A stopover in Con Con nearby Valparasio in Chile was the plan as this was the location where I was to have a few days holiday with Carolina before settling back into Argentina summer studio mode. Our friends Dany and Cony live there with a sea view and a great love of Chilean beer. We had a good run about this interesting port town which seemed to be totally coated in graffiti but also has a pretty relaxed atmosphere. Seafood was on the menu every day as well as a long beach walk or two.
Over the Andes by road and then back to the studio in Argentina. A new president has been installed but sadly that wont fix the woes of this country in any hurry. The views are still fine up in the hills far away from the politics.
The asado studio is now covered in fine white dust from the scribbling, scratching and etching I have been experimenting with on some mother of pearl shells. (Pintada Maximus) These shells grew in the tropical Timor sea and will be slowly transformed into art under the shadow of the Andes mountains here in Argentina. This new work on these lusterful shells from Broome will keep me very busy over the southern summer months as 2015 turns rapidly into 2016…
Back in La Consulta I sipped a very unusual gin flavoured with Mate Yerba, eucalyptus, coriander and pomelo as I sipped this tasty concoction I befriending once again the gaudy hummingbirds in our garden as they sipped mid-air on cactus flower nectar. Carolina and I then headed off into the mountains for a short road trip to see what we could see.
Snow, sun, sandy deserts and the grand Andes were the sights we indulged in. We also managed to get bogged next to a river with no shovel to dig us out, we saw defunct railway lines, strange old Spanish mining towns, bridges leading to nowhere, hotel ruins and roadside shrines constructed of plastic water bottles. Condors cruised above us as summertime slowly crept towards us. Argentina certainly has some incredible scenery but the country generally seems to operate like a confused gaucho riding around in a circle on a pretty horse. Hopefully the elections here will create some changes for the better as most of the population are very ready for such a miracle.
Then it was Melbourne-time once again as a solo exhibition at the brand new NKN gallery space dragged me back across the Pacific.
NOPERSONSLAND - This exhibition covered a bit of ground and a variety of textures. There were panoramic views from the infamous DMZ on the Korean peninsula, scenes from the Antarctic icecap, rustic sewing, imaginary islands, emblems, text, badges, cartography, seas, blizzards, jokes and tropical shells.
To navigate through this rather complicated geography I used mixed media, paint and pearl shells.
The exhibition title NOPERSONSLANDlocated all these strange views into some kind of fuzzy border zone. Borders have always fascinated me as they are places of communication, exchange, fear and excitement. At borders you can meet strangers and connections are made, hopefully without too much bloodshed.
The art studio is similar to a frontier zone as conceptual and visual battles are constantly fought with no end to the experimentation and conflict. Diverse and numerous thoughts/images are often slammed together. I make these studio battles even more tricky as I continually move my studio around the planet. Once each skirmish is over, meaning the visual and mental baggage is processed into something called art it is then released onto the walls of a gallery. Then it is time to relocate the studio and the next battle begins.
Time now to jump on a plane to Chile….
Bye bye to Broome with an unprofessional shot of the staircase to the moon, a charming visual event over the mangroves and Timor Sea. I had a productive time in the green shed studio and now its time to fly away. Below are views of my un/natural habitat. The non-spaces of airports where globalization is portrayed on many levels both very good and very bad. Real palms growing in the transit lounge of BME, the bustle of MEL with Aussie football screened on all TV monitors, the gaudy perfume and booze of SYD, the after shocks wobbling the entire SCL and then onto MDZ and finally to La Consulta.
Back to the Asador studio with the snow capped Andes just out the door. Time to pump out new work 14,159 kms away from the Broome studio. Time to BBQ Argentinean style.
Most of my Broometime has been studio time but a few public things have dragged me away from the paint, threads, tools and thoughts. Lychee and mango beer along with an array of solid local friends kept my social skills somehow operational. First up was a fund raiser where I donated two works to Environs Kimberely art auction in July. Both were studies for the series I currently work on called NOPERSONSLAND. The stimulus came from my trip to the Korean DMZ border zone I visited back in 2012. My strange exotic green landscapes were bought so funds were added to this very worthy cause. (www.environskimberely.com)
An ABC Kimberely radio interview was done early August. I was invited to select 5 pieces of music that would give some springboard to my wandering life. Not easy to pick just 5 tunes to cover the 55 years I have been on planet earth. What bands did I pick? The Saints, Wild Pumpkins at Midnight, The Fall, Xylouris White and Gotan Project.
Next up was the Corrugated Lines festival - An annual festival of words where authors are invited to Broome to chat about words, books and other literary bits. I performed some sort of travelogue reading from my UNSTILL LIFE book at the popular Aarli Bar one Friday night. After which I went to see live Saltwater music. Local bands doing their aural things at Cable beach.
Mid August saw me exhibiting new work at the charming Short Street Gallery Bungalow space. My Mudmaps were tacked to the wall with framed dark spice markets from India, drunken trees from Russia, spiritscapes from Thailand and some grottos from Argentina. This mini show was well attended by an assortment of folk all in fine dry season spirits! I almost needed a map to walk home…
Then I was back in the tropics watching a sunset do its very hot pretty thing over the Indian Ocean. It was time to lay low in the studio, sweat alot, experiment and focus on new work. New work meaning some local mudmaps created by using a messy form of cartography empregnated with red pindan earth. Verdant, panoramic bloody border landscapes also appeared in the studio which refer back to my visit to the demilitarized zone on the Korean peninsula in 2012. Other projects simmer away as well on a variety of materials which I hope to show later in the year in Melbourne.
All this new work will be somewhat disrupted by a fast fly in and fly out trip back to Victoria where I show a large group of my Antarctic works at a CrossXpollinatioN exhibition in Colac and Cororooke. This textile and fabic festival saw me somehow entertaining many visitors with my tales of neo nomadic tactile icy adventures. The chilly Victorian weather woke me up, a visit to the excellent city of Geelong was pleasantly surprising and the delightful people I met in this part of the world made the adventure all good!
Suddenly I was back in the Broome studio.
Before I left Melbourne I strolled about Port Melbourne. Exactly in the area where my mother spent some time during her childhood. I sat on an old pier watching cargo containers, and tourist ships dock and I imagined my mother as a small girl watching immigrants arriving to start a new life and sailors leaving for war. It was also a place where she collected mussels with her father many decades ago. Now the pier looked like a grand expansive memorial site dedicated in my mind to my lovely mum. Bye Mum.. Happy travels to that very strange and exotic land that we shall all visit some day.
Islands, bridges, aliens, clouds, clubs, and clowns were all on my mind as I wrangled, beat, seduced and mixed up ideas then reformed then into something called art in the studio. As I manipulated, colours, paint fumes, film footage, words and silken threads two paraphrases keep floating about in my mind.
I don't want to belong to any island that would admit me as an inhabitant.
No person is an Island, entire of itself, every person is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.
Salutations to Groucho Marx and John Donne. As I worked away on these mixed media creations I also spent time script writing or rather jumbling, deleting and drafting 50,000 words in my head and around my laptop screen. Finally some order was found then one more BBQ in La Consulta and off to the airport as it was time to fly out of Argentina. I had many things to do, places to go and many people to see on the other side of the Pacific Ocean. In Brisbane under extreme weather conditions I managed to reconnected with many old friends while around us thick tropical rainfall, electrical storms, flooding, leaking roofs and strong rivers appeared where rivers should not be. I strolled by a Nepali temple in the middle of Brisbane unaffected by the recent awful Himalayan earthquakes but hammered by tropical rains and slowly I paddled back into Australasian culture over the next weeks.
On to Melbourne which is always a busy blur of family as well as many faces to see while I attempt to work as well. While navigating the hometown one afternoon I passed a typical splattering of cultures. A bagpiper squeezed out Scotland, Buddha’s birthday celebration with 2000 vegetarians snacking, the roar of an Aussie Rules football match with Greek souvlaki fumes outside the sports ground, then a fantastic sound sculpture entertained me on bridge as I viewed skyscrapers, Indian tourists grabbing images with large iPhones and flocks of comical white birds screeching above the city. I observed all this while the climate moved through 3 season in a few hours. After that afternoon stroll I began to miss the quiet life in La Consulta under the mountains but I had much more to do in cosmopolitan Australia, some of it fun and some not so fun.
The Museum of Nonconformist Art in St Petersburg will hold a group exhibition titled Transpositions –This will include many of the artist's who have spent time as residents at the Pushkinskaya 10 art center. Carolina and I shall include work but unfortunately we wont make it back to Russia to see the city in its summer mode for the opening function in July. I will show a series of small paintings fittingly titled - SOFT DIPLOMACY alongside a new film work - SIMULATED VEHICLE -TAXI
Speaking of vehicles …A few planes, buses, trains, trams, escalators, taxis plus one automobile finally got us back to La Consulta. Back to summer, back to the southern hemisphere and back to Argentina where, as soon as we landed I savagely gobbled down a plateful of my favorite local snack - empanadas.
It was +28 C but felt like +280 C as the sun was so bright and my brain and skin had almost forgotten what southern summer sun was like after our time in Russia. Carolina and I commenced to BBQ in true Argentina style with loads of Malbec wine and some kilos of meat to help us settle back into La Consulta. I once again set up my studio under the Andes and began working on new ideas the second day back. There is alot to sort out here besides all those new ideas. Many aspects of Argentina are still very unstable, stupid and extremely messy which makes being here not so fabulous. Of course I do not include all the friends, family, great wine, rustic food and superb views of the Andes I am lucky enough to engage with in this part of the world.
Over summer besides my studio time I tend to and move around cacti in the garden, I collect handfuls of pine-cone kernels from our pine tree, I sundry 1000 tomatoes and I roast almonds with salt and sweet paprika. I may even make some jars of pickled zucchini and onions in an attempt to domesticate myself. Wish me luck.
hacked off my long, fluffy hipster beard upon arrival in South America in preparation for summer and the Year of the Goat. So now I am totally in tune with the current Chinese lunar calendar as I sport a neat white goatee on my chin. With luck both my oriental and occidental horoscopes will read something along the lines of – Your faith in the fruits of your toils will shine beyond the obstacles put in place in the fifth quarter when a shiny celestial body zooms around the green planet with pinkish spots influencing the fate of your transactions in a positive manner. The goals you desire in work, family, romance, money, health and future intergalactic space travel shall become closer this year if you discard your giddy grief and cease to howl like an unhappy rabid dog on heat. Remember that life is like a bone to be shared and nibbled on without too much greed, barking or slobbering and avoid licking your private parts in public.
In mid March a fast and furious family trip to Catamarca in North West Argentina for the 66th birthday party of Carolina’s father was done. A long bus trip took us there and fun was had even with the unpredictable weather and the overly amorous advances towards my leg of a Mongolian/Chinese Chow Chow dog by the name of Genghis Khan. Proof that love is rather blind.
On the way to 2015 we stopped in Berlin for some beer and then a bit more beer and even a little Glühwein at a German Xmas market. While there we visited a great private art collection of psychiatrist Hans Prinzhorn of outsider art. 120 brilliant works which somehow made mentally unstable people seem very hip and interesting as we enjoyed most of the artwork in this exhibition. We then watched Europe prepare for its festivities with small evergreen trees being cut, food preparations galore, presents piled high, church bells ringing, trinkets scattered all over, shopping fever and decorative lights strung here and there across cities, towns and villages.
Xmas was actually spent in Paris where I met the largest cat I have ever seen. It was the size of a dog and looked more like a fluffy Lynx than a domestic Norwegian forest feline. Our festive feast was with Claudio, Phillipe, Anne, some new French/Latino friends and plenty of food notably duck le orange, turkey, pate, dried salted duck, chocolate, lychees…and fabulous wine. We drank champagne while we listened to classical Liszt music performed by professional pianist Claudio Chaiquin in his living-room. The next day we were coffee drinking at veteran DJ Remy’s pad while he pumped out of the speakers loud Argentinean electro-cumba music. Some other flavors of culture were seen in the form of the new Frank Gehry, La Fondation Louis Vuitton, building housing the contemporary art collection. An amazing building from any angle and there were a great many angles, curves, lines and spaces to explore. On one cold day we saw all the classic Parisian sights just like proper tourists! There was a tall pointy metal tower that turned into a lighthouse each night, there was a neo red windmill with dancing girls below and a large arch of triumph but I kept thinking that I was in Russia for some reason perhaps because we kept passing the Stalingrad metro station or perhaps I just drank too much wine.
Then it was an Amsterdamaged new year eve party. Carl performing his annual fireworks show using antique detonators and squibs to ignite fireworks from his window overlooking Rozengracht and then at midnight we watched the impressive public fireworks display of Joost. R. Ritman. The founder of Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica, a book collection as wild and magical as the fireworks show he presents each year over the canal on Bloemgracht. The start of 2015 was therefore extremely loud and extremely spectacular. Many times I heard the word Whhhooooohhhhoooooo!