Saturday, October 25, 2008

Pacific By Rail @ Amplifer

Jess, Julian; Pacific By Rail
Went out last night to Amplifier for the first time in a long time to see Pacific By Rail.

Influences include: My Bloody Valentine, Slowdive, The Telescopes, Monster Movie, Mojave 3, Sigur Ros, Godspeed, Mogwai, Blonde Redhead, Helen Stellar, Pia Fraus, Stereolab, Yo La Tengo, Ester Drang, Radiohead, The Pillows, Bailter Space, The Jesus and Mary Chain & Auburn Lull.

They're also playing the Artrage Roadtrip gig tomorrow night with Eleventh He Reaches London, Bone, These Shipwrecks, French Rockets & The Tigers.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Article from The Australian - Children don't come first in lucky country, says OECD report

Stephen Lunn, Social affairs writer | October 21, 2008

AUSTRALIA'S prosperity is masking an unpalatable truth - the health and wellbeing of our children lag unacceptably behind those of many developed countries.

More than 7 per cent of Australian children have fewer than 11 books in their family home, we rank in the bottom third of the OECD nations for infant mortality, and we are 21st out of 27 for children eating meals with their parents.

These are just a few of a raft of international indicators of childhood health and wellbeing that reveal the chasm between our perceptions of a prosperous country and the harsh reality, childhood expert Fiona Stanley has warned.

An international comparison of 42measures of childhood wellbeing to be published for the first time today by the Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth shows we rank 13th out of 23 OECD countries on childhood mental health. Indigenous children fare disproportionately badly across a range of indicators from infant mortality through teenage pregnancy and exposure to poverty.

Professor Stanley, chair of the alliance board, told The Australian that the nation "continues to accept mediocrity for our young people" at a time when we top the rankings of some global prosperity indices.

"I'm disappointed in the way Australia has become smug about being top of the pops in wealth and sport, but for the most important element for the future of the country, our children, we're way behind the eight ball," she said.

"An international prosperity index published just last week had Australia the No1 one country in the world for life satisfaction, but how can we be so self-satisfied when there are so many indicators of childhood wellbeing that are in the middle of the range?

"We need to be asking how an affluent and successful country like Australia can be so average when it comes to raising our children and whether we're prepared to continue to accept mediocrity for our young people."

The ARACY report card, titled The Wellbeing of Australian Children, to be launched in Canberra today by Families Minister Jenny Macklin, will feed into the Government's policy agenda focusing on universal access to early childhood education, improving responses to childhood obesity and mental health issues, and combating indigenous disadvantage across the spectrum.

It notes Australian children are four times more likely to be living in poverty than a child in Finland, with 12 per cent of children in Australian households where the income is less than 50 per cent of the national median on the most recent measure.

About 7.2 per cent of children report having fewer than 11 books in their home, a figure that sits at 19 per cent for Aboriginal children.

A spokeswoman for Ms Macklin said last night the Rudd Government was committed to a child-centred approach to family policy and that the ARACY report card would "provide vital baseline data".

"Children are our most important asset and we are determined to make children's interests the driving force of our decision-making for families," the spokeswoman said. "This is reflected in the Government's commitment to introduce a paid paternity leave scheme, the development of a Child Protection Framework and increasing the child care tax rebate from 30 to 50 per cent in our first budget."

She said the indigenous indicators are "shocking" and closing the gap between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians was an "urgent national priority".

Rob Moodie, professor of global health at the University of Melbourne's Nossal Institute and an ARACY board member, said obesity was one example of where we fell short in looking after children's wellbeing, to the point where the life expectancy of future generations was about to start falling.

Professor Moodie said that governments, communities, business and parents must work together to provide better options for the nation's children.

"We need to value teachers, we need to make sure there are safe public spaces set aside for kids to be active," he said. "We need to get kids walking to school, so they can get both exercise and get to know other children."

Professor Stanley agreed the response had to move beyond polite dinner party conversation.

"Society has to start changing what it values."

She labelled rising psychological problems among children and young people as a particular concern, one that "just shouldn't be happening in a successful country".

From The Australian News Online.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Mu's photography exhibition

Just got back from Mu's photo exhibition at Blend(er) Gallery, Joondalup.

Well done Mu for an awesome collection of gorgeous photographs!

Do check out her works if you can!

Gallery Opening Times
Tuesday to Sunday 10am to 2pm
Friday to Sunday 6pm to 9pm - hope to see you there!!

Candy for Grown-ups

A bit of a write-up for the group exhibition I am currently holding at the Breadbox Gallery.

Their paws, claws and antennae wave for our attention from between the pages of comic books, their bouncing figures guide us through pixelated game worlds, and their large eyes peep at us from TV and movie screens. They can be furry, scaly, prickly, smooth, warm, cold, big and small. Some have ears, some resemble a strange mix of two different animals, some are made of robotic steel and others, candy-coloured plasticine. Some echo our deepest childhood fears; murderous ghosts, blood-thirsty vampires, flesh-eating zombies, and others descend from worlds of fantasy; friendly monsters, bouncing sprites and cheerful robots. They are characters, and from childhood, these weird and cute characters like Dracula, Casper, R2D2, Snoopy, Gumby, Gizmo, A.L.F and E.T have become a significant and persistent part of our collective memory.

Rather than discard the toys, videos and comics, many in their 20’s and 30’s have preferred to keep these iconic characters of their childhoods close to their hearts. Some might think that playing Super Mario, collecting Transformers or watching Mighty Mouse in one’s 20’s is an indulgent and immature childish habit, but perhaps what this trend of 20-30 something “kidults” really represents, is a generation of adults who have refused to let go of their imaginations. Though the rational part of our brain knows perfectly well that E.T is not real, we are still open enough to go along with it, forget about reality and let ourselves be convinced. With this generation, therefore, we have seen a disintegration of the old indicators of adult-hood and child-hood. Whilst our parents and grandparents may have preferred more adult pursuits of chess and back-gammon, many of us are not afraid to admit that we still collect Star Wars figurines and watch Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in our spare time.

Unfortunately, the increasing enjoyment of these seemingly “childish” pursuits has led many a social commentator to label this generation as immature, indulgent, materialistic and escapist. This claim would fail to recognise that although we do enjoy a nice new pair of sneakers, many creatives in their 20’s and 30’s actually create a lot more than they consume. The convenience and freedom of the internet, combined with the plummeting costs of print and production technologies, has mean that many motivated creatives have been able to set up their own record labels, self-publish comic books, release their own lines of toys and market their own self-created brands. “Self-contributor” sites like Flickr, Etsy and CafePress, RedBubble all reflect the recent de-centralisation of production that has allowed for the development of independent creative enterprises.

It isn’t surprising then, that many local creatives, who grew up on Warner Brothers cartoons and video games, are now also producing and distributing their own character-based comic books, games, animations and toys. Whilst comic writers Jessica McLeod and Edward J Grug III write, illustrate and publish their own comic books about talking animals and unusual super heroes, craft artisans Ali J and Teresa Watts create and sell their character based purses, badges and cards online. The strength of Jessica’s Space Rabbit character has seen her work translated and published in Germany, whilst many of Ali J’s fashion-centred characters have found their ways onto walls of fans and appreciators on the other side of the globe.

The international popularity of Japan’s Astroboy, Holland’s Miffy, America’s Mickey Mouse and Switzerland’s Pingu reinforce the sense that successful character art can effectively transcend limitations of language, race, age and geography. Although we may not understand the Japanese, Spanish or Thai spoken by artists Yui Matsubara, Marco Recuero or Studio Aiko, their cute girls, candy monsters and surreal mutants embody simple narratives and emotional meanings that can be easily understood and enjoyed by audiences of any background. Typified by its strength in visual communication, character art is therefore, starting to be acknowledged as a genre in its own right. Clearly more than just a child-hood pre-occupation, characters are also increasingly being recognised for their power to create instant emotional connections with audiences.

The characters of Australian artists Jodee Knowles, Tim Waters, Deathbot, Paul Robertson, Yok and Creepy clearly function on this basis of immediate emotional connection. Furthermore, though visually their characters are highly accessible, they also reflect a more complex layer of emotional and social commentary. The contorted robots of Tim Waters and Deathbot reflect a surreal meshing of the organic and the technology, whilst the inked faces of Jodee Knowle’s characters reveal an uneasy sense of emotional detachment. Artists Maximillian Goldin and Suspecto have effectively challenged the “cutesy” nature of character art by juxtaposing bright child-like colours with themes of decapitation and horror. Overall, in the creation of these characters, artists have combined their sense of imagination and play, with the expression of more adult concepts and emotions.

To celebrate this recent generation of “user-contributed” character creation, Candy Cult will put on show over 50 of the most unique, cute, weird and imaginative independent characters from 35 local, interstate and international artists. From cute witches to sexy anime girls, musical demons to demented bunnies, this collection will demonstrate the dual power of character art; as a highly accessible visual communicator, and also as a vehicle of expression for more adult concepts and emotions. With a strong graphic appeal, this exhibition will inspire and engage those who who wish to deepen their appreciation for the imaginative and unique characters that populate contemporary comic illustration, street art, graphic design, animation, game art and craft-making. Overall, Candy Cult will celebrate the imaginative world of this generation; a place where monsters still lurk in the shadows, and ninjas fly through our day-dreams, for as long as we continue to believe.

Viva la imaginacion!

Candy Cult artists:
Yok, Sean Morris, Jodee Knowles, Creepy, Suspecto, Deathbot, Luke Milton, Peter Long, Jessica McLeod, Edward J Grug III, Ali J, Isobel Knowles, Paul Robertson, Yui Matsubara (Japan), Lisa Max (Germany), Marco Recuero (Spain), Kimiaki Yaegashi (Japan), Stick A Thing (Germany), Ciah Ciah (Poland), Zoé Byland (Switzerland), Hylton Warburton (South Africa), Talita Hoffman (Brazil), Studio Aiko (Thailand), Fomat Brain (Argentina), Mutsuko Okayama-Everitt, John Patterson, Stefanie Bop, Tim Waters, Teresa Watts, Karen de San Miguel & Emma Lurie.

The Breadbox Gallery, 233 James St, Northbridge.

Gallery opening hours:

12 and 5pm, Wednesday to Friday
2 to 5pm, Saturday and Sunday
Candy Cult will run from the 19th of October through to the 2nd of November.

More information:

Candy Cult art character arts exhibition

Candy Cult will be open until the 2nd of November. Entry is free, and opening hours are:
12 - 5pm, Wednesday to Friday
2 - 5pm, Saturday & Sunday

If you pop in on Saturday or Sunday I will be there personally if you would like to say hello!

Although many of the 1/1 Limited Edition Candy Cult Character Cut-out prints have already sold, there are still a few fantastic creatures who are still looking for loving homes. Looking for some awesome, contemporary monster art for your bedroom wall? Now’s your chance!

It’s all happening at the Breadbox Gallery, 233 James Street Northbridge.

First Post

Here is my first post on Here Now.

I decided to start this blog, in order to document my thoughts and reactions on things currently happening here in Perth.

You can expect to read about social issues, art events, urban planning, health issues, and anything else that I have a reaction to.