A love letter from Paris

Rue Vauquelin, Paris…a little piece of paradise…I never walk past here. I don’t want to ruin the memory.

A love letter from Paris. I know he remembers her…I wouldn’t leave my love home alone with her because she was all raspberries and cherries and only twenty-three. She was from the Louvre, a student there, the school of love; she says. I’m nodding, he’s panting. It’s agreed; she can stay. We’ve employed her as the au pair. She is to teach the children French. We are all learning French. The four children, my love and me. The year is 2006.

The park in between. We would meet there with the four children every afternoon and swap them. The gap in our classes a perfect window for a picnic in the park. My time 9-1 and then my loves 2-6. We had homework…my love always better at rote than me. I would copy his homework every night whilst he started that second bottle of wine. “Did you know I did that?” I learnt by osmosis, he by hard work. I spoke first but he knew better. My grammar so poor, his confidence so low. It was a race, everything was a race. I think he won, I stopped running. “Did you notice?” I had to race with four children on my back. They were heavy and each year they became heavier. Filling me with love, until I could wish for no more. Now I become light, they are running. I watch them with envy and admiration. It is their time now.

Jardin du Luxembourg…the park in between…the children and their boat

They are running so fast, much faster than we did. I want to run again. “Will you race me, my love?” But we need to change the rules, because the world has changed; and I have changed. I have the fondest memories for all of our shared experiences with the children that year in Paris. The first time I dined in a fancy restaurant, with my love and the four children. I remember what the children ate. I remember helping them with the shells. I remember the smells, the butter and garlic, the white wine emulsion, the moules. But I have no idea what I ate. Why can’t I remember? I know I was happy. It all seems to be slipping away. And now I look to the photos, they keep the memories alive.

Our children were aged 3,5,7 and 9 at this time. The older kids rode 42km…insanely impressed.

Each year when we return to Paris we create new memories, new moments that will become the old ones in the future. And Paris, she is always the same but different, that is what I love about her. She is both new and old at the same time, a little bit like us.

I remember the bike riding in high heels, of course, always in high heels. I remember the kayaking. I remember our Vespa. I remember the metro. I remember the pain au chocolat. The day I ate three of them in an attempt to be cured. It didn’t work, I could have eaten more. Always with the four children. Now they are living their own lives. I don’t want to burden them with the expectation to be around; but I do miss them. I miss you too. Can you send me a love letter from Paris?

I remember we had only one date night that year and I ruined it. “Remember?” It was the first cold snap and I wanted to drop a blanket by to a local man but in the rush to please everyone I didn’t get to him. I had fed the children, bathed them and had them in bed when the au pair arrived but I hadn’t dropped off the blanket. I was so distracted. The colder the night became the more I worried about this man. We had to abandon the date to go and deliver him a blanket. My love so kind. We missed our dinner booking and we couldn’t get in anywhere and it ended up being a horrible night but he was so indulgent of me being happy. I remember his patience and my apology. Checks and balances…

Our forties seem to be lasting forever. Such hard work, ensuring the children are ok. Reflecting on my goals, they are so specific, all about the children. “I’m sorry if you missed out”. I want the children to contribute to society and to be happy. Two things, be happy, contribute to society, I want them so badly. I have repeated that on so many occasions, a well worn phrase.

We are in interesting times, the new and the old. “Have I enticed you, my love? Will you race me?” I promise to speak French forever, since you cannot. Maybe I will learn Italian too, we both know it lives inside me. “Can you handle the heat?” I want to feel jealous again, like I did in Paris. I would never have left you alone with her…

A love letter from Paris.

For relationship advice http://www.relationships.org.au


Winter is the season for lovers

Winter is the season for lovers. Being cold and hot, prudish and passionate. It’s the season of secrets and revelations. Big coats, warm boots and cosy gloves, the glimpse of a collarbone, the line of the neck, the little hollow that begs to be touched. Less is revealed, and more is desired. The short days and dark nights, the moodiness.

Hellebores or winter rose. One of my favourite winter flowers.

The polarity between indoors and outdoors. The comfort of home and then the need to leave when it’s been too long. The fire, it is mesmerising, wanting more, adding another log. Not knowing when it is enough or recognising that it is too much. An inability to be measured. Having to open the window to let the freezing air in, peeling off the layers of clothing. Where is the point of divergence and the space in which we join? Winter is the season of contrasts.

The clothes. The time it takes to dress properly. The extra garments, the pantyhose, the camisole, the little items that determine whether my day will be cold or comfortable. Remembering the scarf and umbrella. The time it takes to undress. Everything is slow, a forced patience.

Dry skin, dry hair, wet clothes, wet walls, condensation, warm breath. Writing on the glass, the shower, the back door, the car windows, no surface is forbidden. The messages, they are obvious, funny and omnipresent. They make me laugh.

The disparate flowers of winter. The heady fragrance of daphne. The fragile dogwood and happy daffodils. The time spent outdoors, the wet knees, easy digging, soft earth and abundant weeds. The genial winter sun reassuring on my back, contentment. All the things that make my winter garden unique.

The early hours of the winter evening; they are suited to seeing the milky way. There is less humidity, clear skies, you can pinpoint the stars. It is a time for observing after the exertion of planting and pruning and picking. The last few minutes before it gets really cold. It is silent, there are no birds chirping at this hour of this season.

Winter is the season for dinner parties, entertaining, red wine, gooey cheese and friends. Hot ovens, warm scones, sticky jam and clotted cream. It is the time for flushed cheeks, cold hands, brisk walks and impassioned embraces, relieving one another of the cold.

The hot baths without haste. Cool sheets, warm bodies, crisp air. The leisurely lie Ins, the long mornings and lazy weekends. Winter is the season for lovers, both new and old.

It is the season we welcome upon its arrival and then we are desperate for it to end.

If you feel inspired to do some gardening https://www.abc.net.au/gardening/

Beyond the limits of beauty

When blurry lines of beauty speak.
Our souls do sing as pleasure peaks
And if we should avert our eyes
Doth beauty form a new disguise
She hunts us down as truth doth seek
Her gentle caress upon our cheek
And when we attempt to turn away
Her fairness doth command we stay
For in our hearts lives true desire
That justice loves and cannot mire
And so we seek a shroud that may
Cloak us in the auspice of the day.

Nicole Cullinan
Things of beauty…music, flowers, books, and art by Sophie Grace. Photo credit Nicole Cullinan.

Beyond the limits of beauty. Last week I announced the next post would be on beauty, but I couldn’t write it. I am a seeker of beauty and all that it be. I have traversed the history of beauty so many times over the years and it is a complex topic with much emotion. At the beginning of time beauty was just about form and objectivity. Beauty was included amongst the ultimate traditional values of goodness, truth and justice. Over the centuries it came to be understood that beauty is also subjective, it is in the eye of the beholder and prone to the opines of the day. Once it became historically accepted that beauty is both objective and subjective it was largely removed from discussion in the arts and no longer grouped with the virtues of goodness, truth and justice. Because if everything can be beautiful then it is meaningless. Beauty is meaningless…

I feel overwhelmed by all my thoughts regarding beauty and I wonder if my opinion is irrelevant and that I will be misunderstood. My mind wanders beyond the limits of beauty. I woke weary on the Sunday morning after what had been a tiring weekend, a weekend of objectivity, subjectivity, goodness, truth and justice. But also, a weekend of beauty. I sat in my garden and wrote a poem about beauty. And at this point in time that is all I have got…the simple understanding that beauty is complicated.

For more poetry on beauty https://www.poetrysoup.com/famous/poems/best/beauty

Blue Poles by Pollock

The psychology of abstraction. Blue Poles by Pollock

Jackson Pollock Blue Poles

American abstract artist Jackson Pollock doesn’t tell us what to think, he compels us to think. When Blue Poles arrived in Australia in 1974 everybody thought something. It was a seminal acquisition for the Australian people and established a new frontier for the Australian art scene. Animated discussion took place in every lounge room across Australia and opinions varied widely from it being a complete waste of government money to a sign of a politically progressive modernist viewpoint. But one thing was undisputed, no one truly understood what it meant, this abstract expressionist art. It was the beginning of something for Australians as a collective and most importantly as individuals.

The Whitlam government paid $1.3 million in 1973 for Blue Poles by Pollock, an abstract expressionist piece of art. It was a world record for a contemporary American painting and debate raged over the value of abstract art at this time. Blue Poles was painted in 1952 and measures just over two by five meters. Painted in a style termed drip painting on Belgian linen that was stretched out on the floor.

“On the floor I am more at ease. I feel nearer, more a part of the painting, since this way I can walk around it, work from the four sides and literally be in the painting”

Jackson Pollock 1912 -1956

Pollock used sticks and syringes to flick and drip paint over the dark undercoated canvas. He would squirt the paint with incredible precision and control. He could quicken the line by thinning it or slow it by flooding it. The creation of this artwork a purposeful act for him, externalising his troubled internal state.

Abstract art defies conventional explanation and can be described as a conceptual notion of society at a moment in time. At that time, we witnessed the rise of the individual in society and abstract art can be seen as a reflection of this. Pollock was trained in conventional painting but chose to do work that was very personal to him. This then gives rise to us, the people of the collective conscious; having our own rights to an opinion. We no longer have to believe what we are told or taught. This piece of art allows each of us to think freely.

Blue Poles did a tour of Australia upon its arrival in 1974. I was a small child when I met Blue Poles. It was my first trip to an art gallery and it has informed my love of art. My family missed seeing it in Melbourne and decided a road trip to Adelaide would be a good idea.

Mid 70s – a recollection of the road trip.
We were buckled into the powder blue HK Kingswood with the retro fitted seatbelts at some iniquitous hour of the day, my sister and me. Wearing our pyjamas for the first part of the journey; we were expected to be silent and sleep. My Mum was very organised with the map and a thermos. My Dad was the sole driver, he was always the sole driver. It was my Mum’s job to give directions and keep a look out for police wanting to book my Dad for speeding.
On this particular trip we picked up Nana; as she wanted to see Blue Poles too. My memories suspended as I faded in and out of sleep during the journey, feeling really content to see Nana in the middle of the bench seat in the front. She sat much taller than Mum and Dad, she was a statuesque good looking woman.
We stopped for breakfast at the Golden Fleece Petrol station with the yellow sheep sign, this happened on every road trip. Dad would have a big fry up, he seemed to enjoy this cooked breakfast. I couldn’t understand why. I have strong memories of cold toast in a cane basket that looked dirty and felt greasy. I can still recall the dry toast in my mouth. It was horrible.
Back on the road again and we were over half way when the radiator blew. It gave everyone a fright. The bonnet of the car flung open with a big bang and cracked the windscreen. Dad managed to shut the bonnet and we limped to a petrol station. I can remember Mum repeatedly asking Dad about the temperature. “You should have noticed the temperature. You knew the radiator had a leak before we left.” The accusations were running thick and fast. I perceive my Mum as being right but feel sorry for my Dad all the same. She is the careful one, telling him to slow down and when to turn and what to do. She gives the go ahead to pass the trucks. It’s a real team thing, except when it’s not and Dad has done something wrong.
Finally, we made it to Adelaide. We all head to bed a little weary, it had been a long day. I was tired but super happy to share a bedroom with my Nana. The next day there was a big fuss about how lucky we are to go on holidays and how privileged we are to be seeing this painting and that we need to behave. Something we rarely did. We were outrageously naughty children. I don’t recall feeling lucky. I just remember standing before this huge canvas and my Dad saying, “I could’ve done that”. That is all I remember. I was little, very little.

After its tour of Australia Blue Poles went into storage until the National Gallery of Australia building was completed in 1981. It has resided at the NGA in Canberra since then. There was another road trip not long after the opening of the NGA. The year was 1984 and we drove to Canberra to see the ‘Impressionist’ exhibition. Whilst we were there Dad took us along to revisit Blue Poles, I was fourteen years old. I reminded Dad of what he had said some years earlier, the vernacular exactly the same. He was true to his word and time had not softened his stance on this particular piece of abstract art. And so, we truly see the rise of an egalitarian; individual point of view, on this occasion from a man who didn’t finish school yet speaks six languages. My Dad. Everyone had an opinion and to each their own. A new era in art and individuality had begun in Australia, the masses had been engaged.

Blue Poles by Pollock is on permanent display in Canberra at the National Gallery

For visitor information follow the link https://nga.gov.au

Searching for your soulmate.

I’ve always had a fascination with the idea of a soul mate. The mythical story told at Plato’s Symposium seems so romantic, the thought that one could possibly spend an eternity looking for their other half. Searching for your soulmate; the one who knows what you are thinking, the one who understands you, the one who will desire you forever.

Photo credit Robert Doisneau

It was Aristophanes who told the story at the symposium. He states that humans originally had four arms, four legs and a single head made of two faces. They were very powerful and would cartwheel everywhere; moving very fast. It is said they also had great strength and threatened to conquer the gods. Zeus, King of the Greek gods came up with a creative solution to split them in half as punishment for their pride, doubling the number of humans who would give tribute to the gods and halving their strength. Each one then longed for its other half.

What does all of this mean for us today, in modernity? We’ve all experienced the ‘we just clicked’ or ‘we are on the same wavelength’ feeling. We can all identify that there are people for whom we have a natural affinity. For me, a soulmate also has to be desired. Some people describe they have a soulmate with whom they have a platonic, non-romantic relationship. This is a best friend, not a soulmate. Searching for your soulmate is different. The narrative of the soulmate is seeking the other half from whom you have been severed. It is passionate, romantic and profoundly moving. Aristophanes says his speech explains the source of our desire to love each other.

“Love is born into every human being; it calls back the halves of our original nature together; it tries to make one out of two and heal the wound of human nature. Each of us, then, is a matching half of a human whole…and each of us is always seeking the half that matches him.”


So where do we find this someone who can ‘cure the wound of human nature’, the soulmate who will make us complete and restore our joy and optimism. Ancient Christian philosopher Augustine proposed this wound could not be cured. He says we bear a kernel of the infinite within us, thus finite things cannot fulfil us. Our desires can never be satisfied and this is the ultimate flaw of humanity. We always seek more, never satisfied with the beauty and love and riches we already have.

As our search continues some of us have many soulmates; because we no longer believe there is just one. There is one that satisfies our physical desires, the one that meets our emotional needs, the one we cry with, the one we talk with, the one who holds our secrets, the one who shares our joy. We become so fragmented that everything and nothing is meaningful.

How did this happen? When searching for your soulmate you are constantly told one person cannot satisfy our every desire and that we should seek out these deficits of nature in others. What does this do to us? When we have so many encounters with others, does this satiate our souls more thoroughly or just exacerbate the sense of what is missing. Our days are punctuated by moments where our hearts quicken and we feel desire and excitement and passion. But they pass by so fast, these little moments. We can barely remember them months later as they are not part of a meaningful accumulation of a lifetime of memories with one. How can we ever be certain we chose the correct one when the others are so alluring. Each of us deciding whether there is one or many whom will pass through our lives with the honour of having been a soulmate. Each of us settling on a story that is the truth we need to believe at that moment in time.

By proposition the soulmate is someone who makes you whole, someone who can cure the wound of human nature. It is someone who knows what gives your life meaning. It is someone who wants to lie entwined with you every-day. It is someone who hears you when you are silent and laughs with you when you are loud. It is someone we all search for.

For more Robert Doisneau photos http://www.artnet.com/artists/robert-doisneau/

For more Greek Mythology https://www.greekmythology.com/Olympians/Zeus/zeus.html

Bohemian Modernism -Heidi II McGlashan Everist

To think of Heide is to conjure thoughts of post war bohemian modernism. A place where mythology and dreams filled an artistic landscape that would endure for decades. John and Sunday Reed acquired the parcel of land in 1934, they named it ‘Heide’ for Heidelberg. They had a strong vision of an honest life that would be fulfilled by supporting creativity in others. John and Sunday commissioned young architect David McGlashan to build Heide II in 1963. Everything was a joint activity with John and Sunday. Let’s visit Bohemian Modernism -Heidi II McGlashan Everist.

In function they envisioned a gallery to be lived in that would be ageless. In form they desired romance, ruins and mystery. It was to be a good match, David, John and Sunday. David was half of a design duo McGlashan Everist, an architectural practice founded in 1955. It still exists today in Drummond Street Carlton. The two Directors are John Lee and Geoff Saunders, they have been there for more than thirty years, so there remains a connectedness that bridges the bounds of time.

McGlashan says ‘they tried to design houses that were without a time scale’. The practice became known for a modular style of building. They often built on steep, sloping sites. Heide II is unique because it is made from Mount Gambier Limestone. This was chosen because it would weather and age gracefully on the outside and stay light and pristine on the inside. It would provide a neutral background for hanging art.

Heide II was designed to be a physical experience of moving ‘through space’, transitioning from the house site to the art and then extending into the garden. McGlashan used techniques of framing to facilitate this experience. He wanted it to look as if it belonged to the landscape, as elegant as a sculpture, and as timeless as a ruin.

A literary recollection of my time working at Heide II – 2015 by Nicole Cullinan

My office, the former guest bedroom, with desk abutting wall, where the bed once did. Perpetual distraction, a tantalising essence of the incorporeal. Those who had lay here in this tiny den, three stone walls, no windows. I place my hand on the limestone, little fragments of dust coming away. I go home, and the day comes with me, smudges of lime, little chalky writings adorn my dress. Another pair of heels ruined on the stone steps. Desire and destruction float in equanimity. The air is cool, and the light is thin, this little box I languor in.

Construction was laboured and took far longer than anticipated. The limestone required precision placement and the build became fraught with tension as the builder nearly went bankrupt. He had underquoted substantially on the cost of labour during construction. Finally, Heide II was complete. There were no skirtings or plaster traditionally associated with houses of that time. Terrazzo tiles, timber, glass and leather door pulls had been utilised to maintain a connectedness with nature. It was a modern masterpiece that fulfilled the essence of the brief.

John and Sunday moved into Heide II just after Easter in 1967. They had been in the Victorian farmhouse on the property for more than thirty years so this was the beginning of a new era for them at Heide. In 1968  McGlashan Everist won the Royal Australian Institute of Architects Award for residential building of the year. John and Sunday resided at Heide II until the winter of 1980.

Life had become extraordinarily difficult for John and Sunday, around this time and they had suffered some great personal losses, but their love for Heide and one another endured. In 1981 Heide II was to begin a new phase of its life as a public art gallery. John and Sunday spent the last year of their forty-seven years at Heide back in the Victorian farmhouse. They both died there ten days apart in December 1981. They never left Heide, their ashes scattered at the base of a scarred red river gum. In 2015 Heidi II received an Enduring Architecture Award. Heidi II is a triumph for modernist architecture.

For a taste of Bohemian Modernism -Heidi II McGlashan Everist is open 10am-5pm Tuesday to Sunday, 7 Templestowe Road Bulleen 3105 – twenty minutes from Melbourne’s CBD.

For more information on Heide MOMA https://www.heide.com.au

For more information on McGlashan Everist https://www.mearchitects.com

Is love worth it?

This morning I woke up to read the papers and saw this article headline ‘Forget romance, there’s only one relationship in life that counts’, the one with yourself. It is an opinion piece written by Wendy Squires. It begs the question, is love worth it?

Garden of Love Chateau de Villandry

When you love, you can get hurt, really hurt. The romantic imagining of love can disappear. You know the one, love is patient, love is kind, it does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud…and instead of enduring romanticism, you are in unrivalled turmoil. Something like this…

The break up and the days after…
It was insanely painful in the beginning, like when you have badly stubbed your toe and you are in agony and you want the torment to stop. So, you give in to it, that pain in your toe, you make it part of you. You calm yourself down, settle your heart rate and then this gut wrenching anguish; it begins to subside. Instead of your heart feeling impenetrably tight and like it could explode because you are suffering so much; it settles into feeling heavy, each breath giving rise to a more sustainable squeeze and release. You can still feel the pain, a little less so with each step and then it becomes manageable. Everything is precarious. You are so scared the toe will go numb. You don’t want it to go numb. You want to feel. But the pain is wearing you down. You are tired, so tired. You need to let go.

It’s awful. We don’t want to go through that many times in our life. Yet most of us will go through it at least once. Is love worth it? Squires article goes on to discuss a ‘golden couple’ and states it was ‘glorious to be in their orbit’. She seems genuinely happy for them. At some point in time the ‘golden couple’ whom she states were a ‘romantic illusion’ fall back to earth and it is brutal, one of the ugliest break-ups she has seen. And that is life. Life is unpredictable and scary. There is no certainty about romance and relationships and love. There are no rules. Love means something different to each of us. We do not know what will happen tomorrow. There are infinite possibilities for passion and pain.

Squires then states that “I saw that no honest couple had what I’d assumed they had: the perfect relationship, the easy love, the lucky life.” But at some point in time they all had something, and a number of them would have had everything. And an even smaller number yet; get to have everything forever. Their love continuing into eternity, for not even death can sever their bond.

Is love worth it? I say yes. Of course, our relationship with ourselves is extremely important. We need to be kind and nurturing towards ourselves. And sometimes we need to push ourselves beyond fear, and into a reality that may be wonderous.


For relationship guidance http://www.relationships.org.au

Brett Whiteley Studio Sydney

A literary retelling of my visit to Brett Whiteley Studio Sydney

Nicole Cullinan

It’s a well worn path, the muse, the artist, the sex, the love, the destruction…The embodiment of a creative existence. A story that continues to captivate us throughout time. Why do we never tire of it? It is desire that holds us all entranced in this doomed narrative.

 As I wander from room to room in Brett Whiteley Studio Sydney my mind is roaming freely. There are quotes on the walls, there is paint everywhere and ‘The Alchemy’ resides here. That is one of his more famous works painted in 1972. It is autobiographical, which is easy to see and understand when one is standing before it. It is like a surreal cacophony of all that was important to him. I remember ‘The Alchemy’ but my imagination is with the bathroom series. My all-time favourite.

The bathroom series was painted in London in 1962, the same year he got married. The subject for this series; his wife Wendy, who remained a muse for him throughout his life. The series to be his first major exploration into figurative art, it was inspired by French painter Bonnard and his bath painting. The bathroom series is seductive, sensual and intimate.

London Studio Apartment 1962- A reimagining by Nicole Cullinan
I can hear the water pouring into the bath, a whoosh and a splash for the first few minutes, then it settles to a gentle flowing rhythm, water on water. It takes about 15 minutes to fill a bath. The air is very cold, and the bath is way too hot. I didn’t time my undressing well and now I am cold which makes it even harder to ease into the water. You need at least a hand width of water to get in. I take the plunge and feel hot and cold simultaneously. It’s a very strange sensation. My bottom, calves and feet are pink and searing, knees pulled up to my chest; minimising the surface area burn. I accept it has to be a freezing back bath, just for a few minutes. I lean back into the cool porcelain of the bath, relief. More time passes, all temperatures reach equilibrium and I start to relax.
The air is warm and thick with condensation, the door is shut. This tiny bathroom has a dreamscape quality. A gentle mist hangs in the air and softens everything. There is no imperfection, or if it existed it can no longer be seen. There are no broken tiles, or chips in the bath, the light is luminescent. My lazy gaze wandering, the arch of my foot, slim ankles, the length of my calf. My voluptuous hips, little waist and ripe breasts. My head is lolling gently on the ledge of the bath and I’m about to descend into a state of lapsed consciousness. I drop my novel over the edge of the bath, I don’t want to lose another one. Moments later I slide into oblivion.
I smell him before I hear him. It’s a woody, musky, earthy scent. A gentle awakening. He’s sitting on the edge of the bath looking at me. I smile. He looks content. He has a polaroid camera in one hand and a spliff in the other. I like him this way. We stay like this for what seems like an eternity. He’s talking and I’m listening, passing the spliff from one to the other. I top up the bath with some more hot water and invite him in. He doesn’t want to join me. He gestures to the polaroid. I’m not sure. He lights up another and we talk some more. I’m making the spliff all wet with my fingers, it is falling apart. He slides further along the edge of the bath, so I don’t need to touch the spliff. He turns it back in towards his hand and it looks like a little lantern, I take a long drag. I’m feeling quite relaxed now. My eyes are closed, my head is tilted, like it would take too much effort to hold it upright. I hear the crackle of the film packet being opened. I focus on the smell. It has a strong, sweet chemical smell. I am still, I am so very still…

At the time Whiteley painted the bathroom series he was concerned that being married would curb his freedom from a creative and wholistic point of view. The balance between security and freedom being something that most married people must contemplate over the course of an enduring relationship. In the end I think we all desire love. Theirs was a love story that had all the elements of a grand tragedy, like they were falling over happy in pain.

There is something for everyone in Brett Whiteley’s work. The integrity of the early works with their connectedness to nature. The bathroom series and its eroticism, or something more abstract and surreal. I can appreciate all the work, the unifying element being his truth at that moment in time. Brett Whitely Studio Sydney exhibits a broad variety of his work and is an engaging place to while away some time. (Brett Whiteley 7 April 1939-15 June 1992)

Brett Whiteley Studio Sydney, 2 Raper Street, Surry Hills, Sydney. Opening Hours- Friday-Sunday 10am-4pm. Free admission is made possible by J.P.Morgan

For more detailed information here is a link https://www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au/brett-whiteley-studio/

Rose Seidler House Sydney

Designed by modernist architect Harry Seidler

Up a narrow set of carpeted stairs, the voice is loud, it is too loud. Entering the open plan living space, it is drenched in light, it all seems too obvious. The voice comes over to invite me into a tour, I am overwhelmed, there are people everywhere. I politely decline and go back down the stairs and outside to start again. I turn and walk up the steep driveway so I can reorient myself with Rose Seidler House Sydney

There is a strong dissimilarity between the environment and the house, this makes it easy to focus. A salient presence as it rises from the earth with stone then transitions to man-made materials. The juxtaposition of all the straight lines of the building with the gnarly branches of the trees, exquisite.

Harry Seidler designed this house for his mother Rose, she lived in it with his father Max for more than twenty years from the date of completion in 1950. It is an excellent example of the Modernist/Bauhaus movement.  The balance between function and form, lack of ornamentation and no corridors; hallmarks for a new era in design. The tension between the house and the environment very alluring.

I think it was the perfect house for the uncomplicated Australian of this time. Australia was at the beginning of a massive period of European immigration that would shape our tastes and culture over the coming decades. It is no wonder that Australians and specifically Sydneysiders lauded this house, it is highly attractive, with a timeless quality.

An incredible amount of natural light flowing in, everything is illuminated, divine views from every window. The fire with its large stone hearth; it sits flush to the floor; there is enough room for a body, or two. A glimpse of the ephemeral. My senses searching for fleeting beauty in spaces. I don’t always find it, sometimes it finds me.

The inviting Euro Saarinen Womb chair overlooking the valley, the northern orientation. This would be a wonderful winter house. I can easily picture Rose in her kitchen, so much thought to function and form being placed in this space. Rose to be one of the first housewives in Australia to have a dishwasher. The moderation shown, something that must have required discipline for a project with few pecuniary constraints.

It’s difficult to fully appreciate any house when it is not being lived in, the melancholy that sits silently beside greatness. This is especially true of this house as it has become an expectation filled example of what things should be. Rose Seidler house Sydney was well worth the visit. An overt expression of the love between mother (and father) and son, introducing us to the work of an influential architect.

Post Script – I am so glad I took a few minutes to allow the previous visitors to finish their tour. It is important to pay attention to your mood when you visit anything. You want to enjoy it. Your mind needs to be relaxed and open. So if you need to reset, then do it.

Address 71 Clissold Road Wahroonga NSW 2076 Open Sundays only 10am-4pm

For detailed information http:// https://sydneylivingmuseums.com.au/rose-seidler-house

If you would like more architecture https://thelocalproject.com.au

How to host the imperfect dinner party.

I only have one rule for how to host the imperfect dinner party.

Leave people wanting more. Actually, this is a rule for life; but when one is prone to exuberance it can be difficult to sustain.

In relation to dinner parties there are a few key ingredients that can make an evening culminate with such cadence one will be begging for more. It settles on the balance between restraint and generosity. As host of this party a little bit of pre planning can make all the difference. Let’s discover how to host the imperfect dinner party. Consider the table setting, the guest list and the type of ambience you would like at your party. Now that you know what you want; relinquish all of your previous conventions and consider the following guidelines.

The guest list. The idea you would invite lots of one type, because they would all have things in common; needs to dispensed of immediately. Because let’s face it, an entire table of accountants is never a good idea. It’s all about diversity. Consider the following.

You need lots of different personalities. They can be any mix you choose. Here are some suggestions. A political journalist; more than one and the night becomes a bore. No more than a couple of creatives; as they are too busy thinking and by the time they have something to say the moment has passed. A radio announcer, can be super funny, but they need to be separated from the political journalist. Perhaps a lawyer, good negotiators when it all gets a bit rowdy. A real estate agent. A real estate agent you say, excellent once things are going and everyone is selling their soul to the highest bidder. I do love the world and all the people in it. So, you get it, you can invite anyone. The idea is to invite all different types of people and you can dilute each other in the most delightful way over the course of an evening.

The food. Food is about labour and love. It is not about expensive kitchen appliances or science, well not at my place anyway. Food needs to be sensual and satisfying. Act like you have made an effort, even if you have not. People love to be spoilt. Themes are okay so long as you don’t take them too far. Plan for your skill level. You do not want to feel stressed during a dinner party. That may mean you need to buy food in. A dinner party should be about enjoyment, not obligation. Judge your food choices based on your guests.

So whilst a warm gooey Brie laced with honey that drips down your fingers may be perfect for your peers…who doesn’t love to lick the stickiness from the tips of one’s fingers. It may not be the best choice for that dinner with your bosses wife.

Be restrained when required. Do not feed your guests too much. You do not want them feeling full or sleepy, converse to that you definitely don’t want them to have to stop for pizza on the way home. Be generous but measured. As a guideline I serve a set entrée and main and then serve cheese as a third course shared plate. Those that are still hungry can be satiated here.

The fragrance of fresh figs on a cheese plate in autumn. Such a lush sweet forbidden fruit. Thoughts of Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel, it was a fig, not an apple. Think about it…the softness, the colour, the texture, the taste.

Alcohol. It is your responsibility as host to make sure your guests make it home safely so have a plan in place before the fun begins. There is this sweet spot with alcohol. You don’t want your guests to feel shabby tomorrow but you do want them to have a good time. As a host it is lovely to receive flowers, but never with an apology note the next day. Once again you need to find equilibrium between generosity and restraint. For me, it’s that space between the unconscious mind and the ideal, where everything is wonderful. It’s something different for everyone. By now it’s time to migrate to the lounge for some dessert and relaxation.

You only need one more ingredient, an excellent storyteller; as they can get everyone in the mood. Not the guess what happened when I went to donate blood the other day genre, more the I just visited Heide Museum of Modern Art and I found it quite distracting.

“Does everyone know what actually went on there. There was this insane love story between John and Sunday that involved incredible sexual freedom. Sunday and Sidney Nolan had this ferocious affair during the time he painted the Ned Kelly series right there at that house. And all the while under John’s nose, in fact; I think he would watch them. And then every day they would sit down to afternoon tea; like proper, civilised people. Can you imagine that?”

We can all imagine that. A hall pass every day of the week. We are way more contained than that. Never would I ever…and you my deftly host have just moved the bar so far towards the imperfect. Strap yourself in; because things are about to get crazy.

Post Script Disclaimer : Adults may find themselves swimming in their underwear in the middle of the night, stealing street signs, or watching the sun come up. But they are nowhere near as bad as John and Sunday. And that is how to host the imperfect dinner party.

A guide to good manners. Should you be left wanton after reading thishttps://www.penguin.com.au/books/a-guide-to-australian-etiquette-9780143566687