Thursday, September 21, 2023

National Portrait Gallery London


On one level it’s still hard to believe I’m back in London, yet on another level, it feels as if I’ve never been away. 

At the National Portrait Gallery on a wet Wednesday afternoon, (pictured top), I paid homage to Mary Shelley, whose gothic novel, Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus (1818) was the primary inspiration for my artist book, Progeny (2018), currently on exhibit in the three-person show ARTIST BOOKS & FOLIOS at Stephen McLaughlan Gallery, Melbourne. 

Coincidentally, at that very moment (or remarkably close to it), Stephen McLaughlan sent through some installation views of the exhibition, one of which is pictured below. In the bottom right hand corner is a detail of Progeny

Thank you to the lovely young woman who took the first photo after I’d snapped her with the portrait of her literary hero, Lord Byron. (Apologies to John William Polidori, whose portrait I’m blocking). 

All three writers (pictured above) were present on the rainy night in Geneva when 18-year old Mary Shelley conceived Frankenstein and Polidori concocted his chilling tale The Vampyre, the first modern vampire story to be published in English. (In another noteworthy coincidence, Polidori was the uncle of Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Christina Rossetti, whose exhibition at Tate Britain, The Rossettis, that also includes works by Elizabeth Siddal, I’m intending to visit today).

Meanwhile, back in Melbourne, Progeny and a plethora of artist books are on view in the exhibition

Deborah Klein, Elizabeth Banfield and Theo Strasser 
Stephen McLaughlan Gallery

The Opening Event is from 2-4 pm on Saturday September 23.

I’ll still be in London, but my partner Shane Jones will be there in my stead and would be delighted to see you. 

To preview the exhibition, visit Moth Woman Press HERE.

ARTIST BOOKS & FOLIOS runs to October 7. 

Monday, September 11, 2023

Republic of Mothstralia Postage Stamps: SOCIALIST BUTTERFLIES Special Collector’s Edition


The Socialist Butterflies Party - a brief history 

Back in the day, the flighty winged women immortalised in this diminutive publication were disparagingly referred to as Social Butterflies.

Named and shamed thusly, the penitent party animals flocked together, determined to mend their wicked ways. When they emerged from their cluster, the Socialist Butterfly Party was born. In the Republic of Mothstralia (see below) they are the loyal opposition.

The Socialist Butterfly Party has yet to reveal its political agenda, if indeed it has one. According to a trusted source, however, the SBP has pledged to toe the party line - with the emphasis on party. 

A must for keen philatelists, Republic of Mothstralia Postage Stamps: Socialist Butterflies Special Collector’s Edition is published by Moth Woman Press, Ballarat. The zine is signed, numbered and limited to an edition of 80. Ahead of its official launch (date TBA) advance copies of the first 10 zines in the edition will be released in the upcoming exhibition ARTIST BOOKS & FOLIOS in the South Gallery at at Stephen McLaughlan Gallery, Melbourne. For further information about Moth Woman Press zines included in the exhibition, go HERE.


Deborah Klein, Elizabeth Banfield and Theo Strasser 

Opening event: 2-4 pm Saturday September 23

Stephen McLaughlan Gallery

Level 8 Room 16 The Nicholas Building
37 Swanston Street Melbourne 3000
(on the corner of Flinders Lane)

Telephone: 0407 317 323


Gallery Hours:

Wednesday to Friday 1pm-5pm
Saturday 11am-5pm
& by appointment

ARTIST BOOKS & FOLIOS runs from September 20 - October 7

Sunday, September 10, 2023

A peep inside… Part 6: Tattooed Faces

My tour of the artist books gathered on the studio table in my recent blog post concludes with Tattooed Faces, 1996, the first artist book I ever made. Tattooed Faces evolved during the course of my MA research, beginning with Tattooed Face Number 1, which is pictured below, followed by further selected page views.

In many ways, it feels as if I’ve now come full circle, as evidenced by my current works, the Decorated Women. (See HERE, HERE and HERE). Still very much in progress, the works are earmarked for a solo exhibition at Stephen McLaughlan Gallery in late 2024. 

Tattooed Faces and the Moth Woman Press publications I’ve been documenting on this blog of late were recently delivered to Stephen McLaughlan Gallery for the exhibition Artist Books & Folios. I’m leaving for 5 weeks in the UK on September 14, so although I’m excited for the exhibition, I won’t actually get to see it. But I do hope you’ll have a chance to drop by before it ends its run on October 7. Your invitation is below.

Tuesday, September 5, 2023

A peep inside… Part 5: Homo-insecta Portfolio

An inside view of another book on my studio table, shortly before it was packaged up and delivered to Stephen McLaughlan Gallery in good time for the opening of Artist Books & Folios on September 20.

Pictured above: Homo-insecta Portfolio, 2013, unbound artist book with selected page views. A4-sized folio with hand-coloured linocuts and inkjet-printed text. 

The linocuts recall the kind of fantastical specimens that might be found in a Cabinet of Curiosities (think Feejee mermaid). I also drew inspiration from the works of one of my favourite artists, the naturalist, entomologist and scientific illustrator, Maria Sibylla Merian

Homo-insecta Portfolio was originally created for the group exhibition Wonder Room, exhibited at Maroondah Art Gallery in 2013. 

Sunday, September 3, 2023

A peep inside… Part 4: FIREBRAND

Page views of the artist books on my work table in Blog Post Tuesday August 22 continue with Firebrand, 2017, a unique concertina book, hand-lettered and drawn in India ink and pigmented drawing inks. Firebrand has a grey cloth cover with debossed text. 

A firebrand (a Middle English word I’ve always rather liked) is an agitator or trouble maker. But then there’s nothing like a few knots and tangles in the hair to awaken the sleeping dragon within.

Firebrand was the first of a planned series entitled Bad Hair Days, although this is the only one completed thus far. A second book, Gorgon, based on the Greek myth of Medusa, a mortal female cursed with a head of writhing, venomous snakes, had been well under way, but was mislaid during our move. I haven’t entirely given up hope that it will resurface one day. Otherwise, I haven’t ruled out the idea of starting again from scratch. 

In the meantime, Firebrand is part of the upcoming exhibition ARTIST BOOKS & FOLIOS at Stephen McLaughlan Gallery and is now at the gallery awaiting installation.

Deborah Klein, Elizabeth Banfield and Theo Strasser
South Gallery, Stephen McLaughlan Gallery
Running from September 20 - October 7

Friday, September 1, 2023

Welcoming Spring

Welcoming the first day of the season of renewal: Springtime, 2023, (study), acrylic on canvas mounted on board, 10 x 10 cm. 

The tattoo is based on the embroidery Rose Wreath Panel designed by William Morris and embroidered by May Morris c.1890. The embroidery is shown in the second of the two developmental views below. 

Tuesday, August 29, 2023

A peep inside… Part 3: WOMEN WITH WINGS

Another peep inside one of the books on the studio table in my recent blog post, A tabletop of artist books.

Pictured above and below: Women with Wings, 2010, concertina book with linocuts and rubber stamps, a rare volume freshly out of mothballs in readiness for the forthcoming exhibition ARTIST BOOKS & FOLIOS at Stephen McLaughlan Gallery.

Photography: Tim Gresham.

To learn the secret of the mysterious masked Moth Women, grab yourself one of the last remaining copies of the zine, The Story of the Moth Masks, pictured below.


Deborah Klein, Elizabeth Banfield and Theo Strasser

South Gallery, Stephen McLaughlan Gallery, Melbourne.

The exhibition runs from September 20 - October 7 2023.

Monday, August 28, 2023

A peep inside… Part 2: LEAVES OF ABSENCE

A peep inside another of the books on the studio table in my blog post of Tuesday August 22, A tabletop of artist books.

The unbound artist book LEAVES OF ABSENCE, 2017, continues my exploration of women’s hidden histories, of which far too many remain tantalisingly buried. Its point of departure is the Australian Gold Rushes, a historic period from which Chinese women were all but absent. In 1861, Chinese immigrants made up 3.3 per cent of the population. Of these, 38,337 were men, compared to only eleven women. Despite considerable delving on my part, the lives of the women who remained in China remain a mystery. 

The following is an edited version of my speech at the launch of LEAVES OF ABSENCE at Melbourne Atheneum Library in November 2017. 

… In Newstead alone, there were over 3000 Chinese miners. The Eucalyptus leaves in LEAVES OF ABSENCE were sourced there because of their significance to the project but also because of their singular shapes - in part the result of interventions by my 'insect collaborators', the Eucalyptus tip bugs. So invaluable was their contribution, they rate a special mention on the book’s colophon page.

In my work, silhouettes are principally metaphors for marginalization or invisibility... 

…The enchanting fairy tale films of German born silhouette animation pioneer 
Lotte Reiniger (1889-1981) are a key influence on all my work with silhouettes. Influences entirely specific to this project include early photography and silent film. Contrary to popular belief, not all of the first moving images were in black and white. In many cases, a series of coloured filters were applied, usually to indicate mood, while other directors, including one of the masters of early film, Georges Melies, employed artists, usually teams of women, to painstakingly hand colour his films frame by frame.

... My initial research included a study of historical Chinese women’s hairstyles. Reduced to shadow forms, however, the women could equally be from any place or time, including the present.

To read the full speech, my response to Marguerite Browns marvellous opening address, visit Moth Woman Press HERE.

Images 1-7 above: LEAVES OF ABSENCE with selected page views.
Image 8 below: Installation view at Melbourne Atheneum Library in 2017, followed by Image 9: Hand-painted eucalyptus leaves, the basis for the illustrations in the book. 

LEAVES OF ABSENCE is part of the three-person show ARTIST BOOKS & FOLIOS at Stephen McLaughlan Gallery, opening
 on September 20. Full details are below.

Thursday, August 24, 2023

A peep inside… PROGENY


This is the first of a series of peeps inside some of the artist books on the table in my last post, beginning with Progeny, 2018 (one-of-a-kind concertina book, hand-lettered and drawn in India ink, pigmented drawing inks and gouache, with hand-stitching and cloth cover with debossed text).

Progeny was made in 2018 when I was artist-in-residence at Melbourne Atheneum Library for Melbourne Rare Book Week. 2018 also marked the 200th anniversary of the publication of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. This was the impetus for my artist book. 

In Mary Shelley’s novel, the “monster” promises to vanish from Dr Frankenstein’s life if he will build him a female mate to ease his loneliness. Frankenstein reluctantly complies, but at the last minute, he destroys her. 

My book takes its title from the following quote:
“And now, once again, I bid my hideous progeny go forth and prosper. I have an affection for it, for it was the offspring of happy days, when death and grief were but words, which found no true echo in my heart”.
— Mary Shelley, from her Introduction to the 1831 edition of Frankenstein, or, the Modern Prometheus, first published January 1, 1818.

Progeny will shortly be resurrected in 
Deborah Klein, Elizabeth Banfield and Theo Strasser
South Gallery, Stephen McLaughlan Gallery 
The exhibition  runs from September 20 - October 

Tuesday, August 22, 2023

A tabletop of artist books

In the studio this rainy afternoon, a tabletop of artist books selected for the upcoming three-person exhibition ARTIST BOOKS & FOLIOS. I will be in the UK throughout its entire run, so am posting about it well ahead of time. 

Deborah Klein, Elizabeth Banfield and Theo Strasser 
South Gallery, Stephen McLaughlan Gallery, Melbourne

Running from September 20 - October 7.

For additional information, scroll down to Blog Post Tuesday, August 8, or go HERE.

Thursday, August 17, 2023

A virtual reunion

 Ex Votive Offerings, (RHS above), recently seen in In the company of Morris at the Art Gallery of Ballarat, is reunited here with its companion pieces, Ladies Glisten and Spillage, if only digitally. All three works were created for the 2002-2003 Arts Victoria Touring Victoria exhibition Common Thread that also featured works by Catherine Pilgrim and Shane Jones - a happy and rewarding exhibiting experience if ever there was one.

Originally intended as linocuts, the prints were transferred onto silk screens by Rebecca Mayo after the size in the Chinese silk rejected the block printing ink. 

L-R top:
Ladies Glisten, 2002, Screen print, artificial pearls, hand stitching on sized Chinese silk laid onto interfacing, 120 x 40 cm. Collection: Art Gallery of Ballarat;

Spillage, 2002, Screen print, buttons, hand stitching on sized Chinese silk laid onto interfacing, 120 x 40 cm. Collection: LaTrobe University, Bendigo;

Ex Votive Offerings, 2002, Screen print, needle threaders, hand stitching on sized Chinese silk laid onto interfacing, 120 x 40 cm. Collection: Art Gallery of Ballarat.

Tuesday, August 8, 2023


I’m very excited to be exhibiting with book artists extraordinaire Elizabeth Banfield and Theo Strasser in ARTIST BOOKS & FOLIOS in the South Gallery at Stephen McLaughlan Gallery next month. 

ARTIST BOOKS & FOLIOS runs from September 20 - October 7.

The Opening Event is from 2-4 pm Saturday September 23.

Further details to follow soon. Meanwhile, we hope you’ll save the date!

Saturday, August 5, 2023

Lowering the flags

The flags for Pre-Raphaelites Drawings and Watercolours and In the Company of Morris at the Art Gallery of Ballarat are still flying, but not for much longer. The exhibitions close tomorrow, Sunday, August 6. 

I must walk around with my head in the clouds because I came upon these banners only recently, when taking what was once a regular shortcut. The last time my work was reproduced on a flag was - let me see now - never. 

Keeping company with William Morris, the Pre-Raphaelites and so many other artists whose works I’ve long admired (many of them for over half a lifetime) has been an unforgettable experience. Never in a million years could I have imagined a happier outcome than this. Back in 2021 when my painting Three Women was exhibited at Stephen McLaughlan Gallery amidst a seemingly endless spate of lockdowns, I was convinced it would never again see the light of day.