Saturday, December 31, 2022

Out with the old, in with the new…

With Christmas behind us, I’ve been getting stuck into some prep for forthcoming painting and printmaking projects. But tools have now been downed as we see out what’s left of the old year. 

Work prep aside, the past five days have been a delightful whirlwind of family, friends, films and theatre. After a memorable Christmas Day with family in Ballarat, we drove to Melbourne to spend the evening at the home of our old friend, Ross Campbell, who shares our passion for film. Recently he had a significant birthday and to mark the occasion, Shane and I each made a film-related painting for him. Knowing Ross is a longtime admirer of Greta Garbo, I created  the following work.

Greta Garbo, 2022, acrylic on panel, 20 x 15 cm, was painted a couple of months ago, but not published here earlier in case Ross came across the post. I’m happy to report that he is delighted with our gifts and has lost no time in hanging them. We’re honoured to know our paintings are on display amidst his superb collection of film memorabilia. To see Shane’s painting, The Birth of Cinema, visit his art blog HERE.

On Wednesday we travelled again to Melbourne, this time to see A Christmas Carol at the Comedy Theatre. Adapted from the novella by Charles Dickens, a firm favourite of mine since childhood, it was centred by a superlative central performance by David Wenham as Scrooge, with an equally marvellous supporting cast.

Once the play began, photography was rightly forbidden. During the preamble, however, we were encouraged to take photos as the actors threw oranges (traditional Victorian stocking fillers) to delighted audience members. 

In my long life I’ve been fortunate to see some fine theatre, in Melbourne, Sydney, London and New York, and this was up there with the finest. 

On Shane’s recommendation, Ross went the following day, and loved it as much as we did.

On Thursday our Melbourne-based friends James Harrison and Priscilla Ambrosini came for lunch. What a delightful afternoon it was. We’ve been wanting to have them over for the last couple of years - but then the pandemic intervened. They finally made it, just before another year ran out. The photos directly above are by James Harrison. 

New Year’s Eve 2022 has a special significance for Shane and I. It marks the 30th anniversary of our first meeting and we’re going out for a quiet celebratory meal.

However you celebrate NYE - or if you simply choose to ignore it - we wish you a healthy, joyous and creative 2023. I for one can hardly wait! 

Pictured above: Artist, 2022, acrylic on canvas, 10 x 8 cm. (Private collection). 

Friday, December 23, 2022

Christmas in Ballarat

Christmas Greetings from Ballarat. 🎄

Pictured above are eleven recently completed miniature silhouette paintings. Ostensibly made for last Sunday’s BMI Christmas Maker Market, they also provided an invaluable opportunity to road test some new ideas ahead of the coming year.

Directly below: Under the eye of Alice, Shane decorates our new Christmas tree - - -

- - - followed by some detailed views.

No sooner had we trimmed the tree, when we discovered our first surprise waiting underneath it.

Meanwhile, our original tree, diminutive but best-loved, graces the downstairs entrance hall - - -

- - - watched over from the adjacent living room by Alice (who somehow managed to be in two places at once). The splendid cat cushion on her favourite chair was a recent birthday gift (to me, not Alice) from our dear friend, Paul Compton.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Tuesday, December 20, 2022

A visit to Playing in the Attic

Yesterday Shane Jones and I paid a visit to the delightful Playing in the Attic in the tiny town of Talbot. 

It’s always a pleasure to meet some of the locals, on this occasion, Misty, “the most popular horse in town” and Trudy’s adorable dogs, Iris and Zelda, named for authors Iris Murdoch and Zelda Fitzgerald. (Coincidentally, I’ve just made a small painting inspired by the latter).

Trudy has been stocking my books and zines for several years. The main purpose of our visit was to drop in my latest zines, Rückenfigur - The turned figure, Vols 1-3,  and replacement copies of  There was once… The collected fairy tales, but the shop is such a treasure trove, we seldom emerge empty handed. 

Monday, December 19, 2022

BMI Maker Market

A big thank you to everyone who dropped by the Moth Woman Press table at yesterday’s BMI Christmas Maker Market at the Ballaarat Mechanics’ Institute and to all those who made purchases. We met some lovely people and the friends who stopped by for a chat made the day complete. Thanks also to the amazing Shane Jones for assistance above and beyond the call of duty and to the BMI for having us. We couldn’t have wished for more thoughtful, considerate, helpful or better organised hosts. I’m delighted to hear that the BMI Library’s fundraising book sale was a huge success too! 

Photo credit for top pic: Shane Jones. 

For a detailed and informative article on the history of Mechanics’ Institutes, go HERE.

Friday, December 16, 2022

Artificial Flower


Pictured top: last Wednesday’s surprise encounter with one of my drawings of old: Artificial Flower, 1999, water soluble pastel and oil pastel on paper, currently on view at Charles Nodrum Gallery, Melbourne, in WORKS ON PAPER 2023. To my left, from top: Adrienne Gaha’s Nymph Cronulla Beach, 2008, screen print and Steve Cox’s Weasel,  2002, watercolour.

The gallery’s annual summer group exhibition runs from 7 December 2022 - 25 February, 2023.

Thanks to Shane Jones for the first photo.

Monday, December 12, 2022

Shape of things to come

Pitcher, 2022, acrylic on canvas, 10 x 8 cm (pictured top in the upstairs kitchenette adjoining my studio, propped up by a vintage Johnson Brothers jug) is from a suite of miniature silhouettes created for next Sunday’s BMI Maker and Community Market.

The jug, from the Johnson Brothers Dream Town series, c 1950s, one of a pair recently purchased from Rocket and Belle in Ballarat, is currently among my favourite things. It was the point of departure for this work, although beyond elements of the colour scheme, there is no discernible resemblance between the two. The painting has been pared down to stylised shapes, drawing much of its inspiration from 1920s-30s Art Deco

This series in progress (see also previous post) reintroduces the Shadow Women, a cast of characters that made their first public appearance in my paintings, prints, artist books and zines in 2013. The current works were started in fun, but in a remarkably brief time frame, appear to be pointing the way to future directions in my work. All going well, they will form the basis for an ambitious project that has been on the back burner for so many years, I’d all but given up on it. I certainly didn’t see that one coming. 

Meanwhile, let us not forget the BMI Christmas Maker and Community Market:
Ballaarat Mechanics’ Institute
117-119 Sturt Street
Ballarat Vic 3350.
Sunday December 18 from 9 am - 2 pm.

Thursday, December 8, 2022

BMI Christmas Maker and Community Market

I’m a proud member of no less than two iconic Mechanics’ Institute libraries: Melbourne Atheneum Library (see yesterday’s post) and Ballaarat Mechanics’ Institute Library in Sturt Street, Ballarat. 

Scribe, 2022, acrylic on canvas, 10 x 8 cm (pictured top) and Candlelight, 2022, acrylic on canvas, 10 x 8 cm (pictured below) are two of several miniature silhouette paintings in the making for the latter’s BMI Maker and Community Market on Sunday, December 18, 9 am - 2 pm. 

My table will also include a selection of Moth Woman Press books and zines. I always look forward to this annual event, but this will be my first time as an actual participant. If you’re free, do drop by and say hello.

Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Causes for Celebration

There is a lot of catching up to be done on this blog. It seems to me that a very good place to start is our celebratory evening at Carboni’s Italian Kitchen in Ballarat on 28 November, a personal “thanksgiving” meal marking the return to good health, the end of an era and the start of a new one. 

A toast to all the friends who’ve supported me on my journey over the past two years, especially my wonderful partner, Shane Jones, who took the above photo. 

I don’t want to give the impression that all I do is imbibe Prosecco (although it certainly must look that way). In my defence, there has been a lot to celebrate lately.

Directly above and below: last Sunday afternoon’s post-theatre drinks in the bar of Her Majesty’s, my favourite Melbourne theatre, watched over by the venerable Barry Humphries and Stephen Fry.  We had just attended a matinee of Hamilton, a thoughtful and generous birthday gift from Shane. Neither of us was entirely sure the musical lived up to all the hype. But it had its moments and we still a enjoyed splendid afternoon.

Finally, A snapshot from last night’s memorable farewell celebration for Sue Westwood, Business Manager of Melbourne Athenaeum Library  for the past 13 years. (Photo credit: Shane Jones).

Sue was instrumental in appointing me as Artist-in-Residence at the library in 2018, a happy and extremely productive experience I’ll always remember fondly. Under Sue’s auspices, the library was the first public institution to acquire my artist book, Leaves of Absence.

It was lovely to see many familiar faces and terrific to catch up with Patricia Cornelius, the Playwright in Residence during my time there, and to meet Melissa Reeves, the library’s 2021 Playwright in Residence.

Wishing Sue all the best for the future. She has promised to keep in touch and I will most certainly hold her to that!