Lives of the Artists


Giorgio Vasari, an Italian Renaissance era artist and historian, is remembered today mostly for his “Lives of the Artists” (the full title is actually: “Le Vite de’ più eccellenti pittori, scultori, ed architettori” -“Lives of the Most Eminent Painters, Sculptors and Architects.”) He’s considered to have more or less invented art history through biography (though he had a bit of a prejudice towards Florence, and included a lot of gossip). But Vasari is so well-known, that I wondered what to expect when I picked up a book called “Lives of the Artists” which was published in 2008. I found that the title is very clever — as well as a nod to Vasari, it takes quite seriously the proposition that an artists’ approach to living, his or her ‘lifestyle’, is integral to what is being made. Continue reading

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Victorian Opera: The Flying Dutchman review

‘Man in Chair’ blogger was at opening night of Wagner-Goes-3D’ presented by Victorian Opera, as was I. His review reblogged here says it all. I’m with him all the way – except that Senta’s dress was rather awful, and I thought the Dutchman’s singing faded a bit towards the end. But I loved to see a few local hipsters amongst the audience!
Bravo to VO and that great young orchestra!

Simon Parris: Man in Chair

Returning opera to the mighty Palais Theatre, Victorian Opera match the spectacle of 3D animation with the quality of singing as Wagner’s The Flying Dutchman drops anchor in Port Phillip Bay.

The Flying Dutchman, Victorian Opera, Oskar Hillebrandt, Warwick Fyfe, Carlos E Barcenas

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Of Mice and Men

James Franco as George and Chris O'Dowd as Lennie in John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men, directed by Anna D. Shapiro, at the Longacre Theatre. (© Richard Phibbs) (source)

James Franco as George and Chris O’Dowd as Lennie in John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men, directed by Anna D. Shapiro, at the Longacre Theatre.  (© Richard Phibbs) (source)

In July 2014 the John Steinbeck play “Of Mice and Men” played at the Longacre Theatre on Broadway in New York City. It starred James Franco as ‘George’ and the Irish actor Chris O’Dowd as ‘Lenny’, and was nominated for two Tony Awards. I didn’t see the show on Broadway, but this week I did see it on the big screen, filmed and distributed by the UK National Theatre Live — their first Broadway show filming. While I’d still prefer the live experience, I was grateful for the opportunity to see this famous play, exceptionally well acted. Continue reading

Parliamentary Storms


The Australian Parliament House, Canberra

It’s been stormy few days in the Australian federal parliament, with the Prime Minister being subjected to a call for a party-room spill, his colleagues apparently as unhappy with his performance as many of the voting public. But this blog won’t go there. However, here’s a few views of Canberra’s Parliament House under stormy skies, in keeping with what’s been happening within. Continue reading


Amongst the art, architecture, travel, opera and adventures, I like nothing more than to find a curious nugget of history that starts me thinking. Tucked into a short passageway in Parliament House in Canberra is an old painted banner in a frame. It’s a bit worn and faded, and its subject matter a little obscure – until its context is revealed.

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