) ♥Gretchen Bernet-Ward
Welcome to the first ever Wales Readathon (aka Dewithon 19), a month-long event beginning on Saint David’s Day, during which book bloggers from all parts of the world are encouraged to read, discuss and review literature by and about writers from Wales.
For more in-depth information on this reading jolly, head over to DHQ (Dewithon Headquarters) – and should you wish to take part in the official readalong, please follow this link. You can also share your thoughts and posts on Twitter by using the hashtags #dewithon19 and/or walesreadathon19.
Here we display your Dewithon-related posts. Please leave your links in the comments below or drop me a line with the URL.
Guest post from Maud Fitch who looks at 20th century male chauvinism, surfer culture and skin cancer.
Okay, she looks at one particular song––California Girls by The Beach Boys––with the observation that it reeks of male teen spirit.
Thanks for filling in, Maud. “No problemo,” she writes “My comments relate to the inequality of the sexes and when males sang about women with such defining features, dare I say ‘personalities’, that a song could transcend the decades. Whereas women sang about males who are leaving/arriving or causing tears/heartache and are not physically described, leaving nothing etched in the memory.”
Maud’s musical hypothesis…
The Beach Boys // Photographer Unknown // 23681 // Beach Boys publicity shot
If you don’t know the song lyrics (lucky you) here they are:
Well, East Coast girls are hip
I really dig those styles they wear
And the Southern girls with the way they talk
They knock me out when I’m down there
The Mid-West farmer’s daughters really make you feel alright
And the Northern girls with the way they kiss
They keep their boyfriends warm at night
I wish they all could be California girls
I wish they all could be California
I wish they all could be California girls
The West coast has the sunshine
And the girls all get so tanned
I dig a French bikini on Hawaiian island dolls
By a palm tree in the sand
I been all around this great big world
And I seen all kinds of girls
Yeah, but I couldn’t wait to get back in the States
Back to the cutest girls in the world
I wish they all could be California girls
I wish they all could be California
I wish they all could be California girls
I wish they all could be California girls
I wish they all could be California girls
I wish they all could be California girls
I wish they all could be California girls
Location is not an issue here, the girls in question are prominently mentioned and The Beach Boys diplomatically reference various US regions so as not to offend by omission.
A catchy tune, they sing of the visual pleasure of one woman pitted against another until the type named ‘California Girls’ moves to the top of the lust list.
The objectifying of women does not translate well to 21st century sensitivities. Although in 2010 Katy Perry sang a similarly shallow song California Gurls.
It can be argued that The Beach Boys were young and represented their gender and the world-wide surfing movement with what appealed to them at the time. Their songs certainly represented the superficiality of youth and what was uppermost on the manly mind. In contrast, The Supremes song of 1965 Surfer Boy shows an entirely different slant on surfing and a more emotional approach.
The Beach Boys skimming appraisal of the external woman brings me to the French bikini on a Hawaiian island girl. I don’t know skin cancer statistics in other countries but at one stage Australia had the highest skin cancer rate in the world. Most beach babes of the mid-to-late twentieth century now have a crusty epidermal layer of melanoma sores and spots which are regularly checked by their skin cancer specialist.
Are these bikini babes still loved? Nobody of that beach culture vintage is cute now, unless Botox is involved. Heck, everyone of that generation has aged and, depending on decrepitude, may wish they had that body again.
Allowing for variants, The Beach Boys and The Supremes are now older, wiser people who made a lot of money from their hard-working vocal chords and have moved into Music Legend status. I wonder if they sit in comfy chairs, musing about their past lyrics? Do they laugh, cringe or couldn’t care less?
The world may have moved on but surfers still surf, boys still ogle girls, and sex discrimination still remains. And no matter how irksome, old songs never die.
Maud Fitch – Guest blogger and east coast Queensland girl
Kei Ishii, founder of The Kollective Idea and its related dance module The Kontemporary Idea, will be holding more 3-day workshops this year, offering a creative boost to young and emerging dancers.
This is the first part of our two-part interview with Kei discussing his contemporary dance career. Watch out for part two with Q&A insights!
Kei Ishii graduated from The Space Performing Arts, in Melbourne and went on to take a place at the world-renowned Ev & Bow Full-Time Contemporary Dance Course in Sydney where he trained with Sarah Boulter for two years. During this time Kei assisted Sarah in choreographing many events including Dance Academy and the Arabian Games and was also offered a secondment with the Internationally famed ADT (Australian Dance Theatre) in Adelaide.
As a member of Legs on the Wall Contemporary Dance Troupe, Kei performed in their production of Puncture at the Sydney Festival in 2015. He has choreographed many short works which have been performed at festivals such as Sydney Fringe Festival and Short Sweet Dance and was also awarded Best Choreographer at Fast + Fresh 2013.
Since returning to Queensland, Kei shares his knowledge of various contemporary techniques with dance schools around Brisbane. He started The Kollective Idea to give aspiring dancers the chance to perform in a company setting, to learn what working within the industry involves and to be guided through this exciting process.
Kei says “At The Kollective Idea we foster your talents and expand your experiences in an environment where you can gain the creative edge needed to succeed in dance. You will dance alongside award-winning instructors and choreographers. We are highly motivated to develop your performance technique, style and stage skills.”
Kei goes on to say “The right philosophy drives success, it is where everything we do creatively and professionally starts. A promising idea will define what you do and how you will do it. Having the knowledge and skills to use this idea is why we study, practice and gain experience, growing to expand our ideas, our horizons and ultimately our dance futures.”
“We can help you through the process of growing in the industry. Our mentors are award-winning dancers with experience and the knowledge needed to help you grow that idea.”
A great learning opportunity from a man with vibrant and affirmative ideas! ♥Gretchen Bernet-Ward
The Kollective Idea starts their year with another The Kontemporary Idea 3-day workshop 19-21 January 2019 in two groups for ages 10-13 and 14+ covering techniques, improvisation and choreography. Website bookings––
Australian farmers, east and west, north and south are facing challenges on the land. As we head into summer, the drought has reached drastic proportions right across the country. Imagine no water, cattle dying, crops withering and red dust coating everything you touch. We have to think about farmers livelihoods, they put the food on everyone’s table.
So far Rural Aid have…
• Helped over 4500 farmers have registered for various types of assistance.
• 2000 farmers have received Buy-a-Bale hay, currently numbers growing at 30 a week.
• 1000’s of hampers, water trucks, fuel cards and vouchers.
Since 1 July 2018 Rural Aid have…
• Employed 11 mental health counsellors with committed funding of $5.5m over 3 years.
• More than $20m in total cash donations has been accepted by Rural Aid.
• Over 2200 counselling telephone one-on-one calls or face to face visits to farmers in 4 months.
• $3m paid for hay distributed to farmers in need.
• $2.3m paid in freight to deliver the hay.
• $6m for bill relief for farmers.
• Forward commitment to purchase $11m of hay and transport for next 6 months.
• More than $1.2m provided to farmers in the form of gift cards which can be spent locally.
• Expanded their team by 7 people so they can respond to enquiries and provide help faster to those most in need.
Rural Aid have moved 76 and 88 trailers respective, almost 3500 tonnes of hay in the last two weeks alone, delivered to over 300 farmers. This is amazing work by hay teams, truckies and hay producers who are all pulling together, a super support effort. But the battle continues.
It’s a hard way to earn a living. You can help dedicated farmers to keep growing our country’s food. Consider Farm-sitting, Farm Army volunteering, Farm Rescue groups, buying hay bales or donating to— Rural Aidwww.ruralaid.org.au Buy-a-Balewww.buyabale.com.au
As Rural Aid wraps up another year, their 2019 calendars are now selling. Help out by placing an order for this great Christmas gift and have it mailed— CalendarGrab a 2019 calendar