Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Sketchbook at the VCA

On a recent  post I mentioned The Sketchbook Project, a project created by the Brooklyn Art Library, New York, where anyone can sign up, create a sketchbook and have it tour throughout the USA. Amazingly, the Brooklyn Art Library decided to visit Australia and show off the thousands of sketchbooks from Australian and New Zealand artists. The Victorian College of the Arts hosted the occasion and it was interesting to see just how the public is able to access the books. 

My partner Deborah Klein and I looking over each other's sketchbooks. 

A page from Deborah's book, on the left, and a page from mine.

Registering for a library card. This card can now be used anywhere in the world where The Sketchbook Project is touring.

The two young American Librarians, who were so friendly and helpful, but were handicapped by a computer system that habitually stopped working. 

Deborah outside the Victorian College of the Arts building with The Sketchbook Project sign at the door.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Art Vault 5th Anniversary

Over the Melbourne Cup weekend (2nd and 3rd November) The Art Vault celebrated its 5th anniversary, and what an event it was! Julie and Kevin Chambers, who own and manage The Art Vault, hosted an opening and dinner for well over one hundred people, and the next morning the celebrations continued with brunch on the lawn of their home. They are an incredibly generous couple and have done so much for artists and Australian culture in a relatively short time.

An exhibition of the work of artists who have had a residency at the Art Vault  took up the two gallery spaces.  Sasha Grishin opened the exhibition and a big weekend of talking, eating and drinking followed. Some of the artists stayed on the Chambers' houseboat and on another one they hired for the duration.

The photos below give some indication of the weekend.

Julie and Kevin have 5 copies of this large hardback book they had made to mark the occasion. Some of the images show the transformation of the building into the Art Vault complex. Other images feature the artists and their work. This double page shows me, and Deborah Klein on the right.

Two limousines collected the artists from the houseboat and delivered them to the Art Vault door. 

These young women were delightful hosts

Sasha Grishin giving the opening speech

Julie Chambers thanking all the artists, her staff and especially her husband Kevin, seated in white shirt.

There were 3 usherettes who served at the opening and they dressed in imaginative costumes, reflecting the joy and  theatre of the night

At brunch the next day. From left - Andrew Svrta, Shane Jones, Peter Lancaster, Wendy, and Stephanie Bolt

Kevin, eX de Medici, Julie and Ros Atkins

The Art Vault was once a bank, and the old vault doors still remain. There was a life-size reproduction of the door and everyone at brunch signed it. Here is Deborah Klein adding her signature. 

Deborah and Peter Lancaster

At the farmers market by the Murray. Shane, eX, Stephanie and Ros

On the houseboat. Clockwise from me - Sasha Grishin, eX, Stephanie, Ros, Martin King and Rod Gray.

It does look like a postcard, but it really is this good whenever we stay on the houseboat.

Anne Spudvilas lives on the Murray River, and some of us met her for the first time over the weekend. We visited Anne's house and studio and had a really nice afternoon. Deborah, Shane, Susan Baran, Anne Spudvilas and Martin

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Rick Amor Self Portrait Prize 2013

Fragments, 2013, oil on linen, 71 x 56 cm

The Rick Amor Self Portrait Prize opened last Thursday at Montsalvat in Eltham. There are 31 finalists and the variety of interpretations makes for an interesting exhibition. The image above is my entry. The Self Portrait genre is a favourite of mine, I always find it fascinating how artists portray themselves. It's a difficult thing to do, because with each stroke of the brush your pose shifts. The idea behind this image address the fact that we never really know ourselves completely, but only in parts or fragments.

If you want a day out, then a trip to Montsalvat would be a good thing to do. The exhibition continues until January 5, 2014

The Barn Gallery, Montsalvat
7 Hillcrest Avenue
Eltham 3095

Open 7 days, 9am - 5pm

03 - 9439 7712

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Why Drawing is Important

DAVID HOCKNEY - Margaret and Ken, 2002, ink, 31.1 X 41.3 cm

HANS HOLBEIN - Mary Roper, mid 1530s, 27. 6 x 19. 1 cm, chalk and ink

Recently I was looking at a youtube interview with artist Steve Cox who was talking about the importance of drawing and the neglect of it in our art schools.  Any one who is interested in art should have a listen to what Steve says -


That some people in the art world think drawing is irrelevant could be linked to a number of reasons - the influence of technology, the reliance and overuse of words and the breaking down of barriers, all of which have encouraged the belief that you can now be a fine artist without being able to draw.

Forming an image from the seed of an idea is substantially different from manipulating an image that has already been created for you. Processes are important and they give meaning to the nature of achievement. Images that are made by machines should be separated from painting, drawing and printmaking because its processes have little in common with hand-made work. The differences between technologically produced art and fine art should remain that way.

The static forms of the machine-made image aren’t the same as the interior movement we find in hand-made art forms. Drawing is more about being able to create light and space more than it is about making marks or analysing objects, and it’s light and space that energise the marks.

Sometimes art exhibitions seem to place more importance on texts rather than the language and power of the visual work. It’s as if words are a substitute for drawing. Although the written word creates images within one’s mind, it’s not the same as creating something in the real world, and it’s drawing that frees an imagined image into our world.

Drawing extends thought within a material support, but in a way that makes it just as important as the idea. We even see the misuse of terminology such as fine art digital printmaking, or fine art photography, but a digital printout is closer to photography and collage than it is to printmaking, and photography is different to fine art altogether.

One of the most important characteristics of drawing is the sense of touch, something which is denied on a computer and a camera. Although you can determine the direction of marks on a screen, the touch of the mark is always determined by a machine – which is no touch at all.

We live in an age where the phrase breaking down barriers has influenced how people regard art practice. But barriers give meaning to actions and achievements and we need barriers to refect this. If a game was played without rules (barriers), then it would have little meaning. Drawing should be seen in a similar light, as the barrier between the fine art image and the manufactured image. Barriers have not been broken down as much as what we think, instead, there is a new containing barrier – a barrier that says if you don’t paint, draw or make prints, then you are a cutting edge contemporary artist.

Excellence in the arts is also about drawing. Ideas can be interesting and clever, but excellence is not an extension of them. Excellence is not about something it is something. That’s why drawing is important.

Shane Jones

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

An Interview

Just recently I completed an interview with Steve Gray, and here is a link to it ART-STUFF
If you have the time, perhaps you might like to take a look.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

The Sketchbook Project

The Sketchbook Project is organized through The Brooklyn Art Library, New York. You sign up on their website, pay for a sketchbook and when they send it to you, you choose one of the titles they provide, fill it up with images and then send it back to the Library. They digitize your book as well and then send it on tours around America. It also becomes an addition to the permanent collection of the Brooklyn Art Library. People from all over the world have done sketchbooks, and anyone can do it.

Story telling has never been a feature of my art practice, but The Sketchbook Project has encouraged me to do just that. I have made a visual narrative, much like a silent film, so I hope you enjoy your journey too.

If you are interested in doing a sketchbook yourself, or finding out more about it, then check out this link

All sketchbooks measure 17.75 x 12.75 cm

Friday, June 7, 2013

Emil Orlik

I recently attended a concert at the Hamer Hall featuring music from the Wiemar republic. It was the brainchild of Barry Humphries to present music from that era, not only because he loved it from a very young age, but also because he felt that some composers from that time remain under valued today. His selection of music was accompanied with historical references and anecdotes, and the wonderful Humpheries' wit and humour. The music was performed by The Australian Chamber Orchestra and cabaret singer Meow Meow, and as expected, they were brilliant!

When I was looking over the programme I came across some portrait images and discovered a fantastic, but to me, unknown German artist, Emil Orlik. Here are some examples of his work. He was very popular in his time but, as so often happens to brilliant artists, his star faded after his death. But his reputation is on the rise again. 

He was a great printmaker, draughtsman and painter and was inspired by prints from Japan and British artist William Nicholson. Here is a link to his printmaking achievements 

I hope you enjoy this artist's work. 

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Deakin University Art Collection

These works of mine have recently entered the Deakin University Art Collection. The sculpture was selected to be in the first Deakin University Contemporary Small Sculpture Award in 2009, so it is satisfying that it has found a home at Deakin.

Illusion on Linen, 2006, oil on linen, 35.5 x 27.75 cm
Untitled #72, 2000, oil on canvas, 152 x 83.5 cm
Passage, 2009, balsawood, MDF, tung oil, oil primer, 31.25 x 40.4 x 31 cm