Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Another New Year's Eve

At the start of 2019, the painting in the top left-hand corner above was on my easel. I wondered then, as we all do when another year has just lurched to a close, what the coming year would bring. If only I'd known.

The images above are not my "best nine"; rather they are a random selection of some of the works undertaken during 2019. It was a surprisingly productive year. Given the unexpected direction our lives took, I still can't believe I managed any studio time at all.

Most years are a roller coaster ride and this one was no exception. I hope it has ended on a positive note for you, as it has for Shane, Alice and I. 

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Compliments of the Season

After seven months of serial house moving, Shane and I are looking forward to staying in our new house today and doing as little as possible, at least for most of the day.

This evening, we'll follow our long tradition of visiting a dear friend in Melbourne and enjoying a classic film at the Alhambra, his home cinema, along with a small group of likeminded friends. This year, it's the delightful My Man Godfrey (1936) with Carole Lombard and William Powell.

Meanwhile, our own home cinema is taking shape, although it still lacks a projector. At present, our Christmas tree graces the stage.

In the following photo, a seemingly benign Alice has positioned herself under the tree ...

... but soon blots her copybook by trying to eat one of the decorations, a miniature cuckoo clock from Germany.

However you celebrate today, or if you simply choose to ignore it, have a safe and happy day.

Monday, December 16, 2019

Channelling Vertigo

Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo (1958) was the point of departure for my painting, Coil (2001, acrylic on seven canvases, 60.5 x 55.5 cm).

The spiral is a recurring symbol in Vertigo, beginning with Saul Bass's celebrated opening title sequence. Even the tightly coiled coiffure of Madeleine/Judy, as portrayed by Kim Novak, mimics a spiral. One of the film's most indelible moments occurs in the dreamlike Legion of Honour scene, in which Madeleine contemplates the portrait of her ancestor, Carlotta Valdez, by whom she is supposedly possessed.

Taking its cue from Vertigo, the spiral is a repeated motif in Coil. Given its connection to Hitchcock's film, it seemed appropriate to hang the painting at the entrance to the cinema room in our house, alongside its companion work, Net (2001, acrylic on three canvases, 131 x 40.5 cm).

To complete the scene, Alice channels Kim Novak in San Francisco's Legion of Honour Museum.

Saturday, December 14, 2019

December 11 celebrations

Settlement of my house in Bradshaw Street on December 11 (see previous post) coincided with a visit to Eureka Street from two Melbourne friends, Anne and Nathan Moshinsky. They are among several people we initially met through our mutual friend, Ross Campbell, with whom we share a love of film. (Leigh Hobbs is another - see the final photo below). Not surprisingly, Nathan and Anne were especially drawn to the cinema room on the first floor. We'd originally planned to go out for brunch. But no one wanted to leave, so we celebrated in our new home.

All artworks in the cinema room, including the trompe l'oeil painting of a figure in a doorway on the lefthand side, top, and the easel painting above, centre, are by Shane Jones.

Shane and Nathan (who is also a keen painter) were soon immersed in an in-depth discussion about art. Note Alice's attempts to distract them. When all else fails, she finds that clawking the sofa never fails to achieve the desired response.

Later that day, Shane and I drove to Melbourne for screenings of The Long Day Closes and The Neon Bible at Melbourne Cinematheque, both of which are part of the current Terrence Davies season. (Davies is one of our favourite directors). December 11 is also the birthday of my gorgeous sister-in-law, Patricia Gillard (pictured below, right) and we met her for a celebratory drink beforehand. We were briefly joined, via a series of happy coincidences, by our dear friend, Leigh Hobbs (second from right).

All in all, it was a memorable day.

Friday, December 13, 2019

A fond farewell and belated thanks

On Monday afternoon, Shane and I called into 7 Bradshaw Street, Golden Point for one last wistful look at our former home and my beloved studio (above and fourth photo below). Final inspection was the following morning and settlement took place on Wednesday, 11 December at 11 am.

The settlement nominated by the buyer was alarmingly brief - we had under three and a half weeks to vacate the studio and house. It was an intense, frequently stressful period, with little time for anything else, especially when the deadline drew disconcertingly near.

I spent my birthday on December 4 at our new place, unpacking seemingly endless piles of boxes and attempting to find homes for their various contents, while Shane remained in Bradshaw Street patching the dozens of holes where our artworks and other collections once hung. We did take some brief time out, however. In the morning, Shane took me out for breakfast and in the evening for a celebratory meal.

For Shane and I, 2019 has been dominated by a chain of moves: from his warehouse apartment in Park Street, Abbotsford, to my house in Bradshaw Street, and finally to our place in Eureka Street, Ballarat East, the first home we've owned together. It feels like it's where we're meant to be. We've still got a lot of work ahead of us, but now we can do it in our own time and at our own pace.

There are many people to thank, but first and foremost, thank you all so much for your birthday wishes, via social media, email, text and even snail mail. You brightened my day more than you'll ever know.

Saturday, December 7, 2019


 Queenscliff Gallery & Workshop

Featured here are selected pictorial highlights of the official opening of WONDERMENT at Queenscliff Gallery & Workshop last Sunday afternoon, December 1.

The exhibition showcases works by Antonio Balletta, Christine Gibson, Lizzie Horne, Hyun Ju Kim, myself, Michael Leunig, Soula Mantalvanos, David Moore, Geoffrey Ricardo, John Ryrie and Lucinda Tanner.


My Homo insecta watercolours

Pictured with a selection of my watercolours. Photo credit: Shane Jones

Works by Soula Mantalvanos

A wall of works by Soula Mantalvanos

Shane Jones and Soula Mantalvanos with paintings by Michael Leunig

L-R: Shane Jones and John Ryrie discuss John's work. The four works to the right of the window are by Christine Gibson

A selection of works on paper by John Ryrie

The gallery's new racks currently feature additional works by WONDERMENT artists

Works by Hyun Ju Kim

Michael Leunig's works

L-R: works by Antonio Balletta, David Moore and Geoffrey Ricardo

L-R: Soula Mantalvanos and myself. Photo credit: Shane Jones

Theo Mantalvanos with works by David Moore (left) and Christine Gibson (right)

Centre, L-R: Soula Mantalvanos with Susan and Antonio Balletta

Geoffrey Ricardo (background, second from right) and Shane Jones (right)

It was great to finally meet Antonio and Susan Balletta and to catch up with Geoffrey Ricardo and the multi-talented John Ryrie. John's guitar accompaniment to the event was a joy.

John Ryrie on guitar. Backing him (L-R) are works by Christine Gibson and two of his own.

WONDERMENT is the gallery's summer exhibition; it runs to February 24. Warmest thanks to Theo and Soula Mantalvanos for inviting me to be part of it.

Queenscliff Gallery & Workshop
Phone: 03 4202 0942
Mobile: 0438 866 068
Address: 81 Hesse Street Queenscliff VIC 3225