It’s a stunning sunny Winter’s day. My best friend and I head off in the car to Woollahra to see one of my very old school friends who is an extremely talented painter. Of course the traffic didn’t fail to change my view that I was pleased I didn’t live in the eastern suburbs anymore, though I do love it for its quirkiness and the opportunities to enjoy a more cultured colourful outing. We drove into Woollahra and after half an hour of expletives during the search for a parking spot we finally found one. It was quite a hike up the narrow alley ways to find the Tim Olsen Gallery but well worth it. Located in a lovely Terrace house with white washed walls and plenty of natural light accentuating the collection of different artists work, it truly was the perfect setting for a Gallery. The entrance door was teeming with guests so we squeezed through and made a beeline to the bar. With a glass of Wine in hand we entered a long narrow room where my friend’s work was on display. A stunning collection of mesmerising underwater nudes; you almost felt you were viewing real life nudes floating in an underwater aquarium. Absolutely breathtaking and made you wish you owned a gorgeous large home by the sea with plenty of wall space and a large income so you could buy them all.
There was a large crowd mingling so we weaved our way around said a quick hello to my artist friend Martine who was as you can imagine inundated with people praising her skill and complimenting her work. After about ten minutes for some reason we were a magnet for the unattached males that weren’t gay or maybe they were bisexual. This is always a state of quandary when meeting males in the East as they dress well. One young man ambled over while I was admiring aesthetically one of the more intriguing male nude figure paintings.
‘What does it make you feel?’ asked the man. I thought about it for a few seconds ‘well I really do admire the artist’s knowledge of anatomy and structure of the human body. I also appreciate the use of light and shadow to define rather than clear lines. Look at the sinew and muscle in the man’s hamstrings and even his gluteus maximus shows weight and a sense of great buoyancy.’ His eyes widened and blinking he introduced himself as Chablieor. I had to ask him to repeat his name as I tend to be a little poor on hearing in one ear. He again mutters something that sounds like Chablioura or something like that…again I say ‘I’m sorry how do you spell that?’ He whips out his business card and it appears his name is Jabour. Hahaha oh dear I sure got that all wrong, maybe I was thinking too much about the next Chablis I might down as it felt increasingly stifling hot in that gallery room. This I swear is not to that menacing female condition called menopause. Think about this word MEN..O…PAUSE, this must be a warning for men to stop abruptly, pause, turn around then bolt off for safety with their man clan or they could be submitted to the presence of an irrational overheated maniac. But alas I didn’t dare mention how damn hot it was in there. I did glance briefly around the room and didn’t see any windows at all just wall space and paintings. I wasn’t even sure there was air con in the room but then again it was crowded with people I reassured myself. Phew I’m not menopausal yet so I took a deep breath and continued to talk to this baby faced artist. ‘Is Jabour your real name or your stage artist name?’ He blinked a few times again. I was beginning to think he might have downed a few too many vinos as well or could it be possible he wasn’t a person who was particularly quick in their mental processing. Tick tock.. ‘No it’s my real name, my parents chose it’ Jabour answers quietly. ‘Well at least they didn’t call you a fruit, It’s a nice name.’ I answered. Jabour blinked rapidly. I could see it was going right over his head so I continued ‘you know a fruit or food item, like Apple, Custard.. You know like Gwyneth’s kids?’I paused then said ‘Maybe her next child will be called Kale. Actually when I think about it, Kale is a kind of cool name for a boy, do you agree?’ Finally he cracks and starts laughing. Phew am I relieved I was beginning to think maybe he was slightly retarded. He thrusts his business card forward. It has photos of his work. It appeared he made sculptures and abstract furniture out of melamine chipboard. Very unusual looking items that to me looked more like thrones of pain. I really couldn’t see myself languishing on one.
‘I like Jabour it does have a nice ring to it, I said. Are your parents European or of Arabic lineage?’ ‘No they just came up with it’ Jabour replied with a slight grin on his unshaven face. He looked like he could do with a good shower too. I’m disappointed he didn’t have some kind of interesting family background of how his parents immigrated from Poland with nothing but a back pack after his French mother escaped in the tunnels fighting with the resistance. But instead I assumed his parents were hippies from a bohemian commune that harvested cannabis and in their euphoria of impending parenthood decided on Jabour as it sounded French and interesting. ‘ It could of been worse they may have settled on Pumpkin, River or Zephra!’ He just stood there smiling then said ‘So what about you, are you an artist and where do you live?’
‘Oh me? I live on the Northern Beaches but I grew up at Bondi and I’m not an artist,’ I laughed. ‘I wish I was. I am here because my friend from school is the artist and I haven’t seen her since I was 15.’ I could see him mentally trying to work out my age, but he couldn’t help himself and asked ‘How old are you?’ I show dramatic mortification and reply ‘Oh my don’t you know that you never ask a woman her age?’ He then replies ‘Well how old do you think I am?’ I looked at his baby unshaven face that had a few little tufts of fluff sprouting along his jawline and replied ‘well you could be around 28 or 30?’ He grins ‘Put at least 10 on that ‘ I giggle ‘Well you do look young, must be that baby face you have .’ He laughs back and says ‘Are you on facebook, maybe we can connect and chat sometime? I would love to visit the Northern Beaches.’ At this point it was starting to feel like a pick up. I looked around and saw Jabour’s friend chatting away to my friend Donna and then a rather odd looking older rotund man with curly grey hair and spectacles hanging from his nose suddenly shuffles through the crowd breaking our small group apart and thrusts a CD cover at me. I’m taken by surprise and just stand looking at his hand thinking what is this? He introduces himself. ‘Hi I’m Kevin, I’m a musician.’ Thanks Kevin, I said ‘Is this your music?’ He pursed his lips judiciously, and then pressed the CD into my hand. I peered at it with my eyes that were proving that reading without glasses was beginning to be a challenge for me. It was titled Piano. Indian Tabla 12 String Guitar Flamenco. I realized it must be a compilation of drums, piano and Guitar with Indian influence possibly. On the front at first due to my poor eyesight I thought it was a drawing of a Centaur; those of you that don’t know what that term is * half man half horse*.. But then on further inspection the figurine looked more to me like a deranged Baboon.
‘Hmm interesting sketch, is it a monkey then?’I said. He nodded. ‘Okay well I heard that the symbolic meaning of a monkey deals with animated entertainment? I laughed. ‘I’ve read that they are often depicted as mischievous figures in myth and legends. Does this somehow relate to your music?’ He also started blinking rapidly and he was sweating profusely under his grey curls and suddenly mutters. ‘Gee you look like Goldie Hawn. Hey guys it’s Goldie Hawn. Has anyone ever told you that?’ I didn’t reply, yes like a million times. I just did a blonde giggle and replied ‘well I wish I had her money!’ ‘Are you on facebook?’ Kevin asked….I sighed. Maybe this is the latest conversation prompt or maybe I’m just feeling a tad old. But I so wasn’t expecting facebook to be part of introductions or conversations at an Art gallery. He continued on to say his email was on the back and to let him know if I liked it. I laughed and replied ‘Okay sure I will check it out.’ I wondered why he didn’t have an opinion about the symbolic meaning of the monkey. Seriously I thought art folk enjoyed in-depth conversations or maybe I was just some kind of deranged premenopausal maniac who rambled on in a bipolar surge of energy and thoughts.
At this point, I gestured to my friend Donna with a jab of my head that I wanted to move on to the next room. ‘Okay guys, have a lovely afternoon we are moving on to the other room, it was lovely to chat with you all, yeah facebook… see you all there!’ I added with an exaggerated laugh.
We squeezed our way through the throng of art lovers. I could see Muso Keith trying to follow us so we upped the ante to a stairway and scooted up to the next level. Now on this level the room was only sparsely full with people gazing at rather abstract art done with thick textured strokes of oil on linen. One particular large painting was of Orchids and banana palms. It was truly outstanding but due to my long sighted vision, the close proximity to it and its size, it made me slightly nauseous and again I felt so hot. I sat down in front of another very large painting of the inside of a Paris transit station; this was equally impressive. As I was fiddling with my phone, another man saunters over. He is incredibly attractive with smouldering brown eyes, olive skin, short dark wavy hair, a tight navy t-shirt hugging his bulging muscular shoulders, wearing well fitting jeans accentuating his rather strong thighs and buttocks. Hmmm I drool to myself and visions flashed in my head of the male nude painting I was viewing downstairs and the curve of the nude’s leg muscles. I felt sure this man could have easily modeled for it. Oh dear the heat, the wine, the nudes, the European looking man now facing me and the huge abstract paintings surrounding me. I was feeling faint. His smouldering dark eyes flashed concern. ‘Would you like some vauter? said a voice that sounds like brushed velvet. You look a little pale he said in his deep foreign accent.’ ‘Oh no thank you, I’m okay.’ I replied while fanning my face with the gallery price list. I then jumped up a little too enthusiastically and had to hold onto the table to steady myself. ‘See I’m fine really’. I was grinning like a Cheshire cat that is about to have some cream. Hunk of man speaks and I gasp a deep breath of air on hearing the way his lips form the words.. ‘Okay, well hello my name is Nicolin,’ he replied. ‘These painting are very interesting do you agree? ‘ ‘Yes, but I must admit the one with the Orchids and banana blossoms is hard on the eyes up so close. I prefer this one of the transit station., pointing in front of me. It is a rather intense composition of colour and strokes but I like it. What do you think?’ Sex on a stick replies ‘Yes I agree, I think it is also my favourite.’ I could feel my heart pulsating, Jesus he was hot! and it wasn’t just hot in the room. I repeated his name “Nicolin? ‘Yes that is correct’. The words drip out of his luscious full mouth framing pure white teeth. Bloody hell I was feeling a bit faint looking at him, …thankfully due to the few people in the room I heard his name correctly this time. Relieved I didn’t sound like a deaf old hag to this hot guy but then again it would have been nice to hear him repeat his name several times, that accent was melting me. He also asks me if I am an artist. “Me? Noooo!! I laugh, well maybe I like to think I am an artist of sorts. I recently started writing. More like ramblings, short poems, stories and travel articles. I’m not sure why I suddenly feel a need for creativity but I’m actually a bit surprised at myself.’ He replies in his deep husky accent. ‘Oh but you are a beautiful woman and must of lived an interesting life with many stories to tell?’ Ah what a charmer he is, not like most Australian men at all. They usually just grunt and keep looking at the rugby and god forbid you ask one to go to an Art Gallery with you! ‘ Well you know Nicolin, I have lived a busy life raring two children for 16 years and after feeling like a mouse running on a wheel rushing everywhere, working hard I finally have a little time to myself to enjoy. I think this has allowed some creativity to brew or at least make me believe so.’ He nodded and added ‘I can understand that, now is your time to enjoy, is it not?’ I love how Europeans always encourage more conversation with a question and with hand gesturing. So I went along with some more small talk enjoying his accent thinking he can just say anything I don’t care, just keep talking.
‘So Nicolin where are you from, your name is it Russian, Greek, Italian?’ Hunk of man replies ‘Actually I am from Albania, but I am half Italian, half Albanian.’ Okay hmmm I’m thinking, how lovely, I have never met an Albanian, also thinking where the hell is Albania? All I could remember was an article I read recently about Police burning 23 tons of Marijuana, (around 80,000 plants) in an Albanian Village. I remembered these details because I was wondering if the whole village and surrounds were then completely stoned! Ha-ha at least the Balkan rebels maybe stopped their cowboy shootouts due to being stoned on a haze of burning cannabis. I’m also a little perplexed that I’m again thinking about cannabis and to be honest I have never even been a smoker. Only one time I tried it when I was age 14 years old and nearly choked myself blue from lack of oxygen. The feel of razors in my throat was enough to turn me off it for life.
Thankfully I did not commence this train of thought vocally and just murmured ‘Oh that’s nice.’ It still amazes me how in the presence of an extremely handsome man I often become a brain dead mumbling blonde probably blinking my eyes in a goo gar gaze like those nerdy types downstairs. I usually can talk quite intelligently and with wit when talking to a moron but not a handsome man. Nicolin the Balkan steps closer and says ‘So what are you doing after this?’ ‘Well I’m with my friend over there; we haven’t eaten lunch yet even though its 4.00pm so we are going to a pub to eat, possibly the one down the road’ I glanced over to see my friend talking on her phone. ‘Okay maybe I will see you there later then with a flash of white teeth and brown puppy eyes. I blink ‘Oh yes maybe and scamper off to my friend. For some reason I didn’t want to get the Balkans number, he was just too handsome and I kept getting visions of drug lords in Albania and a movie scene from Scarface!
I think it was too much excitement for us girls at one exhibition and we both felt like we would internally combust so we took off outside in search of fresh air and a Hotel to have dinner and I won’t tell you all the rest. Only that after several alcoholic drinks and dinner we were convinced that nearly every man we saw at the pub was the spitting image of Gerald Butler, Daniel Craig or some other divine movie actor. At one stage one rather nerdy unattractive man was telling me the theory of why we kept saying to different men,
‘Oh my god you look like Daniel Craig!’ He explained it was a matter of Bilateral symmetry. He said it was thought that we and other organisms have a strong evolutionary preference for the appearance of symmetry, and this means people who are considered attractive are often those who display a high degree of bilateral symmetry. A reduced ability to judge this symmetry brought on by the general visual impairment of alcohol might well account for the phenomenon that people seem more attractive when one is drunk. I moved on from him at this point because I was enjoying my illusion of movie stars and if only he knew why women yawned when he tried to chat them up.
All in all it was yet another fabulous girl’s day out!
Paintings by Martine Emdur