Wednesday, 29 February 2012

When it rains

I wish it would stop raining. These kind of comments usually get me into trouble. 'But what about the farmers?' people say. 'At least it's good for the garden,' they say. It's all true, of course. I'm aware that we need the rain and blah blah blah. But I am a sun worshipper. I love the feeling of waking up when the sky is all blue and a bit golden around the edges. I love it when the air feels crisp and dry.

The colours look different. Have you noticed how dark the trees look when it's raining? The ground and sky are one, an endless pool of grey. I know that a lot of creative people come from countries not known for their fine weather, which makes me wonder - do they create in spite of their surroundings or inspired by them? Is there something of beauty I can take from this wet weather? Maybe rain isn't so bad after all.

But I really wouldn't mind if we had a sunny day, or five...

(photo is from

Friday, 24 February 2012

simoneandginko workshop in Melbourne!

Exciting news! simoneandginko will be running a special one hour introductory recycled jewelry workshop at the North Melbourne Market on Saturday 11 March as part of the L'Oreal Melbourne Fashion Festival.

The workshop will teach you how to create beautiful pieces of contemporary jewelry from your recycled treasures. Details are as follows:

Saturday 11 March, 10am – 11am
Lithuanian Club, Errrol St, North Melbourne
Bring $5 for materials, plus old beads, broken jewelry and/or op shop finds

Book in now to secure your place!

simoneandginko will also be selling resin jewelry at the North Melbourne Market on 11 March. The market is a great place to find new and emerging fashion, jewelry and other crafty things. Drop by and say hello!

Monday, 20 February 2012

My Canberra top 10

Following my recent move back to Melbourne after nearly eight years residence in Canberra, I thought I should leave you with a few recommendations of places in our little capital town where you can get a creative fix. Here goes:

1. Have a drink on a sunny afternoon at Tilley's Cafe in Lyneham. Maroon velvet, art deco ambience and old school jazz, there's nowhere quite like it in Canberra!

2. Go for a picnic at Reconciliation Place. There's a wonderful swollen belly of a hill there, covered in thick green grass, that seems just perfect for sitting on and contemplating - or rolling down.

3. Visit the M16 art gallery. This place has a fine collection of contemporary and emerging artists, in a purpose-built space with studios for artists too.

Other favourite galleries include Gorman House, and the ANU School of Art Gallery.

4. Get a coffee and a kransky at Lonsdale Street Roasters. A little bit of Melbourne on Lonsdale St, Braddon.

5. Buy a book, or just browse, at Paperchain in Manuka. All your favourite books in all the best editions under one roof. And it's open late!

6. Get a burger at Brodburger, before it moves. This groovy little red caravan rebels wonderfully against the sedate surroundings of the national capital. Apparently it's going to be domesticated in a regular building soon...

7. Go for a swim at the Phillip pool. Outdoor, so it's only open in summer. Is there anything more delicious than a swim in the sun? Quality swimming time can be quickly followed by quality nap time on the surrounding grassed areas.

8. Have lunch at Benedict House in Queanbeyan. A lovely old house with a pretty old-world courtyard. Not quite in Canberra but close enough!

9. Find a funky new outfit at Felt. Always a good place to browse - they regularly get new stock - and to check out local listings.

10. And finally... splash out on dinner at Lanterne Rooms. One thing Canberra does well is expensive restaurants and this is one of my favourites. Great modern Malay-Chinese food in opulent, dark wood surrounds.

And there you have it. So long, Canberra!

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

An Indian wedding

I was lucky enough to travel to India recently for a close friend's wedding. She and I have known each other since we were fourteen, so it was really lovely to be there to see her get married. And it was a privilege to be part of an Indian wedding in the extraordinary city of Calcutta.

One part of the wedding I was particularly inspired by was the henna ceremony, or mehendi, where the bride (and in this case, several of the bride's friends) had her forearms, hands and feet covered in delicate henna patterns. The artist drew all the patterns freehand, and altered her styles depending on the person. She used the henna pen skilfully to change the pattern with thinner and thicker applications at different points.

Each part of the wedding involved the bride wearing a different sari - some more casual, some more formal, and some, like the saffron coloured sari seemed intentional for the purpose of the ceremony (a turmeric bath). My friend's relatives helpfully explained the ceremonies to the few of us foreigners attending.

The final part of the wedding began at 11:30 at night on the first day of 'wedding season'. Seven of us piled  into a car designed for a smaller number of people, and drove through the streets of Calcutta to the wedding, passing by many 'wedding houses' decorated with lights and big signs, and spotting many wedding cars decked out in flowers and ribbons. We arrived at the house around 9pm, to be fed and to visit the bride and groom, each sitting in different rooms on different levels of the house.

At around 11:30 we gathered in a room on the top floor of the house, where the groom was brought in and after sitting down with the priest, and being given a special hat for the ceremony, was guided to stand on a rather large stone. The bride was carried in by her male relatives, and carried around the groom several times (possibly seven) amidst shouting and laughter by many of the onlookers. The bride and groom then exchanged garlands, before being seated on the floor. Several ceremonies ensued, culminating in the fire - the witness to the ceremony - around which they walked seven times. Finally the bride and groom rolled a stone along seven leaves, and then vermillion was placed on the bride's forehead to signify that she was now a married woman.

I was inspired by all the colours, images and patterns used in the wedding. Everything was so heavily decorated and so many different patterns and colours were used together, something you rarely see in more austere Western style designs, and certainly Western weddings. It has given me lots of ideas!