Attended my first mass today. Church is church, they sang some songs, children fidgeted and ritual cannibalism was practiced.

What struck me though, was why is it that Australian churches are so ugly?

Maybe I’ve been listening to too much De Botton but the construction and layout of a space is very important to how we treat it and how we feel within it. Australian churches are from my admittedly limited experience overwhelmingly ugly.  Resembling as they so often do, municipal amenities buildings with ‘modern’ pipe framed steeples, or fiberboard 70’s spaceships dropped from considerable height. I have been in a generous estimate maybe fifteen Australian churches in my life and maybe to or three times that many elsewhere in the world. Perhaps my visits have not been characteristic but they are my anecdotal experience.

The Church I was in today is a lovely red brick classical nave with white crenelated turrets and a vaulted wooden ceiling. But… everything within it was shabby, kitch and often fake. Clearly the church has in the past had a wealthy and active congregation. These days however the impression is of hastily completed repairs and half measures, dodgy AC units sitting out of plumb on walls whose paint is marred by the cord marks and paint chips left by the removal of the previous and the the sagging conduit lazily tacked on to provide power. The tacky and now probably half a century old electric votive candle stand. The mishmash of Christ imagery. Here a screen printed British medieval madonna and child on a one piece vac formed plastic frame and canvas. There are poorly painted three quarter scale plaster of Christ offering benediction luridly painted but for his alabaster skin in a manner that recalls the recreation of how the Greek classical sculptures may have looked. The signs of the cross hung at uneven spacing around the hall. The whole set dish cast in waxy green/grey resin. All of left me kind of saddened at the state the building has been allowed to wallow into. Where is the glory?



It is not fair to compare the local church with far more impressive European equivalents many centuries older than the local but I still found the whole experience underwhelming. Compounded no doubt by having to repeatedly shush impatient and bored seven year olds around me.

I am looking forward to some days back in the secular system in term two. As grateful as I am for the work I’ve had and the days I’ve already locked in at the catholic for next term. I am very clear that religious education is not my home.


A reminder that the game I am working on as well as some others from the mind of Jack will be available for playtesting this weekend at this event. 

No creative output so far today other than designing a new art activity off the cuff in class this morning.  The plan called for colouring pre-printed .jpg artifact ridden grey mandalas during religion time. I had students draw their own by tracing around the edges of interesting shaped objects within the classroom in black marker to make mostly radially symmetrical patterns which they then coloured in. Some pretty results though I didn’t think to take photos unfortunately.



Juvenile #truebug with great #pareidolia on its back. 10mm #hermiptera #insect #macro

A photo posted by @liatach on

On Homophobia


A workout, another trip to the NSW transport office as they forgot to photocopy the licence they cut a hole in yesterday and a lesson for two brothers this afternoon.

The new solid state hard disk arrived with the morning post. So far three attempts to clone the old drive have failed due to system restarts. A few more tries are necessary before we give up. Investigating things for my ‘Best Man’ responsibilities this evening.


An hour or two each devoted to the Castle card and my story book today. Found reference images for every illustration page of the book. Sorted out the line weight issue and fixed an area as well as making progress elsewhere in the image.


Watched ‘What We Do In The Shadows’ last night. It was certainly quite funny at times, but I was hoping for better. Maybe I just don’t find that kind of thing as amusing anymore. Plenty of the gags rely on the gruesome nature of vampiric survival and lots of those fell a bit flat with N and I. The rolling set fight scene was pretty impressive and the characters were very well realised. Maybe earlier in the vampire hype train it would have been better received.

Up to episode three of ‘The man in the high castle‘ judgement reserved for now.


Homophobia is looming large in the media this afternoon as our prime minister has made the deplorable decision to give into the lunar right in his party and initiate an investigation into The Safe Schools Coalition.

I was bullied in school. Specifically I was called ‘gay’ from year 6 until I left to attend Tafe after year 10. That was a pretty miserable time and although I no longer bear a chip on my shoulder about them I have little desire to know or rebuild relationships with many of my high school peers. I know others who still bear the emotional scars from high school decades later. The fact that I am not and have never identified as gay didn’t help matters any at the time. Nor for that matter did the fact that thanks to my upbringing I didn’t consider being gay as in any way wrong, I had gay relatives and family friends after all. The bullies found a label that worked and stuck to it. Nothing, even obvious evidence to the contrary swayed their opinion of me. Bullying wasn’t at the time even acknowledged as a thing schools should be acting on, this was pre-columbine after all. The pendulum has certainly swung on that one. Though having done quite a lot of reading on the topic the best management strategy I know of is “The Method of Shared Concern“. Like many such issues prohibition and punishment doesn’t solve the problem.

Homophobia is still rife in Australian education systems. There has certainly been a growing acceptance and permissiveness for bi, gay and lesbian students within the cities, trans and other students less so. However even at the primary level it is not yet accepted as ‘normal’ and children so desperately want to be just that. Rural areas are seemingly a few years behind culturally.

I now take it as a practical law of nature that the more rabidly homophobic a public figure is the more likely they are to be compensating for an insatiable lust for buggery. I have zero problem with politicians having wild kinky sex in a manner that fulfills them. But I take deep issue with hypocrites who use their positions to hold back social progress and actively limit the rights of other citizens. Someday I feel sure, Senator Bernardi will be exposed and I will toast his downfall.

Suicide is the leading cause of death for young men in Australia. Attacking the organisations working to foster mindfulness, inclusion and acceptance in our schools is shameful behaviour.

But then what else could we expect from this government (Sally McManus’s page came down under a sustained DDOS).

Turnbull is after all selling the same policies as his maligned predecessor, he’s just a better salesman.



Art, Memory and Mortality

A day spent with my boys. A trip to the library, some paperwork and the first meeting with some new clients: A pair of boys fresh from Brisbane over the holidays just like us.

Fbook, by minor coincidence put me in touch with friend of my father and mentor Brandon Cavallari (Gallery Link). He shared a pic of one of my works from childhood, in his house. I went looking for and found this in mine:


‘Fire of Henelon’ Acrylic. 5″x7″ 1984 aged 6.

Painted in Brandon’s studio of the time somewhere in Sydney. I remember the day and my cousin Caitlin is still slightly resentful that I used all the red and yellow before she was even really started, leaving her canvas a little ah, drab by comparison. Also proof that little boys taste in topics hasn’t changed that much in the past few hundred years. 

We exchanged a few more pictures including these two of Brandon’s:


This one of my father although laminated for protection is badly faded. I think it’s from when we lived in Balmain so about the same period as my painting above.


My friends father’s passing reminded me of an essay extract I read in Tell Me No Lies of the extraordinary The American Way of Death. Let me say with absolute certainty that I do not want an open casket funeral when my time comes. In fact the quicker you can get me mixing (hygienically) with the biosphere the better. I take great comfort in knowing that my atoms once belonged to stars and will again someday.

Trying to get that terrain card over and done with now. Oh and I’ve some Hallmarkish cards to produce as well.


Last day of school today. Clean up day for me involves teaching children to scrub, wipe and dry their plastic tidy trays. It is a pet peeve that in many classrooms many of their desk drawers start the year still coated with finger grease on the outside, and still soapy from the futile wiping at the graphite stains on the interior. I have sytems people! Pick your role wipe, scrub or dry and if it gets to the end dirty… Send it back. Astonishing how few children are seemingly made to do the dishes at home. I loathed the job as a child and have never really grown out of that, but I knew damn well how to do it, even if it was not without complaint.

I was disappointed by one interaction this afternoon. A sweet student was clearly in a sad state and I was unable to cheer her up before goodbyes. She has been being excluded by a bunch of little cows, too ‘popular’ to include her and creating divisions among her core friendships. A sad way to break for the year.

At our teacher’s feast the staff farewelled a bunch of teachers old and new, including a retiring deputy who had been in education since 1968 and your’s truly who plans to return. Astonishing to think of a career in one job longer than my lifetime. Practically unthinkable today, as is retirement before senescence for my generation.

My father called shortly before the bell this morning bearing terrible news. My uncle Jefferey had died overnight. Although not a young man, nor it must be said, a particularly healthy one. His passing is unexpected and tragic. He is survived by his wife Judith, his daughter Jenny and his twin brother Michael.

Jefferey was a cantankerous, cynical old bastard and I loved him. I was dearly looking forward to evenings of drinking, smoking and talking shit with with him during our upcoming visit to Scotland next year. I have a number of fond memories of him and his and my aunt’s houses. I dearly wish I could be there to see him off with my cousin and aunt. Sending much love to those who need it from N & I.

Working on a card tonight.


Brought to you by the letter T and the number 15



Cooperative art by L and I on free commission as part of a project for L’s daycare center. Over the past day and a half we have swum in a river, eaten good food, drunk plenty of coffee, been given even more toys for the boys. We have collected leaves and flowers, painted and tonight I have been choosing challenging craft activities for the rotations this week.   Sebastian the dog, who huffs and puffs all day and all night long now. F overcame his mortal terror of dogs enough to pat Seb today.IMG_20151129_125037  

These two are proving to be some of this year’s most amusing discoveries:


Image credit to user Torridon_Snails of

I have been stewing on this idea for a while and last night I settled on the URL.

I like sharing stuff, but I don’t like Facebook very much (freebooting in particular has become a pet peeve), I’ve never succeeded in making Twitter habitual. Facebook is kind of inescapable and I’ve no intention of cutting myself of from it any time soon however, I want ownership of my posts and feed in a way Facebook will not provide. So I intend to primarily share via this platform for now. I’ll post here daily to begin with but not all posts here will be shared to FB by default.

This blog is also to serve as a kind of accountability check for myself. I need a place for the kind of reflective record keeping that could be called I diary. I need it to serve a greater purpose than a live journal though. I am a creative, very much an ideas man and plenty crafty with my hands too. My biggest issue is that I struggle to see projects through to completion or for that matter to put enough time into my creative endeavors during the hum drum of school term working weeks. I have a number of projects and ideas I would really like to see through. Sharing progress publicly adds stakes, stakes are sometimes all it takes.

As for the title, I am named for the mountain Liathach on the north west coast of Scotland, Liatach is my middle name. According to my personal mythology my father climbed Liathach as part of some cadet like activity when he was sixteen (Confirmed by serendipitous fatherly phone call during the composition of this post). It left a profound impression on him, so much so that he gave his firstborn the name. I in turn gave it to my first born as well. Dad took my sister and I to climb it when I was fifteen and my sister was only ten, none of us has yet been up the final thirty metres to the mountains true peak. Liathach is one of the rarer set of munro that can be climbed direct from sea level. The day we climbed we saw a seal frolicking in the kelp in the bay below before turning to face the mountain which has in turn left its mark on me.

Photos from user Torridon_snails  of: 

The view West from the lower peak. I was last at this point 22 years ago, long before ubiquitous digital photography. I suspect dad has at least an image or two from the climb in hard copy somewhere.


The view East to the true peak. I was, in a truly fifteen year old fashion, petulantly furious that dad wouldn’t let us make the traverse to the true peak. Remembering the 10 year old sister who made it up to this point with probably less complaint than I and looking at the path ahead. I now understand completely dad.