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Melbourne artist Ivan Durrant, who reminisces about the wild child SoHo heyday of the great Super Realist art movement. It was the end of 1975 and the leading American Super Realists, Chuck Close and Janet Fish, had just exhibited at Tolarno Galleries in St Kilda with my then dealer Georges Mora. Georges had already sold one of my Super Realist (photorealist) paintings through a leading gallery in New York. I said to my wife: ‘Let’s…

Sharing the Love: We don’t tend to celebrate Thanksgiving in Australia, but I have always loved the sentiment behind this special day. Having one day a year to sit back, relax and talk to your family about what is making you happy in life, what you appreciate and what your dreams are for the year ahead is something we don’t do nearly enough. This wonderful holiday is all about giving thanks, so, whether you do…

As the weather warms up down under, the spring and summer seasons announce themselves with colour and life, and for most of us a host of special occasions is clearly seen on the horizon. These most joyous of events inspire us via their rekindled connections with family and friends. In line with the imminent silly season, Rustik Café & Foodstore in Benalla, North East Victoria, is hosting a special book signing event starring Australian homemaking…

A captivated crowd last night packed the house at the newly re-branded De Bortoli Wines Rutherglen Estate cellar door for the Aboriginal Exhibitions Gallery landmark exhibition titled: Northern Exposure – Stories from Lockhart River and Fitzroy Crossing. Flying in from Lockhart River, Cape York, and arriving to the gallery decked out in a thick winter jacket, woolen gloves and beanie; the cold climate was the only shocking element that Aboriginal artist Patrick Butcher Jnr faced as…

The Van Haandel Group has this week announce its appointment of award-winning chef Oliver Hansford (of Stokehouse Melbourne) as the new Executive Chef of Stokehouse Q, Brisbane. Ollie returns to Brisbane and Stokehouse Q, having been awarded the Brisbane Times Good Food Guide Young Chef of the Year Award in 2016, and following on from his current role with the Group as Head Chef at Stokehouse St Kilda, overseeing the relaunch of the iconic Melbourne…

I can honestly say that if I had to choose one dish that has travelled all over the world with me and one that I have put together on all of my menus, that one dish would be a Niçoise salad. I still put it on my menus today at French Saloon as I think it’s a perfect salad for Australian palates: essentially it’s a salad that lends itself to sunshine, and like the area…

There’s something inexplicably powerful about Empire – an art installation project that has transformed the 1930s Dandenong Ranges mansion Burnham Beeches into a living, breathing arts organism of gigantic creative proportion. The project also combines an elaborate music soundtrack, lighting design and a series of botanical installations that aid in the delivery of a beautifully beastly work. Developed over a course of a year, the project features both ‘pretty’ and sombre images of female faces painted…

Arriving in 1951 from Paris, Mirka and Georges Mora transformed the Melbourne food and art scene. Their cafés and restaurants offered sophisticated food and their Tolarno art gallery inspired and energised the rich and famous. Launched in the year of Mirka’s 90th birthday and her passing, Mirka & Georges: A Culinary Affair, a new book release from MUP, gloriously illustrates the Mora’s extraordinary story. Recalling his first exhibition held at Tolarno in 1970 and the…

Its no secret that the extensive 2017 redevelopment of Rutherglen Estates’ cellar door, featuring the newly established Aboriginal Exhibitions Gallery within the same historic 1880s Seppelts Cellars building, has in recent years seen a marked increase in visitation; however its Tuileries Restaurant – within the same complex – at the time perhaps had not stepped up to the mark, that is until the much needed recent arrival of French-born head chef Christoph Niklaus; who’s culinary…

Since the tender age of 19, Francesca Webster has been building a career in the luxury service industry. From early beginnings at Sydney’s Park Hyatt to Relationships & Lifestyle Manager of Halcyon House, she today continues to build a respected name for herself in the hotel industry. Last year Francesca was appointed General Manager at Byron Bay’s illustrious Raes on Wategos boutique hotel; Essentials spoke to her about her hospitality passions and love of the…

Internationally exhibited artist and Palm Island Aboriginal elder, Billy Doolan has exhibited and led cultural programmes across Australian and the world. Sharing inspirational messages and his artistic talents and techniques, he continues to educate students, dignitaries and art fans on the importance of caring for the environment. His influence has reached as far as Hong Kong and Sicilly as-well-as across many parts of Australia. Billy Doolan – Patterns of Life, opens this Saturday June 23…

Every three months for the past 40 years I’ve visited my good friend the great artist Asher Bilu to get a fix – art fix, that is. He’s always got something new that takes me on a journey. Asher’s now into his 80s, but is brighter, stronger and more energetic than any young pups in the art world today. To me he’s the greatest living artist, his only match in history Van Gogh. Both worked…

How a Scottish chef is creating a new cuisine using ancient ingredients. One of the Australia’s most influential restaurants is found at the end of a nondescript set of stairs. You’ll find them clinging to the red bricks outside an old Victorian building in the east end of Adelaide’s Rundle Street where the cafés, old pubs and cool fashion salons feather out into Colonel Light’s vast parklands. The door opens and you’re enveloped in the…

Now tell me,’ says The Henry Austin’s owner, Max Mason, ‘what was the worst part of your meal.’ Flummoxed by the question and thoroughly impressed by the quality of the food I have no appropriate answer. Mason maintains the air of an affable eccentric Englishman who bestows both excellent crisp service with a touch of well-mannered domination. ‘Good you are,’ he says. ‘Good you are.’ The Henry Austin feels like old Adelaide – a club-like…

360Q, the two story cafe/bistro and function centre on Queenscliff Harbour’s waterfront, a new venture for Sorrento culinary King Barry Iddles, is pulling in the summer crowds. Essentials took a bite at the lower-level Hooked on Fish eatery and fell in love with the surrounds. Barry Iddles stands high above the historic town of Queenscliff. He is watching a restored couta boat sailing out of the harbor into Port Phillip Bay. ‘They are such beautiful…

Photography Diana Delucia Carved into the hickory and sycamores in New York’s Westchester County is the Winged Foot Golf Club. This exclusive club is just a few kilometres outside Mamaroneck, a historic New York town famous for its skinny red clapboard houses. This leafy urban utopia is also considered to be among the top 10 most desirable places to live in New York. It is here where North-Eastern son Rhy Waddington is cooking for New…

Louis XIV, the Sun King, is famous for creating the glittering palace of Versailles and committing its court to a life of unbridled decadence. Louis liked cleaning his teeth with wine, bestowing favour on courtiers by allowing them to wipe his royal bottom, and fathering illegitimate children – about a dozen in all. He was also addicted to fashion. The king’s sartorial whims were frequent, fleeting and expensive, and the whole court had to keep…

Having experienced a dysfunctional work ethic at Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen Melbourne, and an abusive kitchen culture within Gordon Ramsay’s London restaurant Maze, local chef David Kapay returns home to Albury/Wodonga to open a Miss Amelie, a restaurant that shines with exceedingly well-balanced fare. Housed within a former railway building in Wodonga Victoria, Miss Amelie will see Junction Square grow up around around it. Having secured a long 9-year lease David explains that a host of…

Rutherglen’s Simon Killeen has gone it alone, sourcing fruit across North East Victoria for his new wine label Simão & Co. Essentials spoke with Simon about his pop-up label – one that’s already won multiple awards. You’ve recently launched a range of wines under your own label Simão & Co. which is gaining swift attention. What varieties have you released and what’s making popular drinking? I’ve made wines from varieties I like to drink and…

Bryony Nainby gives the great heavy door a heave with her shoulder and it slowly slides open. The Benalla Art Gallery director walks into the vault that guards the city’s art collection. On every rack and in every storage bin are the most important names of Australian art. In a corner stands Howard Arkley and Juan Davila’s famed installation Blue Chip Instant Decorator – a Room, including a chair airbrushed in classic Arkley manner. An…

The air is still and warm. The leaves on the vine are beginning to turn, some yellow, others russet and golden. Rutherglen Estates’ winemaker Marc Scalzo wanders the rows of Shelley’s Block vineyard, tucked away in the rolling hills near the Chiltern-Mt Pilot National Park. ‘This is my favourite vineyard,’ says Marc, the loose gravel in the soil crunching underfoot. He has been winemaker at Rutherglen Estates since 2007, creating award-winning benchmark wines as well…

This autumn, Sicilian chef Rosa Mitchell opened her new restaurant, Rosa’s Canteen, in the heart of Melbourne’s legal district. We caught up with her just before she opened the doors.  Essentials: Where were you born? Rosa: I was born Rosa Pagano in the province of Catania in Sicily. Although I was very young, only seven years old, when my family moved to Australia, I still have distinct memories of the markets. There were young men…

Whatever took me so long: I’d been a fan of Chrissy Amphlett and Divinyls since the release of their 1983 Monkey Grip EP, yet it took me until the summer of 1988-9 to see Chrissy live on her Temperamental tour at The Sevens Creek Run Woolshed auditorium at Euroa. It was a hot, balmy night, so the outdoor seating, even with the odd mosquito, was perfect. The band started with a slow heartbeat guitar rhythm…

Penny Grant, whose passion for wine started as a kid, picking and stomping grapes with close family friends at BlackJack wines in central Victoria, decided at the age of 16 to focus on a career in the wine industry. She first trained at Brisbane’s highly respected ISIS Brasserie (later Ortiga Spanish restaurant). Head sommelier Matt Brooke was instrumental in connecting her with Circa Melbourne, where she met her partner Jake Nicolson (now executive chef at…

With the release of her addictive, awesome new album – Ultraviolence – Lana Del Rey has no intention of glossing over her troubled psyche – rather, she hypes it up. With Lana, it is often hard to separate the real woman from her controversial David Lynch-ian ‘femme fatale’ public self – the stunningly beautiful singer with the pouty lips and storytelling gloomy outlook on life. Yet she has parlayed her angst and gloriously melancholy music…

She’s played an alien (Under the Skin), a disembodied operating system (Her), and a porn addict’s girlfriend (Don Jon), but that’s nothing compared to the turbocharged amazon Scarlett Johansson gets to play in LUCY, an action thriller directed by Luc Besson. The film carries on the legacy of the French filmmaker’s previous depictions of strong female characters in ‘La Femme Nikita,’ ‘The Professional,’ and ‘The Fifth Element.’ This time out, Johansson becomes the ultimate object…

International fashion model Daria Plyushko has walked the runways of Paris and London, been featured in a worldwide campaign for Swarovski, and appeared on countless magazine covers. She spoke to Essentials’ Jamie Durrant about her career, family values, love, life and her wildest dreams. Coined in the 1980s, the term ‘supermodel’ is perhaps synonymous with multimillion dollar contracts, campaigns and product endorsements, coupled with worldwide fame. Three decades on, is this kind of success still…

Christina Hendricks has shown that her aura carries just as far amongst the French as it does amongst fans of Mad Men elsewhere on the planet.  Joining Ryan Gosling on the fabled Croisette for the world premiere of LOST RIVER, his debut film as a director, the statuesque actress proved to be an enchanting presence at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival. Though the film earned mixed reviews, virtually all the critics were unanimous in their…

To walk inside the home of artist Asher Bilu and his wife, Luba, is the stuff of considerable wonder. Known for large works of abstraction, Asher’s authentic Victorian Brighton abode acts as an informal survey of his creations, ranging right through from his very first painting in 1958, which hangs on the wall of the front study.  It’s hard to know which way to turn when entering the Bilu home. An Alice in Wonderland chequerboard…