Tuesday, August 29, 2023

A peep inside… Part 3: WOMEN WITH WINGS

Another peep inside one of the books on the studio table in my recent blog post, A tabletop of artist books.

Pictured above and below: Women with Wings, 2010, concertina book with linocuts and rubber stamps, a rare volume freshly out of mothballs in readiness for the forthcoming exhibition ARTIST BOOKS & FOLIOS at Stephen McLaughlan Gallery.

Photography: Tim Gresham.

To learn the secret of the mysterious masked Moth Women, grab yourself one of the last remaining copies of the zine, The Story of the Moth Masks, pictured below.


Deborah Klein, Elizabeth Banfield and Theo Strasser

South Gallery, Stephen McLaughlan Gallery, Melbourne.

The exhibition runs from September 20 - October 7 2023.

Monday, August 28, 2023

A peep inside… Part 2: LEAVES OF ABSENCE

A peep inside another of the books on the studio table in my blog post of Tuesday August 22, A tabletop of artist books.

The unbound artist book LEAVES OF ABSENCE, 2017, continues my exploration of women’s hidden histories, of which far too many remain tantalisingly buried. Its point of departure is the Australian Gold Rushes, a historic period from which Chinese women were all but absent. In 1861, Chinese immigrants made up 3.3 per cent of the population. Of these, 38,337 were men, compared to only eleven women. Despite considerable delving on my part, the lives of the women who remained in China remain a mystery. 

The following is an edited version of my speech at the launch of LEAVES OF ABSENCE at Melbourne Atheneum Library in November 2017. 

… In Newstead alone, there were over 3000 Chinese miners. The Eucalyptus leaves in LEAVES OF ABSENCE were sourced there because of their significance to the project but also because of their singular shapes - in part the result of interventions by my 'insect collaborators', the Eucalyptus tip bugs. So invaluable was their contribution, they rate a special mention on the book’s colophon page.

In my work, silhouettes are principally metaphors for marginalization or invisibility... 

…The enchanting fairy tale films of German born silhouette animation pioneer 
Lotte Reiniger (1889-1981) are a key influence on all my work with silhouettes. Influences entirely specific to this project include early photography and silent film. Contrary to popular belief, not all of the first moving images were in black and white. In many cases, a series of coloured filters were applied, usually to indicate mood, while other directors, including one of the masters of early film, Georges Melies, employed artists, usually teams of women, to painstakingly hand colour his films frame by frame.

... My initial research included a study of historical Chinese women’s hairstyles. Reduced to shadow forms, however, the women could equally be from any place or time, including the present.

To read the full speech, my response to Marguerite Browns marvellous opening address, visit Moth Woman Press HERE.

Images 1-7 above: LEAVES OF ABSENCE with selected page views.
Image 8 below: Installation view at Melbourne Atheneum Library in 2017, followed by Image 9: Hand-painted eucalyptus leaves, the basis for the illustrations in the book. 

LEAVES OF ABSENCE is part of the three-person show ARTIST BOOKS & FOLIOS at Stephen McLaughlan Gallery, opening
 on September 20. Full details are below.

Thursday, August 24, 2023

A peep inside… PROGENY


This is the first of a series of peeps inside some of the artist books on the table in my last post, beginning with Progeny, 2018 (one-of-a-kind concertina book, hand-lettered and drawn in India ink, pigmented drawing inks and gouache, with hand-stitching and cloth cover with debossed text).

Progeny was made in 2018 when I was artist-in-residence at Melbourne Atheneum Library for Melbourne Rare Book Week. 2018 also marked the 200th anniversary of the publication of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. This was the impetus for my artist book. 

In Mary Shelley’s novel, the “monster” promises to vanish from Dr Frankenstein’s life if he will build him a female mate to ease his loneliness. Frankenstein reluctantly complies, but at the last minute, he destroys her. 

My book takes its title from the following quote:
“And now, once again, I bid my hideous progeny go forth and prosper. I have an affection for it, for it was the offspring of happy days, when death and grief were but words, which found no true echo in my heart”.
— Mary Shelley, from her Introduction to the 1831 edition of Frankenstein, or, the Modern Prometheus, first published January 1, 1818.

Progeny will shortly be resurrected in 
Deborah Klein, Elizabeth Banfield and Theo Strasser
South Gallery, Stephen McLaughlan Gallery 
The exhibition  runs from September 20 - October 

Tuesday, August 22, 2023

A tabletop of artist books

In the studio this rainy afternoon, a tabletop of artist books selected for the upcoming three-person exhibition ARTIST BOOKS & FOLIOS. I will be in the UK throughout its entire run, so am posting about it well ahead of time. 

Deborah Klein, Elizabeth Banfield and Theo Strasser 
South Gallery, Stephen McLaughlan Gallery, Melbourne

Running from September 20 - October 7.

For additional information, scroll down to Blog Post Tuesday, August 8, or go HERE.

Thursday, August 17, 2023

A virtual reunion

 Ex Votive Offerings, (RHS above), recently seen in In the company of Morris at the Art Gallery of Ballarat, is reunited here with its companion pieces, Ladies Glisten and Spillage, if only digitally. All three works were created for the 2002-2003 Arts Victoria Touring Victoria exhibition Common Thread that also featured works by Catherine Pilgrim and Shane Jones - a happy and rewarding exhibiting experience if ever there was one.

Originally intended as linocuts, the prints were transferred onto silk screens by Rebecca Mayo after the size in the Chinese silk rejected the block printing ink. 

L-R top:
Ladies Glisten, 2002, Screen print, artificial pearls, hand stitching on sized Chinese silk laid onto interfacing, 120 x 40 cm. Collection: Art Gallery of Ballarat;

Spillage, 2002, Screen print, buttons, hand stitching on sized Chinese silk laid onto interfacing, 120 x 40 cm. Collection: LaTrobe University, Bendigo;

Ex Votive Offerings, 2002, Screen print, needle threaders, hand stitching on sized Chinese silk laid onto interfacing, 120 x 40 cm. Collection: Art Gallery of Ballarat.

Tuesday, August 8, 2023


I’m very excited to be exhibiting with book artists extraordinaire Elizabeth Banfield and Theo Strasser in ARTIST BOOKS & FOLIOS in the South Gallery at Stephen McLaughlan Gallery next month. 

ARTIST BOOKS & FOLIOS runs from September 20 - October 7.

The Opening Event is from 2-4 pm Saturday September 23.

Further details to follow soon. Meanwhile, we hope you’ll save the date!

Saturday, August 5, 2023

Lowering the flags

The flags for Pre-Raphaelites Drawings and Watercolours and In the Company of Morris at the Art Gallery of Ballarat are still flying, but not for much longer. The exhibitions close tomorrow, Sunday, August 6. 

I must walk around with my head in the clouds because I came upon these banners only recently, when taking what was once a regular shortcut. The last time my work was reproduced on a flag was - let me see now - never. 

Keeping company with William Morris, the Pre-Raphaelites and so many other artists whose works I’ve long admired (many of them for over half a lifetime) has been an unforgettable experience. Never in a million years could I have imagined a happier outcome than this. Back in 2021 when my painting Three Women was exhibited at Stephen McLaughlan Gallery amidst a seemingly endless spate of lockdowns, I was convinced it would never again see the light of day.

Tuesday, August 1, 2023

In the Company of Napier and Christian Waller


An unexpected surprise on the opening night of In the Company of Morris at the 
Art Gallery of Ballarat last May was discovering that my print Ex Votive Offerings had been included in the exhibition. I didn’t even spot the work until my partner Shane Jones pointed it out to me. 

I’m very short-sighted and literally went weak at the knees when I moved in closer. My work is flanked by two of my favourite artists, Christian Waller and Napier Waller. Their works have had an inestimable, enduring influence on mine that began when I taught myself to make linocuts at art school in the 1980s. (Ironically, my chief reference was an old, much treasured catalogue by Roger Butler, published by the Art Gallery of Ballarat). Seeing my work hung alongside theirs was a moment I’ll never forget. It has meant the world and I can’t begin to thank Art Gallery of Ballarat Director Louise Tegart and exhibition designer Ben Cox enough (and anyone else at the gallery I need to thank).

I’m looking forward to visiting the twin exhibitions Pre-Raphaelites Drawings and Watercolours from the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford and In the Company of Morris one last time before they close on Sunday, 6 August, and hope you can make it along too. 

Top image: With my work Ex votive offerings, 2002, screenprint on sized Chinese silk hand-sewn with needle threaders, at the launch of In the Company of Morris. (Photo credit: Shane Jones); 
Second Image: Installation view; 
Third image: Christian Waller, Design for Window - St James’s Church, Ivanhoe, 1938, watercolour and Design for mosaic - Salus Mundi, circa 1938, gouache and metallic paint on paper;
Fourth image: Napier Waller, The questing Knight, 1923, linocut and Hit, 1923, linocut;
All works: Collection Art Gallery of Ballarat.