by Kerry Tolson @kerrytolson.com
"I've never liked housework. I get by doing little chores when I feel like them, in between paintings. Who wants to chase dust all their life? You can spend your whole lifetime cleaning the house. I like watching the patina grow. If the house looks dirty, buy another bunch of flowers, is my advice."
Margaret Olley. "Far From a Still Life" by Meg Stewart.
Margaret Olley was born on the North Coast of NSW in Lismore and upon her death in 2011, she bequeathed to our beautiful area, the recreation of her Duxford Street studio and home.
Room by room, paint-pot by paintbrush, right down to the ciggy butts and odour the home of 48 Duxford Street and its adjoining 'Hat Factory' studio, were painstakingly recreated in its entirety at the Tweed Regional Gallery, enabling art lovers and visitors alike to peer into the great painter's home and catch a glimpse of where she created and what inspired her beautiful still-lifes.
Peeking through the windows into the rooms may not be for those who have a touch of OCD for the great Margaret Olley did not clean a speck of dust, straighten a cushion or get rid of anything. Palette upon palette of crinkled squeezed-to-death paint tubes and ashtrays overflowing of half smoked cigarettes from the original home sit amongst pots of flowers, dishes of fruit, pods and seeds and the artefacts Margaret Olley collected from around the world. All up over 75,000 pieces create this 'home'.
The home itself was a living work of art, an organic palette of creativity that changed each day as the great painter moved around her various workstations; canvases that were propped up in spots around the house with the 'subjects' - bowls of fruit, vases of flowers, curios in varying stages of formation. Any available space on the walls is decorated in posters from art exhibitions she had attended, also found their way into her paintings.
I have been to the exhibition (which is a permanent installation at the gallery) countless times since it opened back in March 2014, and every time I come, I find something I haven't seen before. A carpet, a carving, a religious icon or curio piece will spring out from some tuck away corner and I find myself wondering in what hidden exotic spot in the world did she find that.
It's always a great outing to the MOAC and the Tweed Regional Gallery and as well as the eclectic rooms of Margaret Olley, the gallery also has an impressive collection of Olley paintings on display with exhibition pieces being changed twice a year - what better excuse to put off the day's chores than to 'pop over to Margarets', just don't forget to pick up a bunch of flowers on the trip home.
For further details about the Margaret Olley Art Centre and Tweed Regional Gallery. click here
by Kerry Tolson @kerrytolson.com
In her debut book 'Love at First Flight' Tess Woods takes the reader on an emotional roller-coaster ride as the intense love-at-first-sight obsessive relationship of Mel and Matt wrecks all in its path.
Consumed by the self-centeredness of their feelings, Mel and Matt rip apart the happy, contented lives of others, crushing their family's stability and betraying the love and trust of their long-term partners as they hurtle headlong into a selfish lust-filled affair that will leave repercussions reverberating for years to come.
This book is an examination of marriage - what we anticipate it will be when we say I do and what becomes the actual reality. It is the realisation of what real love is and how being 'in-love' is a myth. And it is the exploration of what we think we need to be feeling in order to be happy and how getting it can be the destruction of the happiness of others.
From the moment I open the first page, I was hooked. This is one of the most compelling, emotive and intense books I've read where the main characters - Mel and Matt - are flawed and selfish to the point of being almost unlikable and yet, I wanted their relationship to work and for them to have a happy ending. The scenario of meeting someone on a plane and instantly finding a connection is so plausible and real - it does happen, and this book left me with lots of 'what if it was me' questions. Would I risk destroying all if I thought this was true love?
I can't wait to read more from this author - Tess Woods.
by Kerry Tolson @kerrytolson.com
"We are all so much more than the sum of our fragile parts.
We are all our journeys, hopes and dreams, clad in mortal wrapping paper."
Oh my, what a beautiful, breathtaking, heartfelt book this is -
Penguin Bloom "The odd little bird who saved a family"
Exquisite beyond words. I was given this book by a friend to 'have a look through' and upon first turn of the page I devoured its heartbreaking but uplifting story of family whose 'world' was crushed and changed in the instant of a breath.
The Bloom family - Cameron, Sam and their boys; Rueben, Noah and Oliver - were living the ideal dream of many an Australian; embarking on world travel, experiencing new cultures, being in the moment and giving out to the world. Creating glorious memories with their children. Then, in Thailand, their idyllic life is shattered, the simplest of movements on a balcony changes their lives irrevocably forever.
Three little boys witness the most horrific injury imaginable to their mother.
A husband faces losing the love of his life. Sam becomes paralysed.
Returning back to Australia after months in a Thai hospital, and then another seven months in the spinal unit of an Australian hospital, the family finally bring Sam home but she is little more than a shell of her former self and the family is heart-broken. The darkest of thoughts plagues Sam.
Then a little baby magpie called Penguin enters their life and with her brings new hope and energy.
I cried and laughed reading this. I was enthralled. I felt uplifted. I felt intense gratitude and I felt immense pain for this family and that beautiful little bird. This is a book that will make the reader think of the blessings in their own life and how to find gratitude in the smallest of things that come into 'our' lives. This is a book about reaching down deep ourselves and really finding true compassion for others.
Not only is the story and message uplifting, but the beautiful photographs of Miss Penguin Bloom interacting with her 'brothers' - Rueben, Noah and Oliver - and with Sam are gently captivating - I could look at them over and over again and continually feel the spark of joy they emit upon revisiting them.
This is book I will be buying not just for my own shelf, but one I'll buy over and over again to give to others. This is a story to be shared.
by Kerry Tolson @kerrytolson.com
Last week was a bit of a milestone for me, or should I say, for us. It was thirty years.
In a blink of an eyelash it feels like only yesterday I was a young bride faltering on the carpet to the alter, yanking dads arm back with a curt “Not so bloody fast” as he tried to walk (more like gallop) me up the aisle and thinking will we make it to twenty-five years, that special figure in anniversaries - oh my goodness that’s a lifetime, you get less for murder.
Ok I’ll be honest, it wasn’t until I was woken at 6am to the aromatic fragrance of a massive bouquet that I remembered it was anniversary day. . . and once again I had forgotten . . . but plans for a weekend-dash-away had definitely been mooted – I’d just morph them into an anniversary celebration.
And what better way to celebrate than to whisk the hubster to the big smoke for a bit of a fancy frock up – the Phryne Fisher way. That’s right, I took the 'man with the spanner' to an exhibition of Miss Fisher dresses.
Yes, I’m still married.
Earlier in the week I had pre-purchased tickets to see the exhibition at Queensland's Old Government House for the Sunday, so it was decided we would head up Saturday and have a romantic night gazing at Brisbane’s stunning skyline and dining from the world-plate at Southbank. I needed Saturday night’s amorance to cancel out my disremembered-milestone misdemeanour.
I picked this book up after hearing a recent news story about the owners of cinema in Australia being hounded and abused (complete with death threats) by social media when a comment by a disgruntle customer went 'viral'. The family who owned the cinema suffered so much embarrassment and stress from the 'viral' post that their lives were made hell to the extent they closed their business, the staff lost their jobs and the town lost the only cinema it had, which also meant the community lost not only where they went to see pictures on the big screen, but a number of charity organisations also lost a 'fund-raising' venue.
So why did that incident (and news story) encourage me to pick up Helen Fitzgerald's book - Viral. Like many of the reviewers here, it was the very first line that grabbed me (along with the 'what if the worst thing you did went...) and it got me wondering - "What is it about social media and the internet that can send an average person into a pack mentality mob follower and help destroy the life of another being?"
Su is a good girl - the perfect daughter.
Leah is the wild child - a parent’s constant worry.
Both have just finished school
- university awaits,
for one, acceptance into a prestigious university.
A bright future is forecasted.
But first, it's celebration time - schoolies week. A week of all out partying, losing inhibitions, finding freedom, being young and carefree - all before adulthood sets in. Later in life this week will be looked back upon as one crazy time when 'you' thought you'd be invincible and anything you did would be passed off as just being 'young and silly'.
Both belong to the 'snap generation' where everything is snapped, twittered, instagramed, filmed, streamed and uploaded. And Shared.
Everyone is connected.
Everyone has a comment.
What if the worst thing you did went viral....
Will that thing you did ever go away. . . and how will it define you?
Accidently becoming 'viral' could happen to any of us, our children, our friends, our neighbours - in an instant-agram our everyday lives, futures and dreams could disappear just by the click of the hit and share button.
In cyberspace we are all connected - how we click could change the path of someone else's life.
This book will have you thinking, 'what if?' I loved it.
What would you do to save a child? A child with an addicted mother, a brutal father and a future of abusive horror and neglect awaiting her/him moves into the house next door to you. You hear the cries, you hear the thumps, you see the scars, you witness the abuse. You ring the authorities each time it happens, over and over - all to no avail. Would you whisk the child up into your arms and run? If the authorities won't do anything, will you?
This is the dilemma Anna, a thirty-something single woman faces when her new neighbour's 5year old daughter - Charlie - comes to her for help. Within days of Charlie arrival next door, Anna sees the injuries inflicted upon the child and is witness to the horrific abuse the little girl suffers. Anna desperate calls for help to the authorities appear to fall on deaf ears and so she does the only thing she can think of to keep the child alive and safe - kidnap her. But where will they go, how long does Anna need to keep Charlie for for the authorities to start investigating into what was happening to little Charlie and ultimately where will Charlie end up when it's all over.
This is a disturbing, thought provoking story that is sure to have many readers asking the question, what would I do in that situation. All too often we hear stories of children at risk falling through the cracks of the system with the end result too horrific to contemplate. Many a time in these situations it's revealed that neighbours, friends and/or family have reported the abuse over and over to the authorities but to avail - funding inadequacies, reporting failures and overworked-under resourced caseworkers leaves a child vulnerable and in jeopardy.
The author writes not only with strong emotive feelings that makes the reader want to stand side by side with Anna in her quest to keep Charlie safe but also with a deep sense of place as the characters move from location to location. There are many little sub-texts too to this story - the bond between mother and child, facing the death of a parent, discovering self and coming to terms with the past.
This is Sarah Armstrong's third novel, and for me, her stories just get better and better - this one is incredibly powerful.
Indulged by a doting father and raised by mother who was a 'stickler' for manners and presenting well, little Ethel Swindells had big expectations and grand dreams for what her life should be and proceeded to find any means and any easily-led easily-flattered soul to make it so. Inspired by the movies, theatre shows and operas her father took her to as a child, Ethel took her many aliases from actresses, singers and the social elite and led a life so fanciful and audacious it was indeed 'amazing'. Travelling the world, rubbing shoulders with high society, a femme fatale for many men who married her, lived with her and signed over their properties or accounts to her, Ethel was master at telling people what they wanted to hear and drawing them into her world - all the time fleecing them with a gracious smile.
Ethel was a pathological liar, a narcissist who had no sense of empathy or compassion for any of the people she 'played'. I was intrigued as to how so many people could be so gullible to this woman as her stories were at many times so blatantly fanciful and unbelievable. It was also interesting to note that many of those who were fleeced and conned were more than happy to give their money to a woman who claimed to be already rich beyond imagination. Not only did many of the men she lived with sign their homes over to her but ‘friends' or supporters also mortgaged their homes for her. It had me wondering if these same people would have helped out destitute or struggling person the same way or did they too also have ulterior motives and thought Ethel would 'give them something' in return - for some there were ‘promises' of exorbitant interest amounts on their loans and for one or two a dangle of large cash gifts coming their way. Just as Ethel was conning the masses, there were those who were also trying to con the con(wo)man.
This book was an interesting insight as to how a fraudster could easily spin their web of deceit back in the 1930's, 40's and 50's and con people of all spheres of society -from the rich to the poor, professional to the housewife - Ethel was indeed a piece of work.
Although Ethel left a string of people destitute and hurt in her wake it was her children I felt extremely sad for and the ongoing psychological traumas they would have had to deal with throughout their lives and I am sure there is a fascinating and profound story to tell in their own lives of survival.
This post was first published back in 2011 on my blogsite : Tuk-tuks, chicken bouquets and bicycle bells. It's one of my favourite posts and brings back wonderful memories of my first backpack.
I pulled my backpack out today. It greeted me like an old friend, throwing itself upon me, covering me in its scent – a dusting of musky spice, reminding me of out last jaunt together. The next trip is just around the corner, about two weeks away, mind you I haven’t booked any flights yet.... nor set the actual date... nothing like leaving things to the last minute!
Contemplating what to pack for Asia shouldn’t be difficult. There’s no need for anything too flash or too warm, I’m sure I can pack light. Although, I don’t know if I could pack as light as friends of mine who travel with only carry-on luggage. This couple travel the world, experiencing wild and crazy adventures and they do it all with just a tiny day pack. And this includes their photographic gear. “S” takes amazing photos and not with a point and shoot. She sports the full deal – SLR with lenses and tripod – where she fits it is beyond me.
Mal and I have had a number of discussions on how much to pack and what bags to take. We did consider for two seconds the possibility of taking just carry-on but I need more than two pairs of knickers for a four-month-plus trip, and definitely more than one pair of socks. I know you can now buy special quick-dry-no-chaff travel undies, but I do still like a bit of femineity to my underwear.
Bhutan is a country that is covered in mystery; barely raising its 'head' from under its cloak. It is an isolated and expensive country for the average person to visit and unless you hold an Indian, Bangladeshi or Maldivian passport, the only way to visit Bhutan is to go on a booked tour, to have a guide and driver, who will escort you to every sight/activity and town. Bhutan does not issue its visas to 'independent' travellers to wander at will around its stunningly beautiful, intriguing, mystical country, that is unless you garner a personal invitation from a Bhutanese person (or company) you have known for a length of time. Because of this, a visit to Bhutan does not enable the average tourist to see the 'real' Bhutan. What is so wonderful about Bunty Avieson's "The Dragon's Voice" is that she quietly and gently lifts the hem of Bhutan's cloak and allows the reader a more in-depth insight of this isolated country.
I devoured this book just prior to my own recent trip to Bhutan and found it fascinating and informative, and I must say delightfully humorous in parts. I loved learning about Bhutan's strong belief in the "Gross National Happiness" doctrine and how it is implemented (and is at times floored) into the country's lifestyle as well as its staunch environmental values, I was intrigued and curious about the strange dating techniques of night hunting and impressed by the clarity and compassion Bunty Avieson showed when describing her observance, understanding and personal experience in challenging the myth that Bhutan is the perfect utopia many in the west believe it to be.
This is a fabulous book, highly recommended to anyone who is thinking of visiting this incredibly stunning country, it will give an invaluable insight to the culture, beliefs and the hidden reality of Bhutan. But even if one is not planning a visit to Bhutan, this book is still a delight to read.
(To read more about my thoughts and recent journey to Bhutan click HERE.)
A little dash of gladsome
This is my page of delight - things that tickle my fancy, favourite books to take me on inner journeys, art that lifts me up, and tib-bits to make me giggle. It'll be random, fanciful, joyful and delightfully inspiring.
Hello! I'm Kerry
. . . a plan-nothing, have no idea where I'm going travelholic.
A daughter of the gypsies and the wife of a workaholic, I'm forever wondering 'What's over there?' and devising ways to squeeze through the barbed-wire fence of small-business ownership responsibilities and every-day life tangles to discover it.
and this is my book