Im-pressed

Michael in the studio

Michael in the studio

My friend Michael invited me to see his new baby, it was shiny, new and rolled like a dream.  Instead of that overriding smell of oil in his studio, a faint waft of fine etching ink.  Paintbrushes gave way to rollers and the floor tiled with sepia clad editions.  Printing to me feels like pulling wild hair into a ponytail.  That wild unkempt expressionist feelings are still there but they are under temporary control. The steps to prepare, dampen paper, ink the plate and roll, tie the wild into place but the output at the end, when the hair tie is released, produces the same expressionist marks, the abandon usually felt in the paint marks transferred to a print.

Drawing on the copper plate

Drawing on the copper plate

Michael has been prolific, monotypes, drypoints and a beautiful hand coloured book.  The new press has provided a tool for more drawing. We gave it a whirl and Michael did a monotype and I did a smudgy mess. Here’s a selection of his work. You can check out more of his work here.

The finished plate

The finished plate

Ready to roll

Out the other side

Out the other side

All important floor inspection

All important floor inspection

One of the Kosciusko series

One of the Kosciusko series

Another from that series, one of my favourites.

Another from that series, one of my favourites.

Beautiful hand coloured etchings made into a book.

Beautiful hand coloured etchings made into a book.

A Happy Horsey Year

photo(46)I remember drawing a clagged out old horse in a paddock in art school. It’s days were numbered and the teacher thought it was a good choice as it didn’t move too much.  I don’t think having the horse stuffed and mounted would have produced any better results.  I do remember the smell though, there’s nothing quite like a horsey smell and they are such beautiful animals.  Walking my dog at the lake last week, a herd possy group of bikini-clad girls riding bare-back threw themselves through the water and rolled in the sand. The markings on one horse were the most stunning I had seen -almost a painting – tans, with a zinc white shape edged in a warm grey. They were the epitome of freedom -riding free down the beach, wind in their hair and horses galloping.

photo(41)

Yesterday I realised it was year of the horse.  I went to a great exhibition Crossing Boundaries -A Celebration of Contemporary Asian Australian Art.  Housed in the lower part of the Sydney Town Hall it was a tucked away gem.  This beautifully curated show included polished work by prominent Asian-Australian artists such as Guan Wei and William Yang but it was a wonderful mix of emerging young artists. One of my favourites was by Mylyn Nguyen beautiful piece Ponytail that so simply relates the merging of cultures.  She talks about the relevance of the horse in finding love,  to her everyday appearance and significance of parting her hair in the middle making “my monkey and pig hate each other”.

photo(43)

Horses featured heavily throughout the exhibition signalling an indication of strength and energy in the new year, perhaps the horses on the beach were a sign 2014 would be one of increased strength and maybe my new gym membership will see me becoming stronger, faster and rolling in the sand.

photo(40)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mylyn Nguyen Ponytail Drawings and sculptural pieces.

Too Many Artists, Not Enough Life

"We Are All Water" detail Yoko Ono MCA Sydney

“We Are All Water” detail Yoko Ono MCA Sydney

According to WordPress the visits to my blog last year would have filled the Sydney Opera House concert hall 7 times over. Phew! That’s quite a performance so I guess this year I’ll try for an encore, by way of thanks.  It’s just been a little difficult with life getting in the way of art.  Ironically enough it’s art getting in the way of art, each time I look into an artist or work it takes me on a journey further, it seems, from my own.  So far this year I’ve taken in 3 major exhibitions and it’s not even 2 weeks in, Gold of the Incas, Mapping the World and Yoko Ono.  Once upon a time the map exhibition would have fed my drawing, I would have pulled out old maps and torn them apart, a bit like this.

map collage

map collage

The brilliant feathers in the Inca fabrics would have seem me oozing colours onto a palette and Yoko Ono would have set me to task at refining my messy abstract expressionist head.

Ica-Chincha Culture Tabard made from feathers. 1100-1476 AD

Ica-Chincha Culture Tabard made from feathers. 1100-1476 AD

Instead I gathered the room ephemera, stacked it on the table and looked at other artists and galleries across the world. At home Christian Boltanski and Roman Ondak are visiting but in London my investigations into the world of Rachel Whiteread and in America, Richard Serra have taken hold.  Listening to John Kaldor in a recent interview, he explained why he brought Christo to wrap our shores.  He was priveleged in travel to see what was happening across the world and wanted to share that knowledge with people.  Now we have the privelege of the web, we can travel across the world to galleries, find artists we never knew or learnt about, find our tribe and people who share a passion for art.  Hopefully I can tear myself away long enough to pick up a brush.

In any case hopefully someone in that concert hall out there will learn of another artist and spread the word.

Thank You Yvonne Boyd

Painting of Yvonne by Arthur Boyd

Painting of Yvonne by Arthur Boyd

I only saw this gentle woman once.  She was standing to the side of the doorway, once her home, to let me pass.  It was in that moment that I realised exactly what a selfless person she must be.  The occaision was the 10th anniversary of handing over Bundanon, her home, to the public.  People were rambling en-masse through her home, helicopters landing on her peaceful paddocks and the whole time she was gracious and kind. Not only had she relinquished such a special place, she had lived and loved Arthur Boyd and tended to his art affairs.  She was an accomplished artist and although I did not know her personally, I feel I owe her a lot.  My time at Bundanon allowed me to paint unimpeded by the outside world, to immerse myself in the landscape she and Arthur shared.  Sadly Yvonne passed away today. Thank You Yvonne Boyd.

Bundanon

 

Lost Dogs at Bondi SXS 2013

Red Centre: Carl Billingsley Photo: Clyde Yee

Red Centre: Carl Billingsley Photo: Clyde Yee

The pilgrimage to Bondi’s Sculpture by the Sea is a highlight of the year for me.  It’s not just the sculpture, it’s the surrounds and the people and of course the dogs.  For more than 10 years I’ve been taking snaps and for the last few years my painting pal Jane has allowed me to couch-surf close to Bondi so we can make repeat visits.  It always starts with a late afternoon – the first glimpse of that turquoise water on a usually hot afternoon at Bondi Beach and then we take in each sculpture along the rocky edge -looking out for whales off the coast, snapping photos and talking art.  By sunset we are usually at Tamarama Beach where the sculptures end.  From there we press on even further to beautiful Bronte for an al fresco dinner then returning home exhausted,  for wine, a de-brief and art DVD’s.

by Marielthomas

by Marielthomas

Stephen King's well deserved winning piece Fallout photo Clyde Yee

Stephen King’s well deserved winning piece Fallout photo Clyde Yee

 

 

 

 

 

And in the morning we start again for a whole day this time ending with beer and chips at Bondi.  This year I lost my camera after the first afternoon so all my snaps of Bondi dogs and late afternoon shots are gone. I did get some hit and miss photos on my camera phone so I at least have some but this year I was impressed by others so I’ve decided to share those.  I’ve come to realise there are so many wonderful photographs already out there. I especially love this one of Rex -perfectly positioned under Fritz’s work Dream.

Rex by myeyeinlofi

Rex by myeyeinlofi

Photos of Lucy Humphry’s and Matthew Hardings work have inspired us for next year to ease off on the wine Thursday night so we can catch sculptures at sunrise.   Mmm.. things we do for art! 

Elyssa, who I fondly remember as a sweet girl with a rat -now a fabulous sculptor. Photo Jarrad Seng

Elyssa, who I fondly remember as a sweet girl with a rat -now a fabulous sculptor.
Photo Jarrad Seng

Please visit Sculpture by the Sea site to see more wonderful images by better photographers than me.

My ordinary IPhone photo

My ordinary IPhone photo

Thank you Bert Flugelman a passionate sculptor, a great legacy Photo Clyde Yee

Thank you Bert Flugelman a passionate sculptor, a great legacy
Photo Clyde Yee

David McCracken photo by Clyde Yee

David McCracken photo by Clyde Yee

Matthew Harding The Cheshire's Grin tribute to Bert Flugelman Photo by Stephanie Burns

Matthew Harding The Cheshire’s Grin tribute to Bert Flugelman Photo by Stephanie Burns

by deegee88

by deegee88

by pieces_of_lu

by pieces_of_lu

Smoke on the Water

Smoke over Sydney Image: www.thedailytelegraph.com.au

Smoke over Sydney Image: http://www.thedailytelegraph.com.au

The last time I wrote was quite a while ago, the skies were blue for the promise of Sculpture by the Sea next week.  This morning when I took my puppy for a walk around the lakes edge I couldn’t see the mountains.  Thick smoke hanging on the water, the result surrounding bush fires from the south, north and west. Tragically almost 200 homes have been lost in the last couple of days and it’s not summer yet.  This photo shows the clouds hanging heavy over Sydney.  I wanted to share some images from one of my books, Fireworks by Gavin Wilson.

I recently blogged about John Peart, a wonderful Australian abstractionist who reportedly lost his life to smoke inhalation just recently in a harsh but beautiful landscape that he painted so well.  In the same area of Wedderburn, Elisabeth Cummings lost her studio to bush fires and painted this work Wedderburn After the Fire described as a “defiant act of creation admits the embers of despair” by author Gavin Wilson.

Darren Pateman The Ashes 2002

Darren Pateman The Ashes 2002

E CummingsJon Cattapan’s work From the Shoalhaven Fires 2003 reminded me of the same fires that had us marooned on the waters edge, watching “Elvis” the giant water-giving helicopter dipping and dousing.  It was Xmas day and we were without power for three weeks, listening to the radio and collecting ice from brave fisherman that would cross the fire lines.  We played cards, talked with neighbours and drank mostly warm beer by the water.  We were lucky.

Tim Storrier The Ladder 1993

Tim Storrier The Ladder 1993

Ronnie Tjampitjinpa Bushfire 2003

Ronnie Tjampitjinpa Bushfire 2003

Jon Cattapan From The Shoalhaven Fires 2003

Vanishing Views of Port Kembla Stack

The Stack and MM Beach

The Stack and MM Beach

Lately I feel parts of my life are slowly being erased.  This week news that the stack, my stack, is coming down.  It may be an unsightly industrial world blot to a lot of people but it feels part of my history. I have used it as a personal symbol within my artwork as a reference to my family.  The picture above shows the stack, a marker,  to the left and the beach to the right where I scattered my parents ashes together.  A pointer in the landscape.

Sketch looking north to stack from Shellharbour

Sketch looking north to stack from Shellharbour

 

 

 

 

 

Port Kembla Stack

The Port Kembla stack pins the coast firmly in place.  It is over 200 metres tall.  My mother and I both attend the school directly underneath.  As a child at lunchtime in the playground we would dare each other to throw our heads back far enough to look to the top and make it look as though it was swaying side to side and we would collapse on the ground, dizzy.

 

The secret beauty of an industrial town..

The secret beauty of an industrial town..

 

My mum would glimpse it rising in the distance coming from the north or south and say “There’s the stack. We’re nearly home.”

Commorant Boat

A few years back my boat shed  home was de-bricked and now the green flatness I pass most days still brings back memories.  I wonder after the stack is gone on whether there will be a ghostly sentinel that replaces its existence for me.   Like the twin towers when you catch a glimpse of old footage and it catches your breath, the sky will seem empty in that place.

I have watched a show recently called Vanishing Views where architect Ptolemy Dean sketches landmarks that are disappearing.  He had sketched the Sheffield Cooling Towers prior to demolition.  This week I intend to capture it much as possible.   The event has made me consider views of the imposing chimney and how I would find the right vantage point to paint or sketch from.  Unfortunately the view from the playground is also prohibited as recently the school too has been partly demolished.

The Stack & MM

 

 

 

 

MM Beach

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Stack and the playground

The Stack and the playground

jellyfish and stack 1

The boat shed, the school and the stack will all be physically removed like an erased De Kooning drawing.

Walykumunu, A Good and Happy Place

Ken Shepherd sketch

In the words of the Warakurna artists of Central Australia I was in a good and happy place, Walykumunu. For them that place was the arts centre in the Central Desert making art, for me it was the next best thing – looking at art.

Amanda

A little while back I went to Turner from the Tate exhibition at the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra. This visit was with my daughter and it was a last-minute decision based more on opportunity than intent. Her recent visit to London and her emotional encounter with Turner also drove us there.

Turner

Last weekend my second visit was with my painting pal Jane and based more on intent and serendipity. The second look was different. The time-lapse between visits meant that I had considered works from a distance and returning provided the opportunity to draw on those remembered paint marks. This visit I swore I could smell oil paint in the room.

IMG_1344

Upstairs Roy Lichtenstein’s prints in Pop Remix Exhibition told of the journey through Western art history in a totally unexpected way. His dots told stories of Abstract Expressionism, Still Lives and Nudes.

National Museum of Australia

At the National Museum of Australia the exhibitionWarakurna, All the stories got into our minds and eyes used very different dots to Lichtenstein. It was a coming together of different skin groups keeping their culture strong through various art forms, weaving, painting, sculptures, making bush medicine.

Helicopter Ride with Brooksy to See My Father's Ngurra (Country), 2011, Ken Shepherd, acrylic on canvas. Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program by Wayne and Vicki McGeoch.

Helicopter Ride with Brooksy to See My Father’s Ngurra (Country), 2011, Ken Shepherd, acrylic on canvas. Donated through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program by Wayne and Vicki McGeoch.

Ken Shepherd’s Helicopter Ride with Brooksy to see my Father’s Country (Ngurra) left me feeling like an explosion of cultures. It was Turner’s narrative, Pop Art’s patterning and Indigenous understanding of life and art.

The Tate London is more than 10,000 miles away to the west and more than 10,000 miles away to the east is New York. Australia seems to be smack bang in the middle and I imagine an art sign post in the Central Desert of Australia with New York pointing one direction and another pointing to London.

Underneath sitting crossed-legged in the red dirt Roy Lichtenstein and JMW Turner. Lichtenstein marking the sand out in dotted patterns and Turner sweeping large gestural marks through the dust. They both seem worlds away from the Warakurna Exhibition at the National Museum of Australia. All are Walykumunu, a good and happy place. Places that bring art together and keeps culture strong.

National Museum Australia

Lloyd Rees for Leftovers

photo-26I love leftovers.

After visiting the recent Lloyd Rees exhibition at the Art Gallery of NSW, I pulled out my collection of Lloyd Rees books for another helping of his work.  One of the books, Lloyd Rees in Europe by Hendrik Kolenberg is a beautiful collection of drawings and watercolours of his trip during the 50′s 60′s and 70′s.  I bought this book from a friend, Sandy quite a few years ago. Sandy’s leftovers have become some of my favourite dishes.

photo-24

My other book Lloyd Rees by Renee Free was also a left over. Deleted from Library Collection is stamped very clearly in red and a thick black marker across the bar code.  Pasted in the front page is an old-fashioned yellow library pocket with a frenzied green date stamp, last marked in 1995. This book hasn’t had the careful nurturing like Sandy’s book but is a little bumped around the edges, a bit crinkly and smells of a library. I like the plastic wrapping, like a plate of last nights offerings. It means I can leave it on the paint table and not be so tentative.

Tucked between the pages the last borrower, Valerie,  left her  shopping list of library items. It made me wonder why it was destined to be deleted.

photo-25

I have mentioned Lloyd Rees‘ work before and he is a pretty tasty morsel.  He also travelled and painted the area close to where I live and the little town of Gerringong will be holding a Lloyd Rees Festival in December.  Hopefully they will serve up quite a decent helping and more people will get to taste his recipes for drawing. A new book will be launched by Henrik Kolenberg. I wonder if I should buy it freshly packaged or wait like I did for the others to ripen over time.Lloyd Rees 2

Lloyd Rees Europe

Lloyd Rees sketchbooks

The Better Boatshed, Royal National Park Sydney

Royal National Park SydneyPlein-air painting can be difficult but when the weather is perfect, the location is devoid of onlookers, wildlife is abundant and the landscape is stunningly beautiful nothing is better.

Black cockatoos.

Black cockatoos.

DSC05265Michael Ambriano, my painting pal, took me to his local. The Royal National Park just south of Sydney is beautiful. Setting up our painting gear, a flock of black cockatoos screeched overhead and I knew it was going to be right.  We were soon joined by ducks, magpies and sulphur crested cockatoos.

I remembered coming here as a child. My family had a boat hire business further down the coast and we would visit another member of the family who had the old boat shed here in the National Park.

DSC05227

This cockatoo came in for a closer look at my work. The magpie had told him about it.

As much as I loved the lake and our home at Windang, I always felt Uncle Ralph’s was the “better boat” shed and yesterday I could see why I envied this place so much.  I remembered ducks gliding by on still water and grassy lawns falling into the banks. Plus Uncle Ralph had an eye-patch.

Michaels Studio

Michael’s Studio

DSC05273

The "Better" Boatshed

The “Better” Boatshed