unDisclosed to Me

In the last indigenous triennial Danie Mellor greeted me with 3 mosaic kangaroos titled Red White and Blue. Behind them a leafless tree of stuffed budgies. The images stuck in my mind and it was with that excitement and remembering Jan Billy Can that I went to see this years National Indigenous triennial: unDisclosed.

I had come from the Eugene Von Guerard exhibition on at the same time – a colonial painter. I love Von Guerard’s work but the indigenous works were all the more potent afterwards. Danie Mellor this time around had produced large paintings laden with symbolism.




The work of Michael Cook was a series of photos that gently led you into a world of Broken Dreams. Like Danie Mellor there is a gentle beauty about the work whilst delivering the message.

I found that I was drawn to the work of Lindsay Harris Rocks with Blood and the work of indigenous sculptor, Bob Burruwul. Maybe it’s the stories connected to the pole-like men and the Wurum fishing spirit.

They were the works that left their mark on me this time round . 





In place of Jan Billy Can whose work 3 years ago had left me gob-smacked, I saw Sally Gabori. I love her large coloured canvases but somehow the NGA had given them the ample room that I had not seen before. They need space.

Three years ago it was about colour for me, this time it was about space.




Drains, Creeks and Blaze Trees

It’s not that hard to imagine the paradise Eugene Von Guerard in the 1800’s. Winding up Macquarie Pass there is still remnants of that forest. Huge tree ferns, flame trees, cabbage palms and gum trees to park a horse inside. What is hard to imagine is the persistence of painting.
The light coming back from Canberra on the tips of the gums reminded me of his scenes I had just looked at in the National Gallery Canberra. It was bitterly cold outside and the last light when it is optimum for painting. I tried to imagine how he worked, a stool? a french easel? a board?

I went to a talk at Wollongong City Gallery by Dr Joseph Davis on works surrounding Charcoal Creek.  I arrived a few minutes late so didn’t catch who he was. It was later revealed by Google  he is a cultural historian. That would explain it. He was passionate and knowledgeable. The talk centred around works by those colonial painters. I have been desperate in my attempts to capture the areas in a contemporary way, drawing on the same works and vantage points of those artists so this talk couldn’t have been more apt to my work. On the way to the NGA to see the Eugene Von Guerard and Indigenous Triennial  my head was fresh with the works Dr Davis had talked about.

The exhibition in Canberra didn’t have the same punch, it was that dis-connection to the landscape but useful all the same as I could see where he began and how he arrived at Charcoal Creek. I felt a little flush of pride when I saw the flame trees and the brilliant cadmium red flashes in amongst the thick ferns.

Dr Davis had said that Von Guerard had referred to them as blaze trees – maybe wishful thinking whilst he was in the cold depths of the forest floor. Maybe they gave him a little warmth.

Mapping Room

I love maps, my last 2 blogs were about my love of the new MCA so I decided to add the two together. I admire the planning in exhibitions, working out where to hang what but even better are maps to explain.  I think my all time favourite was the room map of the William Kentridge exhibition that was held at the MCA in 2004. It was an inspirational exhibition and the large room map was just as impressive. Coincidently Annandale Galleries has a current exhibition on his work that I should make an effort to see.

I tend to keep ephemera, room pamphlets, newspaper clippings and always a postcard. I think of myself somewhere between obsessive, hoardish and knowledgeable. I also think most artists tend to do the same, collect, exhibitionalia.

So when I started putting this blog piece together (God help me! Am I now blogging about blogging?) I went on the search for the mother of all room pamphlets for that exhibition in 2004.  Prior to blogging, I was a sketchbook scribbler so I thought this shouldn’t be too difficult as the sketchbooks are in some semblance of order. A3,A4, A5, A6, Hardbound, leather, unusual, trains, travels and moleskin – then years. Unfortunately the ladder was obscuring the bottom of the bookshelf where the A5 2004’s lived.

My next avenue was the Kentridge books, I have a small collection and I sometimes keep noteworthy pieces of paper in there. Damn! Anne-Marie has borrowed those. Aah! Yet another avenue – the postcards. Yes, now there are the large and small, indigenous Australian, Australian, International, freebies and gifts -all in little white boxes. I took a punt and went the large international (plus it was on the bottom shelf). So I have this….. a postcard from 2004 with my thoughts at that time and my current postcard from last weekend-a view of the harbour by Eugene Von Geurard and yet another postcard commemorating the opening-a special scratchie edition by TMOD (funnily enough these have been my birthday cards of choice between my daughter and myself and I have a collection of these).

And as a result I was so happy to read the back. It wasn’t the room catalogue but it was enough to jog the memory maps. In the meantime I clutched at an old sketchbook, wrong year but conveniently placed between the ladder rungs and a quick flick showed the early rumblings of my current lake series. Mmm -that’s going to be useful for later.

I would love to design a room brochure for my internal workings.