Monday, 16 August 2010

Music and statues

With less than two months until we're back home, Jo and I have started to cram in as much sightseeing as possible with our remaining time off together.
One thing that we both like to do is watch live music. Every year, near Brisbane, there is a big music festival called Splendour In The Grass. If you just imagine Glastonbury but much hotter and without the mud then that's what Splendour is! We both wanted to go, until we saw how expensive the tickets were, ouch! However, some of the acts from the festival ended up doing performances in different cities in Australia, which they call sideshows. One act that did just that was Goldfrapp. It seems strange that we haven't seen her before, as she is an English act (but hey, so was Florence!) Anyway, she announced to be playing at The Tivoli in Brisbane which is a 10 minute walk from the 'Valley'. Once there it became apparent why it is a popular venue. It was built nearly 100 years ago and has since been restored in an art deco style, giving it a younger look but keeping its best features including a statue behind the bar which depicts a play from its early days, cool! After getting a much needed drink and enjoying the support act it was time. Alison Goldfrapp walked out on stage dressed in what I would describe as a mix between a chewed up video tape and a poncho! Sounds weird but with the added fan blowing a gale on stage, it looked very 'diva'!
She belted out such classics as Ooh La La, Strict Machine, Utopia and my favourite Black Cherry. The crowd were going wild and dancing their socks off. With her new album being on the dancey side you couldn't help but join in. After three costume changes and two encores it was all over. Jo and I looked at each other satisfied and ready for bed (we're getting old!)
The following day we headed to Brisbane Convention Centre for an exhibition by Ron Mueck, as two people I work with had recommended it. We ended up going on the final weekend, not realising how busy it would be. When we arrived we were greeted by a very long queue to get in. After putting our heads together we figured out a quick way in. The library was right next door, so we popped in, jumped on the internet, wrote down our booking number and then jumped the queue (who's the daddy?!)
Once inside, our jaws hit the ground. Neither of us knew much about the artist or what his work involved. Let me just give you a quick insight into the Australian-born artist.
Ron Mueck has amazing attention to detail resulting in art pieces looking very realistic and life-like. This type of work is know as hyperrealism, meaning the finishing product resembles a photo. With each of his pieces being very detailed and pristine it takes several weeks of hard work. He uses materials such as silicone and fibre glass to make each art piece. To get each sculpture identical to that of a human being he uses acrylic paint as well as real hair which is individually placed onto the body!! Each of his pieces takes hundreds of hours to make. Some of his famous exhibits include Big Baby, Pregnant Woman and my favourite Mask. 
The gallery included 12 amazing artworks, the first being Dead Dad. Lying in front of us ,as we entered, was a very small, but realistic naked man. Jo and I couldn't believe how real he looked. He just lay there on a big white platform, arms at his side, and eyes closed as if his time had come. However, in the following room was the other end of the scale - Big Baby. It seemed to signify one life ending and another one beginning. Here lay a 16 foot baby in all its glory with one eye open to the world. After seeing this I had no idea what was lying ahead!
There was such an array of art under one roof. Favourites included a guy sunbathing on a lilo, a man in a boat (Jo's favourite), and the one anomaly - a giant chicken (!)
Nothing could have prepared us for what we were going to see, which in a way was a good thing. We both left in awe and impressed at all that hard work from one man. I look forward to seeing more of his work and would recommend Ron Mueck to anyone who likes something a bit 'alternative'.
A week later my friend Joe managed to get free tickets to a stand-up comedy night. Jo and I jumped at the offer, as we both like a giggle. The event was held in Albion which is a little drive from where Joe and his partner Steph live. The venue was quite cosy, as the tables were quite close together. We ordered a cheese platter to share, as the meals were quite pricey. There were three acts that night, including two magicians/comedians which I thought were quite impressive. One trick that stuck in my head involved an inflated balloon and an iPhone. The magician pressed the balloon against the phone as it deflated ending with the phone having to be cut out of the balloon, WOW! I always loved magic as a kid and that truly blew me away. The last act of the night was five improv comedians. It reminded us of Whose Line Is It Anyway, which is one of our favourite programs. It involved lots of audience participation both on and off stage. One minute they were spontaneously belting out chat up lines from different occupations, the next they were acting out a political scene with the help from two members of the audience acting as their puppeteers (use your imagination!) All in all a very fun (and free) evening.
One big Queensland event that takes part each year is Brisbane Exhibition, which is shortened to Ekka. It takes place for 10 days. The main day is the Wednesday which is known as Ekka Wednesday. It is also classed as a public holiday meaning Jo got the day off. The bakery was still open but they let me have the day off to go and see it. That Tuesday night it rained cats 'n' dogs! It rained throughout the night which made us think twice about attending. Luckily the next day is stopped. We got there for just after midday. The whole show was pretty big according to our map, with lots to see and do. It was like Devon County Show on steroids! There was something for all ages; rides, competitions, live acts and of course the infamous showbags.
We didn't have a plan so we both just pottered around while looking at bits on the way. We saw a bike stunt show which Jo couldn't bare to watch - too scary. We watched a miniature version of Crufts which Jo loved, as they had baby versions of Paddy there (my parents' dog). There was also a big hall full of food stalls with freebies which I couldn't say no to! One of the biggest things about Ekka is the showbags - there was a very big building dedicated to them. Inside were lots of stalls selling themed bags. They ranged from Cadbury's to Pepsi all the way to Spiderman! Each bag had something different in from sweets to toys. All the kids go crazy for them and buy at least five each. Me being a big kid joined in and bought one :-)
As you probably know by now, Jo and I like to show you photos of us eating! So to keep up tradition here is one of Jo eating a giant sweet (or lolly if you're an Aussie) and one of me enjoying an Ekka strawberry sundae which is another signature tradition at the show. By the end of the day we were buzzing on sugar!
So there you have it. Another fun-filled blog. I hope you are enjoying them still (nearly done!) as we still love writing them. Keep your eyes peeled because within the next few days Jo will be doing a new blog, as we have just got back from a nice weekend away...!