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Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Causes for Celebration

There is a lot of catching up to be done on this blog. It seems to me that a very good place to start is our celebratory evening at Carboni’s Italian Kitchen in Ballarat on 28 November, a personal “thanksgiving” meal marking the return to good health, the end of an era and the start of a new one. 

A toast to all the friends who’ve supported me on my journey over the past two years, especially my wonderful partner, Shane Jones, who took the above photo. 


I don’t want to give the impression that all I do is imbibe Prosecco (although it certainly must look that way). In my defence, there has been a lot to celebrate lately.



Directly above and below: last Sunday afternoon’s post-theatre drinks in the bar of Her Majesty’s, my favourite Melbourne theatre, watched over by the venerable Barry Humphries and Stephen Fry.  We had just attended a matinee of Hamilton, a thoughtful and generous birthday gift from Shane. Neither of us was entirely sure the musical lived up to all the hype. But it had its moments and we still a enjoyed splendid afternoon.



Finally, A snapshot from last night’s memorable farewell celebration for Sue Westwood, Business Manager of Melbourne Athenaeum Library  for the past 13 years. (Photo credit: Shane Jones).



Sue was instrumental in appointing me as Artist-in-Residence at the library in 2018, a happy and extremely productive experience I’ll always remember fondly. Under Sue’s auspices, the library was the first public institution to acquire my artist book, Leaves of Absence.


It was lovely to see many familiar faces and terrific to catch up with Patricia Cornelius, the Playwright in Residence during my time there, and to meet Melissa Reeves, the library’s 2021 Playwright in Residence.


Wishing Sue all the best for the future. She has promised to keep in touch and I will most certainly hold her to that!

Friday, October 28, 2022

Bulletin



I will cut adrift—I will sit on pavements and drink coffee—I will dream; I will take my mind out of its iron cage and let it swim—this fine October.

- Virginia Woolf


Pictured top: Detail from The Maiden Flight, 2013.

Pictured below: The Maiden Flight, 2013, one-of-a-kind vertical artist book, pigmented drawing ink and acrylic paint, 80 x 15 cm (open). Collection: State Library of Victoria.


Photography: Tim Gresham.


Monday, October 24, 2022

‘Mysterious Woman’ - an Art Club Birmingham Workshop

Warmest thanks to Birmingham-based artist/educator Tereza Buskova of Art Club Birmingham, who used examples of my work as the basis of her workshop for kids, Mysterious Woman. The workshop ran yesterday, Sunday, October 23, at Boston Tea Party Harborne in Birmingham, UK.

From the other side of the world, I’ve been admiring the wondrously imaginative and diverse tribe of  “Mysterious Women” created by Teresa’s talented students. Congratulations all!











Photography: Tereza Buskova. 

Tereza’s photos of the workshop can be viewed in their entirety on her Facebook Page here: 

https://www.facebook.com/tereza.buskova.9


- and over two posts on Art Club Birmingham’s Instagram Page here:

https://www.instagram.com/p/CkEQDyKDopm/?igshid=MDJmNzVkMjY%3D 


- and here:

https://www.instagram.com/p/CkER0oZjM_4/?igshid=MDJmNzVkMjY%3D 


See you in Birmingham next year, Tereza!

Friday, October 21, 2022

The Greatest Treasure of Charlemagne the King

 

Sadly, the children’s picture book I illustrated back in 1996, The Greatest Treasure of Charlemagne King by Nadia Wheatley, originally published by Scholastic, is no longer in print in Australia. It’s a shame, because Nadia’s story is wonderful and its message is timeless. 

 
The book is still going strong in Korea, however. The Korean publisher recently renewed its agreement and three copies of the book have just arrived in the mail.



I will always thankful to Nadia for putting my name forward for this venture. Some years ago, I donated the original oil pastel illustrations and working drawings to the State Library of Victoria, aside from two illustrations, one of which I gifted to Nadia and the other to the book’s editor, Robin Morrow



A synopsis of the story is on Nadia Wheatley’s website HERE.

Tuesday, October 18, 2022

Art Club Birmingham

 


I was delighted to learn earlier today that all the way across the sea in England, Art Club Birmingham is running a pop-up workshop for kids based on my artworks.

I’ve visited Birmingham on several occasions over the years and its museums, particularly the collections in Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, have been sources of inspiration for my own work. 

The workshop, which will be run by Tereza Buskova (pictured left in the top photo) is at  Boston Tea Party Harborne on 23 October, from 3 - 4.30 pm. I wish I could join them and can’t wait to see what they come up with! 

Wednesday, October 12, 2022

Angela Lansbury: Farewell to a Blithe Spirit

  


What a woman, what a talent, what an inspiration, what a life. I count myself incredibly fortunate to have seen Angela Lansbury live on stage on three occasions, starting with the Jule Styne/Stephen Sondheim musical Gypsy at the Piccadilly Theatre in London’s West End on 16 October, 1973. I remember the exact date because after the evening’s performance, an announcement was made that it was her birthday and the audience, who she already had eating out of the palm of her hand, serenaded her with a rousing Happy Birthday. If memory serves me correctly, she went on to win an Evening Standard Award for her powerful, nuanced performance as Mama Rose. The production subsequently transferred to Broadway, where she received a Tony (along with a swag of other awards).


In 2013 Shane Jones and I saw Angela Lansbury perform opposite the equally superb James Earl Jones in a revival of Alfred Uhry’s Pulitzer Prize winning Driving Miss Daisy at the Comedy Theatre in Melbourne in what amounted to an acting masterclass. I have a DVD recording of the play, and her performance moves me to tears every time. 


Back in London in 2014, we saw her delightful, scene stealing turn as the daffy medium Madame Arcati in Noel Coward’s sublime supernatural comedy, Blithe Spirit, at the Gielgud Theatre. She had previously been awarded a Tony for the same role on Broadway. In London she garnered more rave reviews and went on to win her first Olivier Award at the grand age of 89. Both productions were directed by another theatre great, Australian born Michael Blakemore


The top photo was taken on the day Shane and I purchased our front row centre seats for Blithe Spirit. The title of Coward’s play is also an apt description of the incandescent Angela Lansbury, who will live on through the astonishingly diverse body of work in theatre, television and film that she leaves behind.


Pictured above: an autographed photo of Angela Lansbury, a surprise gift from Shane several years ago, occupies pride of place in our cinema room.

To view the short biographical film Remembering Angela Lansbury, published by the New York Times, go HERE

Tuesday, October 11, 2022

LAST DAYS: The 2020-2022 APW George Collie Memorial Award Exhibition

 


The 2020-2022 APW George Collie Memorial Award Exhibition at Australian Print Workshop finishes its long run on Saturday 15 October


It seems like only yesterday that I numbered, titled and signed my hand-coloured linocut I Wished on the Moon under the watchful eye of Simon White, who printed the edition. The linocut is available for purchase through the APW Printstore


APW George Collie Memorial Award Exhibition 

Australian Print Workshop Gallery

210 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy, Victoria

Gallery hours: Tues.-Sat. 10am-5pm


(Photo credit: Shane Jones).

Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Louise and Jeff get hitched

 


On the evening of Saturday October 1, Shane and I were among the guests at the nuptials of Louise Tegart, Director of Art Gallery of Ballarat and her partner, Jeff Pope.


The ceremony took place in the elegant first floor front gallery of the AGB. It was presided over by the glamorous Renee, a Dolly Parton lookalike - and uncannily soundalike - celebrant. This was entirely in keeping with the alter egos of the talented bride and groom. The astonishingly versatile Louise and Jeff are country music aficionados, who on occasion don their other (Stetson) hats to perform live as Patsy DeCline and Crank Williams.


It was a fun evening. We were delighted to reconnect with several folk we haven’t seen in many a long year, including Wendy Garden (below, left). Shane and I first met Wendy when she was Gallery Curator at Maroondah Art Gallery, where we’ve exhibited on more than one occasion. It seems she got to know Louise when they were colleagues at the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory. Wendy is currently Assistant Director Access & Engagement Library & Archives NT, but occasionally comes to Melbourne to visit family. We’ve vowed to meet there on her next trip, hopefully before the end of this year. 


The festivities continued downstairs with some lively speeches, followed by music and dancing (see below).


On the following day, Louise and Jeff generously hosted a brunch at their beautiful Ballarat house, which we also attended. It provided a wonderful opportunity to meet some lovely people and in some cases follow up on conversations begun the night before.  


Shane and I had a marvellous time. We thank Louise and Jeff for their hospitality and wish them every happiness.







Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Return to the Royal Melbourne Show

  


Shane Jones and I had an absolute ball with our friends Gracia Haby and Louise Jennison back on Thursday, 22 September, the first day of our first Royal Melbourne Show in three years. 


It seemed half of Melbourne had the same idea; apparently this was the first time in history that it completely sold out. 



Several years ago, Gracia and Louise took over from Shane and I as judges of the Painting and Printmaking Prizes, and we were there as their guests. 



The new Makers’ Pavilion was a joy. The following views show a mere fraction of its many and varied delights.



It was terrific meeting artist-in-residence Jackie Jackson of Jax Studio Melbourne, whose stand was a highlight, especially for lovers of printmaking.









The animals are always high on our list of favourites.




This was the first time I’ve seen a display of eggs, and these were spectacular.




In May 2021, we lost our dear friend, Jill Kellett, and the world hasn’t been quite the same since. Jill was a huge fan of the Royal Melbourne Show, and sometimes visited as many as four times each year. At her memorial lunch, Louise, Gracia, Shane and I made a pact to toast her memory at the next Show. Who knew we would have to wait so long to do so?

Jill is pictured below, snapped at the vintage show bags exhibit in the 2018 Royal Melbourne Show. The 2019 Show was the last one before the pandemic and the last we would spend together.


(As a rule, Jill disliked being photographed, but the oversized replica of a vintage show bag offered enough cover for her to be comfortable with this shot). 

We were unable to dine at the posh Showgrounds restaurant this year, but chips and potato cakes in the dining hall were just as much fun, if not more so. I’m sure Jill would have loved it too.

Pictured below: arrival of the splendid G&L Chip and Potato Cake Brigade.


Afterwards, it was back to the fairgrounds, including more animals, and a return to the Makers’ Pavilion.



Heartiest congratulations to Alistair Fowler for taking out First Prize and Best in Show (Ceramics) - for his beautiful work, Moss the Pony. We were thrilled for him. Alistair is the younger brother of Jill Kellett. She would have been completely over the moon. 





For Shane and I, it was a particularly delightful surprise seeing our sister-in-law Rosemarie Jones, Group President of the Central Highlands Country Women’s Association of Victoria in the renowned CWA cafe.



Directly below, Shane offers you a virtual scone. I can assure you they were even more delicious than they look. 


Thanks for the new memories, Gracia and Louise. It’s been a long time in between Shows, but it was certainly worth the wait. 


The 2022 Royal Melbourne Show began on Thursday, 22 September and ended on Sunday, 2 October. 


Will we be there next year, I hear you cry? Need you ask?