Sunday, 31 July 2011

Kids' art

The perennial question: how long does kids’ art need to hang around?

Don’t get me wrong I love the kids’ stuff. My partner’s study is a veritable gallery of their productivity. And I have boxes labeled ‘Kids Best Art’ in the attic. We have panoramas, pottery, papier mache and paintings. I have had to cull as if we’d kept everything that all four had ever made, we’d never be able to fight our way into the house. One trick is to use the paintings as wrapping paper - but even that isn't fool proof as they insist "that's mine!" and take it back after the gift is unwrapped...

But how long do they need to be in a prominent position?

I got home from Tasmania last weekend to discover the small fry had gone to much trouble to put artistic signs on the bedroom doors – just in case we all forget where we belong at night time. Which might sound silly, but as you mothers will attest, there are nights that resemble musical beds and one could wonder if people actually do know where they belong.

But I take pride in attempting to keep our bedroom a haven in our ‘maison d’chaos’.  Even that one space is a constant battle as my partner redefines messy. If we were married, I could divorce him on account of this alone! (I’ve posted before that I’m a bit anal, and yet, the house is rarely tidy…. go figure.) We’ve even managed to have only one painting in the room, which is remarkable – trust me. We love art and now have to show restraint we’re so short on wall space.

So, the kids’ art. I’d love to hear how you manage it all.

Thursday, 28 July 2011


I was lucky enough to get to MONA on the weekend with one of my best mates, K. MONA is the Museum of Old and New Art, a new-ish establishment in Tasmania’s capital town, Hobart (it can’t be a city can it??). For those of you not from this neck of the woods, Tassie is the island state that hangs off the bottom of Australia. In fact, when people asked where we were from, the usual joke was “Australia”.

We flew down Friday afternoon. All week I’d been picturing us, decadently sipping bubbles in the business lounge, awaiting our flight. But sadly we were on the discount airline, greeted with “You have one minute to check in – you’re late!” and sent to the basement departure gate that smelt like wet carpet…. never mind, we were on our way! And thankfully could purchase a suitable (ie alcoholic) beverage on the plane.

Saturday morning had us on the first ferry to MONA – a slick white catamaran that served lattes and delicious baked goodies. We arrived, climbed the many stairs and we were away….

We took the advice of the staff and took the spiral stair case down the shaft that has been carved out of the sandstone cliff. The building itself is a visual feast worthy of time to wander and admire its perfect design, grandeur and masculinity. Vaulted walls of sheered sandstone are a perfect backdrop to the weathered steel stairs and ramps, and suddenly contrast with low, industrial-like gridded concrete ceilings. 

If the building is a visual feast, the art is a banquet for the mind. So many provocative ideas expressed in so many different ways. There are some Australian legends like Boyd and Nolan, ancient pieces from Egypt and Greece and an array of modern installations that explore topics as diverse as transgenderism, terrorism, euthanasia, poverty, all kinds of sexual behaviour including bestiality, presence, truth, the Dreamtime, rape as a war crime, religion, space, knowledge and race. No topic is taboo. (And probably not an outing for the kids....)

There are bean bags to lie in to watch ‘Pickled Porn’ projected onto the ceiling and several interactive exhibits (I won’t spoil it all for you). You navigate with an iPod like device that works out where you are and shows the art around you. Tap the picture and can you can read the title, artist, the idea, the ‘art wank’ or the layman’s point of view. You can hear interviews with the artist and in some cases, sound tracks that go with the piece. You even get to tap ‘Love’ or ‘Hate’.

The most hated piece is a machine that replicated the human digestive system. It’s fed twice a day and poos on to a plate at 2pm. We caught that bit… you could almost chew the smell it was so thick! The artist describes his work as a parody to all that crap that art often is. And is that art? Who knows but it certainly gets you thinking.

Look closely - it is a plate of machine poo.

If you ever get the chance, it’s well worth the trip.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Getting On

Yes, as in ‘age’ and not as in ‘coping’.

There’s nothing like kids to remind you that you’re not as young as you once were. Literally remind you.

For some reason, my kids have no trouble barging in to talk to me when I’m on the loo or getting out of the shower or changing. My 12 year old always covers her eyes and yells “Mum! That’s just gross!”
My standard response is “Actually sweetie, I think I cut quite a fine figure for a woman my age!”
Yes, I’m not entirely sure what that means either.

She is the usual culprit. She came back from a Scout camp complaining that the music at the disco ‘was soooo 2008’.  I can absolutely tell what’s 80s – in fact I can just about sing the entire decade - but knowing what’s recent and what’s a couple of years back – no chance.

Sometimes it comes as a complete back hander. My son once commented that I knew lots of stuff. Then ruined it by adding that it’s because I’m old.

And just in case I was under any illusion, on holiday last year in Malaysia, as I donned my newly acquired, one-size-kind-of-fits-all Ed Hardy string bikini, the 12 year old quipped “For god’s sake Mum, you’re not 16 anymore.” My revenge? I wore it!!!

Do your kids like to remind you that you’re getting old and decrepit (in their books anyway)? Or are mine just basically mean??

Monday, 18 July 2011

Dysfunctional Family

Now there’s a heading that defines tautology. Personally I’ve never seen the need to pre-empt anything to do with ‘family’ with ‘dysfunctional’. It’s a given.  Over the last few weeks, various girlfriends have bemoaned their unhelpful mothers, their uncommunicative siblings, their thoughtless in-laws and other assorted unsympathetic relatives. It seriously sounds like the same script, just different players.

Of course, I’m no exception. As a Mother Who Works, it’s not unusual for new acquaintances to enquire if I have extensive family support. Ha! Discussing my extended family’s interactions would require a whiteboard, some coloured pens, a variety of charts and diagrams and a series of long, tedious workshops.

What is it with relatives? I once had a client who felt they’d crossed the line and actually apologised for talking to me ‘like we were related!’ Says it all really, doesn’t it? There are no platitudes among those who share blood; it’s straight for the jugular with remarks delivering the surprising sting of a nasty paper cut.

Small wonder that I’ve gathered around me a happy group I describe as ‘the relatives who aren’t related.’ They really are the perfect kind – polite but honest, reliable but not dependant, caring but not cloying.

How are your rels? Go on – challenge my theory! Someone out there must dispute this…or confirm ?!

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

A very big glass of reality

We were watching a ridiculous ‘reality’ TV program when we were away with friends earlier in the year. It was about a couple of travel concierges who were struggling to ‘work together’ to pull off a ‘perfect’ weekend for the American Vogue travel writer. (My excessive use of ‘quotation marks’ is quite deliberate…) They looked like they’d had more ‘work’ done on themselves than they’d ever actually exerted.

So here are these two women, who have ‘issues’, talking about how each other makes them ‘feel’ but they manage to ‘work well together when it really counts’. That’s right, a review by the Vogue travel writer – not the UN solution to Sudan or Sri Lanka.

To top off this inanity, the travel writer and her boyfriend arrive at this glamorous ‘ranch’ in an extravagant sports car, ready to lap up the luxury of the tastefully arranged flowers, the French Champagne, the romantic picnic, the ‘couples’ spa treatment/retreat, the horse ride (‘he’ was quite pleased with the idea of being a cowboy – but couldn’t ride to save himself), the limousine ride to the spectacular restaurant, blah, blah, blah. You get the picture.

She, ‘naturally’, has a mane of thick blonde hair, is fashionably thin (but still eats everything….), a Botox-smooth face, veneer-perfect teeth in the bee-stung pout, beautifully dressed and oozing insincere gratitude. He is ‘mature’, ruggedly handsome, very metropolitan and just a little bit goofy. They both look more 40s than 20s. (I should add, I’m not absolutely certain she was the travel writer for US Vogue….but she was from some fancy-pants magazine doing a critique.)

It was all just too much.
“I reckon they need a really big glass of reality”, I commented.
“Yeah,” agreed Trevor. “Like a couple of kids. That ought to do it.”
“Mmmm. Maybe twins. Oh, I know, one with disability. “ I added. “With some serious behavioural issues.”

Yes, we agreed, that should do it....

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Cool.... or creepy?

I had that new Shellac put on for my son’s 18th party (actually, in truth because the little one had a party at the shopping centre and I had to fill a couple of hours) and that lasted 4 weeks. Which I reckon was pretty good. The colours aren’t quite as perfect my Chanel, which is a down side, but the lack of chipping – even when scrubbing baking dishes -  is well worth the compromise.

But the gel had to come off, so I signed up to get that done and the new nail wraps put on. They’re like stickers that need to be heated and then applied with pressure using a little rubber instrument.

It’s taken me a few days to get used to them. At a glance, it does look like my nails have been ripped from their cosy, warm little beds and replaced with slim pieces of metal.

Willy at work suggested I could perform surgery bare-handed. I suggested I could slit his throat with one flick of my finger – Terminator style.
[We have that kind of relationship. We used to work together – in truth, I was his boss. One day he decided to ‘Reply All’ to an all-staff email asking if anyone had any work experience kids because they needed some menial help.
“Mother Who Works could help. She’s not very good but what she lacks in ability, she makes up with enthusiasm.”
In revenge, I also hit ‘Reply All’ with:
“Willy, you’re fired.”]

We went to a party on Saturday night and the only person who was fascinated by these strange new nails was the waitress….

I think I like them…what do you reckon? Cool? Or creepy?

Monday, 4 July 2011


I love books. If I had more time, I’d read more of them, but as it happens, it takes me weeks to get through one. But I still plough on. There are some books that I’ve enjoyed so much, I need to own a copy – even if I’ve lent it to someone and then forgotten who (like Still Alice!) – I then have to buy another copy, just so I have it.

So it was with some care that I’ve spent far too long re-arranging the bookshelf (just one repository for books around home) according to the colour of their spine. They just look so much neater, don’t they? All lined up and 2cm back from the edge of shelf.  You can see the treadmill is right in front, so often as I’m running, I’m planning refinement – The God of Small Things should be closer to The Dressmaker – that kind of thing. Yes – perhaps that time should have been spent more productively – like reading!!

Mel at work recently lent me Chelsea Handler’s ‘Are You There Vodka? It’s me, Chelsea.’ So wrong. So funny. Well worth the time.

One of my colleagues at work had a parcel delivered to her by dispatch. ‘I wonder what this is?’ she pondered as she took the parcel and busied herself ripping in to it. Meanwhile, the guy from dispatch is standing there, staring at her in disbelief. I try and be subtle as I whisper over the partition ‘I think he’s waiting for you to say thank you…’
‘Oh god!’ she says, genuinely surprised, ‘Sorry Greg. Thank you.’ He wanders off with a shake of his head.
‘What’d you get?” I ask.
‘I’d forgotten I ordered this book,’ she said holding it up!!!


The Moroccan Bath

The girls and I have come up to Dubai for a few days to escape the Melbourne winter. It's in the 40s so we've thawed out - quickly. ...