Seventeen year Sam has been on a self-destructive spiral that could lead to his death. He returns home from boarding school to find his wheelchair-bound English grandmother, Ruth has moved in. Ruth is an ex-war photographer with a lust for life and a love of the bottle.
Sam soon finds himself profoundly confronted by her alcoholic wit and chutzpah. Their first meeting is awkward; their second violent.
Things get worse when Sam finds himself stranded alone with her and her nurse Sarah for the school holidays. Both strong-willed characters, a battle of supremacy ensues, enabling Sam to embrace life again and for Ruth to face her mortality.
JUNIPER, directed by Matthew J. Saville, stars Charlotte Rampling, Márton Csókás, Edith Poor and George Ferrier
Sydney Arts Guide has five in season double passes to give away to see JUNIPER. Email the editor on firstname.lastname@example.org with JUNIPER PROMOTION in the subject heading and your postal address in the body of your email. Email why you.want to see Charlotte Rampling on the screen again.
When, recently retired literature professor, Harriet “Harry” Wild (Jane Seymour) becomes the victim of a mugging, she goes to stay with her son, Charlie, a senior detective in the Gardai. Realising Charlie’s latest murder investigation bears striking similarities to an obscure Elizabethan play, she offers her help. When that offer is rudely rejected, Harry decides she will find the killer herself to prove she was right. Proving herself right is a big thing for Harry. Little does she know that one decision is going to lead her to a whole new life.
NEVER JUDGE A MURDER BY IT’S COVER
The DVD release date is July 20, 2022. It will feature 8 45 minute dynamic episodes.The series is rated M for mature audiences with mature themes, violence, sexual references and coarse language.
Courtesy of Acorn Media Sydney Arts Guide has five DVDs to giveaway. Email the editor on email@example.com with HARRY WILD Promotion in the subject heading and give your postal address in the body of your email. Winners will be advised by email.
The Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA) and Tate yesterday announced the acquisition of six artworks by five artists as part of the International Joint Acquisition Program for contemporary Australian art.
Since its inception the program has made possible the acquisition of 35 artworks by 24 artists for the Collections of Tate and MCA. This ground-breaking acquisition program which has brought the work of Australian artists to the attention of a global public was made possible through a $2.75 million corporate gift from the Qantas Foundation in 2015. Continue reading MCA AND TAT ANNOUNCE NEW JOINT ACQUISITIONS→
Walsh Bay Arts Precinct, Australia’s newest cultural precinct, has received awards in four categories at the 2022 NSW Architecture Awards, the state’s most celebrated architectural honours presented by the Australian Institute of Architects.
Selected by a jury led by former NSW Government Architect Peter Mould, the Precinct received the state’s top award, the NSW Architecture Medallion, for the transformation of Pier 2/3 and Wharf 4/5 undertaken by Tonkin Zulaikha Greer Architects. The Precinct also received the awards for Public Architecture, Greenway Award for Heritage and a commendation for Interior Architecture. Continue reading WALSH BAY ARTS PRECINCT WINS MAJOR AWARD→
Flying well under the radar, ALI & AVA is a bona fide gem.
Age has not withered Ava. In her fifties and from an Irish-Catholic background, Bradford born and bred, Ava is a devoted mother, grandmother and teaching assistant who fills her time looking after others and listening to country and folk music, masking the scars left by an abusive ex-husband.
Custom has not staled Ali, a charismatic, always look on the brightbright side of life adherent, avid music and book lover and moon watcher. Still living with his estranged wife, he hides their separation from his family, painfully continuing the charade of marital domesticity because he still loves her.
When they come together it’s a slow burn romance, sparked by flint of fun, which they share, fanned by opposing musical tastes, which they are willing to explore.
Sans saccharine, ALI & AVA is quite simply, a charmer, thanks to the bedrock script and direction by Clio Barnard and the palpable chemistry between the two leads.
Claire Rushbrook is just absolutely lovableas Ava, a sunflower serenity in a performance and characterisation you just want to hug.
Adeel Akhtar exudes a cheeky irreverence as Ali, boisterous without being bothersome, flamboyance without annoyance.
Both lonely for different reasons, despite their own fears about intimacy and expectations of their families and communities, Ava and Ali embark on a romance that is tender and real, and not without repercussion and consequence.
ALI & AVA is a mature love story that is firmly grounded which makes the reaching for the stars all the more real, heartfelt and feet sweepingly sweet.
Flying under the radar, LI & AVA is worth seeking and intercepting.
CRUEL INTENTIONS : THE NINETIES MUSICAL started off as an off Broadway jukebox musical which premiered in 2015. The musical is based on the cult 1999 movie ‘Cruel Intentions’ by Roger Kumble. There was also of-course the great 1988 movie ‘Dangerous Liaisons’ starring John Malkovich, Glenn Close and Uma Thurman. All of these productions are offshoots of the classic 1782 French novel Les Liaisons dengereuses by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos.
The current musical has been created by Jordan Ross, Lindsay Rosin and Roger Kumble. The national tour of the show is an Australian premiere, with an all Australian cast, a boon for an industry which was badly burnt during the Covid lockdowns.
The narrative stays on course with the movie plot with, of-course, that magical addition of the cast very regularly breaking into hit nineties songs, sometimes with a bit of laughter from the audience. There are so many great 90’s songs including The Verve’s ‘Bittersweet Symphony’, Britney Speers ‘Sometimes’, No Doubt’s ‘Just A Girl’, Christina Aguilera’s ‘Genie In A Bottle’, Sixpence None The Richer’s ‘Kiss Me’ and my personal favourite Deep Blue Something’s ‘Breakfast At Tiffany’s. Francine Caine as Cecile and Rishab Kern as Ronald give a rousing rendition with great vocals and electric dancing.Continue reading CRUEL INTENTIONS THE NINETIES MUSICAL @ STATE THEATRE→
Above: Members of the Opera Australia Chorus perform the humming chorus from Act Two. Featured Image : Sian Sharp as Suzuki and Sae Kyung Rim in the role of Cio-Cio-San. Photo Credit: Guy Davies
Graeme Murphy’s gripping remodelling of Puccini’s classic is currently in breathtaking revival at the Sydney Opera House. Shibari ropes, video game-like extras and star spangled sets will wow new and return audiences alike.
Once again this is a bold, vivid, visual feast. The svelte direction ensures directness of scene setting and development for this cleverly illuminated physicality from Murphy, his collaborator Janet Vernon and revival director Shane Placentino.
The cruelty on display is very accessible. It is delivered with modern attitude, energy and razor-sharp characterisation . Jennifer Irwin’s costume design delves into the quite current, the back then, the traditional, sidesteps into film or pop stereotypes and environmental fantasy, supported the nowness of the scintillating set.
Puccini’s effective through-composed soundtrack is in the safe hands of the Opera Australia Orchestra guided with wide ranging nuance, shape and attack by Carlo Montanaro. The split-second synergy of orchestral outbursts and flashes or switches on the digital sets help us hurtle through the opera.
At this global moment, history, religion and cultural controversies collide as legislation in the USA binds some choices for women. Images of stars and stripes fading to black oppressive ominous sets give new-found chills.
Above: Kiran Rajasingam as Yamadori, Sae-Kyung Rim as Cio-Cio-San, Virgilio Marino as Goro and Michael Honeyman as Sharpless. Photo credit: Guy Davies.
The opera’s opening moments indicate we are in for quite a ride. Cio-Cio-San drops from the bondage of geisha life and from the upper stage into the greedy woman-selling hands of a dreadlocked mobile phone weilding Goro. Here the matchmaker leaps about in suitable caricature from Virgilio Marino. He eagerly sets out as broker to sell a marital home and a blissful local woman for Pinkerton’s deceiving lust.
It is the dynamic duo of Suzuki (Sian Sharp) and Cio-Cio-San (Sae Kyung Rim) which impressively dish out attitude, hope, shock, support and survival throughout. Their solid vocal blend and strength, their athletic use of the stage and their dramatic and vocal success through many costume changes make them standout in this cast.
It is so rewarding to travel with this pair of superheroes. Girl-Wonder Sharp reprises her signature role of Suzuki with greated physicality and greater disdain for men from anywhere on their self-appoinmoral spectrum. She wields utility, devotion to gods and dire gesture or attitude as she defends her crumbling Yankee-by-fake-marriage mistress. Her tragic sidekick is played with superhero negotiation of stage, sentiment, singing challenges or screens by Sae Kyung Rim.
Above: Sae Kyung Rim and dancer Naomi Hibberd. Photo credit : Guy Davies.
This soprano has amazing commitment to character, detail of music and creation of the modern mood. Her Un bel di, as a trapped character, trapped in a gap of the upper back set and imprisoned by fate, untruth and fragments of language characters dropping up a pitch black screen is a moment that will resonate and stay with you for some time.
Such powerhouse placement on the stage is matched by an intelligent storytelling for this blocbuster aria in equally powerhouse voice. Its shaping from the text outwards is imbued with a range of subtlety and spontaneity results. It is also evenly presented in the flow of the act. This aria’s performance take place in just one of many of the show’s stunning digital wraps designed by Sean Nieuwenhuis.
Action which crawls, cowers and leaps about Michael Scott Mitchell’s skew nouveau-paper-house architecture is exciting to watch. It exaggerates the tricky holes in commitment, souls and cultural clashes of this sad tale. Its frontal uplift is percarious and the movement backwards as Cio-Cio-San loses her fight is full of emptiness.
The formal male characters from equally fragile cultural pillars rise up with aplomb on this stage. Michael Honeyman’s Sharpless is boldly sung, with nice Western gesture and great poise always in the environment of the ‘other’. This goes also for Jane Ede’s expert measured restraint in movement and haunting vocal delivery as the other wife, Kate Pinkerton.
Above: Sae Kuyung Rim as Cio-Cio-San. Photo credit: Guy Davies.
Imperial anger, family brutality and religious tradition abound from David Parkin’s Bonze as the geisha lost to the West is shunned. Kiran Rajasingam’s Yamadori is a pleasing addition to the ensemble variety, elaborately costumed, smoothly sung and moving well through his scene.
Diego Torre delivers a pleasing haughty male force as Benjamin Franklin Pinkerton from earlist dialogue moments. His tenor colour and brand is in secure Puccini style. Unfortunately and fortuitously, on opening night he was replaced due to illness by local tenor Thomas Strong.
This substitution was successful, with very capable acting, vocal placement and appropriate look on the stage. His torment in Addio fioriti asil found a firm place and sound in both the denoument as well as the modern look and fresh sound of this production.
The pair of fine female leads blend beautifully for the unique and encroachment in a pre-tragedy creep of female chorus around the stage for the ‘Humming Chorus’. This is another true highlight which surprises and endures in this gripping revival poduction. Lighting and digital sets work well in tandem here. The chance to witness this moment of pure theatre and newness of approach to opera should not be missed.
Madama Butterfly plays at Sydney Opera House until July 30.
Prolific American playwright Mark St Germain writes fascinating plays. Many of them pivot around meetings involving famous people. The meetings are a fiction but that’s not the point. The point is that the encounters raise important themes that are great after show talking points.
My favourite play is ‘Freud’s Last Session’ which played back in 2018 at the Seymour Centre. It featured two great minds, Sigmund Freud and C.S. Lewis discussing some of the biggest questions of human existence; what is the nature of love, how do we find meaning in our lives. Their meeting was set against the chilling entry of England into World War 2 as it is being broadcast in the background on the radio. It made for engrossing theatre.
The same can be said of St Germain’s play. RELATIVITY. This time the meeting is between the great American physicist Albert Einstein and his ‘long lost’ daughter. Historical records indicate that Einstein and his wife had a baby girl out of wedlock, which was of-course frowned on at the time, and the baby was very ill. Nothing else is known. This is the work of St Germain’s very active imagination.Continue reading RELATIVITY : WELL CRAFTED DRAMA→
This is a terrific book, with a distinctive Australian voice from the opening page. It is at times witty and sarcastic, terrifically written. The characters are delineated superbly. The book features shrewd, ingenious prose and dialogue. It captures life during the Covid pandemic and its repercussions – we see Simon battling his troubles. It is divided into 44 short chapters and a prologue. Set right now in Melbourne, it is all described from Simon’s point of view.
Once a rather successful architect who ran a small firm, Simon is now unemployed, and has turned into a depressed house husband couch potato. Everything is a blur. He seeks fulfilment but this particular week’s events derail everything. We feel much sympathy for Simon’s predicament.
He is uxorious, glorying in his wife Tansy, and absolutely loves his children, Mia and Lachie. He attempts to develop a deeper relationship with his children now Tansy is the one working and earning. Forced to sell and move from their own much loved home to a squashed rented flat, we see how contemporary life has affected the Larsens. Is their marriage unravelling? And is Tansy hiding secrets from him ? Who can he trust? Themes running throughout the book include sibling rivalry, tensions within a marriage and parental competency.
The eponymous Schnabels are his in-laws, Tansy’s family- her annoying siblings Nick, a mummy’s boy and a handsome footy star, and Kylie, uncivil, forthright and power hungry, her overwhelming, controlling, outspoken mother, Gloria, and a totally unexpected half-sister, Moira, whose sudden appearance for David’s (Gloria’s ex husband , father of Nick , Kylie and Tansy’s) memorial service creates massive disruption.
Simon has a task to complete – he has a week to landscape Naveen’s , a friend’s, garden for the memorial service. Can he do it? What can go wrong?
DINNER WITH THE SCHNABELS is warm and quintessentially Australian yet extensively engaging. Enjoy!
Forthright, funny and with an indefinable flair, Charmian Clift’s writing plays second fiddle to nobody.
For those who’ve forgotten (impossible surely, once read, always remembered) and those yet to discover the charming Charmian, Newsouth has published SNEAKY LITTLE REVOLUTIONS, selected essays of Charmian Clift, edited by her biographer, Nadia Wheatley.
Returning to Australia from living years away in Europe, predominantly Greece, Charmian secured a gig with the Sydney Morning Herald writing a weekly column, which quickly became compulsory reading.
Her observations of the homeland she had returned to became a living part of her readjustment and invited readers to accompany her and reappraise Australia.
These sneaky little revolutions became more and more radical as the 1960s raced on. The war in Vietnam, gender equality, multiculturalism and Indigenous civil rights all prompted fearless commentary.
Writing with a rhapsodic gift, her style immediately invites us to engage in the conversation. In an effortlessly personal voice, she debates political issues, shares societal concerns, and comments on a cavalcade of both the common and the curious.
The vivacity of the writing is what hooks the reader. As these essays attest, she died with her talent still burning and her work unfinished. All the more reason to relish the reading of these pieces, for the sheer pleasure of it.
SNEAKY LITTLE REVOLUTIONS Selected Essays of Charmian Clift edited by Nadine Wheatley is published by Newsouth.
Little Eggs Collective’s production of MOON RABBIT RISING is a non verbal presentation of a myth re imagined for millennia.
Inspired by the legend of 后羿 (Hou Yi) and 嫦娥 (Chang’e), Directed by Nicole Pingon and devised by the company, MOON RABBIT RISING begins in primordial haze with primal humming, a primitive community choir in huddled harmony.
As legend has it, there were ten suns in the sky, each taking their turn to rise and set, until one day all ten suns leapt together and ran wild. Through movement and mime, five performers guide us through this cosmic chaos.
Dressed in white, on a bare stage save for a central plinth, Mym Kwa, Jon Lam, Jasper Lee-Lindsay, Monica Sayers and Rachel Seeto journey us through a guided discovery of dream, chimera, trance, dance, and non verbal vocalisation.
No speech but a symphony of imagery imaginatively executed. Words fail, body language prevails. MOON RABBIT RISING is playful, precise, poignant, simple yet searing in its spectacle, mesmerising and subtly magical. There are emotions evoked, fears stoked, actions provoked, deliverance hoped.
Little Eggs Collective have built a strong reputation through their previous productions of Pinocchio, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner and Symphonie Fantastique, and MOON RABBIT RISING further cements their excellent consistency in adventurous theatre.
MOON RABBIT RISING boasts 50 minutes of fine physical performance in the Downstairs Theatre at Belvoir Street.
Sydneysiders are treated this week to an extraordinary rarity, the play Peer Gynt complete with actors, a 27 piece orchestra, full choir and chorus. This is arguably the first time it has been fully staged in Australia.
Many are familiar with the music of Peer Gynt composed by Edvard Grieg. The tunes have been used many times over in film and television including “Morning Mood”, “Anitra’s Dance” and “In the Hall of the Mountain King”. Also the sublime “Solvieg’s Song” for soprano can stop you in your tracks. These are popular as orchestral concert pieces loved all around the world. Grieg produced 2 musical suites from the 90 minutes of music but it’s rare to hear all the music at once and even more rare to see the play that the music was written to accompany.
That play was conceived by Henrik Ibsen, one of Norway’s best known and popular dramatists. Causing a stir, it was outstanding in its uniqueness and modern style when premiered in 1867. The 40 scenes are written in verse, flicking lightly between fact and fantasy, challenging the versatility of every performer on the stage who were given anything up to 7 different characters. Continue reading PEER GYNT : A WONDERFUL EXPERIENCE→
With a title reminiscent of an earlier Fleming short story, From A View To A Kill, Anthony Horowitz’s third and final James Bond continuation novel, WITH A MIND TO KILL picks up straight after The Man With The Golden Gun, the last of Ian Fleming’s 007 adventures which was published posthumously.
Tapping into the first few chapters of The Man With The Golden Gun and its focus on Russian mind control or brainwashing as it became colloquially known, WITH A MIND TO KILL is a mind-rape revenge story with Her Majesty’s Secret Service conjuring an audacious counter-plot, a return to sender billet d’acide, with double O Seven doubled up as a double agent in a double barrelled double cross.
WITH A MIND TO KILL follows the suicide mission trope established in You Only Live Twice, suicide and assassination symbiotic siblings sired by Her Majesty’s Secret Service, adopted by her sharpest blunt instrument.
A few passages in the description of East Berlin have been lifted from Fleming’s collection of travel journalism, Thrilling Cities, and a particular reverie takes us back to Casino Royale, Chapter 20, where Bond is determined to resign and Mathis implores him, “don’t let me down and become human yourself.”
Bond’s observations about Russia are depressingly prescient: “Evil in this country wasn’t just a group of men talking in a room…it wasn’t one madman hanging out…it was a huge machine, a sickness that had corroded itself into the souls of a hundred million people and at the end of the day they were he only ones who would ever be able to rid themselves of it.”
Colonel Boris is a sulphurously infernal villain, a neurological nemesis, Katya Leonova, the tragic heroine with a whisper of Vesper Lynd.
Appallingly appealing, my one qualm is the over egging of the easter eggs, footnotes tripping the feet of what is largely a neat feat of thriller writing.
With WITH A MIND TO KILL, Horowitz is done with Fleming. The book’s ending gives a hint that he may be taking up the legacy of Le Carre.
WITH A MIND TO KILL by Anthony Horowitz is published by Jonathan Cape.
Ritz Cinemas, Randwick continues to celebrate its 85th birthday by announcing Pasolini: A Centenary Retrospective, featuring nine films from Italian filmmaker Pier Paolo Pasolini, who would have been 100 this year.
Proudly presented by Ritz Cinemas, Istituto Italiano di Cultura Sydney and Cinema Reborn, Pasolini: A Centenary Retrospective gives Sydney audiences the opportunity to revisit nine films by a revolutionary filmmaker whose visual, political and philosophical impact on cinema is left largely undiminished, with each session introduced by a special guest filmmaker, critic or academic. Continue reading PASOLINI : A CENTENARY RETROSPECTIVE : TICKET GIVEAWAY→
Speeding through the Moroccan desert to attend an old friend’s lavish weekend party, wealthy Londoners David and Jo Henninger played by Ralph Fiennes and Jessica Chastain are involved in a tragic accident with a local teenage boy.
Arriving late at the grand villa with the debauched party raging, the couple attempts to cover up the incident with the collusion of the local police. But when the boy’s father arrives seeking justice, the stage is set for a tension-filled culture clash in which David and Jo must come to terms with their fateful act and its shattering consequences. You can watch the trailerhere.
THE FORGIVEN will open in cinemas on 28th July 2022.
Sydney Arts Guide has ten double passes to give away to the preview screening of The Forgiven at the Chauvel cinema Paddington on the 19th July at 6.30pm. To enter the competition email firstname.lastname@example.org with THE FORGIVEN PROMOTION in the subject heading. The winners will be advised by email.
Based on the 1999 film ‘Cruel Intentions’ this jukebox musical was written by the writer and director Roger Kumble along with Jordan Ross and Lindsey Rosin, the musical pokes fun at nineties fashion and shows its relevance in contemporary society with its dark underbelly of sexual manipulation and trolling.
Some of the nineties music includes Bittersweet Symphony (the Verve), Just a Girl (No Doubt), and Candy (Mandy Moore).
The musical is on at the State Theatre from the 30th June but will only have a short season as it has a commitment to play in Brisbane from the 27th July, 2022.
Sydney playwright Amber Spooner has chosen a tricky subject for her first play. The play tells the story of Grace, a woman who was kidnapped as a young girl, spent years in captivity, and then escapes, returning to her family.
The play starts with her having recently returned to her family home, unsurprisingly, a complete, quivering headcase.
She no longer knows how to behave. The family can’t talk to her without her getting agitated. She can’t focus on anything. What’s worse, is she keeps on seeing her former captor Gregory in the room with her.
Helpful Tips in Creating Beautiful Floral Paintings
Flower painting occurs when one or more flowers are depicted and has its antecedents in the scientific and herbal plant depiction. This painting form began as manuscripts in northern Europe and is common to date.
Flowers are an excellent sight to behold; we all have our favorite types. There are different approaches when painting flowers, whether it is daffodils or daisies. Getting a picture source is easy, provided you have a reliable connection.
However, it is challenging to find real sources of inspiration and create these paintings using your intellect. Some important tips you should consider include studying the blooms of the flower you want to draw. To make things easier, you can avail of a flower deliveryservice and get some blooms delivered to your doorstep – this is a good way to get the inspiration you need.
Below we discuss the top tips when creating floral paintings.
Choose the Size by Considering Your Space
It will help to start by deciding the size and shape of your preferred arrangement, which mainly depends on where you will put it. For example, you might want to make a long piece when doing dinner table art.
This piece should not have too much height to enable those seated to see it comfortably.
It can be easy for artists to pick the exact flower to paint or those they think are the easiest. However, this practice does not support artistic growth. It will help to choose different flowers from time to time to stretch yourself.
Paint flowers that have your attention and make your heart sing to go to the next level. You will be amazed by your outcome, even if the flowers have many petals. Challenging yourself is helpful, as it will let you draw flowers you would not have imagined.
Use the Right Brush
Using the right brush when making floral paintings is crucial to advance your skills. Larger brushes are advisable when making huge shapes, while filberts are ideal for round-edged petals.
Have a Focus
A clear focal point is key when painting floral pieces. It will help to determine your composition first before knowing your focal point. It is also possible to make them using your fingers; suppose you lack one.
Then, look through your fingers or viewfinder while trying several compositions until you get the right one. The next step after knowing your composition is choosing the focal point you wish to accentuate.
Keep the Subjects Fresh
One common problem with most floral artists is their flower’s short lifespan. Your flowers will die right before you as you paint away. This occurs due to the heat and lamp light. This explains why you should have a photoshoot with the flowers before you start painting.
Also, print the source and complete the painting using fresh flowers before they start to winter.
Shun Sharp Edges
Nature lacks any outlines, so you should keep your edges soft. You can try sketching a marking line where the petal will go, but shun outlining and returning to the petals afterward. This easy but essential technique enables you to paint realistic pieces.
The other general painting rule is avoiding black paint. This paint rarely exists in nature and is normally a tone of color. Remember, you will get natural dark tines after mixing two complements. This also adds more detail to your painting.
When painting anything, the passion in taking your time doing it and knowing what you are painting is crucial. Artists should; use the right brush, avoid sharp edges, and keep the subjects fresh, among others.
We have looked at top tips for creating beautiful floral paintings, and you can reach out for more information.
With a title THE DIPLOMAT, you might think THE DIPLOMAT is a political thriller, some sort of far flung foreign intrigue fodder. Think again.
Chris Womersley’s novel, THE DIPLOMAT, a curiously exhilarating and unflinching portrait of low life and high ambition, and vice versa, is named for a flea pit motel in the seedy side of the seaside suburb of St Kilda, the site of the novel’s stacked denouement. The diplomacy of drug deals and the negotiation of narcotics is the politics of the place. Not that THE DIPLOMAT is not thrilling, imbued with an individual and invidious intrigue. It is.
THE DIPLOMAT’s narrator is Edward Degraves, a Melbourne junkie outlaw of art, responsible for the Picasso heist in 86. Back in his hometown after years abroad in Europe and London, literally forging a life in the art world, the recently widowed Degraves wants a detour from his probable path, and he has the powder to pave his way.
If not a sequel exactly of Womersley’s earlier fiction, Cairo, then a return to its world and characters, an addendum. Degraves is a memorable memoirist, but it’s his deceased spouse, Gertrude, who haunts the pages of this occasionally hilarious book. Petite in stature but gigantic in personality, Gertrude is an enduring presence, a ghost who breathes glorious life into the story.
On meeting in a London pub, Lucien Freud instantly developed a crush on her. No surprise in that, states Degraves, she was certainly unusual looking enough for his tastes.
Mixing as it does in the art world, THE DIPLOMAT daubs its narrative with many an acute observation on the state of the arts, circa 1991.
Degraves opines that Painting was on the way out. It was old fashioned conservative; these days it was all installations, things that made no aesthetic sense until you read the artist’s statements. And Artists as self promoters, success was all about positioning yourself in the market. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.
Hopefully we have buried our forelock tugging colonialism as Degraves derides the fact that Quintessential Australians are at once superior to and fawning over our perceived betters. We despised them but craved their approval. This was a cunning cul-de-sac to inhabit and a very depressing truth to acknowledge about ourselves.
Womersley writes all too well about the unravelling mind, those wild dogs of panic, the hounds of terror that haunt the junk yard thoughts of the junkie. Regret and grief, the mundane and the magical, the farcical and the tragic, the realisation that the party had feasted and moved on.
Precise, pungent, pugnacious, anchored in memory and the moment, a story of exile and absence, THE DIPLOMAT is a lean, mean hot shot full of grubby grace, faith, hope and charlatanry.
THE DIPLOMAT by Chris Womersley is published by Picador
In HAUTE COUTURE, Nathalie Baye plays Esther, the end of her careerHead Seamstress at Dior Avenue Montaigne workshop. One day, she gets her handbag stolen in the metro by a 20 year old woman, Jade.
When the culprit tries to make amends, the stitch witch offers her a job, an attempt at giving Jade more purpose in life and as surrogate assuage for her estrangement from her daughter.
It’s a job to Dior for and Jade soon displays a natural aptitude, much to the pleasure of Esther, and the displeasure of one jealous, jaundiced, and culturally prejudiced co worker.
Written by Sylvie Ohayon and Sylvie Verheyde and directed by Ohayon, HAUTE COUTURE is a rags to riches, rage to stitches story that follows familiar tropes. But, as they say, it’s not what you do but the way that you do it, that makes the difference.
Nathalie Baye is quite flawless as the formidable forewoman of the floor in this house of frocks. A meticulous craft-person and unstinting admirer of beauty in work, she sees all of humanity’s failure in knowing the price of everything but the value of nothing.
Lyna Khoudri is molten rage as Jude, a street savvy Vesuvius, dealing with racial vilification and a Christ besotted, bed ridden house bound mother.
Esther and Jade parry and joust, jockey and bridle, bristle and redeem.
Two other characters, Catherine, Esther loyalist, and Andree, a bitch with an emotional stitch, give the drama contrast and texture. Both are consummately played by Pascale Arbillot and Claude Perron respectively.
For those with a passion for fashion and enjoy a classic fit, HAUTE COUTURE is la beauté du geste.
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