Tuesday, February 3, 2015


Good progress today with a solid days work in the workshop. Lots of technical stuff I'd been worried about went pretty smoothly, especially this recessing of the screws to hold the perspex veneer on the front. As for the nails down the front I seem to be holding my breath for the entire process.

Looking forward to when I can peel the paper off the perspex.
Next steps are working with more lead for the head and bottom piece and then the organic textile work for contrast and to suggest the triumph of corporeality/nature in all it's randomness and anarchy against suffocating social structures. Triumph over fear. Existential transcendence.

Saturday, January 31, 2015


Salvaged lead is my latest great discovery to get excited about. Bought in sheets by the weight (indescribably heavy, I struggled to get a small roll of it to the car). Worth it though. I can see myself using this for a while to come. The magic is in it's pliability. For despite it's weight/strength it's actually really soft and can be cut with general use scissors.

This duality is fascinating to me - heaviness as a strength and a weakness - as though at a certain point it might not support it's own weight. I intend to use it in form as the 'Marquee' /circus element for Medicine Chest III as well as the first aid cross (see top image) signalling the decline of liberal individualist democracy, a social order giving way to it's own weight as the illusions and fantasies (regarding the self determining individual) which underwrite it make themselves known for what they are.

Cue: anarchy.

Importantly it also has the rusted and raw industrial patina of urban decay symbolic of anarchy.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Medicine Chest III

The starting point for this third box in the "Medicine Chest" series (plus 5th and maybe final box in the 'Escape Artist' body of work) was pretty much the title 'Subversion' and the intention for box 3 to subvert the ideas in the proceeding work 'Specimen' while also realising the anarchic ideas hinted at in 'Spectacle'.  While Medicine Chest II: Specimen is about the authority science and medicine have asserted over disability and illness from the early 20th century onwards and embodies the "Medical Model" of disability (where the challenges faced by the disabled and ill are seen purely from a point of pathology, often resulting in public invalidation) Medicine Chest III: Subversion not only embodies it's counter model (the 'social model' of disability where the challenges faced by the ill and disabled are seen to arise from a culture that fails to accommodate their needs) but illustrates the subversive threat and potential for transcendence residing in individuals whom liberal individualist democracy have necessarily marginalised, invalidated and excluded from public life based on their disability.

The disabled and sick body in it's inability to look or behave like the 'normal body' mocks the most basic tenets of liberal individualist democracy - that the individual be self determining and autonomous. In this way bodily instability is the physical manifestation of political anarchy.

This fantasy  -  of the autonomous individual in control of their physical self - that underwrites our political and economic system and which stands in complicit denial of the truth regarding our corporeal vulnerability, makes for fragile foundations. Medicine Chest III: Subversion then imagines the point at which these foundations collapse, where anarchic organic corporeality escapes from the margins of invalidation to assert a transcendent power that realises it's capacity to both threaten and inspire.

Note: It was this capacity for the 'extraordinary' body to both threaten and inspire it's audience that made the freak show so popular from mid 1800s to the early 1900s.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

X ray light box.

The first X-ray light box. The digital mock up from the drawing board plus it's actual progress so far. Still very much a prototype but getting there slowly.
The idea is to juxtapose the clinical viewing of the body - the modern framing of anatomy that carries with it authority and appropriation (underlined, I would argue, with much fear) - with the nineteenth century view. That is a curiosity  and sense of wonder - an almost celebration of the mystery forever  inherent in human corporeality. 

Monday, June 16, 2014


My friend Caren dropped around a short time back for a tea drinking session and some art talk. Besides being on the receiving end of much wisdom and advice for my exhibition she also gifted me some of her beautiful letterpress work. For a few days I had it sitting on top of my work, really loving the way the print quality, font and slightly yellowed paper looked against the red. Then I had to move this frame I'd painted in black chalkboard and for lack of any more space put it on top of the print. I've been loving this serendipitous effect so much ever since I think I need some letterpress in my exhibition. It has vintage circus all over it. With the the right piece of Victorian poetry (maybe more of E.B Browning) and the positioning/visual.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Winter is upon us.

Flu, always catches me just before we can say the Autumn is over and Winter has begun. Just catching on to that pattern and this year prepared. Not in any practical way - what way is there? Buying extra tissues? - just....aware.
Anyway too sick to do any really meaningful work, shifting the mass of the undone and all that but played around with x rays and photoshop. I like this - using a brush filter with accented edges. 

Monday, May 12, 2014


Work seems to have gotten lost a little these past six weeks. Much frustration in April and May - known in these parts (well, probably just this household) - for how sick I get with the change of seasons. But while work is not getting done in practice it continues to unfold in my head so that at least when the moment arrives I can hit the ground running. Having said that I have done some non demanding stuff like painting frames. The frames are a funny, lucky thing for having got on ebay - 10 for $37.00. I went halves with my friend Julie - an artist whose daughter bought them up from Melbourne. All the good salvage stuff comes from Melbourne. When my own daughter is old enough I plan to position her in Melbourne just as Julie has been clever to do, so that I can easy access these treasures. I am sure she would enjoy it down there. I can't see why not.... 
Anyway the frames were pretty ugly/tacky with their unusual metallic glaze type finnish. Only one was gorgeous enough to keep as is. All the others got the treatment.

Chalk board black - I'm obsessed and have to hold myself back from covering everything I come accross in it. I love the matt finish. And red too, as usual getting a look in. Red and black - will I ever escape your hold on me????

The frames in their original lustre. I don't think this photo quite does justice to their true tackiness.

Sickness or not, I hope to get into the workshop this week (ie dad's garage) and resume some of the core assemblage making. That, my dear blog, will be true progress.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Portrait Wall meets Side Show Alley.

I'm thinking about how I want to have some fun with this exhibition, get genuinely creative and enjoy it beyond what is the inevitable hard work. In some ways I have a bit of a bad attitude. I've been doing this long enough now to know my MO which is to agonise for months in a sort of semi paralysis and then pull it all off at the last moment. Which is to say good the work eventually gets done, and my best creativity is under pressure but ugh, what a way to ruin a year of your life (or rather seven months - the clock is ticking). And anyway you never can be sure the work will get done.
So then here I am ready to embrace the workload and make it fun. The subject matter is a little dark (mortality, corporeal fragility) but essentially this is a life affirming body of work. With a sense of humour and hope inbuilt - thanks to the over arching context of existential absurdism and it's visually manifest twin the vintage circus sideshow.
Firmly in place as context is the Victorian era. The moment in history for these kinds of side shows/ fascination with the Freak/curiosities. And for the age of the Invalid. So I was thinking about the gallery as installation - A kind of Victorian parlour. The sort where Freaks had their photo taken and where the Invalid saw out her days. So as a cross referenced presentation: the portrait wall meets sideshow alley. Suspending all concerns with logistics, ideally this wall would have ornate peeling wallpaper and be salon hung. A variety of framed works with a mix of Victoriana (ornate embellishments, needlework, curiosities, poetry) and vintage circus (my inlaid rulers, stripes, nails, mirrors, red and white, spires, bling).
Ideally it would be great to have an old chaise (I saw one on ebay which had a cushion seat but no cushioning on it's back, just the timber shape and it would have been PERFECT. I could have painted it black chalk board!!!!) and an old side table painted chalkboard black for the presentation of the artists book.

Victoriana: wallpaper, vintage medical diagrams, curiosities, needlework, chandeliers, ornate fixtures, fringing...)
Vintage Circus: Red and White, inlaid rulers, mirrors, nails, bling).

Behold: the gallery of inspiration......

(and note here about further avenue of exploration for this body of work - the photograph as important contextual element - ways of seeing , ways of presenting someone as outside or insider. Reading Susan Sontag on Photography...)

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Emerging Contemporaries.

These photographs of the Emerging Contemporaries exhibition are by Andrew Sikorski of Art Atelier Photography. Andrew's online photographic magazine Life In Canberra caught my eye a couple of years ago with a photo essay on the life line book fair, not an event I imagined would lend itself to his quietly poetic black and white style. While my experience of the lifeline book fair is of queues, crowds and an only just tempered jostling, Andrew managed to somehow capture the event from the point of view of the books - a dignifying process, otherwise lost in that atmosphere of competition and trade. Anyway I've been a fan ever since so how happy for me that I now get to see my own work through his lens - a quiet and contemplative perspective, a step removed and layered over the drama and colour of my own approach.
By chance too that is myself in the top photo reflected by the mirror!

Friday, February 7, 2014

Altered Book.

Here is the artists book/altered book I "whipped up" this January for the Emerging Contemporaries exhibition at Craft ACT this month - an exhibition for which I had hoped to do a whole lot more. Suffice to  say 2013 didn't turn out like I imagined it would. 
This project, when it wasn't being demanding, difficult and over ambitious for the time frame involved, was fun to do. I had bought the book a while ago from a second hand bookstore up the road. A slim tome with a time weathered hard cover in black, titled "Existentialism" and published in 1947. It was perfect - though perfect for what I was not quite sure. Nonetheless I thought it was a little expensive at $35.00 and so, not knowing at that point how rare/valuable it was, I bartered my way down to $10 cash and a trade of 5 more recent titles from my own bookshelf. Even then I still felt a little cheated but there was the feeling that somehow the book would fit into the work I was doing. I figured out exactly what after christmas when I decided I wanted to do something new for the exhibition, something manageable in four weeks and thus that my zine should be reworked into an artists book. The original had been handwritten and illustrated but then printed to a quality that everyone on my graduate assessment panel agreed let the work down -  shiny, white and characterless. 
It was only when I set to work with this old neglected purchase and caught some of the text I realised what a good and useful book this was on the subject. Not only that but a subject wholly relevant to my work. I became conflicted. I searched for it on the web and discovered its' author Guido De Ruggiero was a respected author on the subject and some of his related works had been copied for their historical and academic value by people who care that good works are not lost forever. I became even more conflicted. I've always struggled with the idea of desecrating a book, even for art. If I do I choose works that are incredibly outdated and deal with technological topics, but this book seemed special. And yet, I reasoned, maybe so special it deserved to have it's content jump off the page visually. We were meant to find one another in fact and that by doing what I was doing I was honouring the books specialness. Right? Before I began I at least scanned each page so that i could preserve a little of it's print form. Then I got to work on it. I hope I did it justice.