A want to get back to a slower way of taking photographs, away from the near-endless shots available on digital cameras, and smartphones, and a little bit of inspiration from the likes of Mapplethorpe too, a restored Polaroid camera (Autofocus 600) was a gift for Christmas 2020.
I am re-learning about light and distance, and again being very selective with the eight photos available in each film pack.
It wasn’t a leatherman, a naked man, or a man in a polyester suit that was the subject Robert Mapplethorpe’s first photograph — it was his oldest sister Nancy posing elegantly outside the family home in Floral Park, New York. Many more women would sit for Mapplethorpe — a subject that would not be his most infamous but arguably the most enduring of his career.
Mapplethorpe’s exceptional self-portraits, statue-like male nudes, erotic orchids, and the notorious ‘X Portfolio’ are what garner much of the art world’s attention but they aren’t the whole Mapplethorpe photographic story. That story must include women.
Mapplethorpe was a boy when he took those pictures of his sister, then soon after he put down the camera. At just 16 years of age he went to study fine arts at the Pratt Institute, focussing on drawing, painting, collage, and various drugs. A self-confessed art snob, he believed photography to be a lesser art form.
Yet the boy who dismissed photography would become the man who helped transform it from art’s late arrival to the respected medium it is today. Mapplethorpe’s photographs are among the most recognised and wanted in the art world, featuring some of the most talented and commanding women of his era.
I recently wrote an essay, ‘A home among the peach trees’ about refugee settlement in regional Australia and I wrote it for two reasons. One was because while I care and am vocal about the cruelty with which Australia treats refugees, especially those in offshore detention, I also believe not enough time is spent discussing solutions. The other reason was because I genuinely believe that refugees and regional Australia can help each other to have a brighter future.
I am fortunate that today Right Now Magazine, the ‘independent, volunteer-run, not-for-profit media organisation focused on human rights issues in Australia’ has published my essay. While I am of course happy to have my words sitting alongside great writers, experts and thinkers, I am mostly pleased that one idea for a solution and way forward can be shared around a little more.
If driving into the regional Victorian city of Shepparton from the east, it is difficult to find a route that doesn’t take you through a corridor of fruit orchards. Resembling a low-rise forest, the fruit trees stand in perfect rows, their branches reaching out into the country air, changing as they adapt to the seasons. Woody and skeletal in winter, wearing glamorous coats of blossom in spring, and shading the ground below with large emerald-green leaves in summer before shedding these in the autumn. Apple trees, pear trees, apricot trees and peach trees. While the exact origin of these plants has been debated in the past, they aren’t native to Australia. They aren’t from here.
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It was a weekend in Launceston, Tasmania, with friends, although the main adventures took place in the surrounds. For some reason I kept seeing scenes and subjects that reminded me of Georgia O’Keeffe – the barns, the flowers. Maybe it was, after a crazy week of world news, as simple as feeling inspiration from an artist who never painted a person but instead focussed on the interestingness in the world without them.
Dutch-style barns, free-range chooks, flowers in a walled garden, and architecture built by convicts (or slaves as they are known elsewhere). These are some of my photos from another nourishing weekend in Launceston.
Each day, a few times a day, trains depart from Bergen heading to Oslo, and Oslo heading to Bergen, on what is said to be one of the most scenic train routes in the world. In the space of about 7 hours, you can see Winter-snow mountains, lush green birch forests, and Summer-kissed fields, all in one journey. And all from the window of your train. There are a few stops along the way in small villages, but mostly is like watching a nature film outside your train carriage, with a few hikers to wave back to along the way.
Art galleries and museums themselves can be subjects of art, and why not. In fact, they are probably some of the most interesting buildings, and places to people watch, in the world. All photos below taken in Europe 2016.
In 2011 I did a photography project through the website Flickr called the ‘365 Project‘ where I had to take and share a photo a day for 365 days. My intention in doing the project was to make photography part of my everyday routine again (like it was when I was a teenager), work my creative muscles, and become more aware of the world around me. Some days were inspiring, and I was excited by and proud of the photographs I took. Other days, I was unmotivated, and took photos that I wouldn’t ever want in a frame on my wall; and to be honest, I didn’t even like adding to the project. Overall, it was a fun experience, and did get me back into taking photos more regularly again.
In April this year I’d spent quite a bit of time reflecting on that project, and started thinking about doing something similar again but in a way that wouldn’t be as onerous, and where I could share photos that I’d always be happy with. I thought about taking a sharing a photograph a week for each week of Winter, a time that can be tempting to cocoon away. The problem with wanting to do a Winter project in April, is it meant waiting another month, and I was ready to start. So I decided to focus on the 18 weeks of Winter + May, sharing at least one photo each week but no more than three, taken during the week ending Sunday. The photos aren’t meant to have a particular theme but perhaps looking back on them, they will. We’ll see.
I’ve called the project May Winter Appear, to reference the timeframe I am taking the photos in, and give a nod to that now old-fashioned ritual of hovering over a tray of developer in a darkroom waiting for an image to appear on the photographic paper. The title also touches on how at the time of thinking about doing the project, the weather in Melbourne was unseasonably warm due to the changing climate, and I wondered if like Autumn, Winter may be hesitant to show itself.
Here are the photographs so far (starting with the most recent week):
There were meant to be 700,000 locals in Nizwa, and I couldn’t see even one of them. Now I knew what it felt like being in a ghost town. A town where the sun, and the hairdryer-like heat drove the humans indoors. I sat on the gun carriage of an old canon, in front of the door to the fort. The door was heavy, wooden, with some floral carvings, and giant nail heads that looks like blackened coins. I sat clinging to the shade, and my camera, and did not want to move. It is fair to say I felt anxious at the thought. I’d long been a shadehunter in my skin-cancer-susceptible Australia but this was more intense. It was so hot that afternoon in Nizwa that I just wanted to sit at that door until the sky turned to blue ink and the moon came up.
Walking the streets here in this old capital city was meant to be filled with adventure, exotic, romantic even. It wasn’t meant to be a game of walking in the grey shade to avoid sun that was bouncing off the biscuit-coloured walls. It wasn’t meant to be 43-degree heat. I wondered if locals were in their houses, getting up from reclining with a cup of coffee and bowl of dates, peeking out from behind shutters at us, and quietly smiling and chuckling. I just hoped they didn’t think us mad dogs or Englishmen.
Behind me, a fort built in the 1600s. To my right, there was a bicycle leaning against the wall – a sign of life. Someone had to have put it there. Someone had to use it to sail the streets of this ghost town. In the other direction, the edge of the souk and dozens of earthenware water jugs for sale, displayed on what looked like large hatstands, the jugs like dangly earrings.
Why did I wear black? Because I thought it would be practical, and not show up any grottiness collected from travelling in this dry and dusty world. I was wearing a long skirt that covered my legs – I’d read the guide books – I knew how not to offend. My blonde hair might look like a rare bird in these Arabic streets, but my pale legs would not.
I was safe and happy in the shade. My stomach was starting to talk. It had been a long time since that boiled-egg-and-hummus breakfast at the hotel in Muscat. I’d have to leave the shade to eat. “Come on” my travelling companions said. “Ok” I said after a deep breath of hot, dry air. “But we find somewhere to eat by car – not walking – and we don’t turn the air-conditioner off”. I’d purchased green air miles, or whatever they are called now. I’d bury my environmental guilt in the bottom of the suitcase for now.
After driving around the Nizwa looking for an open shop that looked to serve food, and one companion explaining, as he navigated the car, the conventions of not touching women before prayer, we found somewhere. It was not near the other shops, and was close to where the goats are sold at market as they have been for hundreds of years. It was open, there was a carpark out the front, and I could see air-conditioning units attached to the building.
Walking into that restaurant – that 80s-interior but oh-so-clean restaurant – was the closest I experienced to finding an oasis that holiday. It was air-conditioned, to the extreme, and I could sit on the floor with cushions, take my shoes off to wriggle my toes that had grown chubbier in the heat.
We sat quietly to begin – it was like our bodies needed to mediate and reboot. We were in a ‘family’ room – a giant dining cubicle with walls but no ceiling– because we were a trio of two women, and one man. Next door we could hear children and parents talking in Arabic, while we spoke in English, with Pakistan, Dutch-Romanian, and Australian accents. We talked about what we would do later. We talked about never leaving our air-conditioned private dining room. In truth, we knew the temperature would barely drop in the evening. The door to the room opened, in walked a smiling man with a tray the size of a hula-hoop. We shuffled back towards the walls to make room, and the man put the tray down in the middle of us, like how a UFO lands in the movies. On the silver tray were small plates of olives, hummus, bread, tomato salad, lamb. Food to share.
Eat slowly, I thought, for when it is finished, the game of walking in the grey must begin again. But I wouldn’t have wanted to be anywhere else.
Illustrator. Award-winner. Making the world more interesting.
Lucasz Dziadkiewicz is a man of many creative talents, comfortable with brushes, a camera or guitar in hand. He also recently won the Melbourne Lord Mayor’s prize for creative writing with an illustrated story.
You are an illustrator – tell us a bit about your work:
I am an illustrator, graphic designer, photographer, animator, musician and writer. But of all the creative things I do in I still think of myself as an illustrator first. Graphic design pays the bills at the moment. I like it but I don’t love it.
What got you interested in drawing and illustration?
As far back as I can remember I have loved drawing. I think most little kids draw, mucking around with crayons and butcher’s paper. From there I just kept drawing. I’ve always be drawn to (pun intended!) illustrations and line drawings in particular.
I always loved comic strips. I still remember getting my first Footrot Flats book and taking it to show and tell! It was not interesting. I would corner people to show them Peanuts strips and read them out while pointing at the pictures. That was definitely good fun for everyone involved. I would copy Snoopy and Snake Tales, trace them and make my own. Then as I grew up I graduated into drawing X-wings and Ninja Turtles.
Last year you won the City of Melbourne Lord Mayor’s Creative Writing Award for an illustrated story – can you tell us about that?
A friend of mine told me about the competition about a month before the closing date. The competition has five different categories including short story, poetry and graphic short. I had a fairly new idea bouncing around my head and thought it could work as a short comic. I’m not good at thinking of short stories – usually an idea keeps growing into some impossible epic narrative.
So I felt lucky that I had something to begin with. But it was just a vague concept at that point. It came from a loose idea of Beethoven and a story of Sibelius retreating to the woods to compose a symphony. That location of the cabin on the edge of the woods near a small town in the mountains of Europe was quite appealing to me and that’s where the story started and I knew what my opening panel would be.
Once I had worked out the story, thumb-nailed it and designed the characters I had about three weeks left to draw it all. I was determined to get it done and hand it in. I didn’t know if I’d make the deadline and the stress was not fun. But I handed it in with about 40 minutes to spare. It’s a bit rough around some of the edges, so to speak, but I was just happy to get something finished to be honest.
They say you should write about what you know. So it’s a story about a being a grumpy old man dealing with an annoying customer.
Do you have a favourite ‘drawing’ or interesting story behind a drawing you can share?
I was visiting relatives in Poland a few years ago. We were heading out to the back veranda for lunch and on the wall was a framed illustration, a portrait of a young woman. I asked about it and they told me it was my father’s aunt Ola. Ciocia, (that’s Polish for Aunty – pronounced chotcha) Ola was there and after lunch I asked if I could do a sketch of her. She felt that she didn’t look good and that she was too old (she was 92), but she sat still for me while did a quick 20 min sketch. I think I captured her pretty well. I like the light I got in her eyes. I kept the original for myself and sent a copy back to my relatives once I was back in Australia. Ola passed away a few months later. I hope it gave her some joy. I like to think of the two portraits of her sitting next to each other. I don’t usually draw portraits and asking if I could do that is definitely something I would normally hesitate in doing. Especially as I then had to draw it in front of about 10 other people and share the result on the spot! But am really glad I asked and that I got to do that.
Also, one time I drew a picture of a frog. And it turned out exactly how I wanted it to. I really nailed that drawing of that frog. S’probably the best thing I’ve ever done in terms of doing what I intended. That’s an old favourite.
What do you find is the biggest challenge when it comes to creativity/drawing/illustration?
For me definitely the biggest challenge is productivity. Getting productive and staying productive. Deadlines help. Like the one I had the Creative Writing Awards. Inspiration isn’t a problem. I get inspired all the time from all sorts of different sources. But inspiration does not get the work done. And getting inspired can be a bit of a trap because it comes from looking at other art or reading about artists or musicians or watching a good show or even from going for a walk. All those things are great and even important, but then you still have to do the actual work. Pencil on paper! Fingers on keys!
My other challenge is confidence and showing something off once it’s finished. Sharing it with other people. It’s very easy to say “Oh that’s not quite finished”, or “That’s not good enough” and then just stick it in a drawer. Which is silly because when I look at other people’s work I just think whether or not it speaks to me. I don’t think that they shouldn’t have shared that. Most of the time someone somewhere will get something out of your sharing. You can’t predict who or what so just do it! Part of my biggest challenge is getting over myself as my harshest judge.
Are there any particular artists that inspire you?
Many, many. Too many to list. I get inspired by illustrators, painters, musicians, writers, podcasters, actors, and comedians. Famous and little known alike. In different genres and from all different time periods. From Beethoven to Radiohead. From to Hergé to this guy I know.
What sort of work or themes is/are your focus this year?
I am working on a graphic novel which is a labour of love. It is about Antarctic explorers a hundred years ago. It’s a massive project and is taking some time. I thought all the white would make it an easier subject to make a comic about. I was wrong. I will be concentrating on that this year.
If there is one person you could sit down and talk with about what you do, who would that be and why?
Um…maybe a publisher?
There’s probably a bunch of successful creative people in different fields I’d like to sit down with but I have no idea what I’d do then. I have been in that situation where I should have a hundred questions for them but then I actually have nothing to say that wouldn’t just leave me sounding like fanboy. I just get awkward and say nothing.
What single biggest thing you would like people to learn, know or understand about what you do, or about art and creativity in general?
I think that sometimes art (and creativity in general) is considered as an indulgence or an unnecessary luxury, or a silly hobby. Like it’s a waste of time or money. Well it’s definitely an indulgence a lot of the time for the creator. But that’s not a bad thing. Without it we would be living in grey box houses, dressed in sack-cloth or something, without the music, movies or books that we love.
I think the biggest thing is that it’s important for mental health whether you are creating or consuming. It really does heal and make the world a more interesting place.
In five words, how does illustrating/drawing/painting make you feel?
Happy, frustrated, happy, frustrated, etc.
You can follow Lucasz on Instagram, his art blog on Tumblr, or Twittter at @LDziadkiewicz (‘I don’t really use this. So if you’d like to be ignored by me on Twitter, follow me’).
:: ‘Not so ordinary’ is a project that shines a light on regular people doing amazing things, making a difference, or just living an interesting life. Please share this story using the social media buttons below and the hashtag #NSOpeople — thank you! ::
While Australia reluctantly eases into Autumn (have you seen the temperatures?), the northern hemisphere is entering Spring. In the media, especially on social media, I keep seeing excitement of lambs lambing, daffodils blooming, and magnolias at Kew Gardens waking. I have a huge soft-spot for Kew Gardens and its magnolias, as wandering under and around the trees heavy with blooms is one of my favourite memories of my time living in London. Here are a few of the photos I took there in 2009.
If you are reading this from London, do try to get along to Kew Gardens see the magnolias, as they are lovely.
A couple of weeks ago I went to a Melbourne Writers festival event called ‘The Influence of ISIS‘. It was presented by the Fifth Estate, the journalism-focussed series hosted by The Wheeler Centre.
With guest Jamie Tarabay, the national security and tech editor from Voctativ, and Sally Neighbour, the executive producer of ABC Australia’s 4 Corners program. Here are some of the interesting points that were discussed:
The ABC won’t send anyone to Syria or Iraq, except of the safest areas, because they (media) are targets – Sally Neighbour
The conflict is not getting covered (by media; as dangerous) so there is shallow, simplistic public debate – Sally Neighbour
Militant groups can’t reach an audience without us (media), ‘we are a great big ATM machine for them – Jamie Tarabay
Beheadings are on of their (ISIL) major recruiting tools. They ask for ideas for executions, create talking points – Sally Neighbour
Having execution delivered by a man with a British accent is powerful (message to the West) – Jamie Tarabay
The orange-haired (Australian) kid is useless to an insurgent group, except for propaganda – Sally Neighbour
You can’t decide it is too dangerous to send your own in, and then rely on or ask people on the ground (unethical) – Sally Neighbour
ISIS has killed very few foreigners, that is not their mission – Sally Neighbour
So much of the explanations are facile. It is too complex for people to be interested in to understand, so the (political) messages are those that are simplistic so they get through (to voters), such as ‘death cult’ – Jamie Tarabay
Look at the region (Turkey, Iran etc), if people wanted to contain and eliminate ISIS they could – Jamie Tarabay
The (Australian) opposition is in lock-step with the government in their politcial interest to be touch and strong – Sally Neighbour
The Obama administration is notorious for cracking down on leaks, making sure their version is the one out there – Jamie Tarabay
(When working in hostile locations) You have to learn how to read a crowd, the first think I was taught was ‘secure your exist’ – Jamie Tarabay
The ‘Bethnal Green Girls’ were recruited to be citizens of a states, not just fighters. A recruitment tool is to have women ‘taking care of’ those Assad is maiming – Jamie Tarabay
The Australian media is better at domestic (political coverage) than international because we are insular – Sally Neighbour
There has been a lot said about refugees in Europe and Australia in the past week (well, more than usual), and rightly so. There are more refugees in the world today than ever before – in fact the UN estimates there are 59 million.
I’ve been sharing a few things on Twitter in the hope of doing my small bit to give some perspective on the problem (especially for Australians who are so far away from the heart of the Syrian and Iraqi crisis). Here are some of those things:
I made some ‘fancy’ diagrams
There have been quite a few politicians and too many journalists who say that Australia has taken 4400 additional Syrian and Iraqi refugees in the past year. This is simply not true. In August 2014 the then Minister Morrison did announce 4400 for Syrians and Iraqis, but this was part of the existing intake, not extra. A very important distinction. So I made this fancy diagram to explain.
Australian politicians (and again, too many journalists) keep on saying Australia is very generous to refugees. I think, at the very least, that claim should be… challenged. For a country as wealthy, spacious, and multicultural as Australia to only have an annual intake of 13750… well I thought it needed a fancy diagram for perspective.
As recently as today, Australian politicians are saying that they have increased the intake:
The bit that is being left out that is that that isn’t until 2018-19; three more years away. So I think it is a bit cheeky, maybe even desperate, to say that I reckon.
Australia is a member of the G20, which makes it one of the biggest economies int he world, and certainly one of the wealthiest in the world. I wondered how it and other countries are at taking in refugees, so made this table.
I then wondered how those numbers look in context compared to other countries (not all, but some). And this is what it looks like.
I tried to explain to Australians how far 170 kilometres is
Having been treated appallingly by Hungary Government in Budapest, the refugees decided to walk to the border of Austria. That is 170 kilometres.
Without even getting into how humiliating would be (these are people fleeing a four and a half year war remember), the physical effort is amazing. It took about 8 hours for many. Men, women, children, wheelchairs, prams and crutches. On a good day, I can’t imagine walking that. But to do it, for example, carrying a baby, keeping an eye on children, in sandals, hungry, and sleep-deprived, in the dark night and rain? Respect.
Straight talker. Community leader. Woman of words.
Sally Davis’s career has seen her add journalist, airline PR, university lecturer, mayor and health-book author to her CV.
You have an interesting career path and CV – tell us a bit about it:
My aim was to become a journalist; at first I was refused a newspaper cadetship (only five were allocated each year) with The Age and The Herald, Melbourne’s afternoon newspaper. So I accepted a place at Monash Uni doing Economics and Politics. After first semester, I heard there was a vacancy on The Herald as a ‘copy girl’, a position that would lead to a cadestship after six months, so I applied again. This time I succeeded.
Many of us were subjected to appalling examples of sexual harassment and bullying that would not be tolerated today.
I enjoyed the experience enormously but it was not easy being a young woman, in such a ‘boys club’ environment like that. Many of us were subjected to appalling examples of sexual harassment and bullying that would not be tolerated today. On reflection, I think the experience shaped me in many ways, as I was not prepared to accept that treatment and fought it all the way. It was also around the genesis of the women’s lib movement led by the likes of Germaine Greer, and that gave me and many others, confidence to cut through all that nonsense. Yet female journalists were still not taken seriously – there were a couple of high-profile examples such as the late Claudia Wright – yet they were vilified.
And after a while, I found it so frustrating, I decided to enter this exciting, (better paid!) field of PR. At this time, the profession was so new, there were no university courses for public relations and these jobs were filled by journalists. I was appointed the first female public relations officer at TAA – the domestic airline that was one half of the duopoly with Ansett. TAA was eventually absorbed by Qantas and sadly, Ansett’s demise is a well documented part of Australia’s aviation history.
My time at TAA fuelled my interest in public relations and it was a very exciting time for Australian airlines and tourism. I joined an all male PR team of former journos who were marvellous colleagues and we were led by a wonderful boss, the late John Tilton.
While at TAA, I became pregnant with my first child, so then established ‘Sally Davis Public Relations’ and TAA was my main client for around 10 years. I began tutoring at RMIT PR course and later joined as a full time lecturer. In 1999, I became involved in local community issues and was elected to City of Stonnington. In 2002, I was elected Mayor.
This experience fostered my fascination with community and stakeholder relations, which tied in well with my PR background. After RMIT, I joined the Australian Electoral Commission as Manager of the Electoral Education Centre, and left in 2009 when the incoming Labor Government decided to close it down.
In 2013, I was invited to sit on a Victorian Government panel, established to review the local government election process. Sadly, the change of government means the report is still sitting on a bookshelf somewhere. Former Liberal MHR, Petro Georgiou was Chair of the Panel, and has a reputation for being an independent, creative thinker. So this was a really stimulating, worthwhile experience and I sincerely hope most of our 55 recommendations are eventually adopted.
Obviously you have a strong writing, communication and community engagement background – but how did this book, your first, on diabetes come about?
In 2009, I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes and several months later, with uterine cancer. The diabetes diagnosis was not really a surprise as I had gestation diabetes with both of my children. I was fortunate that is ‘disappeared’ for nearly 30 years before re-entering my life.
At first, I was in denial, until my oncologist insisted I take the diagnosis seriously, so while I was in hospital, he sent diabetes educators to see me.
I bumped into a former journo/now publisher mate about my diabetes and he said it would make a great book. So he hounded me until I agreed to write a book about my experience.
In doing so, it was the first time I reached the stage of ‘acceptance.’ I dedicated six months research on overseas trends and developments, mainly because the publisher (Michael Wilkinson) sells his books in Europe, UK, USA and Canada.
Writing books and educating people about health is very important – what message do you think isn’t getting out there properly or enough at the moment?
There are too many organisations selling the same message: the Heart Foundation, the Stroke Foundation, Diabetes Australia – so consequently, the message is not reaching the right demographic or psychographic. One organisation should be aiming to connect with Gen Z, one with Gen Y, another with Gen X, and another should target Baby Boomers separately.
And then we should be holding corporate Australia, and government to account! They should be encouraging their employees to exercise during the day, stretch at their work stations, use standing desks – anything to help encourage people to adopt a healthier stance.
How ridiculous that it is accepted practice for smokers to leave their office several times a day to feed their habit – while non-smokers are not granted any extra time. They should be rewarded for not smoking and be encouraged to take up a 30 minute Pilates or stretching class each day. So many employees sit at their desk to eat lunch and might take a 30 minute break from their desk if they think about it.
How ridiculous that it is accepted practice for smokers to leave their office several times a day to feed their habit – while non-smokers are not granted any extra time.
I believe this should be approached in the same way as any educational PR campaign: research the audience and devise ways to reach them and help change their behaviour.
Most people simply don’t understand the ramifications of developing diabetes. With it comes an increased risk of cancer, heart disease, stroke, blindness – and now even Alzheimers, which scientists have dubbed Type 3 diabetes.
More women die from heart disease and stroke than breast cancer – but so many women don’t realise this.
Do you have a favourite or memorable meeting/discussion/experience in writing the book that you can tell us about?
The best part of writing the book was finishing it! It’s the first book I have written and that is a major accomplishment for me. Every journo dreams of writing a book one day, but I didn’t think mine would be about diabetes.
I received a lovely email from a woman in the UK who bought my book at Sainsbury’s. She told me how much it inspired her and thanked me for writing it! That was so rewarding. And there has been encouraging feedback from people who found it easy to read. Best of all, they like my recipes! I have always been a healthy cook, but it is so exciting when people say how much they enjoy preparing my minestrone soup or other recipes.
What is something you have you learned along the way that you wish you knew at the start?
I wished I continued a more active life outside work and family. I did the ‘Jane Fonda’ aerobics classes in the 1980s , but I didn’t continue. I used to play tennis when I was younger but let that go, too.
My research shows that exercise is an integral part of managing so many afflictions we develop as we age. And it is so important for mental health, too. Now I have a better understanding of diabetes, I know that glucose levels are controlled by simple, but regular ‘compound’ exercises with hand weights. Just doing 15-20 minutes of these exercises can make such a difference to fitness levels.
What are you most proud of, or what has been the highlight so far?
As a fairly ambitious person. I sometimes wish I had done more with my career. But I made a choice to fit my profession around my family commitments and I now I am very pleased I did that. Not until you reach a certain age, do you realise what really matters. For me, that is my family, and close friends who have been there for me when I needed them.
Is there anything you have done a bit differently to others that has led to a great success?
I don’t know that it has led to ‘great success’, but I have a reputation for speaking my mind and being an independent thinker. The greatest compliment for me during my time as Mayor was when a commentator referred to me as ‘no nonsense, straight talker.’ That reflects my life really. Some people like it, many don’t! But I take pride in the fact that people know exactly where I stand on an issue. My adage is ‘life is too short to waste people’s time wondering who you are and what you represent.’
If there is one person you could sit down and talk with about this book, who would it be and why?
Dr Margaret Chan, the Director-General of the World Health Organization. I would like to know what the world health community is doing to counter this epidemic of diabetes. How third world countries like India and China have allowed Westernised fast food infiltrate the lives of so many people.
I would implore her to call on governments throughout the world to do more to reach their citizens and educate them about the damage their unhealthy lifestyles is doing to them. I would ask her to insist that government and industry take a stand to help employees improve their lifestyle.
What single thing you would like people to learn, know or understand about health and/or diabetes?
So many people are in denial; like I was. I want people to know that Diabetes is an awful affliction that can lead to heart attacks, stroke, blindness, and kidney failure. It is not just a premature death, it is the impact it has on your quality of life if it’s not properly managed.
In five words, how has writing this book made you feel?
:: ‘Not so ordinary’ is a project that shines a light on regular people doing amazing things, making a difference, or just living a passionate and interesting life. Please share this story using the social media buttons below and the hashtag #NSOpeople — thank you! ::
Last night I was on the ABC Radio National ‘Twitterati’ segment to discuss notable topics that were discussed on Twitter during the week. The interview covered Hillary Clinton, the Woolworths ‘Fresh in Our Memories’ ANZAC campaign, ‘selfish rabble’ protestors, and the NCDFREE public health organisation (The ABC is Australia’s national broadcaster, with television, radio and online news; and not to be confused with the ‘ABC Television Network’ in the U.S.A.).
It was chat with their fantastic host Patricia Karvelas and you can listen to the short eight-minute interview at the ABC website.
Here is something I recently wrote for Genevieve at her website ‘The Wanderbug’ which has lots of information about travel in Australia and abroad. I highly recommend you pop over to her site and take a visit.
(Click on ‘View original’ to see the whole story and all the photos)
Today’s guide to Oman comes from Australian communications expert, photographer & savvy traveller, Amy Feldtmann. You can read Amy’s take on the world around her and check out her photography at her website.
One of the friendliest countries I have ever visited, Oman has been listed on the New York Times ’52 places to go in 2015’. If I only had one day in its capital, Muscat, this is how I would spend it:
After a breakfast where I would indulge in the excellent hummus that would be on offer, I’d head to one of the most important and impressive locations in Muscat: the Grand Sultan Qaboos Mosque. It is only open to tourists for a few of hours, usually 8am to 11am, and you will need to be appropriately dressed (men should not wear shorts, and women needing to cover hair with scarf). Be sure to visit the Islamic…
In late December 2013, Al-Jazeera English journalists Peter Greste (Australian), Mohamed Fahmy (Canadian-Egyptian) and Baher Mohamed (Egyptian) were arrested for doing their jobs. Peter Greste was in an Egyptian prison for 440 days, and I followed coverage of that imprisonment from around day two.
I recall coverage was quiet for a while in Australian media, but for the ABC’s Mark Colvin and Hamish Macdonald tweeting. Most Australians were enjoying their Summer holiday break, or watching Australia play, beat, England in the Boxing Day Test. Peter wasn’t normally based in Egypt – he was only meant to be there a few weeks to cover a colleague’s Christmas break.
Then the story became bigger in Australia. Internationally, it was turbo-boosted by the media machine of Al-Jazeera, and others like the BBC. The media connections may have had a role as to why the men were in prison; the connections were also an advantage in maintaining profile and pressure in relation to the case.
We became familiar with the #FreeAJStaff hashtag, Peter’s brothers Michael and Andrew, and his parents Lois and Juris. We heard from journalist Rena Netjes (Netherlands) who was among 20 journalists facing charges of spreading false news and involvement in alleged terror plot; she had managed to escape Egypt to safety but not the charges.
During the 440 days, I watched each time the white-shirted Greste, Mohamed and Baher were presented to the court – it was usually frustrating, and at times, farcical. But at least we got to see the proceedings. And the media connections meant there was no shortage of international correspondents in the courtroom.
On 23 June 2014, SBS reported, ‘Journalists at the trial say today is the biggest turnout of diplomats and media they have seen so far with at least 150 people present and around 20 cameras’.
At the first #AJTrial verdict there were four Ambassadors – the 23 June courtroom (the thirteenth hearing) had ambassadors from Australia, UK, Netherlands and Latvia present. After that hearing, where the three were each sentenced to seven years in jail, Australia’s then-foreign minister, Julie Bishop, said Australia was shocked at the verdict.
The then-Prime Minister Tony Abbott spoke direct to Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi about the trial – not a common occurrence for a single court case. For the #AJRetrial verdict there was Amal Clooney. In a time of fast new cycles, this story didn’t fade.
Today marks two years that Australian academic Kylie Moore-Gilbert has been in prison in Iran. I often think of the differences in the cases, and how so often in this scenarios, good or bad luck, and bigger circumstances, play a role.
We never saw Kylie’s court trial televised on a global news network – we didn’t get to see how she was coping. While university institutions and colleagues campaign on social media (@FreeKylieMG) and occasional prime-time television, her case does not have the profile; although she too was arrested for just doing her job.
Dr Kylie Moore-Gilbert, a lecturer in Middle Eastern studies at the University of Melbourne, was arrested in September 2018 at Tehran airport as she was leaving Iran after attending an academic conference. She was subsequently tried and sentenced to 10 years in prison for espionage, charges rejected by Australia as baseless.
Today Kylie’s friends, family and supporters have organised virtual run to raise awareness and acknowledge her choice of activity during her precious exercise time in prison. You can join using #WeRunWithKylie.
As we know, the three Al-Jazeera English journalists were freed. First Peter, and then Mohamed and Baher. Peter tweeted this photo of him from the beach after his release. Here’s hoping we get to see Kylie celebrating on a beach, or running freely, somewhere soon.
“Every Sunday, from 2pm until 5pm, people gather in Sydney’s beautiful Domain park to discuss matters. The ones standing on ladders are ‘the speakers’, and they believe it’s their job to educate their ‘grasshoppers’ or ‘groundlings’. The ones sitting in chairs believe it’s their job to point out why the speaker is wrong, and to heckle. Both parties are kept busy”.
The National Gallery of Victoria’s Triennial exhibition ended a month ago, in March. It is never to late to look back on an exhibition. It was big, it was rich, it was global, and, it was for the people; free.