Students display a culture of talent

NATURAL: Neal Booth is presenting Hidden, his first solo show, at Newcastle Art Space.THEREare big changes ahead in the local art scene with the announcement by the University of Newcastle that it will no longer be offering a Bachelor of Fine Art course from 2017. This occurred in the same week that over 10 of its graduates and a multitude of current students feature in high quality exhibitions across five city galleries.

REFLECT: Digital photo by James Rhodes, is part of Ahn Wells’ exhibition.

As part of the university’s New Futures Strategic Plan, (extensively illustrated with paintings by Fine Art honours graduate Nicole Chaffey) the schools of Design, Fine Art and the internationally acclaimedNatural History Illustration will now be merged to form the fully vocational School of Creative Industries. The details of this new school are yet to be announced.

BOUNDS: Fun with Magritte photogram by Chris Byrnes at Gallery 139.

The Expanded Print is the feature exhibition at the university’s inner city art gallery, Watt Space displaying artists’ books, photographs, prints and 3D pieces from 20 Fine Art staff and students who use traditional and digital printing techniques to reinterpret the relationship between text, books and printmaking. The supporting exhibitions are; Travelling Birds by April Collison and Tallulah Cunningham who are recent graduates from the School of Natural History Illustration; the enchanting Tiny People drawings from Amy Hamilton and photographs by Mark Mason. Until March 20.

At Back to Back Gallery another UoN Fine Art graduate, Maddyson Hatton presents her first solo show Pulling the Wool, a thoughtfully realised project exploring ideas of surveillance and control through the successful employment of recurrent motifs in her drawings, prints and ceramic pieces. Until March 20.

PULLING THE WOOL: A ceramic piece from Maddyson Hatton at Back to Back.

Master of Fine Art graduate Neal Booth presents Hidden at Newcastle Art Space. This is his first solo exhibition of two and three dimensional work since 2011 and it is natural materials and the earth itself that continue to dominate his practice, both as artistic mediums and the source of his inspiration. In his atmospheric, timeless abstractions he uses paints made from pigments discovered in the inland where he also gathered the sticks that form the giant bird’s nest on the gallery floor.

Like so many other exhibitions, Hidden would be stronger with more judicious editing and the removal of a few works that actually detract from the overall exhibition. This over-hanging situation is amplified in the second NAS gallery where Vasanth Rao’s No Distance Left to Run assails us with a high energy explosion of line, colour and form. While intentionally overwhelming, the impact would be further enhanced by thinning things out, so each of the complex works is given some breathing space, allowing the eye to settle, if only for a bit. Until March 20.

The run of high quality photographic exhibitions we have seen in Newcastle this year rolls on. 139 Gallery, which is owned and operated by another Fine Art honours graduate, Ahn Wells, gives us The Bounds of Photography, highly individual works from six local photographers of whom half are Fine Art graduates. Through traditional means along with contemporary digital and video techniques, this group stretches our appreciation of the discipline in a tight, engaging exhibition. Ends March 12

It is good to see Forsight Gallery reopen with a strong new show after a long lay-off. Monday brings together seven skilled artists, many of whom are also Fine Art graduates, who work under the guidance of highly respected artist and former Newcastle Art School senior painting teacher, John Morris. Until March 20.C Studios presents The Gift of Nature from the prolific Newcastle Art School graduate Ros Elkin. Until March 27.

While it is true that art will continue to be created with or without institutions and despite shifting political values, thank goodness we still have the Newcastle Art School which has withstood a battering of its own over recent years but continues to offer quality courses and produce high class practitioners across all artistic mediums.

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Film review: 10 Cloverfield Lane

John Gallagher jnr as Emmett, Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Michelle, and John Goodman as Howard in 10 Cloverfield Lane. Photo: Michele K. ShortMore on 10 Cloverfield LaneMovie session timesFull movies coverage

/* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:”Table Normal”; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:””; mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0cm; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:”Times New Roman”;}Normal★★★½

First, a warning: the title 10 Cloverfield Lane is basically a marketing device. Beyond a few nudging details probably inserted at the last moment, there’s no direct link between this low-budget thriller and the original 2008 Cloverfield, an authentically ruthless Godzilla knock-off that stands as one of the peaks of “found footage” horror.

Set your monster-movie expectations aside, however, and what remains is a highly suspenseful B-movie about a young woman trapped underground by a disturbed patriarch— a premise seemingly everywhere in pop culture at present, whether exploited for arthouse kudos in Room or played for laughs in TV’s Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.

In this instance, the young woman is Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead​ ) who wakes after a car accident to find herself chained in a cinderblock bunker with an IV drip in her arm. Her self-styled rescuer is Howard Stambler (John Goodman), a morose survivalist with a Navy background, a fixation on his absent daughter, and the tastes of a Generation X hipster, who has crammed his do-it-yourself bomb shelter with enough 1980s memorabilia – teen magazines, board games, VHS tapes – to stock a chain of retro cafes.

By Howard’s account, the US has suffered a “major attack” by unknown, possibly extra-terrestrial foes. Whatever may be signified by the rumblings overhead, the safest course is to remain underground for a year or two – giving Howard the chance to play out his fantasy of family togetherness, aided by the unwilling Michelle and by her fellow prisoner Emmett (John Gallagher jnr), an amiable young yokel seemingly willing to fit in with other people’s plans.

Three writers are credited with the film’s script, including Whiplash director Damian Chazelle, and there are clearly multiple artistic agendas in play: the ending packs a punch, but doesn’t entirely resolve what has come before. That said, the project as a whole has a cold-blooded expertise that recognisably belongs to workaholic producer J.J. Abrams, filling in time between duties as emperor of the Star Wars universe.

First-time director Dan Trachtenberg is a talent in his own right: though he sometimes over does the cartoonish humour, he has thought carefully about how to use the confined space of the bunker. Locked-down master shots emphasise Howard’s inflexibility, while rapid, unsteady close-ups are used to highlight furtive gestures – most of them performed by Michelle, whose background as an aspiring fashion designer gives her a dexterity that comes in handy for pilfering keys, stitching up wounds and more.

Above all 10 Cloverfield Lane is a showcase for Goodman, a consummate actor whose ability to terrify has rarely been exploited so thoroughly – and who makes Howard as absurd and pathetic as he is alarming. It’s possible that future historians will identify this in retrospect as the first horror film of the Trump era: a portrait of a blowhard who may or may not believe his own scaremongering, while the filmmakers themselves hedge their bets on whether the true threat comes from outside or from within.

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Pink criticises Kim Kardashian’s naked selfie, ex-foe Amber Rose defends her

The Kim Kardashian picture that started the Twitter war. Photo: Kim Kardashian/Twitter Hell has frozen over: The most unlikely person rode in on a white steed to back up Kim and her nakedness – ex-foe, Amber Rose. Photo: Kim Kardashian/Instagram

Kim Kardashian in Twitter war over nude selfies​Kanye West’s embarrassing misspelling and Zuckerberg’s $1 billion response

Another day, another Twitter drama for Kim Kardashian. This time she has a new opponent, singer Pink.

It seems Kanye West has passed on the spectacle-stealing baton to his wife of almost two years as she wages a war for posting a naked selfie on Monday.

Kim, 35, was publicly criticised at first by Bette Midler, Chloe Moretz and Piers Morgan, but she hit back in glorious form on Twitter and later penned an essay on her website, titled Happy International Women’s Day in which she wrote:

“I never understand why people get so bothered by what other people choose to do with their lives. I don’t do drugs, I hardly drink, I’ve never committed a crime – and yet I’m a bad role model for being proud of my body?” Kim wrote.

She spoke about the sex tape she made 13 years ago with ex-boyfriend Ray J and said she’s moved on from the scandal.

“I am empowered by my body. I am empowered by my sexuality. I am empowered by feeling comfortable in my skin. I am empowered by showing the world my flaws and not being afraid of what anyone is going to say about me. And I hope that through this platform I have been given, I can encourage the same empowerment for girls and women all over the world.”

And just when we thought the dust might be settling and Bette, Chloe and Piers were regaining consciousness after Kim’s savage retort, enter Pink, real name Alecia Moore, who goes and stirs up the furore again. In a thinly veiled message on Twitter, the Raise Your Glass singer told women that using their bodies for “attention” was self-degrading.

“Shout out to all of the women, across the world, using their brains, their strength, their work ethic, their talent, their ‘magic’ that they were born with, that only they possess. It may not ever bring you as much ‘attention’ or bank notes as using your body, your sex, your tits and asses, but women like you don’t need that kind of ‘attention,'” the singer wrote. “In the quiet moments, you will feel something deeper than the fleeting excitement resulting from attention, you will feel something called pride and self respect. Keep on resisting the urge to cave. You’ll never have to make silly excuses for yourself.”

Keyboard warrior and actor Chloe was quick to defend Pink and tweeted, “Smart, strong statement. My sentiments exactly.”

Unfortunately, Kim has yet to respond, but watch this space. When you’re like I have nothing to wear LOL pic.twitter苏州美甲美睫培训学校/UlSLZb1fp1— Kim Kardashian West (@KimKardashian) March 7, 2016pic.twitter苏州美甲美睫培训学校/NPRoOcF0y9— P!nk (@Pink) March 9, [email protected] smart, strong statement. My sentiments exactly ..— Chloë Grace Moretz (@ChloeGMoretz) March 9, 2016

The most unlikely person rode in on a white steed to back up Kim and her nakedness. No, not quarrelsome Ye – it was his ex-girlfriend (who he just had an almighty war with) Amber Rose. First she took aim at Pink, reminding her that she often preforms in leotards that show off a lot of skin.

“Damn Pink we were all born naked society sexualises our breast and bodies. If a grown mother of 2 is comfortable with her body and wants to show it off that’s none of ur business or anyone else’s,” Amber started out. “Now, if u wanna talk to kids and be a mentor to young teens, tell them to go to school and to not use their bodies to get ahead?! I’m all for it! But please as a grown woman let another grown woman live as she wishes. That’s our problem! We’re so quick to down each other instead of uplifting! Pink, We’ve seen u damn near naked swinging from a rope (Beautifully) but what’s the difference between a rope, a pole and a pic on Instagram? Classism. Because u sing while ur half naked does that make it “Classy” or is it because u have a “talent”? I’m not dissing at all Pink just curious after u said “You’ll never have to make a silly excuse for yourself” (sic).”   A photo posted by King Kylie (@kyliejenner) on Mar 9, 2016 at 11:22am PST

​Then Amber (who made amends with The Keeping Up With The Kardashians star recently) reposted the second naked selfie Kim shared and invited her to go on the annual Slut Walk (a global movement sparked by a policeman’s comment that women should avoid dressing like “sluts” to avoid falling victim to sexual assault).

“And @kimkardashian I don’t know u well but I saw u speak about slut shaming and as u know I’m an activist feminist so it spoke to me. Being Slut shamed and ridiculed is not fun it’s hurtful and mean. Us women deal with it everyday and I’m happy u can speak openly on this now because if anyone knows what it’s like to be Slut Shamed it’s u! Live it Kim! Make a difference and speak on it! Not only when it’s convenient for u but when u can help others. Last year at my Slutwalk I told my Slut shaming story. This year I would love for u to come and tell urs. This is an open invite from me to u and ur sisters are welcomed too Let’s let the naysayers know u are so much more then a sex tape (13 years ago) Fuck it own it. Ur a mom and a business woman, a wife, sister and daughter. Hope we can make this happen (sic).”

Again, Kim seems to be taking some time out from her epic put-downs and has yet to reveal whether she will unite with Amber. But again, watch this space.

Youngest sister Kylie Jenner, 18, also shared her own version of Kim’s naked bathroom selfie using a black two-piece instead of the bars.

Kanye also has his wife’s back and told his fans he couldn’t wait to return from Paris Fashion Week to see her and their two children, North, two, and Saint, four months, but other than that he has been relatively quiet (in Kanye Twitter terms), and just tweeting his stream of consciousness. muse pic.twitter苏州美甲美睫培训学校/JeXMTsZKmQ— KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) March 8, 2016can’t wait to get home to North, Saint and my wife…— KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) March 9, 2016

Oh, and he also wants you to know he believes in his Yeezy Season Three collection that has been likened to homeless wear. OK? All these journalists can give their opinions well these are mine…yes I believe in my ripped homeless sweaters!!!— KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) March 9, 2016

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What doesn’t kill the US bull market may make it stronger

It’s been a rollercoaster ride, especially this year, but the US sharemarket’s bull run nevertheless managed to enter its eighth year this week. Photo: Michael Nagle”How low can stocks go,” the Wall Street Journal wondered on March 9, 2009, as the financial crisis was wiping away trillions of dollars from American equities, the deepest rout since the Great Depression. That day, of course, marked the bottom. The US bull market that entered its eighth year this week has restored $US14 trillion ($18.7 trillion) to stock values, pushing up the US benchmark Standard & Poor’s 500 Index by almost 200 per cent.

Now, investors are awash in angst, showing little faith the run can continue. They worry about contracting corporate earnings, slowing Chinese growth and uncertainty over interest rates. And they’re walking the talk by pulling cash from stocks at almost the fastest rate on record. It’s not unwarranted — the S&P 500 has gained just 0.5 per cent in the last 18 months. Yet if history is any guide, that very cynicism provides a compelling case for the run to persist, at least by traditional market analysis. Bull markets usually die amid excessive optimism, and that’s nowhere to be found. “This pervasive pessimism, skepticism and unwillingness to invest in equities anywhere near the degree we’ve seen in past bull markets has been a very unique characteristic,” said Liz Ann Sonders, chief investment strategist at Charles Schwab & Co. That contrarian sentiment constitutes “the wall of worry that stocks like to climb,” she said.

Consider all that money flowing out of equities. Investors took out almost $US140 billion from equity mutual and exchange-traded funds in the last 12 months, more than double the peak outflows experienced over any comparable periods during the global financial crisis. Yet when people withdraw money, stocks inversely tend to rise later, according to data since 1984. In the 12 instances when funds experienced monthly outflows that were at least 2 standard deviations from the historic mean, the S&P 500 rose an average 7.1 per cent six months later, compared with a normal return of 3.9 per cent, data compiled by Bloomberg and Investment Company Institute show.

Even the horrendous start to 2016 showed how skittishness may eventually work in favour of bulls. The first six weeks delivered the worst-ever beginning of a year for US equities – and other sharemarkets around the world, including Australia’s which entered bear market territory, hitting a more than 2 1/2 year low on February 12. Since then, the S&P/ASX 200 has gained 8.2 per cent. But once things start to turn around, bears will be forced to buy. From February 11 through Monday, a Goldman Sachs index of the most-shorted companies outperformed the S&P 500 by almost 16 percentage points, the most in data going back to 2008. Distrust also creates bargains and emboldens future buyers. That’s the case with financial shares, which led the latest rebound from the February low. US banks and insurers, the biggest profit generator in America’s sharemarket with $US228 billion in income last year, still get little respect from investors after being blamed for the market turmoil during the downturn. At 13.6 times earnings, the group was handed the lowest valuations among 10 industries and traded at a 24 per cent discount to the S&P 500. As the market started to recover, financial companies rallied. So did some of the most-hated stocks such as energy and materials producers that had been borrowed and sold in a practice known as a short sale, a bet on falling share prices. The forced buying from bears therefore added additional fuel to the S&P 500’s gain from a 22-month low.

What happens next? Wall Street strategists see the bull market in the US lasting at least through December, with the S&P 500 rising to 2158, or an 9 per cent increase from Tuesday’s close, according to the average of 21 estimates compiled by Bloomberg. If the run lasts until the end of April, this bull will become the second oldest on record. Coincidentally or not, the last two ended near the eighth year of an election cycle. The benchmark index rose 0.3 per cent at 9:50 am in New York. Tom Mangan, senior vice president of James Investment Research in Xenia, Ohio, which oversees about $US6.5 billion, isn’t ready to throw in the towel. “There are too many bears versus bulls and there is too much cash on the sidelines,” he said. “That means the market can do better.”


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Five worst ever bits of travel advice

Ayana Resort and Spa, Jimbaran Bay, Bali.”Don’t lock your bags and thieves will think there’s nothing worth stealing, don’t book until the last minute and you’ll score a bargain, carry your passport at all times”– travellers get all kinds of lousy advice hurled their way. Much of it will shrivel under the bright light of logic but some can lead you into darkness. Here are five bits of travel advice that should never be believed. Everything is cheaper duty-free

A few things are, most are not. Cigarettes are the standout, duty-free booze is quite a bit cheaper but the rest? The duty we pay in Australia on perfumes, clothing, electronics and watches is the GST, just 10 per cent. Right now the Australian dollar is tracking low and prices in retail stores in our cities are competitive so buying duty-free overseas is not likely to deliver a bargain. If you’re buying duty-free, you’re probably making your purchase in an airport and airport retail space is expensive. To cover their rent, airport shops must jack up their prices. There are a few places where you can get a better deal on computers, electronics and cameras, for example New York and Hong Kong, but if something goes wrong with that Phantom Quadcopter drone or the Apple iBook Pro you bought overseas, chances are the local retailer won’t honour your warranty.

See: Why airport shopping is so hard to avoidSteer clear of street food

Chowing down on a veg samosa in Old Delhi, a murtabak in Malaysia or a beef noodle soup in Vietnam has brought joy and sustenance to my heart as well as my stomach. It’s a cultural as well as a culinary foray and it’s low risk, but I have rules. It has to be cooked to order in front of me, it must be served hot, the cook should look healthy and I’ll like it even better if those plastic plates are getting a thorough wash with detergent between servings. Fruit smoothies and ice cream I’d be more careful about but if the stall looks sparkling clean and it’s popular I’ll probably go for it. Peeled fruit or anything that’s sitting around in big pots waiting to be served are no-go items.

See: The world’s best places for street food namedSee Australia first

Why? This advice is sometimes offered to the young when they’re contemplating their first solo foray into the wider world. Many thousands of youthful travellers come from overseas to explore Australia every year. For them it’s exotic, unfamiliar and a long way from their parents – a mind-expanding experience. For exactly the same reason many thousands of young Australians depart our own shores and set off to explore Europe, Asia or South America. Most will return with expanded horizons, having absorbed ideas and experienced wonders that are not to be found within our own shores, and that enriches them and us. See Australia, sure, it’s got some world beaters, but it doesn’t have to be a first solo outing. Besides, a foray into the wider world might just show you why the country you call home is a pretty terrific place to live.

See: The 10 things Australia does better than anywhere elseBali is for bogans

No it’s not. For many Kuta is the reason they go to Bali but it’s not my Bali. My Bali is a soul-stealing place with the sound of water trickling through the rice terraces, with mossy temples and spirit houses in the rice fields with their faded, flapping shreds of yellow cloth, where soaring bamboo penjors arch above the roadsides and the sweet, musky smell of kretek cigarettes perfume the air, where women head off for midday prayers with a pyramid of fruit and flowers piled on their heads and the night air caries the staccato rush of a gamelan orchestra. It’s fresh lime juice with sugar syrup on the side, the smoky taste of Bali coffee, siting over a Bintang in the evening watching geckos stalking insects drawn to a wall light, the sticky heat of midday and long, indolent afternoons on the massage table. And in my book that comes pretty close to heaven.

See: 20 things that will shock first-time visitors to BaliTake a guided tour and you’ll see everything

A guided tour gives you certainty. You get to tick off the highlights and you’ll know almost exactly when and where you’re going to be. If you have limited time, if you’re in a place well outside your comfort zone, if you’re travelling on your own, if you’re concerned about your personal safety or your belongings then a guided tour might be your best option. On the flip side, wrestling with timetables, figuring out where you’ll stay and for how long, ordering food from a foreign menu and getting your tongue around “Where is the toilet?” in a strange language brings its own special currency to your travels. When you organise your own travels you’re more engaged with the place you’re in. You might even find out how great you are at getting about in the world, and that’s one of the best gifts travel can give you.

See also: 18 signs you need to go travelling again

See also: The 15 most pointless travel items

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