Fiona Gruber

Fiona Gruber reviews 'Banksia Lady' by Carolyn Landon

Fiona Gruber
Wednesday, 30 September 2015

In March 2006, botanical illustrator Celia Rosser travelled to a remote station in Western Australia to witness and draw the first-ever recorded flowering of Banksia Rosserae. The spiky yellow spheres appear only after rain, which, in this arid part of the continent, can be years in the coming. The Australian plant had only been discovered four years earlier, ...

Fiona Gruber reviews 'The Self-Portrait' by James Hall

Fiona Gruber
Wednesday, 29 April 2015

We live in a world obsessed with self-images. Thanks to digital photography and the Internet, we can all star in and manipulate the drama of our lives. But, as James Hall reminds us, artists have been experimenting with self-representation for centuries. From a quartzite stela of Pharaoh Akhenaten’s court sculptor Bak standing with his wife Taheri (c.1350 < ...

It is 1932 and as the SS Mokambo steams into Sydney Harbour with Archie Meek on board, the Australian Museum’s young anthropologist is about to discover that he has committed a terrible faux pas. After five years away in the Venus islands studying the customs and culture of its head-hunting inhabitants, Meek is eager to be reunited with Beatrice Goodenough, ...

Portraiture by stealth

Fiona Gruber
Wednesday, 13 August 2014

I had my portrait done by stealth the other day. Throughout the innocent chatter of a dinner party, while I artlessly revealed my double chin and paraded my characterful nose, fellow guest and Melbourne art bandit W.H. Chong was scribbling away on his smart phone. I just thought he’d got bored and was playing Angry Birds.

I should have realised; as well as ...

Fiona Gruber: For Auld Lang Syne

Fiona Gruber
Wednesday, 28 May 2014

'Australia’s tartan army' by Fiona Gruber

Fiona Gruber
Thursday, 15 May 2014

I have been looking at the world through tartan frames recently, thanks to the current exhibition ‘For Auld Lang Syne: Images of Scottish Australia from First Fleet to Federation’ and its accompanying catalogue. Actually, to call it a catalogue doesn’t do it justice; its 330 pages ransack dozens of different angles of the Caledonian experience, with essays by ...

Chinese Brecht

Fiona Gruber
Thursday, 01 May 2014

I was asked to interview the Chinese theatre director Meng Jinghui recently. He’s a cult figure in China, an associate director of the Beijing-based National Theatre and has over two million followers on Sina Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter.

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Philip Hoare: a literary career in two parts

Fiona Gruber
Tuesday, 08 April 2014

It’s odd when you know someone in one context and then discover him in a completely different one. I’m an admirer of the English writer Philip Hoare and his oceanic works Leviathan or, The Whale (2008) and The Sea Inside (2013), explorations and meditations on cultural responses to the marine and his own relationship w ...

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