Thursday, February 25, 2016

A smiling mind

I've found February a difficult month - it's always fairly sobering (and not just if you're doing FebFast) going back to school/work/life in general after having had summer holidays - reality bites.  It's bitten us and a number of friends and family quite hard in terms of bad news and ill health.  I'm trying hard to change my focus/thinking and maintain a sense of equanimity but it's really difficult sometimes - I try to remind myself that I am only we all are.
Image via Eventbrite
One thing that I've found helpful is guided meditation practice.  My kids use the Smiling Mind app at school (created by an ex-PR Jane Martino who I met many years ago) and they are actually holding a Mindful Mornings 2 hour workshop at the Schoolhouse Studios in Collingwood this Saturday - I think it would be a great introduction to mindfulness as well as the opportunity to meet a community of like-minded (excuse the pun) people.  My girlfriend Nik is an Iyengar yoga teacher and she was also listens to guided meditations by Tara Brach who is an American psychologist and proponent of Buddhist meditation.
Image via
It's the last weekend of summer and Summer Sounds is on at the Plaza Park in Manningham this Saturday as well as the last Fairfield Summer Series concert on Sunday.  The Olympic Village Makers Market is also on this Saturday in Heidelberg West as well as the Eltham, Coburg and Slow Food Abbotsford Farmers Markets.
Summer is not over until Monday, which is a Leap Day being February 29, which only comes around every four years.  Lucky you, if you're a Leapling (born on February 29) as IMAX Melbourne is holding a special event with free tickets to all movie sessions for Leaplings born on February 29, and yes, you will need to show your photo ID or children's birth certificate!

Wednesday, February 24, 2016


It's the name of the very popular, and very cute, tea cosy exhibition at Bundoora Homestead Art Centre that celebrates the tea cosy as a domestic icon and raise funds in support of the Australian Red Cross, which opens this Friday and runs until 3 April.  Tea cosies will be donated for sale with all proceeds going to charity with local knitters, crafters or makers having been earlier invited to contribute to this show.  I also think the crafternoons on Sunday 6, 13 and 30 March will be a lot of fun if you knit, or aspire to.
Image: Eril Pickford, Florence 2015.
Machine spun greasy wool and patonyle sock wool via Darebin Arts
A special mention on Artist in Residence Phil Ferguson (also known as Chili Philly and featured last week on The Design Files) who makes crochet hats with an Instagram following of over 100,000 people.
Artist in Residence: Phil Ferguson image via Darebin Arts
Another favourite artist of mine Emily Green's Fragment exhibition also opens today at the Homestead and runs until 3 April.  Her cascading paper chain installation is inspired by the beautiful leadlight windows of Bundoora Homestead - a place that will take you back in time.  I had the Gallery Manager Ella Hinkley do a dramatic walk a la Gone with the Wind down the amazing staircase last time I popped in to visit her and Curator Claire Watson.
Image: Emily Green, Fragment (detail) 2015.
Watercolour on paper with thread, dimensions variable via Darebin Arts
While at LUMA - the La Trobe University Museum of Art in Bundoora, you'll find Claudia Terstappen's more sombre A Language of the Vanishing exhibition, which also officially opens tonight at 6pm and runs until 22 April.

Monday, February 22, 2016


While most of Melbourne was probably in the city for White Night on Saturday, I found myself out east in Town Square at Eastland to be precise.  My best friends are now geographically dispersed all over Melbourne so the half way meeting point is suburban Ringwood.  I was actually pleasantly surprised when I got there.  I'm glad I drove to the car park with a local, as that in itself was confusing - driving all the way up to the entrance for car park 5 and then up a couple of ramps.
It was twilight when we arrived at the Town Square itself and the place was packed!  Lots of people everywhere enjoying al fresco dining with a great vibe (take a jacket if you go as it gets breezy and I got caught out without one) and the design itself is glorious - upmarket, sophisticated and very stylish.  I felt like I'd arrived in the middle of some happening international city centre not the outer eastern suburbs!  There are a number of high end retail shops surrounding the Town Square and then a number of very good city dining establishments that have moved into the Town Square development including Jimmy Grants, Huxtaburger and Paco's Tacos to name but a few.
The girls and I grabbed a drink downstairs at The Cellar Door, which also has a groovy roof top vegetable garden and bar and tattooed barmen to boot.  No lemon lime and bitters here - it's for serious wine drinkers only although I managed to get myself a lemonade.  We then got a table at Japanese restaurant Kyoto where we had a late dinner catching up on news.
And while it didn't feel like suburbia when I arrived, when we were asked to vacate the restaurant before 10pm and exited to find the Town Square looking more like a ghost town - that's when I knew we were still in the burbs!  My friends and I managed to order some gelati at Levezzi Gelateria (try the hazelnut flavour)  for dessert before that too closed up shop.  I'd definitely go back again earlier in the day to check out the shops and have an earlier dinner or catch a movie.  What can I la vida local...

Speaking of which, I also had lunch with local interior designer Renae Barrass on Friday at Schillinglaw Cafe in Etham after briefly stopping in at Eltham Library to see Kate Hudson's Garden exhibition in the community gallery.  I loved some of Kate's lino cut prints which come in colour and black and white.

We were surrounded by a sea of mothers with babies and toddlers both in the library and outside at the cafe, which also has a sandpit especially for kids in the rear garden area.  The coffee and food are good - I had the raw beetroot salad and my friends Kal and Bruno have fitted it out beautifully.  It's nice to see something with a bit of style in suburbia!  I hope you had a great weekend.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Some like it hot

I neglected to add in yesterday's Red and white post that the Melbourne Chilli Eating Championship is being held this Saturday 20th February from 1 pm at 80 Lygon Street, Brunswick East which also sounds like heaps of fun if you're into all things hot!
Image via Plannify
Some like it hot is also the name of a Marilyn Monroe movie, which is a nice segueway into the Andy Warhol - Ai Weiwei exhibition at the NGV that I was lucky enough to go and see today.  Marilyn Monroe was one of the many celebrities who Warhol chose to feature in his very distinctive coloured Pop Art works featuring famous faces and brands.
Marilyn Monroe by Andy Warhol
Warhol image owned by the NGV purchased on the day of his death
My friend and fellow Heide volunteer Petrina and I actually did an interactive and informative 1 hour guided tour, which was extremely comprehensive given it's such a big show that it's been broken into two parts in two different areas of the NGV.  We also ran into an ex-Heide Visitor Services staff member who's now working at the NGV so it was lovely to see a friendly face.
Works by Ai Weiwei

Warhol's famous Campbell's soup images
It was great to find out more about Ai Weiwei and the synergies that exist between his work and that of Andy Warhol's.  While the two never met, Weiwei lived in New York and Warhol also visited China and there are some similar themes political themes that run through some of their works.
Andy Warhol photos taken on his visit to China
Floating works and wallpaper by Ai Weiwei
My favourite exhibition space in the gallery was probably the 'flowers' room which included a magnificent centrepiece of beautiful individually hand carved porcelain flowers plus Instagram shots of flowers Ai Weiwei took every day until he was released from prison, along with a wall of Andy Warhol's coloured flower images.
Hand carved porcelain flowers (above & below) for Ai Weiwei

Andy Warhol flower images 
Ai Weiwei wall of Instagram flower images
The controversial 'Letgo' area created with fake Lego plastic bricks by Weiwei depicting Australian human rights campaigners is also an interesting space - I loved the fact that both Rosie Batty and Gillian Triggs were included in the mix.
Rosie Batty tribute - Letgo area
The sheer magnitude of the exhibition makes it a very fascinating show - it was good to go on a week day when things are relatively quiet although there were still a lot of people around.
Chairman Mao by Andy Warhol
Weiwei's wife June in a naughty pose in front of Chinese police
Bicycle sculpture by Ai Weiwei
There's also a fabulous interactive Studio Cats space at the end which is perfect for children and taking selfies.  I also loved the art book for kids which you can from the NGV shop - I bought a copy for my own children who studied Andy Warhol in their art classes last year.

Image via NGV

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Red and white

While summer may have temporarily disappeared, I'm hoping the warmer weather returns for the weekend.  It's White Night this Saturday 20th February and I'm sure there'll be lots of people hitting the streets of Melbourne.  I have friends overseas who've not only participated in Nuit Blanche in France which has inspired our own version here, but also Diner en Blanc - the world's largest dinner party where everyone dresses in white - I think it's a great summer idea not just for dinner parties but for weddings and other special events.
Image via
Image via
Speaking of dinner and the colour white, the owners of  Mister Bianco in Kew opened Pigro Bar and Grill (replacing Condotti's restaurant) late last year in Ivanhoe East - I've eaten at Mister Bianco a couple of times so I'm tipping the Mediterranean style food would be pretty good at Pigro.
Image via Dimmi
Image via Pigro Bar + Grill
Speaking of food, Edendale Farm in Eltham will be hosting The Melbourne Tomato Festival this Sunday from 10 am - 4 pm with a lineup of leading chefs such as Guy Grossi, Karen Martini, Matt Wilkinson and Scott Pickett all giving demonstrations on the day.  Sounds like a fun way to spend the weekend!
Image via Italianicious

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

The other half

I'm not sure what happened to summer today in Melbourne but I think the retailers would be happy given they've started launching their Autumn/Winter collections.  I always think it's funny how winter clothing is launched at the height of summer.  I remember when I was PR for David Jones one year we had to bring in additional fans to cater for everyone who attended our European Designer Collections opening event, which was held on a 40 degree day, to make sure no-one fainted.  Although having said that, I have had one person faint at one of my past events - the magic combination of lots of bodies, lots of champagne, bright lights and high heels.  Funny how I spend most of my current life in flats these days!  Maybe it's because I spend most of my time running from here to there...

Images above via Syber's Vintage Bazaar
I had to pick up a light shade from Home of Lights in Fairfield last week and while I was there I briefly stopped in at Syber's Vintage Bazaar on Heidelberg Road for a quick look, which always feels like such an indulgence.  The brother and sister owners have a real eye for antique and vintage/retro furniture as well as smaller decorative items, which are more budget and space-friendly.
Image via Amanda Addams Auctions
I also subscribe to newsletters from Amanda Addams Auctions in Kew and they are actually holding a special Deceased Estate auction at a secret location to be confirmed on Sunday 6 March, for which I've received advance notice.  This one's caught my eye because of the large number of Art Deco items, Aboriginal art and vintage collectibles that are featured.  I think it would be worth attending and viewing is always held prior to the auction with children welcome!  You do need to register your details with them if you are intending to bid.
Image via
Finally, this beautiful house at 1 Thomas Court in Eaglemont has also just come onto the market and was featured on the front cover of The Age Domain Real Estate section on Saturday.  It's had just two owners and looks pretty amazing.  How the other half lives...

Friday, February 12, 2016

Local Profile - Marah Houlihan

Marah is another one of my clever and creative ex-work friends, who I miss seeing in the office.  We share a love of vintage clothing and she's a girl with a great sense of style and taste.  Besides holding down a day job, she's recently launched a side career as a jewellery maker and I love her bold and colourful designs - something that's right up my alley.  I can also vouch for her hula-hooping skills - I've seen the pictures!  She's a girl of many on for more about Marah.
Name: Marah Houlihan
Occupation: Founder of Houlahoops
Lives/works: Brunswick
How long have you lived/worked here? Melbourne born and bred!
About Houlahoops:
Houlahoops all started in November 2015, born from the need for a creative outlet and the undeniable necessity to accessorise every outfit!
After completing a one-day course in resin jewellery making, Houlahoop’s founder Marah Houlihan took to her kitchen bench (much to her boyfriend’s frustration!) and started experimenting with different techniques, colours and shapes.
Today, Houlahoops offers a range of resin of earrings and bangles available online and local markets with plans to extend the portfolio of jewels to necklaces, rings and men’s accessories in the near future.
Best thing(s) about living/working in Melbourne’s north-east:
Living and working in Melbourne’s north offers ongoing inspiration, from artists, designers, fashion, local businesses not to mention the wonderful eclectic types of Melbourne.  I often find myself taking photos of colour palettes that inspire my jewels – it might be a bedspread I see in a shop window on Gertrude St on a lunch break or the outfit of someone who’s on a night out.

For more information:
Instagram: /hellohoulahoops
Facebook: Houlahoops

Thursday, February 11, 2016

My heart wanders

It's Valentine's Day this Sunday and while Mr Rosanna and I don't celebrate it as such, I do have a thing for hearts and all heart-shaped motifs, just like one of my favourite stylists Pia Jane Bijkirk, whose daughter was actually born on Valentine's Day.  I've got a heart shaped jewellery box, a couple of heart-shaped glass and stone paperweights and a number of pendants and rings which all feature hearts.  I love that the cat in the beautiful children's picture book The Cat with the Coloured Tail by Gillian Mears, also has a heart-shaped face - it's a special book worth getting a copy of if you see it in the bookshops.
Image via Booktopia
The Royal Australian Mint has actually produced a 2016 $5 Fine Silver Proof Heart-Shaped Coin, which I think is a lovely idea whether you're a coin collector or not.  They also do a 2016 Uncirculated Baby Set if you have any babies being born in  your life this year, as well as a 2016 $1 Silver Monkey Coin to celebrate the Lunar New Year.  The sentimentalist in me loves all of them and I wish I'd bought a baby set when each of my children was born.
Image via Pia Jane Bijkirk
Speaking of picture books, the Kids Big Book Spectacular is on this Saturday at the State Library although all the workshops have already been booked out.  This is probably not surprising given one of the author/illustrators is Leigh Hobbs, who is also this year's Australian Children's Laureate, and whose work I was lucky enough to see as part of The Art of the Picture Book exhibition while I was the publicist at The Light Factory Gallery in Eltham.  One of his characters is also a well known cat called Old Tom.
Image via Royal Australian Mint
The weather's looking good this weekend and the Sisters' Market is also on in Brunswick as well as the Coburg Food Truck Festival at the Coburg Drive In.  The Coburg and Collingwood Farmers' Markets are also both on if you're wanting to get out and about.