Hullo dear readers!
I have now been in Amsterdam for about 10 days staying with some of my beautiful friends who moved here about two years ago. So far I have touristed thoroughly, in addition to eating all the things, sitting with some neighbours and pretending I understood what they were saying (and mostly getting a vague idea), BBQing in Vondelpark and cycling about the town, Weesp, where my friends now live.
I had hoped that I would be able to do some writing while I was away, but it doesn’t seem to have happened. Travelling is tiring, y’know? I have taken a few pictures around the place, and seen lots of cool museums.
One of them, the Eye Film Museum, had an exhibition by a South African artist/animator William Kentridge. The photo below is of his stencils which were used in the films that they had in the exhibition.
Watching the film installations in this exhibition, and having read the little blurbs that went with them, it became clear that I didn’t get it. Like, at all. I mean, I can be pretty arty, I can look at abstract paintings or see avant garde theatre and usually have some appreciation for the work but these film were just a bit beyond me.
Perhaps it’s fatigue to do with being away from home, perhaps it’s to do with his commentary on South African culture, which I admit I don’t know much about, or perhaps I just don’t get it.
The experience of being in the Netherlands was pretty surreal to start with, but after a while the architecture and the language and the flat landscape and the cars driving on the other side of the road and all the bicycles all combine and you realise you’re far from home and it’s nice. I leave here on Saturday for Edinburgh to catch the Fringe Festival. I suspect it’s going to be intense. I might have more time for blogging there but then again I might not.
For Christmas, my mum gave me a ‘voucher’ for a photography course. She made it herself and it accompanied some money with which to pay for said course. My mum does good presents.
I took some time looking around for a course that would suit my skill level, more experienced than a beginner but not a super whiz (especially with the technical side of things). After speaking to a few photographer friends and having a look at the photos available on each course’s website, I decided to go with Creative Photo Workshop‘s Natural Light Portraits course. It was a bit on the expensive side compared to the other courses out there, but ran for six hours, and, it turns out, they pay for a model, which was really great for practising. I decided that the longer duration (other courses run for three hours) justified my spending more on it.
Both of these shots were set up by the teacher in order to demonstrate what he wanted us to learn, as well as the many others I took.
I’m really glad that I attended the class. Before yesterday, I wasn’t confident to use the manual setting on my camera, although now I feel like I have a better idea of what the individual functions do and how to get them to do what I want them to.
Glynn’s photographic style is distinctive and strong, and while not completely in tune with my own style, produces some awesome effects that I’m glad to be able to replicate. He is extremely knowledgeable and he’s able to convey technical information and tips without making it seem like hard work, which is great for someone still learning. Glynn also focuses on in-camera technique, rather than post production or photoshop, which reflects my own preference. His style is a bit blokey, and though it’s not my favourite, in the end, didn’t affect my enjoyment of the class.
So thanks Mum, and thanks Creative Photography for opening up my experience and for instilling a sense of confidence in my technical ability which should result in a better translation of my creative vision to the finished shot. Woo!! I look forward to shooting more portraits in the near future!
I didn’t manage to get to White Night in Melbourne last night, for various dull reasons that I don’t need to go into. So today I thought I would head into the city and see if there were any remnants, or things I could still see.
There wasn’t much left, and there wasn’t that much mess, but then it was hours after the end of the event, so maybe it had been cleaned already.
Part of me wants to open this post by saying I’m sorry for not posting. But I’m not going to. The reason I’ve been uncharacteristically quiet recently is because I went to India, then I moved house and started back full-time at uni as soon as I got back. I’ve been busy, I suppose you could say.
The first thing you might be wanting to know is why India? I suppose there were a few reasons. Firstly, I took a subject in the first half of the year which looked at European empires in the early modern period (that’s 1500-1800) a large portion of which was devoted to the British in India. I was interested to see some of the places where these fascinating, world altering things happened. Secondly, India is different. It’s one of the most different places I could think of to my home Australia and that sounded like a good reason to go. Thirdly, I’d never been to a country where you needed to get vaccinations – no Bali, or Thailand or Malaysia – I’d only been to Europe, the United States of America and New Zealand, and they’re not really that challenging, you know, culturally they’re similar, or at least familiar in certain ways. And lastly, it was cheap. I knew that I was leaving my permanent part-time job, and would be returning to full-time study, and therefore less income, on my return, so being able to get the experience of throwing myself into a completely different setting without spending too large a chunk of my savings was an important consideration.
The second thing people generally want to know when I say I’ve just been in India is where did I go? Well, I joined a prepackaged tour and we took in Delhi, Jaisalmer, Jodhpur, Udaipur, Jaipur, Pushkar, Bharatpur, Varanasi, and Kolkata in three weeks.
I went alone, but I was travelling with a group which had both advantages and drawbacks. The advantages were in having a local guide, who spoke excellent English and could translate for us where required, that the itinerary, bookings, travel etc. were all taken care of, and that I had travelling companions who I got to know quite well. The drawbacks were that the group, twelve in all, were all women, predominantly Australian with a couple of Brits (which says something I’m sure, but what I don’t know). This meant that any time we went out as a large group we were a spectacle. People stared. No, men stared.
I can say men stared because nine out of ten people we encountered were men. Men in shops, men in the street, men in trains and buses, men in restaurants. I suspect it has to do with purdah, the veiling/seclusion of women in both Hindu and Muslim cultures, but when asked our guide insisted that women are uncomfortable being in jobs where they are constantly coming into contact with strangers, and therefore chose not to be in those roles. Although I was in India for only a short time, I was continually aware of the very male nature of the general public I encountered.
India is beautiful. It has a long and rich culture and history. It has some gorgeous and diverse natural surroundings and environs, great temples and palaces, and a people who are proud to follow their traditions and to take pride in their way of life.
India is dirty. The streets are full of rubbish and stray animals – cows, dogs, goats, monkeys, squirrels – the water is polluted, the air is polluted, and there is a serious sewage issue. India is loud and intense. The colours are brighter, clothing is highly patterned and full of bold colour (particularly compared to grey old Melbourne fashion!) and the air is full of noise, from temples to car/bike/rickshaw horns (so many horns!), and people going about their business.
At the end of the trip I have a much better appreciation for what I consider normal. I had an understanding of what I expected, what made me stressed, what I could do to self-soothe, and what I ultimately needed and wanted to feel happy and calm. It’s amazing what you can deal with when you’re faced with a series of things which make you uncomfortable and you have to focus any reaction on the most salient thing and the other things just slide away. For me, the biggest thing I had to cope with was the cows, I just couldn’t get comfortable around them. I kept expecting them to lunge at me, even though they generally just stood there looking docile and not giving a single fuck about the chaos around them.
Visiting India was one of the hardest, most rewarding, most exhausting, most exhilarating experiences in my life. I cannot begin to describe what it felt like to be in a place that’s so completely foreign, to be such an outsider. It feels like I’ve been able to redefine myself through comparison, but I also feel like I’ve learned a lot about myself and hopefully grown from the experience. And now back to our regularly scheduled programming (whatever that is).
Adventure, Art, Artist Date, Artists, Canon 1100D, Challenge, Exploring, Flanigan Lane, Flinders Lane, Graffiti, Inspiration, Laneways, Melbourne, Motivation, Photo Essay, Photography, Stencil, Stick ups, street art
This is a quick post of a photography adventure I went on yesterday. For more photos check out my Facebook album.
Week four is the last week for the photo a day challenge I signed up for. I’ve had a lot of fun trying to find something everyday to photograph in line with the daily theme. I admit some days I didn’t get very close, some days the connection was tenuous to say the least, but other days I think I really nailed it.
As with the others in this series, these are all photos taken with my smart phone and posted on my Instagram @Dragongirlau. I also had to get a new phone part way through this week because the old one died (as in proper died, won’t turn on and won’t charge) and I’m still getting the hang of the new one!
For June, I’ve decided to sign up to WordPress’s Writing101 blog a day challenge. For this they supply a prompt and encourage you to post something every weekday for the month of June. You can publish on the weekends if you like, and you don’t have to publish everyday, especially is the quality is not what you’d hoped for sometimes (and with these challenges you can’t get it right every time).
AC/DC Lane, Adventure, Art, Artist Date, Canon 1100D, Cherry Bar, Feminism, Feminist, Hayley and the Fugitives, Inspiration, Last Mistress, Melbourne, Peta Evans Taylor, Peta Evans Taylor Band, Photo Essay, Photography, Rock
The world of rock doesn’t have a great history of women fronting bands, and an even worse record with women in bands doing other stuff – guitar, bass, keys, drums, etc. The best way I can think of to try to address this is to support bands with awesome rock women in them.
Last night I went to a gig at the fabulously grungy Cherry Bar, in AC/DC Lane in the Melbourne CBD. Each of the nights three bands were fronted by women who fucking rock.
First up were Hayley and the Fugitives, as the opening act they played to an underpopulated dance floor, something they certainly don’t deserve. Hayley’s vocals are solid and engaging, she leads the boys in her band with style and power and struts her stuff across the stage with excellent rock presence. Playing mostly original songs they’re definitely worth checking out.
Next up were Peta Evans Taylor and her band. Peta’s voice combines power and beauty in a way that is both unique and haunting. She can move from straight up rock to beautiful ballads, like ‘Amy’, which such ease that you don’t realise how hard it must be. Her band are all fantastic, be it the guitarist with his Hendrix-esque behind the head solos, the drummer who keeps it all together (and they never get the credit they’re due), or the new bassist who makes the fiddly licks look easy, and I know they’re not because I pretend to play bass and I’ve tried them. This band are consistently awesome, and well worth supporting.
Finally we come to the closer, the driving force behind the Women of Rock nights at the Cherry Bar, Last Mistress. Front woman Brihony Dawson is rock. She has a voice that will vibrate through your chest, she has a stage presence that would make any of the greats proud, she is undeniably in charge of an audience, and as you can see from the picture, she definitely draws the crowds. Whether it’s original songs or covers Last Mistress are epic. I should also give a mention to the lead guitarist who not only pulled out some kick ass solos, but also did so while riding on Brihony’s shoulder. Yes, that happened, and it was so, so great.
For the full photo set, have a look at my facebook album. And support our local artists like these guys! Keep live music alive and get more women in it!
I have managed to get this post up less late than the last one, which is good, but it also means that there are less photos, so yknow, swings and round abouts. As with the others in this series, these are all photos taken with my (kind of crappy) smart phone and posted on my Instagram @Dragongirlau.
That last picture was taken just as I was about to crawl into bed, still buzzing from performing erotic poetry at Little Raven‘s event Velvet Tongue, if you’re interest to see more of that and a picture of me head to their gallery.
My heartfelt thanks go to Van, Dionne, Skye and the Little Raven team for putting on such a fantastic night, and for giving me the opportunity to perform for a receptive, beautiful audience. It also gave me the opportunity to meet a number of other writers/poets/performers and all round amazing people. Well done everyone!
Again, slightly late, but y’know, whatever.
As promised, here are my photos, posted originally on my Instragram #dragongirlau (with my phone camera because I’m too lazy to transfer photos from my proper camera to my phone so I can Instragram them).