Friday, January 24, 2020

A Repository of Memories

Step inside my studio, if you will.

This is the view from the work table. My works on the opposite wall span well over three decades. Like all the walls in the new studio, it’s a repository of carefully selected memories. The oldest by far are the undergraduate self-portrait, circa 1982, (upper left hand corner), posted previously, and another student work, the still-life painting on its right. Some pictures have been stored away for decades. I’ve a tendency to feel ambivalent about older work, seeing nothing but its flaws. For the first time, it’s occurred to me that I might actually learn something from it. Nevertheless, it’s somewhat disconcerting to be eyeballed by a younger version of myself on a daily basis.

Directly below the self-portrait is a poster of one of my favourite paintings, Portrait of the Journalist Sylvia Von Harden, 1926, by Otto Dix. I discovered the original work on a visit to the Pompidou Centre in 1993 and still recall the colossal impact of that first sighting. The poster was purchased in the museum shop soon afterwards and it’s been one of my most treasured possessions ever since. For a short biography of Von Harden, go HERE.

The oil pastel drawing in the bottom corner, far right, dates from the same period and is another work that hasn’t seen the light of day for many a long year. It was made at the Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris, where I was undertaking a three-month long Australia Council residency.

During this happy and productive time, Shane Jones, who I’d met the year before, joined me for several weeks and produced a substantial number of oil sketches. A selection of these, including a couple of portraits of me, as well as an exquisite, and (viewed in the light of recent events), poignant drawing of Notre Dame Cathedral, now hang in our Ballarat house. They too had been in storage, due to lack of wall space. It’s quite moving to be reunited with these fragments of our shared history after so many years. To view Shane's drawing of Notre Dame, visit his Instagram Page HERE and scroll down to his post of 10 June 2019.

NB: Since this was posted, Shane has published his drawing of Notre Dame Cathedral on his art blog. You can view it HERE.