The beautiful sound of a saxophone came out of the Fremantle historic Whalers Tunnel this morning and what soul touching and melancholic music it is.
I wonder if the saxophonist is the same man who sometimes plays in the Fremantle Port underpass at Peter Hughes Drive.
The Fremantle SCULPTURE@BATHERS exhibition is on at Bathers Beach for the next two weeks, so make sure to go and have a look.
It is the showcase for 85 Western Australian artists, so support our local creatives.
I specifically liked the sensual stone works by Jina Lee and Pascal Proteau, the colourful wind powered work on the groyne by Cameron Robbins and the forrest on the beach by Bruce Abbott.
Antony Muia is very much his own artist and the two pillars of coloured rocks and a pile of rocks inside a fenced-off space is fascinating, as are Muia’s challenging but beautiful paintings and prints he has been creating for years.
Peter Knight’s work is one of his best, and I always love the art Peter Dailey creates.
Also in my top list are the artworks by Ben Jones, Gordon Mitchell, Bjorn Rainer Adamson, Susan Flavell and Greg James.
Everyone will have their own favourites, so head for Bathers Beach!
It is often difficult to write critical articles on my blog because Fremantle is a small community and more like a family to me and a place where I have a lot of friends.
While I don’t mind to stir the pot a bit now and then I don’t enjoy negativity, but sometimes there is no other way and what is happening at the Bathers Beach Art Precinct is such a case.
The thought bubble of making one of our state’s most significant historic precincts into an arts precinct to activate it was flawed from the start and the officers somehow have to implement what is not practical and never was a good idea in the first place.
Small art businesses have failed at Captain’s Lane while the very professional Glen Cowans photography gallery bravely soldiers on offering outstanding photo art. The Walyalup Aboriginal Cultural Centre has also failed and the art that has been on offer in the other cottages was mediocre, to say it kindly.
Now the next thought bubble has arrived and the No 10 cottage at Captain’s Lane will be included in the City’s Studios Program as low-cost non-commercial work spaces.
The artists will not be required to open their doors to the public and only need to have an open door event every six months.
This will do absolutely nothing to help activate the area and is worse than it was when the Fremantle Pilots, Fremantle Society and Crookes family occupied the three cottages.
The Society held community events on the lawn and inside the cottage, the pilots were there 24/7 and so were the lovely family where the kids brought friends from Lance Holt School, and engaged with visitors to Arthur’s Head.
What the City of Fremantle has created is a night-time ghost town that has attracted homeless people who defecate in the backyards, and during the day and weekends it is often only the Glen Cowans Gallery that is open to the public.
In the meantime the Roundhouse that receives 130,000 visitors a year is struggling to get support from the City and we have now been waiting for well over a year to get power into the Roundhouse so we can start applying for funds for stunning new interactive displays. We are activating the historic area, but no one at Fremantle Council gives a rat’s arse about that, because it is more important to continue with the flawed art precinct concept.
Down at J Shed the artists have been denied access to the No 1 studio to use it as exhibition space during the Sculpture@Bathers show , but I hear the City will announce today who is moving in till July, when Sunset Events is supposed to start some kind of business there.
And let me make this very clear! I do not blame the officers who really try very hard, but it is the ineptness and piecemeal governance of the area by Fremantle Council that really pisses me off!
While the City of Fremantle has been contemplating how to activate historic Arthur’s Head, long time occupants are already doing it well and appropriately.
Yesterday we had a huge crowd at the Roundhouse for the Nyoongar smoking ceremony and for the last weeks we had sell-out performances inside the Roundhouse in the evenings for the Out of the Cave Fringe Festival show. See the photo above I took last night at 7.45 pm.
Great also that Glen Cowans opened his underwater photography gallery next to the Roundhouse early at 9 am yesterday during the smoking ceremony!
Down the road at J Shed the number 2, 3 and 4 galleries with Greg James, Janet Nixon, Jina Lee, Lesley Barret, Jenny Dawson, Peter Zuvela, Ross Potter and Ellen McCarthy are all involved in activation. Sculptures are on the reserve, exhibitions are organised, there are programs for school children during the holidays and a real engagement with the community.
Interesting that one Freo Councillor said to me yesterday that when the Roundhouse puts new displays up we need to acknowledge the Nyoongar people, and that is already planned. But we are waiting for the City to put power into the Roundhouse so we can start applying for grants and it would also be a very good idea for the City to allocate a substantial amount of money for that to support the volunteer organisation. We are looking after over 130,000 visitors a year, seven days a week and only close on Good Friday and Christmas Day, so we are a significant tourist destination.
At the smoking ceremony four of the elderly Roundhouse guides came in very early to support the event. Pretty bloody good I reckon, and two of them were on duty every night for the theatre performance!
Tomorrow, Saturday January 28 will be a very special community day in Fremantle that will celebrate our history and multiculturalism.
It starts of at 9.30 am at Arthur Head with a significant smoking ceremony by Nyoongar elders.
Two four hundred-year-old boomerangs from the South West will fly again from the hands of youngsters.
Aboriginal dancers and representatives will conduct smoking ceremonies in three locations – in the Round House, in front of the Round House and in the Bathers’ Beach area. Small ceremonial fires held within metal dishes will be positioned in three locations and manned by representatives.
The ceremonies will be delivered in unified sequence across the three locations with the main ceremonial fire inside the Round House and a Ceremonial Progression of Aboriginal and General Community witnesses and participants together with the greater community led by Aboriginal elders out onto Bathers Beach.
Burning of Balga trees will take place on the grassed area in front of J Shed at 6.00pm.
And from 2 pm on the One Day In Freo event is at the Esplanade with family entertainment and from 4 pm on the great John Butler, Mama Kin and Dan Sultan will perform live from 4 pm.
It’s going to be a fantastic day to celebrate our diversity and sense of community and the huge contribution everyone has made to make Fremantle the very special and unique place it is.
While the official statement I received from the City of Fremantle is that they are looking for alternative options for the short-term lease of the No 1 studio at J Shed, the Fremantle Herald reports that Freo Food will be moving in for five months because O6M will not take up the lease.
Let me first state that I believe that Freo Food is a very good idea. Linking local producers with local customers and supplying packaged-free produce is great. Also good to try to keep it cheap by cutting overheads, so I am all for it.
But the Bathers Beach Art Precinct is the most inappropriate location for a fruit and vegetable shop and it is ridiculous for City staff to tell J Shed artists that the BBAP concept does have allowance for a hospitality operator. Freo Food is not a hospitality operator and it is not an arts related business, so it should not be given the lease to the art studio within the arts precinct. For CoF staff to even consider it is ridiculous!
The anyone will do attitude by the City of Fremantle for the Bathers Beach Art Precinct has resulted in many failed attempts and the committee has not done a very good job in attracting high-quality art businesses to Arthur Head.
My personal Australia Day is March 13, as it was a balmy day 35 years ago in 1982 when my German partner Brigitte and I arrived in Sydney for the biggest adventure of our life. A big contrast from the snow storm we had at our departure a day earlier at Nuremberg airport.
Soon we rented a sixth floor apartment with two large balconies at Bondi Junction and overlooked the stunning harbour, Opera House and Harbour Bridge, as well as the beaches.
The culture shock impact was reduced when we attended two months of language and culture classes at the Blackfriar school together with people from all over the world. We became friends with people from Iran, Austria, Indonesia, etc.
What stood out most for me in our new country was the multiculturalism, and of course the great blue sky and gorgeous weather.
My job as a infill photographer at the Sydney Morning Herald during the Brisbane Commonwealth Games was cancelled because there was a recession, so I ended up working as a kitchenhand and cook at a posh yacht club and waiter at a golf club.
Even work was all about multiculturalism. In the Rose Bay yacht club the manager was Dutch, the catering manager Czechoslovakian, the chef from Wales, the cooks French, while at the Chatswood golf club I worked for an Austrian chef and German manager.
After a year though I started as a freelance photographer working for designers, the Housing Commission of NSW and Rugby League Week magazine. Multiculturalism supported me again with an Iranian friend getting me the work at the Housing Commission while a designer who had migrated from Prague also gave me some assignments.
I was introduced to fish&chips, pies, cricket and cask wine and while test matches were boring I quite liked one day cricket. Now after 35 years in Australia you can’t get me away from the TV during a test match and Boxing Day is sacred for that. And of course I love Aussie Rules!
In September 1985 we decided to move to Perth and start all over again. We crossed the country in our old Honda Civic and bought our very first property, a small brand new villa in Como, on our first weekend in the west.
We registered our photography business and started showing my portfolio, with mainly B&W press photos, as I had been working for newspapers, magazines and press agencies in Germany. Soon we got our first assignments; a shoot at Blina near Derby for an oil company, the State Energy Commission liked my work and so did designers, advertising agencies, architects, the mining and tourism industries, Fremantle Ports, and government departments.
I became the official photographer for the Legislative Council and the the Governor of WA Gordon Reid for some years and through that the official photographer during the visit of HRH Princess Ann and travelled with her to the Kimberley and Pilbarra. A photo album with my photos of that visit was presented to HRH by then Premier Brian Burke on her last day here.
Life was so good that we soon bought a beautiful Californian bungalow in Swanbourne that we later extended. We bought the house from well-known artist Ashley Jones and his wife Nina and decided to keep their tradition of an open house on Friday evenings, and we ended up getting to know a lot of people fast that way.
In the late 80s my partner wanted to open an art gallery and Artplace in the Old Theatre Lane in Claremont became our new adventure and a great success for Brigitte, but after 20 years of living together we decided in the early 90s to split up and I moved to Fremantle.
Although I had a great life while living in the Netherlands for 20 years and in Germany for 13, Fremantle is the love of my life, so I soon became involved with community groups, the Walyalup Reconciliation Group, Fremantle Society, Roundhouse volunteer guides, etc. and was awarded Fremantle Citizen of the Year 2012 by the WA Premier.
I love Fremantle because it is full of interesting, quirky, caring and creative people from all over the world, and because of the stunning historic West End. There is not a day that I don’t drive onto the South Mole to look at the harbour and Indian Ocean and my favourite West End cafes know that I drink double espressos.
My respect for Aboriginal culture and people started early when I met Michelle, an Injibandi woman, at the Japingka Gallery. We became good friends and I one of the babysitters for her sons Simon and Reuben. I have always felt at home with our indigenous people and on my spiritual 58,000 km, eight-month trip criss crossing Australia in the mid 1990s I often connected with them as they showed me their land and told me their stories without ever treating me as someone responsible for their plight.
Multiculturalism is something I embrace and like, even in my love life, with lovers from Germany, Canada, Australia, Serbia and Sri Lanka. The one thing I absolutely can’t tolerate is racism because I believe that most people from all cultures and religions are good people.
Through my involvement with markets I became friends with many of the Muslim stall holders. All decent, hard-working family people who don’t pose a threat to anyone.
Adapting to my new country was often challenging but it helps that I am interested in just about everything, and having an open mind and a love for people. I handed back my Dutch passport in 1985 when I became Australian and never have regretted it.
Australia is not the best country on earth, no country is, but it is a bloody good one and I am so happy and grateful I made the brave decision to migrate here. It’s one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life!
I’ll be enjoying Australia Day at the Roundhouse talking to people from all over the world telling them about the fascinating history of Fremantle.
Fremantle’s West End is buzzing with rumours that Sunset Events will propose a scaled-down version of the rejected tavern and outdoor music venue at J Shed on Bathers Beach. The music events organiser has a 25-year-lease for the number one studio there.
The proposal for the venue was rejected by the City of Fremantle, the WA Planning Commission and the State Administrative Tribunal, so only heaven knows why the SE directors are still trying for the same, but a bit smaller.
From my memory SAT and the WAPC rejected the proposal because a tavern and live music venue were deemed inappropriate for the A Class Reserve in one of our state’s most historic areas. The number of patrons was not the issue for the two state bodies, but a licensed pub and music venue was.
I have no doubt that should Sunset Events put a scaled-down proposal forward it will again be opposed by Fremantle community groups and end up again at WAPC and SAT. Common sense tells me that these bodies will not change their ruling just because Sunset Events is reducing the number of patrons.
A small bar/cafe and art gallery would be nice there, but anything bigger is not on.
Historic Fremantle Roundhouse, the oldest public building in Western Australia, is extremely popular with visitors from all over the world this week.
By 1.30 pm today, so after only three hours of being open, we already had over 900 visitors through the door. Yesterday they had well over 900 visitors and the day before just under 1,000 visitors.
Over 100 people watched the firing of the cannon today.
It is an amazing effort by the mainly elderly volunteer tour guides to keep the Roundhouse open every day of the year but for Christmas day and Good Friday.
Next year the Roundhouse will be part of the Fringe Festival with performances in the old gaol, so stay tuned.
The volunteer tour guides operate on donations from guests only so if there are corporate sponsors out there which would like to donate, don’t be shy and contact the Fremantle Volunteer Heritage Guides!