Dear readers, it has been some time since we have posted a blog.
Although we have been missing in action online we have still been having some adventures. For example, Tracey was in Norway for three months doing some creative research into her ancestry. Her project Waters of the Past has resulted in some wonderful collaborations and connections. The project was also presented in a number of exhibitions and symposium, such as Balance UnBalance 2017 and RIXC Open Fields 2017.
Tracey’s project was also featured in the Drammen newspaper. Please don’t ask for a translation 🙂
We had an amazing time in Norway, the highlight of this was our fjord journey up the west coast to Tromsø – more on that later 😉 Here is some teasers:
This year we don’t plan to go too far from home ground. We have lots of short trips planned and we look forward to sharing with you some of the great places we enjoy here in the Australian Alpine region – better known by Aussies as ‘the high country’.
We will publish a new article from us each month as well as feature some guest writers. Contact us if you would like to submit something for publication.
My journey to Christchurch to work on a book project is my first time travelling to the South Island of Aotearoa New Zealand. Although I have been to NZ a few times over the last decade, I have never ventured any further south than the region of Taranaki.
Christchurch, as many readers would know, was devastated by an earthquake in February 2011. It has been a difficult and expensive process to rebuild the city and although a lot of progress has happened, many heritage buildings may never be restored just because of the sheer cost.
Today I spent the day walking around the city centre and also rode the inner city tram which was a really nice way to learn about Christchurch. It is a little pricy at $20NZ, but you can hop on and off all day. The drivers also share a lot of local knowledge so I think it is worth the money.
There are some fabulous places to visit when in Christchurch. I had a great time exploring the Re:START markets. The market stalls are mainly set up in shipping containers and the area was the first to be reopened after the 2011 earthquake. There are some great shops with lots of local products. My favourite shop has to be HAPA – I just love all the handmade jewellery, ornaments, cushions and knick knacks. Unfortunately my budget is very tight this trip so no spending sadly though perhaps this is a blessing in disguise 🙂
The other place I enjoyed visiting is the Canterbury Museum, which is free entry and open 7 days a week. There are some great exhibits, including a replica of the street from the early 1900s. It is also worth noting that the museum is located close to the Botanic Gardens which is a lovely place to walk around.
Street art is in abundance in the city centre, making the cityscape lively and colourful. It is also a nice distraction from the many damaged buildings and empty city blocks.
It will take a long time for Christchurch to rebuild entirely, but what I find inspiring is that the residents of Christchurch are helping to shape the future of the city. For example, many people love the shipping containers at Re:START, so they may become a permanent fixture. Also the community has asked that the city’s skyline have less high-rises in the future, so the only high-rise buildings that will exist into the future are the ones currently standing.
There are some great art and technology projects that have focused on the city:
Soundsky: Artist/designer Trudy Lane and sound artist/musician/developer Halsey Burgund have been the main coordinators of the project to-date with significant input from Michael Reynolds of A Brave New City, and increasing numbers of local artists interested for their audio works to join the environment.
Sensing City: The Sensing City Trust is a non-profit organisation working with Christchurch stakeholders to help them understand how data can inform decisions about city management. The Trust has two active projects – one focussed on the impact of air pollution on respiratory disease, and the other on cyclists generating data to inform cycleway development.
SCAPE Public Art installs free-to-view contemporary public art in Christchurch city. Their vision is for Christchurch people to be excited, engaged and stimulated by the contemporary public art that is well-regarded and known by the national and international art world.
This evening as I write this post a small shake has been recorded south of Christchurch – though only 2.4 magnitude. I did not notice anything 🙂 In any case, I am very much looking forward to working on the ADA book project and learning all about booksprinting!
Fort Cochin is such a fabulous place, I don’t know where to begin to describe how wonderful this place really is.
There are many layers of history and culture in Fort Cochin, making it a fascinating visual feast in an architectural sense. Elegant 15th Century Portuguese Mansions sit side by side with English Colonial Style buildings and colourful shacks painted many different colours. There are some beautiful churches, mosques and Hindu temples, again, sitting peacefully side by side.
The thing that is most wonderful is the people. Their warmth and good nature melts religious differences, making this community one of diversity and harmony. Many other countries could learn from Kochi people.
Here are a couple of maps that track some journeys around Fort Cochin, with links to my EveryTrail maps.
Today’s post is a feeble attempt to try and catch up from over three months of not writing. The bad habit of missing days started with a day here or there but now I find that I haven’t written for weeks. There is really no excuse, perhaps except that I have been caught up with a number of art projects, which should count for something 🙂
My subject today is the place I live, the capital city of Australia, Canberra. As an attempt to make up for missing 84 posts, at the end of this post are 84 places worth visiting around the region, some of which have already been written about. Although it is a numbered list, it is not a list of best to worst, it is only as list of places as they came to mind.
Last week Canberra and the Australian Capital Territory was determined the best place in the world to live, according a report by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Canberra led the regional ranking while Australia topped the overall country rankings, followed by Norway.
The OECD ranked 362 regions of its 34 member nations in its survey. Seven areas were assessed: Health, Safety, Access to services, Civic engagement, Jobs, Education, Environment and Income.
One of the things I love about living in Canberra, is the many bushwalking trails both in Canberra and in the region. Only yesterday, we walked up Mt Majura, to do some exploring as part of a project I am developing for Long Time No See? On our way back down the mountain we came across some other walkers who were doing the Centenary Trail, having walked from Parliament House. This trail certainly looks challenging and perhaps something to pursue.
Photographing art will be a trilogy of articles from regular contributor Garry Benson. This first post is also a playful and whimsical personal journey into understanding photographic techniques for documenting artworks. Garry talks about his background and career as an artist and cinematographer, sharing how this experience has informed his expansive knowledge of photography. We hope you enjoy these new posts.
Photographing Art Part 1
by Garry Benson
This series of three articles covers all the technical steps for successfully taking shots of artwork suitable for publication. What does this have to do with travel? Well, most of us spend our travel time visiting art galleries or buying art so for insurance purposes learning to shoot good images is important.
SLOW FADE TO BLACK. PLAY SOPPY MUSIC (Borodin’s Nocturne – String Quartet No. 2 in D Major).
At the tender age of 15 I had just started Year 11 at Kedron State High School when I was offered a job as a trainee cinematographer with a film production company in Brisbane. Back then everything was shot, processed and printed on 35mm film, so I had to learn the whole process. When I asked my boss how to become a good photographer he said ‘Take lots & lots of photos and then assess them.’
Do you remember the film ‘Newsfront’ about early Aussie newsreel camera men? Well, that was my life. When we shot newsreels for Cinesound News we had ‘short ends’ of 35mm film that I could load on to film cassettes and use. And every frame I shot was critiqued in painful detail by both the film editor in Sydney and my boss in Brisbane.
A couple of years later at 17 I inveigled my way on to the sets of Theatre Royal & Bandstand at BTQ Channel 7, shooting stills of people like George Wallace Jr, Patsy Ann Noble, Bill Thorpe & the Aztecs, Col Joye & the Joy Boys and Little Pattie. I sold prints to the artists and to magazines like TV Week.
SLOW DISSOLVE TO…
In the 1980s I’d returned to Australia after a number of years working in film, TV and as a photojournalist in SE Asia, the Middle East & Europe. I was teaching photo-journalism and TV production in Adelaide, writing articles for magazines such as Craft Australia, Craft Arts, Pottery Australia and American Crafts magazine. I was editing & designing a magazine called SA Crafts – oh, and I was also weaving & exhibiting haute lisse tapestries. One day I had a call from a young lady called Janet De Boer who was about to launch her magazine into colour production – could I help?
CIRCLE WIPE TO 2011…
‘Gazza, why can’t I take photos with my little digital camera that are good enough for publication in the magazine if I have an emergency?’ asked my editor Janet De Boer of Textile magazine, showing me one of her shots. ‘How do I know if my shots are good enough?’
Technically speaking Janet would just get away with her shot, as her camera is 10 megapixels. I checked the images on my Photoshop program and the image was a JPEG, 3.1 MB, 180 dpi and 3648 x 2736 pixel size image, suitable for a medium size image in the magazine. When converted to a TIFF file that include all the CMYK or RGB channels the image would be around 28 MB.
The other problem is that any shot taken with a digital camera will need at least some degree of colour correction and exposure balance in a digital editing program – a task undertaken religiously by Janet’s designer Paul if the submitted image isn’t already colour & exposure correct.
For most artists there are two options – take the photo yourself or get a professional to do it. And ouch, yes, professional photographers do cost a lot of money. But think about this – how much would you have to pay to get your work seen by thousands of people throughout Australia & NZ? It’s a no-brainer!
Let’s say you want to take your own shots, how do you go about it? Well, just as in life there are people who chose VHS over Beta video systems; Mac over Windows or Nikon over Canon (a personal bias) there are two options – people with access to editing software (such as Photoshop) and people without that access. Photoshop costs anywhere from $1000 to $6000 and you need a computer to use it.
And when you take a digital photo for publication you need to have a file of a certain technical standard. That’s a TIFF file, 300 dpi, at least 3000 pixels on the widest side and approximately 15-20 megabytes.
It’s literally impossible to work this out without software, so below is a guide to help you choose whether your camera is up to the challenge – but remember, the above rules are essential for printing quality images in a magazine:
Megapixels vs. Maximum Image Size
Megapixels Pixel Resolution*
4 2464 x 1632
6 3008 x 2000
8 3264 x 2448
10 3872 x 2592
12 4290 x 2800
16 4920 x 3264
35mm film, scanned 5380 x 3620
*Typical Resolution. Actual pixel dimensions vary from camera to camera.
**At 150ppi, printed images will have visible pixels and details will look “fuzzy”.
You’ll notice that the good old 35mm slide has a much higher resolution rate than any of the above digital cameras. Even though ‘dots per inch’ (dpi) and ‘pixels per inch’ (ppi) are used interchangeably by many, they are not the same thing.
Looks at this conundrum – ‘In reality it’s not the camera that makes a good picture, it’s the photographer. You can buy the most expensive camera on the market, but it doesn’t guarantee you’ll take better pictures.’
Day 72: Kangaroo Island, South Australia, Australia
I am writing about Kangaroo Island as it is both a beautiful place and it also reminds me of a wonderful journey we did at the end of 2012, where we travelled along the Great Ocean Road to South Australia. We spent some lovely time with my uncle (and regular contributor) Garry Benson and then headed to Kangaroo Island for a couple of days. We then stopped back to see Garry, catching up with friends and then made our way inland across Victoria. On the way we stayed with some other dear friends for New Years Eve, before heading back to Canberra.
This trip was not only a journey across new landscapes, it for me was also a journey of inner discovery, not just about myself but about learning by sharing time with people I love. Anyway I digress, back to Kangaroo Island. Mr Wikipedia says:
Kangaroo Island is Australia’s third-largest island, after Tasmania and Melville Island. It is in the state of South Australia 112 km (70 mi) south-west of Adelaide. Its closest point to the mainland is Snapper Point in Backstair Passage which is 13.5 km (8.4 mi) from the Fleurieu Peninsula.
To get to Kangaroo Island (or KI as it is affectionately known), you catch the SeaLink ferry from Cape Jervis to Penneshaw. SeaLink operates two large, modern vehicle and passenger ferries, SeaLion 2000 and Spirit of Kangaroo Island. The journey takes about 45 minutes for the 16km crossing and there are some great views of both the mainland and KI coast on the way. The ferries are well equipped with a fully licenced café and free wifi.
KI is an incredible place, there are many amazing natural places to see: The Remarkables, Admirals’s Arch and Vivonne Bay are a good start. Seal Bay is also spectacular as you can see up close Australia’s third largest colony of Australian Sea-lions. Also, there is a lot of other wildlife not easily found in other Australian settings any more, for example we saw Koalas, which are sadly becoming a rarer sight.
What is also great about KI is the local produce, there are a number of wineries and KI is also known for its delicious cheese.
One aspect of the history I found intriguing is that the island was deserted by the local people thousands of years ago. The island’s name in the local language means “Island of the Dead”. Mr Wikipedia says:
Known as Karta (“Island of the Dead”) by the mainland Aboriginal tribes, the existence of stone tools and shell middens show that Aboriginal people once lived on Kangaroo Island. It is thought that they occupied it as long ago as 16,000 years before the present, and may have only disappeared from the island as recently as 2000 years ago.
M.H Munroe documents a mainland Aboriginal dreaming story which tells of the Backstairs Passage flooding:
Long ago, Ngurunderi’s two wives ran away from him, and he was forced to follow them. He pursued them and as he did so he crossed Lake Albert and went along the beach to Cape Jervis. When he arrived there he saw his wives wading half-way across the shallow channel which divided Naroongowie from the mainland. He was determined to punish his wives, and angrily ordered the water to rise up and drown them. With a terrific rush the waters roared and the women were carried back towards the mainland. Although they tried frantically to swim against the tidal wave they were powerless to do so and were drowned. (M.H. Munroe, Karta: Island of the Dead – Kangaroo Island http://www.austhrutime.com/karta_island_of_the_dead.htm)
It a story that is cloaked in mystery and one we will never know for sure. I would love to learn more about this history and the people who lived on KI. When you are on the island you get the feeling that it is a place of many stories and of many secrets.
We stayed two nights in the American River area, but could have easily have stayed longer in KI and camped on other parts of the island. The township of Kingscote is also well worth a visit, with lots of galleries and cafés, it is well set up for tourism. Kingscote is situated on the shores of Nepean Bay, has lovely views of the harbour and is home to about 1,800 people. I hope one day to travel back to KI as it is a place that inspires and intrigues me.
So far I have posted about 70 different places, about places I have visited and places where I long to go. I have not done so great with my commitment to post every day, and now I feel the need to catch up. But perhaps my posts don’t always need to be about a geographical site, maybe taking a moment to write about the journeys of heart and mind is also worth documenting – after all this is the stuff that makes our lives rich and rewarding.
That said, I have thought a lot about the places of experience and the sites of desire. On one level both are the same. Both tell a story about a connection to a person and therefore a connection to many people and ultimately many places. We don’t live our lives in isolation, in fragmented ways, which is one of the challenges of this project.The more I try to separate one place from another, the more these places want to connect in my mind, perhaps as waymarks or perhaps as strange and beautiful designs composed of Venn diagrams, overlapping nodes or line drawings layered over and over, as one traverses geophysical space through the lenses of memory and imagination.
So what are some of these connection points? There are so many – a love of art, culture and history, food, adventure, nature, sustainability and not least the people connections – friendships and sharing special times.
In some future posts, I hope to share some ideas around the interconnected nature of our experience to our environment and sense of place.
Day 70: National Gallery of Australia (NGA), Canberra, Australia
Today I had hoped to go bushwalking as it has been a long time since we went for a walk on the weekend. However, we were thwarted by bad weather – cold, fog and rain. Anyway, I was still really keen to get out of the house and have a walk around even if it was indoors, so suggested that we go to the NGA. I also wanted to go to the gallery as there were two temporary exhibitions that were of particular interest – Bali: Island of the Gods and Atua: Sacred Gods of Polynesia.
Both of these exhibitions were excellent. I knew before even arriving at the gallery that I would love the work in the exhibition about Bali, as I adore Balinese culture and love Balinese artworks, especially drawings, paintings and carvings. I am especially drawn to the epic stories told in these works, especially the Hindu classics the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. There were also some beautiful textiles works in the show, some of which were used for shrines – which were lovely. My favourite works were some incredible drawings on palm leaves with Indian ink. The detail was so intricate and beautifully executed – I have never seen anything quite like it.
The exhibition of Polynesian works had a diverse selection of (Atua) God and Goddess figures from a range of areas and cultures in Polynesia. Many works were from the 18th and early 19th century and there were also some engravings from the text documenting Captain Cook’s third voyage to the Southern Hemisphere. My favourite works were some amazing small wood carvings for God figures from Rapa Nui (Easter Island) and some beautiful Maori carvings, especially the piece pictured below.
Both exhibitions are free, though be warned that there is a little shop out the front of the exhibitions with some very tempting items. I could not resist the catalogue from the Bali show as I wanted to look back at the beautiful palm leaf drawings.
Dates Atua: Sacred Gods of Polynesia 23 May – 3 August 2014 Bali: Island of the Gods 13 June – 3 August 2014
National Gallery of Australia
General information +61 2 6240 6411
For visitors with mobility difficulties +61 2 6240 6411
Day 63: Museum of Natural History, Dublin, Ireland
While we are on the topic of museums, today I would like to reminiscence about my 1999 trip to Dublin, where I visited many galleries and museums. One museum in particular stands out in my memory, the Museum of Natural History. This place has a great nickname, “The Dead Zoo” reflecting the wonderful sense of humour of the Irish.
The Natural History Museum in Dublin is the oldest museum in Ireland having been opened by Doctor David Livingstone in 1857. This museum is very engaging if only for the immense variety of “stuffed” subjects. There are animals from all around the world in the collection, and I was stunned by the size some of the Australian marsupials, which many must have been caught in the early days of European occupation, as we do not have kangaroos or wombats at the size represented in this collection anymore.
The collection is expansive with over 10,000 items on display and over 2 million in storage. That is a lot of stuffed animals, birds, reptiles and preserved insects.
There is great attention to detail to the exhibits in the collection. In reference to the above image from the Irish mammals collection:
One of a series of very popular exhibits was made by the Dublin taxidermy firm of Williams & Son. They produced ‘family groups’ of badgers, otters and pine martens. These mammals are characteristic of the Irish landscape. Badgers are active at night, seeking out pastureland where they feed on earthworms, as well as many other ingredients in a highly varied diet.
One of the things I love about visiting museums and galleries is many of them are free to visit – not the ones in New York, but many in Australia and other countries have free admission, such as the Dead Zoo.
The Museum of Natural History is centrally located on Merrion Street, Dublin 2, next door to the National Gallery. Use this Google map to find your way.
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