The Love Locks of Aspen Island

I was a walking in the Autumnal sunshine last Sunday afternoon and came across these engraved padlocks on the bridge to Aspen Island (or 'Carillon Island'). Some of them are quite recent (as in yesterday) and the oldest dates back to late 2012. I can only assume they're paying homage to the global phenomena 'Love Locks' (



I counted a total of eight(!) ... things tend to move slowly in Canberra so we've a fair ways to go until we approach the Pont des Arts in Paris or the Ponte Milvio in Rome.

Most of them bear the names of the lovers and a date ... however there's at least one cryptic inscription which reads;

Rm 701

Love to hear reader's guesses as to the meaning of that one!





Are Love Locks appearing in your part of the world? Do they encrust bridges and walkways?

For those with a geographical bent ... here's the location of the bridge to Aspen Island which incidentally is the location of the National Carillon ... a gift by the British Government to celebrate Canberra's 50th birthday. This year the city celebrates it's centenary.

View Larger Map

In Review - ZooPaGoo and Party Gravy

ZooPaGoo and Party Gravy at The Polish White Eagle Club 3rd May 2013

Is there anything better than live, well produced funk? Anything that starts a foot tapping? A tapping that quickly becomes a stomp and a uncontrollable urge to groove? Actually I can think of a few things that are way better but last night live, strutty funk was where it was at.

Party Gravy ... now there's a name for a band. Gravy ... thick, rich and fragrant. The sauce that enhances and helps the flesh go down. Such a lot to live up to... did last night's gravy boys deliver? They did. Featuring not one, but two drummers meshing like smooth cogs in a drive train effortlessly entwined with tight and solid bass, easily providing a Hard-Bop groove for alto sax, two trumpet and two trombone. Rounded out nicely with vocals, the 8-piece delivered well-crafted numbers that slowly but steadily filled the room. My favourite were the horn solos, with a trumpet solo performed by Ax Long a bright and colourful affair with excellent diction and stabs. They had slinky dancers. I like slinky dancers.

Interval saw us back at the bar ... it seems tonight's beer of choice is the Perla Chmielowa Pils - a crisp, dry brew with extra hops and a kick I didn't really feel until this morning. Thank you to the friendly bar staff who helpfully assisted with navigating the extensive range of Polish beers and vodkas.

I was sitting having a chat with Simon at the entry desk when ZooPaGoo took the stage. Listening through the curtain I was immediately impressed with the engine room of this band. The drums, combined with strong and dextrous bass produced a NY/Chicago strut that demanded attention. Keys that reminded me of fleshy orange marmalade, rich with texture provided deep colour and flavour to the mix. Local wah-guitar legend, the fez-adorning Zedman, added gravy all of his own. Sax and trumpet comprised the horn section and though they stabbed, swooped and dived in sync, I felt they missed their third member to fill out the mids. The horn solos were bright and left me wanting more which was a pity as they seemed a bit far between. But that's quibbling really. Original songs were interspersed with funk classics. There was a little roughness at times but their interpretation of Johnny Guitar Watson's Ain't That A Bitch was masterly with well-executed stabs and changes. That one was a real pleasure ... a great track preformed with gusto and stagecraft. Vocals shone with Sean 'Funklestiltskin Chickenstrut' providing the all important stage presence required of street funk done good. The band was joined on stage by a cohort of more slinky dancers from the floor toward the end of their set. While the members of ZooPaGoo aren't bad looking ... the dancers easily enhanced their stage presence.

I took no photos but there were two DSLR-wielding snappers and numerous phone-heads who I'm sure got some of the great pictures that were to be had on the night.

Sound was handled very nicely by Dave with responsive attention to detail and clear, well articulated sound. Nice work Dave. Lighting was used to dramatic effect by both performers and lighting desk (also by multi-talented Dave)

My friend and I arrived late around 9:45pm after enjoying ourselves elsewhere (unthinkable I know!) there was a DJ playing when we arrived but I only caught the last track ... it sounded good but I can't really tell you any more about them.

The Polo,  strong beers, fine company mixed in with ZooPaGoo's funk-stuff and Party Gravy's Hard-Bop grooves made it a memorable, if blurry, night. Thanks to Nigel and the CMC for the double pass and the opportunity to write a review for you.

Downer in Decay

I took a ride up to the urban decay that is Downer Shops on the weekend … and took some photos … the shop side is truly derelict.




One of my first group houses in the early 90′s was a weatherboard affair in Durack Street (which incidentally was the coldest house I’ve ever lived in) and Downer Shops was my local. The centre was in decline even back then. There was a dark supermarket (literally dark and dingy and not of the supernatural bent … well, not that I ever saw…) a Chinese Restaurant which was passable and an Italian which was dire. There were some others too but I’m unable to recall them.

There were people around. Over at the Community rooms on the other side of a little park (with attendant rock sculpture) in the middle of the complex a groups was packing up after a meeting. The community rooms are by contrast clean and swept … and the end of the building features a mural by Byrd. There was a little post-it note stuck onto some fresh graffiti staking a claim on what’s otherwise a remarkably graffiti-free building. The carpark was more or less subscribed and the two sporting fields were both full of soccer and families enjoying the late afternoon autumn sunshine.




The shop side is just sliding into decay and I loved the irony of the boarded up security company shopfront. The community noticeboard lies vacant and the hand-carved bicentennial logo (someone took ages making that … with it’s little Tasmania) still stands proudly beneath a dead clock. So, while there were folks about … the centre felt truly abandoned. I understand that new development is slated for the area … maybe that’ll start this dead heart?

John Deakin’s photograph of George Dyer in the Reece Mews Studio, ca. 1964, Dublin City Gallery the Hugh Lane (Image courtesy Art Gallery of NSW)

On Francis Bacon, patina and love

John Deakin’s photograph of George Dyer in the Reece Mews Studio, ca. 1964, Dublin City Gallery the Hugh Lane (Ima</a data-lazy-srcset=
John Deakin’s photograph of George Dyer in the Reece Mews Studio, ca. 1964, Dublin City Gallery the Hugh Lane (Image courtesy Art Gallery of NSW)


In February of this year I travelled to Sydney for what really was a rather Arty weekend. I saw the Anish Kapoor show at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Circular Quay (very good ... so good I took the kids up to see it a couple of weeks ago) ... I saw Lisa Gerrard and Brendan Perry performing at the Sydney Opera House in their legendary duo (+ band) Dead Can Dance which brought me to tears on more than one occasion with it's power and sheer beauty.

I also went to see the Francis Bacon show at the Art Gallery of New South Wales.

Now let's get this out there first ... I'm not a huge fan of Francis Bacon ... none of his works feature near the top of any of my lists of favourite art but I do respect his work. I find it uncomfortable and violent, visceral and gutsy. I like that I feel something from his art even if it makes me uncomfortable. There's a certain violence in his work ... it's been said that he was ismply repsonding to the violence and opression he saw and felt around him. I think he was brave or perhaps he just didn't care ... I respect that he kept going and going ... thoroughly obsessed by his work and not caring whether it was liked or not. I think he did care and the angst in his pictures is, to me a demonstration of just how deeply he felt.

There was a large collection of his paintings and sketches, over 50 in all, along with books and and detritus from his studio. Then there were the photographs... they were what affected me the most. The photos were placed in simple frames that were deep enough to allow the crumpled prints to breathe. The photos were scrunched and ripped, taped back together, creased and stained, torn ... I imagined them cried over ... the tears falling onto them after the passing of his lover, I imagined them being scrunched into a ball and thrown in anger after an argument, unfolded and pressed flat by hands, left under whatever else occupied the artist's mind at the time... they had patina.

In short: they were loved

At a time when our culture is obsessed by perfection, the smooth and the wrinkle free, these photographs spoke of life and how it is messy and sticky and visceral and at times violent. I think we forget that or it somehow suits us to forget that. I realised I had been looking at them a long time transfixed by these thoughts and resolved to write them down ... to blog them ... I forgot - distracted by whatever else was going on in my life ... the new and shiny smooth wrinkle free objects of my attention.

I said I'm not a huge fan of Francis Bacon but re-redading my post I think just might be.

Are you moved by art? ... I think some of you might be...

Optical Galaxy and then some ... a trip to Cameron Offices

On Sunday afternoon I went for a little photowalk. I went up to the Cameron Offices, once a shining example of 1970's Brutalist architecture and future vision ... half has been demolished and the other half transformed into student accommodation ... still, amongst the concrete there is a semblance of the vision of the architects and designers ... in between concrete angularity and rigidity there flow streams and reflective ponds, stark white lift wells and sculpture. Optical Galaxy by Canadian sculptor Gerald Gladstone (1923-2005) particularly caught my eye ...

"Commissioned for Cameron Offices as part of the Town Square located opposite Mall 9. It was created by the Canadian sculptor, Gerald Gladstone who was striving to express humanity's concern with its position in intergalactic space. The sculpture comprises eleven truncated fins each standing 7 metres high that are curved to represent the form of the sine waves used in measuring light waves. On top of each fin is a Lucite block in which is suspended a sculpture of welded steel road to represent the swirls of planets in the galaxy. A specially designed water cannon emits a cascade of water over the work." (

The piece has been moved from its original location opposite Mall 9 and now stands somewhat external to the main complex and easily accessible although it lacks any form of descriptive plaque or insightful inscription ... I would love to see it in action with its custom water cannon but sadly I think it may be defunct.











What about you? where was your last photowalk? Did you take any pictures? Sometime I go on a photowalk and leave the camera in my bag the entire time ;-)

ps ... thanks to everyone who let me know just how much the gallery option didn't work for them ... we're back to inline images again :-)

Cell Block 69 - The Spiegel Garden

A couple of weeks ago I attended and photographed an extraordinarily fun gig in an extraordinary place. Cell Block 69 were performing at The Spiegel Garden - a purpose built circus style marquee that has been enjoying a month long residency at the Senate Rose Gardens for the centenary of Canberra celebrations. The group? Comprised of 8 members all calling themselves "Corey" they customarily play 2 gigs a year, one in Sydney and the other here in Canberra. They've been together for nigh on ten years and are somewhat of a Canberra Christmas institution (if there is such a thing). They play covers ... trashy Eighties covers. Whip It!, Queen, Computer Games, Centrefold, Girls on Film, Jump etc etc. They have gone to tremendous effort to replicate the sounds using period effects and analog synthesisers. Lead singer Pip Branson changes costumes and character for each song ... he is a very talented boy. The gig got very crowded and was a little nuts at times. It got a little crowded when I squeezed through to get to a position at the foot of the stage. Impossible for me not to sing along ... I remember those songs when they were released!

(apparently you can click on a picture to see it writ large!)

The gig finished at 2am. live on the other side of the lake in the middle of Canberra and I was on my bicycle so I got to ride home under the stars ... getting home around a quarter to three ... I smelled like a squash court so I showered after initiating the loading of the images off the memory cards.

Tell me, does the gallery option I've used in this post work? would you prefer larger, in-line images?

A larger, more comprehensive set of images from the gig can be found at Lushpup Images ... here.

What's the last gig you wnet to? Was it music or poetry? What kind of music? did you dance and get all sweaty or was it a sit down more formal affair? Do tell :-)

Sydney: Anish Kapoor - Museum of Contemporary Art

I have just returned from a glorious weekend in Sydney. Well, glorious for the people and things I saw ... the weather was cold and wet and so unlike Summer. The main purpose of the trip was see Dead Can Dance perform at the Sydney Opera House on the Sunday night. DCD are essentially two people; Lisa Gerrard and Brendan Perry. They have been working together for nearly 30 years with their first release coming in 1984 and their latest work Anastasis released last year. The performance was outstanding and supported by another 5 musicians. If you're unfamiliar with their work and you have 6 minutes of guaranteed 'alone-time' click here. There's no 'clip' with this one ... just a visual of the cover art for the album The Serpents Egg. The track was also featured on the Baraka Soundtrack. They performed this last night about half way through their set and I wept ... this piece always moves me and hearing it live has now somehow made my life more complete.

Anyways, I digress! I also saw the Anish Kapoor show at the Museum of Contemporary Art down on Circular Quay. This show is his first for Australia and didn't disappoint. There are many visually challenging pieces in the show and the scale of some is quite breathtaking. Like, for example My Red Homeland (below). From the catalog;

My Red Homeland is a monumental wax sculpture that consists of 25 tons of paraffin wax mixed with a deep red pigment. In this enormous circular sculpture, a large motorised steel blade slowly traces the circumference of the structure, which measures 12 metres in diameter. Each rotation of the blade takes about one hour, as it cuts a course through the wax, dissecting and reshaping it into endless new forms.

I know ... to make this work, I think we need some wax ... how about 25 tons of wax! And I want it red, blood red, so when it's cut and churned it resembles meat ... yes ... like that, flesh. Visceral, cut, shaped and continually reworked (once an hour) ... quite brilliant really.



The scale alone is enough to grab you in.

I went up to Sydney with my good friend David and his wife Thao. David's a huge DCD fan and he drove us all up to Sydney for our weekend of culture. Here he is in the picture below photographing Kapoor's Memory, a 24 ton hollow steel construction that required the roof to be temporarily removed to lower it into its install space.


Now, apart from these rather colossal installations, there are a lot of pieces that sincerely mess with your visual perceptions of the space you find yourself. Kapoor uses non-reflective pigments in a number of pieces which really works to mess with you perception ... I didn't take any pictures of those ... it would have  been pointless really ... you have stand in front of it and experience them yourself ... sorry about that.

I did take a picture of When I was Pregnant (below)



Oh and there was a whole room of very shiny S-curves and C-curves all incredibly polished that served to reflect and cross-reflect the room and the people in it in a myriad different ways. I spoke to one of the assistants who explained to me that the artist has a team of specialist polishers flown over from New York specifically to polish these installations ... the polishing took nine days for the MCA show. They did a bloody good job!



I really enjoyed this show by Anish Kapoor. It runs until the 13th of April 2013.

How's about you? Been to visit any particularly fine art recently.

Volcano Gunung Batur on the island of Bali refracted through a glass sphere

Gunung Batur

Volcano Gunung Batur on the island of Bali refracted through a glass sphere


Oculus time again. This is a picture of Gunung Batur (Mount Batur) on the island of Bali. It is an active volcano and this picture was was taken from the rim of the caldera which was formed around 25,00 years ago. The present cone rises some 700m above Lake Batur which has formed on the caldera floor. The last major lava flows were in 1968 and can be seen clearly as dark basaltic out purings out from the main cone but the volcano urmbles and emits steam regularly. It looks and sounds remote but there are literally hundereds of restaurants and tea houses stretched along this, the southwest part of the rim forming part of the town of Kintamani.

Nearby is a Volcano Museum which wasn't there last time we visited and contains some great models and geological samples. My eldest (7), who's totally into seismographs at the moment (even more so after watching 'Journey to the Centre of the Earth' twice on the plane on the way over...) thought it fantastic. We found a little staircase in one corner of the museum labelled 'Observation Room'. We ascended the stairs to find a little bright room with several tripods with high powered binoculars pointing vaguely at the volcano. The tripod mounts are very wobbly and the scopes could not be focussed ... oh well. On the way back down we stopped at a little glass door where we found the resident seismologist who seemed completely chuffed to have some interested visitors. He welcomed us in and showed us the seismograph which had a trace on its drum from a tremor that morning. Mr 7 was in heaven!

Of course my oculus came to Bali with me and although it stayed in my camera bag most of the time ... it came out whenever I remembered it was there ... like this occasion. Shot using my favourite lens my Nikkor 50mm f/1.4.

12 Minutes with a Super Moon

Rocky bay lit by enough moonlight to appear as day

I am always struck by the saturation quality of moonlight. The colours have a rich and understated vibrancy. 

This is a small bay on the far south coast of New South Wales captured using only the light of the moon ... the Super Moon of 6th may 2012 to be exact. The exposure time is 12 minutes @f/9 and you can see there was plenty of light ... and colour! Our eyes simply don't see the colours of moonlight ... they're physically incapable of doing so. In fact seeing by moonlight is perhaps the closest we will ever come to naturally viewing a scene in monochrome. (In brief, it's to do with the rods and cones that lie in our retinas and something I will do a separate post about.) It was close to midnight and although the surf was pounding in on a king tide (presumably to do with the perigee of the moon) with waves reaching to a couple of meters from the tripod ... the long exposure has effectively smoothed everything out.

About the 'Super Moon'

The Moon’s distance from the Earth is not always the same due to the elliptical shape of the orbit and variations in the gravitational attraction between the Moon, Earth and Sun. When a full moon occurs close to the perigee of the Moon (the point of its closest approach to the Earth) we observe a “super moon” phenomenon.There are anywhere from 4 to 6 super moons every year, not all appear as intense or last as long in their 'super' effect. The perigee of the Moon on the 6th of May was the most powerful in years and caused many discussions in scientific circles. There was even a claim circulating that a Super Moon contributed to the 'sinking of Titanic' (wtf!) occurring as it did 100 years after the sinking in April 1912 ... my mind boggles when I reflect that some people believe this!

What about you? Did you see the Super Moon? Did you watch the moonrise or do anything special other than perhaps go outside and look and think  'hey, it does look a little bigger'?


long exposure of the rainforest gully lit by small spotlights

AfterDARK at the Gardens

On Saturday evening I went along with the family to a special members event at the Australian National Botanic Gardens (ANBG). The rainforest gully walk has been kitted out with low wattage LED lighting funded by the 'Friends of the Botanic Gardens' and Saturday night was the first time they were showing it off. There were deleicious canapes and a glass of wine at the Visitors Centre before we were split into small groups of ten or twelve. Wind-up torches were handed out by our guides and, dressed warmly, we set off.

Being a regular visitor to the Gardens I was loving being in there at night. Familiar paths and trees took on new life as they illuminated only by our torch beams. Our guide Marion took us on a walk through the eucalypts before we entered the rainforest gully .


The place was literally transformed. The mist jets which keep the gully moist and assist in maintaining an ambient temperature above freezing came on periodically and it was like walking through cloud ... really thick cloud. Lights have been set into both sides of the boardwalk so you know where the path goes and coloured lights have been placed in the garden beds as well.  I had brought my tripod and camera with me ... I decided on a single lens for the night: my Nikkor 20mm f/2.8D ... a little jewel of a lens. I wanted something quite fast and wide and my tripod enabled the longer exposures you see here.

The display looked fantastic and hats off to the 'Friends' program who both envisaged and funded the lighting program through subscription and donation.

There are plans to make this a regular event called the AfterDARK Firefly Tour begins officially in June. I suggest you get yourself along for a unique experience.

WhenSat 2 June  I  Sat 7 July  I  Sat 4 Aug
Time: 6pm and 7pm Tours
Cost: $19 adults; $14 concession (+booking fee) | Bookings essential 6250 9540 | Online bookings available from 8th May

This post has also been blogged over at The RiotACT

Poplar trees in autumnal yellow arching up to the sky

Canberra in Autumn

This is what happens when you put your fisheye on the ground looking up and carefully balance a circular polarising filter (that's too small for the lens) on top. Taken in the grounds of the Australian National University down near Sullivan's Creek. Astute viewers will score a bonus Telstrayama (the telecommunications tower atop Black Mountain in the center of Canberra) at the the three o'clock position.

Poplar trees in autumnal yellow arching up to the sky

Yes, the sky really is that blue in Canberra in Autumn and Spring ... they would both have to be my most favourite seasons.

Tell me, what's your favourite season?

The Invisible Mother


This was a practice where the mother, often disguised or hiding, often under a spread, holds her baby tightly for the photographer to insure a sharply focused image.

- The Hidden Mother

ealry portrait of a family standing around a mother obscured by a blanket

Now I understand that this practice originated when exposure times were slow meaning subjects had to sit perfectly still to render themselves sharply. I get that some families wanted only to have a portrait of their offspring with no parents. I still find the pictures a little macabre and creepy. I know that I'm looking with a modern eye and that what I'm seeing was 'standard practice' for the photographer and subjects but I can't help feeling that the pictures resonate with our society's underlying desire to make mothers invisible at the expense of their families. We don't pay mothers to do what they do ... we expect it. The need of the next generation are put, quite rightly, first but at the expense of and often with hidden cost to the mother. The Invisible Mother.

 Early portrait of child by mother obscured by a blanket


So here we have a series of pictures which had they been taken today could be hailed as a representation of the western social invisibilty of motherhood ... but that's not why they were made.

Interesting stuff to ponder ... what do you think?

Footnote: I found these fascinating photographs over at BlueMilk and liked them so much I'm referencing the original site Retronaut where you can find a stack of these images.

'The Hotel' by Rudi de Jong

Picked this up in town from Rudi ...who wanders the town centres with photocopies of his work. I quite like them and happy to give him some exposure. I'll get a portrait of him one day and post that too...

'The Hotel' by Rudi de Jong

The oasis

the home away from home

old friends

the beer flowing freely

the publican

the weary pilgrim

music from the juke-box

the visitor

the cry

"Drinks on the house for everyone"

everyone filled with joy

troubles forgotten

problems solved

the beer glass raised high

the final word

Christ himself

a friend of publicans

and sinners

the Hotel

'The Hotel' by Rudi de Jong (20/3/2012)

Picked this up in town from Rudi ...who wanders the town centres with photocopies of his work. I quite like them and happy to give him some exposure. I'll get a portrait of him one day and post that too...

thewalkdownunder 2012 Google+ Photowalk

I participated in the inaugural 2012 Google+ Photowalk held here in Canberra yesterday. It was an early start (7am at Regatta Point) but the day was an absolute cracker weather wise. A beautiful dawn with balloons saw about 30 people gather, score a t-shirt and set off on 4 hours of chatting, meeting and of course taking photos. Great to put some names to faces and to meet people I'd never seen nor heard of before. It was fun. I even found an iPhone on the way back and managed (via calling their recent calls list) to track them down and return it. How nice am I? ('very' is the correct answer to that) Did you take part in thewalkdownunder 2012?

Melbourne across the Yarra - Tiny Planet

I learned how to do a 'Tiny Planet' image from an existing panorama last night. This was taken last year in lovely Melbourne. Shot from the south bank, it's a view of Melbourne across the Yarra River. A 5-shot panorama stitched together in Photoshop before being 'planeted'.

The tutorial I followed was this one published by and it was ridiculously simple to produce something gorgeous.

Go and give it a go and be sure to let us know how you got on :-)

In lovely Melbourne last year ... had a lovely time. More a family trip than a photo trip ... but I did get out and about a couple of times. This is a 5-frame pano stitched together in Photoshop the 'planetted'
In lovely Melbourne last year ... had a lovely time. More a family trip than a photo trip ... but I did get out and about a couple of times. This is a 5-frame pano stitched together in Photoshop then 'planeted'