Saturday, 19 August 2017

Family day at the Australian PlantBank

As part of National Science Week the Australian PlantBank at the Australian Botanic Garden Mount Annan held the Plant Bank Party.

This family focused activity encouraged visitors to explore the mysteries of seeds, rainforests, rocks, reptiles, flowers, insects and botanical drawing.

The PlantBank Party was promoted as activities and games that would keep the kids interested and intrigued.


The Australian PlantBank entrance at the Australian Botanic Gardens at Mount Annan in 2017 (ABG)

On his visit to the PlantBank Party this blogger found a host of things to keep the visitor intrigued and interested. Professional staff were on hand to help the inquiring mind of grown-ups and little-grown-ups with answers to a host of questions.

The Australian PlantBank
The Royal Botanic Garden website states
The Australian PlantBank is a science and research facility of the Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust and is located at the Australian Botanic Garden, Mount Annan. It houses the Trust's seedbank and research laboratories that specialise in horticultural research and conservation of Australian native plant species, particularly those from New South Wales.
Some of the furry friends on display at the PlantBank Party for families at the Australian PlantBank at the Australian Botanic Gardens at Mount Annan (I Willis)

Back-of-lab tour

The grown ups and littlies had the opportunity to do a back-of-lab tour which entered areas off-limits to ordinary visitors. Our expert guide took the visitor through the seed preparation area and sorting areas.

Our guide explained the ins-and-outs of collecting seeds in the field. We all had a look through a microscope at some acacia seeds. They look different up close.

Different seeds have different protection and can be hard to germinate. Some are triggered by bushfires and the lab has to copy the conditions of a bushfire.

The mysteries of mechanical seed sorting were demonstrated and shown how much time and energy it saves. Manual sifting is no fun and very slow.

The visitors looked through the heavily insulated tripled glazed window, (and they are 4-hour rated fire proofing as well) into the area of the cool room (4 degrees) and cold room (-20 degrees). Here the seeds are kept for years, sometimes decades.

Some of the thoughts for visitors to consider at the Australian PlantBank ABG (I Willis)


The tour then looked into the x-ray seed facility and finally back along the corridor to the plant-tissue culture room for preservation of plants where seeds cannot be preserved, eg, rainforest seeds.

Occasionally the seeds in storage are brought and propagated in the nursery out-the-back of the laboratories.

The nursery area had a scrumptious sausage sizzle run by the Macarthur Centre for Sustainable Living for the hungry.

 Activities

There were lots of activities for kids and big-kids. Doing  a botanical drawing while looking at the original is harder than you might think.

Big-kids had the opportunity to ask tricky questions of the experts on hand - propagation, pollination, ecologist, germination, and lots of others.


Visitor promotion at the Australian PlantBank ABG 2017 (I Willis)


Why is the Australian PlanBank important?

The website states
The Australian PlantBank brings together, under one roof, seed and living plant collections that form a resource for identification, research and restoration of Australian plants. The main function of the Australian PlantBank, through its science activities, will be to document the biology of species through studies in the field, the laboratory and in cultivation. It will therefore enhance other conservation initiatives as it will provide a unique function as the repository of regenerative material and the associated knowledge.

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Friday, 18 August 2017

Preview of Alan Baker Art Collection

In July 2017 there was a preview of Alan Baker Art Collection at the Tegel Gallery at Cobbitty.

This is the invitation to the preview of the Alan Baker Collection at the Tegel Gallery, Cobbitty in July 2017. The painting used on the invitation is Alan Baker's Lady in Pink (Marjorie). Marjories was Alan's wife.
Work is coming along on the new Alan Baker Art Gallery that is going to be located in the iconic Italianate style Macaria in John Street Camden. The building is currently surrounded by scaffolding and a construction safety fence. The original chimney's are being replaced by the heritage construction company doing the restoration work. They are currently on view at the Camden Museum.




Roger Percy with latest promotional material for the Alan Baker Art Gallery at Macaria at the Tegel Gallery Cobbitty preview of the Alan Baker Collection in July 2017. Behind Roger is the Alan Baker's portrait of Majorie Alan's wife. (I Willis)

There will 77 works by Camden artist Alan Baker (1914-1987) on loan from Max Tegel and Garry Baker, Alan's son, dating from the 1930s to the 1980s.

The gallery will have themed rooms around commercial artist, still life, flowers, portraits and landscapes.

Macaria will also house the Camden Art Prize Collection for care, storage and management.

Roger Percy spoke at the Camden Historical Society on the plans for Macaria in April 2017. He outlined the progress of the project and the conceptual design of the interior and how the art works might be displayed around the walls.

It is anticipated that the gallery will open later in 2017.

The gallery will looking for a friends of the gallery and is looking for volunteers.

Saturday, 5 August 2017

Out and about in Cootamundra

The HN blogger was out and about in Cootamundra recently in the New South Wales Riverina. The town has been immortalised in the song 'Cootamundra Wattle' by John Williamson where he sings about the flowers in July.

The Post Office on the corner of Cooper and Wallendoon Streets Cootamundra designed by the Colonial Architect James Barnet in 1880  (I Willis 2017)

The town was originally settled in the 1860s when gold was first discovered in the area.
The post office building shown here was designed by colonial architect James Barnet in 1880. The Australian Heritage Database describes it
The building reflects well the characteristics of Victorian Italianate architecture and its clocktower is a superb focal point in the town centre. The building is two storey and built of face brick with stucco dressings and stucco to the tower. Decoration includes stucco to window arches, and imposts and cornices; there is a dentil course to the eaves of the main roof and across the tower. A verandah has an iron roof and paired timber posts. The building's main roof is hipped and clad with corrugated iron. Of four storeys, the clocktower is the post office's major feature.
The town centre is an interesting place to wander around and the HN blogger discovered this Art Deco Style shopfront in Wallendoon Street near the Post Office in the Norfolk Building.

The Art Deco Style shopfront from the Interwar period is located in the Norfolk Building in Wallendoon Street near the Post Office. 2017 (I Willis)

The Norfolk Building that the shopfront is located in is dated 1889.


The Norfolk Building with Art Deco Style shopfront in Wallendoon Street near Post Office 2017 (I Willis)

The Norfolk Building is listed on the Cootamundra Heritage Inventory as a building of local significance under the 2013 Cootamundra Local Environment Plan Heritage Schedule. The heritage inventory lists over 140 buildings of interest in the town area.

The Cootamundra Herald (14 July 2014) reports:
Plans for the building were drawn up by his brother in law, architect TD Morrow.  Mr Burgess purchased the land on which the shops stand from the then Bank of Australasia (now Custom Accounting). The construction was completed in October of 1899, with locally-sourced labour carrying out the majority of the work. Falconer Bros made the bricks and they were laid by Ford Bros (although the contractors were named as Sorenson & Ramburg of Sydney). McBeath & Co supplied the timber. Plasterer was Mr Grinrod and T Fisher did the painting, while GH Bundock asphalted the front footpath.


Learn more about Cootamundra: 

Cootamundra Heritage Inventory 2013 LEP

Australian Heritage Database Cootamundra Post Office

Norfolk Building Cootamundra Herald 14 July 2014

Learn more about Cootamundra  at Australian Heritage

Out and about in Yass

The HN blogger was out and about recently and called into Yass, NSW.

Yass is about 280 south-west of Sydney on the route of the Old Hume Highway. The site for the town was gazette in 1837.[4] Yass was incorporated as a District Council in 1843, and boasted a population of 274 by 1848.


The former Australian Arms Inn Comur Street Yass built 1862 (I Willis 2017)

One of the buildings in Comur Street, the main street, is the Australian Arms Inn built in 1862 as an inn. 



Commemorative plaque on the former Australian Arms Inn in Comur Street Yass b.1862 (I Willis, 2017)

The building is listed on the Yass Valley 2013 Local Environment Plan Heritage Inventory. 

Learn more

Yass Valley 2013 LEP Heritage Inventory

Sunday, 30 July 2017

Thomas Walker Convalescent Hospital

Out at Concord located in Sydney's inner west is the magnificent of the school Rivendell, the former Thomas Walker Memorial Hospital for Convalescents. It was recently open for inspection by the City of Canada Bay Heritage Society.


Main building of the Thomas Walker Convalescent Hospital 2017 Open Day (I Willis)

The heritage society organise regular open days to continually raise public awareness of this heritage icon.

The Heritage Council of NSW states:
The Thomas Walker Convalescent Hospital is situated in the Municipality of Concord on the Parramatta River bounded by Brays Bay and Yaralla Bay. It is a large complex on a large park-like riverside estate, with extensive and prominent landscape plantings, making it a landmark along the river.

Opened in 1893 patients were taken from Circular Quay to the Watergate at the front of the complex on the Parramatta River. The landing stage was a pontoon that went up and down with the tide. A bridge connected the pontoon to the Watergate.

Watergate at the Thomas Walker Convalescent Hospital Concord 2017 Open Day (I Willis) 


The convalescent hospital was constructed from a bequest of 100,000 pounds from the will of businessman and politician Thomas Walker who died in 1886. Walker was a philanthropist, member of the legislative council and director of the Bank of New South Wales.

The executors of Walker's will announced a design competition in 1888 for a convalescent hospital. Architect John Kirkpatrick won the design competition although criticized for being overly expensive.

In 1889 architectural commission was given to Sydney architects Sulman and Power. The building cost 150,000 pounds with additional funds coming from other family members and supporters.

Between 1943 and 1946 the hospital was managed by the Red Cross with control then passing to Perpetual Trustees.

The hospital complex

The main hospital building is Queen Anne Federation style  with a four-storey clock tower at the centre. There is classical ornamentation. On either side of the main building are two wings containing cloisters.

The hospital complex is based on a pavilion basis, with each pavilion to retain its functional integrity with the central block for administration and service blocks either side. There are 8 buildings in the complex.

Impressive entry vestibule in the main building at the Thomas Walker Convalescent Hospital Concord 2017 Open Day (I Willis) 


The main building is two storey with a three storey tower over the main entrance, an impressive vestibule, and an entertainment hall for 300 people. There is sandstone detail throughout inside and out.

The Sulman buildings have elaborately shaped exposed rafter ends, Marseilles pattern terracotta roof tiles and crafted brickwork.

Covered walkway from main building at the Thomas Walker Convalescent Hospital Concord 2017 Open Day (I Willis)


The History of Sydney website states:
The building’s symmetrical design originally divided it into male and female sides. It includes two enclosed courtyards, a concert hall and a recreation hall which is supposed to be highly decorated. It is of the first known buildings to make use of “cavity walls” for insulation and protection against Sydney’s hot climate.

Complex roof line showing Marseilles pattern terracotta roof tiles of main building Thomas Walker Convalescent Hospital 2017 Open Day (I Willis)

Significance of hospital complex

The NSW heritage inventory states:
The hospital is important because it reflects Florence Nightingale's influence on 19th century convalescent hospital design principles and their adoption into Australian architecture.

The Estate is a rare surviving late 19th century major institution of a private architect's design in Australia and is John Sulman's finest work in this country.

The grounds of the hospital are of national heritage signficance as an intact example of Victorian/Edwardian institutional gardens which have maintained an institution throughout their whole existence.

Some of the crowd in the reception entertainment hall at Thomas Walker Convalescent Hospital Concord 2017 Open Day (I Willis)

Monday, 24 July 2017

Music at a Sydney House Concert Goes Hmmm....


Things That Make You Go Hmm...
a Sydney House Concert


The CHN blogger was out and about in Newtown recently and attended a house concert put on by the I Heart Songwriting Club.

Add caption


A group of musos performed in a lounge room tucked away in a corner with around 20 people ranging from children to oldies. Sitting on lounges, chairs and on the polished wooden floor with greenery displayed in the floor-to-ceiling windows behind them. 

What a knockout show in a small and intimate venue, as opposed to a noisy pub somewhere.
The music was delivered with soul and warmth.  It spoke to the heart on a Sunday afternoon in the intimate surroundings.

The intimate surroundings of the Newtown House Concert for the I Heart Songwriting Club in July 2017 with performer Mariamma, (Francesca de Valence)


The domestic space certainly beat  the hell out of the huge souless barns that pass as music venues in some places.  The interval was an opportunity to have nibbles, cheese and dip, meet the musos and make  new friends in a truly warm and welcoming environment.


House concerts are an emerging trend in music performance and hark back to the days of chamber music. A look back at how live acoustic music was performed in earlier times. When a grand house provided a library, a parlour, a ballroom for music in the raw uncut version. At a time when there was no amplification or recording. All music was live and of the moment.


Friends and fans of the I Heart Songwriting Club in lounge room of the host at the Newtown House Concert in July 2017. (Francesca de Valence)

Graham Strahle reviewed the house concert scene in Australia in 2016 for Music Australia and came to the conclusion that this performance space is growing in Australia. He maintains that this type of performance is flying under the radar and is growing popularity.

Strahle reports that some artists prefer house concerts over other types of venues with a range of organising abilities. Performers relish the networking possibilities. This is very community based and a new interpretation of an old idea.

Some who provide performance spaces in their homes have dedicated rooms while providing supper or even meals for patrons and fans. These type of performances seem quite informal and not on regular circuits.

House concerts have proved popular in North America and Europe. Fran Snyder, writes that house concerts in the US, bring performers closer to the fans and
sometimes they even help artists rediscover what they enjoy most about playing music – the intimate connection with an audience.
Snyder makes the point that it allows performances in
'markets where you don’t have a significant fanbase'. 

This mode of delivery is not for all and there are disadvantages. The performer is exposed and there is no hiding behind a loop-track or a huge drum kit. It may not be for the faint hearted.
ABC News reports that attendances are falling at regional music festivals and that this type of performance is replacing them. Allowing fans to cheaply access high quality live music.
House concerts, according to Megan King, in the northern rivers area of  NSW are held in old houses with metal house ceilings that provide an ideal acoustic venue.
The house concert is another form of the 'pop-up' economy - a part of the gig-economy.The advent of social media makes the job of creating a network of friends and fans reasonably easy. In the old days it was only word of mouth. Private email groups and the like provide the vehicle for cheap and easy promotion. 
WH Chong writes that house concerts are
intimate, convivial gatherings in a domestic space.
Wikipedia has an interesting history of house concerts maintaining that their origins are based around the performance of folk, blues and country music. Where live performances were traditionally informal and small affairs at low cost. There are even influences going back to the medieval period with small intimate performances of unamplified music. You could argue that live performance goes back to the ancients and were a form of house concert, especially those based around religious festivals and the like.

The performers from the I Heart Songwriting Club at the Newtown House Concert in July 2017 (Francesca de Valence) 

"Things That Make You Go Hmm"
The CHN blogger concurs with all the conclusions of other writers after experiencing this type of performance for the first time.
After a hugely successful Brisbane show, I Heart Songwriting Club is touring "Things That Make You Go Hmm" and held  house concert in Sydney. The theme of the Sydney house concert was:
These incredible women share stories and songs on:
The dangerous powers of seduction
The sudden absence of love
The elusive nature of time
and… of course, being a stalker …. “Things That Make You Go Hmm..."
All the artists that who performed for the Heart Songwriting Club were singer-songwriters who were storytellers in their own right and told a story through their music. The performers were:
Francesca de Valence,
Helen Perris,
Colleen O'Connell
Mariamma,
Issabird

House concerts are a form of performance that seems likely to a strong future if current trends are any guide.

Learn more

Graham Strahle, Under the radar: Australia’s house concert scene (Music Australia)

Saturday, 8 July 2017

A cold night out with the family at Menangle Park

A cold night at Menangle Park has not stopped families coming out in big numbers for the night markets for a great night of entertainment and tucker.

The retail section of the night markets at Menangle Park had a range of goods for patrons to purchase in the cold brisk evening. Everyone was rugged up  against the light breeze that sprang up. (I Willis)

There are a range of food stalls from BBQ, Asian, Middle Eastern, along with a selection of dessert stalls for the customers to choose from.

The market also had a small range of retail stalls and a slide for the children.

A DJ played music over the PA to keep the atmosphere moving along.

Patrons enjoy some great tucker at the night markets at Menangle Park to the rocking music from the DJ. There was a range of food stalls ranging across BBQ to Asian and Middle Eastern and others. Lucky ones grabbed a chair and table early and did not have to nurse their plate on the knees. (I Willis)

Spread around the grounds were chairs and tables which were quickly filled up ere spread around the ground with some heaters to keep the chill away for those lucky enough to sit beside one.