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.
© Stephen Eastaugh, 2019. All Rights Reserved.