Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Ballarat Insects and Arachnids

The ever-evolving Myth-entomology project began in 2007. During that time I’ve steadily amassed a mountain of reference material on insects and arachnids, principally in books and journals, including the excellent Australian Geographic.  I’ve also photographed a great many examples (both living and preserved) from the extensive collections held in the Melbourne Museum, the Natural History Museums of London, New York, Berlin (see detail left) and other institutions.

Since we’ve been spending more time at Ballarat, however, I’ve been granted direct access to some wonderful free-range specimens. Better yet, I haven’t had to look very much further than my own backyard. 

The following photographs were taken in Ballarat over the last twelve months.

Images from top:

Common Rose Swallowtail Winged Woman, 2012, pencil (work in progress)
Installation view, Natural History Museum of Berlin, November 2011
Junonia villida butterfly
Nectarine blossoms with bees
Huge, exquisitely coloured specimen, possibly from the blowfly family
Orb Weaver, AKA Wheel Weaver spider
An example of the Orb Weaver's breathtaking spinning, weaving and engineering skills

Friday, May 11, 2012

Facelifts Part 2

Part of the first floor of our place at Abbotsford served as my partner Shane Jones’s studio for several years, while I worked on the ground floor. When I took a studio in the Melbourne CBD in late 2007, Shane decided to shift to my old workspace, where he found he could better control the light. The walls in the upstairs area remained hung with his artwork. It looked great, so there was no reason to move it. But when I recently set up in his previous space, I felt a little like a squatter. Shortly after my last post, we spent a solid day hanging a substantial amount of my work on the walls and transferring Shane’s paintings to the walls of his studio below. (At this point, I must shamefacedly confess he’s still storing some stuff from my former occupancy in his area. In my defence, there’s nowhere else to put it, at least until the Ballarat studio is finished.) On balance, the cupboard in my studio contains Shane’s extensive shell collection for much the same reason.

Some pictures by Shane and other artists, including Rona Green and Clare Humphries, slightly overlap my new studio (top left and left of the venetian blind in the photograph directly below.) The remaining wall space of our first floor is covered almost entirely with the works of numerous artists, in the mother of all salon hangs. You can get mighty tired of looking at your own work all day, so I’m grateful to have them all as muses.

Meanwhile, the territory of the atelier is certainly more distinctly marked, and my newly installed work (from the ongoing Myth-entomology series) should be a helpful point of disembarkation for current projects.

Photograph second from top:

Upper LHS: Painting by Shane Jones of my hands at work on the
linocut Rose Tattoos (1996). Next to it is a poster of Portrait of the 
Journalist Sylvia von Harden by Otto Dix (1926). I fell in love with the
original painting at first sighting in the Pompidou Centre in Paris in
1993. It's still one of my favourite pictures in all the world. 

Third and fourth photographs from top:

Studio views including Moth Masks and The Enchanted Hair Ornaments 

Wednesday, May 2, 2012


As all but the most deplorably inattentive followers of this blog will notice, it has had a major facelift. For the information of first-time visitors, it formerly comprised a black background overlaid with white and red text. Although I must confess to some nostalgia for the more immediate visual impact of the previous design, I was increasingly concerned that it was overpowering the general content, making information harder to locate and absorb.

Since its inception in 2008, the blog has been more than just somewhere to post information about exhibitions and other related events. It has increasingly become an extension of my practice, a place to collect my thoughts, share some of my interests and road-test new work and ideas. As the amount of information on the blog accumulated, I felt it needed to be made easier to read and navigate. It’s still being tweaked (I’m a terminal tweaker) but think it’s nearly there, and hope you do too.

If the blog partly serves as a virtual studio, my actual Melbourne studio has also been undergoing changes and is similarly in the process of being fine-tuned. After relinquishing my workspace in central Melbourne in 2011 (see blog post April 7, 2011) I set up in an idiosyncratic, but somewhat cave-like area of our warehouse apartment in Abbotsford. It soon proved to be way too small and dark. After a considerable amount of strategic planning and rearrangement, I’m now established upstairs in a lighter, airier, more private and infinitely more practicable space. Open-plan buildings have their benefits, flexibility being one of them. But they can present real challenges, especially when it comes to establishing boundaries between domestic and work areas. As an added bonus, our whole apartment feels more spacious, liveable and functional than it’s been since we moved here in 1998 - although it too is a constant work in progress.

Above, from top:

Partition wall of studio

Studio view. The ceramic statuette on the cupboard, top left is by David Pearson. On the far wall is a reproduction of Melody (Musica) c. 1890-1902 by Kate Elizabeth Bunce. To its right is my prized collection of (mostly) vintage combs and hairpins.