Cherry blossom time

A Sakura picnic day was held at Banksia Park, Bulleen on Sunday, but I was busy elsewhere. So today, despite the heat I went on my own cherry blossom viewing.

Banksia Park is an enormous open space with a hidden entrance next to the Heide Museum in Templestowe Road. The 23 ha parkland is in two large loops of the Yarra River. Most of this land was cleared for farming in the 1800’s and it now has lots of rolling lawns and exotic shade trees. The cherry trees are not hard to find once the correct loop is chosen, they are right beside the fenced dog off-leash area.


A grove of 100 cherry trees Prunus serrulata “Shirofugen” was presented to Victoria by the Prime Minister of Japan in 1980. After a bit of a disaster at Jells Park the remaining 65 trees were moved to this location around 1988 and while conditions were more suitable, the ten year drought and only routine park maintenance meant it was still a bit of a struggle for these imported trees. Two years ago a group of Japanese seniors formed the Cherry Friends. They tend the trees, watering in summer and feeding fortnightly in autumn and spring. The friends have have also donated several specimens of a weeping variety of this gorgeous plant.


While it is not the same as the feted trees of Osaka, this grove now puts on a glorious show, without the crowds.


Getting down under the branches is the best way to enjoy the blossoms. The ladies in the picture on the left are Cherry Friends having discovered the trees about ten years ago, they come each blossom time. They said this year was the best yet.


Beautiful Japanese Horse Chestnuts Aesculus turbinata are also in flower and provide a most suitable backdrop.

The park has interesting walks with history markers. Even the resident wombats are well accommodated with gates in the fence.






I’ll be back next year come blossom time.


Continuous repeat

I have been doing a little bit of stamp carving at the last couple of meetings of Waverley Art Quilters. For this month I tried a process I knew about in theory but had never attempted before. To make a design that repeats in every direction.

Using a photo of a churning river that I took while on retreat, I drew a simple design.

I cut this in two, reversed the positions of the two halves then cut in two and reversed again. I filled the gap in the middle with more elements of the design.

The next step was to transfer the final design onto a Soft Cut carving block. This was easy as my design was the same size and drawn in pencil. I put it face down on the block and rubbed the back with the rounded end of the pencil and the graphite transferred.  I then went over it with sharpie pen so it was easy to see. I now had a mirror image to cut away.

I wasn’t finished in time for the class but did a quick test print anyway. The design is matching up, but I have a way to go yet. I also need to think about the complexity of the pattern in the joining sections, so I may start all over again.

All in all it was an interesting experiment and I am happy with the design so far.


I need to carve a stamp for a printing class tomorrow night. These pictures taken on my weekend away will hopefully provide enough textural material.


Wild weekend

Somewhere along the Old Sale Road, which was my route to Neerim East and a quilting weekend away, I spotted this little fellow bustling along the side of the road. As I walked back after stopping and grabbing the phone, it crossed the road. Good timing on both out parts.

It heard me from quite a distance and quickly buried itself in the soft soil. But I can be quite patient and still and eventually the echidna poked out its nose and was soon on its way again.

The first morning of the Waverley Patchworkers Retreat was very misty and the grass very wet, so walking was restricted to gravel roadways. Up behind the main building were two kangaroos enjoying a morning feed.

Two more were higher up the hill, but after a long staring competition all bounded away into the forest.

The second morning was quite different. Warm breezes came down off the hill interspersed with gusts of cool air from the river. After a pleasant walk before anyone else had emerged, I approached the buildings from the car park. Just ahead of me a long legged bird ran out from a bank planted with assorted shrubs and ducked in again further down the path.  I got to the steps and it rushed off again, across the drive and around the far corner of the buildings. It all happened very quickly, no time for a photo.

I have taken this picture from the Morwell National Park’s website. The female superb lyrebird leaves her nest for a few hours early in the morning to feed, she gets no help at all from the father. The temperature in the nest drops, slowing embryo development and making for a long incubation period. Eggs are laid in winter, so maybe the one I saw was just another very busy mother.

Another town another gallery

A big detour on my way to the Waverley Patchworkers Retreat brought me to the Latrobe Regional Gallery in Morwell. Their current exhibition is René Magritte: The Revealing Image. This consists of 130 photos and eight films made by the surrealist artist Magritte but only discovered ten years after his death. They provide insight into the creative process of the artist and his imagination.

The exhibition is divided into six sections each one exploring the purpose behind the making of the photographic image. They move from documents showing the chronology of his life and his relationship with others of the Brussels Surrealist group to interactions with completed paintings and stagings leading to the creation of a painted work.

No photos are permitted in the exhibition area however they are encouraged in the Kid’s Space where there are lots of activity sheets, props and settings to stimulate visual play.

Two of the many images I really liked were available in postcard form.

If you can’t bear driving down the Monash Freeway, then maybe go by train. The gallery has recently been refurbished and this is a most interesting exhibition, open until 19 November.

I asked my phone to give me directions from Morwell to Neerim East not using highways.   It obliged very nicely. The route between Morwell and Moe was through the Haunted Hills and over a highpoint with a fire tower and fantastic views back into the valley.

But the landscape is not what it seems at first glance. This is the LaTrobe Valley, the heart of brown coal fired power generation for the state. I was very fortunate to have clear views.

Aardman @ACMI

When the first Aardman films hit the screens I remember being amazed at both the intricacies of the animation and the absurd hilarity of the stories. My kids grew up with them and so it was lots of fun revisiting A Grand Day Out, Chicken Run and all the rest with my daughter and granddaughter at ACMI in Federation Square. The Magic of Aardman is on until 29 October.

The sketchbooks and storyboards were fascinating. My favourite scene is still the train chase from The Wrong Trousers, the storyboard was drawn by Nick Park in 1993. Keeping characters consistent is obviously very important. The note is Nick Park’s comments on fridge magnets produced to support the same film. It shows exactly what it is in each model that gives it personality.

As well as hundreds of drawn sketches, there are Sketch Sculpts.

The exhibition is a boon for doll house lovers. The sets are so detailed and contain lots of puns and surprises that I don’t remember seeing when viewing the film. Lady Tottington’s Mansion from the Curse of the Were-Rabbit took eight weeks to build after many months of design development. It was inspired by many stately homes and the final design is closest to the National Trust’s Montacute House in Somerset.

As well as movies and TV series the Aardman Studios have done a lot of promotional and advertising work. So there are lots of new things to see.

IMG_6567The stand out for me is Dot ‘The world’s smallest animation’ made in 2010 for Nokia to promote the announcement of a medical microscope attachment for one of the company’s phones.

The model is only 9mm tall and was created using 3D printing. Lots of Dots were made in different poses then attached at the head by a wire so she could be photographed in the set made of every day things such as pins, coins and pencil shavings.

The film tells the story of a girl who is dropped into a microscopic world which begins to unravel. Even more interesting is this short documentary on the making of the animation.

Visiting in the school holidays was not too bad, lots of children but so much to see there is plenty of room. At the end there is an opportunity to sculpt a character and film a short animation.


I borrowed a model and made an hilarious 25 frame animation. You will just have to believe me as unfortunately I cannot upload videos here.

Ps & Qs

One of the first quilt guilds formed in Melbourne and still going strong is the Patchworkers and Quilters Guild of Victoria – referred to in all conversations as Ps and Qs. I visited their Biennial Exhibition in Blackburn South and was treated to a display of all sorts of quilts.


One by a familiar quilter was bearing a ribbon and special label, congratulations Fran.

The very textural piece does not photograph well, it is of a view of the Liffey River in Northern Tasmania.

I was really taken with a quilt featuring the Seven Sisters block. While the label did not reference the Pleiades I think the positioning sort of resembles the constellation.

In which case the sisters are Asterope, Taygeta, Maia, Celaeno, Electra, Merope and Alcyone. The quilting adds great movement to this piece.


The cute Blue Hedgehog is one of a pair of linen cushions embroidered with Cottage Garden threads. I new use for the very popular Enchanted Forest colouring book.