Biennale Bootcamp

•April 29, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Hey Guys – so the Sydney Biennale is in full effect – and although I’ve been to a few galleries in Chippendale, I haven’t really partaken in any of the festivities.  I should note here that the biennale has been under heavy protest and scrutiny for its ties to Transfield Holdings (linked to controversial offshore detention centers) (see more on that, and the chairman of the biennale’s resignation over the issues here).  Despite this, my love of art in general, and Cockatoo Island in particular (you may remember it from my post on the Underbelly Art Festival last year), drove me to partake in some biennale related festivities.  In particular, the Biennale Bootcamp.




That’s right, a bootcamp for the biennale – a lovely (if odd) mixture of fitness and art appreciation. Basically, you go to Cockatoo Island, where a personal trainer and a docent lead you through the artworks, explaining them and guiding you through various exercises. The pictures above, sadly, are from their facebook page, not the day Grant and I went.  The day Grant and I went it was raining pretty hard, plus we were running up and down hills and doing all manner of burpees and squats and such – so photo ops were far and few between.  It was incredibly weird, but incredibly fun – I must say, however, that the once-a-museum-guard/docent-always-a-museum-guard/docent in me was pretty aghast at the prospect of doing step-aerobics ON a work of art (yep, I did jump-squats off and on a work of art, guys) but I sucked it up and did it. Some of the works (like the Foucauldian village above) had little to do with exercise, but some had everything to do with it- (the bootcamp itself was a work proposed by an artist for the Biennale).  For example, there was an entire room of gym equipment gone nuts (think if Willy Wonka had a fitness franchise instead of a candy factory) – when the exercising was over, Grant and I went back to take some photos of it:


This one had a squeaky toy in the middle, so every time you brought your arms together it made noise.



Don’t mind Grant, just strength training through some trees……


This set-up was the most fun, the swing-seats were controlled by a weight machine, so you could push everyone:


More forest-like weight training……


And if you prefer it to be even more decorative….




And then there was the elliptical machine that controlled a skeleton puppet:



So yeah, a pretty great experience, I’d say – and my arms were actually sore the next day, so a decent workout on top of it.  We even had our cool-down by a waterfall:



My favorite piece at Cockatoo (it wasn’t part of the bootcamp, we saw it afterwards) was a video work titled “Interrogation” by Ignas Krunglevicius.  Krunglevicius originally trained as a composer, and it really showed – the work was very sound-intensive (in the best Gaspar Noe do-your-head-in sort of way) and very simply, but cleverly presented the transcript of an interrogation of a wife and mother accused of murdering her husband.




Here is some video:

a few more cockatoo photos:




Then we made a quick pop-in to MCA  where we saw a Pipilotti Rist video:

and Nick Cave:



And while I never want to speak poorly of art in general, we sadly left the day on a low note – I won’t name names, but there was a video work at MCA that made both Grant and I kind of just want to get out of the museum as fast as possible and go home.  All I will say is, beware wall text that doesn’t give you a run time, and a particular video piece that rhymes with “men view wall pin-few a prance”


Sydney Fest and Australia Day

•February 2, 2014 • 2 Comments

Hello Guys,

So, we’re quite sick at the Guinness-Bollmer house this weekend – I’ve been bleeding on dermatologists and recovering from a pretty bad lower back injury (a freak injury involving poorly timed combos of pigeon pose and weightlifting squats), and Grant currently has a thoroughly dreadful case of food poisoning/stomach bug thing going on – so in between sleeping and complaining to one another, I’m going to catch you up on the fun stuff we have been able to fit in.  First of all – Grant has finished his book and sent it off! Now it is up to the publisher to decide if they want it, which of course they will because he/it is brilliant.  Other than that, we went jumping (pre back injury, luckily) on a giant inflatable stonehenge.

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It was clearly a whole lot of fun.  And why was there an inflatable bouncy-stonehenge in the middle of Sydney? It was an art installation called “Sacrilege” that was part of the Summer Sydney Fest.  Sydney Fest consists of lots of food, music, and all around taking advantage of the beautiful summer weather.  The best food by far was the Messina (a wonderful gelato company here in Sydney) carnival stand.  They had sundaes, and lots of fair foods dressed up to involve gelato.  Such as …..

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In case you can’t read that, the messinawiener is “a baton of maple syrup gelato coated in pancake batter, deep fried and crispy – dipped in plum sauce” and it was delicious.  I’ve had my fair share (get it?, ha!) of American state fair fried food, but I can’t say that I’ve had deep fried gelato before.  We also had their “So Wrong, It’s Right” sundae which had caramel cheesecake gelato, duck fat caramel, crushed potato chips, and bacon marshmallows.  I KNOW, right?

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Then we walked towards the harbour to see some weird architectural art piece that turned out to be a building facade on the ground with a mirror above it.  A lot of fun for kids though:

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And then we walked back to Hyde park to see one of my favorite sculptures in Sydney:

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Then on Sunday it was Australia day – which is a highly problematic holiday (due to its nature of celebrating when Australia was “discovered” – think the controversy surrounding Columbus day a bit) and is often referred to as “invasion day”.  From what I can tell it is celebrated with fireworks, giant inflatable flip-flops, and drinking and barbecues.  I will use any excuse to bake, so politics aside, I decided to embrace my new residence and made the most Australian dessert I could think of (NO, not a pavlova, those are from New Zealand).  I made a milo flavored cheesecake with a chocolate crackle crust.

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Chocolate crackle (from what I have discerned) is the Australian version of rice krispie treats – instead of marshmallows you mix rice cereal with chocolate and coconut.  And then milo, milo (I think) is a delicious malted barley chocolate drink, like Ovaltine, but the Americans in this video seem to disagree with me:

(if you watch that all the way through – note how the last guy uses delicious Tim Tams to wash the taste of vegemite away)

After that we went along with some friends to the art gallery’s celebration of their new exhibition on ……

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America! (American painting to be exact – and yes Dad, there was some Thomas Hart Benton, and yes mom, there was Eakin and Whistler!) The night was really fun – they had a voice coach teaching people how to “speak like an american”, a pop up american bar and restaurant that gave you the choice of Budweiser or Heineken (America!?), and some bluegrass musicians, and a spoken word / instrumental / foley artist reading of “Last of the Mohicans”.

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The next day Grant turned in his book, so we celebrated by going to our favorite local bar, Kingston Public, to get a bottle of their finest “hippie wine” (they categorize their wines by Red, White, Sparkling, Orange (yes, I know! and I really want to try it!) and Hippie – basically just meaning biodynamic and unfiltered, which Grant and I are realizing is our favorite kind most of the time.) We also got some delicious food:

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Other than that, the cockatoos have been out and about in droves and making so much noise:

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And the weather has been beautiful!

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Merry (Sydney) Christmas

•January 7, 2014 • Leave a Comment

So, I’m trying (aren’t I always?) to be better about blogging – so while I plan on still catching you up on Manchester visits and Thailand visits – and my trip back to the states (although I saw most of you there, you know what happened!) here is what Grant and I did for our Christmas together in Sydney.

We weren’t sure where to get a live tree (plus we got back from the States a bit too late to enjoy it for long enough) so we went to a Christmas pop-up warehouse type thing to look for a tree.  We were immediately greeted by Australian-flag bedecked bikinis and sunglasses. It was not a good sign.  Further worrisome was the parade of horrors that included:




I don’t know either.

BUT we found a tree and some cool ornaments and got it home and lovingly decorated (although that also included getting glitter EVERYWHERE – we went out to dinner with Grant’s uncles later that evening and they were kind enough not to comment on Grant’s appearance until we mentioned the tree/glitter incident (treecident?) – and then they politely said “oh, we thought it was a makeup choice” Indeed guys, indeed!)

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Yes, those are ice cream cones and glitter-covered lamingtons!  We thought the lamingtons were especially clever as we keep mispronouncing the road we live on, and it may or may not be pronounced lamb-ington, not lee-mington as I say. (Who knows? It’s spelled Leamington, so you choose!)

Anyway, the other great find at the warehouse was this:


Not a great photo, sorry – but that, my friends, is a GIANT 8-PERSON CHRISTMAS CRACKER! IT IS FILLED WITH ENOUGH CROWNS AND TOYS AND JOKES FOR EIGHT WHOLE PEOPLE!!!!! Needless to say, I was thrilled to find out this thing existed. THRILLED.  (And if you don’t know, christmas crackers are a sort of British tradition that made its way into my home my whole life – you pull them open and they make a big CRACK noise and then there is a paper crown, a toy, and a joke inside – my mom even managed to find some non-christmas ones to have at Grant and I’s wedding. (I’m sure most of you know this already though, sorry!)) I had a hard time waiting until Christmas to open this, let me tell you.  So to bide my time, I baked some cookies:


and made lemon curd to fill them with.  Pro tip: do NOT try to make and then roll out a butter-based cookie during a heat wave in Australian summer.


I also made some peppermint marshmallows:



So, on to Christmas morning! I made Joy the Baker’s (who I love – her podcast with Tracey Shutterbean is awesome) dark chocolate-orange-pistachio cinnamon rolls and they were GREAT.  I highly suggest you go watch her video in which she makes them with the pioneer woman right now:

Go ahead, I’ll wait. You’ll thank me!

Yummy, right?

Ok, so while those cooked, Grant and I opened our stockings.



Grant knew I was grumpy about the lack of cold and snow in Sydney on Christmas, and so he got me some snow in a can! We were going to go outside to build a snowman with it, but it was raining. So instead my dinosaurs built one with the playdough that also came in the stocking:


Grant approved:


And then presents! I got, among other things, a professional-quality ukulele and tuner (yay!) which I am now trying hard to master.  I can play “Oh My Darling Clementine”, “When the Saints Go Marching In”, and this:

Grant got some yoga clothes and a little bits/korg analog synthesizer. He had a lot of fun with it and made a LOT of noise with it.



After that excitement we took a walk in the park.  We discovered a section of park used to train kids to ride bikes in the city (it simulates traffic situations and roads) and there were a lot of kids trying out their new bikes:

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There were also some families playing cricket:

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We also saw a snail:


Then  it was time to go home for dinner (which was duck – each year Grant and I have Christmas on our own I try and  cook an edible duck.)  I still haven’t perfected it. Here he goes:


and half way through:


and then, because I didn’t bother to see how much the duck actually weighed, here he is a bit overcooked at the end of it all:


And then, the moment I had been waiting for – time to pop the giant cracker! And pop it we did you guys! We each grabbed an end, pulled, and……………… nothing.


NOTHING! It was entirely empty! No toys, no crowns, no jokes! I couldn’t believe it! I still haven’t recovered! I kept that damn box around to write a strongly worded letter to the “colour christmas company” for about a week, but was lazy, and realized we got it from a sketchy pop up christmas warehouse…. and then just recycled it. WAH – WAH.  Merry Christmas!

Happy New Year!

•January 1, 2014 • Leave a Comment


Hey guys! So now we’re all caught up and together here in 2014, but for a few hours I was waaaaay ahead of you and living happily cozily (well, sleeping mostly) in the future here in Sydney.  Samoa aside, (and New Zealand, sorry New Zealand)  Sydney is really where the big “first new year’s celebration” game is at. See the above beautiful photo of fireworks at the Sydney harbor bridge, for example.  And what do the big festivities here have over, say, the New York ball drop? Lovely warm summer weather AND semi-acceptable public restrooms (as opposed to the NONE of them in Times Square).  So Grant and I went to a close park (not the main area in the CBD near the Opera House and Harbour Bridge – we aren’t *crazy* and we aren’t *young*).


No, not *that* great – that isn’t the Sydney Harbor Bridge (can you guys tell that I am currently at a loss with my “o” “ou” spellings? (harbor/harbour) – it is driving me, my spellcheck, and I’m sure the various American, UK, and Australian search committee members who have to read my mess of a cover letter that bounces between spellings CRAZY. Anyway – back to the bridge. This lovely bridge is the Anzac Bridge in Glebe. We chose not to pay a fortune to fight crowds and walked to a park about 30 minutes away from us.  See that bridge behind the Anzac Bridge off in the distance? That’s the Sydney Harbour Bridge!

We arrived five hours before midnight, but sadly the park was packed. Luckily, I thought outside the spatial box and found a sneaky spot between the sidewalk and a bush and the waterway – it was so great that Grant and I flagged down a security guard to make sure they were actually allowing people to sit there.  He assured us we could, congratulated us on our good spot-finding skills, but then asked us to please not fall into the water as he would have to be the one to pull us out. He was a super nice guy – and later helped a lovely French woman open a can of pate as big as a big birthday cake with a swiss army knife!


There he is! (and those are just the people crammed in in front of the sidewalk, the actual full park is on the other side). And here is our view of everyone from our spot:



and their view of us:







We brought a picnic and took some photos:


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We also started (well finished? carried out?) a new New Year’s tradition.  This whole year we kept a jar in our house that, whenever something nice happened, or an event we wanted to remember occurred, or just something stupid/silly even, we wrote it down and put it in said jar.  Here it is:


And then, while waiting for the fireworks at midnight, we slowly took turns drawing out papers from the jar and reading through the year’s memories – sappy maybe, but it was really, really fun.  We’ve already started the jar up again for this year. (here is the jar by the water last night)



At 9 there was a smaller fireworks show families:


and then the big ones at midnight!

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Then this morning we had a big brunch with coffee cake (not the most aesthetically pleasing as I tried to cram it in a much smaller bundt pan than the recipe called for, but it tasted wonderful), avocado toast with eggs, mushrooms, tomato, and steak, and fruit salad and (of course, duh because we are not savages) mimosas. (Can you spot the official tourist mug from Finland? Thanks cousin Robert!) IMG_1676

And now, speaking of food, I am off to make what I would probably deem my “recipe of 2013” – which is Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen’s eggplant and three cheese calzone.  Fitting as I got her cookbook for Christmas last year (thanks mom!) and it is without a doubt the one recipe I have made the most this year – and Grant goes crazy for it, just crazy. His eyes get a bit….. scary when there is mention of it being made. So  try it!











High art and ….. not quite as high art.

•October 27, 2013 • Leave a Comment

Hey guys! So I’m back from my trip to Thailand, and Grant and I are quickly approaching the end of our first semester here in Sydney.  All we have left is the final barrage of papers to grade and then we fly back to the states for a very quick trip.  We’re really enjoying life here, and are feeling especially lucky about the neighborhood we ended up in.  We’re about a two minute walk away from this place called the “Carriage Works” which houses a weekly farmer’s market and other fun events. Two months ago there was a huge record sale and a few weeks ago a very upscale art show/sale.  We couldn’t resist either, but more pictures got taken of the latter. Here we go!


We were greeted by this taxidermied calf with blood jewels running out of its throat and into a milk bottle. You know, ART!   Here are some non bled-out works Grant and I both agreed we would want in our home (if that home belonged to bizarro-world bajillion-aire versions of ourselves who could just go off and buy some William Kentridge stuff for our bathroom on a lark).





There were some really cool video/painting works in which there was a painting combined with a gif-like moving image.  The effect is hard to show in photos, obviously, but it was quite fun and impressive:



What else? Oh – the one work I was really obsessed with and would probably have actually bought (it was already sold) was this oval-framed painting of Michael Jordan.  (upper middle)


I don’t know, maybe it was the inner card club kid in me (yes, I belonged to Coach Palmer’s after-school sports card trading club, and had the most awesome extra large cutaway Jason Kidd and Dennis Rodman cards EVER, what?!)

So like I mentioned, everything was for sale (it was really more of a gallery promotion / sale than the art show Grant and I treated it like) and there were some heavy hitters:




Gilbert and George!





And the aforementioned William Kentridge works.

After having our fill of art viewing, we walked a few blocks over to ….. see more art! There was an arts festival in Chippendale called “The Beams” and it was full of spray-painting and weird obnoxious performance art and really good music and hip hop dancing (mostly by adorable, adorable children):


The entrance was a bridge of plastic cups, oooooh street-art.






Eating in the street!


Beat boxing! (I seem to have lost my adorable child photos)


Cute Dogs!



Spray Painting!

So yes, a great day of art viewing.  We also learned that Grant fits right in with the art-elite of Sydney with his Freitag bag and that even the worst pieces of video art can be saved by adding David Bowie songs to it.  Coming soon to the blog: evil ibis, Manchester memories and Bangkok stories!

One Night in Enmore makes a dog-gy ….. something.

•October 13, 2013 • Leave a Comment

Hey guys so guess where I am right now?

No, I’m not starring in an off Kings-Street production of the musical “Chess”, I’m in Bangkok!  To be more specific, I’m sitting in my hotel room waiting for my travel buddies to wake up from a late night of karaoke-ing.  So while there will be a lovely blog post on my exciting trip, for now I’m going to play catch up with some stuff Grant and I have been up to in Sydney.


Grant in his office – we’re really settling in to work and such, and even though it makes me feel like I’m betraying my former New Zealand home, I have only just now gotten around to making a pavlova (there is a bit of a fight over who invented this dessert, Australians or New Zealanders).


(Food photography is not my forte, but you get the idea).  And here is a cross-section of some of the park-bird wildlife:


Last weekend we went to a dog show which was held  outside of a pub in Enmore (a suburb of Sydney near us).  It was for mutts only, and had prizes for ugliest dog, most disobedient dog, and randiest dog (among others).  They even had a wading pool and bouncy castle for the dogs!




(I recently got a photo editing app and I can’t help but overuse it, thus all the doodley-texty-filtery photos throughout).

Here are some dogs pics for Patrick and Stephanie (a bull terrier, which Grant and I just refer to now as “dodger-dogs”)



There was an obstacle course that none of the dogs seemed too eager to complete:


This bulldog made a valiant effort, but eventually needed some assistance:



All of the dogs were really well behaved, and it was an excellent day.  There was even a photo-booth for the dogs:


 So I think I hear my travel companions stirring, that’s it for now – but much, much more Sydney/Bangkok stuff to come!

Playing Catch Up, Typical Days (Bondi Beach and Bagels!)

•September 15, 2013 • 1 Comment

Hey guys, so Grant and I have now officially hit the two-plus month mark of living in Sydney.  We have a few favorite places, are hitting our stride with classes, and Grant has even been interviewed by the Sydney Morning Herald.  Unfortunately, there hasn’t been a ton of time for blogging.

So here is some catch up:  about two months ago some friends from Wellington came over to Sydney and so we decided to use their visit as an excuse to visit Bondi Beach and a brunch place we wanted to try out, “Lox Stock and Barrel”.  (It was so good to see you Emma and Jared!) The restaurant was wonderful, and had really, really good bagels – which I was thrilled about.  This is a sight that makes my NJ heart happy:


Also making me (but most definitely not my heart) happy was this delicious Reuben-bagel sandwich:


And the beach! I still live (relatively) close to the beach! Here is Bondi:


And a token instagram shot:

And a gorgeous pool sort of built into the ocean:


For some more recent happenings, I saw a koala on campus yesterday:


And today Grant and I went to the park so that I could do grading somewhere other than the kitchen table.  (I have weekly architectural sketches and essays to grade, plus this week the Digital Art’s class had a midterm paper due, AND the architecture class had a big exam – so LOTS and LOTS of grading to be done this week.)  We stopped off at our new favorite place –  Suzy Spoon’s Vegetarian Butcher.  They have great sandwiches, vegan baked goods (their soy linseed loaf is so good Grant and I have had it for dinner the past three nights (with salads, we’re not just gnawing on chunks of bread over here!), and lots of vegetarian sausages, burgers, and mince as well as seitan and tempeh products.  And the barista there can manage to make a mean flat white out of almond milk (she’s magic).


Grant got a vegan cheese, pesto, and tomato sandwich:


And I got my favorite, a vegetarian BLAT (bacon, lettuce, avocado, and tomato).


The park was lovely, as it always is:


Then we went to campus (University of Sydney’s) to check out a book sale.  Here are some photos of where we work:





There you go – I’ll try to play catch up more often!  And as far as travel plans go – I’m going to Thailand next month for my awesome Buddy’s 30th birthday, and then Grant and I will be back in the states sometime in November. YAY!

Oh wait – some more quick updates – A BIG GIANT congratulations to my brother Patrick and my future-sister-in-law Stephanie for getting engaged recently:



And happy first birthday to my adorable nephew Elliot!