December 19, 2017


Queen Victoria, perhaps England’s most interesting monarch, lead an extraordinary life throughout her remarkable reign that began at eighteen and ended sixty-three years later, in an era that was constantly changing. Widowed at 42 when her beloved Albert died, Victoria went into deep mourning and at her death, it was said that the sun never set on the British Empire.

An amazing true story has come to light relating to a period in the latter part of Queen Victoria’s life and is now the subject of a delightful film. “Victoria & Abdul” explores the roles of companionship and loyalty in the relationship between Her Majesty and Abdul Karim, a young clerk, who travels from India to participate in the Queen’s Golden Jubilee and, much to his surprise, finds favour with the Queen herself. As the Queen questions the constrictions of her long-held position, the two forge an unlikely and devoted alliance with a loyalty to one another that the Queen’s inner circle attempts to destroy.

victoria and abdul

As the friendship deepens, the Queen begins to see a changing world through new eyes and joyfully reclaims her humanity. The film is a charming portrayal of one of histories most unlikely friendships and beautifully depicts an unusual bond between two people from opposite worlds.

Directed by Stephen Frears, this emotional film stars the glorious Academy Award® winner Judi Dench and Ali Fazal in the title roles, with excellent performances from Eddie Izzard, Addel Akhtar and Michael Gambon.

Running for 1hr 52 mins, “Victoria & Abdul” is now available on Blu-rayTM, DVD & Digital

Sandra Tiltman



June 13, 2015
Main Street Bendigo

Main Street Bendigo

Driving from Melbourne airport into the city over the years, I always noticed the highway sign pointing to Bendigo and thought one day it would be wonderful to visit this historic town that I had read so much about.

DSC06405On a recent visit to Melbourne, we were staying at “The Larwill Studio”, located in Parkville and part of the Art Series Hotel Group. The timing was right to take a short break of two days to experience the cultural delights on offer in Bendigo. One of the many benefits this hotel offers guests is their range of “green” compact Smart Cars, available for hire at a very reasonable rate. After selecting our vehicle from those parked at the front of the hotel, we were made aware of all the controls by the hotel’s concierge. We confidently began our two hour drive up the Calder Highway to Bendigo, 152 km away.

As we had enjoyed “The Larwill Studio” so much, we decided to stay at another Art Series Hotel, “The Schaller Studio”, for our two nights in Bendigo.

DSC06370When we arrived at “The Schaller Studio”, a modern three storey building, located next to Bendigo’s main hospital, we were delighted to see the parking area even displayed some of the hotel’s signature artworks, enormous blue flower pots containing large paint brushes. The hotel’s front entry was the setting for another of Australian artist Mark Schaller’s works, an oversize wooden sculpture of a girl.

After being checked in by a very delightful front office person, we proceeded to our room, which had everything one would expect to find in a 4 star hotel, but was quite different from the normal hotel style. Original Mark Schaller artworks, which were available for purchase, adorned the walls plus there was even a small balcony. A substantial continental breakfast buffet in the hotel foyer was included and during the day, snacks, coffee and cakes were available for purchase.

DSC06380The staff went out of their way to please, with that true “Aussie country” hospitality. In the hotel’s foyer, there were several comfortable lounge areas where one could sit, have a coffee and just enjoy the multitude of Mark Schaller’s artworks and sculptures.

There is so much to see in historic Bendigo. Walking around this beautiful town, with its wide streets, admiring the many magnificent buildings, which thankfully have been preserved, one can clearly see where much of the money from the famous gold rush era went. The town’s gardens with their floral display and glasshouse, located in the centre of town, are a pleasure to walk through. The Bendigo Art Gallery is a great place to pass an afternoon, admiring their large collection of paintings housed in their state of the art building or to view the special exhibitions that are regularly presented.

This vibrant town offers a range of restaurants and bars that would please the most discerning. Bendigo is well worth a visit.

Sandra Tiltman    Photos: John Pond


March 25, 2013
Del Kathryn Barton with her winning portrait

Del Kathryn Barton with her winning portrait

Del Kathryn Barton was named as this year’s winner of the 2013 Archibald Prize for her portrait entitled “hugo”, and receives a prize of $75,000.

Selected from 868 entries, the winning portrait of Sydney actor Hugo Weaving, was announced at the Art Gallery of New South Wales on Friday, 22 March.

Abdul Abdullah with his portrait of Boxer, Anthony Mundine "The Man"

Abdul Abdullah with his portrait of Boxer, Anthony Mundine “The Man”

First awarded in 1921 and now in its 92nd year, the Archibald Prize is judged by the Trustees of the Art Gallery of New South Wales.

Awarded annually to the best portrait, J.F. Archibald established the prize to foster portraiture and to perpetuate the memory of great Australians, distinguished in art, letters, science or politics and painted by any artist resident in Australasia.

Visitors to the Art Gallery of New South Wales can enter the “People’s Choice” competition, where they can nominate their favourite Archibald painting.  The winner will be announced on 16 May 2013.

The finalists will be on display at the Gallery until 2 June 2013.  They will then begin a regional tour of New South Wales and Victoria from 8 June 2013 to 29 June 2014.

Words & Photos:   Sandra Tiltman ©

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