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Furry felines and deluxe digs with Where They Purr author Paul Barbera

Photographer Paul Barbera’s showcase of enviable interiors and the enigmatic cats who call these places home is one of a kind. From a heritage-listed Victorian terrace to an art-filled inner-city warehouse, Where They Purr uncovers a range of cheeky cat’s domains and their predilection for sunlit nooks, mid-century furniture or rooms with a view.

We spoke to Paul about how his talents for photography were first recognised, what sparked the Where They Purr project and a few challenges he encountered along the way.

What led you to the world of interiors and lifestyle photography?

I would say it chose me more than I chose it, at least with interiors photography. In my early twenties, I did a small furniture shoot that got shown to Karen McCartney. At the time, Karen was head of Marie Clare Lifestyle and booked me for my first editorial job almost straight away. It sort of went on from there and wasn’t something that I had necessarily set out to do. At the time, I was too young to appreciate beautiful interiors and spaces and could barely afford them. A well designed space is a natural extension of yourself and what you see, and goes back and forwards between the way you like to live and what you like to photograph.

Your work has been featured publications like Elle Decor Italy, Vogue Living Australia and Grazia France and you have worked with incredible advertising clients like Marriot Hotel & Resorts, Samsung, Amazon and Starbucks. Can you tell us a bit about your commissioned work?

I am lucky that many of my clients book me for what I do rather than just providing a specific brief that requires me to morph what I do. I often collaborate with brands on the creative or art direction. I get to do a range of jobs including high production shoots all the way down to instances where it is just me and a camera doing a portrait for a magazine.

Photography: Paul Barbera

How does Where They Purr continue on from your first two books Where They Create and Where They Create: Japan?

Where They Create and Where They Create: Japan evolved from my already existing website, blog, Instagram and Facebook page capturing me shooting studios. Where They Create was a topical and unqiue collaboration with Frame and was a zeitgeist of the moment. I’m not the first or last photographer to shoot creative spaces but I put my own spin on it. With all three of my books, I have discovered a casualness which I don’t have when I’m on a commissioned shoot. The connection I would draw between Where They Create and Where They Purr is a very relaxed approach to shooting formal spaces.

Photography: Paul Barbera

What have you learnt about the relationship between furry felines and beautiful homes over the process of bringing this project to life?

I learnt that shooting interiors has nothing to do with cats and shooting cats has nothing to do with interiors. It took a very delicate balancing act between trying to capture detail in a space with limited light and a cat jumping and moving quickly through the space in an unpredictable and almost Olympian fashion.

I also realised the accuracy of Jean Cocteau quote that says ‘a cat becomes a home’s visible soul.’ You rarely find a cat that doesn’t match the interior, and I don’t think that is because they’re chosen that way but because they become a reflection of the space. I’ve never met a cat that didn’t feel natural in the space [I am shooting] – besides one, but I’m going to leave that one alone because the cat wasn’t necessarily a full-time occupant of the house. I’ll leave people to guess which cat that might have been.

Photography: Paul Barbera

Did you encounter many challenges during shooting?

I had three cameras running to enable me to pop in out depending on what the cat was doing. I discovered that treats don’t really work, but equally a full cat is a chill cat. I also found that you really need owners to help wrangle their cats while you try to balance semi-styling and curating the space and positioning the cat in the spot that you have set up. Challenging to say the least!

Do you have a favourite cat from the book?

There’s something special about all of the cats. Pud, who is Broderick of B.E Architecture’s cat, was as velvety and rich as the interior I was shooting. As I reflected I realised that Pud was a reflection of Broderick and this made him a favourite for me. Esmerelda was eccentric as was the Sue Carr house I shot her in. Raphael and Fellini were so in sync with each other which made them a pleasure to photograph and their space by Tamsin Johnson Interior Design was beautiful. Winston Fluffybum was another favourite – just a beautiful silhouette in her Robson Rak Architects home. I also enjoyed photographing Gus and Freddie in their incredible Arent&Pyke space. Molly was a little bit absent, but her lack of care made her fun to photograph. Carol, Luther and Harvey Crafty were wonderful too.

Where They Purr is available now. Text by Paul Barbera and Queenie Chan and design by Evi O and Nicole Ho.

AU$ 65.00


Posted on October 14, 2021
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Our favourite works from Richard Travers’s Hilda

Born in Ballarat, Victoria, Hilda Rix Nicholas held her first solo exhibition in Paris in 1912. On sale were drawings made in Morocco earlier that year. The French state bought one of them, Grand Marché, Tanger, for display in the Musée National du Luxembourg. Hilda’s career was launched. She was twenty-eight years old.

Hilda: The Life of Hilda Rix Nicholas champions the Australian artist’s life and work. Even more significantly, this fascinating book illustrates a wonderful truth: out of adversity can come great beauty.

Below we share some of our favourite artworks in a gallery exclusive to T&H subscribers.

Une Australienne, 1926. National Gallery of Australia, Canberra.

Picardy Girl, n.d. Private Collection.

Moroccan Loggia, 1912-1914. National Gallery of Australia, Canberra.

Two Women in the Market Place, Tangier, 1912-1914. Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide.

The Monaro Pioneer, 1922. Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide.

The Studio, Paris. n.d. Private Collection.

Howard Ashton, 1948. National Library of Australia, Canberra.

Hilda: The Life of Hilda Rix Nicholas is available now. Text by Richard Travers, artworks © The Estate of Hilda Rix Nicholas 2021 and design by Jenny Zimmer and Jenny Bolis.

AU$ 65.00


Posted on October 1, 2021
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Six myths about vaccination – and why they’re wrong: an extract from The Conversation’s new book

No, You’re Not Entitled to Your Opinion is the ten-year anniversary collection of essays that put The Conversation on the map. Together, these fascinating essays chart the course of the world over the past decade. 

In the extract below, Post-doctoral Fellow Rachael Dunlop discusses and dissects six common myths about vaccination.

Recently released government figures show levels of childhood vaccination have fallen to dangerously low levels in some areas of Australia, resulting in some corners of the media claiming reignition of ‘the vaccine debate’.

Well, scientifically, there’s no debate. In combination with clean water and sanitation, vaccines are one of the most effective public health measures ever introduced, saving millions of lives every year.

Those who claim there is a ‘debate’ will cite a series of canards designed to scare people away from vaccinating, but if you’re not familiar with their claims, you could easily be convinced by anti-vaccine rhetoric.

What is true and what is not? Let’s address just a few of the common vaccine myths and explain why they’re wrong.

1. Vaccines cause autism

The myth that vaccines are somehow linked to autism is an unsinkable rubber duck. Initiated in 1998 following the publication of the now notorious Lancet paper, (not-a-Dr) Andrew Wakefield was the first to suggest that the measles mumps rubella (MMR) vaccine might be linked to autism.

What he didn’t reveal was that he had multiple conflicts of interest, including that he was being paid by lawyers assembling a class action against the manufacturers of MMR, and that he himself had submitted an application for a patent for a single measles vaccine.

It eventually unravelled for Wakefield when the paper was retracted in 2010. He was struck from the medical register for behaviour classified as ‘dishonest, unethical and callous’ and the British Medical Journal accused him of deliberate fraud.

But once the idea was floated, scientists were compelled to investigate, particularly when it stood to impact public health so dramatically. One of the most powerful pieces of evidence to show there is no link between vaccines and autism comes from Japan, where the MMR was replaced with single vaccines mid-1993. (See ‘Japanese study is more evidence that MMR does not cause autism’ by Andrew Cole.) Guess what happened? Autism continued to rise.

After this door closed, anti-vaxxers shifted the blame to thiomersal, a mercury-containing component (not be confused with the scary type that accumulates in the body). Small amounts of thiomersal were used as a preservative in some vaccines, but this never included MMR.

Thiomersal, or ethyl-mercury, was removed from all scheduled childhood vaccines in 2000, so if it were contributing to rising cases of autism, you would expect a dramatic drop following its removal. Instead, like with the MMR in Japan, the opposite happened, and autism continues to rise.

Further evidence comes from a recently published exhaustive review examining 12,000 research articles covering eight different vaccines, which also concluded there was no link between vaccines and autism. (See Adverse Effects of Vaccines: Evidence and Causality, editors Kathleen Stratton et al.)

Yet, the myth persists and probably for several reasons, one being that the time of diagnosis for autism coincides with kids receiving several vaccinations and, also, we currently don’t know what causes autism. But we do know what doesn’t, and that’s vaccines.

2. Smallpox and polio have disappeared so there’s no need to vaccinate anymore

It’s precisely because of vaccines that diseases such as smallpox have disappeared.

India recently experienced two years without a single case of polio because of a concerted vaccination campaign.

Australia was declared measles-free in 2005 by the World Health Organization (WHO) – before we stopped being so vigilant about vaccinating and outbreaks began to reappear.

The impact of vaccine complacency can be observed in the current measles epidemic in Wales, where there are now over 800 cases and has been one death, and many people presenting are of the age who missed out on MMR vaccination following the Wakefield scare.

In many ways, vaccines are a victim of their own success, leading us to forget just how debilitating preventable diseases can be – not seeing kids in calipers or hospital wards full of iron lungs means we forget just how serious these diseases can be.

3. More vaccinated people get the disease than the unvaccinated

Although this sounds counterintuitive, it’s actually true, but it doesn’t mean that vaccines don’t work, as anti-vaxxers will conflate it. Remember that no vaccine is 100 per cent effective and vaccines are not a forcefield. So, while it’s still possible to get the disease you’ve been vaccinated against, disease severity and duration will be reduced.

With pertussis (whooping cough), for example, severe complications such as pneumonia and encephalitis (brain inflammation) occur almost exclusively in the unvaccinated.

Therefore, since the majority of the population is vaccinated, it follows that most people who get a particular disease will be vaccinated, but, critically, they will suffer fewer complications and long-term effects than those who are completely unprotected.

4. My unvaccinated child should be of no concern to your vaccinated one

Vaccination is not just a personal issue, it’s a community responsibility, largely because of a concept known as ‘community immunity’. This describes a level of vaccination that prevents epidemics or outbreaks from taking hold and spreading.

Some people question the validity of this concept, sometimes referred to as herd immunity, but the impact of it breaking down can be easily observed in places where vaccination levels fall dangerously low – take the current measles outbreak in Wales, for example.

The other important factor about community immunity is it protects those who, for whatever reason, can’t be vaccinated or are not fully vaccinated. This includes very young children, immunocompromised people (such as cancer sufferers) and elderly people.

5. Vaccines contain toxins

A cursory search of Google for vaccine ingredients pulls up a mishmash of scary-sounding ingredients that to the uninitiated can sound like ‘franken-science’.

Some of these claims are patently untrue (there is no anti-freeze in vaccines) or are simple scaremongering (regarding the rumour of aborted foetuses, in the 1960s some cells were extracted from a foetus to establish a cell line that is still used in labs today). Some of the claimed chemicals (and, remember, everything is made of chemicals) are present, but are at such low levels as to never reach toxicity. The simple thing to remember is the poison is in the dose – in high enough doses, even water can kill you. And there’s fifty times more formaldehyde in a pear than in a vaccine.

Also, if you ever read the claim that ‘vaccines are injected directly into the blood stream’ (they’re not), be sceptical of any other claims the writer is making.

6. Vaccines will overwhelm kids’ undeveloped immune systems

The concept of ‘too many too soon’ was recently examined in a detailed analysis of the US childhood immunisation schedule by the Institute of Medicine (see The Childhood Immunization Schedule and Safety: Stakeholder Concerns, Scientific Evidence, and Future Studies). Experts specifically looked for evidence that vaccination was linked to ‘autoimmune diseases, asthma, hypersensitivity, seizures, child developmental disorders, learning or developmental disorders, or attention deficit or disruptive disorders’, including autism. The researchers confirmed the childhood vaccination schedule was safe.

The number of immune challenges (between 2000 to 6000) that children fight every day in the environment is significantly greater than the number of antigens or reactive particles in all their vaccinations combined (about 150 for the entire vaccination schedule).

The next time you hear these myths about vaccination, you’ll hopefully have some evidence up your sleeve to debunk them.

This is an extract from No, You’re Not Entitled to Your Opinion, edited by Alexandra Hansen and available now. Text by Rachael Dunlop, Post-doctoral Fellow at the University of Technology Sydney. Originally published on 26 April 2013.

AU$ 29.99


Posted on September 30, 2021
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A slice of Southwestern France with Sara Silm

Australian stylist, cook and journalist Sara Silm spent much of her life travelling the world before buying the dream-like Chateau Montfort in 2015. Through a lens of colour, texture and flavour, she brings us a taste of life in the French countryside in her bright new book How to French Country.

We spoke to Sara about her life of wanderlust, what readers can expect from the book and some tips on living your dream.

You grew up in Sydney, worked in the Middle East and South Africa, lived in Russia and Kazakhstan before eventually purchasing Chateau Montfort in Southwestern France. What inspired you to travel and experience the world the way you have? 

I think it was my first trip overseas. My father was a great hiker and managed to organise a six-week expedition to base camp of Mount Everest (by fax) when I was just 11 years old. This was well before the internet and organised group trekking, so we did it as a family with yaks at altitude, and lower down, with porters. We eventually walked out into India and celebrated in a beautiful old British Raj hotel set amidst the tea plantations of Darjeeling. That trek opened my eyes to a world that was ripe for adventure; a fascinating temptation that demanded to be explored. There was no going back at that point, I was hooked.

I think what really intrigues me about living in other cultures, though, is the thrill of being outside of your comfort zone: of being confronted with new smells, tastes, cultures, languages, sounds and sensations, so strange and wondrous that you’re forced to engage all your senses and truly live in the moment. I think I learnt from a very early age that I wasn’t very good at existing in a predictable environment. It felt like living life in a constant circle. I’m more a linear kind of person. I’m captured by the thrill of what lies beyond the ridge or around the bend.

What do you find most rewarding: writing, cooking or styling?

It’s probably photography actually, closely followed by writing. There’s not a single day I don’t have a camera in my hand. Nothing gives me more pleasure than capturing light, colour and the beauty of everyday life in a lens, whether it’s on my big professional camera or simply an iPhone. It’s a kind of obsession if I’m honest; a bit like a mad stamp collector or an entomologist collecting insects in a net. The thrill of fishing through images at the end of the day is honestly one of my favourite things in life. You just never know what might be waiting for you. It’s those unexpected split seconds that managed to find their way into the frame: the purity of emotion captured in the that precious moment when laughter or doubt or wonder registered in the subject’s face. When light weaves itself through the grass like ribbons on a maypole or when you capture the whimsy of an everyday object that would otherwise remain unseen and unappreciated.

As for writing, it’s something I don’t ever choose to do. It just happens, daily. I can remember writing and illustrating my own little books when I was very small, and it’s continued in one form or another throughout my life. The actual typing of it at the computer is such a small part of the process. The bulk of my writing happens in my head when I’m walking the dogs, or in the garden, or in the car… which might explain why my children often complain that they need to ask me the same thing two or three times. I’m constantly in my own little world!

Photography: Sara Silm
Photography: Sara Silm

Tell us about a day in your life at Chateau Montfort.

I can’t pretend that life here at Chateau Montfort isn’t filled with the same all-consuming logistics that determine the routine in most family homes; there’s no escaping that. But a typical day here is very much dictated by the season; more so than in other places I’ve lived. I love to watch the sunrise which is the best way of knowing what month you’re in — it can be early or it can require a rather long wait in the dark. Most days start with a walk along the old Roman road that hugs the ridge behind Montfort. It’s a kind of mental meandering through the tasks for the day as well as through the landscape which, like us, changes in subtle ways from day to day. Some days the Pyrenees poke their snow-capped peaks through a blanket of soft cloud. Other days they stand proud in a clear blue sky. In autumn there are chestnuts to be gathered from the forest floor and roasted on the fire at night; ceps to be foraged and sauteed in butter and garlic. In summer there are fields of wild mint for making refreshing iced tea and wild blackberries — something my dogs delight in snacking on as we meander along the track. They’re truly French dogs!

Most days I’m in the garden tending to the potager, the perennial beds, the chickens and the goats (they’re always escaping) and collecting flowers, herbs & foliage for the house — there are always fresh flowers in the house, even in the depths of winter. I adore the farmer’s markets, so depending on the day (each day the market is in a different village) I’ll be sipping coffee at a little bar somewhere with the other early risers out to bag the freshest produce before the lazy ones make their way at a more respectable hour.

The AGA is generally laden with pots bubbling away with jam and chutney and inevitably a daube or casserole in the simmering oven. I’m almost always restoring a piece of furniture, and nearly six years on, the house renovations continue. I’m currently decorating both my son’s rooms. One is at university, and the other has just started at boarding school in Dublin so I’m finally reclaiming these teen-dens and making them my own, or at least more hospitable for any future girlfriends!

Photography: Sara Silm
Photography: Sara Silm

Your new book, How to French Country, is the ultimate guide to surrounding yourself with French country style no matter where you are in the world – a welcome delight for Australians itching to travel! What can readers expect from the book?

It’s a book that’s intended to be very much a handbook. It’s both a lifestyle and regional guide that might inspire a future trip to this beautiful but largely lesser-known part of France. If travel isn’t an option, it’s also a way of bringing home a little bit of France, be it via a recipe, colour palette or décor option, no matter where you live. I know how hard it can be to make a home feel authentic, especially if you don’t know where to start or where to find materials that express the way you want to feel, so I included a chapter that charts the course of our little stone barn. It’s essentially a mini house, so it formed a perfect vignette that allows readers to see how each room developed in real-time (it was renovated and shot by me over the course of nearly two years). Essentially, it’s a book that provides the perfect escape from the four walls that have defined our lives for these past months, and years in some cases. A way of reassessing what’s important to us and the way we want to live going forward.

Photography: Sara Silm

It seems to us that you are living the dream – do you have any tips for readers looking to do the same?

I think the pandemic has been an incredible opportunity to refocus on dreams — both personal and those in the interest of our planet. Life is so fragile and so short, there’s no time to waste. Dreams remain just that if action isn’t taken, so my advice has always been to move ahead and make them a reality, no matter how big or small. There are always obstacles, especially when you throw in foreign countries and ancient buildings, but if you break a dream down, be realistic about your expectations and take one day at a time, you will get there. Dreams take grit and determination and sometimes many years in the making, but the reality is thrilling. Far more thrilling than the alternative of doing nothing and allowing them to simply exist in your mind.

What’s next for you?

I’m very excited about my upcoming collection of wallpapers with Sandberg, one of my favourite Swedish wallpaper companies. There’s a wonderful historical link between Sweden and the Béarn, so we’re developing some beautiful designs with this in mind. As the world gradually re-opens, I’m also starting to develop some new travel guides for my website and a wonderful series of inspiring interviews with creatives who are living their bliss. Esther, my Nubian goat doesn’t like the rain and has asked for an indoor hay manger in her maison so there’s that…and perhaps a new rose bed. You can never have enough roses!

How to French Country is available now. Text and photography by Sara Silm and design by Daniel New.

AU$ 59.99


Posted on September 28, 2021
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Landscapes of our Hearts has won a prestigious prize at the NSW Premier’s History Awards

Landscapes of our Hearts was one of our most significant releases of 2020; it changed our perception of Australian history in a big way. From award-winning writer and ecologist Matthew Colloff, the book explores the history of our relationship to this ancient continent, offering the possibility that a renewed connection to the landscape and each other could pave the way towards reconciliation.

Earlier this month, Landscapes of our Hearts took home the NSW Community and Regional History Prize for the 2021 NSW Premier’s History Awards. The award recognises a significant contribution to understanding of any aspect of the history of New South Wales. We are so proud of Matthew and our team for this huge accomplishment.

Congratulations to all of the recipients of this year’s awards – check out the full list here.

Landscapes of our Hearts: Reconciling People and Environment is available now. Text by Matthew Colloff, cover image by Louise Denton and cover design by Allisa Dinallo.

AU$ 34.99


Posted on September 28, 2021
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Three nurturing recipes for your emotions, mind and spirit

Did you know that medicinal plants can work wonders for your emotional health? In her revolutionary new guide The Plant Clinic, Erin Lovell Verinder says that ‘plants have a phenomenal ability to adapt their medicinal offerings to the needs of the people. They hold space for our process, bringing ease and comfort, lifting the proverbial storm clouds within us, calming the nervous system and assuring us with a warm embrace.’

Read on for three of Erin’s incredible recipes to help support your journey to better mental health and wellbeing.


Calm Candies

Who doesn’t love candy? These rose-dusted, ‘clean’ candies, infused with a synergistic quintet of calming plants, are sweetened only with honey. They are always a hit with the kids. Savour these nectarous, golden-hued jewels, to bring on an instant dose of peacefulness.

Photography: Georgia Blackie

Herbal Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons dried passionflower leaf
  • 2 teaspoons dried lemon balm leaf
  • 2 teaspoons dried chamomile flowers
  • 2 teaspoons dried skullcap leaf
  • rose petal powder (to dust)

Method

First, make 1/4 cup of strong medicinal tea infusion with the herbal ingredients, brewing the tea for at least 20 minutes before straining through a fine-mesh sieve. Add the infused tea base and 1 cup of honey to a heavy-bottomed saucepan and simmer over medium to high heat. It’s
best to use a candy thermometer here, as the mix needs to get to around 150°C (300°F). This will take around 25–30 minutes. If you do not have a thermometer, you can test if the candy is ready by dropping a little of the mixture into ice cold water. If the mixture is ready, it will harden instantly! Do be very careful, though, as hot sugar burns can be very serious and very sore.

Once ready, pour your candy mixture into small silicon moulds (any mould will do, but the candies are much easier to remove from silicon) and allow to cool completely. Remove from the moulds and dust with your herbal powder of choice (such as the rose petal powder in the Calm Candies remedy recipe, p. 278). You can roll each candy in baking paper for freshness and portability, or store sealed in an airtight container for 2–4 weeks. If you live in a warmer climate, keep these in the fridge!


Floral Bath

Sometimes the simplest interventions feel entirely luxurious, and this herbal practice is one of them. Floating in a bath of warm water scattered with precious petals is a treat for the mind, body and spirit. This remedy is perfect for when you may be feeling weary, fatigued, compressed, low and a little lacklustre. When choosing the floral plant portion of the recipe, consider aromatic herbs such as lavender and rose to inspire relaxation and rejuvenation.

Photography: Georgia Blackie

Herbal Ingredients

  • 1/2 – 1 cup fresh or dried medicinal flowers (e.g. lavender, calendula, chamomile, rose and rosemary)

Method

Mix the flowers and plant material directly into the running bath water – they will float and bob around merrily.

Soak up the serenity for 20 or so minutes.


Lion’s Mane Tonic

For those sluggish mornings or slumpy afternoons where you might find yourself in the thick of fogginess and in need of motivation. This warming blend lights up neurological powers and vitality – in part due to the awesomeness of the medicinal mushroom, lion’s mane, which is paired with chai spice tones and adaptogenic maca root. Implement this sustaining treat to renew your capacity for focused endurance.

Photography: Georgia Blackie

Herbal Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon lion’s mane mushroom powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cardamom powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger rhizome powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon maca root powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon lucuma powder
  • a pinch of ground black pepper
  • a dash of raw honey or sweetener of choice

Method

To make a warm mylk tonic, add the herbal ingredients and 1 cup plant mylk together in a milk frother and set to ‘warm’, or heat gently in a saucepan. If adding raw honey as a sweetener, ensure that your tonic is not boiling hot, as excess heat will degrade the honey’s beneficial enzymes. Once warm, pour into your favourite mug, dust with a little cinnamon, sip slowly and savour the warmth.

To make a cold mylk tonic, add the herbal ingredients and 1 cup plant mylk together in a milk frother set to ‘cool’, or blitz in a blender. Then simply pour into a tall glass over ice, sprinkle with edible petals and enjoy.

The Plant Clinic is available now. Text by Erin Lovell Verinder, photography by Georgia Blackie and design by Noah Harper Checkle.

AU$39.99


Posted on September 14, 2021
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Inside Christine Yahya’s Body Wonderland

Welcome to the greatest, most inclusive, 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle you ever did see.

Christine Yahya is the joyful Armenian-Australian graphic designer and illustrator behind Pink Bits, created in 2016 to provide representation for realistic and diverse bodies rarely shown in mainstream media.

Fittingly, Christine has channeled her work into one our most exciting projects yet, Pink Bits on Body Inclusivity. This puzzle invites you to look beyond clothes and embrace a world of stretch marks, scars, stoma bags, body hair, mastectomies, vitiligo and asymmetrical boobs, where people of all abilities and identities can find joy and feel safe. Follow the path that leads to Mount Everbreast, toss a coin into the Let it Flow fountain, borrow a book from the community library or simply sit and watch the ducklings.

Want to find out more? Watch as Christine chats through her favourite parts of this game changing puzzle in the video below.

Pink Bits on Body Inclusivity is available now. Illustrations by Christine Yahya and design by Casey Schuurman.

AU $29.99


Posted on September 14, 2021
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Welcome to The Plant Clinic, a love letter to living vibrantly

Last year we were blown away by the love we received for herbalist and nutritionist Erin Lovell Verinder’s debut title, Plants for the People. So many readers had been seeking a modern approach to using complementary medicine and Erin expertly answered their calls with an evolution of herbal-medicine books of the past.

Erin’s new venture The Plant Clinic is a revolutionary guide that delves deeper into the restorative potential of plant medicine, helping to manage and diagnose over 100 health concerns. The book features 150 recipes for teas, tinctures, syrups, salves, vinegars that promote healing across vitality, immunity, detoxification, the gut, hormone health, mums and bubs, hair and skin, emotions, mind and spirit. Erin’s empowering words are underscored by herbal wisdom and amplified by Georgia Blackie’s ethereal photography.

Get a feel for this essential guide with the introduction to the book, extracted exclusively for our Thames & Hudson community.

Photography: Georgia Blackie

Healing is no joke. It can be uncomfortable, messy and all-consuming, and it is certainly a nonlinear undertaking. The journey of healing is much like the metaphor of peeling an onion: healing lies within every layer, and as we peel each one back, we get closer to the heart. In uncovering the layers, we begin to change our perceptions and expressions of ill health. We awaken to see the patterns, the stories, the feelings held within ourselves.

As a clinical practitioner I witness all sorts of presentations, revelations, breakdowns and breakthroughs. Throughout any given week in clinic, there will always be a myriad of lovely clients sitting in front of me sharing their health stories, ranging from longstanding chronic conditions to acute complaints. I have learnt that my own health challenges and experiences have shaped me as a practitioner, and my ability to understand, guide and hold the space for others moving through their health challenges stems directly from my own experiences.

Years ago, I personally went through a terrifying chapter of burnout. I had been moving fast in many aspects of my life; emotionally I was frayed, physically I was weary. Changes needed to be made in my life. I felt the nudge of a physical symptom, yet I did not fully listen in. I have learnt the hard way that we often do this; as a coping mechanism, we ignore the messages of our bodies. Perhaps we cannot quite look at it or we aren’t quite ready to hear it. We look away, wipe our hands of it, dust ourselves off and keep going. For me, this was a grave misstep.

Photography: Georgia Blackie

My physical symptoms hit me like a bus. Literal waves of panic shook my body, yet my mind was still. Waves of anxiety washed through me. I was feeling out of my body, sped up and shaky. Cortisol rushes consumed me, and I really could not do much to keep them at bay. I went down allopathic treatment paths, with no answers and no solutions. I had no choice but to listen to my body, to make changes and to allow myself the space to heal.

Although the six Pillars to Thrive (p. 16) are age-old essentials, this is when I truly grasped the importance of these practices. In my own darkest moments, I dived headfirst into these practices to heal my body. I drank the water it was thirsty for. I balanced my blood sugar with nourishing food, eating with determined consistency to anchor my body. I connected to nature and let her fill me up everyday, swinging in my hammock under the trees and sitting in my garden. I moved my body ever so gently when I was able. I listened to my internal self-talk, adjusting each self-limiting thought with nothing but love and gentleness. And I rested. I rested so much; I cleared my calendar. It was not easy, but I knew I needed to. Healing demands a level of surrender, and surrender takes a whole new shape when you really face the true meaning of the word.

Photography: Georgia Blackie

I leant heavily on plant medicine during this time, following my own plant protocols morning, day and night. Adaptogenic-rich herbals such as ashwagandha and rehmannia reshaped my internal stress response. Nervine-rich herbals such as passionflower, oat straw and skullcap helped to ground my nervous system. They were potent calmers of the cortisol rushes. They brought the light of hope with swift improvements and feelings of resilience returning. I got better very quickly. Within three months. This may seem like a long time, but when you are at rock bottom, a return to full vitality within three months is its own kind of radical.

While this experience truly brought me to my knees, it also offered me incredible insights and cracked open my life in a really wonderful way. I set a new pace, I now honour rest and know my limits lovingly, I lead with my heart and have learnt to not overextend myself. The whole breaking down to break through concept is quite literally the epitome of my (albeit messy) dance with burnout. Working with the plants allowed me to get to the very root of the issue. There was no shortcut or quick fix. I was worn so thin that I had to build from the ground up. This was deep healing.

Photography: Georgia Blackie

In the Clinic

Unsurprisingly, I work with many burnt-out people. It is a natural side effect of our times, a modern epidemic of sorts. We have strayed far from the rhythms of nature, from a time when the simple rising of the sun and the setting of the moon were our compass. Instead, we wake to alarms and live our lives with various forms of technology dictating our daily movements and schedules. How can we all keep up?!

It’s an incredible thing to watch clients return from the brink of brutal burnout with the assistance of restorative herbs and the Pillars to Thrive (p. 16). Often, one particular symptom, like poor energy, for example, improves with gentle interventions (such as herbs and rest), meaning fewer energy dips in the day; then sleep deepens, and gradually vitality is regained. This is the process of healing; one element affects another, and the pieces of your inner puzzle unite.

One client had been dealing with chronic bloating for a long time. She had tried every diet, had seen all sorts of medical specialists and undertaken invasive investigations with no results or improvements. After years, she turned to the plants. We discovered that her chronic digestive bloating was more a reflection of her internal emotional landscapes. Her response to stress was an inability to digest, a classic irritable bowel syndrome–like symptom. Once we had set up a herbal treatment plan – such as the Bloating Protocol on page 148 – to lean on, incorporating digestive herbs such as chamomile, lemon balm and fennel to calm her belly and her stress response, we had an incredible breakthrough. When her awareness shifted to working with plants to support her process, she transformed her bloating woes.

Photography: Georgia Blackie

My own plant path has been an example of science and spirit finding their way back to each other. I am a Bachelor-level herbalist. My training was heavily clinical and science-based – involving the study of botany, anatomy and physiology, pharmacology, symptomatology, pathology and biochemistry of the body – alongside the sweet song of herbalism. However, when I embarked on the path of natural medicine as an eager teenager, my first learnt system of healing was energetic healing, with its esoteric view of health. Since then, I have also dedicated years to my nutritional medicine studies, learning about the therapeutic benefits of food and the power in edible nourishment. I have merged my years of study and training with my years of clinical experiences, witnessing countless breakthroughs in my clients’ ill health, working with them in restoring true health. What I am most certain of, is that you deserve to hold all of the tools that are needed to decode the messages being sent by your body and being.

Choosing the plant path takes us deep into the riches of traditional folk medicine and ancestral herbal therapeutics. We return to the old ways, marrying time-honoured approaches with contemporary practices and forging new ways to work with plants to heal our bodies and beings. The roots of herbalism run deep, and it is about time we found our way back to working with the plants to heal.

This book is not intended to replace individualised professional advice on healthcare and wellbeing, nor is it is intended to treat, diagnose or cure. It is recommended that you consult your naturopathic practitioner, herbalist or GP when seeking healthcare support; health runs deep, and there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all approach. As such, when working with plant medicine, it is advisable to consult a herbal materia medica to become familiar with any cautions or contradictions which may be applicable to your situation. Please be aware that some pharmaceutical drugs and plant medicines can interact in unintended ways, so it is essential that you gain advice from your health care professional if you are already taking any prescribed medications.

This is an edited extract from The Plant Clinic, available now. Text by Erin Lovell Verinder, photography by Georgia Blackie and design by Noah Harper Checkle.

AU$39.99


Posted on August 29, 2021
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The dazzling world of Fiorina & Francesca Golotta

In her latest book A Room of Her Own, author and photographer Robyn Lea captures the hearts and homes of twenty extraordinary women around the globe. Whether they be artists, designers, makers or curators, these women have a common ground when it comes to new ways of thinking, and of course, daring to lead creative lives.

In this extract, we put the spotlight on two of our Melbourne-based favourites from the book: jewellery designer Fiorina Golotta and photographer Francesca Golotta. Read on for their chapter and find out how you can win a copy of the book and a pair of Fiorina Jewellery’s coveted logo earrings.

Photography: Robyn Lea

Ensconced in her bedroom in suburban Melbourne, threading shark’s teeth and shells onto string to make herself a necklace, seven-year-old Fiorina Golotta embarked on a small creative project that marked the beginning of her life’s work. Two years later, while accompanying her father, Tony, on a trip to his native Italy, the fate of her subsequent creative career was effectively sealed. The European history, architecture, art and jewellery she saw there made a profound impression, and the wildly contrasting aesthetic she found at Bangkok airport en route – ‘Everything was shiny: mirrored beads, gold flowers and jewellery … it was phenomenal’ – was equally intoxicating. By her tenth birthday she was fully accessorised in her own jewellery designs.

Not long after, Fiorina’s younger sister Francesca had her own creative epiphany. On his forty-fifth birthday, Tony was given a coffee-table book, Italia Mia, featuring photographs by 1950s film-star-turned-photographer Gina Lollobrigida. Francesca pored over its pages of Italian street scenes and interiors and, encouraged by Fiorina, was soon experimenting with photography.

Photography: Robyn Lea

As Fiorina grew older, her creative work became inextricably linked to her sense of self. The handcrafted jewellery and talismans she made were not just objects of beauty and self-expression, but also tools of resistance. Tony, raised in poverty in conservative postwar southern Italy, wanted his children to pursue academic paths and corporate careers. So he saw his elder daughter’s creative impulses as an expression of rebellion. Fiorina agreed. ‘To be creative was a point of rebellion, an escape, an expression and  a statement,’ she explains. ‘Jewellery made me feel uplifted, and it gave me an identity and an immediate shield.’ It also exposed her to other ethnicities and cultures beyond the scope of her traditional upbringing, such as Native American groups, whose wisdom  and protection she sought.

Fiorina left home at eighteen, a decision her parents did not welcome. Armed with freedom and independence for the first time, she discovered a different side of Melbourne, though was soon ready to move further afield. After throwing herself into a world of diverse ideologies and the underground music scene in New York City for a year, she returned to Australia and settled in the village of Kuranda in far-northern Queensland. There, she lost herself in a cathartic period of experimentation and self-development. Her new routine included working in an African bead shop, which offered her an informal education in tribal jewellery. ‘African beads are not just decorative – they have a deeper cultural value. They are also religious, and some of them contain prayers,’ she explains.

With a new sense of confidence in her creative needs and direction, fostered by several years of travel and exploration, she returned to Melbourne to study jewellery-making and started sharing a workshop in Little Collins Street. It was around this time that the sisters’ parents divorced. ‘It led us all to new paths,’ says Francesca, ‘and forged instant freedom. It meant we were no longer as engaged in the deep-rooted traditions of the Italian community.’

In 2003, when their father was terminally ill with cancer, Fiorina and her work were featured in a prominent magazine. A family friend visiting the bedridden Tony  presented him with a laminated copy of the story. It was a defining moment of public recognition of Fiorina’s work that made him incredibly proud. Similarly, the night before the hanging of Francesca and their brother Maurice’s joint exhibition in 2002, they felt their father’s enthusiasm. Francesca remembers: ‘We were decorating these little icon frames we had made and nailing coins onto them that Fiorina had given us. Dad was going through chemotherapy at the time and feeling very unwell, and suddenly he came alive and insisted on showing us how we should do it.’ As the exhibition opened, another chapter was coming to an end. There was not only new-found peace between Tony and his daughters but a celebration of all they had created.

Photography: Robyn Lea

In 2008, Fiorina and Francesca triumphantly opened Fiorina Jewellery on High Street Armadale. Its ornate golden doors open to an interior dotted with velvet chairs and antique mirrors, interspersed with polished cabinets displaying a magical array of handmade pieces. The walls feature Maurice’s artwork and Francesca’s photography.  The workshop upstairs is the heart of the atelier, where all the jewellery is made. Tiny drawers are filled with a kaleidoscope of coloured gems and stones, and the collage-style decor includes evidence of Fiorina’s travels, influences and interests.

Francesca’s ability to be both the creative sounding board and the practical voice in the business continues to guide her sister, and Fiorina believes the differences between them are as important as their similarities. ‘We’re different people, and that’s probably why it works,’ she explains. ‘Franca is a true Renaissance woman, she’s romantic. I’m very fiery in comparison, and I learn from my mistakes afterwards. My aesthetic is more tribal and rustic, hers is more elegant and refined.’

Photography: Robyn Lea

These days, working with specific stones and materials continues to feed Fiorina’s sense of wellbeing. ‘The stones have power,’ she says. ‘It’s about finding something that elevates you, something that helps you get through the day, the month, the year, the decade.’ She finds the properties of stones potent: ‘They give me the clarity needed to have the right thoughts, which lead to the right actions.’

Colour is also a significant driver in her life and work: ‘I am attracted to certain colours for specific reasons. It’s something I instinctively draw upon.’ Turquoise is one example. ‘Since my teens, I have been drawn to the traditional culture of people from those Native American nations that wear their hair long and employ turquoise jewellery, feathers and breastplates in their traditional dress, which gives them power and protection.’ Similarly, the jewellery of the ancient Etruscan, Greek, Byzantine and Moghul cultures and traditional Art Deco aesthetics fascinate Fiorina. Her spiritual life is fed by these ancient cultures as well as Buddhism, mysticism and Rastafarianism. ‘An appreciation of alternative ideologies has allowed me to embrace different ways of life, giving me creative freedom and providing  a path forward.’

Looking back, Fiorina is philosophical about her upbringing: ‘I believe you come into your family for a reason. My reason was about empowering and protecting people through what I do – through my jewellery.’ Along with her prolific creative output, her rebellious tendencies also prepared her well for tackling the sometimes ruthless world of business.

Together, the sisters have created much more than a jewellery store. It is a focal point for like-minded women, a place they can go to feel inspired, adorned and understood. It has also provided Fiorina with an anchor: ‘I think rebellion has been a curse and a blessing in the same breath. It steered the ship for a long time. The joy of creating and the response from my community, family and friends are now the primary driving forces in my life.’

This is an extract from A Room of Her Own, available now. Text and photography by Robyn Lea, design by Ashlea O’Neill.

AU$65.00


Win a fabulous A Room of Her Own prize pack!

Images © Robyn Lea photography and Fiorina Jewellery

To get into the Spring spirit, we’re giving away a copy of Robyn Lea’s beautiful interiors book ‘A Room of Her Own’ as well as a pair of logo earrings from beloved Melbourne jewellery store (headed by two of the inspirational women featured in the book), Fiorina Jewellery.

Simply click here to enter the competition and agree to sign up to our e-newsletter for your chance to go into the draw to win this prize pack.

Competition closes Wednesday 15 September. Open to AU and NZ residents only.


Posted on August 27, 2021
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In conversation with trailblazing Victorian chef Annie Smithers

Annie Smithers is often described as a bit of a local legend in the Australian food scene. If you’ve ever wanted to experience the true meaning of farm-to-table dining, or drool at the thought of classic French farmhouse dishes, Annie’s Trentham restaurant du Fermier should be high on your bucket list.

Annie’s new book Recipe for a Kinder Life is more than just the story of du Fermier, though. Part-meditation, part-memoir, it is a generous account of life on the land and in the kitchen. At its heart, Recipe for a Kinder Life is Annie’s guide to living more gently and sustainably.

We were lucky enough to chat to Annie about her journey to owning one of the country’s most celebrated restaurants, her favourite spots to eat when she’s not at du Fermier and what she hopes readers will take away from the book.

Photography: Sandy Scheltema

Tell us a bit about your path to becoming one of Australia’s most highly regarded chefs. At what stage in your career did you know you wanted to be running your own restaurant?

I decided late into my secondary education that I wanted to be a cook. After finishing my HSC, off I went to look for a job. After nearly forty years of cooking, I still think that I love it more each day than I did the day before, so some may say that I found my vocation. As to when I discovered I wanted to have my own restaurant, that was more a quirk of circumstance than an actual decision. But I have certainly enjoyed the last 16 years of having my own places, as it enables me to dance to the beat of my own drum.

Du Fermier is widely considered a pioneer for the Australian paddock to plate ethos. What inspired you to pursue this idea for the restaurant?

At the turn of the last century there was increasing discussion about food miles and food sovereignty. I was living on an acre of land at the time and decided that I needed to put it to constructive use and to grow fruit and vegetables for the restaurant. I have always been a believer in the concept that if each of us does what we can, no matter how small, together we can all make a difference to the future of the planet.

Photography: Susan Thompson

For those who havent had the privilege of visiting your restaurant du Fermier, what can they expect from the experience?

Eating at du Fermier is as close as I can get to entertaining people in my house. Our sole aim is to make each and every one of our customers feel loved and nurtured during their time with us. I cook classic French inspired country food, sometimes plated, sometimes shared, free from the embellishments of more technical and high-class restaurants.

When youre not at du Fermier, where do you like to eat in regional Victoria?

Our favourite place to eat at the moment is at home. Getting vegan take away from the food van, Twinkletown, next to the restaurant on a Wednesday night when I go into town ‘to put the bins out’ is a delicious treat.

And when youre in Melbourne?

The last 18 months have been very challenging for us getting to Melbourne to eat. My wife Susan and I went for our anniversary in January and had the fabulous vegan banquet at Maha, and were thoroughly spoilt by the lovely Shane Delia.

One of the major themes of Recipe for a Kinder Life is living a more sustainable existence. What does sustainability mean for you?

I believe it is essential to find the point at which you are self-sustaining in your own life before you tackle the broader questions. If you are too tired, too pushed within yourself, it is an uphill battle to make changes to your life that bode well on a broader scale.

If readers take one thing away from Recipe for a Kinder Life, what should it be?

Be kind to yourself. Believe in your dreams, work hard for them, but don’t sacrifice too much for them. Find your own limits and live with them and love them.

Recipe for a Kinder Life is available now. Text by Annie Smithers and cover design by Daniel New.

AU$32.99


Posted on July 27, 2021
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A Meditation on Wellbeing, from Recipe for a Kinder Life

In Recipe for a Kinder Life, the inspirational cook Annie Smithers shares her wisdom on living a gentler life, and forging deep connections with the natural environment, the community and the self. She discusses the significance of balance and rest for personal wellbeing in the extract below.

Another huge step I have taken in protecting my mental health is embracing the notion of choice, understanding that no one forces me to do all the things that I do. All the decisions that I make are mine to take responsibility for. In the past, I might have blamed outside influences if I felt that I was working too hard; now I have a strong sense of what is enough or too much, and if I choose to do too much, I must accept all that comes with that. As an employer, a partner, a step-parent, a member of a community, there is always the opportunity to show, not tell. Leading by example, and being a communicative person, allows others to observe my way of finding balance and assess whether there is anything in it that could make their own life more comfortable.

All this striving for, and reflection on, a better balance so I can sustain myself to achieve all I want to do in all the spheres of my life is one reason that I have come back to observing the eight-hour day. The hospitality industry is infamous for its mistreatment of workers and its long and unsociable hours. It has become very important to me not to expect any of my employees to work more than an eight-hour day. This should hardly need explaining but, in any case, it is clear that it allows people to make their own choices and arrange their lives to suit their needs and wants. It means that if they wish to take on a second job, they can; if they wish to go home and garden, they can; if they wish to go home and sit in front of the telly for the evening, they can. From experience, I know that it is often difficult to tell your boss that you are working above your capacity and/or outside your designated work hours, and I am equally aware of the effects of too much work on the body, the mind and those around you.

This also ties in with how we manage the restaurant-related devices. As we run a very small team at du Fermier, we tend not to answer the telephone during lunch service. This is so that we can completely devote ourselves to the customers in the room. It also means that we can return messages in an unhurried manner later in the day, making sure that the customer at the end of the phone is now the absolute focus. Answering emails is done in a similar manner. We have a manual system that we like to think offers a personal-service touch, but I am sure that some of our patrons would love us to answer messages and emails twenty-four hours a day. I can’t expect the people who work with me to take on this responsibility and deal with customers at all hours of the day and night, given that I won’t myself. The division between work, leisure and sleep has become very blurred. I, for one, do not think that this is a positive. In embracing a more sustainable approach to life, how we operate at a personal level, with our own resources, is at the core of our existence. Sustainability is not just about using the earth’s resources more responsibly; it is about better using your own.

Sleep is, without doubt, a very important part of my day. Making the decision a few years ago to stop operating the restaurant in the evening has been absolutely revelatory for my personal wellbeing. I have never been a night person; I am happiest tucked up in bed and ready to go to sleep when it’s dark. The hours that I sleep change seasonally: I often sleep more in winter and less in summer – a little like the animals in the yard. The geese, the goats and the chickens all run to a clock that is not based on hours but on daylight. It seems to be a pattern that I am following more and more as I spend a greater amount of time caring for them and working outside in the garden. It is as if their needs and mine are becoming very similar.

The surprising (or maybe not) result now if I don’t get enough sleep, or even rest, is not pretty. Tired, irascible, perfunctory Annie is no fun for anybody, especially me. This is screamingly obvious when the side effects of not enough rest and sleep include weight gain and systems failure in various bits of my body. As the pace of this modern world keeps getting busier, it is up to each and every one of us to decide how much to commit to the external forces at play, how much we engage with them, where our priorities are, and to try to find a place for ourselves that fits with our personal, financial and relationship values.

After thirty years of living in the country, I am trying not to become a stranger to the needs of city and suburban folk. I imagine that smaller-scale gardening, long walks and various forms of exercise replace the chores of farm life. And I imagine that reading, theatre and dining out are much higher on the agenda than they are for me, which exposes the nature of balance. For each of us, no matter where we live, our location enables us to find the day-to-day rhythm that suits us best in that environment.

This is an edited extract from Recipe for a Kinder Life, available now. Text by Annie Smithers and cover design by Daniel New.

AU$32.99


Posted on July 27, 2021
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Get ready for your next local adventure with Evi O and Andrew Grune

It would be an understatement to say that the travel focus for most Australians has shifted to local and interstate wonders. You might even say we’re approaching a day trip renaissance, which is why Evi O and Andrew Grune’s new project Day Trip couldn’t have come at a better time.

In case you aren’t already acquainted with this seriously innovative duo, Evi O is an award-winning book designer and self-taught artist while Andrew has worked across the globe in the fashion industry and is best known for his talents in photography and videography. They have come together through a mutual love for nature and creativity with Day Trip, a new series that is unlike any Australian travel guide you have seen before.

We wanted to celebrate the launch of the first book in the series, Day Trip Sydney: 52 Nature Adventures, by chatting to Evi and Andrew about the foundations of this project, how they selected the nature trips featured in the book, their travel tips and more.

Image © Day Trip Publishing

You’re quite the superstar team, having achieved countless creative endeavours independently. Do you each have a career highlight so far?

Evi: Personally, this is rather a highlight. Never in my mind did I think I would write a guide book. It is a dream doing it with Andrew, too. It’s a continuation of the cliché ‘if work is play, you never have to work in your whole life.’ Apart from this, I feel like I’m currently living a career highlight with my Evi O Studio team daily and a busy art practice. Sorry, there are a few highlights.

Andrew: I would have to agree with Evi. This is such a different project to what I normally work on and I can really see all the skills that I have developed being utilised in the project. I think that’s what makes it so interesting for myself and as a product. I think Evi and my skill set combined have hopefully created a new and exciting brand. 

What brought you together as collaborators?

Evi: My cheesy answer is love, and wanting to know the other person inside, I think? But it is kind of true (for me), as we started going out during COVID. I wanted to know Andrew’s creative brain and muscle, and we did this day trip to (the then-empty) Bathurst racecourse and I felt I discovered a bit more about him, and the potential of collaborating is an organic continuation.

Andrew: Definitely love and also our spirit of adventure and spontaneity. A lot of times our day trips don’t go to plan and we end up finding something even more exciting than we intended. Not everybody can work like that! 

Image © Day Trip Publishing

What led you both to the Day Trip project? How is it distinguished from other travel guides?

We were kind of limited to restrictions, funnily. We wanted to pitch an Australia-wide travel book, but then our publisher Paulina de Laveaux said ‘That’s impossible, why don’t you do a day trip book, you’re already doing it.’ Thanks, COVID. As to how it is different, I guess it’s a fresh rendition, and designed for today’s modern life. A snapshot of a trip and its map is compacted in one page ready to be photographed and used in your mobile pre-trip. We are also just your regular people: we don’t have 1% body fat, nor do we own hiking poles, so the level of difficulty and access within these trips is very friendly. We do love rewards, so each trip also comes with either a destination or a memorable experience. 

What was the process behind selecting the nature trips featured in Day Trip Sydney? Were there any that didn’t quite make the cut but deserve an honourable mention?

We rate the rewards of each experience and basically go with our instincts, but part of this succinct curation also involves asking for tips from friends, family and strangers, just to make sure the selection is diverse. And oh yes, there are some that didn’t make the book – we will share in the next one 😉

Image: Concrete platforms at Clovelly Beach © Day Trip Publishing
Image: Podoga rock formations at Wollemi National Park © Day Trip Publishing

Do you have a top tip for new day trippers?

Get a good pair of shoes! 

Has COVID changed your perspective on travel?

Absolutely. The adage of ‘the journey, not the destination’ is so true. And both of us have a new appreciation of this beautiful city is there. We both have lived half our lives here, and we are gladly reminded of what Sydney has to offer.

What’s next for Day Trip? Can you give us some insight into the future of the brand and series?

There will be more books. And some fun merch. We are heading to Melbourne next, and as soon as book one is launched and standing on shelves, we are going to start pursuing more creative collaborations as Day Trip. We want to express our creative drive and travel curiously through Day Trip.

Day Trip Sydney is available now. Text, images and design by Evi O and Andrew Grune (Day Trip Publishing).

AU$34.99

You can check out Day Trip’s website here and their Instagram here.


Posted on June 30, 2021
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Day Trip Sydney is finally here!

From Evi O and Andrew Grune, Day Trip is a new series of Australian travel guides that will ignite your nomadic spirit. The first in the series, Day Trip Sydney takes you to mountains, waterfalls, swimming holes, forests, urban parks, Aboriginal cultural sites, historic architecture and more – all within 120 kilometres of Sydney’s city centre. Whether you’re a Sydney local or a first-time visitor, Day Trip Sydney is the perfect guide for escaping the urban chaos.

Curious? Get a feel for this innovative guide with Day Trip’s launch video below.

Day Trip Sydney is available now. Text, images and design by Evi O and Andrew Grune (Day Trip Publishing).

AU$34.99

You can check out Day Trip’s website here and their Instagram here.


Posted on June 30, 2021
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Still Life as storytelling: a look at Amber Creswell Bell’s latest book

Following Clay and A Painted Landscape, Still Life completes Amber Creswell Bell’s genre trifecta of artful gems that champion remarkable Australian artists. The book looks at the styles, subjects, visions and philosophies of more than forty contemporary Australian artists. To give you a feel for this incredible book, check out our gallery featuring the work of some of the artists featured as well as their perspectives on the genre.

JUDA RAE

SL359, 2016. Oil on linen, 122 x 153 cm. Collection of AGNSW, Bulgari Acquisition.

‘Perhaps still life is more accessible with it’s traditionally domestic subjects and therefore considered a more ‘democratic’ genre, sitting more comfortably with ideas of the classless society we imagine that Australia is.’

CRESSIDA CAMPBELL

After Lunch, 2002. Unique woodblock print (watercolour on Stonehenge cotton paper), 72 x 62 cm. Photo by Greg Weight.

‘I have always been interested in recording or interpreting my surroundings in a visual way. I almost feel I haven’t properly experienced looking at something if I haven’t observed it and tried to create either a picture from the subject or responded to it.’

ROBERT MALHERBE

Peonies in Sunlight, 2013 (detail), oil on linen, 91 x 71 cm. Artwork courtesy of Robert Malherbe and photo by Jenni Carter.

‘All paintings, including still lifes, should feel erotic.’

ZOE YOUNG

Still life under Leplastrier Nude, 2020 (detail). Acrylic on Belgian linen, 150 x 150 cm. Artwork and photo courtesy of Zoe Young.

‘There’s a certain tension in setting up, where I tend to get so frustrated with the tediousness of finding the composition and mixing the paints that by the time I put brush to linen, I’m about to burst.’

LUCY ROLEFF

Autumn Pastoral, 2020. Oil on board, 50 x 60 cm. Artwork courtesy of Lucy Roleff and photo by Kim Landy.

‘I feel that the endurance of the still life genre has to do with its relative anonymity compared to more figurative work.’

JOHN BOKOR

Wine Bottle, 2017 (detail), oil on linen, 82 x 62 cm. Photo by Mim Stirling.

‘A collection of objects, no matter how mundane, tells a story. They are like a little world; you can get lost in them.’

TSERING HANNAFORD

Pink Magnolia, 2016, oil on board, 45 x 60 cm. Artwork and photo courtesy of Tsering Hannaford.

‘What I love most about painting a still life is creating a sense of order in life, if only on the canvas. I strive to create a sense of tranquility and calm in my pieces in the midst of a busy and bustling life.’

Still Life is available now. Text by Amber Creswell Bell and design by Ngaio Parr.

Front cover: Tsering Hannaford, Yellow Magnolia, 2018. Oil on board, 60 x 45 cm. Courtesy of the artist.

AU$59.99


Posted on June 15, 2021
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Autumn Letters, from Reading the Seasons

Reading the Seasons is a book for our times, showing how literature connects us to ourselves and others. Get of taste of the genuine friendship between the authors, Germaine Leece and Sonya Tsakalakis in this extract from the book.

My life is like the autumn leaf

That trembles in the moon’s pale ray;

Its hold is frail – its date is brief,

Restless, – and soon to pass away!

From ‘My Life is like the Summer Rose’ by Richard Henry Wilde [1]


Hello, Germaine, on the first day of autumn – and it’s 38 deg!

Here are a few lines that I read today. I like to start the day with glittering language and thoughts. And I read them aloud, much to my children’s chagrin. One day they’ll look back fondly?!

Love Sonya


Dear S

Such beautiful lines, thank you. I must say, our friendship has given me much more understanding about the power and importance of poetry in daily life. It also reminds me of an eighty-something male bibliotherapy client I saw last week. You would have loved him.

His father recited poetry to him throughout his childhood, and in the past couple of years he decided he wasn’t reading enough poetry so he started a group. Wine and cheese accompany the monthly poetic conversation on the beach. He was such a character, saw the books on his bookshelves as his lifelong friends and used words such as ‘charm-struck’. I didn’t want the session to end, I was so charm-struck myself.

While talking about his ‘friends on the bookshelf ’, he reflected that he hadn’t read enough female authors in his lifetime and wanted to rectify that. (I imagine you are swooning now!) I decided to give him a prescription filled with female authors that illuminated his different chapters to help give a fuller shape to his own story. I couldn’t resist starting with Jeanette Winterson’s memoir Why Be Happy when You Could Be Normal?, as we have discussed before, required reading for any book lover! He told me that as a teen he put his trust into books rather than people to make sense of the world, and that brought to my mind Winterson writing about ‘[falling] into books … I put myself inside them for safe keeping’. While my client and Jeanette have nothing else in common about their families or their lives, I hope the image of two teenagers on different sides of the world in different decades finding comfort and anchoring inside the pages of books creates a nostalgic reading experience for him.

I ended with a bit of fun. He is a fan of Wodehouse, so I thought I would aim for a similar era and comedy-of-manners style … I chose EM Delafield’s Diary of a Provincial Lady, as she always makes me laugh and I love the sharp, observational gaze she puts on the upper class living in Devonshire between the wars. I think I read somewhere that it was semi-autobiographical and that she wrote the diaries as a ‘gentle joke’, but at the same time she manages to shine a feminist light on the domestic sphere of English country life. Her husband is always reading the Times newspaper and going to sleep, and she spends much of her time ‘sacrificing truth to demands of civilisation’! I’m not sure he will relate as well to Delafield’s character who, when she feels ‘that life is wholly unendurable’ decides ‘madly to get a new hat’, but I hope he will savour the wit and irony of the writing.

He reminded me how much I enjoy sessions with older clients who choose to use the time to reflect on their reading lives and map how it has changed over the decades. There’s something about witnessing someone’s backstory that creates the same wonder within me as words between covers. I remember another client who, in her seventies, told me our session had helped her understand that by recollecting the different books she had read throughout her life, she could trace her evolution of self. She added that having this quiet time and being asked questions about the ways reading had affected her life had allowed this realisation to occur. I found that particularly powerful. The importance of time to reflect. How do you enjoy working with older clients?

I had better leave it here, as your autumn poem reminds me, the day is soon to pass away and dinner needs preparing.

G x


Dear G

I have to tell you, I read that letter a few times. Not just because I was thrilled by ‘charm-struck’, but also to bask in a cascade of my reflections on working with older clients. In an oblique way. My bibliotherapy career began in aged care, where I ran communal reading circles. Within these milieus, poems and short stories were read aloud, creating a container for the sharing of reflections, memories and personal stories evoked by the words on the page. A fifteen-minute short story can be stretched out to an hour. On one occasion, we were reading Gogol’s eccentric gem, ‘The Nose’. 

Actually, it’s positively absurd! How else would you describe a story where the protagonist finds his nose in a loaf of bread that later parades haughtily on the streets of St Petersburg? And to make matters more intriguing, it features a snuffbox. Suddenly, the normally reticent Edna recalled her child-hood fascination for her grandmother’s rosewood snuffbox, which sat on the mantelpiece. And from there she launched into vivid memories of her grandmother, concluding at the end that she had completely forgotten about that snuffbox, ‘hadn’t thought about it for decades’. That is what I love about reading aloud, the vivifying of the text. The original story or poem serves as a launching pad for other stories, contained within, awaiting to be heard and enjoyed. Aspects of the self embedded deep within seem to be awakened. Especially wonderful are older folks’ stories, an homage to Judith Wright – again!

Seventy years of stories he clutches round his bones.

Seventy years are hived in him like old honey … [2]

Stories are as precious and coveted as old honey. During that session there was a lot of animated banter about childhood fascinations … places, things, that held a special allure which would probably be overlooked by the eyes of a grown-up. Wishing to continue on that theme, I chose the unique persiflage of Saki’s The Lumber Room for the following week. It’s a hilarious story about a mischievous little boy who, with inventive flair, gets into the room from which he is banned by his austere aunt, and finds it filled with wondrous curiosities. You can’t help but come away thinking that whatever punishment, which no doubt will be dished out to him afterwards, would be worth it. Absolutely worth it! Suddenly there were recollections of places where kids were forbidden because it was the ‘good room’.

And even more interestingly, the places where children were allowed; spending hours outside till you were called in for dinner, being part of the ‘street tribe’ or roaming to nearby paddocks and creeks. One reader who grew up on a farm lovingly recalled waking up at six every morning to milk the cows, and riding her pony to school with her siblings. And refashioning the silk saved from the parachutes used in the war to make bloomers. I know – there is upcycling for you! She believed she had a beautiful childhood, there were always people around, places to discover.

So, when you talked of the importance of time to reflect when older, it also gives those of subsequent generations a space to revel in stories of times past. A type of validation for a life lived that may otherwise be forgotten. S x


References

[1] Richard Henry Wilde extract from ‘My Life is like the Summer Rose’, in A Library of American Literature, Volume: Literature of the Republic, Part II, 1821–1834, eds Edmund Clarence Stedman and Ellen Mackay Hutchinson (New York: CL Webster, 1891)

[2] ‘Judith Wright extract from ‘South of My Days’, in Collected Poems (Sydney: HarperCollins, 1994)

This is an extract from Reading the Seasons: Books Holding Life & Friendship Together, available now. Text by Germaine Leece and Sonya Tsakalakis and cover design by Nada Backovic.

AU$32.99


Posted on June 1, 2021
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Introducing TASCHEN: the latest addition to the Thames & Hudson Australia family

Virgil Abloh. NIKE. Icons.

We pride ourselves on being Australia’s home for illustrated books. That’s why we’re so excited about the latest addition to our family of distributed publishers: TASCHEN.

This German-born, globally-loved publishing house is destined for the reader who dreams of building their coffee table book collection. Their selection of art books span from informative introductions to special editions championing the likes of Ai Weiwei and Gustav Klimt, while their impressive selection of architecture and design books will take you on a tour of some of the world’s finest homes and remarkable landmarks. You will also find bestselling tomes and short-form histories on your favourite figures and moments in fashion, film, music and pop culture, as well as photography and travel titles to inspire.

Above all, TASCHEN’s publishing is synonymous with quality and individuality. Their books are timeless sources of pleasure and learning, and you’ll be carrying them around from home to home. We’ve rounded up a few of our favourite titles from TASCHEN to help you start building your collection.

The Star Wars Archives. 1999-2005

Made with the full cooperation of George Lucas and Lucasfilm, this second volume covers the making of the prequel trilogy and features exclusive interviews with Lucas and his collaborators.

AU$350.00

Virgil Abloh. NIKE. Icons.

In 2016, Nike and fashion designer Virgil Abloh joined forces to create a sneaker collection celebrating 10 of the company’s most iconic shoes. Go behind the scenes of the project in this powerful book.

AU$150.00

Tarot. The Library of Esoterica

Spanning from Medieval to modern, this book explores the influence of Tarot on artists like Salvador Dalí and Niki de Saint Phalle.

AU$75.00

Annie Leibovitz: The Early Years, 1970-1983

For more than half a century, Annie Leibovitz has been taking culture-defining photographs and imprinting on our collective consciousness. Here we return to her origins.

AU$90.00

Dalí . Les dîners de Gala

The opulent dinner parties thrown by Salvador Dalí and his wife and muse, Gala, were the stuff of legend. This reprint of Dalí’s 1973 cookbook reveals some of the sensual, imaginative and exotic elements that made up their notorious gatherings.

AU$125.00


Posted on May 11, 2021
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A Q&A with nature expert Jonathon Drori

Jonathon Drori’s first book Around the World in 80 Trees resonated with readers far and wide looking to find inspiration through nature. Now, Jonathon is back with Around the World in 80 Plants, bringing to life the science of plants by revealing their links with our own history, culture and folklore. We spoke to Jonathon about his passion for science, strategy and botany and some of the most fascinating plants featured in the book.

Having worked as an author, public speaker, an adviser and board member for a variety of organisations, an honorary professor, the founding Director of Culture Online at the UK Government’s Department for Culture Media and Sport, an Executive Producer for the BBC and so much more, do you have a career highlight that you are most proud of?

Gosh, that’s the kind of list that even my parents would have thought was just a bit too much! I spent some time as Editorial Director for BBC Online, when the medium was just being invented. That was pretty exciting. And my nine years on the Board at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew were special for the combination of science, beauty, strategy and some amazing botanical expeditions.

How did you become so passionate about nature?

My parents definitely inspired me. They told stories about plants and animals to my brother and me and although we both lost interest in those tricky teenage years, something obviously sank in!

What inspired you to write Around the World in 80 Plants? Had you always planned a sequel to Around the World in 80 Trees?

The success of 80 Trees was a wonderful surprise to me. I wrote the kind of book that I wanted to read – a book with plenty of science, but not a science book. A book with plenty of history, but not a history book. Same for culture, folklore, etymology and so on. I couldn’t find anything out there that entwined them all, with proper storytelling. So, I had a go, and it seems that people like that kind of thing. Of course, Lucille Clerc’s gorgeous, whimsical illustrations really brought it to life. I realised we were onto something, which made me want to do another book. Being able to research and write about things that completely fascinate me is the most wonderful luxury. I am humbly grateful!

Illustration: Lucille Clerc

What was the process behind selecting the plants featured in the book?

I looked for plants with a good geographical spread around the world, and where I felt there was something new to say. I set myself the challenge that any reader, coming from any area of interest, should find something new and special in each of the 80 biographies of plant species in the book.

What is the most unusual plant we can find in the book?

The Welwitschia, of the desert straddling Namibia and Angola, is a very strange plant indeed. Depending how you look at it, it can be one of the ugliest or one of the most beautiful plants on earth, and that’s the only place it grows. It can live 500 years and yet it only ever has the same two leaves, that just keep growing from the base and withering at the ends. Another unusual plant is the Iboga from Gabon and Cameroon, for the mind-altering effects it has on people who use it in Bwiti initiation rites.

Why are plants so inspiring to us?

Perhaps because in the end, human life, in fact all life on earth depends on plants. I love them because they are so varied, get up to such strange behaviours and have such odd, poignant, bizarre and even funny relationships with humans.

What’s next for you?

My philosophy has always been to make connections with interesting people and good things happen. I don’t know what’s next. Something will turn up!

Around the World in 80 Plants is available now. Text by Jonathon Drori and illustrations by Lucille Clerc.

AU $39.99


Posted on April 22, 2021
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How to mix patterns at home: an excerpt from Jungalow

Jungalow: Decorate Wild is artist, designer and author Justina Blakeney’s ultimate guide to designing wildly creative interiors. Filled with all of Justina’s tips and tricks, the book will show you how to make bold choices with color and pattern, how to take cues from nature, how to authentically glean inspiration from their heritage and travels, how to break rules, and all the other paths to truly begin to decorate wild. In this extract, go outside your comfort zone and learn how to mix patterns at home.

MIXING PATTERNS

Patterns often present a complex mix of color, texture, scale, and motif that might seem difficult to harmonize with the rest of the décor elements in a space. Patterns compete for attention; will they drown out the more mild-mannered pieces in a room? You might love a wallpaper with a bold pattern, for example, but what if it doesn’t work with your furniture or drapes? Maybe just painting the walls is the safer choice. Don’t go out like that! Mixing patterns isn’t as hard as you think.

Three very different bold patterns work together in this reading nook because they share the same black and tan color palette. Meanwhile, blocks of solid yellow create contrast and provide breathing room.

In my vanity area at home, I mix very different patterns together. It works because the airy gold-andivory wallpaper provides breathing room while the bold blue stool acts as a wild card.

Different patterns don’t have to look alike to look good together, as long as they echo each other in some respect. Here, four contrasting patterns are harmonized by a shared color palette or graphic elements. The colors of the
velvet chair’s zigzags reflect both the warm earth tones of the rug as well as the cool teal of the botanical wallpaper. The doors are harmonized with the chair not by color, but by their shared chevron pattern. When patterns are wildly different from each other, they don’t compete and you can use an overarching color story to make them work together.

Patterns with similar color palettes echo one another and can be combined
easily, without fear of the results looking over the top. In this bedroom, a patterned dresser, rug, and planter are unified by an analogous color story.

Nearly every element in this bedroom has a pattern. The graphic rattan headboard and the colorful quilt are large patterns with contrasting colors that pop against the small patterns that read as solids, such as the subtle stripes in the wallpaper and bedding.

Jungalow: Decorate Wild is available now. Text by Justina Blakeney and principal photography by Dabito. Originally published by Abrams Books.

AU$59.99


Posted on April 13, 2021
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Bringing Bad Apple to life: a chat with illustrator Ben Sanders

Bad Apple is the first in a new series of picture books starring a truly terrible piece of fruit that shows readers what he’s really made of. We were lucky enough to chat with the book’s Australian-based illustrator, Ben Sanders, about his rewarding career, illustrative style, working with author Huw Lewis Jones and more.

Tell us a bit about your path to becoming an award-winning illustrator. Were you always interested in art and illustration?

I was actually interested very early on. I got a proper architect’s drawing board for my 14th birthday. Sometimes, when my parents went to bed, I’d get up and secretly draw on my board well into the night. I was already a freelance illustrator by that stage, as I had a paying client by the time I was 11 years old. I was drawing little watercolour characters that were made into stickers, notepads and what-not. I enjoyed it enough to pursue a creative career after I left school. 

How would you describe your illustrative style?

Mid-century modern with a zesty twist of lemon. I say that because I used to use a muted colour scheme. Now I’m embracing a zingy-er colour palette mixed with a 1950s and 60s aesthetic. 

Illustration: Ben Sanders, Bad Apple.

You have worked on a plethora of children’s books and commercial projects throughout your career, from releasing I’ve an Uncle Ivan with us to creating the instantly recognisable illustrations on The Natural Confectionary Co. packs. Do you have a favourite project that you have worked on so far?

Both projects you mentioned are special to me – my first children’s book and my most recognised work. They are the two that are most talked about. But a project that is closest to my heart was the work I did for INTI Magazine while I lived in Bolivia. The revenue generated from the sale of the magazine helped street kids return to school from working in the street. It was run by BiblioWorks, an NGO that also establishes libraries in remote communities and promotes literacy around the city of Sucre where I lived. 

Can you tell us about the process behind bringing characters to life for children’s books?

I guess so… most of the process is a mystery to me. I much prefer creating non-human characters, I find them more interesting. Some stories I’ve written the characters start out as human… but I end up changing them to animals somewhere along the process. I was lucky when Huw Lewis-Jones sent me a story about an Apple… jackpot… not a human!

I think that when you read a good manuscript it doesn’t take long to start picturing what the characters could look like. I sketch a page full of rough character designs and see what visual cues will help bring out the right personality. For me, this is by far the most satisfying and enjoyable aspect of making children’s books.

Illustration: Ben Sanders, Bad Apple.

What was your vision for the Bad Apple characters and how closely did you work with author Huw Lewis-Jones on developing their look? 

Huw sent me the manuscript and after a few reads I sent him a little drawing of a mean looking green apple. An almost perfectly round green circle with the least amount of detailing to create a face and limbs. We both wanted him to be simple yet full of expression. So, the eyebrows became the most important feature. He would be scowling a lot in the book so he needed a unique brow… a monobrow…. with his stem and leaf growing right out of it! Huw and I had a few chats about it but I remember Bad Apple developing very quickly and naturally, with both of us having input.

What’s next for you?

There will be at least two more Bad Apple Books coming in 2022. Apple is even naughtier in the sequel… it’s a lot of fun. I have two new picture book series in the pipeline in collaboration with Huw. There is one about a Croc with a big appetite and another about a Badger who is going through an existential crisis … so yeah, more animal characters to come!

Bad Apple is available now. Text by Huw Lewis Jones and illustrations by Ben Sanders. Originally published by Thames & Hudson UK.

AU $24.99


Posted on March 30, 2021
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In conversation with the inspiring Kerstin Thompson

For over twenty-five years, award-winning practice Kerstin Thompson Architects (KTA) has proven that local architecture can and should shape a community. Leon van Schaik’s Kerstin Thompson Architects: Encompassing People & Place looks at KTA’s extraordinary body of work, its values and processes, and its place in the wider Australian architectural landscape. We spoke to KTA’s Principal, Kerstin Thompson, about her impressive career, the civic endeavour that is architecture and how she hopes to inspire others with the release of this new monograph.

Photography: Ying Ang

You are the Principal of Kerstin Thompson Architects, an Adjunct Professor at RMIT and Monash Universities and you were named Life Fellow by the Australian Institute of Architects in 2017. What led to your incredibly rich career in architecture?

Time on site, as a kid and later as a site architect, a wide variety of experiences in architectural offices from local ones to international multi-design studios, which in combination exposed me to the many valid ways of thinking about architecture. And since 1990 at RMIT, being a ‘pracademic’ – combining teaching with practice where each sphere enriches the other: the idealism, clarity of intent of the design studio, the pragmatism, ability to effectively negotiate the messiness and contingency of building and day to day practice. Good architecture demands both.

Your practice focuses on ‘architecture as a civic endeavour,’ can you explain what this entails? What values does KTA champion?

Buildings, no matter how small or for what purpose, can improve a situation. For the intended users, the client, of course, but also for the street, the neighbourhood, even the environment in projects where ecological repair becomes part of our remit. KTA champions the value of mutual benefit – that in meeting the aspirations of the client the design also contributes something positive for the neighbourhood too. In this sense they are of civic endeavor, in the interests of community, the city, broader environment.

Photography: Derek Swalwell

Is there a project you have worked on that you are most proud of?

I’m no good at favourites, there are many projects we are proud of. In fact, our hope is that KTA’s body of work, the cumulative impact of many sometimes modest buildings rather than one or two stand out icons, will leave a lasting and positive impact. Each project in its own way raised the quality of someone’s everyday life, brought benefit and joy to someone whether in their work, home or recreational life.

Photography: Dan Preston

In Kerstin Thompson Architects: Encompassing People & Place, Leon van Schaik focuses on KTA’s groundbreaking body of work. How do you think the book contributes to a wider conversation about architecture in Australia?

First we hope it provides insights into the motivations and process of architecture, the ideas, the sketches, behind the completed project. Second that it showcases a variety of ways in which architecture can meaningfully engage with, forge a unique sense of place, whether in bush, city or suburban context. And also, how opposites can happily/productively co-exist: subtly with clarity, sensitivity with strength, and last but not least new with existing built form. The inclusion of several adaptive re-use projects demonstrates how the re-use of our built heritage is not only more environmentally resourceful but also a way to hold onto precious cultural memories. May our new buildings also endure to support changed use in the future.

Interior Photography: Trevor Mein | Product Photography: Georgia Blackie

Our favourite inclusion in the book is your ’10 Lessons,’ many of which address what it is like to be a woman in architecture. How do you hope to inspire other women in the industry?

By conducting practice through a studio and business culture that is stimulating and supportive for our colleagues; by mentoring within and beyond the practice; by leaving a lasting legacy of decent buildings that have somehow improved the everyday; inspiring through advocacy, speaking out, being heard, being visible.

What’s next for you? Is there an exciting project that KTA is working on that you can share with us?

KTA has always been diverse in its project selection. Big, small, public, private. So, it’s not surprising that two of our most exciting, current projects are at opposite ends of the spectrum. Queen & Collins project for GPT, almost complete, is a total rethink of half a city block. We’ve transformed it from corporate lobby to network of vibrant, open air laneways and small campiellos (venetian squares) in celebration of the site’s significant neo-gothic heritage. In contrast to this scale and urban location we are excited to see the house for photographer Sharyn Cairns come to life. In a beautiful coastal bush setting, it will be sheer, concentrated concrete delight.

Kerstin Thompson Architects: Encompassing People and Place is available now. Text by Leon Leon van Schaik and design by Stuart Geddes. Series editor Fleur Watson.

AU$59.99


Posted on March 24, 2021
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How to Build a Strawflower Hanging Wreath, from Field Flower Vase

Braid fresh flowers into a hanging wreath for a party — then let it dry and leave it up all year!

Image: Chelsea Fuss

A hanging wreath adds a sense of playfulness to a room and is, of course, perfect for a little party or special occasion. This fresh-to-dry project can be made with just-picked flowers, but it’s also a great way to use up ones that are on their way out — blooms that are wilting but still have pliable stems can be braided and will dry nicely.

Bay leaves, gomphrena, and strawflowers are especially good choices for an arrangement like this one, as they’re all very long-lasting and dry well. The colours of strawflowers feel almost unreal (in the best way!) and bring a sense of whimsy to the project. This wreath is light enough that it can easily be suspended from a ceiling hook, in part because it’s made without wire. Stems of millet and statice give it stability, and the braided strawflower stems keep the blossoms in place. These braiding and weaving methods can be applied to wreaths of all sorts. A hanging flower wreath is a focal point, so you won’t need other large arrangements or elaborate styling. Here, I hung the wreath over a table covered in pink linen and added modern ceramics, tiny arrangements, and a few scattered flower petals.

You will need :

  • 8 stems of small bay leaves
  • 25 stems of strawflower
  • 3 to 5 stems of common millet or pampas grass
  • 5 stems of statice
  • 5 stems of gomphrena
  • Florist’s twine or string, for hanging

Instructions

  1. Gather your ingredients at a wholesale flower or farmers’ market. Once home, set them out in bunches on your work surface, and remove the leaves from the strawflower stems. If the flowers have been in water, be sure to remove any debris or excess leaves from the stems and let them dry out before working with them.
  2. Create a base with the millet and statice, working with a few stems at a time.
  3. Curve them into a wreath shape, spacing the blooms at intervals and twisting the stems around each other to secure.
  4. Braid bunches of strawflower together, just as you would hair, alternating between three and five stems per bunch. Once braided, weave the bunches of strawflower into the wreath base, adding more statice for security if needed.
  5. Fill in the wreath with bay leaves between each bunch, then weave in gomphrena between the stems.
  6. Create a hanger by tying lengths of string or twine to opposite sides of the wreath. Display away from direct sunlight, if possible, or it will fade quickly.

This is an edited extract from Field Flower Vase, available now. Text and photography by Chelsea Fuss. Originally published by Abrams Books.

AU$45.00


Posted on March 10, 2021
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Read an early extract from Jonathon Drori’s Around the World in 80 Plants

Discover the origins of coffee in this early extract from Around the World in 80 Plants, the sequel to Jonathon Drori’s bestselling Around the World in 80 Trees.

Ethiopia

Coffea arabica

Coffee

The little evergreen coffee tree began life somewhere near the forested mountains of southwestern Ethiopia, and its broad, elliptical leaves with crinkled edges, shiny and dark above and pastel-pale underneath, still prefer the shade. In full flower, coffee is a spellbinding but ephemeral joy; for just a couple of days, thousands of delicate white blossoms with a light fragrance of honeysuckle and jasmine can festoon a single tree. The smoothly oval fruits ripen to pillar-box red; their thin layer of edible flesh tastes of watermelon and apricot and surrounds a pair of deeply grooved seeds that are the familiar coffee ‘beans’. Coffee’s bright, sweet fruit have evolved to attract monkeys and birds, which ingest them, remove the pulpy parts of the fruit and excrete the seeds intact. Mercifully rarely, such beans have been gathered and sold as a luxury; for example, Indonesian kopi luwak coffee – considered by aficionados to be especially ‘smooth and earthy’ – is the, ahem, ‘product’ of Asian palm civets, which are often caught and traded for this purpose. Otherwise, all cultivated coffee is harvested by human hand; the fruit don’t suit mechanical harvesting because they don’t all ripen at once.

More than 1,000 years ago, thanks to genius or good fortune, boringly unscented beans that had been separated from their fruit and husks were roasted, pounded and added to hot water. The resulting fine-flavoured, stimulating yet non-alcoholic brew spread via Yemen throughout the Islamic world and the Ottoman empire. The story goes that in about 1600 coffee’s association with Islam caused Vatican officials to dismiss it as ‘Satan’s latest trap to catch Christian souls’, but Pope Clement VIII supposedly tried some and gave coffee his blessing because it would have been ‘a shame to let infidels have sole use of it’. What a charmer!

By the mid-seventeenth century coffee houses were popping up around Europe, and in London especially they became places for men to discuss business and politics, in contrast to the chocolate houses (see
page 71), which were more light-hearted and welcoming to women. Over the centuries, many cultures have developed coffee rituals, sustained by beguiling paraphernalia and nerdy choices of grind and provenance. Ethiopia has a particularly elaborate ceremony. Amid wafts of incense, beans are freshly roasted over glowing charcoal and pounded at the table with cardamom or other spices. The resulting intense, dark drink is served with … popcorn. It’s a delightful experience for those fortunate enough to live within reach of an Ethiopian café, but perhaps not just before bedtime.

The coffee tree didn’t develop caffeine for our benefit. When its leaves die and drop, their caffeine leaches into the soil, impeding the germination and growth of competing plants, and it is also a defence, sometimes a lethal one, against various insects and fungi. It is therefore surprising that coffee and even some unrelated citrus plants put caffeine in their nectar, which, after all, is meant to reward insects for ferrying pollen to other plants. It turns out that the merest dash of caffeine, below the threshold that bees can sense, helps them to remember the plant, making them more likely to return to it. The flowers shrewdly dispense just enough caffeine to be pharmacologically active but not enough to be bothersome.

Towards the end of the nineteenth century, Asian production of Arabica coffee was wiped out by a fungus: coffee leaf rust. Groves were replanted with ‘Robusta’ (Coffea canephora), which was immune, and although it has a harsher taste than Arabica, it is now widely cultivated. Existing coffee strains are at risk once more, from climate change and the new pests and diseases that come with it, but there is scope for breeding new varieties. There are more than 120 wild species of coffee, most of them in tropical Africa. They have fascinating flavours and contain differing amounts of caffeine, and some of them tolerate heat and drought, or cope with different soils or plant diseases, yet most are themselves threatened by climate change or forest loss. It feels unfair that much of the burden of protecting this vital source of genetic diversity for one of the world’s most valuable commodities should be borne mainly by African nations.

Around the World in 80 Plants will be available on April 15. Text by Jonathon Drori and illustrations by Lucille Clerc.

AU $39.99


Posted on March 3, 2021
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Highlights reel: some of our favourite works from Ken Done: Art Design Life

Over four decades, Ken Done’s exuberant artwork and design has become permanently embedded in Australian culture. His signature style has graced everything from ad campaigns to art cars, doona covers to swimwear, and his bright paintings of Sydney Harbour, the outback, the reef and so much more never fails to bring a smile to our faces. Amber Creswell Bell’s Ken Done: Art Design Life brings all of this together in the ultimate celebration of the man, his work and his legacy. Check out a few of our favourite works from the book in our gallery below.

Image © Ken Done. Beach with Bike, 2006.

Image © Ken Done. Big MASK reef, 2019.

Image © Ken Done. The visit of an important man from Japan, 1991.

Image © Ken Done: Anzac Day, 2002 (detail).

Image © Ken Done: Camilla in the backyard, 2006.

Image © Ken Done. Going home, Toberua, 1990.

Image © Ken Done. Restaurant dining room, 1994.

Image © Ken Done. Ken’s BMW Art Car, Western Australia, 1989.

Image © Ken Done. 28 Views of the Opera House, 1999.

Ken Done: Art Design Life is available now. Text by Amber Creswell Bell and design by Evi-O.Studio.

AU$80.00


Posted on March 2, 2021
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From kelp to kids books: A Q&A with Mathew Bate

It is more important now than ever to inspire and educate children to think about the environment. Mathew Bate’s first picture book With a Little Kelp from Our Friends is certainly a step in the right direction, delving into the significance of seaweed and it’s potential to help tackle climate change. We asked Mathew to tell us a bit about how he became so acquainted with seaweed, its prominence in Australia and what led him to writing this vibrant book.

Photography: Charlie Perry

You are clearly a person of many talents, having worked as a former co-editor of Matters Journal, being a published poet and non-fiction writer and someone who knows their way around a camera. Do you have a favourite creative project that you have worked on?

That’s a tough question for me, I feel like all of my creative projects are part of one big lumpy collage — one thing always informs the next and so on. My creative process is largely me just bumping into things. I remember being in an introductory poetry subject at uni. We all had to put together a portfolio of poems. I went down to a velodrome near where I was living to write my first poem for this portfolio. A peculiar choice. I must have thought that watching bikes go round and round might spin some words out. I arrive and the velodrome was empty. Not a bike in sight. I sat in the middle on a grassy bit and squinted at the sun. Eventually a man and his daughter arrived, and I thought here comes my bike poem. But they didn’t have bikes. They unfurled a kite that was shaped like a boat. They took turns sailing it in the wind. I remember being so taken by the beauty of it all. I wrote my first poem that day and it had nothing to do with kites, or bikes. I’ve been jotting down things I see ever since.

You are currently studying regenerative agriculture — the first degree of its kind! Can you tell us a bit about what this means?

I’ve been studying the regenerative agriculture course at Southern Cross University for a year now. It’s becoming a bit of a buzz word but regenerative agriculture is essentially an umbrella term for a whole array of agricultural techniques and philosophies that aim to heal landscapes. We’ve gone off on a bit of a dangerous tangent with industrial agriculture and our planet is suffering because of it. Regenerative agriculture represents a break to that destructive and extractive approach to farming. Now, we’re seeing lots of inspiring farmers out there that are revitalising landscapes with a more holistic approach. Hopefully one day soon I’ll be one of them! 

Photography: Charlie Perry

What led you to becoming a self-proclaimed kelp enthusiast?

I honestly feel like seaweed grabbed me by the ankle and pulled me underwater. I was first awoken to seaweed’s regenerative potential by Tim Flannery’s book Sunlight and Seaweed and Paul Hawken’s book Drawdown. I then ended up spending some time with Tim Flannery and a group of people on Heron Island, on the southern tip of the Great Barrier Reef, and from there my curiosity for seaweed kind of spiralled into an obsession. A healthy obsession.

For those of us who have grown up in Australia, what type of kelp would we be familiar with? What would we be surprised to find out about it and its potential uses?

We’re spoilt in Australia when it comes to seaweed diversity. South Australia is actually a seaweed haven; 60% of the seaweed’s found on the South Australian coastline are found nowhere else in the world. There are thousands of different types of seaweeds you can find washed up on the beaches in Australia. Everyone seems to love the kelps, a family of about 120 large brown seaweeds. Giant kelp can grow one metre in two days and can reach full maturity, up to 50m in length, in a matter of months. Recently there’s been some promising research into seaweed biofuels that can power vehicles, which is pretty neat. Many people are also not aware that there’s a long history of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples using seaweed to make shoes, water carriers and shelters.

Photography: Charlie Perry

Where did the concept behind With a Little Kelp from Our Friends come from?

I suppose I really wanted to pull together all of these wonderful things I’d learnt to love about seaweed and present them in a book that everyone could read. There was a strong impulse to weave a narrative together that inspired love and wonder for the natural world, something that I think should be established as common ground. I was also thinking a lot about how to talk to children about climate change in a way that invites curiosity.

What was the research process behind the book like?

I was lucky that by the time I started planning the book I’d already done a fair amount of research. But there was a lot of research over several years. There were definitely times when the amount of research really tested my commitment to seaweed. Fortunately, I had a lot of people who were willing to share their knowledge and help me wade through the sea of information.

Illustration: Liz Rowland

If children and adults alike should take one thing away from With a Little Kelp from Our Friends, what should it be?

Seaweed’s power doesn’t come from its ability to extract, prey or trick but its ability to create community and provide shelter and food. In that sense, we should take a leaf from seaweed’s book.

What’s next for you?

Oh gosh, who knows. Let’s see what I bump into next. Perhaps seaweed farming! 

With a Little Kelp from Our Friends is available now. Text by Mathew Bate, illustrations by Liz Rowland and design by Hope Lumsden-Barry. Article photography by Charlie Perry.

AU$29.99


Posted on February 18, 2021
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Lose yourself in Philip Hughes’ landscape paintings

Painting the Ancient Land of Australia is artist Philip Hughes’ love letter to our continent. Depicting deep varicoulored mines, broad rolling plains, vast imposing landforms and exquisite calm bays, his paintings are breathtaking portrayals of natural landscapes and human interventions. As reflected throughout the book, they are unique in that they are informed and inspired by maps and aerial photographs.

Enjoy a look at some of the works featured in the book below.

Illustration: The Terraces of Tom Price Mine, 2005. Philip Hughes

Illustration: Lake Eyre, Shore, 2012. Philip Hughes

Illustration: Fraser Island, 2020. Philip Hughes

Illustration: Kangaroo Island, 2020. Philip Hughes

Illustration: Beside Butler Island, 1983. Philip Hughes

Illustration: Gosse Bluff, 2020. Philip Hughes

Painting the Ancient Land of Australia is out now. Text and illustrations by Philip Hughes and design by Claire Orrell.

AU$80.00


Posted on February 10, 2021
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A chat with our brand new children’s author, Kat Macleod

Kat Macleod really can do it all: having worked as a Melbourne-based illustrator, designer and exhibiting artist over the past twenty years, her journey has now taken her to the world of children’s publishing. Her first series with us is a staple set of four first concept books, covering the ABCs, 123s, colours and shapes. We spoke to Kat about her diverse career and how she was able to combine her love for art, illustration and children’s books.

Photography: Jimmy Teys

What sparked your passion for illustration, art and design?

I have loved drawing for as long as I can remember. As a child, my happy place was sitting and drawing at the kitchen table with textas and pencils. My high school art teacher encouraged me to study graphic design at uni, so that’s where I was introduced to the world of design. While I loved design and the structure and processes I learnt working in the industry for the past twenty years, at the heart of my practise is a deep passion and appreciation for art and illustration.

You have worked with lots of exciting clients, has there been a favourite project over the years that you can recall?

One of my favourite past projects is the first book I illustrated back in 2002, Bird. I had free reign to create a collection of drawings that were published as a limited edition art book with embroidered pages and a hand made cover. It’s very special to me as it marked the beginning of my career as an illustrator, and the realisation that I could combine my two greatest passions as a career path — design and illustration.

Illustration: Kat Macleod

How would you describe your signature illustration style?

Textural, bright and layered.

Your work is endlessly creative — what inspires you?

Thank you! I am inspired by art, design, creative individuals, fashion, films, music … but my biggest inspiration is nature. Whether it’s beautiful old trees along the Australian coastline, or found leaves at our local park, I am always inspired by the shapes and colours of the natural world.

Illustration: Kat Macleod

The Early Learners series is your first official foray into children’s publishing, what led you to the project?

I’ve been keen to work on children’s books for a long time and have made lots of little handmade books with my boys over the years. For my first step into the real world of children’s publishing it felt right to start at the beginning. Early learner board books are wonderful chunky little objects, full of illustrations and minimal text, and were very appealing to me as an illustrator and designer! It’s been a really exciting process to transition my illustrations from the art and design world into children’s books. Every page is an opportunity to create a composition of colour and form and lead the reader through simple narratives and playful themes.

What sets the series apart from other books for babies and toddlers?

These are colourful art-based books that are bright and engaging for babies and toddlers, and also hopefully are a pleasure for parents and carers to look at and read aloud.

Photography: Louisa Macleod

What challenges did you face in 2020?

I found 2020 challenging with the Melbourne lockdowns. Like most people, we really missed seeing our family and friends although I had plenty of company with my three active little boys home from school for so many months! The trickiest part was when schools closed, twice. I know I was not alone in finding it tremendously challenging to manage working from home whilst assisting my boys with tackling remote learning (big shout out to all the amazing teachers!) It was difficult to juggle everything but I know how lucky I was to be able to keep working, even if it meant after the boys were in bed. My husband is an essential services worker so I worried a lot about him at work too. It was a strange year but we have been lucky in Melbourne — the lockdowns and restrictions were inconvenient but they kept our city safe and all my loved ones stayed healthy, so I am extremely grateful for that.

What is next for you?

I am working on an exciting new picture book with you guys! It’s a really special little tale I’ve been dreaming up for a long time, I’m deep in the drawing stage. It’s such an exciting project and I can’t wait to share it.

Kat Macleod’s Early Learner series is available now. Text, illustration and design by Kat Macleod. Series includes:


Posted on January 28, 2021
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Two delectable recipes to try from Matty Matheson: Home Style Cookery

In his second cookbook, one of our favourite chefs Matty Matheson opens up his home and shares his approachable style of cooking. Get a taste of the bold and beautiful dishes Matty serves up in Matty Matheson: Home Style Cookery with these recipes for his Chicago-Style Pork Chop Sandwich and Green Curry Beef Ribs.

Chicago-Style Pork Chop Sandwich

Serves 2

Prep time: 15 minutes

Half of these sandwiches are inspired by my trips to Chicago, it seems, and this pork chop is a perfect piece of history. A bone-in pork chop sandwich may seem weird or even troublesome, but I feel it’s a challenge and I’m always up for it. Whenever I go to get one of these, I can smell the onions from down the street—piles of caramelized onions covering seared pork chops, keeping them warm like the belly of a mama bear. I love the kind of spots that can hand you a sandwich in less than a minute flat, and the whole family instantly has food that’s eaten on the hood of the car, eating and chewing away at an American classic that now can be made at home. You could buy good pork, maybe, or buy those frozen bone-in quarter-inch-thick guys that we all remember growing up.

Photography: Quentin Bacon

Ingredients:

  • 2 bone-in pork chops (the thinnest pork chops available, about 115 g per chop)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for the onion
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 white onion, julienned
  • 4 slices toast
  • 2 tablespoons yellow mustard
  • 2 pickled jalapeño chiles

Directions:

  1. Season the pork chops with the salt and pepper.
  2. Heat the vegetable oil in a large cast-iron skillet over high heat. Once the oil is smoking hot, add the pork chops and sear hard on the first side, about 2 minutes. Flip and repeat on the other side. Take out of the skillet and rest on wire rack.
  3. Heat the vegetable oil in the hot pan. Throw the onion into the pan, stir it up, and hard-sear for 2 to 3 minutes. Put a lid on the pan and let the onion steam for a minute. You want those onions a little caramelized and burnt. Season with salt. Remove from heat and let rest.
  4. Spread 1 tablespoon of the mustard on one side of both the top and bottom pieces of toast. Place the pork chops on the bottom toast, cover with onions, and finish with the top toast, mustard side down. Serve with a pickled jalapeño.

Green Curry Beef Ribs

Serves 4 to 6

Prep time: 3 hours

Meat and rice is the new meat and potatoes. And braised beef ribs in spicy green curry is great for any meal— breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Real flavor-building, real spice, real tasty meals for the whole family. Building your skills and your palates are very important to keep things exciting in your home life. And guess what, the day after, shred this beef and make little rotis; add some cheese, even. Fuck this shit up.

Photography: Quentin Bacon

Ingredients:

For the beef short ribs:

  • 2 kg beef short ribs, meat removed from the bone and cut into 4 cm cubes
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
  • 1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 cup (200 g) diced onion
  • 2⁄3 cup (100 g) diced celery
  • 2 tablespoons sliced garlic
  • 1⁄4 cup (75 g) seeded and diced jalapeño chile
  • 1⁄2 cup (100 g) diced leek, white and green parts only
  • 2 stalks lemongrass, cut in half and smashed with the side of a knife
  • 1 tablespoon grated ginger
  • 1 tablespoon green curry paste
  • 1 tablespoon ground Thai spice (equal parts toasted ground cardamom and toasted ground cumin)
  • 4 cups (880 ml) Beef and Bone Marrow Stock (page 55), or store-bought
  • 1 cup (240 ml) canned unsweetened coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice

For the pickled garlic:

  • 4 garlic cloves, sliced paper-thin
  • 2 bird’s eye chiles, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar

For serving:

  • 1⁄3 cup (30 g) sliced scallions
  • 1½ cups (60 g) cilantro leaves, stems diced
  • Steamed jasmine rice, or Grilled Naan (page 30)

Directions:

  1. Make the short beef ribs: Season the short ribs with the salt and pepper. Heat the vegetable oil in a medium Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Working in 2 batches, brown the short ribs on all sides, about 8 minutes per batch. Transfer the short ribs to a plate and pour out about 70 percent of the fat from the pot.
  2. Add the onion, celery, garlic, jalapeño, leek, and lemongrass to the pot; cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion starts to brown, about 10 minutes. Add the ginger, curry paste, and toasted spice mix and stir to coat the vegetables. Add the short ribs and any juices from the resting plate. Add beef stock to barely cover the top of the short ribs. Bring to a boil, then turn down heat to low; simmer until the short ribs are tender, 2 to 2½ hours. Remove the lemongrass and whisk in the coconut milk. Taste the broth for seasoning. Add the lime juice and salt as needed.
  3. While the beef is cooking, make the pickled garlic: In a small nonreactive bowl, combine the garlic and chiles. Heat the vinegar in a small skillet until bubbling. Pour the hot vinegar over the garlic and chiles and let sit for 1 hour.
  4. To serve: Generously divide the curry into serving bowls. Garnish the bowls with little spoonfuls of pickled garlic and lots of chopped scallion and cilantro leaves. Enjoy with jasmine rice or a big piece of grilled naan.

This is an edited extract from Matty Matheson: Home Style Cookery, out now. Text by Matty Matheson with photography by Quentin Bacon. Originally published by Abrams Books.

AU$49.99


Posted on January 20, 2021
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Marvel at the works of Arthur Streeton

For those either living in or visiting Sydney this Summer, The Art Gallery of New South Wales is currently presenting the most significant retrospective of Australian impressionist artist Arthur Streeton. If you can’t get to this incredible exhibition before it finishes on 14 February 2021, the accompanying book Streeton will transport you there. This tome features essays by curator Wayne Tunnicliffe, over 275 paintings and much more.

Get a taste of both the exhibition and the accompanying book with the following collection of some of Streeton’s greatest paintings.

Arthur Streeton ‘Land of the Golden Fleece’ 1926. Private collection, Sydney

Arthur Streeton ‘Butterflies and blossoms’ 1889. National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, purchased with the assistance of a special grant from the Government of Victoria 1979

Arthur Streeton ‘Early summer – gorse in bloom’ 1888. Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, gift of Mrs Andrew Tennant through the Art Gallery of South Australia Foundation 1982

Streeton, edited by Wayne Tunnicliffe, is available now. You can purchase tickets to the exhibition at The Art Gallery of New South Wales here, exhibiting now until 14 February 2021.

AU$70.00


Posted on November 24, 2020
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‘Iso’, ‘boomer remover’ and ‘quarantini’: How coronavirus is changing our language

Kate Burridge, Professor of Linguistics, Monash University

Howard Manns, Lecturer in Linguistics, Monash University

People love creating words – in times of crisis it’s a ‘sick’ (in the good sense) way of pulling through. From childhood, our ‘linguistic life has been one willingly given over to language play’ (in the words of British linguist David Crystal). In fact, scientists have recently found that learning new words can stimulate exactly those same pleasure circuits in our brain as sex, gambling, drugs and eating (the pleasure-associated region called the ventral striatum).

We’re leximaniacs at heart and, while the behaviour can occasionally seem dark, we can learn a thing or two by reflecting on those playful coinages that get us through ‘dicky’ times.

Tom, Dick and Miley: In the ‘grippe’ of language play

In the past, hard times birthed playful rhymes. The 1930s Depression gave us playful reduplications based on Australian landmarks and towns: ‘ain’t no work in Bourke’; ‘everything’s wrong at Wollongong’; ‘things are crook at Tallarook’.

Whenever we face the possibility of being ‘dicky’ or ‘Tom [and] Dick’ (rhyming slang for ‘sick’), we take comfort in language play. It’s one thing to feel ‘crook’, but it’s another thing to feel as ‘crook as Rookwood’ (a cemetery in Sydney) or to have a ‘wog’ (synonymous with ‘bug’, likely from ‘pollywog’, and unrelated to the ethnic slur ‘wog’).

Remedies may be found in language’s abilities to translate sores into plasters, to paraphrase William Gouge’s 1631 sermon on the plague. New slang enables us to face our fears head-on, just as when the Parisians began calling a bout of late-18th century influenza ‘la grippe’ to reflect the ‘seizing’ effect it had on people. The word was subsequently taken up in British and American English.

In these times of COVID-19, there are the usual suspects: shortenings like ‘sanny’ (hand sanitiser) and ‘iso’ (isolation), abbreviations like BCV (before coronavirus) and WFH (working from home), as well as the compounds ‘corona moaner’ (the whingers) and ‘zoombombing’ (intrusion into a videoconference).

Plenty of nouns have been ‘verbed’ too – the toilet paper/pasta/tinned tomatoes have been ‘magpied’. Even rhyming slang has made a bit of a comeback, with Miley Cyrus lending her name to the virus (already end-clipped to ‘the Miley’). Some combine more than one process – ‘the isodesk’ (Or is that ‘the isobar’?) is where many of us are currently spending our days.

Slanguage in the coronaverse: What’s new?

What is interesting about COVID-lingo is the large number of creations that are blended expressions formed by combining two existing words. The new portmanteau then incorporates meaningful characteristics from both.

Newly spawned ‘coronials’ (corona + millennials) has the predicted baby boom in late 2020 already covered. ‘Blursday’ has been around since at least 2007 but originally described the day spent hung over; it’s now been pressed into service because no one knows what day of the week it is anymore. The official disease name itself, ‘COVID’, is somewhere between a blend and an acronym because it takes in vowels to make the abbreviation pronounceable (CO from corona, VI from virus and D from disease).

True, we’ve been doing this sort of thing for centuries – ‘flush’ (flash + gush) dates from the 1500s. But it’s never been a terribly significant method of coinage. English professor John Algeo’s study of neologisms over a fifty-year period (1941–91) showed blends accounting for only 5 per cent of the new words. Linguist Tony Thorne’s impressive collection of over 100 COVID-related terms has around 34 per cent blends, and the figure increases to more than 40 per cent if we consider only slang.

Not only have blends become much more common, the nature of the mixing process has changed too. Rather than combining splinters of words, as in ‘coronials’, most of these corona-inspired mixes combine full words with parts of others. The ‘quarantini’ keeps the word ‘quarantine’ intact and follows it with just a hint of ‘martini’ (and for that extra boost to the immune system, you can rim the glass with vitamin C powder). Many of these bubbled up during specific times of the pandemic – ‘lexit’ or ‘covexit’ (the strategies around exiting lockdown and economic hardship), ‘coronacation’ (working from home) and so on.

Humour: From the gallows to quarantimes

Humour emerges as a prevailing feature of these blends, even more so when the overlap is total. In ‘covidiot’ (the one who ignores public health advice and probably hoards toilet paper), both ‘covid’ and ‘idiot’ remain intact. There’s been a flourishing of these types of blend, including ‘covideo party’, ‘coronapocalypse’ and ‘covidivorce’, to name just a few.

Clearly, there is a fair bit of dark comedy in the jokes and memes that abound on the internet, and in many of these coinages too – compounds like ‘coronacoma’ (for the period of shutdown, or that deliciously long quarantine sleep) and ‘boomer remover’ (used by younger generations for the devastation of the baby boomer demographic).

Callous, heartless, yes. But humour is often used as a means of coming to terms with the less happy aspects of our existence. People use levity as a way of disarming anxiety and discomfort by downgrading what it is they cannot cope with.

Certainly, gallows humour has always featured large in hospital slang, with diagnoses like GOK (‘God only knows’) and PFO (‘pissed and fell over’). For those who have to deal with dying and death every day, it is perhaps the only way to stay sane. COVID challenges us all to confront the biological limits of our own bodies, and these days humour provides the much-needed societal safety valve.

So what will come of these creations? The vast majority will fall victim to ‘verbicide’, as slang expressions always do.

This is one of the fifty essays from 2020: The Year That Changed Us edited by Molly Glassey and co-published with The Conversation. Available now.

AU$21.99


Posted on November 23, 2020
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Breath meditation: essentials from High-Grade Living

Jacqui Lewis and Arran Russell are best known as the powerhouse team behind The Broad Place, a global school for creativity, clarity and consciousness. Now, they have released their first book High-Grade Living, a modern guide to wellbeing. Here we share an extract from the book focusing on one of the pillars of meditation: breath meditation.

We recommend learning meditation in person with a teacher, rather than from a book. However, you can get started on your own with a beginner’s style of meditation that is widely used, where the breath is the focal point.

Even though we’re breathing all the time, we often forget to breathe deeply and properly in the course of our day. Breath meditation helps us centre ourselves and become completely aware and present.

Image: Jacqui Lewis and Arran Russell

Putting into practice

First, get yourself into a comfortable seated position. Sitting still is very important for this technique, so finding a way to sit comfortably is key.

Ideally, you should start breath meditation by sitting cross-legged on the floor, with your back straight. Some find it helpful to sit on a cushion to raise the buttocks off the ground and allow the legs to fall gently forward.

However, you may find that while sitting on the floor without a back support, you slump your back and shoulders. It’s important to have a straight back, so we recommend sitting on a chair to begin with if you need that extra support. Experiment with both methods and find what works best for you.

Once seated, ensure that the spine is straight, the chin gently tucked in and the shoulders relaxed. Rest your hands comfortably and gently in your lap.

Close your eyes and become aware of your breathing. Your breaths should be light and easy, and gradually become longer in length.

Your breath is your guide during this meditation and it is what you come back to as an anchor for the busy mind.

Image: Jacqui Lewis and Arran Russell

Now move your focus to place your awareness on the lower belly. In Japanese practice this is known as the hara. Focus your mind intently there and breathe into this space. The belly should expand with each breath in and contract with each breath out. Each time you are distracted by thoughts (which will be constantly), this is the space you come back to.

As you concentrate on your breaths, the mind will dash about, the body will distract and surrounding noises will pester you. Don’t worry; this is normal. When you find yourself distracted, simply come back to the breath. How does it feel in the body? Are the breaths long and slow, or are they shortening naturally? Bring your awareness back to the hara and your attention back to the breath.

Repeat this practice once or twice a day for 15 minutes. Routine is very important and will ground your practice.

Image: Jacqui Lewis and Arran Russell

This is an extract from High-Grade Living, out now. Text and images by Jacqui Lewis and Arran Russell with design by Arran Russell.

AU$49.99


Posted on November 23, 2020
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An introduction to Songlines: The Power and Promise

Songlines is the first in the First Knowledges series of six books that will give an in-depth understanding of Indigenous expertise in six areas. The second and third books on Design and Country will be published in 2021.

LYNNE KELLY

If Indigenous art forms such as song, story, dance and ceremony are so similar and so effective in cultures around the world, why aren’t we using them in contemporary Western education? Why can’t we all benefit from Indigenous techniques for learning and storing knowledge?

The answer is simple: we can. All Indigenous knowledge techniques reflect the way the human brain stores information – the way your brain stores information. So why not use these knowledge methods alongside the techniques you already have? You don’t have to give up writing or technology. You don’t have to give up anything to add to your toolbox of memory aids and learn from the knowledge technologies that Indigenous cultures have been perfecting for millennia.

It’s time to go beyond learning about Indigenous cultures and start learning from them. If you start incorporating some of the ideas in this book into your personal knowledge system, you will experience the power of Songlines.

WITHOUT MEMORY, THERE IS NO KNOWLEDGE

Almost all human knowledge is now available on the internet – you just have to search for it. So why bother memorising anything? This worrying question is asked far too often.

Firstly, you can’t look up something if you don’t know it exists.

Secondly, as you burrow down to specific information, you can’t connect it to the bigger picture. Creativity – the way to see things in new ways and construct new ideas – depends on being able to see and understand from different directions. If you don’t have various forms of knowledge in memory, how can you identify new patterns and ideas? All you are capable of doing is regurgitating the information that has already been neatly written and indexed for you.

Thirdly, how often do the knowledge keepers in every society have to make decisions based on what they know, without the time to go and look it up? How would you feel about a doctor who had to look up every symptom you mentioned? Or a policeman who had no idea what the law stated? Or a singer who knew none of the lyrics without an autocue?

Fourthly, if you want to go to the higher levels of thinking that we educators talk about endlessly in education – analyse and synthesise, hypothesise and theorise – then you have to analyse, synthesise, hypothesise or theorise about something. Otherwise, your new  thinking is meaningless. By grounding your knowledge, literally, in Songlines, you have a firm knowledge base on which to build ever more complex layers of understanding.

And finally, your brain is a muscle. Like every other muscle in your body, it will slowly atrophy if you don’t use it. Looking up information and regurgitating it does not exercise your brain at all.

All knowledge is based on memory, and all memory is prompted by cues. One of the great gifts on offer to us from those who understand Songlines is how to set up those cues and push our memory just that much further to a capacity we have never experienced before.

MARGO NEALE

Like the Songlines that never end, the promise of this book is to open you up to a new way of understanding and a new way of knowing and being Australian on this continent. As an Australian, you too share a kinship with the First Peoples. We are all beneficiaries of the deep history of this continent and its long human occupancy stretching back thousands of generations. Immerse yourself in this legacy. It is a shared history in a shared country.

Elders from the Songlines exhibition who are custodians of the Seven Sisters Songline are very clear about why all Australians need to know about the Songlines. As they say, if you want to share this country with us then you need to know your stories beyond the last couple of hundred years. If you want to truly belong to this country, as Australians, you have to know your story about this place, this continent and its creation: ‘We are here to teach you your stories, not just to share ours. Without the deep stories you can’t take root, you will only ever be a transplant.’

The elders are not talking about sharing their stories; they are talking about telling you your stories.

Understanding how the Songlines work as a framework for relating people to each other and to place will give you the key to belonging. Learning how to integrate the dual knowledge systems from the first and second Australians will give you access to a third archive and with it, power over knowledge.

Songlines divulge powerful lessons about what it means to be human and to live on this earth. They offer us the promise of connectivity to each other and our planet in a fragmenting world.

This is an edited extract from Songlines: The Power and Promise by Margo Neale & Lynne Kelly, available now. Series editor Margo Neale and cover design by Nada Backovic. Ebook also available.

AU$19.99


Posted on November 11, 2020
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In praise of nature: a Q&A with Lewis Blackwell

Award-winning author Lewis Blackwell is known for publishing books that inspire ideas, evoke passion and embrace nature. His latest book, The Life & Love of the Forest, takes you on a visual tour of some of the world’s most majestic woodlands. We spoke to Lewis about his dynamic career, his love for nature and what he hopes readers will take away from the book.

Lewis Blackwell from The Life & Love of the Forest, image copyright © Tim Flach.

You have worked as a leading author, the creative head of Getty Images, the editor in chief and publisher of Creative Review magazine, and much more. What has been your career highlight so far?

What a tricky question. Perhaps I should give that honour to getting the first job, fresh out of university, when I really wanted to be writer but didn’t have much of a clue. I wanted to be a writer of… whatever, as long as it meant interesting people in interesting places. I sent off a lot of letters — this was pre-internet! — and almost all of the targets politely replied. And said they had no jobs. But then I struck lucky, and an excellent editor on a local evening paper in Devon saw something in me. In no time at all, I was writing masses of stuff that was getting published. Almost all of it instantly forgettable. But I learned a lot. And even then, I was sometimes engaging with environmental stories, and good photography (not mine, my friend Martin, the trainee photographer).

You are currently director of the Cresta Awards. Can you tell us a bit about your role and how it intersects with environmental issues?

The awards are about creative standards and we have work entered from more than 70 countries — all kinds of creativity in communication. It’s interesting how strongly environmental issues are a key and growing part of how brands express themselves around the world. I guess it is reflection of a rising consciousness that the environment needs protecting. One thing I want to do with Cresta is to find a way of channeling some of the great support we get from entrants into more long-term communication that can support environmental conservation.

From The Life & Love of the Forest by Lewis Blackwell, image copyright © Björn Forenius.

Where does your passion for nature stem from?

I roamed around the English countryside a lot as a child, with friends. It was either idyllic or neglect, perhaps a mix of both. We were scarcely environmentalists, but I did ‘take in’ nature. And I grew up on a fairly remote small farm for a while, where the natural world was much of what I spent time encountering. ‘Nature’ was entertainment. I’d take a day or two of school to read a book, go for a walk, take the horse for a ride. Trees and unkempt near wilderness, and so on, were everyday matters. I went back to the area recently and discovered quite a lot of the low-yielding land was now covered in small glittery rows of solar panels, farming the sun. Nothing had changed to improve the environment, although I guess the feed-in power helped the rural poverty. So, my passion now perhaps comes out of a sense of loss, of not taking opportunities earlier to fully appreciate and act in a stronger conservationist way. That’s a personal loss, and also a sense of a much wider communal failure.

The Life & Love of the Forest is a follow-up to your best-selling books The Life & Love of the Sea, The Life & Love of the Trees, The Life & Love of Cats and The Life & Love of Dogs. Why did you feel compelled to capture forests next?

Forests are inspiring beautiful subjects to show… and also a way into an important story. We all need to have a much stronger sense of the connectedness of our natural world. We need to better understanding how soil, light, water, bacteria, fungi, plants and animals, etc., all work together to make a healthy forest, and that the complexity of the forest is a key part of what makes our world liveable. It’s increasingly not a ‘nice to know’ but a fundamental, something that should be part of how we all sense our part in the world.

From The Life & Love of the Forest by Lewis Blackwell, image copyright © wootthisak nirongboot.

There are plenty of important messages evoked throughout the book – if readers can take one thing away from The Life and Love of Forests, what would you like it to be?

If there is one thing I would like people to do as a result of reading The Life and Love of Forests, it would be to share some of the knowledge with others. Particularly young people. You can inspire a young person with interest about plants, animals, fungi — just find the bits that excite them. There are endless options. So if there’s one thing I want you, dear reader and (I hope) forest lover, to do it is to sign up some more forest lovers who have a long life ahead of them to love, protect and grow healthier forests.

Do you see a future in which we can co-exist with nature long term? How has the pandemic changed your outlook on this?

I think we have to believe in a future where we can co-exist with nature. The alternative is that we don’t exist. Nature will come back in some form, but we might not. If we have wiped most of it out, then the resulting hellish world will wipe us out. And nature will start to recover. If we work together to protect and support species diversity, which is a big ask but is entirely do-able, then we can feed ourselves better and yet not eat up the planet. We can create massive natural reserves in the ocean and on land and yet have more produce. It is all possible, but it takes joined-up thinking and a different kind of politics than we are seeing today. But it could change quite quickly. The pandemic has taught us that much: things can change very quickly and we can respond quickly.

From The Life & Love of the Forest by Lewis Blackwell, image copyright © nazar_ab.

What’s next for you?

I’m looking to create more books — one or two ideas are in development — and do more with Cresta. I want to keep learning, keep discovering and do this while meeting interesting people in interesting places. Right now, I’m trying to write something for an environmental film. I’ve a lot to learn and hopefully some skills to flex while doing the learning. It is fascinating.  And answering these questions have reminded me that, up next, or very soon, must be a return walk in one of my favourite forests, a royal one indeed, here in Scotland where I am currently spending time.

The Life & Love of the Forest is out now. Text by Lewis Blackwell, cover image copyright © TonyFeder and design by Blackwell & Ruth.

AU$80.00


Posted on November 5, 2020
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Performing for Princess Diana: An extract from Soar

Ballet great David McAllister’s memoir Soar: A Life Freed by Dance is filled with enchanting stories from his life on and off the stage. In this edited extract from the book, he shares one of his most memorable experiences as a dancer for The Australian Ballet, performing for Princess Diana in 1992.

Image: Ronald G Bell/The Australian Ballet archive

In early 1992, The Australian Ballet was preparing to head to London for its thirtieth anniversary celebrations. The company travelled first to Italy, where we performed outdoors at the Nervi Festival, before heading to London for a season of Coppélia at the Coliseum theatre in the West End. There was some anxiety that a strike in France would prevent the sets and costumes from arriving in time, but mercifully they got there and the show could go on. Miranda Coney – a fellow principal whom I had known back in my Perth City Ballet days when we were children – and I were to dance the leads in Coppélia for the Royal Gala in front of Princess Diana. It was incredibly stressful. The dress rehearsal had been a disaster, I think in part because I couldn’t stop thinking about performing for the princess, a known ballet lover and one of the most stylish and beautiful people in the world. I was terrified of putting in a bad performance.

The next morning, with the show that night, I woke up vowing I was not going to be nervous but excited. I came to the theatre determined to enjoy myself hugely – it was the most effective way of dealing with my own expectations as well as those of the other dancers and the company’s management. If I can get through winning Bronze at the International Ballet Competition in Moscow, I told myself, and not for the first time, I can get through this. A security sweep through the theatre before the performance made us even more aware of our royal guest.

From the minute the curtain went up, it was one of the few shows in which I can honestly say I don’t think I put a foot wrong. The entire company was on fire that night. Everything just seemed to happen effortlessly; I even started taking a few risks with steps – and they paid off. Miranda was so much fun to dance with and I felt like we had a real connection – the whole performance was a joy and one of the best nights of my life.

At the end of the show, after the curtain calls, Princess Diana came up on stage and we were presented to her. She was absolutely radiant – a vision in a long peach and cream gown to her ankles, and so much more beautiful than even the best photographs of her. I was completely overwhelmed, and when she came to talk to us I was a tongue-tied mess. I can’t even remember what I said, but I doubt any of it made sense. I went back to the dressing room thinking I had just blown my special moment with the most famous woman on the planet. I knew some of us were being invited to a function after the performance, so I made a pact with myself that if I saw her there I wouldn’t gibber like an idiot; I would talk to her like a normal human being.

After we changed back into our civilian clothes, we were taken to St James’s Palace, where a few of us had been chosen to mix with British high society – including royalty. Miranda, artistic director Maina Gielgud and I were there along with some other dancers from The Australian Ballet, including Colin Peasley (who had performed as Dr Coppelius that night), Jayne Beddoe, Vicki Attard and Lisa Bolte. We all thought we would be at a table with Princess Diana, but it turned out she was on another table, with a seat next to her that was occupied by a revolving circuit of people throughout the night. I was on a table with some charming people from Chanel and was having a great time. Just before dessert, Lady Potter, one of our generous patrons and the host for the evening, came and asked me if I would like to have five minutes with the guest of honour. I was sitting next to the princess before Lady Potter could finish her sentence. As luck would have it, this was precisely as dessert was being served, which, according to protocol, meant I couldn’t be moved along until the plates had been cleared.

We had about fifteen minutes together while she grappled with her peach sorbet (that was actually served in the shape of a peach) – it was so frozen she asked for a knife to cut into it, and we both spent the next few minutes trying to hack into it, in vain. The princess immediately made me feel at ease, like we were old friends. We talked about her dancing, her favourite ballet (Romeo and Juliet), Chanel shoes and our performance, which thankfully she liked. It was all a little surreal. Who would have thought that a daggy little kid showing off on a septic tank in suburban Perth would one day have dessert with a princess?

This is an edited extract from Soar: A Life Freed by Dance, out now. Text by David McAllister and Amanda Dunn, cover image by Greg Barrett and cover design by Daniel New.

AU$39.99


Posted on October 22, 2020
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A beautiful Spring menu plan from Miss Maggie’s Kitchen

We are so lucky to be able to share with you a Spring menu plan curated by the ever so talented recipe creator Héloïse Brion. This collection of recipes is taken from her new book, Miss Maggie’s Kitchen, named after her widely loved food and lifestyle brand. Together, they form a delicious four course French feast that is sure to impress your next dinner party guests.

Rosemary-Rhubarb Cooler

Makes 4 cocktails

Photography by Christophe Roué

Active Time 5 minutes

Cooking Time 5 minutes

Infusing Time 15 minutes

Ingredients

  • 600 g young, pink-stemmed rhubarb, divided
  • 1½ cups (300 g) superfine sugar
  • ¾ cup (200 ml) water
  • 4 sprigs fresh rosemary with flowers, divided 2 lemons, preferably organic
  • ¾ cup (200 ml) vodka
  • Large ice cubes
  • About 2 cups (500 ml) sparkling water

Recipe

  1. Wash the rhubarb and cut 500 g into small pieces, and the remaining 100 g into 4 large pieces for garnish. Place the small rhubarb pieces in a large saucepan with the sugar, water, and 3 rosemary sprigs. Heat until the sugar dissolves, then boil for 5 minutes to make a syrup. Remove from the heat and let infuse for 15 minutes.
  2. Strain the syrup through a fine-mesh sieve and place 2 tablespoons of syrup in each of 4 glasses.
  3. Top the syrup in each glass with the juice of ½ lemon and 3½ tbsp (50 ml) vodka.
  4. Add 4–5 ice cubes and a splash of sparkling water per drink. Stir to combine.
  5. Garnish with pieces of the remaining rosemary sprig and rhubarb before serving.

Cheese Shortbreads

Makes about 30

Photography by Christophe Roué

Active Time 10 minutes

Chilling Time 1 hour

Cooking Time 15 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 stick plus 1tsp (120g) unsalted butter, well chilled and diced
  • 1 3/4 cups (200g) shredded mature cheddar
  • 1/2 cup (50g) grated Parmesan
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup (130g) all-purpose flour
  • 12 pecan halves
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Recipe

  1. In a large bowl, combine the butter, cheeses, cayenne pepper, flour, and a pinch of kosher salt using your fingertips. When the dough comes together, shape it into a large ball.
  2. Divide the dough in two and shape each half into a log with a diameter of 6–7 cm. Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.
  3. Preheat the oven to 180°C/Gas Mark 4 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Cut the chilled dough logs into 0.5 cm slices and place on the baking sheet.
  4. Top each slice with either a pecan half or a small sprig of rosemary or thyme, lightly pressing them into the dough, and bake for 15 minutes. While the shortbreads are still warm, sprinkle them with kosher salt and pepper. Let cool and serve.

Green Bean Salad with Hazelnuts and Parmesan

Serves 4

Photography by Christophe Roué

Active Time: 10 minutes

Cooking Time: 5 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 kg green beans
  • 2 tsp whole grain mustard
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp hazelnut oil
  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp crushed toasted hazelnuts
  • 2 handfuls arugula
  • 1 handful shaved Parmesan
  • 1 handful dried cranberries or blueberries
  • A few arugula or amaranth sprouts (optional)
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

Recipe

  1. Blanch the green beans in generously salted water for 5 minutes.
  2. Plunge the beans into a large bowl filled with ice water. After 1 minute, drain and dry the beans.
  3. In the base of a large salad bowl, prepare the vinaigrette: Combine the mustard, vinegar, extra-virgin olive oil, and hazelnut oil, then season with salt and pepper.
  4. Add the green beans, hazelnuts, shallot, and dried cranberries or blueberries to the salad bowl and toss with the vinaigrette.
  5. Before serving, sprinkle the salad with the arugula, Parmesan, and amaranth sprouts if using.

Onion Quiche

Serves 4-6

Photography by Christophe Roué

Active Time: 20 minutes

Chilling Time: 30 minutes

Cooking Time: 45 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 quantity savory pastry dough with thyme (see recipe p. 25)
  • 7 onions (a mix of yellow and red), thinly sliced 1 tbsp butter, plus more for greasing the pan 3 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 eggs
  • ¾ cup (200 ml) heavy cream
  • 2 pinches ground cumin
  • 1 handful grated Gruyère cheese
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground pepper

Recipe

  1. Prepare the savory pastry dough with thyme leaves as indicated on page 25. Cover in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, place the onions in a large saucepan or Dutch oven with the butter, a generous pinch of salt, and a few grinds of pepper. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring often, until the onions are tender and translucent.
  3. Preheat the oven to 180°C/Gas Mark 4 and grease a 28-cm tart pan or dish with butter. Roll the dough into an approximately 32-cm round. Ease the dough into the pan, gently pressing it into the sides. Trim any excess dough, prick the base with a fork, and pre-bake for 10 minutes.
  4. Remove the crust from the oven and spread the mustard over the base in a thin layer. Distribute two-thirds of the onions evenly over the mustard.
  5. In a bowl, beat the eggs, then whisk in the cream and cumin. Season with salt and pepper. Pour over the onions in the tart crust and sprinkle with the grated Gruyère. Scatter the remaining onions over the top and bake for 35–40 minutes, until the filling is set and the crust is golden.

Franou’s Lemon Pie

Serves 6-8

Photography by Christophe Roué

Active Time 20 minutes

Chilling Time 2 hours

Cooking Time 35 minutes

Ingredients

FOR THE PASTRY DOUGH

  • 1 egg yolk
  • ½ cup (100 g) granulated or superfine sugar
  • 3½ tbsp (50 ml) water or milk
  • 2 cups (250 g) all-purpose flour 1 pinch salt
  • 1 stick plus 2 tsp (125 g) unsalted butter, well chilled and diced, plus more for greasing the pan
  • Generous ½ cup (80 g) toasted pine nuts

FOR THE LEMON CURD FILLING

  • 2 large lemons, preferably organic
  • 1 stick plus 2 tbsp (5 oz./150 g) unsalted butter
  • ⅔ cup (4½ oz./130 g) granulated or superfine sugar
  • 3 small eggs

Recipe

  1. To prepare the pastry dough, whisk together the egg yolk and sugar in a bowl, then whisk in the milk. Combine the flour and salt in a large bowl. Add the butter and rub it into the flour with your fingertips until coarse crumbs form. Work in the egg-sugar mixture, followed by the pine nuts, until the dough just comes together in a ball. Shape into a round, flatten the top, cover with plastic wrap, and let rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat the oven to 180°C/Gas Mark 4 and grease a 28-cm tart pan or dish with butter. Roll the dough into an approximately 33-cm round. Ease the dough into the pan, gently pressing it into the sides. Trim any excess dough, prick the base with a fork, and bake for 25 minutes, until golden. Remove from the oven and set aside.
  3. To prepare the lemon curd filling, remove the zest from 1 of the lemons in strips, using a vegetable peeler; juice both lemons and set the juice aside. Bring a saucepan of water to the boil, add the zest, and blanch zest for 5 minutes. Drain the zest and return it to the saucepan. Add the butter and cook over low heat until the butter melts. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl.
  4. Meanwhile, in another bowl, whisk the sugar and eggs together. Whisk in the lemon juice, followed by the melted butter. Pour into the saucepan and set over low heat. Cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the mixture coats the back of the spoon and has slightly thickened; this could take up to 8–10 minutes. Do not let the mixture boil or it may split. Remove from the heat and let cool for about 10 minutes. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for 1½ hours. Spoon the chilled filling into the baked crust, smooth over the top, and serve.

This is an edited extract from Miss Maggie’s Kitchen, out now. Text by Héloïse Brion with photography by Christophe Roué. Originally published by Flammarion.

AU$39.99


Posted on October 21, 2020
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Delve into the colourful world of design with David Harrison

A Century of Colour in Design is design journalist David Harrison’s dazzling anthology of 250 furniture, fabric, lights and decorative objects, illustrating how colour has defined key designs over the last century. This vibrant history will be a discovery for both design newbies and aficionados, broad in scope and filled with everything from classics to eye-catching new pieces.

We spoke to David about his long relationship with Australian and international design, the idea behind A Century of Colour in Design and his thoughts on the future of colour in design.

You have been writing and styling for some of Australia’s best interiors magazines since 1999, how did you go about developing such an extensive knowledge of design and furniture?

In the 1990s I lived in Islington, London. A shop called twentytwentyone opened on the high street selling vintage furniture and lighting along with really interesting contemporary design. It was there that I discovered the brilliance of Charles and Ray Eames and saw the work of British designers Barber Osgerby for the first time. I was hooked and spent many a late night perusing Bonham’s and Christies twentieth century auction catalogues. My knowledge has stemmed from this period of intense discovery and then later from running a design gallery which sold Noguchi lights from Japan and Danish and American furniture from the 1950s and 60s. I also discovered a lot from doing research for my regular Cult Classic page for Inside Out magazine which ran for nearly 20 years.

Your blog, Design Daily, has been praised by designers and creatives from across the globe. Tell us what drew you to this work, and what you like to report on.

The blog was a way of writing about interesting design topics that were outside of commissions that I received from magazines. It allows me to see something exciting or particularly beautiful and write about it. It is a personal exploration of what has come across my desk or what I have seen at design fairs overseas or through meeting and interviewing designers. What I feature can be a new design or a designer retrospective, a building or exhibition – there are no rules as it is just whatever takes my fancy. That’s the beauty of writing your own blog.



A Century of Colour in Design is your first solo book project. What led you to its concept and how did the book come to life?

The general premise came about through visiting the Milan Furniture Fair (Salone del Mobile) year after year and noticing how the design world was embracing colour more and more. There has literally been an explosion of colour since 2000 and it is growing exponentially. The colour component in a design is critical now where it often wasn’t given much consideration in years gone by – it was usually an afterthought at the end of the design and manufacturing process. Certain designers ALWAYS considered colour as an essential component. This is why there are eight sections in the book that highlight particular designers or design studios that have a major fascination with colour. Four of them are from the past and four are contemporary. 



In the introduction to the book, you say that ‘making selections that cover a century of furniture, lighting and other interior design objects is an enormous and somewhat daunting task.’ Aside from of course ‘applying the filter of colour’, what was the process behind the selection of objects? 

Of the tens of thousands of objects that fit within the loose area of interior products – lighting, furniture decorative objects and textiles – I selected designs from the past that used colour as an essential part of their overall expression. These have stood the test of time, in that they have often been reissued and are still considered exciting 20, 30 or even 80 years after their original release. I also chose pieces that had used or were currently using colour in innovative or surprising ways. The book is full of these examples. 

Was there an object you loved that didn’t make it into the book?

There were many, many objects that I would have liked to include but which there simply wasn’t room for. In addition, there were times where I couldn’t obtain suitable images. After much agonising I am happy with all the products that are included. Some are famous while others are hardly known at all. I tried to get a balance so that it wasn’t all about design classics and I could showcase the huge number of contemporary designs that used colour in highly effective ways.

What role do you think colour will play in the next ten years of furniture and interior design?

Colour will be massively important. It is such an emotive thing – without it life is instantly less exciting. Designers already consider colour much earlier on in the design process and this will only become more accentuated as time goes on. Colour choices will become an essential part of the design process with plenty of discussions on exact shades with designers creating their own colours, beyond the industrially available palette, to help express their concept more fully or to deliver a particular emotion.



Have you faced many challenges in your line of work since the pandemic begun?

Actually, after being isolated day after day working on the book for a solid six months at the end of 2019 and early 2020, my life is much the same but without a deadline so somewhat more relaxed! For the design world everything has had to go virtual – new product launches, design fairs, talks, everything. It is a shame as these events were often incredibly stimulating and fun but I am sure things will eventually get back to being more immediate and real. It’s hard to capture the true spirit of furniture and interior objects unless its shown in a real space as the environment has such a massive effect on how these objects feel and the type of reactions they create.

A Century of Colour in Design is available now. Text by David Harrison and design by Evi-O.Studio.

AU$39.99


Posted on October 15, 2020
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Meet the dwarf star: an extract from The Secret Life of Stars

The Secret Life of Stars is a fun and accessible introduction to the many remarkable personalities in our galactic family. From renowned astrophysicist and Australia’s first Women in STEM Ambassador Lisa Harvey-Smith, the book guides you through the most extreme and confounding members of the Galaxy’s vast, varied and really quite weird stellar brood.

In this extract from the book, Lisa delves into the strange and fascinating existence of dwarf stars.

Stars appear in a vast range of sizes, with most being smaller and cooler than the Sun. The smallest burn their hydrogen more slowly and therefore have much lower temperatures. You can tell a lot about a star from its colour. Hotter stars give off more blue light, and cooler stars tend to the red. It’s similar to how hot gas-cooking flames are blue, whereas cooler candle flames are red. Counterintuitive, huh?

By looking in great detail at the colours of stars, we can tell precisely how hot they are, what chemicals they contain, and how old they are. We can even predict their future as they go through the ageing process.

Before we go on, I should fess up that the names of star categories make no logical sense whatsoever. From the coolest to the hottest stars we call them M, K, G, F, A, B and O, with numbered subcategories from 0 to 9. Uh-huh …

There are also subcategories for luminosity (how much light a star puts out) from 0 through to VII, in Roman numerals, just to be fancy.

Adding to the confusion, all small and average-sized stars are called ‘dwarf stars’. Only the very rare and very large stars are called ‘giants’ or ‘supergiants’. There are no ‘regular’ stars.

At this point I’d like to apologise on behalf of astronomers everywhere for this ridiculous situation – astronomy is littered with strange historical naming schemes. But there we have it.

Our Sun is a G2V star, somewhere in the middle of the jumbled alphabet soup of stars. B and O stars, at the top end of the scale, are humongous, gluttonous giants that explode in a shower of sparks when they come to the end of their life. In contrast, M and K stars are cool and steady types who live long and interesting lives. From now on, we will call these M and K stars ‘red dwarfs’.

Red dwarfs have only about a tenth to one half the mass of the Sun, and are only half as hot. They are smaller in physical size, too, and decidedly dimmer (although not lacking in intelligence). These stars are capable of great feats of physics – they still burn hydrogen into helium to produce vast amounts of energy in their core – but because they are smaller, there are far fewer nuclear reactions and their output is decidedly more puny.

Red dwarfs are the most common type of star in the Milky Way, with the faintest M-dwarfs making up more than 70 per cent of stars in our universe. Despite that, we never see them. I mean that literally. We don’t see any of them. At all. Ever. We didn’t even know that red dwarfs existed before the invention of the telescope, because they are too faint to see with the naked eye. Imagine that! Every star you can see is part of the 30 per cent minority.

As slow burners, these stars live extremely long and varied lives. Not only does their reduced rate of nuclear fusion extend their life, but also their enhanced internal mixing causes fresh hydrogen fuel from the outskirts of the star to be transported to the engine in the middle. As such, we predict that red dwarfs can live in excess of a trillion years.

As adolescents they can be active and sparky. In this gregarious stage of their lives they are often characterised as ‘flare’ stars. Rather than being a regrettable 1970s fashion statement, this moniker actually describes a stage of intense variability in the life of lower-mass stars where they quickly erupt – explode, even – for a few minutes before relaxing back to their regular demeanour as if nothing had happened. Flares from young red dwarfs are 100 to 1000 times more energetic than when the stars are older. As red dwarfs age, they cease this nonsense and increasingly potter their way through life, with age slowly ripening and changing their character.

Stars of all sizes form when gravity pulls together materials in interstellar clouds of gas. Red dwarfs are the littlest stars, just slightly larger than Jupiter, and are the smallest member in the official category of stars. But there are also some almost-rans, plucky hopefuls who tried but just missed the cut-off for full stardom. These battlers, called brown dwarfs, live out quite different lives to other stars.

With core temperatures of below 3 million degrees Celsius, brown dwarfs are simply not big or hot enough to turn hydrogen into helium via nuclear fusion. They can, however, manage other nuclear fusion reactions involving chemicals called deuterium and lithium. These reactions don’t generate as much heat as hydrogen fusion, so the surface temperatures of brown dwarfs are generally below 800 degrees. They emit almost no visible light: if you looked at one close up, you might just see a dim purple-ish glow.

Brown dwarfs weren’t discovered until 1995, because the only way to find them is to use infra-red detectors. Once astronomers built a telescope powerful enough to see them, we could finally make out their slight warmth in the icy cold of space.

Lisa Harvey-Smith

The Secret Life of Stars is out now. Text by Lisa-Harvey Smith, illustrations by Eirian Chapman and cover design by Philip Campbell Design.

AU$34.99


Posted on October 1, 2020
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A recipe for blueberry-rhubarb jam

If anyone knows a thing or two about jam, it’s Jessica Koslow. After the success of her first book Everything I Want to Eat, the owner of beloved LA restaurant Sqirl is back with The Sqirl Jam Book. This home cook-friendly book features a collection of Koslow’s signature recipes for jams, jellies and preserves. Think fig jam with red wine, roasted honey apple butter and yuzu marmalade with honey. Not sure where to start? Give this delightful blueberry-rhubarb jam a go.

Photography by Scott Barry

Blueberry-rhubarb is the first berry jam that we made at Sqirl after marmalade season, a riff on a Southern classic. An iconic jam for me because it’s what Sqirl’s all about — taking a classic and turning it on its head.

Ingredients

  • 1,000 g rhubarb
  • 1,000 g blueberries
  • 1,200 g (6 cups) sugar (60% of the weight of blueberries plus rhubarb)
  • 40 g (2 Tbsp plus 2 tsp) lemon juice (2% of the weight of blueberries plus rhubarb)

Directions:

  1. Prepare your plate test by putting a few saucers in the freezer.
  2. Cut the rhubarb into 6 mm slices; they should all be about the same size for even cooking. Set aside.
  3. Put the blueberries in a blender and puree until smooth: Start with a little bit of the blueberries and blend on low speed as you add the rest of the berries and increase the speed.
  4. If you have more or less than 2,000 g rhubarb and blueberries (we use 50% rhubarb and 50% blueberries), you can figure out how much sugar and lemon juice you will need by using the following formula:
    • Grams of rhubarb plus blueberries × 0.60 = grams of sugar
    • Grams of rhubarb plus blueberries × 0.02 = grams of lemon juice
  5. Combine the blueberry puree, rhubarb, sugar, and lemon juice in a jamming pot. Cook the mixture over high heat, stirring frequently. When the rhubarb is softened, about 14 minutes, reduce the heat to low. Use a potato masher or wooden spoon to smash it; you’re going to be stirring a lot because the fruit needs to disintegrate, release liquid, and eventually melt into the blueberry puree. (It won’t fully break down — it’s okay to have some chunks.)
  6. Turn the heat back up to high and cook for 4 minutes, stirring. Use a spider or fine-mesh skimmer to skim off any scum. Dip the spider into a bowl of water and shake off any excess to clean between skims.
  7. Reduce the heat to low, then smash the rhubarb again with a potato masher for a minute. Turn the heat back up to high and continue to cook, stirring and skimming as necessary, for another couple of minutes, until the jam is thickened, the texture is homogenous, and the temperature reaches 101°C, about 25 minutes total. Perform a plate test.
  8. Spoon a little of the jam onto a frozen saucer. Put the plate back in the freezer for 1 minute, then slide a finger through the jam. It’s done when it parts and you see a strip of clean saucer. If it isn’t set, return the pot to the heat, stir constantly, and test again after 1 to 2 minutes.

Photography by Scott Barry

This is an edited extract from The Sqirl Jam Book, out now. Text by Jessica Koslow with photography and design by Scott Barry. Published by Abrams Books.

AU$49.99


Posted on September 18, 2020
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The story behind This Small Blue Dot with Zeno Sworder

This Small Blue Dot is one of a kind when it comes to picture books. With a strong message of interconnectedness, hope, inclusivity and empowerment, the book follows a little girl exploring the big and small things in life. We chatted to first-time author, illustrator and all-round talent Zeno Sworder about his fascinating career and the inspiration behind this powerful story.

You have certainly had a multifaceted career, working in immigration law, journalism, teaching, advocacy for refugees and immigrants, and even a jewellery designer. Can you tell us about one of your career highlights?

One of the absolute highlights was working on the Australia China adoption program for the Australian Consulate General in Shanghai. Although reading the babies’ abandonment reports could be heartbreaking, meeting with the Australian parents and the adopted Chinese babies was wonderful.

There were a few occasions when I had to sit down and explain to the adopting parents that the baby’s medical results showed a developmental delay. You can imagine how difficult this news was. At this point they had already spent a day or two with the baby. Because of the baby’s young age, it wasn’t clear whether the delay was due to a lack of interaction in the orphanage or a congenital disorder. But on each occasion, the parents expressed that they wanted to go ahead with the adoption and that the baby was now their responsibility to care for. One adopting father simply said that they were a family as soon as the baby was in their arms. I found that courage to be deeply moving.

How did you learn to do pencil and crayon drawing, and how long have you been an illustrator for?

I think pencil and crayon are the tools that most of us use for our first scribble. Foolishly, I kept going with them rather than move on to more technical mediums like pastels and conte sticks. I didn’t grow up with a TV, so drawing was the main source of entertainment in my house. I remember always wanting more and more pencils. For years I longed for a Derwent pack of 72 pencils, but it never happened until I was an adult (and it turns out 72 pencils still isn’t enough). I have been working as an illustrator for roughly ten years and dabble with a lot of different traditional and digital mediums, however I loved returning to pencil and crayon for this book. The pencils allowed me to make realistic graphite renderings of the young protagonist, Ms Crayon, while the loud, vibrant colour of the crayons was perfect for the world of her wild imagination.

Illustration by Zeno Sworder

Just to add to your many talents, what led you to authoring a children’s book?

It was a number of things that happened in succession. Within the space of a few years my Chinese grandmother and my English father passed away and then our second daughter was born. My grandmother and father were both wise, kind souls and I was left remembering what they had taught me and wondering what lessons they would have wanted to pass forward to our young girls. I decided to put some of these down in writing and then thought it would be a good idea to illustrate them. Every night, when everyone else was asleep, I would spend an hour or two at my desk doing this. It was time that I could spend with the memories of my grandmother and father while also making a gift for my daughters. I thought of this work as a kind of bridge to help connect these different souls that shared so much but were separated by time.

Your young narrator is loosely based on your eldest daughter. How did she inspire you to tell this story?

When I first started drawing these pages there wasn’t really a protagonist, just a colourful illustration with text and then a character kind of crept into the book to help tie things together. The first iteration of this character, Ms Crayon, was older and had a different appearance than my daughter. At that time my daughter would have been 6 and one day she came into the studio to tell me very matter-of-factly that she couldn’t be a princess. I asked why, and she explained that none of the princesses wore glasses. I was certain that with the power of the internet I could find a picture of a princess with glasses and I did manage to find a photo of a European princess but my daughter wasn’t very convinced – she was after a Disney princes. So after that I redrew the book with a protagonist who looked more like her with glasses.

Illustration by Zeno Sworder

Both my daughters and I come from multicultural backgrounds. They attend public schools full of kids from different backgrounds. For purely selfish reasons, I love the idea that some of that diversity is reflected on bookshelves and that my children will be able to see faces in books that represent the multicultural world they inhabit.

What message do you want to get across to young readers?

The main message of the book is summed up in the title of This Small Blue Dot. I wanted to get across the idea that we are all inhabitants of a bright dot spinning in space, which is home to all of us. It is up to us to take care of our home and each other. I also wanted to pass on the important lessons that I remembered from my grandmother and father: lessons about interconnectedness, beauty, the human continuum and how to use an imagination. In short, lessons about how to be in this world. These lessons were passed onto me with a spirit of fun and generosity and I have done my best to capture that tone in the book.

Do you have any advice for first time children’s authors?

My advice is to dream up a big idea that will sustain you creatively for a year or so and then start to chip away at it, one page at a time. A routine is key to this. For many years I thought that great work required an alignment of the planets and an angel to whisper an idea into an ear. It turns out the reality is a lot more mundane. For me, it is about placing my bottom in a chair every day at a specific time to do specific creative work. You won’t always make gold with the first attempt, but you will be able to put something onto paper. That in itself is precious because once it exists in the world it can be worked into something better.

What’s next for you?

I am currently working on my next book, which will also be published by the wonderful people at Thames & Hudson Australia. In my spare time I am slowly but surely learning how to use Instagram.

This Small Blue Dot is available now. Text and illustrations by Zeno Sworder.

AU$24.99


Posted on September 11, 2020
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Pups, photography and property: a Q&A with Nicole England

When we first released Nicole England’s Resident Dog in 2018, we were amazed at the response we received. Who knew that the crossover between architecturally superb houses and the adorable dogs that roamed them would resonate with so many people?

With the recent re-release of the book in a compact edition, we chatted to Nicole about all things architecture and interiors, and why the book continues to be a fan favourite both locally and internationally.

Tell us a bit about your path to becoming an architecture and interiors photographer.

After completing a Bachelor of Fine Arts at Auckland University, I went off to pursue a career in photography, working in fashion, advertising and music. After a couple of years, I gave it up, feeling disillusioned and disheartened by working within the commercial arena. My mother had a strong interest in interior design and my brother was an architect, so I settled on a job working in sales and marketing for an interior design company. Six years later, I picked up the camera again and decided to photograph within the design industry that I had grown to love. That was the ah-ha moment… this was where I was meant to be all along, photographing architecture and interiors. This was my style and my passion, and I haven’t looked back since.

What are some of your key tips for setting up the perfect photoshoot?

Be organised, be flexible, arrive early, be aware of the light and how it moves around the space, stay focused, have an assistant to help, a stylist to set things up, and of course, a dog to remind us to relax and have fun.

What challenges have you faced in your line of work since the pandemic begun?

Unfortunately, most of my shoots have been put on hold. It’s not too bad though, as I’ve had time to work on my business, learn some new skills, and start a couple of personal projects. The shoots will re-book again, I’m certain of that, so I’m just trying to enjoy the downtime before things go crazy again.

Skipper. Photography by Nicole England

Where did the concept of Resident Dog come from?

One day a friend and mentor asked me what my favourite shoot day would look like. I told her I would be photographing the most incredible architecturally designed home you’ve ever seen, surrounded by forest and ocean. There would be a great crew of people to work with, the architect, the homeowner, a stylist and an assistant, a dog would be running around, the weather would be perfect, we would eat great food and drink wine at the end of the day… an opportunity to combine all of my favourite things. From that story, the one fly away comment about the dog was honed in on, and Resident Dog was born. We see a lot of dogs in architecture photography, more and more these days, but nobody had dedicated an entire project or book to our furry friends, the most important member of our home.

Scout, Diesel and Boston. Photography by Nicole England

Do you have a favourite project from Resident Dog?

To be honest, I don’t. I love them all for different reasons. If I had to choose, it would probably be the residence of Canela (the cover star of the compact edition). She lives in an incredible concrete box, designed by Mexican architect Andres Castilles. The house has a hard brutalist exterior but is filled with love and warmth.

Canela. Photography by Nicole England

And a favourite pup?

I couldn’t possibly say, imagine if one of them read this! Charlie definitely has the best hair do, Ginger and Harry made me laugh the most, Enzo and Carlo were the most stylish, little Gaston the loudest, April and Muffy the cheekiest, and Skipper the softest…

Why do you think that the book continues to resonate with people two years on from publication?

We all love dogs and, especially at the moment, I think we find comfort in their silliness, how they live in the moment, and the way they love us unconditionally. And combined with incredible, architectural homes, that inspire us to live a little differently… I think it’s a combination that we will never get tired of, for years to come.

Enzo and Carlo. Photography by Nicole England

Resident Dog is available now in a compact edition. Text and images by Nicole England and design by JAC&.

AU$39.99


Posted on September 1, 2020
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What matters now: a gallery from Human Nature

Humanity has reached a pivotal point in time. Human Nature brings together twelve of the world’s most influential photographers to show us why. With compassion and empathy, their extraordinary images and the stories behind them help us to understand what matters now for humanity and the planet.

Get to know the different photographers featured, some of their work from the book and their views on the Age of Anthropocene.

Brian Skerry

Brian Skerry is a photojournalist with a focus on underwater environments and marine wildlife and is a lecturer on exploration, photography and conservation. His work has been featured in many publications and he has produced over twenty-five stories for National Geographic magazine.

‘The decisions that we make today are going to determine the future of this planet, and the future of our species. It’s a time for truth; it’s a time for science and storytelling and journalism to work together collaboratively. The stakes have never been quite so high.’

From Human Nature: Planet Earth in Our Time, edited by Geoff Blackwell and Ruth Hobday, image copyright © Brian Skerry.

Frans Lanting

Hailing from the Netherlands, Frans Lanting is a renowned photographer and naturalist whose work has frequently appeared in National Geographic, where he served as a photographer-in-residence.

‘Nature can help us overcome the effects of climate change in a much more effective way than anything else. If we invest in nature, in protecting nature as habitats, as forests, as lungs of the planet, then we can save species that are dependent on those habitats.’

From Human Nature: Planet Earth in Our Time, edited by Geoff Blackwell and Ruth Hobday, image copyright © Frans Lanting.

J Henry Fair

Based in New York City and Berlin, J Henry Fair creates imagery and media to explain the science of complex environmental issues.

‘What we see in these pictures are the hidden costs of mining; the detritus from the production processes that make the things that we buy every day, whether it’s electricity, bread or the soda cans we throw away on the street. We are complicit, but it’s a complicity of ignorance.’

From Human Nature: Planet Earth in Our Time, edited by Geoff Blackwell and Ruth Hobday, image copyright © J Henry Fair.

Paul Nicklen

Paul Nicklen is a Canadian photographer and marine biologist specialising in the polar regions and their wildlife.

‘Change is happening. A little too late and too slowly, but it is happening and that’s what gives me hope. We know that there’s no other option but to fight for this and I think we are going to win. There is hope everywhere around us.’

From Human Nature: Planet Earth in Our Time, edited by Geoff Blackwell and Ruth Hobday, image copyright © Paul Nicklen.

Cristina Mittermeier

Cristina Mittermeier is a marine biologist and activist who pioneered the concept and field of conservation photography, founding the International League of Conservation Photographers in 2005 to provide a platform for photographers working on environmental issues.

‘This lack of commitment to community, this lack of care for the other, is absolutely at the heart of the environmental issues we are confronted with. Inequality and climate change are the two biggest issues that we’re facing.’

From Human Nature: Planet Earth in Our Time, edited by Geoff Blackwell and Ruth Hobday, image copyright © Cristina Mittermeier.

Brent Stirton

Brent Stirton is a South African photographer and a senior staff photographer for Reportage by Getty Images, specialising in documentary work covering global topics including health, the environment and conflict.

‘It’s almost suicidal in terms of our civilisation’s thinking on these issues, but a lot of that’s because people are simply in the process of surviving, feeding their families. Conservation is almost considered a luxury, when it should be a necessity.’

From Human Nature: Planet Earth in Our Time, edited by Geoff Blackwell and Ruth Hobday, image copyright © Brent Stirton/Getty Images.

Ami Vitale

Ami Vitale is a photographer, filmmaker, writer and explorer who tells stories about our fragile relationship with the natural world.

‘We all have the capacity to get engaged and use our voices to make a difference. The messenger matters just as much as the message itself. Each of us can be a powerful voice when speaking to the people in our lives.’

From Human Nature: Planet Earth in Our Time, edited by Geoff Blackwell and Ruth Hobday, image copyright © Ami Vitale.

Steve Winter

Steve Winter has been a photographer for National Geographic for over two decades. He specialises in wildlife and particularly big cats.

‘If we can save the ecosystems and these animals’ habitats, we can help save ourselves. That’s my mantra: if we can save big cats, we can help save ourselves. We don’t have a choice; we either save the planet or we perish.’

From Human Nature: Planet Earth in Our Time, edited by Geoff Blackwell and Ruth Hobday, image copyright © Steve Winter/National Geographic.

Tim Laman

Tim Laman is a field biologist, wildlife photographer and filmmaker.

‘It’s hugely important for climate change that forest stays as forest – all that carbon that’s in there – and the birds of paradise are flagship species that can focus people’s attention on conserving New Guinea’s forests.’

From Human Nature: Planet Earth in Our Time, edited by Geoff Blackwell and Ruth Hobday, image copyright © Tim Laman.

George Steinmetz

A regular contributor to National Geographic magazine, George Steinmetz’s work has examined subjects ranging from global oil exploration and the latest advances in robotics, to the innermost stretches of the Sahara and the little-known tree house people of Papua, Indonesia.

‘Over the years, my work has turned me into an accidental environmentalist. I never set out to be an advocate for our planet, but I think that if people know more about an issue, they can make choices that will lead to solutions. Our individual choices add up.’

From Human Nature: Planet Earth in Our Time, edited by Geoff Blackwell and Ruth Hobday, image copyright © George Steinmetz.

Richard John Seymour

British photographer, designer and filmmaker Richard John Seymour uses photography and film to explore the connections between cities, economies and landscapes in an effort to draw attention to the political, environmental and social issues that stem from human-made environments.

‘In the last fifteen years we’ve produced half of the plastic ever made and in the last twenty-five years we’ve emitted half of the CO2 ever emitted in the history of humanity. Since we’ve had the information that we’ve needed to change our habits, we’ve massively done the opposite.’

From Human Nature: Planet Earth in Our Time, edited by Geoff Blackwell and Ruth Hobday, image copyright © Richard John Seymour.

Joel Sartore

Joel Sartore is an award-winning photographer, speaker, author, conservationist and the 2018 National Geographic Explorer of the Year.

‘Human beings are the ones that hold earth’s fate in our hands. We really do need to pay attention and look these animals in the eye. Hopefully then people will decide whether or not the future of life on earth is worth it.’

From Human Nature: Planet Earth in Our Time, edited by Geoff Blackwell and Ruth Hobday, image copyright © Joel Sartore/National Geographic Photo Ark.

This is an edited extract from Human Nature, out now. Text edited by Geoff Blackwell and Ruth Hobday, copyright © Blackwell & Ruth.

AU$65.00


Posted on September 1, 2020
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An Unconventional Abode from Hare + Klein Interior

Product Design and Decoration: Eloise Fotheringham

Photography: Shannon McGrath

Hare + Klein Interior is our second book to showcase the signature use of texture, colour and scale in Hare + Klein’s exceptional and responsive interior design practice.

With a 20-foot shipping container in the living room, the once Old Furniture Factory is one of the most unconventional homes in the book. The previous fit-out of this 1920s furniture factory and warehouse was mostly demolished, aside from the footprint of the mezzanine floor and the 20-foot shipping container. As author and Hare + Klein’s principal and artistic director Meryl Hare writes, “I could see no way of getting it out without removing the front of the building. The concept of working with this extraordinary item in the living room was challenging, but I decided that the ‘elephant in the room should be acknowledged – and repainted orange!”

The impressive result of Hare + Klein’s work here is a fully functioning home for a young family, complete with the shipping container turned children’s playroom, a communal dining area, a practical kitchen with an industrial feel, floods of light and staircases finished in steel to keep in theme with the original look of the building.

Hare + Klein Interior is out now. Text by Meryl Hare, design by Daniel New and cover photograph by Shannon McGrath.

AU$65.00


Posted on August 25, 2020
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An Extract from Max Allen’s Intoxicating

Intoxicating is award-winning journalist Max Allen’s personal journey through Australia’s colourful and complex drinking history, glass in hand. In the book, Max uncovers ten of Australia’s most famous – and most surprising – drinks, sharing anecdotes about each.

In this edited extract, Max discusses his first forays into cider and home distillation, from the chapter ‘Peach Cyder’.    

I was born and spent the first few years of my life in Bristol, in the heart of England’s West Country, epicentre of traditional cider production. As a teenager living in London, some of my first experiences of alcohol came in the form of big plastic bottles of cheap Woodpecker Medium Dry cider bought underage at the local off-licence. Then, travelling around the West Country in the late 1980s, I discovered the real thing: farmhouse scrumpy, stuff of legend.

The revelation came in a crumbling 16th-century pub called the Three Tuns in Hay-on-Wye, a little town famous for its bookshops and literary festival, just over the Welsh border from Herefordshire. Saggy wooden benches by the smoke-blackened inglenook, an ancient shillings-and-pence slot machine in one corner, and an even older landlady tending the tiny bar.

When I asked for cider, instead of reaching for the hand pump on the bar or a bottle from the fridge, she rummaged around in the gloom and hauled out a plastic gallon container of cloudy golden liquid. This was scrumpy, made by a local farmer using nothing but freshly pressed apple juice and wild yeasts and time.

‘Be careful,’ she warned, as she poured out a pint. And she was right: with its huge, sharp aromas of pulpy windfall fruit and its furry taste of tough, brown apple cores strewn across a barnyard, this was a deeply challenging explosion of agricultural flavour. I think it might also have had mild hallucinogenic properties. I was hooked.

I first made cider in my backyard in Melbourne in 2011. I’d found a small orchard full of old apple varieties just a few blocks from my house, in the grounds of Rippon Lea, the National Trust–owned Melbourne mansion built by merchant and politician Frederick Sargood in 1868. Like many grand estates established on the outskirts of Australia’s emerging capital cities in the late 19th century, Rippon Lea was originally surrounded by farmland. Much of that country is now covered in suburban houses, schools, cinemas and the ABC’s old Gordon Street studios where my mum worked with my wife’s parents in the 1960s. But in the 1980s, one corner of the estate near the original 1860s stables was converted to an orchard that now boasts over 130 varieties of heritage apples and pears, including Golden Pippin and the classic cider variety Kingston Black.

I’d heard that the gardeners at Rippon Lea had harvested enough fruit to make cider by netting some of the trees to stop the local flocks of lorikeets munching the crop. So I contacted the head gardener and asked if I could gather enough of what was left over – those few apples still clinging unscathed to higher branches, the unbruised windfalls lurking in the grass below – to make a demijohn of cider myself.

Photography by Riley Allen

Not owning any cider-making equipment at that time, I crushed the apples in the most rudimentary way by bashing them to a pulp with a block of wood in a bucket. Then I borrowed a winemaker friend’s old basket press, wrapped the apple pulp up in parcels of shade cloth, put them in the press, slowly squeezed them and filled a glass demijohn with golden-brown sticky syrupy juice.

At this stage, according to all the modern cider-making manuals I’d read, I should have added some safe, reliable cultured yeast from a packet. Instead, I did nothing. I walked away and waited for nature to take its course. I wanted to do what the farmer who made that scrumpy in Hay-on-Wye had done and just let the wild yeasts on the apple skins and flesh and stalks and pips, in the air, on the press, do what yeasts do naturally: turn sugar into alcohol.

Nothing happened at first. The juice just sat there. But then, after a few hours, up from the depths of the murk emerged tiny pinprick bubbles of carbon dioxide: a definite sign of microbial activity. Fermentation had started. The wild yeasts were getting to work.

As I watched those little bubbles slowly rise, I felt another strange and profound feeling of connection with the generations of people before me who have marvelled at this seemingly miraculous process. And not just the cider makers: the winemakers and brewers, all those innumerable human beings who, for thousands of years, long before scientists identified yeasts and bacteria as the living organisms responsible for fermentation, have simply trusted in the mystery to produce a delicious drink.

I’ve made my own cider each autumn almost every year since that first fermentation epiphany. I’ve bought my own small-scale cider-making equipment. I’ve crawled around on my hands and knees in the mud and damp grass under apple trees foraging for windfalls in the Goulburn Valley. I’ve scrambled over gates and fences to reach fat ripe apples on wild roadside trees in Coonawarra. I’ve made friends with orchardists on the Mornington Peninsula who have old heritage varieties: proper cider apples like Kingston Black, almost-forgotten English apples like Sturmer Pippin, unfashionable Australian apples like Sundowner.

Each year I’ve brought my motley harvest back home and dragged my crusher and press out of the garage and invited friends and family, reluctant teenagers and eager neighbours, to help me make cider. And after the crushing and pressing, we’ve all sat down for a meal and opened bottles of last year’s batch and celebrated the season.

I now take bottles of my cider with me when I travel, to share with friends or to pour for winemakers or brewers or other, professional cidermakers. Sometimes people even say they like it, which makes me feel proud – and connected, as though the annual autumn West Country rituals are echoing in my own creaking basket press.

Photography by Riley Allen

Intoxicating is out now. Text by Max Allen and cover design by Josh Durham.


Posted on July 31, 2020
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Admiring the ephemeral: a gallery from RONE

Rone: Street Art and Beyond brings together almost two decades of awe-inspiring work created by one of Australia’s most renowned street artists. This striking survey weaves through Rone’s early street work and stencils, to his arresting murals, and finally the large-scale projects he has ambitiously taken on in the past five years. These projects, immersive installations resulting from the transformation of condemned, derelict or forgotten spaces, have been praised across the globe. Undeniably unique, they explore divergent themes of beauty and decay, youth and ruin. Each artwork is painstakingly produced in immense detail, only to be destroyed, defining them as utterly ephemeral.

Here, we take a sneak peek at Rone’s fascinating installation projcts featured in the book.


EMPTY. October 2016, Fitzroy, Melbourne, Australia.

“Empty sparked Rone’s passion for creating immersive experiences and fuelled a deeper relationship: fusing art, architecture, decay and fleeting beauty.”

The Empire, 2016. Photography by Rone.


ALPHA. February 2017, Alphington, Melbourne, Australia.

“For Rone, Alpha was about taking the ugliest, crudest, dirty, masculine walls and turning them into something beautiful and fragile”.

The Shape of Things to Come, 2017. Photography by Rone, assisted by Tom Franks.

Without Darkness There Is No Light, 2017. Photography by Rone, assisted by Tom Franks.


OMEGA. June 2017, Alphington, Melbourne, Australia.

Collaborator: Carly Spooner, interior stylist.

“Omega, a natural progression from Alpha, forged connections between humans and their experiences through delicate manipulations of intimate space.”

Autumn, 2017. Photography by Rone.

The Green Room, 2017. Photography by Rone.


EMPIRE. March-April 2019, Sherbrooke, Victoria, Australia.

Collaborators: Carly Spooner, interior stylist; Loose Leaf, organic sculptors; Nick Batterham, composer; Kat Snowden, scent designer.

“To experience Empire was to experience beauty in loss.”

The Music Room, 2019. Photography by Rone.

His Room, 2019. Photography by Rone.

Rone is available now. Cover image by Rone and design by Claire Orrell.

AU$59.99


Posted on July 24, 2020
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At Home in a Strange Land

Landscapes of Our Hearts is an epic exploration of our relationship with this country. From distinguished research scientist and award-winning writer Matthew Colloff, the book asks the question: ‘If we look afresh at our history through the land we live on, might Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians find a path to a shared future?’

In this extract, Colloff discusses the importance of responsibility in the pursuit of belonging for Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.

Photography: Jackie Money

Most Australians have connections with more than one place, whether they are Indigenous people or descended from 19th-century European settler-colonists or more recent migrants, refugees and asylum-seekers. We value and maintain our cultural identity. For many Australians, the expression of culture singles them out as ‘different’ from other Australians and creates the tension between integration into ‘the Australian way of life’ and the multicultural plurality of modern Australian society. For example, the children of Greek migrants who refused to go with their parents and older relatives to large group barbecues and picnics in parks because they regarded such an event as ‘woggy’; in other words, it represented their involvement in a cultural activity that would identify them as migrants to other Australians.1

But there is no contradiction between citizenship and cultural diversity. Attempts by politicians and populists to construct and promulgate ‘a national identity’ have tended to be unsuccessful. Sociologist Robert Van Krieken writes, ‘Political and cultural citizenship do not necessarily coincide – it is possible to be defined legally as a citizen, but still remain an outsider, with the rules governing the transition from one category to the other remaining obscure and elusive.’2 I would argue that the process of transition from one to the other often begins with developing a connection with this land and the process of place-making.

Are we all strangers in our own land, trying to make a home wherever we find ourselves? For Australians of Anglo-Celtic descent whose families have been here for several generations, they may have been born in one place, grown up in another and live as adults somewhere else again. For many Indigenous Australians, their ancestors may have been forcibly removed from their lands, their grandparents or great-grandparents raised on a mission or an Aboriginal reserve many hundreds of kilometres away, and their parents may have moved from place to place to find work, as Stan Grant’s parents did, all the while trying to stay in contact with the diaspora of their kin.

For many of us migrants, the idea of referring to Australia as my country carries with it a deeply felt sense of ambivalence. This tension emerges not only from the cultural connections with the countries of our birth but also an unease about whether we have such a right, considering this land was taken by invasion and dispossession of its Indigenous peoples during the one hundred and forty years of the Frontier Wars. As Henry Reynolds wrote: ‘It was only by forgetting that white Australia was able to overlook the violent foundation of the nation.’3

Historian Peter Read sums up the tension as follows: ‘how can we non-Indigenous Australians justify our continuous presence and our love for this country while the Indigenous people remain dispossessed and their history unacknowledged?’4 Some of us make our place and feel a strong sense of belonging accordingly. We feel we have a right to belong. Others of us feel no such right. Australia always was and always will be Aboriginal land. Belonging is a deeply personal journey, travelled by multiple routes. There was nothing in the citizenship interview and examination that I took in 1996 on how to go about the process of belonging. The only mention in official documentation on citizenship is the statement that volunteering can be a great way of increasing one’s sense of belonging to the Australian community and that, ‘You can walk the desert or the shore, the mountains or the rainforests. Every step you take is a step closer to belonging to this vast and vibrant land.’5 Indeed. A route to belonging through volunteerism and tourism. Were it that easy.

For some, claiming continuity with Indigenous people and the environment as part of our non-Indigenous heritage is a means of achieving a sense of belonging. In an interview with Peter Read, environmental historian Tom Griffiths stated: ‘Aborigines and environment: these are the two great historical revolutions of our generation. Writing both into Australian history allows you to reach back beyond the moment of invasion and draw you into deep time as part of our own inheritance. We should discover the continuities.’6

Griffiths’ perspective echoes the need to reconcile a sense of attachment to place with the history of environmental and cultural change. With this need comes a set of responsibilities to ‘a vision of a morally and environmentally integrated Australia’, in which the relationship between humans and the environment is one in which people ‘share its past and provide for its future’. Yet can non-Indigenous Australians legitimately claim to belong to deep time while Indigenous Australians remain dispossessed and governments continually seek to obstruct practical processes of reconciliation?7

Perhaps one way for non-Indigenous Australians to think construc­tively about these vexed issues is not just to focus on assumptions about rights of belonging, but on their responsibilities. Simply put, if our sense of belonging is to be gained through a continuity with deep time history, then we have an equal responsibility to Indigenous Australians, ourselves and our shared environment to do what we can to achieve reconciliation. We might start by considering and adopting elements of the ancient environmental knowledge, values and rules of Indigenous Australians that they observe and we do not. Perhaps this might form a basis to begin to shape our common future in more sustainable ways.8

If there can be no lasting or legitimate sense of belonging without a sense of responsibility to the land and each other, then here’s the challenge, as articulated by Tom Griffiths: ‘If all Australians are to rejoice in the deep past, then we must ask the non-Aboriginals to share responsibility for its mistakes. If all Australians are to rejoice in the deep future, then we must ask the Aboriginals to share in its responsibility.’ Idealistic and difficult this may seem in practice, but the alternative is worse; a business-as-usual continuation of what we have already done: ‘the mere expropriation of past and future’.9 If we can acknowledge the past, reconcile the present and nurture the future, then perhaps all Australians, one day, may truly find a place we can call home.

NOTES

1     Denis Byrne, Heather Goodall & Allison Cadzow, Place-Making in National Parks: Ways That Australians of Arabic and Vietnamese Background Perceive and Use the Parklands along the Georges River, NSW, University of Technology Sydney and Office of Environment and Heritage, Sydney, 2013, p. 17.

2     Robert Van Krieken, ‘Between Assimilation and Multiculturalism: Models of Integration in Australia’, Patterns of Prejudice, vol. 46, no. 5, 2012, pp. 500–17.

3     Henry Reynolds, Forgotten War, UNSW Press, Sydney, 2013.

4     Peter Read, Belonging: Australians, Place and Aboriginal Ownership, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2000, p. 1.

5     Department of Home Affairs, Australian Citizenship: Our Common Bond, Communication and Engagement Branch, Department of Home Affairs, Canberra, 2018, pp. 17, 41.

6     Read, p. 178.

7     Read, p. 181.

8     Tyson Yunkaporta, Sand Talk: How Indigenous Thinking Can Change the World, Text Publishing, Melbourne, 2019; ‘Can Indigenous Thinking Save the World?’ Late Night Live, Radio National, 16 September 2019.

9     Read, p. 183.

Landscapes of Our Hearts is available now. Text by Matthew Colloff, cover photography by Louise Denton Photography, and cover design by Alissa Dinallo.

AU$34.99


Posted on July 1, 2020
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Making Colour Visceral: How Paint is Made

From one of the world’s most respected paint-makers, David Coles, Chromatopia reveals the stories behind fifty striking pigments. In this extract, Coles discusses the extraordinary process through which paint is made.

Photography by Adrian Lander

This book has looked at the origins of historical and contemporary pigments, but pigments are hardly ever used in their raw form. To be usefully employed as a colour, billions of individual grains of pigment must be glued together with a binder. This is, in essence, how you make paint.

Throughout history, people have found ways to permanently ‘fix’ colour to create lasting images of the most exquisite beauty. For instance, the binding of pigments in Neolithic cave paintings was probably serendipitous; cave walls containing silicas or limestone trapped the pigment and locked it to the surface over time. Since then, we have discovered a host of sticky, adhesive materials in nature that could hold pigments in place. Some of these earliest binders are still used by artists. Gum arabic, the water-soluble sap of the North African acacia tree, makes watercolours; and beeswax, collected and refined from hives, makes encaustic (molten wax) paint.

Mixing pigments with different binders successfully converts them into a material for uses as diverse as house paints, plastics, writing inks, automotive coatings, paper and – of most interest to me – artists’ paint.

In my role as a master paint-maker, I make oil paint, which are by dispersing pigments in a ‘drying oil’ such as linseed, walnut, poppy or safflower oils. Linseed oil is by far the most important and widely used drying oil. When drying oils absorb oxygen they convert from a liquid into a hard, permanent coating. Pigments can be bound with very small amounts of oil. This means that oil paints contain much higher amounts of the pigment than watercolour or acrylic paints. For artists, this gives the paint a physical feeling. The paintbrush is literally pushing around dense, coloured pastes.

Photography by Adrian Lander

So how do we make our paint? Our first task was to source a high-quality linseed oil. We selected ours after sampling dozens of products from suppliers all over the world. We were looking for a clean, straw-coloured oil that was free of natural impurities. It had to have a good drying rate and minimal yellowing as it aged. Eventually we chose exceptional bright, clear oils made in Holland and Germany.

Next comes the selection of the pigments. There are so many manufacturers of pigments that the choice seems overwhelming. We hunt out pigments that have qualities equal to their noble intended use: they must be as lightfast as possible, chemically stable and exhibit colour qualities of benefit to the artist. The vast majority of pigments do not meet our needs. They are built for larger, more commercially important industries and have been tailored for industrial applications.

To select our pigments, we go through a long period of investigation. We select colours of interest, research the chemical construction of the pigment, and assess its suitability for artists’ paint before requesting samples for laboratory trials. The anticipation of opening a sample box and seeing a new pigment for the first time, in its raw unadulterated form, is exhilarating. There is always the nervous hope that the promise held out by this new pigment will be borne out, that its potency will not dull, and that its colour will not be lost when it is mixed with the binder. Backwards and forwards go the experiments – working out the right amount of pigment to add to the oil and correcting for undesirable qualities. Like a chef honing a new dish, small, delicate changes in the recipe can lead to dramatic differences in the finished product.

Photography by Adrian Lander

When we are ready to make the paint, the linseed oil is weighed out into 60-litre heavy-duty stainless-steel bowls. All of our manufacturing equipment and surfaces are stainless steel. The equipment is kept meticulously clean to prevent any chance of other colours contaminating the purity of each new batch.

Stearate, a wax-like material that is essential to the wetting and stability of the paint, is weighed and added to the oil. The bowl is secured in a planetary mixer and large, powerful motors slowly rotate the blade through the wax and oil mixture.

Next, another steel bowl is placed on the electronic scales, ready for the pigment. Even after all these years, opening the bins of pure pigment is a ridiculously breathtaking assault on the eyes. The pigment is scooped out, weighed and added slowly to the oil. There are no short cuts. Adding all the pigment at once would make incorporation impossible. The liquid oil allows the individual grains of colour to slide over each other. The physical shape of pigments means that, without this lubrication, they would drag over each other, causing extraordinary resistance, reducing the mixing action and – as happened once very early on – breaking the very expensive blade of the mixer.

The slow churning of the paste begins. Over the rumbling of the mixer’s motor, you can hear delicious slurping noises as the blade methodically drives through the mixture. As the dry pigment is gradually incorporated with the wet oil, it changes from an incredibly thick batter into what looks like an enormous vat of vividly coloured butter.

This process can take as long as four hours, but it is not the finished paint. Under close inspection, vast quantities of the pigments still cling together rather than being individually coated. This is where the triple-roll mill comes in.

Photography by Adrian Lander

A triple-roll mill is at the heart of paint-making. At its most basic, it is three horizontal granite rollers that each run at different speeds and spin in alternating directions. The paste is scraped out of the mixer’s bowl with a baker’s blade and dropped into the hopper. Each giant dollop makes a delicious slap as it plops onto the rollers below. The paste is drawn down into the tiny space between the rollers, again and again. With each pass, the space is narrowed to more aggressively separate the pigment particles. If you have ever used a pasta-making machine with its two rollers forcing the dough through the small space between them you can understand the paint-making process. Just as the roughly made dough cannot pass through the narrowest setting first, so the pigment-paste must be passed through the mill rollers multiple times. It’s just that our mill is like a pasta-machine on steroids, with three rollers rather than two and a massive motor to drive the material through. For soft pigments such as zinc white only three passes are needed, but the synthetics can take up to nine passes. Synthetic pigments are very difficult to prize apart: their incredibly small size and specific shape mean they have to be painstakingly teased into dispersion.

The paint-maker must be constantly attentive to the vagaries of milling. Rollers heat up under the friction of pigment particles, which alters the size of the roller gap, and the fluidity of the oil is affected by changes in ambient temperature. Also, pigments behave differently from one batch to another. This is especially true of the natural earths, which vary in their mineral make-up depending on the part of the seam the earth was dug from.

Photography by Adrian Lander

Towards the end of the paint-making process, we take samples of the paint and test it for quality. Historically, paint-makers would rub the paint between their thumbnails – a simple but surprisingly delicate solution to feel for the grittiness of unmixed pigment. Nowadays we use a precisely honed stainless-steel gauge to check the quality of dispersion.

But we are still not ready to sign off on the product. Two extremely thin films of the freshly made paint are applied to paint-maker’s cards. One daub is the pure paint. The other is the paint mixed with a specified amount of titanium white.  By placing the card next to one from a previous batch of the same colour, we can ensure that every time we make the paint it has identical colour, tinting strength, tint colour and undertone to all previous versions.

Only after the paint has passed these tests is it approved for packing. It is hand-filled into collapsible aluminium paint tubes, labelled with hand-painted swatches of the individual colour, boxed and shipped to studios around the world.

Chromatopia is available now. Text by David Coles, photography by Adrian Lander, and cover design by Evi. O Studio.

AU$34.99


Posted on June 17, 2020
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Vogue & The Met: A Glance at Fashion History

Over the past twenty years, The Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute has produced, time and time again, fascinating and provocative exhibitions. Their annual exhibition is the most spectacular of its kind, providing a window into significant moments in fashion history. Even more, they reflect and create the contemporary zeitgeist. The show’s opening night fundraiser, commonly known as The Met Gala, is attended by notable stars, young creatives, and industry paragons alike.

Vogue & The Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute: Parties, Exhibitions, People unveils the seamless collaboration between The Met and Vogue in bringing both the exhibition and gala to life each year. This updated and expanded version of the book, originally published in 2014, includes the dramatic and daring exhibitions of the past five years. Think 2015’s ‘China Through the Looking Glass’ through to 2019’s unforgettable ‘Camp Notes on Fashion’. In the absence of a 2020 gala, wanted to celebrate this ode to the museum and it’s history with a few of our favourite photographs from the book.

Photography by Eric Boman © The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Photography by Eric Boman

Vogue & The Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute: Parties, Exhibitions, People is available now. Text by Hamish Bowles, foreword by Max Hollein, and introduction by Anna Wintour. Edited by Chloe Malle and originally published by Abrams Books.

AU$90.00


Posted on June 9, 2020
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Colours in the Time of the Ancients

From one of the world’s most respected paint-makers, David Coles, Chromatopia reveals the stories behind fifty striking pigments. The book spans several time periods; here, we look at some of the colours featured from the ancient world.

Egyptian Blue

Photography by Adrian Lander

This was the first synthetically produced colour.

Invented at around the same time as the Great Pyramids were being built, Egyptian blue’s creation dates back about 5000 years. The Ancient Egyptians believed blue was the colour of the heavens and because of the rarity of naturally occurring blue minerals like azurite and lapis lazuli, they devised a way to manufacture the colour themselves.

Egyptian blue was not produced by blind chance: it was created with precision. Made by heating lime, copper, silica and natron, the pigment’s invention was a development of the ceramic glaze processes. The Egyptians controlled the firing of the raw materials with amazing accuracy, holding their kilns at a crucial temperature close to 830°C.

The famous crown of Queen Nefertiti owes its colour to Egyptian blue and the pigment was used extensively for painting murals, sculptures and sarcophagi. It spread from Egypt to Mesopotamia, Greece and the outer reaches of the Roman Empire and was used at the palace at Knossos, in Pompeii and on Roman wall paintings. Known to the Romans as caeruleum (from which the colour cerulean derives its name), it was widely used throughout the Classical Age, but the knowledge of how to make it was lost with the fall of the Roman Empire.

Discoveries made by Napoleon’s 1798 Egyptian expedition led to further investigation of Egyptian blue; and eventually, in the 1880s, the chemical composition of the pigment was identified and the manufacturing process was recreated.

Orpiment

Photography by Adrian Lander

Orpiment was the closest imitation to gold.

Its Latin name is auripigmentum (gold paint) and in the classical world, it was believed that this resemblance had deeper alchemical roots. It was even said that the Roman emperor Caligula could extract gold from the mineral.

In fact, orpiment carries a much more dangerous substance. It is a highly toxic sulphide of arsenic. The Persian word zarnikh (gold-coloured) became arsenikon in Greek and then arrhenicum in Latin, from which the English word ‘arsenic’ is derived. The Romans were well aware of orpiment’s poisonous nature and used slave labour to mine it. For the unlucky slaves this was, in essence, a death sentence.

Orpiment was used in Ancient Egypt as a cosmetic, taking its place in history alongside other deadly pigments used in makeup. It was used in painting for centuries throughout Persia and Asia, but in Europe, because of the dominance of lead-based yellows, it was most often employed in manuscripts.

A manufactured version, known as king’s yellow, was available from the 17th century. The name is believed to come from Arabic alchemy, which described orpiment and realgar as the ‘two kings’.

Both the naturally occurring and synthetic versions of orpiment were incompatible with other commonly used pigments, particularly lead-based pigments like flake white, and copper-based pigments like verdigris and malachite.  It was infamous for turning them black. With the introduction in the 19th century of the more chemically inert and less toxic cadmium yellow, orpiment fell out of usage.

Woad

Photography by Adrian Lander

Woad was widely used as a dye in Europe as early as the Stone Age.

Ancient Britons covered their bodies with woad to face the Roman legions and it is said that they struck fear into Julius Caesar himself.

The first part of the woad-making process involved taking fresh leaves of the woad plant, Isatis tinctoria, grinding them to a pulp, rolling them into balls the size of large apples and leaving them to dry in the sun. They could then be stored and used at a later date. Like indigo, the dye is extracted by fermentation. Traditional recipes specify that the plant be soaked in urine under the heat of the sun and trampled for three days. After that, the remaining liquid is a yellowish colour.

The indigo molecule is the blue colourant in woad. The magical quality of indigo is that the distinctive blue colour only develops after the textiles are removed from the dye bath and exposed to air. During the dyeing process, a scum called florey, known as the flower of woad, also develops on the surface. This was skimmed off and dried so it could be used separately as a paint colour.

The fermentation process releases large quantities of ammonia. Far worse, however, is that the plant depletes the soil that it grows in, leaving an infertile wasteland in its wake. Laws were passed in medieval Europe to curb this devastation.

Although indigo was known since Imperial Rome, the more colour-intense Indian indigo was not readily available in the west until commercial quantities were imported at the beginning of the 17th century. It supplanted woad, and production rapidly declined as a result.

Chromatopia is available now. Text by David Coles, photography by Adrian Lander, and cover design by Evi. O Studio.

AU$34.99


Posted on May 20, 2020
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At home with cake queen Alice Oehr

Alice Oehr is passionate about her career in illustration and design, but her heart truly belongs to cake. In her first book, The Art of Cake, Alice explores the wonderful culture of cake, profiling fifty of the world’s favourite in her signature illustrative style. We visited Alice at her colourful home to chat about her road to becoming one of Melbourne’s most popular artists and all things dessert.

Can you share a bit about your background and what led you to becoming one of Melbourne’s favourite illustrators/designers?

I have always made things and enjoyed art, but it took me a while to come around to committing my life to it as I had other interests. I did an arts degree, travelled, and had some fun before knuckling down and studying graphic design. This gave me a set of skills that I could immediately use to realise my ideas, and to work for people who needed things done. I gradually leaned more into illustration as this is where my passion lay: colour, pattern, and so forth.

What was your approach to decorating your home, and what makes it quintessentially ‘you’?

I think a lot of artists are collectors (or hoarders, for a better word) as they are romantically drawn to objects and the life that thing has had. This is the case for me. I had no planned approach to decoration but over time, my home has become filled with things that all have sentimental value; objects passed down from grandparents, artworks from friends and souvenirs collected from round the world. Thus, the house is rather colourful, eclectic and chaotic, and that is me.

What is your favourite item in your house, and what does it mean to you?

I don’t really have a favourite, though some things do bring back very good memories. The corn jug is something that really makes me laugh, as it is so kitsch. I bought it at a flea market in France on holiday with my family. It appalled my mother, walking, as it does, the line of good taste. I enjoy this object because I can actually use it, and regularly put flowers in it.

How do you split your time between your home and your studio?

The only approach that works for me is to treat my freelance work as a full-time job. I work 9am to 6pm at my studio, and almost never at night or on weekends. I don’t  go out for lunch or go shopping during work time as I find this will come back to bite me later, when I find myself staying up until 2am finishing it.

You say that cakes are embedded in our memory, ‘laced with a heavy dose of nostalgia from the sweet moments of our past.’ Where does your love for cakes and pastries come from?

At first, I didn’t really know; but through the process of making this book, I have realised it is from the great sense of occasion my parents attributed to a visit to the cake shop when I was a kid. It served as a bribe, and it worked. In childhood too, the grand event of a birthday cake was long drawn out: choosing the flavours and the decoration, anticipating it, then being presented with it in front of a crowd in a great show of sparklers and singing. All that emotion is deeply embedded in the way I think about desserts – they are always special, and something to get excited about.

When did you start illustrating cakes, and at what stage did The Art of Cake come into conception? Can you talk a little about the creative process behind the cakes in the book?

My habit of drawing everything I see when I go travelling is what sparked the idea for the book. When I’m away I notice everythingand draw all the things I see and do. Each country I’ve visited has their own unique answer to a ‘sweet treat’, especially in places like France and Italy – their cakes are like works of art. Coming from Australia where we have more of a ’Women’s Weekly’ approach to cakes; the ostentatious decoration of France’s petits fours, for example, really appealed. The book seemed like a good idea as the universal appeal of a cake was clear. Every culture, from pretty much time immemorial, has had its own form of sweet dish – often associated with reverence or celebration – and I felt that this could be explored. I researched what are considered the most beloved cakes around the world and compiled a list. I investigated each cake to write my description of it’s flavour and presentation, as well as its history and most interesting tidbits. Then I drew them all!

What’s the best place in Melbourne for cake or a sweet treat?

For cake, absolutely without question, Beatrix in North Melbourne. If you’re after a more ‘bread–like’ snack, for instant a croissant or brioche pastry, Baker D. Chirico in Carlton is the best in that department.

What other projects have you been working on that we can expect to see this year?

My favourite on-going project is the weekly still life drawing class that I teach at Lamington Drive gallery in Collingwood. I choose a theme, set up a scene on a table, and 20-30 people come in to explore drawing the still life on an iPad Pro. Exploring digital drawing is a new and exciting activity and always promotes interesting conversation.

Alice’s still life drawing classes have taken a pause during isolation but are set to resume later this year.

The Art of Cake is available now. Text by Alice Oehr.

AU$24.99


Posted on May 11, 2020
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Shortlist: Illustrated Book of the Year at the 2019 ABIAs

Australia Modern has been shortlisted for the Illustrated Book of the Year award at the 2019 Australian Book Industry Awards. We’d like to extend a warm congratulations to the authors, Hannah Lewi and Philip Goad, the designer, Stuart Geddes, and all of the contributors and editors involved with the creation of the book.

Get to know Australia Modern

Australia Modern is the most complete survey of modernist Australian architecture, interiors and landscape design spanning 1925 to 1975. With a focus on buildings and places that still exist, the book features 100 significant site examples by Australia’s most revered architects, rich archival imagery and expert essays exploring how modernism has shaped Australian society.

The book pays tribute to all types of examples of Australian modernism, whether big or small, famous or everyday. From the Sydney Opera House and the National Gallery of Victoria, to a Pop-Brutalist courthouse in regional Victoria or a modest lawn bowls club, Australia Modern recognises both the iconic and the now-obsolete. As the authors note, these examples are ‘part of our history, tangible physical reminders of the twentieth-century hopes, aspirations and growth of our local communities, cities, towns and landscapes’.

Where to catch the award ceremony – that’s right, you’re invited!

This year, the ABIAs will be held virtually via the official YouTube channel. The perk of going virtual? Anyone can tune in to watch the announcement of the winners on Wednesday 13th May from 4pm AEST.


Australia Modern is available now. Text by Hannah Lewi and Philip Goad and design by Stuart Geddes.

AU$80.00


Posted on May 4, 2020
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A Q&A with design expert Penny Craswell

Photography by Fiona Susanto

Sydney-based editor, writer and curator Penny Craswell has built a career doing what she loves: showcasing exceptional Australian architecture and interiors and writing about why they really matter. Now, Penny has released her first book, Design Lives Here, a compelling look at the connection between spaces and objects that puts the spotlight on local makers. We spoke to Penny about the inspiration behind the book, her favourite project featured, and her predictions for the future of Australian contemporary design.

Where did your love for design, architecture and interiors stem from?

It all started in Amsterdam, where I had originally planned to do an internship for a photography magazine (my first degree was Art History and Curatorship).The photography magazine didn’t have enough desks, so I went to Frame magazine, which happens to be the world’s biggest (and best) design magazine. I fell in love with design there, and when I moved back to Australia, I decided to pursue a career in design magazines and writing.

How does this translate into your blog, The Design Writer?

My blog features amazing design happening in Australia – from architectural and interiors projects like houses, restaurants and retail, to the best design objects, furniture and lighting. I also promote ethical design – design that is doing good for the environment and society.

Design Lives Here goes a step further by paying homage to local designers and makers who have crafted bespoke pieces of furniture and lighting for stunning Australian residential architecture and interiors. What led you to this project and how did it take shape?

I have a real love of interiors stemming from my time as Deputy Editor of Indesign magazine and Editor of Artichoke magazine. Far more than just colours and patterns, it is an incredible skill of understanding how spaces are used and how they should be proportioned – a too-large room is just as badly designed as a too-small room. But I also love design objects – my masters thesis was about objects and products, and how people attach stories to them – how they are made, how they are used. This book combines the two – it’s about the stories attached to both interior and object.

The idea for the book was to show the beauty of Australian design – I wanted to pair each house or apartment with one piece of Australian furniture or lighting design. In some cases, I found the pairing through the architect or interior designer and in some cases I found it through the furniture or lighting designer.

Photography by Michelle Brasington

For those who haven’t read Design Lives Here, can you tell us a bit more about the importance of spaces and objects being connected by the design process?

Every designer, whether they’re an architect, interior designer, object designer or fashion designer, starts with an idea and then works this through various iterations – sketching by hand or on a computer or both – and then works with materials to make that idea come to life. Through exploring how something was made, we can peel back the layers and truly understand its meaning and value.

Is there a takeaway for our readers on how they can bring this ethos into their own homes?

I would say that the first solution is not necessarily the best solution – sometimes you need to go through a process to find the right answer. Obviously, professional designers are the experts, so hire them if you can to help you, especially on larger projects. I would recommend that everyone consider buying Australian design – the quality and originality of the design is there, often without the huge price tag.

Do you have a favourite project from Design Lives Here?

I tried to choose a range of projects – large and small, urban to remote, for small families and large. But for me, my favourite has to be Indigo Slam by Smart Design Studio – it is a truly monumental house that is also intimate in places, and the furniture, designed and made by Khai Liew in Adelaide, is exquisite.

What would you say is the most unique object featured, and is there more to its story than revealed in the book?

I really love the Black Sambuca Chandelier by Ruth Allen – she is a glass artist and she recycles used Black Sambuca bottles – those long elegant glass shapes – into pendant lights. I didn’t mention it in the book, but Ruth told me that black glass is quite rare so working this way offers the designer/maker the chance to recycle something that would otherwise be post-consumer waste, while also working with a rare material.

Sunflower chair (Khai Liew) at Indigo Slam (Smart Design Studio), photography by David Roche
Black Sambuca chandelier (Ruth Allen) at Kiah House (Austin Maynard Architects), photography by Tess Kelly

In the book, you say that ‘the Australian dream of owning a quarter-acre block with a picket fence and a garage is no longer relevant – or at least no longer so simple.’ Can you explain why this is?

It is partly because property prices are so high these days that many young people can’t afford a mortgage on one salary the way our parents could – and sometimes they can’t afford it with two salaries. These days, we may not need a garage as many people prefer bicycles and/or public transport. Also, for financial reasons, apartments are becoming more popular in Australia, as is inter-generational living.

Where do you think Australian contemporary design is headed?

All signs show that Australian design is continuing to grow. I think we need to work on educating the general public about the value of design – there is a burgeoning design industry in Australia and people need to know they can choose to buy Australian design. As long as this continues to happen, the future looks bright for designers, makers, manufacturers and brands looking to grow their business.

What other projects are you working on, and what’s next for you?

I’m working on my blog right now and doing some preliminary research for my next book!

Design Lives Here is available now. Text by Penny Craswell and cover design by Claire Orrell.

AU$59.99


Posted on April 21, 2020
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Alice Oehr’s wonderful world of cake: a gallery

The Art of Cake is illustrator, designer and artist Alice Oehr’s playful ode to cake for its devotees everywhere. Through her distinctive, quirky style, she captures cake as an art form that satisfies not only our taste buds but also our eyes and imagination.

Learning about the history of fifty cakes adored across the globe is like the sweet escape you didn’t know you needed. We’ll take a bet here and guess that you don’t know the story of the Cannoli, the origin of the Éclair, or the scandal behind the Sachertorte. Alice covers them all with a sense of nostalgia and whimsy. The Art of Cake also features six of Alice’s own homespun recipes to keep you busy and baking.

Take a look through our gallery of six of our favourite cakes from the book: the humble carrot cake, the controversial pavlova, the dainty strawberry shortcake, the strikingly layered red velvet cake, the elegant éclair and finally the alluring black forest gâteau.

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The Art of Cake is available now. Text and illustrations by Alice Oehr and design by Ashlea O’Neill

AU$24.99 / NZ$29.99


Posted on April 8, 2020
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#SupportingLocal: bookstores offering delivery and more

Now is a more important time than ever to support your local bookstores. Stock up for your personal library and check out our live list of bookstores offering free delivery services, pick-up options and over-the-phone book recommendations to get you through.

This is a live list, get in touch if you would like to add a service being offered by a local bookstore.

VICTORIA

Aesop’s Attic (Kyneton): Accepting phone orders and offering a drive through pick-up service.

Antipodes Gallery & Bookshop (Sorrento): Accepting phone and email orders and offering free home delivery to local suburbs.

Avenue Bookstore (Richmond, Albert Park and Elsternwick): Accepting phone and email orders and offering free same day delivery to local suburbs for orders over $30 placed before 3pm.

Avoca Hill Bookstore (South Yarra): Free delivery to local suburbs for orders over $20 and next day delivery for in stock items.

Beaumaris Books (Beaumaris): Over-the-phone book recommendations, free gift wrapping and offering free delivery to local suburbs.

Benn’s Books (Bentleigh): Accepting phone, Instagram and email orders and offering free delivery to Bentleigh, East Bentleigh, McKinnon, Moorabbin and Murrumbeena.

Blarney Books (Port Fairy): Accepting phone and Facebook orders and offering free delivery to local suburbs.

Book and Paper (Williamstown): Accepting Instagram, Facebook and text orders and offering home delivery to local suburbs.

Brunswick Bound (Brunswick): Accepting phone and online orders and offering free delivery to Brunswick, Brunswick East, Brunswick West, North Carlton, North Fitzroy, Coburg, Moonee Ponds and Essendon.

Brunswick Street Bookstore (Fitzroy): Accepting phone, email and online orders and offering free delivery to local suburbs.

Collins Moonee Ponds: Accepting online orders and offering click and collect services.

Collins Ballarat: Accepting online orders and offering free home delivery within Ballarat.

Coventry Bookstore (South Melbourne): Accepting online orders and offering free delivery for orders over $20 with next day delivery for items that are in stock.

Diabolik Books (Mount Hawthorn): Accepting phone orders for delivery and offering home delivery within a 3km radius of the store.

Dymocks CBD: Accepting phone and email orders and offering free delivery for orders over $50.

Dymocks Camberwell: Accepting phone and email orders and offering free delivery to local suburbs.

Dymocks Tooronga: Accepting phone and email orders and offering free delivery to local suburbs.

Eltham Bookshop (Eltham): Accepting phone and email orders and offering delivery to local suburbs.

Escape Hatch Books (Kew East): Free delivery to local suburbs.

Fairfield Books (Fairfield): Accepting phone orders and offering both a pick-up from your car service and free delivery to local suburbs.

Farrell’s Bookshop (Mornington): Accepting phone and email orders and offering free delivery to local suburbs.

Happy Valley (Collingwood): Accepting phone and email orders and offering free delivery to Collingwood, Fitzroy, Clifton Hill and Carlton North.

Hares & Hyenas (Fitzroy): Delivery via Books-on-Bikes for those staying in their homes or who cannot afford postage. 

Hill of Content (CBD): Accepting online, phone and email orders and offering free delivery for orders over $50.

Ink Bookshop (Winchcombe): Free delivery in Mansfield and surrounding areas.

Jeffreys Books (Malvern): Accepting phone, email and online orders.

Just Books (Bairnsdale): Free home delivery to customers in Bairnsdale, Lakes Entrance and surrounding areas.

Metropolis Bookshop (CBD): Accepting online orders and offering free postage delivery for orders over $50.

My Bookshop by Corrie Perkins (Toorak): Accepting phone orders and offering home delivery within a 20km radius of the store as well as a same-day delivery service if order is placed before 3pm.

Neighbourhood Books (Northcote): Accepting online orders and offering free delivery to Northcote, Thornbury, Preston, Reservoir, Fairfield, Carlton North, Carlton, Fitzroy North, Fitzroy, Collingwood, Princes Hill, Clifton Hill and Brunswick.

New Leaves (Macedon Ranges): Accepting phone orders and offering free delivery to the Macedon Ranges area.

Paperback Bookshop (CBD): Accepting phone and email orders.

Readings (Carlton, Doncaster, Hawthorn, St Kilda and Malvern): Accepting online orders and offering free delivery for orders over $60.

Squishy Minnie (Kyneton): Accepting online orders and offering free delivery within the Macedon Ranges.

The Book Bird (Geelong West): Accepting phone, Instagram and email orders and offering free delivery to Geelong, Geelong West, North Geelong, Newtown, Manifold Heights, Rippleside, Hamlin Heights, Herne Hill, Bell Post Hill, and Bell Park.

The Bookshop at Queenscliff: Accepting phone and email orders and offering free delivery to the local area.

The Grumpy Swimmer (Elwood): Accepting phone and email orders and offering free delivery to Elwood and local suburbs for orders over $25.

The Leaf Bookshop (Ashburton): Over-the-phone book recommendations, accepting phone orders and offering free delivery within a 5km radius of the store.

The Little Bookroom (Carlton North): Accepting online orders and offering free delivery to Carlton North, Carlton, Fitzroy North, Fitzroy, Princes Hill, Clifton Hill, Brunswick, Northcote and Coburg.

The Sun Bookshop and The Younger Sun (Yarraville): Accepting phone orders and offering free same day delivery to Yarraville, Seddon and Kingsville, and next-day deliveries by car to Spotswood and Newport.

Thesaurus Books (Brighton): Accepting phone and email orders and offering free delivery to Brighton, Brighton East, Hampton and Bentleigh. 

Top Titles Bookstore (Brighton): Accepting phone orders and offering free delivery to local suburbs.

Torquay Books (Torquay): Accepting online orders and offering delivery to local suburbs.

T.S. Bookshop (CBD): Accepting phone and online orders between 10am and 5pm, Monday through Friday, and offering free delivery across Australia for orders over $50.

Turn the Page (Cowes): Accepting phone orders and offering local delivery.

Verso Books (Healesville): Free delivery to local suburbs.

NSW

Beachside Bookshop (Avalon): Accepting phone, email and online orders and offering both a carpark pick-up service and free delivery to local suburbs.

Berkelouw Books (Cronulla): Accepting phone and email orders and offering free home delivery to Cronulla, Kurnell, Woolooware, Caringbah, Miranda, Gymea, Kirrawee and Sutherland on the 26th March.

Berkelouw Books (Hornsby): Personalised, curated book lists as well as pick up and home delivery with free shipping for orders over $99.

Berkelouw Books (Leichhardt): Curated book lists here, accepting phone orders and offering $5 delivery for orders over $49 or free delivery for orders over $99 to local suburbs.

Berkelouw Books (Rose Bay): Free home delivery to Rose Bay, Vaucluse, Watsons Bay, Dover Heights, Point Piper and Bellevue Hill.

Better Read than Dead (Newtown): Delivering curated staff picks right to your desktop or phone screen via their Virtual Bookseller which you can access here, and offering free delivery across Australia.

Book Bazaar (Umina Beach): Offering free delivery to local suburbs.

Bookoccino (Avalon): Accepting phone and email orders and offering free delivery within a 10km radius of the store.

BooksPlus (Bathurst): Free delivery within Bathurst.

Collins Booksellers (Orange): Offering free delivery across Orange.

Dymocks (Chatswood): Accepting phone and email orders for delivery.

Gertrude and Alice (Bondi Beach): Accepting phone orders and home delivery around the Bondi and Tamarama area.

Gleebooks (Glebe): Offering free postage delivery to Inner Western suburbs or Australia-wide for orders over $50.

Harry Hartog (all stores): Offering curated book lists here.

Harbour Bookshop (Ulladulla): Accepting phone, email and social media orders and offering $6 delivery across Ulladulla.

Kinokuniya (Sydney CBD): Accepting phone and online orders and offering over-the-phone book recommendations.

Lost in Books (Fairfield): Offering delivery across Australia and digital creative programs.

Megalong Books (Leura): Recommendations over the phone and free home delivery to local residents in the Upper Mountains

Oscar and Friends (Double Bay): Free home delivery in Surry Hills, Redfern, Double Bay and Bellevue Hill.

Potts Point Bookshop (Potts Point): Accepting phone and online orders and offering free delivery to local suburbs.

Reader’s Companion (Armidale): Free delivery to customers in Armidale, Uralla and Guyra district.

The Book Room at Byron (Byron Bay): Free same day book delivery in the Byron shire and Lennox Head.

The Bookshop (Bowral and Kiama): Personally curated bookstacks, accepting phone and email orders, and offering delivery to local suburbs.

The Little Lost Bookshop (Katoomba): Accepting phone, web and email orders and offering free delivery across Katoomba.

The Wandering Bookseller (Katoomba): Accepting email orders and offering free delivery Australia-wide.

Wise Words Bookshop (Moree): Accepting phone or DM orders and both mail order and home delivery.

TAS

Fullers Bookshop (Hobart): $5 delivery across Tasmania.

Petrarch’s Bookshop (Launceston): Delivery to Launceston.

The Devonport Bookshop (Devonport): Accepting phone orders and offering free delivery across the Devonport area.

The Hobart Bookshop (Hobart): Free delivery within the Hobart metropolitan area as well as a pick-up service.

ACT

Dymocks Canberra: Free delivery in the ACT.

Dymocks Belconnen: Free delivery in the ACT and Murrumbateman.

QLD

Avid Reader (West End): Free delivery to local suburbs and free postage delivery across Australia for orders over $50.

Books@Stones (Stones Corner): Free delivery across Australia until April 8th.

Dymocks (Brisbane): Free delivery for orders over $75.

Dymocks (Toowoomba): Free delivery to people over 70 and $2 shipping to local suburbs.

Folio Books (Brisbane CBD): Accepting phone and email orders and offering free postage to Brisbane customers for orders of two books or more.

Mad Hatters Bookshop (Manly): Free delivery to Wynnum, Manly and suburbs within 5km of the store for orders over $30.

Mary Who? (Townsville): Accepting phone orders and offering free delivery to the inner Townsville area for orders over $50.

Riverbend Books (Bulimba): Accepting phone and online orders and offering both a pick-up option and home delivery to postcodes 4170 and 4171.

Sequel Books (Moorooka): Accepting phone and email orders and offering free home delivery to local suburbs.

The Book Tree (Toowoomba): $2 home delivery to customers in the 4350 postcode.

Where the Wild Things Are (West End): Accepting phone orders and offering offering free home delivery to postcodes 4170 and 4171 and free delivery to other areas for orders over $50.

WA

Beaufort Street Books (Mount Lawley): Free delivery within a 5km radius of the store.

Collins (Cottesloe): Accepting online and phone orders and offering free delivery in Western Australia.

Collins (Bunbury): Free home delivery on purchases over $30 to Bunbury, Eaton, Australind and Dalyellup areas and postage to other areas for $6.95.

Crow Books (East Victoria Park): Accepting phone and email orders and offering home delivery to local suburbs.

Dymocks (Busselton): Free home delivery within the South-West, including same-day delivery if in-stock books are ordered before 2:30pm.

Dymocks (Morley): Accepting phone and email orders and home delivery at a reduced price of $2 for Booklover members or $5 for non-members in the suburbs of Bassendean, Bayswater, Inglewood, Kiara, Mirrabooka, Morley, Nollamara, Noranda, Tuart Hill and Yokine.

Dymocks (Karrinyup): Accepting phone and email orders and home delivery at a reduced price of $2 for Booklover members or $5 for non-members in the suburbs of Karrinyup, Trigg, Innaloo, Gwelup, Scarborough, North Beach and Karine.

Dymocks (Joondalup): Accepting phone orders and offering free local delivery.

My Little Bookshop (Halls Head): Free delivery from Perth metro area to Bunbury.

Paperbird Books (Fremantle): Free delivery to Fremantle and surrounding suburbs.

Planet Books (Mount Lawley and Northside): Accepting online, phone and email orders and offering free delivery to local suburbs.

SA

Imprints Booksellers (Adelaide): Accepting phone and email orders and offering free postage across SA and free home delivery around Adelaide.

Matilda Bookshop (Adelaide): Accepting phone orders and offering free postage across SA and free home delivery to local suburbs.

Mostly Books (Torrens Park): Free delivery south of Adelaide, to the suburbs of Mitcham and surrounding suburbs.

The Raven’s Parlour (Tanunda): Delivery to local residents in quarantine or self-isolation.

NT

Red Kangaroo Books (Alice Springs): Accepting phone and email orders and delivering across Alice Springs.

Books are everywhere.

Plenty of bookstores that support us not listed here will be delivering online, and you can also purchase books from Booktopia and other online retailers.

The Australian Booksellers Association’s Love Your Bookshop Day is also sharing a range of ways in which you can continue to support your local bookstore, including purchasing vouchers, signing up to their e-newsletter list and pre-ordering titles. #loveyourbookshopeveryday


Posted on March 25, 2020
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The beginner’s guide to brewing medicinal plants

‘Often the easiest approach is the most potent.’

Learn the difference between teas, infusions, decoctions and sun brews with master herbalist Erin Lovell Verinder’s guide to brewing medicinal plants. Find this extract in her new book, Plants for the People, alongside her accompanying recipes for brews to aid immunity, digestion, vitality, and sleep.

Photography by Georgia Blackie

Teas, infusions, decoctions and sun brews have been in use for as long as plants and people have been kin, and are four of the most accessible ways to work with plants, dried or fresh.

Essentially, infusions, decoctions and sun brews follow the principles of tea, but they are amplified in the medicinal sense. Medicinal teas are made by steeping the plant material in boiling water for a quick 10–20 minutes. Follow with a simple strain and sip mindfully.

An infusion involves longer steeping in boiling water, for a gentle extraction and activation of the plant material. It is best used for the softer aerial parts of a plant – think flowers, leaves, buds and berries. Bear in mind that there are some plants that prefer a cold-water infusion as their delicate properties are sensitive to heat. Infusions extract the volatile oils, vitamins and precious enzymes of medicinal plants, so be sure to cover the infusing concoction to trap all of these beneficial elements. Infusions can be 20–30 minute brews or left for 4–12 hours to deepen the medicinal impact.

A decoction is used more for the woody parts of plants – think roots, rhizomes, seeds, twigs, bark – which require more time and amplified heat to liberate the medicinal constituents. A decoction calls for a slow, covered boil, around 20–40 minutes.

A sun brew is simply an infusion made by combining dried or fresh herbs with filtered water, sealing and popping out in the sun to brew for a day.

A golden principle of medicinal teas, infusions, decoctions and sun brews is that they are best used straight away. As water is their base, there is no preservative present and we want to avoid any mould formation. However, infusions can be kept for up to 24 hours; sun brews and decoctions can be refrigerated and will stay active for around 48 hours.

A Guide to Brewing Medicinal Plants

Herbal Teas

Pour boiling water over the dried or fresh herbs and steep for 10-20 minutes. Strain out the plant material with a fine-mesh sleeve, and enjoy.

Infusions

Add the plant material to a heatproof mason jar, fill with boiling water and infuse for 3-4 hours minimum, or leave overnight to deepen the strength. Simply strain out the herbs with a fine-mesh sleeve and sip throughout the day. Infusions make a perfect iced tea; however, if you desire a little warmth, you can gently heat on the stove.

Decoctions

Simply add your hardy herbs to a saucepan with water, and bring to a boil. Allow the concoction to simmer for at least 20-30 minutes, then strain and enjoy!

Sun Brews

Spoon the herbal blend of your choice into a glass jar, generally filling around half the jar with fresh plant material or a quarter of the jar with dried plants. Fill to the brim with cool water, pop on a muslin top or lid to keep the bugs away, and leave out in a sunny spot to imbue the brew with warmth.

Plants for the People is available now. Text by Erin Lovell Verinder, photography by Georgia Blackie and cover design by Alissa Dinallo.

AU$39.99 / NZ$45.00


Posted on March 17, 2020
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A Q&A with plant whisperer Erin Lovell Verinder

Photography by Georgia Blackie

‘Plant medicine is your birth right.’ This is the mantra of Erin Lovell Verinder, a fully qualified and much-loved Western herbalist, nutritionist, energetic healer, mentor and educator. Her first book, Plants for the People, draws on ancient wisdom with a modern approach to medicine. Inviting you to return to the roots, this is the ultimate beginner’s guide to using plants to restore wellbeing. We chatted to Erin about her journey to discovering the healing realms of the plant world and inspiring others to do the same.

Where did your passion for naturopathy, healing and the plant world begin? 

I have felt a deep sense of belonging amongst nature for as long as I can recall. When I think of my childhood, I think of the height of the Eucalyptus trees in the park nearby and the fragrant smells of summer. The plants made an early impression on me.

I was enamoured with all things esoteric and mystical and began studying energetic healing (crystals, reiki, kinesiology, colour therapy, sound healing, breath work) at 16 years old I was not your typical teenager, that’s for sure! Training in the healing realms for many years taught me so much about the spiritual, mental and emotional bodies, and I really yearned to know more about the physical body. This is when I began training in Naturopathic medicine – forking off into deeper studies in Western Herbal Medicine and Nutritional Medicine, graduating with my bachelor’s degree as a Herbalist and Nutritionist. I loved learning about how plants hold an embodied power with a deep affinity for our bodies, and how ultimately nature’s way is the greatest healer.

Tell us a bit about your naturopathic philosophy. For you, what does it mean to be a true naturalist?

To me, being a true naturalist means walking the plant path – there are many ways to do this! I walk this path dedicating my life to working with plant medicine, by choosing to live amongst wild nature and by doing my very best to be a woman in tune with nature in all of her glorious facets.

I guide people to shift their health stories and thrive with the assistance of plant medicine as a gateway to radically awesome health. I have been working within the field of healing for 21 years now, with a strong focus on my clinical practice with clients, bridging the gaps between naturopathic and nutritional medicine, grass roots herbalism, and intuition. Much of my mission is to assist and educate people on the generous healing nature can offer us all, in combination with honouring and listening in to our bodies and beings. This is my holistic approach to health and healing and my naturopathic philosophy.

Photography by Georgia Blackie
Photography by Georgia Blackie

What does a typical day for you look like at home in the Byron hinterland?

I rise with the sun, mornings are slow and soft, and include breakfast at home with my husband around the kitchen table. There is always a meditation, pottering in my herb garden, a beach swim or a bush walk (communion with nature). We work from home, which affords us a lot of freedom and comfort. My days are full of mentoring, clinic, writing, or creating in some way. I make a commitment to take breaks, with a pot of herbal tea under my big pecan tree often. All work is switched off by 5pm, and as the sun sets and the yin of the night ushers in, there is always a nourishing home cooked meal, a sleepy time tea, conversation, candlelight, books, calm music and then in bed by 9pm.

What about a day in the clinic?

The days in my clinic are full and seem to zoom by. I follow my daily rhythms and set my hours with clients and mentoring around this. For me, being in practice for many years has given me a lot of opportunity to refine what works best for me as a clinician and space holder. As much as it is key to activate your intuition when working with people’s health, it is a very heady job that demands a lot of mental focus! I need it to feel paced, with little breaks, nourishing snacks and meals in between, and plenty of time with each client or student to fully be present for them. I keep my mornings chill, and although I sometimes work until late in the evening with clients, I am sure to switch off and give myself space to decompress. For this reason, I keep a lot of supportive foundations in place for myself to be able to do my work with clarity and confidence. It is an incredibly rewarding job to witness people get better and improve their health outcomes with natural interventions and plant medicine support. Truly it never ceases to amaze me that this is the work I get to do and offer.

Plants for the People is the perfect guide for plant medicine aficionados and those who have just started out on their plant path. What would your main piece of advice be for the beginners about to delve into your book?

To start with what resonates, which plant/s jump out to you in the Materia Medica section? Which recipes sound good to you? Start with what you are drawn to the most; the plants and recipes that stand out to you are usually what you may be needing the most.

Photography by Georgia Blackie

Do you have a favourite recipe from the book?

It is very hard to choose one. I do really love the Elderberry elixir recipe, which is super delicious and a great staple to keep in the fridge to support immunity.

What’s next for you?

This year is big, bold and bountiful for me! I will be promoting the book in three counties, travelling, continuing to work with clients and mentoring in my clinic, building my digital offerings and writing more.

Plants for the People is available now. Text by Erin Lovell Verinder, photography by Georgia Blackie and cover design by Alissa Dinallo.

AU$39.99 / NZ$45.00


Posted on March 11, 2020
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The other side of the world: An extract from Mirka Mora

A glimpse into Mirka’s first strides in Melbourne after emigrating from Paris, taken from the chapter ‘Movers of the new force’.

Upon arriving in Australia, the Moras found themselves in a house at number 6 Ellindale Avenue, in the suburb of McKinnon, 12 kilometres to the south-east of Melbourne’s CBD. Feeling dislocated and isolated, Georges and Mirka did not like it at all: ‘I couldn’t stand it, it was so dead.’

Mirka had always sewn her own dresses, and made frequent Saturday trips to the city to buy fabric from the fashionable Melbourne department store Georges. On one of these visits the man behind the fabric counter asked her if she was a seamstress. Although this wasn’t really the case, she nevertheless answered ‘Yes’. Impressed by this French ‘dressmaker’, he began to send her clients. Some of the commissions were challenging – a man’s suit, for example. But Mirka had always been resourceful; she waited until her husband was in bed and unpicked his jacket to see how it was made, sewing it back up again afterwards, all done while he was still sleeping. She soon had many customers, making ‘ladies clothes, suits and all. I never said no to anything. I had to work so hard, and I had the two girls to help me’. One of her assistants was Helen Ball, who would later marry the painter Leonard French (1928–2017). Mirka was already taking liberties with convention: she recalls a ‘very beautiful and elderly lady’ for whom she made a raincoat with slit pockets. At the fitting, Mirka realised that she had put one pocket up and one pocket down. But the lady ‘must have seen my shock when I saw that and she said, “Oh, this is so modern and I love it, I love it!”’ and kept it as it was.

Through a woman they met on the plane to Melbourne, the Moras were introduced to Colin Wainwright, a lively character who had many connections in the city. Colin became a friend – and even came to live with them in McKinnon. One day Mirka, tired of the suburban house after a few months living there, told him that she could not stay any longer – she wanted to find a proper studio to live in. Colin found the studio/apartment for her – in the centre of Melbourne, at Grosvenor Chambers, 9 Collins Street. It had a rich history, having been the studio of artists Sir John Campbell Longstaff (1861–1941) – who had once demolished a wall to let in the horse he was painting; Frederick McCubbin (1855–1917); and Arthur Streeton (1867–1943). The situation wasn’t straightforward: the landlord was a tad grumpy, and other people, including the painter Lina Bryans (1909–2000), were also interested in the studio. It took a lot of persuasion (which included suggesting that Mirka was opening a French-style haute couture studio) and Georges’ patience and diligence to convince the old man to rent it to them. In mid-1952 the family moved into 9 Collins Street, where they lived for the next 15 years.

Mirka was visited at the studio by many customers. The most important encounter – for her, for Georges and for Melbourne’s art world – happened via an introduction from the Herald newspaper’s music critic John Sinclair, whom she had met at a party at a customer’s house. (He was notorious for his sharp tongue: ‘Beware of snakes, spiders and Sinclair’ was a common warning given to musicians coming to play in Melbourne.

Sinclair was a friend of John and Sunday Reed. John (1901–81) and his wife Sunday (1905–81) were patrons of modern Australian art and literature, and their house, ‘Heide’, in Bulleen, Victoria, was a hub for avant-garde artists. Sidney Nolan (1917–92), Albert Tucker (1914–99) and Joy Hester (1920–60) lived and worked at Heide for lengthy periods. In 1977, Sunday donated 25 of the 27 paintings in Sidney Nolan’s Kelly series – painted by Nolan at Heide – to the National Gallery of Australia. The Reeds’ house and collection ultimately became the public art museum Heide Museum of Modern Art.

Sinclair recommended the young French seamstress to Sunday Reed, who rang the next day to order a dress. Sunday apparently never wore the dress (an elegantly simple white linen garment), and instead hung it on the wall because it was so beautiful.

The meeting with Sunday Reed was to have a great influence on Mirka’s career and on Melbourne’s art scene for the following decades. It triggered a long-lasting friendship between the Reeds and the Moras, who became instrumental in the revival of the Contemporary Art Society (CAS) and in the creation of the first Museum of Modern Art in Melbourne, in a local environment that was at the time quite bleak for the arts.

Mirka with her ‘Bip’ doll. Photograph by Sabine Cotte.
Mirka with her ‘Bip’ doll. Photograph by Sabine Cotte.

Mirka Mora: A Life Making Art is available to purchase here.


Sabine Cotte is a French-Australian paintings conservator. Trained in Paris and Rome, she worked for French national museums for ten years before moving to Melbourne in 2001. She has led several workshops in the Himalayan region for UNESCO, ICCROM and private NGOs, training local people in conservation and in disaster recovery, and has published articles in professional journals and given talks at conferences. She is an Honorary Fellow of the Grimwade Centre for Cultural Materials Conservation, University of Melbourne, where she is also a casual teacher. Her PhD focused on the materials and techniques of Mirka Mora and led to the writing of this book.


Posted on August 8, 2019
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Meet Natalie King, series editor of the new Mini Monographs

Image (left): Sean Fennessy

Natalie King has a gift when it comes to visual culture, creative collaboration and bringing attention to both new and established artists. We spoke to Natalie – curator, professor and now series editor – about her career path, the inspiration behind our new series Mini Monographs, her goals for the year to come, and more.

Natalie, how did you start out in the art world, and what brought you to curatorship?

My paternal grandmother was a ballerina and we were very close. As a child, I adored going to matinee ballets with her at the Forum Theatre and remember the enchantment when the lights were dimmed and the ceiling glimmered with a trompe l’oeil sky. I was also an avid reader during a tumultuous adolescence and fiction allowed me to go into imaginary realms. I convinced a friend at school to illicitly procure his sister’s copies of books by D.H. Lawrence which I found scintillating.

On reflection, these childhood experiences shaped my pathway into curatorship though there was a temporary detour studying law. After a couple of years at law school, I travelled solo to Florence to study Italian and found myself taking respite in churches with frescoes and wandering through museums. It was like falling in love. Soon after, I changed my course to art history and museum studies at Monash University.

Where did the idea for Mini Monographs come from, and how did the project take shape?

The initial concept for Mini Monographs was formulated by publisher Kirsten Abbott with whom I have a prior relationship having worked with her on Tracey Moffatt: My Horizon for the 57th Venice Biennale 2017. We shaped the concept of Mini Monographs comprising a special selection of images accompanied by an essay from an author from a parallel field, adding an extra frisson.

Conventional monographs often accompany a retrospective exhibition and take a long time to compile, whereas our Mini Monographs celebrate a unique selection of images alongside a captivating essay, paired and in dialogue, compact and accessible. We especially want to celebrate the exceptional practices of women artists and hope that the series will be timeless.

Image from Polixeni Papapetrou: The Visitor, 2012. Images courtesy of the artist, Michael Reid Gallery, Sydney, and Jarvis Dooney Galerie, Berlin. Digitised by Dr Les Walkling.

How did you select Polixeni Papapetrou and Del Kathryn Barton as the first artists for the series?

We believed that both Poli and Del are immensely worthy of being represented in the first tranche of Mini Monographs, inaugurating this new series. It’s an original and unique concept that celebrates Poli’s distinctive photographic ensembles and Del’s sensual portrait paintings.

What do you think defines Polixeni Papapetrou’s work?

Poli was a close comrade and colleague, who sadly passed away one year ago. We worked closely on the sequencing of her images and it is a tribute to her that this was our final project together. She was both feminist and feminine in her approach to all aspects of her life. Previously, I have curated Poli’s photographs into the Dong Gang International Photo Festival in Korea and the TarraWarra Biennial: Whisper in My Mask in 2014, plus I have published various interviews and essays on her work, so we had a strong affinity.

Poli’s work is defined by a highly staged and taut mise-en-scène, choreographed with costumes, sets and props and featuring her children, especially her daughter, Olympia. On the cover, we have selected Heart from the series Eden 2016. Here, Olympia holds a wreath or garland of flowers against a floral backdrop and dress, the patterns merging foreground and background. I think Poli might have been thinking about the Garden of Eden and the afterlife as well as celebrating the cusp of feminine adolescence and adulthood. The maternal gaze is powerful in Poli’s photographs, and her work is about relationships and love, staging and theatricality, landscapes and loneliness.

Images from Del Kathryn Barton: (left) what am I also, 2013. Courtesy of Del Kathryn Barton and Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney; (right) i am true about this, 2007. Courtesy of Del Kathryn Barton and Karen Woodbury Gallery. Photos: Jenni Carter. 

And Del Kathryn Barton?

Del works adeptly across painting, drawing, film, textile and sculpture in highly ornate renditions of friends, family and characters often merging with creatures. Having won the coveted Archibald Prize twice, Del has a feminine sensibility, yet there is an uncanny or foreboding quality to her sinewy figures.

We love Joanna Murray-Smith and Sarah Darmody’s personal essays accompanying Polixeni Papapetrou and Del Kathryn Barton respectively. What do you feel each essayist brings to the monograph?

Thank you. I also love the unexpected qualities to Joanna Murray-Smith’s and Sarah Darmody’s writings, which are both deeply personal, reflective and original essays. Joanna’s relationship with Poli invoked a certain intimacy, whereas Sarah’s experience of motherhood and viewing Del’s retrospective at the NGV lends a giddy vividness and velocity to her writing, almost like the frenzy in Del’s paintings.

What was the selection process behind all the breathtaking images in both books?

We worked closely with the artists and, at times, with their gallerists on the sequencing of images so that rhythms unfold. In particular, I worked one year with Poli on the arrangement of visuals: arranging, rearranging and deleting images, almost like a form of choreography. Lesser known images are placed in tandem with more familiar works to take the reader on a visual journey.

Image from Polixeni Papapetrou: Study for Hattah Man and Hattah Woman, 2013. Images courtesy of the artist and Michael Reid Gallery. Sydney, and Jarvis Dooney Galerie, Berlin. Digitised by Dr Les Walkling.

What have you enjoyed most about the process of bringing the series to life?

I am really proud of the series and have relished the process of working with Thames & Hudson, especially the visionary Kirsten Abbott and the artists whom I admire immensely.

In 2018, you were a finalist in the AFR 100 Women of Influence. How do you hope to use this influence in 2019?

It was an honour to be a finalist in the AFR 100 Women of Influence. I try to advocate and support other women to ascend and flourish. I am part of Mentor Walks whereby senior female professionals meet monthly for a walk and talk at dawn with emerging leaders to discuss their burning issues and concerns.

I hope I can show other women that together we can build inspired, collaborative working environments that can lead to transformation in our fields and beyond. We must remember that we aren’t aspiring to the existing paradigm of leadership but are making a new one. And, we have an obligation to steward our creative resources for the betterment of a faltering society. 

Image: Alli Oughtred

Natalie King is a curator and writer working in Melbourne. She is currently Enterprise Professor at the Victorian College of the Arts, and was named in The Australian Financial Review 100 Women of Influence awards for Arts, Culture and Sport in October 2018. Natalie was also Chief Curator at Melbourne Biennial Lab, Creative Associate of MPavilion and Curator of Tracey Moffatt: My Horizon at the 57th International Art Exhibition, Venice Biennale 2017, as well as the editor for Tracey Moffatt: My Horizon.


Posted on June 6, 2019
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Unlock the potential of shared spaces with Shared Living.

A very special Q&A with the author as well as your chance to win.

Shared Living: Interior Design for Rented and Shared Spaces features 21 shared homes around the world that are getting it right. Inspirational rather than aspirational, these homes are the work of creative thinkers who focus on savvy ways of decorating eclectically rather than with big ticket items. A weatherboard cottage in Sydney boasts a ready-made gallery with an enviable swapped-art collection; an apartment in Berlin exudes bohemian luxury through a combination of vintage finds and exotic curios; a Tokyo share house reveals a bedroom art installation; and a small London apartment merges bold colours with clusters of collectables to achieve domestic harmony.

With the reality of share houses becoming a long term option for the new generation of adults, Emily is working to reverse the bad rap that share houses have traditionally received. We spoke to Emily about her passion for designing spaces and her inspiration for Shared Living.

Read on for our very special interview with Emily, and scroll down for your chance to win a stack of books for your share house!

Q: Emily, what made you decide to create a book about interior design for shared spaces?

I had been writing about multi-million-dollar homes (as a writer for realestate.com.au) where boujee couples were able to spend thousands of dollars on their décor and I just couldn’t relate to what I was writing about. I thought to myself ‘hey, I love design and I have friends who love design, why should we be discounted in the design world just because we share a house and have a limited budget?’

Emily Hutchinson (left) with her housemates Maddy Dixon and Felicity Burke.

Q: Where did your passion for designing spaces come from?

I grew up with a mum who had a passion for interior design, but preferred to keep her colour palette beige. I think from growing up in this more pared back environment, I rebelled and opted for a style that showed off colours, collectables and creativity.

As soon as I was in my first share house at 21, I started to gain more confidence in my style. I would get a rush from finding something unique at a garage sale, or bringing home a new plant baby for my window sill. Looking around after a long day and enjoying the objects I had carefully selected for my space sparked joy and it still does to this day.

Q: How did this project take shape, and how long did it take you to compile all of these contributions?

The book took about a year to get all the photo shoots and words completed. I wasn’t just getting interviews back from one person, most of the time it was waiting for all of the housemates to come back to me with their responses to my questions because it was so important to have each of their voices in the story.

I hope they can all look back on it one day and fondly say ‘I remember that share house! What a time!’

Q: Did you come out the other side with any new revelations about shared living?

Yes, absolutely. I really appreciate my own housemates’ design choices much more than I did before. I often look at the things they bring home now, which might not be something I would have chosen, but it just works in our space and reinforces the fact that shared living is about being open with your housemates’ styles and willing to try something new. I think my own style has evolved because of this.

Q: Do you have a favourite household in the book?

They are all very special, but there is a historical apartment in the heart of Berlin which I wanted to move straight into. It’s lived in by a furniture designer, so the home is filled with unique creations and the other housemate buys and sells vintage clothes.

Hello dream living situation!


GIVEAWAY: WIN A STACK OF COFFEE TABLE BOOKS FOR YOUR SHARE HOUSE

To celebrate the release of the book, we are giving away $300 worth of coffee table books (of your choice) for your own share house. All you have to do is fill out the form below and tell us, in 25 words or less, what is your favourite share house story?

Competition ends 8pm Thursday 4th April. Winners announced and notified Friday 5th April.



Posted on March 27, 2019
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A Q&A with Kim Walvisch, author of The Burbs

We spoke to Kim Walvisch about her new book, The Burbs: A Visual Journey Through the Australian Suburbs 

How did you start as a photographer, and what was your inspiration to create the @sublurb Instagram account?

My daughter was an atrocious sleeper and the best way to get her to nap was to go on long walks around the local streets. Sometimes I’d walk for hours and, to keep myself occupied, I started taking photos of things that caught my eye – weird gardens, unusual chimneys, unique fences, peculiar letterboxes and other odd suburban details. I decided to start sharing those photos on Instagram to my account @sublurb and, after a number of years, I built up quite a loyal following of people also interested in suburban curiosities. Whenever I left the house to push Peggy in her pram, I’d also take my camera. I started travelling to suburbs all over Melbourne and photography became a serious passion. I decided to create an archive of what the Australian suburbs looked like before there was so much architectural development. I was keen to capture old-school suburbia before it vanished.

Who are your favourite photographers?

I’m a huge fan of American photographer William Eggleston and his use of colour. I’m crazy about Stephen Shore and his shots of banal scenes across the States: lots of old cars, parking lots, storefronts and that kind of thing. Joel Sternfeld takes photos in a similar vein, same with Fred Herzog. I’m basically a huge fan of colour photography of mundane or ordinary subject matter and the places we live.

What draws you to photographing homes?

A few things. I definitely appreciate certain styles of architecture, such as art deco and mid-century modernism, so I’m attracted to houses that reflect those eras. I also like unusual architectural detail that might appear on simpler postwar houses – ornate chimneys, stair railings, fancy brickwork – special touches that would have been made by brickies and other thoughtful tradesmen. I feel like a lot of housing today just doesn’t reflect the same level of technical skill, so I’m always on the lookout for those stand-out details. I’ve seen a house where the chimney is shaped like a large jug. Apparently, the owner was a wine connoisseur and had this detail built in especially. I love that kind of thing. Sometimes the ‘plain Jane’ houses have very special touches.

What is it that draws you to the buildings you photograph?

I’m looking for buildings with personality. I like imperfection, dilapidation, obvious signs of ageing. I like to capture buildings that might imminently disappear. I’m also a huge fan of symmetry, so I love houses that have symmetrical gardens or old matching chairs on the porch. Peculiar buildings intrigue me too. I’m looking for homes, buildings or gardens that convey the occupant’s eccentricities.

What was the biggest challenge you faced in creating The ’Burbs?

Deciding what pictures to include! I literally had thousands of shots, so it was really hard narrowing it down to a number that could be featured in the book.

How long did the project take?

I’ve been accumulating photos for about seven years now and was always hopeful a book project would arise. Thankfully, Thames & Hudson gave me the opportunity to share my shots with a larger audience.

This is your first book. What have you most enjoyed about the process of creating it?

I’ve found the whole process pretty fascinating. My first ever job was in a bookshop and I’ve always had a bit of a dream of creating my own book. I had no idea the publishing world moved so slowly, so it’s definitely been an exercise in patience! I enjoyed working alongside the designer and seeing the pages come to life. The most exciting moment was going into the Thames & Hudson offices and flicking through the advance copy. It was like holding a baby for the first time!

Kim Walvisch has been steadfastly documenting Melbourne suburbia for the past five years. Her Instagram account @sublurb now has more than 13k followers. She has taken photos in more than 100 suburbs and created a nostalgic archive of how things looked before the takeover of development. 


Posted on December 12, 2018
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Bohemian Living: An interview with the author

  • Furry felines and deluxe digs with Where They Purr author Paul Barbera
  • A Redfern Oasis from The City Gardener
  • Our favourite works from Richard Travers's Hilda
  • Six myths about vaccination – and why they’re wrong: an extract from The Conversation's new book

 

‘Everyone lives in a bubble, so why not make it a beautiful bubble.’ – Gavin Brown
An interview with the creator of Bohemian Living

 

 

Bohemian Living by acclaimed Australian photographer and writer Robyn Lea features the homes of 20 accomplished creatives from Australia, Europe and the USA and celebrates what it’s like to live a uniquely creative life. In each artist’s profile, Robyn explores their often unusual childhoods and often unorthodox adult worlds, asking what does it mean to be bohemian in the modern world.  

We spoke to author Robyn Lea and her editor Kirsten Abbott about this visually stunning and thought-provoking new book.





Robyn, firstly, congratulations on this, your new book. It is stunning to behold and the stories behind your pictures are a delight. They are insightful, curious and sometimes sad – providing such texture to the artists’ homes and deep insights into their styles. This is a book that feels very personal to read. How did the project take shape for you?

When Kirsten Abbott from Thames & Hudson Australia called me to discuss this concept, I was immediately attracted to the idea. I’ve always loved writing about art. When I studied at RMIT, I did some journalism subjects and I’ve always had a deep interest in understanding why people are who they are. This book really allowed me to explore that question and feed my curiosity. More than any other book I’ve done, I think this book has a broad appeal. The diversity of the artists, their interests and their backgrounds will speak to many different people.

I know you as an acclaimed photographer; I think everyone who reads this book will agree that you are a beautiful writer too. You clearly love words as much as you do pictures. How did you start writing and what do you enjoying reading?

I started writing regularly when my husband and I moved to the US with our children in 2011. The country was just beginning to regain a little confidence after the global financial crisis, but local agents weren’t putting on new photographers, and photographers were not getting as much work. So it was quite a hard time to be there. In an effort to stay sane and feed myself creatively, I called interesting people in New York and asked them if I could interview and photograph them. Surprisingly, given I did not have a writing CV, most of them said yes. I then found a magazine that printed my stories. Each time I created a new feature, the process got a little easier and over time my confidence in interviewing and writing began to grow.

In regard to books I enjoy, well, I certainly love art and design books. Two of my favourite books, which I purchased in the 90s,are The English Archive of Design and Decoration and The French Archive of Design and Decoration, both published by Thames & Hudson. I also love biographies and autobiographies and prefer those written about women. Favourites include Personal History by Katharine Graham and Indira: The Life of Indira Nehru Gandhi by Katherine Frank.



What prompted the idea of the book initially?

Kirsten: I am quite a maximalist and I wanted to see a book that celebrated maximalist, eccentric interiors with real people and the way they create a space with meaning.

How did you select your list of people to interview and photograph?

Robyn: It started out as a very long list of artists whose work I felt drawn to. I took the list to Kirsten and we narrowed it down together. Then I would dive into some more research on each person – looking deeper into their work, their lives and how they viewed the world. Logistics, of course, also played a par tin the final selection – how many weeks I would be in a country, for example,and who was available at that time. As I got into it, I also found that one interview led to another, that the artists would recommend others in their networks, or people they admired.

Your eyes light up when you talk about research, Robyn!

Yes, I do love research, it stimulates the grey matter and forces you to consider things from other perspectives. Trying to understand someone’s point of view when it’s different to your own experience can be fascinating and it can even be transformative. This project did that for me and I hope it will for others too. .

Were there any themes that emerged during this project?

Robyn:  Ah, yes, as I wrote in my introduction, I’ve always thought of my camera as a magic key, a key to adventure and key to connecting with people. What was interesting was that the motif of the key also came up in the work of a few artists I interviewed and that they also felt drawn to a symbol of a key, a key that connected them to different worlds.

What was the was the most challenging part of this project?

Robyn:What was surprising, and what emerged as a major theme, was how much significance there was behind the interiors: that these homes really weren’t designed for the approval of others, or to be sold, but as a personal extension of self and artistry – like living visual diaries. As I started to understand this, I realised that the artists’ homes told me so much about their dreams, their troubles, their hopes, their heritage and their families.

Artist Gavin Brown said to me: ‘Everyone lives in a bubble, so why not make it a beautiful bubble.’ This really resonated with my experience on this project, as one of the most attractive themes I experienced was a shared sense of joy. Modern life is busy and domestic life can really weigh you down; it can be very monotonous and mundane. I found a lot of the artists worked to maintain the joy in their homes and their lives.

What was the most challenging part of this project?

Robyn: Well, for me it was writing the first paragraph of the introduction! I drafted it a number of times, but it just never seemed right. It was only after I saw the final book cover design by Daniel New, with the concept of the key, that everything clicked, or should I say unlocked. I’ve always thought of my camera as a magic key – a key to adventure and key to connecting with people. It made perfect sense to open the introduction with that concept. What was interesting was that the key motif also appeared in the work of several of the artists, including Annabelle Adie and Barnaba Fornasetti.

Page Stevenson

After interviewing so many fascinating people, what tips, or insights do you have for others who would like to emulate bohemian style?

Robyn: That is good question, as all of the artists were truly unique, but if I had to outline some commonalities I would say:

  • Follow your heart, not trends
  • Celebrate colour
  • Collect on your travels
  • Showcase your obsessions
  • Decorate with passion and personal meaning

Bohemian Living is available now and features the lives and times of artists including Barnaba Fornasetti, Joshua Yeldham, Simone Bendix, Helene Schjerbeck, Greg Irvine, Gavin Brown, Peter Curnow, Claire Guiral and many more.

More about Robyn Lea

Robyn Lea is an acclaimed photographer, writer and director whose work has been published in Elle Décor UK, The New York Times, Vogue, Architectural Digest, Wall Street Journal and The New Yorker Magazine amongst many others. She is the bestselling author of Dinner with Jackson Pollock: Recipes, Art and Nature and Dinner with Georgia O’Keefe: Recipes, Art and Landscapewww.robynleaphotography.com

Robyn Lea and Kirsten Abbott

Posted on November 21, 2018
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For the love of gardening: a Q&A with Simon Griffiths

To celebrate the publication this week of the stunning Garden Love, we caught up with photographer, gardener, dog lover and bestselling author Simon Griffiths, to discover a little more about his fabulous new book, his approach to photography, how he got started and, of course, dogs, plants and country gardens.

How did you first start as a photographer, and what was your earliest inspiration?

I got my first camera when I was about 5 years old – a funny plastic ‘Diana’ camera, but it used real film, and I was hooked. At school I was good at art and science, and I suppose that’s why I was drawn to photography, as it’s that creative mix of both. After high school, I went to study photography at RMIT, which is still probably considered one of the best photography courses in the world.

Who are your favourite photographers?

I love Eugène Atget, a French 19th-century photographer, who was one of the first people to photograph gardens. His work documented French streetscapes and gardens around Paris, and also the French people. His body of work is still amazing all these years later. He had special times of the year when he would shoot gardens, such as when the buds were just about to burst in spring, which he said made the trees glow. He created stunning images, all on an early plate camera.

Jardin [du] Luxembourg (Luxembourg Gardens); Eugène Atget, French, 1857 – 1927; Paris, France, Europe; 1902 – 1903; Albumen silver print; Image: 17.5 x 22.1 cm (6 7/8 x 8 11/16 in.); 90.XM.64.54
Eugène Atget [No restrictions or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

John Dugdale is another photographer whose work inspires me. His beautiful still lifes and portraits are shot on a plate camera and printed using early photographic techniques. They have a quiet, fragile beauty to them, which is different to the clinical properties of digital photography.

How many books have you been involved in, and do you feel that the process has changed at all?

I have worked on over 70 books now. They really are a passion of mine and I have been lucky enough to travel all over the world shooting for different authors and publishers. Garden Love is the fourth book I have both written and photographed.

The process has changed a lot over the years. I used to shoot on film and it was always stressful to be travelling with 400 or 500 rolls of film and going through x-ray machines, worrying the film would be damaged. Digital is fantastic and has helped free up the creative process for me: I can shoot as many images as I want as there is no film budget now for books. When I started, the books I worked on had a limited number of colour photographs, with many still printed in black and white, as printing in colour was much more expensive. Now there seems to be no limitation to the number of photographs a book can contain.

What draws you to photographing plants and gardens?

I’m a gardener at heart, so I approach shooting gardens from that perspective. I’m interested in plants, in how they grow and in documenting that. You can learn something from every garden you visit. It might be a colour combination or a plant you have never seen before, or it might be the way a gardener has grown a plant, pruned or shaped it. If you lived for 1,000 years, you would still not learn everything about gardening and that’s what fascinates me. And when I’m not photographing gardens, I’m gardening at home.

What is your favourite part of your own garden?

I love the topiary in our garden – the Buxus (English box) shapes I have been clipping for 10 years now, which act like punctuation marks in the garden in the same way that full stops or exclamation marks complete a sentence. The topiary gets clipped twice a year and helps give the garden structure. I actually think I might add some more as it’s very effective.

Was there anything uniquely Australian that connected all of the gardens in the book?

Yes – all the incredible stories the garden owners had about snakes and other garden critters. One gardener, who thought she had picked up the garden hose, had actually picked up a snake. And nearly all the garden owners had stories like it. Gardening in Australia is a difficult process – we have a climate of extremes, and lengthy periods of drought – and you could only be in Australia with all those snake stories.

What inspired you to feature the dogs (and other animals in your new book)?

The dogs and cats or other animals we choose to surround ourselves with become part of our gardens, bringing them to life – they are as much a part of the garden as the plants themselves. I have two whippets and our garden wouldn’t be the same without them. Animals bring life and warmth to a garden.

If there was one garden from Garden Love that you would like as your own, which one would it be?

I have to say probably ‘Foss’. It’s a really magical place, and you always feel great whenever you wander around the garden there. It’s six parts magic, four parts garden. Last time I was there, the Manchurian pear trees were in flower, and it was incredible. The blossom was so thick on the trees, it was like walking through a large white fluffy cloud.

Plants, Dogs and Country Gardens … what else do you need to add to the list, for complete happiness?

A cottage and books, then life would be perfect.

Garden Love, priced $59.99, is available now in all your favourite book shops across Australia.


Posted on September 27, 2018
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John Russell and Vincent Van Gogh

John Russell was a close friend of Vincent van Gogh and Auguste Rodin, taught impressionist colour theory to Henri Matisse and dined with Claude Monet.  Watch this fascinating short video to learn a little more about the particular bond he shared with Van Gogh.

John Russell: Australia’s French Impressionist has been published by the Art Gallery of NSW to accompany the exhibition of the same name which runs until November. 

Bringing together 120 paintings, drawings and watercolours – including a number of works by his contemporaries – this major retrospective is the first survey of Russell’s work in 40 years. It offers fresh perspectives on French impressionism, reintroducing Russell’s extraordinary painting to today’s audiences.

John Russell: Australia’s French Impressionist by Wayne Tunnicliffe

Posted on September 21, 2018
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The beautiful Southern Highlands of New South Wales

Author Jaqui Cameron on the unique appeal of the Southern Highlands of NSW, and its community.

I am not a horticulturist. At this point in my life I am barely even a gardener, but I grew up with a large country garden and understand the dedication such a space demands. Having lived on a farm in the Southern Highlands with my young family for nearly a decade, growing and selling trees, I have come to know the dedication and passion of garden owners in this area. I also know that every garden comes with a tale as unique as its design and I’m incredibly inquisitive – some would say nosy! I love writing, I love a good story and I have always loved a great romance.

Over the years I have learnt that the Southern Highlands is an area with a gardening history as rich and deep as the local soil. Well known for its beauty, it has long attracted garden enthusiasts because the climate provides the opportunity to celebrate the beauty of a garden across the four distinct seasons. What is not so well known is the extraordinary variety of gardens that exist across the region, nor that it can deliver four seasons in a single day, with a clear summer morning quickly transformed by a thick wintry mist rolling in.

I have spent countless happy days driving along the quiet village streets and country laneways of the Southern Highlands, looking over gates and hedges, desperately trying to get a glimpse of whatever hidden gem might lie beyond.

I have met a wonderfully eclectic community of gardener owners, garden specialists and artists, and I have been lucky enough to visit some of the most breathtaking landscapes. I have found the beauty and the very personal love affairs people have with their gardens inspiring and delightful, and with each new discovery the idea to create a book telling the stories behind Southern Highlands properties began to grow. I wanted to uncover hidden, previously unseen gardens and explore the passions of the owners who had dreamt and worked hard to create their own private oases. My challenge was to find these private gardens and convince their owners to allow me to share their stories.

That’s where the strength and generosity of the local community came to the fore. It quickly became evident to me that there is no ego in a garden. At each site I visited, the owner would recommend another garden they considered to be an equal, if not grander, triumph with its own amazing story.

This serendipity led me to the wonderful characters, beautiful gardens and amazing stories that fill this book. I was overwhelmed with suggestions and never disappointed.

Beyond the Garden Gate, by Jaqui Cameron 

You never can tell what lies beyond the garden gate.

Text © Jaqui Cameron, Photography © Sue Stubbs


Posted on September 7, 2018
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The First Colour – an extract from Chromatopia by David Coles

In this extract from his new bestselling book Chromatopia, author and master paint maker David Coles looks at the origin of ochre – believed to be the first pigment used to create human artworks.

The oldest human artworks still in existence are vivid depictions of animals, humans and spirits that were created using ochres. There is evidence of their use as far back as 250,000 years ago. Ancient ochre artworks are found all over the world, from the earliest cultures of India and Australia to the famous cave paintings of Lascaux in France.

Naturally occurring iron-containing ochres of the earth provide a wide range of yellow, red and brown colours.

The natural mineral could be collected or dug-up and then simply ground against a harder rock and water added to make fluid. Later civilisations refined this process to include washing the ochre of impurities, drying and then grinding to a fine powder. 

Yellow ochres are an impure form of iron oxide called limonite. They can also be roasted to produce other hues

by placing on a fire or in an oven. A moderate heat turns the yellow to orange; stronger heat makes the colour turn red. These roasted red ochres are often called ‘burnt’ (for example, burnt sienna). Naturally occurring red ochres are richer in anhydrous iron oxide called haematite. They also vary widely in shade, hue and transparency.

There are many earth pigments whose specific colour comes from natural mineral admixtures. The pigments known as ‘umber’ contain iron plus manganese oxide that lends a greenish hue. Iron-oxide-free earths are not strictly ochres, but it is important to include them here as their use alongside the true ochres is significant throughout history; white earths from pipe-clay, black earths of manganese and the light green pigment terre-verte (green earth) from mineral celadonite.

Text © David Coles from CHROMATOPIA, published by Thames & Hudson.

Photographs © Adrian Lander

Chromatopia by David Coles is out now.  AU$49.99

Posted on September 7, 2018
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Pitch Perfect

Man about town and author of Saturday Night Fever Pitch Simon Doonan introduces five charismatic geniuses who changed footballer fashion forever.

Footballers exist for our vicarious pleasure. We ordinary mortals might not be winning trophies, growling through the streets in a Lamborghini Aventador, or executing bicycle kicks, or wearing $800 Saint Laurent jeans, or zipping about on private planes snuggling under Hermès blankets with top-shelf tottie, or pouring artisanal tequila down our throats, but somebody sure as hell better be doing it. In their strange meteoric footballing lives we need to see all our hopes and fantasies distilled and writ large, exploding and imploding.

George Best


The wage cap was officially lifted in 1962, and suddenly British footie players began coining it. They became part of the Swinging Sixties and began to live like rock stars, or at least to aspire to. Chief among them was raven haired stallion and Manchester United winger, Mr. George Best, the guy the press dubbed The Fifth Beatle, the guy who famously declared, “I spent a lot of money on booze, birds and fast cars. The rest I just squandered.”

Paul ‘Gazza’ Gascoigne 


In the 90s men’s designer fashion went global, and footballers were first in line: ‘I went out and bought ten Versace suits – but in all the brightest colours…and I got my hair bleached. I can’t remember why. It must have seemed like a good idea at the time.’ Thus spake footballing folk hero Paul Gascoigne, “the most naturally gifted footballer of his generation” and the poster child for footballer excess, and post-retirement struggles.

David Beckham 


In 2001, David Beckham, complete with Mohawk, appeared on the cover of The Face, the now-extinct bible of fashion esoterica, thereby achieving something unprecedented for a footballer: complete fashion legitimacy. No longer just a consumer of clothing and a popularizer of blokey trends, Becks becomes a bona de inspirational icon of cool. In the subsequent decade Beckham took his cool and his fashion legitimacy and made it into a brand that could sell anything from Brylcream to undies. Especially undies.

Mario Bolatelli


It’s just ‘andbags. In the 21st Century metrosexual footballers like Italian national Mario Bolatelli take their accessories very seriously. Carrying the latest Gucci or Louis Vuitton washbag into the changing room becomes an important moment of bravado and status. In addition to his appreciation for a good handbag – and his athletic skills – Bolatelli is also known for his camouflage-painted Bentley which racked up thirteen thousand dollars in parking tickets during his time at Manchester City.

Lionel Messi 


At the 2013 FIFA Ballon d’Or awards Lionel Messi – many would argue that the Barcelona forward is one of the greatest players of all time – makes fashion history. Signor Messi wears an extraordinary suit made from shiny red shantung silk, a raging, blazing disco-inferno of red bespoke Dolce & Gabbana. The social media reaction is brutal, many accusing Messi of nicking his gran’s curtains. I, for one, think he looks damn good.

Photo by Joe Gaffney

 

Simon Doonan is the Creative Ambassador for Barneys New York. He has worked in fashion for over 35 years, and is the author of six books, including the tongue-in-cheek style guides Eccentric Glamour and Gay Men Don’t Get Fat.


Posted on July 9, 2018
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An Interview With Author Yuval Zommer

The internationally renowned children’s author discusses exploring the ocean in his latest work ‘The Big Book of the Blue’.

“I try to connect with my inner child: that eager curiosity about the world around us,” explains author Yuval Zommer. Having applied that winning process to bugs and beasts, his latest creation is The Big Book of the Blue – supplying readers with illustrated fun facts about everything from whales and dolphins to jellyfish and sea turtles.

The non-fiction book process is a lengthy one, notes Zommer. “It’s double or more the pages of a normal picture book, and you’re packing in lots of information. Details are very important to me, like the patterns, textures, structures and just sheer beauty. Nature is an unparalleled artist. Even the tiniest creature is amazing when you look at it closely – which is what children do.” There’s a lovely literal example of that in the book, as Zommer gets up close with krill through a magnifying glass.

“Children appreciate anatomically correct depictions,” notes Zommer. “When I draw, I try to understand the creature’s shape, movement and colour palette, then add in the detail. I always think: ‘What is its essence?’” He worked with sea life expert Barbara Taylor to ensure that “everything is factually robust, as well as asking what would be fun to discover – those quirks and surprises.”

From interacting with fans of his books on social media and at events, Zommer knows they’re adopted by a wide age range, so he takes care to include elements for everyone: from striking visuals for non-readers through to fascinating facts for those who are knowledgeable about the topic. Appropriate analogies help readers connect (such as comparing sea turtles’ sight to swimming goggles), and there’s plenty of wit to make parents smile.

One striking aspect of his work is the way that he overlays text and pictures. “My pet hate is books with one page that’s just an image and another that’s a big chunk of text. That’s a disconnect. Reading is about travelling through the story. It also works well for repeated reading, as you come back and discover something new, or can easily find your favourite page.”

Zommer’s personal favourites include the jellyfish page, which is backed by black so we can see the jellyfish glow and get a sense of their transparency, as well as the evocative night-time krill page and that depicting the duality of penguins: gangly on land and “almost balletic” in their grace underwater. But he’s delighted with the book’s overall variety, reflected too in its form: “It’s good to have a mix of portrait and landscape pages in a large format like this, so readers can twist the book or read it upside down. It adds another dimension to the experience.”

On a more serious note, there’s a section on threats to marine life – from oil spills and overfishing to global warming and plastic. “It’s something I thought about from the start. Even as a child, I was interested in ecology and wanting to protect the planet,” recalls Zommer. “It’s something kids really connect with, and they want to know how they can help.” An illustration of a whale whose belly is packed with plastic waste is a potent image for readers of any age.

Zommer is thrilled that his books have been translated into different languages and travelled everywhere from Europe to China, America and Russia. “The books travel more than I do! Once a book exists, it has its own life – you never know where it will go or who will read it. I love seeing kids getting into reading, and it really shows that children worldwide are fascinated by nature; its appeal is universal. That gives me great joy.”

Interview conducted by Marianka Swain @ The Arts Desk.


Posted on June 14, 2018
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The Allure of Retro Cameras

To celebrate the release of Retro Cameras, photographer Bill Knight delights in the inestimable charms of Leicas, Rolleiflexes, and the Nikon F1.

Will anyone ever care about outdated digital cameras the way they do about film cameras? Maybe, but it is difficult to believe that they will. The D1 was Nikon’s first digital single lens reflex camera, introduced in 1999. It may find its way into a museum but who is going to love it? It would be like loving an IBM PC. My D5 – its modern successor – is a wonderful thing, built like a brick, fast as lightning, sees in the dark, intuitive autofocus, you can work it with gloved hands in a freezing rainstorm. It is one of the finest picture-taking machines ever made.  But when the D6 comes along I will trade up without a second thought. It’s just a toothbrush really. Keep it while it does the job and chuck it out when something better comes along.

But film cameras have magic, and provided you want to work with film they don’t really go out of date. Look at the pictures of the Exaktas Contaxes, and Rolleiflexes in this book and the years roll away. I used to look at pictures like these when I was supposed to be doing my homework. By the time I could afford any of these cameras their time was passing, but they are still beautiful, in the way an old Rolex watch is beautiful. I did come to own one of the cameras illustrated – a Pentax ME Super – and jolly good it was too.

And then there’s the Leica – a piece of history in a class of its own. Henri Cartier Bresson had one; any serious photographer had one or wanted one. Small, beautifully made, with incomparable lenses, they have always been ludicrously expensive and I put off buying one for years. Then I read an article by a hospice nurse who recorded her patients’ dying regrets. You know the sort of thing – ‘I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.’ ‘I wish I had lived the life I wanted instead of the one expected of me.’ I wasn’t worried about  any of those things but it did occur to me that I wouldn’t want to be lying there saying, ‘I wish I had owned a Leica.’ The man in the shop said that was quite a common reason for buying one.

So what is that about? Does my Leica M10 really take better pictures. Is that why I love it, even though it’s digital? Weirdly, the answer seems to be yes. I have taken my favourite pictures with a Leica, but it is hard to say why. When I get it out sitters sometimes think they are not getting their due. ‘Oh, you are using the little camera.’ Such ignorant fools.

Looking at these cameras you have to think that there is a lot of history there, some of it quite dark. The best models are German and Japanese, countries with whom we had a certain amount of political difficulty in the 20th century. What have those cameras seen? Some of the German brands were manufactured in the east and one imagines the Stasi were pretty good customers.

But so what. The camera is innocent. Even if you are not a collector you have to be impressed by the sheer range and number of the precision instruments so beguilingly laid out across the pages of this book. But it’s not just the mechanical beauty of these machines that gives them their charm. The Leica, the Nikon F1 and all the rest gave us our memories of the 20th century. Of course they have picked up a patina along the way. They were there. They saw.

Bill Knight @ theartsdesk.com


Posted on June 7, 2018