Tuesday, April 25, 2023

World of the Book 2023, State Library of Victoria

Deborah Klein, Four pages from the unbound artist book, Leaves of Absence, 2017.
 Installation view, State Library of Victoria, April 2023.

Selected pages from Leaves of Absence, my unbound artist book, are on display in the latest iteration of World of the Book in the Dome Galleries, Level 4, State Library of Victoria, amidst some remarkable examples of silhouette art. 

Other exhibits include early editions of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and rare editions of Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There. 

The exhibition opened on 1 April 2023 and is current to 12 May 2024.

Pictured top: Memory 1, 16, 14 and 9 from Leaves of Absence, 2017, unbound artist book. Collection: State Library of Victoria.

Pictured below: The State Library’s splendid La Trobe Reading Room, viewed from the Dome Galleries. 

Monday, April 24, 2023

One Hundred Faces launch


Here are a few highlights from Saturday’s launch of One Hundred Faces at Playing in the Attic in Talbot. I always look forward to taking part in this annual exhibition, which continues to go from strength to strength. This year I even bought a pair of earrings from Ballarat’s Femxle Experience Art Rebellion to match the earrings in my painting, Orange Tree, on view over my right shoulder in the first shot. (OK, technically the earrings are pumpkins, but I love them and it’s still a pretty close match). 

As always, huge thanks to Trudy McLauchlan for organising One Hundred Faces, including the impeccable hang, and for inviting Shane Jones and I to be part of it again. It was great to spend some quality time with our friends Peter Cooper and participating artist Loris Button, both pictured with Shane in the penultimate photo below, and to meet some of the other artists. It was terrific seeing so many red stickers too. 

The exhibition is part of Tiny Towns Arts Trail, which concludes at 4 pm today. 

One Hundred Faces continues to 31 May. Do get along and see it if you can. My photos don’t do it justice. 

Sunday, April 23, 2023

BARRY HUMPHRIES February 17, 1934 - April 22, 2023


These portraits of Barry Humphries by Lewis Morley are among our most treasured possessions. They were the first pictures we hung when we moved into this house. 

Over the decades I’ve seen Barry Humphries live on stage, both in Melbourne and in London, more than any other performer. There were times he made me laugh when I thought I didn’t have any laughter left in me. 

Some losses simply can’t be borne.

Friday, April 21, 2023

One Hundred Faces 2023

Pictured above: two recently completed paintings, Maid of Honour and Orange Tree, freshly varnished in readiness for the annual exhibition, One Hundred Faces at Playing in the Attic.

Both works take designs by May Morris as points of departure - in the case of Maid of Honour, 2023, her embroidery Maids of Honour, c. 1890, a personal favourite of mine - and both were labours of love.

Maid of Honour, 2023 (study), acrylic on canvas mounted on board, 10 x 10 cm. 

Some developmental views of the work are below.

Serendipitously, I’ve just discovered that the May Morris panel Maids of Honour was originally owned by the artist Marie Spartali Stillman. Her work appears next to mine on the poster for the upcoming exhibitions Pre-Raphaelites, Drawings and Watercolours and In the Company of Morris at the Art Gallery of Ballarat. (See Blog Post Wednesday, April 12). 

The second work, Orange Tree, 2023 (pictured below) is also followed by a handful of process views, including a reproduction of Orange Tree, circa 1897, the textile designed and embroidered by May Morris that was its primary source of inspiration.

Orange Tree, 2023, (study) acrylic on canvas mounted on board, 10 x 10 cm. 

One Hundred Faces is presented in connection with Tiny Towns Arts TrailThe exhibition opens tomorrow, Saturday 22 April, and runs to the end of May.

Playing in the Attic
13 Ballaarat Street
Talbot VIC Australia 3371
Opening hours: Friday - Monday 10 am - 4 pm

Thursday, April 20, 2023

A watershed moment

Yesterday afternoon I finally turned the corner with some especially challenging work. What little was left of the day was spent sitting in the semi-darkness, watching the last of the sun streaming through my studio door. 

Wednesday, April 12, 2023


Pictured: a happy discovery in the elegant entrance alcove of the Art Gallery of Ballarat, ahead of the imminent exhibitions Pre-Raphaelites, Drawings and Watercolours from the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford and In the Company of Morris. 

On the poster, L-R: Marie Spartali Stillman, Cloister Lilies, 1891, watercolour and body colour, part of the former, and a detail from my triptych Three Women, 2021, synthetic polymer paint on linen, part of the latter.

The exhibitions open on 20 May and run to 6 August.

Credit for top photo: Shane Jones.

Saturday, April 8, 2023

Easter Greetings


Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,

  Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
  With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss'd cottage-trees,
  And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
    To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
  With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
    For summer has o'er-brimm'd their clammy cells.

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
  Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
  Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reap'd furrow sound asleep,
  Drowsed with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
    Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep 
  Steady thy laden head across a brook;
  Or by a cider-press, with patient look,
    Thou watchest the last oozings, hours by hours.

Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
  Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,--
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
  And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
  Among the river sallows, borne aloft
    Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
  Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
  The redbreast whistles from a garden-croft,
    And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

- John Keats, 1795-1821*

*To Autumn was written on September 19, 1819 and first published in 1820. The poem is in the public domain. 

Easter is traditionally associated with springtime, a time of rebirth and regrowth. But in southern climes it falls in autumn, that “Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness”. I have always admired the John Keats poem, which encapsulates so much of what I love about this time of year - although at present it feels more like winter!

The Pre-Raphaelites and their contemporaries, whose works I’m currently revisiting, recognised Keats as a kindred spirit. Several of them, including John Everett Millais, William Holman Hunt, Arthur Hughes, John William Waterhouse, George Frederick Watts and Walter Crane, depicted scenes from his verses. In 1894 Kelmscott Press published The Poems of John Keats with elaborate wood-engraved borders and initials designed by William Morris (pictured below).

I’m flying to London in mid-September, the first month of the English autumn and the very same month in which Keats composed To Autumn. I’ve just remembered that Keats House in Hampstead is only minutes away from where I’ll be staying. A return visit is long overdue.

Meanwhile, Happy Easter everyone.

Pictured top: Deborah Klein, Orange Tree, 2023, (study), acrylic on canvas mounted on board, 10 x 10 cm. The work, which takes an identically titled embroidery designed by May Morris as its point of departure, is part of One Hundred Faces 2023 at Playing in the Attic, Talbot, Vic. The exhibition opens on Saturday April 22 and runs to the end of May. 

Thursday, April 6, 2023

Foreign Flora and the pleasure of working to audio books

Recently on loan from Melbourne Atheneum Library, the audio book of The Testaments, Margaret Atwood’s powerful sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale, provided such compelling accompaniment to my printmaking activities, I couldn’t wait to get into the studio each day. 

Pictured foreground, left: a trial proof of Foreign Flora, linocut, 15 x 11.5 cm. The tattoo is based on a floral motif in Australia, c. 1888, an embroidered table cover designed by May Morris, now held in the permanent collection of the Art Gallery of South Australia.

Sunday, April 2, 2023

FEAR Zine Market

The time flew by at yesterday’s FEAR Zine Market at Femxle Experience Art Rebellion. But if you missed it, don’t despair. This may have been FEAR’s first zine market, but I have it on very good authority that it won’t be their last.

It was an honour to be invited to participate in the inaugural event and a treat to hang out with some seriously talented zinesters, including Tas Wansbrough (photos 3 & 4 above) and Charlie Timms-McLean (photos 5, 6, 7 & 10 below). It was lovely to meet you in person at last, Charlie. 

Thank you to everyone who called in, including Theresa (photo 8 below). I hope you enjoy your zines!

Huge thanks to the fantastic folk at FEAR for having us and for all your hard work in organising this event. Ballarat is very lucky to have you.