Friday, April 25, 2014


I have just returned from a nearly four week trip overseas to Berlin, Prague, Budapest, Munich and Abu Dhabi. Travelling by train between Berlin...Prague...Budapest and Munich to take in the country-side.

I have not been overseas for nearly ten years and this opportunity provided me with a chance to suss out some possibilities for my art practice, such as residencies, exhibition, collaboration and networking.

I have long held a desire to undertake a residency, but due to commitments to children, this has not been something I could pursue...until this year when my youngest child finishes school. Yay! So...from the end of the year I am open to all sorts of new possibilities!


As a result of the trip my mind is full of ideas, not only for such things as residencies, but also for new paintings. In Berlin I visited a number of small commercial galleries, plus some large institutional ones. Old East Berlin, in areas such as Mitte, is abuzz with new galleries, coffee shops, restaurants and interesting boutique outlets.

I attended the opening of an exhibition of photographs by Australian artist Rex Dupain at the very hip space opened by enterprising Australian art dealer Michael Reid . The gallery is in Mitte, previously part of Easter Berlin. I also visited various other galleries including Gallery Eigan + Art and CWC [Camera Work Gallery]. The latter had a stunning exhibition Before They Pass Away of British photographer Jimmy Nelson's work. Information about this exhibition can be found on CWC's site and at Youtube.

The two photographs above are of me standing next to preserved parts of the Berlin Wall called East Side Gallery. Artists from all over the world have painted sections of this 1.3 km section of the Wall.

The photograph above is me standing with Joseph Beuys's Unschlitt...20 tons of tallow fat exhibited along with other of his works at the large contemporary gallery called The Hamburger Bahnhof...yes an old railway station. You can read more about Unschlitt HERE The gallery was fascinating, with artwork by many contemporary artists, some I knew and many I did not.

Another major institutional gallery highlight was seeing Chinese artist Ai Weiwei's exhibition Evidence at the Martin Gropius Bau. This large and extraordinary exhibition comprising installation, video, sculpture and more was thought provoking. I would have loved to have been able to return to see it again...there was a lot to take in.

I also visited a young Australian/Brisbane artist Karla Marchesi who has a studio in Berlin. It was wonderful to see a Berlin artist's studio...up five floors, in an old building in a suburban part of Berlin that would have been in the walled-off East section. Karla was busy working towards an exhibition in Singapore, plus she had just sent paintings to Brisbane for inclusion in an upcoming exhibition David Malouf And Friends at the Museum of Brisbane [MOB].


I loved Prague! Here's me rubbing the lucky sculpture of St John Of Nepomuk on Carles Bridge. Apparently this brings good luck and return visits to Prague. So, I was keen to line up for my turn to rub!

Prague is a truly beautiful a fairytale. One of many highlights was visiting the Klementinum and its Astronomical Tower and old library. With my interest in cosmology, a visit to a place where scientists from centuries ago studied the Universe, was particularly amazing. The photo below is me after I have climbed to the top of the Astronomical Tower to then be rewarded with terrific views across Prague.

As a result of my visit to Prague I am very keen to pursue a residency in the Czech Republic. I have a young Czech friend, who I hosted in Brisbane when she studied English a few years ago. She suggested then that I should go to the Czech Republic for a residency...and she was right! 
And one more Prague photograph. This time I have the city behind me after I have climbed to see the Castle area. I am on my way down. As you can see the blossoms were out!

Another magical city! I was not sure what to expect in Budapest, but it was fantastic. The sense of a magnificent history permeated every corner. Like Prague the old buildings resonated with elegance and a quiet majesty, despite ghostly remnant reminders of the communist presence during the Cold War.
I was busy in Budapest with visits to the castle area, a walking tour through the city, bathing at one of the old thermal baths, visiting a few private art galleries, night time river cruise along the Danube and more. The galleries I visited were in old buildings accessed via intercom, into a courtyarded area, up a few flights of stairs and into charming apartments made into very contemporary spaces.
The photograph below is of me gazing over Budapest from the castle area on the Buda side of the Danube.
The photo below is of a public artwork/sculpture I found whilst wandering through the streets of Budapest. It is a fountain of sorts! The water acts as a page of a book being turned. You can find this intriguing piece at Henszlemann Imre Utca...but I cannot find the artist's name anywhere...and rest assured if I could I certainly would acknowledge him/her. It is one of the best public art pieces I have seen. [If anyone can tell me the name of the artist, please let me know!]

I had been to Munich for a day in 1986 and had always wanted to return to this elegant and beautiful city. I met up with Dr. Charles Savage a great mentor, teacher and communicator. I've known Charles for a few years and admire his pursuit of community and spiritual depth. I was thrilled a year or so ago to be invited by him to conduct a presentation via Skype to MBA students at the Munich Technical University.

So, only a few days in Munich and they were packed, even though it was over Easter. I visited the Pinakothek de Moderne [Gallery] and saw some more Beuys works, plus earlier masters-of-modernity such as Picasso, Braque, Klee, Miro and more. A exhibition Drawing by British artist David Shrigley was particularly delightful.

I was also taken by the paintings of controversial German artist George Bazelitz's. One gallery space exhibited a number of his works. Baselitz is the artist who famously [or infamously] recently announced that women cannot's link to an article by Nicholas Wroe in The Guardian that will introduce you to Baselitz, if you have not already heard of him.

As well as the art...there are the cakes in Munich too...see the photo below. I discovered this cake shop on my way to see the Nymphenburg Palace...a lovely palace too [see the photo belwo the cake one]


And, after the Spring lushness and colour of Europe I landed in Abu Dhabi, a place I had wanted to return to since 2005 when I held a solo exhibition at the Abu Dhabi Cultural Foundation. The contrasting landscape really hit me. Sand, dust, massive V8 cars everywhere, architecture gone wild and people in their flowing robes, women in black and men in white.
I had two days of meetings with various people from different organisations. I am keen to see if I can return to the UAE for a residency and/or exhibition plus to give presentations and workshops.
My meetings went really well, with positive responses from everyone.
And, now I have to work out and strategise what I want to do! I only got home yesterday and I have already sent emails off, looked up grant and residency applications and so on. My thoughts are forming into a 12 to 18 month long project...shall keep you posted!
It was a wonderful and stimulating trip, which paves the way for the next period of my art practice!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014


                                                              'Planet $' Oil on linen 30 x 30 cm

I've been travelling...and have had a fabulous time. However...

I personally think that the ubiquity of fashion is the demise of identity. The so-called high fashion shops such as Prada, YSL, Ferragamo, Gucci, Armani etc line the better avenues of cities all over the world. In my mind creating a blandness that spoils local identity. It also engenders disappointment in the visitor to that city...well that's how my daughter and I felt. Then there are the not-so-high fashion shops that also spread their insidious sameness eg: Zara, Mango, H&M etc.

Walking into these shops...actually just passing by them...suspends you from locality. You could be anywhere...even in a kind of suspended world that is not about a unique locale...but about a recognition of sameness...the possibility of conformity to so much more than just style. Obviously the seepage of fashion into, what seems like, the four corners of the world is all about money. Why else would one dilute one's affective 'personality'?

But, it is not all depressing news. In Berlin, Prague and Budapest I saw some fabulous designs, but normally by accident. These boutiques are ones you discover around the corner from the main boulevards and squares. Dressed in one's tourist gear (ie: the same jumper worn for days, running shoes because your other shoes hurt with all the walking, camera around your neck etc) you feel like a goose wherever you are!

But, the insidious spread of certain types of fashion got me thinking about my painting...a small one...called 'Planet $'. It was inspired by the $ value placed on resources...questioning notions of 'value'.

But fashion is also a culprit...and in a sense a victim as well.


Tuesday, April 08, 2014


Feel The Energy Gouache on paper 40 x 110 cm 2003

 As promised in my last post, here are some more paintings from my map drawers.

This post exhibits a few of my older landscapes, ones that seem to delve inside the landscape. But, upon reflection I now see that each one reveals a cosmos within. Each one could be an imagined depiction of the vast landscape of the Universe, and maybe the Multiverse.

 Hovering Gouache on paper 52 x 114 cm 2003
As you can see from the dates, these paintings are around ten years old. At that time I explored landscape with an interest in the macro and micro, but I had not consciously launched my perspective into space. Yet, maybe my subconscious was already there?
Certainly, as a child, I used to lie in my bed and wonder about how far space went, where was the beginning, was there an end, how did it all start? These questions even kept me awake some nights.
My Heart Sings Gouache on paper 56 x 115 cm 2005

The five works on paper are either stored in my map drawer or have been sold. Thus, I don't get to see them much. But, recently I went through my map drawer...tidying it up...and I spent time with works on paper I had not seen for ages.

The impact of seeing new perspectives in these older paintings is both startling and greatly satisfying. It certainly does make me think about the influence of the subconscious.

And, maybe it is a mixture of my individual subconscious and also that of the collective subconscious, where all history perhaps resides!? 

 Memory Traces of The Land Gouache on paper  52 x 114 cm 2003 [sold]

The Mirage Gouache on paper 52 x 114 cm 2003 [sold]

The painting below Traces Of Spirit is the only oil on linen painting in this small online exhibition. I actually have it hanging on a bedroom wall. So, I do see it regularly. Yet, it was not until I reflected upon the works on paper, after their long dark 'sleep' in my map drawer, that I looked at Traces Of Spirit with new eyes. Yes, it is much more than a landscape, but at the time of painting it, I was thinking about spirit in the land, the Earth. Now I see more Universal/Multiversal forces!

Traces Of Spirit Oil on linen 55 x 80 cm 2003