Distilled: January 2018

It’s a wisp of air that leaves you, pushing the part of you that registers, beautiful things. Exhaling to create a vacancy inside, a space to make a home for memories, reminders of the most beautiful things in life. To hover in that space and to know that even when you sometimes feel less than full, sometimes empty, you are always, always whole.

Your face, beholden to the sky, your eyes, open.

Wecome to a new year.

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Bourke Street Mall

A rainy beginning.

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Signal Box, Glenferrie Road, Hawthorn
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Vaporetto, Hawthorn

Is it really Melbourne without a cocktail like this?

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The Queen Victoria Building, Sydney

This month I took a trip to visit our sister, Sydney, whom we can’t stand but also kind of love.

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Regent Place, Sydney
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The Strand Arcade, Sydney
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The Grounds of the City, George Street, Sydney
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Gift Shop, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney

Gallery lighting is awful, so here’s a photo of the gift shop, from me to you.

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Playfair Street, The Rocks
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Under the Sydney Harbour Bridge, The Rocks
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Under the Sydney Harbour Bridge, The Rocks
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Somewhere in The Rocks

You’re not really in the Rocks until you’re a little bit lost.

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Circular Quay

Note number 10.

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30 Knots, Hunter Street, Sydney
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Construction on Hunter Street
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The Port, Darling Harbour
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Cruise Ship at Circular Quay
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Champagne at Portside, Sydney Opera House, with views of the Sydney Harbour Bridge
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Two Birds at Hyde Park
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Pimm’s at Meriton Festival Village, Hyde Park, Sydney Festival
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Meriton Festival Village, Hyde Park, Sydney Festival
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Paddington Markets, Paddington
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T3 1/2, by Stomping Ground Brewing Company, between T3 and T4, Melbourne Airport, Tullamarine
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Ron Mueck’s Mass, National Gallery of Victoria

A choir was singing hauntingly beautiful music amongst the skulls of Ron Mueck’s Mass.

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Yayoi Kusama’s Flower ObsessionNGV
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Error Code, Melbourne Central

It’s only when we are reminded that we are sobered to the reality that our environment is just as designed as it does exist. I venture to say that this is not an ugly hole in the network, but also a part of nature. The urban and the rural are distinctions made to simplify the spectrum upon which our lives unfold. Different environments hold different forms of existence. A shopping centre, the wilderness, they both are places in which life can happen, albeit differently.

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The World is Ours, and other street life paraphernalia, Turners Alley

The world is everyone’s and everything’s. The world belongs unto itself and we are priveleged to be the most intelligent life forms entrusted with its care.

The places we see and exist in, the places we take photos of, eat in, sit with. This is our world arena, host to all the moments small and large; loved ones loving loved ones, sporting achievements momenteous*, the continual grind of the metro tunnel being built into reality, and the millions of unnoticed, forgotten or misremembered things that slip us by. They happen in the same spaces in which we live.

Also, this moment:

This month, the City of Melbourne left an array of individually ‘graffitied’ pianos in pubic spaces for our enjoyment. The artwork varies from piano to piano, and the locations vary. The people vary. I was on my way to work when I noticed this collaboration in the concourse. A man finishes a song to applause and is approached by another, “Can I join you?”

 

*I’m talking Roger Federer’s 20th slam at the Australian Open 😉

**I’ve also recently joined Instagram, so follow me if you’d like more of this content, more frequently @ntvenessa

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Distilled: December 2017

Another month, another collection of photos to share, this time with a few thoughts of mine. These are frames/compositions/things/images/moments that compelled my deviation from the norm.

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Flinders Street Station, Melbourne

You might recognise this familiar grey as the omen of December storms past. It was something the state emergency services warned you about. Maybe you were waiting for a text reply from a friend but got a storm instead. Maybe they are the same?

Thought Capsule: What kind of bombshell will be left?

I was standing on the platform at Flinders Street Station, and was also, standing by the Huangpu River, looking up at the Shanghai Tower.

It marvels me that people can build such structures that pierce through the fog. Admittedly, the Eureka Tower is significantly smaller than the Shanghai Tower, but, in essence they are the same. Both structures were engineered as new platforms for viewing what is increasingly the same storm.

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Isabella Williams Memorial Park, Deer Park

I am running, too slowly, but my feet continue to hit the concrete. It is my will and gravity’s will. My heart feels small, but persistent. I look up at the sky and look back down at the pavement. It tells me to pick it up.

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Tandoori Times, Anderson Street, Yarraville

She laughs, brightly, piercing through whatever fog or stew you’re sitting in.

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Burger Bollard, Flinders Street, Melbourne
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Faraday Street, Carlton
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Corner of Little Bourke Street and Swanston Street, Melbourne
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The Somber Sombrero, Brunswick Street, Fitzroy

This is a point of creative departure unto itself. What shenanigans had befallen the formely hatted person involved on this Saturday night? More to the point, what else for this singular sombrero?

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Housing Development on Bourke Street

I’m not sure what the artist meant, if anything by it, but it was painted on corporate construction on Bourke Street, which is, to some, a home. A piece of cardboard, a hat, a something that gets you through it.

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Balaclava Ice Cream Sandwich, Cuppa Turca Dondurma & Desserts

Delectable.

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View of the Carlton Hotel, Bourke Street
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Bird, Sydney Road, Brunswick
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Little Mule Café, Somerset Place, Melbourne
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Scorpion, Somerset Place, Melbourne
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Live Music at the Naked Egg, Ballarat Street, Yarraville
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Save the Campbell Arcade, Sticky Institute, Campbell Arcade, Melbourne

If you didn’t already know, Campbell Arcade is that underground space connecting Flinders Street Station to Degraves Street. It starts in the middle of the big old station, burrowing under Flinders Street. Sometimes access is closed, sometimes it is open. It widens, provides homes for the newsagency, the handmade clothes shops, the record shop, the coffee shop, the zines stop and keeps running until it becomes a Belgian waffle stop. Occasionally the art in the displays change. Once, I overheard a class of school kids on a walking tour react in outrage, confusion, surprise on discovering that there existed, once, a bowling alley further along. Their hopes lingered as they subsequently discovered that it was still mainly there, just boarded up and severely disused.

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The Village Larder, Woodend

Here you will find the world’s best coconut and cherry meringue slice.

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Woodend
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Woodend

This was the weather on the morning of the bushfire.

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Grassfire at Turpins Falls

This is the beginning of the bushfire.

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Little Mule Unicycle, Somerset Place

I stopped to take a photo and looked up to see a purple haired girl stop too. Monday she leaves for someplace else, she doesn’t know, backpack packed on her back, she is as far as she can be away from Denmark before she starts turning back. Neither of us rides a unicycle.

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The Pillars, Mount Martha

Sometimes the shape of the earth is perfect, just perfect for diving off.

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The Pillars, Mount Martha

Sometimes the ocean is an invitation.

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The Unconventional Route, The Pillars, Mount Martha

& sometimes you take the, let’s be honest, dumbest way to get to where you want to be, but it’s alright. Two trees that stand a little further apart from each other than usual can be construed as a pathway and technically you can crash through the bush and call it walking. Your accidental blunder contributes to the poetry of the moment. Seize it.

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Plump Organic Grocery, Ballarat Street, Yarraville
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De-Frosty, South Melbourne Market
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Freshly Ground, Swanston Street

 

 

Distilled: November 2017

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Westfield, Geelong
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Traffic Signal Box, Geelong Waterfront
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Real Music Vinyl, Little Malop Street, Geelong
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Winged Girl by Laura Alice, James Street, Geelong
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The Archibald Prize, Geelong Gallery
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There There, Malop Street, Geelong
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The Southbank Shoe, Sandridge Bridge
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The Southbank Shoe, Sandbridge Bridge
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Cubicles of Eka, Eka Wholefoods, Seddon
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Cubicles of Eka, Eka Wholefoods, Seddon
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The Science of BBall, Kickz101, Collins Street, Melbourne
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234 Collins Street, Melbourne
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Up In Smoke, Hopkins Street, Footscray
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Footscray via Sunsine, The Footscray Hotel, Hopkins Street
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Jam With Your Neighbour, Fire Hydrant, Albion Station, Sunshine North
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Melko, Howey Place, Melbourne
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Federal Coffee Palace, GPO, Melbourne
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Gnome Village from Afar, Keilor Park

 

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Princes Bridge Paraphernalia, Princes Bridge
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No_One Ever Really Dies, Ormond
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The Bitcoin Florist, Bunch After Bunch, North Road, Ormond
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The Bitcoin Florist, Bunch After Bunch, North Road, Ormond
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Ulupna Road, Ormond
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The House of Dior, NGV
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The Sun Sets in the West
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Flinders Street Station

Project: Distilled

So I’ve decided to give this place a little colour/jazz/oomph

in fact, a lot more,

in addition to the words, of course.

Photograpy’s the medium, and you can now expect monthly collections of things that catch my eye.

What kinds of things?

Anything.

I’m excited, and I hope you like them.

Starting December 2017, with photos from November 2017.


Featured image is of Lake St Clair, Tasmania, Australia

The £1000 Bend

 

The following poem was originally published in September earlier this year in Verge 2017: Chimera and is available at Readings and online.

 

The £1000 Bend

is scraping thin

between two things

that will not ever meet.

it’s holding onto handrails just out of reach;

the brightly painted bars

running overhead but not ahead

to hold you steady

as the faint electric whistle

cultivates a home

against the rhythm of your dreams.

 

Sometimes it lives in scared strewn things

screaming Shakespeare in reverse

too afraid to sit amongst the people

gambling on their £1000 bends.

It breaks the bones

of suburban homes

struggling to find a foothold in a crowd

as the tunnel closes in

at six o’clock

and the rails are beaten to a bend.

 

It’s warping iron tracks

and making glitter from graffiti,

pretending to be Michelangelo

praying in ¾ time

along a soundscape uninvented

and unparalleled.

You break facades

and paint them fresh,

tattoo the underground with compositions

and listen to the echoes

that beat like broken metronomes

skipping inside bars untimed

to the direction leading home.

 

You breathe the £1000 bend

like it’s the thing with feathers

and dare to waltz into skies of grey

as the weather stains in untimed droplets

to cries of engines and of people

who all start to look and feel the same.

 

Route maps and itineraries line your pockets

wearing along well folded lines,

as they leave unappreciated

little scabs of secondhand existence

in a notebook of apologies.

 

But before the steamrolled tracks

grind to a stop

you cannot drop

your fearless gaze.

Having lived, and breathed, and gambled,

and lost

you continue to bend

a thousand pounds to search your soul.

To My Sister and My Brother (in-law), On Your Happiest Day (yet)

Preface:

The privilege of witnessing a love like this has been my heartfelt honour. I post this speech, the one I gave on their day, with their full consent.

I hope that when you find your own love, you will know.

I trust you will.


I am feeling so many emotions right now, but within this immense happiness, I am also feeling very lucky to be the youngest of so many loving sisters.

In particular, I have been blessed to have shared a wealth of experiences with Thuy. Together we’ve climbed the most reverent mountains and jumped into limitless skies. Imagine stretching as far as you possibly can and realising that the sky was not the limit. And never was. Skydiving with Thuy was like holding the impossible. Such moments in life, are truly, exceptional.

Those of us who are privileged with loving Thuy and being loved by Thuy, know that there exists a kind of love that is more than an absence of something like fear or doubt, and more than simply the addition of something, like warmth or safety. Instead it is the kind of love that forces you to redefine your limits of expression. It is expansive. Much like the universe.

So if you imagine the planets and stars as happiness, joy, support, and so on, and the vacuum between as space cleared to highlight those things that make life beautiful, you get fairly close.

But exceptional love, isn’t adding up the planets and the stars and subtracting the dust. It is the very fabric on which the universe exists. It is the landscape to the architecture we build. By default, everything we are becomes a narrative told within this fabric, this space. And exceptional love is the kind of space that is always expanding, equipping you and inspiring you to design your stars, together.

Since I was little, Thuy has always inspired my understanding of the world to expand into new dimensions. From the strength of your reach, the depth of your person, the heights you can climb and the volume of your voice, my navigation through life has been underscored by a sisterly love so encompassing and so generous, it is always larger than yesterday.

Thuy is my biggest cheerleader. There for me in the worst of times, and the inspiration behind the best of times.

So when Thuy met David, I felt like I kind of met David too. In the way that sisters talk about what happens on dates.

And then, I actually met David. I remember thinking how quiet he was. But in retrospect it was probably because I was nervous and talking an absurd amount. But David will do that. Listen to you with the most generous ear, even when you’re not saying much at all. And the more I get to know David, the more I know he is the kind of person who does not simply possess qualities. He isn’t a vessel in which kindness is carried and from which it is expressed, rather kindness forms and is cultivated from somewhere within. And that is much rarer.

Thuy says David gives the best compliments. You might be tempted to say it’s easy when it’s Thuy he’s complimenting after all. I think the best compliments are genuine and precise. And I think David is meticulous and thoughtful in such an admirable way that can only manifest itself as the pervasive support integral to love.

I know, however, that Thuy and David’s love for each other can only be defined by their own dimensions. It seems that everything they do stems from an internal, conscientious choice that is then expressed. And they do so, consistently, and generously.

Everyone, these are two, exceptional people, and as is often the case with exceptional people, their love is just so.

Thuy, David, I wish for you always, a beautiful, limitless sky. I know your story will be exceptional.

Hiroshima

An immense grief anchors this city, tethering Hiroshima to its past. To be here is to carve your emotional real estate bare and lay it in offering. Such tragedy cannot be contained within one person. Hope for peace cannot be contained within one person.

I had not known school children were mobilised during the war and that because of this, so many more had died that day on August 6th, 1945.

I’m sitting here, just having exited the museum. I am sitting on a bench behind the children’s monument where countless paper cranes hang in offering. There will always be an absence in our history, no matter the time elapsed. But peace is the result of a collective hope, cultivated.

 

The cranes collect.

The garden is cultivated.

 

The city moves and yet exists in reverence. I think about the immense pressure the world is bearing and I wonder about negative pressure. How it was a second blow, returning for an encore in a city already devastated.

 

Everything is consequential.

People died, are dying.

Trees grow upward from damaged soil.

Sakura season comes again.

A city rebuilds.

 

 

I am still preparing for the unimaginable. The unspeakable scenes we continue to rehearse each day in this world are enough to fill a person. A class of Japanese school children recite words in unison before offering their paper cranes. Their contribution adds to the collection, filling the row of little clear booths facing the monument.

 

A bell rings.

It resonates.

 

It is not the physical presence of paper cranes but the consciousness of their purpose that imbues me with a pin prick of hope. And that is hope enough.

Declare Your Goods

Declare your goods:

 

Exotic dirt-danced shoes

Brushing britches

In a two-part tango

Across a coast

Designed by dancers

Powdered streets with foreign footprints

 

Photographs of family

Of friends

Festivities

Embossed in minds

The blueprints of a future

A finite forever

 

A blazer

Saturated in salty scents

Of minerals

To set ablaze

A Golden Gate

Of International Orange

 

Wrist wrappings

Stitched with pride

Declare themselves

In unabashed glory –

Seven shades of soulful souvenir

To parade

 

A distinct new State

Of movement

Of memory

Of mind

Moments to mark in time

 

You must declare your goods.

A General Direction

I was left breathless

Hoping and wanting and finally loving

The way you seemed to be looking

In my general direction

It was a crowded night

Filling with people, intentions and drinks

I saw the way you parted that sea

To walk in my general direction

You smiled and nodded

A flicker of acknowledgement too casual

A way to express any thoughts

You had for passing my general direction

And I stopped myself

Hoping and wanting and finally craving

For a way to erase my hopes that you

Would be more than in my general direction

Transience

A person has not the luxury of dispersion

To mushroom and fade in the subtlest way

It is not possible to become so innocuously beautiful

A whisper of smoke or a lingering scent

Could never have been such a clumsy form

Coats of perfume and and fluttering voices

Are mere approximations

They are cheap substitutes for existing between states

It is a privilege to be so subtle and treasured

And a blessing to be so inconsequential