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The daily ritual of burrowing into bed. Made in collaboration with U-P and Alyssa McClelland. Starring Alyssa McClelland in Creative Sun room 205.

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Things we are thinking about,
people we've met and what’s on in Canberra.

  • Stories
  • People
  • Daily Rituals
  • Fix and Make
  • What's On

Botanical soundscape by Dylan Martorell

Porosity Kabari… Ideas that passed through junk.

Brutti ma Buoni

Suzi McKinnon and Jai Tongbor

Adam and Amy Coombes

Sam and Claire Johnson

The daily rituals of Matt and Lentil

The daily rituals of others (part two)

Oyster dressing with guanciale with piquillo peppers, basil and chilli

How to make toys from trash

We Collapse, We Build New Cities

WHEN Runs 23 August to 10 September

A Curious Cabinet

WHEN Friday 28 July to Friday 11 August
WHERE Hotel Hotel Cabinets

Way Out West

WHEN Thursday 10 August, 7:30PM - 9:30PM
WHERE Ainslie Arts Centre

Object Subject

WHEN Friday 10 November and Saturday 11 November
WHERE Shine Dome

Setting up a small farm

WHEN Tuesday 25 July, from 6PM
WHERE Canberra Environment Centre

Dirty Girls Adventure Film Tour

WHEN Thursday 27 July from 8.30PM
WHERE Arc Cinema, NFSA

The beginning of genius is being scared shitless. ― Louis-Ferdinand Céline

Daily Rituals, Stories, Visual Essay

Daily Rituals by Jessica Tremp

Jessica Tremp came to stay and she took some photos while she was here. We made a visual essay with them.

Jessica Tremp came to stay and she took some photos while she was here. We made a visual essay with them.

Daily Rituals, Stories

New rituals for play

Botanical soundscape by Dylan Martorell

A soundscape of the Australian National Botanical Gardens made by Dylan Martorell for our 'Making as Meditation - patterns from plants' workshop with Sally Blake as part of Fix and Make last week...

Made (with thanks) from sound recordings provided by the Australian National Botanic Gardens www.anbg.gov.au.

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Porosity Kabari… Ideas that passed through junk.

‘Porosity Kabari’ by Trent Jansen, Richard Goodwin and Ishan Khosla is exhibiting at the Nishi Gallery in Canberra until Sunday 9 July.

‘Porosity Kabari’ is an interdisciplinary, cross-cultural, collaborative project between Australian object designer Trent Jansen, artist and architect Richard Goodwin, and Indian design thinker Ishan Khosla.

The trio worked over three weeks to produce furniture and object pieces made from materials and craftsmanship sourced solely from the ‘Chor Bazaar’ (thieves market) and ‘Kabari Bazaars’ (junk markets) in Mumbai, India.

The project is aptly named. Porosity – the ability of a membrane or material to let liquid and gases pass through it; or in this case ideas and people. Kabari – the Hindi work for junk.

The market neighbourhoods within which this project took place are where many of India’s useful objects end up. It is also where they are often given a second life – car panels are transformed into ad-hock cookers and old clothing is quilted into rugs for snake charmers. The designers learnt from conversation and experimentation with the vendors and crafts people working in these manic marketplaces.

The process challenged them to ‘make something from something else’ – the essence of sustainable design. In a society such as India, without many of the common social safeguards that other “more economically developed” nations enjoy, the survival is determined by people’s ability to be creative and resourceful. India is a place where resourcefulness is part of the everyday. On the flip side, developed nations struggle with the environmental implications of designed obsolescence and disposable consumption. This project forced the designers to adopt a human oriented design approach and to make do with what was on hand.


Works by Trent Jansen

For this project Trent Jansen explored the process of jugaad – of doing just enough with what you have on hand and figuring it out as you go. At first it made him a little nervous. In contrast to his usual thoroughly researched projects; and used to working through production processes in a strict and controlled environment; this three week jugaad process was a free fall.

The process was based on observations and reactions – generating ideas by improvising forms based on those that were possible and using the techniques and materials that were readily available. It was also improvised – options and problems were decided upon and solved as solutions came to mind and were therefore also dependant on current mood and state of mind. These reflexive decisions based on availability and mood determined the destiny of each object.

Jansen made a stool, side table and crockery from terracotta, ‘Jugaad with Pottery’, with potter Abbas Galwani; and stools from metal with a small metal workshop, reshaping a car bonnet, copper panels and copper rivets, ‘Jugaad with Car Parts’.

For ‘Dropping a Kubhar Wala Matka’ Jansen pays homage to Ai Wei Wei’s controversial work, ‘Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn’, 1995. In this work, Abbas Galwani, a kumbhar wala (potter) living and working in Dharavi, drops a traditional Indian Matka. With this act, Abbas denounces the cultural structures that restrict his social mobility, impede his ability to gain recognition and respect for his unquestionable skill, and hinder his capacity to provide for his family. The piece is a critique of the traditions and history that underpin Indian social conventions. In India, the kumbhar wala is among the lower castes, meaning that these craftspeople, who make functional objects serving millions of Indians on a daily basis, do not earn the respect that they deserve for their role within Indian society.


Works by Richard Goodwin

With his ‘Binary Maquettes’ Goodwin explores the ratio of the golden mean (1:√2 – one as to the square root of two) a mathematical ratio found in nature and used in design to create compositions that are in proportion. In ancient Greek philosophy, the golden mean is the desirable middle state between excess and deficiency. With these maquettes Goodwin investigates the current threats to our existence as human beings.

With his installation ‘1-√2 Charpai For Mumbai’ Goodwin combines a motor scooter and an Indian charpai bed. With this high-rise bed on the move he explores where the body ends and architecture begins. He ponders on the lessons that the Mumbai slums can offer for 21st century architecture – by drawing on its highly developed social constructions, the problems there can be continuously addressed by the people that live and work there.

With his ‘Klein Chair’ Goodwin explores his obsession with the Klein bottle – in mathematics, an impossible vessel that swallows itself, it has no inside or outside.


Works by Ishan Khosla

Khosla’s works meditate on his contemporary India.

‘Construct:Deconstruct’ is a collection of furniture made from found objects and pieces of wood scavenged from the streets of Mumbai. It references the cycle of material use and reuse (and further reuse) in India. These naïve objects don’t follow any design principles, choosing instead to emulate or force gestures – for example a stool that forces the sitter to prop one of their feet up (a common sitting pose in India).

‘Partition of the Mind’ represents the division between idealised “progress” and the economy in India versus traditional values and ideals of egalitarianism. With everyday domestic objects – brass thali, lassi glasses and tifins; Khosla speaks of the endless cycle of consumerism and desire in his globalised India and the increase in the divide between those with plenty and those with nothing.

‘Porosity Kabari’ is exhibiting at the Nishi Gallery in Canberra until Sunday 9 July.

Portrait of Abbas Galwani for 'Dropping A Kumbhar Wala Matka' by Trent Jansen. Shot by Trent Jansen. An homage to Ai Wei Wei’s controversial work, ‘Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn’, 1995.

'Dropping A Kumbhar Wala Matka' by Trent Jansen. Shot by Neville Sukhia.

'1-√2 Charpai For Mumbai' by Richard Goodwin. Shot by Neville Sukhia.

'Klein Chair' by Richard Goodwin. Shot by Neville Sukhia.

'Construct:Deconstruct' by Ishan Khosla. Shot by Neville Sukhia.

'Partition of the Mind' by Ishan Khosla. Shot by Neville Sukhia.

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Brutti was very Buoni

'Brutti ma Buoni' is the name of a biscuit.

It literally translates from Italian as 'ugly but nice'. It's also the name of the short film we commissioned about Brutalist architecture in Canberra. Co-directed by Coco & Maximilian and U-P the film's score is a live one performed by Speak Percussion.

Brutalist buildings are polarising beasts. Over here, we love them dearly. Some see them as oppressive and unliveable. We wanted to try and understand them in a different way - just through our eyes and ears.

Canberra's reception of the little Brutti last Friday at the Nishi Gallery was immense. We wanted to give everyone a big kiss on the mouth for coming out in the cold and for being a beautiful and thoughtful crowd. After the screening Tilman played modern minimalist records. We drank Monster cocktails and wine and talked about the need to protect and preserve our big Canberra brutes.

Below are some photos of the night shot by Arnad Hajdic.

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Brutti ma Buoni

Screening on Friday 2 June from 6.30PM at the Nishi Gallery. Monster will be running a cash bar. This event is free (like air) but spots are limited (like water) so please RSVP here.

‘Brutti ma Buoni’ is a commissioned work by Hotel Hotel which seeks to build knowledge and appreciation of Brutalist architecture in Canberra.

The work consists of two parts – a short film of Brutalist buildings, co-directed by Coco & Maximilian and U-P; and an accompanying score by Speak Percussion that interprets them aurally. Together they observe and orchestrally arrange Brutalism.

The screening and performance work together to create a different experience of Brutalism – one that doesn’t ask us what we think, but rather, one that asks us to feel and question Brutalist architecture with our senses.

What can we see when we really look at these monolithic structures in detail? When holding our gaze what do their rough textures, shadows and unadorned geometries reveal? What might these beasts sound like? Cavernous and vast? Drone-like? Repetitive? Hypnotic? Oppressive, optimistic or sublime?

This is the first screening and performance of ‘Brutti ma Buoni’ in Canberra – Australia’s home of Brutalism.

After the screening, Australian composer and sound designer Tilman Robinson will play a vinyl set with 20th century art music, modern minimalism and experimental music that reflects on the stark and modular nature of the brutalist-style.

‘Brutti ma Buoni’ features the interiors and exteriors of some of Canberra’s most notable Brutalist buildings including Llewellyn Hall, National Gallery of Australia, National Carillon, High Court of Australia, University of Canberra Village, and Black Mountain Library.

Here is a preview. Tix here.

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Somewhere Else

Photography by Abigail Varney.

Original room
The Botanical Gardens
The Botanical Gardens
View from Telstra Tower
Hotel Hotel
The Shine Dome
The Shine Dome
Xanthorrhoea johnsonii at the National Gallery of Australia
Telstra Tower
Telstra Tower

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Angélique’s raspberry, lychee and rose tartlets

Makes 6


  • Crust

    Filo pastry
    100 grams of butter
    50 grams of icing sugar

    Ricotta cream

    200 grams fresh ricotta
    200 grams Philadelphia cream cheese
    1 tablespoon rose water
    1 vanilla pod
    100 grams of icing sugar


    One punnet of fresh raspberries
    1 tin lychees
    Rose petals (you can find dry ones at Essential Ingredient or dry your own from your garden).



Making your own filo pastry takes a long time so I propose you use the shop bought Fillo Pastry brand. It has a nice crunchy texture and you can get it at most supermarkets.

Set yourself up on your work bench and lay the pastry flat. Separate the sheets with lots of care and brush each sheet one with the melted butter and sprinkle icing sugar over them to sweeten the crust. Repeat this with ten sheets and lay the sheets one on top over the other.

Just a side note on butter. Contrary to popular belief, butter is not the villain everyone says it is, especially if you use real, good quality butter. I suggest the unsalted Pepe Saya, it’s perfect.

Work quickly as the filo pastry tends to dry out.

Then cut the sheets in two length wise and in three width wise, this will give you six bases. Put each one into a baking tin that are around 5 centimeters in diameter (a muffin tin will work).

Don’t forget to press the base all around the tins to avoid them cooking into a funny shape.

Now it’s time to bake them at 180° Celsius for 10 to 15 minutes.

Ricotta cream

Use an electric mixer and the paddle attachment to gently work the cream cheese for five minutes.

Then add the sugar and vanilla with love.

Before adding the ricotta the cream must be soft and fluffy. If it is go ahead and finish it with the secret ingredient – rose water.


Take your filo cases out of the oven and let them cool a little. Then fill them to the top with the ricotta cream. Depending on how you feel top with as many lychees and raspberries as you want.

Arrange them and decorate them with the rose petals. These are really nice served with vanilla ice cream or berry sorbet. Or you can drizzle them with honey and eat them as they are.

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Xylouris White

You can’t walk into a Xylouris White gig and not not walk out a little different.

They tap into something primal, spiritual? – they blow away the modern skins of the body and leave you with just your ancient bones.

Through them we get to connect to our distant past. A reflex. It’s not music from someplace but music from everyplace. It’s music that reminds us that, despite our differences, inside, in this way, we are all the same.

Xylouris White came to play for us in the Monster Salon and Dining rooms on Saturday 11 March.

Xylouris White are George Xylouris and Jim White. Together their music is one of conversation and shared authorship. George is a Cretan singer and lute player – an instrument with a history of more than 3000 years that crosses borders like few others do. He sings in a deep baritone that vibrates through your core. Jim White is part of Melbourne’s enormously and long loved instrumental rock trio ‘Dirty Three’. He moves like a deep sea animal gliding from soldier's beats to ferocious to soft delicate sounds.

But first, we ate. Monster kitchen and bar chef Sean McConnell made us dinner based on things he had eaten on a recent trip to Athens. We served each other from small plates of fava beans, chicory and calamari. Pan-fried haloumi with tiny slivers of okra. Baked eggplant with Labna. Fish bones piled up on our plates as we ate sardines and small red fish in barbounaki style. We drank Ouzo and wine from Kelafonia, Thessaloniki and the Peloponnese.

Then came the music. The corked walls, terrazzo floors and low-hung perforated panelled wooden roof created a resonant sound that you couldn't escape from. There is no stage in there, so it felt like they were playing to us in our own family room.

Xylouris White played for two hours straight, treating us to two traditional syrtos that made the Greeks amongst us that night go a little wild. They twisted back and forth between an unstoppable barrage of power and gooey, transcendental melody. The final two songs had us all on our feet. The sounds they were making together seemed impossible. We were overcome.

Ευχαριστώ. Please come back soon.

Written by Dan Honey and Stéph Donse. Images shot by Will Neill. Song, 'Forging' by Xylouris White from their 'Black Peak' album.

Jim White and George Xylouris
Nikos on the decks
Jim White
Xylouris White

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#hotelhotel #hotelhotel #hotelhotel #hotelhotel #hotelhotel

'Stuck on you' made by Kirsten Perry.

Written by Dr Anika Ramholdt for the exhibition ‘Not Wow’ – new works by Kirsten Perry shown at Mr Kitly gallery (Melbourne) in October 2016. 

Perry’s ceramics works, presented by Mr Kitly, are coming to Canberra to stay a while in the Cabinets on the ground floor. They’ll be on show from Saturday 11 March until Sunday 30 April.

There’s a lot of noise out there. Amidst the relentless wellness dogma and never-ending dog memes (although they’re pretty awesome), there’s very little space for personal reverie. That’s why it’s so refreshing to encounter objects and spaces (perhaps even people if we’re lucky), which we can experience intuitively rather than intelligibly. Things, which via their modesty, creep up on us slowly and affect us profoundly.

The Japanese aesthetic of wabi-sabi is pertinent to this idea. Often defined simplistically as a ‘nature based aesthetic paradigm’ [1] that celebrates the imperfect, accidental and modest, wabi-sabi is a complex and arguably indefinable nexus of spiritualism and the material world.

In his writing on wabi-sabi, Leonard Koren attempts to elucidate the characteristics of the aesthetic as private, idiosyncratic, intuitive, variable, natural, crude, ambiguous, impermanent and warm. The wabi-sabi universe, according to Koren, is where ‘things are either devolving toward, or evolving from, nothingness’[2]. Its objects and spaces are simultaneously crude and ancient, becoming and decaying. In this realm ‘beauty can be coaxed out of ugliness’ [3] and there is an obvious reverence for materiality, transience and impermanence.

Wabi-sabi is an aesthetic that can be all too easily ascribed to what Koren describes as ‘ostentatious austerity.’[4] Just because something has the hashtag of #authentic, #rustic or #totesnatural doesn’t mean that it innately typifies the cyclical nature of being and nothingness. We’re not all elevated to a state of spiritual ascension by a roughly whittled spoon, although we might be. Just because you’ve attached the doorknob poorly doesn’t make you a master of Zen balance. Entirely subjective, a wabi-sabi expression for one may be dismissed as insipidly quirky or just plain lazy by another. The essence of wabi-sabi, as I’ve come to understand it, lies in the invocation of transience, the reminder that nothing is permanent and therefore perfection is an impossible ideal.

We live in the wow. Floating in this soup of the over-cooked it’s sometimes nice to swim with the onions, to find something humble, to stumble upon a reliable pulse. Sipping at an ok but not particular wow green smoothie, it occurs to me that it’s hard out there for a Désirée potato; things aren’t what they used to be for white foods. In the ever-changing whirlwind of values and ideals it seems important to make one’s own shrine (metaphorically or otherwise) to that we she finds holy. Inside our private niche we pin and prop the objects, memories, values and experiences that pave the way to our unique ascension. Where personal reverie may eclipse for a moment the onslaught of dogma and dog memes and we can light a candle for poor Désirée, if that’s how we roll.

1 Koren, Leonard, ‘Wabi-Sabi for artists, Designers, Poets and Philosophers’ (Berkley, California: Stone Bridge Press, 1994), 9.
2 Koren, 40.
3 Koren, 51.
4 Koren, 72.

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This week

What's on in Canberra in July

Monthly Calendar

Eat Drink, Exhibition, Film, Music, Party, Performance, Shop, Talk, Workshop

The Best of What’s On in Canberra in July


Meditation with Lidija

Calm abiding meditation sessions.

WHENEvery Tuesday, beginning 18 July, 6PM
WHEREFlow Yoga Studio @ Nishi, NewActon (‘H’ level, directly above Palace Electric Cinema)
COST$10 drop-in / free for Hotel Hotel guests (just rock up and show your room or apartment key)
GOTibetan Buddhist Society of Canberra
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‘Centre for Advanced Imaging’ at the University of Queensland in St Lucia, Brisbane, designed by JWA in association with Wilson Architects in 2013. Photographed by Peter Bennett.


Context is a material to work with.

Our memories of particular types of form and their relationship to place can make for architecture dissonance and resonance.

Working with the public realm, moments can be found where the prosaic requirements of a bridge are recognised as a mechanism to frame civic space.

One building for work, another for the weekend – both seek to transform and amplify a material condition.


The words above have been lifted from John Wardle Architect’s recent monograph ‘This Building Likes Me‘. The book assembles thirty-six JWA projects as pairs, documented through photographs, drawings and models. The relationships between these pairs are sometimes obvious and sometimes obscure. It is also littered with short critical essays and reflections on contemporary architectural processes, preoccupations and projects…

The book has been extended from the page to the physical space with an exhibition called ‘Coincidences’. It is an interrogation into the boundaries between public and private spaces. Can a foyer have the intimacy of a living room? How might a house have the civic atmosphere of a university hall? These are questions we like.

This interrogation has been carried out by a number of prominent architectural photographers – Sharyn Cairns, Erieta Attali, Sam Noonan, Kristoffer Paulsen, Brett Boardman, Earl Carter, Peter Hyatt, Dianna Snape, Peter Bennett, John Gollings, Shannon McGrath, Trevor Mein, Max Creasy and artist, Peter Kennedy.

The photographers each visited two JWA buildings and took a single image of each site. The images are presented as a pair; thus drawing out points of commonality, ‘coincidences’, across seemingly unconnected architectural contexts.

We are presenting ‘Coincidences’ at the Nishi Gallery as part of our ongoing study of public and private realms and the ephemeral borders that connect and divide them.


‘Coincidences’ will be on show at the Nishi Gallery until 17 February.

We are having a little shindig on Friday 3 February to celebrate. At the Nishi Gallery from 6PM. Come and have a wine and a chat.

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