Thursday, December 31, 2009

for you...

click on this New Years message to open fully!
   Sophia xo

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

'if you have a garden and a library you have everything you need...'

...according to Cicero that is. But it makes sense to me. 
I came across that quote some time ago but tonight I found it on the fabulous Maira Kalman New York Times blog "and the Pursuit of Happiness" from the 26th November, 09 post titled 'Back to the Land'

This delightful post manages to touch on some of my pet themes I've been known to bang on about - but she does it so eloquently, yet with humour and inventiveness of a great illustrator that she is. Do have a look at this post if time permits as I have simply pulled out some topical images - which takes away from the overall story!

This image above is from the Edible Schoolyard Project initiated by Alice Waters in 1994 (with considerable planning for the first 2 years!). In Australia we have the Kitchen Garden Project launched by Stephanie Alexander along the lines of the earlier project at Berkley in the US. 
During a stint teaching from 2001 to 2007 in Australian High Schools (NSW) I was amazed to discover what many were consuming during the school day, even in class. Missed meals often led to relying on energy from soft drinks, chips and chocolate. This confused relationship to food was alarming on mass every day - chocolate substituted for breakfast and could be purchased at the canteen - or from the constant fund-raising chocolate boxes on hand in class! 
When a school student myself (many moons ago!) and later as a young teacher in the 1980's there was little or no junk food in the schools where I happened to be. This radical change I found in the 2000's after not being in a high school for 14 years shocked me as I noted all the changes to the food story -  eg class parties consisting of pizza deliveries from franchises?! 
I had been following the Edible schoolyard concept and slow food phenomenon for a long time, buying eggs, even chicken from bio-dynamic farming friends when possible, visiting markets and cooking from scratch much of the time. Demographics where I was teaching favoured the franchised fast food industry and so some of the local schools reflected this.
I tended to observe rather than say too much about it whilst in the school context. My lunch box often gave away my interest in whole foods and conversations starting from this angle were less controversial or bound to annoy stressed staff. Instead of confronting this issue head on I investigated implications of these new habits re food that I was expected to pay lip service to as a teacher. I wondered long and hard about how education curriculum and school policies could avoid the obvious. Everyone was talking obesity but few were talking real food and habits of daily life that are nurturing in the big picture sense and how things work to make a whole!

What I loved about the edible kitchen garden concepts for schools (plus Jamie Oliver and others from around the globe running such programs) is that they are inclusive... all children in the schools where these edible garden projects are set up are able to participate and learn about growing food from seeds, nurturing gardens through to harvest, & bringing this food to the table as nourishing meals.  Here is a program that provides a complete understanding of where food comes from and how it is important socially, culturally, emotionally, intellectually and physically for a good life  and that there shouldn't be a dividing line between the haves and the have nots. I say this because the food and nutrition we access can be such a huge reflection of our socio-economic situation and educational opportunities.

Before i forget, after that dense thought process, also by Maira Kalman is this post from January 2009 (one image shown below) referring to Obama's inauguration here

see more at

Thursday, December 24, 2009

a christmas eve wish for you...

...its just started raining here and the mosquitos have decided to visit - I turned off the fan - a foolish step as that seems to keep them away. The rain on the tin roof is a distinctive  australian sound that is a delight to listen to - partly for the cosiness and partly because it is so dry and hot lately that rain is a blessing. I've been up late painting, after a day in the studio with a break to  shop for Xmas at a Twilight Growers Market. That proved a delightful hour or two chatting over the purchase of blood plums, finding a good piece of beef to roast and delicious ingredients for some special salads. I happen to love horseradish which led me to think beef, perfect as cold cuts on hot summer days.
I've been banned from cooking beetroot, a perrennial fav of mine, which I quite like with horseradish. Oh well... lots of herbs and greens and some haloumi and a pomegranate. Blood plums and apricots i hope will be delicious!
There was even a few stalls with suitable gift items - like a stand of Turkish ceramics where I bought a plate - and a stall full of pre-loved and retro linens. Purchased an excellent Indian tablecloth circa 1960's (?).
Back home to the studio - not much to do for Xmas day - no frenzied extravaganza here! An easy Nigella chocolatey thing may get made but whatever...
must get to library tomorrow...have just finished 2 novels so need to find something to enjoy over a few deliciously quiet days...

Blogging has been such a voyage of discovery these past 7 months and I celebrate all the wonderful people I've met (some in real life which was great!) and those whom I have had the good fortune to get to know. Not to forget the bloggers I've discovered in passing - thanks for the inspiration one and all! Every follower I send my very best wishes to and for those who are visitors, some of you frequently, thank you! thank you! ...for good exchanges and cheering me on or cheering me up!
Its late and past my bed-time so before I fall asleep at the keyboard ... my very best wishes to you!
I'll leave you with some words from Buckminster Fuller to perhaps contemplate as the new year comes closer! Cheers, Sophie xx

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

what shall I cook for Xmas?

I went looking for inspiration this evening and could not get past the wonderful Skye Gyngell who is to my way of thinking a true artist in the kitchen -  the kitchen that has carried her name far and wide is the the Cafe and Teahouse at  Petersham Nurseries at Richmond, in Outer London. Strangely I dont have her cookbooks given that I have drooled over them and have a strong affinity with her produce driven cooking which focuses very much on what is in season and you cant get much more local that the fact much of the produce is straight from the Nurseries' Garden.
Skye is Australian by birth and has worked in Sydney, Paris and London - gaining a strong reputation for her cooking at the Nurseries, publication of the 2 cookbooks above and also contributing to many publications including the Independent on Sunday.

via Mes Petites Miscellanees...

Although I dont read french I still keenly visit various blogs written in this lovely language... a little sad at what I am missing out on understanding - but nevertheless finding pleasure, mystery and inspiration in varying degrees! From the blog Mes Petites Miscellanes comes this charming image above which hails from Nick Bartoletti on Flickr.
The December 13 2009 post titled Ode a l'Oeil (which features the images below!) is intriguing in the way that is characteristic of Marie-Es. Have a peek if time permits and say hello - she's very sweet about my lack of facility with her language! 

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

striped palettes

An intriguing concept from someone with a passion for colour. Visit Kristina of to find out more. Her archive extends over 2 years with some excellent images and the corresponding colour codes. 
You can also go to artists who blog by the wonderful Stephanie Levy where she has interviewed Kristina Klarin on December 21, 09 to get the background story.

Monday, December 21, 2009

first read your book then build with it!

Tonight I found these wonderful images at and thought I must share them. Lately there have been many articles about best book purchases for Xmas, holiday reads etc, and I noticed that 30% of the books sold in Australia each year are at Xmas. Well...what to do with all the old books - here's an idea! Nov 14 post on this blog is worth a read to discover further links to the artist Jan Reymond's projects. The October 29th post which references Reymond's work at is also a good read!
As for scissors and paper rock which I'd never come across before - its full brilliant paper related things to swoon over. Curious after browsing to find where it hails from it turns out the talented Kylie is also based in Brisbane so I hope our paths  cross at some stage.
Transparent knowledge by

L'Arbre de la Connaissance by

Tree of Books by
Also love this - found at work below by Evelin Kasikov. Go to her website to see more of her work where needle and thread is employed in exquisite graphic works and book design projects. Click on sketchbooks under printed matter and concepts if you want to see what she is concerned with.
Evelin Kasikov

Evelin Kasikov

Thursday, December 17, 2009

finding one's camera again!

well it was never really lost - its just that I lost interest in taking photos for a while and so after a wonderful trip to GOMA today (read yesterdays post) with camera in hand - tonight when downloading I found some reminders of pleasant times and such things... this is a photo of a just tidied section of my studio - worth popping a cork to celebrate the clean up!

dinner with friends at home - north african flavours

dinner with friends at friend's restaurant - note the fab dessert -yes those legs were edible! Bravo Vanda!

gardenia's in bloom in spring in the front of house garden

my wheelbarrow herb garden

the rock garden (well there are a few rocks in there somewhere!)

tree out the front to of home - laden with seedpods

on top of studio shelf (note amazing seedpods in front!)

10 cm square canvas boards assembled together - thinking colour

work on canvas board panels - playing with ideas

breaking out by working on a large, free form idea - a month or two ago.

 painting from 2007 revisited - sanded back to reveal other layers and textures.

A great few weeks in the studio painting with recent confirmation of a show next March. Catching up with friends, planning a holiday and its quite nice I must say to have the year coming to a close!

APT6 - The 6th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art at GOMA, Brisbane

Today I was enraptured by exhibits at the APT at the Gallery of Modern Art. A good friend from Melbourne was in town and we had wonderful few hours at this recently opened show. All I can say is that I am so pleased to have the luxury of time to be able to attend the triennial over the next few months - the chance  to view various spaces at leisure, watch films and attend special events - most of it free and open to the public.
First up is the jaw-dropping taxidermied elk with glass and acrylic beads called Pix-Elk#2 2009 by Japanese artist Kohei Nawa. I took a number of photos from various angles in the attempt to capture the sheer visual delight of the glass beads. In a small room of its own, with extraordinary white lighting and an unusually low ceiling the effect once inside and close up was both mesmerising and mind-blowing. It was created with the support of the Fondation d'enterprise Hermes and one can see why such support was necessary. I had seen promo images of the Elk - despite drawing ones attention it had nothing of the impact of seeing it today. When you visit the Gallery website you can read more on this work and listen to a audio guide to hear it discussed - as with various works in this show. The virtual tour may be found here.

Installation: Escape! For a dream land - Jiten Thurkral and Sumir Tagra have been collaborating since 2000. This installation refers to the Punjabi cultural phenomenon of migration to Europe, Nth America or Australia in search of  a better life and the prestige that brings to families. Walls are lined with photos of the young who have left home. This was a wonderful installation to walk into and spend time in. Vivid - but not just in the obvious ways. The fact one could sit on the lounge amidst this domesticity - albeit rather stage-set-like - the sense of social aspiration and changes taking places was eveident. (Thanks to my friend CC for playing a part here!) Read more here and see their website here.

Thukral and Tagra
NOTE: I took many images today and will no doubt take more. The works on view are diverse and highly engaging. I have only referred to two works here which is a minute taste of what can be seen and experienced at APT.