Curious Beasts and Fantastic Creatures at Night Lab 2016

Mr Brian Oldman, director of SAM and myself.

I was lucky enough to get a ticket the South Australian Museum’s ‘Night Lab’ event -featuring current exhibition, Curious Beasts  hosting pieces all the way from the British Museum. This is why, this is how much of the actual exhibit I can show you in this review below because of an agreement between the institutions:

My new friend Susan respecting my fashion choices.
Thou shall not pass…with a camera.
However there was plenty of other very cool activities going on around the SAM for Night Lab that I’ll share. Night Lab is an important event for the SAM because it allows my generation X, Y and even a few Millienals to engage with the museum in a way they haven’t done since they were children and they probably will not again until they either have their own children and/or nieces and nephews.

It’s also an exercise in museum interpretation (the way a venue engages with its patrons and it allows staff to indulge the creative and often in innovative  ways) to exhibit their collections. This event was aimed at young adults with a disposable income they are willing to spend in indulging in local cultural heritage tourism. Which is a great way to showcase South Australia’s unique culinary talents (a major tourist product) and unique biodiversity (a major tourist draw card for the whole state) which is vitally important for sustainable local tourism.

First off, because it’s dinner time and I’m starving, we can start with the exotic food table – which was surrounded by giant taxidermied creatures (a little twisted humour but I think it added to the atmosphere!). There were edible florals, non traditional salad greens (which unlike Western salad leaves were quite bitter, salty and a bit Unami), smoked meat including emu, camel and kangaroo tail and my favourite the gulguk (edible green ants). Hopefully I’ll eventually get around to that *authentic palaeo stirfry* I’ve been promising my friends I’ve been going to make this holidays.

The most popular attraction!
Edible florals.
Salad greens.
Smoked Emu tastes like a softer version of venison and beef.
Gulguk, edible green ant
Animals Anonymous also made an appearance at this year’s Night Lab and below is Garry the Goanna (I grew up with a bunch of these guys around on the Eastern coast of Oz) and the experience of touching him was interesting in that the scales are a sort of rough velvet texture and incredibly soft but leathery at the same time.

I didn’t have enough cider to want to pay the carpet python and then I came face to face with my nemesis from when I lived in NSW, a one year old Eastern Tawny Frogmouth. They aren’t owls but annoyingly sound like electronic mobile phones in the middle of the night and it took me a year to realise this during honours at UNE, Armidale, NSW!

Garry the Goanna

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Not an owl- 0ne year old Tawny Eastern Frogmouth 
It was great having Animals Anonymous at the event as it raises the importance of the biodiversity collection at the SAM (level 2) in aiding in Australian animal conservation. Again young adults living in even a green city like Adelaide don’t really get to interact with live animals in an atmosphere that allows them to appreciate the efforts of conservation groups in a museum where many of the animals are taxiderimed specimens from biological collections. For those more interested in flora than fauna, a great place to visit on the same day as the SAM is the Museum of Economic Botany just down the road at the Botanical Gardens. Call me Snow White but a place with that many poisonous apples!

There were workshops on taxidermy on the night but as I’m not made of sterner material, we will settle here for the skeleton formerly known as Susan and note the tag leg attached to the horse’s leg with the traditional museum accession label describing the horse’s taxonomy and its every day attribution as a “horse.”

Horse skeleton 
Horse leg with tag.

Overall, this was a great experience as a guest of the museum rather than participating last year and it’s an event I try to make annually. Later this week I intend to publish a best of my Night Lab experiences at the SAM and talk about why the museum is an important institution to me as an individual and as an aspiring archaeologist. The SAM hosts more events than just Night Lab which you can find information on the museum’s website and currently you can have your say in how the SA Museum should be transforming and moving into the twenty-first century at:

http://www.samuseum.sa.gov.au/explore/your-museum-your-say

The SAM is located on North Terrace in the heart of the Adelaide CBD and close to other tourism venues such as the Art Gallery and Ayers House alongside the State Library of SA (visit the historic Mortlock Wing if you loved Fantastic Beasts and Harry Potter!). It is open all week 10am-5pm with a café and gift shop and a great place to find some respite from the summer heat offering various activities and guided tours throughout the day. 
 

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Broken Archaeology:  An update for 2016

Dark history tour at Adelaide Arcade selfie with Haunted Horizons guides, Alison and Kag.

So I’ve survived this much of 2016, university is over for the year and I always find myself questioning what I  achieved. This year has been a rut for me academically but not personally…

Sadly my chapter for the ‘Beyond Indy and Lara’ collection was shelved by myself – for the time being because of insurmountable illness. My uni grades also tanked due to a double whammy of illness and injury; but I still have another paper possibly in press and a nice backlog of material to produce for this blog to keep me busy over the holidays and hopefully you entertained, dear readers.

But sometimes as a dis/Abled individual it’s easy to feel broken and useless as well as it’s frustrating in constantly being reminded by your body- a locked knee, swollen hands, fatigue as soon as I’ve just woken up after a full 8 hours-  I have limits. I have had problems in the past confronting the scope of my capabilities but this summer, I’m letting myself rest up so I’m healthy for next year -but that’s life as being a neurodiverse individual with invisible illnesses. Read my review of the film, Me Before You, if you are interested in my views on dis/Ability.

While 2016 has been a year of killing all the best celebrities, and ill health for me, I’m hoping that some of the things that came from this year in my own little piece of the microcosm.  The exciting thing next year (2017) brings me some exciting career and professional development opportunities outside of archaeology. I’ve got involved with AIESEC, these are the brilliant young minds that are going to change the world, I have joined as alumni so hopefully I’ll learn from the best bright young things!

I’ve also joined the Horizons leadership program run by Flinders University Careers to gain new skills (you can use them straight away too!). Please consider using this service no matter what academic level you are if you’re a Flinders student!  I also encourage you wherever you study to take these workshops and classe along with any master classes and other extracurricular activities you are offered (such as AIESEC, Horizons Award or the Golden Key society).

In my personal life, I’m still being true to my M.O  in supporting small local arts tourism in SA. I’ve personally gone back to my literary roots with trying out the open mic and participating in a poetry slam at Biblotecha in Gresham Street. Creatively entitled ‘Just A Girl on a Tram’ because some pommy guy had taken ‘Lamia’ before I was born!

Me performing at Dithyrambia: Asunder at Biblotecha, photo copy right Martin Christmas, 2016.

In a more broadly artistic sense, art with high cultural capital, I got to see Post Modern Jukebox, 2 Cellos and the Australian Ballet Company. These shows have me convinced Adelaide could be the arts and cultural creative industries capital of Australia all year around if our national and state governments put money into investing into it. And makes them acccessible not to just the rich but to smaller and middle sized artists and performers because currently there seems to be a vaccum between the artistic underground and out of state performers with bigger artistic and funding portfolios. The PMJ tour to the Adelaide show was a big ticket item as was 2Cellos performance which I throughly enjoyed.

I’m also fortunate to be able to see both versions of Swan Lake this year and these shows are only in my reach because my family bought me the tickets! It’s actually funny the role reversal of the above mentioned music acts because PMJ was a YouTube curiosity and the 2Cellos supported Elton John. They don’t traditionally fall into what used to be considered high cultural capital C culture or as high art as they were supporting or Fringe acts. Now they are charging for tickets as much as the ABC and cultural heritage tourism events such as the Tango Fire at Her Majesty’s Theatre I saw this year performed by a German dance troupe. As mentioned 2Cellos started off supporting Elton John & appearing on Fox TV show, Glee, and PMJ only performed at Thebarton this year by popular demand in SA for them, so there is a place for popular culture art in the high cultural capital creative industry consumerism where a lot of money is being spent on bringing these “big names” to SA.

However, the larger acts had to start somewhere as demonstrated above…which is why it’s so important to support local ventures like the Dithyrambia monthly poetry nights at the Biblotecha Bar and Book Exchange (organised by Charlie Brooks below) with featured artists and an open mic. It is a place that encourages the trend of using smaller venues as artistic spaces to encourage and develop Adelaide’s local talent to bigger audiences and build their creative industry profile. If we don’t nurture local talent all year around, and only field big branded acts at the Adelaide Fringe and various prestigeous festivals like SALA, we will only have a three month long drinking festival. There should be an interview with Charlie Brooks coming up pretty soon close to the next Dithyrambia event.

But I also want to point out the work of Miss Anya Anastasia and Ms Sapphire Snow of Peaches ‘n’ Gin (both interviewed for this blog) as organisers to be applauded for creating artistic and creative spaces in Adelaide’s art culture in ways that challenge the notion of High Art/Big C culture versus popular and accessible & affordable culture. These ladies are subverting the notion that counter culture such as burlesque and cabaret cannot be high art and wildly popular.

Charlie Brooks at Dithyrambia : Asunder at Biblotecha.

Back to the 2016 PMJ concert in Adelaide, a much bigger event in terms of scope, financially and artistic visibility as international act, it was for me was a lesson that we shouldn’t let dis/Ability stop you attempting what is important to you. So with the right planning with venue organisers at the Thebarton  Theatre, I attended the concert on crutches (due to articular chondral fissuring in my left knee’s cartilage). It turns out that you can totally have guilt free fun in a life full of mysterious pain because being dis/Abled does not mean living a half life (which is a personal lesson I learned). I had been depriving myself of fun or leisure activities & time because I wasn’t well enough to do the mundane and every day tasks of house work or well enough to function at post graduate student level at university. But sometimes you just have to punch a hole in the roof and look up.

PMJ at Thebarton Theatre in 2016.
Ryan Adam Wells of Sound and Fury, Tandanya, 2015-6 Fringe.

With several months of physiotherapy, I’ve made some pretty good recovery though no means will I be rehabilitated enough for field work in 2017. Yet I will be back at my roots of my studies, the arts, doing film production in semester one next year at Flinders University. I’m sure it will yield some probably interesting material as well as the looming Adelaide Fringe though this year where I’ve booked to see Anya Anastasia’s two shows, Rogue Romantic and Torte-e-Morte for next year.

Anya Anastasia at the Henry Austin, 2016, Rogue Romantic preview.

Professionally and personally academically, I’m working on bringing awareness to the Enabled archaeology movement started in the U.K. and European countries. I have found like minded individuals online and it seems likely my future is to be in disability advocacy for archaeologists in Australia (and hopefully others in cultural heritage management andarchaeologically  adjacent sciences) with a literature review in second second semester. I’m hoping to do a presentation on Enabled Archaeology for National Archaeology week in May at Meet the Archaeology Students and if I’m clever and brace maybe AAA conference.

Meet The Archaeology Students,2016 at Flinders in the city.

Recently I attended SAM’s annual Night Lab event and ran into the SAM director himself, Mr Brian Oldman who I will hopefully be interviewing for my Curious Beasts review next week. One thing I do encourage Flinders archaeology students to do is approach the professionals in our field and ask them questions. Use it as a chance to create a post degree and further study network! The team at the SAM are friendly and have always treated my obscure questions and weird tendencies with enthusiasm and taught me something new! And to attend these events that are being aimed at our generation who are perceived as being too old to go to the museum until we have kids or last went when we were young. These gala events allow the museum experts to creatively challenge themselves and display parts of their jobs that often are hidden in the back room like model making and taxidermy (see Tuesday’s “Curious Beasts” exhibit/Night Lab review).

Mr Brian Oldman of SAM & I at Night Lab 2016.
Putting my boots up for a week on medical leave.

Be on the look out for some excellently themed pieces coming such as “How To Socially Acceptable Play Dress Ups As An Adult” and “Things I’ve Done at the Museum.” Plus all the fantastic interviews I have lined up for the summer break (since I took a semester long hiatus while recovering from the tram incident) -with a follow up on my dark history tour with Haunted Horizons’ Alice O’Born and poets Charlie Brooks & HiVision coming soon. I hope to follow up some very hardcore urban exploration photography I’ve been sitting on and there’s a tour at West Tce Cemetery I must go to for research purposes. But until then, I’m putting my feet up and chilling on the first night off I’ve had in a long time.

Ciao, Clara Rose.