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Monday, June 13, 2016

Art and the Environment, Art and Friendship


Pictured above with my shortlisted watercolour Actinus imperialis Beetle Woman at Saturday evening’s launch
 of the exhibition Art Concerning Environment at Scope Galleries, Warrnambool 

The last few days have reinforced something I am constantly aware of: although the internet and social media have many advantages - indeed, in the case of long-distance friendships, they are practically indispensable. But they are not, nor will they ever be, substitutes for meeting face-to-face. 

On Friday morning in Melbourne I bumped into Steve Cox, an artist whose work I’ve long admired, but have never had the chance to get to know. We had a lively, energising conversation and recognised many mutual points of connection. Later that same day, he joined me, my partner Shane Jones and our friend Paul Compton for a couple of glasses of wine before Shane, Paul and I set off to see Resident Alien, a superb one-man play based on the final years of Quentin Crisp, starring one of Australia’s national treasures, Paul Capsis.

On Saturday evening the biennial exhibition Art Concerning Environment at Scope Galleries in Warrnambool was launched. It was such a pleasure to finally meet two of my favourite Instagram friends. Shirley Ploog (left) was a fellow finalist with her stunning work, Nature is Talking, are We Listening and Jo Lane (right) with her equally impressive Human Nature. We are standing in front of the winning work (before the official announcement, so we didn't know it at the time): Harry Nankin's The End of the Age of Entitlement:


Carole Wilson, an old friend and now one of our neighbours at Ballarat, was another finalist. Carole is on the left in front of her work Field Notes – Woodland alongside her partner, Annie Drum.


Directly below, L-R are myself, Carole Wilson, Annie Drum and Shane Jones in front of Actinus imperialis Beetle Woman:


Our friend Debbie Hill, who is also Ballarat-based, is pictured below with her shortlisted work, Come Sinner, Come. (We've been talking about getting together nearer to home for at least a year now).


Marion Manifold, another old friend we haven’t seen for far too long, was a finalist with her linocut Southern Ocean Wreck. Here are Shane and Marion in front of her work:


On Sunday afternoon, after a gap of ten years, we reunited with Ewa Narkiewicz and Michelle Reedy, who are in town for an all too brief visit. For over a decade they have been running the visionary Elephantstay in Thailand. I first met Ewa back in the 1990s when we were in a group exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria organised by the Women's Art Register. Later, she and Shane (and also Carole Wilson) showed for a time at the same commercial gallery. Michelle formerly worked as a keeper at Melbourne Zoo before she and Ewa moved to Thailand to found Elephantstay. For more about Ewa and Michelle, go HERE. To learn more about Elephantstay, visit the informative Wikipedia page HERE.

Myself, Shane and Ewa

Ewa Narkiewicz and Michelle Reedy