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Showing posts from 2014

planet earth

Another year over - so much to say yet so little. It has been a year of triumphs and turmoil: one obvious highlight was my PhD graduation, shortly after which I began a new challenge in graphic design. It has also been a year of significant deaths - my step-father for one (who I really miss). And there seems to be a lot of cancer around.
In the larger world we landslided in the worst regressive government ever to have been elected in this country. An act of 'terrorism' signalled the end of apathetic innocence for an increasingly nervous Aussie culture. Government cutbacks, the end of the mining boom, job losses, thousands fleeing persecution and misery - all are encroaching on our 'isolated' island. Being Australian is no longer the sanctuary it was.
Current conversations with friends revolve around how best to stay grounded, calm and functioning within the increasing chaos. It does seem as though more and more people are losing the plot - domestic violence, murder/su…

here's an idea - let's legislate against death

This is what Parks and Wildlife are going to build at the Gap - I am almost speechless and beyond pissed off. To add insult to injury, the public have also been requesting that toilets be built out there. 
I don't blame P & W, or the City Council. I don't blame the engineer - it's actually a really good looking design. I do blame litigation and public liability laws. But above all, I blame humanity's inability to come to grips with a psychological archetype that, in my not so humble opinion, underpins every single problem on Planet earth - the Fear of Death.
I have blogged about death many times, so I am not going over old ground, except to say that this has to be one of the ugliest demonstrations of humanity's denial of its mortality. The recent outpouring of grief over a 23 year old cricketer who just shouldn't have died confirms it - how dare death take him when he was so young and good at his sport.
This platform is another ridiculous and futile attemp…

end of semester

End of first semester. This was my final submission for drawing. A3, hand-drawn in mixed media. Still loving it - Can't wait to start Photography and Design units in 2015.

team australia: men in suits

There are 2 ‘teams’ in the spotlight fighting it out on Planet earth – both patriarchal, sexist and taking the high moral ground. Team 1 is defending the ridiculous idea that every individual should have ‘freedom’ of choice and the right to live the life they want. (Just think about this you fools – not everyone can have what they want because it impinges on someone else’s rights) Team 2 - well who the fuck knows what they are really about. Their orientation to life is mediaeval – tribal. They despise the ‘feminine’ even more than Team 1 – at least Team 1 pays lip service to the notion of equality and lets women play along, as long as they don’t have any real power. Then they are out of the team.
Neither team will win - there are not going to be any winners.
These teams have more in common than they will ever realise - both want to be in control. They aren’t, they can’t be and never will be, but they will fight to the death. Each has an image of themselves as defenders of ‘truth’ - ‘b…

a rat's guide to survival 1

A perfect storm of circumstances conspired to shape me into a ‘survivor’. First, but not necessarily in this order, I am an artist. As my peers will tell you, you need to be tough to ‘be’ an artist – for a number of reasons - among which the lack of money figures predominantly. But also because you have to be a bit belligerant and cultivate a thick skin – everyone is an art critic, whether they know anything about it or not (usually not).
Second – I was raised by my Dutch grandmother who lived out the second world war in occupied Holland – very close to the German border. She grew up in a middle class family and learnt about frugality the hard way. She was a young woman with 2 small children when the war broke out - that 5 years shaped the remainder of her life. She passed the lesson onto her children. Most of them didn’t take it on board but I took it to heart – probably because it resonated with my own nature.
Third and maybe most critically, I was born in the Chinese Year of the Rat…

rediscovering discovery

After I finished my PhD into the Void I came to the conclusion that images were not an end in themselves - which meant that in and of themselves they have no intrinsic value. I expected to be a bit lost and I was, but I am an artist - did this mean my romance with images was over? It left me in a different, but similar material 'void' - it seemed inconceivable I would ever engage with images in the same way again.
For very practical reasons I enrolled in a Diploma in Graphic Design (online), which meant starting all over again from the beginning in a different but related field. What I found though, is that I am enjoying the same basic exercises I did in the early 80s when I went to Claremont TAFE to study art at tertiary level for the first time. I have rediscovered the simple pleasure of playing with shape and line and colour.  Now one would assume images in design don't have much meaning because they are created for a specific, mostly commercial purpose. But even in de…

'balloon girl'

This is 'Balloon Girl' - all vectorised - sporting a new patterned dress, a bunch of balloons and her very own cloud.

image: Illustrator vector from an original idea.

a lighter side of life

So this is what I am reduced to. Actually it was a really fun exercise and I learnt a fair bit about Illustrator.  This is what I get to do for part 1 of my Illustrator assignment - make a vector from a drawing of my choice. Which means turning it into something like the panda. Yes, all quite trivial subjects - as one person said - 'not really you'. In my defence, not many people appreciate that although I am known for delving into the dark psycho-philosophical depths I am also whimsical and very eccentric. No doubt it won't last, but it is really enjoyable - even a relief - to be surfing and creating in the sun at the moment.

from PhD to grade 1

I survived the first week and a half of my on-line graphic design course - survived being the key word here, because it was very fraught. Although I was excited to get going I stalled early on - getting used to on-line learning systems, negotiating the course structure - not to mention having to go right back to square one and start a drawing unit at beginner level. I had to suffer the indignity of redoing one exercise because my 'blind contour' drawings were too accurate, which meant I must have been peeking! Add to that the trauma of losing our internet connection towards the end of the week which meant I was unable to log on at will and watch videos at home. I have been going to the local TAFE every day this week so I can keep working. Through some clever 'hotspotting' via my partner's phone, I uploaded the first submission with 1 minute 46 seconds to spare last Sunday (which just happened to be my birthday). Phew! Our connection was only re-established yesterd…

a guilty pleasure

I have just signed up for a 2 year (4 years part-time) on-line Diploma of Graphic Design. It will add another $20000 to my HECS debt but what the HEC? Am I waking in fright at the thought of another round of study? Not yet - I'm still in the honeymoon phase and I haven't started the work yet.
I am having an identity crisis of sorts - who I thought I was, who I am now, who I might be. Me and images - the complex relationship goes on. At the end of my PhD I had come to the conclusion that images were not an 'end in themselves' as I thought they were. I still respect the images that emerge from my unconscious but they have lost some of their hold on me. They used to possess me completely but now......maybe I am just tired and it's too soon to say. But my relationship with them has certainly changed because I have changed irrevocably.
That in itself is a good thing, except I am wandering in a new land without the co-ordinates that served me in the past. It's good …


For months I have been having epic surfing dreams in which I am unafraid, in harmony with the sea. Sometimes I am even jubilant and triumphant, hurtling down the face of a large wave. I have been meditating for 25 minutes, every day for 7 weeks now, and it seems to help me remember my dreams more clearly.
But in my waking life I am in a 'no-woman's' land. It is to be expected I guess. I am officially a 'Doctor', my thesis is being bound and the digital version is online at Curtin and on my website - there is nothing more to do. I have loaned out a couple of hard copies to interested readers but there has been no flurry of activity and I didn't expect one. In my work-life things are unstable as usual - I have picked up an extra copyright class and may teach PhotoShop in term 4 - things continue to limp along. 
But there is a split, a disjuncture. Once my art and my spiritual life were aligned. Now that I want to study graphic design, I wonder if I can reconcile…

the burden of memory

Last year I took a couple of copies of a book about the Carrolup artists into the prison to give to one of my university students. As a Noongar Elder I figured it would be appropriate to entrust him with their care so he could loan them out to others, which is what Charlie (not his real name) dutifully did by locking them in his cupboard. Prisoners in maximum security aren't usually allowed locked cupboards because they can hide contraband, but Charlie was a 'lifer' and after many years of good behaviour, had been granted some privileges.
When I went back 2 weeks later, Charlie was very excited because he had found an old sepia photograph of his parents in the book. He didn't have a photo of his mum and dad so he asked me if I would scan and print one out for him, which of course I did - on my best glossy photographic paper. It was a wedding photo - husband and wife were dressed in wadjela clothes and made a very handsome couple.
In my job as Aboriginal art lecturer a…

off 'out-the-back'

I’m reading through the printed hard copy of my thesis but I’ve fallen out of love with it. I know I can be a fickle lover but to be fair, this is not the story I fell in love with. In the prolonged struggle to get it to the finish line I didn’t notice how much I compromised. I acknowledge a degree of compromise was a necessary means to an end. But so much has been taken out or made more academically palatable - this is definitely not the passionate and personal tale I wanted to tell. In truth I think I have finally realised that despite the enormous amount of work involved, a thesis is a very short chapter in a life. It may sound disrespectful, and although I have had little opportunity to enjoy any accolades that might be coming my way, it is kind of ‘yeah, well I’ve done this thing - so what – what now?’ I’m pretty unimpressed with myself and that’s probably a good thing.
Since finishing the amendments and submitting the final product I have been ‘playing’ - making images about no…

just as well I look good in a hat

This is page 46 of my thesis, which includes a photograph of The Gap by Mike Lyons - Albany dentist and amateur photographer.

I am having 3 'unofficial' copies of my thesis printed next week locally to make them available for people to read. One will go immediately to my Wise Old Rosicrucian Friend. I suspect only a couple of others will actually put their hands up for the task. Can't say I blame them, you have to have a very good  reason to read something like that.
The official versions of the 153 page document and other appropriate notifications will probably take a couple of months. Graduation is in early September and this is the regalia (and that is what it is officially called) I have to wear or else I'm not allowed to graduate. I don't usually like these types of ceremonies, especially when I am in the thick of it, but I confess I am really looking forward to it. And the nosh up afterwards.
Just as well I look good in a hat.

life after a PhD

Today I chucked my amended thesis in the DropBox and e-mailed a link to my supervisor at Curtin. It has taken me more than 3 weeks of solid work to climb the last bit of the PhD mountain. I thought after 8 years of gruelling study I would be too exhausted to even think about art. Instead, I am chaffing at the bit.
I had a few things left to do in relation to the PhD in the last few months - one of them was an artist's talk just over a week ago for my friends and interested folk who live on the south coast. There were 28 people there and I knew the majority of them quite well. It was a joy to share a condensed version of my journey with them and I was very moved by the support. From the feedback I got most people really enjoyed it and some even found it inspiring. The other task of course was to dive back into the thesis and make the 'minor' amendments recommended by both examiners, who said they really liked it. I'm very relieved they were only minor adjustments, beca…

so much to know

I've been really busy - too busy to blog. This is just some of what I have been doing. I've put in a lot of hours on this design job - I certainly won't get paid enough for the amount of work I've done, but I am building knowledge as well as my portfolio.  I have the 'art' side of it figured and I have been using PhotoShop for ages - but there is so much more to know about the software, print specifications and making sure the image is high quality. I think I will be doing a lot of LYNDA tutorials to build on my sparse knowledge of Illustrator and learn InDesign as well. 
I have also been enrolled in a 'copyright' unit so I can teach it next term and in the process learnt a hell of a lot about copyright. It is a real minefield I'll bet most artists and designers don't even know they are treading in.
These 2 images are spinoffs of the current job I am doing - a couple of happy accidents I rather like that resulted from playing around with filter…

artist's talk at the VAC

Time:    11.00 am           Venue:  Vancouver Arts Centre

how to drown an albatross

I am one of 14 Great Southern artists (that's artists from the Great Southern, not GREAT artists who come from the south) involved in this PIAF exhibition. I only finished my piece for it yesterday. I'm kind of looking forward to it - I haven't been in a group exhibition like this since 2008 when I participated in ArtiStories in Denmark.
My work is a simple video projection. I will post it here once the exhibition is up and running. It is a 'themed' exhibition and luckily I had an idea for something that fit - otherwise I wouldn't have bothered. I actually don't like being driven by other people's themes, but this one worked quite well for me. You'll be pleased to hear I haven't been cured of my addiction to apocalyptic gloom.
There will be 10 minute talks by the artists (including me) on Saturday 1st of March at 3.00 pm. Very casual. This is my artist's statement:

country town architecture

I had to travel to Katanning yesterday as part of my job overseeing some TAFE courses there. I really love the ambience of country towns with their odd mix of architecture. The old pubs with their big verandahs still take central place. And you can stop in the main streeet in your car to take photos. Brilliant.

examiner's reports