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DISPLAYING POSTS FROM: May 2011 (17)

Visiting Gapuwiyak artists

Author
by Kate C
Publish date
28 May 2011
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Comments (2)

Women with clever hands from three parts of Australia – Arnhem Land, Wagga Wagga in NSW and Victoria – shared their passion and skill in basket-weaving today, to mark the opening of the travelling exhibition Women With Clever Hands: Gapuwiyak Miyalkurruwurr Gong Djambatjmala.This exhibition features vivid and intricate fibrework by women artists of Gapuwiyak in Arnhem Land.

Three of the artists – Lucy Malirrimurruwuy Wanapuyngu, Kathy Nyinyipuwa Guyula and Anna Ramatha Malibirr – are at Melbourne Museum for the exhibition opening and to demonstrate their craft. Curator Dr Louise Hamby worked on this exhibition with the artists and the Wagga Wagga Art Gallery. She explained that fibrework of this region had its own characteristic style and the purpose of the exhibition was to share this with other communities in Australia.

Following the launch of the exhibition on Friday morning, the three groups of women exchanged stories about their work, techniques and materials and examined baskets and other fibre objects in the MV collections.

Curator Antoinette Smith leads a store tour. Curator Antoinette Smith showing fibrework collection objects to the visitors.
Source: Museum Victoria
 

The Gapuwiyak artists use the natural fibres from plants that that grow in their area, such as pandanus, which is a real challenge to collect because of its rows of sharp spines and its habit of growing in wet, buffalo-riddled country! The outer layers of pandanus are stripped away and the core is dyed with local materials.

The Women of Wagga Weaving (WOWW) group brought in an array of works produced by Wiradjuri Elders and other women. Melanie Evans spoke about how much the women love the opportunity to meet regularly, share their work and learn side by side. They have met with the Gapuwiyak artists several times through the collaboration between the Gapuwiyak Cultural Centre and the Wagga Wagga Art Gallery and been deeply inspired by it. A small group of Wiradjeri women with Melanie Evans and Linda Elliott from the Wagga gallery also travelled to Gapuwiyak in 2010.

Women of Wagga Wagga Weaving Women from WOWW talking about their fibrework.
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Three Victorian artists also spoke about their work: Vicki Couzens, Bronwyn Razem and Marilyne Nicholls are renowned fibre artists with works in major private and public collections. They told stories about learning their art and how it is sacred to them, and the importance of sharing the knowledge and giving guidance and instruction about these skills to younger people.

This glimpse into culture and skill of basket-making made me aware that these women are not just craftspeople and artists, but botanists, ecologists and geologists. Each variety of fibre comes from a particular plant, which is understood in terms of its country. Finding fibre means understanding soil types and the environment the plant requires to grow, as well as the biology and anatomy of the plant to know when and which parts to harvest. The preparation – stripping, drying, dyeing – is yet another level of knowledge.

The Gapuwiyak artists will hold a weaving demonstration at Bunjilaka at Melbourne Museum today. Come along and see how it is done!

Women With Clever Hands is on show at Bunjilaka until 28 August 2011.

Links:

Women With Clever Hands at Wagga Wagga Art Gallery

Five things about milk containers

Author
by Dr Andi
Publish date
25 May 2011
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The other day when I went out for some milk, I passed by a shop window display and noticed some lovely ceramic jugs in the shape of cardboard milk cartons and a range of colourful silicon rubber versions of paper coffee cups. All these iconic containers in unexpected materials! It got me thinking about my milk and my milk carton I just purchased. Here are five things from Museum Victoria about milk containers...

1. In 1860s Europe, if you wanted milk, the only milk container was a cow or possibly a metal milk can. By the 1870s, Europe saw the emergence of large metal milk cans. I found some old milk cans in the MV collection but then I stumbled across this beautifully decorated milk can from our Immigration and Creative Practice Collection.

Milk can Milk Can, painted by Yoka Van Den Brink, 1993, using Hindeloopen craft techniques which date back to the 16th century port of Hindeloopen, in Friesland, North of Holland. (SH 931248)
Image: Taryn Ellis
Source: Museum Victoria
 

(I also just had to show you this intriguing image...)

Cream Separator International Harvester McCormick-Deering 3-S Cream Separator with Female Model, 1939. (MM 115002)
Source: Museum Victoria
 

2. Glass superseded metal. Some of you will remember the glass milk bottle. Invented in 1884, it meant milk could be stored for several days without spoilage because bottles could be sterilised, plus pasteurised milk (quickly heated and cooled) restricted bacterial contamination.

  two glass milk bottles Left: How cute is the Imperial half pint milk bottle from the Gilchrist Dairy, Fitzroy in use between 1930 and 1959? (HT 14148) Right: One imperial pint milk bottle painted white on the inside; we didn’t put the actual milk in the collection. (ST 038370).
Image: L: Cherie McKeich and Eloise Coccoli R: Unknown
Source: Museum Victoria
 

3. In 1915, John Van Wormer cried over split milk because it also involved broken glass (fair enough). He turned his frustration into an idea of a ‘paper bottle’ that had to be folded, glued and dipped in paraffin wax. He was granted the patent and ten years later he also had a machine to form, fill and seal the new ‘Pure-pak’ containers.

 

4. Plastic convenience superseded wax. In the 1940s the paraffin wax was replaced by polyethylene plastic. But the milk carton did not catch on until the 1960s when cartons included a new feature: the open-able spout.

 

Pura milk carton
A one litre carton of milk, branded Pura, manufactured by National Dairies Limited. Looks familiar? It only entered the MV collection in 2010. Just like the milk bottles it will be kept for future generations to marvel at. (HT 27262).
Image: Matilda Vaughan
Source: Museum Victoria
 

5. It's possible we've gone full circle. If John Von Wormer were alive he would chuckle at this funky domestic accessory. I don’t think he would use it as a milk jug for coffee, I reckon he’d use it as a vase.

Glass Half Pint Milk Carton - Milk Jug Glass Half Pint Milk Carton - Milk Jug
Source: Rockett St George
 

Ocean invertebrates

Author
by Kate C
Publish date
23 May 2011
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The amazing French film Oceans opens in Melbourne on 26 May. This documentary about the wealth of life in seas was filmed over four years by a global team. MV’s Julian Finn and Mark Norman worked with the film crew as scientific consultants for several of the animals filmed. Two of these animals - Nomura's Jellyfish (Nemopilema nomurai) and a blanket octopus (Tremoctopus gracilis) are often found together in the near-surface waters of the open ocean.

Diver with female Tremoctopus Underwater cameraman Yasushi Okumura filming a female blanket octopus.
Image: Julian Finn
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Blanket octopuses are so-named because of the membranous webs that the females possess on two of their arms. This is a defence mechanism: a two-metre-long female blanket octopus can use her webs to mislead potential predators about her size and shape. If this doesn’t intimidate them, she can also shed off pieces of her web – ‘like sheets of toilet paper,’ according to Julian – which in turn stretch out into long, tangling filaments.

Detail of the female Tremoctopus web Detail of the female Tremoctopus web, showing the bands where bits of it can break off as a defence mechanism.
Image: Julian Finn
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Another extraordinary thing about blanket octopuses is the size difference (or dimorphism) between males and females. We discussed size dimorphism on the blog recently but here’s the most extreme example we know of. In Tremoctopus, the male can be up to forty thousand times smaller than the female by weight!

Female Tremoctopus Female Tremoctopus.
Image: Julian Finn
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Now from the miniscule to the massive. Nomura’s Jellyfish is one of the largest cnidarians in the word. When these creatures invade Japan’s coastal waters, thousands of jellyfish can clog fishing nets, making the nets so heavy that fishing boats have overturned trying to recover them. Oceans includes footage of Julian diving with one so you can see for yourself just how huge they are.

Julian swimming with giant jellyfish A still from the film Oceans showing Julian Finn swimming with a giant Nomura's Jellyfish.
Source: courtesy of Galatee Films
 

Julian believes that Tremoctopus are able to survive in hostile environment of the open ocean through association with jellyfish, probably feeding on the small fish that live amongst the tentacles and within the bell of giant Nomura’s Jellyfish. Male and small female Tremoctopus harvest the stinging tentacles of another variety of jellyfish – the Portuguese Man-of-War (Physalia spp.) – to use for their own defence and/or prey capture, suggesting a long association between two quite different types of animals.

Special offer for MV Blog readers:
We have 200 two-for-one passes up for grabs courtesy of Hopscotch Films. For the chance to receive one, enter the draw here.

Links:

M. D. Norman, D. Paul, J. Finn & T. Tregenza. First encounter with a live male blanket octopus: the world’s most sexually size-dimorphic large animal. New Zealand Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research, 2002, Vol. 36: 733-736

Tree of Life: Tremoctopus

Oceans preview trailer

Message Sticks 2011

Author
by Kate C
Publish date
18 May 2011
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From 20-22 May, Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre proudly presents the Melbourne leg of the 2011 Message Sticks Indigenous Film Festival, featuring new Indigenous films from Australia and around the world. It's playing at the Capitol Theatre and ACMI and all films are free.

This year – the festival’s twelfth - the Message Sticks family is the largest yet. There are eleven host venues nationally, from the launch at the Sydney Opera House and screenings at Blacktown Arts Centre last week, to outdoor sessions at Darwin’s Deckchair Cinema in August.

Actress, writer and director Pauline Whyman has a role in Here I Am, the headliner film by Beck Cole, and is travelling as MC and host of this year’s festival. She spoke about the unique nature of Message Sticks, which is the only Indigenous film festival in Australia. “What also sets it apart from other festivals is that it’s accessible to anyone and everyone. It takes really great cinema to communities at no cost.” 

Message Sticks 2011 promo from Blackfella Films on Vimeo.

Links:

Session details

Blackfella Films: Message Sticks 2011 tour

YouTube: Beck Cole and Kath Shelper interview about Here I Am at Adelaide Film Festival

Here I Am

He's alive!

Author
by Brendan Williams
Publish date
17 May 2011
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Comments (2)

This guest post is from Brendan, an animator and illustrator who is currently working on Tilt, the Planetarium’s upcoming show.

Here is Max’s first smile! After a process of design, approval, modelling, approval, etc. the characters for the new Planetarium show are starting to come to life!

Whilst it is a laborious and ongoing process, one that involves making a separate 3D model for each expression that the character will need, I can’t help feeling a bit of the exhilaration that Victor Frankenstein must have felt when his creature sat up and came in to being. Well, OK, that is a bit melodramatic but hey, I’m easily entertained (I wonder if that excuse would have worked for the doctor?)*.

Smiley Max Max with a grin!
Image: B. Williams
Source: Museum Victoria
 

There’s still plenty of work to be done, but it is these small victories that keep me excited and pointed in the right direction.

*before you all grab your pitchforks and storm the Planetarium Production Room, please note that Max and all associated characters exist only on in the computer!

Creatures that rule the dusk and dawn

Author
by Kate C
Publish date
16 May 2011
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The City Gallery at the Melbourne Town Hall is crawling with possums, owls, moths and other twilight creatures in the new exhibition, Crepuscular. Here you can observe the animals that often escape our notice as we rush home from work or retreat from winter to cosier climates indoors.

Curated by honorary Museum Victoria associate, John Kean, the exhibition includes specimens and Prodromus illustrations on loan from MV, and specially-commissioned taxidermy by Dean Smith (who also works as a senior museum preparator). There are also new artworks by local artists Alexis Beckett, Mali Moir, and John Pastoiza-Pinol,and I couldn't tear my eyes away from the exquisite portraits of invertebrates by botanical artist Dianne Emery.

Emperor Gum Moth Emperor Gum Moth eggs, caterpillar, adult, cocoon and imago, Opodiphthera eucalypti 2011. Watercolour on Kelmscott vellum 25x 20 cm
Image: Dianne Emery
Source: Dianne Emery
 

Crepuscular presents a fascinating picture of the life in urban Melbourne that exists and persists despite – but sometimes because of – human activity. For every loser there's a winner: clearing habitat has caused the loss of many species (such as quolls, which remained in remnant populations at Kew's Studley Park until just a few decades ago) but plantings of exotic trees have been a boon for others. An abundance of fruit trees drew in the Grey-headed Flying Foxes for the first time, while Powerful Owls have emerged from the forests to take up residence in city parks and grow fat on the possums.

Crepuscular is on at the City Gallery until 6 July 2011. Be sure to find the spot in the room where all eyes are upon you...

Links:

City Gallery at Melbourne Town Hall

Question of the Week: Emperor Gum Moth

Emperor Gum Moth on Caught and Coloured

The Age: 'Critters of the night shift'

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Updates on what's happening at Melbourne Museum, the Immigration Museum, Scienceworks, the Royal Exhibition Building, and beyond.

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