Pages

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Hibiscus Harlequin Bug Woman, Part 2



Hibiscus Harlequin Bug Woman, 2015, acrylic on wood, 20 x 20 cm

Now full-fledged, Hibiscus Harlequin Bug Woman (Tectorcoris diopthalmus homo-insecta) shows her true colours. 

Directly below: selected views of the documentation process. (For more, scroll down to previous post, Saturday, March 21).

Work in progress #3: Hibiscus Harlequin Bug Woman, 2015,  pencil, gesso and acrylic on wood, 20 x 20 cm

Work in progress #4: Hibiscus Harlequin Bug Woman, 2015, acrylic on wood, 20 x 20 cm

Saturday, March 21, 2015

A work in progress: Hibiscus Harlequin Bug Woman

AKA Tectorcoris diopthalmus Woman and Cotton Harlequin Bug Woman, this luminescent Homo-insecta hails from Northern and Eastern Australia, New Guinea and several of the Pacific Islands. Adult females are predominantly orange with blue patches, although the colours vary considerably. The female of the species is larger than the male.

The Hibiscus Harlequin Bug Woman feeds on several species of the Hibiscus family, cultivated cotton, flame free flowers, grevillea and bottlebrush saplings.

Work in progress #1: Hibiscus Harlequin Bug Woman, 2015, pencil on wood, 20 x 20 cm

Work in progress #2: Hibiscus Harlequin Bug Woman, 2015, pencil and gesso on wood, 20 x 20 cm

Monday, March 16, 2015

Between the Sheets

Top: Between the Sheets: Installation view, Gallery Central, Perth, WA
Base: Homo-insecta - An Unnatural History Portfolio, 2013, artist book, hand coloured linocuts and inkjet prints, 33H 24W x 1.5D cm, edition 2/10.

An installation view of Between the Sheets, the international artist books exhibition that includes my unbound book, Homo-insecta (foreground, right) inset below with the front cover and selected page views.

Between the Sheets
Gallery Central
12 Aberdeen Street
Perth
Western Australia

The exhibition opened on 7 March and runs until 2 April.

For full details of the exhibition, visit Moth Woman Press HERE.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Ellen Terry, John Singer Sargent and the Beetle Dress


Further to my previous post, which focused on the newly completed Jewel Beetle Woman (Sternocera aequisignata) now present my Muse: Dame Ellen Terry (1847-1928) as Lady Macbeth, a role she famously performed on the West End of London in 1888. Amongst the crowd on opening night was the painter John Singer Sargent (1856-1925) who later persuaded her to sit for him. An eye witness to Terry’s arrival at Sargent’s Chelsea studio was none other than Oscar Wilde, who remarked: “The street that on a wet and dreary morning has vouchsafed the vision of Lady Macbeth in full regalia magnificently seated in a four-wheeler can never again be as other streets: it must always be full of wonderful possibilities."

Left: John Singer Sargent, Ellen Terry as Lady Macbeth, 1888, oil on canvas, 221.0 x 114.3 cm. Collection: Tate
Right: The Beetle Dress, designed by Alice-Comyns-Carr and constructed by Ada Nettleship: restored to its
former glory. Collection: Ellen Terry Museum, Smallhythe Place

Alice Comyns-Carr designed the gown, which you can read about HERE. Ada Nettleship crocheted it from a combination of soft green wool and blue tinsel yarn from Bohemia that was primarily intended to evoke chain mail, whilst also suggesting the scales of a serpent. The dress was sewn with 1000 iridescent wings from the green Jewel Beetle Sternocera aequisignata.

Terry kept the ‘beetle dress’ for the rest of her life and sometimes wore it on special occasions. The gown now resides in the permanent collection of the Ellen Terry Museum, Smallhythe Place, near Tenterden in Kent, UK. I first visited this beautiful museum, which was formerly Terry’s home, in the mid-1970s and returned in 2011, soon after a major restoration of the gown had been undertaken. You can learn about it HERE and HERE.


Thursday, March 12, 2015

Jewel Beetle Woman (Sternocera aequisignata)

Now fully-formed, the newest member of the Homo-insecta species makes her debut appearance below, followed by further details of the documentation process. (See also previous post, Sunday, March 8).

Jewel Beetle Woman (Sternocera aequisignata), 2015, acrylic on wood, 20 x 20 cm

Jewel Beetle Woman (Sternocera aequisignata) detail of work in progress, March 2015

Jewel Beetle Woman (Sternocera aequisignata) work in progress, March 2015

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Emergent Jewel Beetle Woman

Early stages of Jewel Beetle Woman (Sternocera aequisignata) 2015, acrylic and pencil on wood, 20 x 20 cm.




Tuesday, March 3, 2015

A meeting at Rona Green's studio

Yesterday afternoon (Monday, 2 March) I met with printmakers Clayton Tremlett and Rona Green at Rona's wonderful studio in the Mercator Building, which is part of the extensive Abbotsford Convent arts complex.

Clayton is the curator of Inking Up, a forthcoming exhibition at Castlemaine Art Gallery and Historical Museum; it will comprise linocuts by the three of us, all on the theme of the tattoo.

Inking Up will run from 29 August - 18 October. Full details will be posted nearer the time.

The following photos were taken during the initial selection process.

Foreground: a selection of my Tattooed Faces linocuts (mid-1990s). Artworks on the walls are by Rona Green.

Clayton choosing Rona's works for Inking Up

Monday, March 2, 2015

A Cabinet Painting: Red and Blue Leaf Beetle Woman

Red and Blue Leaf Beetle Woman, 2015, acrylic on
canvas, 12 x 10 cm

For a great many years I've been drawn to portrait miniatures, particularly those produced in the sixteenth century by two of its finest and most celebrated exponents, Nicholas Hilliard and his pupil, Isaac Oliver.

Completed just a few days ago, Red and Blue Leaf Beetle Woman draws equally from my personal iconography and the tradition of cabinet painting, which came to prominence in the late 1580s. Diminutive, but larger in scale than portrait miniatures - the majority of cabinet pictures measure up to 24.5 centimetres (10 inches) in height and typically present a full-length, highly detailed view of the subject. 

Collectors stored these intimate works in a "cabinet", a small private room that sometimes served as a study. (The name "cabinet" originates from the Italian word for room). In later years cabinet paintings were housed in display cases that were also known as cabinets. 

Discover more about the fascinating subject of cabinet painting HERE.

Red and Blue Leaf Beetle Woman is not destined for such a closeted existence, however. Under the auspices of the project Looking Down Under: Australian Contemporary Art, she is one of 200 works heading for Italy, where they will become part of the Luciano Bennetton Imago Mundi Collection

Pictured below: developmental stages of the work:



Saturday, February 21, 2015

Homo-insecta in Collingwood and New Zealand

Yesterday afternoon I popped in for another look at Editions 2015 at Tacit Contemporary Art. The opening on 11 February was so crowded there was scant time to look at the work, let alone absorb any of it; I didn't even have a chance to see my own. As it turns out, it's a terrific show. Printmaking is clearly alive, well and revelling in its seemingly infinite diversity. The work is beautifully presented too - Keith and Tim have done a fantastic job of the hang.

My Jewel Beetle Woman (second from left) in Tacit's window, alongside works by Lisa Sewards,
Marion Manifold, Elizabeth Banfield and Kir Larwill

It was good to meet fellow exhibitor Soula Mantalvanos and her husband Theo at long last. When I arrived, Soula had just finished a talk to a group of years 11 and 12 students. I'm sorry I missed it. From their general demeanour, it looked as if it was an inspiring success. One of the students is pictured directly below, in front of my Homo-insecta linocuts.

A selection of Homo-insecta linocuts currently on view at Tacit Contemporary Art, Collingwood

Due to the magic of the multiple, four of the Homo-insecta are concurrently on show at Aratoi, Wairarapa Museum of Art and History in Masterton, New Zealand in a continuation of last year's Near Neighbours. The exhibition opened on 13 February and runs until 29 March. Thank you, Paulette Robinson for sending the photograph below via Near Neighbours co-curator, Rona Green.

Four Homo-insecta linocuts proudly share a wall with the superb work of New Zealand
printmaker John Callaghan. (Installation view, Aratoi, Wairarapa Museum of Art and History)



Friday, February 20, 2015

Indian Leaf Butterfly Woman #2

An unexpected bonus of having a studio in my back garden is the regular visits I receive from various members of the insect and arachnid kingdoms.

Meanwhile, a fully formed Indian Leaf Butterfly Woman rests on my drawing board.

Indian Leaf Beetle Woman, 2015, acrylic on wood, 20 x 20 cm

Rhinoceros beetle visitor

Rhinoceros beetle (side view)



Thursday, February 19, 2015

Indian Leaf Butterfly Woman, Part 1

Currently on the drawing board in the Ballarat studio:




Work in progress pictured above:
Indian Leaf Butterfly Woman, 2015, acrylic on wood, 20 x 20 cm.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Queen Alexandra's Birdwinged Woman, Part 2

Queen Alexandra's Birdwinged Woman, 2015, acrylic on wood, 20 x 20 cm

Recently completed, this is the first of a series of paintings intended as companion pieces to the ongoing Homo-insecta watercolour series that I begun in 2014.

The luminous, linear clarity of Hans Holbein's portraits on wood were very much on my mind when I made this work. Currently he is the artist whose paintings are most strongly represented on my revamped studio notice board. The works of Lucas Cranach the Younger, the Clouet Brothers and William Larkin (which also feature on the board) are some other points of reference. (For links to all of these artists, scroll down to Postcards, Blog Post Saturday, January 24).

Thursday, February 5, 2015

PANDORA'S BOX


The work that was featured on my very first post: The Enchanted Hair Ornaments, 2007, 
acrylic on canvas, 18 x 13 cm (each panel). Private Collection. Click on image to enlarge.

When I tentatively published my first blog post on August 12, 2008, there's no way I could have foreseen that blogging would develop into a significant extension of my art practice.

Unlike social media, where users are inundated with information on a minute-by-minute basis, and where there is a knee-jerk tendency to scroll right by, the website and blog sites are where people can, if they are so inclined, choose to find me; they may even decide to linger awhile. Once in a great while I've questioned why I bother to put so much energy into something so ephemeral, but never for long - I derive too much pleasure and satisfaction from blogging for it to become a serous concern. 

Now, it seems it never will be. Recently I received an email from the National Library of Australia requesting a license to include the website Deborah Klein Australian Artist (designed and maintained by Doug Willis) Deborah Klein's Art Blog and its sister blog, Moth Woman Press in PANDORA, Australia's Web Archive. Instigated by the library in 1996, the archive focuses on "identifying and archiving online publications that meet our collecting scope and priorities". PANDORA's intention is "...to build a comprehensive collection of Australian publications to ensure that Australians have access to their documentary heritage now and enable the archiving and provision of long-term access to online Australian publications."

Copyright has duly been granted to the Library, ensuring that they "will take the necessary preservation action to keep the website and blog sites "accessible as hardware and software changes over time. The Library will catalogue the websites and add the records to the National Bibliographic Database (a database of catalogue records shared by over 5,200 Australian libraries), as well as to their own online catalogue..."

Needless to add, I couldn't be more delighted.

To learn more about PANDORA and for access to archived titles, visit the website HERE.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Your invitation to Editions 2015


From next week a selection of the Homo-insecta linocuts will be on view at Tacit Contemporary Art, where they will modestly rub shoulders with works by some of the crème de la crème of Victorian printmakers. You are warmly invited to join us at:

Editions 2015

Annual print exhibition



Opening event: Wednesday 11 February 6.30 - 8pm



Artists include: Elizabeth Banfield, T J Bateson, Jazmina Cininas, Tom Civil, Louise Donovan, Kevin Foley, Peter Garnick, Zoe Geyer, Silvi Glattauer, Janet Goldman, Pete Gurrie, Carolyn Hawkins, Jodi Heffernan, Ying Huang, Kate Hudson, Anita Iacovella, Kyoko Imazu, Sheridan Jones, Hyun Ju Kim, Deborah Klein, Damon Kowarsky, Kir Larwill, Anita Laurence, Marion Manifold, Soula Mantalvanos, Scarlett Mellows, Rachael Ness, Sharron Okines, James Pasakos, Cat Poljski, Stephanie Jane Rampton, Trudy Rice, Lisa Sewards, Georgina Whish-Wilson and Joel Wolter.

The exhibition continues until 1 March.

Tacit Contemporary Art

312 Johnston St

Abbotsford VIC 3067

Wednesday - Friday 11 am - 6 pm

Saturday - Sunday 11 am - 5 pm


Image on invitation:
Jewel Beetle Woman, 2014, hand coloured linocut, 56 x 38 cm, edition size: 20. Printed by Simon White at the Australian Print Workshop, Melbourne.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Queen Alexandra's Birdwinged Woman, Part 1

Pictured below are some early stages of my first work for 2015: Queen Alexandra’s Birdwinged WomanThe 20 x 20 cm wooden panel has been sized in order to protect it and prevent darkening - its subtly grained surface will provide the background to the image. The figure was outlined in pencil. It was then painted over with a couple of light coats of gesso, through which these guidelines remain visible. An area of detail has already been added: I concentrated on the subject’s skin and hair, mainly to get a feel for the medium. I've painted on wood before, but have never worked in quite this way. The remainder of the image will be built up via a series of thin layers, to which further details, notably the markings on the butterfly's wings, will be added.






Saturday, January 24, 2015

Postcards


As the first month of 2015 nears its end, my principal focus remains on the Ballarat studio: further personalising the space and surrounding myself with as much essential reference material as possible before beginning the next phase of my work.

The final undertaking – at least, for now – has involved gathering together the majority of my enormous postcard collection and making a selection for the large noticeboard that hangs in the kitchen area of the studio. For many artists, postcards provide vital and affordable lifelines to the original artworks. My own postcards have been compiled over a period of over thirty years, mainly from museums in Europe, but also the US and Australia.


There are some cards that will always make the cut (for example, the postcard of Orson Welles) and even if the same reproductions aren’t included, there are numerous artists (among them, David Hockney, Rembrandt, Nicholas Hilliard, William Larkin, Hans Holbein, Rogier van der Weyden, Gwen John, Paula Rego, Max Beckmann, Lucas Cranach the Younger, Lucian Freud, Kate Bunce, Stanley Spencer, Piero della Francesca, Käthe Kollwitz, Rene Magritte, Jean and Francois Clouet) whose work will always have a place in my Personal Pantheon.

Aside from Orson Welles, the performing arts are currently represented by a select number of individuals including Noel Coward, Charles Laughton, Lotte Lenya, Coral Browne, Fritz LangJean Cocteau, Georges Melies and Sergei Einstein.


Like many of us, I’ve long been fascinated by the spaces of creative people. Two of my personal favourites feature in the collection: Monks House, the home of Leonard and Virginia Woolf, and Vita-Sackville West’s writing room and garden at Sissinghurst.

A handful of postcards were acquired from Parisian museums in 1993, when I undertook a three-month Australia Council residency at the Cite Internationale des Arts. These cards first graced the wall of the Paris studio. After so many years, they are finally reunited. Although they are no longer grouped together, I've singled them out below:


Pictured above, clockwise, they are:

Rene Magritte
The Double Secret, 1927
114 x 162 cm
Muses national d'art moderne
Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris

Jeune femme a la violette
Oil on canvas
61 x 51 cm

Portrait of Dora Marr, 1936
Private collection

The black hair or Seated dark-haired girl c 1918
Oil on canvas
92 x 59.5 cm
Collection muse national Picasso, Paris

Resting Nude c 1977

School of Fontainebleau, 16th century
Gabrielle d'Estrees et une de ses soeurs
96 x 125 cm
Louvre, Paris

(Details of each as provided on verso of postcards).

Most of these paintings have a similar aesthetic to the work I was making at the time; some, if not all, are still resonant. The derogatory term “chocolate box” has often been levelled at Renoir, but he’s been responsible for some splendid works, including the unassuming little masterpiece pictured above. Of these six works, the Modigliani is the one of which I remain fondest. Residents of the Cité are given a free pass to the museums of Paris. I visited the superb Picasso Museum many times, on some occasions just to see that portrait.

When I was sorting through the two boxes in which most of my postcard collection is stored, I also found some old photographs. One was of an oil pastel drawing, a kind of stylized self-portrait (present whereabouts unknown) that was made during the Paris residency. It’s reproduced below. Unfortunately it’s a reproduction of a reproduction that isn’t very good to begin with. It’s included here because the postcards in question can be seen in the background.


Like my Ballarat studio, the noticeboard display is expected to constantly evolve. Meanwhile, at this point in time, they are both pretty well where I need them to be.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Hair Ornaments


A project that consumed a substantial chunk of time over the Christmas break was the rearrangement of my collection of hair ornaments. Some are Spanish peinetas; others are of Asian origin. The majority are western, dating from the early twentieth century onwards. Many were sourced in antique markets; several contemporary hairpins were discovered at Camden Lock Market in London. I'm also fortunate to have received some exquisite ornamental combs as gifts.

A sizeable number of combs and pins were the basis for particular works in the Hair Ornaments series, exhibited at Charles Nodrum Gallery, Melbourne in the exhibitions Tease (2004) and Forget Me Knots (2007). A handful also served as models for individual works in the installation Iron Butterflies, which featured in the group exhibition The Body at RMIT Project Space, Melbourne (2007) curated by Dr. Richard Harding.

The hair ornaments were originally displayed en masse in a studio I briefly occupied in our place at Abbotsford; it's since become my partner Shane’s workspace. After I bought the house at Ballarat, selected jewels from my modest collection were pinned to a notice board intended to cover a singularly ugly 1970s air conditioning unit in the living room. During the past week I painted the pin board a vibrant white; the hair ornaments are now shown to far greater advantage.




This prompted me to acquire and paint a second notice board for the studio, to which the remainder of the collection is now attached. By and large, the end of my comb collecting days coincided with a change of direction in the work. In recent years, however, I’ve acquired several additional examples, including the hand painted wooden birds from China (see studio notice board below, bottom right) which I am now able to display for the first time. If combs ever make a return appearance in my imagery, it will most likely be prompted by these distinctive specimens, which also draw their inspiration directly from the natural world.




Red Comb #3, 2004, oil pastel on paper, 75x56.5cm. Private Collection. 


Red Comb #5, 2004, oil pastel on paper, 75.5x56.5cm. Private Collection.  


Eight Women, 2005, acrylic on canvas (8 panels) 60x120cm (overall). Collection: the artist. 

Iron Butterflies, 2007, RMIT Project Space (installation view), cut-out linocuts, dimensions variable.
Collection: the artist.