Friday, April 12, 2019

2019 Northern Beaches Library Artists’ Book Award

 Good news, I'm quite excited, I have been accepted into this years  Northern Beaches Library Artists’ Book Award formerly the Manly Library Artists' Book Award. This great exhibition attracts artists from all over the world and I am thrilled to be in there with them. 

My book,  "A Prayer in Hell " , made it to last years Libris Award in Mackay and is travelling south this year for another great showing. I have never been to see the Manly exhibition myself and plan to visit this year to have a good look at all the other lucky entrants.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

"A well kept footpath"

"a well kept footpath"

Recently I met up again with friends who are one of my longest art supporters from the early 1980's. They have just downsized from an old Queenslander and moved into a new apartment. I was thrilled to see that they still have one of my very early works on the wall . When I saw my early work from 40 years ago, I was reminded of some good advice from my favourite art teacher Roy Churcher. "Don't be in a hurry to exhibit, wait a while till you find your feet or you will want to buy back some of your early work as you will move on so much." While coming face to face again with one of my first paintings out of Art School was a little daunting, I could see a connection with  my work today and felt comfortable that I didn't show too early.

My friends are great travellers and like ourselves, include Prague as one of our favourite cities. In 2001, since my daughters were both working in London, my wife and I met up with them in Prague to explore the city together for a week. 

Later when I got home, I used my diaries and ephemera in a series of mixed media works for an exhibition -  "In Praha 2002" at Doggett Street Gallery. The exhibition was only a very modest success and I had some works left unsold. What better way to downsize myself than by giving my friends a choice of some of these reminders of their favourite city to book-end my other earlier work.

I always find it amazing how others can find their own links and connections with artworks. Often the original connection or meaning can be quite different but still very valid. If you click on the images and open them in a new tab, by right clicking, you can enlarge the work and see some of the detail like in "A well kept footpath" :  "Massive City Cleanup planned ". Just what was being planned for the poor dogs???

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

"drawings for a doctor"

I have been working for some time on a series of drawings based on surgery and wounds. It is a series that I turn to in between books or when I'm in a new place while I decide on a new theme or interest to explore. They are the sort of drawing that is cumulative and not done in one sitting. Sometimes the different processes such as waxing or staining have to dry before going to another stage. They were done in an A5 visual diary which is very portable and easy to take with me on planes and trains or keep handy on my desk at all times. 
They are a continuation of earlier work "Cut" and "Blind Spots".

These new drawings are not as raw or juicy but meant to be more like an instruction manual or notebook a doctor use. They are of course totally imaginary although the cover is made from an old X-Ray of mine. I have only used 15 pages for this book and hope to explore different bindings for some of the remaining works in this series.

The drawings are on both side of each page and the open wounds and mesh allow you to look through to the next operation or back to the previous.

The materials used in these drawings include pigment, turmeric, wax, dressmaking patterns, shellac, thread, mesh, dressings,  inks and letter stamps.

The little book has 30 pages of images and directions and very fine ink or pencil drawings. They are more fun if you can enlarge the images as the detail is so small. If you right mouse click on the image and select 'open in another tab' you can enlarge the image and have a good poke around.Enjoy!

Saturday, February 9, 2019

icons and masks of memory

"Sticky Beak"

I haven't blogged for a while but have been very busy in this new year. 
Just taking a break from the artist books while I explore another of my favourite 3D areas. I like to use materials that have a history, hopefully one that has left marks and traces of earlier times. I'm currently trying to declutter and get rid of stuff I've had for decades. But I can't get rid of things I've saved as it would be admitting that keeping things for all these years was a total waste of time.

So, I'm giving things a new life while thinking of the old original use  long ago. I think it helps me establish some sort of continuous thread that links it all together.

The main materials that sparked this latest burst of activity have been bits of timber from old school desks that were being discarded from schools I worked in. Most have scratches on both sides, engravings and scribbles, the odd obscenity and lots of initials.

"side winder"

"so long"

These mainly chunky iconic wooden pieces gradually changed when I started deconstructing one of my mother's old excercise books she used for her dressmaking subject at school.

"personal baggage"

The shallower low relief masks used some of my oldest ephemera such as a luggage tag from the ship we went overseas in the 70's and one newspaper add from 1900's of the ship we came to Australia in the "Esperance Bay"
esperance bay

The "nose" is the original spine inside out of mum's exercise book. The base is the book cover. Army blankets and bitumen paint are powerful reminders of my youth.

"gold eyes"

The masks ended up more painterly and complex texturally - a long way from the original starting point of the simple wooden blocks. I think both approaches work well in very different ways. 

I just love the accidental scratches and marks that seem to come from nowhere.

A close up allows you to get a glimpse of the surfaces both old and new on the masks.

The test tube has dutch instructions from my mother's dressmaking notebook. Collage on another lid with original nails from Sri Lanka used very old envelopes and book spines. Some of the board came from an old cabin trunk we brought with us on board the Esperance Bay when we migrated. 
In a way I probably haven't strayed very far conceptually from the artist book. 

"George from Brisbane"

"George from Brisbane" utilises old school desk and part of an old envelope and mount board for a low relief. George is an imaginary man from Cooroy whose correspondence I found in an antique shop years ago.  


lid mask

This mask refers to my childhood in Ceylon (Sri Lanka). The board is from a small box of tea which my father sent us when we first came to Australia.
I have transformed some of my clutter which is now more compact but will be even harder to finally dispose of (unless I give them away to a worthy cause.)

Sunday, January 6, 2019

on last legs

I trust you all had a great festive season and are looking forward to a very creative and enjoyable 2019. 
No, "last legs" is not a Billy Connolly about my life but rather one of the last of 2018's little books stimulated by my own restless legs which are now behaving themselves. It is also a swinger designed to move from a single hanging hole at the middle top of each page.

on last legs”  is a small loose-leaved artist book of 8 sheets,  (147 x 208 mm)  in a folder.

The drawings use graphite, pencil and turmeric on 180gsm Tiziano paper.

Pages are displayed, hung from a hole at the centre-top of each page, with a pin to form an array which can move gently in a breeze.

1   2   3  4 
5  6  7  8 

The book is unique .

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

festive greetings

Hoping you all have a very relaxing, peaceful and enjoyable festive period and that 2019 is a very healthy, happy and creative year for us all.
(This year's card is of the poicianna (christmas flower), lino printed on Chinese Joss paper)

Sunday, November 4, 2018

"double EE"

Continuing on from "restless legs", this is a larger book of 24, A5 sized loose pages which are housed in a little box covered in turmeric stained paper. PVA medium was added to the stain to make it less soluble and give the box a faint sheen.
page 1

The mixed media images flow across the pages to make a large mosaic of 24 pages which hang loosely on the wall for display. They are encouraged to move with the air currents in the room.
page 2

page 4

The images use things from my garden ie the turmeric for yellow staining and smudging and pomegranate ink for drawing organic shapes that find other lives. Also, a little recently dug beetroot has made its way into these drawings - the warm pinkish tones. Not sure at this stage how permanent the colour will be or if it turns to another colour but I have been trialling it for a few years and it seems just fine.
 I have yet to make a book dealing specifically with my garden but hope to do so in the future.


page 8

Once again, the pages evolve with no preconceived idea of what will eventuate, giving chance and intuition free reign. Obviously the images are not totally random but follow certain rules that help them work together to make a whole piece. My fresh turmeric has run out for another year so no more yellow drawings but I have got a bottle of pomegranate ink left so don't be surprised if it comes back in other work.
page 12

You may have noticed some dark, organic,  'meaty' shapes floating around (some with clothes on). These were drawn using a soft carbon (graphite) putty not unlike a piece of clay. You can do so many new things with it rolled into balls or stretched out it is worth trying if you see it around. 

Sunday, October 7, 2018

"restless legs"

I have just have just finished some little exploratory drawings for a little book "jumpy legs 2" to share with you. It is about my own restless legs, a subject very dear to my heart. 

I started doing small drawings on flights when my legs became unbearable. After my other books "jumpy legs" and "double sided" several years ago, I continue to use drawing as one way to take my mind to a better place not only on planes. I usually finish these little portable drawings back in the studio.
For my legs, I started making a new little folded book which moved when you opened it but decided I wanted a more involuntary type of movement for this one.
"jumpy legs 2"  only has 6 pages which are loose and pinned to a wall from a little hole in the top centre. This allows a little cluster of pages to move gently in the breeze or aided by a fan. They are housed in a little A5 folder.

 They appear to move by themselves. The images are rather "meaty" and organic, not very leggy. But the affliction feels totally like an out of body function, and largely uncontrollable so these mutant limbs seem appropriate. They must belong to someone else.

[I think they look a bit like clothed, green ginger, put together by instructions from Simplicity or Butterick.]

Saturday, September 8, 2018

floor talk

I don't usually post photos of my family but this is an exception. My daughter was so thrilled to see some of the special artwork I had made for her on public display. And I think she looks as proud of her Dad as I am of her.

Since the artist books were covered in a perspex box on a raised plinth, I had made digital images of details of each book so that the audience could still get a good idea of what was in the books without physically interacting with the book.

It was a small and intimate group of participants in the floor talk so a question and answer format seemed more appropriate than "speeches". This seemed to work well and everyone seemed to be very interested in what the work was about and how it was done.

As most of my work is generally fairly small, this gives a better idea of the drawing's size.

It was a very supportive evening.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

My Father's an Artist

A small exhibition by Redland Art Gallery of work by a handful of local artists including myself will be held at the Capalaba annex of the Redland Art Gallery. It runs from 25August - 9th October so if you happen to be in the vicinity, you are most welcome to come and have a look. I will only have 6 pieces there including two artist books I have made for each of my daughters.
"A road less travelled" and "RUB" the two books for my daughters will make their first gallery appearances. There will also be some other pieces of my work from the RAG collection which they have acquired over the years. I'll post more photos of the show later once it's opened.