Book review- The Convent

Book review- The Convent

Title: The Covent

Author: Maureen McCarthy

Published: 2012 by Allen & Unwin  

 Young Adult fiction

In the Author notes, to The Convent, Maureen McCarthy shares a note written to herself from 1991. This note outlines a desire to find out more about her mum’s past, and her life as a ward of the state at the Abbotsford Convent. This is the seed that Spurs her extensive historical research in the development of a novel spanning four generations of women and their connections to The Convent over time. McCarthy declares ‘Like no other book I’ve written The Convent feels like mine’, highlighting the personal connection felt for the stories being told in the fictitious weaving of lives and interactions. 

The Convent covers the lives of four generations of women who have had connections with the Abbotsford Convent. Sadie, Ellen, Cecelia and Perpetua. Sadie’s three year old daughter Ellen is forcibly taken from her and raised at the Convent during the 1920’s. Ellen’s daughter Cecelia becomes a nun at The Convent during the 1960’s and Perpetua works in the cafe at The Convent after it has been reopened as an arts precinct with studios, cafes and galleries in contemporary times.

The intersection of stories is mapped through each of the women, their connection to each other, to The Convent and the connection with Perpetua (Peach) who is at the centre of these intersecting stories as the heart of the novel. 

The structure of the novel aids the delivery of the complexity of character and story development over an historical timeline spanning a century. This is easily achieved with each chapter in the novel titled by the characters name; from which the perspective is to be delivered. As historical moments shift in narrative, dates are provided to indicate moving back and forth in time, revealing situations, life changing incidents and the impact of social forces on the lives of women at different points in time. 

For me, the strength of this novel is its ability to capture the strength of the stories of women, despite hardships, different social mores in different socio-historical time periods, and the choices made impacting on lives lived. These choices are either by self or imposed by others contributing to life paths travelled. In some ways the stories in this novel capture the complexity of female empowerment and disempowerment at the same time across the different periods of time that is mapped.
I will definitely reread this novel!

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Posted by on September 4, 2015 in 094 ~ Printed books, Library, Literacy


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Analog/digital photography hack

This morning a friend forwarded the following clip. The possibilities started racing in my mind. I love analog photography and have some old SLR’s hanging around awaiting a revival.

Recently, I’ve been thinking about getting back to the chemical process and developing film. However, whilst I have the tools and ability to develop film to negatives, I don’t have an enlarger to then take the next step and print the film. I also have numerous negatives, that have been sitting around in storage, awaiting a form of revival….

… Let’s get creative and imagine the analog/digital possibilities with the following simple hack… I do need to buy new Asics though  ;)


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New Years Resolution – Goodbye Facebook

I’ve been in a love-hate relationship with Facebook from the moment I joined the site in September, 2011. In fact, I was avoiding Facebook for years but succumbed to the relationship. My favourite features of Facebook are the events calender and the private messaging function. I enjoy some connections I have made, the ability to share content and engage in conversation. However, I dislike a great deal about Facebook and my dislike of this social media platform is growing. This Pew research study in the USA indicates many people share this attitude.

I have shared posts to Facebook specifically pointing out what’s wrong with this social media behemoth. In reality, I’m continually reaffirming my need to finally leave. There are many reasons to dislike Facebook. Some include privacy concerns, unethical studies, and the use of personal information for corporate gains . In recent times, I’ve noticed my feed became more and more controlled by Facebook in terms of what I see. My diminishing control over my feed provides even more reason to leave. After all, who wants to continue in a relationship that feels controlling?

I can’t help but liken this social media platform, that is Facebook, to the monopoly/duopoly control of traditional media platforms before the internet. Remember when you couldn’t control when ad breaks came on or what program to view because it was all programmed for you?

I have taken a break, for a couple of months, in the past and didn’t miss my time away. However, I came back again, took more mini breaks here and there and kept coming back. It seems, attempts to disengage haven’t been successful and I’ve been a glutton for this love-hate relationship. This gluttony needs to end and my focus will be the exit strategy as a New Years resolution.

To affirm my commitment, to breaking up with Facebook, I’ve had discussions with close friends who took the plunge and left successfully. Two of my close friends have been away from Facebook for over a year and touted the benefits of leaving, including how easy it is to stay away. Considering I took the plunge with Television, years ago, and rarely watch it now, it’s time for me to break up with Facebook.

Besides, I’m already engaged across other social media platforms and they don’t elicit these feelings of the love-hate relationship that is Facebook.

Here are a few articles for more inspiration and to remind me, over the next two months, why leaving Facecrack is the best decision to make.

1. 10 reasons to leave Facebook.

2. 10 ways leaving Facebook changed my life.

3. Teens exlplain why they don’t care about Facebook anymore.

4. How to permanently delete a Facebook account

5 How to delete your Facebook account


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Tales from the sketchbook an exhibition by Barek


Barek is really quite an extraordinary artist. Today, I spent some time having a preview and a chat, at Off The Kerb Gallery  with Barek and Shini, the director of the gallery. Barek’s first exhibition in Melbourne called ‘Tales from the sketchbook’ will open on 17th October, 2014 at Off the Kerb and is just wonderful.

Barek’s art is recognisable by his signature character drawings. His drawings often depict a similar face, including the Barek eyes and round face. Yet, in this face, emotion is captured that invokes a certain empathy. This is how I came to the works of Barek, and still understand the art of Barek, personally.

Speaking to the director of Off the Kerb, I realised that there is a word that captures some of the feeling, and it is my favourite word; Melancholy. We held a shared understanding of melancholy as a beautiful concept. It can’t be universally defined, yet it invokes empathy. This empathy speaks to something we know, feel or have experienced. It is difficult to understand yet easy to feel.

Tales from the sketchbook

opening 17th October, 2014


at Off the Kerb Gallery

66B Johnstone street, Collingwood

Barek window

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Posted by on October 16, 2014 in 029 ~ [Unassigned]


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Review ~ Woman’s World: a graphic novel

Woman’s World: a graphic novel
By Graham Rawle
Atlantic Books London, 2005
ISBN: 9781843543688

Transitioning from reading for study purposes to reading for leisure has been a challenge these past few months and it has taken time to move into the world of fiction and reading for fun. However, Woman’s World is the first read that I have enjoyed.

Woman’s World is constructed entirely with found text from women’s magazines in the 1960’s. The author wrote the outline of the story and over five years replaced his written outline with text found and cut out from magazines. The author used a traditional cut and paste method to create the pages that were then scanned to make the final work.

This technique, in constructing a story, initially drew me to this novel. I was curious as to how it would read and whether it would work effectively without being disjointed. I wondered about the content of women’s magazines, from a particular time period, and whether it would create a context and culturally shape the world of the fiction created.

This method of constructing a novel, from text found in women’s magazines in the 1960’s, added to the layers of the story in a way I hadn’t considered. References to clothing, appearance and cleaning added meaning to the plot and contributed to character development and interactions.

With found text Rawle has created a work that captures the world of these magazines and a world of the characters in this novel. As ‘he do the police in a differnt voice’, a blogpost on IF: the future of books states “Rawle stitches phrases and words together to create something new’.

I didn’t know anything about the story before I started reading and I was pleasantly surprised with the ease I felt in losing myself in the storying. Suspense came into play and the emotional journeys took shape. My consciousness of the text from women’s magazines, was strongly present throughout my reading but this did not detract from the storying. Instead it proved crucial to the overall development enhancing the reading of the novel.

…I will not share the plot here as the thriller moments are best discovered by oneself. Enjoy.

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Posted by on August 31, 2014 in 029 ~ [Unassigned]


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An Audiovisual notepad

It started with Vine and the six second loops. This quickly led to experimentation and unleashed creativity with the limitations imposed by the Vine app.

This progressed to edited clips, uploaded to Instagram, and seeking out post-production apps. Whilst hoping Final Cut Pro will one day feature in the app store, this has not materialised and Cute Cut Pro has worked quite well.

I still refuse to upload post-produced clips to Vine, even though the ability to do so has been enabled with updated versions of the app. Maybe it’s the limitations that I actually enjoy as a creative process.

Over the past year my interest in making videos with mobile technology has intensified…
Now I just keep sketching or shooting clips even if only in the short mode style. In fact, I haven’t bothered with my old cameras or desktop editing with Final Cut Pro. It’s been over a year now. As time passes I’m less and less interested in venturing back because I love the freedom of creating wherever and whenever. If it can’t be created with mobile technology then I don’t bother.

Upon reflection, this process has become an audiovisual creative notepad of sorts. I play with ideas, experiment and share. Some ideas seem to spark an interest in me and call for further development whilst others are just a moment fleeting. There are a few ideas from this audiovisual notepad that I want to flesh out and develop into short films and animations but of course this will take time and involve more writing and sketching.

Right now this process works for me and suits me just fine.

As an extension, I’m enjoying passing the inspiration of this process to other animators/filmmakers and colleagues at my workplace. It’s the new democratisation of media production.

Here’s a brief ‘How to’ clip I found on the inter webs about Cute Cut Pro

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Posted by on July 16, 2014 in 029 ~ [Unassigned]


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Let’s talk about racist jokes


Chris Lilley’s latest offering has been aired on television and the result has been a backlash on social media with the hashtags #MyNameIsNOTJonah  #ChangeStartsHere and #ProudPoly. See the the following article for a background ~ Chris Lilley facing social media backlash over ‘racist’ Jonah From Tonga.

Firstly, I need to state, I support the challenge being made by people questioning the representation presented by Chris Lilley. Australia has a long history of comedy where people from a class of privilege are making fun of people from backgrounds of which they do not come from. Think of the Comedy Company, for instance, on air from 1988 to 1990 and the infamous character of Con the Fruiterer.

The polemics around this issue are important and further discussion around issues of representation, who creates representation and what meanings are imbued in these representations are pivotal to understanding how power and racism are intertwined and reinforced with stereotypes as represented by people who are not from these backgrounds.

Not being from the background is a crucial point in this discussion. You see, when I’m sitting around having a yarn with my cousins and joking about ‘our wog life’, this is very different to when a ‘whitefella’ uses the term ‘wog’ in his/her jokes. My cousins and I are proud of our backgrounds and our jokes are not imbued with a malice or derision of our ways. Instead there is an affectionate understanding of what it means to grow up in this country from a specific vantage point.

The invocation of stereotypes, by people who are not of that background, comes with a derision and malice. The tone of these representations is a put-down. Essentially, it is a position that looks down on the ‘other’, something to be ridiculed and laughed at. It comes from a position of superiority, by the class representing the ‘other’, and reinforces concepts of erasure of cultural identity whilst preferencing ideas of integration. Racist jokes end up being statements to the ‘other’ that we should become more like the dominant class and culture because they are better.

…ok so this is a start. Let’s begin… let’s talk about race and racism in all it’s manifestations because talking about it is better than pretending it doesn’t exist…



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