MonthJuly 2018

Kathryn Spurling – Fire at Sea – HMAS Westralia 1998

Published 2018 by Elephant Tree Publishing/Missing Pages Books

Cover of Kathryn Spurling's book Fire at Sea: HMAS Westralia 1998

Dr Kathryn Spurling is the author of eight books of Australian military history. This most recent recounts the tragedy of the fire on the Westralia in 1998 that took the lives of four young Naval personnel.

In his foreword Bernard Collaery, lawyer to the families whose children we killed, says: ‘getting behind the smokescreens of alleged systems failures to identify those who were individually responsible is like getting behind the veil of secrecy at the Vatican.’

Whilst this book is an objectively told history of a tragic event in Australian Naval history, it also holds a deep personal connection for the author who taught Midshipman Megan Pelly whilst tutoring and lecturing in the School of History University of NSW and who gave her a congratulatory handshake just six months before she died in the Westralia fire.

The book is highly commended to those interested in military history and issues of social justice. Find out more about Kathryn Spurling at

Listen to Barbie’s interview with Kathryn Spurling

Australian Decorative and Fine Arts Society

Picture of Klimpt - The Kiss

The Australian Decorative and Fine Arts Society Canberra (ADFAS) offers a yearly program of one hour illustrated lectures by overseas and Australian lecturers. Occasional half day special interest sessions are also held when topics can be examined in more detail.

Coming up on Monday 20 August: Anne Anderson – The Vienna Secession 1918-2018: Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele.

The lecture will be presented at The Commonwealth Club at 10am and The Shine Dome at 6pm. Refreshments are served after the lecture.

On Tuesday 21 August Anne Anderson presents Mackintosh and the Glasgow Four, a special interest morning at The Commonwealth Club at 10.15am.

Information and bookings (required) at

Listen to Barbie’s interview with ADFAS Canberra Chair Lola Wilkins

Living Arts Canberra Public Launch

Tuggeranong Arts Centre Friday 27 July 2018

A cheery event in the Hunting Lodge at TAC heralded the official launch of our website and LACE internet radio station.

Journalist Genevieve Jacobs did the honours with a speech in which she spoke of the importance of community and connection in the media. The Night Als made their debut performance to the delight of the crowd and junior journalists from St Jude’s, Molly and Toby, spoke about Kids on the Radio.

Thank you to photomedia artist Kerry Baylor who was our social photographer and whose photos are shown here. Thank you to the director and staff of Tuggeranong Arts Centre who worked to prepare the lodge and on the night, and supported us with bar hospitality for our guests.

We are so grateful to everyone for the support and encouragement we have received and look forward to developing lots of great projects and programs as the year rolls on.

Val Johnson – Colours of Cornwall

Strathnairn Homestead Galleries until 19 August
Artist floor talk Saturday 11 August at 2pm

This beautiful collection of paintings, ink and wash drawings and mosaics is the result of two visits to Cornwall by the artist in 2010 and 2016. The work evokes the Cornish coast and its fishing villages wonderfully well – and for me it was a journey to childhood nostalgia. I do recommend that you take the short trip to Strathnairn, now decreasingly rural in its aspect, to see this latest body of work by one of Canberra’s best loved artists. Continue Reading“Val Johnson – Colours of Cornwall”


Natasha Lester – The Paris Seamstress

Hachette Australia 2018

Yes I am a Francophile with an interest in fashion harking back to my childhood and a mother who would have liked to be a fashion designer had the War and the thinking of the times not intervened.

This is West Australian writer Natasha Lester’s fifth novel. It is set in New York and Paris jumping between the World War II era and the present day, and ably entangles us in a story of both darkness and light – a true family saga of secrets, intrigue, love and lies. Continue Reading“Natasha Lester – The Paris Seamstress”


Deborah Rodriguez – The Zanzibar Wife

A Bantam book published 2017 by Penguin Random House

This is the third novel by Deborah Rodriguez, following the very popular The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul and Return to the Little Coffee Shop of Kabul. As a writer of both fiction and nonfiction, she calls on her experiences living and working in Afghanistan, though this latest story focusses on Oman and Zanzibar. Continue Reading“Deborah Rodriguez – The Zanzibar Wife”

Lisa Ireland – The Art of Friendship

McMillan Australia 2018

This is the second novel of Victorian coastal dweller Lisa Ireland. It examines the nature of old and new friendships, the nature of love, the challenges of parenting and family life. Set against a back drop of domestic violence, this story quietly unfolds, as its protagonists Kit and Libby navigate their way through the rediscovery of themselves and each other as adults – after a lifelong childhood friendship conducted often long distance. Continue Reading“Lisa Ireland – The Art of Friendship”

Stronger than Fiction Documentary Film Festival

Palace Electric Canberra, 2 to 5 August 2018

We attended a media preview screening of Minding the Gap on Tuesday 10 July. Made in the USA this year by young director Bing Liu, the film follows a group of young people in the economically depressed town of Rockford. Continue Reading“Stronger than Fiction Documentary Film Festival”


Trees – ANCA Gallery

Work by Wendy Dodd, Deborah Faeryglenn, Susan Hey, Janet Meaney, Sharon People and Marli Popple, until 5 August 2018

This beautiful and diverse collection of work invites the viewer to contemplate the way trees and other vegetation form important communicative networks both above and below the ground. The reading of Peter Wohlleben’s The Hidden Life of Trees stimulated discussion within the larger group of which these artists are members, Networks Australia, and has informed much of the work in this exhibition.  Continue Reading“Trees – ANCA Gallery”


Graham Wilson: Arnhem’s Kaleidoscope Children – A Memoir

Published 2018 by BeyondBeyond Books
Email [email protected] for information

Graham Wilson is a prolific writer of fiction with ten novels published both as e-books and print. This latest, Arnhem’s Kaleidsocope Chldren is a memoir of Graham’s life, growing up as the child of missionary parents in the 1950s in the Northern Territory and specifically at Oenpelli.

The book takes us to many places both in time, space and philosophically. The missionary work of his parents as people trying to do good and being friends with people who needed it is covered along with thoughts on the various incursions of white Australia into Aboriginal Australia. Graham writes beautifully in this highly personal work – his knowledge and love of the NT landscape shines through with descriptive passages of startling clarity and brilliance.

I highly commend it to readers with an interest in the social history of Australia and in the complex issues surrounding the Australian Aboriginal people.

  • Listen to Barbie’s interview with Graham Wilson


The Flowers of War presents The Diggers’ Requiem

Llewellyn Hall ANU School of Music, Saturday 6 October
Bookings from Ticketek, Information:

This may seem a long way away but I do encourage Canberrans to book now. There are just 1500 seats available in Llewellyn Hall for this single performance and it is a monumental work, not to be missed. Continue Reading“The Flowers of War presents The Diggers’ Requiem”


Holly Ringland – The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart

Fourth Estate, an imprint of Harper Collins, 2018

This is Holly Ringland’s debut novel and a beautiful book inside and out. The gaspingly fabulous book cover and internal design is by Hazel Lam using the drawings of Edith Rewa Barrett – and it is this that immediately grabbed my attention in the bookshop displays.

Of course, the cover points us to the content – a story of loss and painful discovery, an emotional life expressed to some degree in the language of flowers. Alice Hart begins her life in the shadow of domestic violence and this relentlessly enfolds her as we follow her to young womanhood. The long shadow of inter-generational violence is the over-arching theme for the story.

However, Holly Ringland also speaks of the significance of country, of place, of courage, of healing and the possibility of release. Without spoiling the reader’s experience let me say that the notion of expiation through fire is a repeating motif. And we are left with a sense of hopefulness by this story and its strong women.

And please do read the author’s note and acknowledgements at the end of the book – they are instructive.

  • Hear Barbie’s interview with Holly Ringland.


Canberra Sinfonia

Under the patronage of acclaimed Canberran soprano Louise Page OAM, the Canberra Sinfonia is Canberra’s newest semi-professional musical ensemble, designed for and by emerging professional musicians in Canberra. With a focus on early Classical-era music, the Sinfonia is a chamber orchestra intended for emerging musicians to bridge the gap between amateur and professional performance opportunities in Canberra.

Find out more at