The Folly of Batmania (2016) Oil on canvas, 760 x 560mm
A while back I heard the rumor that John Batman, famed “founder” of Melbourne, Australia, actually suffered from syphilis and had to wear a silver nose to cover his lack of a real one. Being from an age before photography, sadly any evidence of this was sorely lacking so I decided to see what it might have looked like for myself.
This painting, my first oil painting for many years, will be on display at the A1 Darebin Art Salon, on from August 27 – October 2, 2016 at Bundoora Homestead, Cnr Snake Gully Drive and Prospect Hill Drive, Bundoora.
A portrait of Bruce Springsteen that I recently completed in currently gracing the pages of Rolling Stone Australia (December 2015 edition). I was asked to imagine him circa the release of his album ‘The River’; and I was surprised to find that it was quite an evocative idea – I guess we all have images of musicians / popular culture icons embedded in our imaginations, even if we can’t call ourselves die hard fans. But of course my appreciation of Bruce has matured as I myself have, almost to the point that I can appreciate ‘Born in the USA’ as a cultural touchstone, even though it is an anthem that I wouldn’t nominate as a desert island disc.
Cameron, the art director, suggested a textural / painterly approach, so I painted directly onto ply with acrylic and added some line work in the shirt etc. after the piece was scanned. As mentioned, the idea and composition came quite easily – after all, you don’t mess with Bruce 🙂
Finally I’m able to share my 2015 Australia Post stamps with you! I remember back in my design college days, I actually set myself a stamp series as an assignment , and as a kid I subscribed to the Stamp Bulletin and collected first day covers and presentation packs – so in a way it was finally a ‘dream’ come true. There will be a bit of upcoming press coverage as well, so I’ll post any links when they are available.
When I was told that I was pegged to do the traditional Christmas themed stamps, I was a bit wary – not being particularly religious myself – but I do have an appreciation of the importance of the story of the Nativity, particularly at this time when the Middle East is in such strife and there are countless homeless “Marys” giving birth in less than ideal circumstances even today. I think if anything, the story reinforces the idea of the importance of providing a safe haven – and the good to us all that can come from it. When imagining Mary, I wanted her to have an ambiguous skin colour – an attempt to move away from the tradition of depicting pale Europeans lost in the desert – so I boosted the colour palette, creating a scene that evokes the hues of the season whilst keeping the symbolism of the main characters.
I have been asked by a few people about the prevalence of animals in the design… I did want to put the other stable inhabitants on an equal footing with the rest of the story. Given the way most people regard farm animals, especially during the festive season, I wanted to celebrate their beauty and sacrifice at this time of year as well.
Anyway, these are some of my thought processes behind the image – I’m sure, and I hope, that you will view it in your own way too.
It’s Archibald portrait time of year again – and for many years I have wanted to do a portrait of Kate Durham – Melbourne artist, jewellery maker and ‘activist’ of sorts. When I started out on my own “artistic journey” many years ago, Kate was one of the few Melbourne based female artists who, along with Mirka Mora, seemed larger than life / exotic to me. Over the years I’ve been in peripheral contact with her, and it has been interesting to see how she has been developing both in her artistic work and her interest in politics and helping refugees at this dark time in Australia’s history. Her work is eclectic, her jewellery gathers up objects which to me look like they have washed up on the bank of a river in Mesopotamia, so it made sense to me to depict her as a kind of human Bowerbird, on the surface collecting objects for display whilst drawing upon a rich range of history and tragedy beneath.
The latest issue of Australian Permaculture Magazine ‘Pip’ is about to wend its way to the eager hands of readers and I’m happy to say I had fun investigating funghi for the cover. In the end we settled for ‘Agaricus Bitorquis’ – a mushroom that resembles a field mushroom but with lovely pink colouring underneath. Pip comes out twice a year.
Merry Christmas Brisbane! Hopefully I’ve added Christmas cheer to your streets this year, after being invited to participate in Brisbane City’s ‘Wonder of Christmas’ campaign. It’s great to see the various applications of the work – I’m almost tempted to get on a plane and come and see it for myself 🙂
Supergraph is on its way to Melbourne again in 2015, gracing the hallowed halls of the Royal Exhibition Building on February 13, 14 + 15. As part of my involvement with Illustrators Australia (who will be holding a stall there) I’ll be joining in by offering an exclusive A4 print for sale. Inspired by a recent trip to Tokyo (my second time this year!) I’ve answered the theme of ‘Natural Selection’ by depicting my visit to ‘Fukoro no Mise’ an Owl Cafe near Tsukishima Station. Touching on themes of misplaced nature, novelty, and the never ending quest for memorable content for one’s next blog post.
The story is also quite evocative of searing Australian summers, and the kitsch elements which feature in our lives, so the subject matter was also ‘right up my alley’. All in all I think it turned out well – you can hear the podcast when it is broadcast on Sunday October 26 2014 during the 3pm show ‘Radiotonic’, broadcast on Radio National.
A recent editorial piece for the Monash Uni magazine (where, coincidentally, I’ve been teaching for the past semester). This is accompanying an article about the effect of funding on the judicial system, with special focus on the case of Gabe Watson, whose wife drowned whilst scuba diving in 2003.
Info and projects from Melbourne based artist Sonia Kretschmar