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.
Not only does September have lots of cultural events shooting up, the same thing happens in a literal sense every year at the Elizabeth Street David Jones Department store. The ground floor is festooned with a multitude of flowers and plants adding vibrant splashes of colour to its usual black and white themed floor display. The store was packed with flower fanciers taking selfies of themselves and the blooms. If you found the crowds too claustrophobic inside, there were also floral displays in the windows outside.
Tom Hanks’ prior to this movie has depicted a number of real life heroes, the titular Captain Phillips, Walt Disney (Saving Mr Banks), James B Donovan (Bridge Of Spies), and it makes a nice bookend to Apollo 13 where he starred as another pilot, Jim Lovell, who must also overcome a life threatening crisis.
The film is based on Chelsey Sullenberg’s 2009 memoir Highest Duty and is co-authored with Jeffrey Zaslow. Numerous commentators are calling Tom Hanks the Jimmy Stewart of our era. Here Tom Hanks plays Sully the pilot of the passenger plane that landed on the Hudson River in New York on January 19, 2009 saving all crew and a 115 passengers on board.
This film depicts the aftermath, with a dour self doubting Sully suffering post traumatic stress syndrome, sleeping badly, and suffering nightmares. Heb takes insomniac runs to 2 am New York accompanied by his co-pilot Jeffrey Skiles, played by Aaron Eckhart. In trying to cheer Sully up, in what is a one note performance by Hanks, Eckhart steals most of their scenes together. Continue reading SULLY : THE UNTOLD STORY BEHIND THE MIRACLE ON THE HUDSON→
Pasta Gulch (Stanley Street East Sydney) was even livelier than usual as on the third of September the Fringe Festival party visited this Italian cuisine mecca.
The footpaths were packed as foodies spilled out onto the road. The street was lined with musicians from the weird to the conventional to the super cool.
The weird was provided by The Prophets, a band that performed boppy tunes in bizarre masks, to folk practitioner Brian Campeau and also Matilda Abraham to the smooth jazz of The Jonathon Zwartz Trio.
The Lord Roberts Hotel hosted the hot electric piano of Rai Thislethwayte as well as the dance grooves of Old Man Funk.
For connoisseurs of the avant garde, the guitar and drummer duo Showa 44 played discordant music in the window of Bar Reggio whilst a few shops down, Alice Terry serenaded onlookers with her brassy blues voice.
If that was not enough entertainment street performers roamed up and down the Block enveloping themselves and onlookers in a gold foiled blanket as well as adopting enigmatic poses and strides.
The Fringe Festival got off to a flying start as Sydney Fringe inhabits its home town for the rest of September with highlights including at Camperdown Park, a Silent Disco in World Square, complemented by a Silent Dinner in the Paddington Town Hall and the inauguration of a new arts precinct Off Broadway in Annandale.
Furthermore, nearly every day you can go to see small fringe comedy, music, spoken word, theatre, or intimate circus performances.
The final September weekend will climax with the Global Rhythms concert in Bi-Centennial Park, Glebe.
Full details can be found at http://syndeyfringe.com.
Featured image – Left to right David Gonski and his immediate family. Pictured left to right- David’s wife, sister, mother, David, and his younger twin brother Stephen. David’s other twin brother Dr Peter Gonski was not at the event.
Having outgrown its original Shalom College venue in Kensington, the Sydney Jewish Writers Festival was held in the Bondi Beach Pavilion for its launch on August 27 and thereafter for the bulk of speakers, the next day at Waverley Library.
The topics remained from the musical poetry of Israel’s most renowned poet Yehuda Amichai to the great Jewish Australian rock impressario Michael Gudinski; the childhood innocence of Anna and Barbara Fienberg’s Tashi books to facing death by Leah Kaminsky.
There were authors and distinguished local community figures who had also penned books such as David Gonski, Mark Tedeschi and Alexandra Joel. Authors Lee Kofman, Leah Kaminsky, Susan Wyndham, Maria Katsonis and Arnold Zable flew in from interstate. Others such as Rabbi Dov Lipman and Matt Friedman came from overseas. It was a hothouse of learning and intellectual stimulation. The crowds had increased from last year, as did their pleasure.
If the Festival grows any bigger, Waverley Library may no longer be large enough.
The first welcome home of many others took place in Sydney recently.
After a reception at Kirribilli House hosted by the Governor-General Peter Cosgrove, the athletes crossed the harbour by boat to be welcomed by an enthusiastic crowd at the forecourt of the Sydney Opera House. After official welcomes by the Lord Mayor Clover Moore and the Premier Mike Baird, the athletes plunged themselves into the crowds, signing autographs, and posing for selfies.
No-one was left disappointed as the athletes took their time mingling with the public and the occasional family member and friend.
In a deliberate move to emphasise their equality no medal winners wore their ‘bling’.
Culture was not forgotten as plumed Samba dancers symbolising the Rio De Janeiro return to the beating of the giant Japanese drum,. to Kurinuki Taiko heralding the 2020 Tokyo Games.
Featured image – Dame Julie surrounded by the principal cast. All images by Ben Apfelbaum taken at the recent media call.
MY FAIR LADY, produced by Opera Australia and John Frost, held its Australian premiere production on Tuesday September 6 at the Joan Sutherland Theatre, Sydney Opera House. Opening night is a culmination of several years of research to help recreate and present the original Broadway production of My Fair Lady which opened in 1956 starring Rex Harrison and Julie Andrews who was just 20 years old.
Trips to Wisconsin, London, New York City and Los Angeles were made and hours were spent trawling over drawings, costume and set designs in the Victoria Albert Museum and the Arts Centre Melbourne Performing Arts Collection, just to name a few. Along the way, the team were fortunate enough to meet with the assistance of Cecil Beaton (the original costume designer) and Oliver Smith who uncovered important materials that made recreating the magic of the 1956 production a step closer to reality.
Featured Image- Porcelain Alice and Atlantis. All images by Ben Apfelbaum.
The Sydney Fringe Festival was launched recently on the steps of the Town Hall by Lord Mayor Clover Moore, surrounded by fringe artists.
Kerri Glasscock indicated that 2016 has been a challenging year for independent artists. Artists are voicing their protest and banding together in support of each other’s work to ensure that we all have a vibrant and creative city to enjoy.
It is this energy that the Sydney Fringe Festival hopes to harness to celebrate the wonderful cultural offerings year round. Fringe is about reawakening old haunts, reviving long forgotten venues and activating new precincts.
Fringe hopes to change the landscape of Sydney forever, encouraging independent artists, artmakers, cultural leaders and local taste-makers to move into one of the most recognisable roads in Sydney. Once a mecca for live music and Indie culture Parramatta and Pyrmont Bridge roads will once again come alive to launch Sydney’s new home of culture and creativity – the Off Broadway Precinct.
Warehouses, shopfronts, bars, pubs and spare spaces in this area have now become home to a thriving community of local independent artists with studio spaces, galleries, rehearsal rooms, performance spaces and independent creative retailers. Launched during the 2016 Sydney Fringe Festival, the Off Broadway Precinct, it is hoped, will continue to grow beyond September to become one of the City’s most important cultural assets.
Meanwhile, during September, this Precinct will be the Festival’s hub.
For more details of events during the Festival visit www.sydneyfringe.com.
For one sunny Spring afternoon Saturday (3 September) the threat to this beautiful heritage site was forgotten when this venerable institution to showcase its features from sandstone encased digital art facilities to live nude model drawing sessions. The public could try out their ‘ghost’ on potters wheels, moulding, firing and decorating what they had made.
Students had exhibitions in various spaces around the Darlinghurst campus. People could help make a sculptured garden.
As the sun cast a golden hue on these heritage stones, which initially housed criminals, and now is a polar opposite creativity hub. It is unthinkable that the State Government and developers are greedily circling this historic site.
This cabaret gem was created by Trevor Ashley (as Liza), Phil Scott and Max Lambert.
Liza Minnelli is a Broadway legend and when she performed a few years ago at the Opera House, she garnered rave reviews. However the writing trio noticed that her appearances on the musical stage have been infrequent and she has only sung in a couple of true movie musicals.
In another universe where she has performed in all the great and more recent Broadway musicals, how would she have sung in A Little Night Music, Wicked, Cats or Sunset Boulevarde? Well…Trevor Ashley answers these questions when his Liza sings a Broadway repertoire which she never has, but possibly should have. Continue reading LIZA’S BACK (IS BROKEN) @ THE HAYES THEATRE→
The inaugural Sculpture At Barangaroo exhibition was recently held around and on its six hectare headland.
Unlike Sculpture By The Sea which is a competition, the Barangaroo Sculptures were designed by invited artists, including Australian artists and Aboriginal craftsmen and women.
The artworks highlight some of the location’s distinct features such as the sandstone and its historical connection with the Aboriginal people who lived and fished there for generations before colonial settlement in 1788.
Due to crippling rises in public liability insurance and the high cost of venue hire many festivals in the Sydney cultural calendar have either been postponed or have disappeared.
However, a bright and energetic new festival has emerged at Circular Quay. Now in its second year the Bleu Blance Et Rouge ( Blue, White and Red) festival initially celebrated under the colours of the national flag all things French. Spreading its cuisine further, its former African French speaking colonies had stalls as well as some from the French speaking part of Canada, and the Walloom part of Belgium.
In the evenings there were cabaret and can can shows which complemented the themes of the stall holders.
To accommodate a broader pan European approach the Rouge is dropped so that Greek culture and cuisine is also included. Given the huge crowds that attended it is highly likely that it will be held again next year, as it was this year, starting on Bastille Day.
The Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company is the glorious phoenix that grew out of the ashes of the Holocaust.
In 1973 Yehudit Arnon found a dance company in Kibbutz Ga’Aton in Northern Israel where she had settled in 1948. At Auschwitz she had been punished for refusing to dance for Nazi soldiers by being left to freeze in the snow. She promised to herself that if she survived she would dedicate her life to dance.
The late Holocaust survivor’s Company is now in the hands of dynamic Artistic Director Rami Be’er, born in Kibbutz Ga’Aton, who took over the reins in 1996.
The opening night gala performance received a standing ovation. The sixteen exceptional dancers, comprising of half Israelis and half international dancers, performed for an hour with an intensity and drive that would have made a second hour impossible. Performing to a broad spectrum of music ranging from Bjork to Elvis Presley, from vaudeville tp obscure pieces by Olaf Arnalds and Tim Heckler, created variegated rhythms of the different musical styles which were effortlessly matched by the exuberant, lithesome athletic and expressive movements of the Company.
As well as ensemble unity Be’Er’s choreography brought out the individuality of each performer. The dancers came in all shapes and sizes, clearly selected on merit alone, and it showed. Be’Er insists that he doesn’t create a performance that requires a certain and narrow interpretation. However, this world premiere production inspired by the lyrics of folk pop group Silver Mt Zion’s song Horses In The Sky is clearly about a dystopian universe where, in a few pas de deuxs, love tries to flourish only to be crushed by catastrophe and madness, as symbolised by the relentless and pulsating rhythms with spurts of crazy vaudeville.
Be’Er is a Renaissance man, responsible not only for the choreography but the staging, lighting. costume design and music selection. This creates a unity of vision that translates into an intense emotional experience, a dazzling delight for the eye and ear,
I was engrossed in his universe, loved the soundtrack and was moved by the dancers. This short season between August 31 and September 3 sold out quickly, hopefully ensuring the speedy return of this talented company and director after this, their first and successful visit.
Two serendipitous musical happenings crossed my path within an hour of each other, each very different but each extremely delightful. I was in the Town Hall when I heard its mighty organ, a glorious Oliver Messiaen piece. There was just me and a couple of other people watching Robert Ampt and his wife Amy exercise the pipes of the Town Hall’s magnificent organ.
A few blocks further down George Street, in Central Station’s Cathedral like main hall, I stumbled across a New South Wales Railway brass band. The aural of the Country Train rail hall gave the band a warm sound whilst a crowd of delighted onlookers were thoroughly enjoying the musical selections. The Band appears to be composed of current and retired railway employees who themselves seem to really enjoy the public outing of their musical talents.
A number of students of the program spoke at the function and here are photos of three of the students.
Featured image- Two students from the Shalom Gamarada program with the world at their feet. Images by Ben Apfelbaum.
The SHALOM GAMARADA program is eleven years old and started through the tireless energy of co-founders Ilona Lee AM and Professor Lisa Jackson-Pulver AM. Its patron is Professor TheHonourable Dame Marie Basheer AD CVO, former Governor of New South Wales.
SHALOM GAMARADA combines the meaning of the two words: the Hebrew Shalom which can mean both hello and goodbye as well as peace, tranquility, harmony and Gamarada, a word in the Eora language meaning friend or comrade.
The SHALOM GAMARADA indigenous residential scholarship program at Shalom College aims to provide healthy meals and safe accommodation to enable indigenous scholarship holders to pass every exam and assignment throughout their university career. To date, 77 students have been supported and of the 25 graduates, 16 are medical graduates. In 2015 the pass rate was 100%. Continue reading THE SHALOM GAMARADA PROGRAM @ SHALOM COLLEGE KENSINGTON→
Featured image – Self Portrait by Natasha Walsh, submitted for this years’ Archibald Prize.
As part of its annual Art After Hours program, which the Art Gallery has run for many years, the Art Gallery has stayed open on Wednesday nights until 9 pm. This year, due to large after-hour crowds, the Gallery is now open until 10 pm with the program set to run weekly until 26th October.
Not only can you view their works at that time, you can also listen to an entertaining and stimulating talk, which complements the current headline show.
Coming up this Wednesday evening, Archibald Prize finalists Natasha Walsh, Mirra Whale and Zoe Young discuss Frida Kahlo and portraiture. You can also view the film A l’origine ( In the beginning). Afterwards, you can have a snack or relax at the bar listening to Victor Valdes and his mariachi band for a Mexican fiesta.
Later in the year comedians will occupy the 6.30 pm slot with a series of talks called Just For Laughs.
Below are photos of some of the distinguished, comedic and musical that have appeared in previous of Art After Hours. Images by the author (c).
Liane Moriarty was recently profiled in the Good Weekend magazine as being ‘the most successful Australian crime writer that you don’t know.’ A capacity packed Dymocks luncheon held on Friday 29 July at the ballroom of the Shangri La Hotel, along with increasing sales and publicity means that her anonymity is slipping away at an accelerated rate.
As part of a series of talks associated with the Library’s current exhibition Colour In Darkness (World War 1 photographs), on Thursday July 21 the Walkley Foundation arranged a panel discussion at the Metcalfe Auditorium, State Library of New South Wales. The panel, who were moderated by Sally Sara, comprised of combat photographs Gary Ramage, a freelancer, David Maurice Smith, an Oculi member, and Edwina Pickles of Fairfax Media.
By way of introduction Elise Edmonds, curator of the exhibition, stated that this exhibition tried to replicate an exhibition that toured Australia in the 1920s, right down to the original caption notes. Most photos were taken by amateurs whilst the hand colouring was designed to give the images a dreamlike quality.
The discussion was based on a question and answer format. Gary Ramage indicated that he dealt with direct contact with frontline troops in combat. David Maurice Smith dealt with the consequences of war especially Syrian refugees. Edwina Pickles said that she doesn’t go to the frontline but her most recent conflict assignment was in the largest refugee camp in the world, Dadaab in Kenya which contained half a million people mainly Somalia women and children who were still vulnerable to rape and child kidnapping. Continue reading WALKLEY MEDIA TALK : SHOTS FROM THE FRONT @ STATE LIBRARY→
Curated by Rachel Kent, TELLING TALES explores the varied inventive approaches by leading Australian artists to narrative form. Using diverse materials including light, fog, and hand typed text, their works pick apart conventional storytelling approaches to reconsider ideas around structure, duration, repetition, and fragmentation.
This free exhibition runs until October 9. Exhibition times are Mondays to Wednesdays 10 to 5, Thursdays 10 to 5, and Fridays to Sundays at 10 till 5.
New Romance – art and the posthuman brings together artists from Australia and Korea whose works encourage us to ask what it means to be human today and what it might mean in the future. Drawing inspiration from science fiction, robotics, biotechnology, consumer products and social media they offer experiences that raise questions about the idea of the posthuman, a concept that signals new understandings of humanity and a breakdown of boundaries between what we think of as natural and artificial.
The thread linking these diverse artworks is an exploration of new kinds of encounters, not only among connected humans but also between so called ‘intelligent’ objects, plants, animals, and all manner of hybrid entities.
On Saturday 9th July NAIDOC’s Blak Markets popped up at Barangaroo Reserve for one day only, transforming Nawi Cove into a lively marketplace showcasing Australia’s rich indigenous culture and also featured free music and traditional Aboriginal dance performers.
More than twenty store holders sold indigenous arts, crafts, skin care products and bush foods. These included Cheryl Davidson (gift card, painting), Claire Bates (traditional handmade Aboriginal jewellery and woven baskets), Glenn Timbery (boomerangs), Torres Strait Islander Ilan Treasurez with hand painted shell work and Tangentyere artists from Alice Springs.
Outdoor cooking demonstrations were held with renowned indigenous chefs, Clayton Donovan, Fred’s Bush Tucker and Black Olive who encouraged visitors to try bushfoods and learn about traditional indigenous cooking methods.
There were also weaving and shell workshops and Aboriginal cultural tours with Barangaroo’s Visitor Service Guides which were free for the day only.
The relocation of Tropfest to Parramatta Park was announced at a Media Call in the Park attended by filmmaker and Tropfest Board Member George Miller AO, actor and previous Tropfest Judge Sam Neill, Tropfest supporter and producer Marian Macgowan and actors Brendan Thwaites and Tess Haubrich. The inaugural event will take place on Saturday February 11. Also in attendance was Environment and Heritage Minister Mark Speakman, City of Parramatta Council Administrator Amanda Chadwick, Elizabeth Ann Macgregor, the Premiers’ Cultural Ambassador for Western Sydney and Lucy Turnbull AO, Chair of the Greater Sydney Commission.
The location boasts a quick twenty five minute train ride from Sydney’s Central Station plus is easily accessible making Parramatta a central location that opens up the event to people from all over the greater Sydney region.
Tropfest has for the first time moved to a Saturday night, recognising the opportunities that this night brings, and will be held in the four hectare cattle paddocks
Tropfest will be a major anchor event for Parramatta Park’s The Crescent Live summer music and event series that runs from January to March 2017.
Tropfest Jnr will be held on Friday Febraury 10 in the Cresent, Parramatta Park’s natural ampitheatre.
Queensland Theatre Company has announced that the critically acclaimed, smash hit and Helpmann Award winning musical LADIES IN BLACK will tour nationally in early 2017, opening at the Sydney Lyric Theatre on January 3 for its premiere season, in the city in which the story is based.
From the adaptation of Madeleine St John’s 1993 novel, The Women In Black, this acclaimed production has been brought to life by Australian screenwriter Carolyn Burns and internationally renowned director Simon Phillips. The show features over 20 original songs written by Tim Finn and a stunning range of some 30 custom – designed and created dresses and suits to reflect the 1950’s in which the musical takes place.
With a dash of delicate comedy, LADIES IN BLACK is a modern day fairy tale set in a stylish department store – F. G. Goode – in a Sydney on the cusp of becoming cosmopolitan, crossing the threshold between the stuffy repression of the 1950’s and the glorious liberation of the 1960’s. From the Christmas rush to the chaos of the sales, these women stand shoulder to padded shoulder and together learn lessons in life, love and longing – and at the end, it’s not just the fancy frocks that are forever altered.
The cast includes Sarah Morrison in the lead as Lisa, Bobby Fox, Natalie Gamsu, Kathryn McIntyre, Carrita Farrer Spencer, Greg Stone, Kate Cole, Madeleine Jones and Ellen Simpson.
LADIES IN BLACK will play the Sydney Lyric Theatre between 3 and 22 January 2017.
German artist Julian Rosefeldt (born 1965) is internationally renowned for his visually opulent and meticulously choreographed moving image artworks.
In the immersive film installation MANIFESTO (2014-2015) Rosefeldt has collaborated with Australian actor Cate Blanchett to present a series of striking monologues that Rosefeldt has created by editing a collage of artists’ manifestos.
Ever the chameleon, Blanchett performs these ‘new manifestos’ whilst inhabiting thirteen different personas – among them a school teacher, a newsreader, a factory worker and a homeless men.
Julian Rosefeldt’s exhibition continues at the Art Gallery Of New South Wales until January next year.
TIKKUN OLAM with its sub theme ‘my place + your place = a better place’ is a multi-cultural exploration and exhibition co-presented by Jewish Arts and the Shir Madness Jewish Music Festival with B’Nai B’rith as its principal sponsor.
The underlying theme of this exhibitionembraces all of the values required to make the world a better place. These core values include social justice, friendship, generosity, peace and the environment. The exhibition, curated by Estelle Rozinski,recognises the universal significance of the family in every culture. By inviting artists of Aboriginal, Korean and Jewish communities to share in the exploration of their personal experience through Art, Rozinski has begun a significant and beneficial multi-cultural conversation.