Monthly Archives: May 2011

Affordable Art?

I’m not sure what I was expecting… maybe affordable art? Maybe affordable art in MY price range? Affordable art seemed to be starting from $1,000 – I guess that’s fair, if I poured my heart and soul into something, I would like to think the value is on the upper of $1,000. But maybe some re-branding is needed. Accessible Art Fair?

Inside the beautiful Royal Exhibition Building

It was nice to spend a rainy afternoon browsing the stalls, some by galleries and others were the artists’ own. It was lovely being able to talk directly to the artists, finding out their inspiration.

I love art. I love staring at something and seeing something different each time. I love how a piece evokes a certain emotion and I am in awe of artists. A few friends of mine create some amazing art. One friend used string to create two round sculpture pieces (I’m sure she would explain the concept better) that sat on the ground. I’m not too pompous about art, as it’s rather subjective and I like to go with my first instinct. Does that mean I judge a book by the cover? Woah, I think that’s a whole other post… or blog even! Anyway, some standout art from the Affordable Accessible Art Fair for me were:

Emma Hack is a skin illustrator, photographer and sculptor, among other things. I fell in love with her Florence Broadhurst Mandala Collection 2010 that combines the much loved wallpaper designs in a collage background into which the muse is artfully blended in by body art. I love that her piece, such as Exotic Bird (see picture above), uses different mediums to create one piece. Her skin illustration is amazing. Check out the documentary video about the Wallpaper Collection.

Problems viewing the video? Click here

Chloe Planinsek is not a ‘typical’ artist, her desire to create art was born from not being able to find something for her home. Gee, I was I could whip something up like the Rhapsody (see picture below) from her Colour collection. This painting grabbed me because of its movement and texture.

Sarah Gully’s Friends and Parasites Collection at Red Gallery. I loved this quirky collection made up from drawings and miniature oil paintings with ornate frames. For this series, Sarah has taken inspiration from Old Master portraiture, but rather than focusing on the subject or the dark Renaissance interiors, Sarah instead looks past the figure to re-invent these landscape views with hybrid creatures. Each image is meticulously painted on specially prepared wood panels and worked in layers of oils and glazes.

There were soooooo many other artists, like Ian Penney and his astounding intricate paper-cut piece that was at least 100 x 39 cm in size. Overall, even though I came away empty handed, I had a wonderful time seeing so many different things under one roof.

Do you have a favourite style of art or artist?


Soothing Sunday.

Sunday is always good when it starts with a bit of a sleep in. Followed up some delicious yum cha (officially known everywhere else in the world as ‘dim sum’) at Shark Fin House*. Though yum cha is better in the ‘burbs, Sharks Fin House satisfies my appetite. I have to have the following dishes whenever I go, otherwise it’s not satisfying, like I’ve missed something.

  • Pork dumpling (siu maai): Small steamed dumplings with either pork, prawns or both inside a thin wheat flour wrapper. Usually topped off with crab roe and mushroom.
  • Rice noodle rolls (cheong fan): These are wide rice noodles that are steamed and then rolled, served with soy sauce. They are often filled with beef, dough fritter (like a friend doughnut, sooo good in Hong Kong), prawn, and barbecued pork.
  • Spare ribs: It is typically steamed with douchi or fermented black beans and sometimes sliced chilli (taste much better than described).
  • Taro dumpling (wu gok): This is made with mashed taro, stuffed with diced shiitake mushrooms, shrimp and pork, deep-fried in crispy batter.
  • Finally, the egg tart (daan taat): composed of a base made from a flaky puff pastry with an egg custard filling. The ones today was soooo flaky and warm, I had 2!

Afterwards we took a lovely stroll to the Royal Exhibition Building for Melbourne’s Affordable Art Fair, which was planned for the Saturday but spent a little too much time in Windsor/Prahran area… Ooops.

So stay tuned about a post on that. In the meantime, do you have a yum cha place you like? What are your favourite dishes?

*The Shark Fin Group has four restaurants, two are in the city, Shark Fin House and Shark Fin Inn. House, in my humble opinion trumps Inn, easily.

images are credited to: and Mr Affair

Friday Frivolities.

Everybody seems to be in a better mood on Fridays, possibly because of the impending weekend and a cause for celebration or relief. However, did you know that in several Middle Eastern countries such as Saudi Arabia and Iran, Friday is the last day of the weekend and Saturday is the first workday and that Iran has only one weekend day and we complain two days is not enough!

Anyway, one of my favourite labels, Gorman released a whimsical video for her Autumn/Winter collection. It’s very Gorman: girly, whimsical with a slight edge (the music and the darker features of the model). I might not like all the outfits, but I really like the concept. I have had my eye on the luscious scarf with the cute pom-pom on the end (check out the spotty bike, very similar to the one I blogged about here).

It will depend if I purchase anything here tomorrow:

Also on this weekend is the Melbourne’s Affordable Art Fair (19-22 May), and I was lucky enough to win tickets! YAY! I’ve heard so much from the previous years, but never was able to make it. So one day this weekend, that’s where I’ll be. Apparently, it offers something for every budget, with an extensive range of art available, from contemporary to traditional, emerging to investment. I don’t think I’ll be purchasing anything, but nevertheless I’m excited to see what’s out there and by the beauty of the Melbourne Royal Exhibition Building.

Finally, for the those that like to take Sunday walks, show your support for Indigenous health and wellbeing by taking part in The Long Walk. Michael Long rallies participants to walk from Fed Square through Birrarung Marr to the MCG.

Other side of the coin.

A few posts ago, I wrote about Zara finally coming to our shores.   Apparently, there are still queues outside the Zara store in Sydney during peak times. I know when I’m bit stressed at work, I head to the nearest retail therapy.

However, the question remains: What’s the flipside of fast fashion?
Warning: this post is rather lengthy.

Fast fashion is a contemporary term used by fashion retailers to acknowledge that designs move from catwalk to store in the fastest time to capture current trends in the market. It’s high-volume, relatively low cost fashion that is churned through stores like Zara, H&M, ASOS and Topshop.

Legend has it that when the first Zara store opened in Britain, on Regent Street, shoppers were a little mystified. The prices seemed high, and if the tentative shoppers were to come back next week the pieces wouldn’t be there. That was not the Zara way. The Zara way – the one that broke all previous rules – was that the Spanish retailer manufactured relatively tiny quantities of each style. Instead of focusing on quantity, Zara’s 200 designers come up with 40,000 designs each year, of which 12,000 are actually produced (that’s 5,000 more than Topshop). As a shopper, if you hesitate at the point of purchase you might miss your chance.

Apparently, this creates a terrible hunger in the consumer, what Harvard researchers have referred to as “a sense of tantalising exclusivity”, a pervasive fear that if you pause for thought, the opportunity to bag that affordable version of a catwalk sensation will be snatched from you forever. This can also be used to explain the demand and popularity of capsule collections such as Stella McCartney for Target; Lanvin for H&M; Peter Morrissey for Big W and Alex Perry for Diva.

But what is the real cost?

Waste: In one year an individual would accumulate in the region of 28kg of clothing – adding up to an estimated 1.72m tonnes of brand-new fashion being consumed on an annual basis in the UK alone. St Vincent de Paul receives 2.5 million kilograms of clothing and textiles annually in its Melbourne warehouse. About 80% of all clothing donations are sold and 20% of all donations are considered waste product and the really worrying thing is that almost the same quantity of fashion that you buy will end up being dumped prematurely in the rubbish bin.

Working Conditions: Fashion’s engine is powered by an estimated 40 million garment workers, with the majority on low and exploitative wages. Apparently research shows that many fashion companies place vast orders with garment factories with cursory calculations as to what they can handle. Garment workers are therefore under extraordinary pressure to complete orders on time. Enforced, often unpaid overtime is one of the most contentious issues. The most serious allegations include working days that are habitually stretched from 10 hours to 15, with workers locked inside factories at night to finish orders, subjected to intimidation and even violence to make them feel they have no choice but to stay.

Environment: In the production of a cotton T-Shirt approximately 60kg of water is used and about 45kg of waste water is discharged per kilo of output. During the dyeing process an extra 16-20 litres of water is used, 80% of the dye is retained by the fabric and the rest is flushed out. The global textile industry discharges 40,000 – 50,000 tons of dye into the water system.

Looking at that T-Shirt a little differently?

I’m not saying boycott fast fashion, because I’m not into that sort of thing. I am the last person that should say buy less clothes. All I’m saying is that it’s good to know the other side of the coin and think about a potential purchase. Do I really like this or am I only considering it because it’s cheap? Will I wear it 20 times? I guess fast fashion is almost like fast food, too much will make you sick.

Sources: The Guardian| Ethical Fashion Forum| The Brisbane Times| The Punch

Happy Sunday.

This is how I like to spend my Sundays.

However, I have learnt my lesson. One Sunday, I had my mobile on sitting on my laptop and and a drink next to both. It only takes a couple of seconds and the damage was done. The Apple guy was nice:

HIM: It sounds like liquid damage, was there anything spilled on the keyboard?
ME: Uh, not that I know of…
HIM: Do you mind if I take it out back and open it up?
ME: No, go for it (I had imagined that once he opens up my laptop a gush of water would come spilling out and drown him).
HIM: Well, it seems there was liquid damage and I needed to replace the trackpad but because you have Apple Care, it’s covered.

Phone was not as lucky. So now coffee sits far, far away from my laptop.

How do you like to spend your Sundays?

images are credited to: Sea of Ghosts Blog

to market, to market to buy… nothing?!

A few weekends ago, I visited the much anticipated Magnolia Square markets
(I had blogged about it here and The Age newspaper mentioned it here).

The nicely styled Magnolia Markets

It was rather lovely and girly at first, but after a while it was a bit… too cute. After walking around, I needed a sharp edge and to look at something not in a pastel colour. I am far from edgy, but too much cute makes me puke (apologies for the rhyme, I couldn’t help myself). Even the Rose Street Artists Market is a bit more balanced. However, the styling was pretty good and there were a couple of outstanding designers:

Poulier & Poulier – A husband and wife team that design and produce a unique range of homewares. Their design philosophy is simple, to create timeless graphic pieces with wit and charm, which they have. I love the original tram destination blinds for the charming W class trams, particularly the Fitzroy blind. It would look awesome at the end of a hallway. 

Vintage Prints – They lovingly deconstruct old children’s books to turn them into individual prints. Looking at the prints leaves you very nostalgic. If you get a chance, view them in person as the website doesn’t do it justice.

Sisken – Melbourne designed leather goods. The ballet flats looked so comfy and stylish.

It was like a breath of fresh air to attend a good ol’ favourite Camberwell Sunday Market, it’s a bric-a-brac type market which is great for foraging for a gem. I have found a few outstanding gems from time to time and have even sold here a few times. But this Sunday, I missed out on a beautiful chair, if only I was 38 seconds faster!  If all else fails, the traditional jam filled doughnuts easily hit the spot.

Camberwell Sunday Market operated by the Rotary Club of Balwyn

Sometimes you don’t even need a market to find a gem. Look what I found, for FREE. It was hard rubbish collection the other weekend, and someone was throwing this out! Swings and roundabouts as someone once said.

A new addition to my home. For FREE!

So, what are you doing this weekend?

images are credited to: Mr Affair, Poulier & Poulier, Vintage Prints, Sisken and

As the snow falls… on RAFW

It is ridiculously freezing in Melbourne this week, with wind, rain, hail and snow (in some areas). So I turn my attention to somewhere warmer. Sydney and Fashion Week!  The blogosphere has been going nuts with posts, videos and twitter updates (I still have yet to figure out twitter, am I showing my age?), but I’m admiring from afar as my austere job doesn’t gel with watching fashion shows. Pity. They could probably benefit from being introduced.

Rosemount Australian Fashion Week 2-6 May showcases the look for SS11/12. I think Australian fashion is quite different to the northern hemisphere. We have our own style, which tends to be trans-seasonal (reflecting our mild* weather) and less formal. Even our premier red carpet event, the Logies does not compare in any way, shape or form to the Oscars, BAFTA or my favourite red carpet event, the Costume Institute Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

But I do love our style, especially as we’re not hostage to the trends produced each season. The French is also fan of the quality, over quantity in fashion, but they tend to have both! So what’s new this year?


Lover the label - RAFW - SS11/12

Designers Susien Chong and Nic Briand of Lover were back this year after a 5 year hiatus from RAFW and boy did they come back with a bang. Taking inspiration from the Chinese mythology The White Serpent, Lover’s SS2011/12 collection bought to life the beauty of romance “tempered by tragedy”. It was unmistakably Lover, with the right balance of femininity (lace) with a bit of edge (leather and sharp tailoring) and a controlled colour palette of red, white and black.

Lover the label - RAFW - SS11/12

Bright Colours

Obviously SS will mean colour (debatable if you live in Melbourne). So it really shouldn’t be a surprise, but the colours have been bright and across the colour spectrum rather than the citrus colours of previous years.  Alex Perry, an Australian institution, showcased a couple of pieces that I fancied. I’m not traditionally a fan as I think he designs for glamazons rather than vertically challenged gals, not to mention that well… he tends to design dresses that are just that. Nothing fancy, just straight down the road. This goes back to my initial point about Australian fashion.  Anyway, this collection was inspired by Cuba, so it was largely based on the colours of turquoise, aqua, lime, tangerine with a variety of cuts and tailoring.

Alex Perry - RAFW - SS11/12

The year also sees the return of Josh Goot after 3 years away, building up his label in NY and London. His tailoring still immaculate, but this time focusing on a voluminous silhouette with an eye-popping palette of fluoro pink, cobalt blue, green, silver and white that certainly would have been a fun show to watch.

Josh Goot - RAFW - SS11/12

Though the best part about Fashion Week? What the Editors are wearing! Seriously, fashion is their jobs and Editors are meant to be CEOs or Ministers of Fashion. Yet, surprisingly some Editors looked a bit average. Why am I surprised? Some Ministers are very average, Justin Madden or Stephen Conroy anyone?

Picture 1: AWW – H. McCabe, Ed. Picture 2:  Harper’s Bazaar – E. McCann, Ed. with Grazia – K. Hush, Ed. Picture 3: InStyle – K. Hume, Fashion Ed with K. McCallum, Ed

Picture 4: Madison – E. Renkert, Ed. Picture 5: STYD – J. Cullen, Ed. Picture 6: Sydney Magazine – P. McCarthy, Fashion Director

Is it me, or are their names weirdly similar? Anyway, what do you think of the Editors outfits? What did you think was a standout of Rosemount Australian Fashion Week?

*I think Australia is considered a temperate climate as the high and low temperatures are not as extreme as other places. Though it is hard to tell lately.

images are credited to: Getty, Ohjamie and Life.Styled.