Pink, Play, Print and Black


Everything old is new again at the National Gallery of Australia. A trip to see Tom Roberts meant an additional opportunity to take in old favourites in new spots. What a difference a re-hang can make! We missed some familiar faces but there was a chance to see what a wall and light can do for a work.


Sculptor Inge King exhibition









The Playroom

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“All Australian paintings are in some way a homage to Tom Roberts”.  Arthur Boyd

Starting with Tom Roberts, we avoided the increasing crowds and got in early so we had him all to ourselves.  This advantage meant we could go into the kids interactive room with no kids. I just wish there was a space like this for adults. Little easels for re-creating portraits, dress-up, saddled lambs and an app projected onto a wall to allow movement of figures into the landscape in a playful way.  Simply playing opens new and wonderful ways of working. Why do we have to stop? Standing in front of works studying the paint and structure is a wonderful opportunity to examine Roberts underglazing of luminous pink peeking from under the cracks, but how wonderful would it be to have a room to express that on the spot, to sketch without feeling slightly wanker-ish in front of gallery on-lookers.

“Here is a workshop, there are no rules, do what you want to do.”   Kenneth Tyler

Stella: The Fountain

Stella: The Fountain

Upstairs the Tyler Graphics exhibition: Behind the Scenes, showed play at an expert and amplified level. Extraordinary works of printing and the use of paper pulp by Rosenquist and Caro left me wanting to shred, pulp and construct.  The fabulous line and strength of Joan Mitchell’s marks showed the ability to translate freshness into print. A sequence of short films gave an insight into the complexity and flexibility of printmaking and the process to produce Frank Stella’s  “The Fountain” left me feeling nervous, exhausted and a newfound respect for prints of multiple techniques at this size.

Caro Angle#8

Caro: Angle #8







After the intensity of Roberts and Tyler, a small unobtrusive exhibition simply called BLACK pared it all back. The entrance lured us in with a glimpse of too abstract expressionist giants: Motherwell and Guston side by side. Inside Serra sat comfortably alongside ancient forms, the “ground breaking” blackness of Malevich and the light inside the darkness of Soulages. This exhibition was a fabulous use of stored masterpieces within the NGA collection. Darkness all aired out.

BLACK: Motherwell & Guston

BLACK: Motherwell & Guston



Above all the new hang and the changes within the NGA have been wonderful, a breath of fresh paint.


20,000 Dips of my Brush

Just as I was preparing to write this blog, my stats showed I was 2 views short of 20,000 so I guess that after I publish this someone will be that magical viewing number. I won’t know who you are or where you are from but it feels as though alarm bells should ring, steamers descend around your laptop and I am there with a huge bunch of flowers. None of that is likely to happen but rest assured you have my thanks for bothering to notice what I do.

During the Abstract Expressionist Symposium at the National Gallery of Australia I had a special moment where I was alone with a wonderful work, studying the mark when a tall elegant lady approached -she was the artists sister. Later she caught up with me again and thanked me for liking her brother’s work. I was grateful for his legacy and she was grateful to know that he continued to inspire.

So maybe it’s you who are the 20,000th and you just may have stumbled accidentally across this blog and like abstract work but I’m even more grateful for an avenue to share it.

If you’re on old follower from way back thanks for the support and I owe you a work. Cheers

A Surreal Experience in Abstraction

Canberra is a funny place at the best of times. Surreal I would say.
Driving in yesterday to prepare for the symposium on Abstract Expressionists I pulled into the traffic behind a smick minimalist Lexus with HAWKE as the number plate.
Bob HAWKE, former Prime Minister was a beer drinking Labour legend- Pollock would have liked him in his early days.
I think the abstract expressionists would have been more at home in Sydney, it’s about the space.
Maybe Canberra is hard edge abstraction- clean lines, crisp edges. Today there is a cold crispness to the light against concrete edges here.
Today I will be lost amongst the abstract expressionists at the National Gallery. At last.


If I Could Make It There…..

I went to New York in search of abstract expressionist art – it was the obvious first port of call . I didn’t expect to fall in love with the city.  New York has an air of possibility.

An article recently in Sydney Morning Herald by Brigid Delaney talks about creative refugees making it in New York ditching their worries of HECS (higher education debts) and finding work and inspiration in an art rich  city .

I have to admit I thought the city would be out of my league, I’d be a country bumpkin in amongst high-rise and too fast paced. I love to stop and stare and thought I wouldn’t be able to be me.

The opposite is true, the city is built on newcomers and art is everywhere and accessible to all. Central Park was a refuge of green but I still remember the feeling flying into Sydney, the wide open expanses of coastline. I also remember the feeling of flying into Alice Springs over the desert for the first time, like I was home.

I guess it’s where your happiest. If you’re happy making art, home can be anywhere. For a landscape painter, I couldn’t imagine New York as being home for any great length of time and likewise I couldn’t imagine never being able to be close to a city where I could source galleries and museums. I have been fortunate to have a taste of all but I think I must be a fence-sitter.


If only that fence stretched across the Pacific, across the US and Europe and ended up in my backyard.