Friday, August 27, 2021

Ladies in Lockdown 3: Droplet


…She left the web, she left the loom, 
She made three paces through the 
She saw the water-lily bloom, 
She saw the helmet and the plume, 
She look'd down to Camelot. 
Out flew the web and floated wide; 
The mirror crack'd from side to side; 
"The curse is come upon me," cried 
The Lady of Shalott…

- from The Lady of Shalott (1833, Alfred, Lord Tennyson) 

Pictured: Droplet, 2018, acrylic on linen, 40.5 x 30.5 cm, another lady in lockdown dying to break free. One of the first works made for BACKSTORIES at Stephen McLaughlan Gallery, current to September 5. ðŸ” 

Thursday, August 26, 2021

Ladies in Lockdown 2: Pathfinder

…By the margin, willow veil'd,

Slide the heavy barges trail'd 

By slow horses; and unhail'd 

The shallop flitteth silken-sail'd

Skimming down to Camelot: 

But who hath seen her wave her 


Or at the casement seen her stand? 

Or is she known in all the land, 

The Lady of Shalott?…

- from The Lady of Shalott (1833, Alfred, Lord Tennyson) 

Pictured: Pathfinder, 2018, acrylic on linen, 40.5 x 30.5 cm, part of my solo show, BACKSTORIES, temporarily under lock and key at Stephen McLaughlan Gallery on the eighth floor of the Nicholas Building, Melbourne. ðŸ” 

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Ladies in Lockdown 1: The Other

…Four gray walls and four gray towers,

Overlook a space of flowers,

And the silent isle imbowers

The Lady of Shalott…

- from The Lady of Shalott, (1833, Alfred, Lord Tennyson) 

Image: The Other, 2019, acrylic on linen, 40.5 x 30.5 cm, part of my solo show, BACKSTORIES, currently in lockdown at Stephen McLaughlan Gallery, Melbourne. ðŸ” 

Monday, August 23, 2021

My MIFF 2021

On the morning after the Melbourne International Film Festival ended, Alice can’t control her excitement, as our attention will once again be focused completely on her. We find her attitude very shallow, while in her turn, she thinks we’re philistines for viewing all the MIFF 69 films on my iPad. But needs must - we couldn’t figure out how to stream them via our projector or even through our TV. After a few futile attempts came to nothing, rather than fight a war with technology we knew we couldn’t win, we decided to work with what we had. 

Shane and I enjoyed our annual MIFF experience immensely, small screen notwithstanding. We saw 32 films by the festival’s end. There were many standouts, high among them, Hopper/Welles, 2020, Orson Welles (see above), a cineaste’s dream come true and a wonderful potential companion piece to Welles’s The Other Side of the Wind, 2018, which we were fortunate to see at a private screening a couple of years ago. 

Meanwhile, in my temporary studio in our adjoining dining room, progress gradually continues on the two paintings I’ve been developing between MIFF screenings. (See above). The vintage needlework on the left is by my late Aunt Eileen and will form the basis for the bottom panels in the diptychs.

Here are our 32 films:

Bodies in Motion - Movement on Screen: As One, Bonanza!, Multiply, Poleng, The Prelude - Michelle (Short Films, Dance)

Hopper/Welles (2020, Orson Welles)

Sisters With Transistors (2020, Lisa Rovner)

The Most Beautiful Boy in the World (2021, Kristina Lindstrom, Kristian Petri)

Set! (2021, Scott Gawlick)

The Village Detective: A Song Cycle (2021, Bill Morrison)

Come Back Anytime (2021, John Daschbach)

Girls I Museum (2020, Shelly Silver)

Topside (2020, Celine Held, Logan George)

Bandaranaike Band (2021, Manijey Hekmat)

Wojnarowicz (2020, Chris McKim)

The Gig is Up (2021, Shannon Walsh)

The Hill Where Lionesses Roar (2021, Luana Bajrami)

Sabaya (2021, Hogir Hirori) 

Nudo Mixteco (2021, Angeles Cruz)

Riders of Justice (2020, Anders Thomas Jensen)

Chess of the Wind (1976, Mohammad Reza Aslani)

The Night (2019, Kourosh Ahari)

Palazzo di Cozzo (2021, Madeleine Martiniello)

Wife of a Spy (2020, Kiyoshi Kurosawa)

Gaza Mon Amour (2020, Arab Nasser, Tarzan Nasser)

Coda (2020, Sian Heder)

Queen of Glory (2021, Nanah Mensah)

Celts (2021, Milica Tomovic)

My Name is Pauli Murray (2021, Betsy West, Julie Cohen). 

What We See When We Look at the the Sky (2021, Alexandre Koberidze)

Wasteland (2020, Ahmad Bahrami) 

Dear Comrades (2021, Andrei Konchalovsky, Alisher Usmanov)

Woodlands Dark and Days Bewitched: a History of Folk Horror (2021, Kier-La Janisse)

Night of the Kings (2021, Philippe Lacôte)

Karen Dalton: In My Own Time (2020, Richard Peete, Robert Yapkowitz)

James and Isey (2021, Florian Habicht)

Saturday, August 21, 2021

Slow progress


Recently I set up a temporary studio in our dining room, as it’s adjacent to the living room where we’ve been screening our selections from this year’s Melbourne International Film Festival. (See Blog Post Thursday, August 12). The paintings shown here will be diptychs. Elements of the designs in the two pieces of needlework, both hand-stitched in the last century (possibly the late 1930s) by my late aunt, Eileen Klein, will be incorporated into the bottom panels. 

Progress on the new work has been slow, partly because we’ve been streaming films all week, but mainly because my chair has been hijacked. The works will be completed in time for Rückenfigur, my upcoming solo show at Queenscliff Gallery, or Alice will have to answer to it.

Thursday, August 19, 2021


The collective name for my most recent protagonists is ‘Rückenfiguren’ or alternatively, ‘Journeywomen’. Ironically, since they were freed from the ties that formerly bound them, they’ve spent most of their existence under lock and key, like fairy tale princesses of old. It seems they simply cannot escape their fate, no matter how hard they try.

Throughout the history of art, most notably in the works of German Romantic painter Caspar David Friedrich, the Rückenfigur, or back figure, has gamely turned to face an unknown destination. She invites the viewer to empathetically share her perspective and ultimately, her journey. This time it appears to be a journey back into lockdown, at least for now.

Since I wrote the above, my much-disrupted show, BACKSTORIES, has been granted yet another stay of execution, this time to September 5. For that, I thank Stephen McLaughlan from the bottom of my heart. Nobody could have done more to keep my show alive. Based on recent experience, however, Delta may have other plans. As originally rescheduled, the show should have gone ahead and run its course completely uninterrupted. A couple of days before it was due to open, however, along came the infamous furniture removalists… 

At least I had an Opening Event to remember (see HERE and HERE). I have Stephen to thank for that too, not to mention the wonderful people who came along to help me celebrate. Heartfelt thanks also to those who have acquired works from BACKSTORIES. Despite its convoluted run, the show has had an overwhelmingly positive response. All of this has meant the world. It was my decision to have the show now and I firmly believe it was the right way to go. I’ve previously outlined why, and have absolutely no regrets. 

When the current lockdown ends, hopefully BACKSTORIES will have a few more days to shine and those still keen to see it will get a chance to do so. At this point, I can’t offer any more than that, not at a time when there’s so little to be sure of, and certainly not in the face of the rampant stupidity of the relative few whose selfish actions affect so many.

Pictured top: Emergent English Rose, 2019, acrylic on linen, 40.5 x 30.5 cm, stoically waiting for lockdown to end. Photo credit: the artist.

Installation views of BACKSTORIES at Stephen McLaughlan Gallery are by Tim Gresham. Click on individual images for a clearer view.

Tuesday, August 17, 2021


BOOKISH, the Print Council of Australia’s inaugural artist book exhibition, is now live. The online show features 94 works, including my one-of-a-kind concertina book, Cat’s Cradle, 2019. 

To see inside the book, visit Moth Woman Press HERE.

Due to the current outbreak of COVID-19 in NSW, the PCA is no longer able to exhibit BOOKISH at Sydney Contemporary Art Fair as originally planned, but hopes to hold an exhibition in Melbourne during October. The venue and dates will be announced shortly. 

BOOKISH celebrates 55 years of the Print Council of Australia. The link to the exhibition is HERE.

Friday, August 13, 2021

Memories of MIFFS Past

Yesterday this photo (shared via Instagram) came up as a Facebook memory. Two years and one day ago I was based in a small hotel room in Melbourne for the duration of the 2019 Melbourne International Film Festival. In between screenings I worked on several of the drawings that are now part of BACKSTORIES, my show at Stephen McLaughlan Gallery (currently in lockdown). Somewhere along the way, Scribe, the drawing on the worktable, was renamed Feather Tattoo. I think I prefer its former title. 

This is the original post (minus the hashtags):

Scribe, the drawing currently on my worktable, anticipated one of yesterday’s MIFF 2019  films, THE JUNIPER TREE (Dir. Nietzchka Keene, 1986), a dark medieval fantasy based on a tale collected by the Brothers Grimm. In the guise of a raven, the dead mother of a boy, Jónas, brings him a magical feather. The recently restored film is graced by a luminous central performance from Björk, as the boy’s stepsister, Margit. 

Thursday, August 12, 2021

MIFF 2021 Ballarat Style

This year’s Melbourne International Film Festival is another scaled-down affair. Sadly, for the second year running, we won’t get to hang out in Melbourne with our special MIFF friends.

Sadder still, I won’t be turning heads with my snazzy new footwear (the result of a torn ligament, an old injury that has only recently been diagnosed), nor can I make it up the stairs to our cinema room. Instead, Shane and I must content ourselves with Miffing it in our downstairs living room under the watchful gaze of the Moth Women.

At least we’ll be well-caffeinated for streaming MIFF 69, thanks to our trusty MIFF mugs. So far we’ve clocked up ten films and still going strong. I’ve already fallen completely in love with one film. Looking forward to comparing notes on our favourites and not-so-favourites with MIFF buds, if only by text, email and social media. Hopefully this time next year it will be over coffee and cake or a glass of wine. 

Friday, August 6, 2021

BACKSTORIES extended to August 28


Everything’s coming up roses.🌹 

Thanks to the astonishingly resourceful Stephen McLaughlan, BACKSTORIES will reopen for viewing once the current lockdown ends. 

The flyer is for all the kind folk who asked if the show could be extended.🌹The Sondheim quote is for Stephen.

Image on invitation: Rambling Rose, 2019, acrylic on linen, 40.5 x 30.5 cm

Mercy dash

When I switched on the news early yesterday afternoon, it soon became clear where things were heading. With another lockdown imminent, Shane and I decided to do a mercy dash to Melbourne and have one last look at my solo show, BACKSTORIES. (1)

I’m so glad we did, because we bumped into our old friends, Lesley Duxbury and Michael Young. Lesley has exhibited with Stephen McLaughlan Gallery for many years and once upon a time was my boss when I taught in the Printmaking Department at RMIT University. (Pictured top: Stephen McLaughlan, Lesley Duxbury, myself and Michael Young. Photo credit: Shane Jones).

We also spent some quality time hanging out with Stephen. His knowledge of Melbourne’s architecture, including the heritage-listed Nicholas Building, his gallery’s home for the past 27 years, is astounding. As many of you know, this iconic building is on the market and the future of its many creative tenants has been in doubt. It was heartening to hear Stephen is optimistic that a positive outcome can ultimately be achieved.

L-R: Stephen McLaughlan and Shane Jones

Swanston Street entrance to the Nicholas Building

8th floor directory of tenants, Nicholas Building  

Above and below: Flinders Lane entrance to the Nicholas Building 

I won’t pretend I’m not sad and disappointed to have lost the last three days of my show, but in every other way, it has been one of my happiest exhibiting experiences. (2)

Technically, BACKSTORIES is still on until Sunday - it’s just that no one can visit the gallery. In an effort to bring the exhibition to you, I’ve made a little film. Unfortunately my handheld camera work leaves a lot to be desired. Seasick pills are highly recommended - it appears to have been photographed during a storm at sea. I love film and have friends who are talented filmmakers, but clearly none of it has rubbed off on me. It’s proved impossible to download the footage on this blog, but you can view it on my Instagram Artist Page HERE.

Fortunately photographer Tim Gresham took some installation views on Wednesday, which I’ll post as soon as they become available.

(1) A seven-day lockdown from 8 pm yesterday evening was later announced.

(2) Since writing the above, I’ve received an update about BACKSTORIES. Stay tuned for further announcements.

Wednesday, August 4, 2021

BACKSTORIES Artist Celebration Part 2

The BACKSTORIES Artist Celebration at Stephen McLaughlan Gallery last Saturday is something I’ll long remember. Since publishing my own photos of the event, I’ve been sent additional photographs. I’m thrilled to have them because they contain images of people who slipped through the net in the first round. 

As Stephen McLaughlan, who took the first three shots below, remarked, the photos are a useful record of attendees. But more than that, they hold precious memories of a very special day. 

Huge thanks to Julie Keating for sending through the remaining photographs. That’s Julie herself in the red and white spotted mask in Stephen’s photo second from the top and with Loris Button in the very last picture below.

L-R: Christine Hickson, Lucy Sussex, Heather Barker, Graeme Williams, Paul Logsdon, 
Ewan Barker, Tim Gresham, Sonja Hansen Dean Varndell, Tim Jones

L-R: Julie Keating, Louise Jennison, Gracia Haby, Vicki Fowler, Alistair Fowler, Peter and Iga Bajer

L-R: Shane Jones, Linda Gibbs, Vanessa Taylor, John Waller, Anna Maria Plescia and myself 
Photo credit for the above three views: Stephen McLaughlan

 From foreground, left: Dan Kellett, John Ryrie, Shane Jones, Lucy Sussex, 
Ewan and Heather Barker, Christine Hickson 

Stephen McLaughlan

L-R: Tim Gresham, Sonja Hansen, Gaye Britt, Dean Varndell, Gracia Haby,
Vicki Fowler, Louise Jennison 

L-R: Dean Varndell, Lucy Sussex, Alistair Fowler, 
Gracia Haby, Louise Jennison 

L-R: Tim Gresham, Christine Hickson, Loris Button,Peter and Iga Bajer

Dean Varndell 

Vanessa Taylor 

L-R: myself, Sonya Suares, Shane Jones, Lucy Sussex, Sonja Hansen, Gaye Britt,
Dean Varndell, Alistair Fowler, Gracia Haby, Vicki Fowler

L-R: Christine Hickson, Libby Drew and Scott, Euan and Catherine Heng, 
myself and Michael Vale

L-R: Ewan Barker, John Ryrie, Dan Kellett, Gaye Britt

Kathryn Ryan and Paul Logsdon 

L-R: Paul Logsdon, Kathryn Ryan, Graeme Williams, Leigh Hobbs

L-R: myself, Catherine Heng and Donna McRae

L-R: Lucy Sussex, Dean Varndell, Gracia Haby, Vicki Fowler, Louise Jennison 

L: Sonya Suares, myself, Tim Gresham; off-centre: Dan Kellett, John Ryrie, Shane Jones
Right: Lucy Sussex, Ewan and Heather Barker

L-R: Vanessa Taylor, Alistair Fowler, Vicki Fowler, Louise Jennison, Gracia Haby,
Sonja Hansen and Dean Varndell

L-R: Vicki Bellas, her friend Queenie and Mary Bellas

L-R: Gaye Britt, myself and Tim Gresham 
Photo credit for all but the photo below and the top three views: Julie Keating 

L-R: Loris Button, Julie Keating, Leigh Hobbs
Photo credit: Kathryn Ryan