John Lascelles – Roads I Have Ridden @ Wollongong City Gallery

A black and white photo is often a striking object to look at. The exhibition of John Lasccelles’ Roads I have ridden photos include many very striking images. Images are striking for many different reasons and there are a couple of reasons these were wonderful for me.

The first reason is that many of them were remarkably familiar. I have driven through places like Bowral, Bundanoon, Berrima and Wee Jasper. I have walked through the bush at Welby. Lascelles rides through these places on a bike giving him the slow closeness to the environment that comes from bike riding and his photos get the look in a striking way.

The second reason they were so striking was the simple beauty of the images and their elements. In black and white old deciduous trees often look starkly barren. Pictures of fog shrouded landscapes often direct our attention to the clearer elements of the images. The photo of the Bullio Tunnel on the Wombeyan Caves Road captures a remarkable natural phenomenon in a striking context.

In fifteen large format Lascelles has created a record of his rides that is engaging and shows the power of well constructed black and white photos.
Some more info is on the Wollongong City Gallery site:

There is some further material on the WCG site.


John Kukzwal and Marino Moretti The potter’s brush @ Wollongong City Gallery

On Sunday I got into the last day of a gorgeous exhibition of painted ceramics at the Wollongong City Gallery. The items were displayed in glass cases on white timber a minimalist environment to highlight the beauty of these objects.
John Kuczwal is a Wollongong resident and seems to specialise in a style called reduced pigment lustre. It is a rich almost murky deep toned glossy surface that Kuczwal uses to create pictures of animals and abstract shapes in soup bowl size objects.
Marino Moretti lives in Italy and seems to specialise in a process called maiolica painting. These paintings are striking in their vibrant colours and stark contrast with the glossy white ceramic base for the paintings. The simple attractive beauty of all these aticles is hard to overstate.
A third element of the exhibition is a sumptuous set of creations under the umbrella term of Gualdo Tadino Lustre. These objects have a historical provenance ranging from 1910-1955. There is a quasi medieval look to many of them. The objects are urns, jugs, vases and plates and every one of them is decorated in rich, bright colours.



Y Curate @ Wollongong City Gallery

A great idea lies at the heart of one of the current exhibitions at Wollongong Art Gallery. They asked a group of high school students to choose a work of art from the Gallery’s collection and write a blurb as to why they wanted it exhibited. So much of what I see in exhibition spaces has a single curator or a single media or focus. I loved this because it had some fascinating disconnections but each of the works had an interest level.

It was great to see the students chose some familiar people in the mix such as Margaret Olley, Jeffrey Smart, Robert Klippel and Lloyd Rees. There was a delightful fold out of Wentworth Street Port Kembla 2 by Kathryn Orton for some local reference. There was the dark post-apocalyptic Port Plantation by Jan Senbergs but perhaps my favourite was Ian Howard’s gluggy looking work called (untitled) (No 41). I have seen this or something similar before but I had to include a close up of part of it with this post.Image

ICT in the classrooms

As a high school teacher one of the ever present engaging issues of life is technology in the classroom. There are constant battles between aspiration and application, techno-boosters v techno-skeptics, technological types and end users and the worriers and the let her rip types.

As part of teacher professional development recently we had a teaching visit from two leaders of the Technology push at an elite private school. Our school is heading down a similar route to the one they have already implemented. The heart of the strategy is for every student to operate their day at school from WiFi connected devices giving them access to the internet at all times. The acronym for this is BYOD. The vision is to enable all classes access all the time to the internet for lots of facets of learning.

The first presenter mapped out the vision and the levels of implementation including methods used to manage difficulties and objections. She created a sense that the goal was desirable and achievable while in a realistic way mapping out the challenges. The session included some group work in which we were asked to address four aspects of the project and record our vibes about it. Inadequate time was allocated but it was the start of an important internal conversations.

The second presenter addressed many of the practical challenges of technology in the room. He revealed to us some of the advanced search options embedded in Google to enable students to better analyse the value of the sources they are using in their research. He brought us up to speed with some of the technological possibilities that are out there and showed us samples of video productions created by students at their school.

In my own post session reflections I found the issues in this area are fascinating.

Budget issues involve the tension between the cost of new technology offset against past school costs. A textbook in print costs say $50 per student (possibly per decade) and an e text book is say $15. A tablet will cost around $400 or about $200 per year for replacement loss and repair. The advantages of internet based education are numerous but who stumps up the $200,000/year for a school of 1,000 students? Where does the technological bandwidth and infrastructure come from for 1,000 devices accessing the school systems 24/7 from any location?

Classroom management is a big issue in IT. Schools could have policies to enable students to roam freely in quests for information and learning. There is bad stuff out there and there are students who have been known to do stuff in school that is less than the most desirable. Strategies to navigate the staggering range of options out there while keeping students on task is a challenge the dimensions of which make some nervous. The overpowering magnetism of a bmx bike on a single curving line on an otherwise blank screen trumps nearly all other learning for some students.

The fast change and conservative institutions create problems. Education departments and schools are inherently conservative. Technology is fast moving and transformative. Conservatives are not the only ones who have difficulties picking a path in fast moving times. It is a fascinating time to be involved in schooling and I am thankful that I am a junior level teacher and the big picture decisions do not fall to me. They strike me as complex requiring courage and good sense.

National Arboretum Children’s Playground

I am now a grand dad. This fact has revived all sorts of interests that have laid dormant in me since my children were young. I still remember going through a period of what was close to mourning when we were on a family holiday and our fourth child expressed no willingness to go to the playground. All that fun and shared enjoyment was over. Now it is back and my eyes dart as I drive through communities to establish the location and quality of the offerings.
We were up at the National Arboretum in Canberra the other day and saw that the new playground was opened. It is a truly attractive thing. As granddaughter was not with us I restrained myself from crawling through all its very robust parts but I was impressed just looking from the outside. It has swings and tunnels and enclosed timber pods for children to crawl through. It has that modern look with all the safety limitations that insurance companies like venues to build in but it was clearly popular with the big crowd of littlies and their parent in tow. I look forward to an early visit with granddaughter.SAM_2638


Telephones forever @ CMAG

I grew up in a home in which the telephone was a big part. We buried a phone with my mother as a recognition of the big part it played in her life. So when told of the display of Neil Bluey Baker’s collection of telephones at the Cabinet of Curiosities at Canberra Museum and Gallery (CMAG) I knew I had to see it.  He worked for 40 years as a telephone technician mainly at Parliament House both old and new.
The display goes from the timber cabinets on the wall that you cranked up through to the in pocket high powered computers of today. I am in my sixties so many of the black bakolite through the delightful pastel plastic dial phones are familiar because they were part of my life.
The big bonus for me was that when we were in the exhibition space Neil Baker was there and spent some time talking me through his career and the changes represented in the phones on display. His enthusiasm for the phones was catching and I for one was thrilled that he collected this stuff and for the CMAG people for agreeing to display the material.

Imagine Canberra @ Belconnen Arts Centre

In nearly every exhibition I go to there are standout artworks. They stand out for different reasons. Imagine Canberra is a collection of Canberra focused works of various calibers produced by students of art at the University of Canberra. One of them lit up my enthusiasm button because it resonated with my experiences of life. The artist in her travels regularly spotted gloves that had been left behind in various places. They were often outside and had been there for some time. She started out photographing them in their splendid abandoned isolation. Then she collected them and created a website of the photos where people could go and seek out their lost pair.
The artwork in the exhibition is a concertina display on large cartridge paper sheets of a selection of the photos of many of the abandoned gloves. The engagement factor with me is that I regularly loose stuff and as a ride to work regularly and sometimes put my bike on the bus I occasionally loose a glove. The second factor is the splendid abandonment of the objects in the images. Each glove is different and the contrast between the warm protectedness of a glove on your hand in winter and the cold out of place isolation of them in these pictures is quite striking.
I loved it as an idea and I loved the execution.