The build-up time in the Kimberleys is warm or should I say extremely bloody hot. No rain yet but loads of heat and exhaustion. I managed to over-cook myself after a single morning in the sun gardening which was not much fun. I had to lie down to recuperate from unpleasant nausea and a mild headache that lasted all afternoon. The Pindan earth seems to get redder each week as we all wait for the Wet.
We decided to buy a tiny toddlers wading pool in order to keep our body temperatures down and our brains less gooey. Yes air conditioned living is one answer and it certainly works but not that smart for the environment nor for the wallet as that will melt rapidly due the high costs of lovely cool, cold, icy air. A mini pond on the verandah is our best hope. There is only a 150 cm x 150 cm x 30 cm area to splash about in but when we luxuriate in our new large puddle we do feel some what refreshed as we wallow and utter pleasing noises automatically released due to our temporary freedom from the personal cocoons we make with our body sweat.
In the puddle we act exactly like the odd off-spring of a tropical union between a Water-buffalo and a Sloth. You can watch the ultra slow movement of our limbs and hear bovine snorting grunts. It is a beautiful feeling slugging in the water like baby elephant seals. Whether our slow motion aquatic antics look and sound beautiful is another matter.
The extreme heat makes us confused one day then discombobulated the next day and I sometimes wonder where the icebergs have gone as I day dream of Polar climes. To keep my spirits up I have been devouring mangos just like a raucous starving fruit bat at an “all you can eat “ fruitarian smorgasbord restaurant and then it is time for a little siesta or a frosty mango beer. Possibly a lot of mango beer as it is very hot and rehydration is needed and its hot and its hot and I am hot and bothered and a bit hotty, hot, hotted-out.
A sweaty drunk man on a bicycle crashed into me the other day. I was trying to avoid his erratic movements but sadly he swerved into me at the last moment due to total loss of coordination and possibly a lack of braincells. He crushed my right pointer finger which made sipping on mango beer difficult with my right hand for many days. Thanks for that Mr Uncoordinated CactusDrunkSloshedFool.
Xmas I think will happen soon or perhaps it did and we missed it. Not too sure about that as the build-up season heat makes dates and detailed calendar study rather difficult.
In the kitchen I have been experimenting with my Ikan Bilis snack (Recipe no.11. Ingredients - dried anchovy fish, sambal, garlic, onions, tomato paste, roasted peanuts and sesame oil) while in the bathroom I chase a large green frog around. Carolina and I are house-minding in an area that has been referred to as “Diamond Alley” due to the amount of shiny, crushed and smashed beer bottles to be found scattered across the road. Looking like glittering precious gems or twinkling stars but actually just the remnants of ongoing sad booze fuelled stories. We try to stay cool under a sticky and sometime prickly tropical climate but the heat can frazzle many things. When the sun finally drops below the horizon and the temperature slops down a few degrees I enjoy watching flock after flock of fruit bats flapping their leathery wings in the starry sky. They search for the location of that last mango tree that still holds delicious ripe fruit. I watch which way they fly and take notes.
I have plans and works fermenting in the studio but it is also a period of reflection and slow motion. In this climate that seems like the best plan. Slow is vvvvvery good.
A selection of works on paper from my Indian Ocean voyage awhile back is soon to be up on a wall at the West Australian Maritime Museum. The Museum presents this small exhibition of works created at sea on the CMA CGM ROSSINI alongside the documentary film by Malcolm McKinnon - UNANCHORED WORLD.
WA Maritime Museum Balustrade Gallery,
Victoria Quay, Peter Hughes Dr. Fremantle. WA 6160 Australia
Sat 21 Dec 2019 – Sun 1 Mar 2020
9:30am – 5:00pm
Finally I recall my time in L.A and occasionally I get a hankering for a delightful Mescal cocktail. I say loudly - “Bye bye silly 2019 and Salud to 2020!"
After wrapping up and packing all my artistic and social activities in Santa Monica I jumped on a train at the wonderful Union Station in downtown L.A in order to head north. From my window seat I watched the Pacific ocean sparkle and wobble, I saw homeless people hobbling about the no-mans lands next to the train line, I zoomed past petrol pumps on land and out at sea, I spotted classic stylish silver Streamline camper vans cruising the roads, fruit, vegetables and importantly grapes grew across many farms just out the window then after ten hours of all that scenic stuff I finally chugged into Oakland station San Francisco where I reunited with Carolina and we teamed up with local photographers Kate and Geir Jordahl.
I managed to string a few words together in public at the Californian Collage of Arts in order to inform, entertain or perhaps confuse both students and lecturers. Wanderlust and texture were the topics as these are the primary tools I use to create art. Over the coming days galleries were visited (thanks Donald) and a number of strolls were accomplished across this intriguing hilly town that is indeed very likeable.
We had just enough time to visit the famous city lights bookstore, eat dumplings in Chinatown, to catch up with assorted friends and to meet new ones. All very rushed but we certainly did our best. Then it was time to head east towards Nevada to see some sights and more art.
Yosemite national park.
The ghost town of Bodie
Reno Nevada is “The biggest little city in the world.” Here we caught up with William L. Fox at the Nevada Museum of Art . What a treat as the Museum is excellent and Mr Fox showed us some of Reno’s charms as well as introducing us to a marvellous array of local characters. One example being Mr Michael Mikel - the Vice President and Founding Board member of the fabulous Burning Man Project. Whom we met at a dark and cosy bar called DEATH and TAXES. I have never been to the Burning Man festival in the desert but I do like the idea as well as the below ten principles of the organisation -
Leaving No Trace
Perhaps all governments around the world should take note of this simple list.
While in Nevada we stayed in two cheap hotel casino complexes to observe the glitzy horror of this enormous entertainment business. We trudged passed characters of shiny robotic plastic surgery fame, dizzy hypnotic over-indulgence activities of all sorts and we saw the expressions of bubbly, frantic hope on the faces of many gamblers/players/high rollers/party animals and soon to be wed couples. In these gambling zones humans can be seen at their most vulnerable, their saddest and most pathetic or their most rabid and of course many are in some sort of zombie trance state connected to an overload of flashing colours seductively dancing directly in front of their eyeballs. It seemed like many adults visiting these zones immediately turn into excitable, gullible teenagers on heat. It is a form of neon madness turned up to eleven or higher. Carolina and I did enjoy our time in both Reno and Las Vegas but there was this overwhelming smorgasbord of visual and social colour that was hard to digest. It was not unlike the All You Can Eat Buffet we dined in which instantly dazzled us but eventually made us feel rather queasy and confused.
Our road trip with photographer Kate Jordahl refreshed us after all that engrossing madness of electric city life. The mellow ambience to be found on the open roads, up those mountains and across sandy deserts was needed and the visual stimulation was enormous. I have a feeling that I will be creating some new work with ancient trees in my mind.
Bristlecone National Park up in the White Mountains above.
Yosemite sand dunes Death Valley above and below Zabrinski Point.
At the end of this year at the West Australian Maritime Museum (http://museum.wa.gov.au/museums/maritime) I will be exhibiting a selection of works on paper created on the CMA CGM Rossini. It was way back in 2018 when film maker - Malcolm McKinnon and I traveled from Fremantle in West Australia to Kuala Lumper in Malaysia on a large cargo container ship in order to engage with the sea, sailors, ports and slow travel. The Museum will open UNANCHORED WORLD in late December and the show will run until March 1st. 2020.
A short essay from above the ground
For many but not all people, it is routine and extremely simple to travel by plane. The lead up to the take-off can be tiresome as being processed with the other nine million people each day who travel via the thousands of airports worldwide does feel like being herded into a long silver claustrophobic tube. The experience is not unlike a mob of domesticated creatures who are either fearful and or excited at the prospect of a journey. Each beast sucking and sipping away on coffee in plastic cups while navigating line after line in order to get to their appointed seats in the craft. What is amazing is that after the lines, the security checks and the glitzy duty-free perfume counters one will actually fly. IN THE AIR! Yes, above the ground surrounded by a thin skin of metal and plastic in a vehicle spewing out aviation excrement. It is surprising that humans are able to do such a thing. It is not like the flight of a majestic eagle who soars and swoops with organic ease but many people do fly high, far and often just not as elegantly as our feathered friends. Flying with a flock of other folk at ten kilometres above the usual place where you plant your feet is rather odd I must say.
At gate D44 I wait then shuffle my way to window seat A11. I buckle my seat belt, flick through a magazine that displays fifty types of watches to buy and soon I feel the thrust of the engine as we head upwards. Out of the tiny window I watch snake-like rivers, snowy peaks, millions of tiny homes, the flowing blue skin of oceans, deserted deserts, farmlands, resort regions, old and new war-zones, jungles and tundra, golf-courses and puffy clouds. I am “as free as a bird!” That is the feeling but this feeling is often concealed by familiarity, business and the odd crying baby. Even hyperactive vacationers seem not excited at all by the transport mode as it is just seen as a fast way to get to an exotic beach, a family reunion, a romantic castle or a snow-covered hill. I too am guilty of this blasé attitude at such an altitude.
Another peek out the porthole and I see abstract patchwork landscapes then I feel some turbulence which reminds me that I am rocketing thought the air. Soon food appears all compartmentalised, boxed and bagged on a little plastic tray. A few centimetres to my left it is - 48 C and there is very little air out there but there is much to view as I nibble on an international curry dish.
The engines drone on and on while I become mesmerised by our ability to fly or perhaps I am mesmerised by a classic B grade romantic, action, sci-fi, musical, horror, thriller film that is screening right in front of my face. Later in the flight after my meal and movie binge I peer outside again and see what looks like a lumpy white icecap or a sea of pillows. Cushions of floating fluffy foam. I would like to walk over it. I know I am moving very fast but luckily I am still able to sip on a brandy and dry and then another. Finally, I feel dopey and seem to be on my way to dreamland but before I close my eyes I search for angels as apparently out there somewhere is their homeland. No luck in the angel quest so I shut my eyes and drift off…
I wake up minutes later due a tinny synthetic Bong noise informing everyone that we must all sit down and prepare ourselves for landing. I resume scanning for those pesky angels. Outside my window the horizon line is bent as is time so it is time to change my watch to another time zone. I wonder if it’s the future or the past and where has now gone? Who cares? Who gives a flying flatulence! Lucky me, I am flying!
The golden barrel cactus -Mexico. ( Echinocactus grusonil)
Beside spending a lot of time in studio mode I have made visits to numerous galleries, museums and gardens here in L.A. The Hammer, The Getty Center, The Broad, MOCA, Geffen, LA Louver, Museum of Jurassic Technology, commercial galleries and the impressive Huntington Gallery/gardens. Ancient, historical, modern, contemporary and very live art is all to be found here in L.A. I have been lucky to have had the opportunity to spend time in an L.A studio and that time was spent productively looking at art, thinking about art, experimenting with art and making quit a lot of it in studio 3 at the 18th Street Art Center.
An open studio event was held on 14th September at the Art Center so a great deal of my L.A art activity was put up on the wall for the public to see alongside earlier pearl shell work from Broome W.A. A really enjoyable mix of people dropped by from many walks of life. One guy arrived rather late on an electric skateboard with a surprising name and title - Brother Somarge Embassodor Bishop, Doctor, James Councillette, the presiding Bishop of St James Holiness of the Church of our living Father and Christ which is the colour of the ground of the Foundation of Truth. He kindly gave Carolina a lesson on how to skateboard then skated off into the mysterious night.
A short essay from the Santa Monica studio
The US of A. What a strange and extreme part of the world. A heavily armed hi tech empire that is as rich as hell, heavily religious, somewhat fearful or possibly a little megalomaniacal. Simultaneously protecting world democracy across the planet while at war with its self. In 2018 there were almost 40,000 hand gun deaths in USA (60 % of these were suicides) The wild west is alive and well it seems and highly stressed out. This nation is polite but acts somewhat aloof. Extremely insular but fascinating without a doubt. American culture has rapidly spread globally from Hawaii to Antarctica. Across all continents in a very short period of time and further afield I believe an American flag is still planted on the moon! There is a great deal to like about the country and I have met many excellent people here so please regard this essay as the fuzzy generalisation about an impressive nation from the jottings of a brief alien visitor. What I see is - the GOOD, the BAD and the UGLY, all on a very large scale. American culture including hard core capitalism has infected the planet. One example is Hollywood as nowhere seems immune to its entertaining influence. Cinema has been one of the popular tools for cultural dissemination and used successfully for decades. We recently watched two Hollywood movies set in Hollywood, about Hollywood and both impressively displayed the darker sides of the United States with a focus on Hollywood. Map of the stars (David Cronenberg) and Once upon a time in Hollywood. (Quentin Tarantino) As we watched these films I pondered the film industry and the USA as a nation. I realised that when I arrived recently into the USA I had similar feelings as I did the first time I landed in India some years ago which sounds a little odd. Why did I feel so? These two countries really have nothing in common or do they?
Strong colour and excitement are to be found in each nation and they both have enormously popular cinema industries. Hollywood is more globally spread than Bollywood but Bollywood actually makes twice as many movies and is watched by more people across the planet. Both countries are cosmopolitan and recently constructed nations thanks to the British colonisation process. Therefore both use English as the primary language to make communication smooth nationally. (although the USA will be a Spanish speaking nation by 2050)
There is noticeable ultra wealth and noticeable devastating poverty in each nation. Shiny mansions or palaces are to be found on hills offering fancy views while flimsy tent slums covered in dust are never too far away. A stratified class structure with monstrous jumps between those groups loaded with money, power and stuff and those groups with only what they can carry in bent shopping trollies or woven plastic bags. Both lands have huge populations of underpaid workers doing all the menial jobs. Illegals/foreigners in the USA and the low caste population in India. Both countries are diverse regarding religious activity and beliefs. India being more old style bizarre and broad in its debates and beliefs but the USA catches up with its many weird and wonderful new religious organisations/businesses. Most Americans are Christians and most Indians are Hindi and generally both populations of adherents respect and follow the required religious rituals/antics. We can also find many cults created in both lands which generate astronomical numbers of followers, none of whom seem to bother too much with intelligence, logic or facts.
In each nation unique people wander about the streets gossiping to gods or screaming at invisible demons, peacefully meditating, dancing with invisible pixies, chanting, praying, wearing elaborate attire, waving banners to warn or inform everyone about this or that unsound topic. Saddhus, schizophrenics, religious zealots, drug damaged dudes, psychos, happy clappers, ect. At times it is rather tricky to differentiate between who is who. All rather interesting characters, all with extreme stories to tell and all living in downtown Follywood. (wherever that is.) The inhabitants of Follywood do unusual things in public spaces that are either intentional or not or confusingly both. Frightening, sad or funny, meaningful or messed up. Informative prophets orating fuzzy beliefs or space cadets chattering in tongues can all be seen and heard on a long stroll in L.A or Mumbai. Help seems very faraway.
The population density in some areas of these lands is also frightening. Far too many folk packed together trying to live. All mega cities are crammed full of people and many are consuming snacks while watching either Hollywood or Bollywood on screens of various sizes. I sadly cannot muster myself to indulge in any Bollywood song and dance as the colour scheme of my personal wardrobe just wont permit it. Dark blue, grey and black are light years away from the gaudy fluorescent rainbow palette of the typical Bollywood style. Hollywood or Bollywood? No matter as everyone loves a good story told well and shot in lurid HD. When I sit mesmerised by a story on a screen I prefer to nibble on Indian snacks rather than American popcorn or hotdogs. I also prefer those extraordinary laws that permit cows great freedom as opposed to those extraordinary laws that permit great freedom relating to guns but thats another story…
S.E. Santa Monica. 15/9/19
We managed to do a road trip to Joshua National Park to escape the smog and all that big city fun. Trees, rocks, sky and very fine views. We even spotted a few wild animals and ate some fine BBQ ribs in the amusing Pioneertown. A fake Hollywood town in Yucca Vallery built by an actor in 1946 for making wild westerns which has now has actually turned into a town of sorts.
I was also very lucky to be in L.A when the Hauser and Wirth gallery presented this exhibition - Resilience Philip Guston in 1971. A huge show of work split into two major series. The Nixon Drawings (ink on paper) and the Roma series (small oil paintings on paper from the artists trip to Rome) I am a long term fan so the show was too brilliant to just visit once.
Other news -
- Block Projects gallery exhibited some of my LOST PILGRIM miniatures from Malaysia at the1883 art fair in Sydney.
- I exhibited a special mixed media work in the Shinju Matsuri art show in Broome W.A - titled - HOUSE AND GARDEN - LIFE IN AN AIRCON DONGA OVER A DRY WET WITH DRAGON.
- While in L.A I was interviewed for a podcast about the good old days in Antarctica when I was scooting about the Ice making art in a very different climate compared to sunny warm California.
Carolina is heading to San Francisco and I shall very soon follow her once I pack up the studio here and say farewell to L.A. Soon a productive two months will be completed. It has been very cool being here. I met many warm people and I must say I mustered up some hot new ideas as well.
I left Holland after a dip in the North Sea as it was a rather warm Dutch summer. I also managed to do a nostalgic wander about the saucy port of Amsterdam where many moons ago I lived. Summer tourists flooded the narrow streets which was annoying but I managed to devour a few salted herrings on bread and some Surinam snacks as well as having some laughs with many friends in and around Amsterdam. Then it was time to get back to the airport.
I flew the wrong way to Helsinki as I was heading to USA so eventually we managed to make a U turn as I actually needed to fly over the Greenlandic Icecap and across Canada in order to land in LA. Modern air travel gets more crazy each year. Finally I got to the U.S of A where a slightly paranoid elongated immigration system tries to process millions of people each day. Not an easy chore I must admit. After lining up in a dozen lines for over two hours I finally arrived at the part when one is interviewed by a human immigration officer. He kindly told me that there was another mass shooting in California, SF was covered in faeces and used heroin needles, the country was full of people who don’t work and are illegal and he was glad that he could carry a gun. He wanted to move to Australia and was confused as to why I wanted to even visit USA. He suggested that I get a gun for my trip and hoped that I survived my time in his ultra violent homeland. All this interesting information was relayed to me as he asked me numerous questions about who, what, when and where I was planning to do in his smelly and dangerous country. At one stage I was sure he was not going to let me into the country as my plan was to stay about eleven weeks. He thought that was a very long time for a tourist. Was he possibly worried about my safety? I doubt that very much. It was all a bit too much for me after 13 hours in planes plus 7 hours in 3 airports with no sleep at all. I considered a Plan B to not even enter the USA, saying bye bye to this complicated gate keeper and jumping on any plane going anywhere but I did not. The insular fear that seems to be a normal worldview or should I say a normal National-view found across a large chunk of USA is not that easy to digest. It is not tasty anywhere I must add. Not a great introduction to the USA for me personally but then I was kindly permitted to enter Los Angeles. A massive town built on innumerable dreams, lies, loves, oil and oranges. A friend described this city as - “a strange Sci-Fi movie you don’t want to be in.” It certainly is fascinating there is no debate about that. The original name of the city is -El Pueblo de Nuestra Senora Reina de los Angeles sobre el Rio Porciuncula. (The town of our lady queen of the angels on the Porciuncula River.) I figure that with such a name this city can only be complicated.
My first stop after battling the excitable traffic with the aid of a friendly Mexican Uber driver was at the charming home of Josh. Luckily in a central leafy part of the city but still with eleven lanes of traffic directly out the front door causing an almost constant car drone noise but from the veranda there was an excellent view of the city skyline as well as hummingbirds zipping about in his brilliant garden sipping on flower nectar. After acclimatising a little I relocated to the 18th St. Art Center in Santa Monica in order to make that stuff called art. Simultaneously I try to work out how to be here. (https://18thstreet.org)
My studio is large and comfortable and not far from the Pacific Ocean. It is all happening. Very wealthy folk drive by homeless people in flash cars and anything can be bought if you have money or perhaps just some bravado. A friendly Californian vibe permeates the air under thousands of extremely tall palm trees all swaying in a smoggy maritime climate similar to the Mediterranean. Burritos for breakfast, legal cannabis pharmacies, electronic scooters scooting locals and tourist about the town, 1500 planes landing each day at LAX, art galleries galore and thank god that carry out insurance is available! (just in case you drop your take away pizza while on the way home.) Then there is this chap on TV all the time called Trump who looks like someone whom it is best not to buy a used car from.
I imagine that living here is rather cool for many reasons but my little visit will be well over before I acquire any depth of understanding about the LA metropolitan area with its 13.1 million inhabitants many of whom exude a fiery coolness. Some polite and some heavily armed with a puzzling proud fear of a great many things.
I must say that settling into the studio was fast and easy as the Art Center is both organised and relaxed. My thanks to the excellent staff at 18th St. Next to my studio is the Taiwanese artist Hui-yu Su and his family who are charming neighbours so I have no complaints about my current location! I also must thank Eric for his informative lessons regarding Mescal. More importantly I salute the Western Australian Government for the grant which has made this L.A residency possible. Now back to the art making.
Cherrio!! Dublin. It was a lot of fun. Art was seen, the book of Kells was impressive but sadly covered in a very thick layer of tourists. I enjoyed surprisingly warm weather on this very green island. Not bad black stout either. Not bad at all!
Landing at Shiphol Airport in Amsterdam I recalled the fact that the airport is actually 3.8 metres below sea level. In fact 27% of the country is actually below sea level. Meaning a large number of the ten million dutch people would be living underwater without the smart maritime engineering and the many centuries of intense engagement with water. First time I have taken photographs of windmills and why not I say, as they are fabulous inventions originally used for pumping water from one place to another. This saying seems fitting - “god created the earth but the Dutch created the Netherlands. There was a very fast and furious visit to Berlin to catch up with a group of friends, all in the business of doing that stuff called culture.
STEVE HEATHER https://soundcloud.com/steve-heather
PER TELJER http://www.teljer.com/start/
CLAUDIA REIHARDT http://www.claudia-reinhardt.de/article/105/
ARILD H ERICSEN http://www.nkdale.no
There was much merriment and I recall some beer, a roast chicken, some excellent graffiti in some bar toilets, church bells, Turkish food, munching on a large pretzel at the airport and not much else really.
Then back to Amsterdam to collect my bags and see a few more old friends. Now it is time to fly across the Atlantic via Helsinki to a studio in Santa Monica, L.A. where I plan to continue my visual shenanigans via paint, fabric, film and whatnot…
The FLAG WAIIVING show at Short St gallery was a lovely warm and busy night with a top notch crowd and then off I fluttered to the airport. This trip began with a short car trip (thanks Tomoko) Then there were 4 planes, 2 buses, 2 taxis, 8 escalators, 2 travelators/moving walkways… or whatever they are called, 2 elevators and a bit of wandering about in airports sucking on expensive coffee. Finally I relocated myself to Ireland at the excellent and rather remote CILL RIALAIG PROJECT in Ballinskellings, County Kerry. South West Ireland. Outside this renovated stone cottage is a fine view of the Atlantic Ocean to one direction and a great deal of green-ness in all other directions. This is one seriously excellent place for self motivated creative folk to work or maybe to consider working or to simply consider. The weather was grand with ample sunshine and a bit of mizzle (mist and drizzle rain combined) to give the location some typical ambience.
I have an odd diet of honey flavoured with Jamison whiskey, soda bread, mandarins, canned herrings and coffee. I am sure the body will survive. I plan to watch sheep wander about bleating and film some rocks as I can relate to wandering about and bleating and I am rather envious of the stability of rocks.
Other rocks were visited way off the coast from Bolus Head - The Skellig Islands. One called Sceilg Mhichil where a dozen monks made beehive rock cells way back in the 7th century or thereabouts. One hell of a hermitage I must say! (excuse the blasphemy) To the east of this Monastic site is an equally impressive island called Sceilg Bheag which is covered with millions of garnets all nesting and fishing and doing sea bird business. This is the far, far west of Europe. The next stop if you head further west is NYC.
Bye to my little studio residency at Cill Rialaig. It was grand being there.
A series of 36 Antarctic mixed media works has been gifted to the Art Gallery of Western Australia which I do hope to see displayed sometime in the near future, hopefully one of these days when I am in Perth.
KNOTS. 2009. 23 cm X 23 cm each. (Mawson station.) Wool, cotton, plastic thread, acrylic. Belgian Linen.
Other good news is that another Antarctic work - S.E.W.N. / CARDINAL POINTS has been acquired by the Kerry Stokes. In terms of this enormous and impressive collection S.E.W.N fits especially well as this major mixed media work engages equally with three aspects of the Stokes collection. Cartography, contemporary abstraction and Antarctica.
SEWN / CARDINAL POINTS. 2006 (Antarctica) 2006. 210 cm x 350 cm Cotton, wool, plastic thread, acrylic, Belgian linen.
As one of the Suzanne Biederberg Gallery artists I will be showing a series of pearl shell works in Genoa. Italy. At the BIENNALE “ LE LATITUDINI DELL’ARTE” “Water and light” curated by Virginia Monteverde. 21st July - 31st August 2019. Venue - Palazzo Ducale, Sala del Munizioniere, Piazza Matteotti, Genova. If anyone is in this part of Europe please drop in.
I am some way west from Italy and it was time to hit a pub in Dublin for some live music and Guinness. It was also time to have a flick through the Book of Kells and wander about one very old and very famous library.
Preparations now occur for an upcoming trip which will see me heading to Ireland, The Netherlands, Germany and USA. I have much to organise and I especially look forward to creating new work in both the village of Cill Railaig in remote south west Ireland (population - 8) and the excitable city of Los Angeles. USA (population 4,000,000)
Until I jump on some planes heading to the northern hemisphere I will enjoy Broome with its numerous dry season activities. From movies at the cute Sun Pictures (a local outdoor cinema build in 1913) to the markets, festivals and of course the beach.
One final event before we exit will be my small solo show at Short Street Gallery here in Broome.
FLAG WAIVING @ Short Street Gallery. Opening - THURSDAY 27TH JUNE 2019
I’ve always been fond of flags but never drawn to that nasty, nationalistic excitement often found fermenting and scurrying in circles beneath flagpoles. That “us vs them” attitude is dangerous and dated, so I try to avoid fluttering that topic.
My love-hate relationship with flags is deep. I have painted on many, adorned my walls with ornamental national flags and included flags in Antarctica paintings. I like flags as they are simple, graphic, colourful, abstract forms of communication. They are also universal symbols used to separate and bond. Due to my travel addiction I am also directly connected to flags as they often represent chunks of topography.
I have recently etched pearl shells with images of undersea flags from the Arctic Ocean, sewn mixed media works on the Indian Ocean that present the thirty-five FOC (Flags of Convenience) used by cargo vessels across the world (Fluffy Flags) and I have drawn a number of fictional red, white and blue flags (Unnational) on crumpled paper also created while at sea.
Now in this new body of work produced in Broome I continue my interest in Vexillology (the study of flags) A series of small oil paintings depicting views of rich landscapes where I plant torn, damaged and melting flags, each representing no place at all. Out of proportion, unstable and oddly placed makes these flags simply colour, shape and texture waving in miniature pictorial spaces.
Rather than waving I have used the word waiving in the title to present the idea that I totally refrain from waving any flag for nationalistic reason. The United Nations flag is a strong concept in progress and a good attempt but until the word and concept of Nations is removed the desire to be United globally will sadly not work.
I waive my right to be blinkered, fearful, brainwashed, stupefied and isolationist. I romantically and perhaps naively wave an all-encompassing flag that is yet to exist.
Flag Waiving 8. (detail)
Soon heading to this green part of the world …. Cill Rialaig. Ballinskelligs, Killarney, Co. Kerry, Ireland.
Broometime once again! I made crocodile burgers for dinner with cous cous as I listened to fruit bats flap about above us and we watched distant electrical storms fire up the night skies. One morning we watched small sting rays scoot about at Cable beach as we waded about in the shallow waters and another day we found ourselves floating in the sea with a baby shark swimming around us.
It is tropical studio time and I work away on a few different projects. The wet season basically failed to arrive for the 2018-2019 period so things are a bit dry in this part of the world. The tin shed was a sticky +40 C upon our arrival back here which made our brains melt on a number of days. We were hoping for some cooler temperatures but we had to wait. Speaking of cooler climates… one summer many moons ago I was in Antarctic at Davis Station with film maker Mathew Rooke. The documentary filmed down there at that time - ANTARCTICART (Everysomewherever) can now be found on vimeo. - https://vimeo.com/321039208
Stephen Eastaugh's journey down south to Davis Station. The people he meets, the art he makes and the landscape he inhabits. Antarctica through the eyes of one of Australia's preeminent artists.
Produced and Directed by Matthew Rooke.
Ahoy!! Further film news - A short documentary filmed at sea in 2018 which gives a glimpse of a self initiated maritime art residency has been selected for the 2019 St. Kilda Film Festival in Melbourne. UNANCHORED WORLD is set on a cargo container vessel crossing the Indian Ocean. On-board I make some art and contemplate the Mare Liberum as I travel from Perth, West Australia to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Malcolm McKinnons film will be screened on Sunday 23rd JUNE. 2:45 PM at the St Kilda Town Hall. For details -
WE WILL KNOW WHEN WE GET THERE.
My solo exhibition at the new BLOCK PROJECTS space was held during the later part of the Melbourne summer and was attended by the usual suspects and a broad array of people who know me, know art, know Melbourne, know stuff and wish to know more. It was a good opening function and I thank Block Projects gallery for the great space and the jolly function. Please visit the gallery website to see available works.
Carolina and I have stayed in a few places in Victoria recently as I navigate the numerous activities I must undertake in this part of the world. We have been extremely lucky regarding the locations and the very different architectural styles of dwellings we have spent time working and socialising in. All have kept the unpredictable climate of Melbourne from cooking or chilling us. “Location, location, location..” as they say in the real estate world. From a rustic country dwelling next to a river in Jameison to a fabulous and smart residency flat at the Australian Print Workshop in Fitzroy as well as a marvellously designed town house in Port Melbourne where we watched cruise ship after cruise ship dock at the pier nearby.
While in Melbourne I was invited to spend some a few days at my old art School as a casual visiting artist/lecturer. The Victorian College of the Arts has grown somewhat in size, shape and the speed that it operates at since I attended there a few decades ago but it still is a wonderful institution where art of all forms is taught, made and talked about. It was most interesting to make contact with young students and some of the current teachers on campus and I hope that I was a worthwhile part-time positive insertion into the fluid and busy curriculum.
Just across the Yarra river from the VCA I saw another form of local student activity. A colourful political street march. Melbourne has a long history of street protests and we were able to see one in full swing. I did not count the number of protesters but it was a massive turnout of young students all very angry about the environment on a global level. They strongly reminded politicians via their placards that “THERE IS NO PLANET B” and we should all get our priorities right “PLANET NOT PROFIT.” I applaud all those students!
We head back to the Broome studio to make more art and prepare for further adventures as I have been awarded a DLGSC Creative Development grant that will enable me to attend an art residency in Santa Monica L.A. USA later on in the year. I have many things to prepare...
Jackfruit has been the favourite festive season food this summer with tiger prawns a close second. Fresh Jackfruit segments in a fruit salad for breakfast, homemade jackfruit ice-cream and the chestnut/taro like roasted Jackfruit seeds have all been devoured with gusto. There has also been some pool action to give a little relief from the ongoing heat and lack of any wet in this so called wet season.
New Years eve saw Carolina and I at a very quintessential Broome function. A live Pigrim Brothers performance with an assortment of other musicians all jamming in that local dusty salt water cowboy music mode. Many drinks and much dancing eased us into 2019. At 4 am I believe I found myself in a pool wondering where 2018 went to and what tricky things I need to consider during 2019. My basic and perpetual new years resolution was- “be good to other folk and don't be evil or foolish.” Hopefully I stick to that plan.
Off to Melbourne soon for a solo show and assorted Melbanian business.