Just back from five days in Alice Springs, where i had the pleasure of visiting the Desert Mob Art Market at the Araluen Arts Centre. Four hours, four gazillion works of Aboriginal art, all for under four hundred dollars each. I was counselled to avoid going early as the bunfights between serious art dealers over these bargains have been likened to the Myer post-Christmas sales – only uglier. So when i arrived at about midday it was busy but not bestial, and i was able to browse (like a child in a lolly shop) and pick up a few small hand-painted plates, mirrors and diary-covers – the only artworks i could justify purchasing given the lack of wall-space at my place.
I was also privileged to visit the Santa Teresa community, about an hour out of Alice, where they were celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Keringke Art Centre and the launch of a book about one of the most exciting artists to emerge from that centre – Kathleen Wallace (published by IAD Press). There was musical entertainment from Paul Kelly and some local musicians, traditional dancing, a big barbecue lunch, all followed by the cutting of a giant birthday cake for Keringke Arts.
And to top it all off, i got in a walk around Ormiston Gorge and a freezing swim in Ellery Creek, where the rainbow bee-eaters were having a feast on a tree branch above our heads. Hard to come home to Melbourne…
The consolation prize for heading back to the chilly south was an opportunity to see a preview of Richard Frankland’s new feature film ‘Stone Brothers‘ at the Nova Cinema in Carlton. It’s a kooky road movie featuring two Aboriginal cousins from Kalgoorlie, one Italian stallion, one transvestite and one big hairy spider journeying together across the Western Australian landscape in search of ‘home’. Plenty of giggles, plenty of hope and a feel-good ending make this a fascinating contrast to ‘Samson and Delilah’, the other impressive indigenous movie to come out this year. Next up – Rachel Perkins’ film adaptation of ‘Bran Nue Day’. Can’t wait.
If you’re interested in hearing The Conversation Hour that i recently co-hosted on 774 ABC Melbourne with Jon Faine (September 10th), you’ll hear us chatting with guest authors Jack Marx and Paul Kelly (from ‘The Australian’).
On September 18th i’ll be singing in a concert in the Melba Hall at the University of Melbourne, Parkville. ‘Songs for a Changing Planet’ features musical settings of the poetry of Michael Leunig, David Howard and Graeme Ellis by local composers Natalya Vagner and Johanna Selleck, and is a fund-raiser for the Australian Conservation Foundation. For bookings phone (03) 9758 2641
And on October 1st I’ll be hosting the Ian Potter Foundation Music Commissions awards night at the Melbourne Recital Centre. Two new Fellowships will be awarded to Australian composers, and there’ll be a special recital from musicians Michael Kieran-Harvey, Merlyn Qauife and Vanessa Tomlinson of works by previous award-winners.