27th January, 2017

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January 27th, 2017

Hello!  My favourite thing about this week’s newsletter is my 14 year old daughter Amelia’s Friday Five Favourites so, if you read nothing else here today, skip down to her segment towards the bottom of the page. Before you get there, here’s the other stuff:

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1) Watching: RIP Mary Tyler Moore.

Here’s a list with links to the 12 best episodes of The Mary Tyler Moore Show (apart from the famous and oft-listed Chuckles Bites the Dust) on Vulture from a few years ago. “The show, which featured Moore’s character asking for equal pay to her male co-worker and going on the pill, became a paradigm of the women’s liberation movement and is credited with inspiring women to break the mold confining them as wives and homemakers. ” — HuffPo.

2) Listening and looking: An Illustrated Talk With Maurice Sendak  from the New York Times interview. Illustrator Christoph Niemann added some magic to this already emotional, beautiful, recorded conversation between interviewer Terry Gross and the late, great Maurice Sendak.

3) Inspiring: Cinplex’s best use of colour of all time. A top ten of brilliant films that use colour as almost another character. Lovers of film and colour design will enjoy this a lot.

4)  Coveting: With Phil being in Dallas this week, I am hankering for cowboy boots and this is only reinforced by a little Messy Nessy inspiration – University life in Arizona in the 1940s. Rodeo!

5) Saying thank you: This is where I get a little (and only a little) political. If this doesn’t interest you, skip on to item 6 or maybe 7, but I have my leanings and I can’t in good conscience ignore them. It has been an epic and important week in the history of Women’s Rights and Feminism. There is so much I could link to, but I will keep it to these three things: Firstly, up until recently, it might have been easy to sit back and complacently think that not every voice matters. You are not equal. I’m sorry reminds us of how important it is to acknowledge how easy we’ve had it thanks to those who have taken great risks. It also reminds us of how much more there is to be done.  Next – right here I am going to link to the Socialist Worker article Don’t shame the first steps of a resistance which highlights some thoughts about standing together in the days after the Women’s March on Washington (thanks Peg).  Lastly, a reminder of the gaping holes in the movement so far with Beyond Walking and Talking, Post-March Postmortem with Portland Women’s March Organiser Margaret JacobsenOkay. End political post. (Not the end of political motivation, however.)

6) Listening: A new pop anthem for the times; MILCK’s Quiet.  And here it is being performed by MILCK and a group of women who rehearsed together online before meeting as a flashmob in Washington at the Women’s March last Saturday.

I have also spent the week flashing-back and listening to Alt-J’s This Is All Yours from 2014, mostly because I love, love, love this song – Warm Foothills

And if you are keen – here’s a playlist on Apple Music of all the songs I have mentioned in the Small Batch List to date.

7) Cooking:  It’s a week of days. Robbie Burns Day (Wednesday), Australia Day (Thursday) and Chinese New Year (tomorrow). Okay, quite honestly, we didn’t actually celebrate or even remember Robbie Burns Day until Jamie Oliver reminded me with a haggis recipe in my inbox. Coincidentally we have been eating good Scottish porridge each morning this week. Apart from making the mornings even more desperately rushed, it’s making life kinda delicious. Here’s Jamie’s page on lots-of-ways with porridge. (I’ve been saying that with my excellent fake scottish accent all morning.) We go the half milk / half water route, and I also add a wee spot of brown sugar and a shake of cinnamon while it’s cooking up. We then serve it with a generous blob of applesauce and a glug of thick cream. Required: When serving it, I always say “thistle set you up for the day”, again in my excellent fake scottish accent.

And Australia Day? Again, we did not actually celebrate the day and continue to question how appropriate it is to celebrate this date at all… but it has made me think of home and, as always, that leads to thinking about pavlova, of course. Despite the Winter still creeping around our bones here, I am dreaming of summer fruits.

Here’s the basic pav recipe I follow… and above are some suggested variations on toppings – Back left: strawberry, basil and black pepper (whoa!). Front middle: raspberry, berry sauce, pistachio and peach. Back right: mango, passionfruit and pineapple. Gah! Yum.

Coming up tomorrow is Chinese New Year and I can’t stop thinking about steamed pork buns. I’ve never made them and I can’t decide if I am brave enough to try now. Dare me?

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Friday Five Favourites – guest-starring Amelia McCluskey

Student by day, epic sleeper by night. 14. Hilarious. My kid.
Most often found at school or looking at YouTube in her room.

Amelia took a little time out of exam week to write this for me. Like a true millennial, she sat next to me on the couch and composed the whole thing on her phone. Thank you, Amelia. You are one of the sweetest human beings and an absolute gem.

1) Frankie Magazine
I discovered Frankie Magazine on a sewing summer camp 6 months ago. Every day at lunch time, after we had spent several hours hunched over sewing machines, making clothes and sweating like the Dickens, the camp leader took us into the woods where she lay down on a picnic blanket and fell asleep for 45 minutes. She brought a cloth bag with her full of magazines for us to look at while we waited for her to wake up, and in this bag I found three issues of Frankie Magazine. An Australian publication full of photography, fashion, pictures of things you didn’t know you wanted and fantastic articles by fantastic writers, Frankie comes out with six issues a year, and it is always chock-full of excellent stuff. On the days when I come home from school and see that sealed plastic bag with my name on it and a thick, beautiful issue inside, I am forced to spend hours not doing my homework. I flip through the pages and jot down names of ceramic artists and shoe-makers so I can look through their etsys and drool later, hoping that one day Mum will give me a little more allowance so I can afford those robins-egg blue clogs.

2) Improv 
I saw my first improv show when I was in Grade Four. One of my friends was having a birthday party and had chosen to take us to see the high-school improv team perform in the evening. I don’t think I even understood what improvisation was at the time. I mean, at that point I was still telling my best joke, over and over again. (“Why are pirates scary?” “Because they ARGGGGH!”) Onstage, the kids performed a scene where they were all a giant stapler. I was totally awestruck. The idea that they were working cohesively as a group to create a completely made-up scene on the spot astonished me.

Now that I’m in my first year at the high-school, I actually get to be on the team, rather than just seeing some of the members in the grocery store and wishing I had the courage to ask them for an autograph. It’s so much fun. Soon my team will be going to compete against the other schools in the region and, maybe one day, we too will make a giant stapler.

3) My Ukulele
I’ve recently discovered how much I like writing my own songs, and my ukulele is the perfect instrument to sing them to. (I call her Stephanie. She has been known to steal boys’ hearts and make grown men cry.)

I love the Ukulele for how small and easily transportable it is, and for how easy it is to pick up. For beginners, the only notes you need to know are C, G, Am and F, and you will instantly be able to play pretty much any song. (Riptide, Somewhere Over The Rainbow, Little Talks, the list goes on.)

Stephanie will always hold a special place in my heart, although secretly I’m saving up for this babe (she’s electric).

4) Watching TV With the Fam
My constant running commentary through pretty much any show that I watch is incredibly entertaining. (Mum and Dad might disagree.)

Even when I’m home alone, I won’t hesitate to make clever observations and tell tangential stories, only to realise there’s no one sitting beside me on the couch. (Even so, that doesn’t stop me.) Recently I have been loving Mozart in the Jungle, Please Like Me, Gilmore Girls, West World, The Crown and A Series of Unfortunate Events.

5) BØRNSDopamine 
Dreamy, talented and a little bit full of himself (for good reason though!) singer and occasional ukulele player Garret Borns’ album Dopamine (on Spotify and on iTunes) was probably my favourite of 2016. The songs Electric Love10,000 Emerald Pools and Fool are all must-listens, but first check out Seeing Stars which isn’t on this album but is a song that makes Mum and me clutch our hearts and sigh every time it comes on in the car.

 

– – – Previous Friday Five Archives – – –

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See you next week!

Claire Robertson,
The Small Batch List
Person with a keyboard
xo

p.s. 100 points for guessing the quote in the subject line! Last week it was from The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock by T. S. Eliot (one L one T – I still remember that from grade 9 exam prep) but you you knew that, right?

 

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January 20th, 2017 #18

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January 20th, 2017

Hello hello. Another week has flown by – tick tock. Here on the island the snow and the skating ponds have (mostly) melted and the rain has set in. It’s hard not to feel old and tired at this time of year in all the darkness. All I want to do is sloth around, eat hot chips and watch bad TV.  Feeling the drag set in, I clicked through and read this article which highlights the dangers of sitting down too much and the direct link to ageing. As a result this newsletter took me twice as long to write as I had to keep springing up to prevent wrinkles.

When I googled the spelling of ageing (aging?) I got this as the top return: “Ageing, also spelled aging, is the process of becoming older. The term refers especially to human beings, many animals, and fungi, whereas for example bacteria, perennial plants and some simple animals are potentially immortal.”

So, like all smart human beings, many animals, and fungi, leap up and run around for half an hour. Your flawless skin will thank you.

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1) Looking: Juxtapoz x Superflat at the Vancouver Art Gallery until Feb 5th, 2017. Conceived by Japanese neo-pop, superflat luminary Takashi Murakami and editor of the underground art journal, Juxtapoz, Evan Pricco, this group show brought me so much inspiration and joy. I think this is one of the best things I have seen at the VAG in the six years we have lived here. I love this aesthetic. The works selected are fresh, edgy, humour-filled, curious and irreverent. As the VAG description says, Murakami and Pricco’s aim is to flatten high and low cultures,  drawing on traditions such as illustration, manga, graffiti, skate, surf and digital art. The show is packed full of strong and completely engaging work. I wanna go back!

Top to bottom, left to right: James Jean Bouquet, Swoon Edine,  David Shrigley Life Model, Parra Anxiety, Mark Ryden Anatomia, Rebecca Morgan Pittsburgh Joely Jug and Ochre Jug.

2) Watching: Sing Street is a fabulous family film (perhaps for an older family, as Commonsense Media says 13+) dripping with 80s nostalgia in both subject matter and stylings.

It’s a solid household favourite around here at the moment and reminds me of classics such as The Commitments and School of Rock. The mixture of genuinely good music and off-beat yet relatable characters facing all the expected challenges creates something familiar but totally entertaining. Watch the trailer… see? How can you resist? On Netflix. (thanks Carrie Cogan, editor-at-larger-and-larger)

3) Reading: Ed Emberley – The Kids Are Alright in Juxtapoz magazine. If you were a kid who was into drawing and were born some time around 1970 and beyond, chances are you discovered and loved the Ed Emberley drawing books, full of step-by-step instructions on how to draw pretty much everything in his kooky, distinctive style. This interview is chock-full of interesting snippets and opinions about art, children’s book publishing, Ed and his wife Barbara’s life and process, the history of print and the direction social media is pushing us in.

“…when you draw, you go away. You go to another place. It’s a safe place. And it’s a real place.” – I hear ya, Ed.

4) Inspiring: The Songs Birds Sing is a sweet and inspiring video from Montague Workshop about trusting your own voice, ignoring your self-doubt and going for it. I showed it to Lily, who watched it with a smile, and I recommend it to you because it’s a message all of us need to hear from time to time.

5) Podcasting: The Washington Post encourages you to upgrade your podcast playlist in 2017 and features a list of suggestions from their staff podcasters. I am excited to try this episode of No Such Thing as Fish as it features one of my favourite comedians (read: genius) Tim Minchin.

6) Listening: This is a pretty, pretty sad song; Phoebe Bridgers Smoke Signals. And this song is a kinda sappy but I do love it; No One Knows Me (Like the Piano) from Sampha.

7) Slow-cooking: Sorry vegetarians….  but on these grim winter evenings, this beef stew is really good and so easy.

If you have a slow-cooker it takes about 10 minutes to throw together the meat and veg, herbs and sauces and then it bubbles away all afternoon, making the house smell incredible. Even the kids like it. This in itself is miraculous.

8) Icelanding: Iceland knows how to stop teen substance abuse – and it’s not just about looking super serious in a tracksuit when you get your photo taken.

10) Quoting:  “I’ve been absolutely terrified every moment of my life – and I’ve never let it keep me from doing a single thing I wanted to do.” — Georgia O’Keefe
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Friday Five Favourites – guest-starring Laura Gluhanich

Community Manager, Rock Climber, Owner of a small, cute dog and the person I steal all my good music suggestions from.
Most often found at A Song A Day, Twitter and GluFactory

I have never actually met Laura, she is my internet-imaginary friend and I have been keenly following her ideas and suggestions for years. I feel when we actually meet one day (you never know!) we will get along like a house on fire. I couldn’t resist asking her what her Friday Five Favourites are because I knew they would be excellent. Thanks Laura!

1) A Woman to Know Tinyletter by Julia Carpenter: 
AWtK is my favorite daily newsletter (as opposed to weekly, ahem). It is so affirming to start each day reading about the fascinating women history overlooks. The cadence of one per day is just right, and Carpenter’s commitment to showcasing diverse perspectives is refreshing.

2) Silent Book Club:
#Humblebrag – I am a cofounder of SBC. Even so, it is a favorite online online community and IRL meet up, filled with readers of all ages and backgrounds across various social channels and cities around the world. I can’t wait to see where it goes in 2017.

3) Elaine Page singing Nobody’s Side:
It seems like a good time to brush up on US/Russia history, and what better way than through musical theatre? Elaine is such a powerful performer, she leads the entire orchestra and outshines the forgettable 80s video recording to boot. I love this performance and come back to it regularly. In fact, I just included it in my Stronger Together playlist, highlighting strong, female-led songs.

4) Cards by Hailey
My favourites of these keep changing. I want all of these delightful, punny cards.

5) Franny & Zooey by JD Salinger: 
I read this book at least once a year, and have gifted it numerous times to friends and family. I love the humor, the characters, and ultimately, the optimism that pervades, despite covering Big Subjects.
Incidentally, it’s clear that Wes Anderson would not exist as the filmmaker he is if not for Salinger, and specifically, Franny & Zooey.

Thank you so much Laura!

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Have an excellent week and drop me a line if you feel inclined. I was a bit slack towards the end of last year and didn’t get back to a few kind emails (thank you to you!) but I’m back feeling relatively organised again.

Claire Robertson,
The Small Batch List
Person with a keyboard
xo

p.s. 100 points for guessing the quote in the subject line! Last week it was from Tennyson’s The Foresters – Robin Hood and Maid Marian. Congrats to Dave French who mentioned it on Facebook. If you knew it from memory, I am well impressed!

p.p.s. Happy Birthday to Rob!

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January 13th, 2017

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January 13th, 2017

Hello and welcome back! Do you like my animated gif? I made it in about ten minutes, sitting up in bed holding my sketchbook on my lap and my phone in my hand, using the iMotion app. Animating has never been rougher! Don’t look at it for too long, it will make you ill.
This year the Small Batch List will be shorter (but sweeter!). Due to the powers that be (Mailchimp – who are marvellous but have to be practical) my hard work was being ruthlessly cut and sliced and dropped out in various mail programs as it was too long, so instead I will be making sure that everything arrives safely in everyone’s inboxes. This is also the perfect excuse for me to keep it brief and a whole easier to put together, as my work-life was becoming all about the newsletter, and I have some drawing to do this year. Hopefully this shorter-sweeter-briefer-tastier version will be easier to digest too, and a little less sprawling and overwhelming for you.

So without further ado, here is some stuff for this week:

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Looking:
When deliberating who might be my top 10 visual artists of all time, Yoshimoto Nara would have to be up there. Emerging in the 1990s during the Japanese neo-pop movement, Nara paints distinctive big-eyed children with clear lines and clear colours. This may sound sweet, but there is an edginess to his subjects. Blank-faced or seething, guitar-swinging, cigarette-smoking or wistfully staring right back at you whilst brandishing a knife. I love his sense of humour and whimsy. His Instagram is always the first thing I check – and lately I have been loving the ceramics he has been producing with help from the admirable Otani Workshop.

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Delighting:

1) Watching: Hunt for the Wilderpeople (above). Watch immediately. A totally charming and offbeat story of a kid raised in foster care, who is sent to live with a quirky older couple in the New Zealand mountains. There is so much love and humour in this story… part buddy-movie, part action-adventure, part poignant, heart-breaking story of a kid who nobody wants. It’s a great family movie (for those over 12). On Netflix.

2) Reading: I’m reading Man at the Helm by Nina Stibbe, which Pip Lincolne recommended in the Small Batch List a month or so ago. In the vein of Barbara Trapido or Maria Semple (creators of other wonderfully eccentric families), this is great fun.

3) Looking: AnonyMouse – this wee, tiny pop-up store makes me love people. (via Messy Nessy)

4) Watching (obsessively): My new favourite tv show is Mozart in the Jungle. It follows the trials and travails of a fictional version of the New York Symphony Orchestra.

Gael García Bernal (above right) leads this ensemble cast (and the orchestra) with a completely irresistible performance (or is that just me?). Granted, it’s patchy and in some places downright sentimental and cheesy but the characters are so good, and stories about driven, crazy, creative people are hard to resist. Streaming on Amazon Prime.

5) Drawing: Neocolor II Watersoluble crayons – my Christmas present. Waxy, lovely crayons that produce deep, vivid colours and a nice thick coverage. Plus! Just add water, and presto… watery!

6) Reading: My dear friend and confidant Carrie Cogan has a new blog and it’s really great: Dented Stars. I love her writing so much and at this point I will have to stop calling her my Editor-at-Large as she is really just off doing something so brilliant without me! Yeah, Carrie!

7) Video-ing: Inspired by Heather Champ’s 2016 via 1 Second EverydayI have downloaded the 1 Second Everyday app and have started my own video visual diary compilation. It’s not too late to start.

8) Cooking: This cake with this frosting. After decades of trying and failing at making my Mum’s chocolate cake, I decided this last weekend to give up completely and try something new. I did my usual trick and googled “Best chocolate cake recipe in the world ever” and came up with this. Success rate 100%, and seemingly idiot-proof, as I picked up my tablespoon measure rather than the teaspoon, therefore adding a huge amount of bicarb, baking powder and salt (though I did say to myself “gee that looks like a lot of salt” and halved the amount, fortunately!).

9) Listening: I have just put on Open from San Fermin, a new track from a forthcoming album. I have never heard of this indie rock outfit led by classically trained songwriter and composer Ellis Ludwig-Leone — and now I am off to explore more, starting with their last album, Jack Rabbit. Thank you Laura for highlighting this in your A Song A Day newsletter this week. Laura will be my guest in the newsletter next week!

10) Sleeping: Better…. yes. But, regardless, I found this Brainpickings post from this last Tuesday interesting. Sleep Demons: Bill Hayes on REM, the Poetics of Yawns, and Maurice Sendak’s Antidote to Insomnia.
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Friday Five Favourites – guest-starring Alex T. Smith

Author, Illustrator and owner of many small dogs (and a brand new house!)
Most often found at alextsmith.com, Twitter and Instagram

Alex is the talented force behind the Claude books which, excitingly, will be coming to TV next year. I’m so stoked he agreed to give us his five favourite things.

I’m so excited to have been asked by Claire to be a part of her newsletter. I’m such a big fan of Claire’s work and have been a keen follower of her blog for years. This is a real thrill, even though narrowing my favourite things down to just five was really tricky!

1. LORE Podcast.
http://www.lorepodcast.com/about
I found LORE when I was looking for new things to listen to while I’m head-down at my drawing desk, and what an excellent discovery they are. Brilliantly written and produced by writer/presenter Aaron Mahnke. Each episode (released weekly) delves into a strange and mysterious non-fiction series from around the world, and touches on folklore, history and the darker side of human nature. It’s fascinating and a touch on the scary side, and Aaron’s delivery is pitched perfectly. The show has been described as a “campfire experience” which I agree with. It’s like listening to a friend telling a ghost story on a dark and stormy night.

(Excitingly, Lore is making the move to TV in the new year! It’s been picked up for a 10 episode run and is being made with the producer of The Walking Dead and the show runner is the X-Files writer/ producer Glen Morgan. I can’t wait!)

2. My Vintage Norwegian cardigan.
I picked up this handknitted cardigan from a vintage shop when I lived in the north of England a few years back. It was constantly FREEZING ( one winter it snowed so much my chihuahuas completely disappeared when they went out into the garden!) and my then studio was like an icebox. This jumper was a life-saver – so warm and cosy, and I love the fair-isle style pattern. I do have a bit of a thing for vintage/ patterned knitwear, but this is still my absolute favourite.

3. The Swing by Jean-Honore Fragonard.
After a lot of thinking about it, I’ve decided that yes, this my favourite ever painting. I’ve always been fascinated by it and can remember spending ages pouring over it in an art book I had when I was younger. It’s got a really interesting story behind it (bit saucy too!), but besides all that, it’s just a really lovely, narrative painting to look at. I love the pink dress against the greens in the background, the beautiful outfit she’s wearing and the frivolity of both the swing itself (so fancy with its crimson velvet cushion!) and her shoe flying off and through the air (is it going to clock that man in the face?!)
In recent years, the painting has popped up in some lovely and unexpected places. It inspired the look and stylings for Disney’s TANGLED and a copy of the painting pops up in the background of FROZEN.

4. My leopard print Vans and my bright pink socks.
I took this picture of my shoes the other day and the combination of the colours and pattern makes me really happy and cheers me up on grey days! What’s not to love about a spotty shoe and a fiery pink sock?! I love the combination so much I’m about to give an old chest of drawers in my house a much-needed, neon-pink make-over and am on the hunt for something suitably leopard print-y to perch on the top. If all else fails I might just pop these battered old shoes on display…!

5. Crooked Heart by Lissa Evans
This is hands down my favourite book I’ve read all year. I read it in the spring, but still find my mind drifting back to both the story and the characters. Set in WW2, it follows the odd couple story of two strangers thrown together during the war.  One is ten year old Noel. He’s an odd little chap who has no family and has, until recently, been living with an elderly, wonderfully eccentric aunt. When he is forced to be evacuated out of London, he ends up living with Vera (Vee) Sedge, a thirty-something single mother who is drowning in debts and is constantly looking for ways to scam money she desperately needs. She’s completely useless at it on her own, but when Noel becomes involved, they become a team. However, unexploded bombs aren’t the only dangerous things in wartime Britain, and soon Noel and See find themselves in danger.
It’s a brilliant, eccentric, funny and moving book. Excellently written with a Mitford-esque style and full of wonderful characters and details. A real gem!

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See you next week!

Claire Robertson,
The Small Batch List
Person with a keyboard
xo

p.s. 100 points for guessing the quote in the subject line! The last time it was Rolf Harris’s Six White Boomers.

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December 16th, 2016

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The holidays are damn hard for those far from home. In an attempt to not be too maudlin, but also acknowledge my deep love for Australia, I am putting together an all Aussie edition of the SBL. So much good stuff! A whole continent’s worth, in fact.

Speaking of Australia, and being a long way away, I also want to say HAPPY 50TH WEDDING ANNIVERSARY to my parents … who hit the big 5-0 this weekend. I love you both so much. Role models, friends, inspiration, motivation and so dear to so many people. Andrew and I (and Phil, Kath, Amelia, Lily, James, Libby and Michael, all the Rogersons, McDonalds and Stephensons) are perhaps some of the luckiest people on the planet to call you family. Have an excellent celebration, we will be there in spirit(s).

xox

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Looking:
The instagram account of Australian artist Adam Lee is such a good behind-the-scenes record of an artist’s life and practice. Divinity, natural history, historical inspiration through to contemporary music and film inform the work of an artist who is gathering world recognition and appreciation. I would stick some of these pieces in my “coveting” section or a “wildly dreaming of having these hang on my walls” section, because they just blow my mind and I would love to see them in person.

He has a solo show, LAMENT ASUNDER (All Is Dark Is Midnight To Me), coming up at Station in Melbourne, January 24 to Feb 18.

Aside from Station, he is represented by Angell Gallery in Toronto, and Beers Gallery in London. Take the time to marvel at his work on his website.

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Remembering, Not Remembering, Parading:
This is an image (above) from my childhood – Father Christmas on his float at the 1974 John Martin’s Christmas Parade in Adelaide. I had almost forgotten this entirely. I may not have been at this particular parade but was definitely there through most of the late 70s. I would crane to see over the crowd to catch a glimpse of the two little girls chosen to be Christmas fairies riding on the back of two float-bound fibre-glass rocking horses, Nipper and Nimble. In the sweltering heat, standing next to my BFF Dan, who looked exactly like a 7 year old Luke Skywalker, I would think “ONE DAY THAT WILL BE ME” –  along with every other kid in the crowd. It seems it’s still a big deal.

One of the major draw cards of the parade for a long time was a life-size mechanical elephant, Nelly, who was introduced in 1950 but quickly became notorious for breaking down. If Nelly still existed in the parade in the 70s I have truly repressed this memory, which is not surprising because look at her terrifying chimpanzee brass-playing passengers.

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“She is the perfect robot and wonderfully lifelike. Her eyes have a cunning gleam, her trunk swings almost to the ground, she has the intriguing shuffling gait of the real article and her hide has that concertina carpet bag character peculiar to elephants. Live elephants occasionally become obstinate. Nellie is tractability itself. Press one lever and she does one thing; another control, and she does another, all under perfect command. Externally, Nellie is a work of art. Internally, she is a mechanical marvel.” — The Advertiser, October 14th, 1950

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Reading:
Lily just received Richard Roxburgh’s chapter book Artie and the Grime Wave from my folks. You might recall that I posted about the fabulous TV show Rake earlier this year, and Roxburgh is the sparkly star. He is also a hilarious author and illustrator, and this book is must for the 7-12 set. Mum also recommends the audio book, read with lots of personality by Roxburgh himself.

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Listening:
I am quite loving Tash Sultana from Melbourne – this bedroom recording of the loops and layers of Jungle will having you moving.

Last week, in a small bar in an icy Canadian city, I danced to a band playing a cover of this song – Chet Faker’s No Diggity. And I gotta tell you, I love this cruisey version so much. It’s not all that new, but I’m sharing it anyway because dancing in a Canadian pub to an Australian song fits my theme for the week.

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iPadding:
David Hockney Current
at the National Gallery of Victoria. Clearly this is not strictly Australian, but the show is on at an Australian gallery until March 13, 2017 and man, I wish I could see it. In the video above, David Hockney reflects on the show. It’s worth looking at for the first 20 seconds alone to watch him walk through the gallery. I just love what he has been doing and at such scale. The work seems to vibrate with the colour and electricity that helped create it. Luckily I have Melbourne friends so instagram photos of the gallery keep popping up and it’s a joy every time.

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“People from the village come up and tease me: ‘We hear you’ve started drawing on your telephone,’” Mr. Hockney said in a quotation displayed in the exhibition. “And I tell them, ‘Well, no, actually, it’s just that occasionally I speak on my sketch pad.’” – from the New York Times

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Friday Five Favourites – guest-starring David Corbet
Dancer and Doctor
Most often found at Davidcorbet.com and Twitter.

I first met David when standing on the beer-soaked carpet of the Empress Hotel in Nicholson Street, Fitzroy just after his 90s band, Cuddlefish, had played a set. We later worked together on music reviews and laughs at Melbourne University’s student magazine and have kept in contact over the years. I’m sad to say that I have only seen him dance once in all this time but that’s on my wishlist for the future. Maybe a Canadian tour is in order? Thanks David:

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I feel like I might have done a little bit of arm twisting to get onto Claire’s Newsletter, but nonetheless here’s a short list of some favourites.

1. I have no idea who Dave King is other than he’s a drummer with an “instructional series” on YouTube that features “tips, tricks, inspiration, and industry secrets”, the first episode I watched had me in tears. Part sociocultural philosphical lecture, part stream of consciousness, part drumming – what’s not to like?

2. I’ve never really liked OKGO’s music that much but I have always admired their videos – that combination of science, maths, primary colours, and clever ideas never fails to make me smile and provides an element of wonder. And somehow they keep managing to make them more and more interesting. I thought the use of zero gravity was a bit of a pinnacle, but they’ve just released a new one using high frame rate shooting to capture almost the entire 4 minute clip in 4 seconds. Impressive. For something from a completely different realm, but no less impressive, The Avalanches and Soda_Jerk have made this sample based bit of art – The Was – and a good read on it is available too.

3. The ocean. My work can be pretty stressful at times, and I’ve struggled with finding a bit of balance in the last few years. But there is nothing that makes me feel better than spending some time in the ocean. The water where we live is still a bit cool, but going for a bodysurf regularly helps keep me sane. Being in the swell and surge of the ocean and catching waves always gives me some perspective on my worries and the world. If you haven’t seen Come Hell or High Water it is a beautifully shot documentary about bodysurfing that explains something about what it’s like to be in the water.

4. One of my favourite things in medicine at the moment is the new Hepatitis C treatments (well, actually not that new, but the Australian Government has only made it available on the PBS from March this year – which subsidises the cost, making it accessible). It’s a form of Direct Acting Antiviral therapy that has an excellent cure rate and a low side effect profile. This has changed the face of Hep C treatment. It used to be that Hep C treatment could only be undertaken by Hepatologists or GPs who had done further training, but now it’s available for prescription directly from your GP – again, what’s not to like? More people have been treated in the months since March than in the last few years.

5. Kicking the footy. I grew up not liking Australian Rules Football. I was a fairly nerdy kid and did like sport but found AFL too rough. So I never really followed it until my son started getting into AusKick (and my daughter does now too). After a few years I became quite obsessed with footy. It’s an amazingly fast game that requires elite level running, precision hand/eye/foot control, agility, poise and strength. And working as a team. I really don’t think there’s anything else quite like it. The AFL is launching it’s first national women’s league next year, which is great for the game. My son has become a pretty good footballer and won a best and fairest award last year – that’s him in the picture. Anyway, come and have a kick sometime. It’s fun. https://www.instagram.com/p/7chisNN940/

6. I know it’s meant to be five but I also wanted to mention my dad. And my mum. Dad has had a torrid time in the last 18 months or so – being diagnosed with bowel cancer, having major surgery and being extremely unwell, recovering, feeling well, traveling the world, and more recently, sadly, having a recurrence of his cancer. After finally recovering from the surgery last year I wanted to do something special for them – and somehow through the interwebs I stumbled on Orly Faya. She paints people into the landscape. I love my parents dearly, and it is so so painful to live with knowing that my dad will die due to this cancer in the not too distant future. At the same time, I feel so lucky to be able to spend time with him and have such joy about his life and what we still have to share. So this sixth favourite thing is simply life, and what it so often unexpectedly brings… to challenge us, to inspire us, to move us, and to constantly change us if we can be open to it.

Thanks Claire for a chance to share my favourites.

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Delighting

Five Australian delights for a Friday

1) I am so happy to find RockWiz on SBS On Demand after setting up an account (or signing in through Facebook) you can almost smell the atmosphere at the old Espy hotel where they film the weekly music quiz show. “Rock music’s most famous faces continue to mix it with the best local trivia buffs. Host Julia Zemiro asks the questions and Brian Nankervis adjudicates over the mayhem.” Uh oh, I’m never going to finish this newsletter now that I’ve found this.

2) Anyone in Australia want to make some quick cash? I went to a candy-import store last week to look for some Cherry Ripes for the kids’ stockings. No luck. The owner of the store told me that if he had a Cherry Ripe import business he would be the richest man on Vancouver Island… Instead of immediately establishing my own import business, I looked on Amazon. $7 USD for a bar? Hey you Aussies! You are sitting on a cherry-filled, dark-chocolate-covered gold-mine!

3) Please Like Me on Netflix Is Amelia’s recommendation for this week. Twenty-something Australian bitter-sweet comedy which makes me feel a little homesick and a little nostalgic. A little worrying note – I was tempted to turn on the subtitles because I CAN’T UNDERSTAND THE PEOPLE AND THEIR FUNNY ACCENTS! (even if they are my people – I need an Australian visit!).

4) Australian flowers for your legs: Beautiful tights (and other accessories) featuring vibrant Australian flora. “Building on the tradition of contemporary Australiana, Julie White’s images of native flora and fauna capture the mystery and excitement of the bush, the desert and the sea, with an exuberance that is entirely her own.”

5) Christmas in Australia – in 1958 from the National Film and Sound Archive.  Bizarre creepy santas, bush picnics and a cookie-cutter all-white sanitised christmas experience. This was obviously in a time before rampant skin-cancer, the collapse of the white-australia policy and also flies… Where are the flies at the picnics?

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I’m taking a bit of time off so I’ll be back with more Small Batch Listy goodness in 2017. Happy holidays to you and yours. Thanks for reading! Thanks for looking past the typos and the errors. I’m off on a ferry across an icy straight to enjoy some Star Wars, so there’s not time to proof read.

Claire Robertson,
The Small Batch List
Person with a keyboard
xo

p.s. 100 points for guessing the quote in the subject line! Last week was from A Hazy Shade of Winter, Simon & Garfunkle or the Bangles.

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December 9th, 2016

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December 9th, 2016
I’ve been laid low with a wintery cold this week, but I rallied to do this newsletter-in-brief, because I love you.

I really do.

You, gentle readers, have turned my 2016 around in ways you can’t imagine. Just so you know, I appreciate every subscribe and every read. I love every email and suggestion and kind passing comment in the coffee shop. I have been surprised by the enthusiasm and support that I have received even though it’s just an email newsletter. I am so happy to be publishing.

Sick and sentimental!

Okay… Here are some good links:

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Looking:
This is the instagram account of Sean Charmatz, a storyboard writer and director at Dreamworks and creator of Secret World of Stuff… a series of short animated gems that will make you smile. (Thanks Amelia!)

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Attending:
I wish I was attending Shiny Fuzzy Muddy craft fair in Vancouver this weekend. If you do, drop by Julie MacKinnon Ceramics and tell her I said hi! She makes the most lovely stuff. And while you are there, sign up for one of her workshops – or get yourself on a mailing list – because they are the best.

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Watching
We are lucky to have the small film studio Hek’s Half Acre Studio here on Salt Spring Island, headed up by the multi-talented auteur Keith Picot: “The silent films on my [youtube] channel are all written, directed, edited and cast by myself..along with building sets and props. The films are, on the most part very short and of a slap-stick nature. Some have been commissioned as advertisements whilst others have been made for the sheer joy of the creating.”

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Local businesses collaborate with Hek’s Half Acre Studio to create whimsical, 1930s style, silent black and white film advertisements featuring a cast of characters made up from employees and other locals. When going to see a film at the local movie house, Keith’s movies are often the opening act, and it’s not unusual to be watching one and look over into the faces in the audience and see, if not the stars themselves, at least friends and relatives pointing and laughing.

All Keith’s movies are so well done, with so few anachronisms, that it’s hard to believe that they were created just recently. (Oh except – look, there’s the guy who is my favourite service clerk at the check-out, and there’s the guy who knows which fruits are the ripest in the produce section. Oh! There’s Rob! And the other Rob! And there are Julie’s kids! And Julie’s dad! My favourite coffee shop! Jana’s shop! etc etc.)

I love seeing all the familiar faces in the latest Christmas offering Lucky’s Letter, and Keith is an epic talent.

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sbl091216_listening Indie-pop band Milo Green has released the new song We Kept The Lights Onthe sounds of which makes me feel a little nostalgic for the 80s.

Do you ever listen to Guy Garvey’s Finest Hour  weekly on BBC6 music? If not, you should. Host and Elbow front-man Garvey has eclectic tastes and always great guests filling in for him when away on tour. I just found out last week that C Duncan has a new album and liked the track Garvey played. Atmospheric and soporific! Party!

Speaking of Elbow, they will have a new album out next February. The first track is Magnificent (She Says). I do say.

 

 

 

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Five Friday Favourites- guest-starring Daniel Bogan

Web nerd and lazy illustrator wannabe (and yes that’s really my last name).
Most often found on Twitter and at The SetUp.

Thank you to Daniel for taking some time out of his busy life to write this up for me!

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1. The Apple Pencil
It’s the closest digital thing I’ve found to drawing with a pen on paper – every time I pick it up it continues blows my mind (at least until I have to charge it, anyhow).

2. A Fortunate Life, by Albert Facey
The fascinating autobiography of an Australian living through some amazing hardships shortly before World War I, we were forced to read this in high school and so of course I resented it, until I discovered my probably-accidentally-not-returned-school-library copy a few years later and re-read it. I want to come back to this one every decade or so.

3. Café coffee
You could save a few bucks and make it at home, but I love befriending the people at the local café – that little buzz from becoming a regular, people knowing your drink, knowing the people that make your drink, being a small part of a community.

4. Angry women singing
The first concert I ever attended was Babes in Toyland at The Metro in Sydney, and that was it for me. Hole, Bikini Kill, L7, and all of their friends, screaming into my ears forever, loudly.

5. Being a dad
Finally, someone my own mental age! It’s the best.

 – – – Previous Friday Five Favourites Archives – – –

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Delighting

Five delights for a Friday:

1) The 25 Best Films of 2016: A Video Countdown. This montage of clips from the year’s great movies makes me want to go out and make all the films… or at least see them. David Ehrlich, senior editor at indiewire.com, counts down his favourite 25. (thanks Jason K)

2) So much Cate! So good. Cate Blanchette plays 13 different characters in Manifesto, an installation at Park Avenue Armory, New York. Artist Julian Rosefeldt gives us (warning, artspeak:) “a collage of artistic declarations from the past century reinterpreted as poetic monologues to provoke timeless questions about the gendered, social, and political contexts that shape the artist’s role in society.”

3) “Seager’s challenge is that she has dedicated her life to the search for the smallest lights.” The Woman Who Might Find Us Another Earth – The star-crossed life of Sara Seager, an astrophysicist obsessed with discovering distant worlds.

4) A Late Style of Fire – Larry Levis, American Poet:  “The question every artist faces: What am I willing to give to my art? The answer, for the rare few whose work outlives them, is everything. The brilliant writing and troubled life of Californian Larry Levis came to an abrupt halt when he died at age 49. Is self-destruction required for a serious life of art?” – this documentary looks fascinating. While I swore to myself that I would not mention snow in this newsletter, here is my friend Carrie Cogan’s favourite poem by Larry Levis which she sent me today. I love it. And the snow. And Carrie. In a Country.

5) Peppermint Bark – this is the one recipe I feel compelled to share every single year. Make this! A lot of it. You won’t be sorry. (Don’t make this if you happen to teach one of my children, you know who you are. Well, do, if you want even more).

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Thanks for reading! Hopefully next week I will be back to my sparkly self. Or at least get my voice back.

Over and out,

Claire Robertson,
The Small Batch List
Person with a keyboard
xo

p.s. 100 points for guessing the quote in the subject line! Last week was from Kate Bush’s song Dream of Sheep.

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December 2nd, 2016

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December 2nd, 2016

A sign of the times: I have just seen that Dolly Magazine has decided to stop producing its print editions. First published in 1970, Dolly has been the absolute bible of girl-teen culture in Australia for 46 years. I, for one, discovered many things in those pages – that kissing could involve tongues (what the what?!), that court shoes look quite excellent with three-quarter length jeans with zips, a slouchy sweatshirt looks totally rad cinched in with a belt (well, duh), and that Mel Gibson was at one time very hot, and very cool.

I am sad about the demise of print magazines. Of course it’s seemingly inevitable and probably better for the environment, but there is nothing quite like curling up with a magazine and a cup of tea in your favourite arm chair while Wham! plays in the background.

Fortunately there are a couple of fabulous print mags around that I hope will not disappear any time soon. While they may never have Nicole Kidman’s perm on the cover, or the answers that Dolly Doctor gave us about strange rashes and unwanted hair, they are still lovely to collect. I highly recommend Frankie magazine, also from Australia, and the creatively inspiring Uppercase magazine, which exists in print edition only. I love both these publications, as not only informative and entertaining reads, but also as beautiful objects to be held and treasured. Vive le print publication! Next year I might even introduce a little Small Batch List small batch zine. Because I don’t think I can resist.

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Looking:
Do you know Nathalie Lété? She is a French illustrator, artist, ceramicist and designer whose beautiful and quirky art and homewares can be found in stores, homes, galleries and cafes around the world. Her painterly approach is naive, timeless and lush. I have a set of her elaborately decorated dinner plates that come out on special occasions and I dream of her wallpaper. Her instagram is full of her work, her family life and her world travels. Enormous amounts of her stuff can be found on her website.

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Listening:
Hey – I do like this song; Allan Rayman’s 22.25. Apparently he is a mysterious R&B artist who barely exists on the internet. It doesn’t matter. This song speaks for itself.

Laura Marling has a new song – and a sexy video to go with it. Soothing is the first track from her new album, Semper Femina, which is not out until March 10, 2017.

Oud music (a new weekly segment?!) – not new, but new to me – Hamza El Din’s – Assaramessuga (Childhood) from 1965. I discovered it this week when listening to the Dinner Party Download – musician Fantastic Negrito picked this song to play at a dinner party because as he says:
“…it’s so festive, simple, and primitive, in a sense. And it feels like they would have played this a thousand years ago at a dinner party. It sounds as old as humanity. And it still resonates to the present day.”

I’m off to see Frazey Ford this week – you know this song, right?

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Papercutting (OMG-ing)

Paperholm, A growing paper city, daily models by Charles Young
“Paperholm began in August 2014 as a daily project by artist Charles Young. One new object is designed, made, photographed and uploaded each day.  All of the models are made using 200gsm watercolour paper and PVA glue. This method allows for rapid construction and exploration of diverse areas of architecture, pushing the possibilities of this single material.”

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Friday Five Favourites – guest-starring Erin Lewis-Fitzgerald

Boss lady, repair enthusiast, maker and remaker of fun things
Most often found on Instagram and at The Daily Fix.

I first met Erin in an elevator in the Melbourne University Student Union building in 1997. If you remember that elevator you will know that friendships were made within because it was always a life-and-death situation. There was always a chance the doors would never open again. Plus it took so long to get up just one floor that conversation was a total necessity. Anyway, she told me she liked my hair, so I knew I had a friend for life. I am pleased she agreed to come along and share some of her favourite things, because she always finds the best stuff.

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1) OK Go’s music videos
OK Go’s music videos make me cry happy tears because they’re so good, and because so much joy, creativity and planning goes into making them. Whenever they release a new video it feels like Christmas. If you’re new to OK Go, start with Here It Goes Again, aka the treadmill video, which propelled them on their crazy creative path 10 years ago. Most people don’t remember their song titles – their newest, most ambitious video will be known in future as ‘the one filmed in 4.2 seconds‘ — but the videos are pretty unforgettable. My favourite is the one with choreographed umbrellas, filmed with a drone, but I also love the one in zero gravity, the one with dogs and Ikea furniture, the one filmed through a glass floor, the 18-hour time-lapse one and the optical-illusion one! If you have kids you can watch all the videos together, then watch the making-of videos that go with them.

2) Olympia
Melbourne artist Olivia Bartley, aka Olympia, is my favourite music discovery of 2016. I saw her play twice at a music festival in Tasmania – the first a rocking set where she shredded on the big stage, and the second an intimate late-night set, outdoors in the forest, under the stars. It was one of the best live shows I’ve ever seen. Her debut album Self Talk is consistently good from start to finish –  Smoke Signals is the super-catchy single, but my favourites are piano ballad Biscuits and Self Talk, a song about Lawnchair Larry and the stories we tell ourselves. She is funny, too, and often posts weird animated videos like this and this on social media. She is destined for superstardom.

3) Visible mending
Visible, colourful, fun repairs are now a thing, which is great news for those without the time and/or talent to mend things perfectly. It’s hard to say which I like more – visibly mending something or scrolling through #visiblemending on Instagram (it’s my happy place). We also feature visible-mending projects on my site The Daily Fix, over here, if you want to have a go yourself. (Warning: it’s addictive!)

4) Magic letterbox
Leah Harcourt sells letterboxes with space at the front for creating dioramas. Since we got a magic letterbox, neighbours and strangers have been stopping by more often and we just got our first fan mail. Eee! It’s so much fun. You can see what all the magic letterboxes are up to here (the T-Rex playing the piano is particularly good).

5) My Son, The Prince of Fashion
This article, by Michael Chabon for GQ, is the best thing I have read in ages – a tale of self-discovery and of a father discovering what makes his 13-year-old son tick. I love a well-crafted story ending and this one is magnificent! I am still thinking about it weeks later. {runs off to reread it now}

 – – – Previous Friday Five Favourites Archives – – –

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Delighting

1) Wes Anderson’s Christmas ad for H&M

2) Jamie Oliver’s Hassleback Potato recipe: When I watch this video, all I can think of is Homer Simpson saying “gahhhh” and drooling… delicious roast potatoes with thyme-infused oil and hazelnut breadcrumbs. Maybe even better:  yorkshire puds.

3) 52 Science-Based Facts About the Creative Mind: Just ignore the points about the high chance of creative people being psychopaths and neurotics (or put a positive spin on these minor facts) and find out just what works, and what doesn’t, for a creative soul.

4) Shetland, on Netflix: If you liked Broadchurch and want to spend your next couple of weeks sitting on the couch rugged up in some kind of knitted jumper, sipping scotch while the fire crackles nearby (yes please), then Shetland is for you. If you watch it with me, you will have to put up with me saying over and over; “good grief, can you believe that this is where my people are from?” and  “Not even a shrub! There’s not even a shrub on those islands!”.  Here, the author of the original book series, Ann Cleeves, talks about how Shetland provides a “brilliantly atmospheric backdrop” for crime writing. So – let’s go! Just in time for tea on a Sunday, I think.

5) This animation about a little boy with autism is beautiful.  (thanks Ward)

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Over and out,

Claire Robertson,
The Small Batch List
Person with a keyboard
xo

p.s. 100 points for guessing the quote in the subject line! Last week was Anne Frank.

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November 25th, 2016

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November 25th, 2016

Did you know that this creature lives under my kid’s bed? Apparently so. Or something like it. Maybe a little less vintage, but no less terrifying. Or maybe it’s this creature:

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And it’s definitely able to get in her second floor window. Some nights it’s Frankenstein, some nights it’s just a random creepy claw, scratching across the floorboards. Other nights it’s a scary rat with big teeth that can be seen on the uneven plaster of the ceiling (not even eradicated by a paint scraper and a screwdriver. We tried). What a drag. Even when there isn’t a small person squawking from the other room at witching hour, I am prone to awaken after a couple of hours and lie there blinking at the ceiling. I see neither rats, nor creepy claws, just endless questions about life stretched across the plasterwork – the meaning of, the purpose of, the things to do with, who that person was in the grocery store asking me about it (they seemed familiar), all that middle of the night angsty existential claptrap.

Of course, it goes without saying that my mental state is affected by the sleeplessness, only exaggerated by the dark days as winter creeps in. My friends have started looking at me with slight alarm in their eyes when I talk about the actual amount of lack of sleep and at least three of them have threatened to frog-march me to the local, somewhat-legal, green-remedy supplier to sign me up for special tinctures or oils. I finally, numbly, considered it this week, but instead I read an article about screen-time and sleep. No need to click – you know what it’s going to say. Surprise surprise – the more time you spend on your screen, the less your brain wants to settle down and go to sleep. Blue screens, interactive stimulation, blah blah blah. I’m too tired to read it in its entirety, and I am not sure what is actually news about this news… but regardless it seems on point for me. Being an all-or-nothing kind of girl, I am super tempted to give up technology altogether. Yes, that’s right, all technology, right from the beginning of time. Who needs wheels? Tools for cooking? Bah. I’m that desperate for a good night’s sleep. So while I don’t need the wheel, or my grilled cheese maker, I might have kept Twitter and Facebook. But no! Even they don’t escape. They increase emotional stimulation (duh) – even more than grilled cheese! Hmm… I am not sure where I am going with this editorial, as my brain is too addled to form a cohesive piece, but I will conclude with this; Sleep = good … Technology = bad … Sleep good. Sleep. Good. (Can I keep Instagram? Oh, and the Small Batch List? This stuff is worth a few sleepless nights):

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Looking:
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them – maybe it’s the times – maybe it’s my sleep-deprived state – but this film was so delightful to me that I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. It seems like it made me 12 again, and I have even gone online to discover that I am officially a member of Gryffindor – of course! So I have searched around for arty bits and pieces of interesting stuff connected to the movie and came across the graphic design studio MinaLima – a design duo who are responsible for all the graphic design in the Harry Potter films and now the Fantastic Beasts movies. Maps, jewellery, carpet design, books, posters – anything the Wizarding World needs, they design. What a dream job! Their instagram is fun, but these articles are good stuff too:
The Fantastic Beasts interviews: meet graphic design duo MinaLima – from Pottermore.
The graphic art of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them – from Creative Review.

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1920s Wizarding World packaging designed by MinaLima for Fantastic Beasts.

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The first prop that Mina designed – Harry’s letter of acceptance to Hogwarts – for the first Harry Potter film. This was created when Mira Mina thought she might work on the Potter movies for four months which then extended to ten years and now beyond.

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Listening:
There was a little sun this week so this song seemed completely fitting. The beautiful Natural Blue, by Julie Byrne, is from her second album Not Even Happiness, out in January 2017.

Here’s a song from one of my favourites, Sylvan Esso. Another sunny one, Kick Jump Twist.

It’s not even quite December but Pitchfork have released their “The 50 Best Holiday Songs of All Time” playlist to start getting you in the mood.

Play the Small Batch List Playlist on iTunes – I’ve compiled every song I’ve mentioned over the last few months.

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Dreaming and Coveting:

This week, in my imaginary travel journal, I am off to Helsinki to visit SALAKAUPPA – “Sala” meaning secret, “kauppa” meaning store. This is the tiny little flagship store for the design company, COMPANY.
“All of the products in SALAKAUPPA are designed by Aamu Song & Johan Olin … and are the result of excursions to very exciting, yet old-fashioned factories around Finland and sometimes to our neighbors around the world. [The] design is purely based on each factory’s story and function. That’s our secret.”

I love this little shop. Here you can see how they renovated it right through to today’s cheerful store.

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Friday Five Favourites – Guest starring: Paul Lloyd
Independent designer, writer and speaker
Most often found at: Paul Robert Lloyd

Dear Internet – thank you for bringing good and interesting people into my life. Paul Lloyd is one of them. I just wish Brighton, England was a whole lot closer. Here are some of his recent favourite things:

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1) Cold Feet
A comedy-drama broadcast between 1997 and 2003, this September saw the return of Cold Feet to British screens. Comparisons with Friends were often made during its original run, yet it somehow passed me by. This time round I was unexpectedly hooked, so after the latest series finished, I decided to watch the first fiveMike Bullen’s story begins just as mobile phones are becoming mainstream, and finishes while the Internet is still a novelty. There’s a dissonance watching these early episodes; a contemporary screenplay takes place among nascent technologies that now appear dated, yet by the end I was longing for their return. Simpler times.

2) The Beauty of Transport
I recently stumbled upon The Beauty of Transport, a blog by Daniel Wright about transport design and its influence on art and culture. This blog does a great job highlighting the often ignored and under appreciated projects, be they a signal boxa multi-story car park, or the ‘flying banana’.

3) The Photography of Hilla and Bernd Becher
When I visited Basel’s newly expanded art museum earlier this year, I came across a collection of photos by Hilla and Bernd Becher (before stumbling across them again a few weeks later at Tate Modern). While their subject matter — Europe’s post-war industrial landscape — could be considered banal, the consistent framing of structures like water towers, coal bunkers, gas tanks forces you to study the design details that give each their own identity.

4) The Adam Buxton Podcast
I’ve long been a fan of Adam & Joe, a comedy duo whose late-night Channel 4 show was essential viewing in the late nineties. With Joe now writing and directing films, Adam is producing his own podcast, interviewing an eclectic mix of guests from the world of comedy and the arts. Buxton’s open and often knowingly naive demeanour makes for interesting discussions, while his earworm inducing jingles have me in stitches every time. Bonus favourite: his ode to Sushi.

5) Force Majeure
The Swedish-language film Force Majeure depicts the tension between a husband and wife after a controlled avalanche threatens their family during a skiing holiday. The strength of the film’s pivotal scene — spotted during a televised awards ceremony — was enough for me seek it out, and I wasn’t disappointed, even though it makes for uncomfortable and excruciating viewing.

 – – – Previous Friday Five Favourites Archives – – –

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Delighting

Five delights for a Friday:
1) Hunter S Thompson writes a letter of advice… “To be, or not to be”: Addressing goals, purpose and what might make a meaningful life.

2) An article about the Gilmore Girls and why we seem to love it so much: Yes. That’s all I’ll say on the topic (apart from squeee!).

3) Look how pretty this quince tarte tatin is.  Perfumy quinces are my favourites. I think I still have some quinces hanging sadly on my tree. I should go and see if there are any that haven’t been infiltrated by sleepy Fall wasps. It’s a nice idea, anyway.

4) What can you do with 11,200,000 feet of aluminium and 50,000 gallons of latex? From the vault at British Pathé: making rubber toys in 1957.

5) “Ok kid, you got the job”: Henry Thomas’ audition tape for the role of Elliott in E.T. As if this kid was not going to get this role. Wow. (thanks Jason!)

BONUS) If you liked Maggie Rogers’ track Alaska posted in the Small Batch last week, you will love this: Pharrell Williams gave a special masterclass to music students, including Rogers, this last July where she played him her rough mix. Watch what happens. It’s definitely delightful. (sadly not available on mobile devices). (thanks Cassandra)

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Back next week for December shenanigans.

Over and out,

Claire Robertson,
The Small Batch List
Person with a keyboard
xo

p.s. 100 points for guessing the quote in the subject line! Last week was Van Morrison – from Astral Weeks… obviously. One of my favourite songs.

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November 18th, 2016

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November 18th, 2016

I have been looking at this little animation a lot. It’s cute, sure, but I am also identifying with it. Really, don’t you? No? Well in brief; What it’s saying to me is that it’s time for my metaphorical-creamer to kick my metaphorical-sugar bowl in the butt so that two delightful lumps of metaphorical-sugar fly out and land in my metaphorical-coffee. And then the coffee will say “two more!” and then repeat. So, really this is just an excuse to include one of my favourite gifs… but yes, change is in the air. There’s stuff to be done. What have you been plotting and planning this week?

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Looking:
A long time ago, when the web was young and innocent, I used to follow artist Sabine Timm (Virgin Honey) on Flickr. She is still updating her account over there, but these days she is also rocking Instagram with her quirky assemblages, animations, illustrations and found objects. It’s all totally whimsical, lovely stuff. Thanks Erin L-F for suggesting this. Good one.

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Listening:
Uh oh – I found one of those songs with which I drive everyone mental, just by playing on repeat. Okkervil River’s Judey On A Street, from their new album Away.

Hopelessness is a harrowing protest record from pop-electronic artist ANOHNI, previously of Antony and the Johnsons, dealing with such topics as drone warfare, torture, extinction of species and global warming. Not exactly uplifting, but unique in its entirety. This song, the more personal  I don’t love you anymore, is beautiful.   (thanks Laura and A Song A Day).

Who doesn’t like a little singing saw on a Friday? Icelandic band Amiina has a new album out today called Fantômas, but you can also enjoy this video from May 2011.

And this. Alaska – Maggie Rogers. Making me happy. Thank you, sweet Claire H.

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Coveting:

These natural history posters by illustrator Kelsey Oseid are charming in their attention to detail and their vintage inspiration. Kelsey’s images come from a project she is undertaking in 2016. Each day of the year, she is illustrating a different species, and each month is dedicated to a different order. She began with the Passeriformes (perching birds) in January and has moved through 10 orders so far. By the end of the year she will have illustrated 366 (one extra?) species. 9 posters are currently available.

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Friday Five Favourites – Guest starring: Pip Lincolne
Most often found at: Meet Me At Mikes

I picked the ever loverly Pip to be my first guest for Friday Five Favourites. Her blog is a shining beacon of joy on the internet. Thanks for taking the time to do this, Pip!

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I’m pretty excited that Claire asked me to be part of her newsletter this week. If it weren’t for Claire’s beautiful blog, Loobylu, I would never have wanted to write my own. Thanks so much for the gift of inspiration, Claire. *sobs*

I’d best stop sniffling and get on with my five things. Here goes:

1. Man At The Helm – Nina Stibbe is a new-to-me writer and I have read all her funny and insightful books this year and adored them. I particularly love Man At The Helm. Not only does it feature precocious children, a stair-climbing horse and an eccentric mother, Nina drops in a few references to a 70s children’s cookbook I used to pore over (My Learn To Cook Book by Ursula Sedgwick) Apple Snow, anyone? This is Nina’s site: http://www.ninastibbe.com

2. Nigella on YouTube: Some people might think I am organised and professional, but very often I do my daily bread-and-butter writing (from 7 to 2) propped up in bed with YouTube rolling in the background. This is definitely one of the benefits of working from home. I gleefully discovered there are hours of old Nigella episodes on YouTube last week. The older eps are so good and remind me of a simpler and more cake-filled, buttery time. Nigella’s kids were still tiny and I think it reminds me of when my kids were tiny too.  I love to have eps playing on the big telly via Apple TV as I write about all the things and get my work done.  After that I promise I get dressed and do more active things. Truly I do.

3. Felt: I have been making a lot of things from felt. I made a Gilmore Girls banner this week. And also some felt Christmas decorations which I haven’t quite finished stitching up yet. I’m making a banner with a Hillary quote on it after that. It’s the one about girls needing to keep chasing their dreams and opportunities. However you vote or feel, you can’t argue with this:
“And to all of the little girls who are watching this, never doubt that you are valuable and powerful and deserving of every chance and opportunity in the world to pursue and achieve your own dreams.”

4. Stars and the moon: I found an essay my great-grandfather had written online yesterday and I love it so much. I read it after I’d seen everyone online posting about looking for the SuperMoon and it confirmed that we are all united by the natural world and the same beautiful sky, even when we feel that things are a bit fractured or worrying.

5. Curry and rice: When my kids were little we were all obsessed with Malaysian chicken curry and roti. After having it a lot, we sort of went off the boil and moved on to other things: red curry, green curry, butter chicken and the like. This weekend I’m going to make our old favourite again and see if 7 years or so is long enough to get over this particular kind of curry fatigue…  I am hopeful that it is. I never got tired of it, personally. Here is the recipe I am going to use, and a video guide, too.  Here is a chicken knob.

Thanks for having me, Claire!! It’s been a DELIGHT!
x pip

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Delighting

Five delights for a Friday:
1) The Wonder of Place: My lovely friend Heather Hopkins writes a blog and newsletter that frequently moves me to tears. You will find so much beauty and wisdom in her words. “These are stories about our sense of place; about how our experiences shape, and are shaped by, meaningful places. In these stories we’ll explore our relationship to places ~ forests and parks, lakes and oceans, neighbourhoods, gardens, and cities, houses and homes, farms, and healing places.”

2) Purpose is the new bottom line: “If there is a question burning in your mind… If there’s a system so broken that it makes you want to cry…”  This Creative Mornings talk is so good. Totally worth your 20 minutes of attention.

3) Blank on Blank – Famous names, lost interviews, animated short films: PBS Digital Studios has a big archive of audio interviews from celebrities of the the past which they have animated and brought back to life. “You may be struck by how some of the themes resonate in contemporary times”.

4) Declare your loveWhat happens when you leave a megaphone on the street with the simple instructions: “Declare Your Love.” Thanks Improv Everywhere, whose channel trailer is super fun.

5) Accidentally Closing Browser Window With 23 Tabs Open Presents Rare Chance At New Life: Why, yes it does!

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Last week’s email subject line quote was from the poem Wild Geese by Mary Oliver, one of my absolute favourites.

Thank you for reading! See you next week.

Over and out,

Claire Robertson,
The Small Batch List
Person with a keyboard
xo

p.s. 100 points for guessing the quote in the subject line.

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Wild Geese

Wild Geese

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about your despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

— Mary Oliver

November 10th, 2016

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November 11th, 2016

On Tuesday morning, my Facebook and Instagram feeds were filled with a dozen photos of a beautiful rainbow that dazzled the Pacific Northwest for the best part of an hour. It stretched over our house across a pink sky, and a gentle rain fell on my face as I looked up. It felt like a sign of beauty and hope and awakening. As the day unravelled, and the US election results came in, I kept thinking “that bloody rainbow lied”.

I have written and re-written these paragraphs over and over in light of this week’s US Presidential Election. It’s been a heavy week and nothing seems adequate or appropriate for my newsletter – a place dedicated to inspiration and curiosity. But there are two things that are blindingly clear to me; We need hope, and we need education.

As an artist and a consumer of the arts I want to say: it is the duty of the arts to not only entertain and comfort but also, more importantly, to educate, question, inspire and support – ourselves, and people in need. MAKE ART – now more than ever. Make art that does all those things. Consume art that does all those things. Support art that does all those things. Make beautiful things, make powerful things. Make soothing things but also make uncomfortable things. Make things that push you in new directions and push others too.

Work for what you hope.

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Looking:
Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose by John Singer Sargent: One of my all-time favourite paintings. I am adding it to my Art Bucket List – a list of works I hope to see one day. It was the inspiration for a show of illustrations I did in Melbourne in 2005. I have been looking around this morning at some articles about the work and found this great essay about the development of the painting, including pencil sketches, oil sketches and letters from Sargent to his sister discussing the difficulties of capturing the fleeting colours and light at dusk. The Tate has a wonderful video where you can get a clear idea of the beauty and scale of the piece. I also see that the Tate is developing an immersive video game for children (specifically targeted at girls) where they can play in the beautiful garden depicted in Singer Sargent’s painting.

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Souping:
I was once holed-up in bed with a very bad case of pneumonia. It was too painful to breathe so I lay in a weakened state, watching endless episodes of Mad Men and falling in and out of strange, semi-delirious dreams about Don Draper, in some I actually was Don Draper. My mum’s friend brought me a great big container of vegetable soup which I was able to eat and – presto! The next day I was a million times better, but had stopped hallucinating that I was occupying a mid-century apartment in New York City – sadly.

Now it is cold and cough season here, so I have been experimenting with making the ultimate HEALING SOUP. Here’s one of my recipes – tried and tested this week. It’s a little spicy as it’s “thai-inspired” but you can always cut back on the curry paste. You can download a printable version from here.

A few other recipes that inspired me are:
Jamie Oliver’s Jewish penicillin
The River Cottage recipe for bone broth
Bon Appétit Magazine’s recipe for Tom Kha Gai (where I got most of my thai inspiration)
And this one is vegan, gluten-free, soy-free, sugar-free, nut-free and Paleo-friendly (but apparently still tasty).

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Listening:

Don’t Fall In – This spoken-word poetry, rap-style track is what I have been listening to, from Kate Tempest – UK musician, poet, novelist and playwright – who is now someone I can’t get enough of. Her wikipedia page is a great summary of a shining light.

Find Me – This feels like a guilty pleasure. For some reason, strains of the old Enya track, Orinoco Flow,  float into my head when I think of it, but Sigma (featuring Birdy) is much, much more 2016 than that.  It’s so 2016 that the video stars Millie Bobby Brown, who plays 11 in Stranger Things. She seems to be feeling all the excruciatingly earnest feels.

Zadie Smith, author of the amazing White Teeth and new release Swing Time, lists her favourite tracks on BBC 6.

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Coveting:

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I’m not sure exactly where I would put this Achille and Pier Giacomo Castiglioni designed radio-phonograph, model no. RR126, but I would squeeze it in somehow. It is part of the incredible collection of designer furniture and modern art that belonged to David Bowie, being auctioned by Sotheby’s this week. Bowie had enormous appreciation and curiosity for the arts; “Bowie’s diverse tastes nurtured his extensive archive of important works from celebrated, and less widely-known, artists in a collection of unparalleled eclecticism.”
View the catalogue of over 400 items. Sotheby’s videos: First Look Bowie/Collector and How Bowie’s Fascination with Art Became a Full-Time Job.

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Friday Five Favourites:

Guest starring: ME
Here’s a new segment. First up, this is my own personal list of favourites, just to set the tone (as this whole newsletter is a list of my favourites). In the coming weeks I will include the lists of special guest stars (friends)… stay tuned.

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1) Roast chicken with gravy and veg on a Sunday night.
My favourite recipe is similar to this Jamie Oliver method. Boiling the lemon is the key!

2) Shabby old penguin classic copy of The Dud Avocado – Elaine Dundy
I love this book. A few years ago I bought a beautifully-designed, limited-edition hardcover, as my old paperback is falling apart. Despite the beauty of the fancy new edition, it is the shabby old one from 1960 that I love the best. It was my dad’s. While proof reading this, he wrote and asked: “Is that my copy? If so, it’s the one I read at the age of 15 while filling in time at the Long Bay rifle range when I was a cadet. A bit of an eye-opener for a 15-year old in those days.” Yes, Dad, it’s your copy. But can I keep it?
The book itself is a joy. “Basically, if you were to set Henry James’ Portrait of a Lady near the Sorbonne, untangle the sentences and add more slapstick, sex and champagne cocktails, you’re getting close.” – Rosecrans Baldwin discusses the book on NPR.

3) Corner of my dining room
Including a weird old 60s print that belonged to my grandmother (artist unknown), our painted cabinet from Tibet, SONOS speaker (which would also make it onto my castaway-on-a-deserted-island list, if the deserted island had power and wifi), plants that I haven’t killed yet, wooden percussion instruments / ornaments that belonged to my other grandmother, a paper apple made by one of my kids and a bunch of geese bowls found at Anthropologie years ago.

4) Mixtape from 1990
Made for me by my friend Dom, who opened my eyes and ears to music. This was one of many mixed tapes for which I am forever grateful. What a great tape that was, full of completely different (for me) stuff. Metallica? Black Sabbath? Rush??

5) Tiny little seed and the tiny little elephants carved from ivory that live inside: My childhood best friend travelled the world and brought this back from India for me when I was 9. The seed is about the size of a cherry pip. Those elephants are about the size of a ladybug wing. I remember he brought himself back a medieval-style, chainmail glove from Nottingham after he had visited Sherwood Forest. He was the coolest.

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Delighting:

1) Dalai Lama: Behind Our Anxiety, the Fear of Being Unneeded: “If one lights a fire for others, it will also brighten one’s own way.” Words of encouragement and hope for better societies from the Dalai Lama.

2) Walt Disney’s MultiPlane Camera created complex, beautiful animations with great depth and atmosphere: It’s an enormous and complicated piece or machinery, and Walt’s film from 1957 explaining its workings is fascinating. (thanks Ward).

3) For all you people with weird Jessica Rabbit fetishes (you know who you are): This one’s for you. It will make you feel a whole lot more legit.

4) This man owns only 150 items and wants for nothing: An admirable exercise in a zen practice of minimalism and simplicity. I could learn a lot from him.

5) I Chop Up Faces Every Morning, and So Should YouCollage for inspiration. (thanks Erin L-F)

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“The note of hope is the only note that can help us or save us from falling to the bottom of the heap of evolution, because, largely, about all a human being is, anyway, is just a hoping machine, a working machine…the human race will sing this way as long as there is a human to race” – Woody Guthrie, Notes about Music, 1946.

Don’t forget that you are welcome to email me with any random thoughts you might like to share, or a link you think might work in the newsletter. For me, the email feedback is one of the best parts of doing this thing. Thank you to those who do.

Until next week…

Over and out,

Claire Robertson,
The Small Batch List
Person with a keyboard
xo

p.s. This week it’s a whopping 250 points for guessing the slightly obscure quote in the subject line. It’s the third line of one of my favourite poems. Do you know it?

p.p.s. That iguana snake chase footage was incredibly cool.

 

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