Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Books, politics and art...

What else is there? I guess I should add wine. It's a pleasure finding (and drinking) some excellent Australian wine that is under $10... I've even found some unlabelled wines, just labelled by region (no winery label = less expensive, so you take what you get), or you can buy 6 and get one free (haven't done that yet, although the kids keep pointing that sign out to me!), or I just buy a label I've never seen before. The word is that much of this year's grape crop has been ruined in the fires, so perhaps the prices will increase with the 2009 harvest.

We love to visit the Mobile Library that visits Ferny Creek Primary School on Wednesday afternoons. So far I've managed to find enough Aussie authors to keep me going. Two latest examples are Sonya Hartnett's Thursday's Child and Scot Gardner's Burning Eddy. Both are focused at a teenage/adolescent age group, but easily are trans-generational. Hartnett sets her book in depression-era Victoria and Gardner's book is a more modern tale of growing up in a rural setting in Victoria. Hartnett writes a dark story about disappearance and family loss, magical and grim at the same time. I will look for more of her work. Gardner also describes a family secret, but hope is more easily attained in his work. Gabe is reading a lot of futuristic and apocalyptic work right now... something to do with the fires in his immediate horizon? Kai is mesmerized by the Tintin books (we hear a movie is being made), and often acts out a variety of escapdes of the Thomson twins or the mad drunk Captain. Nicole is dipping into a variety of "girl" stories, including one called Milly-Molly-Mandy Stories, and another by Catherine Bateson -- Rain May and Captain Daniel (look for it!). I've also found the Op Shops to be more than stocked with excellent older Aus books... how will I get them home? I guess I won't... will have to pass them on.

Tom and I have been missing Canadian politics (I know we can read stuff on the Globe and Free Press web sites amongst others, but the daily to and fro is often so entertaining), but you can't spend your entire day listening to on-line Canadian news! Things were quite calm and friendly here for a while, given the tragedies that happened a few weeks ago. Everyone was working together to not obstruct government initiatives, including passing a federal Budget that was geared to helping people through the recession. Helping bush-fire communities and people was pre-eminent. The Aus government's response to the Stolen Generation task force is still to be received, because of the bushfires, and I'm sure that will inspire commentary and debate when it is received. But last week the gloves came off, as the "shadow" government started in on different Labour government initiatives. The Deputy PM, Julia Gillard responded in question time by labelling a Liberal party frontbencher as being "a mincer" and a "poodle" (!), although he describes himself as a labrador man. Another Liberal party member was referred to as a doberman. At this point, the Opposition started barking loudly in protest... not sure why she had to use animal references, but it did provide some light reading after all the big business issues that were front and centre last week (closing of Pacific Brands, a large apparel manufacturer that had accepted public money to keep them in Aus., not China).

One more entertaining moment came when Family First (a political party) senator Steve Fielding linked global warming to divorce -- divorce is inefficient because separated families live in different houses, and this could ultimately lead to climate change, because of the dispersal of people into more units than necessary ... Maybe we DO have enough political entertainment to keep us busy here!

Lastly... on the art theme... we took the train into Melbourne on Saturday to visit the Ian Potter Centre of the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV), Australia, to take in the Rosalie Gascoigne show. Her work ranges from assemblage boxes made of found artifacts to larger works constructed from road signs, soft drink crates, and the corrugated tin and iron that is so prevalent in Autralian buildings. One word: Gorgeous. I wish I had enough money to collect her work (and the space to show it!). The everyday and commonplace are transformed and transform our way of looking. Check it out...

There's more amazing work to be seen, including some thought-provoking contemporary indigenous art, but our brains were reasonably saturated ... we all had to sit slack jawed in the leather chairs for a bit, just soaking it in. Pictures are allowed, as long as you don't use your flash, so I'll post some highlights.

As we left the building, we stopped at a book sale, and I saw one of my 20 cent Op Shop finds going for $10!!! Made me smile.

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