Visage Villages (Faces Places), Chance gave JR, an iconic contemporary photographer/muralist with over a million Instagram followers his first camera. He found it, abandoned on a subway. Destiny introduced him to his biggest idol, legendary filmmaker, director, writer, visual artist, Agnes Varda.

Go see this heart expansive art, story, documentary by two of this worlds best photographic visual artists and filmmakers.

Oscar nominated for Best Documentary in 2018, Visage Villages (Faces Places) by Agnes Varda and JR, I was blown away by their vision of what is possible when life is appreciated through our senses first.

I watched this documentary with my 11 year old daughter, a budding photographic enthusiast and loved when she said at the film’s end, ‘that was a good movie mum. I liked it’. 

Chance gave JR, an iconic contemporary photographer/muralist with over a million Instagram followers his first camera. He found it, abandoned on a subway. Destiny introduced him to his biggest idol, legendary filmmaker, director, writer, visual artist, Agnes Varda.

Together, their love of imagery, of capturing the beauty of story in art and the story in impermanent faces resulted in their outstanding French documentary – Visage Villages (Faces Places).

Screen Shot 2018-01-24 at 9.33.53 am

What they do with a simple black and white selfie is sheer artistic magic. As the pair travel through rural France ensconced in JR’s incredible photo truck– an instamatic camera on wheels – they unearth the extraordinary in the ordinary story rich faces of rural French villagers.

JR (34) dangling like a dapper clad Spiderman scales colossal heights on scaffolding – think six shipping containers high –with acrobatic ease he pastes up giant scale photographs, high upon walls.

Just as the edges of a face blur in recollection and memory, there is a sense of urgency as Varda and Jr attempt to make permanent a shifting landscape of time.

Through a photograph, Varda and JR immortalise the fragile impermanence of the face, that one moment in photographic time where the face and body stand heroic, silent in their quest to guard the permanent, to remain emeshed within the bricks and concrete of industry and remembered.

Screen Shot 2018-01-24 at 12.15.40 pm

None more tellingly shown than in the pasting of a young Guy Bourdin, pasted low tide, on a beach in Normandy, onto an abandoned German blockhouse, . Varda (89) had spent time with Guy, shooting the image back in the ’50s.

The image has survived over six decades but the following morning when  Varda and JR return, the blockhouse and beach remain, forever mismatched together, but the image, washed away overnight has vanished.

Screen Shot 2018-01-24 at 12.15.40 pm

Everything is always changing. Varda and JR remind us that permanence exists in engraving and appreciating the present moment. Great art and film after all is all art that lives on, either in form, or in the way it affects us when we greet it.

There are surprising, great and unexpected stories in the worlds behind the faces we meet, worlds we know little about of the lives and stories of French villages, workers and farmers.

Like a goat farmer who bucks convention by refusing to burn off her goats’ horns at birth.

Or the speechless tears of a woman – pasted street front upon her home – the last inhabitant in a row of miner’s houses. The miners have vanished but their homes stand heroically stoic and although abandoned and  crumbling, the row of houses unite as constant reminders of stories past.

Time and chance are lead roles within the documentary, Varda and JR had no plan other than to meet the people of the landscape and to let them, their amazing personal stories and the landscape dictate the mood and feeling of the art and documentary.

Within Visage Villages (Faces Places), Varda and JR supercharged with the power of improvisation, triumph in their tender exploration of human lives.  Varda and JR embed the faces and places of rural France within our psyches and as with great art, these images haunt and remain.

Screen Shot 2018-01-24 at 12.30.00 pm

Written, Directed and commented by Agnes Varda and JR

Executive Producer Rosalie Varda

Associate Producer Emile Abinal

Co-Producers Julie Gayet and Nadia Turincev, Charles S. Cohen Nichole Fu, Etienne Comar

 

Images with thanks from Pinterest

Advertisements

A Ghost Story – The paradox of living with love separated from the adored one’. #davidloweryaghoststory

-trip

Screen Shot 2017-07-26 at 2.55.03 pm

After dashing madly about the Cinema Nova in Carlton, Melbourne from the wrong pitch-black-cinema screening the wrong movie lurking out into the shadows and chatter of the right cinema – its seats filling with the right audience of media with their right glasses of red wine and roasted popcorn, I squirrelled myself away to sit back and be mystified by  David Lowery’s film, A Ghost Story.

And this big screen movie experience is definitely unlike anything I have met before.

In fact I had a really hard time what to make of it.

But through the perfect timing of an incredible birthday trip to the Mildura Writer’s Festival  mere days later – to be surrounded by friends, old and new – one, Australian acclaimed poet Les Murray (Les convinced me to eat his ‘tripe’ – a dish specially prepared at a candle lit feast cooked by Stefano, washed down with incredible wines, all on the banks of the Great Murray River.

To be honest the tripe was delicious, kind of comforting in a toasted marrow fat kind of way – I like marrow and I love lamb’s fat but I have years of child-tripe-protestations-saying NO, never ever eat tripe again! I think a cousin must have teased me about it being stomach’s lining – as an older, wiser taunting cousin does.

But here surrounded by the majesty of the Murray River I found what I needed, the space to let this movie imprint it’s haunting imagery upon me.

Screen Shot 2017-07-26 at 3.16.48 pm

The Beauty of the Murray River.

 

Written and Directed by: David Lowery A Ghost Story

Producers: Toby Halbrooks, James M. Johnston, Adam Donaghey

Cinematographer: Andrew Droz Palermo

Starring: Rooney Mara and Casey Affleck.

A Ghost Story invites us into the tender space of young love shared by Rooney Mara and Casey Affleck and the tragic aftermath of grief as a fatal car crash leaves C dead and transformed as a ghost throughout the movie.

Landlocked by love in one state of being and one place, C remains beneath a sad and forlorn sheet with cut out holes for eyes, to witness time and his lover change without him.

Lowery (Pete’s Dragon, Aint Them Bodies Saints) had been wanting to tell a ghost story for years with the classic iconography of the bed-sheet ghost and with Affleck as no ordinary ghost he achieves that.

Lowery sets the visual tone that this is not a traditional motion picture by shooting the film in the 1:33 aspect ratio, meaning the image width is only slightly greater than its height.  This film technique enabled Lowery to create a towering presence of the shrouded ghost, a still and dominating presence within each scene.

Screen Shot 2017-08-30 at 10.42.24 am

The cinematography is pared back with the glare and grit of everyday realism and it is in the familiar and the known that Lowery captures us.
Through doorframes – a fascination of Lowery’s – both dark and functional, they frame Affleck and Mara in ordinary rooms of no import, but it is in their lack of adornment where the intimate confrontations and revelatory keypoints are revealed without massive movement or violence.

There is something to a movie with long stretches bereft of dialogue, we remain in the stillness as the ghost does and without distraction we sink further into the tragedy of love lost without goodbye and time moving forward where the loved one occupies no space only in memory.

In an unforgettable scene, Mara’s luminous distinctive features convey all the profound grief you thought you’d need dialogue for. In isolation, she stuffs an entire family size chocolate pie in a single four-minute take. The body of food is ill equipped to replace her loss of C.

In a later scene, we witness the profound pathos of love and of lost hearts craving connection through the ghost’s presence.

A Ghost Story

When M finally leaves their home, she embeds a lover’s note into a door frame. The repetitious scratching by a ghost without hands is both tragic and beautiful and as he seeks to unearth the note oblivious to the passage of time without him, we are reminded his sense of identity is derived from his attachment as the beloved.

As I left the cinema into the noise and bustle of my ordinary world, I was unsure how I felt about the movie, in fact I had to sit with it for a few days.

I felt haunted by the film’s imagery of tender grieving and the paradox of grieving a love torn apart by unforeseen tragedy of living with love separated from the adored one.

Through the art of film Lowery poses the aesthetic as a response of grief and catastrophe.

A Ghost Story penetrates as a poignant reminder that the blessing of our good luck is to sit in witness to an event that is possible to each of us.

Our shared humanity wants to vouch safe the journey of love and for it not to leave us ill-prepared for the space that remains in the absence of the loved one.

Read my full review of A Ghost Story by David Lowery, published here for Go Movie Review X

via A Ghost Story — Go Movie Reviews

 

My beautiful work space for the day – at Cinema Nova, Carlton Melbourne.

Screen Shot 2017-07-26 at 2.39.54 pm

Screen Shot 2017-07-26 at 3.02.48 pm

 

 

 

Style has one rule – We are not normal, we are Exceptional!

 

The most profound advice I ever received from my longtime friend – other than, ‘Love! one is never enough’! –  Jas, aka an ex cross-dressing, gender bender with buckets of present day style was,

   ‘Love, who needs normal? You were born to be exceptional! You, We were born to be fabulous!

In a world where real beauty is fast shopped, Instagram photo shopped to the beauty nutritional value of  fast food,  Jas sums up Beauty’s new dichotomy perfectly.

   ‘Today the word beauty is used to define perfect, in proportion and flawless.

There was a time when beauty was about someone’s style, their presence and charisma’.

exceptions

So with a few tweaks  Jas, aka MR Divine, reminds us beauty, real beauty and the power of feeling beautiful is not found over the counter. Beauty is found at home.

Welcome gorgeous ones,

We can all agree there are days where our reflection lets us down. Lets us down. I know. Days. Days where we are want for nothing more than to reconfigurate, recamouflage or recreate. (yes these are not words in the dictionary!)

Those days, where even with perfection staring back at us, we want to see something new.

I have watched a barrage of tutorials on shading and contouring, shading and contouring – creating features where once there were none. There were none!

It is times like this when our divine creative child stomps her plus size heels and says,

   ‘I’M HERE, I’m ready, give me the theatre of life!

     Moreover, give me the centre stage!

Pop

 

Being fabulous is all about canvassing your flaws as features. Seriously it is your flaws that define how unique and fabulously different you are. 

 Have you ever felt  the floor tilt as all the fabulous eyes of the room cast themselves towards you. They are drawn, lost in your enigmatic presence. There is nothing sexier than strutting your good self with great posture. Great posture is HOT!

  • Play up your flaws – Listen and pay attention to the indomitable wisdom of the eternally beautiful, the charismatic, Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel – she who made Lauren Hutton’s gap toothed smile a beauty icon.

I will speak more of the indomitable style of Diana Vreeland in next week’s post.

You don’t need to spend money or over complicate things to be fabulous!

Here are a few of Jas’s aka Mr Divine’s favourite nips and tricks.

  • Start at the beginning Prepare your canvas, an easy way to do this is with a thin layer of mashed avocado. Allow 20ish minutes to dry then peel it off in gentle circular motions with your fingertips.
  • Then lightly rinse, the result is soft, moisturised exfoliated skin. If you have an overly pink or dry skin tone, instead of rinsing, just buff off with a soft cloth.This will leave your skin more hydrated with a slight green undertone helping balance the excess pinkness
  • Remember to pay attention to framing your eyes and honouring your lips!
  • Whether you feel the need for just a layer of BB cream, a slick of lip tint and lashings of mascara, or a well contoured face and smoky eye.
  • We never leave the house without a little tricking up.
  • First Smile! it increases your face value, and why yes, I did just quote Truvy from Steel Magnolias.

Truvy

 

  • First impressions matter! smiling and eye contact when introduced to someone, lingering eye contact and handshake if you want them to remember – not too long, stalking is not beautiful!
  • Fragrance should not assault someone across a room. We want it subtle enough that a potential paramour nuzzles in closer. Where that first kiss on the cheek already has them wet, I mean weak at the knees. Seduction ladies!
  • Dress for comfort! No grimace on your face thanks to those new heels.
  • Yes, there are exceptions to some rules. Like wearing those new heels to a venue with loud music (so we will assume social conversation is out) and fortifying yourself with whichever top shelf spirit, you require to bring out your inner spirit animal.

A sexy tip if you are seeking the simple glam of a Vargas girl, with a low-cut sweater, enhance your bosom by consuming two cups of fennel tea daily for a few weeks -to push you up a cup size!

Vargas

  • Dress boldly with eccentricity as Iris Apfel does, or enhance your femininity by stealing from the boys.
  • Match a man’s dress shirt with a pencil skirt, wide belt, pushed up sleeves and pearls – Aka Katherine Hepburn or Lauren Bacall with a silk blouse, oversized men’s pant with braces or a belt to accentuate a paper bag waist.

And remember! Style does not have to be expensive it’s just what works for you.

There are no set of rules that apply to all, so dare to be bold and creative. Have fun.

People are always confident when they are enjoying life.

 

we are outstanding

Who is MR Divine? Aka my friend Jas

An ex-gender bending, spiritual, lover of food and wine, with interests in holistic healing, nutritional medicine and who can spend hours in Thai Chemists leaving no shelf unturned looking for something cheap, trick and fabulous. Xxx

 

 

My Mumma said, you are enough. ( Fast Non-Fiction, a 1 minute read)

 

Screen Shot 2017-06-07 at 1.55.20 pmThe irony of freelance writing and pursuing time for creative fiction.

It’s crazy, the busier my freelance writing world becomes, the more productive I am with my own fiction work. Go figure! But backstage my unworthiness gremlin slips in and tells me I cannot pursue busy success and write with a true voice at the same time.

Since October 2016 I have been freelance writing for Australian Fashion House, Swish Plus Size Fashion  Writing for others keeps me accountable and I love it.

So after a work period of crazy busyness and accepting some incredible writing opportunities  I forgot to slow down, get still and I slid off balance, just like the little gremlin prophecised.

I was tired and luckily I didn’t fall back on patterns of my past. I no longer sucked down my feeling by escaping into food or wine or more activity, in moments like this I did what I do now – I called my mum in New Zealand.

 

Screen Shot 2017-06-07 at 2.10.10 pm

My mum keeps it real and I know she secretly she loved it when ‘A’ I said,

‘Mum I need your advice’ and ‘B’ I stopped speaking long enough to listen,

The words tumbled out all together.

Anxiety was decapitating my self belief and I was running about like a headless chicken in search of the sun. 

‘I have a ball in my chest where I’m not sure how to breath about my writing. I think I have set it way up high on a pedestal and I don’t know how to reach it’.

My Mum said,

‘I knew you were  doing this, you have done this before, you have been running around, being here, there and everywhere and you need to get still. You need to sit down and talk to yourself.’

I really, really wanted to interrupt her wisdom with defence, to delay the inevitable. Although she offered what I needed, my defence, my safety, was reluctant to hearing.

I inhaled hard, bigger than a chicken breath, kicked my inner voice ‘know-it-all’ to the curb and listened.

‘You are enough and whatever you write is enough’

‘Write what you have now. It doesn’t have to be perfect’, she said.

She laughed and then said,

‘why don’t you grab a pen and write about how much you hate me’.

A joke between us from my overdramatic stomps as a teenager when feeling the whole world had wronged me and my mother was the only thing that stood between me and experiencing more of the whole, wrong, world.

I would stomp off into my room and begin writing, but I never wrote hate letters or notes to my mum, I wrote stories. Stories that I escaped and poured myself into, where I created exotic, teen-girl-wanting-to-be dramatic, free landscapes outside of my teenage-tiny-bedroom walls.

As a teenager I wrote from a ball of desire and anger and a need to escape.

I like writing from that place.

And like my mum said, I am enough exactly as I am.

I need to sit, get quiet, be a little bit headless and be more in that heart ball of desire bursting in my chest.

I love writing from that place.

How do you find stillness in your world? I’d love to hear your methods for finding that spot for yourself.

Xx

Much love,

Simmon

I like doodling in bed too, it helps get me still.

Screen Shot 2017-06-07 at 1.58.42 pm

Some of my freelance work published by Swish Fashion 2017

memoir

http://blog.swishfashion.com.au/plussizestyletips/an-inspirational-swish-mum-overcomes-body-shaming

Profiles

http://blog.swishfashion.com.au/plussizestyletips/anita-carmody-stays-loyal-to-manufacture-in-australia-plus-size-fashion

http://blog.swishfashion.com.au/plussizestyletips/stories-for-women-who-have-achieved-success-in-their-field.-plussize-empoweringwomen-mothersday

 

#women #mothers #nonfiction #growingup #swishplussizefashion #50pluswoman #mentalhealth #parentingadvice #worklifebalance #writerslife #freelancewriting

A Melbourne Bladesmith’s one-of-a-kind love at first Slice.

Melbourne bladesmith, Aidan Mackinnon loves nothing more than dedicating 15 hours or more to transforming a raw hunk of steel and a block of wood into a one-of-a-kind, high performance, heirloom knife.

And creating a one-of-a-kind, high performance knife is what fuels his dedication and uncompromising creativity for his craft.

Cut Throat Knives was founded in 2014, after Aidan fascinated with the ancient craft tried his hand at making a knife. It was love at first slice.Resin Knives

   When I started, I immediately knew this is what I wanted to do. It just made sense to me, it combined my interest of food with design, with working with my hands and then elements of art as well.

   I was hooked from day 1.

Each of Aidan’s hand sculpted knives are bought to life in his fingers and it is this collaboration between the raw materials – Aidan likes to work with Australian materials – and his own humanity that Aidan believes makes each piece flesh alive in quality and function.

In our long-distance interview, I caught up with Aidan as he was training with some Master bladesmiths in the United States whilst I was here in Melbourne.

I admit as an interviewee he couldn’t have been more generous with his time and personable with intimate details of Cut Throat Knives and a craft that he loves.

Best Picture.png

1.Hi Aidan, you are currently in training with some bladesmiths in the United States, what so far has been the best learning you have received there?

Hi Simmon, the best thing that I’ve learnt is that I’ve demystified some of the aura around the celebrity knife makers. It can be easy when you work in a certain field to put people on pedestals and the knife making community is no different.

 It has been fantastic learning from some of the thought leaders in my field but also realizing that they are just makers like the rest of us.

2.Where did your fascination with knife making first begin?

 I’ve always been into food and through that you gain an appreciation for well-made tools. When I first moved out of home I bought a Global Knife and then slowly just kept on upgrading through the various factory made options.

Then about 5 years ago I came across the work of Cut Brooklyn and Blok Knives and just found the concept fascinating, that there were these guys making beautiful tools by hand.

After a little bit, I decided to learn how to make a knife and did a course in Australia and I really fell for the craft. Within 7 months I had launched Cut Throat Knives.

wood

3. At the beginning, tell me about the first knife you ever made?

The first Chef Knife I ever made was with Tharwa Valley Forge in Canberra, they are a blacksmithing and bladesmithing school.

 I hammered out a piece of steel under the tutelage and glued on a handle and shaped it. By anybody’s standards it was rough, even my own but I saw it as a stepping point. I still have it in my workshop acting as a reminder of how far I’ve come.

4. You believe the human element of crafting a handmade knife is of the utmost importance in creating the fine detail of a bespoke blade, how so?

Every element of a handmade knife is about attention to detail.

The lines of the blade are a little more refined, the blades are ground very thin, and often have complex compound grinds. The heat treatment is done to the highest standard possible (something that is difficult when factories are bulk heat treating blades).

 Finally, the choice of the materials in the handle and the contouring of the handle.
These improvements however slight stack up and produce a better end result.

As a knife maker, we have to be about pushing the envelope, getting the most out of the materials so that it is a lifetime purchase.

craftsman5. Will you share your design philosophy behind the crafting of your beautiful knives?

First and foremost, they are about function, if they don’t excel where they need to everything else is moot. Beyond that my goal is to create a kitchen heirloom, in that sense I’m trying to create an object that has an emotional connection to it.


For example I did a collaboration with a florist, where we lasered peonies onto the blade and had a handle that was resin cast that contained a single flower. Not only will it perform well, but for a florist this is a tool that takes their work passion and embodies it in a kitchen object.

6. What plans do you have for the future of Cut Throat Knives?

We are about to launch our own range of Damascus and San Mai blades. These will be complete bespoke custom work where we work with the customer to create a truly individual piece.

Leather and Knife

We are also revamping our leather range to include a greater selection of options.

We have some other projects in the works but for now they will remain a secret

7. And for all the budding bladesmiths, home chefs and others you have knife making classes starting soon. Very exciting, please tell me about them.

Knife making classes will be starting shortly.

They will be run as a two-day course where we teach the basics of knife making and sharpening with a heavy focus on kitchen knives.

8. The food industry is ever evolving and ever inspiring, from whom do you draw inspiration from?

 Within my own field; Blok Knives, Cut Brooklyn, Maumasi Fire Arts, David Lisch

Outside of my craft; the Dapper Dead, Sauer and Steiner, Kylie Kwong, Grafa Garden, Brooklyn Copper, Borough Furnace, Black Tide Tattoo, North St Botanical (the list is long)

Within the culinary world (this list is very, very long); Adam Perry Lang, Kenji Lopez Alt, Josh Niland, Dan Barber to name just a few.

 9. Why should people buy a handmade knife as opposed to a commercially made one?

 I would encourage people to enhance their cooking experience through good produce and good tools. Maybe that means buying one of my knives or maybe it is the cheap Santoku that you bought when you lived in Japan and every time you use it, it reminds you of your time there.

I think that there is something special about holding a well-made tool and knowing that there is a person and a story behind that object. If that connects with you and enhances your cooking, then absolutely I encourage you to give me a call.

Wow knife

  1. And finally, what is the best way I can take care of one of your beautifully made Cut Throat Knives?


There are a few elements to taking care of a well-made knife,

  1. Take care of the tip and the rest takes care of itself.
    When sharpening get it professionally sharpened, or use whetstones. Never use those pull through sharpeners, they are terrible.
  2. Store on a magnetic knife block or in a wooden knife block with the edge facing up (don’t rest the edge on the wood).
  3. Never just throw it in the draw.
  4. Hand wash only. It takes 5 seconds to clean the blade and dry it.

As Cut Throat Knives says on their website’https://www.cutthroatknives.com.au/

Quality has no substitute; throwaway culture deserves disposal; and time-honored skills are worthy of recognition.

Thanks Aidan!

Look forward to your return to Melbourne!

With images courtesy of Cut Throat Knives and Aidan Mackinnon.

#cutthroatknives #handcraftedknives #melbourneknifemaker #handmadeknives #artisan #melbourneartisan