Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Upholstery Window Display

Hi, have you checked out our upholstery demonstration window display at the Green Living Centre on 218 King St, Newtown?

The Bower regularly runs upholstery demonstrations as part of our efforts to promote reuse/repair and keep items out of landfill.

We hosted a free upholstery workshop at the Addison Road Community Centre on July 8 and it was a great success with 45 people in attendance.

Keep an eye on our blog and facebook.com/Thebowercoop for future upholstery events.

Check out the Green Living Centre: cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au/environment/GreenLivingCentre/Shopfront.asp

Role up Role up - Come see the show

Hi again Bower folks.

This might be the last time I post here.  My six month residency as The Bower resident artist has just about come to a close.  So come along to the grand opening of Eclectic Electric, where I'll be showing off some of the results of my time here.

For ten days the Workshop Showroom in St Peters will be transformed into a cabinet of curiosities. A mysterious velvet-lined box to contain my electrical oddities.  Some come along and check it out. 

Opening night is Thursday 19th July at 7pm.  There'll be the usual vino and crackers, and I might even wear a clean shirt for the occasion.  You'll find the Workshop Showroom here: http://goo.gl/maps/IgPd

If you can't make it on the 19th, come along any day until the 29th from 11am till 4pm and you can have the show all to yourself (probably).

I'd like to say thanks to all the people who've come to say hi to me while I've been working out the back.  It's encouraging to have people curious about what you do, and everyone has been very encouraging. 

I expect I'll still be a Bower regular, but if I don't see you all again, then thank you, and goodbye.


Tuesday, June 19, 2012


The Bower's free demonstration workshops, known as Bowerography, is back for the third time. From July 8th, we're hosting a series of exciting demonstrations about Upholstery, Bike repair, Bookbinding and creating a vertical Timber Pallet planter. Bookings required for Bookbinding only. Please be sure to let us know if you're planning on bringing your kids along.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Unsafe Gilt - AiR update

Hi again everyone.  

Here are two of new pieces that have congealed in the past couple of weeks.


This one I call 'The Unsafe Shoelace".  This character's eyes light up but I couldn't photograph it as they're quite bright.  This is my reminder to everyone to always pay attention to electrical safety.  It's made of old brass lamp fittings haphazardly screwed together.

The second piece is a kind of confession.  Yes, I eat meat.  Yes I feel guilty about it.  But I eat it anyway.  Meanwhile a surface that has been carefully covered with a thin layer of gold is said to be 'gilt'.  So it seemed to make perfect sense to put a gold-painted goat skull on a slightly horrendous pseudo-rococo lamp stand to make this guilt lamp.   

You see?  Perfect sense.

That's all for now,


Monday, May 7, 2012

Blue Lights and Big Brothers

It feels like another blog post is well overdue, so here are some sneak peaks of current works (and occasionally don't-works).

 The blue lamp is a piece called 'Blue-light Disco'.  I never went to one, but I'm told blue light discos used to be put on by the police for the benefit of under-ages, on the misguided assumption that this would meet their need to have fun without having to sneak out and be naughty.  I feel like most of the society we now live in is a blue light disco.  Cameras everywhere, our movements tracked on the web.  We're constantly barraged with advertising telling us to be self-obsessed and have fun, but we're constantly under surveilence to make sure we're only having state-endorsed fun.  So for this piece, I've made a  mirror-ball head that rotates with the aid of an old microwave motor, so that it can keep an eye on everyone.  You feel safer now?  Me neither, so the other leg (which I forgot to get a photo of) is frozen in the act of escaping.

The illuminated mannequin abs are my gift to my beloved other half Hillary.  I figure if she's got these to look at then I won't have to work at getting abs of my own.  I'm still tinkering with it, but you can dimly see (maybe) that when the piece is illuminated a red heart emerges from within.  I started it on valentines day, and might have it finished in time for next valentines.


 Finally, the last piece is reference to contact juggling, in which the performer creates an illusion of stillness in a symmetrical object while moving their hands around it (think David Bowie and his round objects in the Labyrinth - no, the other round objects).  I've always loved juggling and circus, but I can't get into it myself because the sort of people who are into juggling also tend to be fun loving, sociable, happy, fit, spontaneous and full of life and laughter.  So you see the problem.  I haven't finished the wiring on 'Contact' yet, but when I do it'll light up on the top and bottom, which will be a first for me, and has turned out to be even more painful than I expected.

In other news, I've talked my way into the 'Hidden' show at Rookwood cemetery later this year, and the Swell sculpture festival in Queensland.  Busy times ahead.


Thursday, April 5, 2012

Riding the Ride

You can talk the talk, or you can walk the walk. One Bower director is taking it further and riding the ride. John's pulled one bike together from various bike parts, loaded it up and is off on a Scrap Heap Challenge fundraising ride to Kosciusko to raise funds for Downs Syndrome NSW.
Check out his story below and consider donating funds to a great cause.

- Maaike

Dear Family, Friends & Bower
Off today from Sydney on the scrapheap challenge to Kosciusko to raise funds for Downs Syndrome NSW.
Should be a good laugh combined with gravel & mud. Lets hope the $1,000 scrapbike makes it there and back. Yesterday a fresh set of on road/off road tyres, finished making and fitting panniers frames, packed the tent & gear (now over 250 kg),  the test run went well. 3 months ago all new non-engine bearings,  6 months ago new electronic spark system. 93,000 km and still going strong apart from no neutral and occasionally missing a gear, but it is made from 2 $500 bikes and 26 years old - a bit of reuse, repair, bloody knuckles, sweat, oil .............. and Sharon's patience. 
We will meet up with 50 or so scrapheapers at Oberon travelling down to the snowy mountains where we'll meet another couple of hundred scrapheapers raising funds for Downs Syndrome NSW - already $50,000 has been raised (nearly as much as they get from the government). The outward route will be something like http://maps.google.com.au/maps/ms?msid=208113176662555339071.0004bcd8f5df602d853d9&msa=0&ll=-34.533712,149.512939&spn=3.565577,8.657227.  Haven't mapped the return route, will go with the flow, back in Sydney on Monday 9th. A much shorter ride this year, the outback was tough in 2011.

If you like to, you could donate through
http://john-samuel.scrapheapadventure.org.au to Downs Sydrome NSW, thank you to those who already have.
have a great easter - I hope I do!

Farewell from Ted

In the past two years we've been delighted to work with Ted, his enthusiasm an community spirit have been greatly appreciated. You may or may not know Ted as the predominant voice behind our facebook and twitter musings during this time. While he will be missed we're chuffed he's found a job in an area that means so much to him.
- Maaike
Well after almost two years of Bower love it's time for me to turn the page onto a new chapter in my working life!  It's been an amazing experience being part of the Bower team and I will miss everyone dreadfully.  I walked into The Bower with a diverse background that had nothing to do with second hand furniture and I leave having learnt so much! Our customers are so varied and have taught me much about history, beauty and of course reuse!  Thank you!

I recently started studying Community Services as I have a passion for community and supporting marginalised groups and I want to be part of a people based solution to the oppressions so many of us experience.  So where am I heading?  I've been offered a job at ACON! Within their Anti Violence Project.  I'll be supporting folks who have experienced homophobic, transphobic, GLBT family and domestic violence.  I feel incredibly humbled to be joining this amazing project and team.

If you haven't heard of the great work ACON does then check out the website at www.acon.org.au. ACON is NSW's and Australia's largest community-based gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) health and HIV/AIDS organisation.

The Anti Violence Project can be accessed via http://www.acon.org.au/anti-violence where you can find support if you are part of the GLBT community and have or are currently experiencing violence in your life! 

Thanks again to all the members and customers who have be part of my world for two years! May you continue to be blessed with amazing treasures at The Bower! 

Teddy xx 

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

computer repairs

e-waste remains one of the biggest concerns for councils and public landfill.

As a centre for reuse we are limited to taking those electrical items which still function and hold value in the eyes of consumers. We have neither the space nor resources to strip electrical equipment for recycling, or to store it for  other organisations who will collect bulk containers for processing.

We cannot take the majority of computers, printers, scanners and accessories that are offered as donations, because no one is interested in REUSING them.

All of which sounds sort of negative. So we're constantly mulling over what we can do within our means to contribute to the solution.

Last week Warren, long time Bower volunteer and go to IT guy, approached us with a solution.
"What if I take on customers - fix their IT problems? I can upgrade hardware, fix software issues... And I could do it cheaply"

So what do you think? We want to trial this idea with your help. Warren and Ken have commandeered an aisle outside the electrical workshop, ready to meet with you and hear your IT woes.

If you have a computer problem and want Warren's help,
email us or phone us on 95686280

We'll see if we can help you keep your current IT equipment in action.
The first three customers will only pay what they think the service was worth.

Stay tuned....

Curb Collective Update

As our regular followers will know, last year nearly 20 students graduated from Reuse Repair Recycle Furniture - A partnership with TAFENSW Outreach and The Bower designed to teach skills to the local community.This year many of those students are continuing their study, workshopping ideas and business models to build a social enterprise that suits them. They also meet weekly to continue to hone their repair skills, working on a number of chairs and small foot stools in need of reuse and repair love.

Last week the group completed their first commission. Karen's chair was a street find - she saw the potential but didn't find the time to restore it herself (Sound familiar?!). Curb Collective also saw the potential for a contemporary new look for the piece and set to work stripping the yellow paint and upholstering the seat.
Although they bought fabric to complete the job, the group was keen to stick to The Bower's waste not ethos, and selected a panel of discontinued designer fabric from a remnant warehouse.

We couldn't be more excited to see what the group will come up with next, or how they will evolve, so stay tuned!

If you have a question, a query or a commission for Curb Collective send email to curbcollective@bower.org.au.

- Maaike


David, our Artist in Residence if officially settled in and down to business! Over the next few months he will be sharing a little bit of his process and reuse love with us through the blog, and in person.

I love Obtainium.  Obtainium is anything that you can get your hands on cheap or even free, and Sydney's inner west has rich deposits everywhere.  It's a great material for making sculpture because it often suggests ideas that emerge directly from whatever happens to be in front of you.  Shuffle up a new combination of randomly selected parts and find a new idea.

Obtainium takes time to react.  This is my handy excuse for being off to a slow start these last couple of months, but it also happens to be true.  As part of my usual method, I tend to let collections of objects that 'might be useful one day' collect and stew in each others' juices for quite a while.  This habit has done nothing to earn me favor with my flatmates, so I'm very lucky to be the Bower's artist in residence right now.  Until about the middle of this year, I get to be surrounded by the kind of fascinating pile of stuff that I'd collect for myself if only it didn't get me in trouble at home.

I'm currently working on lamps, which are an ongoing obsession of mine.   There's something about lighting up an object that completely re-contextualizes it.  It's so simple it almost feels like cheating.  An ordinary light bulb can take a hatstand, a teapot and a stuffed mackerel and turn it into something that gives it's viewers a license to stare.  A reason to stop and contemplate the sculptural qualities of an unexpected combination.  There's something new in the whole that isn't inherent in any of the parts.  That's what interests me.  The emergent property.  The indefinable extra that I don't feel like I'm creating, but rather finding amongst the bits and pieces.

Of course, there is a element of work and routine to working like this.  Tedious cutting and grinding, gluing things together, and waiting for paint to dry.  During these times, I like to make little pieces to keep myself amused, like the ones pictured above.

I'm in the studio workshop and the Bower Sunday's and Mondays, so come on down and say Hi. 


Saturday, March 31, 2012


Here at The Bower, we receive some of the most wondrous and whacky donations you can ever imagine! There is certainly no accounting for taste and experiencing the diversity of what people love and vehemently can't stand is part of the fun of working here! 

Music is certainly no exception!  At times we receive entire CD collections (thank you MP3 era!) and the budding sociologists among us try to figure out what sort of amazing person has the entire Kylie Minogue back catalogue mixed with smatterings of Guns n' Roses and P Diddy! 

We've recently reviewed our current offering of CDs and have pulled out the Top 5!  We are surprised they're still in stock but perhaps they'll be snapped up once this newsletter is released to the masses! 

Number 5 - Just Whitney, Whitney Houston -  Goes without saying really! Vale! This CD even features a duet with the delightful Bobby Brown.  Thanks Bobby!

Number 4 - It's Fun Time, Bananas in Pyjamas - What childhood is complete without those bent brothers! You can even tickle B1 and B2 with Maggie's feathers in this interactive CD

Number 3 - Miss Kitty and The Hacker - We have no idea about this one but the name and the CD cover is just brilliant!

Number 2 - Scenes from Childhood, Music for children by Tchaikovsky - What modern teenager wouldn't love to kick back and listen to such uplifting classics as "The Girl with the Flaxen Hair" and "The Little Negro"...um...yeah. Thanks Tchaikovsky!

Last but certainly not least...!

Number 1 - Batalla Famossa, The Great Emu War -  This is a recorder (YES, recorder!) consort of  of young musicians from Armidale, NSW formed in 1994.The sounds of these kids playing their recorders to Ukrainian, Korean and North-Western Chinese Folksongs is exquisite. A must have!  

Thursday, March 8, 2012

March at the Bower

Hello friends, family and curious folk!
Did you spy us on Sydney Weekender with mike Whitney last Saturday? It was a great pleasure to work with a TV crew who were so switched on about the importance of reuse. 

If you've just found us, we hope you'll stop by and visit soon, or add us on facebook, where much of the great 'junk' donations are posted for our fans.

Apart from our TV flutter, we've been pleased to support The City of Sydney Council in their Pop Sydney Sussex lane event, Curb Collective are getting stuck into a new year and our Eco-Library has some great new additions - read on!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Hello 2012!

A brand new year is upon us! we solemnly swear to keep salvaging the same great variety of pre-loved goods, keeping it out of landfill.

We'd like you to solemnly swear to be more involved! Stop by, sign up, borrow a book, a DVD, purchase a food Connect Subscription online, Volunteer to host a workshop, a talk, email feedback and tell your friends! It's the international year of the Co-op, so lets get co-operative!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Happy New Year from the Marrickville Men's Shed

 2012 is off to a flying start here at The Bower! The Marrickville Men's Shed resumed 2 weeks ago, and it looks like Michael (our facilitator) never stopped! Check out his iphonograph on instructibles.com!!
The Shed meet every Thursday at 10am here at The Bower, and all visitors are welcome