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Monday, April 22, 2019

End of an era


It’s amazing what you find when you’re having a major clear out, for example, this snippet from THE AGE newspaper, dated Wednesday, April 24, 2002. The article focuses on the challenges faced by artists who are based in inner-city areas, in our case, Abbotsford. There is a long history of artists discovering affordable areas in which to live and work, then being forced out when they become fashionable and prohibitively expensive. The article contains some inaccuracies - for example, our soon-to-be-former studio/dwelling most certainly wasn’t purchased with the aid of a government grant. Aside from that, it’s spot on.

Friday, April 19, 2019

West Side Story


Lately Shane and I have been so flat out and distracted (see previous post), it would have been easy to miss the powerful Opera Australia production of West Side Story at the Arts Centre Melbourne, which we saw last night. Fortunately, we’d purchased our tickets well before we dreamed we’d be in the throes of house moving. The story (based loosely on Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet) and the sublime Leonard Bernstein/Stephen Sondheim score have lost none of their edge or relevance, moving us from laughter to tears, from shock to despair to hope in the blinking of an eye. The dances are breathtaking, the entire cast impeccable. In fact, everything about this production is perfection. 

This morning we've both returned to scrubbing and packing with a renewed spring in our step. 

Thursday, April 18, 2019

My world... and welcome to it

Not Drowning, 1996, oil pastel, 160 x 120 cm. Collection Grafton Regional Gallery, NSW.
Acquisition of the 1996 Jacaranda Drawing Award. 

At present, I'm trying to keep my head above water as Shane and I tackle a slew of odd jobs and renovation projects before selling our respective properties and moving into our new home.

New carpet is being laid in my old Ballarat house this week. Our furniture and other possessions are strewn everywhere, including the kitchen, sunroom and my studio.


The contents of the boxes below, labeled 'Library Books', are from our personal library. Rest assured, they are not overdue library books!


Ideally, we'd have preferred polished floors, but the condition of the floorboards is too poor.


Before the carpet can be laid, Shane and I have to paint and install new skirting boards.




Meanwhile, in the Ballarat sunroom, a steadfast Alice guards our possessions.


As stress levels mount, however, she wisely decides to follow in the footsteps of her namesake and escape through the looking glass.



While the carpet installation is under way, we're in Melbourne, madly finishing numerous odd jobs, cleaning, clearing, rearranging and decluttering the contents of Shane's Abbotsford house before it's placed on the market on May 1. The agent is sending over a photographer on Tuesday, so the pressure is really on.

In the meantime, work deadlines, including a forthcoming solo show, are piling up. Despite my best efforts, it feels like I'm sinking fast. I may just throw in the towel and follow Alice into Looking Glass Land, where, with any luck, a clean, organised, workable studio awaits me.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

More progress views


Pictured above and below: an as yet untitled work in various stages of progress.



Sunday, April 14, 2019

The Other


Another painting that's nearing the finishing line, although it seems to me that the works in this series will never be quite finished. There's always a hair out of place somewhere.

Top: The Other, acrylic on linen, 40.5 x 30.5 cm. (Progress view).

Thursday, April 11, 2019

VOYAGER



The Untold Want

The untold want by life and land ne'er granted,
Now voyager sail thou forth to seek and find.

Walt Whitman (1819 - 1892)

Pictured top: Voyager, acrylic on linen, 40.5 x 30.5 cm, considerably reworked and near completion.

For earlier progress views of Voyager, go HERE

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Brilliant Brolly part 3


A quick follow-up to yesterday’s Brilliant Brolly twilight fundraiser at Duldig Studio museum + sculpture garden. A dynamic auctioneer ensured excellent results from the donated works in the public auction, opening with my brolly, Sunshade (pictured background centre).

There were some delightful entries in the open competition, all of which were silent auctioned. The Brilliant Brolly campaign certainly brought out the latent creativity in many of the entrants. Several of my favourite brollies were made by people who insisted they weren’t artists and couldn’t draw. 

It was an evening to remember and such a fun and creative way to raise funds for this truly unique museum.

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Brilliant Brolly part 2


Here’s hoping the sun will come out from the clouds for today’s Brilliant Brolly extravaganza at Duldig Studio museum + sculpture garden.

The museum’s months-long Brilliant Brolly Campaign will culminate at twilight, from 5 - 7 pm. This is your chance to own a truly unique artwork and support this remarkable house museum’s campaign to raise funds to care for its nationally significant art collection and extend its outreach programs.

For those not familiar with the Duldig Studio, it’s the former home and studio of Viennese-Australian artists Slawa Horowitz-Duldig (1901 - 1975) and her husband, sculptor Karl Duldig (1902 - 1986).

Brilliant Brolly is a homage to Slawa, who was also the inventor of the folding umbrella. The prototypes, plans and documentation pertaining to the umbrella, Flirt, which she patented in 1929, are on view in the museum.

Numerous artists have hand-decorated specially donated umbrellas for Brilliant Brolly, and the results are spectacular.

I’m one of several artists who were invited to create an artwork for auction. My contribution, Sunshade, is featured here.


AUCTION ITEMS
• "Light as a Feather" Headpiece by Milliner, Lynette Lim of Love Lotus Millinery
• Printed Silk wearable textile by Susan Dimasi of Materialbyproduct
• Umbrella designed and decorated by Deborah Klein
• Umbrella designed and decorated by artist Judi Singleton

To place a bid, go here: https://www.32auctions.com/ArtistCreations

For further information, go here: https://www.duldig.org.au/brilliant-brolly/

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Dream Home


I wonder if you are like me and find that most days fly by so quickly, it can sometimes take a few moments to recall what happened just few days ago. What was it we did last Sunday, for example? Ah, yes - we went to the market, had coffee and brunch in Kittelty’s café at the Art Gallery of Ballarat (a Sunday ritual) did a few chores - and oh, yes, we bought a house.


Shane Jones and I first visited the property in Eureka Street, Ballarat a couple of weeks ago, on one of the last days it was open for inspection. We thought it the most beautiful house we’d ever seen, heartbreakingly so, because we assumed that financially it would be way out of our reach.

We decided to attend the auction, however, mainly to take one last, wistful look inside our dream house. On the afternoon of the auction, however, we were attending to some of those aforementioned chores, and barely made it on time. 

To our amazement, not one person placed a bid and just as the property was about to be passed in, we tentatively raised our hands. The auctioneer continued his final spiel in a vain attempt to coax further buyers. To us, this seemed to go on forever, and I was convinced we’d be outbid at the last minute. I started to feel like Jane Eyre when her wedding to Rochester was thwarted at the altar. But no such tragedy befell us and, to our continuing disbelief, the house is ours.

The whole thing was so completely unplanned and unexpected that, needless to say, neither of us has had time to place our existing homes on the market. (Shane’s is in Melbourne and mine is in Ballarat). Fortunately, the agent has negotiated a particularly long settlement to give us time to prepare both properties for sale.

This is the first home Shane and I have owned together. As I mentioned to a friend, I’ll miss my current studio and the humble little house in which I’ve been so happy. But the new place will give us the additional space we so badly need to hang our artworks and, for the first time ever, to properly display and utilise other collections, in particular, books, music and films.  I must admit I’ve already watched the slideshow below countless times, especially on the evening after the auction, in an effort to convince myself that it wasn’t all a dream. I still haven't quite got there.

The house has five good sized-bedrooms, two of which will be requisitioned for studios. Best of all, on the first floor is a cinema. As lovers of Art Deco and lifelong cineastes, it feels like we’ve died and gone to heaven. 

To view the slide show of our future home, go HERE.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

National Eucalypt Day 2019

Fallen Woman 5, 2017, phemograph, 43 x 32 cm, edition: 20

In celebration of National Eucalypt Day, here is a random selection of works from the Fallen Women suite. The leaves in these works were sourced in the Victorian Goldfields town of Newstead.

Held annually on 23 March, National Eucalypt Day aims to raise awareness of eucalypts and celebrate the important place that they hold in the hearts and lives of Australians. 

The National Eucalypt Day program aims to meet the promotion, education and conservation objectives of Eucalypt Australia by addressing the themes of tree breeding and genomics, primary education and public awareness.

- From the Eucalypt Australia website.


The Last Leaf, 2017, phemograph, 35.5 cm x 29.5 cm, edition: 20

Fallen Woman 4, 2017, phemograph, 42.5 x 32 cm, edition: 20

Memory 40, 2017, phemograph, 29 x 21.5 cm, edition: 20

Fallen Woman 11, 2017, phemograph, 39.5 x 29.5 cm, edition: 20

Memory 4, 2017, phemograph, 29 x 21 cm, edition: 20


Tuesday, March 12, 2019

IMPRINT: Survey of the Print Council of Australia at Parliament House, Canberra

Pressed for Time, 2017, archival pigment print, 31.3 x 23.2 cm. Edition: 30.
2017 Print Council of Australia Member Print Commission. Printer: Luke Ingram. 

My archival pigment print Pressed for Time (2017) has been curated into a special exhibition at Parliament House, Canberra. IMPRINT: Survey of the Print Council of Australia comprises 58 prints selected from over 600 works in the PCA Member Print Commission archive.

The exhibition includes works by Noel Counihan, Barbara Hanrahan, David Rose, Ray Beattie, Bea Maddock, Earle Backen, Ruth Faerber, Hertha Kluge-Pott, Olga Sankey, Judy Watson, Janet Dawson, Mary MacQueen, Raymond Arnold, G.W. Bot, Yvonne Boag, James Taylor, John Coburn, Jenuarrie Warrie, Maria Kozic, Wilma Tabacco, Rick Amor, Treahna Hamm, Robert Jacks, Bruno Leti, John Olsen, Michael Kempson, Susan Pickering, Andrew Ngungarrayi Martin, Belinda Fox, Georgia Thorpe, Gracia Haby & Louise Jennison, Gosia Wlodarczak, Rebecca Mayo, Janet Parker-Smith, Rona Green, Sophia Szilagyi, Glen Mackie, Tama Favell, Elizabeth Banfield, David Fairbairn, Graeme Drendel, Deanna Hitti, Sue Poggioli, Maria Orsto, Samuel Tupou, Pia Larsen, Deborah Klein and Cat Poljski. 

In September 2017, Andrew Stephens, editor of the Print Council of Australia's journal IMPRINT, interviewed me about the making and meaning of Pressed for Time. You can read it HERE.

For further information, go to the Print Council of Australia website HERE:

IMPRINT: Survey of the Print Council of Australia 
Exhibition Area 
Level 1
Parliament House 
Canberra, ACT.

Exhibition hours: 9 am - 5 pm daily until Sunday 12 May.

Friday, March 8, 2019

Soothsayer - a work in progress


Featured on this International Women’s Day are selected developmental stages of Soothsayer, acrylic on linen, 40.5 x 30.5 cm, flanked (in the top and bottom views) by corresponding works from the steadily growing Back Story suite.



Thursday, March 7, 2019

Meanwhile, at MOTH WOMAN PRESS...


Progress on my latest body of paintings is continuing at a slow, but steady pace. Recently, however, I took a detour to Moth Woman Press, following the chance discovery of a vintage children's poetry book in a secondhand market at Smythesdale.

As if by magic, the little book opened onto Alice, a short poem by Christina Rossetti. I've been interested in Rossetti's work for many years, but was unfamiliar with her writings for young readers. The poem, one of two of her verses contained in the book, refers to an ebullient child. Whether Rossetti's subject was real or fictional may well remain a mystery, but her description fits our little cat Alice like a glove. The urge to combine Rossetti's verse and a selection of my recent photos of Alice in an eight-page mini-zine proved irresistible. This is the result.


The zine is limited to an edition of 60. For further background on Alice, visit Moth Woman Press HERE and for page views, go HERE.

A selection of this and other Moth Woman Press publications are available at Playing in the Attic in Ballarat. This diminutive, delightful emporium, which strongly supports local makers, is currently celebrating its third birthday and is well worth a visit if you're visiting these parts. You can find it here:

Playing in the Attic
119a Sturt Street
Ballarat Victoria 3350
AUSTRALIA

Hours: Wednesday - Saturday 10 am - 4pm
Phone: 0428580309
Email: trudymac@bigpond.com.au


Bev Murray, a visitor from the UK perusing Moth Woman Press publications in Playing in the Attic.
Several (including three Alice zines) will shortly return with her to London.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

MY MONSTER: the catalogue

MY MONSTER: The Human-Animal Hybrid, published by RMIT University Gallery, Melbourne
Cover art: Kate Clark, Gallant, 2016 (detail)

Back in 2018, the merging of animals and humans into fantastical hybrid creatures was extensively explored in MY MONSTER: The Human-Animal Hybrid at RMIT University Gallery, Melbourne. Impeccably curated by Dr. Evelyn Tsitas, the exhibition ran from 29 June – 18 August.

Thanks to the recent publication of a handsome catalogue, comprising a foreword by Helen Rayment, Acting Director of RMIT Gallery, an insightful introduction by Professor Barbara Creed and an informative essay by Tsitas accompanied by exhaustive installation views, it’s now possible to revisit this remarkable show at will. 

Installation view of Ladybird Woman, 2014, watercolour, 41.91 x 29.72 cm, RMIT University Gallery, Melbourne, June 2018

Three of my watercolours, including Ladybird Woman (pictured above) were part of MY MONSTER.

To page through the e-catalogue, go here: https://rmitgallery.com/digital/my-monster-the-human-animal-hybrid-3/

Monday, February 18, 2019

Slow art

Voyager, acrylic on linen 40.5 x 30.5 cm (progress view). 

Developing several paintings simultaneously makes for slower progress with works such as this one, but does bring a sense of unification to the series as a whole. It’s not an uncommon approach with my linocuts, for example, the current Frankenstein’s Women suite (see previous post) but not so usual in my painting practice. At times, having too many unresolved paintings on the go can be a tad unnerving, so I may need to reign them in a little. That aside, the technical, aesthetic and conceptual cross-pollination has been beneficial, making me less inclined to be precious about individual works.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Bride of the Revolution


It can be frustrating when a work in progress remains in limbo for too long. Sometimes, however, it can be a blessing, as in the case of my linocut, The Bride. Aside from the Title and Colophon pages, it’s the final work intended for the artist book Frankenstein’s Women, which centres on the women in Mary Shelley’s gothic novel, Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus. The delay has enabled me to rethink the work a little (see below) before too much was cut away. I’ve reworked part of the drawing and added a thin choker (see above) which, in the finished work will be coloured red.


The choker was in particular vogue during the French Revolution, although it was hardly a fashion accessory. Female French ex-patriots wore red ribbon chokers as coded testaments to their own close escapes from the guillotine, and as a tribute to those who were not so fortunate. The colour red signified droplets of blood around a severed head.

Mary Shelley's political views were inherited from her parents Mary Wollstonecraft and 
William Godwin, whose politics leaned to the far left. Frankenstein may have its roots in Romanticism, but it is equally an allegory for the Reign of Terror, a commentary on mass revolution and social injustice. Frankenstein’s monster personifies the revolutionaries in terms of the dehumanising, brutalising affect of cruelty, poverty and neglect. Frankenstein and his family represent the bourgeoisie. 

For further reading, go HERE

The linocuts from Frankenstein's Women will be exhibited in a solo show at HipCat Printery, opening on October 12.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Brilliant Brollies at the Duldig Studio

Pictured with my hand-painted umbrella, Sunshade, created for the Duldig Studio's second Brilliant Brolly
event on April 6.  Photo credit: Shane Jones.

In the And Now for Something Completely Different Department, tomorrow, February 10, is International Umbrella Day.

Accordingly, the Duldig Studio museum and sculpture garden is hosting Part 1 of the Brilliant Brolly Campaign, a competition wherein some extremely talented and imaginative students have hand-decorated over forty folding umbrellas. Tomorrow afternoon from 2 - 4 pm, their umbrellas, including the prize winners, will be sold in a silent auction to raise funds for the care and conservation of the museum's collections and in support of its outreach programs.


A selection of the student entries on display in the sculpture garden. Image courtesy the Duldig Studio.

I first got to know the Duldig Studio in 2018, when I was invited to speak as part of their Creative Women in Focus series. 
This extraordinary house museum is the former home and studio of Viennese-Australian artists Slawa Horowitz-Duldig (1901 - 1975) and her husband, sculptor Karl Duldig (1902 - 1986). The museum is filled with their artworks, collections and furniture, some of the latter designed by Slawa. 

Another of Slawa's remarkable achievements is the invention of the folding umbrella, in much the same form as we know it today. The prototypes, plans and documentation relating to the umbrella, 'Flirt', which Slawa patented in 1929, are on display as part of the current exhibition at Duldig Studio, SLAWA: MODERNIST ART AND DESIGN. To learn about 'Flirt' and its troubled history, go HERE.

INTERNATIONAL UMBRELLA DAY FUNDRAISING EVENT

SPECIAL FAMILY DAY
Sunday 10 February, 2.00pm - 4.00pm

Duldig Studio 
92 Burke Rd 
Malvern East
FREE - ALL WELCOME


Part 2 of Brilliant Brolly is an open competition with entries due by 4 pm on March 21. A celebratory event will take place on Saturday, April 6 at 6 pm. I’m one of several invited artists who have embellished a brolly especially for the campaign, although mine is more along the lines of a sunshade.

The underside of Sunshade. Photo credit: Shane Jones.

Full details of the second event will be posted nearer the time. For further information, visit the Duldig Studio HERE.

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Journeywoman


This painting, currently on the easel in my Ballarat studio, has been a particular challenge. I'm still up for it, despite being a mass of insecurities about my work (which, paradoxically, seem to increase with age and experience). What is most satisfying about this series is how much I’m learning along the way. Speaking of paradoxes, one crucial thing I’ve already learned is that for some journeys, you actually need to stay put.

That isn’t to say my travelling days are over. It won’t be for a while yet, but return journeys to London, New York, Paris and Berlin are firmly in my sights. Without the formative times I spent in those places, and others, this work wouldn’t exist. I wonder if I’d even be an artist. After all, it’s a calling that has more extreme ups, downs, twists and turns than the roller coaster at Luna Park in my hometown, St. Kilda.


Geographically speaking, Ballarat may not be so very far from there. But in other ways, I’ve come a long way (not far enough, admittedly, but further, perhaps, than I tend to give myself credit for). I still have miles to go before I sleep. At present, however, here and now is precisely where I need to be. At times some of my protagonists' more labyrinthine locks seem like convoluted maps, strewn with secret pathways and not a few dead ends. It’s been a while since I last visited Hampton Court Palace, but I reckon that after this series, navigating its famous maze will be a cinch.

Saturday, February 2, 2019

An update


On the second day of January, this was the painting on my easel. It’s now February 2, and it’s occurred to me that I’ve never posted an update. 


A couple of weeks back, I actually dared to think the work was finished, so much so that I had it documented by the exemplary Tim Gresham (see above). It was only after looking at his photo that I realised I’d made a huge mistake with the braiding. Like most artists, I can sometimes get too close to my work. Often, I find that a photograph gives me some necessary distance, enabling me to focus more clearly and, most crucially, pick up on any glaring errors. 

Making the necessary corrections wasn’t as difficult or invasive as I’d feared. (See top). The work is still not quite done, but getting there, I think.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Current work in progress

Following directly from where my previous post left off, here are further progress views of my current painting, the latest in the ongoing Back Story series. As yet untitled, the work is acrylic on linen and measures 40.5 x 30.5 cm.




The following view was snapped in my Ballarat studio early this morning.


As previously mentioned, of late I've been revisiting the work of the German Romantic painter Caspar David Friedrich, whose paintings I studied firsthand during a trip to Berlin in 2011, primarily at the Alte Nationalgalerie. In what has been a longish period of gestation, it has taken until now for something of his influence to permeate my own work.