Archive for March, 2010

31 March, 2010

Kitchen Treasure

A friend of mine told me she was off to a Tupperware party on Friday evening.

“Wow, are they back in mode?” I asked.

“I have no idea… but I would like one of their fabulous containers,” she replied.

I guess she didn’t come from a family of sentimental hoarders like I do.  A recent turnout of the kitchen cupboards of my father’s house yielded a multitude of my mother’s Tupperware containers in different shapes, sizes and colours.  I’ve always associated Tupperware with the late 70s, early 80s, garish colours and my mother’s baking.  The containers may look a little worn but are still in great working condition.  And because all things are cyclical, their garish, retro colours are quite now, and I am now the baker in the family.

Excitingly, the kitchen cupboard cleanout also unearthed a Japanese thermos/dispenser in pristine working condition.  It doesn’t seem particularly useful in this day and age but its red, yellow and white flowers will nevertheless be brightening up my kitchen.

Oh, and some noodle and medicinal tea packaging also caught my eye.

30 March, 2010

Les Fragments d’Antonin

Sometimes, synchronicity kicks in and you stumble across a film which ensnares you, even through the fug of a foreign language (French, in this case) and other Net-related distractions.

So it was when sometime last week, I left the television on after the late news on SBS, Australia’s multicultural and multilingual broadcaster, while otherwise distracted.  A sombre, misty credit sequence began and a male voice noted the many people he had killed, and asked: “how long does it take to make a man and how long does it take to destroy him?”

So far, so serial killer – possibly in a World War One context, I thought as the bodies of dead soldiers in familiar uniforms and well-known landscapes filled the screen, and paid the film Les Fragments d’Antonin no more attention.  But I have always found the French language pleasant listening and left the movie on in the background.

But before long, I was captivated by the story of Antonin Verset, a messenger pigeon carrier during the War and by 1919, a catatonic patient at a hospital located in the French countryside, and the efforts of Professor Labrousse to rehabilitate him.  First time writer and director Gabriel Le Boumin does not overlook the battlefield, or the rupture to society’s basic fabric, but his focus is on the savage mental and emotional toll wreaked by the Great War.  Antonin’s rehabilitation is recounted step-by-step, and the causes of his trauma are slowly relayed in surreal flashbacks.

There are no forces of good or evil in this film.  It is simply a world gone mad – an observation made wearily by the steely glass-eyed captain whom Antonin meets during his travels.  And in this mad, mad world, each person must find their own way to survive physically, mentally and emotionally.  Most do not.  Like other characters, Madelaine, a nurse, who is more or less physically and mentally intact, has her own deep, emotional wounds to deal with.

The cinematography is gorgeous; the flashbacks set during the War are recounted in cold greys and blues while the post-War rehabilitation scenes are imbued with warm gold and terracotta tones.

Heartfelt, beautifully and unsentimentally told.  Unsurprisingly, it was nominated for a César in 2007.

Photos from here.

29 March, 2010

A Dash of Mustard

…and denim, Liberty print and nautical stripes to go please!

Marseille label Sessun printemps été 2010 from here.

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25 March, 2010

A Room of One’s Own

24 March, 2010

Anna Wili

Yet another Anna making beautiful things.

Sydney-based artist Anna Wili Highfield makes birds and animals from paper and copper.

You can see more of her work here.

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23 March, 2010

Anna Emilia

Finnish artist Anna Emilia Laitinen resides in Iceland and creates these beautiful, tranquil, folk-influenced images of woods, seas, animals and people.

She’s also as obsessed with tea as I am.  Speaking of which, I’m off to get a cuppa.

You can see more of her work here and here.

20 March, 2010

Granada is my kinda town

Ahh, summer in EspañaCafé and jamon that rendered me speechless, cold beer and languid wine, a weighty, quirky, macabre history, knock-your-socks-off architecture, fashion, textiles and art.

Barcelona…  Lively, energetic, vibrant, hipper-than-thou, pared-down style, its organic, swooping over-the-top modernisme curves, cutting-edge textiles, warm, friendly folk and the coolest kids in the world.  The ghosts of Picasso, Miró, Gaudí and a thousand artists haunt this beautiful, creative city.   It’s enough to make a girl buy a wholly inappropriate orange and green swirly patterned jumpsuit, wander off the beaten track and almost get mugged (a big gracias to the lovely old ladies out for an afternoon stroll who saved me from a couple of young punks with designs on my camera by appearing in the nick of time in the Parc de Montjuïc).

Madrid… Colder and formal,  with grand boulevards, architecture and plazas to rival those of Paris.  And the Museo del Prado – oh the Prado! with its radiant, terrible, sinister, lively, questioning, weighty, calm, infinitely beautiful works by Velázquez, Caravaggio, El Greco and Goya (to name but four)… the oh-so-very cool, modern Centro de Arte Reina Sofía and Picasso’s stunning Guernica, subjected to the indignity of the same cacophonous chattering, demanding, snap-happy mob which beseiges the Mona Lisa… And the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza with its Old Masters, Cubist and lovely Fauvist, Impressionist and Post-Impressionist works.  Madrid could stupefy and render a girl senseless with Stendhal’s Syndrome.

Little Toledo in Don Quixote country. Once the country’s capital, beloved by El Greco and site of one of the oldest mosques in the Western world.   Now increasingly a ghost town, the local populace driven out by heavy rents caused by tourism.  Wonderful winding, oft-deserted cobbled medieval lanes where I had my most memorable meal in an unpretentious café catering to the local construction workers and the more adventurous tourist.   Fried chiperones, paella and a creme caramel.  Finished off with a café cortado, a Spanish espresso with a shot of milk.

But I lost my heart to Granada of Andalucia.  “Oh yeah, that big castle,” said an Australian acquaintance whose mother was born in Granada.  “I forget the name.  [oh to be so unmoved by and detached from the glories of Alhambra!] Did you go?”   Yes, I certainly did visit that ‘big castle’, the war fortress of Alhambra which watches over Granada from the nearby hill of La Sabica.  That grand, intricately constructed Moorish castle which once housed kings and queens, sultans and their concubines.  With its elaborately planned garden of roses, oleanders, magnolias, cypress and orange trees, and a hundred other types of flora each carefully chosen and planted for the perfection of their intermingling scents.   With its gurgling fountains and water channels, built so that wherever you are within the fortress or its gardens, you can hear and be soothed by the tinkling musical laughter of water.

In Granada, the heart of flamenco country where come evening in the shadow of Alhambra, you will be serenaded by student guitarists plucking exquisite notes from their instrument for a few euro.   Where for twenty euro, you can join the masses in one of three evening sessions to watch the gypsies dance in the world famous caves of Sacro Monte.  Where you can purchase una caña and be presented with a hefty plate of delicious tapas, free of charge.  Where it is not surprising to see young children, their parents and their grandparents – three generations of one family – out together for a promenade around town at 1am during weekends.   Where the people drink to be merry, convivial, to dance, to relax, rather than to engage in a drunken fisticuffs.

The heady combination of food, music, architecture and history, the indelible cultural influence of the MoopsMoors, a young, lively university community, the friendly, laid-back vibe of my hostel and the people I met there, and the spiritual energy which crackled around the town was intoxicating. Something had compelled me to visit Granada and the Alhambra as a last farewell to Europe.   And surprisingly (or not), whether wandering the quiet, shabby streets of the Albaicín, dancing the night away in a little bar to modern and traditional Spanish music, pausing in the Alhambra’s Generalife Gardens to take in the mingled scents of roses, oranges and myrtle or listening to the haunting sounds of an intricate flamenco guitar riff beneath an almost full, bright moon, everything felt like it was in its right place.

19 March, 2010


I came across Takeshi ‘Beat’ Kitano many years ago during a foreign film binge which lasted throughout most of my university years.  Then, I was blown away by Hana-bi (trans. fireworks), one of the many movies he has written, directed and starred in.  Aside from his work as a director, writer and actor, Kitano-san is a television personality and comedian in his native Japan.  And just because those things don’t seem to keep him sufficiently occupied, he also paints.

The Fondation Cartier in Paris is showcasing his painterly work until September 2010.

Images from here.

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18 March, 2010

Red Leather and Sequins

By gum, cropped red leather trousers and three-quarter length sequinned leggings suddenly look so right.

Isabel Marant RTW Fall 2010 from here.

17 March, 2010

Les Lalanne

Whimsy as a natural progression from art nouveau?  Possibly.   French husband and wife sculptors Claude and François-Xavier Lalanne certainly seem to build bridge between the two, creating things of strength and beauty albeit with a wry, underlying sense of humour.

Les Arts Decoratifs are showing a retrospective of their work for all those lucky to be in Paris or thereabouts from 18 March.

Pictures from here and here.