Ludovico Einaudi at Sidney Myer Music Bowl, 25 January 2020

Acclaimed Italian composer and pianist Ludovico Einaudi will perform his extraordinary new work, Seven Days Walking, at Arts Centre Melbourne’s Sidney Myer Music Bowl on 25 January, 2020 as part of a national tour. This will be Einaudi’s first ever outdoor performance in Australia and in the Sidney Myer Music Bowl’s 60th anniversary year.

Seven Days Walking is a collection of seven albums released across seven months in 2019, all inspired by Einaudi’s winter walks through the Alps. The Italian maestro, joined by Redi Hasa on cello and Federico Mecozzi on violin and viola, takes audiences on a stroll with him and focuses on several main themes, which then recur in different forms on the albums – seven variations following the same imaginary itinerary. Or the same itinerary, retraced at seven different times.

“I remember that in January 2018 I often went for long walks in the mountains, always following more or less the same trail. It snowed heavily, and my thoughts roamed free inside the storm, where all shapes, stripped bare by the cold, lost their contours and colours. Perhaps that feeling of extreme essence was the origin of this album,’’ says Einaudi.

He said the idea for the Seven Days Walking project structure came to him as he was listening to the recordings of the first sessions.

“Each version seemed to me to have its own personality, with subtleties so distinct from one another that I was unable to choose which I preferred. I associated everything with walking, with the experience of following the same routes over and over, discovering new details each time,’’ says Einaudi.  

“And so in the end I decided to thread them all together in a sort of musical labyrinth, a little like stepping inside the twists and turns of the creative process, to understand how a musical idea can develop in multiple directions, and changing once again at the moment in which it is heard.”  

Einaudi, famed for his cinematic music and immersive experiences,  returns to Australia following sell-out seasons in the UK and Europe, with a live show and repertoire regarded as “a grandiose hymn to nature and to the creative wandering of the mind which it facilitates” (The Upcoming UK) and “lovely, languorous and mesmeric” (The Telegraph).

An artist never shy to break new ground, in 2013 Ludovico Einaudi became the first classical artist to sell more digital downloads than physical copies in the UK and in 2015 he became the first classical composer to have reached the top 15 in the UK album charts in over 23 years.

One of his many career highlights came in 2016, when partnering with Greenpeace to raise awareness around the Arctic crisis, Einaudi performed on a floating platform in the Arctic Ocean, against the backdrop of the Wahlenbergbreen glacier (in Svalbard, Norway). The video of the performance has been viewed more than 11 million times.

He has regularly performed to audiences in extraordinary outdoor arenas including the 22,000 seat Waldbuhne Berlin, the 14,000 seat Verona Arena and the Roman Caracalla Baths.

Arts Centre Melbourne and Arts Projects Australia presents
Ludovico Einaudi
Seven Days Walking

25 January, 2020
Sidney Myer Music Bowl, Arts Centre Melbourne
Bookings at 
artscentremelbourne.com.au or 1300 182 183

Bill Callahan at Hamer Hall, 4 March 2020.

Singer-songwriter and former Smog frontman Bill Callahan and his four-piece band return to Arts Centre Melbourne’s Hamer Hall on 4 March, 2020 with songs from his profound new album Shepherd In a Sheepskin Vest.

Recording under the names Smog and Bill Callahan, he has produced 16 albums with Chicago indie label Drag City and garnered an impressive cult following. His 2013 release Dream River was critically acclaimed, cementing his already solid reputation as a brilliant songwriter and singer.

Shepherd In a Sheepskin Vest, his first record since 2013, continues his accomplished music career with 20 songs that trace different life lines. Major life changes including marriage and the birth of his child have informed the shape of this new album as well as the experience of suddenly finding it harder to find the place that his songs came from.

His songs have always been elusive, landing lightly between character study and autobiography. Characterised by his rich baritone voice, deadpan delivery, and dry observations, Callahan’s music is beautifully intense, understated and profound. But this was more than that. While sorting it all out, he worked on songs every day – which meant that for a while, there were lots of days simply confronting the void, as he measured this new life against the one he’d previously known.

Moving gradually from reflections upon the old days in ‘Ballad of The Hulk’ and ‘Young Icarus’ to the immediacy of the present moment in ‘Watching Me Get Married’ and ‘Son of the Sea’, Callahan traces the different life lines, casually unwinding knotty contradictions and ambiguities with an arresting stillness.

Callahan was last in Australia in 2017 with his guitarist Matt Kinsey for Vivid Festival and an exclusive residency at Melbourne venue, Howler. These intimate shows were a stark contrast to the grandeur of his 2015 visit with Australian performances at Arts Centre Melbourne’s Hamer Hall and Sydney Opera House’s Concert Hall.

Callahan will be supported by special guest Xylouris White, with Georgios Xylouris on Cretan laouto and vocals and Jim White on drum kit. Xylouris has been playing professionally since he was 12-years-old. White is an Australian drummer known for his music in the Dirty Three, Venom P Stinger and now Xylouris White. For the last four years the two men have been performing as Xylouris White, the culmination of 25 years of friendship forged through music and place.

Arts Centre Melbourne presents 
Bill Callahan
Special guest Xylouris White 
4 March, 2020
8pm
Hamer Hall, Arts Centre Melbourne
Bookings at 
artscentremelbourne.com.au or 1300 182 183

The Art & Soul of it

Painting by Richard Morrison

Painting by Richard Morrison with Jim Lee

Text & images by Kerrie Pacholli

St Kilda, considered the jewel of Port Phillip, has always been synonymous with multi-layered cultures, music, theatre, art and artists.

However, along the way St Kilda lost its ability to attract and nurture its rising creatives.

St Kilda was cleaned up. Became gentrified.  The toilet block at the well known indigenous meeting place ‘Koori Park’ was torn down and the the tribe was forced to scatter. Property prices skyrocketed and financial and property investors reigned supreme.  The local council became one of the richest in Melbourne and the well-to-do believed they held the key to St Kilda’s rising prosperity and glory.

Today when one takes a stroll down the sunset side of Fitzroy Street you got to wonder WTF happened?  Bucket loads of taxpayer’s money has been spent on road infrastructure to accommodate the projected masses flooding into St Kilda as a result of the clean up and  gentrification and yes parking, car manoeuvrability  and business has been severely impeded.

Regardless of its unique and beautiful seascape, St Kilda has became known as a bi-law trap, whether on the roads or in the venues where noise is policed to what many consider unreasonable and unrealistic proportions.  Without doubt many performing artists and the businesses that accommodated them have little reason to feel confident in being facilitated to reach full potential.

Singer / songwriter Lisa Wood

Singer / songwriter Lisa Wood part of “Tribute to Women” at St Luja 

A number of years ago local creatives with countercultural persuasions, living and working in St Kilda, started to look at ways to do their bit to save St Kilda’s diverse cultural expression and keep the streets alive and pumping. These guys were not property owners, nor did they have ties to local council or government. They battled along with their personal desires, inspirations and imaginations.  Eventually a move was made to activate their collective visions and The St Kilda Arts Community was formed.

Espy 2017 St Kilda Comedy Club was reborn

Espy and the St Kilda Comedy Club was reborn. Cj Fortuna, Andrew Goodone, Brad Oakes & Dave O’Neil.

Its founding members were remaining creatives working in isolated pockets throughout St Kilda who came together for the greater good. A new collective movement was ignited and the first St Kilda Art Crawl  happened, followed by two more.

The Victorian Minister for the Arts was approached by representatives of this newly formed Arts Community and unquestioningly acknowledged the need and potential on offer and gave his official thumbs up. Local council also followed suit with some practical and moral support.  The Alex Theatre and the not yet refurbished Espy opened its doors and rallied with moral and practical support, Slowly the local business owners, who were somewhat fiscally strained, started to take note although at first non-committal and wary. Many local artists and galleries on the other hand were given renewed enthusiasm, sensing the energy shift and the potential that comes with it.

Simon Barnett, Martin Foley & Mick Pacholli

Simon Barnett, Martin Foley & Mick Pacholli 

A collective vibe throughout the arts community started to rise and ‘art happenings’ in the lesser known art hubs in St Kilda started to be acknowledged and illuminated by the Arts Community for their efforts.

The thing is, artists are workers who deserve a decent income. Their creative and artistic enterprises deserve to be held in high esteem and celebrated.  History shows this is what nourishes community.

Robert Mate Mate performing Theatreworks 1992

Robert Mate Mate performing at Theatreworks 1992 image by Russell Cooper.

To quote Robert Mate Mate, a much loved friend who passed on many years ago…

“Politics breeds combat ability whereas art and culture breeds compatibility.”

The choice is ours.

Psychic Medium John Edward at the Alex Theatre 2019 ‘PODCAST’

 

Lucy Gale & John Edward

Lucy Gale & John Edward

Some years back we had the opportunity to interview world renown Psychic Medium John Edward.

In this informative & compelling  interview John has answered  questions about what it means to be a psychic medium and how he shares this gift with the world.

As a prelude to his forthcoming 2019 tour at the Alex Theatre in St Kilda we decided to publish this interview in three parts in PODCAST format for your listening pleasure.

Sound by Alexander Stuart Black and original music by David Morris

The Evening will begin with Q & A, John will then connect with the other side delivering messages to the audience from loved ones who have crossed over.

VIP ticket holders get seats closest to the stage, they stay for a special Q & A and then meet and greet with a photo of them and John. In addition to that, they will receive a one-year membership to Evolve. (No welcome package is included)

To find out more about John Edwards visit www.johnedward.net

Tour dates:

25, 26 & 27 October

26 & 30 November

1 December 2019

Book at Ticketek

Aleks Vass

Studio E, The Business of the Arts

Aleks Vass

Alek Vass

Studio E is an exciting new program focused on the business of the arts. Through intimate interviews with a broad spectrum of people that make up the vast tapestry of the arts, Studio E will be exploring and sharing with you personal experiences on how to survive and thrive in the business of the arts. Studio E’s first instalment delivers a segment from Alex Theatre pioneer Aleksander Vass OAM. Stay tuned for more…

 

ROBOBOP: ROBERT SCHOLTEN

By ROBERTO CHUTER

“Love is a many splendored thing, until it’s not… in which case it just plain sucks. Whether we fall out of love, experience unrequited love, or lose the love of our life, heartbreak is a pretty universal feeling for most people. I personally love a little heartache, but I do believe that there’s something to be said for what a little heart-wrenching despair can do for the creative mind. I’m not alone in this sentiment. Whether reeling from the discovery of an unfaithful husband, like Frida Kahlo, or capturing the death of a beloved wife on canvas, like Claude Monet, many artists have experienced their greatest artworks after love has been lost.”

This quote made me reflect on an interview I did with artist Robert Scholten (aka Robobop) in front of a live audience at Chapel Off Chapel back in 2014. Scholten had his artwork projected on a large screen and spoke eloquently about his relationship between his art and his marriage breakdown. It was certainly a memorable interview. The packed audience were entranced, moved by Scholten’s tender and creative voice. Audiences talked about the interview for weeks later.

I first met Scholten fleetingly at “Collective Momentum” exhibition at the Carlisle Street ArtSpace in St. Kilda. The first thing that I noticed was this huge smile, white teeth like something out of a toothpaste ad and this shock of black spiky hair. He was surrounded by a crowd of women all vying for his attention, which I am sure thrilled him. Some where along the way we became good friends working on a few projects together – some successful and some not successful.

I was most curious about this prolific artist’s life and career, so I asked:

What did you do before you became an artist?

I’m not sure there was ever a “before,” but here goes. Growing up, I was always known as the shy kid in the corner who’s good at drawing. My job was to fill the other boys school organisers with drawings of sexy women to get them through maths class. After high school, I did a year of biotechnology but was deeply unhappy – and totally obsessed with making art and devouring every art book in the library! With the encouragement of my worldly interior design student and girlfriend at the time, I left to study art and become a real artist. After declaring my ambition to the world, arguing with my family and friends, I was rejected from every art school. It really sucked. So I found myself studying Information Systems instead, which led to technology being a big part of my practice. After that, I decided to go and live in Japan. I was lucky enough to paint theatre backdrops and murals there. Japan really opened my eyes to art, in the sense that I felt art can be everywhere, not just in galleries. I returned to Melbourne, studied graphic design and worked in that field for a while. After a tough period where my marriage broke up and I lost my job, I found myself doing art full time ever since. However, I always felt I was an artist, it’s more like, so it’s hard to say “before”, as I always created art, rented studios.

How did you become an artist?

I like to joke that I’ve tried everything I could to not be an artist. In the end, I just gave up and accepted my fate. There’s an element of truth there. One of the earliest times where I really felt connection as an artist, it was on Hirado, a small Japanese island near Nagasaki. All I had was a sketchbook, markers, ink and cheap book of Van Gogh drawings. For weeks I wandered around the island drawing.

Why do you do the work that you do?

I don’t know how to answer this question. There is no real why, just do. It feels right and it feels good so I do it. I suspect if you’d ask a child the same question, they’d have the same answer. Maybe I remained a child in that sense. If anything, my goal is to be as authentic as possible – this also means knowing and accepting yourself, which is a lifelong journey.

Which people or what inspires you to work in the arts? Your work seems to span all kinds of mediums – film, painting, installation, can you tell us about these different mediums and why you chose to do this?

Art is something I just really love doing. Even the boring parts. From this passion comes a desire to create, improve and learn. So I look a lot. Inspiration is hard to pinpoint as it comes from so many different sources, changing on a regular basis. I love art history, from all across the world and across time. I like organic surfaces with a feeling of time ravaging it. I like nature. I guess the short answer is anything could be inspiring at any given time. Growing up, I didn’t come from an artistic family so a lot of my art exposure came from pop culture and self study in libraries. I met some artists growing up, which provided inspiration and guidance. My friend asked me the other day why I do many different mediums and I joked that I’m a hustler! In the sense that to make money and survive as an artist, I do many different types of jobs. But the flip side of that is that I enjoy the challenge of working in different media. It’s just fun. It keeps you fresh, as I think it’s dangerous to be too comfortable – you risk repetition. Also, today’s world makes it easier for artists to cross between different mediums as there are less barriers – better tech, cheaper equipment and accessible knowledge.

You have suffered a number of personal setbacks. Do you think these are explored subconsciously in your work?

I feel like all our experiences shape us, and as an artist these will definitely come through. Uninvited or not and especially subconsciously. Our individuality will always come through including sadness and despair. But overall I’ve been quite lucky. My setbacks are relatively minor to other people I know and I’ve been able to turn them around into positives. If anything, they’ve made me stronger and gave me greater persistence!

What do you think have been some of the negatives and positives in your work do you think?

My philosophy has always been to keep working. I can look back and connect the dots later. The best thing I can do in my work is to be as honest as possible, which is quite hard to do! Positives and negatives are momentary perceptions, subject to change. Especially from my brain. Some of the things in my work that I hated before, I love now for the reason that I hated them!

What’s been your favourite achievements up to this point?

I don’t really have massive achievements but I’ve been fortunate to work with different communities of people and have a positive impact on them. I’m grateful to do art everyday and I always try to improve. I just take it day by day, though it’s nice to look back at various projects.

What are you currently working on?

I have a few different projects on at the moment – Murals (one involves a peacock, one involved Poseidon, and another involves a girl drinking coffee, Spice Girls magazine illustration, Children’s book illustration, painting and decorating a Dr Seuss city with a primary school, paintings for an upcoming exhibition, corporate art workshop, Illustrations for a printer company, planning some etching prints for an upcoming residency in Chiang Mai and short animation and some short film docos.

If you couldn’t do this anymore, what career path do you think you would have followed Robert?

I don’t know the exact career but I feel like I would like to do something that has a positive effect with people and culture, like helping with poorer communities for needs like education. Or in a completely different direction, maybe a detective, because I like solving puzzles and thinking about peoples’ personal stories and motivations. I would also rather work for myself.

Tell us a funny story or joke that involves your work or life.

One time I had a coffee meeting with a guy I once did a job for. He wanted to discuss a new project. I went to the cafe and sat down with him. He seemed a bit grumpy that day, so I tried to make small talk. He didn’t talk much, so I ordered a coffee and played a bit with his dog and waited for him to finish his breakfast. After 40, 45 minutes, it got awkward – it was supposed to be a work meeting, after all. So I decided to push the subject of the work, and he gave me a blank look. Didn’t know what I was talking about. That’s when I realised. I was supposed to be in the cafe two doors down! I quickly apologised, paid for my coffee and exited with a red face.

Check out Scholten (Robobop)’s amazingly diverse work at: www.robertscholtenartist.com

DEMOLITION DERBY

By ROBERTO CHUTER

As a follow up to my last article, “Threatening A House With A History“, there have been some fearful updates not to mention a potential demolition derby. The developer Nick McKimm’s representative recently requested an adjournment at VCAT to represent amendments for the development of 1-5 Tiuna Grove, Elwood into a monolith of 19 apartments. So, apparently to stay within the guidelines of No. 3 and No. 5’s interim heritage overlay the new plans are to be presented at VCAT later this year.

The plans are as equally horrible as the previous ones. Perhaps worse. The development proposes retaining the facades and the front two rooms of each house demolishing the rest and replacing with smaller footprint double storey additions. There is then a massive building which wraps around the two properties on the left and rear. “This monstrosity has no relationship to the surrounding environment. May as well stick a skyscraper in!” wrote a Tiuna Grove resident and St. Kilda artist Josie Wadelton stated “These Heritage sites must be preserved at all costs.” “Elwood needs to be able to breathe – there is no air left with over-population of apartments and too little regard of local residents. The scale of development utterly inappropriate to neighbourhood,” stated another local.

Now, you would expect that VCAT, the City of Port Phillip and the developers, knowing that there are now 2,300 (and climbing) signatures on the petition against this development, surely there is a realisation that the residents and the wider community do not want this development in their community. Why aren’t they listening? The residents and the community , I repeat, do not want this disaster to occur in their community. It’s a pretty clear message.

“As a resident of Elwood, just a few streets from this development, I’m gobsmacked that such a monolithic, monstrous building that lacks any empathy for neighbourhood character and impact on its surrounding residents, buildings and streets would even be considered…” stated another longtime local with a firm passion.

Is it just all about developers’ profit and greed? If so, haven’t they stuffed their wallets enough already in Elwood. So many beautiful and unique dwellings vanishing virtually overnight.

And what about the historical and cultural significance of these properties, in particular No. 3? Facades will suffice? Really? I think not. Aesthetically, these two beautiful homes are excellent examples of post First World War in the bungalow’s style and are of great value to the Heritage of Elwood and the greater City of Port Phillip and for future generations. Minor changes have occurred to both of these two homes but these are relatively small and reversible, and have not impacted upon their importance and significance whatsoever.

“‘Heritage’ is what you end up with AFTER you save anything that is historic and that is building, streets-cape and trees.” wrote an objectioner.

In particular, the destruction of the rest of the No. 3 dwelling conflicts with the Heritage requirements surely? The former dining room, has always been known as ‘The Red Room” since the early 20s, it has been painted over white during the intervening years but was faithfully restored to its original colour in the mid-90s under the then lessee, well-known playwright Julia Britton. It has now recently been repainted over again (yes, in white), most likely to make it more conservative and/or more saleable to buyers by recent owners. This precious room has nurtured, created and played host to many historical and cultural events over the last hundred years. Too numerous to mention. From discussions about the current political scene, war, to art and painting, to theatre, to filmmaking and radio, to poetry and was a room that magically inspired and bore many famous stage plays, films, music and art throughout the 90s and 00s. It became a legendary room amongst the Melbourne artistic community. Designed beautifully by the architects Richardson & Wood in c. 1912 (dates vary to 1917) in a mock Tudor style highlighted with wooden beams and stunning panelling, this room needs to be preserved.

At the exterior, ajoing The Red Room’s large bay window, it features an authentic verandah in which the famous artist Mirka Mora and Britton once sat together, one afternoon, in blue deck chairs, nibbling green grapes and sipping from small bottles of soda water. Many years later the legendary La Mama Theatre staged an extraordinary open air theatre production entitled “The Murderer’s Barbeque” in the rear garden of No. 3 for the Elwood residents and the general public to see. And did they see. The seven performances were entirely packed out – even during a thunderstorm and downpour one particular evening. The production garnered a number of award nominations for its actor and its genesis at No. 3. This authentic, untouched Australian back garden/yard, its ancient Canary Palm tree and verandah is proposed to be ravaged, the old tree relocated.

Locals JT of Elwood said “The destruction of both these valuable houses must be should be totally protected. What is the Port Phillip council doing?” Karen Boyle added “The minute the neighbours see demolition vehicles approaching put the word out… there will be many happy to protest with a chain, padlock and a muesli bar to keep us going as long as it takes!” and lastly Sonny Day remarked “(A) beautiful house. If all else fails we chain ourselves to the front.”

The final hearing for this inappropriate development is scheduled at VCAT for 7 days from 2-10 December. Please have your say and help rescue part of our precious and vanishing heritage. It is simple to object but it is urgent, so go to the link below and submit. Hopefully, future generations can stroll down Tiuna Grove, past these two wonderful properties and say: “Thank God, they saved these beautiful homes”. We do need to save Elwood for over development, especially in one of Elwood’s most historical streets, Tiuna Grove.

Opening night at Hola Melbourne Festival

Artist / producer Victor Holder

Hola Melbourne Festival of Latin American Culture and Ideas 2019 has been created by two extraordinary  producer / artists in Victor and Pedro Holder from 4Diverse Arts Hub in St Kilda.

This is a new generation of a Latin American festival – two full weeks of interactive events where you can enjoy, learn, create, and be immersed in art, music, literature, film, and ideas.

Opening night delivered an incredible laser light show produced by Victor Holder. This spectacular projection show utilising the latest digital technology illuminated our natural environment from our ancient indigenous roots onto the iconic 122-year-old  ‘Toromeo’ Ficus platypoda or desert fig tree  located in front of St Kilda Town Hall.

Hola Melbourne Festival is a tapestry of diverse collaborations offering people from all walks of life and all ages a taste of South American culture and ideas.

For more details:

Hola Melbourne

3 – 29 September

DRAMATIC TENACITY: RICHARD ASPEL

By Roberto Chuter

 

“If you’re an actor, even a successful one, you’re still waiting for the phone to ring.”

“My friends call me Pim!” is the line I always remember actor Richard Aspel delivering as Isadora Duncan’s sycophant friend in the elaborate stage production of “Isadora”. I can still hear his voice in my memory even today. Aspel’s voice is unique. His acting talent is highly accomplished and with the combination of both of these gifts Aspel’s career has covered virtually every aspect of the arts industry from docos, films, radio plays, stage, corporate, radio and TV advertisements to the French President and talking emus.

He has also recorded hundreds of audio books, winning several Audie awards. ‘Audiofiles’ review of “Can’t Buy Me Love” – a history of the Beatles, quoted: “Aspel’s splendid narration of the many lyrics pulls the listener back to the time of their creation with his almost crooning intonation”. Aspel laughs: “Everyone in Australia thinks I sound English, and everyone in England thinks I sound Australian!”.

The ubiquitous St. Kilda based actor, originally from England where he studied at the respected Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts in South London has since built up a great respect from his peers together with a sturdy resume of work that is incomparable. Just some of his stage and screen work includes: “Entertaining Mr. Sloane”, “The Lion In Winter”, “La Dispute”, “Romeo and Juliet”, “Playing Rock Hudson”, “Doctor Blakes Mysteries”, “The Mystery of a Hansom Cab”, “Howzat Kerry Packer’s War”, “Something in the Air”, “The Silver Brumby” and “In Too Deep”. And of course ,poorguy, he has done the usual actor’s rounds: “Neighbours”, “BlueHeelers” and all the rest.

I had so much I wanted to ask Aspel about his life and career and so, over a fine wine or two, I did:

How did you come to live here Richard?

I was born here. Well, no I wasn’t but I’d heard there were great pizzas. In truth, my parents had divorced in 1961 back in London leaving my mother, Dian, single with two young boys. She rather hastily married an older man who was a television writer on a show called: “The Adventures of The Seaspray” being filmed in Fiji. So, at the tender age of 6 [my brother Greg was 7] we ended up on the Fijian islands for 6 months which was great fun for two young lads . When filming ended we moved across to Australia where my mother’s husband had a house between Geelong and Torquay. I don’t remember much except not being able to understand a word anyone said and being mocked for not being able to swim. And thinking a thong was something you wore around your groin. Anyway, the marriage didn’t work and after a few months we’re back in olde London. Fast forward a few years – my mother meets another Englishman who is migrating to Australia for work and voila – off we head again for the month long boat trip to the land of OZ.

What did you do before you became an actor?

Climbed Mount Everest and broke the world land speed record. Which of course I didn’t do but the answer is nothing much really as acting was pretty well my first (and only?) profession. I did get suspended from school a few times though which I’m quite proud of but never managed to get expelled sadly.

How did you become an actor (or thespian as some describe)?

By a great stroke of misfortune. I took a gap year before going to university to study Law/Arts and spent the time traveling through England and Europe. During that time I stayed a great deal with my real father Michael Aspel OBE who was – and still is – a well known radio presenter and TV host on programs such as “Crackerjack”, “Aspel and Company” and “Antiques Roadshow”, etc. Through him I came into contact with some very colourful theatre characters and the seeds of a different life were sown. So I return to Australia to study and fall in love with student theatre. I think it was forlorn love for a gorgeous girl that got me into my first play. Anyway, I took to it like a bull in a china shop, dropped out of law and barely completed my arts degree as all my time was taken up with theatre. A couple of years later I went back to England to study drama at a theatre school and voila! I was suddenly unemployable and devoted to a lifetime of poverty.

Why do you do the work that you do?

What work? I’m an actor? Well, by the nature of the beast most actors have had to do a range of other shitty jobs through their careers just to live which only highlights the joy of acting. Why do I do it? Let me think. Because it’s the only thing that truly makes me feel alive. Really alive. Apart from The Ashes, a bottle (or bottles) of fine wine and a beautiful girl- but not necessarily in that order. There is something about acting that takes you to another place – you inhabit a different world – you escape the mundane and boring. What different world’s actors get to inhabit and what characters you get to play! It’s not always easy, far from it – fearlessness is essential, sometimes it can be emotionally wrenching but it sets you free. Not to mention the wonderful and extraordinary people you get to work with – but I won’t mention them. I do it because I simply couldn’t imagine ever doing anything else – apart from a well paid job. Me? A bank teller or public servant? I think not.

Your work seems to span all kinds of mediums – film, theatre, radio, Richard, can you tell us about these different mediums and why you chose to do this?.

And let’s not forget over 100+ audio books. Ah, the grand old days of radio plays – they were so much fun and you rubbed shoulders with old timers who still spoke like they had a rod up their arse. Well, they may well have. Mine not to ask. But they were fun – sadly now a thing of the past. I’ve always felt that my aim was to conquer nothing but to be mediocre in a host of fields. But really, as a pretty young actor in my day, if you weren’t snapped up by the soapies – the only way to survive was to be a jack of all trades. Every real actor’s love is the theatre but who’s going to say no to a juicy film or telly role? And voice work has quite frankly kept me from starving – my personal favourite, recording soft porn for the American audio market! That and recording telephone messages which is very exciting. But, to survive as an actor in Australia – you really must cast a wide net. And not throw back the little catch.

You have suffered a number of personal setbacks. Do you think these are explored subconsciously in your work?

Ooh, that’s a juicy one. Can I take the 5 minutes? Well, everyone has copped a bit (or a lot) in this life. I had a particularly bad run of losing my only brother, my closest pal, to cancer at the age of 30, my mother (she was a naughy and fun girl) following soon afterwards to a broken heart- smoking had nothing to do with it – and suffering my own bad marriage break up. But I was never sited to marriage really. I missed my mates at the pub. And yet strangely losing my beloved 19 year old Jack Russell Cleo was as hard as anything, heartbreaking – the love that asks no questions. But do I channel it? I don’t think you can help but channel it. Everybody is defined by their experiences and emotions regardless of their profession. I certainly don’t believe you have to starve in a garret to be an artist – hell, I’ve done that often enough. But you simply can’t argue with the fact that emotional experiences , whilst sometimes terribly depressing can only add to the tapestry of self that you have to call on. Doesn’t mean you know thyself – doesn’t make you a happier person but it’s in the register and filed away. As to negatives in my work – where do I begin? Poverty, depression, drinking, rejection, missing out on a great role when you’re down to the final two – nothing is worse than that. Not even haemorrhoids. Long periods of unemployment – doubting yourself, questioning your raison d’etre. Feeling as miserable as shit. But, the next good gig returns you to the land of the angels. Are you listening my agent?

What have been some of the great things in your work? Other than a fine wine and/or a beautiful woman?

None. Okay, meeting some beautiful women. All night cast parties… Next question please. I think for me it’s all about personal changes. I was a bit of a jock at school – captain of the rugby team, destined to study law and end up a boring fart. I’m still a boring fart but not a well paid lawyer fart. But enrichment and meeting people and opening one’s mind. I remember back in the late 80s doing a BBC series of “The Lenny Henry Show” as one of the few white cast members. Set in a pirate radio station – great fun. I’d kind of grown up in London but had no idea at all of “Black London”. I became good pals with (stand-up comedian, actor, singer) Lenny but more so with his offsider actor Vas Blackwood. They showed me a black London I’d never seen- let alone knew existed. And I was richer for that. So I guess the people I’ve met and the emotional journey of discovery. Mind you, along that path there are a lot of utter… twats.

Which people or what inspires you to work in the arts?

Well, I guess I was lucky meeting so many “ famous “ people through Michael, my dad and therefore have never had much of a hero worship thing. I remember watching “Heat” (the first film Pacino and De Niro had ever appeared in together} and debating who won the acting accolades. Who did I go for? I went Pacino – he went De Niro. He was wrong. But inspiration? I’m more inspired by writers than actors for example. I mean I don’t even like Meryl Streep (who does?). And Daniel Day Lewis is as mad as a hatter but a genius – I loved Katie Hepburn and Hitchcock deserved an Oscar and Kubrick deserved his. But inspired? There are so many..

What have been your favourite achievements to date?

Quite frankly staying alive. But I do have to include 26 weeks spent on a Greek Island over 2 years shooting a children’s adventure series. Maybe it wasn’t great and I certainly wasn’t but what a job, what fun and what a beautiful French girl. Mind you I’ll never share a house with the camera department again. Nor ride my motorbike off a cliff the day we arrived. But such things make life worthwhile. Going back a couple of years ago to the very wonderful “The Death of Peter Pan” at the Universal Theatre. To this day I do not believe I’ve worked with a more talented cast or been prouder of a production – beautifully cinematic vignettes and heart searing performances – all under the guiding hand of a visionary director. And, strangely enough a performance as Alan Strang in the wonderful “Equus” when just a lad. But I’m old now – sooo old!

What are you currently working on?

Well, quite frankly that’s just rude! You never ask an actor that question. To be honest a piece in progress called: “ Watching My Belly Fluff Grow”. It’s bound to be a hit without a doubt. Sigh – things are quiet – the life of an actor. I’ve guest cameoed in a couple of great new feature films: “Lilith” and “A Beautiful Request”, and I’m also sporadically shooting a web series spoof on Sherlock Holmes. It’s very funny. I play Dr. Watson, of course, and quite frankly I am simply delightful. Some would say even wondrous… some. Apart from that just generally annoy people.

If you hadn’t become an actor what path would you have followed?

Well, definitely a straighter and narrower one and one paved with gold. There was a time I considered law – barristers they say are just frustrated actors or vice-versa. True. But I have yet to meet a lawyer from my youth who has not become a pompous prick. I’ve managed that without being a lawyer. Journalism was second though, but I doubt I have the intellectual rigueur, although with some clever wit perhaps… I did think of becoming a school teacher (teaching drama?) as I love kids – but the older I get steamed and not fried. Or a radio announcer which I did for a year in my youth and was paid to annoy people. That’s pretty perfect. But no regrets, no tears – goodbye, I am who and what I am and so be it. Acting is my thing. Okay – a lawyer. Or maybe a connoisseur chicken pie maker…

Tell us a funny story or a joke that involves your work or life?

Many years ago when I was young and attractive – yes it’s true – at least the young part and still playing soccer ( I prefer to call it football) I was also recording an animation series. Both were on Saturday. But timing was tight so I’d rush straight to the recording studio still in my shorts and top and plastered in buckets of sweat. One of my characters was Baby Wombat – yes, it’s true- whose scenes were mainly with Papa Wombat. So we would squeeze into this tiny, tiny studio to record – me smelling like a piece of ripe gorgonzola. And Papa Wombat was an older and very gay actor. Hard to record when your armpits are being constantly sniffed with little grunts of delight. Such is the world of theatre. How many tales could I tell – such as taking the voluptuous blonde and rather thick Polish table top dancer to an awards night for audio books and, in the middle of an important speech she says at the top of her voice: “Why is the fat man so boring?’’ We didn’t have a second date. Such is my tale. Don’t put your daughter on the stage but It’s been fun though many arduous journeys. Take a bow, God bless and goodnight – you’ve been a fabulous audience. Now back to belly fluff gazing.

I left Aspel sitting on a bar stool staring into his empty glass and wondered what he was thinking about walking home. But there was one thing I really thought about – Richard Aspel is a St. Kilda original, a St. Kilda personality – witty, talented, clever, annoying, drunken, loveable but most of all a man of deep humanity, of warmth, of generosity and when the chips are down, with no end in sight, Aspel just knows it – guess who materialises in front of your eyes? In your front door? Aspel with his consoling company, his homemade chicken pies and some fine wine in both hands.

Little Haha Art Series; Pop Up Show

Opening night Thursday 5th September at 6pm 

Artwork on display daily from 7am until the 12th September

99 Fitzroy Street, St Kilda.

 

by Kerrie Pacholli

What a delight it is for me to electronically immortalise a piece of the exuberant creative cosmic mix at Little Haha’s Art Series; Pop Up Show last Thursday night.

What was once Fitzroy Street St Kilda’s Post Office, later to evolve into the mysteries Cushion nightspot, watering hole to 19 & 20 something year olds for 10 or so years;  has now morphed into a warm, welcoming, ageless and genderless artistic hot spot in the heart of St Kilda.

Great space, great bar and GREAT COFFEE. Well done Mr Barrista and all the participants invited by host and owner Anthony….

Curated by locally based street artist the Iconic Mikey XX1, this inspiring Pop Up Show introduced me to a group of talented artists and all round nice people in Fred Leone, Silly Sully, Anomie and Lucks.

Lucks

Lucks

Mikey XX1

Mikey XX1

Mikey XX1

Mikey XX1

Fred Leone

Fred Leone

Anomie

Anomie

Anomie

Anomie

Silly Sully

Silly Sully

Silly Sully

Silly Sully