Monthly Archives: September 2015

That Jimmy – Will He Ever grow Up

A rabbit perched on the shell of a giant snail; a group of Brit excursioners – they could only be Poms given their attire – floating through the air on a wooden plank, counter-balanced by a cute doggie; oarsmen rowing their way through a sea of denim or, this scribe’s pick, a super, super cuddly ted with boy and dog. It’s all the dreams of childhood before reality quells.


It’s the planet as Jimmy Lawlor imagines it. ‘His paintings are so delightfully executed that he confirms the beauty of countryside life, but he picks his nose with his nationality brush and pokes fun at the constructed Ireland.’

The Irish surrealist was born in Wexford in 1967 and now lives in the pluvially glorious west of the country. Here the Atlantic gales sweep in and the sea has created a landscape like no other – a place where the whiff of a leprechaun can still be noted if one sniffs its wind-blasted hedgerows. It’s a perfect for a chronicler of the absurd such as Lawlor. He aims at the child in all of us – and hopes the child never becomes us.

My first whiff of him came via an art-savvy friend on Facebook – and I had to discover more. This seemed particularly the case as I now have a granddaughter whose take on the world and all its wonder has reawakened mine.


Lawlor reportedly mourns the disappearance of the old ways of the Emerald Isle. It too has become a member of our generic globalised environment, but his paintings keep something of the whimsical spirit of the Irish alive – a race who can still, on occasions, snub


their nose at the political correctness so rampant everywhere. They can observe and lampoon the stupidity of, through Guinness tinted goggles, the big knobs in charge. One just has to cite, to discern that, the calibre of their comedic talent for taking the mickey. Such like is placed on canvas by Jimmy L. His works are now sought after world-wide, demonstrating we’re still not quite ready to let go the traditions of Dali and the type of adventures of the mind he indulged in. I love the magic in the contemporary version’s art.

jimmy lawlor

To my mind each painting asks for a story to be constructed around it. Here logic perhaps takes second place to imaginings. I can’t wait for Tessa Tiger Gordon to tell her Poppy what is going on in some of these daubings by a painter prepared to sit whales in giant goldfish bowls; or produce traffic cones, with wings on, over the quiet unsuspecting byways of his homeland.

Jimmy Lawlor’s website =

Affairs=Murder for Woody and the Blue Room

It was worth more that two and a half, Paul Brynes – it was! Granted, one could still argue it wasn’t a patch on classic Allen – no where near ‘Annie Hall’, ‘Manhattan or, more recently, ‘Midnight in Paris’ and the marvellous Cate Blanchett vehicle, ‘Blue Jasmine’. So the reviewer from the Age is correct in that regard, but still, that rating – well it was miserly for what was nonetheless an amiably entertaining film. But the critic made a point about his distaste for ageing male Hollywood stars playing against much younger actors as their love interest and there’s another case of that here. I concur wholeheartedly with this view. It does get on one’s pip, I must admit. That is not just jealousy speaking – it’s so unrealistic in most cases. But at least it’s not Woody himself as the romantic lead, as in the past on occasion. Emma Stone does a fine job as the more junior of the two ladies who fall in lust with the dissolute Abe Lucas (Joaquin Phoenix), newly arrived on campus as the bad boy of the philosophy department. To give him some credit he did reject the none to subtle advances of the student initially – but that was possibly only because, at that stage, he was struggling with his libido. All that grog wouldn’t have helped. We know he was a dud in the sack because of his impotent display with the older Rita (Parker Posey) – a far more suitable, age-wise if nothing else, match for him. And it has to be said, his colleague’s wife is a far more sensual, interesting woman than Stone’s Jill Pollard.

irrational man

Phoenix does look as though he’s kinda sleep-walking through his role in this the auteur’s latest. It’s as if life’s party has petered out for his character – that is, until an overheard conversation puts the pep back into his step. He’s contemplating murder you see. There’s renewed vigour in his classroom and bedroom performances – enough to be finally tempted by Jill.

irrational man01

It’s not great, is ‘Irrational Man’, but it’s nowhere near the waste of money Allen at his worst provides. The two women, for my particular dollar, steal proceedings – especially the lustful, lustrous Posey – why on earth don’t we see more of her up there on the big screen? In the end the villain gets his just desserts – both of them. I did feel the climax needed a tad more teasing out – to me it seemed out of kilter with the rest of the offering. In truth, Paul B, I’d give it one more complete star – but you did allow that other critics have been kinder. Even an average Allen, in my view, is far superior to most of the dross Hollywood produces these days. Long may we cherish him, despite all his hang-ups and misdemeanours.

Now how could the Blue Room have resisted a movie entitled, well, ‘The Blue Room’? And yes, a blue room certainly features throughout – but mainly, as well as exceedingly erotically, in the opening scenes. Delphine (Léa Drucker) and Julien ( Mathieu Amalric), both married, escape to this upstairs room to conduct their passionate affair. She hangs a towel out the window when hubby, who works downstairs as a chemist, is absent. Directed by the lead male, he also bucks the trend and places his privates on display – why should it be expected only of the women? What the viewer eventually realises, as the hanky-panky disappears from the screen, is that really the film is a police procedural, for the aforementioned cuckolded chemist has been murdered. Which of the pair did the deed – or were they in collusion? That is the point of the exercise. We learn that neither party are being completely honest with the investigators, or in court, through witnessing the back story – red herrings there are a-plenty. The convoluted evidence presented at the duo’s trial left me completely confused as to how the jury arrived at the verdict they did. But we do know, by the time this is reached, that one of the pair is decidedly out of love/lust with the other – and the direct opposite applies. One decidedly also has a screw loose.

blue room

‘The Blue Room’ has enough Frenchiness to keep this customer satisfied. Again, though, as with ‘Irrational Man’, it didn’t completely captivate. I would have been happier if I were as certain as to whom was the guilty party as the members of the public sitting in judgement. However, as it was hard to feel anything for either of the lovers being held for the despicable act, in the end the verdict didn’t matter much. Maybe they both received what they deserved.


I really wouldn’t make it a priority to see either film before their respective runs end, but as for viewing one or both on some other platform – the ‘in’ word these days it seems – one could do a great deal worse, as I have in recent days, than these two offerings.

Official trailer ‘Irrational Man’ =

Official trailer ‘The Blue Room’ =

Molly Fink

It is a glorious name, Molly Fink, isn’t it? And a pretty special name too, given that its owner had an incredible time on this planet. And she had a connection to this island – her mother being one Elizabeth Fink, nee Watt, from Tassie. She married Wolfe – Wolfe Fink – a Channel Islander who practised law in Victoria and was a noted Shakespearean authority.

Molly was born, to the above, in Melbourne back in 1894. They named her Esme Mary Sorrett Fink – but she was always Molly. She went on to have an even grander appellation attached to her. She became the rani of Padukota. Later in Molly’s life she became a habitué of the French Riviera where, on certain occasions, she could be spotted, dressed to the nines in Chanel, walking her pet tortoise along the seafront. With its shell encrusted in diamonds, whenever the little creature would flag on its excursion, from her handbag, Molly would produce the most delectable of asparagus tips with which to revive it. In between her growing up on the Yarra and the tortoise towards the end she had quite a story to tell, did Molly. Let me present you with it.


Now some of us are familiar with another Australian abroad in the wide world at the same time as Molly. I refer to Sheila Chisholm – that amazing woman from Oz who outraged Buckingham Palace by taking young Bertie Windsor in hand and teaching him a thing or two about the delights of the fairer gender. He fell head over heels in love with her, but caused such consternation to the Firm that they quickly found unsullied, so they thought, eighteen year old Elizabeth Bowers-Lyon for him to woo and wed for the good of the country. We’ll hear more about young Lizzy anon. Maybe she wasn’t so pure – with a Tasmanian to blame. I do wonder, though, how the course of history could have been changed if Bertie had stuck to his guns, as with his elder brother? It was reading an article on SC that I encountered the name Molly Fink as another Down Under sheila who became embroiled with a royal around the same time, but with a more satisfactory, for a while, outcome. And this girl’s journey was no less fascinating than that of Sheila C’s with the capital S. A name like Molly Fink just yelled out for further investigation.

Molly grew up in the suburbs of Melbourne and, on attaining her ‘coming out’ in local society, quickly became the talk of the town for her beauty. Golden-haired with dazzling blue eyes, she had an ‘…oval, ivory-skinned face…’ and ‘…pouting pomegranate lips.’

Her life commenced its uniquely curious journey when, in 1915, she journeyed north to Harbour City. Up in the Blue Mountains – at the Majestic Hotel in Medlow Bath to be exact – the nineteen year old found a glorious male specimen also taking the air at that resort for the well-to-do. He was the dashing, cricket-mad Marthandra Bhairava Tondiman, who also happened to be Indian royalty. He was the rajah of the southern sub-continental principality that was to later become part of Molly’s official title. That was in April – soon, as with Sheila and Bertie, they were totally enamoured of one another. But their out come was far more romantic if none-the-less fraught. Nobody stopped them and by August in that year of war they were married in a Sydney registry office.

After the unadulterated bliss of an American honeymoon, the real world started to hit back at the besotted couple – the real world back then not quite so ready for a ‘mixed marriage’ of such import as in more enlightened times. This soon became obvious when the rajah took his rani home.


There are mixed reports about how the inhabitants of Pudukota reacted to their nominal ruler bringing home an Aussie missus – and a Catholic to boot. The ordinary people were bewitched by her, so it has been said, but the palace movers and shakers were mortified. They began plotting. With their diabolical scheming they found an ally in the British authorities. The latter assumed, being an antipodean, she could only be a gold-digger. There was no evidence at all this was fact, but that didn’t stop them. It was decided poisoning was a good option and the now pregnant Molly was fed doses of oleander. The rajah was a wake up to this and spirited her to a safe haven away from court. His wife duly produced the wished for heir. But, because of his mixed heritage, it was proclaimed that young Martanda Sydney would never sit on an Indian throne.

The rajah was not about to desert his Aussie belle on news of this. He figured the best way to deal with it was to escort her back to Oz. He’d determined to seek restitution from King George and he would state his case from Sydney. Having had issues with unsuitable matches for his own sons, George was not inclined to give this minor Indian prince much of a hearing. That was seemingly the sealer and Molly never set foot in her hubby’s homeland again.

In the Emerald City the couple cut a swathe through the high end of town. The rajah was heavily into the sport of kings. One of his steeds won the Grand National to entrench them as darlings of the turf. Molly became bosom buddies with Ada Holman, the Premier’s wife and an interesting woman in her own right – stay tuned. But the rajah was getting antsy for what was rightfully his. By 1919 he had deduced he’d do better stating his case from London, so Molly agreed to pack up and head for Old Blighty.

As the twenties wore on, though, it was obvious that their cause was dead in the water, but in recompense the British government did award the couple a healthy stipend. 1922 saw them quite taken with the French Riviera so they moved to Cannes. Here friendships were formed with such notables as Cecil Beaton and Anita Loos. Sadly the exiled rajah died in 1928. His Molly, at the time described as a ‘…very generous woman, madly extravagant.’ decamped back to London where, bejewelled and glittering, she attended all the right parties and performances. She also became a frequent visitor to the US and across the Channel.

molly f

Her story continued on with more twists and turns as the world again plunged into conflict. This saw her stranded in NYC with, oh dear, no access to her fortune on the other side of the Atlantic. And, quelle horreur, she was obliged to take a job. It was in an up-market fashion house so it wasn’t too much of a strain. She also involved herself in raising money for the war effort. This caused the FBI to come calling – they had proof she was embezzling much of what she inveigled out of the society types she consorted with. Eventually it turned out they couldn’t make the charges stick, so as soon as VE Day was celebrated, back to London she scampered. Tellingly, her son, the would-be rajah, later served time in Sing-Sing for stealing jewellery.

With her looks fading, the fifties witnessed her becoming reclusive, surrounded by her pekingese dogs and a certain tortoise. She became estranged from her son due to his criminal activities and sought solace in the bottle. In 1967 she donated all her worldly goods to the British public and in November of that year she was claimed by cancer.

Molly Fink – such a ‘common’ name. But, even with that handicap, she escaped the snooze of Melburnian suburban torpor to live a life large, mainly on the opposite side of the planet, Even with that name, she should not be forgotten. Hopefully a better wordsmith than I will bring her out of the shadows and place her in the same light as her contemporary, Sheila Chisholm, has been in recent times. I wonder if they ever met? I wonder what they would have made of each other?

All Days Are Night – Peter Stamm

How do they do it? It would take some gall. Of course there are a few with salacious intent – but the rest seem genuinely to work from a higher motive. Sometimes money will change hands in the negotiations. If that’s the case, why not simply hire from the plethora of models seemingly willing to offer that same service for a fee? But for many that would defeat the purpose. Some consider those who make a living from it not ‘real’ women. One cannot get to the ‘essence’ with a hireling – they are all false. It would show up in the image or on canvas. For some it is the purity that they are after and for that they need to also convince that they are pure in intent. They rely on citing their artistic resume. Some would allow husbands/partners/boyfriends, perhaps even mothers no doubt, to be present – but again, does this sully the intention? We, of course, can come at it from the other angle – why would a woman – or man for that matter – agree to do what is being asked of them? But it does happen – some organise it simply by handing out flyers with a proposal, but others, like Hubert Amrheim, simply approach a subject, suitable for his purposes, outside railway stations or cafes and puts it to them face to face. In his novel, Swiss author Peter Stamm looks at the motivation from both those sides – from the artist’s perspective asking the individual to pose nude for him back in his studio, as well as from one of his subjects prepared to disrobe for him. But, imagine it, walking up to a woman and asking her to take her clothes of for you.

all days

Hubert A is able, successfully, to do just that. Mostly he has negative responses – even rude ones – and that is to be expected. But there are enough positive ones to make his project viable. Once back in his studio he photographs these compliant women naked doing mundane household duties – ironing, brewing coffee, making the bed. Examining the dozens of photographs he takes of each volunteer, he only selects for transferring to canvas those containing the pure essence he is seeking. It works. The results are in demand and he garners enough fame/notoriety so that Gillian decides to interview him for her television show. She finds him distant, austere even – not quite what she expected. But she’s intrigued. There’s not much life in her marriage to Mattias, so she contacts Hubert anonymously just to see where it leads. Where it leads is first to a coffee – but eventually, very reluctantly, the artist agrees to her desire to pose for him. But you see, being a famous face, she isn’t ‘real’ in his view. He has similar misgivings about photographing her sans clothing. The photographs don’t reach down into her ‘essence’. She is disappointed by this and it’s followed by an attempt at seduction – not by him, but the reverse. He immediately gives her her marching orders, but she succeeds in obtaining her images off him. Mistake. Hubby discovers them, is disgusted and goes ballistic. This ends up with Matthias dead and her face so smashed up she is now unrecognisable as a celebrity. Her television days are over. Much later, with a new face, Gillian – now Jill, has moved on to an existence as an entertainment coordinator at a cheesy alpine resort. Here she has a chance encounter with Hubert. He’s in town, having moved on from his nudes, to stage an exhibition at a local gallery. Trouble is – he has a dose of artists’ block – which eventually leads to him unravelling. Guess who becomes his carer? A relationship of sorts flares between the pair with never short of interesting results.

And that is as good a description as I can provide of this slight, in terms of page numbers, tome from Mr Stamm without giving too much away. He was the first wordsmith from his native land to be short-listed for the Man Booker so, despite the obvious possibilities, this offering from him is quite literary. It is a gem, in my view. Despite its brevity, it is beautifully structured and written. ‘All Days are Night’ still ticks all the boxes as a page turner. Opening with Gillian/Jill gradually emerging from a coma as a result of Mattias’ meltdown, Stamm first puts the back-story in place, then fast-forwards, in the second half, to the re-connection between the two main protagonists. Excellent stuff.


Peter Stamm

Earlier this year I attended a showing of a local artist’s collection of nudes. I talked to the dauber for a while, but never bought myself to ask him how he found such a stunning array of subjects, prepared to disrobe for him, in a smallish place like Hobart. Did he need to go out into the Elizabeth Street Mall to find ‘real’ women in order to reach their ‘essence’ through his gifts with a paint brush. This book set me wondering about that question I refrained from asking again.