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isiiad - isiiad, Jeannette Davison, warrandyte, art, design, blog, photography, painting, Nillumbik, Yarra Valley, artist's trail, artist open studio, art

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Isiiad (I saw it in a dream) is an arts and design blog. It is centred in Warrandyte and the surrounding Yarra Valley but will go where ever my creative spirit takes me… so Warrandyte to the world. Creator and blog owner is Jeannette Davison.

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Ekphrasis Awards

Baigent Caviar Spoon copy 2

Simon Icarus BAIGENT Caviar Spoon 1995  gold, ebony, mother of pearl, diamond, ruby  0.5cm x 5.5cm x 2.0cm ©Simon Icarus Baigent (Photo by Silvi Glattauer) Collection: Nillumbik Shire Council

If Ekphrastic poetry is the conversation between two pieces of art, EA Horne's lusciously sensuous words create the perfect conversation with Simon Baigent's shamelessly decadent work of art.



gold, ebony, mother of pearl, diamond, ruby:

you lack for nothing, spoon - except use!

too precious for the table, empty in your

arthouse, what is it you miss most?

the slow salt suck

of plump lips,

the tingle and bright pop of 

tongues' ecstasy,

the lingering kiss of 

brides and kings

or the cry

of the wild sturgeon?


-EA Horne

Ekphrasis singer

Nelle May and the Odyssey Band - comprising singer Nelle May (above), Dylan Smith, Jackson Phelan.

Nillumbik Shire have announced the winners of their inaugural Ekphrasis Award. Music, good food and a little frisson of expectation preceded the announcement.  Then actor Debra Lawrance read the winning poems with such beauty that this audience member was reduced to tears... on more than one occasion.  Words... all so beautifully combined, meaning so much.

Ekphrasis Deborah Lawrence

I recently read that the writer Jeanette Winterson regularly 'learns' a new poem.  She reads the chosen poem many times, often in front of the mirror. Her advice...

"But what I always say to people is, look, the language of a poem may seem difficult or even off-putting at first, because it's quite a complex language and it's very dense.  The best thing is to always read it out loud.  There's nothing better than reading out loud to get the sense of something.  And then you'll stumble over the bits you don't understand, of course you will, but then when you read them again, it begins to smooth out and make sense. Everything like that should be read out loud; every time I find something new, I read it out loud.   When I'm learning a poem, I do it in front of the mirror, and I'll tell you something really wierd that happens: the moment you recite a poem in front of the mirror, you are watching your own expression, and you watch yourself change as the poem enters you.  And it's a good test for anybody to do, because it really happensRamona Koval Speaking Volumes Conversations with remarkable writers 2010 Scribe Melbourne Page 363

Reminding me that poems must be read out loud, before the reader really 'gets' it.  Guess what I've been doing lately...in front of the mirror? Trying to get my tongue around- "the slow salt suck of plump lips, the tingle and bright pop of tongues' ecstacy."  with just the right timing, all the while, channelling Debra Lawrance. Give it a try, it's sort of like yoga for the mind.

In their wisdom, Nillumbik Shire have printed twelve postcards in all, each one with a work of art on one side and the chosen poem on the other. Treasures. My set of the postcards sits on my coffee table, so that every now and again I can revisit them.  I especially love MY P(A)LACE for its evocations of womanhood and motherhood...

Schreiber My Place

Libby SCHREIBER My Place 2012 lino-cut  77cm x 61cm framed  ©Libby Schreiber  Collection: Nillumbik Shire Council



 She crafts her temple in anticipation

clothed with strength and dignity

breathlessly bears the mystifying

who are you?

deep inside



Bulging belly births booties, building blocks, burp

domestic goddess abdicates her throne

water, cries, milk splatters

giver of life 

making me



-Catherine Dinkelmann


Nillumbik Shire's Huon pine sculpture, The Talisman Seed by Stephen Hughes, inspired the winning poem by Meaghan Bell.

Ekphrasis Talisman Seed

Stephen HUGHES The Talisman Seed c. 80's Huon Pine 30cm x 25cm diameter © Stephen Hughes (Photo by Silvi Glattauer)  Collection: Nillumbik Shire Council



 spiralling out like breath

or the golden mean

greater than zero but not by much


the architectural dispensing of secrets

or spinning out code 

rising through loam and ashes


a husk birthing knowledge

or lips parted for a kiss

it starts small, a microcosm 


the subtle germination 

or geometry of spores 

history on the wind


-Meaghan Bell 


I was delighted to hear that with 116 entries this year and an award night attended by 90 people, the Nillumbik Ekphrasis Award will certainly be repeated next year...Next year's theme, Earth Plus will no doubt reveal some interesting works of art from Nillumbik's collection. Something to look forward to for lovers of visual arts and poetry.

For more information about the Ekphrasis Awards, check out Nillumbik Shire's website.

Artworks and poems are published here with the permission of the Nillumbik Shire and the poets.


Parent Category: Arts

First Train to Allwood


"The first train to Allwood [now Hurstbridge] arrived on June 25th 1912 and we're going to yarnbomb a fence to celebrate". 

So say the organisers of this community arts project (The First Train to Allwood), local artists Margaret Summerton and Robina Summers. They're not afraid of a challenge. With the aid of 30 knitters and crocheters, kilometers of venetian blind cord, a bzillion zip tags and the combined energy of a small train, a transformation is taking place along two 'blocks worth' of cyclone fence in the main drag of Hurstbridge. This is possibly one of the biggest, most ambitious yarnbombing projects ever.

It simply makes me happy to see these pics of enormous crocheted doilies for the wheels and big knit one purl one carriages.  Margaret and Robina tell me that each time they add another piece to the fence, passersby toot and register their approval with comments.


The First Train to Allwood team meet every second Saturday morning at the Wattle Cafe in Hurstbridge.



The quirky design for the train has been 'stylised' from the original photos of the original train.



Each knitter and crocheter is given a paper pattern of a small part of the train and some balls of venetian blind cord. They are encouraged to recreate the pattern in whatever way they like, using whatever stitches and techniques they think appropriate.  

The project is an enormous undertaking, with logistics, administration and coordination being just as important as the knitting and crochet itself.


It's hoped that the train will be complete for the Wattle Festival on August 26th, but you can watch the progress up until then on the cyclone fence in the main drag of Hurstbridge. If you don't live locally but would like to be kept in the loop, follow it on Facebook.

The First Train to Allwood team is still looking for creative knitters to join them. Contact them via their website if you would like to be part of a truly joyous, (more fun than should be allowed) community project.

All photographs in this post are courtesy of and ©Tony and Robina Summers Upfront Pictures.

Parent Category: Arts

Emmy Mavroidis and Aldo Bilotta




Emmy Mavroidis' work was shortlisted for this years Nillumbik Prize.  It's a big brave drawing of a 'moving' figure. She loves the figure and has been exploring it artistically, in drawing, painting and sculpture for many years.  She's also responsible for drawing the figures on Jane Annois nude raku pots. Rodin is a favourite.  She loves the short one minute poses in life drawing and often works to develop what's captured during those poses.  She talks with great passion about the work of Yvonne Audette, her teacher and mentor.  She has given Emmy the confidence to explore movement in drawing.

I began my visit in her Nyora Studio, where she holds regular classes in sculpture and lifedrawing and where several exhibitions are planned- a joint exhibition with Dena Ashbolt in October and a group exhibition planned for early next year showcasing artists working from Nyora Studio  in sculpture, painting & drawing.  We'd chatted over a cuppa in her kitchen and wandered around the garden, spotting sculptures and the many improvements to their property.  I was pretty satisfied with my visit and knew that you dear reader would enjoy hearing about this very talented local artist.





Then Emmy invited me to see what her husband, Aldo Bilotta, was working on in his shed.

He builds vintage cars. She said.

We met at art school. She said.

He's a sculptor and also makes furniture.

So together, we wandered off to his shed.

Nothing could have prepared me for this one... He doesn't build just any old ordinary vintage cars... He was busy building the carriage for a Delage. (For the unitiated, Delage was a French company making cars in the first half of the 20th century.)  I was looking at a very rare, supremely elegant example of a car from the Delage 'stable' (there are only thirty-something of this particular car left in the world). I naively asked if any plans come with the rolling chassis, so that he can work from them, to learn that his only reference point is an A3 photo of the finished car (see below).  You could say he's a genius car builder.  



A Ballot having its 'skin' put on... by Brian Mills, the body builder responsible for 'skinning' the cars.


It's pretty unusual for me to be rendered speechless but I admit that on this occasion all I could manage were inane Ahhhh's and ubiquitous OMG's.  I was painfully aware at the time that my 'comments' were utterly inadequate but in my defence, I had no idea that anyone could build cars like that in this age of mass production and computer generated machinery, or that cars as beautiful as this Delage were sitting in a 'shed' in downtown Eltham being brought back to their former glory.  I stopped making unintelligible noises long enough for Aldo to invite me to his second 'shed'. He calmly opened up the shed door to reveal another rare, drop dead gorgeous vintage car. This time a Bugatti!



Now I don't normally publish photos of me on the hunt for great things to show you, but I simply couldn't resist including this one.  I look like a total Wally but don't care. I was having the time of my life and without this photo it's hard to imagine that I once sat in the driver's seat of a vintage Bugatti. Someone pinch me!


Thanks Emmy for taking the photo!

Parent Category: Arts

More Articles...

  1. Indigenous Artists
  2. Michael Peck-Archibald Finalist 2012
  3. Archibald Finalist- Kate Tucker
  4. A Heide Installation
  5. So when do you throw the flowers out?
  6. Ev Hales-Static Motion
  7. Mike Emmett and Bec Jones
  8. Ember Fairbairn is at Art Melbourne
  9. Raelene Sharp and that Archibald Packing Room Prize
  10. Nillumbik Artists Open Studios-Jane Annois
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