All posts tagged eyes

  • The Weekend Australian Magazine story: ‘Saving Face: Brenton Cadd’, October 2016

    A feature story for The Weekend Australian Magazine, published in the October 22-23 issue. Excerpt below.

    Saving Face

    Need a new nose, eye or ear? Meet the ‘spare parts’ man changing lives

    The Weekend Australian Magazine story: 'Saving Face: Brenton Cadd' by Andrew McMillen, October 2016. Photo by Julian Kingma

    In January 1970, a young man joined the facial prosthetics department at the Royal Melbourne Hospital. As an apprentice ­dental technician, Brenton Cadd, 17, began learning on the job how to fix people with ­disfigurement so that they might be freed of shame or embarrassment. His mentor in the four-man department was Cliff Wellington, a ­signwriter by trade who’d served in the army as a dental technician. He had a painter’s eye for detail, and in 1945 he’d transitioned into the nascent field of facial prosthetics. Returned servicemen missing ears, eyes and noses were in dire need of some form of camouflage to help them blend into a crowd. Through a peculiar mix of technical ability and artistry, Wellington was an Australian pioneer who passed onto his young charge his aptitude for working on small, intimate canvases.

    Today, a framed photo of a smiling Wellington sits prominently on a shelf near the door that leads into a workshop managed by Brenton Cadd. For 46 years he has devoted his life to a single workplace and this single task. Through the use of silicon, empathy, paint, patience, titanium, plaster and good humour, he is a leader in a highly ­specialised field that employs only a handful of people across the country. He is a quiet achiever whose work takes time, and whose time at the Royal Melbourne Hospital is much nearer its end than its beginning. What will happen after he sees his last patient is unclear, for what he does for them is nothing less than life-changing.

    You could pass Cadd in a crowd without a ­second glance. If you are a long-time fan of the Hawthorn Football Club, you are likely to have done just that at a home game. He does not invest too much time in his appearance and wears polo shirts with a breast pocket in which he keeps a small notebook he calls “the brain” . It helps him remember his many pressing tasks. He is bearded, with kindly blue eyes that have looked upon thousands of patients who, whether they are able to articulate it or not, are relying on him to co-create a new identity for lives riven by the trauma of looking different from everyone else.

    Here he is, on a Wednesday afternoon in mid-August, looking squarely at a patient whose left eye was removed due to cancer. Geelong retiree Pamela Flatt, 68, sits on a high-backed ­dentist’s chair while her husband and daughter perch nearby. Flatt’s left eye socket is now covered by a skin graft and her disguise is a pair of thick-framed spectacles, with the left eye coloured solid white. In the near future she will no longer have a use for these glasses as a transformation led by Cadd is slowly taking place. Around the edge of her eye socket, screwed into bone, are three abutments made of pure titanium. Soon, a silicon-based ­prosthesis will be clipped into place with magnets.

    Flatt is a grandmother of six and a great-grandmother of three. Since her nine-hour operation to remove the cancer over a year ago, she has hardly locked herself away from the public eye: in fact, she has just returned from a trip to Thailand with a girlfriend, where she rode on an elephant. “Why not?” she reasons. “Life’s too short.”

    Despite her positive outlook, the metal implants have drawn attention. “Kids are looking at me like I’m an alien or something: ‘That lady’s got funny things in her head!’ ” she says. “They weren’t bothered until I had those things put in.” Nerve damage means that she can’t feel the ­titanium plate behind her skin, nor Cadd’s hands as he uses a small torque screwdriver to tighten the abutments. He then covers her eye socket with two layers of a rubber-like material for making a cast and lets it set on her face for a couple of minutes. Just like having a wax job, she quips.

    While she sits still and silent, Flatt’s daughter steps in to take a snapshot for posterity. “Someone usually takes a photo,” Cadd says, smiling. With care, he removes the cast, which will later be used for a custom-made mould that fits the exact contours of her eye socket. He excuses himself to retrieve from next door a beautifully hand-crafted eye prosthesis for a younger woman, complete with thick lashes, a realistic brown eye and dark eyeliner. It’s a work of art. “That’s what we’re aiming for,” Cadd says. “But we’re still about five visits off something like that.”

    The appointment concludes after an hour, but before Flatt heads back to Geelong she turns to Cadd and jokes: “I can’t be a one-eyed Cats ­supporter then, can I?”

    To read the full story, visit The Australian. Above photo credit: Julian Kingma.

  • The Vine interview: Chino Moreno of Deftones, January 2011

    An interview with Chino Moreno of Deftones, for The Vine. Excerpt below.

    Interview – Deftones

    January 2011 is an interesting time for Australian fans to be witnessing Californian hard rock act Deftones. Here in the country for their first tour since 2007 – they headlined the Soundwave Festival that year – it’s been eight months since the five-piece released their sixth album, Diamond Eyes, to extensive critical acclaim (TheVine included). They’ve been on the road for most of that time, seemingly becoming comfortable with splicing new material amongst enough tracks from their big-sellers – second album Around The Fur (1997), and follow-up White Pony(2000) – to keep the long-term fans happy. 

    Diamond Eyes holds some of the heaviest tracks the band have ever committed to tape. Built around Stephen Carpenter’s Meshuggah-like downtuned guitars and Abe Cunningham’s punishing percussion, the album’s 11 tracks marry beauty and brutality in a way that Deftones had never – up until this point – fully realised. Despite the melancholy the band had been confronted with in the last few years – an underwhelming fifth album in 2006’s Saturday Night Wrist; drug addiction; and bassist Chi Cheng’s car accident in 2008, resulting in a severe head trauma that has kept him in a semi-conscious state ever since – Diamond Eyes, against the odds, is arguably the band’s most uplifting and optimistic release in their 23-year history.

    In the middle of the national Big Day Out tour, The Vine connects with singer – and occasional live guitarist – Chino Moreno on Friday 28 January, the eve of their first BDO sideshow at the University of NSW Roundhouse.

    Andrew: I’m interested to know what an average day as part of the Big Day Out tour looks like.

    Chino: It’s pretty mellow. We play semi-early, in the middle of the day, and I’ve not yet adjusted to the time change here, so I’ve been waking up every single morning at like 5 or 6am. So I’m up super early. I go out, I get coffee. I usually go for a run or something, and cruise around. I don’t get there until a little after noon. I get to the venue, and there’s usually a little bit of press or something like that, and then I get ready to play. We’ve been averaging to go on stage between 4 or 5pm. We play our set, and then hang out, and check out some of the other bands. There’s a few good groups who I’m into who’re on the lineup this year. So I cruise around and see some good stuff.

    I saw a video interview with a New Zealand website from last week, where you mentioned that you’re digging a band called The Naked and Famous.

    Yeah, I actually met them on the first night of the tour. They gave me one of their records, and I’ve listened to it, and I’m digging it. It’s similar to a lot of the stuff that I listen to, when I’m not listening to very loud music [laughs].

    Have you made any other musical discoveries while here on tour, so far?

    I wouldn’t say ‘discoveries’, so much. I got to see some bands live that I’ve never seen, like Crystal Castles. I got to see them perform live, which I was really into. I really like the records, so it was good to be able to see them live. Tool, as well; a lot of the time, I get to see them.

    Has Rammstein’s stage production convinced you to look into including pyrotechnics in your set?

    [Laughs] I don’t know, man. I don’t know if that’d work for us. I don’t know if we have the finances for that. They have, like, flames that go off every three minutes. That’s gotta be pretty pricey. But no, it’s cool; I always enjoy watching them play, because it’s very theatrical. They’re great dudes; they’re super nice. When you watch them on stage, you think they’re these huge beasts. But they’re very humble.

    For the full interview, visit The Vine. For more Deftones, visit their website. The music video for their song ‘You’ve Seen The Butcher‘ embedded below.

    Elsewhere: an interview with Abe Cunningham, Deftones’ drummer, for The Vine in April 2010

  • Mess+Noise single review: Gotye – ‘Eyes Wide Open’, October 2010

    A single review for Mess+Noise. Excerpt below.

    Gotye – ‘Eyes Wide Open’

    “So this is the end of the story/Everything we had, everything we did/Is buried in dust,” begins the first original solo offering from Gotye since 2006’s Like Drawing Blood LP. Following its runaway success, songwriter Wally de Backer prepared a remix album, Mixed Blood, then shelved Gotye in favour of consistent writing and touring with his other band, The Basics. Ahead of a slot on the 2011 Laneway Festival and an impending third LP comes ‘Eyes Wide Open’, a compact, three-minute tune available for free download from his website.

    The most striking aspect of the song is its sparse instrumentation, especially when compared to his intricately-layered past works. ‘Eyes Wide Open’ is built around a three-note bass progression, de Backer’s characteristically muscular drumming, and that unmistakable voice. Additional credits for “whale cello” (Gareth Skinner), “poker bass” (Lucas Taranto) and “wasteland pedal steel guitar” (Michael Hubbard) are noted, but their input is more atmospheric than integral.

    Full review at Mess+Noise. More Gotye on MySpace. The music video for ‘Eyes Wide Open‘ is embedded below.

    I should point out that what appears above is not the original review I submitted. Turns out I’d totally misheard most of the lyrics I quoted. Wally texted me soon after it was published to tell me the correct lyrics. How embarrassing. At least it was on the web, where it could be easily updated. I’m now super cautious when quoting lyrics – especially in newly-released music – for fear of being wrong. Again.