Reupholster your office chair

OK .... while I'm not about to turn this blog into a DIY extravaganza site, I did do something this afternoon that I thought I'd share. I reupholstered my boring computer chair into something altogether more beautiful ... alright it's still an office chair but it's a more beautiful office chair... and I found it such an easy and straightforward task that I'm presenting* it here to inspire your creative juices.

Firstly, the original ... as you can see functional but rather dull.

The original look.

Next I found some material from a local fabric shop that took my fancy.

Well, it certainly hides the ugly original anyways...

Then I assembled the tools required. The tools I used were a staple gun, a screwdriver and some scissors (oh and there was some spanner action a little later to remove the seat cushion from it's base but I didn't realise that until after I'd taken a picture of the tools I thought I needed ;-) if I were a real DIY blogger I would have rectified this)

Staple gun, screwdriver and scissors

I decided to tackle the back support cushion first. I undid the backrest support to release the back support cushion and undid the small screws that held the plastic cover over the rear of the cushion.

The back support cushion with the plastic cover removed exposing the staples

I decided to keep the original fabric for additional cushioning and also because;

  1. there was nothing wrong with it; and
  2. I was feeling too slack to undo all the staples and remove it.

Next, cut a piece of the fabric to size and began stapling it to the cushion.


When finished stapling it looked like this

The underside of the back support cushion all stapled up

It was a little sharper than this in real life*

Then it was time to remove and tackle the seat cushion. This required the use of the afore-mentioned spanner I neglected to include in my tools photograph above...


Then, same process:

  1. Measure and cut a piece of fabric to fit the cushion with enough extra to reach up and over the base for stapling.
  2. If your fabric has a pattern that has a definite 'right way up', it's a good idea to check this before cutting the fabric!
  3. Pulling reasonably tightly, but not tightly enough to cause creasing in the fabric, begin stapling the fabric to the cushion base. I started along one edge and worked my way around.
  4. I found folding the fabric at the corners before stapling worked well.

My stapling was lot neater on the seat cushion...


The finished seat cushion.

Replace the plastic casings for the cushions and reattach them to the chair.



Voila! A reupholstered office chair.

The whole exercise took me less than an hour and $15 in materials ... cheaper than replacing the chair and it fits wonderfully with my decor.

Have you revamped a piece of furniture? Got pictures? I'd love to see them :-)

*with apologies for the crappy smartphoneography...

ps ... I feel I should also note that the print I chose features a pattern of cranes in various poses and not the camouflage print the thumbnail makes it out to be ;-)

Gretchen Chappelle: life in still motion | scenes from the pacific shore

While in Sydney two weeks ago I had the pleasure of viewing my friend Gretchen Chappelle's most recent exhibition 'life in still motion | scenes from the pacific shore' at the Art Est. Art School and Gallery in Leichhardt, Sydney. Gretchen has, over the years, developed and refined a post-processing technique involving layers and motion blur to effectively isolate subjects in a frame whilst taking advantage of the colour fields surrounding them. I remember thinking 'Wow, that's cool' when I first saw her post one. Apparently, many folks have asked about the technique with a view to emulating it and while a number have tried I don't think any of them have mastered it the way Gretchen has.

A work by Gretchen illustrating the processing technique © Gretchen Chappelle 2015

I liked the prints in the show (and of course catching up with Gretchen!) but the gallery was a long way out ... Marina and I caught the train to Summer Hill and then walked at least a kilometer (Google Maps claimed it was 600m!) into the burbs of Leichhardt before we came across the gallery ... Gretchen arrived on her bicycle more or less the same time we did. I thought that Gretchen's work deserved more of an audience than was going to stumble across this out of the way place ... it needed more of a walk-in viewing audience/customer base and this wasn't the space that was going to provide that. Then, I guess those galleries cost more to host shows and the commission they charge is generally higher too. Still these are the lessons we learn when showing :-)

Good on you Gretchen ... the show looked great :-)

Gretchen standing with one of her larger framed works

The show ran for the month of May so, due to my slackness in promoting the work of friends you can no longer trek into Leichhardt and see it for yourself ... it being quite suddenly June...


Sydney Lights

We went to Sydney last weekend. Ostensibly to see the beginning of the Vivid Festival but mostly to get some time away. We stayed in a place on McMahon's Point and the room had a panoramic view of the Harbour (from Luna Park, the Bridge and Opera House, through to the city and the ANZAC Bridge) I'd never seen such a view of the City before and to think this was the hotel room ... we spent a great deal of time in awe of the view and when we got tired of that ... there was always the 2015 Eurovision Final ;-) .

The Sydney Harbour Bridge was framed in thin, linear lights of splendid clarity and we could easily see the light show on the sails of the Sydney Opera House.

Thinking that there must be a million photos taken of the bridge I resolved to make mine a little different and play instead with bokeh Sydney lights. I particularly liked how the bridge is still utterly recognisable even though it's heavily blurred.

Wandering around Circular Quay on the second night was spectacular, particularly as trains were terminating at Wynyard Station and the roads down to the Quay were closed to traffic. It was glorious walking down the center of George Street with no cars. The thousands of other people there seemed to think so as well. Well done Vivid Sydney.

One of the other reasons we went to Sydney was to drop in and see my friend Gretchen's art exhibition at the Art Est Gallery in Leichhardt ... but there's a separate post coming about that :-)

Beautiful Bees


I was up in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales last weekend. Ostensibly I was there to look after my father, who is ill, whilst his partner was in Sydney ... but while he was sleeping I had the opportunity to wander about in the garden. They have an absolute profusion of lavender. I've never been able to successfully grow lavender; you know back in those times I used to live in houses with gardens ;-) but here it's verging upon riotous. There are of course bees.

I love chasing bees and other critters around a garden and it's not something I've done in ages. I wonder if it's because living in a flat for the past couple of years I haven't had ready access to a garden? You know, the kind you can stride out into in your pyjamas any morning of the year... I know you know :-)

Anyways, back to the bees. It's a game of patience capturing critters in the garden. Firstly, you need to be able to spot them and in the case of the bees this wasn't overly difficult! Then you need to get close enough to them. Funny thing, the closer you get, the more they seem to move around ... well, through the viewfinder as you're wishing they's just remain in that position for perhaps three seconds instead of two whilst attempting to focus on them. I know I could have gone and set up the tripod but I was feeling kinda lazy... these were shot handheld using my Nikkor 105 Macro. The vibration reduction (VR) certainly assists with handheld macro photography which is one of the main reasons I upgraded my macro setup from the Tamron 90mm I started out with.

Beautiful bees in the lavender. They look all furry and pettable don't you think?

Assorted Landscapes

As part of my ongoing efforts to add content to my newly humming website (you have to imagine a happy humming here instead of the slow dirgey throaty song playing previously!) I have added a new gallery of images entitled, rather imaginatively, 'Land'. I would add that although there is indeed  a landscape in each and every photograph in this collection I will confess up front to there often being a great deal of sky in them too. Anyways, please enjoy :-)

Powerful Owl

Possibly the most photographed bird in Canberra at the moment. This Powerful Owl (Ninox strenua) has taken up residence in nearby Turner. Luckily for us it was visible high up in the treetops when we passed by to catch a glimpse of it. These owls typically stand about 60cm tall with a wingspan of over 1.3m though it was hard to tell the exact measurements of this one. Their diet consists of a variety of possums (brushtail, ringtail and sugar gliders) large birds (cockatoos, corellas and rosells et al) This one had caught (and was in the process of shredding) a ringtail possum and you can see its black & white tail curling over the limb of the tree.



So we made this little movie ... an arthouse piece in a world that plainly isn't. In the movie, we're wearing masks ... well, in the latter stages we're wearing masks plural seeing as we had only one mask when we began filming and had to share it. It wasn't until I came across a supply of masks in Chapel Street in Melbourne over the final weekend that we were able to appear together both wearing masks. But that's an aside.

It's a strange feeling to be wearing masks in public, on the street, in coffee shops and shopping malls. Noone seemed to think it particularly odd, we didn't get asked to leave anywhere and anywhere people did look a little alarmed we just assured them we were "making a movie" and everything was fine! One thing I did notice though was that when I was masked, people I was flashing a reassuring smile to as they walked past or lingered couldn't actually see said reassuring smile; just some nodding weirdo in a mask.

I did take the opportunity to take some stills as we were shooting but likely nowhere near as many as I perhaps should have :-)

Here's a few.

You can watch the movie here

This Too Shall Pass

UPDATE: Our film has been shortlisted! It will be screened this Friday Night at the Senate Rose Gardens as part of the Enlighten Festival! Woo-hoo!

Last year, about this time, my artistic collaborator Marina and I attended the screening of the 12 finalists in the Lights, Canberra, Action! short film festival. We thought that next year we'll make a film and enter*. Well 'next year' is now 'this year' and the film festival is on again.

Essentially filmmakers have the better part of a week to write, direct and produce a film of no more than 7 minutes duration. All shooting and production must occur within that time. There's a theme (this year's was 'Swings & Roundabouts'). Another twist is the inclusion in the film of items or places provided, scavenger hunt style ... I've included this list below.

So, true to our intentions ... we made a little film together under our arty-collaborative umbrella 2 Tens & A Tomato. The film is titled "This Too Shall Pass" and runs for 6m44s. It's presented in black and white and is a boy meets girl story about passing through a dreamy world of isolation and longing to find intimacy and hope in a roundabout way. Music was produced and performed by the wonderful Charles Sage (Hessien and The Rothko Chapel) solo project y0t0. His moody atmospherics work so beautifully with the film.

Anyways ... here it is. Would love to hear what you think about it. We're kinda a little proud of it and reckon it turned out alright considering we had next to no idea what we were doing.

*We also thought "how hard can it be?" ... the answer as it turns out is "quite hard really" ;-)

List of Items (see if you can spot them all in our film)

  1. A swing in a park
  2. A road roundabout
  3. A set of scales (for weighing)
  4. 'On the Road Again' sculpture by Ann Ross at Lyons Shops
  5. A ferris wheel
  6. The Mandalay Bus (in Braddon)
  7. The gold tiles outside the ACT Legislative Assembly
  8. An underpass
  9. The Chess Pit (Garema Place)
  10. The High Court (exterior)

An eclectic set of items and sites as you can see.

Lights, Camera, Action! is part of the Canberra 2015 Enlighten Festival and sponsored by artsACT.


Just because: Butterflies

I was up in Far North Queensland (that's FNQ by the way!) last week with the kids visiting relatives in Cairns and Townsville and I had the opportunity to travel up to Kuranda in the Barron Gorge National Park. It was hot. Barron Gorge NP is part of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area. It was hot.  Whilst there we visited the Butterfly Sanctuary and so here are some pictures of butterflies ... had I been a truly dedicated type I'd have annotated these with their proper species names ... but you can see that I haven't ... perhaps you didn't even notice until I'd pointed it out? Oh well, it was hot*  :-)

So, just because ... butterflies :-)

More pictures of the trip to come ... but first you know ... butterflies :-)


*Hot being a comfort index in Cairns of 42.8°C with 75% humidity.

Did I mention it was hot?

Headshots: Raoul Craemer 2

As promised back in this post, I present the clean-shaven headshots of actor Raoul Craemer...

Raoul certainly looks different sans beard and though he wanted the shots to be simple and neat, the photo where I asked him to mess up his hair has an edgy look to it that I just love. That one is easily my favourite of the session. I like it slightly more in monochrome too.

Here's a contrast;

It's likely a little too late now, but I still think the beard works. What do you think?

Hot Baby

On the same weekend I took photos of actor Raoul Creamer, I also did a baby photo session of four-week old Bjørn. Turned out that Sunday morning was hot and sunny ... it reached 39°C in the afternoon ... and heat tends to make for a hot baby and hot babies tend to be a little cranky. So I got loads of lovely pictures of Bjørn but they were largely split into two groups ... peacefully asleep or grumpy :-)

Here's a selection of the more peaceful ones ... I particularly like the one where he looks like an old-school Soviet Premier ... you'll know the one (it's the not-so-peaceful one)  ;-)

I've arranged a further session with Bjørn, who will hopefully bring his happy smiling face along, next week. Parents and relatives do appreciate pictures of happy, smiling children :-)

Thoughts on a show

I'm sitting in the café adjoining the Front Gallery, where my show is currently on. My opening was last night and I'm feeling a little bleary. My sunglasses hide the bags beneath my eyes that must surely be a giveaway to the seediness I'm currently experiencing.  I'm here ostensibly  to imbibe coffee and eggs and bacon to assuage my mind into a connection with the absolutely stunning spring day that is in full swing outside. I'm also here to spy ... to see who's looking at my photographs and which ones they linger over and discuss. From time to time I wander in to tweak the lighting or straighten a picture. I tend to do this when there are people in the gallery and I can have a talk about the images and how they were created ... people have been very nice and said many congratulatory things. I've even sold two of the pictures, one which has been hanging in my bedroom for the past year and a bit, I will miss when it goes to its new home. I will miss them all if they go. They're little pieces of me ... each one a photographic journey now rendered manifest and framed and hung upon a wall.

I imagine their new homes and spaces, there's a part of me that would like to visit them there ... to see how they inform and play in their new surroundings. Other folks will see them every day and I wonder about this ... quite inordinately.

I realise I've spent three hours here now ... becoming slightly more human with each coffee (maybe one more?) and finding myself gazing blankly at the other patrons in this Inner North Wi-Fi hangout, bent over laptops or skipping the world, reading their Kindles ... I notice very few are actually talking ... even the couples with mismatched devices are intently studying their own ... noone is reading a book ... not a paper one anyways. There's one couple; I'm not convinced they're an item though he wants to be I think and he's constantly trying to show her amusing things on his phone and she's looking awfully bored ... increasingly so the more insistently he appears to not read the body language and blind to the look of disdain each time he offers his screen ... but then he's not looking at her ... he's looking at his phone and therein lies the problem.

A bit rambling today but there you go...

Through a Glass Clearly

There’s a moment when you notice something. Something that catches and teases. It may be the curve of a tree or the lightness of a feather drifting on a warm spring breeze ... unseen but for its effect upon the small things. Mostly for me it’s about the light. The way light plays with the things around us and renders them beautiful or dramatic ... the darkness of shadows and that gradient between glow and gloom. Sometimes it’s about trying to capture and entire world inside something much smaller ... concentrating it ... refracting it back at myself through the transience of a water droplet or a glass sphere.

It is as much about the journey of a photograph. A sinuous chasing down of the beauty you saw that very first time, the tender play and rendering of a picture until a certain essence is revealed ... a little something of what was seen made manifest and shared.

That’s what these pictures are. They’re little fragments of time and space collected and coalesced and placed on walls ... distilled results of the myriad journeys undertaken to create them.

In these I hope to show you just a little something of the thing I saw.

The collection of images on show.

About the Title

Through a Glass, Clearly is a collection of four short stories written by Isaac Asimov and first published in 1967. One story in particular: It’s Such A Beautiful Day, is set in the year 2117 and presents District A-3, a newly built suburb of San Francisco, and the world's first community to be built entirely using Doors, a method of travel via teleportation.

When the Door that transfers him from home to school fails, Richard "Dickie" Hanshaw takes a dislike to the method and starts to wander outside in the unfamiliar open, exposed to the elements. When he catches a cold, Mrs. Hanshaw is horrified and takes him to see Dr. Sloane, a psychiatrist, afraid that her son's wanderings are signs of a mental abnormality...

Geoffrey Dunn is a multi-award winning and internationally published photographer. He is entirely self-taught. Through a Glass Clearly is his third and final solo exhibition for 2014. The title of the show is also a reference to the act of capturing light with a camera ... through a glass clearly...

The details...

  • What: Through a Glass Clearly - New photographic works by Geoffrey Dunn
  • Where: The Front Gallery - Wattle Street, Lyneham, Canberra
  • Duration: 17-29 September 2014
  • Opening: 6pm Friday 19th September 2014


Confidence and Value

I was reading a post on Nigel Featherstone's excellent blog Under The Counter Or A Flutter In The Dovecot earlier in the week. Titled The confidence of the threadbare, the post provided a short examination of how our society values the work of it's artists. In this particular story Nigel, a writer, was asked what he considered the dread question whilst perusing in a shop "What do you do for a living?" ... the question, perhaps innocuously asked by somebody wishing to make conversation stirred in our protagonist a dark reflection and mumbled reply. What it did set off was a train of thought upon how confidence and value affect not only our artistic or cultural contributions but about how we are perceived as artists.

Confidence and Value indeed. I struggle with these daily in the creation of my work. There's the dread moment when someone asks, generally well-meaningly or at least with some interest, 'what sort of pictures do you take?' ... I have answered 'bloody good ones' if I'm in a great mood and 'lots of mediocre ones with a few flukes that people seem to like...' if not so but that's demeaning to myself and my art. It's not a fluke that this creative passion nourishes me, gives me some measure of meaning and direction in this otherwise confusing world. It's not that I don't take a fair share of mediocre pictures either.
Putting on a show of your individual artistic works is another matter. Unlike a stage show with a duration of two hours, your work is on public display for weeks at a time. Will people like it? Will people like me as a result is perhaps a more self-accurate question. Do I care? If I'm asking the question then perhaps yes I do... if I were to stop to ask myself why I'm doing it I don't believe there'd be an answer - not one that would be intellectually coherent anyways. "I just have to." is the best I can come up with...

I have spent some 15 years as a semi-professional musician, dressing up on stage and taking people on musical and story-based journeys ... mostly for the love of it ... there's little in the way remuneration(!) and for that magical feeling of walking both on stage (that delicious tingly nervous buzz) and walking off stage feeling that you've been somewhere yourself ... that your exertions; physical, mental and spiritual have been nourished and refueled. I guess that takes confidence but funnily enough I've never considered myself overly so.

Having got back into exhibiting my work again this year (after a break of several years), running two concurrent and greatly different shows in July (all I can say in my defence was that it seemed a good idea at the time) and currently shortlisting images for my third and final 2014 show in September, I feel I'm almost too busy in prep to be concerned with confidence ... almost ;-)

As for value ... that's a tricky one ... well, I find it tricky anyways. I've not yet found the best quantitative measure to assess it. In an instagram world where everyone's a photographer, it's hard to see the artists sometimes. I find pricing the work on show particularly difficult. Too high and it becomes inaccessible, too low and and it loses value quickly ... the pricing I find most interesting is to ask a prospective purchaser what they think is a fair price for the work and then we negotiate from there.

What about you? Do you battle with these notions of confidence and value? Do you price your work? How do you do it?

In other news ... shortlisting and preparations for my solo show Through A Glass Clearly progress apace ... will post separately about this soonly :-)