Category Archives: Community

Posts about community involvement and social change

Looking at the Miles Franklin Literary Shortlist for 2020

With a new wave of restrictions in place to keep us all safe, it looks like we have a little more reading time on our hands so we have decided to dive into the world of literary awards and explore books we may have missed off our reading list. 

This week we are diving into the Miles Franklin Literary Shortlist for 2020 and wow, what a great list it is!

Just for a bit of context, the Miles Franklin Literary Award was established by author and feminist Stella Maria Sarah Miles Franklin, who is best known for her first novel My Brilliant Career. The Miles Franklin Awards were first presented in 1957, where the Award celebrates novels of the highest literary merit that tell stories about Australian life.

Let’s take a closer look…

The White Girl by Tony Birch

Odette Brown has lived her whole life on the fringes of a small country town. Raising her granddaughter Sissy on her own, Odette has managed to stay under the radar of the welfare authorities who are removing Aboriginal children from their communities. When the menacing Sergeant Lowe arrives in town, determined to fully enforce the law, any freedom that Odette and Sissy enjoy comes under grave threat. Odette must make an impossible choice to protect her family. 

In The White Girl, Tony Birch has created memorable characters whose capacity for love and courage are a timely reminder of the endurance of the human spirit. 

Islands by Peggy Frew

This is a spellbinding novel with a riveting and brilliant portrait of a family in crisis by the breathtakingly talented author of House of Sticks and Hope Farm.

There was a house on a hill in the city and it was full of us, our family, but then it began to empty. We fell out. We made a mess. We draped ourselves in blame and disappointment and lurched around, bumping into each other. Some of us wailed and shouted; some of us barely made a sound. None of us was listening, or paying attention. And in the middle of it all you, very quietly, were gone.

Helen and John are too preoccupied with making a mess of their marriage to notice the quiet ways in which their daughters are suffering. Junie grows up brittle and defensive, Anna difficult and rebellious.

When fifteen year old Anna fails to come home one night, her mother’s not too worried; Anna’s taken off before but always returned. Helen waits three days to report her disappearance.

But this time Anna doesn’t come back …

No One by John Hughes

In the ghost hours of a Monday morning a man feels a dull thud against the side of his car near the entrance to Redfern Station. He doesn’t stop immediately. By the time he returns to the scene, the road is empty, but there is a dent in the car, high up on the passenger door, and what looks like blood. Only a man could have made such a dent, he thinks. For some reason he looks up, though he knows no one is there. Has he hit someone, and if so, where is the victim? So begins a story that takes us to the heart of contemporary Australia’s festering relationship to its indigenous past. A story about guilt for acts which precede us, crimes we are not sure we have committed, crimes gone on so long they now seem criminal-less. Part crime novel, part road movie, part love story, No One takes its protagonist to the very heart of a nation where non-existence is the true existence, where crimes cannot be resolved and guilt cannot be redeemed, and no one knows what to do with ghosts that are real.

The Returns by Philip Salom

The Returns is a story about the eccentricities, failings and small triumphs that humans are capable of, a novel that pokes fun at literary and artistic pretensions, while celebrating the expansiveness of art, kindness and friendship. 

Elizabeth posts a ‘room for rent’ notice in Trevor’s bookshop and is caught off-guard when Trevor answers the ad himself. She expected a young student not a middle-aged bookseller whose marriage has fallen apart. But Trevor is attracted to Elizabeth’s house because of the empty shed in her backyard, the perfect space for him to revive the artistic career he abandoned years earlier. The face-blind, EH Holden-driving Elizabeth is a solitary and feisty book editor, and she accepts him, on probation…

In this poignant yet upbeat novel the past keeps returning in the most unexpected ways. Elizabeth is at the beck and call of her ageing mother, and the associated memories of her childhood in a Rajneesh community. Trevor’s Polish father disappeared when Trevor was fifteen, and his mother died not knowing whether he was dead or alive. The authorities have declared him dead, but is he?

Exploded View by Carrie Tiffany

Spare, poetic and intensely visual, Exploded View is the powerful new novel from the author of Everyman’s Rules for Scientific Living and Mateship with Birds. Carry Tiffany is one of Australia’s most celebrated writers and winner of the inaugural Stella Prize. 

Must a girl always be a part?

How can she become a whole?

In the late 1970s, in the forgotten outer suburbs, a girl has her hands in the engine of a Holden. A sinister new man has joined the family. He works as a mechanic and operates an unlicensed repair shop at the back of their block.

The family is under threat. The girl reads the Holden workshop manual for guidance. She resists the man with silence, then with sabotage. She fights him at the place where she believes his heart lives; in the engine of the car.

The Yield by Tara June Winch

The yield in English is the reaping, the things that man can take from the land. In the language of the Wiradjuri yield is the things you give to, the movement, the space between things: baayanha. Knowing that he will soon die, Albert ‘Poppy’ Gondiwindi takes pen to paper. His life has been spent on the banks of the Murrumby River at Prosperous House, on Massacre Plains. Albert is determined to pass on the language of his people and everything that was ever remembered. He finds the words on the wind. August Gondiwindi has been living on the other side of the world for ten years when she learns of her grandfather’s death. She returns home for his burial, wracked with grief and burdened with all she tried to leave behind. Her homecoming is bittersweet as she confronts the love of her kin and news that Prosperous is to be repossessed by a mining company. Determined to make amends she endeavours to save their land, a quest that leads her to the voice of her grandfather and into the past, the stories of her people, the secrets of the river. Profoundly moving and exquisitely written, Tara June Winch’s The Yield is the story of a people and a culture dispossessed. But it is as much a celebration of what was and what endures, and a powerful reclaiming of Indigenous language, storytelling and identity.

Enjoy!

Download of the day: Sweet Paul’s family dancing dolls

It’s the last DOTD for the month and we hope you’ve had fun making, baking and listening to something each day. Today’s final activity is making dancing dolls of family and friends.


Download of the Day: No Such Thing As A Fish Podcast

We have found a way to increase your quiz skills with today’s download: listen to the There’s No Such Thing As A Fish podcast made by the QI elves!


Visiting the art galleries and museums around the world from the comfort of your sofa

While we are all staying safe at home, the art world has gone into a bit if a spiral. Museums and galleries have been closed to the public and these spaces which are so reliant on people visiting them to admire and learn from their vast collections have had to reinvent themselves. Many galleries have thankfully turned to the digital space and offer a range of tours and experiences that you can enjoy from the safety of your home. We’ve had a look around and they are amazing. Sit back and enjoy a tour of some of our most favourite galleries and museums along with books that accompany the artists on show. 

From the National Gallery of Victoria 

KAWS by Monica Ramirez-Montagut

Mónica Ramírez-Montagut is a curator at The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum and has compiled the first comprehensive survey of the artist’s body of work in this amazing book. This book is a vibrant look at the celebrated artist and designer KAWS. KAWS is a multidisciplinary artist who was first known for his work as a graffiti artist and his subversive approach to popular imagery on bus shelter and phone booth advertisements. It is an amazing book with stunning photography and storytelling. 

You can visit the NGV and take part in virtual exhibitions here

From the TATE Modern

Keith Haring by Darren Pih

Keith Haring is widely recognised for his colourful paintings, drawings, sculptures and murals. Haring exploded onto the early 1980s New York art scene with his vivid graffiti-inspired drawings, many of which found exposure in the public realm, such as the Times Square billboard broadcast of his famous Radiant Child in 1982. Haring’s instantly recognisable `cartoon-like’ imagery not only drew on the iconography of contemporary pop and club culture but also looked back to the patterns and rhythms of Islamic and Japanese art, and primitive wall-paintings. Furthermore his work also reflected a profound commitment to social justice and activism, and raised numerous issues that remain relevant today, including the AIDS crisis, the Cold War and fear of nuclear attack, racism, the excesses of capitalism and environmental degradation. Featuring around fifty works supported by rarely seen photography, film and archival documents from the Keith Haring Foundation, this accessible book will not only introduce Haring to a new audience but also throw fresh light on an artist whose work remains symptomatic of the subcultural and creative energy of 1980s New York. The publication also aims to include select and unpublished reminiscences from those who collaborated and interacted with Haring, including performers such as Madonna and Grace Jones and artists Jenny Holzer and Yoko Ono.

You can visit the TATE Modern and look closer at their online displays here

From MOMA

The Artist Project by Phaidon

The Artist Project is the latest step among The Met’s recent strides to better integrate contemporary art into its historical pantheon. Artists have long been stimulated and motivated by the work of those who came before them, sometimes, centuries before them. Interviews with 120 international contemporary artists discussing works from The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s collection that spark their imagination shed new light on art-making, museums, and the creative process. Images of the artworks appear alongside images of the contemporary artists’ work, allowing readers to discover a rich web of visual connections that spans cultures and millennia.

MOMA Now by Quentin Bajac

MoMA Highlights celebrates the 90th anniversary of the Museum MoMA with a chronological overview of some of the most significant modern and contemporary artworks through superb high-resolution images and short texts by MoMA curators. MoMA Highlights interweaves works from each of the Museum’s curatorial departments, painting and sculpture, drawings, prints and illustrated books, photography, architecture and design, film, and media and performance art to provide a look at one of the premiere art collections in the world.

You can visit MOMA and take part in their virtual exhibitions and free art classes here

From the Guggenheim in Bilbao

Mark Rothko Toward Clarity by Sabine Haag

Mark Rothko has long been considered a preeminent figure in 20th-century art, and few publications have examined his work within the broader context of Western art, even though Rothko himself continuously sought it out as inspiration. Rothko had a profound interest in history and art history including Greek and Roman mythology, Egyptian fables, Byzantine and early Italian gold-ground paintings, and masterworks of the Renaissance and Dutch Golden Age. He first traveled to Europe in 1950, starting in Paris and winding through Venice, Arezzo, Siena, Florence, and Rome; along the way, he admired frescoes by Fra Angelico and architecture by Michelangelo. This beautiful book examines the influence of the artist’s travels on his oeuvre. It presents Rothko’s engagement with important classical and Old Master works, highlighting older techniques and ideas that the artist may have sought to emulate. Works representative of Rothko’s entire corpus are beautifully illustrated with full-page colour plates. The book also contains writings by the artist selected for publication by his son that document his appreciation of art history in his own words.

You can visit the Guggenheim and their online Guggenheim at Large activities here

and for all art lovers…

The Art Museum by Phaidon (2018)

This book is one of the finest art collections ever assembled, offering the museum experience without the boundaries of space and time, taking readers on a tour around the world and through the ages, presenting the finest examples of visual creativity. Its rooms and galleries display some 1,600 artworks, selected from the original collection, including paintings, sculpture, photographs, textiles, installations, performances, videos, prints, ceramics, manuscripts, metalwork, and jewel-work. It’s a book to be treasured.

Enjoy and stay safe!