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!)


Bring on the light

Last night we visited the Enlighten Festival (1-9 March 2013), which ushers Canberra into autumn.

Computer NLA

Jazz on library

NLA columns

The main free events are located on the grass along the front of Lake Burley Griffin; and feature light shows projected onto the white spaces of the buildings housing the national cultural institutions in the Parliamentary Zone. There are also musical performances and other activities on different nights. Canberra artists have worked with The Electric Canvas, which translates the designs into the large scale projections.


Portrait gallery 2

Data on NLA

Despite the actual arrival of autumn (oh, bliss!) and some cooler temperatures, the event was popular and the light shows are dazzling. All you needed was a good coat and a hat.

Taxi fish 2

Eeriest by far are the four-metre angler fish, mounted on mini vehicles, translating their deep sea habitat to the paths around the lake.

And the computer game Snake was projected onto the external walls of the National Portrait Gallery, and you could play the game, for a fee.


It was an unusual opportunity to see Canberra in a different light, and we loved it.

Barcelona mon amour

Think of architecture in Barcelona, and mostly, the work of Antoni Gaudi comes to mind. And with good cause. His designs for modernist buildings are landmarks in the city, and as the work on the Sagrada Familia basilica continues into this century from the last, his and his colleagues’ vision for the church are becoming even more well-known.

I often think of our visit to the Sagrada Familia in 2011; standing amidst the crowd, looking up, and being struck by the light streaming in through the stained glass windows, with the towers reaching for the sky. And how the space above our heads was directing a supplication upwards – one as a non-believer I was not interested in making – to the god being worshipped in the church. My pilgrimage was more about the majesty of the vision and its actual construction. The modern windows were no less awe-inspiring than those in older churches, and the lighter colours both of the glass and the pillars reminded that this was something new, but still reverential.

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There’s lots of information on line and in books about Gaudi and his team and their efforts to build this modern masterpiece. Last week, we couldn’t resist this pop-up book we saw in a local bookshop, to remind us of the experience. It sits well with the cute little calendar brought back by some friends who visited there last year.

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Less well known is a contemporary of Gaudi’s, Lluis Domenech i Montaner, an architect who also worked in Barcelona and throughout Catalunya at the turn of the 20th century. His Palau de la Musica Catalana was built between 1905 and 1908 in Barcelona and is another outstanding piece of modernist architecture. It mounts much of the city’s choral music concerts and is home to a range of other cultural events. Declared a World Heritage Site in 1997, the Palau de la Musica Catalana was restored between 1983 and 2004.

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The only way to see inside the Palau is with a guided tour (no taking photos sadly) and although we didn’t book, it’s probably a good idea in high seasons. It was well worth it, though. The centre piece is a large, inverted skylight of stained glass in the Concert Hall. It dominates the space, and lets in light from outside.

The waiting area on the main floor is also impressive. Known as the Lluis Millet Hall (after the founder of the choir in residence, the Orfeo Catala, which began in 1891), the hall features a wall of stained glass, floral windows, and painted corner columns.

Hospital de Sant Pau, also a World Heritage Site, is another building designed by Montaner.

This was our second visit to Barcelona, but I’d happily go back there tomorrow, just to be surrounded by this unique architecture. I know the Spanish economy is struggling at the moment … I’d be glad to do my bit with another visit.