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.




The Artist’s Chair

Reverse Graffiti Chairs NewcastleMost artists who have a studio have a studio chair. This all important item compares to a brush.  Most artists need time to mull over what comes next. The painting gets to the stage where it’s close to breaking through and that sit and look time can be just what it needs to get to the next level.  I haven’t had a lot of different studios so I haven’t exactly been Goldilocks and tried them all.

Arthurs StudioThe closest to best was the chair in the studio at Bundanon. An old cane chair with a slouchy cushion, just right. I think it may have even featured in a couple of Arthur Boyd drawings or paintings.

The pink chair looked something like this....

The pink chair looked something like this….



Another of my faves was an old salmony pink chair. A sad case that was passed endlessly through the ex’s family who had no room for it and never quite fitted in with their decor. Funnily enough they wanted it back when we parted ways. Maybe they re-painted.

Thirroul studio

Thirroul studio

The Thirroul studio had the good old waiting room chair circa 80’s wrapped in vinyl and made a good double as an easel when not being sat upon and it could easily be wiped over.  Not being too comfy meant I spent more time off my butt.

My current chair is a bridge chair. It has a swing back and is good for procrastinating, leaning back and staring at the ceiling (and the top of the bookshelf) for inspiration.



I think the king of all studio chairs would have to be Willem De Kooning’s.  This photo from Architectural Digest shows that there were two, one for Elaine too. It appears to be a rocker and would be perfect with a rug for winter, drifting off  and dreaming of pink fleshy glazes and how the painting might end.



“For his installation for the German representation at the French Pavilion, Ai Weiwei has assembled 886 three-legged wooden stools. In today’s China, the three-legged stool is an antique. Manufactured by a uniform method, it was in use throughout China and in all sectors of society for centuries.”

“For his installation for the German representation at the French Pavilion, Ai Weiwei has assembled 886 three-legged wooden stools. In today’s China, the three-legged stool is an antique. Manufactured by a uniform method, it was in use throughout China and in all sectors of society for centuries.”


The Bare Bones of Winter

I smelt John R Walker’s paintings before I ever saw them.  I have a feeling it was the Wynne and whatever else was there that year was eclipsed by his work for me.  Luscious, precarious oil seemingly hanging from the canvas.  Later at a group show in Hazelhurst Gallery I saw his gouaches and scribbled in my sketchbook “JR Walkers Bare bones of a painting.”, a reminder to myself to consider my subject before being seduced by the oil.

Little did I think I would be at Bundanon in a studio adjoining where JR Walker had given thanks to Arthur Boyd in paint.  When given access to the wonderful Boyd archives, I had carefully slid a painting out to reveal Gary’s (the caretaker and great guy) thonged feet and lower limbs akin to a great white fleshy twisted gum left by Walker.

Years later I still find his work gives me the same thrill. This current exhibition at Utopia Gallery: Winter in the Fire Forest feels like his gouache and oil have collided. The bare bones are now the oils. His titles indicate that his East has met West and there is definitely a paring down to the essence of landscape and the familiarity of the subject.  Small delicate twists of lavenderish oil over grey-green feel tenuous but confident. I imagined myself back in Braidwood, in the landscape, back in Bundanon by the Shoalhaven a grey green wash of oily history in paint.

Secrets in My Garden

Sketch of my geranium at loralyn- Windang sketchbook

The garden is where I watch and think. Some people ask me if  I miss my old home. I shake my head, it’s just stuff but I miss my garden. I wonder how the trees have grown, what spots of the paths are covered. What birds are nesting. Are the swallows still allowed in my studio. Are the big black sulphur crested cockatoos screeching and stripping my hakeas. Are the ashes beautiful colours now in autumn.

I have saved a small piece of my garden in this one small sticky geranium.





It was originally in Yvonne Boyds garden at Bundanon. I broke off a small piece and it came home for a while, was potted and re-planted.



Although broken and re-stuck it emerges with a dainty coral coloured petal every now and then. It’s a stolen momento that lives in my new garden. I have snapped pieces and passed them on to other artists in their gardens.

Geraniums have always had a special meaning for me.

From Sundays Garden Growing Heide Lesley Harding & Kendrah Morgan

My new gift, a book on Sunday Reeds Garden at Heide is a reminder of how much artists and gardens are connected.

Thank you to the secret gardener for inspiring me on a cold autumn day to get out and look at my secret geranium.

Cows Make the Best Art Critics

It began with cows at Bundanon.  The track from the river back to the studio through the paddocks.  I would spend hours not talking with anyone, the cows would look intent, like they had something to say so I asked.  The wombats weren’t good art critics. They would amble hurriedly away or disappear down the hole looking disappointed at my efforts.  Their ability to put poo on a rock summed it up – they were sculptors and looked at my work as being too flat. Maybe they’re right.

Possums have given me mixed messages -they are like the art teachers who can’t help but put a mark on your work, not that I am opposed to that  -there has been evidence of nibbling, delicate foortprints in charcoal and the curl of a tail disappearing in the rafters when I turn the key.

A scene in Frida a movie on the life of Frida Kahlo showed Diego Rivera’s dog pissing on a canvas “he’s always my best critic”. Dogs are upfront. Cows chew their cud and mull it over.  They throw the onus back to me as the painter -“Fix it, it’s that simple”

Writing with Twigs

When I first saw the work of Andy Goldsworthy and Robert Smithson, it struck a chord. I came across Sporborne by Anna Garforth and it did the same thing.

It was smotheringly hot today but there is nothing better than the smell of wet plants and feeling water on your toes. I did etchings of moss at Bundanon when I couldn’t paint any longer in oils and my studio had lines of twigs suspended against the wall. I felt I was drawing, recreating lines of the landscape. I miss my garden and being in the bush. I miss gathering little objects and photographing the minutae. I admire the work Hossein Valmenesh who recited poetry thorns.

This work “A Thorn in My Heart” is so beautifully executed.

The colours of moss and nature continue to inform my work and I am in awe of environmental artists who can use nature solely as their tools.


Rainbows over Pulpit Rock

Returning to Bundanon after 5 years was like going home. I’m comfortable in that landscape, just paint me in. I didn’t feel the need to paint, draw, photograph-just to breathe. Jane unrolled the scroll and created an ink-river across the stark white paper in Whiteley movements, bending and dipping. I watched the weather bend and dip in synchronicity with Jane’s brush -sun, rain, mist and a rainbow over Pulpit Rock. The walk back to the homestead wound through wombat-holed tracks watched by a sleepy mob of kangaroos, black suspicious cows and ignored by intently grazing buffalo wombats.  There is no other place in the world like it and no other place I would rather be.

Oil up that Saddle!





No excuses, the oils are unpacked. I threw in a small set, gouache in case I chickened out and charcoal – because it’s charcoal. We met on the north side of the river this week. God I love that river! It flows oil colour, this photo is cow poo floating downstream at Bundanon- even shit can look good in that river. Surely I can paint it? Once again a lot of talking, Sue even managed to ice a cake on site-she handles icing like paint. We exchanged fruit and veg from the gardens – a fresh apple from the other Sue’s tree!

My first oily experience back in the saddle resulted in something that you would find floating down the river.