Friendship and ‘A Time to Talk’ with Robert Frost

As we all know,

Christmas is fast approaching,

the silly season has begun,

in gift shops,

in department stores,

kids unable to settle in the classroom,

grass is brown and dry,

barbecue grills are being checked,

sunscreen is stockpiled,

food is flying off the supermarket shelves,

chlorine levels are dosed,

wrapping paper is being unfurled,

groups are having break-up parties,

bells jingle in the hands of Santa as he strolls through the mall,

queues in to the carpark,

queues out of the carpark,

tempers rise,

decisions have to be made about Christmas lunch,

European or Australian,

the temperature is predicted to be in the high 30°s Celsius,

the air-conditioning struggles at midday,

birds welcome the water in birdbaths,

dog water bowls appear outside cafés,

hats and beach umbrellas are selling fast,

flashy new decorations for an old tree,

family car washed and waxed ready to collect grandparents,

music is Christmas themed,

commercials blare out what we need for a happy fun festive season,

there is more than one man behind Christmas,

the wealth in the world prefers to use a generic symbol,

An old lady sits alone on the edge of her bed,

tears in her eyes,

sad for what is lost,

sad for who has gone,

that t-shirt-stained boy who sits on a park bench,

heatwaves shimmering off the concrete path,

wondering if he will see his Dad,

wondering if he will get a present,

put it under the tree he created from twigs,

we need each other,

we need our friends,

text a lunch date,

money spent at Christmastime isn’t going to mean much,

if there’s nobody to reminisce with in the new year,

friends share your life whether it seems like it or not,

they are part of you.

© Gretchen Bernet-Ward

 

“A Time to Talk”

 

WHEN a friend calls to me from the road    

And slows his horse to a meaning walk,       

I don’t stand still and look around    

On all the hills I haven’t hoed,          

And shout from where I am, What is it?             

No, not as there is a time to talk.      

I thrust my hoe in the mellow ground,          

Blade-end up and five feet tall,         

And plod: I go up to the stone wall   

For a friendly visit.

 

Robert Frost (1874–1963)

Poetry Collection “Mountain Interval” 1920

 

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Publishing, Bookselling and a Bus

In November I attended two important events for any emerging writer – publishing and bookselling.  There is a bonus short story at the end of my report.

The first event I attended was “Pathways to Publishing” at Brisbane Square Library CBD hosted by Kylie Kaden, Carolyn Martinez and David Bobis.  Dr Kate Steele was unable to attend but there was much advice to hear and many questions to ask.  No trade secrets here.  The photos (below) show the tilted windows behind the speakers platform but not a clear view of the Victoria Bridge and the ferries going up and down the Brisbane River.

The Discussion Panel

Kylie Kaden is an internationally published author of women’s fiction, Carolyn Martinez is the Director of Hawkeye Publishing and David Bobis writes fiction short stories for newspapers and magazines.  Pantera Press and Alison Green were mentioned and I made a note that editor Lauren Daniels of Brisbane Writers Workshop is an exponent of “show not tell” method.

One hour flew by.  However, I’m too lazy to embrace the promotional rigors of self-publishing.  I did learn that persistence pays off.  Flipside: if you are traditionally published your publisher takes the weight off but the finished product is up to them, cover design and all.  Meanwhile I must try to write a completed manuscript.

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Just wanted to add this Brisbane City Council library poster. Good idea or bad idea? Uncomfortable or relaxed? Weird or fun? I haven’t made up my mind if this would work for me. I think I’d be too busy watching the other readers. GBW.

Got a load of newly minted books in boxes in your hallway?
Congrats, next comes The Bookselling

The second event I attended was GenreCon Night Market held at State Library of Queensland, South Bank.  The whole event ran for three days but I was there on Friday evening in my brand-new capacity as Secretary for Society of Women Writers Qld Inc sharing a table with two authors Toni Risson and Mocco WollertFurther down the room were Australian Authors, FAWQ, Virginia Miranda, Russell Perry and Indrani GangulyWe were surrounded by authors of every genre hoping to sell their nicely displayed wares.  Yes, cash and I were soon parted.

State Library has many rooms but this room is stunning with a mirrored ceiling and one end open to the balmy night breeze.  The permanent wall display cases are crowded with valuable antique tea cups and saucers.

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GenreCon 2019 featured a smorgasbord of leading names in Australian and international genre fiction. They had a spectacular line up of panels, workshops, author talks and special events where you could join over 200 writers, editors, agents and publishers for three days of celebrating genre plus Night Market, Costume Gala, GenreCon Badge and Conference Pack https://genrecon.com.au/

The venue filled up and was buzzing from 5pm-9pm but unfortunately nobody knew there was a Meet & Greet in another section with food and wine, so by the end of the night we were famished.

Early on, a cup of hot coffee had spilled across our table.  It soaked a lovely tablecloth which had to be discreetly removed.  I scored a beverage-damaged book which I shall enjoy reading even if the aroma of caffeine tingles my tastebuds.

No book sales for our table but it was a night of lively conversation and I handed out several SWWQ membership leaflets.

Your Bonus Reading

Being an exponent of public transport on both occasions I travelled to and from the venues in council buses.  Waiting at a city bus stop on a Friday night can be an interesting experience.

I saw the drunk staggering along the pavement and I hoped he and his wildly waving bottle of spirits would keep going.  No, he lurched to a stop in front of me.  To attract my attention, he bellowed “Hey, hey darlin” and leaned forward.  His voice dropped.  “I jus wanna say that’s a lovely dress ya wearin.”  He let out a cackle and stumbled away, only to stop again.  I refused eye contact but I knew he was looking back at me.  He shouted in triumph “Bet ya didn’t expect that!”  I gave a tiny smile then jumped up and practically ran to my bus.Draw-a-Bus Cartoon 07

Guess what?  The bus driver was new, took a wrong turn and actually got his whole busload of passengers lost!  I didn’t notice until I looked up and had not the foggiest idea where we were.  Neither did the bus driver.  The bus meandered through the night while we muttered to each other.  Thankfully a school teacher-type woman gave him directions on how to get back on route.  Good old human navigation.

I’ve no complaints because it was an almost magical Harry Potter experience being somewhere unrecognisable, going down steep streets, swerving around wide corners, passing twinkling cafes and glittering nightclubs.  The woman who got us back on track left the bus before me.  Eventually I arrived at my stop, none the worse for an unscheduled detour.  As I alighted I experienced a twinge of regret for not raising my voice and saying “Thank you” to the woman for her calm control of the situation.

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

It’s a long way… to the shops… or how I designed and produced my first range of earrings

Beautiful designer earrings don’t just happen, they are created by sheer love and dedication and Zoë Collins of Hoodlum Friends says “All the years of fiddling around, making mistakes, learning what it feels like to create things I love, and things I hate (and things I feel lukewarm about)… it all lead down a path to 287 pairs of unique, very limited edition drops, hoops, studs…”

Follow Zoë Collins creative journey and be inspired, and maybe think about treating yourself to an original pre-Christmas gift right now! Gretchen Bernet-Ward

hoodlum friends

Have you *cough* heard about those earrings I made? NO?! Come on! I’ve been talking talking talking about them, like an excited kid talking about his new transformer (trust me, the kid is non-stop transforminationing).

Earrings are not my first foray into product design. Many years ago I tried my hand at greeting cards. I tried to set up a shop selling prints, I tried Society6, and more recently Redbubble. Most of these forays into selling my artwork were… overwhelming to set up, and underwhelming in self-esteem indicators and sales performance. (Most were well before social media). You see, I had very little experience as a designer and as an illustrator. I knew technically how to make greeting cards, how to set up files for print, how to draw a little — but looking back on those early cards (I still have some! ha!) I can see they are lacking…

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Art Deco Delights on Display

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The first photograph shows a Cloche hat (circa 1925) made of rayon, silk organza, sequins and mercerised cotton.  The designer is unknown.  I saw it displayed in the Ipswich Art Gallery exhibition ‘The World Turns Modern’.  It is from the Julian Robinson Collection on loan from National Gallery of Australia.

ART DECO is the predominant decorative art style of the 1920s and 1930s, characterised by precise and boldly delineated geometric shapes and strong colours and used most notably in household objects and in architecture.

Below is my small sample of Art Deco on display.


Ipswich Art Gallery Art Deco Lady with Dogs

The first painting to draw my eye was Christian Waller in her garden with her dogs.
Artist :  Napier Waller (Penshurst, Australia 1893 – Melbourne, Australia 1972)
Title :  ‘Christian Waller with Baldur, Undine and Siren at Fairy Hills 1932’
Materials and technique :  Oil and tempera on canvas mounted on hardboard.
Dimensions :  121.5 h x 205.5 w cm, overall frame 1315 h x 2165 w x 60 d mm (big!)
Purchased :  NGA 1984.

“The frieze-like formality of the painting and its cool, crisp colours underscore the demise of the Waller marriage.”  Such a sad note, and I wonder who got the Airedale terriers?


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Inlaid wood was all the rage and this match box (in book form) took my fancy.  As the information card states, it comprises rose mahogany, yellow wood, rose sheoak, sandpaper and red cedar.  Rare commodities nowadays.


This stunning bronze cast (in relief) features a woman wrangling two horses; I liked the strength, energy and symbolism of this piece.  Jean Broome-Norton’s renaissance woman is not life-size but the plinth gives it height and power.


The modern front doors of award-winning Ipswich Art Gallery, and inside the original building has been restored and extended.  The shipping and travel poster hints at women enjoying greater freedom, the right to vote and travelling unchaperoned.  The image of the independent woman became popular in graphic design for posters and portraiture.


Ipswich Art Gallery IMAGE Hilda Rix Nicholas Une Australienne 1926
This painting appears on gallery advertising posters and epitomises the era.
IMAGE: Hilda Rix Nicholas ‘Une Australienne’ 1926.

Oil on canvas. National Gallery of Australia, Canberra. Purchased 2014.
© Bronwyn Wright.


Ipswich Art Gallery Art Deco Red Teapot and Teacups

Unfortunately my photographs of etchings, square teapots and Lalique glassware did not work due to the lighting.  Pictured above is a red Art Deco tea-set of stunning design, quite petite, which may not have been easy to sip from if you were feeling nervous at a polite society soirée.


Left photo :  In a side gallery, I viewed ‘Cover Story: Queensland Arts Council Cover Art and Poster Collection 1981 to 2008’ displaying commissioned work by leading Australian artists and illustrators.  From rough sketches to finished art, it was fascinating to see such big names especially in children’s literature, for example Graeme Base, and my favourite Alison Lester and her 1991 on-tour directory cover.

Right Photo :  Upstairs in the heritage gallery, I just had to take a photo of this wonderful 1895 miner’s brooch which I presume was designed for a man but it is small and delicate.  Made of 15ct gold, it may have been used as a tie pin, and the case is about the size of a snuff box.


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Time for a cuppa at the Post Office Café.  I was impressed how the colour and table setting matched the Art Deco theme without really trying.  The proprietor of the café told us that she was sick of washing the tablecloths and they were being replaced with inlaid lacquered tabletops.  Shame, but the sweet treats were delicious.


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The view outside had interesting angles and contrasts; the Post Office Café courtyard, the umbrella, the modern buildings and above, as if floating, the original Ipswich Post Office clock tower, circa 1890.


If you are interested in the Art Deco exhibition, get in quick, it closes this weekend!

07 Sep 2019 – 27 Oct 2019

“Comprised entirely of works selected from the National Gallery of Australia collection, this exhibition provides superb examples of the diverse expressions of Art Deco.”

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Meet Me At The Paragon – A Greek Café Experience #slqGreekCafes

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I attended a special viewing of the Greek café phenomenon ‘Meet Me At The Paragon’.  This new exhibition features the history of Greek milk bars in Queensland and their importance within local communities.

When I entered the Heritage Learning Collections Room on Level 4 of State Library of Queensland, I was greeted by a table laden with food, from savoury snacks to desserts like baklava and sugar-powdered shortbread with drinks on the side.  Heaven!

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Evocative neon. Instead of the usual rows of seats, there were café chairs at round tables, such a nice touch. Guests were also given take-home gifts, and in my first photo you can see a fridge magnet, postcard and a traditional small paper bag of mixed lollies.

‘Meet Me At The Paragon’ explores the creation of American-style cafés which helped Greek migrants of the early to mid-1900s to start a new life in such a different land. The Paragon Café in Dalby, Queensland, was a meeting place for all ages to enjoy a malted milkshake or a sweet treat. The State Library of Queensland invited me to experience The Greek Café Phenomenon and learn true stories of the families who owned and operated them.

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This old poster is pretty self-explanatory. When I was small, I remember my mother buying me a small ‘brick’ of Peter’s ice-cream wrapped in white wax paper and sandwiching it between two square wafers. Crunchy and creamy at the same time! I think that Smak ice-cream stick is hilarious; at first I thought it said Smoke because it looks rather like a cigarette.

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Isn’t this incredible! When I was a kid, we owned a small single milkshake mixer with an aluminium cup. We had paper straws so needed to drink fast before the straw started to collapse. The taste was cool, creamy and delicious. This machine can mix times-three!

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My memories of drinking in a milk bar are hazy but I recall tall glasses of foaming milk and strawberry ice-cream.  This photograph of Christie’s café (Brisbane) spanned a whole wall and people took selfies which looked like they were really there #slqGreekCafes

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Here is the informative Curator who guided us around the exhibits.  In this room there is a cute waitress’ pinafore preserved in a glass case.  It appeared to be made of heavy white cotton and in excellent condition considering its age.  I doubt the wearer managed a full day’s work without getting a small stain or two!

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Lollies is an Australian word for sweets. Bulgarian Rock, Peanut Toffee, Turkish Delight, all kinds of confectionery were arrayed in long glass cabinets to dazzled customers as they walked into a Creek café. Can you imagine the delicious aroma! Most cafés used their own ice-cream for their sodas and sundaes.
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This looks like a scientist’s portable lab! These tiny bottles of Blue Ark Essences are housed in a briefcase-style case. The essences were concentrated fruit flavours and used in soda drinks, milkshakes and confectionery.

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This Golden Gate Café had a quaint yet welcoming shopfront.  In the Golden Gate Café in Winton, Australia, a passing sailor left behind a macaw which became the lifelong companion of the proprietor.  Or so the story goes.  Brisbane, Australia, was a base for American servicemen during World War II and signs like this made them feel welcome.

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Aren’t these three dudes handsome!  Unfortunately I did not get the gentlemen’s names nor do I know where their portrait was taken.  I viewed them in the White Gloves document section of the exhibition.  Later I discovered one fellow is the uncle of Chris Zavros.

I met Greek women  who shared their own delightful stories, and I strolled along rows of black and white photographs of beautiful Greek weddings and Greek families at work and play, a long time ago.  The country towns which had Greek cafés ranged throughout Queensland.  It would have been nice to say all the buildings are still standing several generations later—still, it is wonderful to see donated ephemera, to have their legacy remembered today.

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‘Meet Me At The Paragon’ runs for six months and there are more Curator talks planned (see website below) and a Brisbane Greeters walking tour.

Of course, many more items are on display, including monogrammed crockery and audio and video information I enjoyed the memorabilia which fuelled my inner historian.  This exhibition is suitable for everyone!  It would appeal to Greek genealogists, those interested in café culture trends, and anyone who has ever sipped a milkshake.

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

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Brochures resemble café menus on the polished wood table of a banquette where people can sit and reminisce about burgers and banana sundaes.

Find out more from State Library of Queensland
https://www.slq.qld.gov.au/whats-on/meet-me-paragon
and
http://blogs.slq.qld.gov.au/jol/2019/10/02/american-bar-brisbane/

Toni Risson Greek Cafes in Australia Aphrodite Bookcover

Further reading from curator and author Toni Risson
https://tonirisson.wordpress.com/
and
https://greekcafesinbrisbane.wordpress.com/author/tonirisson/

Winners Society of Women Writers and Estelle Pinney Short Story Competition 2019

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!


 

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Prizes:

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)

Three Commended:

‘Portraits’ by Megan Hippler (Queensland)

‘The Lies of Love’ by Jo Mularczyk (New South Wales)

‘The Birthday Present’ by Lynne Geary (Victoria)

 

(Award certificates below)


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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.


 

I would like to thank the President and Committee of  Society of Women Writers Queensland Inc and acknowledge author Estelle Pinney for her ongoing encouragement via this competition.  It is a morale boost to have my work recognised and financially rewarded.

In the spirit of giving, I have donated my prize money back to the Society.  It may help a new member, or go towards a workshop at Bribie Island Writers Retreat, or perhaps an event with cake!

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

 

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Society of Women Writers Qld Inc

Brisbane Writers Festival Notes Part 3

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‘The World Turns’ by Michael Parekowhai. In his bronze casts, the small native water rat, the kuril (seen near the 5-metre tall elephant) is the hero. Along with the traditional Aboriginal custodians, the kuril is one of the caretakers of the land on which Gallery of Modern Art and this sculpture stand beside the river.

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.

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Left to right – book reader guest, Jasper Fforde, moderator, on the River Deck at State Library of Queensland looking across the Brisbane River towards the city.

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.

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You know what happens, you go in browsing the books and next thing you are looking at all the book-related paraphernalia. Saw this book lover’s mug and couldn’t resist buying it. Happily, it features most of my favourite classics but it is a big mug and so far I haven’t been able to finish a full beverage.

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.

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The Edge auditorium, the audience hushed as Jasper Fforde delivered his 40-minute closing address entitled ‘This Way Humanity’.

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.

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After the Closing Speech, a stroll through South Bank Parklands and a relaxed dinner at Hop And Pickle on Little Stanley Street. “Proud purveyors of pub gastronomy”

On the walk back to the bus station, we bought sweet treats from Doughnut Time.  Yum!

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Walking back to the Cultural Centre bus station and just happened to spy the hole-in-the-wall Doughnut Time. Exotic delights with gorgeous names and way too much sugar and spice and all things nice. Yes, they did make it home before being devoured!

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.

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

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The Ending – nightlife – view from South Bank footbridge, looking across the river towards Brisbane City.

Brisbane Writers Festival Notes Part 2

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The Beginning – dust haze – view from South Bank footbridge, looking across the river towards Brisbane City.

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!

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View of Brisbane City from council bus window, the morning light seemed lifeless, glazed in outback dust as the 2019 drought worsens.

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”.

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Life-size adult Humpback Whales and calf in the walkway of Queensland Museum, Brisbane, with complex underwater songs. The Humpback Whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) occurs in all oceans of the world. Herds migrate along the Queensland coast between winter breeding and summer feeding grounds. This species was given complete protection by the International Whaling Commission in the southern and northern hemispheres. Today, the eastern Australian Humpback Whales show signs of strong recovery from commercial whaling. “Save 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!

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I tiptoed past the Zen garden so as not to wake the sleeping rocks or disturb the gravel waves.

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.

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Angel’s Place on Maiwar Green outside the Gallery of Modern Art where special performances of Carpentaria were held throughout the Brisbane Writers Festival from panel discussions to secrets of the land.
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Angel’s Place, Brisbane Writers Festival, where ancient stories are told about Carpentaria. Here lives the spirit nest of the ancient serpent, a creature larger than storm clouds, who came down from the stars. On top of the snake’s spirit nest lies Angel’s Palace, the home of Angel Day. Look closely…

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.

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The weather had cleared and it was much finer on the second day of Brisbane Writers Festival. The arrow points to UK author Jasper Fforde followed by “Dream Worlds” panel moderator Sarah L’Estrange of ABC Radio National which broadcast the event.
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“Dream Worlds” panel discussion (left to right) moderator Sarah L’Estrange, guest authors USA Karen Thompson Walker, UK Jasper Fforde, Australia Krissy Kneen. And I purchased each of their books.

Official link to ABC Radio National audio recording https://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/the-book-show/dreams-bwf/11506864

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.

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Author Jasper Fforde and author/moderator John Birmingham at Brisbane Writers Festival 2019. I always had a good view of the proceedings and noted that the majority of attendees were women. Do women read more, are women more aware of literary diversity?

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.

Ciao for now!

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Brisbane Writers Festival Notes Part 1

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.

Brisbane Writers Festival 2019 03
https://bwf.org.au/

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’.

Bye for now . . . to be continued.

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

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Life-size whale calf in the roof outside Queensland Museum, Brisbane.

Not So Secret Society of Women Writers

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—

Society of Women Writers Qld IncThe 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.

The Beginning

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.

Postal Magazines

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

Bribie Island Jetty at Bongaree
Bribie Island

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.

Writers Retreat

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

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.

For further information please contact the Secretary
secretary@womenwritersqld.org.au
or visit their website http://womenwritersqld.org.au

My Journey

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.

Gretchen Bernet-Ward 

The Rose and The Thorn by Indrani Ganguly 2019 01Flash Fiction Virginia Miranda Volume One

Author or Businesswoman? The Story Behind Girl and Duck

Real world experience and advice from a published author with dedication, sincerity and passion for sharing her craft.
Gretchen Bernet-Ward

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Who is this wonder woman? Read on…

girl and duck

This week at girl and duck, we opened The Scribbles Academy. It’s been super exciting and lots of people have jumped on board.

Thank you!!!! I know you’re going to love your Scribbly experience!

V2_Resized_ScribblesAcademyWordpress banner copy

But how did this all begin?

What’s the real story behind girl and duck?

I wrote about this a couple of years back. But, in those early days, I was more interested in talking about the community. How passionate it was and how it seemed to sprout from nowhere.

More time has passed and now I want to go deeper. I want you, dear reader, to know exactly how I began my online business.

How and why I started it. And who was there to help me.

Ding Ding Ding! Multiple Income Streams!

Back in 2011, it occurred to me that I might NEVER make a liveable income from writing. No matter how many books…

View original post 1,599 more words

NAIDOC Week 2019

NAIDOC Week Poster 2019 02

NAIDOC Week 7 July – 14 July 2019

‘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.”

Learn more about poster winner Charmaine Mumbulla.

Download a copy of the National NAIDOC Poster and Teaching Guide.

Website https://www.naidoc.org.au/

Indigenous Network https://www.indigenous.gov.au/regional-network

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.

NAIDOC Week 2019 Artist Mumbulla News

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Brookfield Show – My Rural Ramble

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.
  • Inside Pioneer Cottage museum; outside (not shown) log hand-sawing demo.
  • 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.

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

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‘Falling Slowly’ by Helene Moorhouse © Mixed medium thread fabric 2019

Scribbles Masterclass 2019

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 Logo 2019

Scribbles Masterclass 2019

Dear Children’s Literature Creators,

KidLit Vic is fast approaching and so is the annual Scribbles Masterclass!

  • Scribbles Masterclass
  • 4.1 Hayden Raysmith Room
  • Ross House
  • 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!

Stay scribbly!

Jen Storer
Children’s Author and Chief Inspirationalist at Girl and Duck.com*


Scribbles Masterclass Information 2019*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.

Learn more about Duckies, Scribblers, writers and illustrators:
https://girlandduck.com/

Click to BOOK your Masterclass 2019 place NOW.  I know first-hand it’s a fun learning experience.

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Scribbles Masterclass Melbourne May 2019 Panel
Girl and Duck ‘Scribbles’ Masterclass panel featuring Jen Storer, Lucinda Gifford and Judith Rossell, May 2019 Melbourne Australia.

Travel Tribute to H V Morton and Wales

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’.” 

Sounds magical to me.  Daith yn hapus!

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

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Another beautiful coincidence – it is not springtime in Australia, it is cool autumn weather. Yet these daffodils, a Welsh symbol, were outside my local supermarket the day after I purchased the book at UQ Alumni Book Fair.

Further reading from Niall Taylor, Glastonbury, England, and HVM Society
https://hvmorton.wordpress.com/2019/02/17/great-british-car-journeys/

Peter Corris Crime Writer Cliff Hardy Crime Fighter

Peter Corris 01
The final Peter Corris crime novel featuring PI Cliff Hardy.

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.

Peter Corris 04And 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.

Peter Corris 02

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:

https://www.allenandunwin.com/authors/c/peter-corris

But—do authors and their books really die?

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.

Gretchen Bernet-Ward


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)
O’Fear                          (1990)
Wet Graves                 (1991)
Aftershock                  (1992)
Beware of the Dog    (1992)
Burn and Other Stories (1993)
Matrimonial Causes (1993)
Casino                          (1994)
The Reward                (1997)
The Washington Club (1997)
Forget Me If You Can  (1997)
The Black Prince         (1998)
The Other Side of Sorrow (1999)
Lugarno                        (2001)
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)
Comeback                     (2012)
The Dunbar Case         (2013)
Silent Kill                      (2014)
Gun Control                 (2015)
That Empty Feeling    (2016)
Win, Lose or Draw     (2017)

NOTE: “See You at the Toxteth” Published by Allen & Unwin August 2019
https://www.allenandunwin.com/browse/books/fiction/See-You-at-the-Toxteth-Peter-Corris-9781760875633
A selection of stories compiled by Jean Bedford featuring Australia’s favourite PI, plus unpublished writing by Peter Corris on crime.

Peter Corris 03
The first Peter Corris crime novel featuring PI Cliff Hardy.

My Monoprinting Experiment

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

 

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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.

 

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My words of encouragement “You have to try it, muck around with it, get messy and see what happens”

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.

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Botanical Gardens Fresh Air and Sunshine

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.

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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!

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.

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Note:  Please click or tap an image to enlarge.

You may also like to read about my visit higher up the road at Mt Coot-tha Lookout.

Wales Readathon 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

Book Jotter

1st-31st March

Wales DragonWelcome 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.

Mwynhewch ddarllen! (Enjoy reading!)

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