Ladybird's Flight: April 2017

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Autumn in NewActon

It has been a lovely autumn week in Canberra. We had sunny, warm days of 22 degrees celsius. The red and yellow leaves indicating the cooler nights and that the cooler days are approaching are really starting to put on their show. Plus a long weekend thrown into the mix with Easter at the beginning of the week. 

As the weather was so wonderful I took my work out of my home office and to the Parlour, Kendall Lane, New Acton. Fresh air, sunshine and a wonderful meal too.

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Potato and Carrot Soup

Are you looking for a soup that you can eat if following a FODMAPs diet? 
Then here is one I created the other night. 


1 large white washed potato
1 large Desiree potato
2 large carrots
3 cups water
3 Chicken Stock cubes 
(Gluten Free, Lactose Free, Onion and Garlic Free)*
2 bay leaves, dried
Salt & pepper for seasoning
Parsley, finely chopped 
Chives, finely chopped

Additional Ingredients: You might like to add leek leaves (the green part only), fresh thyme or bacon finely diced and sauteed for a different flavour.


  1. Peel and roughly chop the potatoes and carrots.
  2. Place the potatoes, carrots, water, chicken stock cubes, bay leaves, salt and pepper into a medium saucepan over a high heat.
  3. Bring to boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer. Stir occasionally. Cook until the potatoes are soft.
  4. Remove from heat. Take out the bay leaves. Blend or process the soup until smooth.
  5. Serve soup into serving bowls, then add a small amount of parsley and chives on top of the soup as a garnish.
Serves: 3 

* Chicken Stock. It can be very hard to find a gluten free stock that is also onion and garlic free. I have used the Massel GF Chicken Style stock cubes. They are also lactose free. 

Friday, 21 April 2017

Origami finger puppets.

One of my research projects this morning was to make a finger puppet for an upcoming article. 

Little Red Riding Hood was this first one I selected from the book without realising that the difficultly was 4/5 stars. I'm pleased that there were a lot of photos with the instructions to help me create the character. 

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Collage and reuse in Frank Stella’s prints with Alice Desmond.

Upon entering the Orde Poynton Gallery and the current exhibition Frank Stella The Kenneth Tyler Print Collection, one is surrounded by the large prints of Frank Stella. The prints of; lines, shapes, curves, cones, columns, domes, nets, collage, 3D, colours, black and white.

In front of Stella’s print The Fountain sit more than twenty people ready to listen to the lunchtime talk given by Alice Desmond, Curatorial Assistant of the Kenneth Tyler Collection, International Prints, Drawings and Illustrated Books at the National Gallery of Australia.  

Desmond explained how Stella artworks developed from a minimalist style print of straight and curved lines to his narrative abstraction works and then to the sculptural refined abstraction pieces like The Fountain.

Star of Persia, 1967
Port aux Basques, 1971
Talladega five I, 1982

Initially Stella was a reluctant print maker but during his 30 year collaboration with Kenneth Tyler and Tyler’s printing workshop Stella was able to develop his prints into a sculptural experiment of multilayered, elaborate compositions.

Stella often interacted with his previous works in the process of creating new works. He would reuse his artworks; cutting them up, printing them in different colours, using new techniques and layering them create new artworks. Stella used copper and aluminium plates, lithograph, etching, relief and college to ensure that the printing didn’t lose the textural qualities that he wanted to convey.

To illustrate Stella’s collage and experimentation the lunchtime talk audience was asked to study his prints and draw, on coloured paper, some of the shapes seen in the artworks. They were then instructed to cut out their drawn shapes and to share these shapes with the people next to them. Once they had around eight shapes they were requested to construct a collage that they could order and reorder like Stella did with his works. This was a wonderful demonstration of Stella’s process of repetition and reuse of design elements.

Stella prints were not just a reuse of previous prints. His imagery was also inspired from a variety of sources.

His narrative abstractions were inspired by children’s stories and folk tales. These prints are not illustrations of the stories rather they show the story’s impact and energy. One example of this are the sculptural dome prints of the Moby Dick Series.

The cabin, Ahab and Starbuck, 1991
Moby Dick Series (domes)

Another source of imagery for Stella were 3D computer nets and lines on the Canadian bank notes which are evident in his work The Fountain, 1992. This work is large, 231.1 x 700.4 cm in size. It was created using three large wood blocks and 104 metal plates that were fitted into the wood blocks. The overall image took three days to print and then Stella would make additional changes to the work. See a short video here about this work's printing process.

The Fountain, 1992

In the exhibition space there is a video showing the complex printing process for Stella’s works, this is more detailed than the one at the above link. After watching the video the audience has a clearer understanding of the arduous and intricate operation behind the creation of these art works; from the steel plate creation to the colour selection and the printing process. The video shows Stella actively tweaking the design and colours until he is satisfied with the composition. The prints are not just a collage of Stella’s ideas but also a collage or collaboration of the Tyler print workshop team. The video reveals how the team breaks down the design template, hand paints each plate that is re-pieced into the wood block and the process of printing the artwork.

The exhibition Frank Stella The Kenneth Tyler Print Collection is a feast for the eyes. It is intricate and colourful. It will be on show until July 2017. A full colour catalogue is available to purchase from the National Gallery of Australia Shop.

To find out more about the Tyler Print Collection go to

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

52-Week Illustration Challenge: Week 15

Week 15: Thread

I gift you my heart.
To tie my heart's thread to yours.
Please be gentle with it.

See the 52-week Illustration Challenge page for more information about this art work that I have created.

Thursday, 13 April 2017

The Fairy Tale in Australia Seminar 12 April 2017

In March an event popped up on my Facebook feed, The Fairy Tale in Australia seminar. As an emerging writer I thought that I’d take a closer look and see if this might be something that I would consider attending.

Fairy tale books from my childhood
While deciding to register for the seminar I took a closer look at the organising group, the Australian Fairy Tale Society (AFTS). I was intrigued to read that one of their goals is “Collecting original Australian fairy tales…” I wondered what they considered an Australian fairy tale as most of the people who live in Australia have come from another country (at some point in time) and bring their culture’s stories with them.  

For me my earliest memories of reading are of my mother’s fairy tale books, listening to the little golden book & records, and reading fairy tale books that were birthday gifts. So I began to think that this seminar being held on my birthday might be a ‘sign’.

This brings me forward to my discovery of adult fairy tale writing. Eight years ago when I rediscovered reading for pleasure I began to read Australian female fantasy writers. The first was Kate Forsyth’s series The Witches of Eileanan and from there I began to gobble up other writers like Juliet Marrilier and her series Sevenwaters. I loved both writers’ story telling style so when Kate released her books The Wild Girl and Bitter Greens I fell in love with adult fairy tales. Hence I was interested in finding out more about this genre.

Dorothea Wojner
On Wednesday, my birthday, an enthusiastic group of women gathered to explore Fairy Tales. Jo Henwood from the AFTS had organised a wonderful line up of speakers. 

First we heard from Dorothea Wojner, Canberra Jung Society, who gave a Jungian perspective on fairy tales. Wojner explained that fairy tales communicate ideas and images that people have culturally in common with each other. That the fairy tales we tend to like often connect with us in some way. That fairy tales contain;
  • Heroic struggles
  • Gaining of wisdom
  • Reoccurring symbols and motifs from literature, painting and mythology
  • Dark forces
  • No time or specific location
  • Actions rather than feelings and reactions
  • Numbering patterns
  • Tasks to complete
  • Successes and failures
  • Knots and sudden changes
  • Turning points and resolutions
  • One dimensional and depthless characters and environments

We looked at guidelines for how to interpret fairy tales and worked with the Grimm story The shoes that were danced to pieces. This story reminded me of a book I still own that I know as The Twelve dancing Princesses by Janet Lunn and Laszlo Gal. While was mostly the same story; numbers patterns, tasks, knots, turning points there were differences too, in my story the youngest princess marries the man not the eldest one.

Part of the enjoyment of fairy tales is experiencing someone tell the story. Jo Henwood, NSW Storytelling Guild, gave an oral example of an Australian fairy tale that she has written. Henwood gave us a dramatic telling of her story Harry and Grace (Hansel & Gretel). It was captivating.

Jo Henwood
In summary Harry and Grace were left in the woods by their father, a trapper, because there was a drought and not enough food to feed the family. Harry and Grace were shown by an aboriginal man how the environment can provide for all of their needs. Until Harry’s anger caused him to throw a burning stick in the wood causing a bushfire. In the end they were found by their father and they once again lived with their parents.

Henwood is a fabulous storyteller in voice, movement and word. She spun words with expertise and created in depth imagery of leaves flying in the air and the raging fire that threatened the children’s lives. She also illustrated how a fairy tale can be adapted to be more relevant to Australians.

Leife Shallcross
This story and theme led nicely into the next presenter’s workshop on ‘How to write an Australian fairy tale’ by Leife Shallcross, Canberra Speculative Fiction Guild. Shallcross began her presentation by explaining that for her fairy tales of our childhood are like colouring in sheets. These colouring in sheets are an outline that a writer can give details to when they colour in the picture. It is the writer’s choice how they take a fairy tale and add details to the motifs and narrative structure to create a new multidimensional story.

In this workshop we looked at three steps (an important number for fairy tales) in writing an Australian fairy tale.

  1. Use a childhood memory of Australian culture
  2. Overlay this with the ‘fantastic’ and motifs that are found in fairy tales
  3. Then look at how this fits in with a narrative structure
    • Number repetition
    • Problem
    • Use the fairy tale structure
    • Introduce new theme
    • Rework a fairy tale from your culture

When we applied these steps to ourselves the themes and motifs we chose were;
  • portals
  • food/bounty
  • walled gardens
  • drops of blood
  • hidden treasures
  • nature spirits
  • taming beasts
  • childhood quests
  • magic pots and
  • cautionary tales

Dr. Gillian Polack
So here we all were thinking about our favourite fairy tales and how to turn them into Australian fairy tales until we heard from Dr.Gillian Polack, Medievalist, writer and academic. Dr. Polack spoke about the history of fairy tales and how we need to be mindful and careful about which fairy tales we rework as some are fictional and some are based on historical events. It is when we rework historical based fairy tales that we might create cultural insensitive or even dangerous stories. Therefore, when choosing to rework a fairy tale research is required. It is important to make sure that you ask questions before you write the story. It all comes down to your own sense of responsibility and ethics.

With Dr Polack we delved very briefly into how fairy tales get to where they are now. That fairy tales are not always as old as we think they are and their collection is quite recent in history. The collections from medieval times were known as sermon literature that included fairy tales and biblical stories. Dr Polack highlighted that when fairy tales were collected the authors were often selective in what was included and they often changed stories to be more relevant for their culture and audience e.g. Grimm brothers 1812, Marie-CatherineBaronne d'Aulnoy 1892 or Vladimir Yakovlevich Propp 1928. A more detailed overview of Dr. Polack’s talk will be available from 2 May 2017 on The History Girls blog.

Erin-Claire Barrow
For a different view of fairy tales we were delighted by Erin-Claire Barrow, writer and illustrator of feminist fairy tales, on ‘how to illustrate an Australian fairy tale. She initially spoke about her background in drawing and passed around the room a number of her illustrations for us to view. Barrow said that she liked/s to draw everywhere; school, the bus, during lectures and meetings. I could personally attest to this as I sat next to her for the day and she created amazing sketches all day long. Barrow said that as a girl she loved to view fairy tale illustrations from the golden age; Kay Nielsen, Arthur Rackham and John Bauer.  Newer artists that inspire Barrow include Natee Puttapipat, Rovina Cai and Kelly McMoris.

Barrow had the seminar attendees’ workshop what Australian fairy tale illustrations might include in the landscape, for symbols, what people and which values/identity. Barrow then walked us though the steps that she uses when creating fairy tales illustrations;
  1. Choose a fairy tale
  2. Choose a scene – about 5 scene though out the story
  3. Research the clothing and time period that the story is set in
  4. Sketch characters with notes
  5. Draw thumbnails 5x7cm of each scene until you have one you want to work on
  6. Draw the line art
  7. Add the washes
  8. Add detail for background then foreground and lastly the character. For detailed characters; add detail of the background first then the clothes, hair and lastly the facial details.

We all had an attempt of producing thumbnails for a fairy story we like.
Erin-Claire Barrow's sketch book, drawings done during seminar.

The final session of the day was from Jo Henwood about ‘Fairy Tales in Australia’. She gave a quick historical overview of the fairy tale tradition in Australian post 1820’s;

Finally Henwood highlighted that there is a growing number of academic PhD’s written in the pursuit of the history of fairy tales and specific fairy tales e.g. Kate Forsyth’s research on Rapunzel.

Overall it was quite an informative day to mull over.  It was also a great opportunity to meet a fabulous group of female writers and story tellers from a range of literary groups in Canberra.

Other events that may be of interest in 2017:

Sunday, 9 April 2017

To take a day off from your life

I have been reading the book I don't have time: 15-minute ways to shape a life you love by Emma Grey and Audrey Thomas. And yesterday I finally did Experiment 1: Excuse yourself from your life for a day.

It was the perfect day to take out for myself. My son was at work and my husband was still away on a business trip. I still had our dog child but that was okay.

So first order of the day I made myself a breakfast of bacon and eggs followed by a very very long shower (thank goodness we don't run out of hot water...besides my husband is away so I used his whole day's allotment of hot water in one shower).

I decided that part of my day would involve baking something. Well cheats baking. In our cupboard I have had a Gluten Free Betty Crocker Brownie mix for over a month. I hadn't cooked it earlier because I needed to buy a new square baking tin (my previous one was retired when I moved house last year). I'm pleased that I did a quick and easy recipe so I didn't have to clean up the kitchen afterwards. I have to say that they did taste a little different than normal because they were G.F. but the chocolate hit the spot. 
Mmm chocolate must surely be compulsory on a day for yourself.


The next thing I wanted to do was enjoy the beautiful Canberra autumn day that presented itself. The sky was a little overcast but mostly sunny with a slight breeze in the air. I moved the furniture on the balcony to a position that I could fully appreciate the fine weather. I then treated myself by using my Royal Albert April tea cup, saucer and cake plate and my Duchess Tea Pot, because I deserve it. I then made myself a wonderful pot of Special Earl Grey tea with real tea leaves. 

I know that above there is a photo that includes Jay our dog and that I said that I couldn't see me blogging about him unless he was included in my work for some reason. Well here is Jay!

On my 11th floor balcony I had time to enjoy;
  • the book I am reading
  • and to listen to Janet Seidel's album Doris and Me
Following this my sister popped in for some tea/coffee, to eat the brownies and to have a chat.

The day was getting on but as I had no schedule, other than dog walks, I thought I'd go and get lunch at Parlour but it was closed :( Instead I took the opportunity to introduce myself to the new exhibition artist, Luke Chiswell. What a lovely young man. We talked about his art and the influences upon his art. 

This was followed by a late lunch 1:30pm at Twenty One Cafe where I had a scrummy lunch of chicken schnitzel. Another photo of things I don't usually blog about...a photo of my restaurant food.

I had a late afternoon walk around NewActon with Jay enjoying the last hour or two of the warm autumn weather. I took a few photos of the autumn colours and collected leaves for an artwork I am thinking about creating.


As it is a day just for me I had a short afternoon nap. In the early evening I played the piano badly including the songs; We've Got TonightGroovy Kind of LoveTake My Breath Away andBeauty and the Beast

At sunset I took some photos of the view from our balcony.
To finish off the day I watched the movie The Theory of Everything, the one about Stephen Hawking. All I can say is wow!

It was fabulous, freeing, relaxing day.

Friday, 7 April 2017

Exhibition Opening: Borrow Tomorrow by Luke Chiswell

Tonight was the opening night of Luke Chiswell's solo exhibition, Borrow Tomorrow. The exhibition is being held at the Nishi Gallery NewActon, ACT from 7 April to 7 May 2017.

That Feeling I've Forgotten.

I first came across Chiswell's art with his sculpture, Hold Your Head Up, at an earlier exhibition, Shake It Up

Hold Your Head Up.

Chiswell's work calls to me to look at it and then to take another closer look at it. Maybe it is the familiar materials juxtaposed with familiar memories that create something new. 

Tonight the gallery was abuzz with discussions about the artworks, Chiswell's techniques and the artistic influences upon his work. Viewers were wishing that they had the wall space to hang his large artwork Today is Tomorrow, 160 x 210. 

In the exhibition Borrow Tomorrow Chiswell uses materials from his home town of Collector, NSW. The materials are very familiar to me having grown up on the bush fringes of Canberra and the family hobby farm near Bredbo, NSW. 

Squiggy Gumtree and Me.

Chiswell has incorporated natural materials of; wood, yellow box ash, Collector dirt and rocks with acrylics, muslin and epoxy to create very interesting abstract artworks. Some of the artworks are very raw, earthy and industrially dark whereas others defy gravity. 

Rite time. Rite Place.

I wonder if Chiswell has ever been influenced by some of my favourite artists;  RenĂ© Magritte, Salvador DaliAnselm Kiefer, Mark Rothko and Rosalie Gascoigne. 
(I spoke to Luke Chiswell the day after opening night and he said that one of his influences was Christo, the artist who wraps objects and landscapes.)

However, I believe that Chiswell's work is new and exciting, it is an "exploration of objects with space, abstracting perception and scale." (Exhibition catalogue). 

Sunset At Night Shepherds Delight.

Chiswell's works call to be touched, if only you were allowed, they are textural. You can see how Chiswell's fingers have glided through the paint and Collector dirt (see That Feeling I've Forgotten). 

Please make sure that you visit the Nishi Gallery in NewActon to see Luke Chiswell's fabulous artworks. I will be keeping my ear to the ground and eyes on social media looking for his next exhibition. 

To see more about Luke Chiswell see his Facebook page.

Thursday, 6 April 2017

52-Week Illustration Challenge: Week 14

Week 14: Surprise

What big ears you have Granny! What a surprise it must have been for Little Red Riding Hood to find The Big Bad Wolf in Granny's bed.

See the 52-week Illustration Challenge page for more information about this art work that I have created.

If you are wondering what happened to Week 11-13 they are still on the way. You see progress pictures for Week 11 at the above link.

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Rediscovering Hans Heysen

The smell of pine and beeswax floats upon the air as he steps into the front entry of his grandparent’s home. The clinking of tea cups on saucers and voices from a robust discussion spills from the lounge room doorway. Upon entering the room his senses are further awakened by the smell of beautiful coffee and the sight of a table overflowing with home cakes and biscuits. The room is filled with visitors that have come especially to see grandfather and partake in grandmother’s afternoon tea. This image was created in my mind by Chris Heysen’s fond recollections about his grandfather Hans Heysen, his extended family and the family home, ‘The Cedars’ near Hahndorf, South Australia.

Appropriately it was a lovely autumn afternoon when more than 50 people gathered in a conference room at the National Library of Australia to partake in a discussion about the famous German born South Australian artist Hans Heysen and his daughter Nora Heysen.
Lou Klepac, Art Historian and Publisher, spoke passionately about the importance for the Australian public to recognise this long neglected artist. Heysen’s art has long been neglected due to modernism and the sale of his lesser art works at auctions as galleries and art collectors alike retain Heysen’s finest drawings and watercolour paintings. Some of those finest art works includes;
  • "Mystic Morn” 1904 Art Gallery of South Australia, winner of the 1904 Wynne Prize for Australian landscape, judged by the Trustees of the Art Gallery of New South Wales.
  • “Red Gold” 1913 Art Gallery of South Australia
  • “The three gums” 1915-1920 Ballarat Fine Art Gallery
  • “Droving into the light” 1914-1921 Art Gallery of South Australia

Heysen is most famously known for his landscapes with the themes of trees, sheep, cows and the Flinders’ Ranges.  Klepac described Heysen as a “great draftsman” that had the ability to “add element after element into the landscape” creating a picture of nature. Klepac said that Heysen’s work showed “light, volume, space and air”.

The audience enjoyed a short film by Scott Hicks, husband of Kerry Heysen-Hicks that showcased the Heysen home through the eyes of Barry Humphries and David Dridan (student of Hans Heysen). Barry Humphries called Hans Heysen Australia’s “greatest landscape painter.” The long-time home (1912-1968) and studio of Heysen, ‘The  Cedars’ in the Onkaparinga Valley, is a place of pilgrimage for many who want to see his studio as it was when he painted, filled with his tools of the trade and “brushes that are 50 years old,” according to Dridan. The rooms in the house also contain the original furniture of the family home and display artworks by the family. The preservation and maintenance for this historic property are now the responsibility of the Hans Heysen Heritage Foundation.

Grandson, Chris Heysen, spoke further about the plan for the Hans Heysen Heritage Foundation to continue to preserve the heritage of this important part of Australian art history. That the Foundation seeks further donations to acquire land surrounding the homestead, to preserve “the largest stand of white gums in the Adelaide Hills” and to build an Art Centre to house a gallery to display the 200 plus Heysen art works and to include an interpretive facility.

The collection event was made possible through Nora Heysen’s Bequest, 2003, to the National Library of Australia (NLA). As part of this bequest the NLA is to promote the legacy of Nora’s father, Hans Heysen but one cannot do this without speaking about Nora Heysen, a talented artist in her own right. Nora was the first female artist to win the Archibald Prize in 1938.

Nora Heysen grew up at ‘The Cedars’ but moved away to live at her own home ‘The Chalet’ in Hunter’s Hill, New South Wales. Nat Williams, NLA Treasures Curator, outlined the types of objects held in the collection for both Hans and Nora Heysen. The collection includes;
  • Books
  • Manuscripts
  • 90 boxes of letters, including correspondence between Nora and both her parents
  • Painting and drawings
  • Photographs
  • Ephemera, including Hans Heysen’s paint box and pallet 
  • Newspaper articles some available via Trove 
  • and Sound recordings

Williams regaled us with a story from Nora that she would produce new self-portraits whenever she moved into “a new room, studio or home.” He also shared that in her interview after winning the Archibald Prize in 1938 Nora was asked “What are your 3 favourite dishes?” she responded with “Hungarian Goulash, Chilean Stuffed Green Peppers and Duck with Olive Sauce.” William’s implored the audience to visit the NLA website to listen to interviews recorded by both Nora and Hans Heysen (see the reference list below for a link to some of these).

I have to say that I am pleased that Nora championed her father Hans so vehemently and that she included this as part of her bequest to the NLA otherwise myself and other’s would have not discovered as much about the family as we did at this event. We too would have continued to remember Hans and Nora Heysen but maybe have neglected as other have before us.


Art Gallery New South Wales, Archibald Prize Winner for 1938, viewed 3 April 2017

Art Gallery of South Australia 2008, Hans Heysen Droving into the light, National Gallery of Australia, viewed 3 April 2017,

Art Gallery of South Australia 2008, Hans Heysen Mystic Morn, National Gallery of Australia, viewed 3 April 2017,

Art Gallery of South Australia 2008, Hans Heysen Red Gold, National Gallery of Australia, viewed 3 April 2017,

Art Gallery of South Australia 2008, Hans Heysen The three gums, National Gallery of Australia, viewed 3 April 2017,

Evans, S. 2016, Monet and MONA rolled into one as $14m Heysen supercharge accelerates, Australian Financial Review, viewed 3 April 2017,

Heysen, H. 1960, Hans Heysen interviewed by Hazel de Berg in the Hazel de Berg collection [sound recording]. National Library of Australia, viewed 3 April 2017,

Heysen, N. 1965, Nora Heysen interviewed by Hazel de Berg in the Hazel de Berg collection [sound recording], National Library of Australia, viewed 3 April 2017,

National Portrait Gallery 2017, Nora Heysen 'This peaceful spot', National Portrait Gallery, viewed 3 April 2017,

Opie, R 2016, Sir Hans Heysen's Adelaide Hills home The Cedars granted $3.5 million, News ABC, viewed 3 April 2017,

The Cedars, Heysen – The Cedars, The Cedars, viewed 3 April 2017,