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.

Monday, July 23, 2018

the translation

About the size of a playing card "the translation" is the latest little work to fly to Finland. Although Carina and I, both speak several languages, English is our common one. The book is made from different kinds of papers, of different sizes and textures. It includes text in different languages and is an attempt to show the differences and similarities in translating.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

"carbon trails"

Just finished another book using the Tewantin Tree rubbings from burnt trees. (Giant sticks of charcoal). The previous book was completely abstract and relied entirely on the quality of the marks. This one is more like a map and has textual references to the trails and early maps showing local trees as well as soil types as well as the topographical details of the terrain.
The card cover is painted to refer to the fires as well as the burnt bark.

There are not as many folds and the book is easier to read in a conventional way but can't be viewed in as many different ways. 

Friday, June 8, 2018

"Bush -Fire Rubbings"

While bushwalking in Tewantin National Park recently, I was impressed with the rich black trunks of the trees after a bush-fire. Each tree was burnt in a different way and their bark had its own individual surface texture like its own fingerprint.

We shared the track with mountain bike riders who would give you a fright as they came around the corners so quickly. Some had time to ring their bell but being a bit deaf, I was still caught unawares. I decided to return on my own with blank paper to capture some of the carbon from the trunks to take home and process somehow.

The soft cloud-like marks from a burnt string bark were so different from the marks left by the knobbly cabbage tree palms. I was able to get off the track to take my rubbings in relative privacy but did get a few stares from cyclists wondering what I was up to.

I used A4 sheets of 210 gsm white, smooth rag watercolour paper as well as larger sheets of brown 90gsm Kraft paper. The silky blacks worked better on the white paper but the larger drawings also had a special presence which doesn't photograph very well. I made quite a few drawings but will probably need to return for more after I finish exploring how I can develop them further by making some artist books.

I was interested in presenting the surface texture of the burnt trees but also refer to the speeding cyclists and the view they may have experienced from their bike. The fold I used for this first exploratory book is a simple flower fold done to three drawings which are glued together. The cover is hand-made grass paper to keep with the natural feel of the book. It can be unfolded in a few different ways in the hand but can also stand in several positions.

Monday, May 28, 2018


Just finished putting the rest of my mugshots into a cover and thought they might be worth a look. You'll have noticed that all the faces are composed using the same mixed media arranged differently and the added text highlights that we are all far from perfect(a bit like the real world). 

These faces were not planned or organised beforehand, they simply happened and the text was discovered and added after they were completed. Once again there is plenty of opportunity for chance happenings that somehow make sense.

Sunday, May 13, 2018


 One of my favourites from "New Facebook (with found text )" that I'm working on. 

Just a couple more to keep you interested. You might need to enlarge to read the text. Or am I due for some new glasses? I'll do about 10. Enjoy!

Saturday, April 21, 2018

2018 Libris Awards

I had some good news recently when my little book "A Prayer in Hell" made the short list for the 2018 Libris Awards : Australian Artists' Book Prize which takes place in Mackay Artspace 26 May 2018.

I was lucky enough to make the last Libris two years ago, (seems like yesterday) and was able to go and see the books in Mackay. It was a stunning show and I'm sure this year will be similar.

I was stoked to make the short list again and excited to be included in the company of some of the best book artists in Australia. I'll post a few images to give you some idea of the little book that went to Mackay which I hope you will enjoy. It is so hard to appreciate the book unless you can physically hold and see it but Mackay is a long way for most of us so here's a taste.

The book is in the format of a palm leaf prayer book used mainly in Asia. Wooden slats are also often used, I saw a Tibetan one and decided it suited my book perfectly. I did start off with a dirty, blood-soaked piece of rag holding only one end so that the book fanned out to reveal the double-sided "pages".

Later, I realised that having both ends fastened like a Venetian blind worked well. The subject behind the book was raising awareness of the awful plight of our refugees and the way our country treats them. The pages include references and quotations from the Nauru Files published recently by the Guardian newspaper and snippets from an Islamic prayer book.

The book fits snuggly into its coffin-like slip-case and is quite small and intimate. It could easily be part of someone's hand-held personal luggage. 

The pages also contain medical dressings which become cleaner and more minimal as the pages progress to a more hopeful climax.

The slip-case and book are designed to be displayed together. 
My artist statement explains my intentions:

"I make artist books that examine social and political anxieties. “A Prayer in Hell” is informed by concerns of the treatment of asylum seekers. It is small, recycled, portable and intimate like the few personal belongings of the refugees.

Recycled timber slats recall the pages of a palm leaf prayer book familiar to the asylum seekers in Australia’s off-shore detention centres. This book is for the hundreds of men, women and children who were held for lengthy periods on Nauru and Manus Island.
The text and other collaged personal detritus gradually change from bloody, damaged and dirty materials and text, to cleaner less damaged ones, suggesting the possibility of hope and healing in the future. The work suggests the shameful quality of life and conditions in these centres. Hopefully, these broken refugees will be settled here in Australia to build a better life in safety and dignity."

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

what is this?

A little while ago I read an interesting book "A Field Guide to Getting Lost" by Rebecca Solnit and made some notes to come back to for an artist book later (perhaps). 
I  also revisited Michael Leunig's "Holy Fool" and was delighted by some of his thoughts on creativity and the need to lose it sometimes. I was in the process of making a small book for my friend in Finland and was reminded of what I too think is so important in my creative endeavours. Bring out the pomegranate ink and search for the B&W photos.
Once we concentrate on the difference between 'not finding one's way' and 'losing oneself in a city' we can achieve a practice of awareness. Leunig talks about "how not to know" and "how not to care", "to follow the messy path of unexpected regression" and achieve a state when "ego and ambition have sufficiently crumbled."
Solnit says it as "it's ok to sometimes experience not knowing what to do next -to run into a barrier." Or "it's ok to realise that life has a mysterious quality to it... an element of uncertainty. This is what drives my creative practice and helps me make new work. It is this collaborating with chance that provides the spark. 

Here's a final quotation from Michael Leunig that I think really nails it:
"getting lost in regression and solitude, a subliterate, semi-delirious way in the depths of one's being for a while- there to invent one's art freely and there to find enchantment, infinite surprise and the bright wonderous question - 
"What is this?"