The forecast for many days past has been rain and that theme persists until the end of the week. Strangely for this part of the world, though, the sun has broken through and, although the cold descends at around four, it has been surprisingly pleasant outside.

As a result, I have not been able to avoid the gardening—a long list of tasks that has built up over a considerable time. Of course, none of the jobs has been as taxing as imagined and the satisfaction (oh! the satisfaction) of looking back and seeing what has been done is enormous. Pruning, spraying, mulching and raking have given the garden that tended, loved appearance.

There’s always that thought, whether it’s after gardening or indoor getting-ducks-in-a-row things: ‘why didn’t I do this earlier?’ The towels no longer tumble out of the linen cupboard, you can find a shirt to wear that you actually like, the path to the front door is clear or the to-do list is shrinking. All these things make the daily grind less abrasive.

So there’s a push and pull, it seems, between the effort involved in doing those bigger jobs and the hassle they save down the track. Is the ideal a perfect balance—a par, in golfing terms? Work on big jobs equals effort saved? Or is the larger work involved to make life easier less onerous than the angst? Or, is it easier to add up all the daily annoyances and, hopefully come in under, effort- wise, the toil of getting the big stuff out of the way?

Such musing, and I expect I should have been home knocking off a few more pressing tasks, large or small, rather than thinking about it! Haha!

Until next time,


Metro café

It’s busy already at fifteen minutes past opening. I have ordered my coffee and forgotten my glasses – only one of those happens on a daily basis. The coffee machine slurps and hisses, psyching up for a big day. The baristas, Leticia and Hannah, gird their loins, I imagine. They work as fast as they can for many hours. The cups and teaspoons clatter in the distance like chirping birds greeting the Thursday morning. Mark, the manager, laughs from behind the counter – is is joyous and a reminder that life is good.

The people next to me eat warmed almond croissants and the smell is enticing. One day soon, I tell myself. My coffee arrives, delivered by the lovely Irene, a Greek girl who delights in family, music and, it seems, her job in hospitality.

I sit at the bench in the window – my usual spot. I overlook the main commercial street of Mount Gambier and the original stone civic buildings – arches and columns decorating doorways and windows. It’s not overdone, though. They had an eye for balance. The modern gallery spaces, carved out of the disused theatre, echo inside. It’s a pleasing juxtaposition.

The sound builds – voices, noises of industry, cutlery on crockery, music in the background. It is called hubbub for a reason – the dull waxing and waning has a bubbly feel. Mark laughs again as he serves the first of the post-exercise class that come in on Tuesdays and Thursdays. It’s a big group – always good to get your order in before them. Breakfasters begin to arrive, sliding into the prized booths and fluttering over menus. There is a brightly wrapped gift, too. Someone’s birthday, perhaps.

My coffee cup is empty. I barely noticed it, but feel warm inside. I am also nurtured by routine, familiarity, and the care I receive. My coffee may cost $5.50 but I receive much more than I pay for.

Until next time,


The Long View

I visited a garden yesterday. It is a growing project, in all senses of the word, being lovingly carved out of thirteen acres of sandstone ground in the central goldfields of Victoria.

The owner has been there for ten years and is in the midst of creating an, in parts, formal and statuesque and, in others, cottage-y oasis for herself. In the face of excessive wets and drys, kangaroos, rabbits and the sheer volume of labour, the garden takes shape year by year.

It is a work in progress but not a work of days, weeks or months in duration, such as is the majority of mine. This is a decades-long project, if it is ever finished at all.

There is an amazing sense of planning at play here. And the most remarkable patience. The vision is large – both broad-sweeping and detailed. Taking a space, at whatever size, and recreating it in a new form takes incredible imagination – three-dimensional, artistic and in colour. And it is all complicated by the patience required. Nothing settles quickly. Seasons, years, decades go by before the outcome is glimpsed, let alone realised and confirmed as successful or not.

My comfortable time scale is short. I tend to dive into things now. Essentially, I am impatient to see results, change and development. My visit yesterday heightened my awareness of other ways of being. I can’t promise a change in my behaviour, or a magnificent garden, but I am intrigued by the contrast in approach. I see there is a vast continuum between making instantly and building over time.

I apologise to the gardeners among my family and friends for never fully appreciating the extent of the long-term vision and patience required to create their beautiful places. I do now. Thank you.

Until later,


Space (and not the above-earth type)

I am so incredibly fortunate to have a studio – a space given over to painting where I can immerse myself, leave works in progress, fill with colours and innumerable bits and pieces. It is a precious place.

It is quite small, though, and lately I have found my brain is squished while I’m in there. Consequently, the art practice is also becoming compressed – I feel the works are less free and expansive. At times, I procrastinate because of the stepping around stuff which takes the edge off the enjoyment. Although I can pin a large canvas to the wall (amazing) I can only fit one wet piece on the floor (where I tend to work) and then I’m hamstrung.

I feel uncomfortable about complaining, as to even have a place to paint is such a luxury. I am interested, though, in the effect that squeezing one’s brain and limiting physical movement has on creativity, motivation and, perhaps ultimately, mood. The mind is a complex and fickle thing that seems to react to everything – diet, hormones and chemicals, stress, weather to name a few. How ridiculously un-robust it is! Has it not evolved adequately to cope with modern life?

I’m sure I’m not alone. Holiday marketers know the attraction of an open world or expansive views – countryside, beaches, wilderness. The mind does well when it can spread. But the question is, how do I achieve that in my precious work environment?

I don’t think I know the answer. It’s something I will continue to ponder. Perhaps I need a massive tidy-up (actually, that is probably essential). Perhaps just being aware is half the battle.

Until next time, find some space,


Filling in time

Recently, I was up during the night. This is a practice that occurs somewhere between ‘occasionally’ and ‘not irregularly’. I don’t mind it at all and I find it preferable to lying in bed awake. In very rare instances, I turn on the telly – usually to see if there is sport (I love Wimbledon time!) or this weird and intriguing art auction show I stumbled over once (never seen it again!)

The other night I did go on a search for the art show, an unsuccessful pursuit, but I did find, much to my surprise, Skippy!! It was a blast from the past that nearly knocked me backwards on the couch. The colours were washed out, the clarity of the picture what you’d expect and, had I had the inclination to watch it, I’m sure I would have found the storyline familiar.

The television station is obviously filling in time at that hour of the night and Skippy is apparently their go-to. It made me think about what I choose to do to fill in time. The answer is not always something to be proud of, I found.

As an (overly) organised person, someone who is chronically early, and someone whose husband works late, I find there is quite a bit of time to fill in across the day. There’s painting work, of course, and the usual jobs to keep the place running but, outside those things …. um ….. crosswords from the Age, maybe interacting with music and, as it turns out, a LOT of clock watching! I certainly don’t feel the need to ‘fill the unforgiving minute with sixty seconds worth of distance run’ as the overly idealistic Rudyard Kipling advocated (I am a big supporter of down time), but there could be a little more ‘fiddling around’ rather than ‘sitting around’! I feel a resolute moment coming on!

Maybe I should buy a box-set of Skippy.

Until next time,



Fifty years ago, for a period at least, Slinkys were THE THING. You remember – those metal springs that flipped like water from child-sized hand to hand and walked, as if by magic, down stairs without assistance. When they got tangled, as happened periodically, it was best to rush to Mum or Dad as any ham-fistedness could lead to a kink and, after that, they were never the same – they would rest in their cylinder shape with a tilt that was aesthetically and emotionally upsetting. Perhaps they were deliberately fragile – an early kind of built-in redundancy – but I choose to believe not. They were a highly desired item and I loved them.

I was in the post office yesterday , waiting for my turn and gazing at the incredible range of retail items now held in the shop, resisting the Darrell Lea chocolate bullets and marvelling at the products of the television-advertised revolution. And there, amongst toys and books, was a spring, a Slinky copy, in rainbow plastic, no doubt weighing mere grams and selling for the princely sum of $2.99.

I’d hate to suggest that kids these days should miss out on the joys of a ridiculously long coiled toy but I did wonder about the tactile and functional features of the new variant. Would it feel substantial? Would it slip and slide like the original? Would it progress down inclines under its own steam? And, most importantly, was it worth coveting and waiting for?

So much about the modern day is wonderful, so much has improved since the seventies, but I have to say, with all the stubbornness and crustiness of middle age, that the Slinky has definitely suffered.

Until next time,


Coming back

It’s funny how things happen.

My blog has been on my mind. As each week has passed I have been aware it was becoming longer and longer between drinks, or words, or even thoughts. Possibly the last of those is why I’ve been off air. A long time between thoughts.

Maybe that’s because I’ve been busy and done less ruminating. Probably a good thing, but I do like to spend time thinking. I also like to be busy, so somewhere there’s a balance.

Anyway, yesterday two things happened. Firstly, a dear reader said she missed the blog. Very kind and heart-warming. Secondly, I received an email from my blog host telling me that they would now be charging GST on top of my subscription (not so heart-warming). It is the receipt of the email (not the content) plus my reader’s message that have bumped me in to action. Two prompts on the one day after nothing for months. Ha! What are the chances?

I’m preparing for exhibitions – the painting, the transport, the publicity, the writing, the wrapping, the photography and, most of all, the girding of the loins. The fear, and it is that strong, that my work may be completely out of step with what speaks to people underlies so much at this pointy end of the process. Of course, it’s too late to change anything, and I actually love the frisson of the static performance that is a show, but I don’t want to be embarrassed. Who does?

So, in order to lessen the intensity, my plan is to get back to having a range of irons in the fire, offsetting the all-eggs-in-one-basket trap. This blog is an important part of that so, for better or worse, I’m here again.

So, until later, but not too much later,


The brain’s a funny thing

The brain’s a funny thing. It’s not always the same. It doesn’t require consistency but, rather, has phases when it needs something different. Sometimes it puts stuff out. Sometimes it needs ideas put in. In the long run, it probably balances, but there are definitely marked periods of one or the other.

For me, anyway.

Recently, it’s been a fairly intense period of getting ideas out. There are several exhibitions for which I’m both creating work and nutting out the logistics of getting the paintings done, stretched and framed, and transported within the required timeframes. It’s going well, I think, which is comforting.

Yesterday, though, I suddenly felt I had reached the bottom of the well – only temporarily, but I was definitely looking into an empty bucket for the afternoon. I decided it would be a good chance to replenish some of the putting out with a few moments of bringing in.

I put on a podcast – one of my favourites which gets far less listening than I’d like – and lay on the couch to soak up the new thoughts. Within about four minutes I was asleep and stayed that way until the final few seconds of the episode.

Obviously this is not one of those periods meant for taking in, for receiving, for refilling. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it. I went back to the studio this morning, less empty because of a night’s sleep, but with no monumental new learning to apply to my work. Perhaps today? Ha! Perhaps not.

Until later,


Lost week

I’ve shortened my usual Christmas holiday sojourn to come home and do some painting. It may turn out to be unnecessary in the long run but, as part of the stress management for the four exhibitions this year, I think it’s a good idea.

It’s not new to talk about this strange seven days – that time between Christmas and New Year – as a lost week. Someone described it to me recently as a time when not much is expected of us. It’s certainly easy to swim in the days, lose track of the dates and the names, and waft around in a most delightful manner. Usually, I spend it drifting – reading, napping, watching cricket. It will be strange to actually try to achieve something.

I remember encountering some business guru who felt the lost week was a great chance to get a head start into the new year. She felt it should not be wasted but, rather, be used to reflect, evaluate, plan and prepare to turn the first page of the new calendar with the right attitude well established. That sounds like a northern hemisphere thing – I, in Australia, seem to be far too summery and soporific to be so directed and so demanding of self. And yet, here I am, eschewing the sun on the deck and entering the studio.

The cricket is still on, though, and there will still be free periods while paint is drying. I’ll enjoy my lost week despite choosing to work. It seems to deserve as much. It is a precious and unique time.

Enjoy your own lost week and best wishes for 2023,


Handel’s Messiah

My family’s love affair with George Frideric Handel’s monumental Messiah began around forty years ago when our school choir presented excerpts at various concerts. Since then, all of us have sung in many performances, either as choristers or soloists. To say we know the music well is an understatement.

On Sunday, I saw the Melbourne Symphony Chorus with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and soloists perform their annual Messiah to a full and enthusiastic house at Hamer Hall. It was a fabulous performance – but a little different.

A major choral work is, of course, made up of the vocal elements that we love, but it is also a demonstration of marvellous orchestration (that being the way the composer directs the different instruments to play). Most commonly, we hear the orchestration by Handel himself, or that of others faithful to the original. Sunday’s performance, however, was not only led by, but also orchestrated by, Sir Andrew Davis, a contemporary English conductor who has worked with the Melbourne Symphony over a number of years.

The singing by chorus and soloists was absolutely beautiful. It was also utterly familiar – just as we like it. It was a comforting cloak that warmed and protected us. The accompaniment, however, was new and fresh. It made use of different colours and combinations of instruments, turned the dominance of strings on its head and contained non-traditional elements (mostly successful). The orchestration was inventive, modern, totally fabulous, and required a new ‘listening’ that we often allow to fall by the wayside in our repeated experiences.

It made me wonder: what else happens underneath that we forget to listen for, or look for? We are accustomed to the RUOK movement that draws attention to the darker side of what might be under a veneer – and so it should. It is an important and vital awareness. What else, though, can be under a surface – what wonders, what delights, what innovation? What fun awaits if we decide to delve a little deeper?

Until next time, and a safe and happy Christmas to you,


Sydney, December

I’m in Sydney for a day or so. It’s the morning and I’ve just been out for a coffee, walking up Great North Road which runs from Five Dock into Abbotsford. The day is still, a little overcast and a pleasing 22 degrees at the moment.

It was school drop-off time when I stepped out and parents, grandparents and tiny siblings were releasing their charges into the care of the Abbotsford Public School from the clutter of cars, prams and bikes. The lady with the stop sign asked whether I’d like to cross the road and, when I declined, wished me a happy day. I walked past older-style houses, no doubt having stood since this suburb was far more ‘outer west’ than it is now; new townhouse builds with blocky architecture and tiny front lawns; and both well-tended gardens and those struggling with the recent spring growing period.

The cafe was busy, despite customary working hours being underway. I ordered my latte and sat at the narrow band of tables along the corridor. While I drank, a toddler secured a gingerbread man, two tradies obtained morning tea with a couple of flat whites, the baristas worked like navvies, and ham and cheese croissants (toasted) were filing through the sandwich press.

I stopped at the local IGA – quite crowded, to my surprise – and the Italian fruit and veg shop where I picked up a punnet of scarlet strawberries. The checkout girl had an authentic European accent.

Jacaranda flowers, both freshly fallen and already turned to mush by yesterday’s late storm, littered the footpath – such a memory from my Perth childhood. Frangipanis were in bloom and the verges still green, summer being a new phenomenon. Perhaps, in this environment more tropical than southern South Australia, there is enough regular rain to maintain that until winter comes again?

I arrived ‘home’ and now sit at the table with the balcony door open and fresh air floating into the apartment. There are no insects to bother me. The view is predominantly of trees and a glimpse of Chicken and Egg Bay. The traffic noise is perceptible but distant. It is peaceful. I am happy.

Until next time,



Technology is science and, as I was reminded yesterday, at its most basic level it is still built on the arrangements and interactions of ones and zeros. That is not something I understand – the coding, the creation of the smooth and intuitive daily relationship we have with our devices. But I do understand the human element of these incredible modern day developments.

Because of the technology that envelopes us, we are connected in ways we would never otherwise be. I was inspired to think about this by a posted comment and quick text conversation with an old friend. We have known each other for fifty years but, for much of that time, were not in contact. Now, thanks to blogs, phones, emails and the like, we are in touch again. It’s a small miracle when you think about it.

I know there are times when elements of technology are used in terrible ways. We hear of bullying, of hacking, of fraud and theft and scamming. I choose to believe, though, that there is much more good will in the world, and across a much larger area, than there might have been before. I certainly think there is a lot more laughter—humerous texts, entertaining memes and hysterical videos being shared around the globe.

Perhaps, I’m naïve. I certainly can’t claim to spend much time surfing and scrolling but I do garner joy from the casual messages of loved ones, from images of art I’d never see otherwise, and the spread of (carefully assessed but) often useful information.

Yes, technology is a science but any cold and disinterested elements have been softened by human needs and desires. We do look for connection and technology provides us with so many options of how to pursue that.

So thanks for reading. I am thankful that we can cross paths this way.

Until next time we talk,



Podcast day today while I was on the road. I was listening to artist and educator Nicholas Wilton on his Art2Life show. Often he has guests and they have some interesting discussions. Today, though, it was just Nicholas with some thoughts.

Nicholas was musing about the fact that in art, particularly when we are new to the endeavour, it can be paralysing if you don’t know where you’re headed with a particular work or, I suppose, any aspect of an art career. Procrastination, stagnation, avoidance can result. It is, Wilton believes, all about making choices. He feels that it doesn’t really matter what choice you make, as long as you just make one and keep going.

Both the right choice or the wrong choice will give you feedback about your direction. In a painting you may need to do some remedial work if the choice produces something you don’t like. If you do like the result, that feedback will encourage further exploration. I suppose, in decisions about an overall artistic journey, the feedback will indicate to you whether the choice has assisted in your progress or hindered. In the latter case, you may decide to remedy the situation or take a different path next time there’s an opportunity to decide. Alternatively, if all seems to be working, we forge on.

Indecision, a lack of making a choice, can stop us in our tracks. So grab a colour, a brush, and do something. The result and your assessment of that will guide your next step.

Until later,


The evening

I don’t recall ever writing my blog at a time other than in the first hours of the day. As a definite ‘morning person’ I do tend to get most things done before I start to flag mid-arvo. I guess we all have a best time. I have even heard some people function optimally at night! Fancy that!

Yet, here I am having a bite of dinner in the Lord Melbourne Hotel in North Adelaide and venturing into the new realm of evening creativity!

I sometimes wonder whether a claim to be a morning, afternoon or otherwise person is just a way to let oneself off being ‘on the go’ for the whole day. I think that’s actually rather sensible.

I’m a big believer in down time. In this crazy day and age, being ‘on the go’ seems too highly prized and time where not much measurable is achieved is considered a lesser way to while away moments in life.

If us morning people can start slowing down around four, and those miraculous afternoon/evening people can warm up gradually, so much the better. As long as everyone gets a bit of stillness or slowness in their day, I’m happy.

And that, of course, is the MAIN THING. Hahaha!

Until next time,



Once a habit gets lost, it’s often easier not to start again than to rev up something that is a challenge, even though we know it’s a valuable pursuit.

The gym is an example. Finding a way to fit that back in to mornings (and yes, for me it simply HAS to be morning – before I can decide not to go!) is proving tricky so it’s yet to happen. Even reading, in theory such a large part of my life, has dropped by the wayside. I know it will just take a conscious effort for a while and the habit will come back but knowing and doing are different things.

And my blog – well, you can see by the dates (September 22 was the last) it’s been a long time between drinks for something that once happened more or less weekly! It’s too good for my thinking and reflection, though, to let it disappear so I’m starting again and asking you all to keep me accountable!

I’m not crazy enough to set any sort of strict and punitive demand for myself other than making writing a regular part of my creative life once again. It complements and contributes to my art practice and encourages me to read (bonus!) and listen more widely. All that is good stuff.

So, simply knowing that there are a few of you out there reading will spur me on to the positive reinstatement of one of my joys.

Thank you, in anticipation!

Until later (and again soon after that!),