Sunday, August 30, 2015


Happy Monday, people.
In my last post I forgot to show my Catherine the Great tee, from The Hermitage exhibition in Melbourne.
Catherine looks very imperial, doesn't she...

Meantime, this kookaburra appeared in our tree, shortly after we found a small dead snake lying on the ground beneath.
It was a white-crowned snake, one of the lesser venomous ones.
Could there be a connection?  Well, kookaburras do eat snakes...

 I really don't like the fact that snakes are emerging in August, which should be the middle of winter.  That is hibernation time, snakes...

V and I went to see Iris, the movie about Iris Apfel, legendary New Yorker and fashion icon, who just turned 94.
We loved it to bits.  Iris is an inspiration - so colourful and original.
She has collected clothes from around the world, in markets, China town, anywhere interesting.

Her quotes are very clever, and often hilarious.

Afterwards we went shopping at the nearest boutique.

This pencil skirt was a perfect fit, and found its way home with me.
Behold the Brooklyn Bridge on the front...

and I think that is part of the Empire State Building on the back.
Please let me know, Debra of New York..

I came home and gathered together my life-long collection of mostly worthless beads to put on display.  If you keep something long enough, it's time will eventually return..

Our king orchid has flowered again, with three fronds this year.
This orchid came from my father's home, when he moved into care in 2012.  We cut the orchid in pieces and shared it around the family.  
It produced one bloom in 2013, two in 2014, and three in 2015.  
Does this mean that orchids can count?

Have a happy week everybody.


Tuesday, August 25, 2015


We have been South to Melbourne, Victoria, to see a very special Exhibition:
Masterpieces from the Hermitage: The Legacy of Catherine the Great,
at the National Gallery of Victoria.

Catherine was Empress of Russia from 1762-96, Russia's Golden Age, was a charming cultural patron, and founder of the magnificent Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg.  The art collection is now three-million strong, and about 200 pieces from Catherine's time have made the journey to Australia.  
She began by purchasing a small collection from a Berlin dealer in 1764, and built her vast collection over the next three decades.

The exhibition space was amazingly curated, with walls and floors designed in imitation of the beautiful Winter Palace.

I was unsure about taking photos inside the exhibition, as I saw no cameras.
However, as we got to the end I realised people were taking pictures on their phones, and not being apprehended.  I did a quick dash back and took a few snaps.

In my rush, I failed to note the artist - shame on me!

This was my favourite, by Titian.

A beautiful nativity by Murillo.

Portrait by Paris Bordone..

There are three Rembrandts, along with some fantastic Dutch genre paintings.
And Catherine bought the Walpole Collection from Britain, which includes a magnificent Van Dyke portrait of Charles 1.
And many more...    

Life sized videos taken within the Hermitage brought authenticity to the Exhibition.

In 1777 Catherine commissioned a lavish 797-piece dinner service from Sevres.  A small selection shows us how gorgeous it must have been.

She had a taste for beautiful objects in her boudoir -
where, it seems, she entertained her lovers, or 'favourites' as she called them.

Beautiful gilt objects..

A small selection of her vast collection of 10,000 cameos.

There were architects' drawings and some eighteenth century paintings of The Hermitage itself, giving a feel for the place and time.

A water feature greets visitors to the NGV.
As we emerged, coming back into the twenty-first century, we found it difficult to imagine a time when anyone, even an Empress, could live this way.
Those days are gone!
I have downloaded a biography of Catherine to my Kindle, a little late perhaps, but am enjoying learning about her in hindsight.

It is an exquisite exhibition, and if you get a chance to visit, very rewarding.

Later we went to visit the gallery's Australian Art collection.
That will be another post.

And today I noticed that this is my 400th post.
Thank you all for reading my blog these past 4 years.
I appreciate the friendships I have made, and the interaction with new readers from around the globe.
As long as it continues to be fun, the Red Cardinal blog will survive...

Have a great week.


Monday, August 17, 2015


Hello from our solitary daffodil, which emerged in sunny fashion in the Red Cardinal Garden of Neglect.
We are quite thrilled with it - remember, we live in the topics after all...

The secret is one little garden which is very cold, gets only a little gentle morning sun, and is sheltered from the hot western sun and winds.

Fingers crossed for the tulip bulb I put in there too..

In other cheerful news, the adventurous and whimsical nasturtiums continue to amuse themselves, clinging to the ceiling under our deck..
Who said plants had no imagination?

A dramatic fire appeared over on the mountain...

It has been very dry here, no rain to speak of over the winter, and bush fires will happen.  Thankfully, it appears to have been put out before endangering the populace.  Undeterred, the Cardinals went Out.

It was time for a bit of glamour and sparkle.
I put on my black sequin skirt, the better to enjoy the Queensland Symphony Orchestra.
Guest violinist, the amazing Pinchas Zukerman, played the wonderful Elgar Violin Concerto in B minor, Op. 61.
I love Elgar.

Here's a tiny bit of a 1932 recording by Yehudi Menuhin, conducted by the composer himself, Sir Edward Elgar.

It is a very long concerto, about 50 minutes, but I was so enraptured that I was astonished when it finished.
I thought only about 15 minutes has passed...

Lavender is also enjoying the winter sunshine..

May the sun shine for you too, wherever you may be.

And have a great week.


Sunday, August 9, 2015


Winter in Australia is the season for the Golden Wattle, Australia's National Flower.  I spotted this bush covered with little fluffy blossoms on my daily walk.
Lately, I have also encountered many pairs of wild bush ducks by the creek.
They are shy, and walk away from me and my camera...

I had to ask Mr Google for a picture to show you what they really look like:

and with the arrival of Spring, soon there will be lots of...

baby ducks.... taking chances on the roads, marching in a line round the park, and swimming in the creek..

My Canadian decoy duck, just because.

Mavis Ngallametta, 'Wutun #2,' 2014.
Indigenous Australian artist Mavis Ngallametta, lives and works in Aurukun, on the western side of Cape York, in North Queensland.  
Here she paints the country of her adopted son Edgar, the area just inside the mouth of the Archer River, close to the sea.  They come by boat to camp and go fishing here, teaching the traditional ways to the grandchildren.
This huge work is painted with natural pigments and charcoal with an acrylic binder on canvas.  Ngallametta collects the white clay she uses in her paintings at this special site.
What I love about this work is the wonderful way she uses indigenous painting motifs, clouds of dots and weaving lines, in a European perspective of the landscape: sea in the foreground, beach and land further back.
But best of all, and I didn't even notice this until the second time I viewed it, there are ducks:

In fact, there are lots and lots of little ducks, black ducks and white ducks, concealed in the waves, swimming about and having a wonderful time.

Teho Ropeyarn 'Utku an Alarrakudhi - Anbachama Ikya (Emu and Brolga - beforetime story)' 2014
Another bird picture and another indigenous artist from the Cape York Peninsula, Teho Ropeyarn.
This large linocut print depicts a traditional story about Emu and Brolga, two Australian native birds.  The multi-panel installation features different scenes from the story of jealousy and treachery, connected through a meandering yam vine which is part of the narrative.  
Teho Ropeyard is from the community of Injinoo in the north of Cape York, and currently lives and practices in Cairns.  As permitted by his elders, he recreates stories in a contemporary form, using rhythm, patterns and imagery not typical of the art of his people, but re-telling the stories in new and imaginative detail.
It is a stunning piece of art.

Both these works are currently on display at the exhibition 'GomaQ, Contemporary Queensland Art'.

Regular readers know that I love to sew, but until I began to read sewing blogs, my practice has always been to buy fabric only with a particular project in mind.  Well, those days are gone.  I have now learnt that fabric can be bought, and stored for the future, and this is called 'stash building'..
I suspect it could also be called hoarding, but that's another story..
Things have been rather busy in the Cardinal nest of late, and while very little sewing has taken place, a little stashing for summer has been going on.
My delicate blue flamingo georgette arrived from Darn Cheap Fabrics, a handy Australia fabric site, and the grey floral rayon is from Spotlight.

Then there is the stone stretch bengaline from Style Arc, and mocha jersey from Darn Cheap Fabrics.  
Let's hope I find some time to start a bit of Summer Sewing -

We took my father out for his Sunday drive today.  He was good, ate all his lunch, loved the coffee, and enjoyed the view.  We stopped at a couple of farm stalls, getting a big pumpkin, and two huge avocados.  
They were Darn Cheap too.

Have a great week.