Posted by: Debra Kolkka | November 23, 2022

John Rigby exhibition

This week I visited the exhibition of well known Australian artist, John Rigby. He was born in Brisbane in 1922 and began painting while he was a teenager. His work has been exhibited since 1941. His service in WWII offered him the opportunity to study in the East Sydney Technical College in 1948 until 1950 with fellow artist and friend Jon Molvig.

His career spanned more than 60 years. He was awarded many painting prizes from the 1950s to the early 1970s, including The Australian Women’s Weekly Art Prize, the H.C Richards Prize (Brisbane), the Sulman Prize (Sydney), the Melrose Prize (Adelaide.

As well as his art, he contributed to the arts community. He was a Trustee of the Queensland Art Gallery from 1967 to 1987. He acted as head of Fine Arts at Queensland College of Art from 1974 to 1984. In recognition for his services to the Arts he was awarded an honorary doctorate from Griffith University in 1994.

We were guided through his lifetime of painting by his daughter. What a lovely insight we were given, making the exhibition come alive for us.

He was inspired by his world wide travels. Some of my favourite paintings are of Italy, where he spent a couple of years in his early painting days. The dark colours reflected a country recovering from the war in the early 1950s.

His work became more colourful over the years, particularly with his Australian and South Sea Island work.


I particularly liked his Brisbane paintings.

His portraits often featured his wife.

This one is not his wife. This painting is enormous. I would love to have a space big enough to hold it.

John Rigby’s art was described by art historian Bernard Smith in 1964…”His art is for the most part joyous and frank, figurative painting full of air, light and colour”.

The John Rigby exhibition is on at the Royal Queensland Art Society Gallery at 3/162 Petrie Terrace, Brisbane. It finishes on 27th November, so there are a few days left to see it.

Posted by: Debra Kolkka | November 20, 2022

A Bangalow visit

Back in Australia I still have the travel bug. Recently we had a short visit to Bangalow in northern New South Wales. It is only a 2 hour drive from Brisbane, but we decided to stay overnight so we could spend some time in this lovely town.

The town was established around the 1880s  after timber cutters built a camp on the banks of Byron Creek in the 1840s. A school was built in 1884 and later a church. The town now has a population of about 2000 people…and lots of visitors.

The town is full of charming old buildings and pretty houses.

There are excellent shops. The first photos are of Island Luxe, a white cave full of delights.

There are lots of excellent places to eat.

This restaurant is You Beauty, where we had a great dinner. The food was great and the service excellent.

We drove a short distance out of Bangalow to see Harvest, a restaurant that was recommended. It wasn’t open on Sunday night, so we visited the deli and a couple of the shops in tiny hamlet of Newrybar. The restaurant is popular and we will return to try it.

We stayed at Bangalow Guesthouse. The property is gorgeous. We enjoyed wandering in the well kept garden. We can appreciate how much work it takes to keep a garden looking this good.


Jacaranda trees are almost finished blooming, but this one is still looking great.

Bangalow is set in a beautiful part of the world and well worth a visit.


Bangalow Guesthouse, 99 Byron St, Bangalow.


Posted by: Debra Kolkka | November 14, 2022

Goodbye baby blue Fiat

Our baby blue Fiat is 13 years old and it is time to say goodbye.

She has been a wonderful little car and we will miss her. We have only driven 100,000 kilometres in the car and there is nothing wrong. We want a car that will last until we have to buy an electric car, hopefully several years away.

She looks tiny, but when we bought her we called her the Tardis because she seems much bigger on the inside. My 6 foot 4 inch son fits quite comfortably in the driver’s seat.

I wrote a post about her not long after I started my blog…I love my baby blue Fiat Bambino

We are looking for owners who will love her has much as we have. Our new, bright red Mazda 3 is on a boat coming to Australia right now.

We won’t be completely Fiat free. We have a Fiat 4×4 Cross in Italy.

Posted by: Debra Kolkka | November 12, 2022

Perfect Portofino

Portofino was once a sleepy fishing village on the Ligurian coast south of Genoa. The bay is mentioned  by Pliny the Elder (AD 23 – AD 79) when he called it the Port of the Dolphin. (Portus Delphini) It has had a rich and colourful history.

The gorgeous little harbour with its pretty houses attracted European aristocracy in the late 19th and early 20th century. Wealthy families built their summer homes there, some of which have since been transformed into hotels.

Visitors would arrive by horse and cart from Santa Margherita Ligure. One of those visitors was Elizabeth von Arnim who arrived in Portofino and fell in love with it. She wrote a novel, The Enchanted April, about her experience in 1922.

It was made into a movie in 1991, starring Joan Plowright, Miranda Richardson and Polly Walker. It was filmed in Castello Brown where the author stayed. Enchanted April is one of my favourite movies about Italy and I watch it regularly. The book is excellent as well. It is about 4 women who leave the dreary London rain to spend spring in Italy and how their lives are transformed.

The 1950s saw a boom in Portofino’s popularity. The yachts of the super wealthy began to arrive in the harbour and still do today.  It now welcomes all kinds of visitors from all over the world.

It is only a 2 hour drive to Portofino from our apartment and each time I go there I wonder why I don’t visit more often. The harbour is spectacular and the piazzetta surrounding it is one of the prettiest in Italy. The town has lots of restaurants, cafes and pretty shops, making a visit fun, interesting and delicious.

We were there at the end of the season, found a car park easily and walked down to the piazzetta.

A walk on the path up the hill offers beautiful views of the harbour and you can do some shopping along the way.



The church of St Giorgio sits at the top of the path.

Views from the other side are lovely too.

I spotted excellent green doors and some steep steps up to accommodation.

There is a range of shopping from high end to more affordable.



There is a very stylish bank built into the side of the hill.

There are lots of restaurants to choose from.

We chose one beside the path where I had an excellent pasta dish typical of the area. It is simple and delicious, pasta, potatoes, beans and pesto.

There is not a lot of parking in Portofino and the road there is very narrow. If you go in high season it would be a good idea to park in nearby Santa Margherita Ligure and catch a bus or boat. Arriving by boat is wonderful. The whole coastline is sublime.



Posted by: Debra Kolkka | November 1, 2022

Back home for a while

I am back in Brisbane for a few months. It is jacaranda time and the city is dotted with purple. I love these trees and the purple carpets they create on the ground below them. The fragrance as you walk below is delicious.

I have left my garden at Casa Debbio behind. The unusually warm weather meant that things were still growing. Our new dry stone walls were covered with flowers, roses appeared again, the last of the tomatoes ripened, bees were still buzzing around the lavender and there were even a few raspberries. It is difficult to leave it, but I know Filippo will take care of it until I return next February.

Some yellow flowers I planted turned out to be appealing to an animal who came in the night.

Fortunately the animals don’t like these.

This fat lizard likes the pot where I planted cyclamen.

Grass is growing on the track up to the house. By next summer it should be well established. The lavender on the wall will be pruned soon.

The row of artichokes are growing and we should get a few more next year.

Acanthus dies back in the heat of summer, but the cooler weather brings it back.

It is the same with this plant, it is flowering again now that summer is over.

The caper bush is thriving on the wall. It took years for the seeds I pushed into the wall to grow.

The wisteria over the pergola has thrived this year.


Helibores under the chestnut trees are appearing.

Some rainy days brought the mists swirling through the mountains around us. Cloudy days are nice for a change.


Early in the morning a golden light brings out the autumn colours.

I will miss our lovely mountain house over the next few months, but I also love being back in Brisbane.


Posted by: Debra Kolkka | October 15, 2022

Marvellous Milan

I recently travelled to Milan to meet with some Australian friends. I love this city. I was involved in the fashion industry for many years and Milan is known as the fashion capital of the world, with the most stunning shops filled with exquisite fashion. My friend, who also has an interest in art and fashion commented that being in many of the shops was like visiting small art galleries.

I stay at a hotel beside the central railway station, Hotel Aosta. It is in a convenient position near the Metro making a trip into the centre quick and easy. I usually go to a local bar for breakfast, but on this occasion I thought I would try the hotel. It turned out to be an excellent idea. Breakfast was served on the top floor with a terrace overlooking the magnificent Milano Centrale.

It is only 4 stops on the Metro to the Piazza Duomo, named for the cathedral at its centre.


Beside it is the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II the enormous shopping gallery built in 1867. It is filled high fashion brands, cafes and restaurants, a perfect place for coffee, lunch and people watching.

From here my friend and I headed off to the golden triangle, the fashion area bound by Via Monte Napoleone, Via della Spiga and Via Sant’ Andrea. It is also known as the golden rectangle, or Quadriletero d’Oreo if Via Manzoni is included. This is the beating heart of the fashion area. Even if the fashion is more than the budget allows it is a delight to see the beautiful designs displayed in elegant, stylish settings.

Footprints lead to the 2 level Maison Margiela.

The floor is carpet.

Giada is a new design house specialising in cashmere. The assistants proudly showed us their beautiful products.


I was sorely tempted by this tiny red velvet evening bag by Moschino. I will have to be content with a photo.

An almost full moon appeared over the Duomo, marking a perfect end to a fun day.

If you love fashion, Milan is the place to be.

Posted by: Debra Kolkka | October 9, 2022

Art in Lucca

It is wonderful to walk on the wall surrounding Lucca at any time. Now the leaves are beginning to change colour.

To add to the fun of wall walking there are now some art installations to view.

The artist is Bruno Catalano, a French artist famous for his sculptures of figures with pieces missing. The series is called The Voyagers or The Travellers. The artist has said that the sculptures are meant to represent emigrants

….Another reason to visit Lucca.

Posted by: Debra Kolkka | October 4, 2022

An artist in Lucca

Tucked away in narrow Via di Poggi, between Chiesa San Michele and the Piazza Cittadella, where Puccini sits on a chair, is the shop of artist Viviana Natalini.

Viviana makes beautiful sculptures, mostly of heads and faces. I admire them each time ai walk past and have 2 at home.

She studied at Istituto d’Arte Lucca and Accademia Belle Arti Firenze. She worked for several years as an assistant stage designer at the Teatro del Carretto, an international theatre company in Lucca, creating clay masks and theatre props.

All creations are molded out of clay, fired, individually hand painted and wax polished.