Saturday 29 March 2014

2014 Sculpture by the Sea - Part 1

The 10th Annual "Sculpture by the Sea" exhibition was held at Cottesloe Beach, Perth, from the 7th to the 24th March this year with an estimated 220,000 visitors flocking to the beach.
Over seventy artists from 12 countries participated, transforming the beach into a stunning sculpture park. This year the exhibition featured 74 sculptures made with the most diverse  materials. 
This creative display of public art and talent is one of Western Australia's most popular and free events of the year.

Japanese sculptur Hiroyuki Kita won $50000 for best sculpture - "Like a flower swaying in the wind". 
The prize which was offered by Gina Rinehart's Hancock Prospecting Group (Gina being the richest person in Australia, a Western Australian mining heiress), is Australia's top sculpture award.
This bright sculpture will now be displayed at the offices of the Roy Hill iron mining project, which have recently been built near Perth's Airport.
Like a flower in the swaying wind - by Hiroyuki Kita
When I saw this next sculpture entitled "Chicken Cafreal" I thought it might be from a Portuguese sculptor, as it looks very much like our "Galo de Barcelos" except in black instead of the usual colourful rooster, but the sculptor was actually a Goa based artist Subodh Kerkar, and it was inspired by a popular chicken dish invented when the Portuguese ruled those parts of the globe, so I wasn't too far off...
Galo de Barcelos (Barcelos rooster)

Chicken Cafreal - by Subodh Kerkar

This one came from Portugal though - "Plastic World" represents a world made with plastic rubbish found in the oceans, and is the work of Carole Purnelle and Nuno Maia.

This lovely bronze sculpture by Iraqui born,  WA resident Ayad Alqaragholli is called "Embrace".

Western Australian artist Richie Kuhaupt made this pallet and Nolfolk Pine sculpture to bring awareness to the envirnoment.

These 5 mountains of rubbish were created with 80,000 milk bottle lids and 185,000 cable ties, is called "Over Consumption" and was the work of WA artist Kerrie Argent, and she won the WA Sculptor Scholarship prize of $5000. 

Details of bottle caps from previous photo

This bamboo creation called "Ocean Cathedral" was by English artist Debbie Harding.

Whale shark, created by Olivia Samec and James Moe from WA, was made with hundreds of empty bottles filled with water and blue dye.


This bright yellow metal sculpture entitled "Tusk" is by John Clement from the USA

Another bright one are these 3 giant "Pillows" from Brazilian Geraldo Zamproni.

"Bulk Carrier" wine cask (boxed wine) by WA artist Norton Flavel was for sure one of the most popular and most photographed sculptures. This type of bag was actually an Australian invention, and this 4mt square inflatable made with PVC and epoxy resin surely dominated the beach.

"Solar Jayne" by WA artist Geoffrey Drake-Brokman is based on a body mould of WA ballet dancer Jayne Smeulders, with solar panels that allowed the sculpture to rotate. Here the artist was fixing something. In the background you can see the "Indiana Tea house".

A view of Cottesloe Beach with some of the sculptures

Sunday 23 March 2014

Harmony Day in Australia - 21 March

Harmony Day is celebrated in Australia on the 21st March, and signifies a day of cultural respect for the traditional owners - the Aboriginal people, and all the people that came from the many countries around the world. 

All these different backgrounds, languages, cultures enrich Australia and make it a special country! I recently heard on the radio that in Australia there are 300 languages being spoken, and Harmony Day is a way of celebrating this multiculturalism!

This day has been celebrated around the country for 15 years, from school activities to free council events, festivals and outdoor concerts.

I had never participated in one of these events, even though I had seen them announced previously (I have been here 7 years now) so this year I went to the event being promoted by my City Council, being held on Saturday 22nd.

I wasn't present for the whole show that started at 5pm and ended at 9pm, I only got there at around 7pm, but I enjoyed what I saw.

Who knows next year I could participate by selling Portuguese food in one of the tents! 

The food tents
People sitting on the grass watching the dancing
The Harmony Day show was held in the Amphitheatre behind the council where a stage had been erected to show off folklore dancing of various countries, and the grassed area was surrounded by dozens of tents selling food from Asia, Europe and South America.
A group from the Cook Islands

Ukranian Cossak dancers

The Korean Martial arts group

The Maori Haka Dancing group from New Zealand
The men from the Haka Dancing group from New Zealand delivered an impressive show

Ugandan Drumming Group and dancers

From what I saw, the Maori Haka group was the crowd's favourite and they had won first prize in a Haka competition in Sydney. You can see a video performance here.

Did you attend a performance in your area? If you do not live in Australia, do you have festivals in your country where multiculturalism is celebrated?

Thursday 13 March 2014

A little sympathy goes a long way...and Fluffy gets operated

When I opened an envelope from Murdoch Pet Emergency Centre this morning, I didn't know what to expect.
What a wonderful gesture from the wonderful and caring staff at the Vet clinic to send us this postcard for the death of our "Mommy".
They even included a little print of her paw in a separate card, that I will frame together with the card and a photo of her. It brought tears to my eyes again...

I haven't written since Mommy died, and since then another one of our cats has been attacked.
Fluffy went missing last Sunday 9th and the following day when he didn't show up for breakfast and again for dinner I started to panic. I went around the neighbourhood looking for him and printed out some posters with his photo and stuck them on lamp posts in two streets.
On Tuesday evening he came home, dehydrated, yelling out in pain when I picked him up and wouldn't even stand up when I put him in front of water and food.

This was around midnight and I wrapped him in a blanket and drove to Murdoch Emergency again. He was given pain relief and put him on a drip straight away, while I waited in the wait room.
After a while, the nurse came back to tell me they were very busy operating a dog, but would get back to me with more information as soon as they could, but Fluffy was calm.
I eventually left close to 3A.M. after a chat to the vet (the same one who had treated Mommy) and after visiting Fluffy in his cage, already more alert, looking much better.
The vet said that as soon as she saw my name and heard about Fluffy being injured, she immediately thought that maybe he wouldn't make it either, but luckily his injuries were a lot milder, he had a deep bite mark on his thigh and a couple of smaller bites, and one of his legs was swollen too.

Fluffy stayed in hospital overnight to receive intravenous fluids and pain medication, and I was to pick him up at 8 A.M on Wednesday. I had less than 4 hours sleep...
Luckily it was my day off, so just after 8,  I was at the hospital to pick him up. The vet said he was much brighter, temperature was down, but he would have to be operated to removed dead tissue around the deep wound, due to infection. 

From there I drove Fluffy to my usual vet so he could stay there until Thursday on the drip and if stronger he would be operated Thursday morning.
Today, at around 3 P.M. my vet called to say the operation had gone well and he would be ready to be picked up from 6 P.M.
He is home now with a huge dressing over his stitches and a drain for the pus.
He has to be kept in a confined space with his food, water and a sand box nearby, so I have put him in my bathroom. He shouldn't walk too much so as not to pull the stitches.
In the bathroom inside his basket

His wound and drain, an huge area was shaved to expose the bite marks

On Monday I will take him back to get the wound cleaned, dressing changed and to remove the drain.

Glad that I will be staying home Friday and Monday so that I can keep an eye on him.
He could have stayed at the vet, although they don't have 24h care, one of their staff would visit Saturday evening and Sunday, but it would just add to the already exorbitant fees I have paid.

Now we have to wait for Fluffy to get back to his gentle and sweet self, he was such a hit at the vet wanting cuddles every time someone went by his cage! 
Very charming boy!!
He is such a laid-back cat, loves being at home with us, that I can't figure out why he went out looking for a fight. 
Could he be trying to avenge his "Mommy's" death?

And then, we have to come up with a plan to build an enclosure for the cats in the garden, as I'm now petrified to let them go into the garden, and I have been locking them in at night since Fluffy returned home. We have lived here for almost 7 years and nothing like this had ever happened even though there are more dogs around, it's just changed since the new neighbours moved in with two bull terriers.

Our social Fluffy loves being with the humans

The human pillow is always the best!

Thursday 6 March 2014

Rest In Peace my sweet "Mommy Cat"

We were having dinner on Wednesday 5th, when we heard noises coming from outside and what appeared to be a cat fight. As sometimes there is a neighbourhood male cat that comes around and upsets my cats, I thought it would be him.

We rushed outside and heard a commotion from the other side of the fence, and my husband looked over the fence to see the neighbour shouting at his two dogs to get away. Trapped in the corner was our eldest cat "Mommy". He picked her up without a struggle and handed her over the fence to my husband.

He brought her home and lay her down on the kitchen rug. She was panting heavily with her tongue hanging outside. We thought she was just in shock and let her rest for 10 minutes while we patted her to calm her down. She then got up and walked a few metres limping from one of her back legs. She was still panting heavily and we thought it better to take her to the Emergency vet at Murdoch University, where they have the best vet school in Australia.

They are about 15min from our house, and Mommy miowed frequently during the car trip. I presumed she must have been in pain.

On arrival we told the receptionist what had happened and she took Mommy from my arms, and said she would be given oxygen and an injection to calm her down as she was in shock, and the vet would give us a diagnosis within 15 minutes.
We waited in the waiting room and were later called in by the vet.

She explained the situation by saying that Mommy had two ribs broken in two places and most probably a pierced lung judging from a quick preliminary examination and she would require an operation and long term care. 
In her opinion the chances of her recovering and being healthy again were only 50% and the cost of the operation and 24 hour care for a few days would be around 5000 to 6000 dollars.

She left my husband and I to discuss the situation and said she was going to further examine the cat.
She came back 10 minutes later and said, that if we wanted to go ahead we were in the best animal hospital and they had the best doctors and resources, but the cat was worse than she had at first feared. She had been attacked by two bull-terriers and they are quite vicious and strong when they bite, and she had a lot of internal injuries. She was only about 7 years old, she could heal, but she could also have life time health problems.
We had already decided we couldn't go ahead with the operation, the cost was too much.

We were ushered to the state of the art operating room where other "patients" were being treated and were able to say goodbye to our lovely cat. She was comfortable and without pain, the vet said, as painkillers had been administered, she had her little tongue hanging out, laying there calmly with an IV into her paw.

The vet asked if we wanted to be present when they gave her the injection, but I didn't have to courage to be there, sorry Mommy, I wanted to remember you alive. So the vet said that she could administer a "feel good" anaesthetic and when she fell asleep we could then go.
She fell asleep soon with her eyes still open, and I left crying my eyes out.

I will always remember her sweet nature, her cheekiness, her constant miaws when she wanted to be fed, her motherliness towards her daughter Twiggy (in photos below) and most of all I will remember a summer day when she appeared in our back garden with a raw steak which she must have stolen from the neighbour's barbecue, as they had left it unattended. She always made us laugh!

She was pretty, clever and knew what she wanted. On weekends if I wanted to sleep in, and she wanted to be fed, when she had enough of waiting, she would jump on the chest of drawers, and slowly push things around making sure she was making a noise, or she would throw small things on to the floor, like coins, rattle my necklaces, etc, so that I would eventually get annoyed and get up. Then she would jump off and run to the kitchen. 

She loved being tickled on her belly, and most days when I arrived from work and parked the car in the driveway, she would lie with her belly up in the driveway and wait for me to tickle her belly. Then she would give a little run and lie down again and miaw and I would follow her and tickle her again, and she would run off again and do the same, until I gave up and came inside the house. Then she would also run inside with me.
My husband used to call her "Velhota" which in Portuguese means "old lady" as she was the oldest of the 5, and she was his favourite too as she was very social.

I'm sure the rest of your cat family will miss you too.
The morning after she was gone, the other 4 were smelling the kitchen floor where she had lain after being injured, and then would look at me, as if to say "Where is she?"
RIP my lovely cat.

Twiggy (Mommy's daughter will miss her the most, they were always together)

My thanks to the vets and staff at Murdoch 24h Veterinary Hospital, they were very caring and understanding.

Monday 3 March 2014

Birthday weekend in Margaret River

I celebrated my birthday on Sunday 2nd, and to celebrate the occasion we decided to go to Margaret River for the day.
We picked up our son and daughter in law in the morning, and drove 260kms south of Perth, arriving in Margaret River just in time for lunch. With  the thermometer showing 39C degrees when we left, we were glad to find Margaret River a bit cooler at 26C.

Millers Ice Cream , in the main road - Bussell Highway

The Fudge shop - also on the main road

Shark & Chips anyone? (I have heard that most "fish" in F & C in Australia is shark!! I wonder...)

After lunch, it was time for a Miller's Ice Cream and then the purchase of some excellent artisanal Margaret River Fudge!
The varieties are endless, but we contented ourselves with just one small packet with 3 different varieties - they are not only very caloric, but expensive too!

Margaret River's Mediterranean style climate provides ideal growing conditions for over 55 square kilometres of vines, which accounts for over 145  boutique wineries in the area, producing  about 20% of wines for the Australian wine market. 

The principal grape varieties in the region include red and white varieties -  Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Sauvignon blanc, Shiraz, Merlot, Chenin blanc and Verdelho.

So after eating our ice-cream and fudge we set off again to visit some of the beaches, turning into Caves Road where most of the wineries are located.
We could not miss a visit to what I heard must be the place with the most beautiful toilets in Australia - Laurance winery.

Set among the beautiful green lawn is a lake with a statue of a lady atop a 14mt high pole - "chick on the stick" the locals call it.

1 - Apple on a tree, 2 - Golden lady, 3 - The winery/restaurant with the golden girl statue , 4 - stone and copper bird bath in the gardens.

The winery is also home to a variety of art works , and even the grandiose toilets have various pictures on the walls. The wine glass chandeliers are also exquisite!
There is also have a massive rose garden, some beautiful stone and brass bird baths...
To me this would be the ideal spot for a wedding.

1 & 3 - toilets, 2- The lounge/bar, 3 - The art gallery in the corridor leading to the toilets

Another lovely work of art in the corridor leading to the toilets

The corridor with art on the walls and the exquisite chandelier made with wine glasses

As we were leaving my husband spotted a Kookaburra on a tree.

After our pit-stop to visit to the famous toilets, yes, we didn't even taste the was time to hit the road again down Caves Road and check some of the beaches in the area.
Although the town of Margaret River is about 10km inland, the nearby beaches are renowned surfing hotspots, some included in the competition circuit.

Smith's Beach was a quiet secluded beach, where the waves were crashing onto the sand and the high tide was coming in. A resort complex with 2 storey high buildings, restaurant and bar were all that could be seen around the area.

Further down the road was Canal rocks, not a beach itself, more of a natural spot with lots of fishermen perched on the rocks and a lovely boardwalk to admire the view.

The next stop was in Yallingup, one of my favourite beach spots in the area.
There are a couple of camping places in the small town, one of them right across the beach (be prepared to book 1 year in advance, I was told!)

The very original planters on the balcony above Shaana's cafe in Yallingup 

Another 10kms down Caves Road and we arrived in Dunsborough. Slightly bigger than Yallingup, also with a lovely beach. 
A beach festival was being held this long weekend with live music, food and drink tents, and "Sculpture by the Bay" was being held with sculptures spread over the sand and grassy area...
It was wonderful to see the community and tourists sitting down on the grass with their picnic hampers, lots of kids running around, all  enjoying the warm start to the evening.

Dunsborough Beach arts festival - at sunset

Some of the statues at the Dunsborough beach festival

The Margaret River area is also home to hundreds of caves, only 6 of which are open to the public.  I must confess I have been to Margaret River half a dozen times at least, but have never visited a cave.  (I have visited two caves in Portugal though).

Apart from the wineries, Margaret River is also a gourmet paradise, home to cheese factories, chocolate factories, nougat and fudge factories, fresh fruit and vegetable farms, artisanal bakeries, gourmet olive oils, wonderful restaurants, farmers markets and even breweries...  You could well visit for a week and not experience it all!!

After our short visit to Dunsborough it was time to drive back home. We arrived tired but happy with our short visit.

It was a bit crazy to travel such a big distance for just a day trip, in hindsight we should have booked a place to stay overnight....But I'm sure there will be a next time!!
Hope you also enjoyed the trip to Margaret River with me and learned a bit more about the South West region of Australia.