Friday, September 29, 2023

Gwen John - Art and Life in London and Paris


The gentle, contemplative, quietly compelling paintings of Gwen John (1876-1939) occupy a special place in my personal pantheon. I’m still pinching myself that Gwen John - Art and Life in London and Paris, a major exhibition of her work at Pallant House Gallery in Chichester, coincided with my visit to the UK. I thought I knew her work fairly well, but the exhibition includes numerous works, including drawings, rough sketches, studies, landscapes, streetscapes and still lifes I’ve never seen before, even in reproduction. 

It’s a brilliant, immersive exhibition, beautifully presented. A visit to Chichester is always a treat and if the gallery cafe is full, lunch at the nearby Cathedral cafe is highly recommended.

Pictured top: 
1 Outside Pallant House Gallery, Chichester. (Photo credit: Bev Murray)

Pictured below:
2 Young Woman Holding a Black Cat, c. 1920-25
Dorelia in a Black Dress, c. 1903-4
Self-Portrait with a Letter, c. 1907-9
Chloe Boughton-Leigh, 1910
Corner of the Artist’s Room in Paris, 1907-9
The Seated Woman (The Convalescent) c. 1910-1920
The Convalescent c. 1923-24
The Brown Teapot, 1915-16
10 Woman in a Red Shawl, late 1910s-1920s

Thursday, September 28, 2023

A visit to Kenwood House


Some old favourites from the collection of Kenwood House on Hampstead Heath, a short distance away from where I’m staying. The portrait by Bol was originally attributed to Rembrandt, his former master. 

Pictured top: 
Rembrandt van Rijn, Self-Portrait with Two Circles, 1665–1669;

Pictured below:
Ferdinand Bol, Portrait of an Unknown Woman, c. 1644;

Johannes Vermeer, The Guitar Player, c. 1672;

Installation view of Portrait of an Unknown Woman. Some of the finest gems from the permanent collection are on display in this room, including works by Anthony Van Dyck, Joshua Reynolds and others.

The elegant library designed by Robert Adam, one of my favourite rooms in Kenwood House.

Thursday, September 21, 2023

National Portrait Gallery London


On one level it’s still hard to believe I’m back in London, yet on another level, it feels as if I’ve never been away. 

At the National Portrait Gallery on a wet Wednesday afternoon, (pictured top), I paid homage to Mary Shelley, whose gothic novel, Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus (1818) was the primary inspiration for my artist book, Progeny (2018), currently on exhibit in the three-person show ARTIST BOOKS & FOLIOS at Stephen McLaughlan Gallery, Melbourne. 

Coincidentally, at that very moment (or remarkably close to it), Stephen McLaughlan sent through some installation views of the exhibition, one of which is pictured below. In the bottom right hand corner is a detail of Progeny

Thank you to the lovely young woman who took the first photo after I’d snapped her with the portrait of her literary hero, Lord Byron. (Apologies to John William Polidori, whose portrait I’m blocking). 

All three writers (pictured above) were present on the rainy night in Geneva when 18-year old Mary Shelley conceived Frankenstein and Polidori concocted his chilling tale The Vampyre, the first modern vampire story to be published in English. (In another noteworthy coincidence, Polidori was the uncle of Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Christina Rossetti, whose exhibition at Tate Britain, The Rossettis, that also includes works by Elizabeth Siddal, I’m intending to visit today).

Meanwhile, back in Melbourne, Progeny and a plethora of artist books are on view in the exhibition

Deborah Klein, Elizabeth Banfield and Theo Strasser 
Stephen McLaughlan Gallery

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

I’ll still be in London, but my partner Shane Jones will be there in my stead and would be delighted to see you. 

To preview the exhibition, visit Moth Woman Press HERE.

ARTIST BOOKS & FOLIOS runs to October 7. 

Monday, September 11, 2023

Republic of Mothstralia Postage Stamps: SOCIALIST BUTTERFLIES Special Collector’s Edition


The Socialist Butterflies Party - a brief history 

Back in the day, the flighty winged women immortalised in this diminutive publication were disparagingly referred to as Social Butterflies.

Named and shamed thusly, the penitent party animals flocked together, determined to mend their wicked ways. When they emerged from their cluster, the Socialist Butterfly Party was born. In the Republic of Mothstralia (see below) they are the loyal opposition.

The Socialist Butterfly Party has yet to reveal its political agenda, if indeed it has one. According to a trusted source, however, the SBP has pledged to toe the party line - with the emphasis on party. 

A must for keen philatelists, Republic of Mothstralia Postage Stamps: Socialist Butterflies Special Collector’s Edition is published by Moth Woman Press, Ballarat. The zine is signed, numbered and limited to an edition of 80. Ahead of its official launch (date TBA) advance copies of the first 10 zines in the edition will be released in the upcoming exhibition ARTIST BOOKS & FOLIOS in the South Gallery at at Stephen McLaughlan Gallery, Melbourne. For further information about Moth Woman Press zines included in the exhibition, go HERE.


Deborah Klein, Elizabeth Banfield and Theo Strasser 

Opening event: 2-4 pm Saturday September 23

Stephen McLaughlan Gallery

Level 8 Room 16 The Nicholas Building
37 Swanston Street Melbourne 3000
(on the corner of Flinders Lane)

Telephone: 0407 317 323


Gallery Hours:

Wednesday to Friday 1pm-5pm
Saturday 11am-5pm
& by appointment

ARTIST BOOKS & FOLIOS runs from September 20 - October 7

Sunday, September 10, 2023

A peep inside… Part 6: Tattooed Faces

My tour of the artist books gathered on the studio table in my recent blog post concludes with Tattooed Faces, 1996, the first artist book I ever made. Tattooed Faces evolved during the course of my MA research, beginning with Tattooed Face Number 1, which is pictured below, followed by further selected page views.

In many ways, it feels as if I’ve now come full circle, as evidenced by my current works, the Decorated Women. (See HERE, HERE and HERE). Still very much in progress, the works are earmarked for a solo exhibition at Stephen McLaughlan Gallery in late 2024. 

Tattooed Faces and the Moth Woman Press publications I’ve been documenting on this blog of late were recently delivered to Stephen McLaughlan Gallery for the exhibition Artist Books & Folios. I’m leaving for 5 weeks in the UK on September 14, so although I’m excited for the exhibition, I won’t actually get to see it. But I do hope you’ll have a chance to drop by before it ends its run on October 7. Your invitation is below.

Tuesday, September 5, 2023

A peep inside… Part 5: Homo-insecta Portfolio

An inside view of another book on my studio table, shortly before it was packaged up and delivered to Stephen McLaughlan Gallery in good time for the opening of Artist Books & Folios on September 20.

Pictured above: Homo-insecta Portfolio, 2013, unbound artist book with selected page views. A4-sized folio with hand-coloured linocuts and inkjet-printed text. 

The linocuts recall the kind of fantastical specimens that might be found in a Cabinet of Curiosities (think Feejee mermaid). I also drew inspiration from the works of one of my favourite artists, the naturalist, entomologist and scientific illustrator, Maria Sibylla Merian

Homo-insecta Portfolio was originally created for the group exhibition Wonder Room, exhibited at Maroondah Art Gallery in 2013. 

Sunday, September 3, 2023

A peep inside… Part 4: FIREBRAND

Page views of the artist books on my work table in Blog Post Tuesday August 22 continue with Firebrand, 2017, a unique concertina book, hand-lettered and drawn in India ink and pigmented drawing inks. Firebrand has a grey cloth cover with debossed text. 

A firebrand (a Middle English word I’ve always rather liked) is an agitator or trouble maker. But then there’s nothing like a few knots and tangles in the hair to awaken the sleeping dragon within.

Firebrand was the first of a planned series entitled Bad Hair Days, although this is the only one completed thus far. A second book, Gorgon, based on the Greek myth of Medusa, a mortal female cursed with a head of writhing, venomous snakes, had been well under way, but was mislaid during our move. I haven’t entirely given up hope that it will resurface one day. Otherwise, I haven’t ruled out the idea of starting again from scratch. 

In the meantime, Firebrand is part of the upcoming exhibition ARTIST BOOKS & FOLIOS at Stephen McLaughlan Gallery and is now at the gallery awaiting installation.

Deborah Klein, Elizabeth Banfield and Theo Strasser
South Gallery, Stephen McLaughlan Gallery
Running from September 20 - October 7

Friday, September 1, 2023

Welcoming Spring

Welcoming the first day of the season of renewal: Springtime, 2023, (study), acrylic on canvas mounted on board, 10 x 10 cm. 

The tattoo is based on the embroidery Rose Wreath Panel designed by William Morris and embroidered by May Morris c.1890. The embroidery is shown in the second of the two developmental views below.