Category Archives: LFW Your Canberra

Tempting Winter Warmers in Yass

Love the café culture, but getting a bit over going to the same places again and again? All it takes is a short drive to Yass Valley ‘country’ where you can warm your body and your soul with some delicious home-made soups, breads, pies and cakes, and great coffee!

Yass cafes_Kaffeine 2582 Eggs Bene

Kaffiene 2582 Eggs Benedict

“Yass Valley is home to around 15 cafes, and they all offer something a little different,” says Sean Haylan, Economic Development & Tourism Manager at Yass Valley Council. “From modern takes on coffee shops, to cafés set in picturesque and historical locations, our region’s cafés make the perfect place to fuel up when travelling to, or through, Yass Valley.”

The region’s main cafés lie in the towns of Bookham, Bowning, Gundaroo, Murrumbateman, Sutton, Wee Jasper, and Yass. Yass is a great place to stop en-route to Sydney or Melbourne—or even make it your destination—with a wide range of cafés near Federal, Barton, and Hume highways, offering delish home-made goodies. We often take a quick trip to Yass just because we can!

Yass cafes_tootsie Chilli hot choc

Tootsie Fine Art and Design Studio – Chilli hot chocolate

When you’re in Yass drop into Kaffeine 2582 for classic Eggs Benedict served with with ham, salmon or spinach topped with a house-made hollandaise sauce, or try a taste of Europe at Galutzi with a home-made spiced mince, spinach and feta burek. And, if you like a little art with your cake and coffee, pop into Tootsie Fine Art and Design Studio gallery in their beautiful 1937 art deco building—where the didgeridoos used to be—and sample their awesome chilli hot chocolate, which will definitely warm both body and soul. One of our favourite Yass cafés is The Roses Café—right on the main street and offering a great home-made selection of gluten free tarts, pies, pastries, and cakes.

Rollonin Cafe2 Hearty soup with crusty bread

Home-made soup with chunky bread from Rollonin

Moving on to Bowning; step back in time and unwind at the Rollonin Café. In this pioneer slab hut you can partake of home-made soups or quiche fresh from the oven, and their Devonshire Tea is wowing visitors. If you fancy a bit of literary culture, stop into Mayfield Mews where you can indulge in one of their gourmet pies including duck and shitake mushroom, pale ale beef, chicken with leeks and smoky bacon, or Mongolian lamb, and bone up on Aussie legends Henry Lawson and Banjo Paterson at the same time.  

chicken leek and bacon pie

Chicken, leek, and bacon pie

In Murrumbateman you can relax and warm up with freshly made pizzas using regional produce and artisan cheese at Win’s Creek Meadery, where you can also enjoy a mug of hot mulled mead to wash it down. Yass Valley also offers some terrific wineries and great scenery.

Roses GF leek and camambert tart with salad

Roses gluten-free leek and camembert tart with salad

For more information on cafés of Yass Valley, along with accommodation options, visit

Yass Valley Cafés: Bookham – Barney’s of Bookham; Bowning – Rollonin Café, and Mayfield Mews; Yass – Thyme to Taste, The Roses Café, Galutzi Café, Trader & Co, Café Dolcetto, Tootsie Fine Art and Design Studio, and Kaffeine 2582; Murrumbateman – The Village Café Murrumbateman, and Win’s Creek Meadery; Gundaroo – Cork Street Café; Sutton – The Baker at Sutton, and Wee Jasper – The Duck ‘n’ Fishes Café.

Walking the Walk at FASHFEST 2017 Model Casting

It’s the shoes that fascinate me. I’m impressed (and not to say envious) by the towering, tapering heels, and the fact that the female models manage to stay upright let alone walk a catwalk in front of four judges! That’s got to get them brownie points!


Image LFW

FASHFEST model casting got underway at the National Convention Centre on Sunday 4 June with over 400 registrations and over 250 hopefuls on the catwalk. Judging panel Victoria’s Models, Haus Models, Leighton Hutchinson Photography, and Devojka Models had their work cut out to select around 100 models to showcase designer brands and new collections at FASHFEST 2017 in September.

Avon_Dissanayake_Fashfest_casting 2

The great thing about FASHFEST is that models of all sizes, shapes, genders, and ethnicity are welcome—not just your sixers … female, size 6, 6 feet tall, and to that end there is usually a good choice for designers to choose who they think can best wear their outfits.

The judging panel were looking for confidence in the walk, creativity and style, and diversity, as the models walked to a thumping beat designed to keep everyone energised. And, strangely enough, when I get up to move to the back of the room I too found myself walking to the beat.

Avon_Dissanayake_Fashfest_casting 5

FASHFEST is now in its fifth year and co-founder, Clint Hutchinson, says it’s going to be bigger and better this year with more live music, art, film and multimedia, and FASHFEST is also on the hunt for new labels from both interstate and overseas—so maybe lots of new designers too. FASHFEST is also expanding its publicity wagon with up-coming pop-ups and activations throughout the city. Stay tuned!

Avon_Dissanayake_Fashfest_casting 3

Learning to walk-the-walk

Back to the model casting they learn to walk-the-walk in groups, pairs, and solo, under the tutelage of Susie Ellis, Director of Choreography; get head shots by the FASHFEST crew, and measured up by Braddon Tailors. Those chosen will have a few months to practise and perfect their walk and poses, and then be assigned to a designer. Good luck to all those who tried out!

Avon_Dissanayake_Fashfest_casting 4

Selfie time!

FASHFEST 2017 will be held at the National Convention Centre from 28 – 30 September with two shows each night. Tickets on sale soon.

Many thanks to Sparkling Weddings Photography for images.

Down the Rabbit Hole with a Boy and Girl

When Alice in Wonderland popped down a large rabbit-hole, life was never the same. New and memorable adventures were had.

boy and girl 1The rabbit holds a special spot in the world of Anita and Carlo Krikowa. When starting boyandgirlco, the couple wondered aloud, on a trip to Sydney, whether their pallet furniture business would hit it big. As they did, they looked down and saw a white rabbit painted on the ground. Another time—on a tough day—Anita and Carlo decided to sweeten matters up by taking a break at a bakery. The staff member behind the counter introduced himself by saying ‘Hello. They call me The White Rabbit’.

So where is this story going?

Today boyandgirlco has grown in leaps and bounds, with many new service lines introduced, including furniture rental, custom furniture, commercial fitout services, workshops on how to build with pallets, and even an emerging jewellery range.


The first piece of jewellery is a rabbit brooch. The rabbit is also the symbol for boyandgirlco’s Lost and Found line of sustainable clothing, which raises money for women and children who have suffered economic abuse and need to begin a new chapter in their lives. The brooches are made from sustainably grown bamboo and laser cut by a supplier in Melbourne. “The rabbit is a quirky, loveable character,” says Anita. “The brooches are made of a light coloured wood with black etching for definition and they can be worn by men and women.”boy and girl 2

boyandgirlco now also sell an extended range of furniture, with 29 standard pieces available, most featuring recycled timber palettes. Custom pieces are also made to suit any style and size of space. “If you can imagine it, we can custom create it,” says Carlo. “Whether you only have approximate dimensions, a picture for inspiration or even just a rough idea in your head, we’ll help bring your idea to life.”

boy and girl 5

Around Canberra you may also recognise the commercial palette work of this dynamic couple, including at The Barbershop–Canberra on Marcus Clarke Street, The Fix Cold Pressed Juice Shop in Fyshwick, the Cornerstone Café in Weston and Eight Stems, a relatively new florist at Kingston Foreshore.

It’s the workshops on how to build with pallets that has the boyandgirlco team trembling with excitement these days. The basic workshop teaches the ABCs of pallet furniture. You can also learn to build a planter box, one of the first items boyandgirlco sells and one of the most popular to this day. Or you can ramp it up a notch and learn how to build an Osprey Table. Sustainability is more than a business approach for the boyandgirlco team of six (more staff to start soon). It’s a philosophy and a lifestyle.

boy and girl 3

boyandgirlco’s efforts have just been celebrated at the Actsmart Business Sustainability Awards. A record 62 nominations were submitted for the 10 awards, ranging from waste minimisation to innovation to leadership. Businesses across the region were recognised for their commitment to making a change for a more sustainable future.

boyandgirlco sell the rabbit brooches at markets and at Cardif Collective in Kingston. The Lost and Found clothing can also be ordered online.

Mapping the Terrain—Architecture and the Hand

Architecture. Landscape. Jewellery. The Body. The intimate connection between these four fascinates contemporary jeweller Sabine Pagan.

Pagan Anew a

Sabine Pagan – ‘Anew’

Sabine designs and makes large, bold statement rings that might look simple at first glance, but don’t be fooled. Sabine designs by thinking about the position of the piece on the finger and its relationship to the hand as a whole. Her bespoke pieces have a special relationship between the round part of the ring and the detail on top, with light shining through the gaps between elements.

“Contemporary jewellery is about the body,” says Sabine. “My pieces are about the spatial and sensorial relationships we develop with our built environment. They’re not miniature but definitely wearable.

Pagan_Untitled d

Sabine Pagan ‘Untitled’

“When worn, the ring is unlike any other kind of jewellery. Anchored to the hand, a ring acts as an extension of the body. It’s visible to the wearer and viewer. I’m drawn to the intimate scale of rings and the roles they play both when worn and detached from the body.”

Mapping the terrain between jewellery, architecture and landscape is what Sabine will discuss this Wednesday, 24 May, at the 5×5 ACT Speaker Series, hosted by the Design Institute of Australia. And she’ll show images of some of her amazing work.

Sabine uses a range of materials including monel (a nickel-copper alloy), Delrin (a crystalline plastic), sterling silver, and anodised aluminium, and her biggest challenge is creating jewellery in time. “My work looks simple in some ways but is difficult and time consuming to achieve,” she says. “I spend weeks working on one piece.”

Later this year, the jeweller will design a collection influenced by Canberra, with ideas already dancing in Sabine’s head. “I’m thinking about the idea of ‘mapping’ since Canberra is a designed city,” says Sabine. “I’m also thinking of the four seasons and how that plays on light and buildings. I walk the dog around the lake two to three times a week and I see how the buildings and environment continually change.”

Sabine says she is an active observer and user of the architecture that surrounds her: “Its presence affects me. I’m curious about how I relate to, and interact with, places and I search for possible connections with the emotional sensibilities we hold towards the wearable object. Then, with a jeweller’s eye, I dwell on detail, function, material and craftsmanship.”

Pagan_Site Specific (1)

Sabine Pagan- ‘Site Specific’

Born and educated in Switzerland, Sabine is also a gemologist and educator. She established an independent studio practice in Australia in 1998 (currently working out of Queanbeyan). She’s widely exhibited and works on commissions and limited editions of jewellery.

This is the DIA’s 70th year in being the voice of professional design in Australia. The 24 May 5×5 ACT Speaker Series will also feature Tim Fulton, a graphic designer with Swell Design Group, Philip Quartly, who works in exhibition design at Designcraft, Jeremy Lepisto, a glass artist from studio Workshop Level, and Rolf Barfoed, a nationally awarded fine furniture maker.

“The 5×5 ACT Speakers Series is designed to be a stimulating evening exploring experiences, projects, successes and failures,” says Lisa Biddiscombe, President of the ACT Branch.  “And it’s about inspiring people to value design, promote Australian design and connect designers with others.”

Sabines piece - On the Way to Vals

Sabine Pagan – ‘On the Way to Vals’

5×5 Speakers Series, 24 May at 6pm, 12 Pirie Street Fyshwick. Non-members $25; Members $20; Students $15. Refreshments and beverages provided. Register here.


Life is a LEMON

For Timothy Fulton at least—life is a LEMON.

Timothy Fulton is one of 5 speakers from 5 disciplines who will each share 5 minutes talking about what makes them tick at an upcoming event hosted by the Design Institute of Australia (DIA).

Tim FultonA young graphic designer with Canberra’s award winning Swell Group, Timothy hasn’t always had it easy. In 2016, he was diagnosed with Still’s, a rare auto-immune disease that affects 1 in 500,000.

“I went from having a game plan mapped out in my head on how my career would unfold, to being in hospital lying on my back and unable to move,” says Timothy. “I quickly worked out that life isn’t linear and wasn’t going to play out as planned. I knew the quality of my life for the foreseeable future was going to be challenging and painful but believed deeply that I had control over my attitude and how I was going to respond to the shattering situation.”

Timothy is back on track, having been in remission for six months. As a young graduate, he now works at Swell, which has been breathing life into brands, digital experiences and environments for close to two decades. Timothy’s been awarded a Chancellor’s Commendation and the student prize for Best Graduating Undergraduate, Faculty of Arts and Design, University of Canberra.

Fulton_XO_09“The art of listening and being empathetic is the most powerful tool a designer can have,” says Timothy. “It’s exciting that we get to step into other people’s worlds, see another perspective and then use our design expertise to make meaningful change and help people bring to life their goals and aspirations.”

At the 5×5 ACT Speaker Series, Timothy will also talk about the challenges of designing in a fast-paced world and the difference between good and bad design and effective and ineffective design. “We need to educate people that there is a difference. Computer literacy is increasing. Design is more than being able to work and computer. It’s a problem-solving process that needs to be carefully developed,” says Timothy.


One of Tim’s award-winning student assignments—to design a cover for the annual anthology ‘First’. The cover explores the process of formulation.

So why is life a lemon for Timothy? L means life isn’t linear, E is for empathy, M for meaning, O for opening eyes to new possibilities and N is for learning to say no so you protect yourself and be able to do your best.

This is the DIA’s 70th year in being the voice of professional design in Australia. The upcoming 5×5 ACT Speaker Series will also feature Dr Sabine Pagan, a Swiss-born Australian contemporary jeweller, gemologist and academic who is working on a collection of pieces celebrating Canberra. Philip Quartly, who works in exhibition design at Designcraft will speak as will Jeremy Lepisto, a glass artist from studio Workshop Level and Rolf Barfoed, a nationally awarded fine furniture maker.

“The 5×5 ACT Speakers Series is designed to be a stimulating evening exploring experiences, projects, successes and failures,” says Lisa Biddiscombe, President of the ACT Branch.  “And it’s about inspiring people to value design, promote Australian design and connect designers with others.”

Fulton SWL_Office_02

5×5 ACT Speakers Series is on 24 May at 6pm at 12 Pirie Street Fyshwick. Non-members $25; Members $20; Students $15. Refreshments and beverages provided. Register here


FASHFEST 2017 is on the hunt for models of all ages, personality types and sizes to bring designer fashion to life at the red-carpet event on 28 to 30 September.


Model crowds at FASHFEST 2016 model casting – photo by

The annual model casting is being held Sunday 4 June at the National Convention Centre Canberra and only time will tell if FASHFEST smashes its 2016 record, with more 550 models registering to strut their stuff. While it’s serious business, it’s also a fun day, packed with wannabe models meeting new friends, snapping selfies, getting measured up, and—with butterflies in their tummies—walking the makeshift catwalk, alone and in pairs.


Walking the walk at FASHFEST 2016 Model Casting – photo by

“We look for different ages, body profiles and nationalities since our designers are so diverse,” says Andrea Hutchinson, from HAUS Models and one of the four judges on this year’s panel. “Depending on the final cut of designers, we might need mature models, athletic models, models with a sophisticated look or models from various ethnic backgrounds. And we need a mix of male and female.”

The casting is ‘open’ which means models don’t have to belong to an agency. Indeed, since FASHFEST is big on training, applicants don’t need previous modelling experience. If they have what it takes, they’ll cross the line and get to be in Canberra’s red-carpet fashion event. The only restriction is that models must be 16 years of age by the time FASHFEST rolls out that red carpet.

FF 2017 Model casting panel JPG

FASHFEST 2017 Model Casting Pane l-r: Victoria from Victoria’s Models, Tina from Devojka Models, and Andrea from HAUS Models

Joining Andrea is Victoria Schnabl, Victoria’s Models, and Tina Nikolovski, Devojka Models, meaning that all three of Canberra’s top modelling agencies are represented on the judging panel. And for a different perspective, FASHFEST’s Director of Photography, Leighton Hutchinson, will also judge.

thumbnail_FF_Auditions_Avon Dissanayake 58

FASHFEST 2016 Model Casting – photo by Sparkling Weddings

The models will walk to music organised by FASHFEST’s official music director, Ashley Feraude. The music creates a unique vibe for the day and helps keep nerves calm.

If you want to give it a go, register on form only takes a minute or two to complete and registration closes late on 3 June.


In pairs at FASHFEST 2016 Model Casting – photo by


Capturing the Moment

The collaboration between a photographer and a contemporary dancer is creative and challenging. Capturing movement at the perfect moment takes time, patience and skill, which is evident in Enigma, a new exhibition by local photographer Lorna Sim, opening 19 May at The Photography Room.thumbnail_16_Eliza_Lorna Sim_2015

Enigma presents the form and free spirit of Eliza Sanders, a young contemporary, award-winning and independent dancer, choreographer and visual artist who dances wherever the wind takes her. When Eliza’s in Canberra, she’s often found in front of Lorna’s camera. Lorna has been shooting Canberra’s youth dance group, the Quantum Leap Youth Dance Ensemble (QL2), since 2009, including alumni members such as Eliza.

During Enigma, Eliza’s dance was spontaneous, fleeting and emotional. Lorna’s challenge was to capture the moves at the right moment. “When she dances, Eliza is unconstrained by norms and is fearless in her approach,” says Lorna. “The excitement is the anticipation of what she’s going to do as her body moves and capturing that in a still frame. The challenge is that I never know what’s going to happen from one quick moment to the next.”

Enigma image 1During the shoot, Lorna experimented with a new flash working hard to predict what Eliza’s peak moments would be and then catching them as a still frame. “Eliza’s dance can’t be totally predicted or controlled, and she’s fast,” says Lorna. “The new flash gave me more flexibility but it still took ages to capture the elusive beauty of Eliza’s movements.” The images in Enigma are unedited, making them all the more captivating.

Eliza holds a Bachelor of Dance Performance from the New Zealand School of Dance. She began dancing at the age of five in Canberra, where she was born and raised. She has trained in classical ballet, jazz and contemporary dance.

Lorna creates art, marketing and documentary photos for performing artists. She regularly works with the Street Theatre, Photoaccess and QL2 Dance and has exhibited in solo and group exhibitions here and interstate.  Lorna has dedicated Enigma to all artists whose practice and survival is increasingly precarious. “This is a tribute to the courage these artists exhibit among all the challenges they face,” says Lorna.

thumbnail_11_Eliza_Lorna Sim_2015Also showing at the same time as Enigma is What Comes to Mind by Dörte Conroy, who has created small-scale, transitory sculptures and then turned them into permanent photographs. With the right light, Dörte’s images feature dramatic shadows. Absence of Sunshine, by Maurice Weidmann, is a series of black and white photographic prints that The Photography Room’s Director, Sean Davey, stumbled across at an op-shop in Yass. Sean bought 12 of the photographs, which depict theatre productions from Canberra in the 1980s.

These three exhibitions run from 19 May to 25 June at The Photography Room, an artist-run gallery that specialises in photography. It’s open every Sunday, 10am to 4pm. Admission is free.