Turner to Monet exhibition – Canberra

Posted by jerry on March 29th, 2008 — Posted in Journal

The Turner to Monet exhibition at the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra is visually sumptuous and well worth a visit.

The exhibition traces the rise of landscape painting from the late 18th to the late 19th centuries into impressionism and post-impressionism.

Monet waterlilies
Monet – Water Lilies – photo: Everard – Musee d’Orsay, Paris

The website is fantastic – if you skip the soap-commercial intro – and get to the Director’s introduction and views of the works themselves. I thought the days of the deep masculine voice-over and images of a young anglo woman stunned by the sublime works of art were long gone. That is not the way to sell an exhibition. The works are quite strong enough to stand as sufficient advert for the display.

Ok rant over – this exhibition is about how an inherited tradition was transformed by the plein air painters to show the landscape in new and dramatic ways – usually with some sense of humanity’s insignificance in the face of nature.

As the exhibition moves into the impressionists you can see how the play of light and colour made the paintings glow as though backlit on screen – it must have been at once amazing and shocking to the 19th century audience, and still has immense power today.

If you get the chance this is an exhibition well worth seeing


Barrett’s steam volkswagon for sale

Posted by jerry on March 27th, 2008 — Posted in Journal, Steam, Technology

The late Peter Barrett’s experimental steam car is up for sale – currently at US$20,000 (my guess would be a UK bid from Jeff Theobold – one of the few who could make real use of this amazing vehicle.
The car uses two cylinders of a converted VW engine and is mounted in a fibreglass kit car. It is reported to have been run at 80mph. The car comes with full design notes – Peter Barrett was a meticulous engineer and every aspect is documented. It would be great to see this car go to someone capable of understanding the system and getting it on the road as a modern turnkey steam car.
Some of Barrett’s notes are here, so you can see the kind of work that has gone into this.

Barrett Steam Car

If it sells for less than US$50,000 the buyer will have quite a bargain – with 20 years of documentation. This is an outstanding opportunity for the right buyer. (why can’t I just win lotto now?).


National Folk Festival Canberra 2008

Posted by jerry on March 24th, 2008 — Posted in Journal, Music

I have returned from the National Folk Festival here in Canberra with a notebook full of tune names and a camera full of images. Great session, great concerts and a fabulous meeting of old friends – some of whom I hadn’t seen in twenty years!

Highlights were:

  • the Vin Garbutt, Genticorum and Trouble in the Kitchen concerts;
  • getting up close and personal with a nyckelharpa
  • playing sessions with Bob McInnes and Scott and Louisa Wise and Chris Duncan
  • my Full Circle concert at the Merry Muse (maybe they’ll hire us next time?)
  • playing a Dave Guscott violin – and buying Octave Violin strings
  • the positive reactions I got to my pochette fiddle; and
  • playing music with such wonderful people and meeting old friends

You can read the full write-up on my other blog – Fourstrings

Full Circle at the Merry Muse, National Folk Festival Canberra 2008


Full Circle Band – St Patrick’s Day 2008

Posted by jerry on March 19th, 2008 — Posted in Journal, Music

Being on a Monday, St Patrick’s Day was potentially going to be quiet, I thought as I packed my fiddle and loaded the van. At least the set-up would be easy – no pushing through the crowds… Okay, so how wrong can you be?

The set-up for the first show was amidst a lunchtime crowd who were in no mood for going back to work. And they were even less inclined to go back to work once we started playing.

St Patricks day - Full Circle at PJ O'Reilly's

We played a long set and then it was time for the Irish dancers who did some great dances to some not altogether traditional Irish tunes!

St Patricks day - Full Circle at PJ O'Reilly's

Then two short sets and we were packing up ready for the next show – at Filthy McFadden’s in Kingston. We had the other sound system pre-set up so I just needed to set up the lights and mic stands and we were ready for another three and a half hours.

St Patricks day - Full Circle at PJ O'Reilly's

By now the crowd was leaving work and arriving in droves – quickly filling the pub to bursting where they stayed until late. We finished up about 9.00pm exhausted after seven hours of playing and singing – but it was a good high energy show and the time fairly flew by.

St Patricks day - Full Circle at Filthy McFadden's

We certainly had a great time and made loads of new friends 🙂

See you all at the National Folk Festival!


Pochette – finished at last

Posted by jerry on March 13th, 2008 — Posted in DIY, Journal, Music, Woodwork

Many of you will have been following my progress on building a pochette or travel fiddle on my other blog
After a total of about ten days work spread over about six weeks I now have a pochette! They said it takes ages to learn how to make a violin – they were right – I must’ve studied violin making for at least three hours, reading the whole book from cover to cover (ok looked at the pictures…).

Bit of work on the bandsaw, the drill press and the angle grinder and there it was…

And quite suddenly the instrument was finished.

As I tightened the strings I could hear that at least some of my wild guesses were right, and I was rewarded with a warm sound almost as loud as a normal violin. In fact it is as loud as my Maggini copy. That was my first surprise. The second was that with the first tuning up the wood moved to accommodate the strain and the strings quickly went out of tune. But after a couple of hours it stabilised and I was rewarded with quite a reasonable sound at good volume. Not too bad for a first attempt!

Here is the instrument that inspired mine

And finally – what does it sound like? I’ll let you be the judge!