My photography began when my father handed me the proverbial brownie box camera as a child. As cameras developed I went through Fujica and Olympus range finders graduating to my first single lens reflex camera, the Minolta SRT101, the latter being the greatest facilitator to my growth as a photographer. Digital photography has only added to this.
I was a regular contributor to Camera Craft magazine (Australian Camera ) for over three years.
During Australia’s Bicentennial year (1988) I made it a personal project to document the celebrations. This culminated in the creation of a book of my photos which was published in 1989. The book was called CELEBRATING AUSTRALIA and came with an accompanying calendar.
My works have appeared in a number of publications including the coffee book entitled MY AUSTRALIA (1989), publisher Robertsbridge Severn. This book had a preface by the then Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke.
I was a co-photographer on a book entitled SYDNEY- DISCOVER THE CITY with text written by Robert Treborland. Major Mitchell Press was the publisher.
Also for two years I was the photographer for calendars celebrating Sydney’s multicultural communities. The two calendars were entitled MULTICULTURAL SYDNEY.
My work appeared in a group exhibition held at Sydney’s Town Hall pertaining to the diversity of life in South America to raise money for orphanages there.
I have over one hundred photos stored in the New South Wales State Library archive. I had a solo exhibition held in 2007 entitled Ben’s Lens at the Sydney Jewish Museum which celebrated the vibrancy of the Sydney Jewish community. Some of these photos are on the Museum’s permanent display. I have exhibited internationally firstly at the Spruill Gallery in Atlanta Georgia, united states, and in an exhibition entitled Kosher and Co at the Jewish Museum in Berlin.
Currently I am a regular contributor to J-Wire and this esteemed publication.
The York Theatre foyer at the Seymour Centre proved to be an informal red carpet whilst invitees gathered for drinks prior to the recent Sydney Theatre Awards ceremony.
As well as being able to put faces to the critics, young and upcoming actors and creatives took the opportunity to mix with journalists, award winners and even theatre royalty such as Peter Carroll and Maggie Dence.
Unlike in the States where the media is a little insular, Sydney’s media is a collegiate where everybody is supportive and approachable. This convivial atmosphere was on show for all to see on the night.
Featured image- Peter Carroll and Maggie Dence. Images by Ben Apfelbaum (c).
Several people, to escape the large crowds in the Meriton Festival Village in Hyde Park North, would escape to the refreshing spray of the Archibald Fountain. To their delight entertainment was still at hand.
At one stage an elegantly dressed man in a white silk suit with spats on his shoes suddenly appeared. He beckoned to a female member of the ‘audience’ to join him. Then almost as suddenly Tango music began to play and the ‘couple’ glided around the Fountain.
Then just as suddenly ‘the audience’ started to tango and one vicariously enjoy the vitality of the music and the pleasure that the tango exponents exuded.
This was a ‘flash mob’ in the best sense of the word under the auspices of a group called Tango Synergy comprising members of a number of tango clubs around Sydney.
As soon as they had finished, classical music wafted through the flower beds and the fountain. A young busker, rather than simply doing his wonderful yoyo tricks ad hoc,performed them in perfect time to the music. It was a beautifully choreographed and skilfull yoyo ballet. Many coins and notes were thrown into his collection box which he richly deserved.
Perhaps the most visited and popular event of the recently completed Sydney Festival was THE BEACH. There were no rips, you could not drown nor suffer a sunburn if you attended.
THE BEACH, in fact, was a white coloured ‘pool’ of 1.1 million recyclable polyethylene balls that ebbed and rose up against a sixty metre wide shoreline with no sand to shake out of a towel or out oif your shoes. To complete the theme deck chairs with redundant umbrellas lined the shoreline so that parents, in addition to lifeguards, could watch their children cavorting in this plastic ocean.
What was striking was the multicultural nature of the event with women in saris or burqas plunging without inhibition into the monochromatic balls. The queues to enter were very long and routinely by 3 pm one could no longer gain entrance.
THE BEACH was designed by Snarkitecture, a New York based art and architecture practice. This free happening took place from the 7th to the 29th January at the Cutaway, Barangaroo Reserve.
Artists of the Great War is a collaboration between the National Gallery of Australia, and the Australian National University (NGA). It has been curated by David Hansen with contributions from students of the Centre of Art History and Theory.
The recently opened, specifically constructed oval space, to greatest effect, one of the most iconic artists Sidney Nolan, and his greatest ‘muse’ Ned Kelly.
In 1977 Sunday Reed the early 20th Century art collector and benefactor donated 25 of the 26 paintings on the National Gallery of Australia’s entry level. Nolan’s paintings were inspired by Kelly’s own words, the French artist Rousseau, and sunlight. It is clear from the paintings titles that Sidney Nolan meticulously researched Kelly’s life and in particular the events leading up to his capture.Accordingly, Nolan’s two passions – literature and the visual arts combined perfectly in the Ned Kelly series. Continue reading THE NGA COLLECTIONS : THE NED KELLY SERIES GALLERY→
CAVALLERIA RUSTICANA was the winner in an opera competition for its composer Pietro Mascagni and premiered in Rome in 1890. Its first American performance was held in New York in 1891 directed by Oscar Hammerstein, the grandfather of the great American lyricist. Ruggero Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci premiered in Milan in 1892. The two operas were performed together as early as 1893.
Opera lovers are a hungry lot & one short opera of say 1.5 hours is not long enough to satiate an operaphile’s appetite. Due to their common themes of infidelity and revenge ‘Cav & Pag’, as they are affectionately known, have been performed regularly since the late 19th century.
Director Damiano Michieletto has brought his highly original Royal Opera production here from the UK. He sets both operas in the same village in around the 1950s and, unusually, the three male leads are played by the same singers – Diego Torre, Jose Carbo and Samuel Dundas. However the two female leads are different – in Cavalleria Rusticana it’s Dragana Radakovic – in Pagliacci it’s Anna Princeva.
Diego Torre also makes this production especially distinctive as he is one of the very few tenors to sing the lead in both operas. He joins a unique club which includes Benjamino Gigli, Placido Domingo & Jonas Kaufmann,
Both productions have cross plots and with a triangulated set of scenes on a revolving stage doing away with the necessity of curtain raising and dropping means there is no loss of tension as both tragedies build to their inevitable crescendos.
With glorious arias, the wonderful voices of the Australian Opera Chorus and Children’s Choir, passionate & committed performances by the leads and with the Opera’s orchestra at full throttle under the musical direction of Andrea Licati. This production has had excellent word of mouth. A sellout season seems assured,
This Opera Australia production is playing the Joan Sutherland Theatre, Sydney Opera House until the 4th February.
Sydney and Canberra have an embarrassment literally of riches due to the British Museum, the Tate Collection and the Palace of Versailles enabling us to see priceless objects, paintings, and sculpture from the other side of the world.
The double bill of the History of Art in 100 Objects at the National Museum and Versailles, Treasures from The Palace at the National Gallery of Australia are both well worth a weekend away in Canberra.
This eight day Festival celebrates the Festival of Judah Maccabbee over the Greeks. He and his troops recaptured the holy Temple in Jerusalem which the Greeks had defiled in one of its attempts to ‘Hellanise’ the Jews. In order to re-consecrate the Temple, holy oil was needed to light and clean the Temple for a period of eight days. Judah found only one vial of oil, enough insufficiently for one day. By a divine miracle the oil lasted for the requisite eight days.
Held at the National Museum of Australia in Canberra, this exhibition covers two million years of human history in one hall.
It started out as a joint project of BBC Radio 4 and the British Museum compromising of a 100 part Radio Series written and presented by the British Museum’s Director Neil MacGregor. At least one of his selections, the Rosetta stone is not in this exhibition, but Australia has two exhibits – an ancient Aboriginal basket, and the wifi machine prototype invented by the CSIRO, Object No 101.
Firstly, a belated Happy New Year to my colleagues and readers of this esteemed journal.
Over the years one has seen the Foti family have had the budget for the New Year’s display reduced. Fireworks used to explode off high rise CBD towers including Centrepoint and from North Sydney. My recollection was that the fireworks also lasted longer.
The Parkes Elvis Festival is held in the 2nd week of January to coincide with Elvis’ January 8th birthday. It was started 25 years ago by some Elvis fans who ran the Graceland Restaurant when at that time of year, tourists were non existent.
Elvis had an early hit with Mystery Train, whose lyrics inspired indie writer/director Jim Jarmusch to make a cult film with the same name, but the Elvis Express is anything but enigmatic.
The exuberance, joie de vivre and sense of anticipation at Central Station on January 12th was infectious. Thousands of fans lined up, first to be entertained by some excellent Elvis impersonators and then to queue for the rebranded XPT.
The variety of costumes of the train travellers to Parkes, would have added a riot of colour to the 150 events with this year’s theme – Viva Las Vegas.
The town’s population triples, as 25,000 visitors are hosted by a majority of Parkes’ 12,000 residents.
There is so much nudity in the media particularly in the cinema and clothes are so skimpy that this exhibition has attracted no controversy, no calls for it to be shut down and as such you can visit the exhibition and admire the artwork itself.
One is astonished to read when researching that when August Rodin’s The Kiss was first exhibited in England it was covered in a sheet for fear it would corrupt local youth.
This was the Australian Haydn Ensemble’s (AHE) final concert for the year. The concert focused on the ‘Sturm and Drang’ movement of the 18th century, this concert was a treat in every way. The Sturm and Drang movement was characterised by drama and passion with sudden shifts of dynamics and rhythm. The four works presented in these concerts delivered these in spades.
There was a good atmosphere at the recent Sydney premiere of ROGUE ONE – A STAR WARS STORY at the Hoyts Cinema Complex, the Entertainment Quarter.
Celebrities attending included David Campbell and his son Leo,members of the Aria Award winning group Peking Duk, Tom Williams, Leeanna Walsman, Isabel Durant, Tai Hara and Lincoln Younes. Also, Cosplayers dressed in a variety of colourful costumes took some of the limelight.
LION, based on the autobiographical book, A LONG WAY HOME by Saroo Brierley and Larry Buttrose, tells the story of how Saroo, adopted by a loving couple in Tasmania, with the help of Google, searches for and finds his birth mother.
Nicole Kidman stars as his adoptive mother Sue Brierley and David Wenham plays his adoptive father John. Dev Patel stars as Saroo.
The film’s Sydney premiere took place on the 19th December at the State Theatre saw the real life Brierley’s join their celebrity counterparts on the red carpet.
Tumbalong Park, Darling Harbour, as well as its surrounds, has been refurbished. Gone is the moat and nearby fountains. However, it now appears to have a slightly concave shape which means it is likely to have better drainage than previously. It has a brand new and larger stage which now faces north rather than west.
One of the first uses of this revamped park is the staging of the Polish Christmas Festival. The area was a sea of red and white with visitors either carrying the flag or dressed in the national colours. There were posters celebrating their national hero Tadeusz Kosciuszko after whom our highest peak was named by its first conqueror Count Strezlecki. Next year there will be commemorations held by the Polish community acknowledging the year of this death, two hundred years ago.
There was folk dancing and folk musicians, the later tapping a deep well of nostalgia with many in the crowd singing happily along.
Tumbalong Park was ringed with food, gift and travel stalls who all seemed to be doing a brisk trade on a glorious sunny afternoon.
Like the Arias where one artist dominated, one film swept all before it. HACKSAW RIDGE won ten awards including best Director for Mel Gibson, Best Actor Andrew Garfield, and Best Supporting Actor Hugo Weaving.
Odessa Young, who starred in the film The Daughter, directed by Simon Stone, bucked the trend by being one of the youngest actors to win the Best Actress Award.
The television awards had a mixed bunch of winners. Among the winners were Wentworth for Best Drama Series, The Kettering Incident for Best Mini Series, Upper Middle Bogan for Best Television Comedy Series, and Master Chef Australia for Best Reality Television series.
Best Lead Actor in a Television Drama was won by Samuel Johnson for Molly, Best Supporting Actor in a Television Drama went to Damon Herriman for Secret City, whilst Best Actress in a Television Drama was won by Elizabeth Debicki for The Kettering Incident, and Best Supporting Actress went to the usually comedic Celia Pacquola for The Beautiful Lie.
The Longford Lyell Award for a Lifetime Achievement in Film and Television went to Paul Hogan.
The Trailblazer Award, created to highlight an individual’s achievements, abilities and successes as an inspiration to all invested in screen,went to Isla Fisher.
The Byron Kennedy Award for Film and Television Innovation went to Lynette Wallworth.
The Sydney premiere of RED DOG: TRUE BLUE, directed by Kriv Stenders, took place recently at Event cinemas in George Street with many of its stars in attendance. The biggest star of all was Phoenix, the Red Dog. Unfortunately, the original Red Dog, Koko, died of congestive heart failure in 2012.
This film is a prequel to the original film and shows the relationship of a young boy with the young dog who later grows up to be a real life legend.
The film first premiered in Karatha, Western Australia, the movie’s locale, and Phoenix’s performance at the AACTA’s Red Carpet did not phase him.
Phoenix is in fact the younger cousin of Koko. When producer Nelson Woss was asked to compare the personalities of the two dogs he stated that Koko was a pure ham, lapping up all the attention whereas Phoenix was a consummate professional.
Eastern Sydney’s very active Waverley Library recently featured an impressive double header.
Upstairs, in the theatrette, Jennifer H Crane spoke about her book Our Lady Of The Fence Post.
In June 2003 an apparition of the Virgin Mary appeared at the headland south of Coogee Beach. No fewer than three academic papers have delved into the apparition. Two of them found a link between the sighting of the Virgin Mary and the death of a number of local rugby players at the Sari Club in Bali which was bombed in October 2002. Unfortunately, shortly after the sighting, the fence at Dolphin’s Reserve was vandalised and the apparition was no more. Continue reading WAVERLEY LIBRARY LITERARY DOUBLE HEADER→
This is apparently the most expensive cable television series ever produced. If you loved The Queen and the live screening of the National Theatre’s production of The Audience also starring Helen Mirren as the Queen, you will adore this series as they were all written by Peter Morgan.
This lavish Netflix original drama chronicles the life of Queen Elizabeth 11 from the 1940s to 1956 in this first series of ten episodes. The second series is currently being produced but subsequent series will have new sets of actors as the Queen and Prince Phillip age.
The series begins with an inside look at the early reign of the Queen who ascended the throne when she was 25. Continue reading THE CROWN→
Actress Amy Adams is having a bumper year with two films coming out in December/January where she has the principal role – Denis Villeneuve’s Arrival and Tom Ford’s Nocturnal Animals.
Twelve mysterious monoliths land in twelve different locations around the world emitting strange sounds. Are they friend or foe?
Referencing Close Encounters Of The Third Kind, Amy Adams as linguist Louise Banks and Jeremy Renner as scientist Ian Donnelly are recruited by Forrest Whittaker as Colonel Weber to decipher the intention of the octopus like heptapods who inhabit the monolith which has landed in Wyoming.Continue reading THE ARRIVAL→
The quirky Camelot Lounge, owned by Monsieur Camembert’s Yaron Hallas, was the venue for this ‘unknown’ group. Whenever I hear of Australia’s most forgotten impressionist I always know that it is John Russell because he is mentioned as such so I can’t forget it.
This wonderful group formed in 2001 has a cult like following. Despite playing for fifteen years and having won overseas singing competitions, this group is truly forgotten and unknown to the general public. In a men’s shed like fashion it brought together a bunch of guys from all walks of life who lived in the Blue Mountains area. As time evolved some of the group moved from the Blue Mountains to Canberra with its leader and chief composer Stephen Taberner moving to Melbourne. Continue reading A SPOOKY NIGHT WAS LOVED BY ALL @ THE CAMELOT LOUNGE→
Those who are privileged to see Pinchgut opera’s current production of Handel’s Theodora are in for a treat. It is, I believe faultless in every aspect.
This opera, dated 1749, Handel considered his masterpiece even though it was a commercial failure.With a libretto by Thomas Morell, it concerns the suffering of Christian martyr, Theodora, at the hands of idol worshipping Roman president Valens in 4th century Antioch and is full of beautiful chorus work and some sublime arias.
Theodora, sung by Valda Wilson, Irene, sung by Caitlin Hulcup and Didymus sung by American counter tenor Christopher Lowrey, all did full justice to this magnificent work, with convincing, passionate performances and superb vocal work. I thought Valda Wilson’s performance was perfect, being both a joy to listen to as well as being gorgeous to watch. ‘O thou bright sun’, her aria of despair as she faces rape and prostitution, was very moving and her final duet with Christopher Lowrey sung as their characters ascended to heaven, took the audience to heavenly spaces with them!
After receiving their Awards several of the winners made themselves available for photographs and interviews. The following artists attending the Media Room were Best Group and Rock Album – Violent Soho, Breakthrough Artist – Montaigne, Best Urban Album – Drapht, Best Adult Contemporary Album – Bernard Fanning, Best Adult Alternative Album – Sarah Blasko, Best Country Album – Sara Storer, Best Children’s Album – The Wiggles, Best Video and Apple Music Song Of The Year – Troye Sivan, Best Australian Live Act – The Hilltop Hoods, Best Blues and Roots Album – Russell Morris, Best Album, Best Male Artist, Best Dance Release, Best Pop Release and Best Independent Release – Flume. Hall of Fame Inductees- Crowded House.
Featured image – Flume. All images by Ben Apfelbaum(c)..