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Wednesday, October 21, 2020

THINKING OF PLACE II - further travels


Today’s blog post brings news I’ve been remiss about sharing earlier: the group exhibition, THINKING OF PLACE II, originally conceived for the international print symposium IMPACT 10 in Santander, Spain in 2018, is currently on exhibit at Northsite Contemporary Arts in Cairns, Far North Queensland. The show opened in September and continues to November 7.

Prints being multiples, from today, October 21, and continuing to November 1, the exhibition will run concurrently at Arthaus Contemporary Gallery in Orakei, Auckland, New Zealand. For further information, visit the Facebook page of THINKING OF PLACE II HERE.

Yesterday a review of the exhibition by Ina Arraoui arrived in my inbox - an unexpected and delightful surprise. My contribution to the show, the phemograph Detritus, 2018, pictured above, is referenced in the review. Back in 2018, I was unable to travel to Santander for IMPACT 10. With continued travel restrictions, it’s possible I won’t even get to see the exhibition in any of its subsequent venues, so my thanks and gratitude are extended to Ina for giving many others in the same boat a very real sense of what THINKING OF PLACE II is about.

Ina Arraoui is a New Zealand-based print artist and curator. Her website is HERE.

The introductory paragraphs of Ina Arraoui’s review are directly below. To read the review in its entirety, click HERE

Introduction

Although many of us envisage a physical geographical location when thinking of place, it’s more often than not a complex synthesis of feelings and memories that ultimately defines our relationship to a place. Printmaking artist and academic Monika Lukowska argues that notions of place are inseparable from the human experience, referencing geographer Yi-Fu Tuan’s theory of “topophilia” whereby place only comes into existence when meaning is attached to a certain location resulting from time spent between the person and the space (2018). The exhibition Thinking of Place II is an impressive cultural exchange project where over 60 artists from 9 printmaking collectives across 5 countries have been invited to make works exploring questions of place. Artists were encouraged to reflect on the relationship between place, memory and time, using a range of traditional and contemporary printmaking processes and techniques, resulting in a rich and engaging conversation, as diverse in perspectives as in the collection’s visual presentation. 

Background to the project

Thinking of Place was initially conceived as a cultural exchange project between five artist groups from New Zealand and Australia. Members of each group had met at the IMPACT 8 Conference in Dundee, Scotland, instantly striking a lasting friendship and giving birth to a trans Tasman collaborative print project.  After a successful first edition of the exchange, which was exhibited in each of the host cities, the organisers decided to continue the momentum with a second iteration of the project to be exhibited at IMPACT 10. In the spirit of the printmaking community, which is marked by a distinctly inclusive, collaborative approach, the project expanded to include four more groups from Canada, Ireland and the UK.  Whether a group is based on a shared geographical location or print studio, each one is committed to advancing printmaking and supporting artists working in print-based media. Collaborative projects such as Thinking of Place give printmakers the opportunity to not only exhibit their work on the international stage but to foster professional and personal connections across the printmaking community, globally. Participating artists have been selected by each group either by invitation or open call. 

Read on HERE.


Sunday, October 11, 2020

New adventures in printmaking: craft presses


Back in May, during the first period of lockdown, I purchased the craft press shown here. Since then, I’ve been predominantly focused on painting and drawing and it’s only recently that I’ve had the chance to try it out.  

Essentially the press is an embossing and die-cutting machine, but it can also be utilised for small scale relief, monotype and intaglio prints. Our two etching presses have been in storage since last year’s move, and due to insufficient studio space, they are likely to remain there for some time yet. Meanwhile, there’s a small project I’ve been keen to undertake, as well as an accumulation of previously carved lino blocks that I’ve never even proofed.

I first became aware of the existence of craft presses via the Instagram page of Margate-based linocut artist, Nick Morley, AKA Linocut Boy. Long haul visitors to this blog might remember that he featured some of my work in his book, Linocut for Artists & Designers (2016). When lockdown was first introduced in the UK, Nick reported on Instagram that he’d resorted to working at home in his attic with only the the most basic of materials and something called an X-Cut. I had no idea what this was and it piqued my curiosity. Some online searching revealed it to be what is regarded as the Rolls Royce of craft presses. Aside from its sleek good looks, the X-Cut has the benefit of a dial at the top that enables change of pressure, a feature that’s generally lacking in similar presses. Unfortunately, my searches also revealed the X-Cut to be by far the priciest of craft presses - considerably more so with the added cost of international shipping. As it turns out, they are also the hardest to come by, particularly in this part of the world. If you are fortunate enough to track down an X-Cut, however, I recommend Annie Day’s informative article, Making prints with an x cut XPRESS Craft Machine in Creative Printmaking Workshops on her website, Printmaking SistersHERE

Further investigation led me to the Facebook page Craft Press Printmakers, which has close to five and a half thousand members. There I learned that most brands do a good job even without adjustable pressure - it’s simply a matter of experimentation with the amount of backing material used. Armed with the knowledge gleaned from there, I set out to order a press of my own. I was fortunate to find one on an Australian site, CraftOnline. It was very reasonably priced at $165.00, including shipping. (The price has since been further reduced). The press is designed for printing on up to A4-sized paper and even has a dial on the left side that enables adjustment of pressure. It’s an ideal size for small spaces like my current studio. Don’t be fooled by its kitschy brand name, Poppy Crafts, or its plastic construction and tizzy colour scheme. In my first efforts, printing initially from the old block pictured below, I’ve achieved infinitely more satisfying results and with far greater ease than with either of our etching presses. 

Click on images for a clearer view. An update on the Poppy Crafts press will follow in the near future.


Pictured above: Wallpaper Rose, the Disappearing Woman, linocut, 15 x 10 cm.

Thursday, October 8, 2020

Now we are three



Today is Alice’s third birthday. That makes it nearly three years since Shane made the famous pronouncement, “I don’t want another cat, Deb.” And we all know how that turned out.

Happy Birthday, Alice! 










Friday, October 2, 2020

For RBG 1933-2020

Lace collars have been a recurring part of my personal iconography for over two decades. The works featured here and several others not pictured were made at different times and in varying contexts. Art is often prescient, however. Nowadays I can’t look at any of them without thinking of “The Notorious RGB”. It feels as if they were always about her, even before I was aware of her existence. The late Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s iconic collection of collars were more than mere fashion accessories. Through them, she staked her claim on a traditionally male garment and at the same time, feminized it. 

The wider significance of her collars is detailed in Vanessa Friedman’s article, Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Lace Collar Wasn’t an Accessory, It Was a Gauntlet, The New York Times, first published September 20, 2020:


https://www.nytimes.com/2020/09/20/style/rbg-style.html


When he was commissioned to design a visual tribute to RGB for the front cover of THE NEW YORKER, October 5, 2020, illustrator Bob Starke created the following work:



For background information on the illustration, read  Bob Starke’s “Icons” by Francoise Mouly, THE NEW YORKER, September 23, 2020 here:

https://www.newyorker.com/culture/cover-story/cover-story-2020-10-05


Pictured above:

Remnants, 1999, acrylic on two canvases, 75.5 x 12.5 cm (top), 12.5 x 12.5 cm

(bottom)

Icons, Rob Starke, cover illustration, THE NEW YORKER, October 5, 2020


Pictured below:

Regeneration, 2020linocut in progress, lino block 42.5 x 26.5 cm

Anonyme, 1998, linocut printed from three blocks on Japanese mending tissue, 73 x 62 cm

Untitled, 1998, linocut printed from two blocks on Japanese mending tissue, 73 x 62 cm

Coil, 2001, acrylic on seven canvases, 60 x 55.5 cm

Still Life with Lace collar, 2001, acrylic on three canvases (detail) 131.5 x 40.5 cm

Page from an Album, 2000, linocut printed from three blocks on Japanese mending tissue, 63 x 74 cm 

Lace, 2000, acrylic on two canvases, 23.5 x 30 cm (upper) 20 x 25 cm (lower)

Web, 20002020, acrylic on 4 canvases, 35 x 25 cm 


For more about Ruth Bader Ginsburg, go here:


https://www.biography.com/law-figure/ruth-bader-ginsburg


The acclaimed documentary, RBG, 2018, is also highly recommended:


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RBG_(film)


The trailer for RBG is here:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=biIRlcQqmOc


R.I.P., RBG. Long may your legacy continue.









Wednesday, September 30, 2020

A package from Arizona

Yesterday afternoon the postman delivered a sturdy brown envelope from my friend Deborah McMillion, who lives way across the other side of the world, in Arizona. Look what was inside: 


I can’t remember the last time I received a handwritten note, let alone two, and the four tiny stamps are exquisite. I’m already thinking of how I can incorporate the handmade Prickly Pear and Yucca papers into my work to best do them justice (see above) and Deborah’s etchings, Capes Wrapped Tight and Rain I (also pictured below) are things of beauty. 

This morning I received a call from Creative Framing to say my works for the George Collie APW Award exhibition were ready for collection (see previous post) and we stopped by this afternoon. Predictably, they’ve done a brilliant job. It was also a perfect opportunity to drop in Deborah’s etchings, both of which were very much admired by everyone. 

On the advice of Ian, who will be framing them, I’ve chosen a slightly different frame for each work, and both will be window-mounted in the cream museum board shown below. I hope Deborah will approve! 

For some time I’ve been considering devoting an occasional blog post to one or two my favourite things. It seems there’s no time like the present to start right now with Capes Wrapped Tight and Rain I, both of which, incidentally, are very much in keeping with today’s weather! 

Thank you, Deborah. Shane and I will treasure them.


Monday, September 28, 2020

Looking forward



Directly following (at least, to the best of my ability) are further COVID-directed updates to my ever-evolving exhibition schedule.

While lockdown continues in Melbourne, it remains difficult to provide firm dates for the George Collie APW Award Exhibition at the Australian Print Workshop. Furthermore, travel restrictions have made it impossible to take two key works intended for the show to our Melbourne framer. 

Thankfully a fellow Ballarat-based artist came to the rescue with her recommendation of local firm, Creative Framing. The linocuts pictured above and below are somewhat tricky to frame, owing to their layered construction and the delicate nature of the materials involved. The team at Creative Framing have taken this completely in their stride. Not that I’m surprised. Recently they also framed Maid of Honour, my shortlisted drawing for the current 2020 Swan Hill Print and Drawing Award. Their suggestions for the job were spot on and I couldn’t have been more delighted with the finished result.


We are very fortunate to have a picture framer of this calibre here in Ballarat. I may not know when the APW show will run, but at least I'll be ready for when it does.

Looking further forward, Backstories, my solo exhibition at Stephen McLaughlan Gallery in Melbourne has now been confirmed for April 2021, roughly a year after it was originally scheduled. Precise dates will be provided nearer the time.

My residency at Geelong Grammar remains penciled in for May 2021, dates TBC.

For those who may have missed the post of Saturday August 29, RECENT PRINTMAKING NEWS, my solo show at Queenscliff Gallery* has been rescheduled to run from June 3 -21, 2021. 

*PLEASE NOTE: the former Queenscliff Gallery & Workshop (QG&W) recently transformed its  workshop mezzanine to an exclusive preview and exhibition space. Accordingly, the gallery has been renamed Queenscliff Gallery (QG). 

QG's updated url is: https://qgallery.com.au.

The gallery's new email address is: qg@qgallery.com.au.

In other recent news, I've been offered a show at Gallery on Sturt in Ballarat. Again, dates have yet to be confirmed, but it will most likely take place in the latter half of 2021.

Monday, September 14, 2020

THE BIG KITTY

Official poster for THE BIG KITTY
Top right-hand corner, L-R: Lewis Miller, Deborah Klein and Gavin Brown
Far right: stars of THE BIG KITTY, Tom Alberts and Lisa Barmby

My Blog Post of August 25, Through the Eyes of Film, focused on several older works that were partly inspired by Film Noir.

It never occurred to me that soon afterwards I would again be raising the subject, but in an entirely different context. This post is about a noir-inspired film in which I actually appear.

THE BIG KITTY, an affectionate, tongue-in-cheek pastiche of Film Noir, was jointly conceived, written, designed and directed by Melbourne artist Tom Alberts with his wife and co-star, fellow artist, Lisa Barmby.

The film has yet to be released, and up until now, few, if any of us, have seen it. My own life partner, Shane Jones, appears as an Irish cop, Sean O'Connery, and in my cameo appearance, I play a bogus fortune teller, Madame F. 

At this stage, most of us have only the vaguest idea of the plot as a whole, except that it involves a kidnapped cat, played by Tom and Lisa's beloved feline, Monsieur Baptiste, and a colourful cast of supporting characters portrayed by shady inhabitants of the Melbourne art world. 

The film has had a long period of gestation - it was begun in 2008 - but if the following trailer and short promotional film are any indication, it will be well worth the wait. Both clips are gems in their own right, but for all their sense of fun, it's clear that Tom and Lisa are positively steeped in every facet of this singular period of film history.

THE BIG KITTY - TRAILER 

THE BIG KITTY - IT’S A WRAP! - PROMOTIONAL FILM

For some background into the making of the film, visit Raymond Gill's article below:

DAILY REVIEW by RAYMOND GILL 
Published 31 July 2019

The good news is that we won't be kept in suspense for too much longer. On Sunday, September 20, direct from Paris where they're currently based, Tom and Lisa are streaming an official cast and crew screening, followed by an after-party via Zoom. Hopefully further screenings won't be too far behind.

I for one foresee an instant classic. They don't call me Madame F for nothing.

Saturday, September 12, 2020

Shane’s birthday week


The highlight of the past week was undoubtedly Shane’s first (and hopefully, last) birthday celebration in lockdown.  

The big day fell on Tuesday, September 8 and we enjoyed every minute of it. In short, it involved an excursion to nearby Woowookarung Regional Park in the morning, a double feature screened in our home cinema in the afternoon and evening, and a considerable amount of eating in between.


Fortunately, as far as eateries go, we’re spoilt for choice in Ballarat. Shane’s spectacular birthday cake from Ferguson Plarre Bakehouse was even more delicious than it looks.




Alice wouldn’t be deterred from joining in the celebrations although the FAQ, “Should you be on the table, Alice?” fell repeatedly on deaf ears.



In the evening we got takeaway from our favourite restaurant, Carboni’s, which just happens to be walking distance from the house. They excelled themselves.


The first half of the birthday double bill was one of my gifts to Shane. Mrs Lowry & Sona biopic about the complex relationship between the painter L. S. Lowry and his mother, was distinguished by the towering performances of its two leads, Vanessa Redgrave and Timothy Spall. I’ve always been drawn to quiet, character-driven films, and didn’t find this at all stagey. It’s one of the criticisms that’s been levelled at it, presumably by those with a penchant for gun fights and car chases. 

Shane’s excellent choice for the second feature was Sally Potter’s wry comedy, The Party, which also features Timothy Spall and a sterling ensemble castI first saw it in 2017 at the Melbourne International Film Festival and loved it. This was Shane’s first viewing and he shared my enthusiasm. It’s a joy from start to finish, with a killer twist at the end. 


Shane’s birthday may have been on Tuesday, but his cake just kept on giving.


Today he cut the last two slices (below) while Alice, who is all partied out, slept it off under the table (above).


Thank you so much to everyone who sent birthday greetings. Next year we hope you can join us for a slice of cake.

Sunday, September 6, 2020

Father’s Day


I’ve had this photograph of myself when very young for many years. I have no idea of where it was taken. It looks to be somewhere in central Melbourne, possibly Collins Street? Ironically, I’m standing outside what appears to be an art gallery. If anyone can shed any light on the location and even better, identify the gallery, I’d be most grateful.

Recently I made the most wonderful discovery. Hovering in the top left-hand corner, barely in the picture frame, is the profile of my late father, Ron Klein. Evidently his head was concealed by the frame that usually houses the photo. He died suddenly in 1978, when I was still living in London. It’s as if he’s been watching over me all these years and I never knew it. Well, I do now. Happy Father’s Day, Dad. 

Saturday, August 29, 2020

RECENT PRINTMAKING NEWS

Jewel Beetle Woman, 2014, hand coloured linocut, 56.5 x 38 cm
Printed by Simon White at the Australian Print Workshop
Photo credit: Tim Gresham

The recent Melbourne International Film Festival was the catalyst for reflection on my relief prints from the mid-1990s that were directly influenced by film (see previous post), a neat segue into today’s post, which focuses on current printmaking news.

Early this year, the Australian Print Workshop called to tell me I was the recipient of the annual George Collie APW Award along with the late Barbara Hanrahan. Then came COVID-19, followed by stage 3, then stage 4 restrictions and everything was - and still is - placed on hold. In the continuing uncertainty and upheaval, the APW never did get around to officially announcing the news of the award - until now. 

Details of the 2020 George Collie APW Award exhibition are included in the latest edition of the APW’s newsletter, NEWSPRINT. No dates have been provided for the show as yet; I’m just happy and relieved to know it’s going ahead. For further information, visit here:

https://australianprintworkshop.cmail20.com/t/ViewEmail/i/B034B681333FEDA42540EF23F30FEDED/2750EDE4761F4DCC2018F019E6F15D33

In further news, my solo show at Queenscliff Gallery and Workshop, originally scheduled for late 2020, will now take place in 2021. I’m really excited about this exhibition, which will comprise paintings, relief prints and drawings. Dates for the show at QG&W are June 3 - 21. Full details will be provided nearer the time.

Speaking of the above mentioned galleries, in the past week I received the happy news that my linocut Jewel Beetle Woman (pictured top) made when I was a special guest artist at the APW Summer School in 2014, has been sold by QG&W to a private collector in California.

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Through the eyes of film


Mirror, Mirror, 1996, linocut, 31 x 46 cm

For me, one of the highlights of every year (if not THE highlight) is the Melbourne International Film Festival. This year I’d planned to book myself into the same tiny, budget friendly, strategically located hotel that was my base for MIFF in 2019, the first year I no longer had a permanent base in Melbourne. 

Then came the news I’d been dreading, but expecting: MIFF 2020 was cancelled due to COVID-19.

Orson Welles once described film as a ribbon of dreams. Indeed, film has long threaded its dreamlike way through just about every aspect of my life, including my imagery. Perhaps that's why, despite the postponement of several major projects that were set in place for 2020 (two solo shows, a residency and the George Collie APW Award exhibition) the cancellation of MIFF 2020 was the blow that fell the heaviest.

Later, a scaled-down online version of the film festival, MIFF 68 1/2, was announced. To me it seemed like the complete antithesis of everything that makes MIFF in particular, and cinema going in general, special. Films are made to be seen in cinemas with all the attendant highs and lows that come with the territory. We own a projector paired with a BluRay player, but not the attachments necessary for streaming, so I would be reduced to watching films on my laptop. In support of MIFF, I renewed my membership but had absolutely no desire to participate in MIFF 68 1/2.

It was a recent phone conversation with Anne Virgo, Director of the Australian Print Workshop, that changed my mind. Anne had called to discuss the George Collie APW Award exhibition, which it seems will go ahead at some point, in some form or another that's yet to be determined. (More about this in my next post). In our initial conversations about the show earlier this year, Anne had insisted on scheduling it around my MIFF dates, a gesture that was kind, flexible and empathetic beyond the call of duty. When I remarked on the irony of this, and the poor substitute I perceived MIFF 68 1/2 to be, Anne flatly pointed out that this is simply how things are now and I decided it was time to get real.

Woman on a Bridge, 1996, hand coloured linocut, 46 x 30 cm

Queen of Hearts, 1996, hand coloured linocut, 60.5 x 32.5 cm

The film festival was already a few days under way when I jumped on board, but I'm so glad I did. MIFF 2020 enabled me to travel the world while remaining safe at home. It was a wild and wondrous ride, and I enjoyed every minute of it. Even the couple of films I liked the least left their mark because they took me somewhere I'd never otherwise have been. In recent MIFFs, I've seen well over fifty films. This year, partly due to my tardiness, I saw only 16 feature length films, together with numerous short subjects. To be fair, however, one of the feature films was Mark Cousins's 14 hour documentary, Women Make Film - A New Road Movie Through Cinema, which was presented in five parts. Parts 1- 4 each ran for around 3 hours, with the 5th part clocking in at a more civilised two hours. Moreover, another film, Lara, had such an emotional impact on me, I saw it twice.

Woman on the Beach, 1995, linocut, 46 x 30 cm

Throughout MIFF 68 1/2, buoyed by the remarkable and revelatory Women Make Film, I cast an occasional backwards glance at some of my works that have drawn their inspiration from women in film, more specifically Film Noir and in some instances, the Melodrama, aka The Woman's Picture.

Several of the Film Noir-related works hang in our upstairs cinema room and small downstairs office.

Film Noir inspired linocuts in the cinema room

Installation view in the office. The painting top, second from right, is by Michael Vale and the etching top right is
by Rick Amor. All remaining works - the paintings on the left and the oil pastel drawing bottom right - are by me.

Actress, director, producer and writer, Ida Lupino

One of many extraordinary women film makers highlighted in the Mark Cousins documentary is Ida Lupino. I've seen a number of her films as director, including The Hitch Hiker and The Bigamist (both 1953) but was unfamiliar with Outrage (1950) one of her films prominently featured in the documentary. The excerpts from this film, the story of a rape and its aftermath, made for powerful viewing. I've actually managed to track it down on YouTube, pending securing a copy of my own. Directly below is a still from Outrage. I include it here because of the uncanny similarities it shares with my linocut that directly follows it, Woman at the Door, a work that was made without any prior knowledge of Lupino's film.

Mala Powers in a scene from Outrage (1950). Directed by Ida Lupino.

Woman at the Door, 1996, linocut 60.6 x 32.5 cm


The feature films that made up my personal MIFF 68 1/2 are listed below:

Women Make Film: A New Road Movie Through Cinema (2019)
Directed by Mark Cousins • Albanian, Arabic, Bulgarian, Cantonese, Chechewa, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Farsi, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hindi, Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin, Mohawk, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Spanish, Thai, Turkish, Ukrainian, Urdu, with English subtitles • UK 

Two of Us (2019)
Deux
Directed by Filippo Meneghetti • France, Luxembourg, Belgium 

Lara (2019)
Directed by Jan-Ole Gerster • Germany 

The Leadership (2020)
Directed by Ili Baré • Australia 

The Go-Go's (2020)
Directed by Alison Ellwood • UK, USA 

Born to Be (2019)
Directed by Tania Cypriano • USA 

La Llorona (2019)
Directed by Jayro Bustamante • Mexico, Guatemala

Sunless Shadows (2019)
Directed by Mehrdad Oskouei • Iran, Norway 

Rebuilding Paradise (2020) 
Directed by Ron Howard • USA 

The Plastic House (2019)
Directed by Allison Chhorn • Australia

Prayer for a Lost Mitten (2020)
Prière pour une Mitaine Perdue
Directed by Jean-François Lesage • Canada 

Bombay Rose (2019)
Directed by Gitanjali Rao • India, Qatar, France, UK 

Anne at 13,000 Ft (2019)
Directed by Kazik Radwanski • Canada, United States 

Just 6.5 (2019)
Metri Shisho Nim
Directed by Saeed Roustayi • Iran 

Shirley (2020)
Directed by Josephine Decker • USA

Some Kind of Heaven (2020)
Directed by Lance Oppenheim • USA