Archive for the 'Art' Category

The Kimberley for a Wonderful Holiday

September 2nd, 2013

OrionFrancis and I have just returned from a 2 week holiday in north west Oz.  10 days aboard the Orion, a luxury expedition ship carrying 100 passengers (with 75 crew!).  We added a couple of days in Broome and a day in Darwin to round it off.We have travelled on the Orion previously — to PNG — and loved it then.  And the superb service, restaurant quality food and comfort has not changed; many of the same staff were still there 5 years on. They run a number of Kimberley trips during the season, and my pick would be to go in June, when the inland falls are still in full rush, but little chance of rain to spoil the expeditions.  We chose mid August so the landscape was very dry (it’s the end of their Dry Season) and although we didn’t get them, apparently July/August can be windy.  Temperatures were in the mid 30s but nothing that would throw a Queenslander.  At sea we had cooling breezes and of course the ship was air conditioned.  Cabins are quite large on the Orion.

This is adventure tripping at the very soft end of the scale.  The expedition team includes naturalists, a geologist and in our case also some aboriginal art experts (from NSW and WA Art Galleries).  So we were well versed in what we were seeing, and it made things all the more interesting.  Every day there were a variety of expeditions to see aboriginal art centres, the Bungle Bungles, King George Falls, Montgomery Reef and Vansittart Bay.  Wild country with lots of history and extraordinary beauty.

Kimberley rock art The expeditions are often aboard the Orion’s fleet of Zodiacs (rubber duckies) which whisk you up rivers, through amazing canyons and onto pristine (though often crocodile infested) beaches.  Or aboard buses, planes and helicopters.  Great stuff and a photographer’s dream.  High recommended!

Of course there are other boats that ply these waters — from quite small ones taking a dozen passengers, up to the Orion with 100.  True North gets great wraps from friends and it takes 32 passengers.  None are cheap though and the most economical way to see the Kimberley is probably via bus or your own transport.

Our 2 days in Broome were also interesting.  A pretty town with distinctive corrugated architecture and a very interesting pearling history.  I have always wanted to stay at Lord Alistair McAlpine’s ex-home (an old pearler’s cottage he extended) and now a B&B with 8 rooms.  The accommodation is a bit eccentric  and not everyone’s cup of tea — many might prefer to stay in resort style at Cable Beach — but I loved it.  Do, however, make sure you get one of the larger rooms, preferably the McAlpine Suite.  McAlpine sank $500 million into Broome, buying up and restoring historic buildings (including the open air cinema) and the Cable Beach Resort.  He put Broome on the tourist map.  Quite a character, he now lives in Italy.

McAlpine House, Broome

McAlpine House, Broome

Surry Hills, Sydney

November 12th, 2011

'Far North Queensland -- Port Douglas 1992' by Brett Whiteley

On a recent trip to Sydney, I spent some time in gentrified Surry Hills, a previously rundown suburb on the southern edge of the city.  It now boasts some of the grooviest new restaurants, cafes, furnishing & homewares and edgy shops in Sydney.  Art Galleries also seem to be multiplying (7 are listed in the very useful Surry Hills Walkabout guides found in every shop

I can particularly recommend the Brett Whiteley Studio.  This is where one of Australia’s most celebrated artists lived and worked from 1988 to 1992 — and it’s one of Sydney’s best kept secrets.  The Studio exhibits a changing selection of Whiteley’s work.  Go upstairs and you get glimpses into his private world, with his sketchbooks, photographs, music and personal memorabilia.  It’s free and open on Saturdays & Sundays 10am-4pm at  2 Raper Street, Surry Hills.  (Don’t be put off if the heavy wooden door is closed with a note saying: “Warning, don’t enter if nudity offends”.  Often life drawing classes are in progress.


A Smorgasgord of Indigenous Art

March 3rd, 2007

Aboriginal Art.jpgGourmet Traveller Magazine’s March 2007 issue has a really interesting article about Aboriginal and Tiwi Island art.  It is accompanied by a marvellous photo of paintings exhibited on the white-painted trunks of palm trees in Darwin’s Botanical Gardens.

“It’s a world where politics is rife, where racial friction is a near-constant concern, a world that money and the market has warped, yet at its core there is work of great beauty and intrigue, a culture of great richness and depth, the longest continuing art tradition in history, that, though complex and in some ways closed to the understanding of outsiders …”

One Brisbane gallery that I can recommend, if you are interested in Aboriginal art, is the Susanne O’Connell Gallery in trendy James Street New Farm.  Susanne goes directly to the source, visiting the artists so that she knows the provenance of each work.  See what Susanne is exhibiting at the moment on

The Eyes Have It!

November 1st, 2006

peacock eyes 2.jpgI have had a commercial art gallery (that shares the space with Baguette Restaurant) for the past 28 years. I’ve met many artists in that time and I think I can pick a winner at 40 paces.

I predict that Emma Sheldrake is an artist you will hear a lot more of … and very soon. She has the talent, the drive and the intelligence to go a long way.  With 10 yrs experience behind her in graphic design, fashion and as an art director she is multi-skilled.

Her other persona as Dj Hoola (she DJs and hoola hoops!) gives her another outlet for her energy, sense of fun and creativity. She has DJd at the Lychee Lounge, Versace Hotel and events. Her love of old jazz fuses into a blend of house and electronica.

Her current exhibition at Baguette focuses on women — the images question, provoke or seduce the viewer.  These women look you straight in the eye!  To see more, go to  

“THE FANTASY ISLAND SERIES …. and other comic relief”

March 16th, 2006


APRIL 1ST TO MAY 31, 2006

Fantas Island Pinting Jim Olssen
Baguette Gallery shares the space with the restaurant, so you can enjoy some top art as well as good food.
Jim Olsson: “One of the great and enduring fantasies of late twentieth century European thought, is the idea of the noble savage living on a remote island. It seems everybody wants to escape to Utopia on the good ship ‘Lollipop’ with Britney (or Brad) for company.”
Brisbane artist Jim Olsson taps into this need with his stunning new series of paintings, inspired by the Whitsunday Islands .. but it could easily be Moreton or the South Pacific. The ultimate SeaChange.
For more images please visit Jim Olsson’s website
Baguette Restaurant & Gallery, 150 Racecourse Road, Ascot, Brisbane, phone: 32572884