Sunday, July 6, 2008


"...from the pink and purple palette of the perished evening, a blue-black night rose up around us as we rode. We plunged with the sea into tunnels of light. The robe of sunset slipped from the shoulders of the city..." Such scintillating prose is rarely found and a joy to read. A quote from "Shantaram" by Gregory David Roberts (first published 2003), my current read. Enjoying it thoroughly. Pat Conroy describes it as a "work of extraordinary art, a thing of exceptional beauty". Half-way thru its 933 pages, I cannot disagree. As busy as I am I still find time, or rather make time, to read, both fiction and non-fiction: I find both enjoyment and relaxation in the stretching of one's mind, exploring someone elses.

Arundhati Roi manages a similarly elevated level of prose in "The God of Small Things", and having read two of Patrick White's novels just prior, the most surprising "The Twyborn Affair" (1979) and the incisive "Voss" (1957), I certainly see what all the fuss has been over Mr White. By contrast, I found Virginia Woolf in "Orlando" (1928) tedious. While loving these forays into quality literature, I did not make it to any of the Sydney Writers' Festival events, nor any Sydney Film Festival showings.

Much as I would have liked to, the work schedule has been quite demanding lately, with the Annandale Catholic Church restoration project nearing completion, windows from the St Vincent de Paul centre at Lewisham under way and a trip to Maitland last Tuesday to remove windows from St John the Baptist Catholic Church, St Thomas Catholic Church, (East Maitland) and the Holy Family Catholic Church in Largs.

In between all that has been a set of inscription panels for Warren Langley, in his commission for new windows to the chapel at St Ignatius College, Riverview. I admire Warren's work ethic: wherever he is able, he distributes the workload amongst a network of fellow artisans established over many years and always allows a certain degree of autonomy, relying on his confidence in the skill of the practitioner to produce results of exellence.

In addition to these smaller jobs are the larger projects: a new window for St Bede's Catholic Church in Pyrmont (still in design development stage), a set of abstract windows for a group of holiday bungalows in Byron Bay (very early stages ) and a series of new windows and door panels to one of Sydney's grand old Federation mansions at Killara (cut the small porthole this week just gone).

Overiding all of that is my committment to exhibit in a group show at Global Gallery, Paddington: "Samjjana" - 5x artists working in 5x different media expoloring the concept of harmony and equity, as expressed thru the musical ideas of Maryjane Leahy, a science lecturer at Wolongong University. Maryjane will launch her first CD (titled "Samjjana") at the exhibition and, accompanied by Dominic Wy Kanak (Deputy Mayor of Waverley Council) on clapsticks and warup (his family's traditional TSI drum) and the bodhran (Irish drum), will play pieces of her own guitar compositions at both the opening night, Wed. 15th Oct. '08 and the "meet-the-artists" barbecue, Saturday afternoon, 25th Oct. If you're in Sydney during those times you will be well rewarded by getting along.

I also find time to go dancing, entertain special friends and have fun. Too tired on Friday, regrettably, to enjoy the dubstep night "Void" at Pheonix, last night I took a visitor from NY to the new club night "Underground", in the old basement of the Oxford Hotel, Darlinghurst, instead.

The curious crowd that turned out to investigate was not entirely consistent with their advertising, which was very much "macho-male", but a fair attempt was made by the promoters to establish something quite different on the Sydney club scene. The decor was decidedly dungeon-esque, with curtains of sliced rubber inner tubes and heavy metal beads dividing the dancefloor from the more intimate spaces and black plastic sheeting lining the walls. Interesting vibe.

The main act, a white-faced punk singing badly to thrashing backing tracks, was unfortunately quite dreadful, yet possessed a strong alure by dint of his sheer passion and his engagement with the crowd. The organisers perhaps tried a little too hard to be "arty" and we met many of the same faces down the road at Phoenix Bar in a much more relaxed state.