Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Printing at arten

My fourth and final catch up post comprises a miscellany of photos taken over the past few weeks during three marathon printing sessions at arten - the most recent of them a week ago today. 

A handful more images remain to be printed, but the end is clearly in sight. I already have more than enough work for Fallen Women, my solo show at Tacit Contemporary Art, scheduled to open on 29 November. Currently I'm numbering, titling and signing the phemographs completed thus far. After the remaining works are proofed next week, I'll make a final selection for framing.  

Below top: the constant hive of activity that is arten. In the background are Daisy Watkins-Harvey and Luke Ingram.

Monday, October 23, 2017


Jewel Beetle Woman, 2014, hand coloured linocut, 56.5 x 38 cm
Printed by Simon White at the Australian Print Workshop, Melbourne
Photo credit: Tim Gresham

My linocut, Jewel Beetle Woman, is part of SPRING FEAST, an exhibition at the Australian Print Workshop celebrating the essence of Spring. (Sometimes, as on a cold, grey, wintry morning like the one today, we do need a reminder that Spring has actually sprung).

I have fond memories of creating the work back in 2014 as a special guest artist at the APW Summer school. The linocut was editioned by master printer Simon White.

It's in distinguished company. Also in the show are works by Janangoo Butcher Cherel, Kyoko Imazu, Tim Maguire, Ngarralja Tommy May, Melissa Smith and Louise Weaver.

SPRING FEAST runs until November 11.

I hand coloured the edition in my Ballarat studio using pigmented drawing inks
The stencil prevented unwanted splashes.

Numbering, titling and signing the finished edition upstairs at the APW in 2014
Photo credit: APW

Installation view of SPRING FEAST at the Australian Print Workshop Gallery, current until November 11
From left: works by Janangoo Butcher Cherel, Melissa Smith, Ngarralja Tommy May and Deborah Klein

Thursday, October 19, 2017


On Sunday, 1 October, Shane Jones and I (see above) joined thousands of people in a rainbow march through the streets of Melbourne to demonstrate our solidarity with LGBT people everywhere and in response to a fiendishly expensive, non-legally binding postal survey in which Australian citizens have been asked to vote on the legality of same sex marriage.

Disregarding chronological order, I've deliberately saved this, my latest Catch Up post, for now, as a timely reminder that a follow-up event, the YES Fest for Marriage Equality, will begin outside the State Library of Victoria this coming Sunday, 22 October, at 1 pm. There will be a short rally, followed by a march through the CBD, finishing at the Alexandra Gardens. During the afternoon there will be speeches from community leaders, political and other high profile figures, dispersed with musical interludes by some fabulous local performers. It's scheduled to end at around 6 pm, so those who can't make the march can still drop by any time before then.

YES Fest is a crucial lead-up to the final event: YES! Marriage Survey Results Announcement outside the State Library of Victoria on 15 November at 10.30 am for an 11.30 am announcement. With hopes high for a positive outcome, there will be an after-party at Trades Hall from 5.30 pm onwards.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Royal Melbourne Show 2017

Herewith is Catchup Post No. 2. It begins with several photos documenting my second consecutive stint as Printmaking Judge in the Arts, Crafts and Cookery section of the Royal Melbourne Show (23 September - 3 October). This year first-time Painting Judge, Shane Jones, and I joined forces to judge both sections.

Judging took place on Saturday, October 9. We were very ably assisted by Catherine and Helen, two delightful women from the Country Women's Association. There was a lot of work to get through, but we had an absolute ball. 

Shane Jones casts his eyes over the printmaking entries

- and some of the painting entries

L -R: Shane Jones, Catherine (standing) and Helen 

Printmaker Sharron Okines was a multiple prize winner (a First and a Third) with two linocuts from her Kitchenalia series. Her exquisite work, Kitchenalia 1020 (Nan's Crystal Bowl) not only gained a blue ribbon, but was also awarded Best In Show against several strong contenders. Congratulations, Sharron!

Admiring Sharron Okine's prize winning works, Kitchenalia 1020 (Nan's Crystal Bowl),
top left and Kitchenalia 1012, bottom left. Photo credit: Shane Jones.

RASV judges and other volunteers, including CWA members, are certainly well looked after. Lunch was a fabulous spread.

L-R: Shane Jones, Helen and Catherine

Judging continued until well into the afternoon. Immediately afterwards, I lost no time in checking out the rest of the Arts, Crafts and Cookery entries, including hats:

Some wondrous cakes:

And impeccably crafted woodwork.

We returned to the Melbourne Show Grounds as visitors on October 2, when we joined our friends Gracia Haby and Louise Jennison for what has become an annual occasion. An added bonus was coinciding with our mutual friend, Jill Kellett, who took the following photo.  It was also great to catch up with our lovely boss, Ramona Barry, head of Arts, Crafts and Cookery. 

Pictured L-R: Gracia Haby, Ramona Barry, Shane Jones, myself, Louise Jennison and two ceramic pigs.
Photo credit: Jill Kellett

As always, our favourite part of the Royal Melbourne Show was the animals. Directly below, the reigning champion of the Rescue Dog High Jump, having just scaled what seemed like an impossibly high wall with relative ease, takes a well earned bow.

Equally riveting was the short hair cat judging. We are fortunate to be acquainted with Jill Kellett's sister, Dr. Kerry Fowler (pictured below) who is one of Australia's most respected cat judges.

This was the first public appearance of the dear little fellow pictured immediately below. It was hard to believe - Tiger was laid back, affectionate and clearly adored people, all of whom returned the compliment. In the immediate background, right, are Jill Kellett and Louise Jennison.

Another highlight was visiting the goats.

L-R: Gracia Haby and Louise Jennison

Photo credit: Shane Jones

Next year Gracia and Louise will be joining the RASV team as paper and book binding judges. Meanwhile, the four of us are eagerly anticipating our visit to the Ballarat Show in November!

Monday, October 16, 2017

A fleeting visit to Sydney

As the year rushes relentlessly forward, this is the first of several catchup posts, hurriedly slipped in before the rest of 2017 runs away from me. (Daylight saving commenced at the beginning of the month, a sure-fire way of telling that the finish line is in sight).

At the end of last month (from Thursday 28 September - Friday 29 September, to be exact) Shane and I flew to Sydney for an all too brief visit. Just up the road from our hotel in Darlinghurst Road, Kings Cross, was the iconic El Alamein Fountain, which in my mind is far more closely associated with Sydney than the Opera House.

Photo credit: Shane Jones

We were also taken with several splendid examples of art deco architecture that are dotted around the area, including the following examples, neither of which would be out of place in an episode of the long running television series, Poirot.

The primary reason for our trip was a new production of Stephen Sondheim's Assassins at the Hayes Theatre in Potts Point. It was our first visit to the Hayes, but I sincerely hope it won't be our last.

The theatre is named after Australian theatre legend, Nancye Hayes, who I've seen in many fine productions over the years, including her breakthrough title role as Sweet Charity in 1967 and in more recent years, in one or two by the great Sondheim. Coincidentally, we spotted her in the street the night before the performance we attended. Directly below is the photographic portrait of her that hangs in the theatre lobby.

In my opinion, Assassins is one of Sondheim's finest works. If I were forced to pick a favourite, this would be it. (I understand it's the composer/lyricist's own favourite, in that it is closer than any of his other works to his original conception).

The entire season, which garnered a string of rave reviews, was sold out. Fortunately I'd booked our front row seats well in advance.

Assassins poster featuring David Campbell as John Wilkes Booth

Too many people sweepingly dismiss all musicals as vapid and vacuous (to quote a line from the show). Since Assassins debuted in 1991, its dazzling score and the deliciously dark wit of the book by John Weidman, with its diamond-sharp insights into the crazed minds of the protagonists, remain undiminished. Sadly, so too does its relevance. Here is the last verse of the Ballad of Booth, which refers, of course, to the actor John Wilkes Booth, the assassin of Abraham Lincoln.

Johnny Booth was a headstrong fellow,
Even he believed the things he said.
Some called him noble, some said yellow.
What he was was off his head.
How could you do it, Johnny,
Calling it a cause?
You left a legacy
Of butchery 
And treason we
Took eagerly,
And thought you'd get applause.
But traitors just get jeers and boos,
Not visits to their graves,
While Lincoln, who got mixed reviews,
Because of you, John, now gets only raves.
Damn, you Johnny,
You paved the way
For other madmen
To make us pay.
Lots of madmen
Have had their say -
But only for a day.
Listen to the stories. 
Hear it in the songs.
Angry men
Don't write the rules
And guns don't right the wrongs.
Hurts a while,
But soon the country's
Back where it belongs,
And that's the truth.
Still and all, 
Damn you Booth!

The non-linear story of Assassins unfolds in the shooting gallery of a fairground. Aside from the Proprietor (see photo directly below) and the activist and anarchist, Emma Goldman (Laura Bunting) its characters comprise every person who has either assassinated or attempted to assassinate an American president, beginning with Booth. (As the Proprietor tells the other would-be assassins: Hey, gang, look who's here/ Here's our pioneer...)

Ballad of Booth
was introduced by Patrick Cassidy (as the Balladeer) and Victor Garber (as John Wilkes Booth) in the original off-Broadway production of Assassins. Thanks to the magic of YouTube, you can see them perform it HERE. (If possible, skip the ad first. If you can't, at least it's mercifully brief).

Pictured above: Rob McDougall as the Proprietor

Still elated after the performance, Shane and I had a drink in the theatre bar and watched the actors gradually emerging in their street clothes, appearing remarkably calmer and saner than the unhinged characters they'd just inhabited so unnervingly.

Left: Maxwell Simon (the Balladeer and Lee Harvey Oswald) Laura Bunting (Emma
Goldman) and Connor Crawford (John Hinkley Jnr)

Centre: Hannah Friedricksen, who played Lynette 'Squeaky' Fromme.
Centre right: David Campbell, who was an unforgettable Booth

We were delighted to discover that another Sydney icon, a favourite haunt on many previous visits, Harry's Cafe de Wheels, was also walking distance from the hotel where we stayed. It's been famous for its meat pies since it was founded in 1938. Fortunately for me, they've moved with the times. A vegetarian option is available and it's quite delicious.

Shane Jones tucking into his pie

Above: detail of the mural that wraps around part of Harry's Cafe de Wheels.
On far right are two bona fide comedy geniuses: English born comedian Stan Laurel
and Australian comedy legend Roy Rene as Mo McCackie).

Saving every bite of my Cafe de Wheels vegetarian pie. Photo credit: Shane Jones

Along with Assassins, the highlight of our trip was our first time visit to historic Elizabeth Bay House in Onslow Avenue, Elizabeth Bay. It was built in 1835 - 1839 by Alexander Macleay, the Colonial Secretary of NSW from 1826 - 1837. Macleay was also a prodigious collector. I first became aware of the house several years ago when researching his extensive insect collection, now housed in the Macleay Museum, University of Sydney. Unfortunately, the museum is currently closed for refurbishment and is not due to reopen until 2019.

The majority of Elizabeth Bay House is Greek Revival. One of the most striking features is its graceful elliptical dome:

Directly below: one of the fine bedrooms in Elizabeth Bay House. The furniture is not original, but dates from the same period.

A contre-jour portrait of Shane Jones looking out onto Sydney Harbour:

Further along Onslow Avenue, directly after our visit to Elizabeth Bay House, we happened upon this poignant tribute to a much-loved cat: