14 December 2011

Introducing ... Chapter House Lane

In an earlier post, I alluded to an exciting project I've been involved with for the last couple months: Chapter House Lane.

Tucked away in a laneway next to St Paul's Cathedral in the heart of Melbourne's CBD, is a recently launched contemporary art gallery.  Originally a disused window front, Chapter House Lane has been transformed to inspire curiosity to passer bys and art critics alike.  As a not-for-profit association, we've relied on donations of over $3,000 with the aid of crowd-funding website, Pozible.  A number of generous sponsors and friends have also assisted us along the way, and for that, we are extremely grateful.  A key objective of the space is for it to be a means for emerging and establishing artists to display their works for free.

Behind the scenes, a small group of us with a mixed skill set (think freelance writer, art curator, lawyer, graphic designer, tax consultant and industrial designer) have been working hard to get this space up and running.   After countless meetings, several buckets of paint, many late nights, and a large amount of elbow grease, Chapter House Lane finally launched on Thursday November 10 with a grand opening party.

With approximately 120 guests in attendance, the night was a huge success, showcasing watercolour portraits  from Justin Lee Williams' Midnight Mountain Dancing exhibition.  The exhibition is on til 2 January 2012.  Ch-ch-check it out when you get a chance!

06 December 2011

This one's for you, Holly.

Dear Holly,

Please come visit already.  Hope these pics are tempting you.

From Justin

This is a picture I took last week of Faux Pas playing a neat audio/visual/intergalactic-themed set at The Cube at ACMI

This one I took a few nights later. It was an intimate gig held just by this bridge in the middle of nowhere.  Getting here was tricky and it was my first time riding a bike in a year.  I was a bit wobbly on my bike.  Now I know how you and Charlotte felt when you first rode that bike around the cemetery in Norrebro (straight after you had bought your bike). 

ps. hope all is well

23 September 2011

New Chapter, New Project

Très exciting project I'm working on at the moment!  Click here for more!

31 August 2011

Awesome People Hanging Out Together

The title sums it up perfectly.

19 August 2011

Video Hits

I've been really hooked on creating videos in the past year.  I made this one a couple months ago as a result of experimenting with my new camera and lens. The tracks on the video are from my current favourite band, Beach Fossils. Their music is blissful and perfect for road-trips.

08 August 2011

Thaipusam Festival: A colourful and painful celebration

Earlier this year, during my brief stay in Kuala Lumpur, I decided to join the masses and venture out to the Batu Caves to witness and experience one of the most confronting yet beautiful festivals of my life: the Thaipusam Festival. The Thaipusam Festival is the most significant Hindu display in Malaysia, having been held annually at the Batu Caves since the late 1800s. Before the festival day, pilgrims, mostly of Tamil Indian descent, line the streets to see a statue of Lord Murugan make its way to the Batu Caves. The procession is large and colourful, comprising of a wide variety of devotees who go to different lengths to express their devotion.

Pound the Ground
Yep, that's right, she's not just balancing a bunch of stuff on her head, but she's also got a skewer through her cheeks.
Do not go to the Thaipusam Festival if you don't like crowded places, loud noises, or get grossed out by body piercings. It's estimated that over one million devotees and tens of thousands of tourists were in attendance of the festival this year. Numerous groups of musicians, drummers and dancers energetically expressed their faith, adding to the carnival feel of the event. Stalls were set up for devotees to shave their heads and paint their heads yellow. Women, bearing a rainbow of flowers in their hair paraded around the festival in their shimmering traditional outfits.  Food stalls appeared everywhere, cooking up an assortment of delights that I had never seen before.  And, to keep the kids happy, an amusement park filled with rides, games and balloons was established.

Chair swing for the kids, and big kids like me!
At first, it's easy to get caught up in the excitement and colour of this festival.  But then, you see things that remind you that this is a deeply reverential event.  For instance, there were men carrying elaborate and heavy frameworks on their shoulders (called 'kavadis'), which were attached to them by hooks throughout their bodies.  They had to carry these frames up 272 steps to the Batu Caves...after walking several kilometres from the city.

Ouch! Apparently these devotees feel no pain when they do this, and that no blood or scars appear when they remove the skewers.
Then there were the devotees who, whilst experiencing spiritual and devotional trances, deliriously carried pots of milk on their heads up to the caves.  Many of these devotees had skewers pierced through their cheeks and tongues, and looked like they were on the verge of collapsing.

Carrying milk up to the caves
The way to the Batu Caves
I followed the large procession up the 272 steps to reach the Batu Caves.  Here, after days of illustrating their faith, endurance and penance, devotees lay down to rest, recover and eat, and they were duly congratulated by their loved ones.

Inside the Batu Caves, after wriggling my way through others up 272 steps.

07 August 2011

Brickin' Sweet

Nathan Sawaya's Art of the Brick exhibition, currently on display at Federation Square, is a visual feast of LEGO masterpieces not to be missed.  Hailing from New York, Nathan Saways is an inspirational creative genius.  As a disenchanted contract lawyer, he decided to leave the legal profession and become a full-time artist. Since then, he's constructed numerous people, dinosaurs, portraits and sculptures all from little bits and pieces of LEGO.  In doing so, he's broken gallery records around the world.  Not a bad career change if you ask me!

30 July 2011

Open House WKND

Ahoy there!

Yesterday I had a lovely day exploring some great gems of Melbourne as part of the Melbourne Open House weekend.  Basically, there are about 75 buildings (many of which are private, or generally out-of-bounds) open to the public for free this weekend.  Unfortunately, this event has proven to be so popular among architecture/design/history/Melbourne enthusiasts that many of the buildings saw queues that were longer than an anaconda.  For instance, one of the places I wanted to see most, the Russel Place Substation, had a 90 minute queue to get in.

Lyons office space
We managed to squeeze in a number of visits in our afternoon of exploration.  The Lyons architecture firm, housed in the former Foy & Gibson department store (think old-school David Jones) on Bourke St was a unique and memorable office space.  There was a maze of large silver tubes lining the ceiling and parts of the floor and pillars were uneven and rocky.  Interestingly, the firm decided not to design its office space itself, but rather, outsourced the design to another architecture firm.
Participating Buildings
I'm very jealous of Origin Energy employees.  We visited their hangout space on the rooftop of their building on Flinders Lane.  It's decked out in astroturf and wooden furniture.  There's also an unusual cylindrical seating area that was amusing to sit in.

Origin Energy Rooftop Garden
Quite a few weeks back I visited some old friends in Sydney.  It was cold and rainy all weekend, but we still managed to get up to some fun things, like viewing the Archibald prize finalists at the NSW Art Gallery and frolicking about in Nadia's backyard.

Nadia's backyard
Walk towards the NSW Art Gallery

05 July 2011


Well I'm pooped! It's been cold here in Melbrrrrne and work has been BeeZee Az.  I just got back from life drawing and spent about 45 minutes helping L set up an art installation at the gallery.  It involved a lot of wires and cords and trial and error.  It was extremely frustrating at times but we laughed it off in the end when we realised how easy it was to solve our problem.

I had a really eventful weekend showing one of my best pals around Melbourne.  We spent too much moolah and took stacks of photos.

It really made me miss my other best pals a know who you are, whether you're in Ann Arbor, somewhere in Germany, London, Sydney, Brisrael or wherever.


19 June 2011

(03) M3L80URN3

I can't believe I haven't posted anything on Melbourne yet.  I still have one last post to draft up about my world travels (the Thaipasum Festival at the Batu Caves) but I'll save it for later.

I've been living and working in Melbourne for three months now.  I love this place to bits.  Here are some pictures and Dr Seuss quotes that sum up my experience so far:

"I like nonsense. It wakes up the brain cells."
"From there to here, from here to there, funny things are everywhere!" 
"Today was good. Today was fun. Tomorrow is another one." 
"They say I'm old-fashioned, and live in the past, but sometimes I think progress progresses too fast!"
"Think and wonder, wonder and think."
"We are all a little weird and life's a little weird, and when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall in mutual weirdness and call it love."

17 June 2011

KuLu Tu: Trekkin Happy Time

The last leg of my travels (it's so long ago now it seems like a dream) was Kuala Lumpur.  It was mid January and it was hot, humid and bustling with energy.  Judging from KL's location near the equator, I think such weather is the norm there.

I checked into one of my favourite hostels in the world, Red Palm, where my pal (who I'd met six months earlier), Mac, works.  I told Mac I wanted to spend a day or two out of town, in a place more congenial to my exhausted soul.   The next morning, a local forty/fifty-something year old man named Happy picked me up.  We stopped for breakfast at Kuala Kubu Baru, a district with a large Indian population, before heading off to the Chiling Waterfall.

Kuala Kubu Baru
Happy is an irrepressibly charismatic man.  You would never have guessed he spent a career working in insurance.  After ten near-death experiences, he decided to read the Tao Te Ching, the Koran, the Bible, and other primary religious texts from front to back.  He believes there is one common underlying thread between all these texts, and that is, that God is within all of us.  He memorises and recited a number of quotes from each of these texts that supports this assertion.  Yet, he doesn't understand why there is so much conflict between religions today.

This is the back of Happy's head.  He has a strange scar that resembles the number 10 which reflects the number of near-death experiences he's had.  Examples of such experiences include a heart attack and night-dive where he was face to face with a shark.
Trekking towards the waterfall
After one and a half hours of discussing spirituality, chopping through thick shrubs and wading through waste-high waters, we arrived at the inspiring and secluded Chiling Waterfalls.  We were truly off the beaten track - at least I thought so, until we stumbled upon some of his old friends who also knew of the waterfall.

Here, I fed some fish, jumped off boulders and went for a relaxing swim.  As we trekked back towards our base through the jungle, Happy taught me some interesting facts about many of Malaysia's native plants and how we, as humans, can learn from their survival techniques.

Chiling Waterfall
Leaves that resembled the pattern on a soccer ball!
The last stop of the day was the Batang Kali Hot Springs.  It was at these hot springs that I thought Happy might actually be crazy.  The water in these hot springs was between 42 to 49 degrees celsius.  Upon arriving, he immersed his whole body, including his head, into the hot pool of water.  Then he told me it was my turn.  First, I splashed some of the water onto my feet.  They turned red almost instantaneously.  I thought I was about to be involved in some sort of religious suicide.

After providing me with some mental exercises, he taught me to control my mind over my body and I managed to submerge myself in the hot pool of water without feeling any pain.  I felt like I had been exorcised.  It was surreal.  My body was red and swollen for the remainder of the day!