Monday, September 24, 2012

Canberra, Capital of Art

Aussies tend to complain about their capital city, a lot. Canberra is viewed as a rather boring compromise, which has been reached mainly to avoid choosing between Sydney and Melbourne. Visitors however, tend to appreciate the city’s open spaces and the sights, of which there are quite a few. But what Canberra does really well is art, and here are a few reasons why it’s worth checking it out on that account.

National Gallery of Australia

This is a huge, representative and ultramodern space with all the bells and whistles, but what this particular gallery does best is bring some of the most spectacular artworks from overseas for exhibit in Australia. To give you an example, from 14 December this year you’ll be able to appreciate an extensive collection of works by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, as he documented the world of turn of 19th century Paris. Previous exhibitions included the fabulous impressionists and art of the renaissance, and there are ongoing exhibits of local artists as well as interesting symposia and lectures. What the NGA is not so good at is sharing; so get your cheap flights to Canberra as either you come here to see it, or you miss out completely.

National Portrait Gallery

It may look a little like a bunker, but the NPG offers a great insight into Australia, through the focus on individuals that helped shape the country’s history, politics, social policy, culture and the arts. There are over 400 portraits here, ranging from centrepieces, like John Webber’s 1782 portrait of Captain James Cook and Ned Kelly's death mask to Howard Arkley’s iconic depiction of musician Nick Cave. You can also catch excellent temporary exhibits at the gallery, like the current “Elegance in exile: Portrait Drawings from Colonial Australia.”

National Museum Australia

If you are more interested in Australia’s history, visit the National Museum Australia, which offers a well rounded perspective on Australia’s social history. Here you’ll be able to not only have a look at art from different periods, but also discover various colonial artefacts, including 19th century clothing, as well as domestic items and even beautiful historic cars! There is also an extensive focus on the country’s indigenous culture, including exhibits of work by contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists.

Canberra Glassworks

This is a lovely and unique place perfect for those, who like their arts more hands-on. Situated in the historic Kingston Powerhouse, the Glassworks offer not only exhibits from professional glass artists, whom you can see actually at work, but you can also take entry-level glass making classes yourself and create your own piece, be it a bird, a bauble or the more traditional paperweight. Free tours are available on the weekends at 11 am.
The short list above is just the tip of the iceberg of course, as there is plenty more to explore, including Canberra Museum and Gallery, The Gallery Of Australian Design, Contemporary Arts Space, many private galleries and for the little ones…the National Dinosaur Museum, whose animatronic dinosaurs can probably pass for art of its very own kind!

Patricia Bieszk is a freelance writer, who is very fond of travel as well as the arts.

Monday, September 17, 2012

The Turkish Culture and Color Palettes

Embroidery has long since been a part of Turkish life, even dating back to centuries ago when needlework and handlooms were the way of life. In the days of the Ottoman Empire, embroidery and handlooms were extremely important as they were used to create headscarves, kaftans, robes, headgear, belts, handkerchiefs, and various other items that were needed and worn on a daily basis. At the same time, these techniques and embroidered patterns were also used to create palace furnishings including cushion covers, curtains, throne covers, and even rugs and mats for the floor. One of the most notable facts about Turkish embroidery is that it was a part of life for everyone from the richest of the rich to the poorest of the poor. The embroidery was a simple way to add touches of color to almost everything.

The Golden Days
Back in the 16th century, one of the most prominently used colors in the Turkish culture was gold. Often times these gold threads were used to create couches and other types of furniture that truly gleamed in shined a golden color. The golden thread was used to add a beautiful embroidered pattern to what used to be simple satin-covered furnishing. The same gold thread was also used on horse covers, saddles, bow bags, as well as for clothing. Over time the golden thread would be accompanied by rubies, pearls, and other beautiful additions.

Adding More Color
Overtime different Turkish groups began experimenting with new colors and materials. In the late 16th century and on, colored silks became extremely popular, especially silks that were ruby red, blue, pink, and pistachio green. Even during these later times, gold thread still found its place throughout Turkish embroidery. Silks were used to create bedspreads as well as clothing. While gold thread still had its place, more design-filled embroideries, thanks to Chinese influence, became more common. Roses, tulips, carnations, and hyacinths were all widely used for embroidery patterns during the late 16th century.

The 17th Century and On
The late 16th century all but opened the flood gates for new influences on Turkish embroidery as well as color palates. New plant and floral motifs became extremely popular, along with medallions. Brick red and darker greens replaced pistachio green and ruby red. From the 17th century and on, the Turkish culture and color palate would grow, adding new styles of arranging floral and plant embroidery and colors would become much deeper but still earth tones that still gave off a sense of royalty and uniqueness.

Today’s Turkish Culture
Like most ancient cultures, the Turkish culture of today definitely isn’t what it used to be. Old traditions have died hard and new embroidery techniques have taken over. Rarely will you find woven textiles or other items that were made by hand using traditional weaving patterns. However, you’ll find true Turkish culture and color palates embedded into Turkish towels. These towels are made by hand looms and are crafted using old techniques and methods that allow for durable, luxurious, and long lasting Turkish towels.

If you want a little piece of Turkish flavor in your home, check out Turkish-t's hand loomed Turkish towels.

Friday, September 14, 2012

How are Fireworks Used Across the World?

Celebrate Good Times

Fireworks #1
Fireworks #1 (Photo credit: Camera Slayer)
Of course the main purpose of fireworks is as a means of celebration. Whether it be for a birthday party, or a general occasion such as a national holiday, for example, it is very regular to see fireworks used as the central focus of any party.
We looked at how fireworks are used in various countries around the world, and why they are significant.

Bonfire Night

The obvious one is in the United Kingdom, where every year on the 5th of November the foiling of the Gunpowder Plot is celebrated by burning an effigy and lighting fireworks. The burning of an effigy is perhaps a little sinister in the 21st Century, however Bonfire Night is a tradition that is looked forward to and enjoyed by almost everyone, except domestic animals who get very scared and withdrawn when they hear the at times ferocious noises!

United States

Although you might have thought that the biggest and best firework displays are reserved for American 4th of July celebrations, the biggest display in the country actually takes place at the opening of the Kentucky Derby racing festival.
Fireworks have been popular in the United States for many centuries, and their use can be traced back to the earliest settlers arriving in the country.
At Walt Disney resorts across the country, they use innovative fireworks that explode using compressed air rather than gunpowder. This enables them to produce much more spectacular displays and have a greater degree of control over the accuracy and timing of fireworks.

Japanese Festivals

If you love fireworks then I suggest you take a trip to Japan during the summer months. At this time of year fireworks are massively popular and demonstrations are held almost every day. There are over 200 fireworks displayed held in the month of August alone!
These public displays are basically street parties where everyone is invited. Many attract up to one million spectators, and there are many Japanese food stalls and other exciting things set up to enjoy.


In Singapore, like in many Far Eastern countries, fireworks are popular the whole year round. However, their widest use is undoubtedly reserved for National Singapore Day, which falls in August of each year. Large public displays attract thousands of spectators and are often accompanied by other entertainment such as musicians, or made into fireworks “competitions” where teams compete to create the most awe inspiring display.

This article is written by Fireworks Crazy, an ecommerce website that supplies the best quality fireworks for that special occasion.

The Beauty of Natural Stone Tile

casing stone
casing stone (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Natural stone has a long history of use throughout the world. Marble, granite and onyx architecture predates the birth of Christ. The Egyptian and Romans were some of the first to use mined stones throughout their cities and cultures alike. Not only were these natural stone elements used in homes but also to entomb some of their highest council.

Many times the terms of natural stone are confused with one another. This is especially true with marble, granite, quartz and onyx. Other natural stone terminology which is confusing includes travertine which is commonly thought of as being a manmade stone. Travertine is a limestone based natural element. It's formed around mineral springs, hot springs and caves including those at Yellowstone National Park. One of the largest areas of use for Travertine is Italy where it's often mined for construction of buildings. The world famous Colosseum is the largest building made entirely of travertine. It was built during the Roman Empire starting in 72 A.D. And took a total of 24 years to construct and modify for use as an Amphitheater.

Marble is another natural element that was made famous by the Roman Empire. This natural stone is also created from limestone which has been compressed over millions of years under extreme heat. Often the surrounding stone of an area of marble is influxed into the stone bed creating colored and veined marble. The Roman's used marble not just for flooring but also for ceilings. To find out more on the many possibilities of marble for floors or walls take a look in for a Houston Granite outlet or any other outlet in the local area.

Onyx is a type of quartz rock with traces of natural earth within it. This so called banded rock can come in many colors except for a few off colors such as purple or blue. Like veined marble, this stone can vary from region to region as the natural occurring effect makes it difficult to match. The Egyptians used onyx to produce bowls and utilitarian wares as early as the 3000 B.C. In today's world some of the most beautiful tiles available are onyx which have a natural translucent look all their own.

Limestone is mined and used throughout the world. This stone is susceptible to fossils and heavy color variations. Limestone has been used for thousands of years and its use in the Pyramids of Egypt attest to its ability to withstand time. Limestone is one of the first flooring to be used in what is known as heated floors. Early floors were heated through fire and vents that warmed thick blocks of stone. Like marble and other stone of natural beauty each mine produces its own color and type of limestone.

Granite is a natural stone which contains mostly quartz, mica and feldspar. Feldspar is what gives much of granite's pink coloring though it comes in many colors including gray. The Red Pyramids of Egypt is a testament to the beauty of pink hued granite. This structure predates the birth of Christ by 2600 years. The Great Pyramid of Giza is another Egyptian wonder with a very famous Sarcophagus in pink granite. Granite today is used in many commercial venues and is commonly used for gravestones. Other uses include counter tops which are now installed in many homes around the country. For more information on this and many other aspects of granite take a look in for a Houston Granite outlet or any other outlet with a knowledgeable staff.

There are many things to think of when looking at natural stone for the home. Maintenance on stone tiles can be easy if installed correctly and sealed. Stains, cracks and chipping are a few issues that must be looked after with this kind of tile. A rule of thumb to any natural stone is to buy at least 10% more than a project is called for. This will guarantee that any damage during installation or down the road can be matched to the tile already set in place.

Be careful of imitation stone tiles. These tiles are produced by either using crushed or powdered stone and resin or they are made entirely of a material other then stone itself. Those on a budget but wanting an elegant look of marble or natural stone can buy imitation tile for much less. Be sure to receive a guarantee from the store in which you buy the tile or from the professional installers who sold them. Take the time to do a little homework on this subject. Getting the correct answer first is important to achieve a positive outcome.

Alan Parker Jnr is writing his very first E Book on the history of tiles. The history has made him want to take a career in teaching.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Birmingham's Cultural Heritage

In 2007, the Cabinet Minister for Leisure Sport and Culture introduced the Birmingham City Council Heritage Strategy in order to show people how rich its heritage really is. Libraries, public art, natural habitats and many other heritage assets have created an impressive track record of major projects over the last 20 years.
However, many issues still face Birmingham's unique heritage sites and the strategy was brought into place to recommend practical solutions to address some of these issues.
So if you are a self-proclaimed culture vulture or if indeed your travel buddies are, then look no further than Birmingham's world class art galleries, museums and collections to quench your thirst for knowledge...


If you are a lover of theatre, The Alexandra's Edwardian setting stages a range of musicals, concerts and comedies. This summer you will be able to see the famous Legally Blonde the Musical and catch an evening in the company of Jonathan Creek's Alan Davis brilliant stand up in September.


Birmingham also has a thriving music scene. Symphony Hall is often regarded as one of the finest in Europe and its stunning auditorium is the perfect place to enjoy your favourite jazz, folk, pop and world music.
It is also home to the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, so be sure to check out their tour dates before you plan your trip.


If you are a ballet lover, the Birmingham Hippodrome is the place to be. This year has seen extraordinary performances from the Royal Ballet Company, including Coppelia, Aladdin, Swan Lake and this Christmas, Cinderella, so be sure to book your tickets in advance to make sure you don’t miss out.


There is something for art lovers of every taste in Birmingham. The Barber Institute of Fine Art has an elaborate collection of traditional Old Masters including Rossetti, Monet, Degas and Rubens.
If you prefer more all-inclusive forms of art, you can get to know the artist's themselves at The Custard Factory- Birmingham's revolutionary new arts and media quarter. This unique district is comprised of a collection of multi-functional offices and studio space and from Birmingham Bead shop to the Sara Preisler Gallery, vintage clothing stores to the Ideal Skate Shop, it is an art lover's paradise.
Slightly further afield in West Bromwich, is The Public, a creative new community showcasing some of Birmingham's freshest new talent in entertainment. You can take in some comedy, try out a music workshop or see a movie all under one roof at this interactive exhibit.
There are many Hotels in Birmingham close to the city centre, which provide reasonably priced and comfortable surroundings for you to stay in whilst enjoying all Birmingham's culture scene has to offer.
Relax and enjoy a glass of wine in the bar after a long day of exploring, or order room service and plan tomorrow's adventures!
What are your favourite cultural activities in Birmingham?

Catherine Halsey writes for a digital marketing agency on a range of subjects. This article links back to

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Three Top Island Destinations

Many of us plan all year long for our awaited holidays and for some people, the thought of an island destination is exactly what we want and need. Sun, sea, beach, cocktails and general relaxation in the most beautiful surroundings are all of the ingredients for a perfect holiday. In this interesting travel article we look at three of the most beautiful island holiday destinations. They are all totally unique  in their offering and adventured and are from totally different parts of the world.

Top Island Holiday Destinations in the World

1. Mauritius

Mauritius is a spectacular, tropical island destination that offers all of the luxuries and beauty you would want from a relaxing holiday. It is situated in the amazing waters of the Indian Ocean and has French influences as it was a French colony. It also boasts a diverse culture with different relegions and traditions. It has a warm, topical climate and their white, picturesque beaches are lined with palm trees. This top island destination is known for its azure, clear, warm waters and is a great spot for diving or snorkelling. Mauritius has many incredible resorts and many travel agents offer great packages to this stunning island.

2. Malta

The island nation of Malta is a destination that differs tremendously from Mauritius. Malta is an island holiday destination situated in the tranquil waters of the Mediterranean Sea. Apart from the aesthetic beauty it boasts, it is immensely rich in culture and history. This island destination offers all of the charm of a European city but has the amazing, azure sea on its doorstep. They have an amazing array of museums, natural tourist sites and architectural wonders. This island destination would be an avid explorer or historian’s dream, as well as someone who just wants to sit back, relax and sip on a cocktail while basking in the beauty.

3. Hawaii

Another one of the best, tropical island, holiday destinations is Hawaii. Hawaii is an island destination that can offers the avid traveller anything their heart desires. From absolutely stunning, vegetation and expansive mountains, to the crystal blue Pacific Ocean, a humbling culture and all the entertainment in the world, Hawaii is an incredible island holiday destination to consider. Hawaii is an American state but still firmly holds onto its traditions and culture. Whether wanting to stay in a 5 star resort or a beach bungalow, this island destination has it covered. The nightlife in Hawaii is teeming and activities are endless.


Jemma Scott is a freelance writer with an avid passion for travel and different destinations around the world. She writes about differing holidays, hotels such as Bugibba hotel in Malta and holiday packages.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Experience the World with Some Fantastic Freelance Careers

For most of us our responsibilities mean we have to remain in one city and do one job behind one desk in one office – unless we move to a new company, but then it’s the same thing. It’s for this reason that many people are looking at freelance careers as a way to live more flexible and varied lives. There are a few careers that give people the opportunity to travel and enjoy the finer things in life while earning a living. These are some great ideas for youngsters graduating who want to travel and make an income at the same time. It also means the subjects are more varied while offering an education in different cultures and networking.

Cruise Liners

This is one of the most popular careers opportunities that kids look at when they graduate. Because liners are self-contained they are equipped to employ everyone from dishwashers to doctors. The world is literally your oyster if you decide to work on a cruise liner. It’s a freelance career of sorts. You can work full-time, or you could be a freelance writer working on the liner’s newsletter. Freelance photographers also work on board sometimes to capture the cruises and passengers, while the freelancer notches up the money.

Teaching English

English is considered the business to learn if you want to do business on a global scale. Businessmen and women the world over often employ freelancers to teach them English, and very often their teachers are native English-speaking freelancers. So, if it’s your first language and your travel plans are set, then off you go. Embrace one of the best freelance careers and have fun.

Travel Writer

This is one of the most fantastic freelance career choices out there. Now that blogs are a dime-a-dozen many travellers find themselves updating their blogs everyday with their latest antics in some remote region of the world. It’s all down to advertising. If you can find tourism boards who would buy your work to boost their numbers then throw them some material on their coolest hotspots and see what the outcome is. It’s not a stable salary but what it loses in money it makes up for in some of the coolest experiences and places that many of us can only dream of.
If you feel you may not want to do this for fear of the irregular income and because you have commitments that require more security then it’s understandable that you don’t decide on any of the freelance careers that require travelling. However, if you’re young and want to see the world as well as build your portfolio; please go ahead because the rest of the world who have to remain at home forever need to live vicariously through someone.

Vida Denning is a prolific writer who loves travel writing. She has done her fair share of writing while travelling and in some cases worked from office space in San Francisco and other major cities for clients.