Eat Your Veggies! – Australia and the Obesity Epidemic

The obesity epidemic is growing, and experts are calling it a “system wide” problem with over-processed food dominating our lives. Only three percent of Australians meet the Australian Dietary Guidelines recommended five serves of vegetables (at 75g per serve, which is about half the weight of a baseball) new ABS data shows.

And one in three Australian adults (67%) are overweight or obese according to the last national health survey.

If you’re above a healthy weight there’s a higher risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, some cancers, and possibly more severe Covid-19 symptoms according to a paper in the US on the impact of nutrition on virus susceptibility.

Australians don’t eat enough fruit and vegetables but consume too many salty foods, ABS data released in June shows.

The study measured sales data but could only make estimates of the actual food eaten without food consumption data from restaurants, fast-food establishments or food wastage.

Professor Stephen Simpson, biologist and co-author of ‘Eat Like the Animals’ has spent the better part of 30 years studying nutrition and dietary causes of obesity in humans. He said the majority of people not eating enough serves of the necessary food groups is likely because about 50% of Australians’ calorie intake comes from ultra-processed foods instead.

These are things like soft drinks, chips, chocolate, ice-cream, or chicken nuggets.

This may seem like an obvious reason for the increase of obesity around the world but it’s a very complicated issue, let’s take a closer look.

The proportion of overweight and obesity in adults rose from 57.2% in 1995 to 66.4% in 2018. Although it appears that the proportion of overweight people started to drop from 2007 this is likely because they moved to the obese category instead.

“What we can see if you start to understand the biology of overeating, overweight and obesity is that it’s a tremendously powerful biology that is in most cases not simply ignorable or overridable by using your willpower,” Simpson said.

The amount of protein we consume has a huge effect on our health and body weight. We have a set target of protein to reach each day, of about 15% so that when combined with other important nutrients we can survive at our healthiest.

There are two ways that our protein target ties in with the obesity epidemic.

“First, you’ve got protein diluted by large quantities of industrially produced fats and carbohydrates, and the geometry of that is fairly straightforward. You need to eat more calories as fats or carbs (it doesn’t matter which) to get to your protein target,” Simpson said.

Even if you have an abundance of protein available, if it’s swamped by lots of fats and carbs then on average you will eat more calories then you actually need to reach your target.

The second way Simpson said is, “Anything that causes the protein target to go up will make you have to eat more calories in a given low protein environment then if the target was a bit lower.”

Simply, the higher your protein target, the more excess calories you’ll have to eat in order to reach it.

There are a few reasons your protein target might be set too high. For example, an elite athlete or bodybuilder will have an above average target because they need more protein to maintain muscle. But if they move to a more sedentary lifestyle, then their target will remain high for a while and they may become overweight.

More worryingly Simpson said, “Your protein target may be set too high even at birth because of what your mother and father ate pre-conception and during pregnancy.”

“Similarly, if you go on a higher then optimal protein diet very early in life, we think that might set the target too high and it explains why some of the infant formula fed babies have higher risk of obesity later in childhood and adolescence.”

However, a problem with most explanations for the obesity epidemic is that if the issue was just eating too many calories then the expectation is that the population would become increasingly overweight and then plateau and stop.

Simpson says this is because the bigger you are, the more calories you need. If you continue to eat more calories than eventually, you’re going to need all of them because there’s more of you.

“Instead of going up and plateauing the obesity epidemic has accelerated and what we realised is that there must be something that’s moving further and further away that we’re essentially chasing in our biology, and we realised that’s the protein target going up,” Simpson said.

Jane Martin, the Executive Manager of the Obesity Policy Coalition and President of the Australia New Zealand Obesity Society advocates for policy and regulatory reform, with a focus on food marketing, labelling and pricing measures.

Martin says the ultra-processed food industry frames the issue as a problem of parents and individuals, but it’s a system problem.

“These companies aren’t really paying for the harm that they cause so that’s where a health levy on sugary drinks comes in for example,” she said.

“Some of the money that these products are imposing such as on dental health and leading to overweight and obesity are being recouped for the cost of treating these diseases.”

After tobacco smoking, diet is the leading cause of the burden of disease followed by overweight and obesity at number three. Altogether this is a really big source of death and disease in our society.

Martin suggests stronger warnings on food packaging about high sugar, salt or fat content and stricter junk food advertising laws would be helpful in tackling the issue.

“Reducing exposure and the power of promotion so protecting children and putting a levy that tells people two things – It tells them the products’ harmful and it raises the price which stops a lot of people from buying those products,” she said.

Martin says she doesn’t think people know what’s healthy anymore outside of fruit and veg, there’s a lot of confusion about ready-made meals and manufactured foods like muesli bars. This is partly because the Australian Government haven’t promoted the Australian Dietary Guidelines as effectively as they could have.

“[Australians] are eating this food because it’s easy and it’s a much simpler decision. It’s hard to eat healthily, it’s a challenge for most people,” Martin said.

Main image by Dan Gold on Unsplash and all graphs created by Brianna O’Rourke.

Bully Romances – Not The Power Exchange You Think

Literary experts call romance fiction “a genre where women win” and bully romances are no different. Contrary to the negative schoolyard connotation, the sub-genre has gained increasing popularity over the last few years.

Bully is aimed at a large range of women between about 18 and 45 and is often accompanied by a trigger and 18 plus warning. The added drama creates extreme angst, tension and suspense.

Many bully books are on Kindle Unlimited and make for intriguing self-iso reads, while your social life is on the back-burner.

If you’re a stranger to this niche genre, then keep an open mind and consider the phrase in its most literal interpretation: ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’.

What the hell is bully romance?

These stories usually take place in an academic setting and have one or more antagonistic heroes.

Bully is often combined with reverse harem, a genre in which the heroine has several love interests and eventually ends up in a polyamorous relationship.

The hero generally hates everyone and everything (including the heroine at first) and is normally quite jaded.

The heroine is often a new addition to the school and is either a gutsy, defiant character with an ‘I-don’t-give-a-shit’ attitude. Or a more subdued, quiet personality who has to find the inner strength to stand up for themselves.

Delightfully, the heroine will often then pursue their revenge in a VERY satisfying way before she joins sides with her bully/bullies.

The group will usually face an outside adversary while the heroine becomes romantically involved with one or all of them.

Why on God’s green Earth would someone read that?

Well Karen, we asked some of the fans what traits suck them in to find out.

Samantha Ubaldo, 30, said she’s more character driven in stories than plot, and in bully romances there’s a lot of room for that development.

Ubaldo, a legal secretary and victim advocate, said, “You’d think I wouldn’t like to see bullying because I was always dealing with family violence, that’s why I need to see that progression to where it’s not an abusive relationship.”

Many readers mentioned the lack of ‘love at first sight’ or ‘soulmate’ tropes were a pull, and several recounted the intense emotions felt in bully.

Jennifer Allenback, 25, shared that she was bullied in high school and says reading this genre helped her be at peace with her bullies.

“A majority of the bullies in the books, the root of the cause was normally centred in home family environment, or even to fit in,” she said.

Professor Lindsay Herron, who teaches English at Gwangju National University in South Korea said the themes of bully romance revolve around strength, courage, and survival in the face of adversity.

So unsurprisingly, most fans required a strong heroine that didn’t take any bullshit.

Herron said, “We love to cheer for an underdog who overcomes the odds; such characters help us imagine we, too, can overcome whatever life throws at us.”

Power exchanges and defeating the patriarchy

According to Dr Jodi McAlister, lecturer in writing, literature and culture at Deakin University, the central pleasure in bully romance is about power, but not in the way you think.

McAlister described the sub-genre’s central idea as more the bully falling in love with the bullied character rather than the bullied one falling in love with their bully.

“[Women in romance novels] exist in a patriarchal structure where men have all the power but because these men fall in love with them, the women symbolically win the narrative,” she said.

It’s important to note that after the initial bullying there’s an integral second step to the fantasy, the power is subjugated to the one that was bullied. The bully character then has to win over the heroine, which as you could imagine can include some grovelling.

McAlister said, “I think [readers] are kind of interested in watching them squirm and seeing that power subjugated to the one that was bullied.”

She added that flipping the power dynamic in a relationship appears to be the central pleasure in the genre. This is the moment when the character with no power suddenly possesses all the power over the bully.

“There’s clearly substantial pleasures to be had in the genre otherwise there wouldn’t be a readership,” she said.

Jump down the rabbit hole of romance sub-genres

Silke Jahn, 40, founder of Romance.io, a site that allows users to filter particular tropes in romance down to the last detail explains how genres can evolve quickly.

In a typical display of supply and demand, Jahn said often if one particular trope or book is successful then more authors will write into the niche to reach a larger audience.

“If you look into the genesis of these tropes then they’re always evolving and so it’s something we have to be mindful of because meaning can slightly shift,” she said.

For example, bully romance used to fall under the dark romance umbrella, but the darker sub-genre has further evolved to encompass stories with dub-con (dubious consent) and even non-con (non-consent).

Jahn said she noticed both bully and reverse harem romances were becoming more popular.

“I do believe [the draw] is the cathartic element of the confrontation and then the hero having to do penance and having to win her back.”

Feminism and relationships with assholes

English Professor Lindsay Herron said some second-wave feminists like Janice Radway have argued that abusive heroes in romance novels encourage women to interpret abuse in their own relationships as stemming from (misguided) love.

Herron disagrees: “There’s a separation between fiction and reality, between what we enjoy experiencing vicariously, in fiction, and what we’re willing to accept in real life.”

“One can admire the heroine’s strength and force of will in the face of bullying without necessarily being willing to endure bullying or abuse in real life, just as people can play first-person shooter games and still be horrified by real-life school shootings.”

Silke Jahn, said it’s a question of how you view romance books.

“Do you view it as a: ‘they actually depict ideal relationships’ and hence you should model your own relationship after it, or do you view them as fantasies and say ‘it’s a great way to explore fantasies you might have’, and I do believe it’s the second one,” she said.

Jahn added that labelling something as a ‘high school bully romance’ makes it clear that what you’re going to read is abnormal behaviour.

It’s called out before you even open the book as something problematic, which allows the genre to deal with the problems in their fantasy relationships in a more conscious way.

“In a way, it’s less problematic than seeing normalised sexist relationships in other media such as films, where you have a million examples of really problematic behaviour but that’s just being represented as normal or standard,” Jahn said.

Have you read any bully romances lately? Take a look at the Goodreads shelf and let us know what you think in the comments.

Cutting Hair Isn’t Saving Lives But It’s Definitely Something

There has been a lot of confusion surrounding hairdressers as an essential service after a 30 minute time limit was imposed last month and then removed three days later.

However, salons and barbers must still abide by the one person per 4 square metres rule.

The confusion continued leaving some hairdressers feeling guilty for remaining open and their clients shamed for going.

Lauren Weller, 38, owner of Hair Oasis on the Central Coast runs her salon out of a studio at the back of her property.

She says there’s a lot of guilt about people keeping their hair appointments at the moment.

“I’ve had clients sitting in the chair say that they feel really bad that they haven’t seen their own family members, but they’ve come here to my home.”

“I feel bad too, in some ways because I’m still open,” she said.

Lauren Weller’s Instagram post thanking her clients during a difficult time.

Lauren says there are a lot of people in the hairdressing online community that are against salons being open at all.

The Australian Hairdressing Council started a petition in March to close all hairdressing salons as a part of the social restrictions to limit the coronavirus outbreak.

Many hairdressers have closed since, despite still being included in the essential services list.

Lauren works from home in a studio disconnected from her house, however, finds this can be more difficult sometimes.

It’s a bit of a blurred line as you’re not allowed visitors in your home, she explained.

“I’ve got visitors coming to my home but it’s my place of business as well,” she said.

Similar to other business owners, Lauren has increased her frequency and intensity of cleaning in order to remain open.

Things like door handles, furniture, hair clips and brushes are now disinfected twice a day instead of the pre-pandemic every few days.

However, multiple clients have had to cancel their appointments.

“They [clients] have cancelled their appointments and are hoping to return when everything goes back to normal,” Lauren said.

This is a for a few reasons, such as some of the over 60s clients worrying about leaving their house at all.

Some have had to cancel simply because their kids are at home distance learning.

They can’t bring them to the appointment because of physical distancing restrictions which only allow her and two clients in the salon at once she says.

Lauren says one regular with Emphysema has cancelled her appointment because she was worried what others in the salon would think of her coughing.

However, those that keep coming back are mainly trying to support Lauren’s business during these uncertain times.

“The majority of my clients have been coming to me for a long time so they know a lot about me, they know my struggles and they know how many hours I’ve put into running my business.”

“I think people’s minds are put at ease knowing the type of person I am.”

Lauren Weller

She says that she believes all clients to date have been honest with her and have cancelled if they’ve felt ill at all.

Working as a home hairdresser has given her more autonomy with her clients.

“I can control who comes in and they all respect that I have a family and that they’re coming into my family home or at least my salon that’s on my family block of land,” she said.

Joy Hulley, 53, a regular at Hair Oasis continues going to the salon because “it’s time for yourself.”

“You’re going directly from your car and into the salon, so there’s no shopping mall to walk through.”

Joy says she trusts her hairdresser as “she’s very diligent in her cleaning” and she’d “like to help her out with her business.”

Zeinab Arjah, 22, just got a new colour at her local salon and says how her hair looks effects her self-esteem.

“I love it, it makes me feel confident.”

Zeinab still likes going to a hairdresser because “you can talk to them about anything.”

She says she mostly enjoyed it because it was different to her normal repetitiveness while self-isolating.

“You’re mingling with people, you’re socialising, and it feels normal,” she said.

Main image by Cesar Saravia on Unsplash.

Top Tips to Remain Sane During the Pandemic

Originally published on Hatch.

Although the novel coronavirus is a respiratory based illness, social distancing measures taken to control the virus are wearing on our mental health too, write Brianna O’Rourke and Dinita Rishal.

Many people across the nation have taken to expressing the term as ‘physical distancing’ in an effort to highlight that though we may stand 1.5m apart we still stand together.

But social distancing has left many Australians without their usual coping strategies in times of stress.

A recent YouGov survey found one in two Aussies felt isolated, one in four said it put their relationship under strain and 57 per cent of the nation felt generally stressed due to the pandemic.

Impacts of Covid-19 (Art: Dinita Rishal)

Professor Patrick McGorry, psychiatrist and former Australian of the Year, says it’s not just the threat of the virus it’s actually the responses that are necessary to deal with it that are wreaking havoc.

“Everybody’s affected but there’s a sub-group of people that will be pushed over the edge over the next few weeks and months,” he said.

“We will see a big surge in need for care and the mental health system is not well prepared for it. We’ve got time to prepare, just like we had time to prepare for the physical risks of the virus.

“We now have, I would say, a few weeks to really get our act together to really strengthen our mental health system and deal with this.”

The YouGov survey also revealed one in five Australians are buying more alcohol than usual during the pandemic, that 70 per cent are drinking more than normal and a third are consuming alcohol everyday.

McGorry says anxiety is the driver in many forms of mental health and the simplest way people are dealing with their anxiety is booze.

This actually causes harm in itself and “so we have to offer better options to reduce general anxiety”.

Sarah Hosking, a clinical psychologist with the Psychology Board of Australia says there could be multiple mental health impacts of the coronavirus.

She says anxieties associated with catching the illness and the stress of vulnerable relatives being at risk are both likely.

In addition, financial and economic stress will become more common alongside fears of job loss.

Hosking also mentioned the different Medicare numbers that anyone having a hard time mentally may contact.

“The local mental health network is also encouraging tele-health sessions via Skype,” she said.

The Australian Psychological Society (APS) has released reports to aid people with pandemic anxiety.

APS’s tips for coping with coronavirus anxiety revolve around positive mentality and keeping things in perspective.

They advise you to change your mindset and ask yourself the below questions rather than imagining the worst-case scenario:

  • Am I getting ahead of myself, assuming something bad will happen when I really don’t know the outcome? (Remind yourself that the actual number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in Australia is extremely low)
  • Am I overestimating how bad the consequences will be? (Remember, illness due to coronavirus infection is usually mild and most people recover without needing specialised treatment)
  • Am I underestimating my ability to cope? (Sometimes thinking about how you would cope, even if the worst were to happen, can help you put things into perspective)

During these abnormal times of self isolation there are othervmeasures you can take to cope with the difficulty of a lockdown the APS says.

They suggest you try to stay connected as positive social interactions are essential for our mental health.

“This can be as simple as phoning a friend to share your experience, using videoconferencing technology to check in with a family member, or spending quality time with the people you live with.”

Australian Psychological Society

The APS advises you to structure and plan out your day while in iso, “to restore a sense of purpose and normality to your daily life”.

You should change out of your PJs every morning, have a dedicated workspace, and limit distractions.

When WFH it’s easy to lose motivation so setting a strict schedule and clearly defining work hours allows you to switch off when needed.

Self isolating with other individuals 24/7 can give rise to arguments and tension.

APS suggests sharing positive emotions between housemates and communicating your worries and concerns among each other.

Written with Dinita Rishal.

Main image by Tumisu/Pixabay.

Is Rainbow Capitalism the Villain or Hero of the Gay Pride Story?

Originally published on Hatch Macleay.

Rainbow, or pink capitalism has divided the queer community becoming as prevalent as the commercialisation of Christmas.

A term that refers to the integration of the LGBTQI movement and sexual diversity to marketing campaigns for commercial gain, it can clearly be seen in the weeks leading up to last weekend’s Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras and the upcoming Pride Month.

All of a sudden rainbow flags hang in every shopfront, colourful heart stickers decorate the walls and pride merch fills the shelves.

Then just as suddenly the flags come down and rainbow stock goes on sale so where is the support the other 10 months of the year?

A 21-year-old gay trans man, who wished to remain anonymous for personal reasons, says pride has moved away from an actual celebration of LGBTQI pride.

“[It] feels like something that any big corporation or political party is out to jump in on in order to make an extra dollar or get an extra vote,” he said.

The Clover Moore Independent Team float. (Photo: Brianna O’Rourke)

“It’s not about the pride. They don’t care about the homophobic and transphobic violence that still very much happens around Australia and it’s, honestly, vile.”

He described it as “abhorrent” companies he claimed were openly anti-gay courting the gay community or virtue signalling during Pride Month and then disappearing for the rest of the year. As bad were the ones that made no effort at all, he added.

“They post rainbows around their stores and ask queer folk to buy their stuff because, ‘they have rainbows in their windows they’re true allies’ yet none of that money goes to funds for struggling queer people.”

“It’s only as potential consumers that we have value to corporations.”

Emma Kantz, 23

But some of the key Mardi Gras sponsors denied they just paid lip service to the gay community when it suited them.

In a statement to Hatch a spokesperson for Vodafone, the official mobile service sponsor of the Mardi Gras, said they actively support the LGBTQI community through their Connect Network, an employee-run committee which leads initiatives and activities.

“Mardi Gras is just one of our many activities and initiatives to show our support for the LGBT+ community, and our LGBT+ employees tell us that this means a lot to them,” the spokesperson said.

This was the third year Vodafone sponsored and participated in the Mardi Gras parade.

Vodafone said they have also donated devices to the Pinnacle Foundation, sponsored the Australian LGBTI Awards and run internal activities to celebrate their employees.

The Vodafone float in the Mardi Gras parade. (Photo: Brianna O’Rourke)

An ANZ spokesperson told Hatch that they’ve participated in the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras for 18 years now and have been the principal partner since 2014.

“We’ve also provided a total of $200,000 to 30 LGBTIQ+ community groups over the past two years as part of the ANZ Mardi Gras Grants Program,” they said.

ANZ said their involvement in Mardi Gras is one of the many ways they demonstrate the importance they place on diversity in the workplace and the community.

“This sponsorship supports our own ANZ Pride Network and since taking up the principal partnership, we’ve seen significant increases in the numbers of staff identifying as LGBTIQ+.”

Participants in the ANZ float at the Mardi Gras parade. (Photo: Brianna O’Rourke)

We do not suggest that either Vodafone or ANZ have misrepresented their participation in events like Mardi Gras or campaigns surrounding it.

In a statement to SBS News, the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras defended their sponsors and explained the ratio of sponsored to LGBTQI community groups.

“Mardi Gras has strict guidelines that require 90 per cent of the parade is LGBTQI community groups and organisations. Only 10 per cent of the parade is made up of partner floats – each and every year.”

“Organisations we partner with go through a selection process via independent committee to make sure they align with the Mardi Gras charter and have robust diversity and inclusion programs to further workplace protections for LGBTIQ communities and to celebrate the importance of diversity in the workplace.”

Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras statement

However, many young queer people still believe rainbow capitalism is only beneficial if the proceeds go directly to charities that support LGBTQI groups.

Maddie Mackey, 21, says the fact Mardi Gras went from a riot to a celebration is great but that it turned into a capitalistic circus “sucks”.

“I only like rainbow capitalism when the proceeds go to a charity for gay people which is really just being a decent human being,” she said.

Sarah Lawson, a 21-year-old bisexual, said: ” I personally think rainbow capitalism is really soulless and transparent – unless it’s followed up by a business actually donating to and supporting actual community LGBTIQ+ causes consistently.”

Cailey Raine, a 21-year-old queer uni student, agrees that if businesses are involved they should donate to LGBTQI organisations.

“[Businesses should] make some kind of tangible commitment to making a difference instead of just profiting off the idea of making a difference,” she said.

The Qantas float in the Mardi Gras parade. (Photo: Brianna O’Rourke)

“I’m not completely opposed to it, I think even shallow representation helps promote acceptance in society even if corporations are profiting from it at least they’re promoting positive ideas.”

The next LGBTQI celebration is Pride Month in June to commemorate the Stonewall riots in 1969.

It’s Like Christmas Just Threw Up in There

Originally published on Hatch.

Self-proclaimed head elf Leanne de Smet, 60, is working through her 40th festive season at the Bredbo Christmas Barn with husband Neville.

The pair had two permanent locations and several pop-up Christmas stores across Canberra before moving their business to Bredbo, a tiny village south of Canberra on the Monaro Highway in 2005.

Thousands step through the red and green striped walls of their ‘Christmas Barn’ each festive season and Leanne and Neville must prepare for a festive assault on the senses with thousands of different ornaments, Christmas trees in every shade and hundreds of cheery Santas.

The red ornament section at Bredbo Christmas Barn (Photo: Brianna O’Rourke)

Leanne, 60, says the success of the business comes from having a large range of great quality stock; a large majority that they import themselves and some she has personally designed and made, as well as their very personal service.

“I have a growing number of elves who work with us in store, assisting our customers and Neville and I are in the shop pretty much every day we are open,” she adds.

Customers browsing ornaments at Bredbo Christmas Barn (Photo: Brianna O’Rourke)

“We love meeting every customer, so many have become true Christmas friends over the years some dating back to when we first opened.

“We have their children and even some of their grandchildren shopping with us now.”

Leanne says return customers, new customers finding out about the barn by word of mouth, through Facebook and Instagram, or simply by driving past keep the business growing.

Unlike many retail establishments during this time Leanne says all their customers are extremely positive, the negative ones don’t come as it’s a trip to see the store wherever customers live and they travel from all over Australia.

A sign at the entrance of Bredbo Christmas Barn with details of entry. (Photo: Brianna O’Rourke).

The Bredbo Christmas Barn specialises in internal displays rather than outdoor and sells everything you could imagine for the season, stocking more than 10,000 different tree ornaments each year.

“We have all price points, but I like to carry beautiful pieces that will be passed on over the years, and become family heirlooms,” says Leanne.

A customer browsing the white ornament section. (Photo: Brianna O’Rourke)

The barn stocks several limited-edition collections such as Katherine’s an American designer with an exquisite attention to detail in their life-sized Santas that can retail up to $3000. This compares to some 45cm tall Santas Leanne designs herself and which sell for $49.95.

Christmas is increasingly commercialised but Leanne says she doesn’t think this has warped the meaning of the holiday at all.

“Yes, I want our customers to buy our fabulous pieces, that way I can continue to buy more every year too but I’m encouraging my customers to replicate that magical feeling in their homes, to start family traditions, and make wonderful memories for their children, their family and friends, to share and reminisce about over the years,” she adds.

A display of reindeer figures and other ornamental decorations. (Photo: Brianna O’Rourke)

“Christmas doesn’t have to be about the presents, although the odd sparkly bit of compressed coal, is always something nice to find at the bottom of my stocking.

“It’s about surrounding yourselves with loved ones, and if the house happens to look amazing, decorated to the 9’s and 10’s, that is a jolly good bonus.”

A blue-themed Christmas tree amongst other decorations at the barn. (Photo: Brianna O’Rourke).

Leanne says Christmas is all about celebrating family, for some that may be the Holy family and for others their own family both relatives and chosen.

The de Smets plan to spend a casual day with family, a feast of food, bubbles and good conversation while FaceTiming their daughter and two grandchildren who are holidaying in America.

Libraries of The Future Are Actually Here – Now!

Originally published on Hatch.

Boasting an ideas lab where customers can attend a variety of workshops including coding, robotics, virtual reality and school holiday maker sessions, Sydney’s latest library is a far cry from the dusty old buildings of the past.

Located across two floors of the innovative nest-like Exchange at the south end of Darling Harbour and designed by world-renowned architect Kengo Kuma, it also features a market hall, rooftop bar, restaurant and childcare centre.

The lord mayor of Sydney, Clover Moore described it as a ‘spiralling light-filled hive, wrapped in 20 kilometres of sustainably sourced timber’.

The six-storey Exchange is at the centre of the new neighbourhood of Darling Square between Haymarket and Darling Harbour.

Ground level of the Exchange (Photo: Brianna O’Rourke)

Despite the idea that print books are going out of style and libraries are a thing of the past Mrs Moore said: “At the city, we know how much well-designed and well thought out libraries add to our communities and how loved and appreciated they are by those communities”.

She added libraries were important community hubs that have moved on as society has moved on.

“Public libraries are now being recognised as cultural destinations along with museums and galleries and in a time of rabid population growth they provide much needed space for people to connect, to learn and to relax,” said Mrs Moore.

The Darling Square library is open seven days a week and provides access to over 30,000 items including a large Asian literature collection.

Person in a Very Hungry Caterpillar suit (Photo: Brianna O’Rourke).

The children’s area will have regular bilingual rhyme and story time sessions that cater for the diverse Sydney community.

“This is a state of the art library, it has spaces for ideas and creativity with an ideas lab which includes a multipurpose space for meetings and conferences and the dedicated maker-space,” said Mrs Moore.

She added the ideas lab will support local technology and creative start-ups by providing access to resources and a variety of specialist equipment and materials like 3D printers and laser cutters.

The maker-space at Darling Square library (Photo: Brianna O’Rourke).

“We’re going to put on a program of workshops, seminars and events for kids, teens and adults to create, to invent, to tinker and to explore, and to provide opportunities for participants to up-skill, to share knowledge and to network,” said Mrs Moore.

A Banksy Exhibition Without Banksy?

Originally published on Hatch.

A new exhibition on Banksy has come to Sydney and in true fashion is causing controversy over whether or not the secretive street artist is actually involved in it.

It’s titled The Art of Banksy An Unauthorised Exhibition but questions remain whether this is just a marketing gimmick to fit in with the artist’s anti-authority image.

The England-based artist is well known for his satirical graffiti pieces and his anonymity, and the collection is the largest of Banksy originals ever to be shown in Australia.

The value of Banksy’s work has skyrocketed after his painting Devolved Parliament, depicting British parliamentarians as chimpanzees, sold for a record breaking $18,607,506 in London earlier this month.

The exhibition features 80 pieces of Banksy’s original work and includes pop culture icons Girl with Red Balloon, Pulp Fiction and Rude Copper.

Girl with Balloon (Photo: Brianna O’Rourke)

Exhibition curators are adamant it really is unauthorised.

Chris Ford, co-curator, described it as more of an overview of Banksy’s artwork produced in the studio and largely donated from a series of private collectors.

“The behind the scenes process of how these artworks came to life, is often not very well publicised so it means that was a part of the story that we wanted to try and uncover a little bit more about,” Ford said.

Previously Banksy’s anonymity hadn’t allowed for this deeper exploration behind his art as he had to keep his identity secret to avoid arrest.

Ford believes this has meant people develop their own idea of who the artist is by looking at his work.

“I think it’s quite a powerful element to his pictures because it gives people the opportunity to have their own idea, to create their own sort of superhero for want of a better word,” he said.

An original Laugh Now Barcode (Photo: Brianna O’Rourke)

Ford says the show is put together with the greatest respect for Banksy’s work and the unauthorised nature of it hasn’t put off many fans so far.

“It’s one of those things that because he’s associated with such controversy, people are always looking for something to make a fuss out of and the unauthorised nature of it seems to be one of those pieces,” he added.

This is not the first exhibition of Banksy’s work to proceed without any contact or permissions with the artist himself.

In August last year, Banksy publicly denied any affiliation with an exhibition in Moscow announcing on Instagram via a screen grab that he would never charge people to see his art.

However, he admitted in the same screen grab that he is perhaps not the best person to complain about people putting up pictures without getting permission.

The Art of Banksy An Unauthorised Exhibition is located at The Entertainment Quarter in Moore Park, Sydney.

Currently booking tickets up to December 1. For more information CLICK HERE

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