Sunday, May 31, 2009

Wearing red today for Pentecost

from w
It was great to see so many women, children, men attempt to wear red today at church for Pentecost. The decorations of streamers, the banners, flowers, kids whirling red streamers - there was bright colour and smiles everywhere. Even the minister had put pinkish dye in his hair. It was a lovely morning which included a confirmation of an elderly woman, and induction of two new elders. I mucked up the first song by stopping early - but perhaps there is a kind of chaos about pentecost anyway! By the final song, a new one, we galloped along in a kind of rocky rhythm and all was well with the world. Except...for the Fiji news concerning the military government and the Methodist Church there.

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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Recovery after the bushfires

from w
There is a season they say for everything, a rhythm of give and take, of troubles and of joys. The bushfires in Victoria several months ago were certainly tragic with many lives lost as people who chose to live in the bush could not escape this terrible fire. But now, the landscape is no longer grey ash and blackened trees but there is a greening as ferns emerge, grass trees, flowers spring up and there are leaves on the trunks of burnt trees. I found these lovely photos in the Royalauto magazine that came yesterday - Lee Mylne wrote an article 'Back in business' urging people to go back to the fire-devastated areas, see the new growth and support the little shops and restaurants. Royalauto is an excellent magazine, though I always skip over the car pages. The photos I 'borrowed' are from Parks Victoria.

Ever since the Ash Wednesday fires in the Geelong region many years ago, I have thought of the recovery after bushfire with the greening and new leaves as a symbol of hope and also of the resurrection. I'll put this post on both our blogs as we have different readership. Okay?

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Geelong poets in the library

from w
I didn't go to the Neighbourhood Watch meeting last night. I really want to pull out of being the editor for the local area newsletter as I'm not really into locks and keys and the kind of articles they want printed. I was asked to help out when their old editor left so I did it for several months. But when we wanted to be pro-active and give citizenship awards to teenagers (instead of complaining about their behaviour) we were told, the schools are outside out allocated streets.

Anyway instead, I went to the Newcomb library where ten local poets were reading after several workshops they participated in. It was a nice evening as I knew nearly all of them from my association wtih Geelong Writers. But why don't they learn to speak up louder! I could hardly hear half of them. Maybe I AM going deaf. Anyway here are two pictures from last night. The poems were thoughful, many sad and touching and some lovely descriptive poems of places nearby. Reading on the page is different from performance and we need both to engage with the text.

Click on pictures to see larger.

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Sunday, May 24, 2009

Rooftops but no sign of Mary Poppins

from w
I quickly pasted up some cut paper to make a rooftops picture but haven't yet put Mary Poppins there, or a cat on a hot tin roof, or the fiddler on the roof. Time will tell. It's very cold today and I begrudge having to go into town for a meeting this afternoon. Peceli is playing golf as usual - rain, fog, or shine. At least he is fit while I continue to slide into a couch potato.

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Friday, May 22, 2009

Myer Street, looking down

from w
On the walk yesterday I came back home via Myers Street where there are many gum trees. Looking down I saw interesting leaves, dropped flowers and gumnuts, so collected them to make pictures using the scanner. Here are some of them.

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Dedman street - looking up

from w
Needing to get some exercise this afternoon - after the fog lifted - and do some sketching at the same time, I took a stroll up Dedman street, opposite our house, and decided to look up, and see the shapes of rooftops and chimneys. Somehow Mary Poppins and a song was in my head. So a made four little biro sketches. I want to make a couple of collages using mainly grey, white, blue and black for chimneys and antennas, and perhaps pop in Mary as well. A kid's picture. So far I'm just looking at rooftop shapes. Actually the houses in Dedman Street seem to be too modern for my purpose and I need to go into a suburb which has houses that are 100 or more years old with lots of chimney pots!

Click on the composite picture at top to see enlarged. Actually the original sketches were A4 size each.

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Sunday, May 17, 2009

Framing pictures

from w
Peceli has taken over the task of framing some of my small and medium size sketches/paintings/pastel drawings. I had promised to give away two pictures for a fundraising auction to be held next Satuday night - for East Timor projects I think - so that's why we need to get on with framing. Someone will pick them up this afternoon. Not expensive frames though and the subjects of the pictures are of local scenes, not abstract, but accessible to the kind of people who will bid. Probably of the Waterfront or Botanical Gardens. It will be embarrassing of course if no -one wants them at all!

Meanwhile I've had to go through my sketches to choose half a dozen to frame after scanning them for my own archives. One that I thought was successful is of a garden shop of sculptures and brooms, etc. I've posted it here plus some variations which are just on computer file, not real!

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Thursday, May 14, 2009

Queen's Park Bridge

from w
One year I did a few pastel pictures, one of them of Queen's Park Bridge over near Queen's Park golf course and the oval where the Amateurs footie club trained. I had this hanging on the wall but it needs to be reframed, so I took a picture of it and made three - one dark, one medium, one light. It is actually like the medium one, though Picasa does tend to change the shape a bit.


Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Vale John, the boy next door

from w
Isa, this week I was reading an art catalogue and discovered that John Robinson, once the boy next door, had died recently. He became a fine artist, but when the Robinsons lived next door to us in Swan Hill, he was one of the four kids next door who played tennis with us. They were such a nice family, their Dad an Inspector of School. My condolences to the family, especially his Mum Jean, sisters Margaret and Jenny, and Peter. I found this eulogy in the Age.
Artist mindful of perceptions
May 8, 2009
4-11-1940 — 2-3-2009

JOHN Robinson's distinguished career began early. The December 1958 issue of Melbourne High School's magazine, Unicorn, with the cover designed by Max Gillies, contained numerous references to J. H. Robinson as elected school captain, house captain, prefect, president of the students' representative council, form vice-captain, tennis team captain and footballer.

His photograph appears at least eight times, but his ambition was listed as "still secret". Few would have guessed that he was destined to become an artist.

Robinson, who has died of cancer in Bendigo Hospital, aged 68, began studies at Caulfield Technical School in 1959. That lead to a diploma of fine art at RMIT in 1962. He studied printmaking with master wood-engraver Tate Adams and later became a member of a group of friends including the artists Les Kossatz, George Baldessin and Jan Senbergs and novelist Peter Mathers.

From the late 1960s to the '80s, Robinson was involved in establishing a number of pioneering printmaking initiatives with Baldessin and Adams' Crossley Press in the city's Winfield Building, with Kossatz and Neil Leveson at the Druckma Press in West Melbourne, and his own Lithus Press in Northcote.

He was responsible for teaching Neil Leveson the art of lithography, and the filmmaker went on to head the Australian Print Workshop in Fitzroy.

Robinson was also one of a group of artists, including Kossatz and Senbergs, who in the 1970s bought a number of country churches — with Robinson eventually establishing his studio in a historic mill in the Bendigo-Maryborough district.

Born in Melbourne, Robinson married Evi Maria Boelckey in 1966, and she also became a respected figure in the art world. Also that year he held his first solo exhibition of paintings and woodcuts at Melbourne's historic Argus Gallery, a leading venue at the time. Over the next 42 years, he went on to present 23 evenly spaced solo exhibitions of prints and paintings at numerous important galleries throughout Australia.

Represented by Marianne Bailleau's influential Realities Gallery in Toorak, he had no fewer than seven brilliant solo exhibitions in that popular space. His final exhibition, titled Essential Referencing, opened posthumously at the Bendigo Art Gallery on April 18 this year.

From 1962 to 2007, he took part in about 62 important group exhibitions that included shows at the Reeds' Museum of Modern Art (1962), Blake Prize (1966), Corio 5 Star Whiskey Prize, Geelong Art Gallery (1966, 1973), the McCaughey Prize, National Gallery of Victoria (1975, 1979, 1983), the Pederson Prize, Queensland Art Gallery (1980), the Adelaide Festival of the Arts (1986) and, throughout the 1990s, numerous exhibitions mounted by La Trobe University, Bendigo, where he also taught printmaking in the art school.

Over the years Robinson's work travelled internationally with group exhibitions of Australian prints shown in Tokyo (1976), San Francisco (1977), Oxford , Bayreuth and Bangkok (1982-83), Los Angeles (1988) and Seoul (2002).

He is represented in the collection of most Australian regional and state galleries as well as the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra.

Renowned as both painter and printmaker of an abstract persuasion, he was a fine colourist and superb technician; the key to his art was a keen sensitivity to visual reality. He once said that we need to "foster a discriminating attitude to our perception of the world" and to experience the power and force of the visual field by assembling reminders that linger in the highly evocative surfaces of paintings and prints.

In his painting, Garden (1979), garden paths, steps, archways, trellises, hoses, watersprays and raked garden beds are all recorded in gently abstracted coloured strokes and patches that carry the atmosphere of remembered gardens in such a way that viewers can almost sniff the mowed lawn and heady scent of flowers.

Robinson's absolute specialty was the difficult art of colour lithography, where successful working in crayon on touche on a metal plate or stone is dependent on the distinctively personal "touch" of the artist. With his fine sensitivity to atmosphere, Robinson's paintings and prints share an undisguised link. Each is pervaded by his discriminating attitude to the processes of perception.

Jim Taylor, an artist with whom Robinson shared a rented studio in Prahran in the early 1960s, observes that at the end of his life his friend regarded the role of the artist to be that of cipher, one who taps into cosmic energy and attempts to reveal something of its force. Indeed, quoting Camus, Robinson once said: "How can I deny this reality, when I feel its power and its force?" His most recent drawings, on show at Bendigo Art Gallery, clearly transmit the energy Robinson extracted from his visual field.

He is survived by his wife, Evi, daughter Tanya, son Andrew, daughter-in-law Naomi, grandchildren Jake and Ruby, his mother Jean, and his siblings Margaret, Jennifer and Peter.


Jenny Zimmer is an art publisher


Monday, May 11, 2009

Cutting up pictures

from w
When paint doesn't seem to work, I get out the scissors and chop up magazines, art gallery handouts, the Art and Antiques freebies. I had been visiting the Geelong Art Gallery to see the sculpture exhibition - 19th century to the present day - sentimental kind of naturalism to abstract and a bit back to figurative. The kiss of an angel statue had very good curved shapes but the subject was a bit off-putting, a soft looking fellow and a languid gal. The reference of the exhibition was the words of Michaelangelo' I saw an angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.' Is an angel masculine or without gender? Is an angel with wings real anyway? So I decided to see what happens when you mix up two different cut up pictures etc. One of the results could be Michaelangelo dreaming, another 'Dream on', and the third 'Let's get out of here'. The last one is actually from an advertisement for a different Geelong gallery and I guess I ought to apologize to artists and galleries for mis-using their pics!


Saturday, May 09, 2009

Mother's Day

from w
Here's a very old photo of my grandmother, Francis Lay, my mother Linda and myself as a chubby baby. I'm thinking of my Mum today, remembering the good times and the occasional hurts that happened when we were not considerate. I used her dinner set last night for our party and remembered her particular care with her house and cooking, so different from my own, and this morning at church I played a bit of the Mozart Piano 21st, remembering that I chose that music - on tape - for her funeral in Swan Hill a few years ago. I could have done many things so much better as for many years I did not say thank you as I merrily disregarded the kind of things she admired and wanted in me.

Also I am thinking of the many women who foster or adopt children, or are carers in institutions such as Dilkusha Home in Fiji, people like Gwen Davey, a Methodist missionary for many years at Dilkusha, and today Deaconess Olivia. We met Olivia on a trip to Fiji, sat on the verandah with her, drank cool lemon drinks, and looked over towards the two bridges below, remembering the time we lived with our little family in Shantiniwas below - a building which is no longer there.


Bird statues

from w
In the Geelong Botanical Gardens there are several statues of cranes and some kind of tortoises that came from Japan many years ago. I made a sketch on paper of them a while back, and here are some variations. If I drew this scene again I wouldn't make the tree in the middle so prominent as it seems to cut the page into two and lead the eye outside the picture. Artists always need to re-arrange the shapes rather than draw it like it is eh!


Friday, May 08, 2009

A ghostly old house

from w
A framed pastel picture above my piano is of a very old house near the Barwon River and a strangely shaped tree. I took a photo of the picture but the light caused a white spot which looks like a ghost. Must be the glass. Anyway I messed about with the picture - as usual! I like to see how different it can look by changing the colour or tone or by cropping. This is a historical house perhaps recently sold as it was up for sale. It had been used for receptions in recent years as well as tourist tours. The name of the property is Barwon Grange and it was built in 1855 for merchant Jonathan Porter O'Brien who had emigrated from Liverpool.

(from a website promoting tourism in Geelong) 'Visitors to Barwon Grange will experience a spirit of time and place in an elegant early Victorian suburban villa built for upper middle class merchant, property financier and banker, Jonathan Porter O'Brien. This property captures and conserves a particular interval of time - a tableau from August 1855 to July 1856 - reflecting the family's affluent life style in Geelong prior to their return to Liverpool England.'

Do old houses scare you? Perhaps in the dark at night - and you think of the history - is it possible the early owners of this house were part of the new settler gangs with shotguns who hunted more than just kangaroos - because some terrible things did happen those days to the indigenous people in the Geelong region.


A Rotary Art Exhibition

from w
We've come back home after the Grovedale Rotary Art Exhibition opening night to raise funds for a hydrotherapy pool for special needs children. The speaker explained to us the need for such a pool. I think about 24 paintings were sold quickly out of over sixty so that is very good. The paintings and prints are all by men and women whose names are in the art books and catalogues, not people like Peceli and me though some of our work has been accepted for an exhibition in Melbourne - so there! I'm just putting some photos onto files so here are some of them. In one of them, Peceli is perhaps asking, 'What is it?' and I say 'It's more interesting than a soft landscape of trees in the mist isn't it!'

It was a pleasant evening with nice fingerfood (my contribution yum cha sort of snacks bought from a supermarket and heated up). Though I am not comfortable with chit-chat in a crowded space I was happy to meet with a few people I know, apart from the Grovedale Rotary men and women who are not people born with a silver spoon but people who have worked hard to succeed in their businesses and farms and they are very friendly. Peceli's classification is as a minister of religion and there's another chap there from the Salvation Army. When we were in Hopetoun about 95% of the members were wheat farmers - though the 'rule' in Rotary is to represent a diversity of occupations. At the Art Exhibition they hope to raise several thousand dollars for the project.