It’s uplifting to see how clever businesses are able to find fresh ways to survive in the current climate, and to reward their loyal customers.
Le Coq, a well-loved restaurant in Darling Road not far from my studio in Rozelle, boasts a menu focussed on traditional French poultry dishes. Together with David Poirier, the owner of Le Coq, I recently set up a photo-shoot as a way to celebrate their regular clients at a time when business is beginning to return to normal. Inspired by Leonardo’s Last Supper, I created a series of iconic portraits of various local people from Rozelle and Balmain seated at a long dining table. The new series is called The First Supper. These culinary portraits will soon be hanging on the walls of Le Coq.
The Sydney Morning Herald published a short story in its Short black good food guide on June 20, 2020.
Some people may dismiss them as big, rectangular boxes built as part of the landscape of a city’s outskirts, not so interesting nor engaging. However, I am often commissioned to photograph the best designs for newly built warehouses in Sydney and beyond. They are essential structures which are rapidly demarcating the fringes of our urban sprawl in Smithfield, Minto and Kemps Creek.
Like many people, I tend to live in my inner-city bubble. Specialist food shops, cafes and “take-away for days” line my suburb. It’s easy to forget how important the infrastructure to support this life-style is. I am reminded when I venture out to photograph the massive, multi-purpose “boxes” that make this lifestyle possible. The best are examples of innovation in landscaped settings with native vegetation.
I particularly like the abstract nature and repetition of some of the construction details. The following is a visual display of features which have taken my eye while photographing these warehouses in Casula, Eastern Creek, Minchinbury, Moorebank and Yennora, produced as documentation for the construction companies that are building them.
I have developed a great respect for the sharp lines and primary colours used in the design of a simple, functional, hi-tech warehouse. I continue to expand in this genre of photography.
I shot the new linen collection for So French So Chic on a timber-decked yacht in Rushcutters Bay on Sydney harbour. The shoot was relaxed and breezy, to reflect the clothes.
See the product description below:
Good style is effortless.
Our beautiful linen and easy-to-wear designs are created with an attitude of casual chic, inspired by the breezy ports of the Mediterranean. Designed in France from linen sourced in Bandol near St Tropez, and tailor-made in Italy, our range breathes with stylish simplicity.
Dress up or dress it down. Feel free and relaxed.
We present our unique blend of A-line silhouettes and soft, falling fabric. Summer is colourful. Bright tones of watermelon, azure, turquoise and tangerine, are mixed with gentle pastels, or such neutrals as anthracite, pale mint and charcoal, or crisp, maritime white. Be part of our own French identity, but adapted to the Australian climate and outdoor lifestyle. Welcome aboard.
We are all grappling with the new Covid-19 threat and changes to our life-styles and livelihoods. The construction industry continues under new guidelines. With restrictions, building and documenting can continue.
Here are a few of the warehouse projects in western Sydney I have worked on during the past few weeks.
After the Australian Olympic gold medal diver Matthew Mitcham announced he was engaged to his partner, Luke Rutherford, the couple married in a public ceremony in Belgium in late February, followed by a honeymoon in Amsterdam.
As an old friend of Matt’s I was invited as the “Official Photographer”.
Matt and Luke married at Chateau de Halloy on the out-skirts of Ciney in the South of Belgium. Chateau de Halloy is a majestic castle which was once a residence used by the Bishop Princes of Liege….rather grand indeed.
I wish Matt and Luke all the very best in their future life together.
Because I had been booked to shoot a wedding in Belgium late February, I decided to stay on for another 10 days in Europe to work and catch up with friends I hadn’t seen for quite some time.
Of course the trip was overshadowed by the pandemic that was quickly gaining momentum around the globe. Given the situation, I was relieved to be able to arrive back in Sydney by early March
Here are a few shots, taken during my time away…….
After Paris I spent a few days visiting a friend in Munich. It was the first time I had been here. I was impressed. Impeccably ordered and clean and so, so European. I was completely enthralled by the Pinakothek der Moderne. I’ve never seen so many paintings by Max Beckmann in one place. I spent the entire afternoon in this magnificent building and lost myself completely.
The French Countryside
Next stop was the French countryside in Burgundy (La Bourgogne). A friend recently moved back to France after 19 years living in Australia where he has purchased a delightful, picture-card-perfect farm house near a small village called, La Clayette.
This village is dominated by the impressive chateau, Chateau de La Clayette, that was built in the 14th and 19th Century as a fortress, surrounded by a moat. It has had a long and illustrious history and it remains in private hands.
Meanwhile here are some shots of the farm……
These are a few images of my new Burgundy friends…..the Charolais cows. They are a local breed of cattle renowned for their meat (although I wouldn’t mention that to them). They are a creamy, milky white colour and have a amicable nature. They are part of the local landscape.
The French obsession with Protest
I returned to Paris from the south of France before returning to Australia. However, no trip to Paris would be complete without experiencing what the French call, “Manifestation”, or protest. The French are famous for going out on the streets to protest their displeasure with the powers that be. For many centuries, this has been a well known French past-time. The protest on World Woman’s Day was a healthy display of active feminism, accompanied by a rather heavy police presence.
Located within West HQ – Sydney’s leading landmark destination for entertainment, fitness, lifestyle, and accommodation – the Sydney Coliseum Theatre features a 2,000-seat auditorium and can accommodate theatrical performances, corporate events, conferences and more.
You may remember that on a previous post I covered the mid-construction shots of this brilliant cultural addition to Western Sydney. I captured the construction progress around April, 2019. Here are some shots….
Now, over a year later, Western Sydney has it’s own, “state of the art”, international standard, performing arts centre. This facility is poised to attract the cream of the worlds talent and the pinnacle of the worlds top shows to Rooty Hill.
Having built a certain rapport with the physical structure of this building, inside and out, photographing it on several occasions, I am looking forward to visiting the theatre to see my first show there. I have heard that the acoustic performance of the auditorium is excellent and I am excited to experience this.
The interiors are particularly impressive with a large coloured chandelier in the main foyer, suspended from the ceiling. Stairs, white walls, vaulted vertical windows and wood panelling ascend the central atrium that leads to the various entrances of the auditorium.
Since 2008, every year I have taken an “official” annual portrait photograph of Matthew Mitcham, Australia’s gold-medal Olympic diver, award-winning cabaret performer and television entertainer, in my studio in Sydney.
Facing the camera with a direct, unflinching manner, each consecutive portrait is added to the growing series of similar portraits, which commenced when Matthew was only 20 years old, before his rise to Olympic fame.
Each portrait is taken under identical conditions, plotting the changes in his physical appearance and growing self-assurance. MMXIX marks the 12th portrait and the 12th year in this ongoing series.
I thank Matt for his support in continuing this series, in allowing a very public view of his “personal time-line”. Matt intends to marry this year in Europe, and I wish him and Luke all the very best.
The complete sequence can be seen at
The series is printed by the artist in an edition of 9, with 2 artist proofs, and is available for purchase.
The year is almost over, Xmas looms in a couple of days and I have a bit of time on my hands.
Yesterday I made the annual Xmas pudding. I enlisted the help of my Tasmanian friend, Rob, who dropped in to pay his respects. We both set about creating the 2019 version of my mother’s Xmas pudding.
I thought it may be a nice idea to share the recipe on my blog page, together with a pictorial explanation of the necessary steps. Rob agreed to be photographed for the exercise.
6 Table spoons of Butter
2 Small Cups of Brown Sugar
3 Cups of flour
1 Cup of Sultanas
1 Cup of Raisins
1 Cup of Mixed Peel
1/2 Cup of Currants
2 Oz Blanched Almonds
2 Tsp Bi-Carbonate of Soda
6 Tsp Mixed Spice
2 Tsp of Cinnamon
1 Tsp of Nutmeg
1 Tsp Ginger
Pinch of Salt
1 Tablespoon of Treacle
Essence of Brandy or in fact Brandy. You choose
4 Tablespoons of Apricot Jam
1/2 Cup of Orange Juice
Additional notes on ingredients: I don’t add the orange juice in my version of mums recipe….doesn’t make sense to me. I also add prunes to the mix. Cut up quite finely of course. I also put in 3 eggs, rather than 2….creative license. You can add and substitute different fruits, such as glazed cherries (I don’t like them), apricots, pears….etc.
Actually you can take quite a bit of creative license with a plum pudding…..it’s not like the delicate sponge, souffle or cream puff, where too much variation may result in tears. So feel free to add your own personal touch whatever that may be…..
Gather all the ingredients….
Prepare the fruit: Measure it out, chop where necessary and put it all into a large bowl
Almonds need to be cut up into smaller pieces
Sultanas don’t need to be cut…put them in the bowl directly
Currants are already very small so no cutting required
Raisins should be cut into thirds (in my opinion)
put all the fruit together in a bowl and mix
essence and or alcohol can be added at this stage to the fruit
Some recipes advise soaking the fruit for a day or two in the alcohol/essence before preparing the rest of the pudding. But who has 2 days to spend on making a plum pudding?
Beat the butter and sugar in a bowl, either with your hand, wooden spoon or in a mix-master type beater. See pic below: The butter and sugar is beaten until the consistency becomes homogenous and creamy….in fact one says, “cream the butter and sugar”.
Next: Add the eggs Note…..the eggs should be added at room temperature. Take them out of the fridge well before (if you keep your eggs in the fridge). I put the eggs in a bowl and beat them a little first before I put them in the pudding mixture. I add half the quantity of eggs and stir them until they are blended into the mixture….I then add the rest of the eggs and beat them similarly.
At this point you can add the vanilla essence….a couple of tea spoons.
We’re up to the mid point of the process….the adding of the dry ingredients and the fruit.
Make sure you sift all the dry ingredients together before you add them to the mixture….see pic below.
Add the flour…..about half the quantity. Once that is well combined into the mixture you then add around half the quantity of fruit. When the fruit is mixed in you may add any alcohol or essence that you decide to put in for extra flavour. You repeat the process until all the dry ingredients and fruit are combined.
For this process you can shed the electric mixer and use your hands or a wooden spoon to hand mix the flour and the fruit. Some die-hards would never use the electric beater….they feel you get a better result if hands or a wooden spoon are enlisted. I’ll leave it up to you.
Lastly, once all the ingredients so far have been successfully stirred together, you add the final ingredients, being, the treacle and the apricot jam. A note: these two things are optional, in my opinion. I do add them but if you chose not to….it’s not like you going to ruin your pudding. It will still be a good pudding.
Finally, it’s time to pour your pudding mixture into the centre of a square piece of calico. The calico is pre-cut and also soaked in cold water. Wring out any excess water from the calico….pour out the mixture….then gather the rag and form a closure, a bit like a “money bag”. Make sure all the sides of the rag are gathered together and you haven’t missed a bit.
Then tie off the top of the rag with string . Make sure you tie it well….go around several times and tie it off several times. Don’t be stingy on the length of the string….hopefully there will be a good bit of it left after tying which can be used to hang the pudding.
Important….leave a bit of space at the top between the mixture and the level of the rag you tie off…..that is, allow a bit of space for the pudding to expand in the rag…it will.
Now you need to boil your pudding. Gently lower your pudding into a pot of boiling water. Make sure your water is boiling on the stove and that your pot is big enough to comfortably accommodate the size of your pudding.
Boil your pudding for approximately 3 – 4 hours. It’s a bit of a process because you can’t really leave it during that time. You will need to keep an eye on the water level….continually topping up so your pudding doesn’t boil dry.
Note also….put a small saucer at the bottom of pot so that your pudding is not sitting directly on the bottom, but cushioned from direct contact with the heat.
At the end of 4 hrs take your pudding out of the hot water. It is now ready to eat…..un-peel the calico and serve with fresh cream or brandy sauce.
Or…..as it usual, you eat your pudding at a later date. Hanging the pudding for a period of time is suggested as it allows all the flavours and spices to penetrate the whole pudding. Some people hang theirs for months.
A “hung pudding” will require re-heating. Although the pudding is cooked when you go to re-heat it you will need to re-place it into a pot of boiling water, as before. In order to re-heat the pudding thoroughly you will need to leave it for at least 2 hours….for the heat to really penetrate the mass of the object. The water should already be boiling when you add the pudding.
You can cheat and take it out of the rag, cold and put cut pieces in the micro wave….this is not as dramatic and nowhere near a nice. But go ahead…..
So that’s it! That’s one version of a plum pudding recipe. Let me know how you go.