I get a lot of junk sent to me by email, but every once in a while I get a real beauty, something that makes me laugh out loud at how funny and absurd life can be. The phenomenon of creative canine grooming shows has its home in, you guessed it, the USA. Poodle owners dye, shave, clip and accessorise their pets so they resemble chickens, fairies, underwater sea themes, even American football players. As photographer Ren Netherland has discovered, the extremities of canine grooming have attained cult-like status.
All you photographers out there, a word up on one of the most prodigious emerging photographers in Australia. And if you’re nursing an inadequacy complex, seeing Nirrimi Hakanson’s folio might propel you to briefly flee your aspirations and think about getting a job at the local supermarket. Hopefully, it will inspire you. The self-taught sixteen-year-old Hakanson has been taking photos on a digital SLR since the age of thirteen, after starting out on a disposable camera. Her distinctive style is ethereal and reminiscent of photo albums filled with enchanted childhood memories.
Piet Parra’s vividly coloured and voluptuous lemming-people get down to Italo Disco in the Amsterdam-based artist’s latest exhibition in Milan. Parra’s new works feature sensual and surreal figures busting raunchy poses to soundscapes from the electronic dance music movement that began in Italy and Europe in the late 1970s.
Melbourne artist Joanna Mortreux’s oil painting, Looking Back Undoes Everything, is peopled with otherworldly anthropomorphic creatures in various states of flight. Inspired by illustrated encyclopedias of animals, these strange life forms possess a dynamic duality that captures the tension between evolution and de-evolution.
What’s with Airport Hotels? Due to foolishly booking a 6am flight, I recently had the dubious honour of my first Airport Hotel experience, and it just so happened to be in an industrial suburb of Auckland, New Zealand. Or, more specifically, the Airpark Business Centre. When my friend and I pulled up in the taxi, we found that the ‘hotel swimming pool’ was not set amidst a verdant tropical garden, as suggested by the website photos, but was smack bang in the middle of a deliriously circular roundabout. It was a strange sight: a suburban swimming pool and spa surrounded by newly potted palm trees and a safety fence, looking out onto a vista of shiny Japanese cars, the industrial estate looming bleakly in the distance.
When I read Robinson Crusoe as an Australian child, I had no idea that New Zealand was a place harbouring secret beaches where real life castaways could hide from civilization beneath the shade of cool ferns and caves, on beaches overlooking mysterious islands out at sea. The main difference between Coromandel Peninsula’s New Chums beach and the shipwrecked settings depicted in Defoe’s novel is that the only things running riot here are the crimson blossoms of the native Pohutukawa trees. Instead of toothless mutineers, there are placid dotterel birds nesting beneath the sand.
As a child, gold mining towns were exemplified in my mind by boring theme parks populated by out of work actors in naff colonial costumes. My parents used to drag us along in our overheated datsun because they couldn’t afford to take the kids to Disneyland. As often happens, I now appreciate the destinations whose mentions used to prompt a whole lot of whingeing about seatbelt buckle burns and compensation payouts of McDonalds. Walhalla is one such beauty. Set in the misty foothills of Australia’s Baw Baw ranges, it was once a gold era boom-town, but is now home to less than 20 residents (not counting the ghosts).
It’s a Sunday morning and I’m cruising the long desolate stretch of road outside of Geelong that was featured in the Mad Max car chase scenes. Stated destination: Fairy Park, Anakie. I try and imagine Snow White coming to life in this desert wasteland where apocalyptic road warriors once roamed. Up ahead, a giant statue of Gulliver beckons from the base of an extinct volcano. Passing go, we cheer in helium tones as we ascend to a giant pink castle rising above the gum trees. Created by two Germans in the late 1950s, Fairy Park is Australia’s oldest theme park. While it’s easy to cynically dismiss the concept as a gaudy family hell hole rather than a fun spot, on arrival I am immediately reunited with my sense of childhood wonder.
Where plastic roses everywhere remain a testament to the gifts of spring or the virtue of 80s romantic cliches, Astro Turf offers one of Kitsch’s more useful incarnations. It’s a grass is greener artificial nature strip that brings to mind Alice in Wonderland putting on a ’50s Miami golf course while making friends with the […]
The Atlanta has the kind of charm and character most tourists wouldn’t expect to find amidst the rambling chaos of modern Bangkok. In contrast with the debauchery of the nearby sex district, this secluded 1950s hotel harks back to more civilised times. As you sip your icy tropical libation at the check-in desk, the quiet grandeur of the art-deco-style foyer takes precedence over your fleeting obsession with passports and heatstroke. Before you know it, the porter is beckoning you to follow him as he carries the luggage to your laidback room.