Bali: Cats, dogs, chickens etc

Cats + Dogs

As I said in my previous post about the greenery in this part of the world, Bali appears to have water in abundance. And where there is water, there is life. And where there is life, there are usually humans. And where there are humans, there are dogs. And so forth.

Checking out the drain, momentarily distracted from chasing chickens
I had always been worried about my first encounters with dogs in Bali, because I remember learning in school that Balinese Hindus believed that dogs were reincarnations of people who were bad in their past lives, and so they didn't look after them very well. A related tradition is the way Balinese file down their canine teeth, because those teeth symbolise animal nature, and filing them represents the shedding of the six human evils (desire, greed, anger, intoxication,confusion, jealousy). I had heard stories of abused, rabid dogs wandering the streets with open wounds and even (wait for it) maggots crawling about.

Guarding the temple
So you can imagine how relieved I have been thus far in my travels to Bali by not having all my childhood nightmares of neglected animals come to fruition. I must point out though that I have already seen some pretty badly treated, skinny, flighty, unhappy horses stabled in a western hotel, and pet monkeys and large birds in small cages, so I'm a fair way from suggesting that Bali is in the clear as far as animal rights go. But I was happy to see that most of the dogs in our village appeared to have collars, and homes, and owners. (Note: There is a charity called the Bali Animal Welfare Association, that I'm going to find out more about because in particular, I'd like to talk to someone about those horses. They take donations and try to educate locals to improve animal welfare, and reduce the number of strays.)

Although they were skinny, the cats also looked a hell of a lot happier than the mangey, fleabitten, stumpy tailed strays I saw running rampant in Malaysia a few years ago. I think you have to be a bit skinny to survive in that heat actually. If my cat was in Bali she would die of heat exhaustion and heart failure. She's just too fat for that climate. (Yes, I had to add 'for that climate'.)

Dogs chillin'
Anyway, animals in Bali are tough. They're scavengers. Survivors. They hang about in motley little gangs on street corners like lost kids and you wonder whether, if they could muster the energy and then if they could work out some way to dispose of the spoils, they would pick your pockets.

Cat that implanted itself underneath the dining counter at a little warung in Sukawati. He had obviously been practicing those big beady Oliver Twist eyes. 

None of the dogs were particularly vicious, with humans anyway, particularly tourists. They might tail you along the footpath for a bit, barking loudly. Or, perched awkwardly on a step, lunging haphazardly at their ear with their skinny back leg trying to relieve an itch, they might shoot you a dodgy sideways glance. Perhaps they suspect that tourism is a main reason that there is any food in the dog bowl.

Boy do they have attitude though, and a sense of entitlement. And I dont know if it was the heat, but these animals just drop themselves wherever they please for a nap. Nevermind noise, traffic, customers.

See for yourself:
Cute cat looking pretty pleased with herself on a restaurant chair
Dog. Middle of main street. Sleeping.


So I know my theory surrounding the abundances in Bali stemming solely from water is tenuous and based on a scientific-like hunch (that is a real thing, trust me I am an ex lawyer, sort of). But water does seem to have an influence on making living things in Bali grow BIGGER.

Check out these larger than normal animals. And I didn't even get a good photo of the bees, but trust me, they were GINORMOUS, sort of like large christmas beetles, but big and hairy. And mostly black, which I thought was a weird wardrobe choice in the heat. Nice one God. Or whatever.


Largeish frog, and its NOT a Cane Toad...check out that springy 'grass on steroids'. Huge!

This is a massive butterfly coccoon. It may not look it but its a few inches long and almost an inch wide. Their winged rainbow raptors make our butterflies look like little five cent tissue paper fairies. Whatever they are. Pfft.

This is a cricket. Or a grass hopper. More like grass TERMINATOR. It was quite large too but it scared me with its big hard lime coloured madonna muscle fitness legs so I couldn't get a picture of it next to anything meaningful. Sorry.


Ok. Now onto birds. Birds are amazing. Partly because they can fly, yes. But also because they have feathers. Have you ever thought how much more sophisticated feathers are to our pathetic little human hair follicles? Indeed. Feathers are (a) sophisticated, pretty and sometimes colourful (b) symmetrical (c) lightweight, aerodynamic, and water resistent (I think...).

No wonder they can fly! Whoever is monitoring the entry gates to the sky obviously just ushers them through based on how rad feathers are, I'm sure of it. Otherwise there's no way Pelicans would get up there. Too heavy. Also explains why emu's can't fly. Their feathers can be kinda fluffy and a bit mangey. Not really proper feathers.

Way off topic. I'm talking Bali. I'm talking birds.

Most birds I saw were either free roaming farm chickens with attitude (providing eggs, or wakeup calls, depending on their gender) or really amazing beautiful birds...kept in cages, which was a bit sad. But I was assured by the people who manage the Antonio Blanco art museum (which had an extensive collection of birds kept in cages at night), that many of the birds were old, and used to fly free, but things in Ubud have become too dangerous - lots of traffic, pollution, rubbish in the waterways, junk food they will eat. I kind of understand. I can't imagine those big magestic birds lasting too long around here. Gee. We humans are really ruining a lot of things. Still, it felt pretty amazing having those birds perch on my arm. They are HEAVY! (See, water, big-ness).

Rooster in the ricefields. With cool spotty pantaloon legs!
Me. Dork. At Antonio Blanco museum. With 3 large birds eyeing off my beads. And tourist frangipanns put in my hair while my arms were otherwise engaged to go with my tourist shorts and general look of tourist exhaustion. 
Still eyeing off the beads
A caged pair of big red buddies - latin name. They looked healthy, but bored. Really bored.

So that's it for animals. There weren't many birds in the sky. Maybe its too polluted. Maybe its too hot to fly during the day. We did hear heaps of birds at dawn and dusk, swallow type things, and saw them shooting around treetops near rice paddies, probably jetting in and out of the paddies to eat bugs. There were heaps of ducks in the rice fields too, but you could hear them more than see them. I avoided the monkey forest this time because their humanness kind of freaked me out last time, particularly the babies - their little ET fingers - aaah! And thankfully I didn't see any elephants, because I've heard nothing but bad stories about that. But then I guess you really need to see these things for yourself. I really shouldn't preempt such things.

Note: If you would like to check out this thread of Bali posts from the beginning, click here.

Extra note: Please be advised that much of the content in this post which purports to have scientific or evidentiary backing, doesn't really. Particularly the bits about feathers. I did biology, but that was a long time ago.

Bali: Pretty things I saw - or - An ode to H2O

One of the resounding reasons that Bali seems to have such an impact on me every time is because its so GREEN. There must be some scientific evidence that proves green does good things to the brain.

Coming from a town in central Victoria that was plagued by a 15 year drought, a community that has been more than a little traumatised by bushfire, and a State that built a desalination factory so that we could convert the ocean into water, Bali is by comparison a water fantasy land. As a hot spot for tourism in a fast developing country, Bali has some serious environmental challenges ahead. I read an article the other day that kind of cemented my fears on this front (read it here, but maybe get a cup of tea and a biscuit before you do because its a bit sad). Nevertheless, the generous, heavy, thundering rain, the fat, juicy, springy green plants, the large frogs leaping about in 'grass-on-steroids', groups of guys fishing socially in the local river, the kids splashing around with their families in the waterways, the hundreds of rice paddies filled from the intricate irrigation networks, even the really large showerhead in the bathroom - were all reminders (good or otherwise) of water in quantities I am just not used to.

So, rather than just being about pretty things, this post is also kind of my visual ode to H2O. How beautiful it makes the planet. How essential it is. How much I miss it sometimes. How we should probably be a bit more careful about it.

Enjoy some virtual hydrotherapy:

The lush garden at Villa Ibu. No watering required.  
Natural hot springs welling up from the ground at the holy water temple  
Beautiful view of the rice fields, with offerings nestled in a small tree
Jatiluwih - the spectacular UNESCO listed rice fields 
Veggie patches and greenhouses along the rice paddy walk
Tegenungan waterfall 
Waterlilies are everywhere

More rice fields, with rain clouds on the horizon
The majestic Gunung & Danau Batur (Batur Mountain & Lake)  
Note: If you'd like to read from the beginning of the Bali thread, click here.

Bali: To market, to market

Oh how I love markets. I make no secret of it. Sure, I like buying cheap things, but the main reason is I love the chaos! So the housewife yelling, shin bumping, meat smelling, incense burning, slippery floored quagmire of the daily morning Ubud farmers market was a particular treat.

You have to be keen, because it starts early. Before 6am. Before the heat kicks in and spoils all the food. And maybe more impotantly, before it melts the mums schlepping about with heavy baskets perched on their hips and heads, trying to sort out their families meals and offerings for the week.

Farmers' utes lined up in the Ubud market carpark, lined with baskets of fruit and vegetables 

A lady sells colourful flowers (used for offerings), garlic cloves and chillis
Mountains of dried fish, noodles and seasoning

A chicken, obviously

Above left: Cakes! 
Above right: Fruit, eggs and other essentials.

We also paid a visit to another craft market, renowned for being even cheaper than Ubud, and filled with crafty nick nacks, in the Sukawati village. I have to say, the quality at most of these markets' craft goods is not great, and you certainly get what you pay for. A lot of pieces are mass produced replicas of more traditional pieces and they will of course tell you almost anything for a sale. So if you are going to these markets to shop, my advice is to use your head, pick what you buy with care, and take everything the shopkeepers say with a grain of salt. You do need to negotiate becuse otherwise you will be stupidly ripped off (just wander into a supermarket early in your trip if you need a point of comparison). But despite all of that, I also think its good to negotiate in good faith and pay a reasonable price. Indonesia is a developing country and lots of people earn less than half of what you earn in an hour, for their entire days hard work.

Entry to Sukawati market
Nevertheless, Sukawati certainly has a lot of stuff for sale. Fabrics, beads, dresses, bags, the notorious Bintang t-shirts,  carvings, hats, etc. It was really hot when we arrived, and although I wanted to explore more, the muggy tarp-built tents in the back area had the combined effect of somewhere between a sauna and a convection oven. After buying an armload of brightly coloured wooden beads for my girlfriends back home, I almost passed out. So despite any vague intentions of extended gift buying, I just took photos instead. 

Yep, bags and thongs, you got it
Like a turtle, one savvy Sukawati shop-keeper carries her hat shop on her head. Or something.
Get your rainbow body bling right here

Note: If you'd like to start at the beginning of this thread of Bali posts, go back here

Bali: Surprise, its Galungan festival!

As I said earlier, in visiting Ubud we were on a bit of a cultural voyage. So the fact that we arrived in Bali on the week of Galungan festival was serendipitous (you can read more about the festival here). I mean, Indonesia is always celebrating something. But this one is huge. More than a week of intense days of preparation, celebration, street decoration, food (particularly eating pork, sacrificed especially for the occasion), temple visits, kids parading about the streets in their clanging gamelan bands followed by a mini dancing dragon. Basically the idea is that once a year (210 days in the Balinese calendar) the spirits of cremated relatives come back for a visit and its everyone's job to be as hospitable as possible, through generous offerings, celebration and prayer. It is also when Balinece celebrate the victory of dharma over adharma. My simple understanding is that its a combination of the sentiments:  'things are in balance', 'good has beaten evil' and 'woohoo, we made it!'. Galungan was a perfect time to be in a Balinese village, because the community truly erupted in decoration and music. Everyone was dressed in traditional dress (heres a photo of us with Pak Tangsi ready for temple), smiling and enjoying their few days off. Although I must say, the women worked tirelessly, preparing all the offerings and food, and seemed mega exhausted once it was over.

Visiting the three village temples on Galungan day (each with its own meaning and symbolic location, find out more here if you're interested) was a really special experience. Wearing my traditional kabaya (tailored by Tangsi's clever wife, and wrapped snugly around me by Tangsi's daughter on the day) meant that I looked only slightly less out of place with my pale skin and light hair! Thankfully we already new some locals by then, so there were friendly welcomes all around, and one kind lady generously gave us flowers and incense when it was apparent we hadn't brought our own.

Tangsi also led us through the process of prayer. It had a lot more to do with contemplative thought, being grateful, and listening to your heart than anything I had expected. I actually found the practice quite calming! I'm not about to convert to Hindu or any religion anytime soon. But I could see why the ideals and practices of Balinese Hinduism might appeal to a westerner seeking solace. Hence the masses of women (in particular) who have flocked to Bali for all kinds of spiritual nourishment. Hence Eat Pray Love. I kinda get it.

For visitors that don't get caught up in local festivities, the appearance of penjor along the streets is probably the most obvious sign of Galungan. These welcoming street decorations are prepared and displayed by each family and erected out the front of their homes. They are made from a bamboo pole and decorated by things from the ricefields or farms - flowers, bunches of rice kernels, leaves. While they are all similar, each family takes pride in making it their own way. They have a rule that everything it is made from has to be natural. But every rule can be bent for convenience of course - they were fastened together using staples! Love it!

Note: This post forms part of a whole bunch on my trip to Ubud, Bali. If you want to read it from the start, heres the first post!

Bali: A trip to the heart

When we mentioned to friends that we were headed to Bali for 10 days, many were surprised to hear that we had no intention of visiting a single beach. Our sights were set squarely on higher ground.

We planned to immerse ourselves in the traditional culture and history of this picturesque island. If you've ever ventured to Ubud, famously referred to as the cultural heart of Bali, you'll know it was just the right place.

Seeking accommodation out of town, we stumbled on the picturesque village of Bentuyung, about 4 kilometres north of Ubud. It turned out that our villa was owned by the village elder, Pak Wayan Tangsi -  a warm, intelligent guy with a good sense of humour, who made us feel right at home in his community. I wrote a review of Villa Ibu on TripAdviser here if you're interested. For a couple of days we also stayed in central Ubud at Bali Moon, hosted by the lovely husband and wife, Wayan and Made, to be a bit closer to the action. I haven't written a review yet, but it was great. I'll replace this text when I eventually do!

We crammed a hell of a lot into our little trip, despite being sick for the first few days with a cold I dragged with me from Melbourne. But it didn't stop us! I took hundreds of beautiful photos, which I will attempt to cull to their bare bones so you can enjoy them. I thought I would try doing little bite size chapters, each in a separate post and on a different theme so that (a) I don't get overwhelmed by the task (b) YOU dont get overwhelmed and (c) the pages don't take forever to load.

I'll add links to the posts as I go!

Click here to read about:

The magic of the ukulele

The fourth annual Melbourne Ukulele Festival (affectionately called MUF) is in less than a week. Since this is such a fantastic festival, and my little band the Urban Ukes are playing there, I thought it timely to blog about ukuleles and how they make me rather happy.

Heres the cute poster I made for the event:

Me and the Uke

I picked up the ukulele a few years ago after I got quite sick and needed a positive bed-friendly distraction. My first ukulele was a lovely warm 6 stringed tenor Lanikai, and it's still my favourite. It led to a lot of songwriting and open mics, and then meeting the Melbourne Ukulele Collective (MUK) and playing at their monthly open mic night. There I met the very talented uker, John Ferguson, and we've been playing together ever since. The whole being sick/music thing triggered a bit of a strange metamorphosis in me, and I decided to stop my day job, take a break, and reconfigure my compass in a more permanently creative direction. I have never really looked back. I took a year to study music at NMIT (and even blogged about it here), where I met Tom Jacka, who jumped on board with the double bass. Urban Ukes is now a fully rounded little musical outfit and awesome fun. We do lovely little gigs, mostly around Melbourne, and functions too. If you want to keep up with our news, we have a facebook page!

Why ukulele is the bomb

The ukulele is a pretty special little instrument. Its portable, cheap, easy to learn, and doesn't require any freakish finger stretches to do nice chords. These advantages might partly explain the fanatical plague that has swept the globe in the past few years: replacing the recorder as the class instrument in primary schools, ukulele collectives and festivals popping up everywhere, dominating YouTube channels, inspiring an entire album by Eddie Vedder.

Interestingly, it's not the first time people have gone mad for the ukulele - there was a bit of a craze in the 1920's jazz scene. But mass production and spreading of the word through the web has made this one entirely epic. Its interesting that it comes at a time when vintage, and DIY and all those nostalgic things have most definitely come back into the mainstream.

Even if the boom is just a fleeting fashion thing, it doesn't really matter. The important thing is that it's made music more accessible and less intimidating, so more people are making and sharing it (not just listening) and that is just splendid! I am also quite stoked that kids will be playing an instrument in school that they can sing along to. Recorder always felt so restrained. Except maybe for this guy.

You should play too!

If you feel like jumping on the friendly ukulele wagon, a good place to start is the ukulele hunt website and of course if you're in or around Melbourne, new people are always welcome to come along to the MUK beginners and open mic nights.

Melbourne Zine Fest 2013

Just over a week ago, the Sticky Institute's awesome annual festival, Paper City 2013, laid on four days of zine-inspired events, culminating in the famous Zine fair.

Unfortunately I couldn't make the workshops this year, but I happily scooted along to the Melbourne Town Hall last Sunday afternoon to catch some of the fair in all its papery madness as the festival drew to a close. 

While the fair is one of my favourite things ever, it should come with a warning. It's pretty big these days! The hall was brimming with writers, drawers and makers set up at over 100 stalls that wound about the floor like a snake of paper and colour that made me a bit giddy really. I could smell fresh printer ink in the air and it was obvious from the dark circles under eyes and abundance of coffee cups that plenty of people had been up all night printing off their latest edition!


To conquer the impressive labyrinth while remaining sane and financially liquid, I decided that I would set myself a bit of a challenge:

  1. Stay for one hour
  2. Spend only the cash I got for Chinese New Year
  3. Stick to buying solo or duo work (not big collaboration comics)
  4. Blog about my top 10 zines and spread the goodness.


Other than breaking rule two at the very first table within 5 minutes of my arrival and stretching it out to 12 zines, I was pretty happy with my haul. In just over an hour, I met dozens really interesting people and uncovered an equal number of little works of genius.

In no particular order...

The lovely Lou, perched at a table draped in what appeared suspiciously to be a genuine 1980's Mickey Mouse bedsheet, introduced me to her mini folded cartrip inspired zine, Hoon Haiku. It's kooky and clever with great drawings by textaqueen (2) and funny little observations about Australia in Haiku style.  Being from country Victoria, one that made me chuckle: "My holden is me, I've never been out of town, I demand respect." Being clever and lovely, Lou of course does a bazillion other things, like run BreakdownPress - independent publishers based in Melbourne. She also handed me a free copy of their 30 page broadsheet of provocative Peace Posters. I can't wait to tack up the "Paper planes not war planes" poster!

Arlene "Texta-Queen" is Lou's collaborator on Haiku and is obviously a very talented lass. I didn't meet her, but I couldn't resist one of her textanude postcards. On her flickr she describes her work as 'drawing her fabulous friends naked - feminism made fun'. I adore them! This one reads 'Eventually they were released from prison, and sold their stories'. It reminded me of the story of Pussy Riot, the Russian feminist punk band whose members received 2 years jail and hard labour last year for 'hooliganism' after a guerilla performance in an orthodox catholic church. I have a feeling those ladies might do more than sell their stories when they get out though. Look out Putin! 

Li-Kim Chuah's Mini Cat Zine was a pretty easy pick for me since it came with this set of wacky cat collage postcards.  We discussed the sad fact that most people, when asked about their pet cats, after saying how cute they are, relay a story another cat's unfortunate but dramatic and memorable demise. It is a cracker of a read, and I chuckled loudly most of the way through its 16 charmingly wonky little typeset pages. There were even some surprise references to exorcism, skyping, and sex changes,  demonstrating that Li-Kim is at the forefront of cat journalism.

Marta Tesoro is damned clever. I caught her sketching her little bunny character in poses that were being debated among her stallmates: cute? coy? seductive? You can see the doodlings for yourself here. She's an animator of clever kids content by day, and clearly has a techno/steampunky bent too. I loved her illustrations of Great flying machines of the ocean in her zine Fishbones. Skipping over the clips in her blog its clear she's also versatile as hell. Love it! 

Willo press (the genius of Joy Serwylo) was a bit of a surprise find. I just wan't expecting to find  miniature (I'm talking centimetres) books with hand stitched binding at a zine fare. I was delighted though, particularly at the quality of craftsmanship, attention to detail, and the themes of geography and biology that littered the pages of her little gems. I asked her how she got into making little books, and she said she'd always had a fascination with small things. As a kid, when her scientist/geologist father went to Japan, he asked her what she would like him to buy her as as a gift. She replied 'get me the smallest thing you can find'. He returned weeks later with a little piece of card that had two rice kernels attached. When she looked up close she could see one kernel was painted with excruciatingly miniscule detail as a girl, the other a boy. Go Dad - killing it in the gifts department! Joy is also a talented paint and textile artist - you can check out more here.

Amy is obviously a very talented drawer and painter. She modestly assured me of this by pointing to the lovely display at her stall and apologised profusely that she had nothing I could buy that would impress me! Amy you are funny and way too nice! Ha! No seriously though, the display was super clever, and the zine that I did buy from her was, as dad would put it, a real ripper. Build yourself a clothes forest is a reprint of  an activity book that she made for her friend, including challenges like opshop treasure hunts, hosting a favourite record party or trivial pursuit pie party, and Melbourne bride spotting. I really think this one is a goer Amy! She is so modest that she doesn't even have contact details! However, she was thankfully sitting with her friend (7) Peter if I ever need to back-order.

Peader Thomas is a talented freelance illustrator and comic man and is also very dapper. He was sketching an astronaut when I met he and Amy, and he wasn't sure what do do with the little character! I love stumbling on these artistic conundrums! Its like you're right there inside the brain when you watch someone sketch like that. Bit creepy. Anyhow, Peader's Sketchy Sketch 3 really brought out the scifi nerd that lurks below my thin membrane of normality. Robots on bikes? Yeah! Check out his site to see for yourself! I would really like a print of that one actually...

It was so lovely to meet two artistic brothers stalling it up at the fair. I think the Fulton bros. must have had a nice childhood, going by their drawings and also their general friendliness. I could be way off the mark, but there's this nostalgia in both the guy's styles that is really appealing.  

Andrew Fulton's Pubes of Fire, really caught my eye. A really little comic that tells the story  of a guy unlucky in love due to his unfortunate physical predicament of, well, flaming pubic hair. We can all relate to this guy on one level or another. Hmmm. Andrew's illustrations are sometimes kind of naughty and the illustrations are so charming they're impossible to resist. 

Stewart Stwee Fulton was sketching away, and had a totally different style that I also loved.  I was so distracted chatting and also hooked on Stew's amazing merchandise that I bought a one of his great hand drawn badges (which I adore) but didn't buy one of his zines (idiot). Anyway, thankfully I can check out his amazing flickr account, and so can you! I particularly like the quirky fluidity of his characters and clever simplicity of their faces - somehow they have a real vintage quality to them. I'd love to see them animated!

Kate 'Gert' Geyer had one of the prettiest stalls I must say - even a fresh picked rose! She is a really clever illustrator and I had a bit of trouble deciding since her little zines were so appealing. I decided on Objects in my bedroom, partly because it was so tiny, and partly because one of the objects she had in her room was an empty whiskey bottle from an ex boyfriend, which I figured must have a good story behind it. We had a bit of a chat about guache paint as I've been wanting to try it for forever. She assured me the colours have more zing than watercolour and I would not be disappointed. You can buy some of Gert's lovely work in her Etsy shop, including zines!

Keeping Gert company was her friend Briony. After a bit of annoying prodding from me, she described her own art projects that bring together art and science. I had a bit of trouble understanding precisely what she meant, but it sounded so intriguing I just had to follow it up! Now I've had a chance to browse her flickr and her projects with the scalefreenetwork collaborative - definitely worth it. The projects are so complex and beautiful, I'd love to follow it up and write a feature on her work sometime!

Dave Mahler was one of the loveliest people I met at the fair. I came across him cutting and pasting paper 'spirit feathers' to the inside of his little magenta comic Crimson Ginseng, which was kind of a bizarre but lovely touch! He told me he was super tired from an all-nighter (suspicions confirmed!) printing off zines on his dad's printer, and the ensuing conversation revealed him as one of those brutally honest people that make a great friend. This comes out in his writing. Crimson Ginseng mostly tells stories of everyday things, particularly man things, in a really charming way. What could have been mundane stories of conversations with friends about growing a moustache, or the day his friend forced him to go for a walk, artists' insecurities, housemates youtubing exploding cysts, and debates with his parents about what constitutes funny, all come to life in his quirky comic strips. A good reminder that almost any story can be interesting if told the right way.

Last but definitely not least was my fortunate find of the gorgeous Gemma Flack. What a girl! With purple hair, rosy cheeks, amazing smile, and irresistable stall, it was a joy to browse her amazing zines.

Gemma is a very clever illustrator and marker of things, with a quirky perspective and great sense of colour and space. I picked up two of her publications. The first, a sweet little mini-storybook called The girl with the pigeon tail, is kind of like the girls edition of  Andrew Fulton's (8) Pubes on Fire, only in the end pigeon girl finds solace in making art. If only pubes boy and pigeon tail were compatible. Second, was About the Artist a collection of portraits and profiles of Gemma's artistic and creative friends and acquaintances, trying to understand what goes on in their brains.


Gemma's About the artist felt quite serendipitous. It captured a key reason that I enjoy the zine fair so much. There is something beautiful about the creative brain, and a special electricity when makers are doing their thing. And when everyone is squished  together in one place like the zine fair...phew...its magic! I stopped for a breather up in the stalls and took some photos, and looking down I felt I was peering into a creative hive - a swarm of busy all-sorts shooting about the place, new ideas feeding off every moment.  It's in these moments that I realise how lucky I am to live in Melbourne, brimming with such a big lovely community of writers and drawers and makers and thinkers.


If you missed out on this year's Paper City, all is not lost. The Sticky Institute are always up to something interesting, and this Saturday 23 Feb they are doing an all nighter, staying open from 7pm to 7am as part of Melbourne's inaugeral White Night Festival, including a 12 hour zine marathon! Definitely worth checking out.

Also. I think zines are mad. You should make one! There's an easy minizine you can start with, that's made with one A4 page, and after folding winds up with 8 pages. This Rookie mag article gives some great tips on making zines if you need somewhere to get started.


Mysterious messages in bottles and sticks
Gals sharing some great music
Lou (1)
Li-Kim (3)
Marta (4)
Joy (5)
Amy (6) and Peader (7)
Andy (8) and Stew (9)

Gert (10)
Dave (11)
Gemma (12)