Queen Sonya and the Swedish!

Paula Xiberras
12.07.12 9:44 pm


Sonya Hartnett was getting over her jet lag when we talked in April about her latest book ‘The Children of the King’. Sonya visited Tasmania for the launch of the book in Tasmania at Fullers Bookshop.

I asked Sonya about her memories of Tasmania, she told me it had been ‘decades’ since she had been here.  Like most Australians we tend to see less of our own country than the rest of the world but Sonya does remember the wonderful market of Salamanca.

Sonya tells me too that ironically she was lunching with a Swedish lady who confided in her that Tasmania was the place in the world she most wanted to visit.

Sonya’s new book is true to form starting and ending with a bang. Instead of a twist at the end we have a twist at the beginning with the opening scene not being all that it seems. Although this novel is aimed at children it can be enjoyed by all. Sonya’s aim is to write six adult books and six children’s book which she is well on the way to accomplishing.

I ask Sonya how she writes from the perspective of children so well. Does she keenly observe children or are her childhood memories so vivid she can easily retrieve her sense of being a child?

Ironically again,  as we talk Sonya tells me that she can hear a child bellowing in her neighbourhood and thinks she would like to observe that child but with her remnants of jet lag maybe not today!

It is true that Sonya has very strong memories of her childhood and together with the fact she has great fun writing for children, recreating their excitement and the optimism of childhood, but Sonya is also cautious, especially with this book and its subject matter which is not all optimistic. She tells me she drew on all that she knew to write this book, but it’s easier to write a book like this with its theme of war for adults, than for children who feel helpless in a war situation. Sonya says an author must be careful not to destroy that fundamental childhood hope and optimism no mater what situation the characters are placed. Sonya promises her readers the book will leave them satisfied.

Sonya wants her children characters to have control even in such a difficult situation and wants the reader to make her book their own. It wasn’t always like with her writing but now she finds that once a book is finished she wants to let it go to make its own life, very much like a growing child!

As to Sonya’s own reading, even though when I chatted to her she was in book 4 of ‘Game of Thrones’, Sonya doesn’t particularly like sequels as I discover when I ask will we see further adventures for the children in this book, such as one of her writing heroines Enid Blyton would do, Sonya is adamant that the book finds its completion and there will be no sequels, it is enough that the ending promises a good future for our protagonists.

Sonya is happy if by reading her books the reader can go away with the book staying in their mind and feel they have learnt and been informed. It is this educational component of Sonya’s books that saw one of her books Thursday’s Child is used as a school text.

I ask Sonya if on her visits to schools how she feels about when children discover things in her books that maybe she never intended for them to find for example in this book the character of Uncle Peregrine It’s possible some bright child will suspect he is so named because of the peregrine birds association with princes and the fact that Uncle Peregrine tells the children stories of royalty.  Sonya says she chose the name because she liked it and any connection is coincidental but she does add that if further associations can be found in her book they may be subconscious entries and it’s a bonus if a reader picks up on something.

Sonya finds it hugely flattering that she is touted as one of the best writers of her generation but she finds such a comment difficult to relate to and not resting on her laurels is back to work on her next adult novel.

‘The Children of the King’ is available now.

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Arts | Books

K9 Cops explores the history, training and employment of police dogs

Sharon Evans Big Sky Publishing - Marketing and Communications
12.07.12 9:38 pm


New Release An informative and heart-warming account, perfect for dog lovers, K9 Cops explores the history, training and employment of police dogs.

“I am happy to work on my own with my K9 dog. I know that my K9 partner will never fail, will never quit and will die defending me - the price a pat and some love.”

In his fascinating new book K9 Cops, author and world authority on canines - Queensland author Nigel Allsopp lifts the lid on the world of police dogs, examining the vital roles they play both in Australia and around the world.

When it comes to our K9 Cops they really are the four legged warriors against crime. Despite the high-tech devices now available to law enforcement officials, ‘K9s’ – as they’re known in the trade – remain an indispensable part of police work in a range of fields, most notably terrorism and border protection.  In effect these dogs are the SAS of the K9 world and out of hundreds tested only a few will make the grade. And not surprisingly, not just any family dog will ‘do’.

The role of the K9 Cop is so integral that no police force in the world has ever seriously considered not having them or ever getting rid of them, so effective are they.
An informative and heart-warming account, perfect for dog lovers, K9 Cops explores the history, training and employment of police dogs.

Attached is full media release - you can view sample pages here
Nigel Allsopp is available for interview.  See Author Q&A’s in this email.

About the Author


Nigel Allsopp is a world authority on canines. He spent 15 years as a military working dog handler in the Royal New Zealand Air Force Police, responsible for all aspects of Canine Operations and training within the NZ Defence Force. He has trained personnel from numerous government agencies – including Customs, Police, Corrective Services and Federal Aviation Security – in the use of specialist dogs. After leaving the military to pursue an interest in wild canine research, Nigel migrated to Australia, where he has worked with manned wolves, timber wolves, dingoes and African Cape hunting dogs at several zoos and wildlife parks. A yearning to work with dogs again led Nigel to join the Queensland Police Service, where he currently serves as a senior constable in the Dog Section, working with a firearms/explosive-detection dog. Nigel is a vocal ambassador for the establishment of Animal Memorials to recognise their role and contribution in all Wars.

Nigel Allsopp integral in gaining recognition for Smoky- war hero and therapy dog.

In his role as one of Australia’s foremost animal advocates and dog experts Nigel has been integral in gaining a posthumous commendation and memorial, for a Brisbane born Yorkshire Terrier called Smoky.  Over 68years ago during WWII this little dog, along with feats of bravery in the field, was also responsible for leading the way as the “the first therapy dog of record” assisting medical teams on rounds serving battlefield casualties. 

Smoky will have a memorial unveiled by Nigel in Brisbane on Friday 20 July watched by her 96year old handler from his home in the USA. 

Available in all good book stores, or online in Ebook format via Amazon and I-book

Also available in EU/UK/USA in Print on Demand format (ie paperback delivered in country)

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$30,000 on offer for your story about learning to read

The Tasmanian Writers' Centre
11.07.12 9:09 am


Learn alla bout it here:

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Arts | Books | What's On

Junction Arts Festival Launch 2012 Festival Program

Junction Arts Festival
11.07.12 9:00 am


Learn all about it here:

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Arts | What's On

Super-charged dance sparks in new works from Tasdance

09.07.12 11:51 am


What is a transducer?  What is singularity?  What is VOLTAGE?

VOLTAGE is the Tasdance world premiere of two electrically charged works from two extraordinary choreographers Larissa McGowan and Anna Smith.

Recognised for the potency of her work this is Larissa’s first partnership with Tasdance, after ten years with the Australian Dance Theatre. In the compelling work Transducer she has been inspired to examine energy conversion in all its forms and impacts.  The bodies of the dancers are held in a supercharged bond, neither touching nor apart invoking an inescapable physical connection. 

Collaborator and Sydney-based composer Charlie Chan adds an arresting soundscore to this intriguing work.

Celebrated and innovative artist Anna Smith returns to Tasdance to create the provocative work A Human Calculation. Futurist Ray Kurzweil has computed a point of singularity - an ever approaching moment when technological change becomes so “rapid and profound it ruptures the fabric of human history”.  He predicts that by 2045 we will reach the point where the power of technology and computers will surpass that of all human brains combined.  What if this prediction is correct?  In A Human Calculation, Anna intricately examines this fragile balance with a cutting edge design from collaborators Lexi George (costumes) and Frog Peck of Bluebottle (set & lighting).

Once again Tasdance brings you cutting edge works emerging from contemporary life, charged with meaning and reflection, inspired by science and the purity and simplicity of human connection.

Duration: I hour 20 mins

Choreography: Larissa McGowan & Anna Smith (AVAILABLE FOR INTERVIEW; Biogs available on request)

Composer: Charlie Chan (for Transducer) (Biog available on request)

Set & lighting design: Frog Peck - Bluebottle (AVAILABLE FOR INTERVIEW Biog available on request)

Dancers: Ben Chapman, Sarah Fiddaman, Brianna Kell, Jenni Large, Tobiah Booth-Remmers, Tim Walsh
Princess Theatre 57 Brisbane Street, Launceston (03) 6323 3666. Thursday 26 July 8pm, Friday 27 July 1pm & 8pm, 28 July 8pm. Prices: Adults $38, Theatre North Subscribers $32, Concession/ Students/ U-26/ Tasdance Friends $28, Children 4-16 $18.

Theatre Royal 29 Campbell St Hobart (03) 6233 2299 (or freecall outside of Hobart 1800 650 277). Thursday 2 August 8pm, Friday 3 August 1pm and 8 pm. Prices: $45, $38, $32.

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Arts | What's On

Joan Brown, Shell Necklace Maker

Margaretta Pos
09.07.12 3:51 am


It shimmered. I don’t remember anything else about the exhibition in Hobart, but I was struck by the beauty of the shell necklace and made a mental note of the maker – Joan Brown, Cape Barren Island. About a year later, I flew to the Bass Strait island to see her.

Joan grew up as a member of the Aboriginal community on Cape Barren and as a girl collected the tiny shells the women in her family needed to string into necklaces. She didn’t know then that she would become a key figure in keeping the Tasmanian Aboriginal tradition alive; not just keeping it alive, but breathing new life into it at a time when few women still had the knowledge and skills required.

When we met, her only adornment was a gold wedding band. She didn’t like jewellery, she told me, and never wore any of the exquisite necklaces she made. “I just call them shells,” she said matter-of-factly. “Other people call them necklaces.”

It was 1991 and I was working for the Mercury. As an arts writer, I was keen to visit Joan and had organised a number of news stories on Flinders Island to cover with photographer Raoul Kochanowski in order to justify a charter flight from Flinders to Cape Barren. A shy woman, she had to be cajoled into the interview but when displaying some of her ‘shells,’ she could see how lovely I thought them and to my delight agreed. She said little and it had to be gently coaxed out of her, as if she was happier to leave it to her creations to speak for themselves.

Born Joan Everett on Cape Barren Island on August 7th 1932, she died on July 1st 2001 and I believe I am privileged to be the only journalist to have interviewed her. A photo of her was published on the front page of the Mercury on December 4, 1991 with a brief story. Although she said little, I was conscious of the importance of recording whatever she said and I kept my notes, while Raoul’s negatives – 1991 was pre digital - are in the newspaper’s photographic library. 

Cape Barren Island in the Furneaux Group is the remote and wildly beautiful home of generations of Aborigines. It was here where Joan was born and where she was buried. Apart from a brief period of secondary schooling in Launceston and eight years on Flinders Island after she married, she always lived on Cape Barren. “When I go to Hobart or Launceston I feel all shut in, like I’m in gaol,” she told me.  “Here I can breathe.”

It was in the fresh air on the island’s beaches that she collected shells for her Aboriginal mother and grandmother – who, she said, didn’t wear them either. Traditionally, Aboriginal women made necklaces from maireener shells and wrapped one long string around their necks a number of times for adornment, as can be seen in Thomas Bock’s paintings of women in the 1830s and in photographs of Truganini. While Joan’s family didn’t wear them, they continued the tradition of stringing them. Shells were plentiful when she was a girl and she would pick them up off the beach and under seaweed dumped on the sand, especially after spring tides, but she would also wade into the water to gather them. Her mother, grandmother and great aunt would use what she collected to make into necklaces. She recalled five or six women making necklaces and she said she enjoyed watching them at work.

Lola Greeno, the wonderful contemporary shell necklace maker, has explained the practice: “Over generations, the women of coastal Tasmania have painstakingly collected, treated and threaded tiny shells into long and intricately patterned strands. These necklaces are highly prized, not only because of their beauty and the increasing rarity of the shells that comprise them, but because the shell necklaces are the most important part of Tasmanian Aboriginal women’s cultural heritage. The knowledge has been handed down from mothers to daughters.” 1  

Joan married Devony Brown and while the couple lived on Cape Barren Island she continued to collect shells.  Contrary to customary practice, however, Devony also threaded them into necklaces. “He’d sell his necklaces in the pub on Flinders Island for ten shillings a string,” she said.

When they moved to Flinders she stopped collecting, a practice she associated with Cape Barren, and as she coped with tragedy early in her married life. The couple had eight children, but the first three died when very young. We didn’t talk about them or what happened, or the suicide of her son Devony in 1989. But she was proud of her surviving children – Tony is the Senior Curator of Indigenous Cultures at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery; Karen works for the Office of Aboriginal Affairs; June works for Centrelink; and Brendan, who leads a nomadic life but whose base is Cape Barren.

Joan began collecting shells once more after moving back to Cape Barren in the 1960s but she didn’t start making necklaces again for another decade. “People asked me about them so I thought I would make some,” she said simply. To her surprise there was soon interest in her work further afield than Bass Strait. She was asked to contribute to select craft exhibitions around the country and five months before our visit, she sold five strings to a collector in Japan. “I love making them,” she said. “It’s hard work but I feel proud of myself when I see the finished product.”

She had every reason to feel proud because she had an unerring eye for colour and form.  It was a natural gift and the gorgeous colours and contours of her stunningly beautiful island home, its coastline and the sea around it, were reflected in her work. She used a variety of tiny shells, among them buttons, riceshells, cats’ teeth, toothies, gulls and mariners or kelpshells. (The Aboriginal word mair-ree-ner can mean either the iridescent shell or the necklace itself). She mixed the iridescent with the matt; soft pinks and aqua teamed with coral, cream offset by black or brown, while her instinct for design resulted in skilful use of different shaped shells that contributed to the total effect. “I choose the colours and patterns on what I thinks looks good,” she said. “I can’t do arts and crafts, but I can do me shells.”

Collecting the shells was a painstaking task. By then scarce, she had to search for them. It was backbreaking work and she was no longer young. She would lift rocks on the beaches, scooping up the tiny shells with a spoon when she found them. “It gives me backache collecting them, but I do it,” she said. “And if I find a good place, I keep it a secret.” In the traditional way, she would leave the shells in the sun for maggots to rid them of meat and the smell to go. She would wash them many times, then clean them with spirits of salts. The cleaning process took twelve months and when it was over, Joan used a dart or sharp safety pin to make tiny holes in the shells and then carefully thread them on nylon cotton.

Sitting in her kitchen, with strands of necklaces on the table in front of her, she held one up, saying softly: “I find it exciting to create something beautiful.”

Joan sold many of her necklaces without noting where they went but fortunately, some are in public collections. The Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery has a shell necklace collection dating from the 1800s to the present and she is represented in it. She is represented also in the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery’s collection of shell necklaces, and in the National Museum of Australia. Some with provenance are privately owned, of which I have two that are prized possessions.

1 Lola Greeno, “Maireener: Tasmanian Aboriginal shell necklaces,”  Keeping Culture: Aboriginal Tasmania, editor Amanda Jane Reynolds, National Museum of Australia Press, 2006.

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Writers | Margaretta Pos | Arts | Personal

Theatre of the World ...

09.07.12 3:50 am


The three girls were sick, that left us boys to go to see Theatre of the World at MONA by ourselves. Nothing too bad, just colds and general sleepy day dreamy lethargy.

I had no reason to set the GPS. I did it, more than anything, out of habit, and a childish love of all things geek. When I glanced at the clock for the first time it was 12:34. Adding to ten this is my favourite time of the day. A cheery wizard omen. The theatre of clearing and forgetting. The second part of The Beatles White Album looms exactly to fit into the ride from Penna to MONA. From Birthday to Good Night.

And the divine divide is almost as beautiful as the study and the seat of the Muse is in some ways more beautiful, less beautiful, more disturbed by human hand, lest disrobed. Clear and disturbing obscure as uncensored night time visions. Coal Valley. Duck Hole Rivulet. Grasstree Hill Road. Sad jet faced microbe slow eating constant chewing fat black daughters of Hathor. On the side of the road they strand watching dozy dreamy wise the cars slowly fade into the past. The valley rich in sheep . Dull brown native hens greedy scratch at new sown fields green. And the valley rich in grape vines opens out from the crest of the ridge bright yellow and belligerent green new and fertile sweet and rich in abounding mechanic fields of industrial onion and lettuce and potato and the shiny green glade of fresh shown newly rained rapidly will to power to the sun loving grasping striving unto the sun and the former and shaper of life one earth and we are but interlopers and the wind through the trees and Henry Reynolds tells us the cries of dead rattle the trees. Without integrity…not a nation , but a community of thieves to listen to Xavier Herbert.

Mountains rise dreamy sheer a curtain wall of fear of multistoried green multihued mystery winding gear grinding curves of wide sweeping turns from the bend of the cutting. Deep dark gullies of eternal winter cold and damp and moss and the hilltops open to the warmth and the hilltops are drier. Round and round slow and lazy like time to observe and reveal all things hawks gliding to the swerve of the rising warm air and helical. And she missiles down from out of the sun talons extended and flashing bright and shinysharp and uncaring to kill the rabbit. For the weak must die. She has her own fingerlings to consider.

The factions and parties and elements are slipping apart and some called for civil union but equality like the call of accretion must be universal and absolute, or it shall not be at all. There can be no second rate no back of the bus no separate but equal and some brag of more or better morals the antiother.

Down down downity. Down shifting the hill glistening of the engine car ear aware of the sounds of human hand and mind made solidreal. The latest and the greatest. Down to Risdon Cove flat spongy sword beach of genocide invasion landing place. Flat past the sea historic ghost storey whipping post Richmond captive fictional Ikey Fagin named Artful Oliver oil twist and my baby girl not five years old was too scared to visit the gaol winding roads whaling rows windy ways sky sea sandy land matrix free hand mountain line steam smoke nickel smelter steam snow mountain cloud gathering oaken river wide and windy white capped waves medieval tortured winter mandatory grapes cut down to silent size put in their prayerplace Mt Wellington gloomy table top overseeing Father cape town stern block head wooden top Pertrloo hero fire and smoke and soft spreading bullets tearing. And as we climb down the hill helter skelter the thin smelter yellowing mould wound in the corner of the we got trouble river city. The glue turns dry and brittle and the wall paper comes away from the wall and extends slow slowly. It lives. A nightmare of history. Unable to awake.

All for one and one for all for we are the mighty talon mighty extending sweeping eagle eyed from silent down the sky unseen unheard hawks. And it all went off down urine one sixty pint of glumness rock on and bright orange vomit sort of an evening now a night of the book and a book of the night. Of dreams and absurd history culture 20 000 years and more and we are now fine again awake. The heartening of dreams and forgetting of horseshoe crab nightmares and turtles and stuffed open mouthed talon flashing fury of idioms messaging owls and glassy eyed Whiteley stare starting out opium calendar bay blue laden whirly surrealist shapes and pig cashable Normandy battle brash smooth stones loved. Hunks of hacked hair felt and simulated. Conversing with a stranger passion and the bluest cobalt blue excitement.

The Beatles White Album, the watusi second half from Birthday to Good Night almost the twist exact equity the time my house to old and new. Walking running playing dafter and son giggling imaging extending the iron work cement truck and here is where the rockets go. They make the truck go fast. Waiting Ticketing. High ceiling entrance. Down dark circle cycle stairs descending Dantesque subversive divine adult Disneyland comedy the walls hewn from bedrock the sewage tunnel hallway. Dystrophic future exoplanet factory setting. Addams family Gomez Cara Mia Crimea love house of rooms and arsenic and old lace old timey duchess and cabinets milk and ice cream mixed merchant seaman ti jean would scrapyard understand garage sale helter skelter football pell mell bob tail and tag rag and bone man Steptoe Sanford salvage and sons big fat timey wimey wibbly wobbly of next to next of side by side contrast and compare kaleidoscope that got away from me…

Radical harkening back to old stool timey museums set commode of the muses receding the circles of hell deep and deep dark dank past Tantalus…dug the ell-square pitkin. Poured we libations unto each the dead. Ply upon ply. Speaking to the shades shaking afore the shadows of what once was shades of long gone languages and spirits and gods and spirits and nymphs and each one alive and with a soul the river the tree the rock the prey the corn plundered gold rush the rubber terror or the sheep’s back land grab given away not legal and the sealers mad the whalers and sooners and guano diggers and the carpet bagging money grubbers seizers of power and diverters of language. And now no more, so much no more. Never again. No more stories nor dreams. At the heart of this terror of smallpox gonorrhoea the bible bile and the boozy beggar bottle cheater of the ruse flag of the crafty one. No one despondent of Calypso pour libations and for the great king of the world of the world of protective mother and wavy cephalopod love unto fiery death no more and the pope sits in the frozen circle plug of icy cold hell as the mutinous angel Lucifer squats and farts for all time. No more. Gone for all time. Theatre of forgetting and bringing back to life with blood and wine to dialogue and which hand held this and painted this and concerned this. What maker?

Old skool nauseam and sacred silent place of dreamy wavy gravy chaired learners with pinned horseshoe crabs from boyhood home and crucified butterflies and great busted open shingle crystalline random slabs of geology and taxonomy on mortified branches well practiced taxidermy twittering birds of shimmering garish colour. The ordered shiny bugs the squatting ghouls and luck bringing fetish. Next to the this very afternoon up to date.  The cataloguing of the rapidly changing diving world the voice stifled the songs no longer sung. The craft left to gather dust of disuse. Lonely in drying drawers of humidity contoured basements. The counting and cataloguing of bumps and blemishes and gall shaped wounds to separate the ocean from the insane. The moving forward.

Dark and sharp labyrinth. Dedalus crafty artificer. The beast born of god ordained insane bestial coupling. Dedalus built wide shining apparatus Pasiphae Hathor white armed fine ankled cow eyed Hera. Kandinsky abreast side by side by Sondheim. Limestone CO2 hieroglyphics magic writing who carved and penned and concealed sanctified symbols and independent totem colour. Here Picasso and his mistress Dora Maar are the unwobling pivot. The masques of differing volume and intent and the modern up to date.  Rootless? Nihil tradition bebound to Beefheart repeat or to Stardust shock or simply to bore Joe six pack. Glad dark not glade gas candle optic illusion. Illusory sphere of light to passion and to touch to put out ones mind hand. Cretan octopus sarcophagus motif wide brawny curvy lines likes the roads that curve and wonder and switchblade jack knife through low hanging fruit mountain cutting hills.

Countless flies stuck to canvas thick and glittering bright in the light french polish of beetle wings cracking gold like the flowers like the darling daughter of Psapfo. Three photos put together a naked man lining down. Headless. A tiger on the prowl Flashman glaring at the Victorian viewer muggings ready to pounce. A group of world war soldiers shooting at an unseen enemy. The shoddier comrades all behind a quick thrown together barricade. Haystacks like the ones Monet painted, now lit by rifle shot and the angry flames jumping from seventy five millimetre hell mouth rapid fire cannon. A foot stool of a young woman crouched foetal ball disturbed the boy and resulted in a quick move to view the hand made Mercedes Benz inspired coffin.

Cackle my unknown subscription to the redirection pleasures binary and cuneiform next to next face to face toe to toe heart to heart lumber up limbo down absorbing the beauty with my locked embrace stumble round eyes. Ancient some 4000 years ago what hand held and made what school boy held the stylus and when did she cut the shapes and words meaning numbers Krypteia secret codes of the precision caste. To dominate and monopolise knowledge of things that are and are not.

Tales of the ATO MONA send the messages atwitter and face book abuzz with abused bit and bytes and I let my small voice be heard in supporting the gallery.  And this. For the exhibit spoke to many of the things I hold close. The Greeks Joyce Hegel the helix the making of connections the tendrils of chemical interplay stretching and grasping one anointer skipping and sliding away and deforming in an instant and voices like my name being called in the wind. So the drunken liberal rush of drooling words and the droogy eruptions and wandering cul-de-sac rocks and the curves and the winding roads. This should not be viewed as criticism, I am not in a position to discuss the works from any sort of a mechanical point of view. However I can embellish the passage I made with my son through the gallery. I have tried to use words to dissemble the key features of the exhibit. This is a document of my impressions of the exhibit. The words are meant to convey the synaptic freeing of firing connections, to show the ramshackle exploration of making. Content and connection yet lacking in context notably a political narrative.

The grand knock ‘em down fight to the finish no hold barred nature nurture. For we are, the philosopher wrote a species whose nature it is to be artificial. The great and melancholic Dane, sobbing into frigid Elsinore blasts. Down the generations down the centuries. if at the foundation of all there lay only a wildly seething power which writhing with obscure passions produced everything that is great and everything that is insignificant, if a bottomless void never satiated lay hidden beneath all—what then would life be but despair? It is up to use to make the connections for ourselves, Theatre of the World invites us to, nay compels us to make connections. 

The nine year old boy was able to pronounce the exhibit wizard.  As the mind of the child is still growing still plastic and striving after connection, how better to wander an exhibit of connections, but with a child.

My concerns are small and relate to context in the main. No political thread to allow us to return from the depth of the Minotaur born of sexual perversion and madness entombing labyrinth.

None to follow. The artists have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point is to change it. We are left wondering, what is to be done?

Back to home threading the narrow town streets helter skelter smelter and the bridge and the airport and the pitt water and the mountains reflecting the sunset lagoon pinks and blues and browns and greens blurring the marriage of heaven and hell.

<b>• Earlier on Tasmanian Times: Joy!x

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Arts | Opinion | What's On


Ayshe Talay-Ongan
09.07.12 3:49 am


Price: AUD$24.95
Paperback, 441 pages
ISBN: 978 1921829062
Publisher: Sid Harta

Set against transcendent love, unrelenting hatred and
loyalties to friends and family, Turquoise is the story of an
enduring and passionate love a/air between Yasmin and
Renan, which spans two decades, two marriages and three

Yasmin and her Armenian classmate Ani were oblivious
to ethnic di/erences during their school years in Istanbul.
Years later they run into each other, and Ani introduces
Renan, her husband, to Yasmin. At that moment under
the blazing autumn skies, as Yasmin locks eyes with
Renan, she knows that she has come upon her destiny.
But political tensions in their land soon force Renan, her
secret love, and his family to immigrate to Sydney.

A few years on, Yasmin’s diplomat father is appointed as
the Turkish Consul General to Los Angeles where the
family faces a devastating tragedy that will impact their
lives in ways unfathomable. She is now forced to make a
choice between passion that de0nes her and reason that
guides her. When so much is stacked against Yasmin and
Renan, how can love possibly triumph?

About the Author

Ayshe Talay-Ongan is a psychologist and an emeritus academic. She has
three published textbooks in developmental psychology. Turquoise is
her debut novel. Its sequel Emerald is is currently underway. She lives in
Sydney with her family, and Simba, her cat.


More about Turquise and its author

“A big, powerful novel of love, angst, political unrest and ethnic hatred,” says reviewer

In her book, Turquoise: A Love Story, Ayshe Talay-Ongan (above) says she has gone deep into her own
life experiences to be able to write the novel. Wanting to pen a saga which would speak to all
women bar none, and to all men who struggle with roles and expectations heaped on them
by societal context or circumstance, she says she aspired to write Turquoise to inspire and
entertain, as well as to share women’s quests.

Yasmin, the protagonist in this novel, is a Turkish woman, a psychologist, having returned to
her homeland to Istanbul from New York, after having received all the academic accolades to
establish herself as an academic in a prestigious university there. Soon after, one evening, she
meets her school friend Ani, Armenian by origin, at her tennis club with her husband Renan
in tow. As soon as she lays eyes on him, Yasmin is inundated with the knowledge that she has
come upon her destiny: she has fallen deeply in love with her friend’s husband. 1e challenges
ahead of her loom, not the least of which is loyalty to her friend, the ethnic divide, political
and socioeconomic turmoil in her land, or immigrating from the country of their birth when
the going gets tough.

As Dot Whittington, the reviewer for !e Weekender puts it, “Turquoise is not a simple
romance but a tale of passion and love — the love of a child, a job, two countries and a man.”

The novel also explores one violent consequence of historical and ethnic hatred, which impacts
Yasmin and her family above and beyond the story of unrequited love and family loyalty.

According to Wendy O’Hanlon of Acres Australia, “This novel is also a strong comment on the
evil of how all humans have such traits and some countries are more openly prejudiced than
others.” O’Hanlon also adds “It is a big, powerful novel of love, angst, political unrest and
ethnic hatred. 1e author has skillfully penned these pages so that the characters are raw and
real, their emotions searing, their plight palpable.”

In Turquoise, the reader follows Yasmin’s life through the years with her professional
achievements, friendships, relationships, quest for motherhood in a love-starved marriage,
her entrepreneurial ventures, and travels. John Morrow, in his review of the novel in Pick
of the Week, claims that with “With the characters who come across as completely 2awed
and human, you will be pulled into this novel that runs the full gamut of emotions and

Turquoise: A Love Story is available in bookstores and online outlets like Amazon in paperback
or eBook format. Also from the publishers, distributors www. or author website:

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Being Wise with sweets and slow cooking

Paula Xiberras
07.07.12 6:42 am


Sally Wise has about the perfect surname. Sally is a wise woman demonstrated in her attitude to cooking. In 2010 Sally was voted one of the 6 best cookbook writers in Australia just behind Jaime Oliver. Sally was pleased with this acknowledgement but is not one to rest on her laurels.

Recently I had the chance to talk to Sally and we chatted about her two latest books, the second in the slow cooker series, and Sally’s book on sweets.

Firstly, to the slow cooker. Sally explains that slow cooking is not new, every culture has the idea of slow cooking, indeed when the farmers of the past went out to work in the field’s they would take some food that had been cooked in clay pots earlier in the morning, it would be covered in straw to lock in the heat until lunchtime. This was one of the first slow cookers. 

There are many advantages of slow cooking, among them is that the process, even on the most economical cuts of meat such as stewing steaks,will render them tender. The advantage of being able to prepare food early before the days duties call. It gives the cook a sense of control over the day and there is also the added ambience and joy to the senses of a lovely smell wafting through the house.

Other advantages include root vegetables keeping their flavour and shape and flavour through the cooking process and the meat tenderising in its own gravy.

One major plus in preparing food in a slow cooker is especially for those trying to cut down on take a ways is that you are not tempted at the end of the day to say you are too tired to cook as the cooking is already being done! The fact you are preparing the food means you can be confident of what is in your food.

Sally has also done some multicultural cooking and cites some of the excellent recipes to cook in the slow cooker such as a dessert of Greek chicken fetta and olives and a Persian lamb rhubarb stew, less exotic fair is the Lancashire hot pot!

Sally has seven slow cookers (when they lose their effectiveness they become feeding bowls for pets!) and indeed the number seven has a special resonance with Sally as it also has a contribution to the book on sweets.

Sally says sweets have become a taboo in our modern world yet Sally remembers back to a time when her grandmother who worked in a bakery and was very skilled in desserts would prepare many sweet treats for high tea and would in fact cater to everyone’s taste and make seven different dishes for them to enjoy,  things like honey fruit tarts, current cake, vanilla squares, cobblers and desserts including those employing our wonderful fruits. All of these desserts in Sally’s words, aided congenial conversation and chat at the end of the meal . Unlike today people of her grandmother’s time believed dessert aided digestion and was a completion of the main course.  Sally believes we can have our cake and eat it too. A few adaptations and a dessert can be made with less fat and sugar content. There is no denying the sense of satisfaction rounding out a meal with a delicious dessert gives!

How did Sally move from the home kitchen to the nationwide one? Sally had experience cooking at neighbours houses and in Agrarian kitchens.

She and her family of six began preserving season produce and sharing it with others .  Sally went on to take hands on classes at Dunalley, at open gardens at the Melbourne Food Festival and was involved in courses teaching country woman and woman from other cultures about food.

It would seem that Sally has many more ideas for books that need to be told adding to her already extensive volumes. For now you can get Sally’s past books and copies of her latest books ‘Slow Cooking 2’ and ‘Sweet’.


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Arts | Books

Kate’s Feline Friction

Paula Xiberras
07.07.12 6:36 am


Kate Gordon loved to go fossil collecting as a young girl and now that interest has expanded into bringing to life that much debated extinct, or still living but hidden creature, the famed Tasmanian Tiger.

Kate Gordon is a proud Tasmanian and has made a contribution to literature on the Tasmanian Tiger or Thylacine. Hers is not an academic text or a research paper declaring the existence or not of the famous creature but it will no doubt reach a more popular audience than a more scholarly script. Kate is Tassie’s answer to Stephanie Meyers, a comparison she would not mind, being an admirer of the lady who kick started the flood of paranormal fiction on the young adult market but Kate’s paranormal fiction has a distinctly Tasmanian twist. Kate explains she wanted a novel for young adults that they could identify with by including sites and places they are familiar with. So instead of the forests of Washington state we see a story set in Tasmanian forests and localities. This has sat well with Kate’s readers. Kate tells me that there was the story of the young lady who visited all the places in Tassie mentioned in Kate’s novel including the science fantasy specialists,Ellison Hawker bookshop in Hobart!

Kate is blessed with a wonderful imagination and it has been that way since she was a child, maybe something to do with the fact that both parents were librarians and Kate herself did the apprenticeship in the ‘family business’ as well as experimenting with acting before she found her niche in writing. Kate was a solitary child so had plenty of time to develop that imagination which saw her intrigued by the legend of ’ Doctors Rock’ a famous landmark in Tassie that has a story behind it to tell but I’ll leave that for Kate tell you ; )

Kate remembers as a young girl her dad reading her a story about the Tasmanian Tiger and from that moment on this creature that now lives on in a mythical existence had captured her imagination. Of course other paranormal creatures have also preoccupied Kate such as fairies and ghosts and she already has an idea for the latter. Kate is quick to add though that she didn’t deliberately set out to write a paranormal novel it was just a story that had a need to be told and the way for telling just happened to be through the paranormal form. The fact that the Tasmanian landscape is full of dense forests means plenty of places for creatures like the famed Tasmanian Tiger to hide which fascinates Kate and provides rich fodder for her fiction.

Kate is also blessed with the discipline necessary to be a writer, once rising at 5 every morning to get in an hour of writing before her day job. Now that Kate is a writer full time she doesn’t need to do this any-more but the discipline is still a large part of her work.

You can check out Kate’s book ‘Thyla’ and it’s sequel ‘Vulpi’, both available now.


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Arts | Books


Michael McLaughlin Community Cultural Development Officer Glenorchy City Council
05.07.12 6:35 am


Moonah Arts Centre’s popular Friday Night Concert Series continues on Friday July 6, with four of Tasmania’s most original contemporary songwriters and instrumentalists.

“Four Sided Circle” is a program led by musicians Al Future and Jane McArthur. For this unique concert, Al and Jane with two guest musicians will sit in a circle of light. Each takes a turn to lead an acoustic song with collaborations from the other performers. An intimate, unique and fascinating collaboration is promised.

Jane Macarthur is one of Hobart’s finest contemporary female singer songwriters. Perhaps best known as the lead vocalist of Hobart/ Melbourne outfit, Let the Cat Out, Jane is widely admired for her sweet , soulful vocals and fine original riff laden tunes.

Al Future is well known for his quirky songs that in his own words range in subject   “ from universe destroying science experiments to love songs about warm beverages” – a blend of pop, folk and slightly obscure comedy!

This hour long performance in the intimate venue of Moonah Arts Centre promises to be one of the highlights of the Series.

Where: Moonah Arts Centre, 65 Hopkins St Moonah
When: Friday July 6
Times: Doors open from 7pm for a 7:30pm start
Entry by Gold Coin Donation

The 2012 Works Festival on Elwick Bay
Thurs. Nov 8th to Sun. Nov 11th

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Arts | What's On

‘Mind your Nurdle!’

Paula Xiberras
05.07.12 6:20 am


Jane Rutter, master of the ethereal flute will be in Tassie for a one off performance of her acclaimed show ‘An Australian in Paris’ in Burnie on July 12 but don,t be disappointed that Jane is’nt doing a more extensive tour because Ms Rutter will be back later in the year or early next year to do a more complete tour of Tasmania. Jane is presently performing in Australia to standing ovations with her autobiographical show. 

The show is six or seven years in the making and reminisces on Jane’s experience as a flute student in Paris studying with the great Alain Marion and Jean-Pierre Rampal. The story however is more than about   the flute, being in the city that hosted so many great artists it encompasses how Jane was haunted in that magic place by such luminaries as Picasso and Colette.

It is interesting to look back at the life of a young girl who became the world renowned and celebrated flautist.  Jane would go to school holding the flute under her arm as something akin to a security blanket.

Jane initially wanted to be a singer but demonstrated her determination even then by choosing the flute because it offered a more technical challenge than the voice,  ironically it is generally agreed by flautists that the flute is closely aligned to the human voice, its pauses and intonations mirroring or similar to those used by a voice and indeed we are treated to some of Jane’s singing talents in ‘An Australian in Paris’

Fascinatingly Jane tells me that the flute is 40,000 years old and was used for communication among tribes that did no know each others language.  It is abstract and tells a story that speaks to each listener with a message only for them . A beautiful description by Jane is that the flute responds to a vibration in the human heart of each individual, in this way the flute has a hidden voice with a secret language.

The flute is dear to Jane’s heart but another issue that is perhaps equally dear is the environment. Jane asks us all to think about accepting or requesting that plastic cup lid on our takeaway coffee. Jane believes if everyone took such initiative considering the astonishing number that are produced and thrown away we would be doing something easy and practical for the environment

Jane’s catch phrase is ‘mind your nurdle’ to explain, nurdles are the little balls that go together to form plastic, hence them being called ‘mermaids tears’ for the damage they wrought to the oceans of the world.

Jane with her curly mane of hair and flautist voice is very much like the mermaid or sirens of the sea bewailing the effect of the thoughtlessness of our consumer society. So let this particular mermaid use the flute for what it was intended to express joy rather than anguish at environmental damage and refuse the coffee cup lid!

Jane will be continuing tours with ‘An Australian in Paris’ for some time but there are also more albums to create, a ballet and some Shakespeare Jane has written music for. You can get Jane’s albums including her DVD of ‘An Australian in Paris’ at ABC shops.

You can see Jane in Tasmania with her show ‘An Australian in Paris’ on July 12 at the Burnie Arts Centre.

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Arts | What's On

Take a Leith out of his book!

Paula Xiberras
05.07.12 6:18 am


I spoke to Damien Leith as he was heading home from a telethon for the Sydney Children’s Hospital, a place dear to his heart having been involved in some television programs featuring the hospital and its work.

Singer, songwriter, chemist, novelist and potential biographer. Damien is all these things, a modern day Renaissance man that can now add perfume to his resume. Which seems fitting since he is a chemist but in this case he hasn’t created a perfume but inspired one. Damien’s song ‘Beautiful’ has inspired cosmetic empire Estee Lauder to have the song accompany advertisements for its perfume also named ‘Beautiful’. Damien says Estee Lauder got in touch with his publisher, Universal saying they were searching for a song to promote their new perfume, Universal put them in the direction of Damien’s song and this has refreshed the six year old song and seen it reappear on his new album. The new album features covers of tracks by The Travelling Willburys and their individual components as well as some new songs by Damien himself.

The choice to cover The Travelling Willburys of which Roy Orbison was a group member is prompted by Damien’s successful Roy Orbison album and tour last year.

Damien has also been busy writing another book which is ‘funny, light-hearted and unfamiliar’. At the moment it defies genre although Damien says it is somewhere between ‘The Commitments’ (without the music) and ‘Trainspotting’.

Damien also had time to help support fellow reality music contestant and ‘The Voice’ contestant Diana Rovas who has often formed part of his touring team.

If that doesn’t seem enough eclectic activities to keep one busy, Damien has been approached to write a biography and although that hasn’t come to fruition as yet he admits he loves history and learning new things and is always on google looking things up. This thirst for knowledge and researching is possibly a legacy of his scientific background as a chemist.

Always eager to try something new and experiment Damien has forged an almost alchemic fusion of the arts and sciences and looks like extending his accomplishments in the arts further.

You can see Damien when he tours Tasmania, in Hobart on Friday 14 September at the Wrest Point Casino and on Saturday 15 September at Launceston’s Country Club. 

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Arts | What's On

This guitar needs a wild horse of a musician

Phillip Lowe
04.07.12 7:41 am


Too many years ago a guitarist in Tassie asked me to get him the plans for a jazz guitar while I was in England.This I duly did but when I got back to Tassie it seemed that he had lost interest in the project.

The guy who gave me the plans was an old friend who became a famous guitar maker,and he in return asked me to get him some good Tasmanian Blackwood.This I did.

About seven or eight months ago I carried that timber on my return to UK,all the bloody way!To cut a long story short I finished up GIVING the timber to a young French bloke who was a student at the Newark School of Violin and Guitar Making.

Today he brought round to me a Macafari Gypsy guitar made from that timber.

All the trouble seems worthwhile.

The flame in the back is alive.

The instrument replies to sound like minituarised cathedral of wood.

I see fields of golden corn waving in the wind when it plays; molten gold; stirred chocolate.

It sounds good.

Does anybody want to buy an instrument of this calibre.

It comes complete with a good story and the beginning of a history. If so,please let me know (through the Editor).

I once remember Yehudi Menuin talking about Irish fidlers ... he said that if the classical violinists were the thoroughbreds, then the Irish fiddlers were the wild horses.

This guitar needs a wild horse of a musician.

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I’m a believer!

Paula Xiberras
03.07.12 6:56 am


I’m a believer and when you see Bobby Bruce you will be too. In his uncanny tribute act, Bobby Bruce, otherwise known as Nearly Neil, is one of the worlds greatest tribute acts to Neil Diamond.

Bobby will be in Tasmania this week a few days prior to his concerts to sample and enjoy some of what our state has to offer. Bobby has some visits to wineries, sightseeing penguins and partaking of a chocolate feast as some of the highlights of his itinerary!

Later in the week Bobby will be taking to the stage to perform as Neil Diamond. Bobby’s great love is performing live and he believes if he can take people away for a couple of hours to enjoy the music and transport them from the troubles and cares of everyday life he is satisfied.

Bobby has been to Tasmania before with the ‘Legends of Rock’ tour in 1996 in which he visited Burnie, Launceston and Hobart.

It may seem appropriate that a Canadian actor who was trained to sing by a Russian voice coach should be perhaps the world’s greatest Neil Diamond tribute artist.  Neil Diamond had a Polish and Russian emigrant background so somehow a Russian voice coach seems appropriate. Bobby always wanted to be an actor and his parents relented to his wishes and part of his performance training included singing lessons. Bobby worked with a voice coach formerly of the Moscow conservatory and then living in Canada.

Bobby has now been performing as Neil for 18 years. Strangely enough Bobby wasn’t always a Neil Diamond fan, in fact he learned about Diamond from his parents ,who were fans. Bobby much preferred heavy metal but in time he was won over by the man who wrote so many wonderful songs, that put into words the everyday thoughts of the every man.

It was in Australia that Bobby was bestowed with the moniker of ‘Nearly Neil’, by Ella Harris of The Adelaide Advertiser and it is in Australia, the country that embraced Diamond’s ‘Hot August Nights’ album that Bobby finds some of the most loyal fans of this period in Neil’s life.

Bobby has recently completed a successful tour of Holland where he discovered a strong Neil Diamond fan base that has aligned itself to another Diamond album. Bobby will return to Holland again soon, as well as tour Belgium. Bobby finds that the idea of where you were and what was happening in your life at that time is pivotal as to which Neil Diamond songs resonate with that particular audience.

During his performance Bobby intersperses the songs with stories of Neil and his influence on his own life. As Bobby’s own parents loved Neil’s music it adds further poignancy to his presentation

Bobby is very much a modern Renaissance man,as well as being a talented performer and songwriter (he plans to release material too as Bobby Bruce), stage actor he is an accomplished painter of Abstract Art using the medium of acrylic. Bobby finds his paintings are influenced by whatever song he is working on at the time and his paintings are very much like those created by many artists of the past, the continual painting of a subject to perfection.

Even though we will see original material from Bobby there will always be a place for Neil in his performances which are less a fastidious portrayal of every nuance of Neil but more a celebration of the man and his music.

Soon after this tour of Australia the man himself, Neil Diamond will tour Bobby’s homeland of Canada and after an interview on Vancouver television where Neil was informed of Bobby’s tribute act the two gentlemen will finally meet!

You can see Bobby painting a performance of perfection as Neil Diamond on Thursday July 5 at the Theatre Royal Hobart, Friday July 6 at The Princess Theatre in Launceston and on Friday July 7 at Burnie Arts Centre after which Bobby continues his tour of Australia. You can see further dates at

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Arts | What's On

A loss for words

Richard Flanagan
02.07.12 3:40 am


First published in the SMH here, on June 16.

The Miles Franklin is presented next week. But are prizes really good for the literary culture? asks Richard Flanagan

LITERARY prizes exist to give dog shows a good name. Most literary prizes get it mostly wrong. No one I know hails Sigrid Undset or Frans Eemil Sillanpaa or Par Lagerkvist - Nobel laureates in 1928 and 1939 and 1951, respectively - as globally significant writers, important as they are to their own national literatures, perhaps because no one I know has ever read them. Yet Tolstoy, Chekhov, Kafka, Fitzgerald, Joyce, Cortazar, Nabokov, Borges, Kundera, Roth and Bolano have all been passed over for the gong of gongs. Such a roll-call illustrates a simple truth: prizes need writers, but writers don’t need prizes.

National prizes are often a barometer of bourgeois bad taste. Margaret Mitchell won a Pulitzer for Gone with the Wind, but Faulkner, arguably the greatest writer of the 20th century, was garlanded with prizes in the US only after winning the Nobel in 1949, many years after his greatest works had been penned. Borges notoriously lost the Argentinian equivalent of the Miles Franklin to a sweeping novel of the pampas and gauchos in 1941. Borges’s entry? Perhaps one of the most revolutionary books of the 20th century, The Garden of Forking Paths.

The problem, perhaps, isn’t literary prizes but the way we take them too seriously. Australia, a sporting nation, continues to labour under the sorry illusion that, as Helen Demidenko so poignantly put it the night she won the Miles Franklin in 1995, ‘‘the best book had to win’‘.

But what wins in literary prizes often tends not to be books at all but human follies. It’s like a grand final decided not by the game but by The Footy Show panel meeting in secret. Prize juries are notorious for dividing passionately over two books that excite readers and, unable to resolve their differences, endorse a bland third book, too inoffensive to excite anything other than indifference. In book prizes, wooden spooners can win.

Then there are the predictable vanities and passions of judges, and the dirty secret of book prizes is the vendettas, paybacks and payoffs that often go with them. Most judges are fair-minded people. But hate, conceit and jealousy are no less human attributes than wisdom, judgment and knowledge.

Book prizes end up competing with each other and with other public events for publicity. They seek attention through anointing a new writer, by endorsing a popular writer who will get their prize on the front page, by finding a writer who speaks of a category that is fashionable. Sometimes these goals coincide with great writing. But not always and sometimes not at all.

And like the national debt of Greece, book prizes have so multiplied there are now prizes for almost everything and almost none has value or excites any interest.

I am not arguing against prizes. I am arguing against taking them too seriously. The elevation and proliferation of literary prizes have obscured the slow erosion of our own literary culture - indeed, they have arisen with it - and disguise the near complete lack of support by our society of literary culture in general.

If awarding prizes is when we have a discussion about books and when good books are given a larger public space, prizes have a role. But if we believe that only the winning book has virtue and no others, then the prize has failed. And if we think prize culture is a way of stimulating and supporting a book culture of value, we are deluded.

This error takes on a political hue, which is lamentable. The right too often depicts prizes as a conspiracy of the elites and the rich, which is news to most writers, who struggle to survive on incomes that are barely taxable.

On a discounted paperback, a writer can expect to make between 3 per cent and 5 per cent - or between about 54¢ and 90¢ a book. A successful novel that may take three or four years to write now sells 20,000 copies. Do the maths. See if the result equals an elite of any type recognisable outside the rabid imaginings of opinion columnists paid in six-figure sums.

Campbell Newman’s attack on the Queensland premier’s prizes wasn’t about doing something better for literature in Queensland. It was a brutish, if effective, piece of political theatre, which while achieving nothing of significance for Queensland’s bottom line signalled an attack on an idea of what society is and the place of books within it. Or the non-place. It’s a political idea, and one as old as the book itself.

We can expect more of this nonsense, and the next target will be writers’ festivals. Gerard Henderson, a man who went from finding reds under the bed to searching for them in bookcases, described the Sydney Writers’ Festival as ‘‘an occasion when a group of leftists invite their leftist friends’‘, a description of possible concern for guests such as John Howard and Bob Katter.

But the knee-jerk defence of book prizes can be as foolish as the knee-jerk attack. The left views even questioning the prize system as an attack on literature and the values we tend to associate with it. During the past decade of lush GST revenues, the premiers’ prize system assumed the nature of a mad arms race, with prizes proliferating and increasing in value as states competed for the richest and most prestigious prizes. Instead of simply attacking or defending prizes on political grounds, we should ask whether they are the best ways governments can use money to support literature and writers.

I say all this as someone who has won and lost prizes. I am not ungrateful but my gratitude is tempered by the awareness of the cruel serendipity of prizes and the pain for those who lose. We constantly read of the writers who were made by prizes. Yet how many more made it in spite of them? And how many gave up for want of recognition?

I don’t wish to demean any of the fine writers who have won, nor disparage the many good people who are organisers and judges of prizes. But it would be good if we recognised that prizes do not a literary culture make, that the best writers do not always win, nor the worst lose, and very often the most important books go unrecognised.

Australia does less to support its writers than any developed country I am aware of. Though the publishing industry generates more than $2 billion a year, the total federal government spending on writers through grants is less than $2 million. Compare this with the more than $128 million spent on tax breaks for the non-profitable film industry.

The reforms of the book industry advanced by Kim Carr last year were a very good step in the right direction, and it is hoped they will be acted on rather than lost in the flailing of the drowning Gillard government.

If we want to see writing flourish, if we want to see more female and indigenous writers, there is much work to be done. But the place to start is perhaps not an excessive obsession with prizes.

Writing is the toughest of games and it is getting ever harder. The retreat of universities from Australian literature (and literature in general) is beyond shameful, but it is reflective of a general contempt that Australia, one of the most conformist Western societies, holds for those whose work at its best brushes against the grain of received opinion.

A century ago, Henry Lawson advised anyone foolish enough to wish to be a writer in Australia to reach for a revolver. It sometimes feels not a lot has changed. Writing rarely brings writers money or even respect. If it offers a certain freedom, it is one edged for most with loneliness, poverty and despair.

We face a very difficult time as a literary culture. The determined, dreary excitement around the digitisation not just of books but much more significantly of retailing, hides the grimmer reality of cultural power being dominated by two or three global molochs that have no interest in literature and every interest in increased profit.

Writers, most marvellously, continue to write. But without larger support their work will wither. And literary prizes will simply look ever more like tombstones for the dead.

• Richard Flanagan’s most recent book is a collection of non-fiction, And What Do You Do, Mr Gable?

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Writers | Richard Flanagan | Books | Editor's Choice

Circ -a-lation!

Paula Xiberras
30.06.12 7:11 pm


I spoke to Circa’s Nathan Boyle this week. Nathan will be appearing at the Theatre Royal with Circa. Hobart will round out the group’s present tour before they take a break and start rehearsals again.

Circa as you can deduce from the name is a variation of circus but it is unlike any circus you have ever seen and it seems the world is on the teeterboard (pardon the pun) for this unique creation with Nathan and the crew performing to audiences in Berlin, France, America and Canada among others.

Like Circque de Soleil and Circus Oz it is an animal free circus but that is where the similarity ends. Circa unlike the other two productions doesn’t have the performers play characters.

It is as Nathan says Circus stripped bare, naked and intimate without all the embellishments and some would say distractions of the conventional circus. In effect is an elation of what the body can do hence the title of this article!

Nathan remembers frightening his parents from a young age with his cartwheels and somersaults down the hallway. His parents got the message and sent him off to circus school!

Nathan has the circus in his blood or possibly saltwater as Nathan believes the intoxication with performing may be an inheritance from his grandfather who was in the navy, something of somersaulting seamen! Circus is so often a family business but Nathan is the only one in the present generation that is a peformer. Nathan’s siblings choosing the safer career options of accountant and school teacher.

And indeed like all circuses this one does contain dangerous routines but indulges in ‘safe danger’ which sounds contradictory but essentially means the acts are so well rehearsed and the performers so skilful that everything runs smoothly.

Nathan is looking forward to what will be his first visit to Tasmania and of course visiting what seems to be the greatest attraction with visitors that our state offers, MONA.

Circa will be performing at The Theatre Royal from July 11 to 14.

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Arts | What's On

Twinkle Twinkle Tim, Shining Star

30.06.12 7:06 pm


The lovely Tim Pocock (Dance Academy, Home and Away and Wolverine) was in Tasmania this last weekend for a series of talks and workshops for upcoming actors. I chatted to Tim about his career and his first trip to Tassie. Tim doesn’t like to be called a teacher, he prefers to say he is ‘sharing knowledge’ in the workshops and it’s clear to see Tim is very generous with his time and tips to upcoming actors.

Tim is a firm believer in being proactive in pursuing a career as an actor. He told me how if he is enthusiastic for a role and sent his resume on and if he didn’t get a reply he would try again. He believes in in persistence but says it must be handled in a respectful manner. If the answer is no then he would leave it at that but if there is no answer it means the door has not closed. Although Tim didn’t get the role he was working for, the producers remembered him and when something else came up he was offered that role so his persistence paid off.

For the weekend workshops Tim planned to revisit some of the scenes he himself has acted as he enjoys seeing the different ways other actors approach the same scene.

Tim has starred in Dance Academy, Home and Away and worked alongside Hugh Jackman in Wolverine, which was filmed partly in Australia and Canada.

You may be surprised to know that Tim is what in the industry is known as a double threat in that he can sing as well as act and that he has worked predominately at the Sydney Opera House.
In fact Tim originally started in the industry at 10 years of age as an opera Singer!

Tim was discovered by the situation, as it was then, of a youth choir going into schools to recruit new stars. One day school happened to be visited and the children were asked to sing the Australian Anthem. Ironically, Tim couldn’t do this as he didn’t know the anthem having been born in South Africa. Instead Tim sang’ Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star’ an appropriate song for the young star in the making.

Although that career as an opera singer is something Tim has ticked off as having accomplished he does say his mum appreciated very much the free opera tickets! And, being a wise young man sees it as an extra skill up his sleeve. In fact Tim sees his future clearly in film work but not restricted to acting he would like to follow in the footsteps of Clint Eastwood or George Clooney and be involved behind the scenes too.

It seems a bright future indeed for this shining star.

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Arts | What's On


Art from Trash
28.06.12 7:24 pm

Friday 29 June, 11:30am
St Virgil’s Collegiate School Assembly
The Art From Trash 2012 community art exhibition, hosted by Resource Work Co-operative, was hugely successful, with approximately 4,000 people attending over the course of the exhibition. The exhibition is truly a community event with artworks submitted by established and emerging artists together with work from students and first time exhibitors. 

The People’s Choice Award is voted by the public throughout the exhibition, for the entry that displays the most creative reuse of materials, and this year has been awarded to St Virgil’s College for the students’ stunning creation Ringo. Ringo is a life size sculpture of a wandering albatross made from over fourteen thousand plastic bottle rings, and was created to raise awareness of the impact plastic waste has on ocean life.

Andy Wildman, Chairperson of Resource Work Cooperative, and Annie Beecroft, Coordinator of Art From Trash 2012, will present St Virgil’s College with the People’s Choice award on Friday 29 June at 11:30am at St. Virgil’s College. There will be opportunities to photograph the awards presentation, the winners of the prize, and the winning entry. 

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HOBART BOOKSHOP: Launch of Poppy Lopatniuk’s Tomorrow’s Children

The Hobart Bookshop
28.06.12 7:11 pm

What: launch by Professor Rob White of Poppy Lopatniuk’s Tomorrow’s Children.
When: 5.30pm Friday 6th July
Where: The Hobart Bookshop

The book is both a memoir and a record of activism. Poppy refused to be fobbed off with government assurances that the area around the old Howrah tip site was not toxic, and she set out to try and find the cause of the many illnesses including cancers that appeared in the streets nearby.

A book that should be read by activist,s whistle-blowers and everyone who values a better life for their children.

The Hobart Bookshop
22 Salamanca Square
Hobart Tasmania 7000
P 03 6223 1803 . F 03 6223 1804
.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

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Arts | Books | What's On

DESPARD: Jacob Leary

Steven Joyce, Despard Gallery
28.06.12 6:17 am


Dear Friends of despard Gallery,you are invited to attend the opening preview for one of Tasmania’s most exciting young artists.

We are excited to present B+B+C, Jacob Leary’s extraordinary paintings, prints and sculptures in his debut solo exhibition at Despard Gallery.

For more information and to view preview images, click here

Opening Thursday evening the 28Th June from 6 pm

Note winter hours; 10.30 am - 5 pm Monday - Saturday
Sunday 11 am - 4 pm or by appointment.

Despard Gallery
15 Castray Esplanade
Hobart Tasmania Australia 7000
ph +61 3 62238266
fax +61 3 62236496

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Arts | What's On

Brazilian prisoners given novel way to reduce their sentence

Guardian, Reuters
27.06.12 7:08 am


Some of Brazil’s most notorious criminals offered 48 days off jail terms each year if they read 12 books

  Reuters in Brasilia, Tuesday 26 June 2012 10.48 BST

Prisoners will have up to four weeks to read each book and write an essay. Photograph: Antonio Olmos/@Antonio Olmos

Brazil will offer inmates in its crowded federal penitentiary system a new way to shorten their sentences: a reduction of four days for every book they read.

Inmates in four federal prisons holding some of Brazil’s most notorious criminals will be able to read up to 12 works of literature, philosophy, science or classics to trim a maximum 48 days off their sentence each year, the government announced.

Prisoners will have up to four weeks to read each book and write an essay that must “make correct use of paragraphs, be free of corrections, use margins and legible joined-up writing”, said the notice published on Monday in the official gazette.

A panel will decide which inmates are eligible to participate in the programme, dubbed Redemption through Reading.

“A person can leave prison more enlightened and with a enlarged vision of the world,” said São Paulo lawyer Andre Kehdi, who heads a book donation project for prisons.

“Without doubt they will leave a better person,” he said.

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Shannon’s river runs on

Paula Xiberras
27.06.12 7:03 am


Talking to Shannon Noll is like having a relaxing chat with an old friend. He makes you feel comfortable and at ease immediately that you hear that earthy voice that is capable of singing ballads to rock. The chat is interspersed with many ‘mates’ demonstrating that Shannon has not gained any airs and graces with his growing fame since he first came to our notice on Australian Idol.

Shannon is at the moment involved in a national tour which will see him take in Hobart and Launceston. Shannon hopes to bring his wife down to Tassie with him this time and maybe enjoy a meal at one of our great restaurants and he’d love to get in a game of golf while here, perhaps at the Launceston Country Club. Shannon’s also keen on sampling some of the great fresh produce that Tassie offers.

Shannon promises a concert that will have a different format stylistically to previous ones he’s done here but with of course a ‘full set of rockin’.

As well as showcasing his new album ‘A Million Suns’ he will sing 4 or 5 of his most popular songs.

I ask Shannon if with his recent foray into dancing with the stars means he will become what in the entertainment industry is known as the triple threat, having the full set of dancing, singing and acting ability.

Acting is something Shannon has mentioned before as being a long time interest and he reiterates that he will consider any offers.

Shannon’s also made the inevitable journey overseas to look at working with writers and although he is interested in collaboration with good songwriters he also remains committed to the ‘amazing talents of producers and writers in Australia’.

It seems the man that bears the name of the famous Irish river and indeed reached number 2 in the Irish music charts with ‘What About Me’ continues to run on to greater things.

Shannon Noll will be performing at Launceston Country Club Friday 13 July and Wrest Point Casino Saturday 14 July.

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Arts | What's On

Southern Light: Images From Antarctica

Tony Fleming
25.06.12 8:42 am


This collection of striking images from Antarctica and the sub-Antarctic is the result of six journeys made to these southernmost lands by Australian photographer David Neilson. The areas covered include the Antarctic Peninsula, East Antarctica, the Ross Sea, South Georgia and Macquarie Island. These outstanding landscape and wildlife photographs are reproduced in both colour and black and white and reveal a part of the grandeur and mystery of this great southern realm.

It’s a pleasure to be here tonight to launch David Neilson’s book: “Southern Light: Images From Antarctica”.

David travelled to Antarctica with the Australian Antarctic Division in 1990 and 2004. And having now looked at the images in this book I, and probably all of you, are very glad that we took David south!

This is a magnificent collection of images, evoking the extraordinary beauty of the Antarctic landscape, its wildlife and its human story.

I have been to some of the places that are portrayed in this book and I can say that the images ‘feel true’ to the spirit of the place. I was particularly taken with the images on pages 260 and 261. They are not the most spectacular images in the book, but they are of a hut my grandfather spent the winter of 1911 in, as a member of Scott’s Northern Party.

This book speaks to the importance of the Division’s arts fellows program. This program and others like it have helped develop a strong tradition of artists/writers/musicians who have made a significant contribution to the total picture of human endeavour in Antarctica -  in tandem with the science.

Artists and scientists have much in common - they are curious, passionate about ‘the big idea’, capable of stamina and tenacity when fired up by a concept or project. The well honed observational skills of a visual artist can still compliment the observational skills of a geologist or a marine biologist. They can communicate a great deal about the conditions down there - look at Jan Senbergs’ full-on canvases that describe perhaps the worst side of human impact on the continent - but also speak of the immense and unforgiving scale of the landscape.  Indeed look at the images that David has created – the image of a glacier flowing through the Framnes Mountains is incredible (p178).

There are very few people who get the opportunity to go to Antarctica, and yet it is a continent that is very important to Australia and Australians. It is a continent that is critical to the world’s atmospheric and ocean systems. It is a sentinel of global change, and sadly the alarm bells are starting to ring.

So I believe it is important to increase our collective awareness and knowledge of Antarctica through many mediums. One way we do that is through the scientific community.  Another way is through international forums like the Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting, being held here in Hobart in just a few days time.

But the arts community has the capacity to evoke the spirit of the place in a way that a scientific publication and a diplomatic exchange can’t.

Look back to the beginnings of Antarctic exploration. The first images that came back to the rest of the world from the South - the pictures of Hurley and Ponting and other expeditioners - they captured the imaginations of people - it gave those who would never see Antarctica for themselves a sense of the place - the isolation and the scale and the beauty. David Neilson carries on that tradition. And he does it at a time that is critically important for the future of Antarctica. We need the people of Australia and the world to understand the magnificence and importance of Antarctica and the Southern Ocean.

In the early years of Antarctic exploration, the artist had a central place. The skills the artists bought south were being utilised by the scientific community to make accurate, articulate recordings of finds in every discipline. Their skills were highly valued. Look at Edward Wilson’s delicate watercolours – beautiful evocative images, but also a documentary of Scott’s tragic journey to the South Pole. And it was also a record of their scientific exploration. While Wilson died in a tent with Scott and Bowers, his art lives on and has inspired generations of people.

I want to retain that place for the artist in Antarctica. The artist can be an excellent communicator - and educator. The vision statement for the AAD says: Antarctica: Valued, Protected and Understood. …..understood by whom?  A couple of AAD arts fellows have done wonderful work with children - making significant contributions to public education about the continent and what the AAD does. The art that is created by our arts fellows helps people understand Antarctica. David Neilson helps people understand Antarctica.

There is currently an Antarctic art exhibition in the Drill Hall Gallery in Canberra that includes the work of artists Sidney Nolan, Jan Senbergs, Bea Maddock, Jorg Schmeisser, Anne Noble, Philip Hughes and Chris Drury. The works range across several decades and include ethereal landscapes (Jorg) - tough depictions of the impact of human infrastructure (Jan’s) -  cool commentary on the history of exploration and mapping of the coastline (Bea) - projections and sound scapes of ice flows (Chris) - detailed analytical observations(Philip) and true Australian expressionist response to the landscape (Sid) …..thousands of people will see these works.

Many people will also see the exhibition currently running at the National Archives.

Those exhibitions, David’s images and the other creations of Antarctic artists all come together to form a deeper understanding of the place. It helps viewers to understand….that Antarctica is a magnificent and complex place - ….

I have the pleasure of gazing each day at the extraordinary etching that Jorg Schmeisser did of Mawson Station after he went south as an arts fellow in 97/98. Jorg is now seriously ill but his art continues to inspire. Even seasoned expeditioners to Antarctica look in awe at Jorg’s etching. [sadly, Jorg Schmeisser died the day this speech was presented. Australia and the world has lost an extraordinary artist, teacher and mentor - but his sublime art will live on.]

Artists like the ones I have mentioned, and David here tonight, punch above their weight when it comes to influence and contribution - in every sense.

Most Australians will never get to set foot on Antarctic shores. Very few artists will ever go, let alone in a situation where their work is facilitated in a way that can only happen with the AAD.  It is to the credit of the goverment that they facilitate the best and most able artists - in the same way that they send the best scientists and expeditioners - to represent us. The works that result - as well as the personal investment of the artists towards their chosen expeditions, ultimately benefit the Australian Antarctic program.

I will conclude with a comment from Helene Shannos, an artist who is also my wife –

“Ultimately, from an artist’s perspective, Antarctica is a HUGE IDEA.  But it is a web (or network if you like ) of ideas, that includes the science past and present - the human history with all it’s triumph and tragedy - the current issues around environmental (human) impact and climate change, the wildlife and topography. The scientists do their thing - but the artists will witness and comment and process and record. Who else will do that?”

I congratulate David Neilson for doing that so well in the book we are launching tonight – “Southern Light: Images From Antarctica”.

Thank you.

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Arts | Books

Christopher’s Crusade

Paula Xiberras
25.06.12 8:02 am


Christopher Paolini was delighted to see snow on Mount Wellington last Tuesday. He showed me his camera with pictures of the magnificent mountains of his home state of Montana which he remarks Tasmania reminds him of. I can imagine him walking those mountains letting his fertile imagination take hold. We have a great advisory in Christopher who aims to talk up Tassie to whomever he can!

Christopher is always willing to take on a challenge, whether it is to be a salesman for self publishing his first book or on this tour, climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge and taking flight around Tasmania’s wilderness, where just maybe, he might be able to find a suitable environment where other mythical creatures live.

Christopher is in Australia to promote the latest and final of his Inheritance cycle of novels, called appropriately ‘Inheritance’ The novels were written as a tribute to the science fantasy that he loved and grew up with, as well his own desire to put his stamp on the genre. It was the David Eddings novel ‘The Ruby Knight’ that started it all for him and at the age of fifteen he began his own epic story. Christopher is an amazing young man, fluent in mythology from many different cultures he has a great grasp of the vastness and interconnectedness of literature through the ages and talks about a dialogue between past and present cultures and the place of science fantasy in the scheme of things.

I ask Christopher about the resurgence in fantasy fiction including vampires, fairies, angels, werewolves, dragons and more.  Christopher explains that to him all classical lit is fantasy fiction that stretches back to Shakespeare’s Scottish play with it’s supernaturality. ‘Midsummer Nights Dream’ with its fairy folk and, even Anna Karenina because the language was foreign to him as a reader, so in effect it too was fantasy fiction drawing a parallel between difficult to pronounce Russian names and difficult to pronounce names of characters and planets in science fantasy novels.

Christopher sees fantasy fiction as dealing with the universal experience of growing up but in a world where fears such as that of spiders can be externalised to a greater magnitude, for example fears of spiders can be magnified in it’s intensity to the legitimate presence of a spider as big as a house!! The stock characters of fantasy fiction are a wise mentor, young person, a quest, a beautiful heroine, romance, a dragon and a sword!

Christopher, the fantasy fiction superhero is is a big fan of Jane Austen,  particularly for her humour and has Jane Austen ‘s ‘Pride and Prejudice with Zombies’, (where Jane Austen meets fantasy fiction) at home, ready to read after this tour. I ask Christopher what he thinks of this reworking of classical literature and indeed he is all for it. He explains that even many of Shakespeare’s plays were based on pre-existing stories.

He sees this form of fan fiction as flattery and although he doesn’t read the fan fiction that is written about his characters for obvious legal reasons, he is extremely flattered that people would love the characters so much as to create new adventures for them.

Christopher has worked hard on selling his books from the early days when he was self published and would go and talk at book stores in medieval costume. his skills as a salesman are clear when he relates how he once sold a book to a man that could not speak English, admittedly the book was for the man’s girlfriend.

Christopher has also indulged in some arm wrestling on his tours and has won all competitions so far, but his publicist has warned him of indulging in such a dangerous activity for an author on a signing tour!

Christopher’s original book has been made into a film and he talks about the surreal aspects of being alone in a theatre watching actors speaking the dialogue he wrote. Christopher has ideas for many new novels and hopes to visit in his next literary outing, one of those planets with the impossible to pronounce names and if there is an absence of swords no matter, he is a more than capable arm wrestler!

Christopher’s tour continues in WA:

Monday, 25 June 2012, 17.00 -18.30
Garden City Shopping Centre
125 -133 Riseley Street
WA, 6154
Free event

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Arts | What's On


Lindsay Tuffin
23.06.12 9:28 am


We had met before ... our eyes glancing, then catching, across a crowded room.

I had fallen in love, instantly.

There was that moment of recognition, as if two souls from a previous life, perhaps pre-Cretaceous, had chanced upon each other.

Then we were as one, gazing enraptured into one another’s eyes.

Were you the barmaid from the New Sydney pub, I pondered, ever so briefly. No ... that had been another discombobulated experience, the scattered remembrance such as ageing lustful old drunks are wont to have after too many bubbles.

You are unique. You would not be found in the New Sydney.

You would be at MONA.

And there you are.

So taken was I by our previous encounter – at the NGV in Melbourne – that I bought a mug with you on it to give to my wife; lucky girl.

And sometimes I take you out of the cupboard in Howrah Flats to gaze at you.

Now, again, after a few years parted, i can have the full-frontal experience.

God are you ever fully wondrous ...

Not that i pretend – as an ignorant man of dilettantish tastes – to understand you.

I just love you, and accept you, just as you are ...

With the tears ‘n’ all. Particularly the tears… and the context in which you are placed here at MONA

Oh context, how important is that eh?

This is sumptuous. How do they do things so well, these Mona folk (this time in concert with TMAG; and curated by Jean-Hubert Martin and Mattijs Visser). If you miss this exhibition you are no longer alive (I may have said that before, but it remains true; Mona is a wonder).

OK, I confess to being a feted (and very ignorant) poncy wanker.

But I defy you to go to this and not fall about in wonder and some adoration at the gallery upon gallery of exquisite button-pushing beauty and horror.

If you manage to get to the gallery of Majesty and see “primitive” art - courtesy of TMAG’s extraordinary barkcloth collection - in all its glory and see ideas of death (Giacometti; god I love this) opposed to an Egyptian sarcophagus - you may just sink into huge bean bags (one fellow poncy-wanker asked, are these artworks or cushions?, and I have to confess this was my overnight venue of choice if bubbles had overtaken moi) and never leave.

As it is it took these guys three years to get this together. That is one very long, slow-building orgasm.

Oh ...




All about Theatre of the World


Rebecca Fitzgibbon: MONA: A whole new world

David Walsh: Personal passage to MONA

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MONA TOMORROW: Theatre of The World

22.06.12 12:11 pm






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Arts | What's On

Fiona Stewart and Julius Schwing – Songs French and Fabulous

Michael McLaughlin Community Cultural Development Officer Glenorchy City Council
22.06.12 12:15 am

Moonah Arts Centre’s Friday Night Concert Series
Friday June 29

Fiona Stewart and Julius Schwing – Songs French and Fabulous

Fiona Stewart is a singer / songwriter of international quality and one of Tasmania’s premier cabaret vocalists. Her coppery warmth and depth of voice and songs have enchanted audiences from Sydney to Paris.

In this intimate one hour concert as part of the popular Moonah Arts Centre winter series, Fiona will focus on her particular love of French song.   

Experience the beauty and lyricism of the French language as Fiona, who spent nearly a decade living and working in France, shares a selection of some of her favourite ‘chansons’.

Accompanied on the acoustic guitar of Mr Julius Schwing , this talented duo will interpret a range of well known classics from Edith Piaf to Jacques Brel and Serge Gainsbourg. Enjoy a taste of the French jazz repertoire as well as pieces from the Art Song tradition of composers Jules Massenet and Gabriel Faure.

A warm, entertaining evening of sophisticated and eclectic musical moments , this is a must for Francophones and all lovers of the great tradition of European cabaret song.

Fiona Stewart and Julius Schwing
Where: Moonah Arts Centre, 65 Hopkins St.  Moonah
When: Friday 29th June  
Times: Doors open from 7pm for a 7:30pm start
Entry by Gold Coin Donation

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Arts | What's On

FULLERS:  John Biggs in conversation with Lindsay Tuffin at Fullers Bookshop tonight, 5.30pm

Rachel Edwards, Events Manager Fullers Bookshop
21.06.12 10:28 am

Author John Biggs in conversation with Lindsay Tuffin at Fullers Bookshop tonight at 5.30pm

John Biggs is a prolific author and has recently written an insightful history of Tasmania told through the filter of five generations of the Biggs family since Van Diemonian times, Tasmania over Five Generations.

He will be in conversation with the delightful raconteur and editor of Tasmanian Times, Lindsay Tuffin at Fullers Bookshop on Thursday, June 21 at 5.30pm.

John Biggs was born and educated in Hobart then travelled the world as an academic, ending up in Hong Kong.

Returning to Tasmania many years later he embarked on a second career as a writer. He has published four novels, a collection of short stories and Tasmania Over Five Generations.

Lindsay Tuffin has been a journalist/youth worker/theology student/journalist since the age of 16, working throughout Australia and the UK.
All are welcome to attend this free event though reservations are essential – .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

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Books | What's On

Anna Funder’s All That I Am wins Miles Franklin

21.06.12 7:32 am


SBS pic of Anna Funder: Here

Anna Funder’s All That I Am has had a dream run since publication, winning prizes and racing out of bookshops.

Now Funder’s debut novel has added Australia’s most significant prize to the long list of critical praise for the book, winning the Miles Franklin Literary Award last night.

The $50,000 prize was presented at Queensland’s State Library last night, the first time the Miles has been declared in Brisbane and only the second time the ceremony has been held outside of Sydney.

All That I Am was given the nod ahead of four other shortlisted works; Blood, by first-time novelist Tony Birch; 2000 winner Frank Moorhouse’s Cold Light; debut writer Favel Parrett’s Past the Shallows; and Foal’s Bread - the return to publication by Gillian Mears after 16 years.

Already a staple of Australia’s bestseller lists, All That I Am has been lavished with praise, winning a swag of literary awards.

Last month Funder’s fiction debut won the Book of the Year and Literary Fiction Book of the Year at the Australian Book Industry Awards as well as the 2012 Barbara Jefferis Award, having already picked up the Independent Bookseller’s Award for Best Debut Fiction and the Indie Book of the Year.

The novel tells the story of an elderly Sydney woman’s role in the opposition to Hitler and the Nazi Party in the years leading up to World War II.

It was inspired by the experiences of one of Funder’s friends who spent years in solitary confinement for trying to smuggle anti-Nazi leaflets into Germany.

The judges praised the book for reminding readers of Australias long history of experiences with exile, dislocation and removal.

The recognition for All That I Am follows Funder’s internationally acclaimed nonfiction work Stasiland, which won the Samuel Johnson Prize in 2004.

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Arts | Books