Getting Out of Your Own Way-Workshop Review


Suzie's Typewriter


By Celeste Hawkins


You have to tell the truth as a writer. You have to be accepting of who you are and where you are.

These two statements came away with me from a workshop run by Melbourne based, British born author Jon Bauer, at The Wheeler Centre.

It was highly engaging, insightful and not one of your ‘how to write’ style workshops. We we were encouraged to feel vulnerable and there was a general acceptance that we would be ‘un-masking’ ourselves in this space.We spent time looking at all the varied obstacles and hurdles, or ‘what gets in the way’, when trying to write. During this interactive forum, one of the tasks we were given was to write something ‘really shit’. The atmosphere in the room as we read each other our most dreadful works, was far more exciting and jovial than the task of reading our ‘best ever’ work. It became very clear that the act of writing, when not forced, or coerced, can seem almost effortless. Many participants remarked they preferred their dreadful pieces! Jon has a strong understanding of the important role that the sub conscious mind plays in the act of writing. He also drove home the beautiful truth about being authentic as a writer: tell the truth.

Jon Bauer is the author of Rocks in the Belly

Melissa Deerson-Testing new ground this weekend

Melissa Deerson


As part of her Garden City art residency at Testing Grounds, Melissa Deerson is holding a Garden Encouragement event on Saturday April 12. Testing Grounds is a plot of land in the middle of the city that has been abandoned for a long time and is only just beginning to get some love. Come down, channel your inner druid/biodynamician/corn god convert and create and bury your own magical talismans to nourish the gardens and the grounds.

Participants will be using materials from the Testing Grounds garden, as well more up-to-date charms sweeping the health-loving world – bee pollen, coconuts, seaweed, sugar-free mints and multivitamins, to name a few. Think biodynamics’ cow horns full of manure, but updated for a modern lifestyle.

Arrive between 12pm and 5pm, grab a drink at the bar and crank up your mystical powers till 11.

Testing Grounds – 1-23 City Road, Southbank.


Melissa Deerson is continuing her exploration of Melbourne’s unloved and out-of-the-way spaces. Fresh from her analysis of the flora and fauna of the barren Docklands precinct, she has turned her attention to Testing Grounds, a bare patch of earth being revitalised in the heart of the city. For three weeks, Melissa will use the land as a base to reflect on the role plants and gardens play in urban areas.

In addition to her Garden Encouragement event, she will undertake a number of other activities on site:

On Tuesday April 15, Melissa will camp out overnight in Testing Grounds. Recording wind direction, weather and visible stars, collecting and eating edible plants, noting flora and fauna on-site, making sketches and maps and conducting sound recordings, she will conduct what she calls a ‘stationary expedition’ in a homage to plant collectors and explorers of the past and today.

The week of the 21st – 27th of April will see Testing Grounds lit up each night with a series of Deerson’s tongue-in-cheek ‘how to’ gardening videos. Sit amongst the fruit trees and nasturtiums and watch projections of ad-hoc tools, weeds and improbable flowers dancing in a lurid green world. 7-9pm, Monday to Sunday.

The residency concludes with a closing event on Sunday April 27. Come down for a drink and see the fruits of Melissa’s work during the period in a one-off exhibition. 6-9pm.

Melissa will be in the Testing Grounds studio from 12-5 Friday to Tuesday, 7-27 of April. Visits, cuttings and gardening tips welcome. 

Melissa will maintain a blog during the period detailing her research and the progress of her work –

Julie Shiels- Book Launch and Exhibition


You may recall the work of Julie Shiels here. A public artist and lecturer, Shiels has been prominent in her ongoing role of documenting abandoned inner city suburban objects. She has preserved moments in time without any alterations, expect for the addition of text.

I like my time

Julie Shiels works primarily in sculpture and photography and combines text, hard rubbish and discards to create temporary interventions and gallery based installations. Her practice is grounded in working with whatever comes to hand and exploiting chance encounters with her found materials (objects or resources). Shiels’ transformation of these materials explore ideas of abandonment, redemption, banality and impermanence against a backdrop of global mass production and consumption.

As long as it lasts


Read more below:

A new book, ‘As Long As It Lasts’, is a collection of photographs that record Julie Sheils’ ephemeral text interventions on urban waste but have become a body of work in their own right. For the last nine years Shiels has transformed hundreds of abandoned objects on local streets with stencils of quotations and truisms sourced from the public domain.

Over the years, the focus of the project has repeatedly changed. In the early days the work was about gentrification and the tensions that occur as inner city suburbs become both more desirable and simultaneously homogeneous. As the work has evolved it has become less about the social and more concerned with impermanence and the passing of time.

Chance is a consistent player in this project and is reflected in the photographs. While these images sit uncomfortably within the tradition of the choreographed photograph, Shiels exploits this tension. She does not move furniture to get a better location or photo and she always shoots the image immediately after the stencil has been completed. Consequently these photographs consistently reproduce the prevailing light and weather conditions – factors beyond her control. The images, like the texts stencilled on the objects, reflect the banality and uncertainty of everyday life.

Heide Museum of Modern Art Director Jason Smith will launch

As Long As It Lasts: Launch of Julie Shiels ’ exhibition and book at

6.00 for 6.30pm, Wednesday 23 April: The Gallery, St Kilda Town Hall


Catch up-Mulga


I feel privileged to not only be able to have an insight into how all kinds of artists create, but spy a little on their progress as well. I guess that’s the delightful thing about the digital landscape. One can deliver these little ‘journaled journeys’ in a instant.

So for this re-cap, I’m bit further afield …from Sydney.

Regular readers may recall reading here about the art of Mulga back around this time  in 2012.

Otis the OwlOtis the Owl,Mulga, 2014

Having recently quit his dull finance job after many years of tedium and frustration, Mulga is now in full swing as self confessed ‘artprenueur’. This is a good thing, as last time I visited,his partner told me he could barely sit still for a second. ‘I had been stuck in the same low level finance office job for many years and I did not have the passion for the finance industry to take any steps to climb the ‘ladder’, he says.

One wonders how he survived in the world of finance. But it’s amazing what people can do whilst dreaming of their other ventures. And I’m guessing the finance skills will certainly help in his new business. This is especially true, as he has recently become a proud father for the third time!

Mulga’s charismatic characters have appeared in a myriad of spaces including in print and canvas form, on walls, T-shirts and other paraphernalia. Children’s book writing is certainly on the cards as many of his characters come with a full profile and poem attached.

When asking Mulga about his work and inspiration, he opened with:

“My main source of inspiration is having a job that I love so that I never have to work again because work sucks.”

So for the benefit of aspiring artists out there, how did he make that leap?

“I read many books and biographies with the main idea of being inspired; many that talked about doing something you love for work. So I started a blog and posted my drawings on it, just starting small. The first drawings I posted on the blog were made on post it notes while I sat at work not wanting to do my office job duties. They are still up there. My first post was 6 September 2010.”

Fabio the Fox

Fabio the Fox, Mulga, 2014

Mulga had his first solo art show in February 2012. It has taken him nearly 5 years to transition into being a full time artist and will be interesting to follow his progress as his years of art making roll on.

Read more and see more about the art of Mulga here at: