My Brother, The Bear…

The youngest sibling craves attention while older siblings are rightly convinced that they are always over-indulged; hence, my ‘little’ brother Andrew… or ‘The Bear’ as he is known to friends and radio audiences… has become our entertainer! This bear now dances for all family gatherings… and with his keen eye and humorous take on life… he always amuses and never lets us down. This is the speech he delivered with love for my recent 60th celebration… and yes, he does deserve attention for it. Enjoy!

The Bear

Andrew’s Speech for Fiona – by Andrew Reynolds,  24 June 2017

When Fiona asked me to say something at her 60th birthday my first reaction was of course…… NO!

Last year, at Rob’s 60th I said a few words which were both entertaining and keenly insightful therefore felt there was no good reason to ruin my record…..but, upon reflection I was really left with no alternative…..

Had I remained silent this year, had I kept my thoughts to myself this could have resulted in Fiona being somehow in Rob’s shadow?

That’s not how it works?

This is not the natural order?

So where do I start when it comes to my MUCH, MUCH, MUCH, MUCH, MUCH, OLDER sister when celebrating this milestone? Let’s begin with the question?

Do you know Fiona Steel????

Now most of you may expect the person making this inquiry could be a member of the constabulary…. Or perhaps a barman???

On this occasion it was actually a primary teacher at a school in Terrey Hills. The teacher was discussing art with my daughter, getting the children excited about a creative expert visiting the school and Georgia asked if it was Fiona? The teacher’s reply, “Do You Know Fiona Steel” offered a small degree of fame for Georgia, being the niece of this education department celebrity, the other was Fiona imprinting her love and appreciation of art onto both my daughters something continues to drive their interests today.

Art is very important to Fiona. She creates it. She encourages it. She makes money from it. No, much to Rob’s disappointment she has not sold any multi-million dollar masterpieces…… although art does tend to increase exponentially in value after the artist has…. you know, gone to the great wine cellar in the sky???? So as a MUCH, MUCH, MUCH, MUCH, MUCH, younger sibling there’s a few pieces I’ve tabbed for my collection just in case…..

Anyway, Fiona made a business of driving around to regional centres visiting schools like an artistic Jimmy Sharman and his famous travelling boxing tents. Hitting children and teachers alike with her creativity, pummeling them with her artistic techniques and head-butting them with her understanding of post modernist doctrines……

Too much????????

It is one thing to have a passion in your life but it’s truly admirable to turn it into your job. And this is not an uncommon theme with Fiona.

Many of you would know she is also a travel expert? Fiona turned her passion for spending Rob’s money overseas into another career opportunity, leading unsuspecting clients….. or, paying customers on jaunts around exotic foreign cities. Imagine Fiona taking on the responsibility of guiding tourists, looking after their safety and ensuring they return home in one piece?

I mean this is the woman who once finished a shower and dressed before realising she hadn’t rinsed the conditioner from her hair. Fiona has been known when confronted by hungry children….. her own…… to wave in the vicinity of the kitchen, encouraging them to “knock themselves out”. Like a modern-day Marie Antoinette.

So I’m sure the majority of her touring party could have returned…… but I guarantee they would have had a great time…….

……as long as they loved art galleries……… and bars….. Or art galleries with bars?

Fiona laughs because there are no art galleries without bars……… her experience.

More recently my sister returned to the classroom to educate foreign university students and help them adapt to Australian life. Fiona’s Facebook updates regularly show her introducing them to her favourite haunts around Sydney.

It must be something for those youngsters to return home and tell stories in their native tongue of the wonder that is Australia. They may not grasp our language entirely but I’m certain they’ll pronounce “pub”, “you shout” and “art gallery” like an Aussie.                                                                 Video: typical educational outing

Now, I could spend all afternoon making jokes at Fiona’s expense ….. And I intend too but I also have some nice things to say.

If a child is a reflection of their parent then Fiona ….and Rob of course… have brought up three very fine young people. Nick, Prue and Max are kind, generous and intelligent. They’re also creative and have been known to drink a bit………

They are wonderful, warm and very open to meeting new people. Traits they most certainly inherited from their mother who is just at home with old friends as she is with someone she has never met. I’ve always been amazed by Fiona’s ability to put one at ease and enjoy their company irrespective of familiarity. It’s a trait I once attributed merely to alcohol and its liberal application but Fiona is like this all the time ….. although the morning after the liberal application of alcohol perhaps not so much.

Her ability to engage with the unfamiliar is legendary. It would surprise no one if she arrived at the wrong party this very day, spent two hours meeting people and enjoying herself before realising the mistake, moving to the correct location and bringing with her at least half of those she just met?

Where does this come from? Did she inherit it or was it just a result of a lifetime of poor navigational skills?

I can really only speak for myself here as I’m only one quarter of the Reynolds sibling survey……. an extremely infrequent event I can assure you….. but Fiona is the beautiful social butterfly to our much duller Bogong moths.

Finally, I would offer you this portrait of my sister:

She is the youngest 60 year old you will ever meet.

She enjoys a good time with friends, colleagues, strangers.

She does enjoy a glass of red or two.

Like her mother before her she adores her children and grandchildren.

She has a sturdy lighthouse in Rob to guide her through her raging seas.

She has transformed from a young country girl to a teacher, a wife, a mother, now grandmother and an artist.Like a beautiful iridescent blue Ulysses Butterfly Fiona brings a flourish of colour wherever she goes, brightens every landscape and enlightens every heart she touches.

Happy Birthday Sis.

My Sister, the Art Critic

Recently, I celebrated my 60th birthday with family and friends, and my sister, Felicity gave a speech unlike any other. It captured, in particular, my love for art… and my partiality for a red wine. Enjoy!!

Felicity, the Art Critic

‘The Fiona’ – by Felicity Reynolds, June 24, 2017

‘The Fiona’

As we are gathered here today to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the first time the work of art, ‘The Fiona’, went on public display, I think it’s important that we understand more about the creation and history of this fascinating piece of modern art….which…..whilst indicative of post war modernity, still remains relevant to post modernity and still has a solid place within altermodernism.

‘The Fiona’ was created by 2 artist collaborators, Reynolds and Reynolds, over a 9 month period spanning 1956 and 1957. At the time, critics weren’t sure if ‘The Fiona’ was a comment on Duchamp’s early 20th century work and the ‘ready-made object’ or if it was a juxtaposition of the 19th century crafts movement situated within a 20th century fine arts setting. It is now widely agreed that the confusion with Duchamp’s work came from the shit that had also been on display at its first public exhibition.

Although Reynolds and Reynolds never achieved the same critical acclaim given to other Australian artists of their period, such as Boyd or Nolan – and some feminist critics have suggested that their work was under-valued because of the unusual (for that time) artistic collaboration of a man and a woman – Reynolds and Reynolds went on to even greater acclaim and achievement. With the well-known Australian historian and critic, Robert Hughes, suggesting their 2 later works were more clearly defined and improved examples of their work and collaboration. I won’t go into detail here today, as I have written an entire book on ‘The Felicity’ and you are welcome to read that at your leisure. My essay in the Journal of Art Criticism and Positive Space titled ‘The Accident’ covers the history and important contribution to art theory of ‘The Andrew’.

But I digress. In relation to the subject at hand, some have suggested that ‘The Fiona’s’ true artistic heritage lies many centuries back….. during the renaissance and the improved development of depth representation and the practice of perspective. In fact, many people who have seen ‘The Fiona’ over the years have often remarked that its eyes always seem to follow you, no matter where you stand in the room. This may be true, it remains unclear, but the notion that people think this…… is probably the most inspiring feature of the work. It leaves the viewer not sure if it is seeing or if it is the one being seen. A remarkable achievement for 2 rural Australian artists in the mid twentieth century.

‘The Fiona’ was shown in a number of rural locations in the 1960s and 1970s. Wherever it was shown, it drew audiences from a broad base…….from church goers to miners, educators, college students, children and teenagers. Many have already said that ‘The Fiona’s’ ability to speak to all age groups and people from such a large cross section of our society – even during the unremarkable early post-modern period is the reason it remains so admired today.

However, I think that analysis ignores the role played by its current owner and curator.

Mr Rob Steel, the current owner

In 1979 Mr Robert Steel of Whale Beach NSW obtained ‘The Fiona’ in a private negotiation and it has not been back on the market since that time. Although ‘The Fiona’ has been on public display on a great many occasions he has not yet sold it, even though it has likely increased significantly in value over that period.

Steel has taken great care of this work and has undertaken some careful restoration of it over the years…..usually on Saturdays and Sundays….and with some well known restoration techniques involving water and a darkened room. Some also believe he has probably used a lesser known substance…..named a ‘berocca’ (I’m not sure if I’ve pronounced that correctly – I believe it is an Italian term) to help with this crucial restoration work.

None-the-less it has finally started to show a few signs of age and more lines on the work are becoming visible.  Recently, the art critic John McDonald has suggested that these changes over time are a testament to the careful collaboration by the late Reynolds and Reynolds and their intent for the work to grow and change over time. Mendelsohn however has criticised this analysis, by suggesting the lines are simply due to the impact of a bottle of Vodka when it was on public display in Russia a few years ago. Both of these analyses have some merit….but it cannot be denied that ‘The Fiona’ focuses on the moment in which such antitheses collide. It works both formally and conceptually to point to thresholds and spaces where both pleasure and time are suggested but not explicitly manifested or differentiated.

The Steel collection is not a large one, but it has grown over the years, as other works have been carefully added. ‘The Fiona’ is now considered to be a key part of the entire Steel collection. An opus of work that whilst they can all be viewed in isolation, the full impact of each of the works are enhanced by viewing them in considered relation with each of the other works.

So, we are left slightly puzzled. Is ‘The Fiona’ a ready-made object inspired by Duchamp? Is it more craft than art? Is it a timely and still relevant nod to post-modernism? Or, is it a drip painting?

This is where, as a critic, I will diverge and suggest that the piece is in fact an installation of the photo realistic lyrical abstraction neo dada post-modern futurist sculptural movement. The viewer can take from it what he or she needs and interpret for herself or himself its meaning and contribution to the full body of work that is our private and public heritage. In a similar manner to the practice of demonstrating the dynamism and unfixity of identity through character transformations, this installation demonstrates this same trait through cycles of transformation, growth and re-creation of new works. Each viewing space parodies real-worlds and real spaces….such as studio, office, home, hotel, hotel, hotel, club etc. Each space is open to the viewer as participant and user; the manner in which they participate with, or use it will be dependent on their identity and place within the broader body of work. Each space is inhabited and uninhabited at different times to play with both presence and absence. Are we here or are we there? Is ‘The Fiona’ really 60 or is it just 2 versions of a 30 year old or 3 versions of a 20 year old? Or perhaps, just half a version of a 120 year old?

Given ‘The Fiona’s’ presence here today and our own specific role in this installation… Baudrillard would have no doubt suggested……as ‘guests at a party’ we too form our own juxtaposition in celebrating the present as well as the time that has passed, but which somehow still lives within our shared and unshared memories.

I have no doubt that ‘The Fiona’ will be on public display for many years to come and continue to raise questions for future art critics and the public alike. But today is special, today we celebrate its anniversary and by being present in this moment we also contribute ourselves to the remarkable installation that is known very fondly as ‘The Fiona’.

In closing, we must thank Mr Robert Steel for making ‘The Fiona’ available to us and for taking such great care of this piece of work over the past 38 years.

Please charge your glasses and drink (of course) to celebrate the 60th anniversary of ‘The Fiona’.

Education or Indulgence

Is a love of travel or new experiences just a new form of consumerism? When the obsession is not brands, but culture, does that excuse the excess? 

How will my travel experiences benefit anyone?
Am I educating or just indulging myself?

I have watched with interest, and yes *sigh* even participated in that all time favourite game of my Baby Boomer generation ‘Live Life to the Max Today Because You Deserve It All Now And Damn the Consequences to Following Generations’. We did it bigger, louder and longer than others before and then took on commercialism with such a passion that the only rules were to out-buy, out-decorate and out-own everyone else until now it appears the competition is about how much of our past lives are stashed in storage.
I also need to ask..  why is everything so big and brash? Were we ever subtle? Is it our insecurity that makes our commentary on life so loud? Or our confidence?

I love my generation.. I proudly believe we’ve contributed some world changing occasions, thinkers and inventions during my lifetime. We broke down the wall, flew to the moon, connected everyone on the internet, built bionic body parts, used celebrity musicians to unite the masses globally, grew Mandela, Obama, Oprah and my personal whimsy.. Johnny Depp.

But now it appear the boomers have arrived at a new stage where many have had an awakening.. our life is no longer about possessions.
Yes, minimalism is the new black!
Life is not about having.. but doing!
And so it is with a brand new gusto that we have swathed ourselves in our new mantra… ……’life is about experiences’.

The travel/tourism industry must be thrilled with so many boomers holding 50% of all spending power and many of them about to have more time on their hands to spend their grand children’s inheritance. Tourism has marketed the idea well that we need to spend the rest of our lives enjoying every better and lesser known corners of our planet.

I love travel. I have always loved it! The new scenery, people, food, music, art, language, customs.. the whole cultural experience! I love having my eyes opened to how others think and why they don’t always agree with or understand my point of view. I love walking in their shoes. There is nothing better than explaining Oz idioms to other cultures and having them explain theirs to me over some late night local beverages. It makes me aware of our differences.. and our similarities.
But is that enough?
Does it really benefit anyone else but me?

And so friends, what are your thoughts?

Welcome to 2011

Change.  It has the power to uplift, to heal, to stimulate, surprise, open new doors, bring fresh experience and create excitement in life. Certainly it is worth the risk.” Leo Buscaglia

I have decided that it is time to steer my life in a completely different direction and follow a new passion… travel!

I love travel! I enjoy the event and the consequence. I love seeing new sites, meeting new people and trying to understand how a region’s history created cultural behaviours, apparel and wonderful culinary delights. I particularly enjoy observing how visual and performing artists interpret these events and so I want to taste each country up close.  I need to wallow in the aromas of life, fill all my senses with creative experiences and… I would like to share this!

And so, my ongoing plan is to set up a travel business that will offer opportunities for women to discover the joys of travel in small groups and share in the adventure of a lifetime!

Where would you like to visit first?

The Traveler IQ challenge ranks geographic knowledge of cities such as: Vienna, Branson or Budapest by comparing results against 6,509,717 other travelers. Brought to you by TravelPod, a TripAdvisor Media Network member

I have left my job as Coordinator of Operation Art. I have loved every aspect of this position over the last 7 years and in fact some might say that I may have been a little obsessed… but that’s what you do with things that you love and believe in so strongly. Working as a teacher for 30 years has been rewarding but being allowed to use those skills creatively on such a unique program for the last 15 years has been a privilege and I would like to thank everyone who has worked alongside me. I am so proud of how far we have come!

Recently, I was sent an amusing vocabulary list (below) derived from working with a large government organisation. You can beat yourself up, you can smile or you can leave… I choose to leave smiling!

  • SALMON DAY: The experience of spending an entire day swimming upstream only to get screwed and die.
  • SEAGULL MANAGER: A manager who flies in, makes a lot of noise, craps on everything and then flies out.
  • PERCUSSIVE MAINTENANCE: The fine art of whacking the crap out of an electronic device to get it to work again.
  • BLAMESTORMING: Sitting in a group, repeatedly discussing failing aspects of a project and who is responsible.
  • PEDESTRIAN SUBMISSION: Annually, quarterly or monthly fills in forms using the correct font and type space requesting ongoing approval for previous requests.
  • CUBE FARM: An office filled with cubicles.
    PRAIRIE DOGGING: When someone yells or drops something loudly in a cube farm and people’s heads pop up over the walls to see what’s going on. This also applies to applause for a promotion or birthday because there may be cake.
  • OH-NO SECOND:  That minuscule fraction of time in which you realize that you’ve just made a BIG mistake eg: you’ve hit ‘reply all”.
  • MYSTERY BUS *my favourite*: The bus that arrives at the pub on Friday night while you’re in the toilet after your 5th red and whisks away all the unattractive people so the pub is suddenly packed with stunners and great intellects when you come back in.

Enjoy what 2011 brings you!

Happy Christmas

“Imagine all the people living life in peace. You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope someday you’ll join us, and the world will be as one.”  John Lennon

 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6

Having recently remembered JL on the 30th  anniversary of his death and now about to celebrate the 2010th anniversary of JC’s birth…  it seems appropriate to wish everyone a Happy Christmas using the talented musician’s song alongside images of peaceful and happy events with friends and family throughout my year. 


My wish is that we take Christmas into every day of the year because I think only then can we give peace a chance.

“We need Christmas because it helps us to be better people, not only in December but in January, June, and November.”  Hugh W. Pinnock

Growing Old is Mandatory…but Growing Up is Optional

Everybody wants to live forever, but nobody wants to grow old. Jonathan Swift
Recently, I noticed that I was older than some other people around me. What finally caused this awakening? Was it really that sudden or had I just been in denial until last Tuesday?

When I pondered this revelation more closely, I decided that there had been hints along the way that I had chosen to ignore:

Ignored Hint #1:  Sports stars were younger than me.

In fact, the entire local cricket team are now younger than me and I’m not even game to check the ages of anyone on the lawn bowls team!

But why would this have concerned me when I was 28? I was never planning a career in sport and yet somehow this seemed like I had run out of time and missed an opportunity… for what you ask? Obvious isn’t it… to have the option of representing Australia at the Olympics!

Wisdom doesn’t necessarily come with age. Sometimes age just shows up all by itself. Tom Wilson

Ignored Hint #2: I didn’t go on dates anymore… my children did!

This stage of my life was not short and yet my inner genius still didn’t catch on… or was this just the beginning of ‘the denial’?

Everything was written on the calendar as ‘a date’ and it required the tactical manoeuvring skills of an army general during Desert Storm: play dates, party dates, sleep over dates, little athletics, soccer, netball, cricket, rugby and basketball dates, violin, keyboard and dance lesson dates, science weekend dates, hiking, camping, caving and bird watching dates, bike and horse riding dates, turning up and smiling at school assembly dates, rainy swimming carnival dates, hot sweaty athletic carnival dates… and finally (aarggh… my all time favourite) end of year presentation/speech day dates!

I’m back… and you knew I was coming. On my way here I passed a cinema with the sign ‘The Mummy Returns’. Margaret Thatcher

Ignored Hint # 3: Mid Life Crisis!

Seriously people… after reading IH#2, are you in the least bit surprised I had to ‘find myself’???

There is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age. Sophia Loren

Ignored Hint #4: I don’t get Rap Music.

My parents didn’t enjoy my music when I was younger and so I decided I’d be aware of my children’s music tastes and enjoy it alongside them. The boys and I have rocked out at a Red Hot Chillies concert; Rob and I enjoyed Pearl Jam on the rocks; I was happily rocked to sleep by Midnight Oil at an end of week concert; Prue and I rock, bopped and bonded over Bette and Beyonce, and finally… we are all now excitedly looking forward together to that holiest of Steel grails…a rock hard Metallica concert!

But… I just can’t stand Rap! “I’ve tried but I just don’t get it! It’s not musical. It just sounds all the same.” As soon as these words came out of my mouth, I remembered my Mum saying exactly the same to me when I was 15. I was rocked… when did I turn into my mother???

The first sign of maturity is the discovery that the volume knob also turns to the left. – Jerry M. Wright

Ignored Hint #5: The UK had a female Prime Minister 30 years ago but Australia only obtained one by default in 2010.

White women in Australia were among the first in the world to get the right to vote and yet no matter how much Germaine insisted we burn our bras, it seems that someone doused the fire and strapped on a straightjacket. I am surprised at the issues that are still being debated that I thought would be common place by now:

  • When will there be equal pay for women?
  • Thanks for saying ‘Sorry’ Kevin but have land rights been achieved for aboriginals?
  • Like the US, will we have to wait for the colour of our Prime Minister’s skin to be a contrived storyline in TV dramas before we get the real thing?
  • Why does the world still have land mines?
  • Why is sexuality still considered legal criteria for anything… is race? address?? cereal preference???  
  • Why do we still hear the term ‘asylum seeker’ and discuss a solution?

Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young.  Henry Ford

Why did I have an awakening?

It’s time for the next option… to grow up!

I don’t really mind getting old if I’ve learned and followed it with action. Therefore my active response is to encourage each other and to encourage our children to finish what we started. Let’s not just talk about it anymore, let’s create change!

Super Heroes Party

Party Themes can Make or Break It! Wow 

I always seem to enjoy a party more if it has a theme but do you?

Some people thrive on this enforced identity theft while others cringe at the very notion of losing that well maintained facade that they’ve toiled over for years and they’d rather spend the night at home carefully setting their hair on fire.

“I’m not normally a praying man, but if you’re up there, please save me, Superman!” Homer Simpson

The family that plays together
The family that plays together

I just don’t understand that! Setting ones hair on fire might be a great headline act and better still, a non fossil fuelled heating method during winter… but I’m one of those people who would prefer to change identities daily if there weren’t queuing and ongoing legal issues involved.

“Tarnished reputations are unfortunate, Robin. We can live with those. However, a threat to all of Gotham City is something else.” – Batman

WhamSo…  I see a party theme as a challenge!

It is a task to be manipulated and enjoyed so that it will be an event to be remembered!  I am given permission to ‘go where no man has gone before’, to be an original thinker, to throw caution to the wind and to recreate a whole new self for one whole night. I’m not sure if it’s that focused lead up to the actual event or the anticipation of seeing what other twisted minds have invented for my pleasure… but from the moment the invitation arrives then my life has been gifted a purpose.

Super Duper
Super Duper

There’s something else I seem to enjoy as part of the ‘costume effect’. I like to maximise the stirring effect of one costume by spreading the pleasure and bringing joy or conversation to incidental participants on route to the party. Therefore, there is always a petrol stop or a last minute alcohol purchase to be made on the way!

Spiderman & Cat Woman
Spiderman & Cat Woman

Doesn’t it give you kind of a, a, a… shudder… of electricity through you to be in the same room with me?– Lex Luthor 

 Over the years I have created characters for myself and my family that have been original, funny or head scratching but mostly they’ve contributed to the enjoyment of others… and I feel that is ones prime duty as a party participator.

One of my favourites was to go to my red headed friend Lisa’s ‘RED’ themed birthday party as a Strawberry Tart. No, I did not apply shortcrust pastry to my sides and wear a sign that said Bite Me! Instead, I tarted myself up in the best red hooker outfit I could find at the time and capped it all off with a halo of green leaves on my head.

What has been your favourite costume that you have worn or seen worn well?

What has been the best themed party you have attended?

Super Gorgeous
Super Gorgeous

I believe that the main duty of a host of a themed party if they would like to be on my ‘best host list’… is to get the theme correct! This needs considerable pondering! A great theme needs to be fun or witty, something not done to death by every other 21st that year… and something that will allow everyone to participate either simply or contrived.

Robin: “How about rushing the place, Batman?”
Batman: “Shh. I think not, Robin. All they’ve done so far is stolen a few items, attempted to kill you, me, and Batgirl. No, I think they plan something really big.”

A good night out
A good night out

I would also like to say that my children have accepted the baton with the same feverish fundamentalism that has fuelled my fervour for fake identities at frivolous festivities. 


Prue & Max’s usual weekend partying borders on Halloween while Max’s latest Fall Out Boy was a recent hit and his George of the Jungle outfit in the middle of winter when he was 18 still creates conversation. That’s the main duty of a good costume… to create conversation at the themed party and in years down the track! While party antics will always be talked about … it is the antic combined with the visual impact of a costumed character whose identity you thieved for one night of cryptic clandestine contentment that will have IMPACT!  

Super Gals
Super Gals
Bat Woman & Zorro
Bat Woman & Zorro
Super Heroes & Villains
Super Heroes & Villains

Thanks for the Bluurrry Memories!

Why does anyone go to a reunion?  

Recently, the Goulburn College of Advanced Education (Sturt University), previously  Goulburn Teachers’ College and now Goulburn Police Academy had a reunion.

I need to ask…


Everyone had a story
Everyone had a story

Why do we put ourselves through this strange custom?   

 In my twilight years…am I prepared to remember all those feelings from such an insecure time?

 Is it to prove something to others… or just to myself? 

I needed to find out so I packed my bag and headed away for a weekend with some people I hadn’t seen for over 30 years. I know I’m a very different person to the young girl that first met them all a thousand years ago and as one should expect, I have a confidence now that was nowhere in sight when I was 18 years old… but still I wondered….

I was booked into The Astor Hotel for the weekend… an establishment I remembered well. This was the last hotel I was drinking in before my boyfriend and I rolled his car after drinking for 9 hours. Yes! I had been a lucky one… a survivor of pre drink/driving laws. Ironically, a sobering thought!

Quality establishment where I was booked in to discover all repressed memories.
Quality establishment where I was booked in to discover all repressed memories.



We’ve come a long way together… Through the hard times and the good

I have to celebrate you baby…. I have to praise you, like I should

(♪♫•*•.Thanks Fat Boy Slim.•*•♫♪)  

 Hmmm… do we celebrate the bad or only the good times?

We sat in the gutter outside the Gordon Hotel...nick names were never very original!
We sat in the gutter outside the Gordon Hotel...nick names were never very original!

What made this time of my life so extraordinary and memorable were the sad and bad times that balanced those funny, partying, good times. The lows taught me so much more (don’t drink and drive) than the highs…. but at a reunion it seems to be only the smile times that are really invited to accompany us down memory lane. 


Recently, my friend Lynne told someone that she was going to a reunion and their response was, “well, you’re lucky you still look good enough to be able to go to your reunion!”

Is that really how it is?

If I was bald and fat, would my confidence be enough to accompany me to my reunion?

No! As it was I needed to take a friend to hand me a stiff drink often. I’m pretty sure I’d be washing my hair or contemplating my navel…. but why is it so??


Lynne & Fiona catching up
Lynne & Fiona catching up

I asked the big red question often as I caught up with faces that were hard to recognise and some names that I just didn’t remember at all. Most often the reply was:

‘to catch up with old friends’

Sitting Pretty
Sitting Pretty

Translation: Whose hair line has receded or whose waistline has expanded the most?

General Female Concensus: Considering the 70’s was all about hair, hair and  more hair and the guys had most of it way back then… the total opposite is true now!
Age and hairdressers have been much kinder to the girls.
Good times
Good times


 ‘to see what everyone has done since we last got together’

Translation: Let’s compare life stories and see who has lost the plot
General Female Concensus: Darn! Nobody!

 Interestingly, while my insecurities still bubbled just below the surface when chatting to some of those bigger personalities from yesteryear, at other times I was really

The Real Deal
The Real Deal

entertained and enchanted by some people I’d never known. I also caught up with some friends whose paths just don’t cross mine anymore and it was wonderful to hear stories about their families and work. There are some really interesting people just getting on with life and contributing to our world in so many positive and exciting ways. They’ll never be recognised by mass audiences because Paris and Brittany have that covered already… but I can just tell that there are families out there doing really well because of the contributions made by these genuine people. 

After all the partying and the stories and the streamers were cleaned away, Lynne said, “maybe next time, if our friends that we lived with during those character developing years came along, then we’d reminisce and they’d help us remember more.”  Would we?

I have my doubts…because it was the 70’s and I don’t think I originally kept the memories. I’m quite sure that I enjoyed it far too much the first time around… and I didn’t remember then… so why would I remember it now?

But, I bet the stories they’d tell me would be great! I’m now looking forward to my next reunion… confidently!

Above the Butcher with Laurie & Martin where we'd sit on the awning and watch the world go by.
Above the Butcher with Laurie & Martin where we'd sit on the awning and watch the world.


I took myself on a tour of all the places I had lived while a student in this freezing windy city.

The old school with Alites, BT, Pap & Jane... great parties!
The old school with Alites, BT, Pap & Jane... great parties!Final year at Eastgrove with Webbo, Pap, Alites, BT, Jane and a lotta Anna
Alas, those A listed decorators had discarded all character along with that flea bitten cow's hind that hung on the wall forever.
Alas, those A listed decorators had discarded all character along with that flea bitten cow's hind that hung on the wall forever.
As the sun goes down...Goulburn from the Lookout
As the sun goes down...Goulburn from the Lookout


International Arts & Health Conference
Port Macquarie 2009

Why isn’t Arts in Health a priority in Education? Is it because children already know it? Have you ever been given a drawing from a child when you are not well? Have they ever said ‘I hope this makes you feel better’?

Pretty simple really… when you think about it!

So why don’t we listen to them? Why don’t we see enough value in the therapeutic value of the arts to educate our children in how to manage and learn for life.

Social capital is about the value of social networks, bonding similar people and bridging between diverse people, with norms of reciprocity (Dekker & Uslaner 2001)

‘the web of cooperative relationships between citizens that facilitate resolution of collective action problems’ (Brehm & Rahn 1997)

‘features of social organization such as networks, norms, and social trust that facilitate coordination and cooperation for mutual benefit’ (Putnam 1995)

Social capital is multidimensional and must be conceptualized as such to have any explanatory value (Eastis 1998)

Bobby Kennedy (’68) on what the Gross National Product means…

     ……but more importantly… what it does not mean!

“Too much and too long, we seem to have surrendered community excellence and community values in the mere accumulation of material things. Our gross national product … counts air pollution and cigarette advertising, and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage. It counts special locks for our doors and the jails for those who break them. It counts the destruction of our redwoods and the loss of our natural wonder in chaotic sprawl. It counts napalm and the cost of a nuclear warhead, and armoured cars for police who fight riots in our streets. It counts Whitman’s rifle and Speck’s knife, and the television programs which glorify violence in order to sell toys to our children.  

Yet the gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education, or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages; the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials. It measures neither our wit nor our courage; neither our wisdom nor our learning; neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country; it measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile.”

What Fiona Did:

The Glasshouse







The Glasshouse
  • listened to Carrie from MoMA speak from the American museum perspective
  • was inspired by Beat-Boxing, Bobzillas, Butterflies and Bandaged Bears
  • heard about best practice models in arts and health programming
  • discovered how an artist from the UK managed her residency with indigenous communities in WA and the effects 
  • learned about Outreach Programs from both the Museum of Modern Art and the National Gallery of Australia and the impact upon community health through programming, audience development, affiliations and education 
  • observed images from a student Arts and Health Program at the Centre for Art and Medicine at the University of Minnesota
  • discovered how to develop a pro-active approach to working with the media
  • explored best practice policy, programs and research
  • discussed outcomes and Priority Recommendations to Government
  • booked Operation Art into the Glasshouse for 2011