Archive | August, 2011

Sixteen and perfect: my friends from Sweet Valley

24 Aug

In my ‘Flotsam and Feminism’ column for Farrago magazine, I talked about Sweet Valley High and my other literary friends…

I spent most of my childhood reading books instead of connecting with real people. I don’t mean that in a self-pitying way—I guess in hindsight I might have been a bit lonely, but I loved reading so much that I don’t think I really noticed. As a kid the best part of my week was when my sister was at ballet classes and my mum would take me to Albert Park library. I’d pick out a small mountain of books to take home and devour. So, I guess that might explain a bit about the way I am—why I’m comfortable spending time alone, why I have friends but not really any super-close BFF-type girlfriends, girls I would just call up in the middle of the night. But it’s never even mattered, because if I needed someone, I’ve always had the girlfriends in my books.

Like many girls growing up in the ‘90s, The Baby-Sitters Club, and their younger version, Baby Sitters Little Sister, made up the bulk of my reading. Then there was Sweet Valley High, and the spin-offs, Sweet Valley Twins, Sweet Valley University, and countless other versions of the same thing. Probably more than anyone else, it was those perfect blonde twins, Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield, who saw me through tough times, and who I had the most fun with. I loved both girls, but Elizabeth was (predictably) my clear favourite. She was exactly the type of girl I wanted to be when I was older—studious, super-smart, editor of the school newspaper… but you know, also completely gorgeous and popular with a cute, basketball-playing boyfriend.

(more…)

Hidden Faces: Claudia Chan Shaw

24 Aug

Published in 3008 Docklands magazine

The selection for the Archibald Prize almost always stirs up some controversy in Australian art circles. The Hidden Faces of the Archibald presents an alternative selection, providing a unique opportunity for Victorians to see some of the Archibald entrants that didn’t make the official cut.

At the centre of the exhibition is Phillip Barnes’s striking, somewhat mysterious portrait of Claudia Chan Shaw, fashion designer for Vivian Chan Shaw and host of ABC’s The Collectors. With his beautiful linework and arresting use of black and white shading, Barnes captures Chan Shaw in an elegant, thoughtful pose, gazing into the distance with clasped hands.

“It definitely captures the pensive side of me!” Chan Shaw says. “I think it’s lovely, and I’m so honoured. It’s kind of surreal, because you get used to looking at yourself and seeing photographs of yourself, but seeing a painting- and especially seeing it so large- is very different.”

Barnes approached Chan Shaw late last year with a vision for the portrait in mind. “It’s a really strange connection actually,” he says. “I’d seen Claudia on TV, and I’d also admired a film from the 1920s from America, and I’d said to a couple of people that Claudia was so much like the woman in this film.” (more…)

Where do you BELONG?

24 Aug

Published in 3008 Docklands magazine

On stage at the Arts Centre this September, Bangarra Dance Theatre presents Belong, a unique exploration of the lives of urban Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. This is a new generation of Indigenous storytellers, using a powerful new language that combines the traditional and the contemporary to tell the story of their own cultural identity.

Bangarra Dance Theatre is Australia’s premier Indigenous performing arts company. Since 1989, the Sydney-based company has been presenting invigorating performances that embrace and celebrate Australian Indigenous culture, performing to over 50,000 people around Australia and the world.

One of Bangarra’s lead dancers, Daniel Riley McKinley, says the focus on identity gives dancers and audiences a chance to challenge preconceived ideas about Aboriginality, and to explore different ways of connecting to the past.

“Every year we do a show that challenges our identity and the issues involved in it,” he says. While the dancers are all from Indigenous bloodlines, Bangarra places traditional values and customs in a contemporary context, challenging the ways audiences are used to seeing Aboriginal culture. (more…)