I hope everyone is well and had a lovely New Year! This is my first drawing for the year 2017 and it is called "Peace Kitten" on account of the Japanese Kanji for "peace" that the small brown kitten is gazing at.
I went for a quick one hour saunter to the city today to specifically take some photos of a very pretty corner of Hyde Park that I've always admired. It is the Sandringham Memorial Garden and Fountain which was completed and opened by Queen Elizabeth II in 1954. It is a memorial to King George VI (her father) and King George V (you can see their initials and numbers on the two gates above). The City of Sydney has quite a good blurb about the memorial here. I've always enjoyed the jazzy orange mosaic of the fountain and the interesting design of the gates. Today was an especially good day to visit as the planting around the sunken fountain was very fetching!
Bosch is a detective series set in L.A. that is based on the novels of Michael Connelly (who incidentally had a large hand in the making of this series). I love it for the gorgeous aerial footage of pretty L.A., the excellent script and pacy plot. The ensemble cast is very well chosen and the title sequence is fabulous! If you are a whodunnit fan like me, you will enjoy these two series I think.
Long before the current Westworld was a twinkle in Jonathan Nolan's eye, Swedish sci-fi TV series Äkta människor was into its second season. Season one was in my top favourite TV shows for 2015, and this year I was thrilled to stumble across season two! It really is a superb bit of speculative fiction about human synths. It is gripping, compelling, thoughtful, entertaining and very funny in parts.
Presented and written by one of my favourite art historians, James Fox, this entertaining hour long doco covers everything you needed to know about conceptual art. Beginning with Marcel Duchamp in the early 20th Century, it traces the sometimes challenging, sometimes moving and sometimes very amusing history of conceptual art. Personally, I have always had a love-hate relationship with conceptual art, occassionally I feel it hits the nail on the head (Joseph Beuys for example) and often I feel it's just bad commercial practice, but I came away from this documentary feeling much more at peace with this very idiosyncratic and cerebral movement.
Mary Beard! She's so wonderful at making you feel enthusiastic about the Roman Empire! I have watched several of her documentaries about Rome and this four part series has to be one of the best. In it she looks at Roman beginnings, the cities and overseas Roman controlled states (Spain, England, North Africa etc), what it meant to be a Roman citizen and finally the reasons why Rome fell. I liked that because she is such an authority on all things Roman, you get taken on a "behind the scenes' tour of all the interesting sites and artefacts she has found over her many years of studying this great civilisation. The ostentatious baker's cemetery headstone for example was a highlight for me!
Much to my surprise, I really enjoyed this Disney animation. The plot is sweet and the lead character, bunny Judy Hopps, is very easy to bond with as she is a fetching combination of feisty chutzpah and endearing soft heartedness. The character design is totally charming and the styling of the "Zootopia" universe is quite lovely. I've already watched it twice!
Honourable mentions for my favourites this year:
Westworld - I found this to be a very interesting and stylish re-make/ re-jig of Michael Crichton's original movie starring Yul Brenner.
The Brits Who Built the Modern World - it looks at the beginnings and fortunes of five top British architects: Richard Rogers, Norman Foster, Nicholas Grimshaw, Michael Hopkins and Terry Farrell. It is in three parts and is totally a must see for anyone who's into the architecture and history of the last 40 years.
Halt and Catch Fire - season 3 - I've actually not finished it yet, but I am thoruoghly enjoying it so far.
This is my new print "Reading Books". The last book I read, which I highly recommend, was "Experience" by Martin Amis. It is an autobiography/ collection of memoirs that he wrote several years ago which I've been meaning to read forever. It didn't disappoint! It is very, very funny in parts, but also moving and insightful in others. It's a non-linear account of Amis' life as the famous son of a famous writer. I have read most of Amis' books and this autobiography has put me in mind of reading them again; "London Fields", "Night Train" and "The Information" being my favourites. I am quite partial to autobiographies and biographies and have read quite a few over the years and this is without a shadow of a doubt the best I've ever read.
The Willoughby Incinerator is an Art Deco gem that has been lovingly restored and converted into a a cafe and art gallery. Built and designed by Walter Burley Griffin in 1930, it is also very historic. As you may or may not know, American architect Walter Burley Griffin worked at Frank Lloyd Wright's Oak Park Studio (1901 - 1905) and then later won an international competition to design Australia's capital city Canberra in 1912. After he completed Canberra, he made his home in Castlecrag and set about designing and developing the three suburbs of Castlecrag, Middle Cove and Castle Cove. There are also several Burley Griffin designed stone buildings in Castlecrag that still stand in addition to the quirky suburb and street layout which anyone familiar with Canberra would recognise as being designed by Walter Burley Griffin due to its circular nature.
Anyway, I have been meaning to take some photos of this art deco beauty for some time now and finally this morning I got the chance!
Have you been watching Netflix's "The Crown"? I have, and I'm thoroughly enjoying it! I didn't take to it immediately: nobody truly looked like the royals and I was a bit put off initially by the depiction of the royals being "ordinary" etc however, its gorgeous production design, fabulous script, understated acting and possibly accurate behind the scenes historical detail won me over! I am particularly impressed by Claire Foy who plays Queen Elizabeth - she is really quite terrific at being very regally contained, but believably human at the same time. Most of all though, I think John Lithgow as Winston Churchill is the star of the series. I feel certain he will be up for an Emmy or Golden Globe for his performance here.
Anyway, watching him has inspired the following two images I cobbled together based on famous quotes uttered by the great man himself.
Ernest Hemingway, author of The Old Man and the Sea and A Farewell to Arms, was a keen cat lover. He had a six toed cat given to him by a ship's captain. Apparently, this cat's descendants still live at his home in Florida which has been turned into a museum.
You can read more about Hemingway's museum and six toed cats here.
One of my favourite landmarks in Sydney is The Sydney Harbour Bridge. I drive over it most days and every time I do, it is an absolute treat! Even whilst driving you can appreciate the aspect, the view of the approaching city and the wonderful cloudscapes. It's even better when you walk over it - the view is spectacular - so high up and all that beauty of the harbour and ferries and The Sydney Opera House below.
These paintings and drawings of the bridge being built are by local Sydney gal Grace Cossington Smith. She was born in 1892 in Neutral Bay (quite close by to where the bridge stands) and was a pioneering modernist Australian artist. I think these are some of my favourite art works depicting Sydney.