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

If you would like to receive a weekly email with my latest musings on love and life then sign up at the bottom of this page.

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

If you would like to receive a weekly email with my latest musings on love and life then sign up at the bottom of this page.

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/

If you would like to receive a weekly email with my latest musings on love and life then sign up at the bottom of this page.

Rose Seidler House Sydney

Designed by modernist architect Harry Seidler

Up a narrow set of carpeted stairs. The space is drenched in light; it all seems too obvious. I feel overwhelmed; there are people everywhere. I 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 substantial 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 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 is 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 desirable, with a timeless quality.

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

The inviting Euro Saarinen Womb chair is overlooking the valley, the northern orientation. 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 showed 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 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 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 glad I took a few minutes to allow the previous visitors to finish their tour. It is essential 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 10 am-4 pm

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

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

If you would like to receive a weekly email with my latest musings on love and life, then sign up at the bottom of this page.

The Intimacy of Architecture

The enigmatic union between function, form and feeling. From my earliest childhood memories of home to my love affair with the single front cottage and all those moments in between and after. Buildings that are humble and those destined for history, each of them pulling me in.


We live in times when the criterion for truth is not sensory but intellectual and deductive. We have moved so far along a spectrum of reasoning and rational that we have forgotten what it is to feel when we are in a space. The pleasure of giving in to a moment in time with the absence of understanding. The indefinable features arising from form and function that can imbue intimacy of architecture; the emotion. They are immaterial and impossible to measure. Yet never far away and easy to evoke in memorandum.

Reflecting on times past by Nicole Cullinan


The year was 1988. It was the year I reached my majority but not the year I left my childhood behind, that didn’t happen until much later.
 
A violin hung in place of a light, it was dark, the room enveloped. The carpet was itchy; but we lay there together; smoking and listening to Edith Piaf, drunk on life. The walls were close, the room was square, the coals were hot, and time stood still, my languorous gaze resting upon the intricate ceiling.
 
This single front Victorian house belonged to artists, the parents of my friend, although they didn’t live there. Only my musician friend Enrico resided permanently; along with a transient population of wanderers and well-wishers. I don’t know what ever became of Enrico. I remember the house and the record. The first album for their band. The End. I recall the band name because it was in that house I got to name their first album, ‘The beginning of The End’. I’ve often pondered the poetic lyricism of the meaning in that. There was an ever present melody in the air that was accompanied by the musty scent of age. A lingering reminder that many had lived there before.
 
The house was enchanting. I loved the separation of spaces, each of them defined by my level of altered consciousness. The room for slumber, the room for bathing, the room for eating and the room of imaginings. That was the room with the fire, the possibility for that which radiates. The patterns in the pressed metal ceiling, delicate and fragile, embedded in tin, robust and strong. It was the emphasis on form that was captured in my mind. The lack of function seemed irrelevant at the time; although years later when this house was the embodiment of my dream home I made sure we had an internal bathroom.

The intimacy of that space forever etched in my memory; unable to be removed by time. The special buildings, the ones on my ‘next time’ list. The icons you have to share with everyone; each of us jostling for our moment of observation. Noticing everything although not specifically looking for something.

The joy of finding a building that inspires feeling; losing myself in the moment, not sure if I have possessed it, or it has consumed me. I relish those times; cognisant they are fleeting. That space where you just want to stay for a while. The intimacy of architecture.

If you would like more architecture https://www.indesignlive.com/

If you would like to receive a weekly email with my latest musings on love and life then sign up at the bottom of this page.

Why Coffee Is Good For You…

My work day begins with a coffee. The bitterness combined with the ability to focus. Perfection. Coffee forms the basis of many social outings for people everywhere. It’s hard for me to believe that coffee is bad when it makes me feel so good. Let’s discover why coffee is good for you.

There have been thousands of studies undertaken on coffee. Initial mid-twentieth century studies gave coffee a bad rap. The first studies found a correlation between coffee drinking and poor health of participants. To understand these studies fully we need to know the difference between a correlation and a causal relationship. A correlation is when researchers identify a link between coffee drinking and poor health, it is not proof that coffee is the reason participants have poor health. A study that proves that coffee causes poor health establishes a factual reason for the results and is known as a causal relationship. Both types of research outcomes are valuable as a correlation establishes a need for further study and causal relationships provide more definitive research results. Returning to the initial study; it was revealed that a high number of coffee drinkers smoked, consumed high amounts of alcohol and were sedentary. Further studies that separated out smokers and non-smokers found causal links. The explanation for the coffee drinker’s poor health was smoking. But the dye had been cast and coffee had been labelled as bad. Since those initial studies thousands of studies have been conducted and here is what they say.

Coffee can…

  • Provide some protection against liver disease including liver cancer
  • Improve cognitive function
  • Decrease risk of depression
  • Decrease the risk of suicide
  • Boost physical performance
  • May help in weight loss with the breakdown of fat cells
  • Help focus and stay alert
  • Helps prevent gallstones
  • Reduce the risk of premature death
  • Reduce the risk of prostate cancer
  • Reduce the risk of endometrial cancer
  • Reduce the risk of melanoma skin cancer
  • Reduce the risk of stroke
  • Lower risk against degenerative brain diseases including Parkinsons, Alzeimers, and Multiple Sclerosis.
  • Reduce risk of Type 2 Diabetes

Many of the studies establish a causal relationship between coffee and good health outcomes. Next time you read coffee is bad; query how many people were in the study group, the length of the study, and whether the outcome of the study showed a correlation or a causal relationship.

Coffee is not for everyone and some people report feeling jittery or excitable. Others report caffeine affects their sleep. This is because coffee is a stimulant.  Some stimulants can be addictive and dangerous although caffeine is usually considered a safe stimulant. It is an ingredient in many over the counter drugs that treat drowsiness. It is suggested that caffeine is avoided for four to six hours prior to bedtime if you are experiencing insomnia.

Studies from all over the world have shown that coffee is the single biggest source of antioxidants in the diet. Antioxidants are known to fight oxidative damage that can cause cancer. In June 2016, The World Health Organisation stated that there is an overwhelming amount of research that coffee can promote health and inhibit cancer.

My current coffee spot is Dukes in Flinders Lane Melbourne. Amazing coffee and I love the floor. You will know what I mean when you see it… What is your favourite coffee shop?

My favourite https://www.dukescoffee.com.au

If you would like to receive a weekly email with my latest musings on love and life then sign up at the bottom of this page.

%d bloggers like this: