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18 April 2010

Ron Mueck

I went to the Ron Mueck exhibition at NGV yesterday. It was extraordinary.

Ron Mueck is an Australian-born artist, who creates hyperrealistic sculptures at adjusted and unusual scales. He had a good education in the surreal and uncanny, working for Jim Henson as a sculptor and puppeteer (he played Ludo in Labyrinth - squee!).

The first piece - Dead Dad - was a very vulnerable naked replica of Mueck's father after his death. The sculpture is scaled down about 2/3, and is the only one of his sculptures where Mueck used his own hair.
There's almost no explanation about Mueck's work in the exhibition - we are invited to come to our own conclusions. One of the most fascinating things was seeing what caught people's attention: blood on the giant baby's toenails, the Wild Man's feet, the bunched brown stockings on the two old women. People saw their grandparents in some of the pieces, Christ in others, and themselves in many. It was the perfect kind of utterly democratic art - you don't need to be a critic to "get" it, and it means something different to everyone. There were plenty of children in the exhibition, and they too were fascinated - I suppose the constant reevaluating of your scale in relation to others is something that children are very familiar with.

But it was this piece that really caught me. I'm not sure why. Michael said it left him wondering if he was a normal sized man looking at a small man in a boat, or whether HE was a giant, and the man in the boat was normal sized. I just loved his vulnerable fragility, his dignity, his loneliness. It left me itching to write a fantasy novel. I might just go and jot down some notes now...

11 April 2010

Looking for a girl who can make her own clogs?

Among the awesome loot I got for my birthday, there was this book:
I am curled up on the couch with endless cups of tea today, learning how to guddle (or tickle) trout, skin a rabbit, make cider, sweep a chimney, lay out a hedge maze, make a weathercock, right a wheel, craft a Welsh love spoon and paint a canal boat.

Is it wrong that now I'm actually kind of looking forward to the apocalypse? So I can wow everyone with my ability to work scrimshaw and make my own besom broom?

08 April 2010


My agent recently shared some of her teen writing, and as it's my birthday and you're not allowed to be too mean to me, I'm going to be brave and do the same.

Between the ages of 10 and 14, I wrote a novel. It's about 65 000 words long, and every one of them is crap. Looking through it for a suitably embarrassing passage to share, I was struck by how totally and thoroughly I stole from other books. It's like a list of my teenaged reading:

(Cold Comfort Farm)
The gateman closed one eye in speculation, and scratched his head. “Wull,” he said in his simple countryman's accent. “If ye follow this 'ere road, down over th' bridge, then it's th' first buildin' on yer roight.”
“Thank you,” said Nellwyn, and they turned away.
“'Ere!” said the man, waving at them. “Y' mun stay on this road, an' down't stray int' th' back-streets, loike, for there be some nasty characters about.”

(Lord of the Rings)
The next evening, Nellwyn came down reporting bad news, he had not seen the explosions because of the high mountain peaks, but he had seen a gigantic flock of evil-looking crows flying in their direction.
“Crows?” said Flontale, looking up from where he was sitting cross-legged by their campfire. “What could crows do to us?”
“These aren't just a few crows,” Nellwyn said, frowning at the thought Flontale might be braver than one of the best fighters in the village. “They're huge! Each one has a wingspan of about three feet, and their eyes - ugh.” He shuddered.
“How many?” asked Dadoe, reaching for his axe and testing the point with his thumb. Dadoe was never one to mince words.
“I don't know. They were stretching off over the top of the mountain beyond my line of vision.”
Dadoe put down the axe carefully. “Ah. Maybe fighting them wouldn't be such a good idea.”

(Chronicles of Prydain)
“You cannot treat me this way!” cried Dylarn, “I am ill!”
“And I'm the great God Tefflar!” snapped Leyha, “Stop whining and get on with the packing!”
“But I am ill!”
“I know, you said it before.” She turned to the others, “And he says that he's a warrior, hmph!”

(Alanna series)
The Third of the Yswin reached into the three's minds.
He projected images of home, of death, of killing, all three saw Leyha burying a black sword with a yellow jewel embedded in the hilt into Sul's chest....

(David Eddings)
He sighed, and called for Elondwar. He hadn't really wanted to become a God. Of course it was nice having the power to make the kingliest of kings bow down to Him, but a lot of hardships came with being a God.
“You called, Divine One?”
He looked up, “Entertain me, Elondwar.” He said wearily.
She grinned mirthlessly, showing her long, blood-red fangs.
“I think I can manage that.”

(Anne Rice)
He leapt, catlike over a fence, and slid in the window of a peasants house. Inside, four peasants were asleep. Tel crept over to one of them, and raised their wrist to his lips. Ari saw him bite down hard, and the peasant jolted in pain, but slept on. As Tel drank, the colour came back into his face, and he straightened, sliding a gold coin into the still-sleeping peasant's clenched fist.