Reflections on a wet September, Lake Wendouree

Spring clouds over the lake.

Spring clouds over the lake.

Winter still has its wet, icy hands on Ballaratia (September was our wettest one yet), but there have been a few days when spring’s been in the air: cherry blossoms have been and gone, trees are showing their shoots, cygnets are on the water. The botanical gardens and the Lake Wendouree shore opposite have become valued places of peace and fresh air — with bonus Pokemon. But mostly a tranquil stroll with seasonal reflections. Here’s a few shots snapped on the hoof when the sun’s been out. As Eric said, it can’t rain all the time.

Cygnets, Lake Wendouree

Cygnets, Lake Wendouree


Walkway cut by the overflowing lake.

Walkway cut by the overflowing lake.


Flowers in the gardens.

Flowers in the gardens.


Spring statue, botanical gardens.

Spring statue, botanical gardens.


Marooned bench.

Marooned bench.

More pictures

 

Words Out Loud in Ballarat – August edition

words out loud in ballaratShare “the road ahead” when Words Out Loud returns to Babushka lounge in Ballarat on Thursday, August 18, 7-9pm, for its next session of spoken word.

Writers, readers, poets — all word lovin’ folks with a hankering to share the love are invited along, with five-minute open mic spots on offer. Babushka has excellent sound and backing tracks can be accommodated. You won’t find a friendlier venue.

While the theme is “the road ahead” (make of it what you will), it isn’t compulsory! Share your own work or something that has moved you, or just come to enjoy the performances and meet district writers.

Entry is free, though a gold coin donation would be appreciated for this non-profit, community event.

Keep up to date at the Facebook page: www.facebook.com/wordsoutloud/.

 

Words Out Loud – what a state we’re in!

Amber Wilson

Amber Wilson

Our first Thursday night Words Out Loud spoken word event, “state of the heart”, at Babushka went quite well last night! Lovely to see so many, and to have such a large audience of, well, audience, to support the readers.

I also had my first Babushka pizza and it was damn fine, thanks.

It was very chilled, hanging back in the beer garden after the event and then listening to Troy knock out some tunes — looking forward to the album, man.

Troy, singing us out

Troy, singing us out

The next spoken word night will be on Thursday, March 17, from 7pm, with  a theme of “falling” (autumnal or otherwise, broad themes are good themes, eh), again at Babushka.

The Facebook event site

Spoken word in Ballarat

rat reads

A new literary event is coming to Ballarat. The first of the spoken word events, Mr Barnaby’s Sunday Reads, is on Sunday January 17, from 2pm, at Babushka bar — one of my favourite watering holes in the city.

The idea is for readers and writers to gather and share some of their favourite works, or works in progress. Kick back and talk writing and literature. A salon for writers and readers, and a way to help local writers get to know each other. A literary soiree, in the words of the local paper!

There will be a few “headline” readers at the session to get the ball rolling — locals Simon Carroll, Kirstyn McDermott, Amber Wilson, myself, as well as Melbourne’s Talie Helene, will be sharing some “spooky” reads — and an open mic section where anyone can get up and read/perform a passage, to 5 minutes (about 500 words).

Cost is $5, with all proceeds going to Babushka’s gofundme fundraising campaign to help give the bar a kickalong. There’ll be a lucky door prize and raffles, too.

After this, the event is to shift to a monthly Thursday night, with the first slated for February 18, 6-8pm, also at Babushka. More details on that once we’ve had the Sunday Reads.

PS: if you’re a writer in the Ballarat region looking to connect with your community, you might like to check out the Ballarat Writers group.

Foto Biennale day trippin’: is there a doco in the (open) house?

Luxville 5 exhibition by Erin McCuskey

Luxville 5 exhibition by Erin McCuskey

Spring sprang, momentarily, on Sunday, so we carved off a chunk of the arvo and hit Ballarat to tick off a few more sites in the Foto Biennale.

There was no doubting the power of the documentary images: in the City Hall, Mitchell Kanashkevich‘s superb depictions of life in Belarus; and, more naturalistic, a joint project offering slices of life in the town of Swifts Creek in Gippsland, ensconced in the upper floor of the refurbished restaurant and music venue Sutton’s House of Music (love this space). Keeping the Creek company were some most excellent travel pictures from Lesley Costley-Grey — one of my favourites, a smashed typewriter on the footpath, already with three red dots beside it.

There were interesting techniques such as cyanotype and sunshine (at boutique beer store Coach House Ale near the railway station) and photogravure (at Backspace Gallery, which also has on show some stunning South American landscapes — flamingoes add splashes of colour in some).

A couple of Vicki McKay’s “Bohemia” images, inspired by Norman Lindsay, at the Miners Tavern (luckily, you don’t have to pass the pokies to get up the staircase to the upstairs exhibition, which has been thoughtfully marked as featuring nude women *gasp*), also popped, but I really enjoyed the personalities on show at the Regent theatre, where Erin McCuskey has a stills exhibition of characters in a fictional town.

lost ones gallery

Lost Ones Gallery

More starscapes, these from Tim Lucas, at the Beechworth Bakery (amazingly, no bee stings were eaten during this visit); a seascape with ship carved into panels at the Yellow Espresso cafe (yummy coffee that you can take away, unlike the big print), and some exceptional images from India by Rochelle Wong at the Trades Hall were among the list that took in about a dozen or so venues. Some others were closed (Sunday, you take your chances in the Rat), but a peek through the window was enough to go yea or nay to a revisit.

We also caught up with the print books competition, which showed a range of styles and themes. One, for instance, had folded pages; another was a narrative of being nekkid and in love in the woods; another had landscapes from the waterline, taken from a kayak. Another documented female residents of a town.

I love the former Freemasons building, now Lost Ones Galley, on Camp Street with its slightly risky stairs down to the welcoming basement (and outdoor toilet block) with sofas, bird cage, and a puffer fish under glass.

So not only does the biennale open up a range of photographic topics and techniques, it also gives access — encourages access — to a range of buildings that maybe wouldn’t normally get a visit, and puts galleries and cafes and the like on the radar. Even if you do cop the occasional glare over a coffee cup for peering over someone’s head at the pictures.

Ballarat International Foto Biennale (BIFB): a quick snap

Home by Nightfall, by Angela Bacon-Kidwell

Home by Nightfall, by Angela Bacon-Kidwell

The Ballarat International Foto Biennale officially opened on Saturday night — pizza, wine (Langi Ghiran, no less! oh so noms) and a whole lotta people checking out the exhibits in the Mining Exchange.

We managed to roll two other venues on Saturday — one before and one after. The first was Stacey Moll‘s ‘Frankenstein Atomic Frontier’ at wonderful comic shop Heroes HQ (darn, the latest Saga trade isn’t out yet) — I particularly like a gloomy alley shot of a woman with book, like an urban mage with grimoire. The second was ‘Silver’, by a collective of non-digital aficionados, which included some nice black-and-white industrial decay, hosted at Sebastiaans, the cafe, which included a pretty decent fisherman’s basket.

There are about 80 venues this year, many of them eateries — you could easily put together a food tour based on the exhibits.

My favourite so far, at the Mining Exchange: ‘Home by Nightfall’, an exquisite narrative of dust, sunlight and birds from Texan artist Angela Bacon-Kidwell, in which she reflects on her emotional journey during her father’s fatal illness. Also striking, some of the refugee photos from Maltese news photographer Darrin Zammit Lupi — incredible captures, brimming with emotion.

We moved to Ballarat in time for the previous biennale, and found it an intriguing way to explore the town. We hope to spend a few more days this time around. Sadly, we missed out on participating in the ‘Ballarat Through My Eyes’ contest, because it runs in the lead-up to the biennale itself. The event asks photographers to present photos in three categories taken in the Rat — bit of a treasure hunt! Maybe next time.

The biennale goes until 20 September 2015. Look for the biennale lens logo outside venues, or check the website for who’s got what. Amazingly, most of the exhibitions, as was the opening-night shindig, are free.

Vampires on the radio

the big smoke by jason nahrungEarlier today I chatted with ABC Ballarat 107.9’s Prue Bentley about Australian vampires, fast cars — and how freakin’ cold it is!

Producer Gav McGrath has posted a (stammer-free!) summary of the radio broadcast here.

It’s taking two of the things I love – the Australian landscape, and vampires and the gothic more broadly – and trying to make them fit together