What does it mean to be a second generation Greek-Australian? How clear is your sense of identity and of belonging? … Continue Reading
What does it mean to a life to be born two years before a revolution that will rip your country apart?
Ali Alizadeh was born in Tehran in 1976. He grew up with the love of literature and strong Marxist ideologies of his immediate family, while a Revolution went horribly wrong across wider Iran.
The young Ali grew into a belief that language had power. This was until his family left Iran and moved to Australia—leaving Ali wrestling with his identity and wondering whether his new language still had power.
Today Ali Alizadeh is a highly respected writer, poet, critic and lecturer at Monash University, with an expanding body of work which already includes 5 poetry collections, a novel, a work of non-fiction and a collection of short stories.
Ali’s voice is clear and uncompromising and he treasures the strengths and failures of language in equal measure. … Continue Reading
RN’s Michael Shirrefs is talking to Ishan Khosla who returned to India from the US five years ago and quickly realised that the rapid rise of the Indian Tiger economy was coming at a cost. In the headlong rush to be a big global player, India was at great risk of losing its unique design traditions.
As India’s huge metropolises become ever more infatuated with the gloss and mystique of global design trends, alarm bells have sounded amongst many who see a downside. With a very wealthy new Indian middle-class being seduced by the power of ‘the global’, a vast number of distinctive local design skills and knowledge systems are being ignored or marginalised. This has prompted a counter-push from high-profile designers and commentators, aiming to elevate the profile of the myriad, rich design traditions across India’s length and breadth.
He’s considered to be one of the greatest Catalan artists, and was a very important creative voice in 20th century Europe. But while he is widely known and recognised throughout Europe and America, Antoni Tàpies is little known in Australia. Born in Barcelona in 1923, Tàpies links modern Spain with a very deep and very old tradition of Catalan philosophy and mysticism. His works have the textures and markings that reflect his physical world of Barcelona, with all the traces and echoes of the terrible violence of civil war and the repression that went with decades of brutal dictatorship under Franco.
But Tàpies brings a much wider mix of avant-garde innovation and cross-cultural philosophy to his paintings, sculptures, installations and graphic works—making him a powerful visual voice.
© 2012, Michael Shirrefs & ABC RN
© 2010, Michael Shirrefs
An extraordinary gift of books, made by the Government of France to the City of Melbourne, has recently been rediscovered at the State Library of Victoria. The gift was an act of cultural generosity to mark the beginning of the Melbourne International Exhibition of 1880-81, probably the largest annual event of the global calendar—and what a gift it was!
There were in excess of 150 books, some of them very large, and in them the people of Melbourne saw Paris spread out in all its glory. Alongside maps, images and tales of old Paris were descriptions of a very new city—a very modern city. By 1880, Paris had reinvented itself as the very picture of modernity, having become the most advanced metropolis in the world. In fact these books were something of a template for the creation of a state-of-the-art city. For example, there were detailed plans of the world’s first fully-enclosed sewerage system and water supply, connected to every property in Paris.
But against this futuristic flourish sat another book, and this massive volume was possibly the most important in the collection. It was called l’Atlas des anciens plans de Paris, and it was a spectacular set of reproductions of old maps of Paris. These maps were the most vivid account of where Paris had come from. They told the story of its journey, from a small Roman settlement on the Seine, to becoming the grand European centre of palaces, gardens and high-culture.
The hidden story behind these maps is that they are testament to a city recovering from the debris and destruction of both the Franco-Prussian War and the fiery domestic battles of the Communes. Barely ten years before the creation of these books and the subsequent gift to Melbourne, Paris had suffered terrible damage. As a result, l’Atlas des anciens plans de Paris is a precious document that represents both the survival of one of Europe’s greatest cities, and a fierce determination to hang onto the memory of how the French capital came into being.
See also: Adventures with an Atlas
© 2010 Michael Shirrefs