Sole Sister

Cruising in the single lane


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All Fired Up – Peter Rushforth

In this age of celebrity for not much at all, I applaud the concept of a living national treasure. Recognising living national treasures is Japanese in origin honouring individuals or groups who embody intangible national cultural values. To be a living national treasure is an acknowledgement of true master status.

Australia is among countries to have adopted this idea and, while some on our list might raise eyebrows, others who are not on it deserve to be. One I would like to nominate is Peter Rushforth who has been making pottery since 1946 and is still firing up his Blue Mountains kiln at the grand age of 92. Regarded as Australia’s greatest living potter his contribution to Australia’s cultural landscape is currently acknowledged with the largest exhibition of his work since 1985. If you’re a ceramics lover and visiting Sydney you can view 150 of his pieces gathered from galleries including the National Gallery, and private collections, which make up the retrospective All Fired Up, at the National Trust Gallery at Observatory Hill.

The exhibition reflects the sense of Australian place in colours and materials which embody Rushforth’s work.  He is particularly known for his refined glazes, including his Jun glaze produced through a long, slow firing, which results in a range of blue finishes, from pale through to deep indigo. Ironically, Peter Rushforth developed his artistic interests in World War Two while he was a prisoner of war of the Japanese at Changi. He subsequently acquired many of his skills through studying in the land of his former captors and absorbing their philosophies. His guiding principle is said to be the Zen concept of: “develop an infallible technique and then leave yourself open to inspiration”. Sounds like advice the Australian cricket team could adopt!

IMG_0731Peter Rushforth’s pots reflect the colours and materials of Australia.

IMG_0726The blue Jun glaze achieved through a long, slow firing.

IMG_0736Some products of Rushforth’s “infallible technique”.


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I heart Sydney

By some magic the weather is always perfect when I arrive in Sydney. This is fortuitous because visiting my Sydney family means experiencing some of the world’s most acclaimed tourist sights – all at seniors’ rates. To get from Sydney Airport to Seaforth I take the train to Circular Quay where that greeting panorama of Harbour, bridge and the shining sails of the Opera House, etched against a blue sky, always takes the breath away. Then I jump on the dear old green-and-cream Sydney ferry to Manly for the next leg of the journey. It’s impossible to tire of the sight of sunshine sparkling across the vast expanse of harbour, of other ferries plying backwards and forwards, sail boats bobbing randomly and 360 degrees of harbourside roof tops glistening.

IMG_0690World travel icons at seniors’ rates.

IMG_0707The dear old Sydney ferry.

IMG_0706How good is this?

I love passing the Heads where the ocean swells rock the ancient chugging ferry as it eases towards the Manly wharf. I remember as a child when living in Sydney briefly, to allow my father to have an eye operation, visiting Manly Wharf with my brother and getting stuck upside-down on a ferris wheel. Those were the days when kids could do stuff on their own. Today, instead of amusement rides, Manly Wharf is home to an eclectic collection of restaurants, catering to Sydneysiders’ favourite pastime – eating out. The final leg by car showcases the spectacular views enjoyed by those lucky enough to share a piece of harbourside real estate.

IMG_0699Destination Manly Wharf.

The current exhibition at the Art Gallery of New South Wales captures the essence of the Emerald City. Sydney Moderns spotlights the masterpieces of the local artists between the wars, a time when Sydney was being transformed by life-changing structures such as the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Works by celebrated artists such as Grace Cossington-Smith and Margaret Preston chart the early making and style of this world city.

Grace Cossington SmithGrace Cossington-Smith’s Harbour Bridge under construction.

sydney modernMargaret Preston portrait.

Sydney is full of such interesting nooks and crannies. One such hidden gem is Angel Place, not far from Martin Place, where high up in a narrow laneway numerous empty bird cages are strung to represent birds that once sang in central Sydney but have been relegated to the out skirts. Recordings of the bird calls fill the laneway. I do hope the Powerful Owl is still around somewhere.

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