Art trail expands

MORE than 300 artists have registered to join this year’s Southern Art and Craft Trail alongside 10 new venues from across the Great Southern and South West.

The annual event promotes various art studios, exhibition centres and private studios in southern WA to give artists the opportunity to display and sell their work.

Trail coordinator Chrissie Gregory said approximately 80 venues were listed for the September 21 to October 13 event with the addition of several new artists.

“We have past and present students from Denmark TAFE, residents and staff from Albany’s Clarence Estate, Plantagenet Arts Council at Mitchell House in Mt Barker, Debra McLaren of Kangaburra Pottery in Perup and Carol O’Connor from Denmark,” she revealed.

“We also have talented sculptor and glass artist Peter Kovacsy from Pemberton.

“Peter approached us about joining the Trail and we thought it was a great idea; so now, we will also be including the Pemberton Arts Group, ceramicist Marilyn Gibson and painter John Duncan from the area.”

Ms Gregory said the Trail had been planned around the term three school holidays to give residents and tourists extra time to visit venues.

“It’s a good idea to aim for around five venues per day,” she said.

“That way, you have time to enjoy the drive and have a nice picnic or eat somewhere lovely and enjoy the region.”

Regular updates about the Southern Art and Craft Trail can be located on the event’s Instagram, Facebook and website –

The full program will be published a few weeks prior to the event.

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Sinfonia uptopia

ADDING to the musical array of events across the upcoming June long weekend will be Albany Sinfonia’s A Night of Song concert.

The performance will feature various guests alongside the Sinfonia including the likes of Albany soloist Bonnie Staude, Perth-based opera stars James Clayton and Mark Alderson, Albany Senior High School’s musical theatre class and members of the Albany Choral Society.

Sinfonia Artistic Director Neville Talbot said the June 1 show at the Albany Entertainment Centre (AEC) would celebrate all aspects of song and the human voice, with hits from opera, musical theatre and “just good old-fashioned songs”.

“Sinfonia has developed a reputation for excellent and enjoyable concerts over the last few years, and this show will be no exception,” he said.

“We will see the orchestra accompanying solos, duets and big choruses, as well as featuring in some big orchestral numbers from opera such as the Grand March from Aida, and the Intermezzo from Cavalleria Rusticana.”

Mr Talbot said the concert had been timed to link in with the Albany Classic Cars Rally.

“The dates were chosen in partnership with the organisers of the rally to try to widen and enrich the experience of visitors to the town for this huge event,” he said.

“It is hoped that visitors and locals alike will crowd Albany’s spectacular AEC for the event.”

A selection of the concert will then be performed as part of Denmark’s Festival of Voice on June 2.

Festival participants will be invited to a workshop after this performance to sing One Day More from Les Miserables with the A Night of Song cast.

Tickets for the June 1 show at the AEC can be purchased online or via the AEC’s box office and passes for the Denmark Festival of Voice performance can be found at denmarkfestivalofvoice.

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Closet update

PEOPLE looking for winter wardrobe inspiration may find just what they are looking for at an upcoming Albany fashion parade.

Past Present & Future: Winter 2019 will be held at the exhibition pavilion on Cockburn Road on May 31 and feature 24 past, present and future models from Albany-based Trish Denton’s agency, Tricia’s Model Management.

Albany businesses Marydenn House, Bell and Luca, The Closet Shop, Depeche Mode, Infinito, Vic and Velour, Stamms Emporium and Featherstonehaugh Boutique will showcase their clothing ranges at the event.

Ms Denton said the fashion parade would be a ‘red carpet’ type of event and proceeds would be donated to Albany Community Hospice.

“No one’s done this in Albany for a long time,” she said.

“So, we’d love for people to get all glammed up.

“This parade will show what’s in for winter and show off the collections of local shops.”

Models range from ages 14 to 50 to display winter fashion suitable for all ages.

Tickets are $40 per person and include entry, wine and finger food.

Tickets can be purchased from the participating businesses or by calling Ms Denton on 0418 936 140.

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Musical set for regal performance

ALBANY school teacher and poet Giles Watson’s original libretto will come to life this week at Perth’s Regal Theatre.

Mimma, Watson’s first musical, was co-created with Orana Cinemas owner Ron Siemiginowski after a chance meeting between the two.

With Watson’s words and Siemiginowski’s music, Mimma was born and so with it Watson’s first encounter with theatre writing.

He sat down with The Weekender a few days before the musical’s premiere to give an insight into what it takes to pen a theatre show.

“I write a lot of poetry,” Watson said.

“And I’ve written two short novellas.

“Doing a musical is something I’ve always wanted to do and some-

thing that Ron wanted to do.

“My housemate Simone Keane was recording a song for Ron and she suggested that he and I get together, and we connected.”

Watson has a passion for the Second World War, being a university history major, and hoped his knowledge could help shape a musical one day.

It was timely that at their chance meeting, Siemiginowski was playing Italian-inspired music, which immediately triggered Watson to build a war-themed story.

“I sat and wrote the plot while Ron played,” Watson said.

“It focuses on Mimma, who’s an Italian journalist in 1938 and is sent to England in exile.

“It’s at her uncle’s bar – where she’s staying – that she meets Sarah, who’s English, and they develop a friendship.

“So the main plot is on their friendship and the threats that face it, with the sub-plot of the Italian Resistance.”

Watson said drama is at every turn during the musical.

“The first crisis they face is when the London police are removing Italians from businesses, cafes…” he revealed.

“There’s the drama of separation and loyalty.”

Starring as Mimma is Mirusia Louwerse, who has spent the past decade as the star soprano for internationally-renowned violinist and conductor Andre Rieu.

Opera Australia peformer Holly Meegan will play Sarah Parker and Canadian-American soprano Suzanne Kompass will star as Ada Marini.

Watson is still taking in the fact that so many big names in the opera world are performing his musical.

“It’s really huge,” he grinned.

“And quite overwhelming; I’m fulfilling a dream.

“From it being just Ron and I to people who are calling themselves the Mimma family, it’s fantastic.”

Watson said Mimma “breaks the mould” of modern musicals and is keen to see how people react.

“It’s about events that have happened in our time and looks at a friendship between two women, which isn’t always seen,” he said.

“It approaches the issue of humanity and I hope people feel…one person described it as ‘validated in goodness’ and I really like that.

“I hope people enjoy seeing a really crucial time in our history.”

Watson’s ultimate goal is to see Mimma tour Australia and one day, perform on the stages of New York City’s Broadway and London’s West End.

“I do think it has that potential,” he said.

“And I already have two sequels in my head!”

Mimma is on now at Perth’s Regal Theatre and will play until April 21.

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Ireland acts out

LIFE as an actor isn’t always glitz and glamour and red carpets.

Sometimes actors find themselves learning new languages, battling extreme climates of locations and working around the clock to get the perfect shot.

Luckily for ABC’s children television series Itch actor Samuel Ireland, his time spent in front of the camera in Albany was relatively cruisy.

The 21-year-old sat down with The Weekender to give an inside look at what it takes to be a star.

Mr Ireland began life as a “socially inept, very introverted” young man who found passion in drama.

His older sister pursued it in high school and suggested he give it a go.

Always “terrible” at sport, drama gave Mr Ireland a way to embrace his love of stories by “living” inside of them.

“We did Twelfth Night in year 11,” he said.

“At the end, when everyone came out to bow…seeing everyone cheering and knowing it made them happy… that was it for me.

“I wanted to be an actor.”

Mr Ireland attended Curtin University in Perth and pursued theatre studies where he penned his own play about fear and magical realism.

He also nabbed a role in indie film The Light and got a placement at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts.

Last year was when he got his “first big gig”.

“When I saw the Itch auditions, I thought, ‘this is my childhood,” Mr Ireland said.

Blue Water High, Parallax…kids’ dramas are what Aussies do best.

“So getting that first call back was a wonderful feeling.”

Mr Ireland scored the lead in Itch as Itchingham Lofte, a science-minded teen who discovers a new element and must keep it out of harm’s way.

“To land it was pretty crazy,” he said.

“I got the news just before Christmas and I told my mum and girlfriend first.

“It gave me such a head spin.”

Mr Ireland arrived in Albany a couple of months ago for filming and is leaving today.

He said his days have varied but that he has loved every minute of it.

“I generally get up at about 5.30am or 6am,” Mr Ireland said.

“I have to shave everyday, which sucks, and I go over my lines.

“I’m on set at about 7.30am and have breakfast and then get into costume and hair.

“Then it’s go, go, go.”

Naturally brown-haired, Mr Ireland had to have his hair cut and coloured a particular shade of red for his role as Itch.

It took a couple of tries to get it the perfect shade but fortunately, it didn’t have to be re-coloured too often and therefore didn’t lengthen Mr Ireland’s time in the chair.

“A basic day for me is 10 hours but the longest I’ve done was 13 hours,” he said.

“I felt pretty beat after that.”

In his brief few days off work, Mr Ireland visited The Gap, Emu Point, Middleton Beach, Boston Brewery and Greens Pool.

He’d visited Albany was he was younger and enjoyed reminiscing again.

“We went to Bluff Knoll when I was 12,” Mr Ireland said.

“There was a lot of stairs!

“I don’t think anybody told me just how many there were. ”

Itch is set to air on ABC ME early in 2020.

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Fantasy realm delivers

Christopher Paolini
The Fork, the Witch and the Worm
Penguin Books

THERE is always a moment in the life of a budding literary fiend that can be traced back to where their passion to read comes from.

For me it was the Inheritance Cycle series written by Christopher Paolini.

From the moment I picked up the first book, Eragon, I was sucked into the fantasy realm of Alagaesia that house elves, dwarves, urgals, dragons, werecats and other mysterious creatures ruled over by the evil king Galbatorix.

One of the most vivid memories I can recall is finally meeting Paolini at a signing in Perth for the final book Inheritance in 2011.

With my book clutched in my hands like a lifeline, I timidly walked up to my idol author and as he was signing my book (which I still have proudly sitting on my overstuffed shelves at home), I asked if he would ever write another book about Alagaesia.

“You’ll just have to wait and see,” he said while handing the book back to me with a smile and a wink.

And near on seven years later, the announcement was made that The Fork, the Witch and the Worm would be published.

Of course every giddy feeling a teenager can feel when ‘fangirling’ over their favourite author resurfaced in one simple social media post.

After finally picking up a copy nearly four months after it hit bookshelves, I managed to spend a few days to sit down and immerse myself back into the world of Dragon Riders.

As with the other Paolini books I have devoured in the past, TFTWTW was just as lyrical and vivid in its descriptions of landscapes, the use of inner monologues to develop depth in character and traces of humour were all nostalgically present.

On second glance at the first short story in the book, the layers of Paolini’s story started to fall into place.

With each chapter Paolini paints the picture of a young hero struggling with the weight of responsibility.

And to give advice on what path Eragon should take or to bring him back to earth, a variety of characters present short stories or snippets of the outside world that impart kernels of wisdom reminiscent of Aesop’s Fables.

The issues presented in TFTWTW are much more complex than the average 13-year-old reader may comprehend, with connotations of acceptance of death and love over the madness of revenge and hatred, and the age old David and Goliath-esque battle of dominance between foes.

Younger readers may be enchanted by the tales weaved by Paolini and just read the surface narrative while a more advanced reader may be able to pick away with strands of colour and texture to come away with a more enlightened reading.

My personal favourite part of the novel was straight after an event that rocked Eragon’s confidence as a leader and described the story of Ilgra, who seeks to avenge her father and her people after a dragon ravages her village for years.

The simplicity in language that represents the urgal language and culture is offset by the depth of pain, anguish and pure anger at her situation that leaves you breathless after every page.

The one minuscule complaint I could make about the book, and it really is small, is that it finishes too abruptly.

The last book in the Inheritance series sat at 860 pages, which was the fattest out of the four, while TFTWTW was a total of 288 pages.

As every good fantasy writer does, there was one hell of a cliffhanger and in the spirit of being spoiler-free, I won’t mention it.

However, the abruptness in which Paolini finishes the book is like your mum ripping the doona off you in the middle of winter to get ready for school.

Cold, disorientating and a bit annoying.

The transition of tale to afterword is not as seamless as he has written in the past and makes me wonder if there was more story to tell that didn’t make the editor’s cut.

Regardless of that small complaint, as ever, I loved the book.

As the elves say during the series, atra du evarinya ono varda.

May the stars watch over you.

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Artist breezes in

HARNESSING the wind’s strength and direction is how Melbourne artist Cameron Robbins creates his work.

He’s aimed to inspire school students to also follow abstract creative techniques whilst he’s been in Albany for the past week.

Robbins has spent several days working with Great Southern Grammar art students and teaching them different ways of drawing.

The main inspiration has been his installing of a wind-powered drawing instrument that transcribes the weather onto paper.

The instrument connects a wind turbine and weathervane to a pencil via intricate engineering that Robbins has been perfecting for more than 20 years.

The end result is a translation of wind direction and speed via a series of lines, shading and shapes.

“It’s about being non-objective,” Robbins said.

“I got the students to use fishing rods and golf clubs, to create lines of energy.

“It’s something completely different.”

Robbins built his first wind-powered drawing instrument in Melbourne in 1992.

The idea stemmed from wanting to draw different parts of the south coast of Australia and work with nature.

“It’s got a lot more finesse now,” Robbins said about the instrument.

“The engineering has gone up several levels and I use A-grade marine materials.

“I think the strongest wind it has catered for is about 90kph.

“That was pretty intense.”

The end result of this machine’s efforts – a series of artworks – is now on display at the Albany Entertainment Centre and will be until March 9.

Robbins will be onsite around lunchtime everyday during the exhibition to showcase the work and explain the wind instrument to visitors from the centre’s exterior deck.

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Neill stands up

ALBANY is more than a holiday destination for Fremantle photographer Dale Neill.

The shutterbug turned to the south coast town for refuge after being struck by serious illness 34 years ago.

He told The Weekender that visiting Albany on a regular basis was a “turning point” in his health, so he looked forward to returning in March to lead a series of workshops and to exhibit pieces from the Fremantle International Portrait Prize – a competition he created after regaining his passion for photography with visits to Albany.

“Because I’d been sick, I hadn’t worked for a year,” Neill said.

“I was really down in the dumps…I hadn’t taken a single photo in all that time.

“So, I decided Albany was going to be my recovery place, where I’d start taking photos again.”

Neill drove down to Albany once a month for 12 months and stayed to take photos for three or four days.

He said “the stars aligned” in 1986 while he was hosting his Contre Jour exhibition in Albany’s Lesser Hall.

“One of the local TV people came in to interview a pianist, but he was a no-show,” Neill recalled.

“So, I asked the crew if they would like to interview me instead, because I had an exhibition going.

“That became my most successful exhibition; I sold every photo.”

Neill said he focused on rural scenes around Albany, making sure “Albany was the base, and everything radiated from that”.

One particular shot sold beyond his expectations and is still in demand today.

“My two favourite photos would have to be one from the side of Mount Clarence looking towards the islands, and the other I took in the Stirlings in 1985 or 1986,” he said.

“I had this Pentax 6×7 and it was really clunky.

“I took one shot… clunk…and all of these sheep in front of me turned around.

“So I took another… clunk…and that photo sold and sold and sold.”

Neill said this photo, and 23 others he took around Albany, were a metaphor for his battle with illness.

“I was shooting directly into light,” he said.

“It was like a metaphor; I was so sick, but I still got up at 3am to get those sunrises at Mt Clarence.”

After regaining his mojo in Albany, Neill returned to Fremantle and later created the Fremantle International Portrait Prize in 2009.

He plans to bring the best pieces from the 2017 prize for a month-long exhibition at the Museum of the Great Southern from March 5.

Neill will also host a series of workshops at Vancouver Arts Centre across the March long weekend.

“On the Friday, I’ll be teaching Practical Photography, which is an intermediate course,” he said.

“On Saturday, it will be Travel and Street Photography and Shadows and Silhouettes.

“Then, we’ll look at Angles and Angels – Exploring Low Light Photography, Introduction to Fine Art Photography, and Critique of Images on Sunday.”

Bookings for the workshop can be made via Eventbrite and more information can be obtained by contacting Vancouver Arts Centre.


Photo: Johannes Reinhart

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Anzac butterfly story emerges

ANZAC-inspired arts installations keep rolling out in Albany, with a new exhibition now planned to tell the story of how two Australian generals and their troops saved the world’s best butterfly collection from almost certain destruction.

The Weekender can reveal that the Butterflies of Corbie exhibition is planned to emerge from its chrysalis at Mount Adelaide on November 1.

The exhibition, subject to a $20,000 funding application to the Federal Government, is slated to tell how at the French village of Corbie Eugene Boullet amassed the finest known butterfly collection in the world.

In April 1918, the collection faced devastation during some of the most pivotal battles of World War One.

But Australian commander Brigadier General Harold ‘Pompey’ Elliott – passionate and headstrong but facing his own personal battles – became the collection’s unlikely saviour.

A City of Albany document seen by The Weekender explains that Lieutenant General Sir J.J. Talbot Hobbs and his division also helped save the collection.

The planned exhibition consists of letters and diaries, watercolours of the butterflies, and a selection of the butterflies themselves.

“These small objects – the butterflies and the letters – have a large story to tell about the strong and enduring relationship between the people of Australia and France and our collective history,” the City document promises.

The exhibition, planned to run until Anzac Day 2020, is expected to feature a short film documenting the story of Monsieur Boullet’s butterflies.

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More filming

A VACANT building on Albany’s Stead Road has been transformed into a production office for London film production company Komixx Entertainment.

On Tuesday, cast and crew were at the building for a read-through of the 10-part live-action children series Itch.

They have occupied the building since early this month.

Itch, written for print by UK author and radio presenter Simon Mayo, follows the story of science-obsessed Itchingham Lofte who discovers a new element in the periodic table and is forced to go on the run to protect it.

The project was awarded a share of $7.5 million from Screen Australia last Monday.

Itch will air in 10 24-minute episodes.

On the crew list is producers Amanda Morrison and Tania Chambers, and writers Ron Elliot, Heather Wilson, Roger Monk, Jessica Brookman and Craig Irvin.

The announcement of Itch being filmed in the South Coast follows Komixx Entertainment opening an office in Perth in June 2017.

Komixx Entertainment is responsible for films such as The Kissing Booth, which premiered on Netflix last year.

The Stead Road building occupied by the film production company is the same that was used by Cyan Films for the production of H is for Happiness, which was shot around Albany late last year.

The production of Itch follows a run of screen productions that have set up in the Great Southern including the film adaptation of author Tim Winton’s book Breath and Rams, which was based in Mount Barker and starred Michael Caton and Sam Neill.

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