Wednesday, June 26, 2024

The past made present

It has been many years since I’ve seen these early linocuts, two of the first works I made after graduating from art school in 1984.

The work on my left is titled Jazz Age Memories (1985) in homage, if I remember correctly, to the writings, lives and times of F. Scott Fitzgerald and Zelda Fitzgerald. (The former has long been one of my favourite authors and both, particularly the latter, would have a direct impact on several future works including this one). I still have the 1920s wind-up gramophone and art deco clock and vase, all of them purchased in London, my home for most of the 1970s. 

The basis for the title of the second linocut, Sunny Sunday Afternoon, (1985), is The Kinks song, Sunday Afternoon by Ray Davies, for no other reason than I’ve always loved it. I seem to recall that it was on constant replay in my head when I made the work. 

Both prints represent interiors of the rented house in East St Kilda where I was living at the time and were transcribed from detailed charcoal drawings made from life. 

Half a lifetime later, the linocuts are on view at Geelong Gallery, as part of The O’Donohue and Kiss Gift. Reconnecting with them has brought back a flood of memories, thus this little trip down memory lane. 

The works in the exhibition are selected from two major gifts to the gallery by collectors Rosemarie Kiss and the late Conrad O'Donohue in 2010 and 2019. Also included are prints by Australian artists Rick Amor, Grahame King, Katherine Hattam, Helen Ogilvie and John Ryrie, British artists Thomas Rowlandson and George Cruikshank, French artist Gustave Doré, Spanish artist Francisco Goya and American artists James McNeill Whistler and Philip Pearlstein, among many others.

The O’Donohue and Kiss Gift at Geelong Gallery continues to 28 July. 

Monday, June 24, 2024

Cutting through time

A belated post on last Friday’s memorable visit to Cutting Through TimeCressida Campbell, Margaret Preston, and the Japanese Print at Geelong Gallery. In conversation before a packed audience, Senior Curator Lisa Sullivan and Roger Butler, Emeritus Curator of Australian Prints and Drawings at the National Gallery of Australia, discussed the prints of Margaret Preston and the influence of Japanese prints on her work. Roger wrote the catalogue raisonné on Preston’s prints (1987, revised 2005) and his knowledge of, and contribution to, Australian printmaking is immeasurable.

I first met Roger in the mid 1980s when I was the Administrative Assistant at the Print Council of Australia, so we go back a long way. But long before we met, Roger had already had a profound influence on my life, because he also wrote the catalogue essay for the Art Gallery of Ballarat publication Melbourne Linocuts and Woodcuts of the 1920s and 1930s (1981). As art school undergraduates, we were given very little instruction on relief printmaking and I taught myself to make linocuts primarily through studying examples in the catalogue. It was my bible, and even now, it’s never far from my sight. 

Roger served as president of the PCA from 1986-1990 and was editor of their quarterly journal IMPRINT from 1987-95. It’s always such a delight to catch up with him, although nowadays it doesn’t happen often enough.

Currently Geelong Gallery is printmaking nirvana, with three major exhibitions focusing on prints. Aside from Cutting Through Time, there is The O’Donohue and Kiss Gift (which will feature in my next post), and Dianne Fogwell’s epic multi-layered, multi-panelled relief print installation, Presciencepart of which is pictured below.

The exhibitions all run to 28 July and really need to be seen in the flesh. They shouldn’t be missed. 

Photo credit top image: Kate Gorringe-Smith.

Images 2-6: Margaret Preston: Installation view, Anemones, 1925, Fuchsia and balsam, 1928, Protea, 1925, Flannel flowers, 1929. (Hand-coloured woodcuts). 

Images 7-8: Cressida Campbell: Journey around my room, 2019 and Interior with Chinese Lantern, 2018. (Painted woodblocks). 

Images 9-10: Dianne Fogwell, Prescience (Multi-panelled relief print. Installation views).

Saturday, June 22, 2024

Reunion of the Bower artists


This photo, an installation view of my miniature watercolours at the Johnston Collection museum in 2018, mysteriously appeared in my inbox yesterday morning. The photo was emailed back in January 2023. Heaven knows where it has been all this time. 

The watercolours were made for the four-person exhibition Patterns of Collecting - from the Bower at the Johnston Collection, which also featured the works and collections of Loris Button, Louise Saxton and Carole Wilson. The exhibition had previously been shown, in slightly different iterations, at Warrnambool Art Gallery and the Art Gallery of Ballarat. 

The watercolour miniatures were included in Unsolved Histories, my recent solo exhibition at the Old Butchers Shop Gallery in Ballarat and most of them have found new homes. 

Meanwhile, on Thursday night at the Print Council of Australia Gallery in Melbourne, the Bower artists were reunited. We were there to celebrate the opening of Stuck: performing collage, an exhibition focusing on collage in printmaking, featuring works by Loris Button, Dianne Longley, Jackie Gorring, Diana Orinda Burns and Anne Langdon. And what a superb exhibition it is. 

Pictured below, L-R: Bower artists Carole Wilson, Louise Saxton, Loris Button and myself in front of a series of works by Loris Button based on the turban in one of m favourite paintings, Portrait of a Man (1433) by Jan van Eyck. (Photo credit: James Pasakos).

Stuck opened on June 18 and can be viewed at PCA Gallery, Studio 2 Guild, 152 Sturt St, Southbank, Melbourne, until July 5. Gallery hours: Tue -Fri, 10am-4pm.

Saturday, June 15, 2024



It’s a privilege to have my linocut Eyes Everywhere (1997) selected for inclusion in Queer Views: New perspectives on the collection, currently on view at the Art Gallery of Ballarat in celebration of Ballarat Pride Month. 

The written responses to the works in this terrific little exhibition of paintings and works on paper, all of them drawn from the gallery’s permanent collection, are provided by writer Vanessa Bowen, performer Em Chandler and drag queen Gabriella Labucci. 

Two of my all time favourite relief prints, both pictured above, are also included in the exhibition: Thea Proctor’s The Rose (1927, hand-coloured woodcut) and Napier Waller’s The Man in Black (1923, coloured linocut). 

Queer views: New perspectives on the Collection has been developed by LGBTIQA+ Community Inclusion Officer Sez Lothian in conjunction with Art Gallery of Ballarat Curator Julie McLaren.


The exhibition runs throughout the City of Ballarat’s Pride Month: 1 - 30 June, 2024.

Tuesday, June 11, 2024

White Night Ballarat - Decorated Women, Part 2: Tattooed Faces and Masked Women

Part two of a belated follow-up on the projections of my works in the recent White Night Ballarat, this time focusing on the Tattooed Faces and Masked Women.

Selected footage from the projection can be viewed on my Instagram page by clicking HERE

The following stills (all but the fifth image from the top, which was snapped by me) are by Tim Gresham


Our exploration of White Night was punctuated by a memorable meal at Oscar’s, a favourite eatery of Shane’s and mine, with friends Gaye Britt, her friend Clare and the aforementioned Tim Gresham. Later in the evening we caught up with two other friends, Paul Compton and his partner, Evan, for (in my case) a warming hot white chocolate at the Pancake Parlour. Paul and Evan had travelled from Melbourne especially for the event. They loved every minute of it and caught several attractions that somehow we’d missed. Their enthusiasm was palpable. Hearing about their own White Night adventures was as if to experience it all over again, but with a wonderfully fresh perspective - a perfect note on which to end the evening. Pictured below, L-R: myself, Paul, Evan and Shane. Thank you to Paul Compton for the photo (and my hot chocolate).  

The images in this projection are from my current series of paintings, scheduled to be exhibited at Stephen McLaughlan Gallery, Melbourne, in early December. Many thanks to Tim Gresham for the photography, both in this and in my last post.

Special thanks to Andrew Walsh, Artistic Director of White Night Ballarat, for asking if the works could be made available as the basis for a second projection, to Sue Beal, Producer of White Night, for putting my name forward to the White Night team and for being such a pleasure to work with, to animator Justin Weyers for the incredible skill and vision he brought to the Moth and Insect Women component of Decorated Women (see previous post) and to everyone else on their amazing team. 

White Night 2024 took place on June 1, between the hours of 6-12 pm. For an overview of this extraordinary event, including the complete program, visit White Night Ballarat’s website HERE.

Monday, June 10, 2024

White Night Ballarat - Decorated Women, Part 1: Moth and Insect Women

Part one of a somewhat belated two-part post.

On the first day of winter, Saturday June 1, a record-breaking number of over 65,000 people came from far and near to experience the magic of White Night BallaratThat’s me directly above, far left, soaking it all in. (Photo credit: Shane Jones). 

It was a joy to see the city pulsating with renewed life and energy, despite Ballarat’s infamous bone-chilling weather and the occasional sprinkle of rain - another of Ballarat’s specialties - none of which, thankfully, degenerated into a serious downpour.

The two projections of my works, collectively titled Decorated Women, were side by side on opposite corners of Sturt and Lydiard Streets. 

Pictured above:  
Moth Women on parade, filmed later in the evening, after the crowds had thinned out. (Click on the bottom right hand corner to enlarge).

The Moth and Insect Women were projected onto the former National Mutual Buildingone of my favourite local buildings.

The following views are by Tim Gresham:

Stay tuned for Decorated Women, Part 2 - Tattooed Faces and Masked Women.