Boulevard of royally entertaining pop ups at Folk Festival

Boulevard of royally entertaining pop ups at Folk Festival

Having such cosmopolitan fun at the National Folk Festival in recent days, this columnist was moved to wish that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (and their regal bub) could have been there with me.

As it is the unimaginative, tightly corseted choreographers of royal visits to Canberra have struck again, sentencing the youngsters to the usual cliched visits (the Australian War Memorial, again) and the same old plantings of trees. Poor Kate, in the tragically unfulfilling lifetime that stretches before her, is doomed to plant more trees (always wearing absurd high heels) than there were in Robin Hood's Sherwood Forest.

Rachel Hore of the Pop Up Choir perform at the Canberra Folk Festival on Good Friday.

Rachel Hore of the Pop Up Choir perform at the Canberra Folk Festival on Good Friday.Credit:Jay Cronan

The Duke and the Duchess would have enjoyed the Folk Festival on Friday, a bombardment of variety.

On a teeming little boulevard of venues and pop-up shops (and just opposite a Red Indian wigwam selling such famous native American delicacies as ''home-made savoury crepes'' and just across from some gorgeous belly dancers dancing their subtle, ancient, belly-synchronised dances to some throbbing 21st-century pop music full of unsubtle lyrics of hot lust), suddenly a melodious choir popped up.

Photographers taking photos of the Isistars Belly Dancers at the Canberra Folk Festival on Good Friday.

Photographers taking photos of the Isistars Belly Dancers at the Canberra Folk Festival on Good Friday.Credit:Jay Cronan

They walked, slowly, as they sang a mystical, hymn-like ditty in what methought were tongues.

And at first it seemed that they were harmlessly entranced religious zealots singing to their god (the Sun perhaps).

But no, their leader Rachel Hore explained when the lovely singing was over that it was ''a beautiful Latvian song that's a blessing to all the growing rye, to the barley and the wheat, to all of nature.''

No wonder the choir had seemed to just pop up, because, Hore explained, ''This is the Pop-Up Choir. It's a new choir. We'd been together about eight months.''


She and her choristers are experimenting with how a choir can be ''a movable thing'', showing up to sing in all sorts of places.

The festival, to its great credit, always has a street choir program (of which the Pop-Up Choir is a part) that the Duke and Duchess will love if ever, on an April visit to Canberra, they politely (but firmly) decline the Australian War Memorial for once and pop out to the Folk Festival instead.


Credit:Geoffrey Dabb

You know that's what they want.

Birds cow cattle into submission

As previously mentioned, ornithologists have alerted us to an unusually large congregation of about 100 cattle egrets (stocky white herons) near the Jerrabomberra Wetlands just across the river from Duntroon.

Barbarella images from Barbarella's Spaceship art show.

Barbarella images from Barbarella's Spaceship art show.

They're mingling with the big, glossy black cattle there (it takes away a handsome beast's dignity to have a bird sitting on its head) and when Geoffrey Dabb was taking photographs he could hear the cattle grumbling.

Barbarella relives glory days

Barbarella's Spaceship has landed (having travelled through time as well as through space, because Barbarella's feature film and comic adventures are set in AD 40,000) in Canberra, at Kingston.

We shudder to think where Barbarella herself is because she wasn't to be seen when we visited her spaceship and because the pneumatic space-wanderer is notoriously promiscuous. It's alarming to think of her being at large in Canberra, especially with Prince William's arrival here on Sunday. Meanwhile, her spaceship is parked at the Megalo Print Studio and Gallery.

But we've been teasing, because Barbarella's Spaceship is in fact what Megalo is calling ''an eclectic mix of paper and fabric printing'' by Clair McDonald, Ele Saclier, Kirstie Gordon-Douglas, Mel Edwards, Emma Rees and Sarah Collingwood.

Barbarella, as most readers will know, is a space-wandering heroine, immortalised in the far-fetched, sci-fi, cult-creating 1968 feature film, Barbarella, starring Jane Fonda. The character of Barbarella was invented by and drawn by Jean-Claude Forest in 1962 for serialisation in a daring French comic.

Mel Edwards (yes, the same woman who curates the must-visit photographic blog Nah [no] it's Canberra) explains that just as Barbarella's movie spaceship had rooms, she, Edwards, and her five

co-exhibitors/friends, have arranged their various works in various spaces at Megalo. So, for example, they've all contributed items to Barbarella's bedroom which is festooned with bright, Barbarella-hued cushions.

In the bedroom and elsewhere Barbarella's lubricious comic image, as drawn by Forest, and as portrayed by Fonda for her film (in something skin-tight, black and leathery and brandishing a futuristic firearm) crops up on cushions, shopping bags, even bedside furniture.


We went to see the show just to check, before recommending it, that it is family-friendly. After all, no one who has seen the film will forget (the columnist wrote, blushing) the imaginative bondage scene where the villain Duran Duran imprisons Barbarella in the Excessive Machine (forerunner of the Orgasmatron) so as to torture her to death with her own pleasure.

There is no sign of an Orgasmatron aboard this clever and colourful Barbarella's Spaceship. The exhibition continues until May 4 at Megalo Print Studio and Gallery.

Ian Warden is a columnist for The Canberra Times

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