Thursday, February 21, 2019

MY MONSTER: the catalogue

MY MONSTER: The Human-Animal Hybrid, published by RMIT University Gallery, Melbourne
Cover art: Kate Clark, Gallant, 2016 (detail)

Back in 2018, the merging of animals and humans into fantastical hybrid creatures was extensively explored in MY MONSTER: The Human-Animal Hybrid at RMIT University Gallery, Melbourne. Impeccably curated by Dr. Evelyn Tsitas, the exhibition ran from 29 June – 18 August.

Thanks to the recent publication of a handsome catalogue, comprising a foreword by Helen Rayment, Acting Director of RMIT Gallery, an insightful introduction by Professor Barbara Creed and an informative essay by Tsitas accompanied by exhaustive installation views, it’s now possible to revisit this remarkable show at will. 

Installation view of Ladybird Woman, 2014, watercolour, 41.91 x 29.72 cm, RMIT University Gallery, Melbourne, June 2018

Three of my watercolours, including Ladybird Woman (pictured above) were part of MY MONSTER.

To page through the e-catalogue, go here:

Monday, February 18, 2019

Slow art

Voyager, acrylic on linen 40.5 x 30.5 cm (progress view). 

Developing several paintings simultaneously makes for slower progress with works such as this one, but does bring a sense of unification to the series as a whole. It’s not an uncommon approach with my linocuts, for example, the current Frankenstein’s Women suite (see previous post) but not so usual in my painting practice. At times, having too many unresolved paintings on the go can be a tad unnerving, so I may need to reign them in a little. That aside, the technical, aesthetic and conceptual cross-pollination has been beneficial, making me less inclined to be precious about individual works.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Bride of the Revolution

It can be frustrating when a work in progress remains in limbo for too long. Sometimes, however, it can be a blessing, as in the case of my linocut, The Bride. Aside from the Title and Colophon pages, it’s the final work intended for the artist book Frankenstein’s Women, which centres on the women in Mary Shelley’s gothic novel, Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus. The delay has enabled me to rethink the work a little (see below) before too much was cut away. I’ve reworked part of the drawing and added a thin choker (see above) which, in the finished work will be coloured red.

The choker was in particular vogue during the French Revolution, although it was hardly a fashion accessory. Female French ex-patriots wore red ribbon chokers as coded testaments to their own close escapes from the guillotine, and as a tribute to those who were not so fortunate. The colour red signified droplets of blood around a severed head.

Mary Shelley's political views were inherited from her parents Mary Wollstonecraft and 
William Godwin, whose politics leaned to the far left. Frankenstein may have its roots in Romanticism, but it is equally an allegory for the Reign of Terror, a commentary on mass revolution and social injustice. Frankenstein’s monster personifies the revolutionaries in terms of the dehumanising, brutalising affect of cruelty, poverty and neglect. Frankenstein and his family represent the bourgeoisie. 

For further reading, go HERE

The linocuts from Frankenstein's Women will be exhibited in a solo show at HipCat Printery, opening on October 12.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Brilliant Brollies at the Duldig Studio

Pictured with my hand-painted umbrella, Sunshade, created for the Duldig Studio's second Brilliant Brolly
event on April 6.  Photo credit: Shane Jones.

In the And Now for Something Completely Different Department, tomorrow, February 10, is International Umbrella Day.

Accordingly, the Duldig Studio museum and sculpture garden is hosting Part 1 of the Brilliant Brolly Campaign, a competition wherein some extremely talented and imaginative students have hand-decorated over forty folding umbrellas. Tomorrow afternoon from 2 - 4 pm, their umbrellas, including the prize winners, will be sold in a silent auction to raise funds for the care and conservation of the museum's collections and in support of its outreach programs.

A selection of the student entries on display in the sculpture garden. Image courtesy the Duldig Studio.

I first got to know the Duldig Studio in 2018, when I was invited to speak as part of their Creative Women in Focus series. 
This extraordinary house museum is the former home and studio of Viennese-Australian artists Slawa Horowitz-Duldig (1901 - 1975) and her husband, sculptor Karl Duldig (1902 - 1986). The museum is filled with their artworks, collections and furniture, some of the latter designed by Slawa. 

Another of Slawa's remarkable achievements is the invention of the folding umbrella, in much the same form as we know it today. The prototypes, plans and documentation relating to the umbrella, 'Flirt', which Slawa patented in 1929, are on display as part of the current exhibition at Duldig Studio, SLAWA: MODERNIST ART AND DESIGN. To learn about 'Flirt' and its troubled history, go HERE.


Sunday 10 February, 2.00pm - 4.00pm

Duldig Studio 
92 Burke Rd 
Malvern East

Part 2 of Brilliant Brolly is an open competition with entries due by 4 pm on March 21. A celebratory event will take place on Saturday, April 6 at 6 pm. I’m one of several invited artists who have embellished a brolly especially for the campaign, although mine is more along the lines of a sunshade.

The underside of Sunshade. Photo credit: Shane Jones.

Full details of the second event will be posted nearer the time. For further information, visit the Duldig Studio HERE.

Sunday, February 3, 2019


This painting, currently on the easel in my Ballarat studio, has been a particular challenge. I'm still up for it, despite being a mass of insecurities about my work (which, paradoxically, seem to increase with age and experience). What is most satisfying about this series is how much I’m learning along the way. Speaking of paradoxes, one crucial thing I’ve already learned is that for some journeys, you actually need to stay put.

That isn’t to say my travelling days are over. It won’t be for a while yet, but return journeys to London, New York, Paris and Berlin are firmly in my sights. Without the formative times I spent in those places, and others, this work wouldn’t exist. I wonder if I’d even be an artist. After all, it’s a calling that has more extreme ups, downs, twists and turns than the roller coaster at Luna Park in my hometown, St. Kilda.

Geographically speaking, Ballarat may not be so very far from there. But in other ways, I’ve come a long way (not far enough, admittedly, but further, perhaps, than I tend to give myself credit for). I still have miles to go before I sleep. At present, however, here and now is precisely where I need to be. At times some of my protagonists' more labyrinthine locks seem like convoluted maps, strewn with secret pathways and not a few dead ends. It’s been a while since I last visited Hampton Court Palace, but I reckon that after this series, navigating its famous maze will be a cinch.

Saturday, February 2, 2019

An update

On the second day of January, this was the painting on my easel. It’s now February 2, and it’s occurred to me that I’ve never posted an update. 

A couple of weeks back, I actually dared to think the work was finished, so much so that I had it documented by the exemplary Tim Gresham (see above). It was only after looking at his photo that I realised I’d made a huge mistake with the braiding. Like most artists, I can sometimes get too close to my work. Often, I find that a photograph gives me some necessary distance, enabling me to focus more clearly and, most crucially, pick up on any glaring errors. 

Making the necessary corrections wasn’t as difficult or invasive as I’d feared. (See top). The work is still not quite done, but getting there, I think.