Firebird – Film Review

Estonia, 2021
107 minutes, rated R
Dendy Canberra Tuesday 17 May at 6.30pm celebrating International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia

It always comes as a shock how recently it was that homosexuality and relationships between people of the same gender were illegal across the world. In Australia, it was not until 1997 that Tasmania became the last jurisdiction to decriminalise homosexuality.

This film, set mainly in Soviet-annexed Estonia and Moscow in the 1970s, is the true story of a love affair between Russian conscript Sergey Fetisov (Tom Prior) and fighter pilot, Roman Matvejev (Oleg Zagorodnii). At the time, Soviet men in uniform caught having a sexual affair were subject to severe punishment.

Continue Reading“Firebird – Film Review”

Mike Lucas and Daron Parton – Let’s Build a Backyard

Lothian Children’s Books, Hachette, Australia, 2022
Designed by Ingrid Kwong

The second in the ‘Let’s Build a’ series, this is a bright, colourful book extolling the virtues of working outdoors together as parent and child and of the joys of nature.

Barbie spoke to Mike Lucas about Let’s Build a Backyard
Continue Reading“Mike Lucas and Daron Parton – Let’s Build a Backyard”

Ausdance ACT 2022 Australian Dance Week

Friday 29 April to Sunday 8 May 2022

During Australian Dance Week the Ausdance National Network promotes dance as an essential part of our lives. Ausdance ACT holds the largest Dance Week in Australia.

It is an annual umbrella festival of events, highlighting a thriving and diverse local dance scene. It includes studio classes, workshops, and activities for all ages with many free classes and showings.

Richard spoke to Ausdance ACT Artistic Director Cathy Adamek and the Principal of Canberra Dragon Dance, Wilson Lo.
Continue Reading“Ausdance ACT 2022 Australian Dance Week”

Archie Roach headlines at National Folk Festival opening

National Folk Festlval
Exhibition Park in Canberra
Until Monday 18 April 2022

ARIA Award-winning First Nations singer-songwriter Archie Roach will feature at the opening concert of the 2022 National Folk Festival on Friday 15 April.

The Let Love Rule opening concert at the vast Narragunnawali Stage venue on the EPIC oval from 6pm, also features the Hauptmann Trio, the Phoenix Collective String Quartet, Layla Barnett, Katie Noonan, Alinta Barlow, Tibetan refugee and musician Tenzin Choegyal and the Folk Festival Choir.

Archie Roach and Festival Artistic Director Katy Noonan at rehearsal for the opening concert
  • Listen to interviews and music with Tenzin Choegyal and other festival performers, including Snowy Mountains-based Folk/Americana duo Montgomery Church, and Canberra performers the Super Rats Romanian Band and the Shanty Singers.
Tenzin Choegyal

Montgomery Church

Super Rats Romanian Band

Shanty Singers

Photo of Archie Roach at rehearsal by Living Arts Canberra

Tuggeranong Arts Centre – Contrasting Conventions

Natalie Quan Yau Tso: I have arrived at Yellow
LUCA’s Daughters: Ventre
Karri McPherson: More Than Meets the Eye
9 April until 21 May 2022

These three immersive exhibitions explore colour, surface, co-creation and collaboration. The artist’s works use the mediums of video, painting, movement, installation, and performance and  investigate self-reflective themes including racial identity.

Natalie Quan Yau Tso – I have arrived at Yellow
Luca’s Daughters – Ventre
Karri McPherson – More than Meets the Eye
Continue Reading“Tuggeranong Arts Centre – Contrasting Conventions”

Lake House Studio – Life as we see it

Kyeema Gallery, at Capital Wines
13 Gladstone Street, Hall ACT
Thursday to Monday 10.30am to 5pm
Until 1 May 2022

A selection of works by Lake House Studio students, artists – Jeanette Zvargulis, Ivy Bahr, Sharan Fergie, Jenny Wardrobe, Richelle Eaton, Bec Langridge, Kathryn Adams, Hannah Wardrobe and Caroline Deeble (artist and mentor)

Barbie spoke to Caroline Deeble at Kyeema Gallery
Continue Reading“Lake House Studio – Life as we see it”

Adrienne Conway – Pastiche

Bungendore Fine Art
42B Ellendon Street Bungendore NSW
Fridays to Mondays 10am to 4.30pm
From 2 April 2022

An exhibition of acrylics, mixed media and water colours in works from realistic to abstract. The artist’s work in this exhibition is often impressionistic with delicate colours flowing into one another to create a dream-like sensation.

All work is for sale and may be viewed on the website

Nicole Hurley-Moore – Summer at Kangaroo Ridge

Allen & Unwin, Australia, 2022
Cover design by Mika Tabata
Cover photo Getty Images

Rural romance is a very popular genre in Australia and Nicole Hurley-Moore certainly knows how to grab her readers – this is the seventh of her books and it’s bound to be as successful as its predecessors. Many people are grasping for some cheerfulness in dark times and this author is a fan of happy, or at least positive, endings.

Nicole Hurley-Moore discusses Summer at Kangaroo Ridge with Barbie
Continue Reading“Nicole Hurley-Moore – Summer at Kangaroo Ridge”

Dianna Nixon – The Gentleman’s Companion

Louie Louie, upstairs at Verity Lane Market
Sydney Building, 50 Northbourne Ave, Canberra
Thursday 31 March 2022 (one night only)

The Gentleman’s Companion is a new cabaret show. It is based on the popular recipes and cocktails of author Charles H. Baker who travelled the world during prohibition in search of alcoholic beverages and interesting people to drink them with.

Dianna Nixon talks to Barbie about The Gentleman’s Companion
Continue Reading“Dianna Nixon – The Gentleman’s Companion”

For Katie Noonan, folk festival is about home and belonging

National Folk Festival
Exhibition Park in Canberra
14-18 April 2022

COVID travel restrictions mean this year’s National Folk Festival will feature an all-Australian lineup – but artistic director Katie Noonan says she probably would have largely planned it that way anyway.

Richard spoke to Katie Noonan in mid-March 2022
Continue Reading“For Katie Noonan, folk festival is about home and belonging”

Film review – Friends and Strangers

Currently showing at Dendy Canberra
Also in limited release in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide

Bonsai Films, Australia, 2021, 84 minutes
Rated MA+ (strong coarse language)
Starring Fergus Wilson and Emma Diaz
Directed by James Vaughan

Two privileged millennials team up for a kind of of road movie, described in the blurb as ‘a dryly comic exploration of displacement and ennui in contemporary Australia.’

Continue Reading“Film review – Friends and Strangers”

Concert reviews – a tale of two ditties

Paul Kelly and his band with Fanny Lumsden, Llewellyn Hall, Canberra, 11 March 2022
Frances Madden, The Street Theatre Canberra, 12 March 2022

It’s great that live music is back in Canberra after a long COVID hiatus. Last week we attended concerts as paying patrons over two nights in venues a stone’s throw away from each other – but in some ways, worlds apart.

Great music, but an experience diminished

I guess we should have twigged what was ahead when the long lines for bar service showed no sign of shortening when the bells rang for the start of the show.

Llewellyn Hall at the Australian National University is best known as a classical music venue. Whether it was a lack of available alternatives (such as the Royal Theatre) or other reasons, the organisers of Paul Kelly’s concert (a second show was held the following night) made a poor choice of venue.

Don’t get me wrong – the acoustics and facilities were fine, and the all-too-short opening set by Fanny Lumsden and her band was great. Paul Kelly, his guests Vika and Linda Bull and his band, were most generous with their time, performing for well over two hours including two encore sets.

But a classical music venue with limited legroom and long rows of seats is not the right setting for a rock concert, at which, it appears, people expect to come and go as they please in the middle of the performance, with or without liquid refreshments in tow, and seemingly oblivious to their fellow patrons.

When you gotta go you gotta go, but if you do, please at least wait till the end of a song before you clamber back to your seat and disturb others in the process. This behaviour is not only disrespectful to the performers, but in a closely-packed and dark licenced venue like Llewellyn Hall, it raises potential safety issues. And the youthful door staff appeared not to have the authority to hold people back from re-entering the auditorium until an appropriate break.

Our enjoyment was also not enhanced by a couple of people in the row behind us conducting a singalong when everyone else just wanted to listen to the band.

Kelly is a masterful singer-songwriter and I’m looking forward to his next visit to Canberra – but at a different venue, please.

Picture of Paul Kelly:

Jazz hits all the right notes

I have no claim to be a jazz expert, having come to appreciate the genre later in life – but I know what I like, and I loved Saturday night’s performance by Sydney-based singer, pianist and composer Frances Madden and her band.

Madden was at The Street to launch her third album, Beautiful World, for which she wrote all but two of the 10 tracks.

The concert also featured jazz standards, and Madden’s beautiful voice and virtuosic playing were accompanied by four excellent musicians on double bass, drums, brass and guitar, plus two female backing singers. Of particular note was the band’s versatility, and Carl Dewhurst’s solo jazz and blues guitar performances were simply outstanding.

The audience certainly appreciated the concert, and I hope we will see more of Frances Madden before she departs our shores for an extended period overseas.

Frances Madden talks to Barbie about Beautiful World

ConneXus – Together Again

Old Barn Gallery, Pialligo
18 Beltana Road, Pialligo ACT
10am to 4pm
10 to14 and 17 to 20 March 2022

An exhibition of works by Keith Bailey, Lex Beardsell, Alan Howard, Cherylynne Holmes, Ian Robertson, Jane Styles, Marilyn Stretton, Georgina Griffiths and Dianne Webb.

The artists work in a wide variety of mediums, including textiles, ceramics, linocut watercolour, ink on paper, watercolour on paper, oil on paper and acrylic on canvas board.

All works are for sale.