GOMA in Brizzy



When I first came to Melbourne on my own, about a year ago, I stayed at the Blackman Hotel.  This hotel is from the Art Series Group.  They have a few hotels around Australia and each one pays homage to a favorite Australian artist.  The Blackman is swanky and groovy and full of paintings of oblong figures trapped in a world where it seems like gravity quit its job.  Everyone’s pulled heavenward.   Like this…



When we were all the way up in Brisbane, G and I stumbled on this Alice in Wonderland painting one day in the Gallery of Modern Art.  I couldn’t stop looking at it.  It seemed so familiar.  The placard next to it said it had been painted by Charles Blackman.  Hmmmmmmm.  It only took me about three days to put it together.  Charles Blackman.  The BLACKMAN!  This was the first of many pleasant surprises for us at the GOMA.


We are nowhere near Queensland at the moment…BUT…in trying to navigate the new Mac Photo software nonsense which makes me so grumpy, I unearthed a plethora of photos from the Gallery.  Everyone says all the culture is in Melbourne, but there is no need to look down your nose at the Brisbane Cultural Complex, especially if you have little ones.  They have exhibit after exhibit for kids and not one of them was slap dash. They were all interactive and awesome and might I add…free.  The whole place is free.  You just wander in.



The first exhibit we saw in the Children’s Art Centre was Jemima Wyman’s Pattern Bandits.  It wasn’t just psychedelic, you could leave with your very own spinning color wheel and a bandana you decorated yourself.



please take only what you need so that everyone can have some fun—did you hear that Nestle?

There were even little televised patterns you could insert yourself into.  Who had more fun with these?  Me, or the four year old?  Me.


In the library portion of this cultural complex they had a Monster Field Guide project, where two very serious scientists (not children’s art workers…they swore THEY. WERE. NOT. children’s art workers) guided the children through a series of scientific methods to discover new species of Monsters.  Using various methods like remote control cars and sling shots (!!!) the kids got as much paint on a piece of paper as possible…


THEN…they were given a series of tools to unearth the monsters hidden in the paint.  G’s discovery is here below…


Terrifying.  Here he is explaining his discovery to the art’s workers scientists.


Our personal favorite exhibition which we frequented, because as I said, you can just wander in, was Yayoi Kusama’s Obliteration Room.  They start out with a room that looks like this…



Then they hand each child (and maybe adult) who comes to visit, a sheet of colored dot stickers which they can place anywhere in the room.  The room then starts to look like this…



And then one day it just looks like this…




The Croc Huntah

“Captain, my recon mission is complete.  During my sweep of the beach, I spotted eleven fat, blue jellyfish wash up onto shore.  I request to hand over my togs and be sent back to base.”

“What are you talking about?”  M asks me.

“Look…just look…you see those giant, blue blobs just hanging out on the sand?  Those…those are what I’m talking about.”


“Can we go look?” asks G.

We see a young girl in the distance, just a wee speck on the horizon, she reaches down and picks up a blue blob with her bare hands and tosses it into her sand castle bucket.  As we get closer I see she can’t be more than four and is surrounded by older brothers…not parents. I fight the urge to run towards her in Chariots of Fire style slow motion and yell out, ‘Nooooooooooooo!’  as she wanders over to pick up the jellyfish you see below.  It is the size of an extra large pizza.  She has drawn a small crowd and from the strained looks on their faces they seem to fight the same urge I do.


“Hi there,” I say sweetly, “do you think these jellyfish are safe to touch?”

She looks up at me with an expression I can only describe as appalled, “I am a croc huntah,” she says, “I am so big and so strong.  This jelly can’t hurt me.”

She motions up the beach a bit where we spot her ‘jelly’ graveyard, “Look!  Those jellies have lost their stingaahhs!” she says with great confidence.

In the short amount of time it took me to report back to M about my findings, this little one had collected all the jellyfish I saw wash up.  She’s good, real good, but I need more information.  No adult on the beach will go anywhere near these jellies, nor do they seem to approve of the little croc huntah’s collection methods.


One of her brothers tells me it’s true.  A lifeguard told them yesterday they had lost their stingers so they can’t hurt you, but this brother is only nine or so.  I need a more reliable source.  Then the mum and dad show up on the scene, “Oh, been collecting jellies have we?”

“Is this your little one?”  I ask.

“Oh yes, that’s her.”

“She tells me she’s a croc hunter.”

Both parents laugh cautiously, “Yesterday a few of these jellies washed up on shore and we panicked until the lifeguard told us they’d lost their stingers and the kids could hurl them around like footballs.  I actually wish he hadn’t told them that.”

With this more official sounding news, G wants in on the jelly hunt.  We oblige.


When I sat down now to write this post, I thought I’d look up for myself what the story was with these jellyfish.  It turns out these Blue Blubber Jellyfish (that is their name) actually don’t have stingers to lose.  They have hundreds of tiny mouths on those big, chunky legs of theirs.  They sting their prey with tiny venomous bites from those little mouths.  If they’ve come up on shore, it’s because they’ve died and they won’t bite you if they’re dead (unlike box or bluebottle jellyfish who defend themselves from beyond the grave with enough remaining venom in their dead tentacles to paralyze a horse).

Can't touch this. touchingnature.com

Can’t touch this. Bluebottle Jellyfish-talkingnature.com

But if you find yourself swimming with Blue Blubbers, beware.  While the bites won’t kill you; they can be itchy to some; a little rashy to others and if you’re the allergic one, which you’ll never know unless you get stung (surely that’s me), they can leave big welts that hang around for months.

The moral of the story is, Australians have such a weird and wide variety of creatures to deal with, they can only commit to memory the ones that can kill you.  All the rest?  Sure, toss ’em around like footballs.  So I tossed this experience into my personal sandcastle bucket of reasons to love the great indoors.  To quote Fran Leibowitz’s Reader, “To me the outdoors is what you must pass through in order to get from your apartment into a taxicab.”



Happy (belated) Easter

I would like to thank the people over at MrPrintables.com as they were the force behind this year’s Easter Egg decorating success.

IMG_3821It is a relief to be of a certain age and finally accept who you are.  You are not crafty.  You admire all the Do-It-Yourselfers out there and their blogs with endless tips and tricks (a personal favorite is katescreativespace.com –go look at her baby chick cupcakes), but when they show you what the finished product should look like you always think…ug.  can I just buy that from you?


i know this is not a bad effort, but i had no patience to hold the egg so it could dry and one side is a gloppy, glittery mess. 

Then Mr. Printables entered my life and assumed I could at least use a pair of scissors and some glue (barely).


They gave me a printable template for an egg car and some eggy outfits.  All we had to do was draw some faces on the eggs, a job I gleefully passed on to Michael and G.

IMG_3825 I hope you had a marvelous day.

The Lion King in Melbourne

I hardly ever post about the reason we’re here…the Lion King!  The Company Manager, Randy, took this photo at a press event for the Melbourne opening and I just had to steal it from him.  I see these ladies in street clothes all the time, never all sassed out as lionesses.  Look how awesome they are!  Randy’s blog has beautiful photos of sights we don’t get to with a four year old in tow.  Have a peek…randydownunder.com…it’s great.




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