Artist hopes new stamps will inspire Australians to learn of Tiwi culture

Posted October 18, 2017 15:34:51

A Northern Territory artist whose work will be celebrated on a new stamp says he hopes it will inspire other Australians to learn about his culture.

The works of two NT artists — Bede Tungutalum and Banduk Marika — have been chosen to appear on new stamps that will be put into circulation next week.

Bede Tungutalum, 65, lives on Bathurst Island and helped pioneer Tiwi Islands art sales.

“It is exciting for me,” he said after news of the new stamps was released.

He said he thought his success would encourage people to learn more about his culture.

“Yes it does,” he said, adding that he also hoped his success would inspire school children in the Tiwi Islands.

“They do [see my success] at school, they learn these things,” he said.

He praised the choices Australia Post made for the stamps.

“It was their choice, and they chose the right ones, the best ones, which meant a lot to us,” he said.

Both of Tungutalum’s works concern death

Two of his works were selected, including one showing Pukumani poles, which represent carved poles that play an important role in Tiwi burial rites.

The other also concerns death, and tells the dreamtime story of Purrukapali, his wife Bima and son Jinani.

In the story Purrukapali learns his son has died due to the actions of Bima, and takes him to the water to declare that everyone eventually dies.

Banduk Marika comes from north-east Arnhem Land and works in linocut, screen prints and on bar.

Two of her works feature on the new stamps.

One of them, titled Guyamala, is a linocut and screen print and relates to her dreamtime stories, Australia Post said in a statement.

The other is titled Waterlili and Gaya and was produced in 1983.

The new stamps will be available from participating post offices, via mail order or online from October 24.

Australia Post philatelic manager Michael Zsolt said he believed the stamp issue highlighted the “richness and beauty inherent in the artworks” and also the creative spirit of the artists.

Topics: indigenous-aboriginal-and-torres-strait-islander, arts-and-entertainment, people, wurrimiyanga-0822, yirrkala-0880

Aussie life in years gone by a hit for online audiences

Posted October 02, 2017 10:00:00

Scenes showing smoking in cabs, driving sans seatbelt and Perth without freeways all feature in a series of films made to promote life in Australia.

The makers surely didn’t consider it at the time, but the films have become a valuable time capsule for present and future generations.

The short documentaries were made in the 1940s through to the 1970s in conjunction with the Commonwealth Film Unit, which later became Film Australia.

“Around that time there were a lot of films that were made for an overseas audience to try and attract people from the UK and Europe to come and live in Australia,” Beth Taylor, online content producer with the National Film and Sound Archive, told ABC Radio Perth.

She said the films were “extremely successful at the time” and were now gaining a new audience on NSFA’s YouTube channel.

“We often get comments from people saying they remember seeing these films and that may have been the reason why they came to Australia in the first place,” Ms Taylor said.

“A lot of people really love seeing things that are still around, or maybe things that are no longer around.”

Highlights in the online archive include 1961’s Another Sunny Day In Western Australia, which depicts daily life in Perth and shows off the attractions of the sunlit city.

A 1972 film directed by Greg Reading shows a day in the life of Perth taxi driver Jim McKenzie.

At the time it would have been fairly unremarkable, but it depicts a now-vanished world where passengers and the driver happily smoke in the cab, children ride without seatbelts, and a trip into the city cost just $1.50.

A 1947 film about the University of Western Australia makes much of the fact that it was founded as the only free university in the British Empire.

The narrator describes “an atmosphere of culture and learning that might well develop into the Oxford or Cambridge of the Southern Hemisphere”.

“What I find so interesting about these films is that they capture things that they didn’t realise they were capturing,” Ms Taylor said.

“There are places that people still really care about — fashion, hair, cars.

“It’s a really fun thing for people to look at.”

The NFSA has created playlists for each Australian capital city and encouraged the public to let them know if they recognised a house or someone they knew in the films.

“We get a lot of people identifying streets and bridges and maybe even family members,” Ms Taylor said.

“We are putting more and more online.

“I think it’s really important for people’s identity to see how things were so they can make sense of their lives.”

Topics: history, short-film, documentary, human-interest, people, perth-6000

Hugh Hefner in his own words

Posted September 28, 2017 15:21:23

Playboy founder Hugh Hefner was a colourful character who ruled the Playboy mansion, packed full of scantily-clad women.

The multimillionaire has now died at 91, but he was desired by both men and women and before his death said “in my wildest dreams I could not have imagined a sweeter life”.

In 1992, the Playboy king told The New York Times he was most proud “that I changed attitudes towards sex. That nice people can live together now. That I decontaminated the notion of premarital sex. That gives me great satisfaction.”

Hefner vowed he would never grow up and said staying young was what it was all about.

Here are some of the most colourful quotes from the original Playboy.

“Sex is the driving force on the planet. We should embrace it, not see it as the enemy.”

“The notion that Playboy turns women into sex objects is ridiculous. Women are sex objects. If women weren’t sex objects there wouldn’t be another generation. It’s the attraction between the sexes that makes the world go round. That’s why women wear lipstick and short skirts.” — Hefner in an interview with the New York Daily Post in 2010.

“I don’t have dinner parties — I eat dinner in bed.”

“I have about 100 pairs of pyjamas. I like to see people dressed comfortably.”

“My best pick-up line is ‘My name is Hugh Hefner’.”

“If you let society and your peers define who you are, you’re less for it.”

“I have no plans to retire. It’s the perfect combination of work and play that keeps you young. If I quit work it would be the beginning of the end for me.”

“Being attacked by right-wing Christians did not bother me. Being attacked by liberal feminists did.”

“My life is an open book. With illustrations.” — Hefner in an interview with Esquire magazine in 2002.

“The interesting thing is how one guy, through living out his own fantasies, is living out the fantasies of so many other people.”

“I would like to think that I will be remembered as someone who had some positive impact on the sociosexual values of his time. And I think I’m secure and happy in that.”

“I’m very comfortable with the nature of life and death, and that we come to an end. What’s most difficult to imagine is that those dreams and early yearnings and desires of childhood and adolescence will also disappear. But who knows? Maybe you become part of the eternal whatever.”

Topics: death, sexuality, people, arts-and-entertainment, united-states

This page turner brings music to everyone’s ears

Posted September 17, 2017 08:00:00

By day, Robert Titterman is turning pages of contracts and reading through fine print as a lawyer with the New South Wales Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

In his spare time though he dons a tuxedo to go on stage beside pianist Maria Raspopova — not as a musician but as her page turner.

“It’s a terrifying job if you don’t really read music,” he said.

“I’m not a trained musician … but I’ve learnt to read it sufficiently so I can help Maria in her performance.”

Mr Titterman is chairman of the Omega Ensemble but has been the group’s official page turner for the past four years.

His role is to sit beside the pianist, whether that be Ms Raspopova or a guest performer, and turn the pages of the score so the musician doesn’t have to break the flow of sound by doing it themselves.

He said he became just as nervous as those playing instruments on stage and likened the task to a crossword.

“There’s instructions on the page from the composer about loud and soft and quick and slow and so on,” Mr Titterman explained.

“There’s a lot of skills involved; you’ve got to be able to turn the page and that’s harder than it sounds.

“You have to make sure you don’t turn two pages at once, make sure you don’t tip it into her lap, make sure you find the repeats in the music when you have to go back to the right spot.”

Training the pianist

Being a page turner requires plenty of rehearsals.

Some pieces of music can go for 40 minutes and require up to 50 page turns, including back turns for repeat passages.

Silent onstage communication is key, and each pianist has their own style of “nodding” to indicate a page turn which they need to practise with their page turner.

“You have to train the pianist,” Mr Titterman said.

“Some are so discourteous they don’t even nod their head when they want the page turned.

“You’ve got to make sure they give you the right instruction.”

Anchoring the pianist

But like all performances, there are moments when things go wrong.

“I was turning the page to get ready for the next page, but the draft wind from the turn caused the spare pages to flutter down onto Maria’s pregnant stomach,” Mr Titterman recalled.

“Luckily I was able to grab it and put it back on the stand.

“There was a lot of swear words that went through my head but you’ve got to be very calm and anchor your pianist.”

Most page turners are usually piano students or up-and-coming concert pianists, although Ms Raspopova has previously recruited her husband, a clarinettist in the ensemble, to help her out on stage.

“My husband is the worst page turner,” she laughed.

“He gets involved in the music, feeling every note, and I have to say: ‘Turn, turn!’

“Robert is the best page turner I’ve had in my entire life. It’s true.”

Topics: music, careers, people, human-interest, sydney-2000

Why I painted my plastic surgeon for the Young Archie

Posted September 16, 2017 06:30:00

“You can see that he is a good person; his hands are magic. What you don’t see is his kind and generous heart — that is what I see.”

That is how Stella Jackson described her portrait of her close friend and plastic surgeon Dr Mark Gianoutsos which is hanging in the Art Gallery of New South Wales.

Those magic hands have performed several surgeries on Stella, who was born without a jaw bone in a profound form of craniofacial microsomia.

One of those operations involved taking bone from her hip to reconstruct the right side of her jaw.

So when the 12-year-old decided to enter the Young Archie this year, the junior art competition of the annual Archibald Prize, she had no hesitation about who her subject was going to be.

“The Young Archie is about drawing someone special, and Dr Mark is special to me.

“Most of the other entries are of family members, but Dr Mark is special in a different way to my family.

“He’s known me since I was three weeks old and he’s always been there for me; he’s done all of my surgeries and never does anything without my input.”

The Young Archie, now in its fifth year, received more than 2,000 entries which were whittled down to 20 finalists across four age groups.

Stella’s portrait was among those to receive an honourable mention, but the significance didn’t hit her straight away,

“In truth when I found out I was sick, so I was like, ‘meh’, but then I went to school and they had an assembly speech about it and put it on the board and then I realised it was a big deal,” Stella said.

Painting personality

It took Stella several rough sketches from photos of Dr Gianoutsos before she was happy with a drawing to develop.

“I made a risky decision to put watercolours on it and it turned out pretty good,” she said.

“When you look at a painting you can’t see their personality, so when I painted him I tried to portray those personalities in the painting.

“He’s a calm guy.”

Dr Gianoutsos, who is the head of the Sydney cranial facial unit at Prince of Wales Hospital, said he was “very honoured” when Stella asked him to be the subject of her portrait.

“I knew it was a very big deal for her and I knew she was a very accomplished artist and I knew she would do a very good job of it,” he said.

“Our relationship has been surgical on one level but more profound at another level.

“I have done a number of operations on her to make her facial difference less problematic and help her from a functional and an appearance viewpoint.

“I admire her greatly as a young lady and she’s a terrific person.”

Stella is set to start high school next year, and while she’s feeling nervous she is particularly looking forward to all the sport she can play as she already does running, tennis, swimming and soccer.

What is also in her sights though is one day upgrading from the Young Archie to the Archibald Prize.

“Maybe later,” she laughed.

“[Drawing] got a bit tiring after awhile.”

The winners of the Young Archie awards will be announced on Saturday.

Topics: people, painting, awards-and-prizes, doctors-and-medical-professionals, human-interest, sydney-2000

Bar to barre: How a derelict pub became a ballet school

Posted September 15, 2017 08:00:00

Michele Cleaver-Wilkinson and her husband have transformed one of Perth’s old rundown pubs into a beautiful ballet school.

The old Newmarket Hotel in South Fremantle stood vacant and derelict for 18 years before the Cleaver-Wilkinsons took a leap of faith and bought it.

“There was no electricity. There was no water. Every window was smashed,” Ms Cleaver-Wilkinson said.

“It was all boarded up, front and back, so it was dark and we had to use torches to see what was here.

“There was a big bees nest inside, termites all through the stairs.

“There was graffiti everywhere, walls had been bashed out, fireplaces ripped out.”

Built in 1912, the Newmarket Hotel loomed over the corner of Rockingham and Cockburn roads and for decades had been popular with men involved in the horse racing industry.

By the late 1990s the pub had closed its doors; the building sat unloved until the Cleaver-Wilkinsons decided to take it on.

“It was a dream and it was a lot of work,” Ms Cleaver-Wilkinson said.

“Ian and I worked every minute, every hour that we could possibly find.

“I would often pick him up from work at 4:30 and we would work here until 10:00pm.”

It took more than a year and $900,000 before the building was ready to open, and further renovations are likely to continue for years to come.

From bar to barre

So why did the couple decide to transform the public bar and hotel rooms into dance studios when they could easily have found a modern building for their school?

“Because if you’re passionate about ballet you spend every day there,” Ms Cleaver-Wilkinson explained.

“I’ve worked in community halls in Karratha where I spent six days a week there and if you’ve got green bricks to look at all day it’s soul-destroying.

“I love coming to work here. The kids love coming here. It is just uplifting.”

To help with the restoration, the Cleaver-Wilkinsons received a $100,000 grant from the Heritage Council to restore the façade and verandah.

And although the local community is pleased to see the building restored to its former glory, the change in its use has caused some confusion.

“I’ve had people walk in off the street so many times and say, ‘Did you know this used to be a pub?'” Ms Cleaver-Wilkinson said.

“If I had a dollar for everyone that told me that …

“I think people are recognising [now] that it suits a dance school.”

Ms Cleaver-Wilkinson said she also suspected her grandfather, who worked as a wharfie in Fremantle, probably drank in the pub once.

The former front bar is now lined with mirrors and barres, and every day students aged from four to 70 come to practise their moves.

“I really like the fact that the premises that was probably very much male-oriented is now very much female-oriented.”

Topics: human-interest, people, dance, arts-and-entertainment, history, community-and-society, perth-6000

Mao’s last dancer breaks 18-year retirement for Queensland performance

Updated September 12, 2017 19:10:07

“Mao’s Last Dancer” Li Cunxin is coming out of retirement to star in a special performance of The Nutcracker in Brisbane.

It has been 18 years since the now Queensland ballet artistic director has performed professionally, but in the ballet world apparently you never say never.

The world-famous dancer has been enticed to make the comeback for one night only on December 10 this year — to mark the end of the ballet season.

The father of three now has just four months to get back in shape for his starring role as Drosselmeyer, the mysterious magician-like figure in Tchaikovsky’s famous ballet.

The 56-year-old said his first “comeback” is making him a little nervous.

“I think I am more than nervous actually a bit petrified,” he said.

“I have a lot of work to do I need to get back in shape.

“There is some hard work ahead of me I think I will have to be a little bit more disciplined than I have been.

“Will be a bit of pain and agony to go through, but it will be a lot of fun.”

Li said the character of Drosselmeyer was the conduit to the story unfolding.

“To really to provide that magic element I will be that spark,” he said.

“So I will have to perform really well to make that magic spark brighter than ever.”

The one-off performance will be a magical night for the Li as he will also be joined on stage by his wife and Queensland Ballet mistress Mary Li.

Formerly Mary McKendry, the couple have not performed on stage together since 1991 in Houston, also in The Nutcracker.

“So it was about 26 years. It will be wonderful to be together again,” he said.

“The Nutcracker is also special in my heart as it was the first ballet I performed in the West.

“I will also love sharing the stage with our world-class dancers in our company.

“To perform in front of them will be such a privilege.”

Born in China to a life of poverty, Li was the sixth of seven brothers.

But at age 11, he was selected to attend the prestigious Beijing Dance Academy run by communist leader Mao Zedong’s wife, Madame Mao.

At 18 he won a cultural scholarship to go to America where he became a soloist with the Houston Ballet.

Two years later, in 1981, he defected and began to grace the world’s stages to critical acclaim.

He met his Australian ballerina wife while dancing in London.

They married and moved to Australia in 1995, where Li joined the Australian Ballet as a principal dancer.

Upon retirement he worked in the world of finance as a stockbroker, but ballet was always in his heart.

The renowned dancer took over the reins of Queensland Ballet in July 2012.

Every season has been as sell out since, his artistic flair and ability to attract international stars making 2017 the group’s biggest grossing season yet.

There is certain to be a run on the box office for the comeback which is also to be staged as part of the Wish Upon a Star competition, which enables a young dancer to perform with the company.

This year’s winner will also get to dance with Li in that special performance.

In 2003, Li published his international best-selling autobiography, Mao’s Last Dancer, which has received numerous awards and was adapted as a feature film in 2009.

He was also Queensland’s Australian of the Year 2014.

Topics: people, human-interest, dance, arts-and-entertainment, classical, brisbane-4000, australia, qld

First posted September 12, 2017 18:58:04