Friday, 14 December 2012

Travel stories

What an amazing gift travel is. Those of us who have the time and money to explore a bit of the world are so very lucky. I have come back from my three month trip refreshed, confused, excited and a bit bewildered. And I have seen lots of amazing things along the way.

I'm going to start my travel story with Beijing, the city where I began my travels. Beijing is big and busy but with a friendly small-town feel, and it is shiny and new, and amazingly old, with so many beautiful buildings tucked in between the sky-scrapers and multi-lane highways.

One of my favourite things about Beijing was the contemporary art scene. Some years ago some 1960s red brick factory and warehouse buildings just north of the city were transformed into the fantastic 798 District.

As a contemporary art fan I was really spoilt for choice - with great architecture, fascinating artwork and interesting commentaries on Chinese politics and culture everywhere I looked.

There were some great exhibitions there, including one by Wang Mai using recycled materials from industry to create fantasy landscapes.

Another thing I really liked about Beijing was the hutongs. These are like little villages strung along narrow backstreets in behind the big busy roads. You see people pushing carts, selling fruit, stopping to chat to their neighbours. And because Beijing is so flat and bike-friendly, you can see all of this as you stop your bicycle behind the cart-pusher who is stopping to talk to his neighbour...

Beijing is also remarkably close to the Great Wall, which is really one of those sights that you have to see in person. I will try to recreate the experience for you below...

Of course no visit to Beijing would be complete without a trip to Tiananmen Square...

I even got a bit of culture in at the Lama Temple:

But then it was time for me to catch a flight to India... for the next chapter in my adventure...

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Going back to India

Some of you may recall that I spent a couple of weeks in India - eleven days in fact - at the start of this year for a wedding. It was an amazing, crazy, stressful, overwhelming, exciting visit. India is one of those places that doesn't do well in short visits. You spend a lot of time sitting in traffic, looking at your watch, or at the airport waiting for a delayed internal flight. Not to mention that trying to understand such a new and different place as India in less than two weeks isn't very realistic. I saw some amazing things, but I also felt bewildered a lot of the time.

The upshot of it all is, that after taking a break from my studies after one hectic semester of textile design, I have decided to go back to India. It has been more an impulse than a carefully considered plan. I feel like I need to go somewhere that is completely not like Melbourne, that will take me out of my comfort zone and throw me into some challenging and unexpected situations. And I like the idea of going somewhere that values introspection and meditation as a new (for me, anyway) way of approaching life.

India is also an amazing place to see textiles. The birthplace of paisley and so many other motifs that are part of our everyday attire these days, last time I was there I saw so much colour, and pattern, and cloth, everywhere I went. If this doesn't inspire me to return to textiles, I don't know what will!

I'm heading off on my big adventure in just a few days time. I'll try to post blogs when I get a chance, and in the meantime I wish you all success and enjoyment in your creative endeavours! I'll be back in December.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

The Dirty Pastels

I'm very proud to announce the new simoneandginko jewellery range... the Dirty Pastels!

Did someone say mid 1980s? You're in your favourite pastel ensemble, painting your nails a pearly coral. Hair is big, perms are in. Bows are big, lace is everywhere.

Enter the dirty pastels… blush pink, powder blue, powder green, bobby sock yellow, mauve pearl and beige bliss.

Oval, square and round bangles and chunky rings in every shade of the 80s makeup palette.

Wear them with your best fluffy cardigan…

The Dirty Pastels range is exclusively available at Always in Warnambool, Victoria. It is a great store with lots of lovely things and I highly recommend you check it out!

Monday, 30 July 2012

Lolly range... bangles on sale!

Lolly range bangles are on sale for one week only, at the special price of $35. They look good enough to eat, so give your wrist a treat! Sale ends Sunday 5 August at 8pm AEST. Delicious!

Head over to the simoneandginko etsy store to shop for your favourite flavour.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Canberra mini trip

I visited Canberra recently for a few days. It was the first time I'd been back since I moved to Melbourne in a whirlwind of stress and panic in early February this year (try packing, moving, finishing renovating, cleaning, driving 8.5 hours in a packed car, all in one week).

It was lovely and crisp in Canberra. I hadn't probably picked the best time of year to visit, but it reminded me of how much I enjoyed those clear winter days and blue skies, even if the weather was still very, very cold.

I caught up with lots of friends and family, and met my cousin's new pet rabbit (super cute and very friendly and doesn't bark, possibly the ideal pet).

Pepe with best friend Pooh.

I managed to get to a few exhibitions: the Indigenous Art Triennial at the National Gallery, which was so fantastic I bought the catalogue, and a sneak preview of an abstract art exhibition at the Canberra Gallery.

I also got to take a few arty shots...

I checked out a few of my favourite shops: Felt (got a great red beanie and fluffy jacket), Landspeed Records (stylish fake fur jacket) and April's Caravan (didn't buy anything this time but thoroughly enjoyed the decor and vintage fashion ideas.

It was lovely to catch up with people and see a few of my old haunts. It was also a bit weird, as though the last five months had been a dream and I still lived in Canberra. Not true! My life has changed a lot since then, and it was nice to be reminded of that too.

Monday, 16 July 2012

Bendigo and the fair Grace

I'd never really thought of going to Bendigo before. It is close enough to Melbourne (2-3 hours) to be not a true holiday destination, but far enough away to be somewhere you don't just drop by. But when the Grace Kelly exhibition from the Victoria & Albert Museum was held here, rather than one of our own Melbourne galleries, I decided it was worth paying Bendigo a visit.

The three of us caught a country train for this adventure, discovering such new outer suburbs of Melbourne as Watergardens, and some quaint little towns like Riddells Creek and Malmsbury. The train station in Malmsbury was gorgeous, a really old bluestone building that has been well maintained.

Bendigo was a goldmining town and the wealth is evident everywhere in the grand nineteenth century buildings - the town hall, the old shopfronts, and a remarkable fountain in the middle of a roundabout.

Chancery Lane was a wonderful find, tucked away between two main streets in the centre of Bendigo. Full of street art, quirky cafes and a couple of funky clothing stores, you could almost imagine you were back in Melbourne... even in Northcote perhaps!

The Bendigo Art Gallery is housed in another lovely old building, although I confess I didn't look at the building very much. I was looking more at the Grace Kelly exhibition. Despite the crowds (300 people passed through the exhibition every hour) I was entranced by the collection of gowns, coats, hats, gloves and shoes of this most elegant icon. As one person, who had seen the exhibition already, told me, it was amazing how the plainest dress would look quite exquisite on Grace Kelly.

Since the exhibition I've become quite interested in fifties fashion, particularly the shape and cut of the dresses. Often high-necked and long-skirted, these haven't quite captured the imagination of current fashion, but it is remarkable how elegant they are and how flattering they can be!

I have since purchased the V&A exhibition catalogue, to enjoy those outfits all over again...

All in all, a very pleasant trip to the country!