Sunday, July 5, 2020

A cinema in waiting

The cinema on the first floor of our house is as close to resolved as it will ever be, except for one crucial element. It lacks a projector.* Pictured above is the stage as viewed from the rear of the cinema. We grew tired of staring at an empty screen, so retrieved Shane's painting, Untitled #67, from storage and placed it on the stage. I never tire of looking at it.

Our friend Ross, whose generosity and technical knowledge know no bounds, is gifting us his old projector. It took nothing less than a pandemic for us to place this final stage of our cinema’s development on hold.

I took these photographs several weeks ago to send to Ross, who is based in Melbourne and never had the opportunity to visit before lockdown was introduced.

Even as things cautiously began to open up again here in Victoria, there has been a dramatic spike in new cases, so it will be awhile yet before we can welcome him here. In the meantime, I realised that copies of the photos I sent to Ross were still in a folder on my desktop, and thought I'd share them here.

The Art Deco lounge suite shown above and in other views is our pride and joy. We bought it on Gumtree last year during the long lead-up to our move. It was originally intended for the downstairs living area, but proved to be too chunky for the long, narrow room. I'll be forever grateful to the furniture delivery men who managed go get it up our fairly narrow staircase with boundless skill, patience and good humour. I can't imagine a more ideal setting for it. Alice, our Groucho Marx-lookalike cat, photobombed this shot just as I pressed the shutter.

The view from the stage is pictured above. We had a ball collecting furniture and other items especially for this room. The small Art Deco table, foreground centre, was purchased from a local Ballarat shop, Antique Effects. Sadly, the shop is in the process of closing its doors, but will continue operating online. 

The mirrored fire screen directly below was also purchased locally, at Rocket and Belle, a source of several of our treasures.

To the left of the fireplace is a trompe l’oeil painting by Shane Jones. Above the mantelpiece
are a selection of my Film Noir-inspired linocuts from the 1990s.

The entrance to my studio is to the left of the stage (see below). The framed ‘DVD covers’ on the right of the doorway are paintings by Shane, based on (from top) Picnic at Hanging Rock, Orson Welles’s F for Fake, and Phar Lap. 

To the right of the stage, directly below, are three trompe l’oeil paintings by Shane. I’ve renamed the middle work Stage Door. Also in this view are four treasured photos of the Marx Brothers, purchased many years ago in London. 

In recent weeks, we've introduced rituals of meeting here for afternoon tea and a quiet drink at the end of the day. It’s a world unto itself, a comforting a refuge in these tumultuous times.

*An update on our cinema room will feature in my next post. 

Thursday, June 25, 2020

ONE HUNDRED FACES for your viewing pleasure

Yesterday we paid our first visit to the splendid ONE HUNDRED FACES, a group exhibition by Ballarat-based artists at Playing in the Attic in Sturt Street, Ballarat. (See also previous post). 

The exhibition has been superbly curated and impeccably installed by Playing in the Attic’s propietor, Trudy McLaughlan (pictured in the final view below).

A sure fire cure for the winter blues, ONE HUNDRED FACES is a Ballarat Winter Festival event and runs until July 19. 

Tuesday, June 23, 2020



A bright spot in the continuing catastrophe of Covid, the eagerly-anticipated group exhibition One Hundred Faces opens this week. 

The venue:
Playing In The Attic
119a Sturt Street
Ballarat 3350
(By the entrance of the Ballarat Mechanics Institute).

Curated by Playing in the Attic proprietor Trudy McLaughlan, the installation comprises one hundred 10 x 10 cm mini-portraits, all of them created by Ballarat artists. I have two works in the show, Begonia Virus #1 and Begonia Virus #2, pictured above, top.

Sadly, due to newly-tightened Covid restrictions, the opening event scheduled for next Saturday, June 27, has been cancelled. 

Happily, the installation will be displayed in the front window of Playing in the Attic and can be viewed 24/7 from tomorrow and throughout the exhibition’s official run.

One Hundred Faces is part of the Ballarat Winter Festival. 
The exhibition runs from June 27 – July 19.

For further information, scroll down to my Blog Post of 24 May, or access it here:

Sunday, June 7, 2020

The week that was

Yesterday week, Shane and I welcomed our first visitors since the recent easing of social distancing. Dmetri Kakmi (above and below, left) and Leigh Hobbs (above and below, centre) are dear friends who have been sorely missed. Due to months of lockdown, this was their first visit to the house. It was lovely to see them, but the afternoon passed far too quickly and now we’re missing them all over again.

In the week that followed their memorable visit, I’ve been developing several new works on paper (see below). The drafting table was formerly owned by Leigh, who gifted it to me several years ago. Coincidentally, at the time I had been searching in vain for one. It has become an essential piece of equipment, especially in my new studio, where space is of the essence. It gives me great pleasure to know that it is also linked to Leigh’s creative history. Shane has added a shelf so I can work on more than one project at a time. 

Working between different sizes is proving to be a liberating and learning experience. These works, shown in various stages of progress, are pencil, ink, gouache and soluble graphite.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

A linocut in progress

Following directly from where our post of May 20 left off, here are additional progress views of the linocut that has been consuming a great deal of my time and energy of late.

After transferring the basic outlines of the lace collar onto the block, the remaining details were hand-drawn in white acrylic paint. 

Along the way, my protagonist has lost her set of drop earrings; they have been replaced by loose tendrils of hair. A further addition is the rose tattoo on her neck, apparently extending from the centre stem in her collar. Once the work has been editioned, the rose will be hand-coloured in red.

In the last photo, carving of the intricate lace pattern has just begun.

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Begonia Virus #1 and #2

Begonia Virus #1, 2020, acrylic on canvas board, 10 x 10 cm

Begonia Virus #2, 2020, acrylic on canvas board, 10 x 10 cm

Begonia Virus #1 and Begonia Virus #2, pictured above, are part of ONE HUNDRED FACES, an upcoming installation of 100 paintings created by Ballarat-based artists on 10 x 10 cm canvas boards. The collected works will be displayed in a 10 x 10 grid in the front window of Playing in the Attic in Sturt Street, one of Ballarat’s liveliest thoroughfares.

Photographs I took in March 2020 at Ballarat’s renowned Begonia Festival served as visual references for my two paintings. I really enjoyed working on this pair and would have liked to add to them, had time permitted. It’s something I might well consider in the future. 

The works reflect on the interconnectedness of humans and nature and their titles are a playful riff on the relative similarity of the words Begonia and Corona. In the course of some rudimentary investigations, I discovered that there really is a Begonia Virus - and quarantine is one of the recommended means of controlling it!

 is presented in conjunction with the 2020 Ballarat Winter Festival, which runs from 27 June - 12 July. 

Playing in the Attic
119a Sturt Street
Ballarat Vic 3350 
Phone: 0428 580 30

Hours: Wed - Sat 10 - 4. Safety measures are firmly in place.

The installation can be viewed outside of business hours, as it will face directly onto the street. Stepping inside this delightful little store is also highly recommended - and not just because it stocks a range of my books and zines! Despite the gradual easing of restrictions in recent days, it is advised to double-check opening times.

Views of Begonia Virus #1 and Begonia Virus #2 in earlier stages of development are directly below.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Topsy-turvy times

At present it seems I’m either inundated with new ideas, too many to realise in two lifetimes, or frozen helplessly in place like the proverbial deer caught in the headlights. Unfortunately, the latter too often describes my mood.

It doesn’t help that I’ve reached a serious impasse with a project I’m obligated to complete. Rightly or wrongly, I’ve decided to put it aside for now and devote my time, hopefully more productively, to the linocut pictured here. AKA ‘Plan B’, the work revisits, revives and revises significant themes, techniques, motifs and materials. There’s something rather comforting in this, although that doesn’t make the prospect of resolving it any less daunting. I’m no stranger to linocuts, but it’s been awhile since I made one and the process feels equally familiar and strange. I spent most of yesterday developing the pattern for the lace collar my protagonist will wear, an exercise I found challenging but ultimately satisfying. Today’s aim is to transfer my design onto the block. 

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Hopefully ever after

Facing an uncertain future, hopefully ever after.
Each work: acrylic on canvas, 12.4 x 12.4 cm

As yet untitled, these are the first works in a series I’ve reluctantly placed on hold while I continue to work my way through several other projects, some with looming deadlines. In these times of unprecedented upheaval and uncertainty, there’s no guarantee that all of these commitments are going to run as originally scheduled, but at this point, I feel I’ve little choice but to proceed as if they are.

The miniature paintings featured here were made for an exhibition that isn’t going ahead, at least in its original form and time slot. C’est la vie, especially in times of COVID-19. On reflection, I believe the delay is for the best, as it will give me more time to develop the series and the ideas that underpin it.

I very much look forward to returning to this fledgling project, whenever that will be, and seeing where it leads me. Meanwhile, a couple of early developmental views follow, the first of which also features the irrepressible Alice, our boon companion during the long days of life in lockdown.

Friday, May 8, 2020

Studio shelves

We've done so much around the house in the last few months (most notably, hanging over 470 pictures, according to Shane Jones's calculations) that I never got around to posting about the bookshelves the exceedingly clever Shane built in my studio some weeks back. Here they are in all their cluttered glory. 

The shelves are set into a deep alcove that was originally an inbuilt dressing table (see below), so that they not only hold heaps of books, but also double as storage/display for other favourite things, including a tunnel book by Paul Compton (above, top shelf, third from right) and an artist book by Deborah McMillion (above, middle shelf, far right).

The following 'Before' photos document the process:

Thanks to these and the equally impressive shelves Shane has built in his own studio, we've finally been able to get the last of our books out of storage.

Friday, May 1, 2020

2020 Libris Awards finalist

Cat’s Cradle, 2019, acrylic on wood, and pigmented drawing ink on paper, 16.5 x 15.5 x 1.5 cm (closed)

I'm delighted to announce that my one-of-a-kind artist book, Cat's Cradle (2019) is one of sixty finalists in the 2020 Libris Awards at Artspace Mackay in Queensland.

For further information and an inside view of Cat's Cradle, visit Moth Woman Press HERE.

Thursday, April 30, 2020


Pictured above: Covert Covid 12: Self-portrait in Chenuala heliaspis Moth Mask, (1)  the final work in a set of twelve, created in as many days during life in lockdown.

"In the event of an oxygen shortage on airplanes, mothers of young children are always reminded to put on their own oxygen mask first, better to assist the children with theirs. The same tactic is necessary on terra firma. There's no way of sustaining our children if we don't first rescue ourselves. I don't call that selfish behaviour. I call it love".
- Joyce Maynard.

The masks in this series (scroll down to see the previous eleven) were originally conceived in 2010 as a relatively small part of a substantial body of work relating to my feminist fairy tale, The Story of the Moth Masks (2008). Somewhat overlooked at the time, the masks now seem uncannily prescient. Ten years on, they've finally found their proper place, although as yet, there's no fairy tale ending in sight.

(1) Chenuala heliaspis mask, 2010, acrylic on found papier-mâché mask.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020


Covert Covid 11: Self-portrait in Scaptesyle dichotoma Moth Mask (1), the penultimate instalment of a series created in my Covid Cave in Ballarat East over twelve days of life in lockdown.

(1) Scaptesyle dichotoma mask, 2010, acrylic on found papier-mâché mask, de rigueur for social distancing and equally indispensable for the prevention of face-touching.