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).




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.



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.


“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



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.



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.


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.

“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


Friday Five Favourites – guest-starring David Corbet
Dancer and Doctor
Most often found at 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:


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.

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.



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?


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

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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