A multi-award-winning artist of international renown, Breslin’s works have been shown nationally and around the world in over 50 exhibitions. Before the Melange will be an intimate show which pays tribute to the time Breslin spent growing up in St. Kilda and forging his career in local studios.
Breslin’s life-long support of the community and longstanding collaborative relationship with Space2b is the inspiration behind this show.
Proceeds from the exhibition launch will be donated to Space2Fly; a mentorship program that offers creative and business development and support in building language skills to newly arrived migrants and refugees, enabling them to become creative business owners.
The launch event will be catered for with delicious drinks and food platters by Flavours of Syria, a café adjacent to Space2b run by Syrian asylum seeker Nayran Tabiei and family.. Held in the lead-up to his major solo show Melange at Burrinja Cultural Centre in October 2022.
Before the Melange will feature a refined curation of works including captivating new large-scale compositions, limited edition prints of his latest stunning horse head series, and original works on bespoke wooden frame panels.
Just over a week ago I went to Jimmy Hornet in Swan Street Richmond with a muso friend to see his muso friend debut her latest line up in Kaliopi & the Blues Messengers including Kaliopi Stavropoulos on Voice and Guitar, Alto Sax – Radha Claridge, Bass Adam Di Quinzio and Jeffrey Kid on Drums.
photographs by Ross Irosspoxon
It was clear even before they began the set that Kaliopi was a veteran performer who knew what she was doing and where she was heading in the Blues. She stated by giving us a little background about one of her mentors who died in 1973. This I found very fascinating and from that point I was all in.
The nights performance was terrific so I decided to publish a story. After the gig I emailed Kaliopi Stavropoulos a few questions telling her that her gig inspired me to jump back on the blogger horse. Her written reply read:
“Yes indeed, eclectic blues fusing life’s various palettes and colours from a simple shade of blue. Definitely! I think life contextualises the music we play. I’ve been embracing the blues since my last compilation release ‘Love Loss & Mental Health” which seems a lifetime ago… And ironically during that tumultuous chapter or chapters of life I was blue releasing rock with a tint of Blues & Jazz with Soul….but now it’s Simple.. I play, sing and write the Blues feeling more at peace than ever before – even euphoric at times playing blues guitar Like I’ve come back home!…paradox how one can feel so good playing the blues…but feel so blue singing a tragic pop ballad, or screaming rock, improvising frantic jazz…. past few years I’ve kept it simple – expressing from singing.”
My next suggestion was…
You really opened up a portal when you said that Memphis Mini was one of your mentors and went on to give the audience tit bits of info. Perhaps let us know about your relationship with Memphis Mini as a perceived mentor.
“Memphis Minnie born in 1897, has served as a great role model in many ways.
When we reflect on our feminist movement in the 70’s Memphis Minnie, was ahead of her time 50 years earlier unassumingly challenged not only the impoverished slavery of Black African Americans singing and playing the blues, but also sang and played about domestic violence, corruption in the law, sexual liberation, forbidden sexual relationships – including same sex partners – depression and suicide, unprotected sex and backyard terminations. Minnie was a strong force of HERSTORY!
Some of her pieces we perform include, Kissing In Dark, Black Cat Blues, Dirty Mother Fur Ya, Hate to see the sun go down, and I want to include more – I love her metaphors and learn from her storytelling, and I want to continue carrying her torch.
Minnie played a significant role in exposing and protesting against a patriarchal domineering subordination of ‘women level of emotional intelligence’, that is arguably a distinct woman vantage that more than 2 Centuries later is recognised as the essential intelligence for world peace, order and equality, according to feminists including Altra Rock Chick (Oct 13 2014 Web review).
Memphis Minnie was also a pioneer guitar player and one of the first guitarists to play electric guitar so as to be heard over rowdy crowds. Minnie played a mean guitar who unquestionably, influences me, but certainly would have influenced Big Mumma Thornton born 30 years or so after Minnie – Minnie was born around my Grandma ‘Kaliopi’s’ time, and Big Mamma Thornton, around my Mum ‘Fani’ time –
Both my mother and grandmother are Greek Islanders who came to Australia in the mid 50’s from a Matriarchal part of Greece, – from the Dodecanese on the Aegean Sea…
I’ve always been very inspired by strong women as attested not only by my influences and lineage, but also the company I keep.”
What you would like to achieve as a musician into the future?
“This is another important and long story – but In short I must honor my art…I have a lot of time to make up for…that I won’t get into now…but performing is my purpose, the stage my home, the audience and colleagues my family and my guitar an extension of my voice. I’m warming into touring and as I develop my blue band I will incorporate blues songs I am writing, “Not Just Anybodies Daughter” and Running From The Law” are a couple of recent blues songs I’ve written that resonate with my blues message to celebrate and empower women in blues. I will record my album and hone my blues career starting in Australia and then the States, Europe and Asia – everywhere – spread the love and power of women in blues with my guitar and my Blues Messengers!“
After experiencing her Blues performance and reading these incredible answers I had a look on youtube to see what else I could discover about this strong, talented lady and I discovered that she started out as a ‘rock chic’ and has produced an Album titled KALIOPI Love Loss & Mental Health 40 YEAR COMPILATION. Following is a song written and performed by Kaliopi Stavropoulos.
By Roberto Chuter ‘A woman of so shining loveliness.’ – W. B Yeats
It was announced on the 1st day of January 1996, that a Melbourne institution was to be off the menu. Sophisticated, elegant and unique, Mietta’s, in the words of English novelist Howard Jacobson housed “a chandeliered restaurant on one floor, a coffee house and cabaret and salon on another. Now you were in Bohemia, now you were in Versailles.” Now, the iconic Mietta’s Restaurant was to close.
Mietta Fernanda O’Donnell was born in the affluent eastern suburb of Glen Iris on 6th January 1950. She was educated at Sacre Coeur Convent and while going to Melbourne University in 1968 won a press competition which sent her off to Indonesia and acquired a cadet journalist position on the Melbourne Herald. After quitting journalism she worked in a Labour opposition politician’s office but left in 1974.
Mietta was the granddaughter of Italian migrant Mario Bigano, who arrived in Melbourne from Milan in 1928. He became the first and most influential Italian chefs in Melbourne, establishing Mario’s Restaurant in Exhibition Street and playing a major part in changing the city’s cuisine during the 40’s and 50’s. In June 1974, following the footsteps of her grandfather, Mietta, her mother, sister Patricia and her partner Tony Knox opened their restaurant called Mietta’s in Brunswick Street, North Fitzroy. It was one of Melbourne’s early BYO restaurants and its menu was frequently described as ‘adventurous’.
Then in 1974 they purchased and renovated the former Naval and Military Club building at No. 7 Alfred Place in the heart of Melbourne. It became one of the city’s finest and known restaurants and on Friday nights queues stretched to Collins Street. ‘It attracted prime ministers, poets, society matrons, business people and artists who would sit at marble tables with their cocktails and watch Mietta in her signature black dress, standing still with her hands crossed’.
Wendy Harmer described her as a ‘“Queen Cuisine’., a ‘Grand Dame of Dining’, a “Cultural Figure”, an “Ambassador of Melbourne’, of course she was all of these things’. She had an eagle eye for detail, almost X-ray vision, an alertness of a hawk, straightening a white linen napkin here and a white linen napkin there: ‘beautiful perfection’. She surrounded herself with order and orchestrated a salon of astonishing range of events from comedy to art song, poetry to plays and readings with music ranging from jazz to opera alongside forums for social, literary and political issues.
Opera Australia held regular recitals, even Nick Cave wanted to read excerpts from his novel “And the Ass Saw the Angel’ there.
Theatre such as “The Wild Party’, “Oscar Wilde at the Cafe Royal’, “Loot”, “My Dinner with Andre”, “A Dinner Engagement”, “Splendid’s” are some of the numerous productions at Mietta’s. In February 1992, the Melbourne composer/pianist Jex Saarelaht and Kate Ceberano performed at the restaurant. They recorded and later released an album entitled “Open the Door – Live at Mietta’s”. ‘Visiting celebrities such as Barry Humphries flocked to it and Anthony Sher made it his home while he was performing in ‘Richard III’ in 1986.”
In 1985 she established the Mietta Song Recital Award, the leading Australian and New Zealand Art Song competition to promote the performance and wider appreciation of Art Song. “Mietta loved this form of singing and we have been determined that her name lives on in a manner that is actively encouraging, like Mietta herself,” said Mietta Foundation Awards Committee Chair Professor Emeritus John Poynter. Her support for the performing arts was also recognised with a Green Room Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Performing Arts.
Greedy developers reared their ugly heads in the late 1980’s. Mietta and Tony fiercely battled the Oakford Group’s plans to construct a massive $94 million hotel complex next door to their heritage building. This wasn’t going to happen… and thankfully it didn’t.
When my producer Jason Buesst and I met with Mietta to pitch some projects, I found her to be charming, gentle, sympathetic and keenly interested. Bruce Palling wrote that she was ‘a quietly spoken, reserved individual, she possessed a steely core that belied her petite, porcelain-skinned appearance’. .She, somehow, understood the artistic temperament having surrounded herself with numerous actors and musicians. So with her help and support we produced three beautifully successful works in the downstairs salon… The first in August 1993 was ‘Storm Is Her Name’ which starred Christian Wagstaff as Storm with the backup singers/dancers Kate Whitebread and Tracey Flaningan.
This was followed two years later with two solo shows “The Yellow Book” with Antony Neate as Aubrey Beardsley (performed on top of an ornate coffin) and ‘Perks’ with Shawn Unsworth as Percy Grainger (performed on top of the grand piano). This theatrical trio was filled with delicious twists, fine performances set in the beautiful period salon – a perfect fit. Dressed in impeccably black and smiling Mietta always ensured that our cast and crew members were fed and watered before each performance.
Unfortunately Mietta’s entered receivership in 1992, however, they emerged later that year but by 1996 Mietta’s was forced to close and its contents were to be auctioned. The closure of Mietta’s meant that there was now more time for Mietta to devote to her food newsletter, several influential books and Australia’s first comprehensive restaurant guide.
On 4 January 2001 Mietta was killed in a car accident south of Burnie, Tasmania, while traveling to judge at a wine and food festival Tony was the driver of the rental car and was seriously injured in hospital on the day the Requiem Mass was held for Mietta at the St. Mary Star of the Sea in West Melbourne.
He was later charged and cleared of negligence in the collision which also took the life of local man, 34 year old Glen Harman. Tony presented a brief media statement but broke down when he tried to read it. Over 1,000 people from the arts, politics, and the culinary world attended Mietta’s funeral. Asked how life might go on from now, Tony said rhetorically “Without Mietta?” Since losing her he has been quietly rebuilding his life out of the public eye.
Working with Mietta at Mietta’s was an honour, an unforgettable privilege, one not easily forgotten. Mietta O’Donnell and Tony Knox’s contribution to our city’s artistic and culinary culture remains profound. They both have left us with a valuable and enduring legacy.
There is an interesting mix of amazing food, interesting art and beloved pets in St. Kilda East. What’s it called? It’s called Neighbours, and no, thankfully, there’s no relation to the TV soapie.
Neighbours Café is a converted milk bar which has a casual setup where you can sit inside or outside in the back garden under the (fig) trees with your pets. It has a great vibe and there is plenty of room for large groups, prams and bikes. The vibe, with its jungle murals, is chilled and friendly. The menu is diverse with Bush Lamb with Sweet Potato Mash or the Shakshuka or the Vegan Chili Hash being the most popular. There are also plenty of beautiful vegetarian options not to mention Golden Lattes or Hot Apple Chai or Acai Smoothies.
The Café, not to neglect man’s best friend, also has a fantastic Dog Menu which includes for starters Shark Cartilage or Peking Duck Jerky or for main course the highly wag-able Beef Bully Stick. So, while you dine with your pet in toe, sip an iced latte, you can leisurely admire all the surrounding artwork. Perfect.
Curious, I wanted to know more about the owners and the cafe, so I spoke to one of the co-owners, the charming Dominic Kurian after numerous attempts:
When and why did you come to Australia?
I was born here in Melbourne and grew up in India. I returned for my undergraduate studies. The GFC shit all over my interest in my area of studies which was statistics. This black swan event made me realise that financial modelling is as good as tarot card reading. You can read anything into it.
How did you become a café owner?
Since I thought I wouldn’t make a good tarot card reader I decided to venture out into the real world. It was when I was working as a security officer that I met Mohamad Hawli who became my business partner.
It was at this time that it came about that Neighbours Café which was owned by his cousin, Karl Elhaouli, was up for sale. Initially I wasn’t keen on the idea. I saw the café and I really liked it. It had a unique appeal with it’s open outdoor area and its calm and relaxed atmosphere. The mural on the outside walls added to its charm. So we decided to go ahead and buy the business.
Neighbours Café has become an iconic place in St. Kilda. It attracts customers from all over. Part of the appeal of this place is the joy of discovery and letting friends and family know about it. It is a space where chance meetings can happen, where babies and puppies socialise. This is what makes it enjoyable for me to work here.
Why do you do the work that you do?
I would like the café to organically evolve and build its unique character. What makes this café special is what attracts people to become part of it. This is how I found Taya, the classically trained painter. She came to the café as a customer and suggested having art classes once a week. She has since contributed a lot to the artistic direction of the café.
The idea of mixing food with art and dog patrons. Where did this come from?
Our café is the most pet friendly café around with our big open backyard. So it is only natural that we would have a dog menu to cater for the canine needs. This has been enthusiastically welcomed by dog customers all round.
What do you think have been some of the negatives in your work?
Running a business is stressful. With the recent restrictions due to Covid-19 it has been an enormous challenge, but we are going there…
What’s been some of the positives in your work do you think?
At the same time being part of this iconic café is rewarding. Also knowing how much of a part it plays among the community as well as what it means for the staff who come from all over the world and become like family are some of the positives.
If you couldn’t do this anymore, what career path do you think you would have followed, Dominic?
If I couldn’t do this I will have to take up tarot card reading. I would do something less demanding and try to write the next great Australian novel.
Tell us a funny story or joke that involves the café?
There is always something funny happening here mostly involving babies and dogs and also our staff.
So… if you want to dine with your pet, look at good art, eat amazing food in a laid back atmosphere in St. Kilda East, it’s Neighbours Café, situated on the corner of Inkerman and Chapel Streets. It’s well worth the visit.
St. Kilda’s legendary DJ, Gavin Campbell, is one of the most important and influential figures in the dance music and club scene in Australia. I was one of many, including a swag of Swinburne film students and actors that flocked to Campbell’s alternative club ‘Swelter’ downstairs at the old Matilda’s Bistro in Queen Street every week. In 1983 it was THE place to hang out and this was also the place where a variety of tribal music tastes were DJ’ed by Campbell for the first time.
“I grew up in the Western suburbs and St. Paul’s College, Altona North is where I started secondary school, but I didn’t finish there. They wanted me out. What happened there was if you got a demerit it was bad, you had to do something really bad to get one. And if you got 10 in your whole six years there, like when you got the tenth you were expelled automatically. And I got 9, towards the end of Year 9, third form. And the Dean called me into his office and I said “Mum doesn’t like this school anymore. She doesn’t want me to be
here. She thinks I am getting too rough. So she’s going to pull me out at the end of the year”. So he simply said okay. It was a bit of a slack final term that year. Then I went to Geelong College, which is obviously a well appointed school, very expensive. Mum fought with Dad tooth and nail to pay the fees but I wanted to do drama, I wanted to act. I did all the drama classes and all that kind of stuff. English literature was a big thing with me. I didn’t fancy my chances at H.S.C. (which was Year 12 at the time) because it was heavily based on exams and I got nervous about that so I left and did T.O.P. at Preston Technical College which was a TAFFE course. I went there specially because they had drama and cinema studies with Tom Ryan, the famous Australian film critic, he was one of the main lecturers.
My connection with Tom and a couple of other drama teachers ended with me going to Melbourne State College to study teaching which had more cinema and more drama. I began fooling around and was not very disciplined in my teacher’s course so I left. I started hanging around the band scene in St. Kilda. A very dear friend was the musician Mark Seymour from the rock band‘ Hunters and Collectors’. That was the sort of scene I was hanging out in.and I actually knew Mark from Melbourne State College. He was there doing final year and one of his early girlfriends was in my year. So I connected with Mark and we became very good friends and we used to intellectualise about music and other stuff. It was his influence and another person from Melbourne State College, Craig Pearce, who at the time was a celebrated music journalist, (he also happened to be my housemate), so I became confident and said I think I am going to DJ now. I was good at that, so it took over from acting”.
An originator, DJ, producer and label owner, Campbell became the founder and co-founder of landmark underground and mainstream Melbourne clubs of the 1980’s – 2000’s. In the early 80’s there were some glitzy mainstream discos along King Street for the footballer set, but nothing for Melbourne’s alternative crowd when Campbell started ‘Swelter’ with Craig Pearce. He pioneered the introduction of cutting edge strains of house, techno and other new music to the hordes of hungry patrons. With a finely tuned archaeological ear as a DJ, he interspersed sets with deep-cut discoveries across genres including disco, funk and and created seminal cultural waves that still reverberate even today. Though his tireless pursuit of musical perfection during his years of prolific creating, the past couple of years have noted an auspicious return to form with music in the charts, exciting collaborations and the renaissance of his label, Razor Recordings.
Could you tell more about the seminal nightclub ‘Razor’?
“I created it in 1986 with Jules Taylor, a fellow club promoter (and club rival) who was a very close friend of mine. Jules and I, we had drug problems at the time. St. Kilda was a very druggy music scene, and we weren’t doing too well. So we wanted to open a club together because I had ‘Swelter’ and she had ‘Hardware’. We join forces to make some money and go to America and get away from drugs and drive from L..A. to New York – you know that kind of romantic ideal so we found a venue with an old-fashioned club licence, the old art deco ‘Light Car Club of Australia’ in Queen’s Road (now demolished). After a few months, Jules left and so I asked my partner from ‘Swelter’, Andrea Treble to join me at ‘Razor’, as the club had become very special and I needed help. I was stuck in the DJ booth a lot in those early days. I continued to run ’Razor’, with Andrea mainly, for the next five years.”
‘Razor’ represented the beginning of the underground in the modern Melbourne club scene. It was the first club in the 80’s to offer an alternative to the music played in existing nightclubs, other than Euro disco and commercial Top 40. There were a few other alternative styled club nights, however, they were usually short lived. The music at ‘Razor’ attracted the arts and fashion industries as well as the music scene on both sides of the Yarra, from St. Kilda and Fitzroy mainly.
“The club was credited with being the world’s coolest of its time as the likes of Bono, Michael Hutchence and Sting attested. It was never about being seen. It was always about the music for those who mingled joyously in the multi-storied art deco building where ‘Razor’ existed every Friday night from 1.00 am. Celebrities were free there to be just another face in the crowd. INXS used to go there after their gigs. They even spoke about the club n interviews around the world. Michael loved the club. There was a bunch of pop stars, unofficial ambassadors for our club, they thought it was the bees knees and they knew it because they travelled – ‘Crowded House’, Kylie, Michael, Gus Till, Ollie Olsen, ‘MaxQ’ – all kinds of people that were regular travellers overseas would like to brag about this really cool club ‘Razor’ attracting other stars to come over for the experience,” Campbell said.
“The creatives flocked to ‘Razor’, without any need for promotion because of the eclecticism and style with the music choices, along with the mix of colourful and interesting people like George Huxley, Gavin Brown, Ash Wednesday, Sam Sejavaka, Hugo Race, Kerri Simpson and many others. Ironic really, when you consider that throughout this whole time, the other nightclubs in Melbourne were tripping over themselves trying to attract the same crowd as ‘Razor’. It was a hopeless endeavour because they were never adventurous enough with their music policies. For the ‘Razor’ dancefloor, I could quite literally go shopping for records on a Friday, pick up the most cutting-edge club music from overseas and then program up to 20 new songs that same night at ‘Razor’, with all of it packing the floor. ‘Razor’ was always ahead of the pack. Fresh club sounds from overseas mixed with edgy 70’s and 80’s funk, soul, disco, post-punk and hip hop/rap, James Brown and Prince, played mostly by Paul Main, Guy Uppiah, Sean Kelly and myself, along with 3RRR soul show presenters Jo Brady and Kate Seeley warming up every week. House music started to seep into the mix toward the end of 1987 and really took over by the time ‘Razor’ closed in 1992”.
In 1989 Campbell founded Razor Records when he licensed a pair of old disco hits from the U.S., “Dance Across The Floor” and “You Get Me Hot”, both by Jimmy Bo Horne. The label was then picked up by Mushroom Records in Melbourne and ‘Razor’ started to make its own dance music. Its historic moment came through Filthy Lucre which consisted of Campbell, Robert Goodge (of 80’s band ‘I’m Talking’) and DJ Paul Main, who together made Australia’s first international club hit with their remix of Yothu Yindi’s ‘Treaty’. It was awarded “Song Of The Year” at the 1991 ARIA’s and was the fifth biggest-selling Australian record of the year. Campbell and Main were the first Australian DJs to achieve an ARIA-certified Gold Record, as well as an ARIA nomination, in the Best Producer category.
In 1992, Campbell opened ‘Tasty’ at the Commerce Club (in Flinders Street) – an alternative queer dance club way before its time – so much before its time that on the 7th August 1994, Victoria Police raided the club. They forcibly stripped searched all 463 patrons and staff, some even were cavity-searched and people were detained illegally for seven hours. The exact police motivation for the raid is unclear. The reaction after was a moment that changed gay rights, some described it as Melbourne’s Stonewell. The reaction also changed the rights of those attending music events with politicians acknowledging the extremity and brutality of the raid. The incident led to successful legal action against Victoria Police with damages awarded to many patrons.
In the ensuing decade, Campbell created landmark clubs such as ‘Savage’, ‘Temple’, ‘Bump!’ and ‘Uranus’, as well as a successful stint as co-creator, musical director and resident DJ at ‘Poof Doof’. He currently holds down a long-term residency at world renowned Sydney/Melbourne quarterly Techno event, ‘Trough X’, Melbourne’s South-side disco quarterly, ‘Disco 3183’ and is a regular guest at Thursday cult night dance clubs ‘Honcho Disko’ and ‘New Guernica’.
‘The Treaty’ 25th Anniversary remix project in 2017, spent six months on the ARIA club chart, resulting in Campbell spearheading a new live show with one of Australia’s most internationally recognised aboriginal bands, ‘Yothu Yindi & The Treaty Project’. Campbell performs with YYTTP onstage, using a Toraiz SP-16 sampler, Ableton Live and also live percussion, with the outfit having appeared at several music, arts and First Nations festivals across Australia and New Zealand including Sydney Opera House, Victorian Arts Centre,Commonwealth Games Festival, Adelaide Fringe, Byron Bay Bluesfest, Strawberry Fields, Queenscliff Music Festival and NZ’s Waitangi Festival.
I asked Campbell why he does the work he does…
“I’ve loved sharing music and hosting people since the 1970 at home and community social gatherings and events. I combined the two as a DJ and promoter in the 80’s and 90’s, which seemed a natural progression and evolution for me. I do this work because it’s always been in my blood”.
Who are some of the artists or some of the works that inspired you to get started?
“Growing up, I was very much into music and theatre. In the early 70’s it was the ‘Jackson 5’ and early Australian music shows on television, like ‘Happening 68, 69 and 70’. Standout events growing up included “Jesus Christ Superstar”, AC/DC (many times from ’73-‘77), Suzi Quatro (Festival Hall ’74) “Tommy” (Ken Russell’s film ’75), Queen Live (Festival Hall ’76) and then, in the 1980’s – Grace Jones, Iggy Pop, ‘Talking Heads’ and ‘The Birthday Party’ and Prince (music in the 1980’s, live in the 1990’s). The current artists I really admire are bands like ‘Arcade Fire’, Sampa The Great, Daft Punk, Hot Chip, Todd Terje and Emma Donovan. My DJ crushes include Carl Cox, Maceo Plex, Patrice Baumel, The Black Madonna, my main DJ influences have been Stephen Allkins (Sydney) and Frankie Knuckles (Chicago) and fave Australian DJs are Phil K, Guy Uppia, Stephen Allkins and Late Nite Tuff Guy”.
What have been some of the negatives in your work?
“Drugs, alcohol and late, late nights are all occupational hazards and even when one doesn’t indulge personally, these things still affect you because everyone else around you is high. No judgement, it’s just that it really tests your patience. It’s a double-edged sword really, as the positives also include the experience of everyone having fun because you’re entertaining them. A definite positive is playing songs that I’ve personally had a hand in creating. When the dancefloor is packed and going off, it’s especially satisfying”.
What have been your favourite completed projects up to this point?
“The recent remixes of Yothu Yindi’s ‘Treaty’ has been my fave recent project, in terms of music production and the songs continuing relevance to Australian culture and politics. The stand-out anniversary remixes were from Carl Cox, Baker Boy and The Journey and I also expanded his production outfit Filthy Lucre (including DJ/producer Nick Coleman and multi-instrumentalist and Circus Oz musical director Ania Reynolds) for a couple of new remixes. We also created several new remixes for a series of live Yothu Yindi & The Treaty Project shows, resulting from the success of the ‘Treaty’ anniversary package”.
What projects are you currently working on or have lined up for the near future?
“Robert Goodge (original Filthy Lucre co-producer) and I have recently returned to the studio together, again under our Filthy Lucre moniker, to produce a new remix for his seminal Australian dance band “I’m Talking”. We remixed the band’s classic 1985 hit ‘Holy Word’, along with other current remixers Dr. Packer and Jolyon Petch. And we’re currently working on new material”.
Where do you see yourself in a few years and what would it take for you to consider your career a success?
“In a few years I want to still be producing music for myself and others, along with occasional DJ gigs and perhaps more live shows for Yothu Yindi & The Treaty Project. I’m also writing my memoir. I regard success for myself as being measured in terms of the influence and the activities in which I’ve been involved. Many of the projects I’ve done happened at a time when other people were not yet active in those areas. I’ve been a bit of a trailblazer in that respect. Therefore, my work is often regarded as being influential, or seminal and has been inspiring for others”.
If you couldn’t do this anymore, what career path do you think you would have followed?
“I think I would’ve been a chef. I love being creative with food, cooking for people and hosting. I can see myself with a bar/café or perhaps even a restaurant. I think I would’ve still found myself in the hospitality or night economy industry, as I take after my mother, in that, I’m very much a night owl?”
Could you tell us a funny story or joke that involves your work?
“Once, in 1985, I was DJing at ‘Chasers’ on a packed Saturday night. I really needed a piss, so I put on a very popular, long song (“Teardrops” by Womack & Womack), so that the floor would still be packed when I got back to the decks. Unusually, this particular 12” single included a shorter radio version as track on side one, as track one (followed by the extended version). I was at the urinal, right down the back of the club, when I heard the song fade to nothing, which meant that I first had to finish and quickly run through the entire club, to get back to the booth and continue the music, which seemed like an eternity. Needless to say, management was not happy. ‘Chasers’ and I concluded that I was much better suited to running my own club nights where I could actually be free, to be me, rather than being a promotional tool for their mainstream crowds and we parted ways. I find it funny because I really need to do my own thing and it’s better to be celebrated for that but I was sacked instead!”
Gavin Campbell’s contribution to the Australian music industry is absolutely irreproachable. He is a person of great enthusiasm, of genuine warmth and is humorous and enterprising to boot. He possesses a rare bouquet of eclectic talents, and he is astoundingly prolific only to become justifiable so – a Melbourne legend, a much loved DJ who refuses to be ordinary. Thankfully.
Postscript: There is an added bonus too, he is a huge Prince fan!
“We artists can be happy just having freedom and being able to express ourselves…” – Ruv Nemiro
It was almost certain that every time I waited on the corner of Carlisle Street for the No. 16 tram, I would bump into Ruv Nemiro. On the tram he would grab me by the arm and laughing he would try to convince me to get involved with one of his schemes to sell or promote his artwork. This was a regular occurrence on every single tram ride.
With his chubby physique and rubbing his thinning grey hair with his hand, I would slowly help him off the tram at Barkly Street. Then he would say tome: “You understand?” In his broken English he always repeated that sentence to me smiling and laughing. Unfortunately, I didn’t or couldn’t understand, but we laughed over it anyway.
Ruv went to his studio on Barkly Street regularly and would sit and create for hours on end. He loved his art and rarely missed a day. I used to pop in briefly to chat with him when I was visiting the studio and there he would be – sculpting, drawing, painting or reading one of his many art books.
Late last year he invited me to his studio, I did go and then, quite unexpectedly, he presented me with a gift. I was surprised and delighted to acquire one of his canvases featuring a let’s say ‘Rubensque’ lady with perfect bosoms, reclining naked on an abstract chaise lounge. It was painted lovingly in various shades of vivid aqua, blue, a touch of white and some small splashes of black. It was luminous.
“I dedicate my art to my friends, those that I was fortunate to have come across and those that I yet have to meet in my life. To the friends who are with us today and to those who have gone forever remaining in my memory and heart. I dedicate it to my dear friends, with whom I have spent my best years,” he said.
Ruv was born in 1937 as Ruvim Nemirovsky in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. From 1952-1957 he studied at the Institute of Art in Uzbekistan and received his post graduate degree in Fine Art at St. Petersburg in 1961.
In the early 70’s, Ruv was selected to be in a small group of artists to fly to France to meet with the Spanish painter Pablo Picasso. “My Dad told me stories about it, and he told me what he said to him: “I want to make your portrait” and Picasso replied: “I am very interested to see it,” said Ruv’s son,the artist Alex Nemirovsky. “My father created he same portrait here in Australia and this work is still with me.” Picasso was most curious about this renowned Soviet Union artist and sculptor.
Subsequently, Picasso died in 1973 but Ruv did paint a portrait and gave it to Picasso’s family foundation. Due to the strong KGB surveillance at the time, it is not known if they ever received Ruv’s work. In 1976, he worked with the British sculptor Henry Moore, in London and his artistic acquaintances included Marc Chagall amongst others.
Ruv had over 55 years of experience in monumental sculpture, for which he won many international and national awards and commissions in the former USSR having won the National Public Art Competition eight times and he was a Professor at the St. Petersburg Fine Art Academy for a number of years.
His sculptures were highly regarded and he was commissioned to create, design and build a 50 foot sculpture of Uzbek National Legendary Hero – Farhad. Ruv, with his extraordinary artistic ability, also designed palaces, restaurants and stadiums in Australia, Russia, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. Many of his works are to be found in Australia, Uzbekistan, Russia, Turkey and other countries in Europe and Asia. In addition to his sculptures Ruv was a prolific painter exploring a variety of different techniques and genres. He led an enviable life; his list of high calibre clients and commissions range from royalty right through to political leaders.
Ruv immigrated to Australia with his (ex) wife in 1990 to be with his son, the artist Alex Nemirovsky. His daughter Stella and her family followed a few years later.
Ruv set up his Barkly Street studio in 1995 with artists Maria Leonard, Heidi Knoepfli and Patricia Buck.
Maria Leonard remembers Ruv: “The Artists Studio106 was founded n 1995, that means I knew Ruv for over 23 years! The first time I met him he poked his big head into my studio saying: “Oh, I can see we have philosopher here! I will come past and talk to you!” We only had curtains on our studios in those days, so it was very easy to chat. He was certainly a force to reckon with! In those early years his English was much better and his voice was loud and he drank lots of vodka! Often he put on noisy parties in his studio with his Russian friends. All the artists at the studio were invited too!! He served salami and pickles and bread. Of course, there was plenty of vodka too!. If we did not eat or drink, he would be most offended. As I got to know him better, I could see the gentle soul behind the big bear! Both Ruv and I used the studio like our second home! Of course we started to annoy each other, that was inevitable.
He loved to call his friends and family after his lunch. Our telephone was situated right next to my studio! So it happened most days. I often only had 3 hours to do my work, and I found it very annoying and I couldn’t work, listening to all the Russians bellowing! It always sounded like he was fighting with someone? I was not the only one angry, some artists actually left because of Ruv, I am sorry to say! I begged him and I pleaded with him to make his telephone calls at home! But nothing really helped, he just smiled and laughed at me trying to explain why it was important. Often he called his sister in New York! and after one particular longish call, I had enough so cut the telephone cord! He still responded with smiles and laughter. At least he had a good sense of humour! Thankfully, the telephone calls became less frequent, or maybe I just became used to it,” laughs Maria.
‘Ruv loved all the other artists, he said we are his family! Two of our founding artists at the studio left after a few years. And Ruv made sure he would stay in contact, calling them up and asked how they are going? One dear friend, the sculptor Robert Giannini, moved to Tasmania. They both stayed in contact for many years. Sadly, Robert now suffers with Alzheimer’s disease and I haven’t told him about Ruv.
Heidi Knoepfli, smiling, recalls: “I met a vibrant handsome, with a twinkle in his eye, Ruv over 20 years ago at Artists Studio 106. He occupied an upstairs studio and I was in the downstairs sculpture studio. After several invitations he finally turned up for a visit to my huge basement studio. His eyes lit up when he saw this tucked away cavernous space. He said sotto voce: “You could make Vodka here!” with his cheeky laugh. Well Ruv, that never really occurred to me! Though I knew where he was coming from. I had read a smidgen of Tolstoy and Pasternak in my late teens which gave me a glimpse into the Russian culture and with it I knew he was dead serious. Sure enough on our next encounter, laughing loudly, he produced a recipe for making vodka written out of an old exercise book paper page with lines which I suspected was a treasured family heirloom. The recipe required huge quantities of ingredients, equipment and 50kg of potatoes. And it was just a trial run. Ruv, ever the consummate entrepreneur was thinking big. Very big! Needless to say our creative collaboration never took off.”
In 1993, he created and designed “The Lady of St. Kilda” together with his son Alex which was installed on the old Carlisle Street bridge in Balaclava. The sculpture, made of steel and enamel paint, features an impression of the ship (known to have given St. Kilda its name), flanked by mermaids and sea creatures floating on ocean waves. “That was a collaboration of the Painter and Sculptor, and this is why it was unique, the successful part of this project was the idea of painting the form on the flat metal collages,“ said Alex.
“I created full size drawings of it and my Dad created metal forms from it and the structure. And after I made a painting of it. They were four different stages and it took over a year to make. We were a great team and had a great understanding. The work was created on a very small budget and in the end we had to pay people from our pockets to complete it. Since then, unfortunately the mural has been vandalized and the council has just ignored that. It could have been easily saved 26 years ago. As a result it has never looked even 30% from its original look. We did it for people of St. Kilda on a rusted and ugly bridge not for vandals!”
Ruv was a real character with a sharp eye for a pretty girl, some good vodka and a beloved art book. He was a true artist, a father, a human, a friend and a teacher.
Today, his evocative gift hangs on my wall, in odd moments it catches my eye and makes me smile. Then suddenly for a fleeting moment it has a life of its own as I hear Ruv’s voice saying:
”You understand?” But now I do understand. I understand that I was lucky and most fortunate to have had our paths cross.
Ruv Nemiro passed away on 27 September 2019, his presence and laughter is solely missed by many.
“Everyman’s life ends the same way. It is only the details of how he lived, what he did and how he died that distinguish one man from another.” Fortunately, Ruv’s legacy remains – his extraordinary catalogue of artworks.
I first met Frank Howson back in 2013 whilst he was working on “Chopper the Musical.” He had partnered up with long time collaborator and musical virtuoso Warren Wills to produce film clips of four songs written by Frank. I was there performing paparazzi duties for a Diva friend of mine and was warmly welcomed by all.
Over what appeared to be about a week (perhaps longer) I had witnessed, photographed and filmed Frank and Warren pull together vocal and performance pearls from a cast of about 10 seasoned professional singers. From first meet rehearsal, to recording studio, to the film set, to live performance for media at Old Melbourne Jail.
Job done, video clips in circulation.
It was extraordinary and very inspirational to witness what appeared to be streamlined coordination, co-operation and collaboration.
Looking at his wikipedia profile and various articles in public circulation I feel perhaps Frank Howson has achieved most of what a writer, actor, painter, poet, director and producer would want to achieve in a life.Yet life still goes on.
When I think of Frank Howson I think artist. He presents as an unbridled, complex and Interesting fella to say the least.
So, I was easily lured to a preview performance of”THE ACTRESS” starringKristen Condon & DarciiTaylor. A reading of a new short play from Frank Howson at Cracked Actors Theatre, Level 1 , 34 Lakeside Drive Albert Park. And, of course I was on photography duties.
“THE ACTRESS” is a brutally forthright exchange between two driven souls. The ambitious producer and the potential star of her first self budgetted feature film.
It is a very entertaining short, sharp insight into the intoxicating and coercive realms of show biz.
The except of this scene is set in an empty, poorly serviced cafe somewhere…in imagination land.
Now, Mildred, tell me about my character in your film.
She’s a very confused woman, bored with the world and everyone in it. Vain…Arrogant…Rude…Self-Obsessed…Calculating…Manipulative…Chip-on-her-shoulder…Angry…Self-Destructive…Very beautiful…and a slut.
Well it’s going to be a stretch but I’ll give it a go.
Wow to you too.
I’m so excited!
I can tell. Well, let’s not waste all that unbridled excitement huh? Listen, we’re not going to be served here. What’s say you come back to my place and go down on me?
Presented by Australian Institute of Comedy In association with the Alex Theatre
Open Media team had the opportunity to film and photograph renowned comedic archeologist Professor Beverly Attenborough outside an actual dig site, situated in the bowels of the Espy Hotel in St Kilda.
Extraordinarily well-preserved fossils have been excavated and will be on show at the Alex Theatre 1/135 Fitzroy Street, St Kilda on the 29th February 2020 at 7pm.
Melbourne’s beloved all rounder Brian Nankervis will host this comedic event, the rarest in Australian history.
Other legendary comics include Flacco, Raymond J Bartholomeuz, Ethel Chop, Con Marasco, Elliot Goblet, Elle McFeast, Slim Whittle, Pate Biscuit, Bev Killick and special guest Professor Beverly Attenborough.
A fun atmosphere filled The Evelyn Hotel this January for a bushfire fundraiser, with money donated to WIRES.
Musician, artist and entrepreneur Bridget Chilver from the band Bridget and the Fridge Magnates orchestrated a tribute show to Channel 10’s The Masked Singer by networking with Melbourne musicians to create a truly unique show.
The masks were made by Bridget and Ashley Warren at Saint Pauls College in Warrigal. The participating singers also contributed to the ideas for what character they would be and their choice of song.
The multi-talented four piece backing band with Layla-Rai Cambourne (Girl Germs/Albert Street) on keys/bass, Daniel Oke (Jarrow/Scraggers) on drums/bass/keys, Pete Stathopoulos (Fivefours) guitar and James Pacholli (HOTS) on drums/bass didn’t miss a beat providing a professional sound for each singer.
Popular frontman Rhys Renwick from the Rhysics also did a great job keeping the vibe alive by sharing clues for the audience and the judges to guess the identity of who was behind the mask.
The room was packed and the vibe was high with 90 plus, very enthusiastic punters. Three hours of entertainment went by in a flash with eight masked singers hitting the stage with highly charged performances.
The masked singers’ included Fairy Floss performed by Calum Newton (Candy), Princess Fiona performed by Yura Iwama (Culte), Beaker by Jack Kong (Gonzo), Hannibal by Georgia Maq (Camp Cope), Alice by Imogen Cygler (just goes by Imogen Cygler), Baby Yoda by Sam Lyons (House Deposit), Phish by the very athletic Rosco Elliott (Spike the river) Jester by Agnes Whalan (Hexdebt).
A small but very prestigious trophy was given to the audience member who guessed all the singers behind the masks and got to choose a mask to take home.
“I just love red and every variation of red – they burn into me…”
Here is a Google searched definition of a Bohemian: “True modern day bohemians are people who operate from the margins. They are aware that we have inherited a world whose ideologies are depleted and can only be refreshed from outside the box. They work in co-operation with like-minded souls or in solitude, in refreshing our culture.”
This, in particular, could easily be an apt description of the St. Kilda based Italian artist Josephine A Wadelton, better known simply as Josie. Wadleton has been described by some as “The doyen of the St. Kilda arts scene”, “An idiosyncratic figure, mostly swathed in burgundy or purple or both…”and “Her impeneratable eyes and inscrutable countenance, at times, give little away. “
Bohemians like Wadelton usually do what they want, they live life their way, they value freedom and solitude, creativity and all things aesthetic. Call them ”arty-farties,” “bohos,” “free-spirits,” but basically they don’t care. Mostly, they possess a unique and individual artistry, so “artist” may be another word to describe Wadelton. Some think “artist” reeks of pretentiousness, but to me ‘artist’ is perfectly acceptable. As far as I’m aware there is no other word for ‘artist’ other than specific types like a painter or illustrator. . However, it’s still a label really and labels, as far as I am concerned, are for soup cans.
Of course Wadelton has done most of the exhibition gigs or group shows including forty five downstairs, “The Robots Are Coming” at Artists Studio 106, “Collective Momentum” at the Carlisle Street Art Space, MUFF Kunst! Violence Exhibition, St. Kilda Art Crawl and numerous others. Her work has been featured in the films “A Beautiful Request,” “The Dream Children,” “106 Artists: Follow Your Dreams” and “Golden Parrots at the Gallery.”
Wadelton says: “The major focus in my work is to express the inward significance of an art work. What’s represented on the physical level has a cryptic hidden meaning therefore my interest in text, colour, numbers and codes. A lot of my influences have been Surrealism, Minimalism and Abstract Expressionism. I draw inspiration from the language and structure of poetry and scientific terminology. I’ve also explored a variety of materials and techniques, like painting on canvas, collage, digital media, soft sculpture, photography and more recently the moving image.”
In August 2010, at the now defunct Guildford Lane Gallery, Wadelton created a memorable mixed media installation entitled: “Defaced: The Exhibition” which focused on books which have been banned, burned and defaced. Her artistic recreation of the books enabled some of the authors and characters to materialise amongst her works. A coterie of talented actors in appropriate costume performed short extracts from the texts. The guests were stunned, captivated, delighted and were quite taken aback when D. H. Lawrence read an extract from his book “Lady Chatterley’s Lover” about simultaneous orgasms, Patrick Bateman read the horrific rat chapter from “American Psycho”, Humbert Humbert read the famous first sentence from “Lolita” – ““Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins.” Then old Radcliffe Hall followed with her classic “The Well of Loneliness” about lesbianism, a stoned William Burroughs read from “Junkie” and finally a Hitler Youth recited from Hitler’s “Mein Kampf” as a prayer.
There was a long silence when the readings ended. Anyone for the bar? The guests were all dumbstruck and speechless. Applause followed sometime afterward then they did quickly head for the bar. Wadelton, smiling, was successful. The bohemian had done what art was supposed to do: communicate ideas – politically, historically, spiritually or philosophically. She created a unique aesthetic, an exploration of perception; for pleasure and to generate strong emotions.
In November 2014, a collaboration between Wadelton and St. Kilda filmmaker Katrina Mathers produced a 3 minute experimental film entitled: “The Worship.” It was screened at Venice International Experimental Film and Performance Art Festival.
“This was my first foray into working with moving image digital media. It melded several socio-religious and culture elements together. Ethiopian women, in a Greek Orthodox Christian Church in the centre of Palermo Sicily, prayed as though driven by some sacred invisible force,” says Wadelton, “Their body language acted as a fluid connection between the architecture of the once Muslim Church and its Medieval icons, mosaics and sacred images. This short has now been exported from the Old World to the New World enriching and nurturing a new audience.”
Mathers created a visual biography about Wadelton entitled “In Her Silence” in 2018. Within a background of Wadelton’s work she talks of her love for the mystery and fragility of colour. The biography also explores a trance-like, meditative and pensive monologue which transcends and challenges the mainstream. Wadelton speaks of her love of silence, of her enduring attachment to art and aesthetics and of the legacy she hopes to pass onto her four adored grandchildren.
“Josie’s incredibly unique, there’s no-one else on the planet like her. She embodies a wonderful strength, she’s inspiring, enigmatic, perceptive and always able to find beauty in the things around her. I feel so honoured to know and be able to work with her. A truly generous and creative spirit.,” comments Mathers.
Both Mathers and Wadelton also created two other video arts, one entitled “Delirious” – A d-word abstract experimental piece created by using the apps “Glitché” & “KinoGlitch which explores the power of words beginning with the letter D. and the second piece “Klunk Memorial” also created by using an app. “This one is my interpretation of “Fallen Leaves” a sculptural installation created by the Israeli artist Menashe Kadishman,” said Wadelton.
Chatting over cafe latte and English Breakfast tea (with Almond milk) I was curious to know how and why Wadelton came to live in Australia…
“The Simeonis’ – my family, emigrated to Australia in 1950. They were originally from Udine in Northern Italy. After the Second World War,my father heard and read wonderful stories about the “lucky country.” So after he finished working for the Italian Navy in Venice, off we sailed to Australia and settled in Clifton Hill leaving behind aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents and also the beauty of Italian Art, History and Architecture.”
Other questions came to mind, so I asked.
What did you do before you became an artist?
“I was always an artist. I knew that at 4. I remember while at primary school in Italy being shown the wonderful works of Michelangelo, Leonardo, Botticelli, Giotto, Fra Angelico, and Raphael. The nuns asked us to draw like Leonardo! So I was quite shocked when I first went to school in Australia that all the kids were drawing stick figures. I made up my mind then and there that I would be an artist and return to Italy and revisit those Florentine, Renaissance, and Roman cities. Then after finishing high school I studied FIne Arts at the University of Melbourne and went on to art school at RMIT. I ended up teaching art in various high schools in Melbourne and teaching art in high school was not taken seriously back in the 60’s. It was a time for playing up. I was quite relieved to stay at home with my mother and not venture back into the school room. Discipline was not my forte and still isn’t.”
Why do you do the work that you do?
“Because there is a strong creative impulse that drives me.”
Which people or what inspires you to work in the arts?
“Being totally surrounded by the creative community here in St. Kilda, the artists, writers, photographers, filmmakers and the rest.”
What do you think are some of the negatives in your work?
“Struggling with large scale compositions!”
What’s been some of the positives in your work do you think?
“A burning desire to research a subject which will lead to a convincing and informative exhibition or installation.”
If you couldn’t do this anymore, what career path would have followed Josie?
Which people or what inspires you to work in the arts?
“Peggy Guggenheim. What a wonderful legacy she has left to the world. This year I was lucky enough to see an exhibition by Jean Arp at the Guggenheim Museum. Peggy’s permanent collection includes works by Max Ernst, Picasso, Braque, Calder, Mondrian, Magritte, Jackson Pollock and Kandinsky. I was also fortunate to see Gilbert and George at a live interview at the NGV. They are both known for their distinctive and notably formal appearance and manner in performance art and also for their brightly coloured graphic-style photo-based artworks.”
What are you currently working on?
“I have been greatly influenced by the Bauhaus movement of the early 20th century. The Bauhaus was one of these movements that gave design a unique place in history: a discipline that fused art and craftsmanship with a philosophical approach. In German, Bauhaus literally means “construction house.” Some of the most notable Bauhaus artists and designers included Paul Klee, Johannes Itten, Mies Van der Rohe, Wassily Kandinsky, and László Moholy-Nagy. It was also the first school to admit female students to its institution! Though the women were relegated mostly to the crafts department, they nevertheless designed avantgarde furniture, tableware, carpets, textile crafts, woven wall hangings and tapestries. The weaving loom design is mostly limited because of its bold verticals and horizontals. So this is how I developed my latest project based on the Grid. Also, wonderfully, I have discovered the power of apps! They have changed the way I create my art work. Using apps I am able to transform and change the scale of my art into various shapes and sizes.”In recent years, Wadelton has suffered with the incurable and mysterious disorder Fibromyalgia. But with her usual bohemian bravado, Wadelton manages the condition like the execution of one of her artworks – carefully, calmly and with much patience.
“The one big luxury I have is to live alone, to be on my own. Which is amazing. Just love being on my own. I never get lonely, that’s one gift I have, I never get lonely. I just like to be alone.“
Now in her early 70’s, Wadelton with her stylish dress sense, crop of silvery hair, still possesses a beauty and aesthetic that emanates originality. Josie Wadelton – the artist and bohemian, lives by the Gilbert and George quote: “To be with Art is all I ask…”. And she is.