Sunday, August 30, 2009

Lena and the orchid

Whilst Fiona and I grow a good selection of healthy vegies, fruits trees and many other plants on our block we have a well founded reputation for killing orchids.

We wanted to create a peaceful spot for Lena - our Phillip Piperides bronze. The idea is that the area where Lena is installed will become a small courtyard with orchids, ferns and a living bamboo screen. Lena rests on a cantilevered platform over a pebble void. Thus far ‘the courtyard’ has a few ferns and one orchid.

Last year it looked like the orchid would go the way of our other orchids – but this hardy specimen surprised us and has produced a lovely show. The combination of Lena and the orchid looks good and makes us smile.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Metal fragments

As you can see I have still been doing bowls instead of finishing the vessels for the September exhibition.

I had all these fragments of metal left from earlier pieces of work so I decided I would try to make a patchwork square ‘bowl’. I wanted the bowl to look like it had been used over and over in the past and was too precious to throw away because of its sacred or magical history and so each owner repaired the ‘bowl’.

In fact all the fragments used in the piece bring past history and uses to the piece. The copper came from an old laundry boiler, the aluminium from a two burner liquid pressure stove, the stainless steel from a hot water trough and the brass came from the very old knapsack spray.

It was quite a tough piece to make as the bulkiness of the rivets and different thicknesses and strength of the metals often created tension. Still in the end I think it does have that patched worn look about it. The photos don't really do the piece justice - too much reflected light.

The other two little bowls pictured below were made as a gift to my friend and fellow artist Noela – she has been having a bit of a clean out of her ‘studio stash’ and has been handing on to me bits of rust, copper wire and other metal she has not used for a long time. She also gave me a number of small flat brass trays that were used in scientific scales many years ago –a bit of reworking and added rivets and the retention of patina have resulted in a pair of friendship bowls about 100mm in diameter.

I guess the next blog needs to be about those September exhibition vessels.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Rose gum and triangles

Don’t you feel that there are some weeks that control you rather than the other way around? If that does not happen to you I am happy for you. This week has been another of those 'mosaic' weeks – lots of bits and pieces that make up life. We have been preparing to catch up with a friend in Singapore, maintaining the house and veggie garden, doing our policy research work, making a contribution to our community and yes fitting in some art practice.

I have managed to progress the boat hull piece for the September vessel exhibition. The 200mm square rose gum block proved a bit of a challenge for the hand saw but in the end the wedge shape and beautiful red colour was worth it. The terracotta hull looks good on the wedge.

But I must say I am really excited with my small 'triangle bowl'. It is made up of six triangles riveted together – gives an edgy feel but sits just like a smooth cool orb in the palm of your hand.

Monday, August 17, 2009


Some good news this morning – the piece I submitted for the Southern Cross University (SCU)Acquisitive Artists’ Book Award was one of the pieces selected by Tara O’Brien for the Southern Cross University Artists’ Book Collection. Tara indicated “how each of these works achieved a high level of sophistication in the synergy between form and content”.

The piece titled Censored is a 150mm cube made from recycled timber, stamped and rusted steel bands and paper. The words stamped and rusted on the bands include: suppressed, stifled, shut down, sacrificed. The piece is intended to make a statement about the lack of free speech that is demonstrated in the news on a daily basis.

The 10 selected pieces can be seen on the SCU site.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Chaos corner

I always wonder when some clever person is going to invent a self clearing work bench for artists. It always seems to me that as soon as I have done the ‘big clean up’ I turn around and all manner of things have mysteriously unpacked themselves off the shelves and out of the tool boxes and deposited themselves on my work bench – as you can see this event happened again on last Wednesday.

Fortunately out of all the clutter of tools, emery paper and steel wool etc appeared this little shell like bowl made from beaten salvaged aluminium sheeting and copper rivets. That is correct, I still have not gotten over my beaten bowl phase yet. It was a good thunderstorm weather afternoon project.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Inspired by talented people

Fiona and I were recently in Canberra for work but were fortunate to have the opportunity to drop into the National Gallery and spend a half hour wandering through the Reinventions: sculpture and assemblage exhibition. I was really struck by the work of Bronwyn Oliver. The two pieces in the exhibition seemed fragile yet were so strong in their beauty and design.

The experience made me wonder who is this person and how come I had not noticed or found her work before. A search revealed that she is/was such a talented Australian sculptor but sadly committed suicide at the age of 47. Robyn Oxley’s gallery introduced me to more of Bronwyn’s works and I am glad to view her works and be inspired by them.

Closer to home I also found time to look at Elizabeth Poole’s website. She currently has some of her cow pieces on display in Maleny Artworks Gallery. I really liked her installation work particularly her series of ‘boats’. It is great to have these talented people out there – they recharge my creative batteries.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Ice and alms

I still think the ‘weekend’ is a great ‘invention’ – somehow it does give you the excuse to stop doing many other important things and just get into a bit of creativity. My few hours in the workshop saw me going off in two different directions: finishing a ‘post’ piece of work; and cutting up a brass knapsack spray and beating out a small brass palm sized begging bowl – obviously only for small but high value offerings!!

The recycled timber and salvaged acrylic ‘post’, now titled Clear as Ice, was reworked from an earlier piece I did for the artists’ book exhibition – but I was not happy with the earlier result so the 'v' shaped top was removed. I think the squared look is cleaner. Clear as Ice is now for sale at Maleny Artworks.

A very old knapsack spray picked up as part of the roadside rubbish event has provided some great sheet brass including some that is pitted and aged. I like both the pitting and pleats in the bowl. I think the rivets not only have a function in binding the pleats but add a point of interest. And it was really great fun to make.

Friday, August 7, 2009


I have indicated in earlier blogs that Fiona and I are working towards a major exhibition in November that will focus will be on stillness, the sacred, peacefulness and celebration. I am currently working on a couple of pieces for a Maleny Artworks exhibition on vessels in September. And recently David Linton indicated interest in my ‘posts’ and would like to exhibit and sell them through his gallery.
Over the last few weeks we have been travelling a bit with work and rest so plane trips have provided the opportunity to do a bit of sketching for the various bits of work. So I thought I’d share a few of the pages from the sketch book.

The vessels for the Maleny Artworks exhibition will take the form of an inverted pyramid; and the hull of a boat out of the water for winter.

I quite like that my ‘posts’ are taking on different forms: temple posts; poetic posts; functional garden posts that might hold a small amount of rainfall etc.

A number of the November exhibition pieces will confirm my love of the cube and the posts – some will be functional but others just a bit quirky.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Hiroshima Peace Bell

Today is one of those days when amidst the hustle one is suddenly reminded by the radio that it is in fact 6 August and that just after 8am this morning the peace bells rang in the peace park of Hiroshima.

Fiona and I are lucky to have a connection with the peace vibrations that will ring out today. The Hiroshima Peace Bell used in the remembrance ceremony each year was created by OIGO Works in Takaoka Japan. This company also created the bronze peace bell that hangs above our small bell platform.

Our bell has been inscribed with the kanji symbols for peace so that each time the bell is struck peace vibrations can be sent across the valley below.

Today at dusk we held a small ceremony and gonged our bell to join with the peace vibrations from Hiroshima in the hope that we can live in a more peaceful and creative world.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Art in the paddock

We have just returned from a couple of weeks exploring the south west corner of Western Australia. When I say exploring I really mean looking at art, the natural beauty - particularly the trees and checking out a couple of the wineries. We were lucky to discover Gomboc Gallery in the Swan Valley.

I was particularly attracted to the sculptural pieces scattered over about a half hectare. Three things were impressive about the outdoor sculpture: the sheer number of pieces; the age of many pieces - the whole collection has grown over 25 years; and the fact that each year the gallery hosts a exhibition of sculptural art by WA schools.

A number of pieces are rusting slowly and beautifully and imposing on the landscape.

Some like this raft of boats on sleeper logs are disintegrating and returning to nature.

Some like this glass disk sit quietly by the creek.

Some create a field of fantasy.

And the biker will ride into action no matter what.