Dumbo Feather and Rick Amor, Pass it On

 I have always admired Rick Amor (my post Failure Was Never An Option). A couple of weeks ago I took this photo of his dog in the National Gallery of Australia Sculpture Garden.

I was bemused at the procession of fluro bunting surrounding the sculptures. I thought maybe it had something to do with risk management or maybe it was just for grass regeneration. Either way I loved the surrounding bunting keeping the viewer at bay from the dog. Maybe it was to keep the dog in.

Yesterday I came across this wonderful sharing of images on behalf of Dumbo Feather (a fabulous magazine). I’m looking forward to the article even though the images by Lauren Bamford have already said so much. Click here to see the whole slide-show.

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The Ping-Pong Table

I’m still rolling up paintings, tearing paper and burning stuff.  As I go I am photographing the stuff I have had to say goodbye to once and for all.

This one was hard. Not a great work by any means but one of those that I remember every mark, every mix. It was based on my old studio.  I had a large ping-pong table in the centre of the space – it was great to store bits and pieces, cut paper, mount works, paint flat.

The table was a conglomeration of collectables. Pieces of paper, bones, paint but it was where I was happy for a long time. I had hung on to this work for that reason. It was a series of 6 large boards -each 1 m x .700 so difficult to dispose of too.

One board had 3 ping-pong bats glued to it and on top of the bats, cassette tape boxes and inside the boxes, pieces of paint palette and on the paint palette, fish bones.

It was produced at a time where I was in transition, I wanted to paint but loved the exploration of materials and this work was about that.  Perhaps I was sensing the time to leave that ping-pong table behind.

I often dried fish bones after eating fish and my clothesline would have smelly fish carcasses hanging precariously from time to time. I liked to do this when I had caught the fish myself. I sometimes lost my “washing” to kookaburras.

There is something very primal about fish bones. Their role in this work also related back to my youth at the boatshed. The actual fish bones glued within the work had long since gone – to delicate sustain countless moves.

I don’t know if I could have discarded the work at all if they had still been adhered to the work.  Either way it has now gone and it definitely looks better in hindsight.

Ripping Off

My continued race for space has meant that I am taking paintings off stretchers and rolling canvases. In the process I have seen inspiration from old works that can work on a larger scale down the track.

I’ve taken some photos of areas within works.

Some of these works will bite the dust. Others will live again in new works-ripped off.





Going Going Gone…

I’ve been weighed down by paintings. They have been in no man’s land.

In the darkness in storage, maybe a few night scurrying visitors.But I was determined to rid myself of them so over the last month I have been emptying the shed.

After countless trips, rips and tears I can now see the back wall and it’s empty. Well almost….just the few odd boxes of pointless paperwork and paintings too big for the wagon. I’m still unsure of their fate.

Apart from the endless self-pitying  I have had moments of surprise for lost friends and the occasional shame. What was I thinking? I guess artists all go through it.  The trial and error. But in amongst the canvassed oily years I found diaries. Records where I was learning to paint. I was obsessive then as I am now, I guess that’s why I blog. I kept a record of each day at art school and photos of the work produced apart from my sketchbooks I have since got rid of the majority of that work but it was fascinating to read the enthusiasm for new-found techniques and mediums. Maybe the fodder for a new blog if I can wear the embarrassment.

Then after picking the stretchers clean, posting the photos and blogging my blubbering I had the thought that these images of the storage shed, the oranges and rusts of the bricks and deep grey shadows along with the signage would make a great series of paintings. Mmm, wonder what I would do with them after? I can see a vicious circle appearing.

Larapinta Painter

There is nothing like the red dust of Central Australia that makes the blood pump in painters. My painting pal, Michael has been constantly pumping paint since his return.

I know the feeling, you just can’t shake it and everyone that I know who has been there is in the same boat, you have to get back there.

On a trip with World Expeditions to the Larapinta a gaggle of artists took in Mt Sonder, the dust and dingoes. Michaels small studies are fresh and capture the essence but on coming home they proved to also be a source of research material and combined with remembered landscapes was impetus for larger works.

This week some of that red dust falls on Hazelhurst Gallery in Sutherland and another of us that have ventured inland away from the edge will attempt to convey to the unconverted the love of landscape.

Cheers Michael and good luck!

Crossing the Teas and Printing the Eyes

I’ve called it Serendipity. It was that hippy mentality that -everything means something man- that has clouded my thoughts.

A day at the Penrith Printing Museum and one more day to stand back has indicated that it’s simply me making choices.

I had some sort of quotes swimming in my head, no clear ones. Maybe “Duh.Winning”?  I had to make it short.  When I got there and saw the beauty in the actual type I realised I was going about it the wrong way. It wasn’t about the quote, I wanted to use the letters as objects in a work.  The wonderful Steve and Scott had mentioned there was some picture blocks and waved in a general direction but said don’t get caught up due to time restrictions.

So..it began after a run down on chase, locks, spacers and furniture  I said I wanted to check out the picture type and the work would follow.  That was what happened. It was a steam punk jewellery store where each rusted tray held small gems of reversed images.  An eye between compasses blinked back at me and of course the inner-hippy went “it’s a sign!” and I mumbled something to Scott about Flinstones and Masons. What a patient person he is.

I had decided that the Masonic Symbols that had reared their blinking heads lately would be a basis. I looked for the connection in type. The beautiful old wooden type with carved curves passed over for Xes and Vees, letters that would echo shapes.  Scott indulged my whims even further as I yelled across the shed “You wouldn’t have seen an eye hanging around?” Of course I was in a type museum and the letter “I” was part of the population but he knew what I meant, an actual eye and he knew where “I” was going.

The end product design wise wasn’t wonderful, I would’ve maybe looked at making the composition tighter but I loved the process. Like printmaking it’s a combination of procedure and surprise. The Vandercook machine that we printed on was wonderful.

I loved the hunt for the objects, the feel of the wooden blocks, the spacers, the rollers and machinery.  The backdrop with looming metal machines, stained wooden blocks, crisp white paper, cool smoothed litho stones and tacky luscious ink were all the attributes of excellent Feng Shui. Maybe the hippy-me was finding my chi in printing.

Just an additional note. This wonderful Museum is run on dedicated volunteers at the back of a Paceway, trotters in the background and Penrith Football Stadium just a litho stones throw away. If only some of that money from the footballers were channeled into keeping this special shed alive, it would be a perfect world. If you know someone that would sponsor or throw money at them please let them know.

Birds, Bones, Boogeymans and Men in Bonnets

Tiptoe Lark by Henrik Lund (Finland) http://www.nhm.ac.uk/wildphoto

Grayson Perry

Once again it’s another serendipitous moment, a raspberry swirl of worlds that come together, mix and produce a sweetness for me.  This time it was a visit to the Australian Museum in Sydney, a visit to a strangers blog and an exhibition by Grayson Perry a world away.

I had seen the Yiwarra Kuju Canning Stock Route exhibition in Canberra well over a year ago but more than happy to revisit.  This painting is Tika Tika Rock Holes made by Ngirntaka-the perentie goanna. Despite the overwhelming sadness the hangs over the exhibition, the interactive displays are wonderful and the touchscreens that make tracks in the dirt help you to imagine yourself within  the landscape.

Tika Tika (2008) by Nola Campbell National Museum of Australia

At the same time Masks from Melanesia were also on display and after taking in the talk on art from Papua New Guinea earlier in the day it was great to go from Powerpoint to powerful.

The purpose for the visit was to take in the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition. After cruising the wonderful images, I was of course most impressed with these simple bird photos. By this time we were tiring but no visit to the museum is complete without swinging by a few bones.  Skeletal forms never fail to impress and neither does the museum.

Extreme Foraging by Ron McCombe (UK) http://www.nhm.ac.uk/wildphoto

The Museum was always a childhood treat for me. Dad and I would catch the train and spend the day, fascinated by the stuffed, pinned and painted.

Grayson Perry (Artists and their Studios Photography by Eamonn McCabe)

Yesterday I was ambling through an impressive WordPress blog by  LDN when I came upon this wonderful link to an exhibition of Grayson Perry at the British Museum.  What a wonderful experience for an artist inside the museum.  I remember watching someone seated sketching bison in the New York Museum of Natural History and thinking I would love nothing better than to spend a day sketching at the museum, but where do you start? How do you pick?

Museum Natural History New York

So in the most unexpected way all the worlds came together in a meld of masks, bonnets, birds and boogeyman.

The Guy at the Local Hardware or Artist

You’ve probably already guessed it’s an artist.  Once again it’s the thigh swipe on the jeans that gives it all away. John that I painted with used to wear a long white lab coat when he painted – a professorial look, pretty appropriate for a minimalist. My original apron was one I had inadvertently taken after volunteering at meals on wheels. The M.O.W tattooed on the inside made me feel guilty each time I donned it. Eventually it worked itself into a painting. Pollock’s black t-shirt was ample for him. I personally would like a flack jacket – somewhere to poke cloths, paint tubes, brushes, bits of charcoal, just stuff. It doesn’t matter how I set myself up I always end up with too many brushes in one hand and something tucked behind my ear and a cloth hanging out a pocket.

Oh,  it isn’t the guy at the local hardware but he did say “Art starts where construction ends” – Hans Hofman

Hans Hofman 1952 Photo Kay Bell Reynal. Artists in their Studios

No! He’s Not the Black Wiggle.

Robert Juniper was a great early influence. I think he taught me a lot about colour and relevance of spatial areas within a work.

In the early days I’d sketch my influences, make studies of their particular works and then turn those into my own compositions. The snap of Robert Juniper I chose first, then I pulled out a sketchbook at random. These sketches date 2002. It’s hard to believe it’s that long ago, I still feel I have such a way to go. It seems like yesterday -I use to play Artist Roulette – scan the library bookshelf until something twigged. Lesley the librarian had a love of art and an old MG so even though a small library it had a wonderful stock of art books, especially Australian art. I have her to thank for ordering in treasures from other libraries for me.

I remember a painting I did from this thumbnail – it was a tiny cropped area from one of Junipers works, I always had scribbly notes around it  -where to adjust, what colours. I think I’ve been neglecting this lately.

The shot of Robert Juniper is from one of my favourite books “Painters in the Australian Landscape” by Robert Walker. It was a book that I took out regularly -one in Lesley’s Library. I was lucky enough to pick one up in the Lifeline Book Fair -it was signed! It was destined to be mine!