Sunday, December 21, 2014

National Arboretum growing in Canberra

Canberra’s National Arboretum opened in February 2013.  Almost two years later, the trees are growing and the landscape is covered with saplings, roads, walkways, and a function hall. The core of the $67 million Arboretum is the visitors' centre – with a cafĂ©, function area, displays, and gift shop – showcasing the magnificent views of the landscape and the Australian Capital Territory – the Bush Capital of Australia.

The centre has a national bonsai collection – moved from its previous home at Commonwealth Park. Radiating from the centre are 94 forests of rare, endangered and symbolic trees of Australia and around the world. Over 48,000 trees have been planted on 250 hectare (618 acres) with species from over 100 countries.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Blooming bonsai at the National Arboretum in Canberra

High on a hill overlooking the capital of Australia lies the National Arboretum Canberra on a 250-hectare site with 94 forests of Australian and exotic trees. In the middle is a visitors’ centre. At the visitors' centre is the National Bonsai and Penjing Collection of Australia.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Discover the Discovery Garden at the National Arboretum in Canberra

The domed visitors’ centre of the National Arboretum Canberra, opened in February 2013, displays information about the 250-hectare site containing 94 forests of Australian and exotic trees.

On the terrace of the visitors’ centre is the Canberra Discovery Garden. It is a series of mini-plots and gardens that display landscaped water-efficient trees and plants. Canberra, and much of Australia, is susceptible to long periods of droughts. Hence ACTEW Water and the National Arboretum Canberra collaborated to present ideas and information for arid-land plantings.

The Discovery Garden showcases plants, grasses, lawn, and mulch to inform visitors about sustainable gardening.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Rabbits at the Australian War Memorial

The Australian Defence Force has a long history of military animals, including birds (pigeons and cockatoos), rabbits, camels, cats, dogs, horses, donkeys, monkeys, and even chickens.

Animals have been used for tracking, detecting, ratting, patrolling, sniffing, carrying, transporting, messaging, and rehabilitating, as well as for mascots and companions. The best technology for sniffing explosives is still the dog – they have been estimated to be 98% accurate, making them more reliable that metal detectors and mine sweepers.

But today there were no military animals on the grounds of the Australian War Memorial – except two rabbits.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Vogue Factor by Kirstie Clements: book review

The Vogue Factor: From Front Desk to Editor (2013) is Kirstie Clements’ memoir of her working life at Vogue Australia.

In 1985, at 23 years, Clements answered a “tiny” advertisement for a receptionist at Vogue Australia. The Vogue. The fashion magazine.

Even as a receptionist, Clements “decided then and there I was never going to leave.” Six months later she was an assistant in Vogue promotions where she worked at everything “from conceptualising the shoot, casting the models, and choosing the clothes, photographer and the location.” In this position she “began to understand the level of perfection expected at Vogue. It was extraordinary.” By 1988 she was assisting the beauty editor and writing fashion stories. “It was my dream job.” This was at a time when there were no computers. Layouts were done on paper and copy was pasted on using bromides – “type that had been painstakingly cut out with a scalpel and stuck down” with glue.

By the early 1990s Clements was the beauty editor, socialising with Kylie Minogue, Karl Lagerfeld, Anna Wintour, and with Michael Hutchence in Paris in 1992. It was that year in Paris when she met the man who was to become her husband. The Paris Years, from 1994-1997, took her away from Australia although she continued to work for the magazine until she returned to become editor in 1998 – the top position in Vogue Australia.

Clements tells of her hirings and firings, her strategies for success, the mystique of a sellable cover and her editorial achievements. One interesting chapter is about the December 2004 edition with Crown Princess Mary of Denmark – and the cover with Mary in the purple satin dress. It was a “spectacular success and a complete sell-out, even with its increased print run of around 80000.” She writes of the covers that worked and those that didn’t - and the rise and fall of magazine sales.

There’s plenty of name-dropping, but it is not a catty revengeful read. Rather, Clements praises many in name, and diplomatically avoids names when the situation is less than favourable. But she does tell of the good, the bad, and the ugly side of a working life in Vogue.

Clements begins and ends her memoir with her unceremonious dismissal in May 2012 after working at Vogue Australia for 25 years and as editor for 13 years. Her dismissal was not because of poor sales – on the contrary, “circulation was steady … readership was at an all-time high … we had been voted Magazine of the Year and the previous November at the annual Australian Magazine Awards, we were commended by the industry for our consistent excellence, innovation and quality.” But the Vogue she knew was over.

This is an interesting read, not just for the stories of well-known celebrities, models, photographers, fashion designers and names in the Vogue circle – in Australia and overseas – and not just for the inside business dealings – but also for the historical timeline – over 25 years – of of an institution and of fashion.