Soul feel

Shapeshifter live at the Forum. I felt so proud to be from Aotearoa. Not that I can claim any shred of success for the phenomenon that is Shapeshifter, but tonight amongst the heaving mass of fans half my age, I remembered back to the first time I saw them in 2000 in Dunedin at the Arc Cafe. Then, as now, I thought wow. At the time there was a lot of electronica and gigs seemed to be always about djs. I went to a Kid Loco gig, and it was cool and all that he was French, but at the risk of missing the point entirely, which I know I’m doing, he was playing other peoples’ records….Anyway. 2000. Dunedin. Shapeshifter. They’d only really just got together then. Fresh out of Jazz School and they used real instruments. Horns and saxophones. They don’t seem to use them so much in their live shows any more. Now they’re described as heavy soul slash drum and bass. Then, I feel as though there was
more of the jazz slash soul thing going on. 
However you define it, I was hooked. I’ve seen 
them a lot live and they always step up. Tonight was 
no exception.
The photos are complete rubbish…but yes…P Diggs and the boys. Loved it.
And it took the nasty taste of Derby Day in Melbourne right away. The trains, streets, bars and restaurants were full of Derby Day outfits. Nasty Derby Day outfits. Honestly, the city was heaving with short, tight…but neither of these good uses of the term…high heeled misery. I know I sound bitchy, but rare was the subject who had chosen a dress that suited her figure. Really, truly. Disheartening. And Fascinators. Who invented these jaunty head adornments which sound like a cross between Terminator and and some kind of sex toy and look as though they could receive cable tv signals? I always thought they were reserved for the Mother of the Bride. That was my mistake. Everywhere.
Although, it is clearly me who is in the fashion wrong. In Melbourne today, I would have been a voice in the wilderness…woman alone…if I had dared clear my throat and ask…”So, um, what’s with the fascinator?” Kate wears them. It must be just me…
And today was just the start of Carnival week….By Tuesday, I’ll have been converted…

Angels and Demons

…no, not the Dan Brown novel of the same name…sigh…but The Angels and Demons Parade by AES + F, the Russian sometimes trio, sometimes quartet of artists: Tatiana Arzamasova, Lev Evzovich, Evgeny Svyatsky and photographer, Vladimir Fridkes. Described both benignly as a photo-conceptualist group  and also a subversive art collective AES + F were all born in fifties Russia. Tatiana and Lev have backgrounds in conceptual architecture, which perhaps explain the scale of their ‘big babies’ and the fact that they need to be placed within an urban setting, footpaths, city squares for maximum impact. And maximum impact, I think they have, made out of black resin and assembled in parts on site, these 6 metre tall black babies have a sense of ownership to them. They own the space around them, if not whichever city they spring up in at the time. They made their entry into the world in Lille, France in 2009, and have been part of the Melbourne festival over the last two weeks…they were, in fact, the poster babies for the festival. Words such as apocalyptic…dawning of a new age…fiendish cherubs…otherworldly…are the official words used to describe these huge sculptures with bat-wings and reptilian tails pushing out from their nappies. These big babies were dotted along St Kilda Road and Swanston street in the CBD but have now perhaps taken flight to another destination.


Healesville is in the Yarra Valley, just over an hour from Melbourne. It is a lush, green area, famous for its vineyards and wildlife, most notably, its birdlife. People originally settled in Healesville around 1864 because it was on the way to the Woods Point goldfields. Now, it is largely a tourist destination for those who like a drop of the good stuff. White Rabbit Breweries can be found here right next to the Innocent Bystander wine depot.

 Verdant. That’s the word that sprang to mind when I took these photos. Verdant. And serenity.

A trip to the Maroondah Reservoir Park…the family had been there a couple of days before and they had exclaimed over how peaceful it was and how they felt as though they were the only ones in the world. Today there were 7 large buses and many uniformed children running around squealing and a man on a megaphone issuing instructions. Anti-serenity. But they packed up and the buses rolled off not long after we arrived and it was us and the green and the birds.

 Waterfall…? Small fry compared to NZ and actually just a spillover from the dam, which you can see above. But still, gushing water over rocks…you take what you can.

I am not a bird person. Little beady eyes, sharp beaks and pre-historic heads. However, let’s give credit where credit is due. Australia has some pretty amazing birds. Vibrant plumage. Today I saw yellow-crested cockatoos, rosellas, parrots, ibis and even a kookaburra, who was extremely difficult to capture on film or on a digital format as he blended in so well with the tree….


This morning I dropped little Ted (the car…licence plate TED and it’s such a little car…should really be petit Ted, given its Frenchness…but nevertheless…) off at the repair place. I’m fairly certain there is a correct term other than repair place, but given the lateness of the hour and the fact that I have just been waiting tables for  7 1/2 hours in very warm temperatures, repair place is as good as it gets. I walked back down the Nepean Highway and then down Bay Street and through Brighton to the sea. 
Brighton, Melbourne, is quite a different sort of Brighton from Brighton, Christchurch. It’s posh. Overflowing with hot stone massage salons and pet accessory boutiques and ivy covered brick church towers and even towers on houses (see below) which sent me off on quite a cinematic segue in my head, I can tell you…imagine having a tower in your house?! Where’s Jo…oh, she’s just up in the tower….My photos take you through my hour-long walk right down to the seafront and a couple walking ahead of me who seemed as though they had stepped out of another era…

 Tower house


Batch is described as “a New Zealander’s home away from home”. It’s on Carlisle Street, in Balaclava,  which is just down the road from me. The owner is an ex-pat kiwi, they use Supreme coffee and they have New Zealand beer and wine in the fridge. Where better to go for breakfast the day after the All Blacks beat Australia in the RWC? It was really the least I could do. 


Helium balloons. Sometimes it is astounding how the simple things can give the most pleasure. A cluster of ten balloons with long trailing green strings…magic.

 And there is always, always the hope…the fantasy…that if you tied enough balloons to the back of your trousers, you’d be able to float up into the sky.

What a great day that would be.

Fitzroy Street

This morning I biked down to Fitzroy Street. It’s on the edge of St. Kilda. Across the road from Albert Park.

Fitzroy Road appears to have multiple personalities. Ivy covered churches, “table tennis clubs”, and a lot of bars and restaurants.

I had brunch at new kid on the block, Fitzrovia.

Their claim to food-producing fame is that they source their produce locally. The menu certainly reflected this with Daylesford bacon and Melbourne CBD honey. I am a big fan of local hunting and gathering, so it gets the Jo thumbs up for doing this. It was good. The first coffee was better than the second, so old fussy britches Rittey, if she was looking for something to mark down could question consistency, but on the whole, nice experience. And nice bike home along the seafront.

Living the balcony dream

I have outdoor furniture. You can’t see it so much as I am taking up most of the photo…however, once again IKEA came to the party….well, like the mountain and mohammad, I went to the party that is IKEA and procured the cheapest and smallest outdoor table and 2 chairs I could find and was very happy, thank you very much. I can see glasses of rosé and bowls of olives and sunny days ahead. That is sparkling water in my hand, but it’s a prop…if you build it they will come. Of course, the weather forecast is for rain for the next few days but there are sunny times ahead, I’m convinced of it.

After the tears or after the dancing…

3D dance documentaries. Who’d have thought?! And yet, beautiful, mesmerizing, utterly absorbing, transporting are words that come to mind having seen Pina. The Wim Wenders tribute or hommage (which makes it more european sounding) would have been stunning without 3D but I was pleasantly surprised that what i had previously thought of as a gimmick to be used with blockbuster special effect movies, could add another dimension (of course!!) to a documentary about movement and depth of feeling. The dancers in Pina’s Wuppertal company are passionate people. They live their dancing. 

Their inspirational leader, Pina, died suddenly during filming which added another layer to this documentary as the dancers express their sorrow, memories, what they have learned through dance snap-shots with backdrops in urban landscapes, quarries, forests and on stage.
Next tot he Classic, the cinema in Elsternwick, is After the Tears, a polish vodka bar. The name is a nod to the parent bar in Windsor, Vodka, Borsch and Tears, but I think having a bar called After the Tears next to a cinema is apt…well, if you’re me. I often cry at the end of a film whether it is a happy or sad ending. Cinema lights come on way too soon for sensitive souls like me…

Anyway, the vodka bar. A novel-length menu, largely filled with variations on the vodka theme with some polish food. Mum and I had honey vodka prawns and some kind of calamari dish with a side of asparagus. So good. But I need to go back to try out some of the other offerings…not to mention the vodka….