from one artist to another: Tuggeranong graffiti artist’s David Bowie tribute

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Geoff Filmer

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Geoff Filmer

When you hear the words ‘graffiti artist’ what comes to mind? Colorbond fences smothered with signature ‘tags’, young men prowling the suburbs loaded up with spray cans – their preferred weapon of choice. Once respectable suburbs looking more like downtown LA.   All of the above?

Well hold that thought my friend and take a look at this beautiful mural of David Bowie which is literally stopping walkers in their tracks on their early morning walks.  I’ve just discovered the artist is Geoff Filmer via Jil Hogan at the Canberra Times.

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Urban artist: Geoff Filmer

 

The mural is situated on the Ashley Drive/Clift Crescent underpass in Richardson. This site is one of a number of legal graffiti sites established by the ACT Government and managed by Transport and Municipal Services (TAMS). The sites are located predominantly in public spaces which are largely out of the line of site of local residents. The aim of the sites is to provide a safe and legitimate environment for graffiti writers to spray to their hearts content and are monitored by TAMS officers who remove any offensive images or slogans. The evidence is that the provision of the sites draws graffiti writers to them and thereby reduces the incidence of mindless graffiti tagging within the surrounding suburbs.  Geoff created this amazing art work with four other artists and credits the ACT government’s legal graffiti sits for providing street artists an outlet for their creativity.

We all express ourselves differently and the debate about whether graffiti is art or vandalism will no doubt continue.  Perhaps we can agreed one person’s graffiti is another’s, (ahem!) Picasso. The ACT government makes the distinction between community murals which enrich public spaces and graffiti which may not, depending on which side of the fence you are standing on I suppose.  The side where property residents slap their foreheads in despair or on the other side where the artist stands back admiring the mark they’ve left on the world.

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Geoffrey Filmer

 

I’d like to think this beautiful mural helps to bridge that divide and let there be more of it I say. In death as well as life, David Bowie, one of the world’s greatest artists, continues to inspire others. Those wielding the spray cans, who we may not ordinarily think of as artists, sit somewhere along the creative spectrum, especially when they produce a masterpiece we can all share and appreciate. Hats off to Geoff Filmer and his team for their labor of love an for sharing their work with the community.

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The pathway from graffiti tagger to street artist is not as long as we might think, especially when the results transport the street artists from the fringes of the community, right into the heart of it.

 

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a beach in Canberra – wtf?

Yes, you read that right. You’re telling me you’ve lived in Canberra your whole life and you didn’t know about the beach? Au contraire my friends, there is a beautiful beach on the Southside with water, sand, fish – the whole deal. Four words: Tuggeranong Town Park Beach. The beach is nestled on the shores of Lake Tuggeranong with access via Anketell Street close to the Lakeside Leisure Centre.   And with the mercury already well into the thirties, this summer is gonna be a scorcher. Tuggeranong Beach is going to be the place to cool off but I predict you’ll need to get down there early to claim your spot on the sand. And you can swim – it says so on the sign.

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Best of all, you won’t have to spend twenty minutes driving around trying to find a parking space and then feel grateful for the one you finally get four blocks back from the beach. Bondi is so overrated isn’t it? At Tuggeranong Town Park Beach, you’ll find plenty of free parking right next to the beach. And if that isn’t fabulous enough, there’s the lush green grass, plenty of seating, bbq areas, glorious mountain views and a fabulous play area for the kids. What more could you possibly want?

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Even better than that, with the Anketell retail and restaurant strip a five minute walk away, many passions can be combined with the beach (err but possibly not the most obvious one). You can enjoy a light breakfast followed by a swim, chillax down by the waterside with your wheatgrass smoothie, laze around in the arvo with the snags sizzling on the bbq while you sizzle beach-side. Or even, how about a romantic stroll along the sand at sunset. Monte Carlo dahling. Why would you bother?

So grab your swimmers, the kids, your floaties, surfboard (ahem) and come on in – the water’s waiting.

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Movie Review – Spectre

There are some key fundamentals audience-goers expect from James Bond  – Aston Martin, the gadgets, the cheesy one-liners and of course the obligatory seduction of a plethora of ready, willing and available women.  And that’s all before breakfast.  Spectre, the latest in the James Bond juggernaut doesn’t disappoint.  Daniel Craig is back and at his chiselled best as he reprises his role as British agent 007.  With Academy Award winner Sam Mendes directing, viewers are in for a treat of breathtaking cinematography, crazy-wild stunts and an action-packed plot which takes Bond on a globe-trotting quest to Mexico, Rome, Morocco and Austria.

Daniel Craig aka 007

007 hasn’t changed but the world has and that’s a problem for his new boss M (Ralph Fiennes), not to be confused with the old M, played by Judy Dench, who ended up sacrificing all for Queen and country at the end of Bond’s last assignment.  M sends Bond a message from beyond the grave which leads him on a quest to Mexico to hunt down and kill the mysterious Marco Sciarra.  While undercover at the Mexico Day of the Dead festivities, Bond makes a rapid departure from a woman in a high state of anticipation, to assassinate a couple of baddies and to pursue Sciarra, in doing so wreaking havoc in the skies above Mexico.   This unauthorised folly attracts the attention of his quartermasters at British intelligence.

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On returning to London, Bond is told he is likely to be put out to pasture because ‘agents in the field’ are seen as surplus to requirements in this digital age, especially troublesome ones like James.  Trouble for Bond starts with C, the new head of the Centre for National Security who tells James he’s shutting down the double-0 program intending instead, to sign Britain up to the new global intelligence program ‘Nine Eyes’.  C looks all of twelve years old but hey that’s progress I guess.  Bond’s antics in Mexico see him suspended from duty indefinitely – but since when did any of that matter to a man already living on the edge?

Before you know it, Bond is in Rome seducing the widow of Marco Sciarra who has barely been in the ground five minutes.  The grieving widow (the delectable Monica Bellucci) tells Bond about the mysterious crime organisation Spectre to which her husband belonged and which leads Bond on a quest to infiltrate the organisation.  The clock is ticking for 007 who, with the help of Moneypenny (Naomie Harris) and the nerdy Q (Ben Wishaw), goes rogue to track down and annihilate the organisation’s leader and in doing so, we learn a little more about Bond’s past.  Along the way Bond gets up close and personal with Dr Madeline Swann, (Léa Seydoux) who does more than just check his pulse.  When Bond’s limbs are being thoughtfully re-arranged by Mr Hinx (Dave Bautista) (one of the baddies who’s built like a brick shithouse), Swann leaps in to save him, as you do when you’re in your best evening gown and siren red lipstick, on a train hurtling through the desert at 200km/hour.  With the baddie eventually disposed of Swann doesn’t miss a step as she turns to him and says “what do we do now?”.  Despite obviously being concussed Bond does what comes naturally in these situations – he thinks of England and gets down to business.

Bond’s mission eventually leads him to him nemesis, and to a revelation for Bond.  Spectre is a fairly convoluted plot and at 2hrs and 30 minutes may feel overly long for some.  That said it is classic 007 and Bond enthusiasts will love it.  What I felt was missing from this movie though was laughter – I’m used to laughing more in Bond movies at all the eye-rolling clichés and innuendo but there wasn’t too much to chuckle at in this one.  Is it wrong to admit that, that was more than made up for by enjoying the aesthetically pleasing Bond, at his alpha male best, strutting around in his sharp suits.  The guys probably wouldn’t notice that but instead will enjoy the fifteen minute car chases, fight scenes and helicopter stunts.  And whatever glitzy venue he rocks up at – 007 he always gets a parking space.  If you havn’t yet seen it, strap yourself in for an exhilarating ride and put it on your watch list.

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five things I never thought I’d learn from a man

Occasionally the male of the species still has the capacity to surprise.  In a good way.

Here are five things I’ve learned from a man:

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picture perfect

How to fold towels

Yes I know – it kills me to admit it.  It killed me even more to ask how he did his folding.  When he folds them they look like five star hotel room towels.  They look great, they stack well in a cupboard. In a word – schmick.  So he showed me his technique and made me do it three times before he was satisfied he could ‘pass’ me on the towel-folding exercise.  Who would have thought?

it's all in the technique

it’s all in the technique

How to make great scrambled eggs

When I make scrambled egg I always beat the eggs before I add them to the pan.  When he makes scrambled eggs, he throws them straight in whole and they break up as he stirs them.  He also adds a little cream right at the end.  His technique is quicker and seems to work out better but how am I finding out all this stuff from a man?

How to build a house on YouTube

The same man is addicted to watching Bill the builder construct his own home on YouTube, step by step. The videos run to music with sub-titles and are regularly punctuated with tips from Bill who not only shows you what he is doing and why but also reminds viewers of the importance of having all the right equipment and safety gear.  Even though I have no intention of ever building a house from scratch I now know more about home construction than I ever would have thought possible.  Is there something wrong with me?

it helps if you're over six foot

it helps if you’re over six foot

How to put on a doona cover

I can’t deal with the regular struggle of trying to get the king size doona cover on the king sized doona.  I’m five foot four with normal length arms and every few weeks it feels like I’m trying out for an Olympic sport.  Here’s what he does.  He climbs into the doona by putting it on over his head. Then he grabs the corners of the cover and the doona itself.  Then he stands on the bed (isn’t that cheating?) and with a single flick has the thing falling perfectly into place.  The whole exercise takes no more than five seconds.

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How to make pan-crepes

It’s not a crepe and it’s not a pancake – it’s somewhere in-between.  He guards his ingredients and techniques like they’re a matter of national security.  I havn’t got all the details out of him yet but I know they are crispy at the edges and light and fluffy in the centre.  Let’s just say when it’s my turn to make pancakes we prefer to eat out.

And who is this man I’ve learned so much from?  Well he’s my husband of course.  But it’s taken me almost a decade to realise how domestically evolved he is…..because like all men, he pretends he hasn’t got a clue so he doesn’t get too bogged down in ‘domestic labour’.

What about you?  What have you learned from the men in your life – and can they still surprise you?

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the Australian Greens – the new black?

There has never been a greater opportunity for The Australian Greens than right now.

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Image: theconversation.com

Polling shows Tony Abbott and Bill Shorten are equally repugnent to Australian voters with their satisfaction rating falling to all-time lows.  The Greens are uniquely placed to reach for the middle ground and to scoop up the tens of thousands of disaffected voters who have lost faith in both of our major political parties.  If a week is a long time in politics, then the last eighteen months have felt like a lifetime.  A nation who voted for the Abbott government in the belief that a vote for the Liberals was a vote for ‘a better Australia’ have proven to be false.

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The fact remains, both the Abbott government and the Shorten opposition have failed to inspire, yet alone lead, this nation or to communicate with voters outside of their tedious three word slogans. The Greens however, with their new leader in Richard Di Natale and co-leaders, Larissa Waters and Scott Ludlam are starting to look like a genuine alternative.  Between them they have made some kick-arse speeches and asked some serious questions of our current political leaders.

Richard Di Natale’s speech in the Senate earlier this year painted a very clear picture of the current government’s failings.  And particularly when he said ‘that style of adversarial, negative, oppositional politics – people hate it, I hate it, we’re sick of it” will have resonated with many.

The planets are aligning.  If they hate it and we hate it then let’s change it.  If The Greens want to grab a larger slice of the mainstream vote then they need to start now, to galvanize voters and demonstrate they offer a credible alternative.  Then maybe, just maybe, this great nation can be steered toward a different and steady course and move away from the destructive pattern of see-saw politics we have seen for far too long.

Presently the Green’s power lies mostly in the Senate with one Federal MP and a sprinkling of state MPs.  This needs to significantly change in order to increase their representation in the lower house and to get to a point where they can offer themselves as an alternative government.  Stranger things have happened but the electorate is primed for a change.  They need to be convinced, if they vote Green at the next election, their vote will really count.  And therein lies the challenge.

On some policies, there is now no discernible difference between Labor and Liberal policy – for example regarding refugees.  The Greens however are committed to ending offshore detention, treating refugees with compassion and also to ‘Standing Up for What Matters‘ with policies that are socially, environmentally and economically sustainable.  The major parties are too ideologically entrenched it seems, to negotiate, give ground and to work with others to deliver outcomes in the national interest.

Politics has always been a jousting contest but over the last decade it has become a blood sport with political foes determined to keep jabbing away in the hope of landing a death-blow to those opposite. Instead, the real casualties piled up on the sidelines, are the Australian people, watching on in despair and wishing there were some grown-ups around to stop the fighting and to start the talking.  The Australian Greens now represent that sensible presence which has for too long, been missing in action.

I am a typical swinging voter.  I’ve voted both Labor and Liberal over the course of the last fifteen years.  I’ve also voted Green twice.  When I go to the ballot box, the reason I have not voted Green more often (despite supporting most of their policies) is because I feel like it would be a wasted vote.  The Greens have always have a core following of about 8-9% which hit an all-time high of 13% in the 2010 election.  They will need to do much better than that and I hope they can.

But before they do, they should consider changing the party name.  And putting the word ‘new’ in front of The Greens is not enough.   The name ‘The Greens’ portrays them as a niche party with a niche view of the world and nothing will change that perception.    Move away from Green and think about some new adjectives – progressive, sustainable, visionary – anything other than green. The party with its new leadership team, must now rebrand, re-establish themselves and tell voters who they are and what they stand for.  And that starts with changing their name.  It matters.  So when voters go to the polls in 2016, they can be confident and proud because this time, they know their vote will really count and this nation can finally take a step forward.

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Dementia – keeping hold of the person within

My gorgeous beautiful dad has dementia.  He was diagnosed about five years ago.  When we look back at some of the incidents which occurred in the lead up to his diagnosis, there were obvious signs.  But they were signs we only looked at differently in retrospect.

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Alzheimers Australia reports somebody is diagnosed with Dementia approximately every six minutes or at the rate of around 1,800 every week.  That’s a lot of people.  The impact of the diagnosis ripples through families to spouses, children, friends, carers and the community.  And although dementia is more commonly diagnosed over the age of 65, it is not a normal part of ageing.  We can probably all bring to mind senior citizens, whether in our own families or people we see on tv who are as sharp as a tack, despite being in their eighth or ninth decade.  Others may experience early-onset dementia and find themselves being diagnosed in their thirties or forties, a burden which must be even heavier to carry given their relative youth.

There are different types of dementia but essentially dementia causes a progressive decline in how a person functions.  It most commonly affects memory, rationality, social skills, intellect and physical functioning.  Our family has seen most of these in dad over the last few years.  Despite that and despite whatever might happen in the future, it’s important not to lose sight of the person within and to create a world and communities that are dementia-friendly.

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Alarm bells rang for us when my dad had a falling out with his sister and brother-in-law, to whom he was very close.  He accused them of spying on him and got upset and angry, ceasing all contact. We couldn’t fathom what he was talking about and it was totally out of character – we now know this paranoia is often one of the symptoms of dementia. There were a couple of occasions where he tumbled over but we assumed he’d simply missed his footing and didn’t think too much of it.  Another time when I was visiting, he was awful to my mother, shouting at her for no reason. She dealt with it by not responding or challenging him.  My dad’s always been a fiery Italian so I just thought he was getting a little cantankerous with age.  But the paranoia and irrationality were not characteristic of him but can is a part of the disease.

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The reality about a diagnosis of dementia, as in the case of my dad, is that the person they know, and you know they’ve always been, starts to slip away.  Dad’s always been a chatterbox. One of my favourite expressions when we’re chewing the fat is “dad, there’s always a story”. Because he’s always had a story to tell about someone or something – he’s never been the shy one in the corner. He’s the one who waves his arms around as he talks – one of life’s squwarkers and squealers with the big personality.  Sometimes people with dementia have difficulty word finding and of expressing themselves verbally.  Dad’s had a rich full life, full of funny sagas and yarns we enjoyed hearing about. But a few years down the track, dad is quieter.  There are fewer stories now.

But he still knows how to enjoy himself.  Here is is tucking into a huge plate of pancakes.

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oh dad – what would your cardiologist say?

I don’t get to see my dad often because my parents live interstate but I notice some of the changes when I visit.  My sister pointed out that he no longer initiates conversation which I realised is true.   If engaged in conversation he can still be quite chatty but he doesn’t start as many conversations anymore – it’s harder for him to organise his thoughts.  Also I’ve noticed that his conversations or replies don’t quite make sense.  Not all the time and not on every occasion, but enough to notice his thoughts are a little more muddled.  They live on the mid-NSW coast and his perception and understanding of distances has gone.  He thinks he can get a bus to Adelaide and be there in ten minutes.  The most awful thing for my mother particularly, is his assistance that “I want to go home”.  My dad has repeatedly packed his little suitcase and asked to go home – he says this a lot.  It is very upsetting for my mother, who on occasion has jumped into the car and said “ok, let’s go” and driven around for an hour with him before bringing him back to their home.  The repeated questioning from those with Dementia are distressing and my mother has spoken of moving back to where he grew up in Adelaide to take him ‘home’ because she feels if she did that at least he would be close to him siblings.  I know that if they did, my dad would then ask where he was and ask when she will take him home.  It is a heartbreaking battle against declining rationality.

I will always adore my dad and it doesn’t matter to me that he’s a little bit muddled.  There are other things which he enjoys and which have really helped dad and my mother to cope.  Dad has always loved music.  Throughout his life would often sing along to the radio or whistle while he was getting dressed or I would hear him humming around the house.  He still loves music.  My sister put together an ipod with a range of tunes we knew he’d enjoy, Andy Williams, Frank Sinatra, Frank Miller and big band jazz.  He loves it and will sit happily for hours listening and humming along. It’s made a huge difference because it means instead of the television being on 24 hours a day, my mother can put on some music which they can both enjoy and which seems to have a soothing effect.  This is one of the Montessori Techniques which is being used to assist those with Alzheimers – where there is a focus on sensory activities – doing, feeling, listening.  Dad does a great job helping me cut the tails off the beans.  We need more funding for dementia for sure, but we also need compassionate communities.

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I realised as well, the last time I was up there, that dad enjoys just going for a drive.  It’s a great way to spend some time, in the warmth of the car, enjoying the scenery with me pointing out points of interest in the landscape and him chattering along beside me.  He is much less active that he used to be and whereas he used to go up to the local cafe he doesn’t do that anymore although he says that he does in passing conversation.  The last time I visited we looked through old photographs and he surprised me by recalling both first names and surnames of old friends.  The pictures triggered long term memories and we both enjoyed the stroll down memory lane.

My dad is still in the family home and my mother is his primary carer but she used to be his wife – it is different when a wife becomes a carer first and a wife second.  It’s hard for her.  I know she feels she can’t leave him alone anymore, when previously she would do.  For carers it can become something of a prison sentence because a large part of their lives revolves around the one they have to care for.  And the majority of the time they do it on their own.  But we can help if we understand more about the disease, have compassion and to offer support.

Carers have to deal with the confusion.  My mother found my dad fully dressed at 3am in the morning one time.  He did not realise it was the middle of the night and told her he was going out.  Another time he asked what the people were doing in his room, looking through all his stuff.  There was no one there.  We realised he was having visual hallucinations.  I was told that re-directing attention in these instances is a good strategy to use, rather than to disagree with them or challenge them which can upset them.  My strategy with dad is “how about a nice cup of tea?”.  Tea fixes everything right?  My gorgeous dad.  I don’t need to remind myself not to lose sight of the person within.

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My dad used to love to cook – he was always the chef in the family and was never happier than when in the kitchen.  Dementia has meant that he stopped cooking several years ago.  My mother found him in the kitchen and he’d obviously forgotten what he started to do.  She helped him by saying – “it looks like you are cutting an onion Jim, would you like me to help you?”.  And by doing so, it reminded him of what he was doing and they continued to do it together.

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I don’t know how it will turn out.   The struggle with dementia for those affected and those who support them, will continue.  But we must also continue to remember that the people we care for, those with dementia, are still who they always were and who we know them to be. We can still reach them, perhaps in slightly different ways by reminding them through photographs, music and story-telling.  And by sitting with them and helping them to reach back into their memories to find themselves again, even if only fleetingly  – the person within.

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Frackman the movie – saying ‘no’ to coal seam gas

Dayne Pratzky aka The Frackman

Dayne Pratzky in his alter-ego as the Frackman says he is ‘the worst environmental activist the world has ever seen’. The thousands who have flocked to see the documentary ‘Frackman’ suggests otherwise.  Directed by Richard Todd and produced by Trish Lake (Freshwater Pictures), Simon Nasht and Kate Hodges (Smith & Nasht) the film documents Dayne’s five year battle to prevent coal seam gas conglomerates from drilling their way through Queensland’s pristine landscapes and the community of Tara in which Dayne lives.  Pratzky in his white Frackman overalls, turns out to be a real-life super hero with powers he didn’t know he had.  Read the rest of this entry »

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