Wednesday, March 30, 2011


The gum trees are flowering at our house,
And I have noticed a fanciful sight high up in the canopies.
Way up high in the tree tops, flitting from flower to flower, a rabble of butterflies has caught my eye... or so it seemed...

What has been even curiouser is that some of these butterflies have been flitting near the kitchen window at night, which makes me think that they could actually be moths (as you can see, I'm no entomologist!).  I've also noticed some of their listless little bodies outside the house during the day.  

The sight of these beautiful moths, and despite the fact they could actually be grapevine moths (not a friend to the viticulturists among us!) got me thinking about the fragility of life again (I have been a very pensive little poppet of late). 

I have began collecting the bodies of the dead moths with the possibility of using them for inspiration in a new artwork.  

While I'm no Deborah Klein, I have been feeling strangely inspired by their fleeting beauty; who knows what I'll come up with... we'll just have to wait and see.

The butterfly counts not months but moments, and has time enough. ~Rabindranath Tagore

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Momentary loss of transmission

Well, it seems I'm at a loss for words... and if you believe that you'll believe anything!

I've been without post for nearly a week now and it is bothering me!

Stay tuned faithful followers, I hope to compose something more worthy of publishing sometime soon... I just need to nail down a topic...
"If I waited for perfection, I would never write a word."
(Margaret Atwood)

Monday, March 21, 2011

Carpe Diem

Yesterday I wrote of the frustration I was feeling at not being able to start work on my solo exhibition as my studio had been affected by the recent February Victorian floods.  I also mentioned briefly the nice insurance assessor who visited to assess the damage on behalf of our insurance company, I discovered today that he died suddenly last week, at the relatively young age of 61.

This got me thinking; some people don't know when their day will come, it will just happen in the blink of an eye, without the chance to whisper a heart felt goodbye to their loved ones.

Others will suffer for months, sometimes years at the hands of an insidious, incurable illness, enduring years of pain while their families watch them waste away to nothing.

While some lucky ones, like my grandfather, live to the ripe old age of 101 and have the pleasure of seeing their children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great grandchildren born before passing peacefully in their sleep.

Life is precious, enjoy every single minute as if it were your last.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Creative obstacles

And finally... a post about art!  (Or at least me talking about wanting to make art!)

I have been feeling a little creatively challenged of late.  You see I have another solo exhibition coming up in November, and as I haven't yet started making work for the aforementioned exhibition, I am beginning to feel frustrated.

We recently moved house in December 2010, and the plan was for me to set up my studio in the bungalow my sister-in-law had previously lived in.  Well with everything that goes into moving house, setting it up, etc, it was taking a while to get everything in order, which is normal apparently. 

Then the unthinkable happened; that horrid rain and flood event hit our area in February of this year.

Our lovely newish house (it was my husband's parents' house originally, then the home of his sister and her family for a few years) was surrounded by water from the front, back and sides.  My beloved new studio, which was also storing furniture, some artwork from my last solo exhibition, art materials, etc. flooded and caused considerable damage to the items I just described.

But we were lucky compared to some, while the house and vineyard were surrounded by water, (the poor vines haven't fared very well at all this year and we have lost our entire crop of Merlot), the main area of structural damage was the studio/bungalow.  We didn't have to move out of the house - although in hindsight we probably should have, as we were without sewerage and drainage for nearly two weeks!

It took over a week for the insurance assessor to get to us, as the company had to prioritise those in urgent need (some people had no choice but to abandon their homes due to the rain event causing drains to overflow and raw sewerage to flow into many poor people's houses in town).  But he was a reasonable man and put me at ease with our situation.  He organised a builder to come and have a look at the room (although the builder took nearly two weeks to get to us, due to the sheer number of people needing urgent help).

I'm still waiting for the builder to come and commence work on the room, but hopefully it won't take too long to complete and I'll be able to move some of the undamaged stuff that has been sitting outside under the carport all this time back in - on shelves and in cupboards this time, just in case!  I'll then be able to start on a new body of work that I hope to feel comfortable showing.

The exhibition tentatively titled In Memoria (In Memory) will open Wednesday 2 November 2011 at The Art Vault in Mildura, so keep the date free.  It will also cap off a pretty big week for me, I will have  celebrated a milestone birthday a few days before!

Mum's group

I had the pleasure of catching up with some girlfriends yesterday.  What makes these friends unique is that we all met while pregnant with our first child during pre-natal education classes in early 2005.  After the birth of our kids, a few of us were allocated into the same "New Mother's Group" by the local Council Early Years service and the six of us have kept in touch ever since.

We are all different, from different walks of life, differing ages (I'm the oldest!), what we do have in common is that we have gone through the same milestones with our children, offered advice to each other on all sorts of subjects, shared a few laughs... and the odd drink here and there too!

While our get together's aren't scheduled fortnightly as they used to due our increasingly busy lives (plus our first borns' starting school), the meetings may be are fewer and further between.

Cherish time spent with your friends, it doesn't matter how often you do it, as long as you do.

"I get by with a little help from my friends." 
- John Lennon

Monday, March 14, 2011

Child's play

Today was a public holiday in Victoria, the Labour day long weekend.  So my son didn't go to school today.

I have noticed that since he started primary school, his need for intellectual stimulation has increased on the weekend.  Strangely he has also become more obsessed with playing sport than he used to be; he doesn't care what kind of sport, as long as he is running, batting, jumping, hitting (as in tennis), throwing, did I mention running?  Oh yes, he enjoys building stuff too.

He spent a few hours this afternoon making himself a puppet theatre out of a disused box, complete with puppets made from coloured icy-pole sticks, one of which he informed me was Jesus on the cross (he attends a Catholic school) and a volcano made from a small piece of paper tube, with lava made from tiny pieces of rubber band and sticky tape.  Later when the theatre and puppets were complete, he put on the show; Jesus had morphed into an air-plane that crashed into the volcano!  I'll have to admit this display of creativity put a smile on my face.  The mind of the child knows no boundaries.

My sister tells me that apparently I used to be as creative in my play time as a child too.  While I am lucky that I still have a creative outlet as an adult, I sometimes feel I am bound by the scholarly approach to my art making that I learned over the years, although at this stage in my life I do feel more comfortable with my arts practise.

So that old cliché to look at the world through the eyes of a child is so true; sometimes we need to step back, take a deep breath and enjoy the moment for what it is and not what we think it should be... and get creative!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Not quite Nigella!

Warning to vegans: this post may offend!

I come from a long line of good cooks. My mother, her mother before her, hers before her and so on. They came from a different generation, where food was not only not only enjoyable, but essential. Food also bought the family together.

I remember many of the food based traditions growing up.

Making the traditional tomato sugo in summertime, which took a few days to prepare and complete. The tomatoes must be juicy, red and ripe; nothing compares to a quality home grown tomato, I couldn’t live without them! Making the sauce is akin to a gourmet production line, each person has a job, from washing the bottles and inserting the basil leaves into them, to cutting up the tomatoes and feeding them into the machine, to sealing the bottles with the bottle top contraption and boiling them; everyone has an important job to do!

“Killing the pigs" was always a memorable event. The pigs had been grown from piglets and fattened for eating. The whole process (not including the growing) takes the good part of a week, slaughtering them, letting the meat hang and cutting them up for various uses; not one bit is wasted - from the snout to the tail, even the ears (my Dad’s favourite)!

And while I don’t consume much pork now that I am older, (I was even vegan for a spell while at Uni!) I still appreciate that my parents and their ancestors took part in these traditions so that they would have enough food for their family all year round.

My Mum still grows her own olives and pickles them. They are so much yummier than the store bought variety and at least when you make something yourself you know exactly what is in it. She also makes her own olive oil too; once a year she takes her olives to a local grower for processing, the result is fresh, fruity oil that never disappoints in a salad or on its own with homemade Italian bread (see my previous post on bread and bikkies).

My sister and I are of different generation, dare I say wasteful. Having been born and raised in Australia, we eat more junk food than our parents did, consume more meat and saturated fat, drink a little too much on the odd occasion; although I have given up alcohol for Lent, which wasn’t too hard, as these days I have an odd glass of wine now and again. My days of binge drinking on the weekend are far behind me, and to tell you the truth I don’t miss them or the self-induced hangover that came with it!

I have always had an interest in cooking, but not in the same way that Mum and Nonna did. Of course I had to cook for myself while I was living away from home, my cousin and I with whom I shared a house at Uni would take it in turns to cook. Our favourite dessert was chocolate soy custard, which we consumed with gusto and then wondered how we had put on so much weight! But it was so yummy!

I have to admit I do love watching other people cook. We are big fans of Masterchef in our house, our young son loves watching it too, and he loves to find out what score the contestants receive from the judges. He has also taken to scoring my dishes; I have even received a 10/10 a couple of times! We are also a little too obsessed with the Lifestyle Food channel. My husband is almost always watching one celebrity chef or another; I enjoy watching it for inspiration too!

But my biggest joy is from cooking and eating cake, or any kind of dessert; although in truth I am really not so great at the cooking part of the process. I have had many failures in the kitchen; my brother once named one of my efforts “the hub cap cake”, for its obvious resemblance to a car part (he is a mechanic)! I often burn food too; it’s hard to keep an eye on everything while you are multi-tasking at the same time!

I enjoy reading food magazines too and experimenting with the recipes. I decided to make a delicious looking banana cake from the latest issue of recipes + magazine yesterday, which didn’t turn out too badly. I didn’t burn it and it tasted delicious. My son helped me make triple-choc muffins today, they turned out quite okay also; I again succeeded in not starting a fire in the oven, which is always a bonus!

yummy triple-choc cupcakes, delish!

So while I am definitely NOT Nigella Lawson, I do enjoy cooking most of the time, it’s not so enjoyable when you feel you HAVE to cook, rather than inspired to do it... I’d say I’m more like Jamie Oliver, a rustic approach to cooking and a little rough around the edges!


My young son has been asking me to film him playing with his trucks for weeks now.  You see, he is a BIG fan of You Tube, when allowed on the computer he types in toytruckvideos (at the age of five, he hasn't quite grasped punctuation or the use of spacing just yet) and away he goes, looking at toy truck videos, trains, normal sized trucks, truck game stills put to music and his favourite, kids talking about their own toy trucks...  hence the request to film him!

So I gave in and filmed him talking about and playing with his own toy trucks and tractors, utes, etc while singing his own musical soundtrack!  After which he requested to watch it, after seeing himself on the camera screen, he decided to watch the rest of the videos on the camera which date back to around the time of his first birthday, he happily watched himself for an hour or so yesterday, and this morning we hooked the video camera up to the television and he watched himself on the big(ish) screen again!

It is has been lovely to watch him progress from a little boy crawling around on the floor, to a young boy introducing himself to the camera and talking in complete sentences!

In amongst these videos is one at his second family Christmas, which is extra special as my father-in-law who has now passed away was in that one too.  There is even one of my grandfather, taken not long before his 101st birthday.  Nonno has now passed on also, so it is nice (and a touch emotional) to have that visual record of him talking about his voyage to Australia and his early days as an Italian immigrant making a life for himself and his family.

I am going to try to use the video camera more often from now on, nothing compares to moving, talking pictures as far as documentation goes (except of course for visual art that is!)...

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Politics of Nice

Just a quick post from me tonight.

I have to say I am one of those people who is generally pretty level headed when it comes to most things, one could say I am a "nice" person.  I hate thinking that I may have hurt someone's feelings by something I said or did.

There is an exception to this rule of course, I do speak up when it comes to work or family issues and generally have my opinion aired, but I can't help but wonder about the politics of being "nice".

Once your opinion is broadcast into the stratosphere, you put yourself out there for others to scrutinise, perhaps even read "between the lines" to a point where your views become so over analysed that they aren't your views at all, but the thoughts of the person reading them...

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

IWD: giving & doing

Warning: this post has serious content!

I was fortunate enough to celebrate International Women's Day yesterday, and be involved in the HERstories exhibition to mark the 100th Anniversary of IWD. 

I use the word fortunate as I am conscious that there are many, many, many women in the world that don't have the luxury of celebrating this global event, who are living in countries where women are still oppressed and denied the same rights that we take for granted here in Australia.

Do you know that International Women's Day is a public holiday in 27 countries?  I'm just putting that out there to the powers that be!!

Following the official exhibition opening talk and morning tea with inspirational Walpeup educator and Women's Rights activist Jean Cooke, I attended the International Women's Day Lunch where I was lucky enough to meet and hear Sister Patricia Pak Poy (  Sister Pat, as she is known, a pocket dynamo of a woman, and a nun from the order of The Sisters of Mercy. She is a truly remarkable woman and social justice activist who has been working on the issues of HIV Aids in some parts of Asia, and was the founding National Coordinator of the Australian Network of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, a network comprising most of the humanitarian, development and aid organisations in Australia, and includes professional groups, unions, religious and community groups. The Network supports a global ban on antipersonnel mines, the clearance of land of mines, and the rehabilitation of survivors and of mine-affected communities. 

I attended Ash Wednesday mass with my son's school today.  In the Catholic calendar, Ash Wednesday  marks the first day of Lent, where for the next 40 days, practising Catholics "give up" or "go without" something for that period of time.  During the mass, a video was shown depicting a Nepalese and how their lives had been improved through the donations and work of the Caritas organisation.  The aim of the video was to show the children how different their lives in Australia are, compared to the family depicted, the children all gasped when they saw the "new" toilet the family had just built!

So what is the point of this post?  
We so often take for granted what we have, there are so many people in the world (including Australia) without what we call basic necessities, such as clean running water, a comfortable place to live, fresh food and access to professional health care (to name but a few).

Sister Pat's presentation has really stayed with me and her attitude that 'somebody ought to do something about it'!  We have all complained at some time or another about something we believe isn't right, but she actually did do something about it.  Maybe we can too in some small way, perhaps by donating money or writing a letter (find out more here).

All of the children from my son's school have all been given a money box to take home and donate their pocket money to Project Compassion, which aims to help fight global poverty and injustice to build better lives for the poorest of the poor around the world.  It will be interesting to see if this raises awareness amongst the children.

So maybe we can all give up something for Lent and donate the money we save from our "vice" to a project, either local or global that will make a difference to someone else's life.  Or take action in some other way and stop talking about doing something and actually do it!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Bread and bikkies

I had the pleasure of spending the day helping to make traditional Italian style bread and biscuits with my Mum, Aunt and cousin (and son of course).  It was special because in our busy lives we don't often get a chance to get together and do the things we seemed to do more frequently as children.  All of our families would often get together for catch ups over dinner, to celebrate birthdays or just hang out while my Dad and Uncles played Briscola (an Italian card game) which they would play into the wee small  hours (sometimes even on school nights!), my cousins and I would bunk down in one of the family lounge rooms on blankets and nap while Mum and the Aunties chatted until it was time to go home... those were the days!

Anyway, back to the bread and biscuit making.  My Mum has a traditional wood fired oven at her place and has been making her own bread since I can remember (which is a long time).  The bread making was always the job of the women (although while my Dad was alive would often fire up the forno or oven and Mum would prepare the bread dough).  Mum learned the art of bread making from her mother, and my Nonna from her mother, and so on, and so on.

The process of making the bread is almost ritualistic, you must rise early in the morning as it is an arduous task, to a large quantity of flour (approx 20 kilos), the yeast is added, then just the right amount of water (there are no actual measurements here, just instinctual knowing of how much is enough), knead it all together (a process my son loves to help Mum with!), then cover the mixture with a few blankets to let it rise  (making the sign of the cross also helps too apparently!), after a while (again no real time frame, just when it has risen enough) you knead it again to knock down the dough, shape it into loaves, let it rest again (I'm getting tired just typing about it!).  Finally when the oven is ready and all of the burning wood and ashes removed and the oven is at the right temperature (again, there is no exact temperature, just when it is right) the bread it ready to be placed into the oven or forno, where it stays until it is cooked (you guessed it until it looks ready!)  I'm not sure how well Mum's succession plan to pass on this tradition will go if it is up to me, I think I'll need to help her lots more before I get everything just right!

Mum also thought it be a good opportunity for us to make biscuits as well while the forno was hot, so we did... 5 kilos of flour and 13 eggs worth!  That's a lot of bikkies, but they probably won't last long as they are the super delicious, lemony kind, yum, yum!
The fruits of our labour!  Yummy lemony Italian style biscuits and traditional wood-fired oven pane di casa.

Heavenly bed

First things first, I must update you on my last post... the new bed is heavenly!  Its like sleeping on a marshmallow, topped cloud (its making me sleepy just thinking about it!)  And it was worth every penny... as they say we spend one third of our lives asleep (I could be embellishing the research a little here!), so it is very important to have a comfortable, restful place to catch some z's and recuperate after a busy day to avoid the super grumpy arseness that I was experiencing the day I wrote my last post!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Where do I begin with (yester)day's entry?

Well firstly, I was little grumpy yesterday! I didn't much sleep the night before as I stayed up way, way, way past my bedtime to prepare "smoko" for my husband & some friends who helped us harvest our Gordo winegrapes.  Although it did allow me to post my first blog entry, so not all bad! 

As my family will attest, I get a tad grumpy without my "beauty sleep"; my co-workers may even agree that I become vague (more so than usual!) without enough rest, so please excuse me if this post seems to go a little off the rails a little - my bad!

Due to my lack of z's I was feeling especially harassed, with so many important things to do at the end of the working week. Normally I love Fridays, but yesterday I felt like I had a series of hurdles I needed to jump before I could relax into the weekend.

But things were looking up in the afternoon with the delivery of our new bed.  We had been waiting for the aforementioned bed for a few months (we had been procrastinating on exactly which bed we were going to purchase) so when it finally arrived, I was filled with joy and anticipation at the prospect of having a super comfy, restful night's sleep.  So did I wake up today feeling less grumpy and tired, without the major whinge (sp?) factor?  We'll just have to see how the day unfurls...

Thursday, March 3, 2011

And so it begins...

So, Luciana goes bananas, but what does it all mean?!!

I will begin my first post with a brief explanation of how I came to give my blog it's title...

Luciana goes bananas borrows from a nickname I had as child in primary school.  A boy with whom I went through both primary and secondary school, coined my nickname Luciana the banana during my first year of Prep in Primary school.  Needless to say, I hated the nickname with a passion as my classmates soon discovered that Luciana and banana rhymed with a host of other words, some of them slightly uncomplimentary!    I eventually stopped using my full given name of Luciana (after a famous Italian actress) Domenica (after my Nonna) and enrolled myself into Secondary school as Luci.

So why revisit my past traumatic childhood nickname in such a public way?  Well after much pondering (I do lots of that) I have decided to "build a bridge and get over it!", in other words, I think it is time to acknowledge an element of my past that I was uncomfortable with (the rhyming banana bit) and embrace it, warts and all!

I also needed a catchy title for this blog and thought it fit the bill!

And so my foray into the blogshere begins with more posts on art, life, the universe and everything to follow soon!