Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Interview in UNTITLED

Pages 32-33, Untitled, Issue 3, ART GALLERY OF BALLARAT ASSOCIATION, Autumn 2020.
Click on image for a clearer view.

Back in January, Shane and I were interviewed by Amanda McGraw for the Autumn issue of Untitled, the magazine of the Art Gallery of Ballarat Association. A great deal has happened between then and late last week, when we received our copy. The life we once knew has changed beyond recognition. Like museums and galleries world-wide, the Art Gallery of Ballarat has recently closed until further notice and the rest of us are still adjusting to life in lockdown. 

Shane and I thoroughly enjoyed our chat with Amanda. We miss the gallery already and look forward to resuming our visits in happier times. Until then, we'll content ourselves with virtual visits via the AGB website HERE
The transcript of our interview in Untitled is below.

In the Gallery with Deborah Klein and Shane Jones
Interview by Amanda McGraw
21 January 2020

Amanda: Let’s talk about your connection to Ballarat and to the Art Gallery.
Shane: We were half-Ballarat and half-Melbourne for about 10 years. Recently we bought an Art Deco house together in Ballarat, so we’re now permanent Ballaratians. It was like a chapter in a book. We knew our time in Melbourne was over.
Deborah: We found ourselves starting to spend more time here. The development going on in Melbourne was making the city unrecognisable. Ballarat has everything we love. It’s got a great cinema – we both love film – and the Art Gallery of Ballarat has a superb collection. My connection with the Gallery started at art school in the early 1980s. After graduation I worked at the Print Council of Australia, then located in a basement in Collins Street. One day a man came down the stairs and we started talking. His name was Roger Butler and it was only after he left that I realised he had written the catalogue for Melbourne woodcuts and linocuts of the 1920s and 1930s, published in 1981 by the Art Gallery of Ballarat, which was my bible. I taught myself relief printmaking from it because at art school linocutting wasn’t considered sophisticated enough and we received very little instruction.
Shane: My connection to the Gallery began in 2009 when I had a solo show here. I think it has the best collection outside the State galleries, with some of my favourite works. I’ve always been inspired by Tom Roberts and Arthur Streeton, by the Heidelberg School era – at the moment I’m doing a series of profile portrait drawings inspired by Tom Roberts’s profile portraits. You’ve had a solo show here too, Deborah.
Deborah: Yes, I had a survey show here in 2008 that originated in Castlemaine, called Out of the Past.
Amanda: Do you classify yourselves as mid-career artists?
Shane: Assuming I live for another 20 years, this is my mid-career, if it’s all about time, but it’s an interesting concept. Raphael died at 37, so his mid-career was in his twenties. Late Basquiat artworks were painted in his mid-twenties. Artists develop at different rates and some artists do their best work in their youth, so by the time they get to ‘mid-career’ their best work is behind them.
Deborah: And then you have artists like Rosalie Gascoigne, who had her first exhibition when she was 57.
Shane: Having a career and what you do in the studio can be two separate things. What you do in the studio is up to the artist – your career is given to you by others. You can’t give yourself art prizes, or make someone buy your work, or make reviewers write about you. All you can do is your best work in the way you think it should be done – you can’t control anything else.
Deborah: It’s a title that’s superimposed afterwards by others. I think for any artist, if you’re still working after many years then that’s a measure of success. I do feel that I’m at a stage in my life where I’m gathering pieces together and seeing the aspects of my work that are most important to me. For example, I’ve been painting ‘non-portraits’ – the backs of women’s heads – for many years, and I’ve also used the iconography of tattooing in my work. Now I’m drawing those aspects together, revisiting and combining elements to take them somewhere else.
Shane: Because of this house we’ve bought in Ballarat we’ve been getting our work out of storage, which forces us to look back. It’s great to put those earlier works out because it’s where you’ve come from, where you started.
Deborah: Sometimes old work should stay buried, but I’ve been looking at a self-portrait I did in art school that’s interesting because it shows where some of the later work sprang from.
Amanda: Do you have a favourite artwork in the Gallery collection?
Deborah: I admire Clarice Beckett and Margaret Preston, but I have a lot of favourites. Anything from last year’s Becoming Modern show – I’ve always loved that period. I think it comes from growing up as an only child in St Kilda and my aunt, who lived next door, would play Fats Waller and Bing Crosby recordings for me, so I grew up loving that era and its music. The Modernist period has definitely influenced my own work, including my palette.
Shane: I love Tom Roberts’ Charcoal Burners, which is as much about the artist as the artwork. Tom Roberts and Arthur Streeton are the two artists who inspired me most in my early 20s when I started painting, even to the brush work and what colours to choose. When I looked at their work it was a revelation – they led me to look more closely at nature.
Deborah: Many of my favourite pictures are in the salon hang on the stairs. It’s been exciting seeing this and other new directions of the Gallery unfold.
Amanda: What about a favourite colour?
Shane: I don’t have a favourite colour, although I do have favourite combinations of colour like red, white and black; blue and yellow; brown, white and blue; black, white, green and pink; green, white and purple. I was a jockey when I was in my late teens and I always loved the colour combinations on the jockeys’ outfits. When I see certain colours together they do something to me – they stir something and set it alight.
Deborah: It’s intuitive. My colour is red, somewhere between crimson and scarlet – that’s the colour I use a lot in my work. Red is visually arresting and its meanings are many-layered and sometimes contradictory. It can indicate danger but also be joyous. Its connection with both the human body and the natural world is often reflected in my imagery.

Amanda McGraw, In the Gallery with Deborah Klein & Shane Jones (Untitled, Issue 3, ART GALLERY OF BALLARAT ASSOCIATION, Autumn 2020, pages 32-33).

Tuesday, March 24, 2020


Hope, 2019, pigmented drawing ink and gouache on Khadi paper, 21 x 15 cm (unframed)

To those who have told me how much they are looking forward to BACKSTORIES, my forthcoming solo show at Stephen McLaughlan Gallery, a sincere thank you. 

I’m looking forward to it too, only now it will happen a little later than originally planned. For the well-being of all concerned, the exhibition, which was due to run from 15 April - 2 May, will be rescheduled for a happier, healthier time that is still to be determined. 

Meanwhile, pictured top is one of my newly framed works that wait in readiness. Its title is Hope

Keep safe, everyone.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Putting it together on Sondheim’s 90th

‘...The art of making art
Is putting it together...
Bit by bit,
Putting it together...
Piece by piece -
Only way to make a work of art.
Every moment makes a contribution,
Every little detail plays a part.
Having just a vision's no solution,
Everything depends on execution:
Putting it together-
That's what counts...’
Putting it Together (excerpt) from Sunday in the Park with George, 1984, music and lyrics by Stephen SondheimHappy 90th birthday, Mr. Sondheim. 🎂

Pictured above: Stephen Sondheim
Pictured top: Sunday, acrylic on linen, 40.5 x 30.5 cm (progress view)

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Travelling Light

Pictured above: my survival strategy for these troubled times: Travelling Light (1996, linocut, 30 x 30 cm. Collections: Australian Print Workshop, Melbourne, Vic., National Gallery of Australia, ACT., Art Gallery of Ballarat, Vic and others).

It's been many years since I've set eyes on this print. Recently I came upon it whilst going through the archive of my work at the Australian Print Workshop. On the far left are Dorothy Parker and Diva, our two much loved cats at the time this work was made.

Stay safe, everyone.

Saturday, March 14, 2020

APW George Collie Memorial Print Award recipient

With profound gratitude to the Australian Print Workshop, I’m thrilled to announce that I’ve been awarded the 2020 APW George Collie Memorial Print Award.

"The Australian Print Workshop has administered the APW George Collie Memorial Award on behalf of the Collie Print Trust since 2014. The Australian Print Workshop is delighted to have this opportunity to recognise important and lifelong contributions to fine art printmaking. The annual Award presentation is accompanied by an exhibition of the recipients’ work in the APW Gallery".

The 2020 George Collie Memorial Print Award exhibition will also honour the work of one of my printmaking muses, the late Barbara Hanrahana selection of whose works are HERE. I’m honoured to have my name linked with hers and distinguished past recipients Alun Leach-Jones and Kevin Lincoln (2019), Graham Fransella and Euan Heng (2018), Kitty Kantilla and John Wolseley (2017), Bea Maddock and Jennifer Marshall (2016), Grahame King and Jan Senbergs (2015) and Rick Amor and Noel Counihan (2014).

The George Collie Memorial Print Award exhibition opens ‪on Saturday ‪13 June 2020.

Image top: Mildred Pierce on St. Kilda Pier (1995, linocut, 65 x 46 cm. Collections: Australian Print Workshop, Vic., National Gallery of Australia, ACT., Art Gallery of NSW, Art Gallery of Ballarat, Vic., Monash University, Vic.
 and others).

Sunday, March 8, 2020

International Women’s Day

In celebration of International Women’s Day, I give you St. Kilda Warrior, 1996, linocut, 61.2 x 45.3 cm, edition 15. (Australian National Gallery, ACT; Australian Print Workshop, Melbourne; City of Port Phillip, Vic. and other collections).

Thursday, March 5, 2020

Opening night of 20[2020]

Featured here are two captured moments from last night’s opening of 20[2020] at Tacit Galleries(See also my previous post). 

In photo 1 (top), I’m pictured with my painting New Horizon. (Photographer: Dmetri Kakmi, with artistic direction from Megan Backhouse). 

Photo 2, above, shows artist Jim Pavlidis (left) and model Leigh Hobbs (right) flanking Jim’s portrait of Leigh. (Note the portrait-within-a-portrait of the subject's immortal creation, Mr Chicken).

20[2020] concludes on 15 March.