Thursday, 24 November 2011

Buddy Guy to play Melbourne

Composed yet effervescent blues player, Buddy Guy with polka dot guitar accoutrement is set to play Melbourne this April. I'm not entirely sure whether I'll still be on upside down soil, but if I am, might be a good time to catch the 75 year old from Louisiana ripping it up. I first caught sight of him on a 30 ft x 70 ft cinema screen as we sat on bad seats with a sneaky bottle of wine in hand, he was destroying (in a positive way) the Rolling Stones track, Champagne & Reefer.  Martin Scorsese's documentary Shine a Light was playing, it charted the Rolling Stones "A Bigger Bang" Tour featuring the 1972 album Exile on Main Street.  As we left the darkness, bottle empty, spirits high, with buzz akin to having just exited a concert, something felt different, a memory pin had been dropped on my life map.  There were other great performances Jack White was soft and endearing, the sheer energy of Mick and character of Keith & Co was admirable, yet Buddy was something new and old rolled into one, his was a stand out performance . The Stones celebrate their 50th anniversary next year, lets hope the draw Buddy back into the fold, if not I pray I'm here in the Palais Theatre on the 3rd April when the lights go up.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

in AW(M)E...

I'm in my bed with PFD (post festival depression) even a fancy dinner at Coda tonight wasn't able to revive my dampened demeanor.  Its a serious combination of crashes, excitement, adrenalin, champagne, late nights, early mornings, sugar and fantastically mesmerising loud music. The past four days have been an overload on the senses, its difficult to take stock of everything I've seen, heard and felt. I wandered around freely with my Media pass (Hi, my names Media, whats your name?) booze brimming networking events where the fizzy white and rock oysters appeared about my person, rubbing shoulders with Programme Directors from Glastonbury, Roskilde, Fuji Rocks (to name but a few). Lounging on plush seats in the Arts Centre as the intoxicating sounds of 70s golden age Ethiopia wash over me, Mulatu Astatke working his magic. Skanking away to Mad Professor as Irration Steppas get involved in the DJ booth. Being utterly blown away by the majestic voices of The Congos as they perform Heart of the Congos their seminal album produced by Lee Scratch Perry, this is their first time in Australia and I'm back stage saying hello in a cloud of Jah inspired smoke.  In short my life is wonderful but nothing I can do right now is going to top the last 96 hours of my life. AWME thank you very much indeed, it was a pleasure working with you, working for you, running around, tweeting, blogging, facebooking, editing, uploading and of course schmoozing. I am going to watch a film now, perhaps Wah Do Dem?

Photograph © Tajette O'Halloran - Mornington Island Dancers

Photograph © Tajette O'Halloran - Noriko Tandano

Photograph © Marie Muggivan - Graveyard Train

Photograph © James Henry - Mad Professor

Photograph © James Henry - Public Opinion Afro Orchestra

Photograph © James Henry - Lotek

Photograph © James Henry 

Photograph © Marie Muggivan

Monday, 21 November 2011



Thrill the World zombies race to their starting point an unauthorised underground carpark used in Mad Max belonging to the University of Melbourne

Sunday, 20 November 2011


DIY studio party with live performance and exhibition, Fitzroy

Friday, 18 November 2011

Melbourne is packed full of back street warehouses bursting with creative exploration and DIY events.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Summer shines down

What better way to spend a Saturday morning than at the beach, we headed off early to beat the crowds and arrived in time for a breakfast of Champagne and strawberries on the shore. Once the masses arrived, feeling refreshed and invigorated by the sun and the scenery we headed off to a gay union in Fitzroy Gardens. What greeted us were flamingos, dolphins, dogs in tutu's and all manner of campness and frivolity. It was shaping up to a be a perfect day, I delighted in the trail around the park, the pauses for song, quizes, high jump and high jinks allowed the bubbles to fizz in my head and the conversation to flow. Australian's certainly know how to throw a party...

Black Rock Beach   The calmness before the masses arrive - we left as the beach was becoming overwhelming   My infatuation with the cars of Melbourne continues...   The flamingo and the unicorn.   Much campness in the park
Two hot dolphins

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Carnivale time @ Edinburgh Gardens

Two carnival leftovers from The Village

Edinburgh Gardens in North Fitzroy is the epicentre of Melbourne park life, I guess I would dare refer to it as the London Fields of Melbourne. It has the drinking, bike flexing, costume wearing elements, yet with less aggro and more sunshine, plus the toilets are safe and just about clean enough to use. I have already spent several sunny days lazing on a picnic blanket consuming alcohol and various chips and dips. Last weekend it was home to The Village a wonderful carnival, gypsy style with polka bands with many a waistcoat and moustache on display. I look forward to more impromptu events and gatherings ahead.

Friday, 11 November 2011

Harvest time

Off to the Gathering in Werribee Park today, along with the rest of Melbourne, its a joyous day with a clear skies and sunshine forecast, I felt the twinge of home when I gazed at the line up, Portishead are headliners, Bristol massive. Other performers include TV on the Radio, Clap Hands Say Yeah, Trojan Soundsystem, Hypnotic Brass Ensemble and The Flaming Lips...

Thursday, 10 November 2011

One door closes, four doors open...

me @ Dark Horse Experiment, Australian's are very trusting with their expensive IT Consumables

I met up with a friend fresh off the boat from London for an evening in Melbourne. Having just arrived in Australia with his boyfriend and contemplating where to call home for the foreseeable future - Melbourne or Sydney.  My own decision was a relatively simple analysis - the amount of interesting people I encountered whilst wandering the streets. Which of course was Melbourne, rich in ethnic diversity, fashion identity, musical individuality and pretty trams.  However as my companion pointed out (something he wasn't prepared for) was Sydney's WOW factor, skyline, beaches, great weather and a capital city feel.  Add to that the thriving magazine and fashion industry Sydney on first inspection was out shining Melbourne!

Sydney folk are very complimentary about Melbourne, they love the food, music and fashion, however the reverse is less generally less favourable with Melburnian's regarding there big brother as brash, in-your-face and money orientated, perhaps a touch of sibling rivalry.

To appreciate what Melbourne has to offer, requires more than a tram ride around the city, it reveals itself to you slowly, work and time are required to fully enjoy the fruits, there are hidden bars, cafe's and parks tucked away in the northern suburbs that offer something different. A bike ride along Merri Creek, will take you to Collingwood City Farm, where you can observe the peacock's fighting it out in the trees.  A grey winter is peppered with an impressive array of festivals, comedy, music, film, human rights, or a human rights comedy, music, film, festival.

To fly the relatively impartial flag (I have no loyalty to Melbourne or Sydney at this stage) an adventure to unearth the merits of Melbourne was in order.  With that in mind we embarked on a Thursday evening gallery hop, one of the great plus points of Melbourne is the burgeoning art scene both disparate and plentiful, there were eight galleries I knew of with openings that evening - we opted for four in the CBD all within walking/tram jumping distance.
The first, Flinders Lane Gallery, is a slick and rather affectionate money operation, the atmosphere both hospitable and gracious, there is nothing more awful than walking into a fancy gallery and being given the death stare of rejection. Okay you can't afford the art, but you're civilised and educated enough to appreciate it, plus you probably bring the 'credibility' factor up a little. As we drank the complimentary wine (best wine of the evening) and if nibbled on the remaining strawberries from the cheese platter, we engaged in conversation with one of the gallery representatives, the works in the main room had sold out all bar two. William Breen's oil on linen paintings were enticingly nostalgic yet modern depictions of Melbourne.  These candid still lives captured the more edgier side of Fitzroy, Collingwood and Northcote in an endearing light and fitted perfectly into any design based environment. I was impressed by the tones and use of shadow and wondered if my home might one day be captured in the same way. The side room was home to industrial sculptures, less accessible, Scott remarked they 'belonged in the lobby of a large corporation', perhaps a mining one? Anyway we were less enthused and headed onwards.

William Breen at Flinders Lane Gallery
  William Breen at Flinders Lane Gallery William Breen at Flinders Lane Gallery
We were lucky enough to be shown paintings by William Breen from a previous exhibition. 
Up seven floors of the Nicholas Building sits Blindside Gallery, an artist run space, it has the worst and most expensive wine on offer, last time I was there I actually laughed at how bad the wine (and art) was. This time the wine was as bad as I remembered, yet the art had improved slightly, still conceptual, the back room displayed work inspired by an essay written by an Academic who I've witnessed in a pool of vomit one drunken evening.  It was a mix up of kryptonite and power lines, perhaps I should get round to reading the essay, however if the paintings by Piers Greville are anything to go by, I'm sensing it will be a tale of pre-apocalyptic meltdown. We gagged our wine down, engaged in pleasantries and moved on.

Piers Greville at Blindside Gallery
Next was a most unfriendly bunch, unhindered by the energies in the room, it was interesting to gauge how different each venue and crowd was. If I could equate the audience to a certain social set, it would be a brief period of severe insecurity when realising art school was about who could out cool each other, not through style but sheer intimidation and pretentious demeanour. The gallery, Daine Singer was cute and hospitable paintings by Sean Bailey were small and abstract in form, colour blocking and without context left me underwhelmed. A respite came in a trip to the toilet, we had to be escorted through the architecture studio upstairs, lots of fancy apples and high ceilings, swish.

Sean Bailey at Diane Singer

Sean Bailey at Diane Singer
Our last stop ended on a high, Dark Horse Experiment gallery home to a solid selection of medium to large scale figurative paintings by Adrian Doyle with decorative abstract fills - a modern day Klimt, the owner dressed in skinny leather tie was masquerading as a waiter, interacting with his clientele and creating an inclusive vibe. We were lead through a door into a large collaborative open studios, with music playing and around each desk were people encouraging you to observe their work, they are hosting a full on party on the 23rd December, so watch this space for details.

Adrian Doyle @ Dark Horse Experiment

Adrian Doyle @ Dark Horse Experiment

Adrian Doyle @ Dark Horse Experiment

Open Studios @ Dark Horse Experiment

 Open Studios @ Dark Horse Experiment

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

From Bristol with Love - Photographer, Kai _ Safe Harbour

Tall, bearded and built like an ox, Kai Murphy’s intimidating silhouette juxtaposes his soft demeanor and philosophical attitude. A photographer in the traditional sense he opts for film over digital on most occasions. Sourcing old, often expired films donated by friends, scavenged from ships, junk shops and car boot sales. When successful this game of film roulette produces a whimsical nostalgia not matched in the apps of the iphone 4s. His subject matter is often linked to very personal associations of romance, people and places. Seeking out the new, his work documents a journey from initial meeting to a more developed perspective as the relationship progresses.

What I liked about Kai was his delicate nature and the energy and passion bursting out of him when he spoke of his work. He really believed in what he was doing, and went about it in a calm, organic way. Originally from he countryside he grew up on the river in a houseboat close to the border of three counties near to where Kate Moss now resides.


Martina Randles: You cite yourself as an absorber of cultures, what does this mean?
Kai Murphy:
It means I can’t stop thinking about everything that I don’t know. My Granddad told me an amazing thing once “Those who don’t know history are deemed to repeat it”, I think about this all the time.

Martina Randles: What inspires you to take pictures?
Kai Murphy:
The same feeling that you get when you hear an amazing piece of music… something just clicks, your gut rolls over and away you go.

Martina Randles: How many cameras do you have?
Kai Murphy:
I own about 40 cameras, not all are working. My favorite camera to use is my Adox Sport 6x9. The oldest camera I own is also the biggest a Hunter Penrose process camera from 1893, I’m still looking for a decent wheelbarrow to transport it.

Martina Randles: What's better film or digital?
Kai Murphy:
Its not a case of which is better, its more a case of whichever you prefer to use. When I get my hands on a friend’s digital camera I’m like a kid in a sweet shop, I can’t stop pushing the buttons. I’ll take a thousand pictures in one fell swoop. When I use film I am much more aware of the situations I get myself into, and the environment around me. I owned a digital camera once; it cost me about £150 it broke after a couple of months. I bought a 1967 Olympus Trip from a charity shop recently for £5 its still working today. I think it’s whatever floats your boat… film floats mine.

Martina Randles: Why did you decide to go to India, to you find yourself?
Kai Murphy:
I have never had any intentions to find myself; I think if I ever did I would end up in a feedback loop of doom. I enjoy finding other people. I ended up in India because I was jealous of my girlfriend who had just bought tickets to go. I had just packed in my editing job and decided to join her - then discovered she was trying to get away from me.

Martina Randles: Have you ever been blown away by a photograph?
Kai Murphy:
My friend Tom Mead took a great picture of a goat in China.

Martina Randles: You were a film maker before photography, how was that?
Kai Murphy: The film industry is fucking horrible yet it is utterly addictive chasing a dream, you discover you didn’t really know what the dream entailed - it becomes an endurance test.

Martina Randles: What are the differences?
Kai Murphy: To me photography and filmmaking are the same thing. I love to tell stories and to understand the natural narratives and rhythms that are happening all around us. A photograph is a film but with no exposition.

Martina Randles: What's Bristol saying?
Kai Murphy: Bristol is saying grab me by the balls or I’ll kick you in the ass.

Martina Randles: Where do you plan to take your work? 
Kai Murphy: Well I just took it to the Dollar Street Gallery, but anywhere in the public eye is great. This year my goal is to make a book and have my cameras pay the rent.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Magical White Rabbit

Wow, the White Rabbit gallery home to contemporary Chinese art took my breath away, on route to the airport post late lunch we took a detour to what I initially thought would be a shoe box sized gallery. Down an unassuming side street the glass paneled doors opened into a spacious four floored building home to painting, photography and sculpture. The works posed important questions about the world we inhabit and where we they human race is headed. I was overjoyed to find art which surprised and delighted.  Most striking were the images of an overweight panda, rabbit and dear, each plonked in the middle of their own painting surrounded by broken down apartment blocks; large scale illustrations of humans hung alongside animal carcass; giant tree sculpture and Ai Weiwei's path of porcelain puddles. I wish I'd had more time, instead of a whistle stop tour I plan to return for a second visit, the array of Chinese teas in the cafe was enticing enough to tempt me back.

Liu Di's surreal photographs of gigantic animals squatting in suburbia
Black and white painting, giving an almost photograph feel

Easy to get lost amongst the sea of sculptures

Current photographs of Burmese prison camps by Lu Nan

Friday, 30 September 2011

Chris Town for China Heights

Chris Town is no stranger to China Heights being a regular exhibitor for the gallery. Unsurprisingly many of his well priced and accessible prints (which appeared to be collages flattened by a high quality colour photocopier) had several red dots next to them (for those who don't know a red dot indicates sold). The theme for his latest offering 'Randy Credit Ruins Daily Contrast' was born out of his visits to China, where he found life synthetic and polluted. And reworked newspaper cuttings, mostly from tabloid press, exploring the manipulation of the media in a comedic light. The visual diary featuring flowers and advertising is the most engaging and even left me contemplating a purchase.
Exhibition runs until October 15th , L3, 16-28 Foster Street, Surry Hills

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Where he creates, he encourages others to create

Here is an edited interview with an inspirational photographer, Paul Barbera, originally written for Academy for Men. His generosity has connected me with some delightful people in Melbourne, the perfect Melburnian to feature on my blog.  

Where They Create, he creates
Paul Barbera shoots ACNE Stockholm for Where They Create

Released on Frame this month, Where They Create is a weighty hard backed publication born out of Photographer Paul Barbera’s blog of the same name. It offers a glimpse into the international design spaces of Fantastic Man, Olaf Breuning, Julie Verhoeven, Opening Ceremony and Matali Crasset to name a few. Still very much a side project squeezed into a hectic photography schedule, this self-professed labour of love, has grown organically from an ingrained fascination with the world, to a voluminous reference of creative working environments.

Barbera maintains another blog, entitled Love Lost, a sumptuously voyeuristic peek into the bedrooms and occasional panties of smoulderingly unconventional muses. Hunger for exploration bubbles over into most probably all of his artistic endeavours, shooting editorial for high-end glossies including Vogue Living, Jalouse, View on Colour, Bloom and Elle Decoration.

Barbera is an effusive combination; disarming, dyslexic and driven, belonging to the pre Y Generation, son of migrants, he understands the value of working hard. He began shooting for Marie Clare at 24 and has lived in Rome, Warsaw, Berlin, Singapore and Amsterdam. Maneuvering his way with ease through the exchange I was surprised to discover Barbera rarely gave interviews in person or posed for photographs, the curious had become the subject of curiosity.  

Martina Randles: So tell me, what was the appeal of the project, how did it come about, was it a natural evolution? 
Paul Barbera: I can't just walk into a studio, it’s a way of getting into peoples faces, photography is a by product more than anything. It started 20 years ago documenting my best friend in high school, painter, Dominic Wood, the whole family are painters, it began in his fathers studio and has been evolving ever since.  

Martina Randles: You’ve managed to cover a lot of ground, how do you decide on where to shoot? 
Paul Barbera: Scott McCleland loves Where They Create and will pull me into jobs where I can work on my projects, recently I shot two artists in Beijing and one in the Kennedy headquarters. I don't care where it is, if a job comes up I take it, its completely random I can't wait to go to Russia. I had this job in Thailand and I took four weeks off to shoot, then I struggled to find places in Bangkok.

Martina Randles: You’ve just been working in China and have recently moved to New York, how do they compare? 
Paul Barbera: New York feels like a third world city compared to China, the doors have opened and they might close again. I shot some stuff in Beijing and Shanghai, for Nike, they are trying to introduce women’s exercise to Chinese women but they're not allowed to sweat and they are all skinny anyway, it’s an uphill battle. I could make a book on New York there are so many spaces to shoot, and to dig up, it’s such an important city in the world.

Pages from the book Where They Create  

Martina Randles: What original and obscure places has Where They Create taken you to? 
Paul Barbera: The internet has changed everything I go to Bangkok, Shanghai - it’s not like all of sudden you enter another world, its difficult to find culturally original. I went to one of the Dutch colonies to shoot a very famous Curaçaoan artist; he was off his head totally drunk, I spent half a day with him I wasn't allowed to shoot. I get very restless when I don’t shoot anything, fortunately we ended up at a local surf beach, there was an old lady selling coke and little bits of food. She lived there with a little generator, painting her dreams and making little sculptures of aluminum foil, she couldn't understand why I was so interested in photographing her.   

Martina Randles: How important in terms of ‘bigger than you’ social development is your work? Would you like to go to say, Iraq to find creative’s? 
Paul Barbera: I'm a big fan of Poland and the Polish, I spent a summer in Warsaw and shot a Street Art Festival for a friend’s magazine Beast, there was no budget. The Polish went to Europe and realised that London isn't as great as they thought it would be, came home and bought there energy with them. In Amsterdam in particular you have this attitude that every Polish person is a crook and cheap laborer, because that’s what they are in Amsterdam. But actually there is so much going on there, I have out four or five spaces online and two made it into the book. I'm a fan of Poland. That’s my little bit, you change the landscape, but you’re right I’d love to go to Iraq, I’d love to go to Palestine, but I’d have to do it when stuff comes up, economically I can't afford to just take six months off.  

Martina Randles: What was the biggest change you encountered when switching to digital? Paul Barbera: My interaction socially up until digital was the camera, that was the way that I dealt with people in a social context. Now I shoot so much, my surroundings, in the blog and love lost that I don't do any private stuff. There was this supposed civilized weekend away with some Czech people that turned out to be a complete two day non-sleeping bender. One guy fell off a balcony and cracked his face open, it was pretty graphic, and I’d documented the whole sequence from the train ride until the morning. I couldn’t be bothered doing that now when I’m out with my friends, its quite a funny story.  

Martina Randles: What camera do you use? 
Paul Barbera: It’s a dialogue that’s not important, not relevant. You've got love your equipment, what it is that you're using, but it doesn't matter what that thing is. Years ago shooting a lot of ad work I was way too young; 25 and working on bigger than me ad campaigns. I was shooting above my weight - I spent 30 grand on camera kit and had four assistants. It was about bringing confidence to the shoot; the client was spending a lot of money. I was young creating an illusion of mirrors; I don't play that game anymore.

Where They Create, is available to buy from Frame and most good bookstores.
Paul Barbera shoots Fantastic Man, Amsterdam for Where They Create
Paul Barbera shoots Pandarosa, Berlin for Where They Create

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

How to survive Melbourne

Thank you Miss K for your email, it’s reassuring hearing from other ‘out of towners’ about their perception of Melbourne, I sense there are a few similarities of opinions, I too am struggling to find ‘the place’, the Cheers bar that keeps pulling me back, the club that I can’t resist forming bonds with to ensure I am treated with an air of familiarity and acceptance. Perhaps the non-existence of these places is what makes Melbourne unique or maybe the do exist and I am yet to discover then, or dare I say it, I’ve become too desensitised (coming from a bigger city or being slightly more worldly wise ‘ahem’ older) that I fail to appreciate everything I have uncovered thus far.

I have managed to wind up/stumble upon quite a few decent house parties, a particular highlight was a Winter themed party, with jumpers, fake snow, fires and ski suits, pretty much all visits have occurred randomly and have the result of probing, persevering and saying yes to unpredictable and on occasion uncomfortable situations. Melbourne is a place of great cafes and even better house parties, all of which require a great deal of smiling and work to infiltrate, even now my links to these worlds are at best tenuous. However there is a lot to be said for stamina, and momentum, I haven’t stopped speaking to people since I arrived no matter how much of a dick I’ve felt at times.

For information on how to find people to talk at, try here

1. Melbourne Art Openings This is a fantastic tool for free booze and art; pretty much most of my Wednesdays/Thursdays when I've been lost and looking for inspiration have come blossomed here. There are lots of cute, creatively dressed types at these events. You can even go it alone under the guise of art - most importantly, the booze is heavily discounted or FREE, a great social lubricant. Be careful of too many fizzy whites on an empty stomach.

2. The Thousands (Three Thousand for Melbourne) The Thousands are GREAT, slightly more user friendly and less fluro before the revamp; I’m slowly adjusting to the new design. The OUT section usually has better ideas on what one should be doing with there time, whether its music, art or fashion there is something to entice. The guys at Rightanglestudio are business savvy and are making the site work.

3. FESTIVALS There are an unbelievable amount of Melbourne based festivals to attend, volunteer - be involved in. The Australian World Music Expo (AWME), happens in November, I’ll helping the producers which is a great way to make connections. There are a ridiculous amount of events happening, there is an international film festival running now. The Wheeler Centre always has something interesting on.

I make myself go to as many places in Melbourne as possible, from shopping visits to obscure Savers to visiting well reviewed cheap eats in Footscray. It’s important to explore and find your own little spots. Okay so maybe (as you seem nice) I’ll share a few with you, certain places work at different days/times of the week, bars/spots have changeable vibes/crowds.

(i). Max out your area to suss out the best coffee shops, its an obvious one, yet imperative. I live just off Lygon so the best ones near me are Small Block, Each Peach, Sourdough and Greens if I’m looking for quantity. The Gelobar is tacky but nice, bar wise Eydies has great décor and friendly staff, feeling welcome is important. Shame but that’s the only bar I’ve really enjoyed near me, oh dear, perhaps I need to invest more time. Blackhearts and Sparrows - great for take out booze. To be honest I’m convinced there are some killer bars that I’m not cool enough to know about, with dancing and everyone being nice to each other whilst they go nuts. If anyone finds them…?

(ii). Smith Street, Northcote High Street, Sydney Road, Carlton, all these places you know already I can name specific bars, however I’ve not been blown away by any of them, half decent ones include, Gasometer, Joes Shoe Bar, Wesley Anne, Retreat, Old Post Office, Geralds Bar. In town, there are plenty of options, get the pack of playing/bar cards and ask around.

(iii). Take up an activity, Go-Go Dancing, Drawing Straws (life drawing), Choir, Vintage Fairs, anything that encourages interaction with humans is good. (iv) Club wise the is RGOB (Buffalo club), Anytime Place, Worker’s on a Monday, nights pulling the cool kids are Can’t Say and _____ (trying to find on facebook will update).

Basically I spend a lot of time reading, stalking, eavesdropping and drilling people for information, it could work for you too.

Slipping in disguised as a child ready to listen in on peoples conversations