Friday, 22 February 2013

Fiday Five: Biggest Weaknesses

I've applied for a lot of jobs since I've been in Australia. Ten, in fact. I've had a couple of interviews and a lot of rejection. As a writer living in Canberra, many of the positions I'm applying for involve working in government departments. To work for the government, it is preferred if you are an Australian citizen. I'm not.

There are interviews, and there are endurance tests. I quite like the interviews where you sit and chat and exchange views and you tell them what you want and they tell you what they want and it's soon pretty clear whether that's going to work. They're fine. And then there are the interviews with human resources. They are generally accompanied by a clipboard, a check-list and a load of clich├ęd questions to which you are expected to parrot text-book answers. I hate these.

This latter type encourages dishonesty from the start. The true reason you want to work for them is because you need the money. You know that; they know that, but are you going to admit it? Unlikely. Nor are you going to tell them you sulk when you don't get your own way or you handle conflict by pulling faces at your adversary behind their back. So why do they bother asking?

The question I dread most is the one about your biggest weakness. The usual answer is some guff about being a perfectionist, having high standards, putting pressure on self to complete task ahead of schedule, blah blah blah... All sorts of thoughts flash through my mind - none of which I would ever supply in a serious situation. But I am so tempted to offer one of the following:

5 Responses to the interview question 'What is your Biggest Weakness?'
  1. Bad timekeeping - I hate getting up in the morning and I'm rarely punctual
  2. I like to bitch and gossip about other staff, particularly if I can set people against each other and upset morale for my own amusement
  3. I take credit for others' successes and am very quick to apportion blame to cover my arse
  4. Insufficent standards of personal hygiene
  5. Alcohol

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Art Gallery of South Australia: Part Four

In this final post from the Art Gallery of South Australia, I thought I'd get a little more modern.
Flora (1970) by Barbara Hanrahan
Barbara Hanrahan was an artist, printmaker and writer whose work mostly revolved around the roles of and relationships between women. Between 1957 and 1960 she studied towards a diploma in art teaching from Adelaide Teachers' College, while also taking classes at the South Australian School of Arts. In 1961, she won the Cornell Prize for painting. From 1963 to the early 1980s she lived mainly in England, first studying at the Central School of Art, London and then lecturing at the Falmouth and Portsmouth Colleges of Art, before returning to Adelaide to live until her death in 1992.

I love this hypnotic print which looks like an illustration from an avant-garde children's tale. It seems to swirl and throb with vibrancy and colour.

Milngiyawuy/ Milky Way (2004) by Naminapu Maymuru-White
Detail from Milngiyawuy
Naminapu Maymuru-White is from North East Arnhem Land in the Northern territories. She began helping her fathers Narritjin and Nanyin paint their bark paintings and sculptures in their bark shelter on the beach at Yirrkala in about 1964 when she was twelve years old.

This work of natural pigments on bark is fairly self explanatory and incredibly relaxing to gaze upon. Just like the night sky it imbues the viewer with a curious sense of calm, connection and insignificance.

Milmilngkan (2008) by John Mawurndjul
John Mawurndjul was born and lives in the region close to the Mann River in central Arnhem Land, which is an important site for the Kuninjku people. Considered one of Australia’s leading bark painters, Mawurndjul began painting in the 1970s under instruction from his elder brother and renowned artist Jimmy Njiminjuma.

Milmilngkan relates to a major ancestral site for Kuninjku people. Mawurndjul has developed a sophisticated and very fine form of the traditional rarrk (cross-hatching) which has its origins in ceremonial body painting designs. The surface of this work has a shimmering intensity that evokes both the powers of the ancestor and the reflective moving surface water of the sacred billabong. This is an excellent example of an important development in Mawurndjul’s painting, showing an increasing move towards what may be read by Western audiences as abstraction.

In an interesting exercise to persuade patrons to engage with the gallery, an on-line competition was held in which viewers were asked to vote for their favourite art-works from the archives, which would then be displayed. Here are some of them.

Dry Grass Landscape (1986) by William Robinson
The perspective on this painting is intriguing. From some angles you appear to be looking down, like the birds flying above the river, whereas the next minute you find yourself at the bottom of the tall trees looking up into the clouds. It's disconcerting, but then so is extreme heat and drought.

Ngatijirri (Budgerigar) Dreaming (1987) by Billy Stockman Tjapltjarri
This acrylic painting represents the travels of the Budgerigar ancestors during the Dreaming. On their journey, the ancestors stop to camp in sandhill country around Ilpitirri, near Mount Denison. The camps are depicted as concentric circles superimposed on a background mosaic of sand dunes, broken by patches of desert plants.

Billy Stockman Tjapaltjarri (c1927-), a founder of the Papunya painting movement, is from the Anmatyerr language group. He was born at Ilpitirri near Mount Denison, north-west of Yuendumu. The Papunya artists explain that their paintings come from the Dreaming. Like the natural features that mark out the journeys of ancestral beings and the ceremonies that re-enact these journeys, the paintings are both part of the Dreaming and part of the physical world.

By painting the designs and stories that represent their particular Dreaming places, the artists assert their rights and obligations as Central and Western Desert landowners, entrusted with the ritual re-enactment of the events that occurred at these sites. As part of these ceremonies, elaborate ground paintings are constructed using a symbolic language of U shapes, concentric circles, journey lines, and bird and animal tracks. This unique visual language is also used in designs painted on the skin, and is the same language made familiar by the Papunya painters.

Owl Vase (circa 1910) – Ernst Wahliss Porzellanhaus
I just love this fellow - he's so gloriously ugly. I also like his mischievous wink and reckon if he were in my house, I'd laugh every time I looked at him. He certainly looks as though he knows exactly what you've been up to, but he'll keep your secrets for you! 

Sunday, 17 February 2013

My newest favourite thing: MaltEaster Bunnies

The MaltEaster Bunny looks pretty cute with his round paunch and big ears. Him Outdoors bought me one as a treat after a Sunday run. It's six weeks until Easter so I reckon it's just about okay to be purchasing festival goodies (hot cross buns, creme eggs and so forth).

This little chap is milk chocolate with a crunchy and creamy Maltesers centre. The middle has the malt honeycomb consistency of normal maltesers, but the texture around it is almost fudge-like. Apparently there are mini versions of the bunny, but this size (29g) seems just perfect to me, and you can devour him in three bites.

I don't know how long they've been available in Australia, but this is the first one I've seen. I'm sure they are likely to breed as all good rabbits do, and we shall soon be overrun. Perhaps I might be able to help solve that problem...?