lisa sewards

Lisa Sewards: White Parachute

It’s been a little while since I last attended an art exhibition, and even longer since I’ve been to one of my favourite Melbourne venues, Fortyfive Downstairs. Last time I visited 45 Flinders Lane, it was to see one of my heros, Samual Johnson in a three-person play The Haunting of Daniel Gartell. It was a fantastic evening, and I’ve been looking forward to a chance to visit the venue again.


This week I had that chance, and this time it was to share in an experience; a raw, beautiful and moving experience. Tuesday night was the opening of Lisa Sewards’ first solo exhibition, White Parachute. This stunning show, featuring works on paper, paintings, objects and installations explores the memories of the artist’s mother who, after having spent five years of her young life in a displaced persons camp in northern Germany shares her experiences of uncertainty, loss and hope.

Despite the fearfulness the situation, central to Lisa’s mother’s memories is a WW2 parachute, of white silk, abandoned and subsequently found by the women and children of the camp. The women refashioned the parachute into much needed dresses, underwear and as a small luxury, fine silk ribbons.

20130703-220023.jpgThe ribbons, white and silky, stood out from the despair of the camp and in turn, stand out from the works on display in Lisa’s show.

Through Sewards’ reconstruction she creates a postmemory of the space of that parachute falling into the lives of those in the camp. Sewards, like most children of camp survivors, is engaged in a process that is not yet complete and may never find resolution. The silence of falling white parachutes is akin to the silence of her mother in relation to the events of those years – Essay by Dr Julie Cotter, exhibition catalogue.

Having read a number of war stories, of displacement and heroism, novels such as The Book Thief, In Falling Snow, and most recently, The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult, this exhibition has provided a series of illustrations to accompany the  words that I’ve read over the past year. To have such haunting images available, to illustrate the equally haunting stories I’ve read, seems to have helped me to form a better understanding of what a terrifying period of time this must have been.

20130703-220031.jpgAlthough this show is reverent and clearly aims to raise an awareness of the circumstance of displacement, it is not somber. The hopeful image of the artist’s mother as a child, the repeated imagery of the billowing parachute and the silken ribbons themselves create a theme of hope, of finding comfort.

In addition to this beautiful treatment of a difficult theme, Lisa’s ability to master a wide range of mediums was on full display in this exhibition. Her works on paper are always stunning and her print collections are easily some of my favourite works. In saying that, her larger pieces in oils, collages and photography are impressive and add a real impact, a punch, to her shows.

The inclusion of Lisa’s installation piece, a parachute not unlike that which her family found all those years ago, helps to draw a very real connection between the audience and the art.

Lisa’s show, White Parachutes is showing at Fortyfive Downstairs until 13 July 2013 and will conclude with an artist talk and Russian high tea on Saturday, 13 July. For more information visit here…


Out Now! October TBYL News: All Things Bookish..

It just keeps getting warmer, so I’ve kept TBYL News: All Things Bookish… short and sweet so that it doesn’t keep you from getting outside and enjoying the sunshine!

TBYL News is a great way to catch up on recent reviews, upcoming news and words from my lovely special guests. This month is a pretty-in-pink special, with a huge shout out to the Pink Lady Art Exhibition coming up later this month. I hope you’ll take a look!

Click here to read TBYL News: All Things Bookish, October 2012

If you’d like to subscribe to the newsletter, you can click here. This’ll mean that you get our monthly news by email, on the first Monday of the month. Perfect!

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Helping Kids: My Mum Has Breast Cancer

Today’s instalment in our school holiday Helping Kids series is on a topic very close to my heart. The book in question was written by a good friend of mine, and has been put together to help kids work their way through a loved one being diagnosed and treated for breast cancer.

My Mum Has Breast Cancer was written by Lisa Sewards after her diagnosis with breast cancer, and has been beautifully illustrated by her son and his grandmother.

It has helped countless families (including my own) deal with the shock of a mother, aunty, grandmother, being diagnosed with breast cancer. It helps in a very real and practical way, and is incredibly touching as a story in itself.

By happy coincidence, My Mum Has Breast Cancer was reviewed this week by Babyology. Not being one to reinvent the wheel, I thought I’d share their review with you today rather than write a brand new one. You can read it here.

As well as being an author and very talented artist, Lisa is the founder of the Pink Lady Art Exhibition. This art show will be running in Brighton, Victoria on 27th and 28th October 2012. I’m involved with this show, it’s inspirational and lots of fun and raises heaps of money for some really important breast cancer organisations. You can check out their website here.

If you’d like to buy a copy of My Mum Has Breast Cancer, they’re available through the TBYL Store. For September and October, 100% of proceeds from the sale of the book will go directly to BCNA (normally, 50%) Shop here for your copy…

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Arts, plus books…

As you know, I love art and, to state the obvious, I love books. But rarely do the two come together quite like this…

Last week, I attended the opening of a unique and intimate art exhibition called Ex Libris, on now at the Firestation Print Studio in Malvern:

“Ex Libris” or bookplates are decorative seals inserted within the opening pages of a book to celebrate possession.

“Ex Libris” is a Latin term meaning “from the books”. Bookplates first came into use in 15th century Germany after the invention of the printing press. The prestige associated with “Ex Libris” saw them spread throughout Europe to the United States of America and later Australia… Text by Carmen Roche

If this exhibition is anything to judge by, I think the practice of bookplates should see a resurgence!

The show consists of a collection of printed bookplates, skilfully curated by Trudy Rice and produced by Australian artists, and all inspired by a book of their own choice.

Artist: Carmel O’Connor

It showcases both the art of print-making, and the beauty of the book as an object.

Artist: Lisa Sewards

The space itself is worth a visit. An old firehouse, the Firestation Print Studio is a fantastic facility…

Plus I was able to take home some of the work, in the form of reproduced, sticker bookplates. Perfect for keeping track of my favourite books, particularly those that are often borrowed by friends.

Each set of bookplates sells for $20, and all funds go to supporting this amazing community-run art studio.

Ex Libris runs until the 2 September, and for full details visit the Firestation Print Studio’s website.

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An important story

A quick post today, to give you the heads up on a brand new, very special item in The TBYL Store.

I’m thrilled to be able to stock this very important picture book, My Mum has Breast Cancer, by Lisa Sewards and Harrison Sewards. This book was a great help to me when we were managing our way through breast cancer, and I would recommend it to anyone who’s faced with the difficult situation of talking to kids about this far too common illness.

My Mum has Breast Cancer is the personal story of one Mother’s journey with breast cancer told through the eyes of her 6 year old son.

It aims to provide families with a storybook that gently and compassionately explains the breast cancer journey in an informative and engaging way.  This personal account attempts to accept and normalise the trauma of experiencing cancer, and helps shift the focus, rather like looking into the light instead of the darkness.

The book is written so that children can relate to it, and includes explanations of medical treatments to facilitate discussion between parents, carers and young children.  It assists in opening the lines of communication between you and your child.

The fantastic illustrations tell most of the story on their own.  They also illustrate the heroes we meet in the medical world. It’s suitable for children aged 3-10 years

50% of the sale price of every copy of My Mum has Breast Cancer sold will be donated directly to Breast Cancer Network Australia.

Buy your a copy of My Mum has Breast Cancer, at the TBYL Store!

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Now the year has started

I’ve very much enjoyed the break – as a chance to stay at home, get a bit of reading done, and set up some new and exciting TBYL offerings. Still, I’ll admit that by last week I was ready to get out and about again.

Only now do I feel like the year has really, truly started – the 2012 events have begun.

I’ve had three ‘feasts’ at my house helping me feel good about my new years resolutions. I’ve bought tickets to the Wheeler Centre’s Gala 2012: Stories to Believe In, and also to hear from philosopher and author Alain de Botton next month. And I’ve attended my first art exhibition for the year, and it was stunning.

A dear friend of mine and very talented artist, Lisa Sewards joined forces with the equally exceptional Dave Dando and Kathryn Gribbin to share this gorgeous show; Owl the urban edge.

Their work blended together so seamlessly, so smoothly, it felt as though they’d spent months in a room together deciding what to paint, build and photograph. The combination of huge metal and copper sculptures, lightboxes, and works on paper worked superbly. The gentle prints and drawings contrasted with the imposing sculptures, capturing the often contradictory nature of the owl.

The opening was incredibly well attended, it’s my guess that this will be a really popular show – well worth a visit.

To add to an already wonderful afternoon, Owl the urban edge was introduced by storyteller, Ron Murray who shared the owl creation story – children and adults alike where transfixed by his colourful tale and his traditional music. Oscar was absolutely fascinated, it was the first time he’d ever heard a didgeridoo , and his reaction was priceless.

I was trying to pick a favourite, a piece that particularly stood out, and it’s near-on impossible. I love Lisa’s work, without exception her prints and paintings are moving, gentle, emotive. Dave’s sculpture is truly unique, it is attention grabbing in its skill and its scale. Kathryn’s work goes many steps beyond photography – her compositions are haunting, three-dimensional experiences of the bush. I’ve one of her works in my lounge-room (which I bought from the Pink Lady Art Exhibition in 2010) and it’s fair to say that it’s one of my favourite possessions.

All around, this is a show worth a visit, and pieces worth purchase if you’re on the look out for some original art.

The show runs until February 4th 2012 at Steps Gallery, 62 Lygon Street, Carlton South.

Urban wildlife: Owl, the urban edge

Frighteningly, everyone’s calendar’s seem to have filled up for December already, so I thought I’d skip straight to January.

The weather will be warm, we’ll have recovered from the festivities, and eased nicely into a calmer, quieter, holiday pace. And what better way to enjoy the wonderful month of January than with an art exhibition. Sounds to me to be a very fitting way to start off a brand new year.

A dear friend of mine and very talented artist, Lisa Sewards has joined forces with the equally exceptional Dave Dando and Kathryn Gribbin to bring us their gorgeous show; Owl the urban edge.

I can’t recommend this collection of work highly enough, it’ll be mixed, edgy and earthy. I’ll be there on day one. I’m going to take the kids’ too, especially since owls are an absolute favourite for Oscar. He’s sure to love Ron Murray’s performance at the opening, particularly when he shares the owl creation story.

The exhibition will include huge metal and copper sculptures, lightboxes, and works on paper including fusions of photographs, drawings and printmaking applications. The exhibition is bound to appeal to all art lovers including devotees of this emblematic bird!

The show opens Saturday, January 21st 3-5pm and runs until February 4th 2012 at Steps Gallery, 62 Lygon Street, Carlton South.

Lovely Lisa

I’ve just gotten hold of a couple more pieces from the upcoming Mt Zero Cabin 1 at the Grampians exhibition, this time by the lovely Lisa Sewards…

An another…

And one more special treat…

Not only am I now looking forward to the exhibition, but I’ve got the most incredible hankering for a weekend in the Grampians.

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