Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Don't Ask

Every time I do an interview, I'm asked the same question: how's the Internet affecting the art world? This is what I told the editors of the blog, Art Is Moving, in a recent two-part Q&A:
"There are two powerful effects the web has had on every business. The first is that it has created in the audience a desire for instant gratification: you hear about something and you want to know more – or you want to buy it – you can, immediately, no matter where in the world you are. The second is that it has caused a revolutionary process of disintermediation – eliminating or lessening the power of the middle men who once used to hold sway over artists (in the broadest sense of the world) by claiming control of networks of distribution and promotion.
"Now the audience is no longer 'mass' but individual – a million-fold audience of just one – and the artist has the means to open a direct dialogue with it, to transact with it, without any need for someone to act as their broker or gatekeeper."
Inevitably, this leads to another question, also always the same: what's the role of the gallery in this environment? And, as always, I argue that it doesn't have one. Or as I put it in Art Is Moving: "It deserves to die. It's an anachronism that's outlived its usefulness. I think there is still a role for individual curators or even 'show producers' but they need to work in a more individualised, specialist way within a networked 'virtual' paradigm ..."
To be more precise, I still see value in public exhibitions and installations but not produced, promoted or managed in the way they are today – the same way they have been for a hundred and fifty years – by
dithering, technologically inept, socially aspirational and unadventurous commercial 'bricks and mortar' gallerists.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Killer Kogal Babe

I used to dream about rough sex with Gogo Yubari. It was no simple Japanese schoolgirl fantasy, all white knickers and pleated blue mini-skirts (although they were a part of it).
Gogo was the cut-snake crazy girl assassin for Oren-Ishii's yakuza gang and cheerleader for the masked, sword-wielding Crazy 88s – you have to have seen Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill to know what I'm on about – and if she had sex at all, I suspect she'd have been the one on top with her spidery fingers around your throat. Her idea of balls were steel, spiked, weighing ten pounds and thrown on the end of a chain with the intention of taking off a head.
"How about now, big boy? Do you still wish to penetrate me?"
she whispered to a horny salariman in Kill Bill as she ran him through with a tanto. "Or is it I who has penetrated you?"
I couldn't end my Dangerous Career Babes series without having a stab – so to speak – at an homage to Gogo. There are lots of baby-faced warriror schoolgirls in skimpy sailor-style school uniforms in manga and anime but Gogo was a lot less obviously cute – no-one would describe her beak-nosed, sloe-eyed angularity as that – as well as irrational and unpredictably homicidal.
Who couldn't help but get turned on by her?

Friday, September 26, 2008

The Divan Miss Vandal

I've been unusually depressed and unmotivated – as if I'd lost some part of myself. I've been trying to get it back.
This morning, I spray-painted the mattress of my day-bed. It's the first piece of furniture I bought, a few years ago, and it sits in the middle of my studio. I sprawl on it when I paint watercolours, read or hang out with my boyfriend.
It was liberating to decide to paint on the spur of the moment, for no reason – to paint badly, to not lay anything down beforehand. to not test the paint first, to not care if the colours were slightly off. I used up some cans that I've had laying around for months, a mixture of Krylon, Multona, Belton Special, a lone Plasti-Kote (the only can that no longer worked, despite being full), and a weird hardware brand labeled Fiddly Bits. Sometimes I use spray in small amounts on my enamel paintings when I want a soft line or spray finish.
W
hen the paint ran out, I finished up with a fat marker. It was really ugly, like I wanted it to be.
Later, I realised that I'd had a deep need to paint something for the hell of it, something that would be used and abused, something no-one could sell, something that was devalued because I'd painted it not the other way around. Besides, it was a relief not to have everything so pristine in my studio. For a while, I felt obligated to make sure everything was nice because I'm an adult now and can afford high quality, store-bought stuff after years of being totally broke. But I prefer to have things that I make around, especially if it's not art.
Anyway, vandalising my own furniture has peaked my interest in painting again. I think I might stock up on cans, and some other cool mark-making things I found at Molotow's online shop . I like using a medium that's not 'fine art'. I like not always having to make 'fine art'. With spray and markers, everything's more immediate – and undeniably more fun.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Causing A Collision

Thinking more about this idea of 'Africa' as a metaphor for randomness and self-expressive physicality within technology and art, I was reminded of my first response to jazz as a teenager. I was intrigued by its virtuosity and linear complexity, especially within the cool, modal riffs of Miles Davis or John Coltrane and when I encountered the unbridled, almost feral rawness of Albert Ayler's 'free' improvisations I really got into it. However, it wasn't until I heard an African, the late Dudu Pukwana, building wild improvisations on changes that were an amalgam of late be-bop harmonies, atonal 'free jazz' and traditional Zulu folk rhythms – his last album, In The Townships, is a rarely listened-to jazz masterpiece – that I caught a glimpse of what I would love to achieve in my art, and of what it meant, literally, to get more 'Africa' into it.
So much great African (as opposed to African-American) jazz evolved not as a reaction to purely African environments but to constrictive, rather grey, European ones. Many South Africans of Pukwana's generation – Mongezi Feza, Nikele Moyake, Johnny Dyani and Louis Moholo, as well as the white South African pianist and bandleader, Chris McGregor – fled the oppressive restrictions of apartheid and ended up being part of the social, political and style upheaval that was Sixties' London (where people were also just becoming aware of African 'highlife' dance music).
In the Wired article I mentioned a couple of days ago, Eno observed, "What is tremendously exciting to me is the collision of vernacular Western music with African music. So much that I love about music comes from that collision. African music underlies practically everything I do - even ambient, since it arose directly out of wanting to see what happened if you 'unlocked' the sounds in a piece of music, gave them their freedom, and didn't tie them all to the same clock. That kind of free float - these peculiar mixtures of independence and interdependence, and the oscillation between them - is a characteristic of West African drumming patterns."
How exciting it is when this happens with what you see – and how you see it and how you actually make it – in art. Basquiat got close as did, maybe, Picasso and Pollock before him. But who else?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Escape Artist

I'm overwhelmed by a lot of stuff.
I'm labouring unnecessarily over a new work and I'm frustrated by the length of time it's taking to get finished works out of the studio (and on their way to their buyers). I need more and better assistants. I need a better equipped studio. But before I address either of these problems, I need to be away from people – all people – for a couple of days. I need to feel life is about more – much more – than constant work.
I don't have the time to go far so I've settled for somewhere less than half a day's travel away by plane, warm and uncrowded – and no, I'm not telling. I can only hope my collectors will understand.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Not Enough Africa

I've been making up for lost time. Having spent a couple of weeks recovering from the hectic comings and goings of last month – which drained me more than I'd expected – I've been working steadily for the past few days, finishing yet another Dangerous Career Babe, as well as dealing with the dull administrative chores that always accumulate. It doesn't make for gripping reading, which explains the brevity of my last few blog entries.
Thirteen years ago, in one of the early issues of Wired magazine, I read a wonderful interview with the English musician, Brian Eno. There was this one passage that has always stuck with me. "Do you know what I hate about computers? The problem with computers is that there is not enough Africa in them," Eno said. "This is why I can't use them for very long. Do you know what a nerd is? A nerd is a human being without enough Africa in him or her. I know this sounds sort of inversely racist to say, but I think the African connection is so important. You know why music was the center of our lives for such a long time? Because it was a way of allowing Africa in."
A friend of mine interpreted this in another essay – included in the book, Living Brands, by Raymond Nadeau – as "the idea of Africa as a metaphor for the fuzzy logic and intuitive, rhythmic physicality that is entirely absent from a Western engagement with technology."
If there's one thing that's preoccupying me, these days, it's how to let a lot more Africa seep into my art. It's there in some of my better works on paper. It's entirely absent in the large enamel on board works that still make up the majority of my output.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Reflections In A Jaundiced Eye

Art News Blog has published excerpts from my diaries. Not surprisingly, they've prompted comments about my self-absorption and my 'medicated' psychological state.
Leaving aside the apparent sexism in the worst of the criticism (which were from one man), I'm not sure anybody should be surprised that an artist who mines themes of female social and sexual identity in her work – and uses herself as a model – is a little more prone to focussing on her own self (or psyche) than most when she writes. This isn't a symptom of empty egocentricity. Rather, it's a form of forensic investigation, a deliberate (in every sense of the word) attempt to delve into those aspects of my self intimately connected to the internal narrative of what I create. One of the functions of this blog is to communicate what I come up with.
Like the rest of my art, it's not always successful but hell, if it bores or repels you there's plenty to read about other artists and their work elsewhere on the web.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Wear Me Out (With Porno)

A few people have written to ask about the t-shirts that were sold at the opening of the PORNO show in Melbourne (one is pictured below). Made of high quality white cotton and sized from S to XL, they feature the widely seen MARS Gallery poster art – a stark, black & white image of my shaven head in profile with my surname in black upper case – on the back and the word PORNO in black upper case on the front. A few in all sizes are still available for sale at $A35 each, including delivery anywhere in the world. I am happy to sign them, if requested – they are, after all, kind of a limited edition. For further information, email me.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Words And Pictures

I have agreed to exhibit a few of my Dangerous Career Babes enamel-on-board paintings in the window gallery of Kinokuniya. The Japanese-owned bookstore is one of the largest and best in Sydney.
Originally, I'd hoped to create a series of huge banners based on the series to drape from the rooftop of the building, above one of the city centre's busiest streets, for Christmas but issues of safety and public liability scotched that idea. Instead, Kinokuniya will offer a limited edition, boxed set of very small, hand-painted, acrylic on paper studies of the series, each signed and numbered. The set will include a small chap-book of my recent prose and poetry, which will also be sold separately in the store.
The exhibition will open on Tuesday, 18th November, this year, and close 1st December. Kinokuniya is at Level 2, The Galeries Victoria, 500 George Street, Sydney 2000, Tel. 02 9262 7996. Opening hours will be Monday to Saturday, 10am to 7pm, Thursday, 10am to 9pm, and Sunday 10am to 6pm.
There will be a a small launch party on Thursday, 20th November, from 6pm to 8pm. If you want an invitation, all you have to do is visit my web site and sign up for my email newsletter.
Photo above by Matt Sutton: me among the crowd at the
PORNO opening.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Close Encounters

Matt Sutton, a Sydney-based photographer and collector, has uploaded to his web site a series of monochrome images of the opening of PORNO, in July. They're among the best I've ever had from one of my openings, not least because, in one or two, Matt manages to capture the quizzical, sometimes comical way in which people first encountered (or tried to ignore) the show's sexually graphic images.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Disturbed In The 'Burbs

The lease on my studio is up in a couple of weeks. I have still not heard from my landlords whether they're willing to renew the contract. I have been a good tenant but I suspect they're going to try to hit me up for a sizeable rent increase. As pleasant as this place, it isn't even worth what I'm already paying for it.
I've found myself overwhelmed by petty stresses these past couple of weeks. I have not really had a break from work for several months, apart from a couple of days here and there, and I am feeling drained, unable to fight off bouts of deep melancholy and despair. Sleep helps – until I start sleeping too much, then it doesn't.
I'm determined to do one or two more of the Dangerous Career Babes series before I take a long break and maybe turn my attention to something completely different. I have painted nearly a dozen Dangerous Career Babes this year – several of them twice, when I decided to re-do in enamel those I'd painted in oil. I'm beginning to regret my almost obsessive-compulsive determination to achieve a flawless surface finish for these large (210cms x 160cms) works.
I want to be done with painting – for a while, anyway. I've been thinking a lot about works in entirely different media to those that've preoccupied me for the last decade or so, works that have less to do with art than traditional artisanship. However, before I get too distracted by my preliminary thoughts about them, I need to finish everything I've committed to this year.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Brittle Or Sticky, Take Your Pick

The inconsistent weather over the past couple of weeks in Sydney has played havoc with the delivery schedule for my commissioned works.
My studio is now filled to capacity with large enamel-on-board paintings in various stages of drying. They need a consistent temperature and humidity to harden properly and become durable before they are packed and wrapped. If the temperature is too warm and dry, the surfaces become brittle and prone to chipping. If the atmosphere is too humid, they take an age to harden and instead, remain 'tacky' to the touch for weeks.
It doesn't help that my studio overlooks the sea. I have to be careful to ensure that salinity and moisture in the air is reduced as much as possible. I also try to minimise direct sunlight into the studio, at least when I'm not working. Unfortunately, days of heavy rain and cold winds have been followed by humid heat, the worst possible combination. It will be at least a couple of weeks before any paintings can be packed and boxed for consignment.
To add to the storage problem, I have a score of framed images from my recent Porno show awaiting consignment to dealers and private collectors overseas. They line both sides of the corridor
between my shrinking studio and my office, leaving just a 30cm wide patch of floor to navigate. The clutter – not to mention the acrid, chemical smell of enamel – makes the whole space feel oppressive and uncomfortable.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Spray My Name

I came across this news item while browsing the web, a couple of days ago: my home state of New South Wales will become the first in Australia to ban the sale of paint in spray cans under proposed anti-graffiti reforms being considered by the State Government.
Only one American city, Chicago, has done the same and an analysis one year after the ban was enforced showed "a modest reduction in spray paint graffiti, with an offsetting increase in glass etching and marker (pen) graffiti". Glass etching is achieved by using hydrofluoric acid solution to burn through and permanently mark windows with a milky white stain. Unlike paint, it can never be removed – the whole glass pane must be replaced.
Almost everywhere else in the world, graffiti is becoming recognised for its cultural significance. Unfortunately, that recognition is linked to its increasing financial value. London Council has invested in the restoration of once illegal stencils by Banksy. The lifespan of a graffiti piece used to be determined by how much other writers respected the work – if they didn't respect it, it was covered with tags or painted over. In protecting Banksy's work for cultural reasons,
London Council demonstrates its ignorance of the culture from which it sprang.
In 2007, graffiti from the late '70s and early '80s were discovered in a New York building that was undergoing renovation. The haphazard and adolescent tags, throw-ups, burners, and scribbles, were created by old school writers Fab 5 Freddy, Futura 2000, Nesto, Ramellzee – and Jean Michel Basquiat. At the time, these would have been considered vandalism and outlawed. Now, each of these people are considered essential cultural contributors. The mural is being removed by an archivist, and will join a major museum collection. Graffiti by Keith Haring was found in a cupboard of another building that was formerly his art school. It was too delicate to be removed so now it's being sold as an 'added feature' of the apartment – a $US100,000 premium has been attached to the value of the property.
I like all graffiti, especially non-stencilled, spray-can graff. I don't care who does it. I don't care whether they're artists or vandals. I don't care if they're critically acclaimed one day and their work ends up selling for hundreds of thousands of dollars. I don't care if they're never 'officially' recognised. I admire them for making a place that disregards them their own, no matter how briefly
.
Graffiti is about recognition. Names are reproduced over and over in areas of high traffic (which means greater audience). Each reproduction proves an existence. Even if it the result is unwanted, it can't be ignored. It proclaims identity. The labour intensive process of removal is another form of recognition. Graffiti is a way of making the world ones own, and making the world acknowledge, even for a split second, that the creator exists.
No matter what materials are banned, graffiti will never die out. Whether it's considered an art form or not, it carries too much atavistic, tribal-like significance to be given up without a hell of a fight.
The are spaces for graffiti everywhere in the grim urban sprawls where the culture thrives. I often wonder what bothers everyone so much about graffiti punctuating the blank expanses of a cityscape – its walls, freeway pylons, bridges and commuter trains. The best graffiti writers create pieces that are skillful and aesthetically pleasing – and as much as graffiti is about recognition, it is also about respect for the writers' skills and daring. I suspect the comfortable and well-heeled want to suppress the voices of those they'd prefer to pretend don't exist – indeed, to erase any trace of them.
The only time graffiti is not vilified is when it's taken out of context, when it's sanitised and sequestered in a safe, controlled environment – like a gallery or museum. There, it can be stripped of identity and meaning and seen only during opening hours. More importantly, it can be commoditized and sold, reduced to just another consumer object (with Banksy the leading brand). I hate street art in galleries. I find it soulless, a depressing, pointless compromise.
I created my early enamel paintings using the same process as graffiti writers' pieces . I was directly inspired by friends of mine who 'vandalised' the city where I lived. They went on graffiti tours along the east coast of Australia – and even to foreign cities – sleeping rough in the day and painting at night. They painted walls, billboards and trains in urbanised, developed countries, and walls and army tanks in the war-torn second- and third-world. No surface was sacred. Each writer was from a different background but they all shared a common trait – they had no other voice. No-one gave a shit about who they were and even less about what they had to say.
I also have a very personal affection for the power of graffiti. An age ago, when I was still a teenager, I ran away from Australia to Japan and London. When I returned, my brother, Thomas, wrote my name on the the wall of the local train station at Wynnum, in Brisbane (pictured above). I would see it every day when I caught the train. It made me feel loved and special. It made me feel like i wasn't invisible, like I wasn't just another forgettable kid.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Getting My Priorities Straight

This has been one of those catch-up weeks. Since I got back from Melbourne, I've spent nearly every day painting, sleeping or updating my web site. I haven't done anything else. This morning I submitted my business taxes for last month – my accountant insisted on it – and reviewed income (high) and expenditure (higher) statements. Yesterday, I touched base with a handful of collectors awaiting delivery of new works. I booked couriers and responded to email. I did some basic housekeeping, including buying some much-needed groceries.
I feel a lot less depressed. As if to reinforce my good mood, the sun is shining, the sky is clear and my newly tidy studio is bathed in a warm, early spring light. Even better, a pair of black patent leather Tods work boots I ordered from Bluefly have turned up in the post. They're even more beautiful than I'd hoped. Despite my accountants vocal reservations, I'm going to order a patent leather, hobo-style Pauric Sweeney bag to match.
When did good sense ever take priority over self-indulgence in my life?

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

As A Girl, Left Half Done

I continue to add old works to my site. As I do, I have a chance to review ideas that I haven't thought about for a very long time – or, in some cases, have forgotten completely.
I've tended to dismiss a lot of my early work. My first shows were at a very commercial, parochial gallery where ideas were often regarded as unimportant. I was young and not particularly street-smart so having the underlying concepts of my work overlooked or ignored in favour of their 'decorativeness' shook my confidence. I developed ideas then in the same way I do now – through meticulous research, note-taking and visual experimentation – but I began to wonder whether I was wasting my time and effort. I began to doubt whether ideas in an artwork were even visible to anyone.
Some of these old works are still interesting conceptually. For example, there's a series of small (50cm x 100cm) enamel paintings, titled Accoutrements Of Desire, that I started in a flurry of excitement but stopped in a petty fit of resentment at my dealer, whose only comment about them was that maybe they should be pitched at a different (read, lower) price point. As a result, the series is incomplete.
Initially, I wanted to tell an abstract story of desire, restraint, and sexuality as a weapon everyone 'carried' either overtly or concealed. I spent weeks in the Queensland State Library, reading about weapons disguised as feminine accessories – daggers disguised as fans or fans made of thin, sharpened metal foils that could slash a man's throat (the metaphor of coquettish seduction as a deadly tool was hard to ignore). I found diagrams and designs that described how weapons functioned, some of which I appropriated for my paintings straight from catalogues I found at a local gun shop. They resembled the cut-away illustrations of sex organs one sees in gynaecologists' or urologists' consulting rooms.
Of course, Accoutrements Of Desire included items other than weapons. I was fascinated by the history of foot binding, and of so-called 'lotus shoes', as well as the status-inspired, erotic rituals and fetsihistic sex they inspired. This led me to sexualised
Western instruments of restraint, such as police handcuffs.
I don't know when I will get around to working on this series again but I will. There's too much that's at once curious and discomforting within its still undeveloped concepts of corrupted consumerism, sexual deviancy, gender-based domination and control, and constrained violence to leave it – how should I put this? – half-cocked.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Lost, Unfound

I've just heard (two years on from the incident) that one of my first watercolour paintings, Venus En Enfer, was lost when the truck in which it and several other artists' paintings were being transported was stolen. First sold in 2006 for $A4,500 at my exhibition, Venus In Hell, it's probably worth around $A6,000 now. It's worth a hell of a lot more to me.
The only reason I found out about the theft was because I'd contacted the owner about buying it back for my own rather sparse collection. Its loss cuts like a knife but it underscores two rules for artists: i) always keep for yourself the first or most favourite of a series of works and don't be tempted to sell it at any price to anyone and ii) do not become too attached to the works you do sell – they are, effectively, lost to you and you can't control where they end up, how they're looked after or what happens to them.
By the way, should anyone offer to sell you Venus En Enfer, please don't hesitate to call Andy Dinan at MARS Gallery and let her know.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Head/Space

Pinky: Gee Brain, what do you want to do tonight?
The Brain: The same thing we do every night, Pinky – try to take over the world.
My mind has begun to clear a little now I've tidied my studio spaces and made them functional again. A few years ago, everything I owned fitted easily into the back of a rented station-wagon. Now, I need three sizeable rooms in which to fit just my work-related stuff, all of which are filling quicker than I'd ever imagined possible.
Of the three, I think of my office as my mind translated into a physical space. I organise my thoughts, memories, and ideas within it because there's way too much to keep inside my head now. If I try, it just confuses, overwhelms and, sometimes, depresses me.
I don't have the personal pictures, decorative touches or books I see in other people's offices. I keep those sorts of things in my bedroom. Instead, the walls are lined with deep metal bookshelves. On each are sets of clear plastic drawers, labeled with Posca paint pen on a strip of masking tape. In these, I keep records of my works, exhibitions, research, ideas, and plans, as well as files of collectors, art delivery receipts, computer consumables, and the usual office stationary. Two shelves are stacked with material for press kits. I buy everything with moving in mind. The shelves can be dismantled and reassembled without my having to repack the contents. It's hard enough for me to organise my thoughts once. I don't want to do it every time I move.
Three large yearly planners made of whiteboard, along with a noticeboard, and two white-board project planners take up what's left of the available wall space. On them I track commissions, exhibitions, projects, production, communication with collectors, as well as incoming and outgoing money.
Few people come to my studio. None are allowed into my office – except my boyfriend. Even he only looks in from the doorway. I keep nothing from him but he senses the obvious vulnerability in having all my plans – and dreams – visible in so much detail.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Visual Valium

I am depressed. It's not any one thing. It's a series of them, all intensely personal. I haven't done much work for two or three days. It's all I can manage to try to get to grips with the mounting disorder of my studio and office. I don't want to talk about it.
In my worst moments, I resort to visual valium. I look at fashion online. Usually, I don't look for anything particular. Hell, I'm so bloody picky that even when I do, it's rare that I actually buy. I find it soothing to scan the shapes, textures, and colours – materials that look good to touch and colours that will set off the few pieces of organic-looking jewellery I wear. It's a simple, self-indulgent exercise: completely superficial and devoid of meaning or the desire for human interaction. The clinical, thumbnail colour photographs and raw specifications of each product are absorbing, calming.
I try not to think about the uglier aspect of such avid consumerism – a culture in which, more and more quickly, we create, use and discard in the pursuit of status, superficial identity, and self-gratification – just as I try not to think about what's really troubling me. Call me shallow but I just want the soul-less, beautiful surface of expensive fashion accessories to render me numb.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Google-Eyed

Parody is the highest form of flattery – I think that's how the saying goes. So I couldn't help but smile when I found out that David Arandle, an Australian artist and video-maker better known online as 'The Extraordinary Tourist', had created paintings of Dangerous Career Cats to poke gentle fun at my Dangerous Career Babes series.
I wonder what artist and blogger, Barney Davey, would make of them. He has taken me to task in an online essay titled
Art Vs. Marketing – Making Hazel Dooney Cringe, which is long on intelligence and well-crafted argument but short on accuracy when it comes to describing my views on marketing myself as an artist. As far as I can make out, he has synthesized these from one ill-tempered reference I made to a blog entry of his – a shame, really, because I agree with a lot of what he writes.
As anyone who reads Self Vs. Self regularly would know, I'm a total media tart. I embrace any opportunity to promote my art and myself.
Barney writes: "I subscribe to Brendan Behan’s view. He famously said, 'There is no such thing as bad publicity except your own obituary'." I wouldn't even draw the line there.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Getting Sorted

Right now, my studio feels more like a post office sorting room than a creative space.
Large, custom-made timber panels, many of which are recently completed Dangerous Career Babes paintings in high gloss enamel, are propped against the walls until they harden enough to be wrapped and crated for delivery. Two tables on trestles are covered with smaller works also waiting to be wrapped and sent to collectors while at the end of one, several canisters of film, divided by type and speed, are to be taken to the photo lab in Sydney at the end of the week. On the floor are unopened boxes containing paintings or photographs being returned from overseas dealers. I am trying to make space among them for the framed photographs due back on Thursday from the PORNO exhibition at MARS Gallery in Melbourne. Half of them will be sent to an art consultant in Tokyo who is confident of selling them to a client there.
The acrid smell of enamel and solvents hangs in the air. Even the cool, brisk sea breeze that sets in each afternoon fails to shift it. I escape to my cluttered study, at the opposite end of the house, to avoid a headache.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Pola Apposite

My first experiments with photography were alone. I would pose for the camera – a clunky plastic Polaroid 600 with no exposure controls and an automatic flash – and frame myself in close-up as I aped the facial expressions of '50s movie stars and fashion models. It became almost fetishistic, a form of role-playing that was sometimes erotically stimulating. Over the years, I amassed scores of 4"x3" instant prints but it wasn't until a couple of years ago that I exhibited a few of them as a minor part of my first exhibition of works on paper, Venus In Hell.
Truth is, for a long time, I didn't really recognise them as part of my body of work as an artist. Then a friend asked to look through the Polaroids I kept stashed in big plastic bags in my studio. As he began to arrange them on the floor, I saw just how much I'd relied on them as a medium in which to experiment. In each were ideas that still bubble beneath the hard-edged, glossy surfaces of my paintings. Even more interestingly, unsettling narratives were apparent within some series of images, suggesting they were really storyboards for an as yet unproduced video or film running in my head. It's an idea I'm keen to explore in the future.