The History Of Clothing In India

This is a visual supplement to a minor topic I've touched on in both my novel Navaratri and my essay Aryan Patriarchy and Dravidian Matriarchy. It concerns the conservatism of the modern Orthodox Hindu and Bollywood's rewriting of Indian history to suit this modern prudery. The evidence is clear that for most of its history Indians wore few clothes and were not especially concerned about nudity. Yet Bollywood refuses to recognise this history and continues to pretend that the Indians of earlier times dressed as conservatively as they do today. The pictures below were painted and sketched by noted Czech [...]


I'm going to back off from writing longer pieces on this blog. It's time for me to concentrate on novel writing and getting published. This blog was only ever intended as a supplement to my writing, not a replacement. The various topics discussed on this blog all extend from my two completed novels: Navaratri and Wild Child. Each article was designed to explore the themes in them to a greater depth, but until the novels are published, they may make little sense. It also means that I may stereotype myself. I am interested in much more than this blog might [...]

Hedy’s Folly

This one ticks a lot of boxes; a gifted child, a transgressor, pre-war Germany, Austria in the 20's. It's the new biography of Hedy Lamarr called Hedy's Folly. Turns out she was intellectually gifted and is credited with inventing frequency hopping which is now used in a number of applications. The book is now firmly on my holiday reading list and I'm interested in three areas of her life. Her childhood in Vienna and her exposure to the art and intellectual arguments of the period. Apparently her father encouraged her studies. She studied ballet, piano and obviously acting. She was [...]

Fashion And Transgression: Herb Ritts

The protagonist in my novel Navaratri, Gabe, is a young and upcoming fashion photographer. He is acutely aware that the erotic is a part of his job. He is also acutely aware of the precedents set by other photographers. So in order to give you a sense of what Gabe knows I thought I'd list the photographers who have inspired him. Herb Ritts is well known. He is largely responsible for introducing the male nude and homoeroticism into fashion photography (and he also bears responsibility for setting an almost unobtainable and unrealistic standard of male physical beauty).

Fashion And Transgression 2

My novel Navaratri is about transgression. The protagonist Gabe, is a fashion photographer who understands that the fashion industry often crosses boundaries. He meets a young photographer who has done some child nudes and when he questions her on the wisdom of her choices, he is forced to defend the use of young teenage models. But the fashion industry transgresses a number of boundaries, especially in its reliance on sex. It is no accident that the masters of erotic photography have also worked at the high end of fashion. Another area of transgression is the [...]


Talk about spotting trends... In Navaratri Gabe travels to India and photographs an ex-model and leading Bollywood actress. He has the idea to cover her body in mahendi - henna tattoos. It was a matter of time before a photographer hit on the idea. In this case Tony Duran who photographed Beyonce for V Magazine (issue 67). But wait, there's more. In Wild Child, the main character Bliss adopts a style she calls Hindu Goth. At one point she shaves her blond hair to a Mohawk and has someone apply mahendi to her scalp and face. But Bliss also has [...]

Ajak Deng

In my novel Navaratri the protagonist Gabe photographs a young Sudanese model (Ayen) that he discovers in a shopping centre. I had written that sequence around 5 years ago, anticipating that it would not be too long before some of the Sudanese refugees beginning to come to Australia would start to make their mark. In the novel Ayen has a sudden climb to fame. As I thought, just such a thing has happened in reality. Ajak Deng fled to Australia 5 years ago (to my home city Melbourne around the time I was writing the scene) and was discovered whilst [...]

Nazanin Afshin-Jam

In developing the characters for my novels I am often amazed how, well after the fact, I find out just how plausible they are. In Navaratri Gabe travels to the Gaza strip to escort a young Arab Christian model called Aliyah into Israel. She tells him that she sees a modelling career as a stepping stone to human rights work. Just recently I found out about Nazanin Afshin-Jam, an Iranian model, singer and human rights activist.

The Naked Child In Art: Norman Lindsay

As I mentioned in my last post it was my friend Kathy who introduced me to Norman Lindsay He was a part of the bohemian scene in Sydney in the 30's. He was prolific, producing oils, watercolours, etchings, cartoons and book illustrations, as well as writing articles and novels (and the famous children's book, The Magic Pudding). He is also controversial. His etching, The Crucified Venus, caused a scandal. The film Sirens (starring Hugh Grant, Sam Neill and Elle McPherson) is set at this time. Of more interest is his novel the Age of Consent (made into a film starring [...]

The Naked Child In Art: Two Sisters

Let me introduce you to Miranda and Kai Beverly-Whittemore. Miranda and Kai (Vanessa) have posed (and continue to pose) for Jock Sturges and Mona Kuhn. In her first novel Miranda tells the story of two sisters who pose nude as children, for a local photographer. In the book Miranda (as Myla) defends her right to be be photographed naked. Her arms were at her sides, and she kept them there. She wouldn't use her hands to gesture. She wouldn't modulate her voice. She'd speak to him with all she had, with the truth of her body. 'It comes down to [...]