Sunday, March 31, 2024

Craig Gough at Cascade Art Gallery


A highlight of our Easter weekend was yesterday afternoon’s opening of Craig Gough’s exhibition at Cascade Art Gallery in Maldon. 

Craig was my painting and drawing lecturer at Monash University, Caulfield Campus, back in the 1980s. He and his partner, fellow artist, Wendy Stavrianos, are two of our favourite people. It was great to see them both and a lovely surprise to encounter several other old friends, some of whom we haven’t seen in years. 

The gallery, which is stunning, was formerly a church, and I was struck by the reflection from a lead light window on one of Craig’s paintings, Garden Space. Uncannily, the colours of the stained glass are remarkably similar to those in his painting, so that the reflection almost seems to emanate from the artwork. 

Craig Gough’s exhibition at Cascade Art Gallery runs to April 21 and is highly recommended.

Images from top:
1 Craig and me;
2 Shane Jones, Craig and I;
3-4 Garden Space with stained glass reflection

Friday, March 29, 2024

Sondheim Trivia Night


In a somewhat belated follow-up to my last post, here are a selection of snaps from last Friday evening’s Stephen Sondheim Trivia Night, a fundraiser for Watch This, “Australia’s first and only Sondheim repertory company”, of which Shane Jones and I are proud patrons.

Aside from Shane and I, our table comprised Melbourne Gallery Director, Stephen McLaughlan and Phillip (I never learned his surname), who we met for the first time that night. If I do say so myself, we made rather a good team. We didn’t win any prizes - not even close - but we didn’t disgrace ourselves either. The main thing was, we had an absolute ball. 

Pictured above, L-R: Phillip, Shane, Sonya Suares, myself and Stephen McLaughlan. Sonya is the Chairperson, Founder and former Artistic Director of Watch This. The outfit she is wearing was the subject of one of the trivia questions posed by Quiz Master, Nick Simpson-Deeks. We were asked to identify the Watch This production she wore it in. That was a question I could answer with some certainty. She wore it as Amy in Company. I ought to know - I saw it three times! She was brilliant in it, as was Nick, in the central role of Bobby.

Pictured above: Mel Hillman and Dean Drieberg, Co-artistic Directors of Watch This.

Pictured above: Nick Simpson-Deeks, Design and Communications, (and leading performer in many a fine Watch This production). 

Foreground, above: fellow trivia contestant, John O’May. A distinguished actor of many years’ standing, John played principal roles in  A Little Night Music and Into the Woods for the company. I’m a longtime admirer of his work, and dearly hope we’ll see him in future Watch This productions. 

Directly below: Watch This Co-Director Dean Drieberg made my evening when he told me that on my recommendation, during his recent trip to London, he managed to catch Old Friends, then in its last days, and loved it as much as I did. Like me (and no doubt, thousands of others during the show’s run), he was moved to tears when, at the very end, Bernadette Peters turned face to the images of Sondheim hovering over the stage (top photo, previous post) and sang Not a Day Goes By.    

Friday, March 22, 2024

Happy Birthday, Stephen Sondheim/Old Friends

The late, great Stephen Sondheim was born on this day in 1930.

This evening we are celebrating the occasion by attending a Sondheim Trivia Night, a fundraiser for Watch This, the Melbourne-based theatre company that for almost a decade has dedicated itself to performing his works. 

I still can’t believe my good fortune that my visit to London last year coincided with Old Friends,  a star-studded musical tribute to Sondheim that was performed at the Gielgud Theatre from September 2023 to early January 2024. Put simply, it was one of the finest theatrical productions I’ve ever seen. The top photo was taken from my seat on the night of the performance we attended.

I still remember my excitement the day I met my old friend Bev Murray in the West End to book our tickets at the theatre. 

Old Friends has recently been nominated for an Olivier Award, and deservedly so. 

During my stay I was also fortunate to attend a production of Sondheim’s Follies at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama at the instigation of Susan Verney, another old and very dear friend. It was a dazzling production, with brilliant choreography and stunning performances which completely belied the fact that we watching a student production. 

Sending much love to all my old friends in London. Who’s like us? Damn few.

Hey, old friend

Are you okay, old friend?

What do you say, old friend?

Are we or are we unique?

Time goes by

Everything else keeps changing

You and I

We get continued next week

Most friends fade

Or they don't make the grade

New ones are quickly made

And in a pinch, sure, they'll do

But us, old friend

What’s to discuss, old friend?

Here's to us

Who's like us?

Damn few 

- Stephen Sondheim, Old Friends, from Merrily We Roll Along (1981). 

Happy Birthday, Stephen Sondheim.

Thursday, March 21, 2024

Whereabouts: New Zealand

My linocut Swan Lake has temporarily changed its whereabouts from Ballarat to New Zealand. Whereabouts: Artists Respond - An Exhibition of Printmaking by 56 Victorian-based artists opens tomorrow at Solander Gallery in New Zealand. 

The exhibition, which recently finished a long run at the Art Gallery of Ballarat, was curated by Rona GreenThe new iteration of Whereabouts runs from 22 March, until 4 May.

Photo credit for Swan Lake: Tim Gresham

Monday, March 18, 2024

Work in progress: Masked Australian Painted Lady

Pictured above, right: progress view of Masked Australian Painted Lady, acrylic on canvas on board. The study to its left, a finished work in its own right, is destined for the upcoming One Hundred Faces exhibition at Playing in the Attic

Scroll down for earlier developmental views.  

Masked Australian Painted Lady takes its inspiration from the glorious butterflies that were frequenting our garden at the time of its conception. The Australian painted lady (Vanessa kershawi) is a species of butterfly found primarily in this country. Borne by westerly winds, it  has expanded its territory to include the islands on Australia’s east, including New Zealand.

Sunday, March 17, 2024

2024 Ballarat Begonia Festival highlights


Pictured above and below: selected highlights from last weekend’s Ballarat Begonia Festival

The top photo was snapped at the Art Gallery of Ballarat on Sunday afternoon, the day before Monday’s Grand Parade, during Curator Julie McLaren’s lively and informative conversation with Scotty So, whose short film, Queen of the Begonias, is currently on view on the AGB Big Screen (See Blog Post Monday, March 4).

Directly following: 

Newly restored fernery at the Ballarat Botanical Gardens, a small selection of this year’s spectacular Begonias (some of which will serve as references for a future work, possibly more), the fabulous performance group SWAY, and (final two images), HRH Scotty So, 2024 Ballarat Begonia Queen. 

Friday, March 8, 2024

Flashback Friday

In anticipation of the renowned Ballarat Begonia Festival  this coming long weekend: a flashback to Begonia Virus 22020, acrylic on canvas board, 10 x 10 cm, private collection). 

The photo directly below was taken at the 2020 Ballarat Begonia Festival, which was, as always, a spectacular affair.

Begonia Virus 2 was made in the relatively early, still uncertain months of the Corona Virus. (I never could resist a play on words). It is one of two paintings created for the first annual One Hundred Faces exhibition at Playing in the Attic, then located in Ballarat, now thriving and blooming in nearby Talbot.

Who knew that this and its sister work, Begonia Virus 1 (2020, private collection), not to mention those made for subsequent iterations of One Hundred Faces, would be precursors to my current work?

Monday, March 4, 2024

Scotty So: Queen of the Begonias

Here are some snapshots of last Saturday evening’s splendid launch of the Scotty So short film Queen of the Begonias and the Nan Goldin exhibition, The Ballad of Sexual Dependency at the Art Gallery of Ballarat.

1 L-R top: Shane Jones, myself, Scotty So, Tim Jones and Spencer Harrison. (Shane, Tim and I have cameos in Queen of the Begonias and Spencer - among several other hats he wore - was the DOP).

2 L-R: Exhibition Curator Julie McLaren with Scotty, aka Scarlett, Queen of the Begonias; 

3 Post-opening celebratory meal in the Oddie Gallery;

4-5 above (snapped on the day after the opening): Screenshot with me, Shane, Scotty and Tim, followed by closing credits. 

It was a privilege and a pleasure to be a small part of Queen of the Begonias. The film, which was commissioned by the Art Gallery of Ballarat, will be screening 24/7 on the gallery’s Big Screen until 4 April

To view an excerpt from Queen of the Begonias, click HERE.