Yesterday I worked for Bec's Treehouse Art School at the Christmas celebration in Greensborough, which is located in the north of Melbourne. I must say, I might never get used to Christmas celebrations in 32 degrees, but luckily the kids here don't know any better! 

With the three of us we set up the stand and within no time the kids were running around in our stand. We provided them with different templates for Christmas tree decorations, christmas cards and little Christmas trees (the latter I remember making when I was in primary school a long time ago).

It's great that Bec's Treehouse works all over Melbourne, because I really get to see different sides of Melbourne. Children from all different neighbourhoods and areas are able to enjoy some arts and crafts and most of the art workshops are also for free.

Next to our stand, there were many other stands and also a stage where Christmas carols were sung. It's wonderful to see how extremely excited these children get with Christmas around the corner. They are more than happy to tell you that they wrote a letter to Santa with all the presents they would like to have. Usually not without mentioning they have been very good this year, so surely Santa will give them these presents.

I have one more workshops with Bec's coming up later in December and today is actually my last workshop at ArtPlay. I can't begin to tell you how much I have learned with both these organisations about art workshops and education. It's very exciting to be involved in something you really like, and being in arts education, that is exactly the case.

WHO: Children and parents of Banyule
WHAT: Christmas art workshop By Bec's Treehouse Art School
WHERE: Greensborough, Victoria

NB. Parents have signed photography consent forms for these photos to be published.



Someone who is able to combine my big passions of art and Scandinavia is a person who knows good stuff. And she does. I met Siobhan through ArtPlay here in Melbourne. She is an artist and creates wonderful art, mostly oil paintings and drawings. She is inspired by Scandinavia, a passion we definitely have in common. It is easy to see that she is inspired by the Northern lands, which comes from the fact that she has lived in Norway for three years.

What strikes me most about her art is how delicately she uses her pencils and brushes. The details and precision used in her works makes her work very refined, yet with a strong message. A lot of her works portray the special band that children and animals can share. I also love the fact that she keeps her art works so clean and minimal, just like the Scandinavians are. It shows that a good message through art doesn't necessarily comes forth from very busy, complicated pieces. I very much prefer the minimal, yet powerful art pieces. To me it very much resembles the way people in Scandinavia are. They are humble, have a strong culture and language with lots of mystery to it, but would never force any of that upon you. So often, less is more.

I hope you will get as mesmerized by her mythical work as I did. And although she is way too humble herself to take much credit for the highly qualitative art pieces she creates, I am happy to say I think she is a great, great talent. 

WHO: Siobhan McMahon
WHAT: Scandinavian inspired visual art
WHERE: Based in Melbourne, Australia

WEBSITE: http://siobhanmcmahon.schmolio.com/albums

The following pictures are owned by Siobhan McMahon and come from her website.



As the Icelandic title translates: Coldest and most northern. It is not a secret that I have some fascination for very northern and cold settlements. Not only do I think it is interesting because it is extreme; the people who live in these places are often native inhabitants and have very strong beliefs and ways of surviving which many of their ancestors did exactly the same. 

The photos below are portraits of children in these places. Some of the settlements they live in are in the list of coldest places on earth, others make it on the list of most Northern. Longyearbyen in Svalbard is seen as the most northern inhabited settlement on earth and is part of Norway. There are flights going from larger cities in Norway, something I might consider doing some day.
The coldest settlement is thought to be Oymyakon in Russia. The record of the coldest temperature is measured at -71.2 C in 1924. There are actually some daring tourists these days that visit Oymyakon, so they can experience the utter cold days the city faces each year.

In case you are interested in getting to know more about extreme living conditions in the cold, I would recommend watching a documentary by National Geographic, called Life below zero. It follows several people who live in extremely remote areas of Alaska, most of them above the Arctic circle.

But for now, enjoy the photography of these children living in these extreme settlements.

Note: none of these photos are taken by me. Photo 3 taken by Andrea Gjestvang. Photo 4 taken by Alex Saurel.

 Child in Oymyakon, Russia. Coldest temperature: -71.2 C
 Child in Qanaaq, Greenland. Coldest temperature: -58 C
 Child in Svalbard, Norway. Coldest temperature: -46.3 C
 Child in Verkhoyansk, Russia. Coldest temperature: -69.8 C
Child in Yakutsk, Russia. Coldest temperature: -64.4



My friend Siobhan and I decided to go to the NGV - Ian Potter gallery in town after some coffee. The Ian Potter Gallery has changing exhibitions and often initiatives that include the gallery visitors to be interactive.

Today we found two interactive installations. The first one was made by Emily Floyd, which included cutting and folding a little booklet and then using a good old typing machine to include some words. Seeing a typing machine makes me smile, because I used to have one as a kid, and I loved to type short stories. Not only was I born in a period of time where computers were not all that common, I also just enjoy the simpleness of a typing machine. No internet, no distracting gadgets and tools, just a machine to type words. Without sounding too melancholic, I do sometimes miss those days where things seemed more simple. 

The second installation included hundreds or maybe thousands of PVC letters. We were free to make words or sentences, and I made one of my favourite sentences from lyrics by the Icelandic band Sigur Ros. Siobhan chose to make her favourite Norwegian word: Kjærlighed.

I always enjoy it when museums are interactive, but to a certain point. I often read about people finding that certain museums have too many gadgets and technology involved, and how it sometimes distracts them from seeing the art for what it is. At the NGV they balanced the interactivity with the 'passive art'. It was just enough to feel like a kid again, and to play around like we used to. But also just enough, to feel like adults, when we were discussing some serious Australian art from the 19th century.

WHO: Ian Potter Gallery
WHAT: Interactive installations
WHERE: Fed square, Melbourne

 Siobhan & the typing machine
 Walking on letters

Og ég fæ blóðnasir, og ég stend alltaf upp



As you might have read, ArtPlay is the art centre for children where I have been volunteering at art workshops.
Last Sunday I was involved in an art workshop about making fish using branches and wool. This workshop was for 2-3 year olds, which is a challenging age. Therefore, parents are usually involved to help their children during these workshops. It's not only interesting for children to learn about arts and crafts, but it also strengthens the band between parent and child.

After the workshops ended, the three of us gave some feedback on the workshop. Feedback and reflection are very important, as there are always ways to improve. Questions that we asked one another were:

- Was the workshops too long? The children at this age have a short attention-span and perhaps it would be better to shorten the workshop, as they started running around after 45 minutes.

- Would it be better to give the instructions beforehand, sitting them down on pillows on the floor? Children at this age easily get distracted and whilst explaining them the goals of the workshop, they were already twiddling at the leaves and wool. 

- Should the process of the fish-making be more detailed? Some parents got the idea of making fishing rods when they were done making the fish with their child. It added an extra effort and in the end the kids were hanging their fishing rods over the railing as if they were fishing, they loved it!

Although giving feedback can sometimes be hard - artists can easily get the feeling they are being criticized - it is very useful in the process of making the workshops better than they already are.

WHO: Children aged 2-3 and their parents
WHAT: Making fish
WHERE: ArtPlay, Melbourne

PS: Excuse me once more for the quality of the photos taken through my phone.

 Preparing the workshop
The impressive preparations of another workshop



As many of you know, I have always been very interested in tribes and indigenous people. I find it so interesting that they have had their own values and ideas for so long, and that even though society has changed tremendously over the past centuries, many of these tribes still believe the same as their ancestors.

One of these examples in Australia are the indigenous people (or Aboriginals & Torres Strait Islanders). The art you will see by the indigenous people does not only incorporate their most important elements (fire, water, wind and earth), but also tells stories about social change. I believe it is important to see how many of these indigenous people feel about these changes that are happening in their lives and how they feel they need to adjust to modern society. The art is often made with natural materials, including wood, fibres, earth pigments and feathers. It shows the core of the earth by using its original materials and through this, it shows the power of the indigenous beliefs.

I mostly like indigenous art that was made before commercialization started. A lot has been written and said about the exploitation of Aboriginal art for economic purposes. Although I do not know enough about it to discuss it in great depth, I do know that I like the art before it was 'art'. When the purpose of making it was solely for the people themselves, for expressing their feelings and beliefs, and not to sell it for commercial purposes.

Even though there are non-aboriginal artists that use dot-painting techniques to resemble the aboriginal art, you will never see me buy that art. I enjoy the real expressions of the indigenous people, I want to hear their stories, their history and their heritage. I am interested in the how and why of their art and what it means to them. To me, art is not and will never be about money, and certainly not about exploitation. Some people might think I am oblivious to the changes, which I am certainly not. But as conservative or naive some may think it is: I will always believe in art for art's sake.

WHO: A variety of Aboriginals & Torres Strait Islanders
WHAT: Indigenous art
WHERE: NGV, Ian Potter Gallery, Melbourne



Becky is a lovely lady I met during the lantern making workshops I volunteered for. I was very happy to hear that she runs her own art workshops for children and that I was able to help her with this. Last Wednesday we had a meeting with the other girls about the upcoming workshops and what we would be doing.

Yesterday I had the pleasure to work together with a few of the others at the 20th anniversary of the Whitehorse community in Box Hill. Me and Jan were helping the kids making horse puppets and the other girls were in charge of the face painting. The festival was a great success and the kids loved making the puppets and putting them on sticks so they could walk around with them.

This workshop was specifically made for this festival, as the horse puppets were representing the Whitehorse community (see the big White Horse in one of the photos). The upcoming workshops will be in light of Christmas approaching. Becky has been leading this workshops for quite a few years now and is well-known in Melbourne for her funky, fun and exciting workshops for children. Her website is definitely worth looking at.

I am very grateful that Becky is giving me a chance to gain more experience in art education, as it is still my goal to work in this field. I really get an idea of how children learn and what they enjoy doing in terms of art. Being able to work for both Bec's Treehouse and ArtPlay here in Melbourne is a fantastic opportunity and I hope I will be able to use these experiences in my further career when I go back to Europe!

WHO: Bec's Treehouse Art School
WHAT: Horse puppets workshop at Whitehorse Festival
WHERE: Box Hill, Victoria

(again, excuse me for the quality of the photos, these were taken by my phone)



Today my roommate Izzy (and undergraduate student in theatre production) took me to the annual exhibition of the undergraduates and graduates at the Victorian College of the Arts. These students are finally finished with their degree (I remember my joy very vividly!) and showing their last showcase of their academic career. After this, they are ready for the world of arts!

I had the opportunity to talk to a very of the students that were at the exhibition. I enjoyed talking about their opinions of the art world, sponsorship, funding and governmental regulations. It's interesting to hear how things work in other countries, and I was surprised to hear that in Australia there are a lot of private funders and businesses that are willing to invest. This is something we are still struggling with in the Netherlands, as we are currently still heavily funded by the government. Although I realize that the landscape of arts in Australia looks very different from the one we have in the Netherlands, it is still refreshing to see that there are a world of opportunities to keeping the arts alive.

We were able to see the exhibition of performing arts, including very talented pieces of costume design and production design. One day these talents will be creating the set of the new 'friends' series or create the costumes of another Shakespeare play. These are the new and upcoming talents and it feels wonderful to see how excited and enthusiastic they are about their future career in arts.

Another thing that surprised me, is how all types of art, from performing to visual, from sreenwriters to community cultural development are all located within the same school. Back home, we are utterly divided, and the university purpose is to give you a theoretical academic background, not to collaborate with the artists themselves. But how amazing it was to see that these students were able to collaborate on so many different levels, and how much they can learn from each other. There is something to think about Netherlands, maybe time to blur the lines?

WHO: Undergraduates & graduates from the VCA
WHAT: Annual graduation exhibition
WHERE: Victorian College of the Arts, Melbourne

(Unfortunately I forgot my camera, so here are some shots taken from my phone)

My talented roommate Izzy



Last September I applied for a volunteering position at ArtPlay here in Melbourne. Little did I know that these volunteering spots are very wanted and I got lucky I eventually got in. The reason I wanted to get involved with ArtPlay is because it is a very special venue in Melbourne where art workshops are given for children and families, inviting a large range of different artists. As I am still pursuing a career in art education, this would be the perfect place for me to get an insight of how it works.

After a long application procedure, many different checks and an interview, my first shift was finally coming up! Last Sunday the Hip Hop choir MASSIVE had one of their 3 workshops. MASSIVE is giving these workshops in light of the Melbourne Music Week. The workshop last Sunday was a little bit extra special: it was with babies. The choir would sing, play the drums and entertain the babies and parents with their quirky lyrics. Some involved certain lullabies, other songs asked for the parents to clap or sing along. Later when I asked one of the artists, she explained me that they want to break down the barriers between young and old and especially to vanish away the ideas that many people have about Hip Hop. It was wonderful to see how everyone seemed to love the workshop and how the little kids where dancing (and sometimes gazing with amazement) and experiencing their first moments with art & music.

It is beautiful to see how ArtPlay is getting different kinds of funding and has many partnerships to be able to exist. They are also constantly doing research, to see how they can improve, but most importantly, to show everyone how meaningful their work is and how providing children and families with the opportunity to explore art in an abundance of ways is more than necessary.

WHO: ArtPlay
WHAT: Art workshops & education
WHERE: Birarrung Marr, Melbourne



I have always loved taking photos. Of travels, streets, people, wildlife and landscapes. I love the way that your camera takes pictures that your eyes can't take and turns them into permanent memories. I love to catch that smile, that wink, that tear, that one moment that will never be erased. A few years ago I bought my first DSLR and being still very happy with it, it was always something for myself to practise. But lately, I have been taking photos of events, theatre performances, festivals and galleries. And after my last event I was asked to be the (paid!) photographer of the next event. It was not the fact that I would get money for it that I liked, but the fact that they loved the way I captured the athmosphere of the last event on camera. I did not expect that people would come up to me and thank me for my photos. Appreciation can just not be expressed in monetary terms (and yes, professor Klamer, money is never the end goal!)

And although I still have a very long way to go in terms of photography, I would like to see this as the start of something new. The start of me, exploring creativity on a different level. May there be many more photography assignments coming up!

WHO: Me, the photographer!
WHAT: 40th anniversity NRCH
WHERE: Richmond, Melbourne



Last week I was in Thailand, which is still one of my favourite holiday destinations. That week was the Loi Krathong festival, which is an annually celebrated festival in Thailand, Malaysia, Laos and Myanmar. It takes place on the evening of the full moon in the 12th month of the Thai lunar calendar, which is different from the calender we use. The word 'loi' means to float, and although the word 'krathong' has several meanings, it mostly means floating boat or decoration. The krathong is a decoration made for that evening and includes banana leaves, flowers, candles, and most importantly: a piece of one of your nails and a piece of your hair. This is to please the gods and to pray for good luck for you and your family.

The festival is a celebration of the spirits and an important part of the Thai culture. I talked to several Thai people in the village we were staying, and they were all very excited to celebrate the festival at night. I always enjoy talking to local people to understand their culture, heritage and art. It is wonderful to see that we all live on one planet, yet we have different values, ideas and traditions. In the end, I believe it is worth understanding each others' culture, so that we can tolerate and respect what others believe in.

A piece of Thai culture and traditions, but I hope not one of the last. See you hopefully soon again Thailand!

WHO: People from Thailand/Malaysia/Laos/Myanmar
WHAT: Loi Krathong festival
WHERE: Thailand