May 2011


I will now relate the events of my trip to Sydney, with accompanying sketches and the quick cartoons which served as my Twitter and Facebook updates. You can see the sketchbook images at a larger size by clicking on a picture. That will take you to its Flickr page which will give you an option to see it at a larger size. The cartoons are in odd lights because I took them (usually on location) with my phone.

Page 01

First, to start the sketchbook, are some drawings from the “Art in the 21st Century” exhibition at the Gallery of Modern Art in Brisbane. It was an exhibit full of fun – slides from the top floor to the bottom, rooms full of balloons and finches, tables of Lego spires, walls of wishes. At their best, modern art galleries are like carnivals, with hundreds of people looking and making and wondering and having fun.

Page 02

I went down to Sydney for a week, flying mid-week and staying in a backpacker hostel in Kings Cross because that way I can spend more money on coffee and avoid the crushing loneliness that inhabits hotel rooms.

Here I am waiting for the train to the airport in Brisbane. You may recognise the station from such movies as Daybreakers.

Mostly I walked and drank coffee. Sometimes I sat in bookstores and recovered from walking, and drank coffee. The weather was beautiful. I drew birds, and was not attacked by seagulls.

Page 03

I went on my usual personal literary tour – the gardens and Pitt Street for An Older Kind of Magic, and the Rocks for Playing Beattie Bow. I meandered through Darlinghurst and started a story about maps and recursiveness (I finished the first draft today).

I went to the gallery, where it all became very recursive, with sketchers sketching sketchers of sketches.

The Archibald Prize exhibition was on, and I went for the first time ever.

Page 04

I sat in the Domain and watched people sleep on the grass between sports fields, then went to the State Library for more portraits, and then walked through the Rocks and up to Observatory Hill for the Salon de Refusés (the pictures which didn’t get into the Archibald finals). I saw Nick Stathopoulos’ luminous painting of Shaun Tan.

I went to two Sydney Writers Festival sessions with Karen,  saw Pirates of the Caribbean 4 with her and other friends, and was disappointed that it only contained 1 line from the book which ostensibly suggested it. I descended gracefully from bunkbeds without waking German backpackers.

I went to Carriageworks on the Saturday for the markets and drew dogs until Guan and Bec and Karen and Astrid arrived. I carried proteas and marshmallows for Bec, and met Emma Kidd at her stall at the Finders Keepers markets!

Page 05

I spent a lovely afternoon with Karen and Ben and Astrid. Ben kept comparing Astrid’s intelligence levels to various animals, trying to get an indication of her current developmental level.

On Saturday night I went to Bec’s for a fundraising dinner for Hope Street with Bec, Rachel, Karen, Ben, Astrid, Bec’s mother, George, Elsie, Lachlyn and Tamara. I think that was everyone. Dinner was delicious – chicken and couscous and butterscotch sauce and marshmallows and marinated figs.

To be continued… Part 2

The Lost Dalek

For Shaun Tan’s wonderful picture book (and Oscar winning short film!) The Lost Thing. Pen and ink.

Part of the Dalek Game: tanaudel.wordpress.com/2011/05/07/the-dalek-game/

Daleks Aloft

This is the sixth installment in the Dalek Game and is, of course, for Mary Norton’s Borrowers Aloft.

Illustration Friday: Soaked

Poor Ophelia. I do like doing alternate versions of her. This is a biro (ballpoint) sketch which I did on the plane, and coloured and textured in Photoshop when I arrived home this evening.

In other news: I have been away in Sydney for a week on holidays, mostly walking and sketching. I will put up some drawings from the trip soon, as well as more Dalek pictures, and catch up on return comments and visits.

Little Dalek on the Prairie

This is the fifth installment in the Dalek Game.

When I was little, my father would read to me after dinner while my mother did the dishes. One day he asked me what I wanted him to read and I said, “Little Red Riding Hood”. He objected strenuously, I burst into tears and he chose the first book he found on the shelf: Little House in the Big Woods, the first of the ‘little house’ books. My mother objected to his lack of expression and made him take over the dishes, and from then until I went to boarding school in year 11, my mother read out loud every night while my father did the dishes. I grew up in western Queensland, but since we were graziers, doing school by Distance Education, using a wood stove, baking our own bread and so forth, life seemed a lot closer to Laura Ingalls’ than to books being published in the 1980s.

Of course, if we’d had a tv I would have known that what we were really missing was Daleks.

Bridget Jones's Dalek

“I realize it has become too easy to find a diet to fit in with whatever you happen to feel like eating.” – Bridget Jones’s Diary

This is the fourth instalment in the Dalek game. I will now associate Bridget Jones with Frodo Baggins:

Helen Fielding’s Bridget Jones’s Diary is another book that has been unjustly judged by its movie. I did not like the movie – it was relatively faithful, but I found the story seen through that filter bleak and miserly. The book, however, is a much more faithful reworking of the plot (though not the characters and themes) of Pride and Prejudice, and is set during the publicity around the BBC miniseries, and that interaction is conscious and fun. The movie simplified the plot and lost some obvious connections, although in addition to the obvious casting choices it did drop in a few references to (and secondary actors from) the miniseries. Stories in movies get filtered through the director’s viewpoint before they get to me, and it doesn’t always match up with how I read the book – for example, I think the relentlessly dark tone of the movie of Fellowship of the Ring is a perfectly valid approach, but for me that book is full of food and parties, fireworks, baths, songs, random acts of iambic pentameter, and hobbits dancing on tables.

In other news: I am in Sydney in a youth hostel common room watching boys with propeller caps blow up the silver bag in which cask wine comes and discuss Being John Malkovich. When I am back in Brisbane, I will post pictures other than Daleks.

101 Uses for a dead Dalek

I first came up with the picture when trying to come up with a drawing of an “English Country Garden”. My father, however, came up with “101 Uses for a Dead Dalek”, from Simon Bond’s classic 101 Uses for a Dead Cat.

This is the third instalment in the Dalek game.

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