The Monster Salon and Dining rooms at Hotel Hotel were a reinterpretation of the suburban family rooms of immigrants in Australia post WWII. It was a domestic place. At once a parlour for receiving guests, for talking art and politics, a living room for lolling around by the fire with friends, a place for listening to music, and a room for sharing meals. At times, we gathered old and new friends here to exchange ideas and we host conversations, poetry readings and performances. Fittingly, we often shared stories about immigration, about how immigration increases the textures and layers of a place’s cultural fabric. These are important stories. Especially in a time when the number of people displaced by conflict is at its highest since the aftermath of WWII.
Late Night Last Friday, Salon Gatherings, 2018
A monthly vinyl set on the last Friday of the month at Monster kitchen and bar1Monster kitchen and bar is the physical and metaphorical seed of Hotel Hotel. It’s the public life of the building and the living room of the hotel’s guests. . Hosted by Manila Folder, the vinyl sessions have spun the concrete and the existential; with:
- Wash It Out (house and jazz fusion)
- Settle Down (ambient and experimental sounds)
- Exorcism (funk and soul)
- Let’s Run Away (Afro Caribbean)
- Into the Cosmos (space house cosmic rock)
- Concrete Grind (hip hop, r n’ b, electro funk)
Xylouris White, Salon Gatherings, 2017
They tap into something primal. Something spiritual. They blow away the modern skins of the body and leave you with just your ancient bones.
Through them we get to connect to our distant past. A reflex. It’s not music from someplace but music from everyplace. It’s music that reminds us that, despite our differences, inside, in this way, we are all the same.
Xylouris White came to play for us in the Monster Salon and Dining rooms on Saturday 11 March.
Xylouris White are George Xylouris and Jim White. Together their music is one of conversation and shared authorship. George is a Cretan singer and lute player – an instrument with a history of more than 3000 years that crosses borders like few others do. He sings in a deep baritone that vibrates through your core. Jim White is part of Melbourne’s enormously and long loved instrumental rock trio ‘Dirty Three’. He moves like a deep sea animal gliding from soldier’s beats to ferocious to soft delicate sounds.
But first, we ate. Monster kitchen and bar chef Sean McConnell made us dinner based on things he had eaten on a recent trip to Athens. We served each other from small plates of fava beans, chicory and calamari. Pan-fried haloumi with tiny slivers of okra. Baked eggplant with Labna. Fish bones piled up on our plates as we ate sardines and small red fish in barbounaki style. We drank Ouzo and wine from Kelafonia, Thessaloniki and the Peloponnese.
Then came the music. The corked walls, terrazzo floors and low-hung perforated panelled wooden roof created a resonant sound that you couldn’t escape from. There is no stage in there, so it felt like they were playing to us in our own family room.
Xylouris White played for two hours straight, treating us to two traditional syrtos that made the Greeks amongst us that night go a little wild. They twisted back and forth between an unstoppable barrage of power and gooey, transcendental melody. The final two songs had us all on our feet. The sounds they were making together seemed impossible. We were overcome.
Same Same Different, Salon Gatherings, 2017
Same Same Different’ was a conversation between two friends – Enrico Taglietti and Gianmatteo Romegialli. Enrico Taglietti andGianmatteo Romegialli are both Italian-born architects who studied at Politecnico in Milan. In 1955, Enrico left Italy for Australia and has been practising in Canberra ever since – a city at that time with an architectural legacy of less than 50 years. Gianmatteo has continued working in Milan – a city with two thousand year old architectural history. This was a conversation about the similarities and differences of being an Italian-born and trained architect working in Australia and an Italian-born and trained architect working in Italy.
It was a conversation about freedom and constraints, architectural history, heritage and inheritance, breaking orthodoxies, structure, landscape, context and culture, and the beauty and poetry of the built space. Enrico and Gianmatteo shared three projects comparing each to explore the influence of context.
Now in his 90s, the great Enrico Taglietti has become Canberra’s most enduring modernist architectural voice. He has built almost 30 public and private projects in and around Canberra and has had a profound influence on the way people in this city live and think about architecture.
Same Same Different Zine, Salon Gatherings, 2017
Enrico Taglietti and Gianmatteo Romegialliare both Italian born and trained architects. Enrico was born in Milan in 1926 and studied at Politecnico di Milano in the 50s. Gianmatteo was born in Milan in 1961 and studied at Politecnico di Milano in the 80s.Enrico established his architectural practice in Canberra in 1956. Almost forty years later, the pair met during Gianmatteo’s first visit to Australia in 1995. A year later Gianmatteo established his architectural practice, Act_Romegialli in Italy. Enrico and Gianmatteo’s mutual passion for and disparate approaches to architecture have fuelled their conversations for the past twenty years. As Gianmatteo says, “there is no single answer to the problem and the exchange of opinions and passionate ideas can help you get a better view of possible paths to take… These discussions with Enrico about architecture (and life) are one of the most beautiful things that have happened to me in life and I want to continue to fight and argue with him.”
Strings in the Salon: Summer, Salon Gatherings, 2017
The Canberra Symphony Orchestra brought in their string quartet to play us some beautiful music in the Monster Salon and Dining rooms. Led by Barbara Jane Gilby the quad performed contemporary classical Australian compositions.