Monthly Archives: April 2017

Is Our Modernist Architecture Disappearing?

“There is no there there.”

Darren BradleyGertrude Stein uttered this phrase when describing an American city she felt had nothing much to offer. She felt Oakland lacked quality. She felt it had no soul. Is Canberra such a city?

Award-winning architectural photographer, Darren Bradley, says ‘no way’.

“Canberra holds a special place in the world, including for its Modernist Architecture,” says Darren, who has written books on the subject and had his photographs widely published in prestigious magazines. “The city has its own true character and evokes a period in our history. That period was post-war. In the 50s and 60s there was a sense of optimism and confidence in the future. Much of the capital’s architecture reflects that and deserves to be preserved.”

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High Court of Australia

Darren is holding a talk this Thursday 27 April, at The Shine Dome, on this very topic. He’ll take guests on a visual journey, showing images of Modernist Architecture that still stand tall in the capital today. He’ll also show images of buildings that have been torn down or changed so radically that the original architects would hardly recognise them.

Hosted by the Design Institute of Australia (DIA), Darren’s talk is boldly entitled: Canberra’s Disappearing Modernist Architecture Heritage. He’ll challenge guests to think long and hard about Canberra’s architectural future and its architectural soul.

Many of us take our special Modernist Architecture for granted. When we hear the term, we often just think the obvious—our cultural institutions, like the National Gallery, National Portrait Gallery and towering High Court. Do we think of some of our churches, however? Or David Jones in the city? Or so many of the houses found in residential areas such as Red Hill and Deakin? Or even some of the bus shelters built during the era?

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David Jones in the City

“Modernist Architecture is striking because it’s minimalist and functional, yet sculptural and monumental,” says Darren. “It took advantage of new technologies being introduced, which is why we see so much glass, steel and reinforced concrete. It’s why so many of the houses built during the time are large, airy and open—with private gardens.”

During his talk, Darren will open up about how Canberra’s architecture is changing, and not necessarily for the good. He knows because he’s travelled here from the United States every year since 2010 for work. Over time, he has documented, with his trusty camera, our architectural landscape. “Canberra has demolished many precious Modernist structures, or modified them beyond recognition,” says Darren. “I see more and more bland, ultra-modern, anonymous office buildings being erected. This type of architecture can be seen in many cities in the world. How do they add to Canberra’s special character? They don’t.”

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National Gallery of Australia

Darren began documenting architecture in his home town of San Diego. He’d lived in France for a while and when he landed back in the United States he immediately noticed a major shift in the architectural personality of San Diego. “So much Modernist Architecture was destroyed or badly modified,” says Darren. “I decided to preserve the memory of what was left through photographs. I began posting images online and immediately gained a following.”

Darren fears that if Canberra doesn’t begin to preserve this part of our heritage—and immediately—that the capital with become ‘no there there’. Who wants that?

The DIA is the voice of professional design in Australia. This year it turns 70 years of age and to celebrate it’s offering a special ticket price to the event (only $15).

Canberra’s disappearing modernist architecture heritage by Darren Bradley.

The Shine Dome

Thursday 27 April

6.30pm to 8pm

Tickets: https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/canberras-modernist-soul-tickets-33554241640

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The Paris End of Canberra!

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The Paris End, Mitchell

Have you found the Paris End yet? Does Canberra even have a Paris End? Yes, it does!

The Paris End is the brain-child of Anthony and Rebecca, of Hummingbird Vintage, whom most of you know from ThreeSixty Fashion Market, and who were instrumental in organising the brilliant vintage and swing dance segment at FASHFEST last year.

As you would expect, the Paris End includes vintage fashion, accessories, art, and bric-a-brac, and brings everything together in a one-stop permanent outlet in Mitchell. “We had been thinking about consolidating for some time,” says Anthony, “and by the end of last year we’d finally worked out what we wanted, and, more importantly, how we wanted it to look and work.

 

“This place used to be a music shop, with nooks and crannies, and separate little rooms, and the previous owner didn’t want the ambience to change, and that was fine with us. So we worked with the spaces available to bring a little bit of Paris to Canberra.” And if you’ve ever fossicked around in the old shops of Montmartre, you’ll see the resemblance.

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Fossicking in Montmartre

But the Paris End is not all vintage and vogue. “Come upstairs and I’ll show you the top of the Paris End,” says Anthony. Upstairs? The stairs are somewhat hidden behind racks at the moment, but once there, the floor space is actually larger than the downstairs and is split into a number of separate rooms. The first room is beautifully light and bright, and although it overlooks the street it’s serenely quiet and calm. With polished timber floors and strategic lighting, this room is destined to be a small art gallery; launching and showing small exhibitions of local artists and creators—again somewhat reminiscent of the little galleries in artists’ collectives in the older 18th Arrondissement.

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Art in Montmartre (18th Arrondissement)

Along the hallway there are four more rooms which will offer relaxing aromatherapy treatments, where you can wind down, and have all your stresses massaged away while sipping on a peppermint tea.

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Vintage and vogue on offer at The Paris End, Mitchell

The upstairs rooms are not quite finished and the top of the Paris End will not be fully operational for a few more weeks. So watch this space!

All it now needs is a moody café next door with a husky voiced singer installed, and you’ll think you really are in Paris!

You can get your Paris on at: The Paris End, 1/56 Heffernan Street, Mitchell. Open now, and Hummingbird Vintage, The Paris End, ThreeSixty Fashion Markets, and other local and regional markets as advertised.

Bella Agostinis!

It’s relaxed, playful and a celebration of Dan and Dion Bisa’s ‘Italian life’. I’m talking about Agostinis, the latest addition to the food and wine scene at the award-winning East Hotel.

Kitchen from Hotel lobby Agostinis

This is the realisation of a dream for the Bisa siblings, who created Agostinis around their international dining experiences, their love of Italian food and all it represents, and their adorable and inspirational mum, Marisa—the matriarch of the family.

Chef Franceso (Frankie) Balestrieri, who always seems to be grinning from ear to ear, has created a menu that is simple, honest and not expensive given that virtually everything is made in-house—pasta, sauces, marinades, ice cream and even fairy floss.

The antipasti line-up is absolutely delish and will get your taste buds yelling ‘bellisimo’.

Italian Books on Tables Agostinis

Learn some Italian with Chef Francesco

The calamari is soaked in buttermilk before being lightly fried and it truly melts in the mouth. So too does the cured beef, which is sliced ever so thinly (it’s almost transparent) and served with textural elements such as crispy parmigiano and roasted hazelnuts. It’s a divine combination.

One of my absolute faves from the ‘primi piatti’ section, is the intriguing square-cut spaghetti (all pastas are served beautifully al dente). Frankie says this is a ‘true Sicilian delicacy with the taste of the Mediterranean Sea’, and he’s not exaggerating. The dish is created with love, by combining salty cured fish roe, garlic (what’s an Italian dish without garlic?), chilli, lemon and fresh parsley. Simply superb.

Another fave is the oh-so-classic, peasant-style spaghetti. It’s created with three elements—tomatoes that pack-a-punch with flavour, garlic and aromatic basil. That’s all it takes for an Italian masterpiece.

And, I highly recommend sharing the Bistecca Alla Fiorentina, the most succulent t-bone I’ve had in yonks. Again, simple is best, says Frankie. The beef is prepared solely with salt and rosemary, grilled to medium rare and left to do what a fabulous cut of meat should always do, and that’s rest. The roast potatoes are to die-for and I wonder over and over why I can’t cook potatoes like that.

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Pasta Tonnarelli Ala Bottarga

Pizza fans will quickly fall in love with Agostinis. The state-of-the-art, rotating Marana Fornit pizza oven is a marvellous beast that can cook 15 pizzas at a time, in a record 4 minutes. All pizzas are created with a thin crust, made in a special way by Frankie and his team so the dough doesn’t weigh heavily on the tummy. At the top of the list is the famous Margherita, always a winner in my books.

Desserts include a mini chocolate ricotta cannoli with delightful fairy floss, made on a special machine daily. It’s fun to watch the floss being made. Speaking of watching, you can sit at the bar and dine if you’d like. It’s mesmerising seeing the Agostinis’ kitchen team in full swing.

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Pizza Melanzane – tomatoes, mozzarella, eggplant, and basil

Agostinis has put as much love and attention into its wine list as it has its food. Several 100 per cent Italian-made wines are on tap and Bryan Martin (Ravensworth Wines, Murrumbateman) has been called in to work with the team, including on Beppo’s Blend. Agostinis uses the TAP. System, so wine quality is never compromised.

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Dine al fresco at Agostinis

The décor at Agostinis deserves a whopper of a story in its own right. The attention to detail is unbelievable. Designed by Kelly Ross, who also designed Joe’s Bar at East Hotel, the décor is a perfect pairing of past and present. Ultra-modern neon pink signs mix comfortably with elements that harken back to Marisa’s Italian origins. The colour scheme is intriguing. The tiles are beautiful. The striking feature wall, by graphic designer James Manning, which forms the centrepiece of the restaurant, is loaded with memory and worth studying. Everything has meaning, including the 800 metres of distressed rope, cut to lengths and hung on dowel rods to represent home-made pasta hung to dry in the sun.

Agostinis. East Hotel. Open 7 days. 69 Canberra Avenue. 6178 0048.

Out of Left Field!

Picture this … the sun is setting over a hillside garden looking over the vineyard, the tables are groaning under local home-made pâtés, cheeses and good country breads, and more importantly—the wine is ready for tasting! By Paul Stewart.

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LFW is at Clementine Restaurant for Food by Clementine and Left Field Wines wine tasting as part of Canberra District Wine Week in Yass and we’re here to sample wines out of ‘left field’ by six local producers, and with accompanying canapes and finger food.

I began the tasting with the Fumé Blanc from Sholto Wines, a small boutique winery established in 2013 by young winemaker Jacob Carter. This wine was neither vegetal like a Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, nor could I detect any minerality such as in a Sancerre Blanc, but it had a pleasant floral nose of its own and was easy drinking. A good way to start the evening!

To be honest, I worked my way through most, if not all, of the offerings without much of a plan except to pounce when a space opened at a tasting table. Up next was Mallaluka Wines, another small boutique producer using minimum chemicals and open vat fermentation, with the wine bottled at a fairly young age with the potential to mature further for many years in the bottle. Their Riesling was not my favourite, but a young lady commented that it was ‘very hipster’—not sure if that was a ringing endorsement or not, but its sibling, Cabernet Shiraz Sangiovese blend, proved much more to my taste—both accessible and enjoyable. Although some may suggest it could be characterised as a bit of a mongrel—this puppy sat very well.sholto wines

Returning to the Sholto table, the Barbera was tasty and teased my nose … was that a touch of clove, cinnamon or perhaps soft tobacco? A half step to the side and I was at the table for Yassgas! This small batch of ‘whatever was left over’ was actually very pleasant. I don’t think it will impress aficionados and snobs, but it slipped down easily with a playful nose and no rough edges—a glass of vino fun, if ever there was one!

The Collector Wines’ offerings were a Marsanne and a Sangiovese. I’m not particularly a fan of Marsanne but it was a good representation of the variety even though I wouldn’t buy it myself. On the other hand the Sangiovese was truly luscious—soft, generous, and drinkable; everything that one seeks in this scion of Chianti. Collector Wines is made up a group of growers with grapes farmed on the granite and reddish shale loams of the Canberra district.

Last, but by no means least, was the Yarrh Wines table. A slightly cloudy (and please don’t be put off by that description) rosé with a touch of frizzante, labelled earlier in the day as Nat Sem, was unusual and wonderful. With the aromas of ripe tropical fruits, this little lovely would be perfect to enjoy over lunch on some of the warm sunny days left to us in this autumn. Yarrh Wines produce a high quality range of small batch, hand crafted, estate grown and bottled wines, available for purchase at the cellar door, online, and at selected retail outlets.

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Breads, cheeses, and pâté at Clementine Restaurant

And now to the food! Overall the food was delectable, including a large round of Camembert layered with truffle, house-made hummus, and a ready supply of artfully created canapés, which went perfectly with the wines on offer. This had much to do with the skill of Clementine Restaurant and head chef Adam Bantock. Clementine opened in December 2015 and is well known by locals and more than worthy of the trip out from Canberra one Sunday afternoon. The food is inspired by regional French and Italian cooking and the 1950s weatherboard cottage is a comfortable and relaxed setting.

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Clementine’s Restaurant, Yass

For all the enjoyment of the evening, I was left with the lingering sense that perhaps these may not have been the finest wines on offer in the region, and that the Yass Valley still has a lot more up its sleeve. That said; it was a very pleasant way to spend a Thursday evening.

Photos by Paul Stewart for LFW

Meet Perry—my new travelling companion!

I don’t travel a lot—just a few times a year, but when I do I’m one of those people who take everything, and want it to hand, so everything has to fit into a carry-on handbag, backpack, or tote. By Aine Dowling

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The Perry by Sash & Belle

Totes are a pain. It’s just one big bag of mess, and you can guarantee that the item you need right now is buried at the bottom. How many times have you unpacked your tote just to get at the lip gloss? And don’t even think of popping your passport in there—you’ll be holding up the queue at customs for a good 10 minutes while you scrabble around.

A small good quality backpack is great. Lots of pockets for this, that, and the other; hands free, and everything stays where you put it … but let’s be honest, unless you’re backpacking, a backpack isn’t exactly chic, especially if you travel business (or first class)—not that I ever do, but one can live in hope. My High Sierra backpack has served me exceptionally well over the years, but I was getting a bit tired of the ‘I see you’ve got your backpack again’ from my co-travellers who all had neat little handbags; seemingly from the Mary Poppins wardrobe sale as I really don’t know how they fit everything in! Obviously they travel minimally—highly suspicious in my opinion.IMG_20170309_160404_127

I’m a bit of an electronics addict. I have my phone (as does everyone), Kindle (got to have the reading list), and tablet (for movies and shows), plus the iRiver music master. Combine that with the little bag of gadget chargers, travel wallet, glasses, sunglasses, wallet, notebook, business cards, crossword puzzle book, pens and pencils, magazine, keys, and little zip-lock bag of things less than 100ml that you can take through customs, and even Mary Poppins couldn’t fit it in.20170404_122746

So, on my last trip I retired the backpack. I had, some months previously, pre-ordered/purchased the Perry baby bag from Sash & Belle. Now you may think that odd since I don’t have a baby, but when I saw the Perry I realised that here was something stylish that might just be the thing to hold all my stuff. Other plusses were the water-proof lining, inner zip pocket big enough to take the tablet, and plenty of other little pockets for odds and ends. It also comes with a separate shoulder strap so you can also go hands-free—to carry your duty frees; what else.

The upshot was that the Perry not only took everything I had, but everything was visible and easy to get in and out, and, unlike the backpack, it went ‘under the seat in front’ instead of in the overhead bin. But most of all it was chic, functional, and received quite a few envious looks from my co-travellers. So even if you don’t have a baby, the Perry makes a perfect travel bag and/or professional hold-all.

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The Perry – back pocket

The Perry is available in a gorgeous muted charcoal and lined with a waterproof brown/cream stripe. Unfortunately the bag is currently sold out, but more are on the way, so don’t miss out—pre-order your travelling/professional/baby Perry bag now!

Autumn ChinWag (2017) out now!

Grab the latest issue of ChinWag from http://www.fosterdogs.org and read about two gorgeous Greyhounds who gave blood to help a very sick dog, plus heaps of information on foster caring and how to ‘let go’ when your foster is adopted. Do you know how to find your dog if he’s lost? Check out Lost and Found for some great tips by Canberra Lost Pet Database, a community service to help lost and found dogs reunite with their owners. Plus our popular What’s Your Breed? Recently Adopted, and Book Reviews.

Autumn ChinWag cover image

Our cover dogs in this issue are Australian Kelpies, Zion and Max; both of whom have now been adopted into their forever homes.

#adoptdontshop #everydogdeservesasecondchance #canberradogrescue

Tropical Sunrise

Tropical Sunrise may sound like a cocktail—come to think of it, it probably is—but this is about actual tropical sunrises on the gorgeous tropical island of Rarotonga in the Cook Islands. Here are a few shots for you to enjoy. Meitaki Ma’ata!

Sunrise on the reef and a calm lagoon

Sunrise on the reef and a still lagoon

Waking early one morning on our recent visit, I happened to glance out of the window overlooking the lagoon and saw a very pretty sunrise. Toying with the idea of going back to bed—it was 6.30am after all, and I was on holiday—it then occurred to me that I should be a bit pro-active and take the shot. Even though it probably meant I’d then have to rise at 6.30am every day to take similar shot.

Sunrise over the reef and Koromiri Motu

Sunrise over the reef and Koromiri Motu

While I can’t admit to rising at 6.30am every day, when I did, I did so to some great sunrises, and when I was somewhat tardy and up an hour later, I still managed to get a deserted beach, calm lagoon, and peaceful stillness.

Looking towards Koromiti Motu

Early morning deserted beach looking towards Koromiri Motu

Storm clouds gathering at dawn

Storm clouds gathering at dawn

 

Taakoka Motu

Early morning looking towards Taakoka Motu

Early morning paddle boarders with Koromiri Motu on the left

Early morning paddle boarders with Koromiri Motu on the left

And finally, my favourite … sunrise on the water.

Sunrise on the water - Muri Lagoon

Sunrise on the water – Muri Lagoon

And now, for those of you reading this who thought it was a cocktail … here’s the recipe!

Tropical sunrise

 

Tropical Sunrise

2 shots dark rum

1 shot triple sec

2 shots orange juice

2 shots pineapple juice

½ shop grenadine

cocktail decoration

Half-fill a tall glass with crushed ice. Add rum, triple sec, orange and pineapple juice and stir. Add grenadine and top with cherry and/or other cocktail decoration. Cheers!

Images by LFW