Monday, June 17, 2019

Ecdysis: a work in progress

Sometimes snakes can’t slough. They can’t burst their old skin. Then they go sick and die inside the old skin, and nobody ever sees the new pattern. It needs a real desperate recklessness to burst your old skin at last. You simply don’t care what happens to you, if you rip yourself in two, so long as you do get out.
D. H. Lawrence (1885 - 1930)

Numerous animals periodically moult, either seasonally or as part of their life cycles. The shedding of a snake’s skin is also known as sloughing, or ecdysis.

The discarded skin, which frequently remains intact, includes the brille, or ocular scale, so moulting is crucial for sustaining the snake’s clarity of vision.

Pictured above and below: selected progress views of Ecdysis, acrylic on linen, 40.5 x 30.5 cm.

Friday, June 7, 2019


At last, the lino blocks for my forthcoming artist book, Frankenstein's Women, are just about ready for printing.

The project, which focuses on the marginalised women in Mary Shelley’s gothic novel, Frankenstein; or, the Modern Prometheus, began life at Melbourne Athenaeum Library during a residency for Melbourne Rare Book Week in 2018, the bicentennial year of the novel’s publication.

My heartfelt gratitude to Paul Compton for his considerate and extremely generous gift, the v-tool seen bottom right. Not only is it a thing of beauty, it cuts through lino like butter.

For views of individual blocks and further information, visit Moth Woman Press

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Rambling Rose

Rambling Rose, acrylic on linen, 40.5 x 30.5 cm. (Progress view)

With the demands and distractions of the upcoming move presently dominating our lives, the relatively uninterrupted studio time I previously enjoyed seems like a lifetime ago.

Godwin Bradbeer, a former colleague from my teaching days in the Drawing Department at RMIT University, maintains that even brief periods at the easel can add up, and, in time, yield results. So it has proved to be with Rambling Rose, the painting featured here.

For several disheartening weeks, t
he work has hung in limbo, but whenever I could - which hasn’t been nearly as often as I’d have liked – I’ve slunk into the studio and snatched a moment or two with it. Not surprisingly, progress has been sluggish - to the extent that I was about to write it off as a lost cause.

Mostly, it feels as if the painting - and a printmaking/artist book project I also have on the go - have become interruptions to packing up for the move, rather than vice versa. It’s only today that the painting appears to be coming together at last (unless I’m deluding myself, which is entirely possible).

It’s gratifying - and a considerable relief - that I can soon (hopefully) count the painting among its sister works in the Backstory suite, particularly as this marks something of a turning point in its development. Rambling Rose is the first of several planned works to reintroduce tattoo iconography, beginning with the intermittently recurring emblem of a red rose. 

Selected progress views are directly below:

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Packing up

For the last few days, Shane Jones and I have been in Abbotsford, beginning the long, arduous task of clearing, packing and sorting a lifetime of possessions, AKA, Stuff. 

We’ve made considerable headway in wrapping our sizeable collection of artworks, some of them our own, many by friends and other artists whose works we admire. (The night scenes in Shane's cloud paintings, pictured above, top centre, are precursors to the work in his solo show, Glow, which opens this afternoon at Charles Nodrum Gallery).

We have settled into a smoothly coordinated production line, with me constructing bubble wrap bags, Shane packing them and Alice providing comic relief. For her, all this is heaven. She gets to indulge in some of her favourite pastimes, like playing on the table (strictly forbidden, but apparently no one told Alice, except me, at least two hundred times) and rolling around in bubble wrap, a particular obsession of hers.

As far as repetitive, seemingly endless tasks go, I’ve come to the realisation that I’d rather pack up artworks than books. We seem to have a bottomless pit of those too, despite periodic attempts at downsizing. Recently we boxed up our books at my Ballarat house prior to new carpet being laid. The process was so mind-numbingly tedious, I couldn’t face putting them all back, only to have to go through it all again when the house is sold. Most are in storage until we move into our new place

The thing is, books and artworks are such a big part of our history, that any serious attempt to cull is inevitably doomed. St. Martha, the Patron Saint of Housewives (as portrayed in my 1997 painting, pictured above), reckons that compared to moving house, slaying dragons is a cinch.

Meanwhile, the downstairs area is piling up with our possessions and looking more like the last scenes in Orson Welles’s Citizen Kane by the minute. A slight exaggeration, perhaps; nevertheless, if we find a sled called Rosebud down there, I wouldn’t be at all surprised.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

IMPRESSIONS - Art from the Australian Print Workshop

Prelude, 2018, linocut with chine-collé, 20 x 15 cm, edition: 20. Printer: Simon White.
Photo credit: Tim Gresham

If you missed the Australian Print Workshop's biennial exhibition IMPRESSIONS 2018 first time round, you’ve just been granted a second chance.

Impressions - Art from the Australian Print Workshop, which includes over 50 works selected from the original show, will shortly be on view at The G.R.A.I.N Store, Nathalia, in northern Victoria. I'm delighted that my linocut, Prelude, is among them.

Impressions - Art from the Australian Print Works opens this coming Sunday, 2 June and runs until 13 July. For further details, see the invitation directly below.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019


As an art student, back in the 1980s, I largely taught myself to make linocuts from examples in books, and Roger Butler’s catalogue of the relief prints in the permanent collection of the Art Gallery of Ballarat (1) was my bible. So you can imagine my excitement about BECOMING MODERN - AUSTRALIAN WOMEN ARTISTS 1920 -1950, which opened last week. Not only does it include many key works by the women artists in my still treasured catalogue, but also numerous examples of paintings, prints, sculptures and by other much admired Modernists, most them from the AGB’s own collection. 

Superlatives all the way for BECOMING MODERN and congratulations and thanks to Curator Julie McLaren, AGB Director Louise Tegart, and all those involved in putting together this superb show. I can’t wait to add the exhibition catalogue to my collection. To learn more about the show, visit the Ballarat Courier HERE.

Last Friday’s memorable opening night, for which we were invited to dress in the Modernist mode, was impeccably stage managed by AGB Marketing and Public Programs Officer, Peter Freund. In the top photo, I’m pictured with Thea Proctor’s iconic hand coloured linocut, The Rose (1927). What a thrill it was to see it in the flesh. (Photo credit: Shane Jones). 

Directly below, I'm with Shane Jones and BECOMING MODERN curator Julie McLaren. (Photo credit: Peter Sparkman).

BECOMING MODERN runs to 4 August. 

The show is a timely one in terms of the campaign 24 Hour Project: Know My Name at the National Gallery of Australia, which was also launched on Friday night. The campaign's aim is to draw attention to the work of creative women everywhere. It will take a damn sight longer than 24 hours for that to happen, but it's a positive start. As Nick Mitzevich, Director, National Gallery of Australia, states:

"We want to do more than have a conversation about equality, we want to take action and address the significant imbalance before us... The value of women artists in this country needs to be elevated as we are a thriving, diverse culture that should be celebrated.”

(1) Roger Butler, 1981, Melbourne Woodcuts and Linocuts of the 1920s and 1930s, Ballarat Fine Art Gallery, Ballarat, Vic. 

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Good news

In recent news, these things happened: whilst walking Alice last week, Shane received an extremely welcome phone call regarding his warehouse apartment in Abbotsford, which has been up for sale. Scroll through to see the happy outcome.

Of course, Alice is convinced it was the photo of her on the real estate sign (see below) that clinched it, and to be honest, the agent (whose advice throughout the whole process has been right on the ball) was keen to include her in at least one shot.

Thank you so much to everyone who left messages of support and encouragement when we placed the Abbotsford place on the market at very short notice, our fingers tightly crossed.

We celebrated with a celebratory glass of bubbles in the ACMI cafe before last night’s Cinematheque screening.

We’re still hard at work preparing my Ballarat house for sale. Meanwhile, we’re a step closer to moving into our Art Deco dream house and making Ballarat our permanent home.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Public Works

This piece by Bronwyn Watson focusing on my work Vorticist 2 (2004, collection: Art Gallery of Ballarat) appears in the Review section of today’s Weekend Australian. What a delightful and unexpected surprise. 

Many thanks to the friends who alerted me to the article and to Art Gallery of Ballarat Director Louise Tegart for her perceptive comments about the work. (Click on image for a clearer view).

Saturday, May 4, 2019

FRANKENSTEIN'S WOMEN artist book: cover art in progress

Pictured below is a developmental view of the cover art for my upcoming artist book Frankenstein's Women, a project that began life in 2018, the two-hundredth anniversary of the publication of Mary Shelley's gothic novel Frankenstein.

For further progress views of the lino block, visit Moth Woman Press HERE.

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Full Moon in Abbotsford

‘He who has two women loses his soul. He who has two houses loses his mind.’
(Introductory proverb to Full Moon in ParisDir. Éric Rohmer, 1984)

Shane Jones and I still have a way to go before our respective houses are sold and we move full-time to Ballarat. I haven’t lost my mind yet, but have certainly misplaced it on several occasions. 

Meanwhile, Shane’s two-storey warehouse apartment in Abbotsford, our home for 21 years, has never looked neater or more clutter-free (for us) and is just about ready to go on the market. The last two views show part of his ground floor studio.