Camp Creative, Bellingen, NSW

Camp Creative

Ten days on the north coast at the beautiful town of Bellingen was great for stimulating the creative juices.  And it’s the home of a fabulous summer school, Camp Creative, where often over 1000 congregate for a week to do a course of their choice.  People from all over: this year a visitor came all the way from Paris, France.

I try to get there every January and have taken classes in Memoir writing, Photography, Video Production, etc and this year, Japanese Shibori.

Shibori is a process that is traditionally done using Indigo dye to produce stunning predominantly blue fabric.

However, on our 5 day course, we used acid dyes on our silk fabrics.  Called thus because they are applied in an acid solution (vinegar in our case, though acetic acid can also be used).

Only a ¼ teaspoon of dye and 1 teaspoon of vinegar was needed to dye a scarf length piece of silk.  We concentrated on scarves, using different techniques, and I certainly had a bundle of scarves to take home.  I also made some for use on a future sculptural wallhanging that I can visualise in my new natural home.

So many beautiful bright colours, orange, blue, red, chocolate hues, green, and we dyed a base coat and followed up with techniques to resist the second colour, by string or elastic bands, sewing etc.  Such lovely women in the class, led by very able Cathy Moon from Brisbane.

Silk scarvesBits and bobs for wallhanging

As usual the whole week was a fantastic cultural feast.  Concerts including accomplished musicians and singers (many of them either at or previously graduated from Bellingen High School); tango dancers, Bollywood troupe, ukulele, drummers…  And not forgetting the international pianist, David Helfgott, carefully managed by his wife Gillian, who treated us to many of his and now our favourite pieces.  They are both patrons of Camp Creative and Gillian is very much involved all year, when not away with David on international tours.

When it was all over, the performance groups had performed, our silks were put away; all there was to look forward to was Bellingen markets on Saturday morning, which is never disappointing.  So many goodies to choose from.

More information: www.campcreative.com.au

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Australian Heritage Dancers farewell

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I joined The Australian Heritage Dancers (AHD)  in 1985 a few months after they formed under the directorship of Dance Historian Nell Challingsworth.  A dance junkie, I went to Beecroft bush dance and met and was invited by Colin Fong to come along to the new group.

From small beginnings AHD developed into what Nell called a “Recreational Dance Group”, depicting life in Colonial times when dance was society’s social glue. We acted out dance scenarios and a favourite of mine was what Nell created called “Crossing the Line”.  On rural properties in Colonial times, just as in “Upstairs Downstairs”, the gentry did not mix with the workers, except at a special dance when the two groups converged.  I acted as the housekeeper who tried to attract the attention of the young master jangling my keys, and sometimes getting to dance Soldier’s Joy or the Polka with him!  In fact on one of our tours to Canada (AHD was invited to many countries including USA, China, Italy) we performed in an ice rink holding over 3,000 people.  I remember being cast as the wallflower because of my errant ways, and the audience said “Aaaaah”, feeling sorry for me as I stood there while the others danced away!  We received a standing ovation which was probably one of the biggest thrills of my life.

We performed at the Sydney Opera House “Folkloric” which was another big thrill, at Darling Harbour, Martin Plaza, at charity functions and festivals and events all over New South Wales.  It was a good ten years for me and the group kept going until last week, December 2015.

Marriages took place, divorces, people joined, people left, some passed on including the wonderful Nell Challingsworth.  Last week a smattering of the original dancers joined the newbees for an evening of dancing and remembering and farewelling AHD.

We’ve known each other for over 30 years now and we’ll meet again at reunions and other dance events.  Thanks for the good times and memories – the Australian Heritage Dancers.

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Looking for my community

London Bridge

Living in London from 1999 to 2008, I had always planned to return to Australia but selling my Paddington flat took 3 years longer than expected.  Another story! I loved living back in my country, especially London with all it has to offer.  Such diversity, and I enjoyed a rich cultural life in the capital having access to ‘bums on seats’ tickets for just a few pounds.  Ballet, West End theatre, concerts, galleries, private art views, festivals, English pubs, so much to do. Continue reading