Life gets in the way of Life with a blackdog

I’ve been an absentee blogger, sadly.  Real life got in the way in the form of a new job – my first real full time role in 15 years. Yes, having children was a choice and it meant changes and compromises and I’m pretty happy with the results – two beautiful children who I can say bring me joy every day.

But getting back on the chain gang has been a challenge. The life logistics got even more complicated – who needed to be where when and with what packed in a bag?  Evening meals got more simple (simpler?) – being a very plain cook, I wasn’t sure that was possible, but it was. Food as fuel.

The dog has continued to be walked of course, but starting the job mid-winter has meant very little time for wider forays into the public art scene in Canberra.  Now that spring is upon us though and the days are longer, I have plans to get out amongst it all again.  That’s a promise I will try to keep!

In the meantime, here are some pics of our adventures, some close by, some a bit further away.

garden dog Letterbox Seed pods  Suburban swing Tilly and the banksia rosesShoes make a pillow

Who you callin' a dummy (One of these dogs is not a statue!)

It moves, but never gets off the ground

When I first saw Dinornis Maximus I thought it was an actual wind measuring instrument, something that the Weather Bureau had put up to test which way the wind was blowing, or how fast – a kind of new-fangled wind sock. Or maybe a new wind turbine for generating electricity.  But no, it’s a kinetic sculpture.

Tall wind sculpture Tilly

It has grown on me – I regularly drive past it en route through Woden – and I find I am now less distracted by it than previously. Initially I thought the blades might fly off.  Up close, though it seems pretty stable.

Upwards wind sculpture

The day we went to take a look, it was freezing cold, but there was no wind, which is why I felt able to get so close.

Tilly base wind sculpture

Dinornis was the giant moa, a flightless bird, from New Zealand.  Extinct now of course, and thought to stand more than three metres tall.  This sculpture is 11 metres tall, and its arms rotate every which way, whatever way the wind takes it.  A bit like life, really.

Dinorsis long view Dinornis Plaque

The artist is Phil Price, a NZ sculptor.  I do like the irony of the artist naming this sculpture with swinging arms after a flightless bird.  It moves and moves, but never gets off the ground.

Here’s a quick film on YouTube of the sculpture’s arms moving about.

On the road again

With the wind in my ears and a smile on my own face, I think this sculpture adroitly captures the joy of the dog taking a road trip with its owner.

Tilly and on the road again

Dog truck 3

The whimsy of the composition, with the dog’s head stuck out of the car’s window – which seems to hang mid-air – encourages the imagination.  And you can feel the movement of the wind as it whooshes through the car, pulling the dog’s ear’s backwards while the car is propelled forward.

Dog truck 1        Anne Ross On the Road again 2011

On the road again by Anne Ross  is located at Lyons shops, and is made of bronze. It was installed in November 2011, and unveiled in 2012.

It adds humour to the shops at Lyons, which is one of the few local shops that also has information about the person for whom it is named, Australian Prime Minister Joe Lyons.

Lyons sculpture

Lyons 2

Swaying stalks of light

The Vessel of Horticultural Plenty looks brilliant at night, but Tilly and I aren’t allowed out then – it’s way past our bedtime. Needless to say, it’s still striking during the daytime.

Funded by ArtsACT in 2009, the artist is Warren Langley.

Light sculpture 2  Light sculpture Tilly

The sculpture is made of galvanised steel, polycarbonate and coloured LED lights. The strips of lighting sway in the breeze, casting a colourful swathe through the night sky. Here’s a picture of what it looks like at night.

It’s located in Childers Street, in Canberra as part of the new ANU precinct (at the Barry Drive end).

There is another Warren Langley glass and light sculpture at the Canberra Glassworks. Will have to ask for a pass out to see that one evening.

Wooden smiles

This time last year I was embarking on a three week trip in the US and Canada with my mum.  It was an amazing experience, and we managed to visit quite a few cultural and historical sites.

The scenery was awesome in the true sense of the word, not just some overused adjective.  But the reason I started thinking about the trip was in relation to the word “face” for a photography challenge; and these images popped instantly into my head.

Oar face Horse head Face 1

I was completely captivated by the various masks I saw throughout the journey; some are from the north west coast of British Columbia, near the town of Prince Rupert.  The museum there was small, but very interesting with lots of statues, masks, and tools.

Red mask

And the Museum of Anthropology in Vancouver was overwhelming, with a comprehensive collection of artefacts from indigenous communities all over the world.

Totem 3 Totem 2 Totem 1 Totem 4

But the faces on the totems are in many ways the most striking, particularly the brightly painted ones.  I wonder what the originals were like as the artists surely didn’t have access to such strong colours.  I wish I had taken more notice of their stories, but as usual, I was more interested in framing the shot and getting to the next spot.

A dog walk to A Short Walk

I visit Weston Creek (ACT) shops several times a week – they’re my “local” shops – and I see this delightful sculpture pretty much every time, driving in from the western end of Hindmarsh Drive.

Weston 3

It reminds me of going regularly to the shops with our two children – although we rarely skip through them (any more).  The notes in ArtsACT’s guide to ACT public art say that Mathew Calvert’s statue, A Short Walk, is of three siblings and is derived from the iconic pedestrian crossing sign.

To me, it’s a joyful representation and I am very fond of it.  However, the artist has a more serious message about road safety, and I suspect the statues’ placement so close to the busy Hindmarsh Drive is purposeful, to remind us of pedestrians as we whizz past in our cars.

Weston Tilly 1 Weston taillights

The statues are about three times the size of an average person and are made from steel and highly polished concrete. The artist has hand rendered pieces of broken vehicle tail lights into the surfaces of the statues.  It’s confronting when you get up close – there’s so much of it, and I guess that is part of his statement about road safety.

Further information about Mathew Calvert, who is based in Tasmania, is here.

Takes the cake – the parent as baker

Our youngest child is turning 12.  What a landmark.  And because of different commitments (read netball weekends) the celebrations will be slightly delayed.  So I am not madly scrambling around trying to tidy the house, juggling visiting family and baking cakes.  And it feels all wrong.

Over the years, Rod and I have made many birthday cakes together for both of our children.  Starting off in our old house, the first birthday for our elder daughter was a very simple orange cake. So healthy. No icing.  One candle.  It didn’t last long.

Hannah's 1st birthday cake Cait's 1st birthday

By the time she was two, the Australian Women’s Weekly children’s birthday cake book had been found, and we were off and running.

Requests for butterflies, lolly shops, paint boxes, number cakes and tigers ensued from both children at birthday time.

IMG_1025  IMG_0011

Surprisingly for two people without a crafty bone in their body, Rod and I were able to fashion something that looked like the cakes in the book every time. Shows how well tested they are.  This was despite having a dud oven for at least six of those years, until we could stand it no longer.  I think Rod made at least two different late night trips to the supermarket to get more supplies when the cakes died in the oven. And we were usually making them at 10pm on a Friday night, after a week’s work, so I think we did ok.  Certainly, they all were eaten, so we musta done good! Right? (well, the butterfly looks a bit dodgy, I admit.)

Still, it’s made me curious about all of those cakes.  What were they again?  Who had what?

This is a selection of just some of the birthday cakes over the years.

IMG_1017 hannah's birthday Sep 06 016 Hannah's 6 cake caitlin's 7th  birthday 08 009  Tiger two years Caitlin Caitlin's fifth birthday 017 IMG_6248

Who knows what we’ll try and do next?