Stalin’s Piano

Treasury Brisbane Arcadia was alive with energy and rhythm and we soaked it all up as we enjoyed the wood fired pizza and champagne courtesy of Brisbane Festival vouchers. The free #CelebrateBrisbane River of Light show had hundreds of people in the precinct with their phones out turned towards the Brisbane River. All captivated by the water fountains dancing in the sky, the coloured lights, lasers and the indigenous voice telling the traditional story of the dreaming serpent. What a way to start the night before we headed to the Cremorne theatre for Stalin’s Piano.

Being awarded this opportunity to be a citizen reviewer as part of Brisbane Festival means that I have been gifted experiences like Stalin’s piano by composer Robert Davidson. He talks of the voice being like music, we create music every time we speak, every time we express ourselves and the more passionate we are about our message the more musical it sounds. Robert created Stalin’s Piano and it is a tapestry, a multi-media show featuring politicians, creatives, and thinkers of history in pictures, words, recorded voice, archival footage and the main thread that holds it all together – virtuoso Sonya Lifschitz potent on the piano.

This is a fast paced sold out show of 65 minutes. I had a hard time dividing my attention between Sonya and the screen. I didn’t want to miss out on the action on the screen, but, I was not going to miss out on watching the woman on the stage. The weave of the music and the multi-media on the screen was so refined and perfected that the music was the guide for some of the 19 musical portraits, and then would fade into the background for others. I likened the show to flicking thorough social media where I get distracted by the screen, consciously needing to focus on the real life happening around me, talent, creativity, skill and hard work. But, the mind and eye gets distracted by the pretty flashing lights, the words and every now and then the messages on the screen will inspire. Frank Lloyd Wright talking about housing and architecture, Arthur Boyd in conversation about writing and painting, the genius Maria Yudina’s story, the images of concentration camps the talent, creativity of musicians, writers, artists having their freedom, their life, their beauty taken away from them, not only robbing them of life but the world of their gifts.

Stalin’s piano – I kept thinking of it as Sonya’s Piano, had me drawn to the creatives and the thinkers of history. Their message – make the art, get messy with the paint, write the words, and play the music. The creatives are culture, the creatives colour our world, and represent their countries with beauty. The art, the music, the words draw the crowds, opens minds, and has audiences thinking on a broader scale about life and humanity. Music, voice, and creativity is human, it is the rhythm of life.

Review of Womankind

Here is my review of Australian Womankind magazine. At first when I picked up the magazine, the first thing that I noticed was the beautiful images. As I mentioned in my last post it takes a lot for me to part with $14.95 for a mag, so I wasn’t just looking for pretty pictures to keep me engaged. On my first flick through I found an interview. I LOVE the movie Under the Tuscan sun (the little old man that places bouquets of flowers in the wall is a darling, and he waves to her in the end. Oh I loved that). This interview is with Frances Mayes, the woman that dug up her American roots and set off to a new life in a foreign country. Can you imagine doing such a daunting, brave thing? Anyway I am rambling. This interview is what made my buy the magazine. It was not just the interview but three little words at the bottom of page 97. I seem to be drawn to similar Italian phrases at the moment. Dolce far niente – Sweet to do nothing. (This is also in another one of my blogs about Luca Spaghetti, Elizabeth Gilberts friend.)


The concept of time, how to savour it, how to appreciate it and what we do with it, is the thread that holds this edition of the quarterly magazine together. The other articles that I immersed myself in today where; Time waits for no one, by Antonia Case. – I loved one part of it that says “Time is a great equaliser, it doesn’t stop for us, and it doesn’t stop for the rich, famous, or so-called legendary.”


A piece of 15th century art was the focus of another interesting article. This particular piece was thought to be a sawn off lower part of a much larger piece of work painted by Vittore Carpaccio. The piece that was studied for the article was a an image of two women waiting on a balcony – titled “Courtesans on a balcony”, the symbolism in this painting, the fashion and the facial expressions had art critics thinking that this painting depicted high-class prostitutes waiting for clients. However when the top half of the piece was discovered, the exact opposite was thought of these women. This article crafted by Cate Kennedy, I found was full of layers, it spoke of art, history, and limited views on how women are perceived in society.

The last article that I had time to read today was “The house your brain built”, by Jessa Gamble. This piece in essence talks about architecture as a mood altering drug. I love when she said ” Awe is just one of the myriad emotions that architects try to elicit through planning out spaces within a structure and in the process charting and moulding the interior territory – manipulating, in other words our brains and feelings”.

The contributors for this edition of the magazine were 11 women and these women are accomplished writers. For example Cate Kennedy, the chicky who wrote about the art piece with high-class prostitutes, is the author of The World Beneath, which won the people’s choice award in the NSW premiers literary awards in 2010.

There is also a section at the back of the mag, where books and documentaries are reviewed. The “What’s on” section features information on exhibitions around Australia in Capital city art galleries eg GOMA – Brisbane, National Gallery of Australia, Sydney Opera House. The mag also runs a photography competition for amateurs and professionals alike, with their work being published in the next issue and $500.


As I chatted about in my last post, this is a gorgeous magazine with no ads, no gossip, and no images of air brushed women. This is full of inspiring, thought provoking articles, abundant gorgeous images, information on cultural events and interesting books. Well worth the money.

photo4 Enjoying a cuppa and magazine.