On a hot afternoon from the classic Roebuck pub verandah we watched the Shinju Matsuri floats cruise by with hundreds of spectators fuelled by beer all in a very festive mood.
As usual Sammy the dragon was the star of the pearl festival parade, colorful, noisy and well loved by all in Broome although the farting earth and fire brigade water canon were big hits as well. Latter that evening I tried a seriously zingy chilli-flavoured beer brewed by a German beer master in a restaurant overlooking the dark mangrove mudflats. Other local treats were pearl meat and gutsy homemade sambal chutney.
My Short Street gallery exhibition came to an end so my tropical shed studio was once again shut down and things crammed into boxes and bags. It was bye bye Broome time.
After a wallow in the warm Indian Ocean we flew to Darwin where we consumed more beer and art, a lot of both in fact were crammed into a twelve hour pit stop in this top end city. Then it was on to northern Queensland.
Mackay Artspace held my 15th TRAVAILOGUE exhibition. Mackay is currently having a mining boom so the town is growing fast by selling various forms of dirt overseas. I screened the AntarcticArt documentary and made a short artists talk at the opening function where 100 people enjoyed a sit down dinner as well as an amusing talk by William Mora who served everyone tasty tales of food, family and art. Michael Wardell the director of Artspace Mackay along with his family played fine hosts during our stay. Intriguing jade plants hung outside our bedroom in the garden-jungle next door and the warm sea wobbled out the back door of there lovely home. Michael even sang a long Irish ditty on the cliff-top to entertain us below the full moon one evening. As we flew out heading south to Sydney we saw 20 massive cargo freighters hungrily waiting in line by the islands to be filled.
A group show in Sydney at Sheffer Gallery with an Argentinean flavor opened on the 17th Sept. Tango, illegal saints, Patagonia, asado BBQs, weathered walls and wine wafted about the very white and very charming gallery run by Andrew Purvis in Darlington. Carolina and I attended the opening and afterwards a private dinner party constructed from excellent Sydney characters, food and laughs. (Thanx to Lisa Andrews) Preparations for SE Asia kept us moving during this week so sight-seeing was not on the menu in this pretty city. Where are we now?
Oh yes its Thailand. My exhibition titled YOU ARE HERE in Bangkok Lalanta Gallery relates to public tourist maps found all over the globe designed to help foreigners locate themselves in new cities. Everyone has seen those little red dots that tell us what street we are on and how far we are from our destination. As someone who has been on the road for almost twenty-five years, such cartographic tools are often needed.
The work in this exhibition covers a bit of geography, from Australia to Franz Josef Land near the North Pole and Antarctica to Bangkok. When you constantly move you are basically in transit, on your way to someplace or another. Your route, not the place where you stand structures your experience. It is mobility that drives you onward to the next destination making stability secondary. I need to remind myself to slow down occasionally and locate myself in specific places or I may find myself being everywhere and at the same time nowhere. YOU ARE HERE could be a mantra to help situate me in the world by simply answering the question “Where are you?” Unfortunately such a mantra will not answer the bigger question of “why are you here?” In a way making art eases this tricky existential question.
Ms Bronte Moules from the Australian embassy opened my show with a short speech and as usual a few old friends appeared at the opening to peek, party and ponder. The recent street riots have ceased but the political uncertainty and mistrust of many governmental figures is still very much here. I wonder if there exists a good politician able to take charge of Thailand and if such a beast could actually operate successfully here or anywhere for that matter. Excuse my darkness but I just read Cormac McCarthy’s novel The Road. Those who have read this great book will understand. Time now to move eastward.
Meta House run by Nico Mesterharm is multi-media cultural centre sitting close the Phnom Penh palace offerring an amazing amount of cultural activities from art exhibitions, multi-national musical performances to a rich ongoing cinema program and even a rooftop bar. Carolina Furque and myself presented the show Khmer Obscura at Meta House on Oct. 7th.
Carolinas photographic works are rather dark, distorted and ethereal temples. Fuzzy and obscure images that are part of an ongoing visual essay capturing distorted panoramic cities across the world.
My quirky, odd and dislocated paintings on show grew from my constant travels including five visits to the Kingdom of Cambodia since 1999. We recognize that we will never have a very precise nor clear vision of what happens in the Khmer world. (Perhaps this is true for many Khmers as well.) Nevertheless we touch upon Buddhism, bombs, architecture and wine with apparent aphrodisiac qualities in this show. Carolina and I attempted to confuse, amuse, obscure and focus our energy on Phnom Penh during our short week long stay here. On top of the exhibition here we caught up with a gaggle of characters that had plenty of tales to tell and ample PP gossip.
Back on the road now and thankfully not Mr McCarthy’s dark road. A flight to Amsterdam awaits us so bye bye tropics and hello Holland.
© Stephen Eastaugh, 2019. All Rights Reserved.