Saturday, September 18, 2010

The End

This is the end
My only friend, the end
Of our elaborate plans, the end
Of everything that stands, the end
No safety or surprise, the end
I'll never look into your eyes...again
Can you picture what will be
So limitless and free...
The End by Jim Morrison, 1967
I first met Michael Short in 2006. He was then editor of the finance section of Melbourne's most respected daily newspaper, The Age. He knew of my art but was most curious about my decision, a year earlier, to quit the prominent Melbourne gallery that represented me then to manage my own marketing, sales and collector relationships using the web.
He introduced himself to me in a phone call. He didn't bother with small talk. He just fired an intimidating volley of critically framed questions at me and insisted on evidence to back up my answers. I sent him copies of my tax returns for the previous two years and gave him the 'phone number of my accountant. Whatever he learned must have reassured him because he called again a couple of days later to tell me he had assigned a reporter and a photographer to produce a story.
It appeared on the front page of his section on Wednesday, 5th July, the day before the opening of my first exhibition of watercolours, Venus In Hell, at MARS Gallery, in Port Melbourne. The headline read State-of-the-art selling rivals traditional play to the gallery. There was a photo of me looking a little like Neo from The Matrix, clutching a lap-top computer.
It didn't take long for the traditional gallery system to react. On Saturday, the managing director of one of Australia's most successful commercial galleries, a senior member of the Australian Commercial Galleries Association, turned up at MARS Gallery in high dudgeon. I'd met him a few years before, when my most fervent ambition was to be invited to join his respected stable of artists. Now here he was, up in my face because I'd dared to suggest, in the very pages of a prominent newspaper that were most frequently read by his big-money clients, that his business was doomed. We argued tersely for ten minutes in front of several people and when I raised the notion that what I was doing was making art more accessible to more people, he declared, angrily, "I get to decide who sees art."
The remark stunned us both into silence: in just seven small words, the gallery's basic tenet of rigorous control of the artist and their work and the individual collector was laid bare. Exposed with it were the few ragged fissures that over the next few years would widen to become a deep, treacherous crevasse isolating the art world's greying old guard from a new generation of artists and collectors.
Now everything has changed. Old, staid commercial galleries are trying to figure out how to re-vitalise creaky business models as their bricks-and-mortar rents increase, their sales – and relevance – decline, and their artists become restive over commission rates, poor collector relationships and inept marketing. Meanwhile, younger, more technologically adept artists are using a variety of different online environments, including social media, to by-pass not only galleries but critics, art journals, art fairs and competitions to connect directly with collectors – who no longer need galleries to access information about new artists or to provide data on values – and fans, who are happy to act as nodal points for viral communications and exchanges of ideas.
This doesn't spell the death of the 'real world' exhibition or the smart, imaginative and flexible interemediary. A younger generation produces its own shows, either at established spaces willing to negotiate one-off deals or in temporary, 'pop-up' galleries realised with the cooperation of shrewd landlords of unleased commercial real estate. It is also encouraging auction houses to redefine their role as partners not only of institutional, commercial and private collectors but also of the artists, the best-known of whom cut deals to sell large inventories of their work in highly publicised sales that can resemble meticulously staged performance art.
My own work turns up regularly on the secondary market in Australia and S.E. Asia. I've developed close personal contacts within a handful of major auction houses, including Christie's, in London, where, despite the fact that my work has yet to be exhibited anywhere in Europe, three of my paintings have achieved record prices in recent sales. My base of collectors has broadened markedly – six years ago, it was restricted to Australia but now it's international, with a large number of my works in private collections in the USA, the UK, the Netherlands, Israel, Japan, China, South-East Asia, the United Arab Emirates and even Jamaica – prices paid for early work has risen over 1000 per cent in ten years.
Despite a global economic crisis – and a year in which I have been confined to a psychiatric clinic, declared bankrupt and forced to curtail my output to care for a gravely ill parent, my prices have remained steady because of my constant, highly communicative online presence and direct contact with collectors of my work.
The ubiquity of access to my work (and me) online as well as the ubiquity of the work itself – literally thousands of images of my paintings, drawings, and photographs scattered across other people's web sites, blogs and social media galleries – has delivered benefits that reflect a radical transformation of the way value is being determined.
In the wider market, objects of singular rarity are matched in value and appreciation by serially produced pieces which are more readily recognised and which resonate within popular culture. Simultaneously, the real locus of value (and power) is shifting from the individual product – the artwork, the song, the novel – to the producer, the artist, whose reputation (or, regrettably maybe, brand) is increasingly determined not by the common assent of a collective of mainly white, late middle-aged, male critics, gallerists, and curators but by an inter-connected tangle of awareness and associations within the tech-enhanced neural networks of popular culture. In the process, the role of the intermediary is also being redefined.
Since its inception – just a few weeks after the first article commissioned by Michael Short was published in The Age, just a week or so after Venus In Hell closed at MARS Gallery – this blog has documented in often too intimate detail the confounding and not untroubled adventure that is my 'career'. Successively archived since 2008, along with my heavily trafficked web site, by the National Library of Australia's Pandora project, it preserves a 'permanent' record of my career and an intensely personal observation of the evolution of the web as the most powerful medium of information, collaboration, transaction and transformation in the history of art.
Exactly four years after Michael Short's first article on me, he and I were in contact again. Michael proposed that I'd be a worthwhile subject for a video interview and text-based feature on what he described as a new multi-media package, produced for The Age, called The Zone , that dealt with "the free-market of ideas". I would be its first-ever from the art world: among previous subjects were the new CSIRO Chairman and former director of World Vision Australia, Simon McKeon, magazine editor and environmentalist Tamsin O'Neill, economist Martin Fell, and Austhink co-founder and director Paul Monk.
In the video conversation with Michael, I spoke of my decision to step outside the traditional, commercial and institutional gallery system – a turning point in both my life and career – and its consequences, good and bad. I explained my use of the web and social media as a means of connecting directly with the audience and collectors of my work, and why that connection mattered to me. I argued that it wasn't just about marketing my work but an intense need to articulate ideas within that work as well as to retain a large measure of freedom and financial self-reliance.
The course of our conversation wasn't easy: Michael probed me about my bi-polar affective disorder and my having been committed, earlier this year, to a psychiatric clinic. He was also aware that the extended lay-off had forced me into bankruptcy: mercifully, I was not questioned about that.
The video interview and accompanying 'hard copy' profile, titled The Art of Living, were distributed widely by The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald newspapers, as well as The National Times, Media Drive, Brisbane Times, and WA Today. The number of viewers for the video set a new high for The Zone, second only to a clip of the Australian prime minister's tattooed step-daughter posing for a men's magazine in a bikini.
After The Zone published its profile, last Monday, I drove across town to Fairfax Digital's Brisbane offices to participate in a live-chat session hosted by The Zone. Just having to go to an office other than my own was telling: old media's grasp on the freedoms of technology lags far behind the high concepts that are The Zone's chosen turf.
The online audience's reactions to my interview were pretty much as I'd expected: support from some artists and most collectors; defence of the traditional gallery by one lost soul; snide, dismissive attacks from less well-known artists (whose real names and email addresses were unhidden by online 'nics' within Fairfax Digital's system); criticism from old-school gallerists who refused to 'get' the paradigm shift and argued vehemently for the status quo; requests for advice on how to emulate my career; the usual excuses about how 'this' worked only for me because I'm an 'attractive' woman; schadenfreude-laden references to my breakdown; demands that I recant my position given that I still self-produce one-off exhibitions with commercial galleries; and so on.
You can still view the questions. I couldn't answer them all, although I spent three hours – rather than the scheduled one – addressing as many as I could in detail.
The interview and live-chat experience underscored how much had changed during the past half decade. But I couldn't help but notice how much I had changed, too. Once, I would have been crushed by criticism – and worse – from others within the art world. Nowadays, my raw nerves serve me well and I relish a fight. I'm all for passionate responses but I have no mercy when a detractor loses an argument – and their cool – and resorts to insults. I remind myself, as I've reminded others here, that it's not my job to reassure. Quite the opposite. It's part of an artist's job to question, confound, agitate, disturb and surprise. Too many have forgotten that.
There was one thing I didn't expect: many artists suggested that I should lead some kind of fight to reduce gallery commission rates. I thought my position on this would have been obvious: I see no point in lobbying for changes in a structure I believe to be irrelevant and doomed. But there I was arguing for complete autonomy and all they wanted was for me to become a union leader. Talk about missing the bigger picture, the bigger opportunity.
In many ways, it's fitting that Michael Short, the editor who first recognised the possible wider impact of a young artist choosing to step outside the traditional gallery system to manage her own career online, was the one who arranged and conducted the interview which now stands as a summary of the results of that somewhat reckless choice. It also marks the end of another chapter in the narrative of my life and art.
The ideas I've been expounding and defending for four years are now so widely accepted, they're almost commonplace. A younger generation of artists doesn't need to be convinced of the web or the benefits of independence and self-management – if anything, they take it for granted. So, soon, will a new generation of gallerists, who will find different ways of collaborating or partnering with artists to achieve their not-always-convergent goals and who will abandon the old-school impulse to corral and control the intricate, mutable relationships between artwork, artist and collector.
My personal militancy was always just a means to an end, not an end itself. I wanted to create a structure that supported my artistic ambitions, that enabled me to pursue the ideas that I found most compelling, to share them with everyone who might be interested in them, and eventually, to present the work derived from them how, when and where I wanted – oh yes, and to be well rewarded for the risks I took. I'm no longer interested in arguing anymore about whether this 'works' for everyone: it's plain to see that it does.
Now I have bigger things to get on with – in my art and my life.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

A Last Slice Of Cheesecake

I have always painted sexy-looking women but when I was younger, I was indifferent to concerns that my work objectified them without irony or deeper meaning. I had a weakness for cheesecake poses (often using myself as a model), complete with prurient peeks at old-fashioned panties. I enjoyed painting the fluid, sensual lines that described a modern yet vampish female body.
Later, I thought a lot deeper about what I was doing. My work began delving into how increasingly insidious entertainment and advertising media had defined the self-image of women of my generation. The women of my imagination were still sexy but the works that contained them put increasingly uncomfortable questions to the viewer and suggested that the answers were laden with irresolvable contradictions.
Yesterday, I came across a study for Stacked Hottie (above), an enamel painting included in my 2001 solo exhibition in Perth, Western Australia, titled Too Much Never Enough. This was my last stab at a pure 'pin-up' and already there's a hint in it of something unsettled, something at odds with the languid pose.
The work is being offered for sale by a US collector. With an image size of 40cm x 60cm, in acrylic on oversized, heavy-weight, cold-pressed paper, the price is $A2,500, plus delivery. Payment can be accepted via PayPal or electronic transfer. For further information – or to order – please contact my studio.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind

There has been a measure of catharsis in all my activities this week. I have been ridding my studio (and my psyche) of old works to make room for what is developing as an especially fertile period of new thinking and new work.
The forced disposal of so much of my past work as a result of my bankruptcy has been a blessing rather than a burden, compelling me not just to start again but to rethink what I want to accomplish in both my art and my life.
With new work in gestation, encouraged by unexpected opportunities to collaborate with artists and others outside Australia, and a new studio in Brisbane gearing up to produce existing commissions more efficiently, I'm ready to re-conceive everything I do, even online, so that it becomes a more coherent – and original – whole.
In the meantime, I still have a number of works of paper to clear from my stockroom, although the price on them all has risen since they were first offered a few months ago.
The most expensive are acrylic on paper studies for three of my earliest works: Coloured Girls, my first commission in 1998, The Red Shoes from my 1999 series, Accoutrements Of Desire, and The Moment Before Having, from 1996, my first attempt at the hard-edged, neo-Pop style for which I became well-known. These are all priced at $A3,500 each, including delivery.
There are also more economical, more recent acrylic on cold-pressed paper studies, each with an image size of approx. 60cm x 40cm.
From Big Pin-Ups: Miss January, Miss March, Miss April and Miss July.
From Sports Career Babes: The Climber, The Cricketer and The Judge.
From Dangerous Career Babes: The Stylist, The Demolitionist and The Wrestler.
All the above, except the Dangerous Career Babes, are priced at $A2,500 each, plus delivery. The Dangerous Career Babes are now priced at $A3,000, plus delivery.
Lastly, there are two small paintings from my Asylum Notebook, created just before I was committed to a psychiatric clinic in Sydney at the beginning of this year: The Spectre Of You Hangs, 21cm x 29cm, in watercolour, gouache and lead pencil on cold-pressed paper and Blood Does Not Lie, which is the same size and in the same media. Both are priced at $A975, plus delivery.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Taking Aim In The Outback

As I've noted before, Bird Of Prey, a 100cm x 150cm, high gloss enamel on timber board painting inspired by a 2001 artist's expedition to Lake Eyre, in the arid heart of central Australia, is to be auctioned by Menzies Art Brands in Melbourne on Thursday, 23rd September at 6.30pm. If you can't afford the pre-sale estimate of $A9,000 to $A12,000, the painting can be viewed in at Menzies' gallery at 1 Darling Street, South Yarra, from this Thursday, 16th September to Wednesday, 22nd September, 11am to 6pm daily.
A little more affordable are a set of color photographs, hand-printed from 35mm negatives, that were the initial reference sources for several of my well-known Lake Eyre-inspired works from 2002. Each has an image size of 13.5cm x 20.5cm positioned on larger glossy, resin-coated paper, and is signed, dated, and matted individually with white, archival-quality, eight-ply rag. The set of five is priced at $2,500 but a single photograph is $550. Payment by electronic bank transfer or Paypal is accepted. For further information – or to order – please email my studio.
Incidentally, excerpts from a documentary film, The View from Here, about the privately sponsored, expedition – on which I was
the only artist under 30, as well as the only female, among ten artists that included five of Australia's most eminent living painters – John Olsen, Tim Storrier, David Larwill, Jeff Makin and Robert Jacks – can be found on YouTube.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Last Pass, The Poster

The stark, black and white poster advertising PORNO, was seen on walls and in cafés, boutiques and bookshop windows all over Melbourne in the weeks prior to this exhibition's 2008 opening at MARS Gallery. Surprisingly only six were ever signed, of which three are being offered for sale here for the first (and last) time. Printed in semi-gloss black ink on paper, 29cm x 42cm, each is in pristine, 'as new' condition, signed in silver Posca paint pen, and priced at $A99 ($US92 approx.), plus delivery. As usual, Paypal and bank transfers accepted. For further information or to order, please email my studio.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Wear Me Out One Last Time

A number of collectors and friends have rallied to help me to set up a new enamel studio in Brisbane, donating small artworks and rare gallery merchandise to cover the costs of rent and materials. Former assistants from my Palm Beach studio have volunteered to join me for a month to ready the space while I construct essential timber frames at Graham Reynolds factory, nearby.
Over the next few days, the new studio will be offering available pieces here.
The first are simple t-shirts I designed to promote my 2008 exhibition of photography, PORNO, at MARS Gallery, in Melbourne. They have since been spotted as far afield as Los Angeles, Tucson, Tokyo, and Chiangmai, Thailand, but the seven offered here – one extra large, four large, and two medium – are the last of the 100 originally produced.
Manufactured in Mexico using US-grown 100% heavyweight cotton, the t-shirts were custom-printed by Super Special Screen Printing. Each is in the original, unopened, opaque black cling film packaging by Dooney Studio, which also contains an unsigned postcard from the exhibition. The package is signed by Hazel Dooney herself – in either silver posca paint pen on Dooney pink adhesive vinyl or black marker on reflective silver adhesive vinyl – and stamped 'DOONEY'.
The price each, regardless of size, is $A75 ($US70 approx.), plus delivery. Payments accepted by bank transfer or Paypal. For further information or to order, please email my studio.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

More Instantaneousness

Further to yesterday's post, I am posting more of the Polaroid 'instant pictures' I made as references for my large enamel paintings. They are being offered for sale in a group of about two dozen by an Australian collector who, over the past decade, has put together one of the two or three most extensive surveys of my work. Each print, which is a 'one-off', is being sold mounted in white, double-ply, archival rag and signed and dated. For further information, please contact my studio.
Pictured above: Pola' Auto-Erotica Monochrome, 2000, a set of four Polaroid 600 self-processing prints, each approx. 7.8cm x 7.7cm, individually mounted in white archival rag. $A2,400 for the set, plus delivery ($A3,200 individually framed in perspex, plus delivery).
Venus In Hell, 2001, Polaroid 600 self-processing print, approx. 7.8cm x 7.7cm, mounted in white archival rag. Price $550, plus delivery.
Turn The Other Cheek, 2001, Polaroid 600 self-processing print, approx. 7.8cm x 7.7cm, mounted in white archival rag. Price $400, plus delivery.
First Bound, 2001, Polaroid 600 self-processing print, approx. 7.8cm x 7.7cm, mounted in white archival rag. Price $350, plus delivery.
Zombie No.1, 2001, Polaroid 600 self-processing print, approx. 7.8cm x 7.7cm, mounted in white archival rag. Price $350, plus delivery.
Candy Snake No. 1, 2001, Polaroid 600 self-processing print, approx. 7.8cm x 7.7cm, mounted in white archival rag. Price $350, plus delivery.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Instant Gratification

I have always used photography to work out the gestures and expressions of figures in the rigorously composed spaces of my enamel paintings. I used to prefer the instantaneity of small, amateur Polaroid SX-70 and 600 prints, which allowed me to review numerous 'hard copy' images as I refined a pose without having to resort to a computer or worse, a photo lab. Over the years, I amassed hundreds, in monochrome and colour. I discarded them carelessly in a large plastic plastic garbage bag in a cupboard along with paints, solvents and brushes.
I thought nothing of these prints until four years ago, when a friend of mine, a photographer, came across the stash. Under my bemused (and slightly embarrassed) gaze, he dumped the filled-to-bursting bag onto the timber floor of my beachside studio, squatted amid a spill of small, 8cm x 8cm images and began to 'curate' a series of the more interesting pictures. I exhibited a handful of them at my first-ever exhibition of watercolours, Venus In Hell, at MARS Gallery in Melbourne, in 2006. Over the next year, several groupings were sold to collectors.
Two dozen Polaroid 600 prints, each signed and dated, are now being re-sold by one of those collectors. All are mounted in double-ply, archival quality white rag and some are also framed within a custom-designed perspex box (29cm x 26cm x 3cm).
Unusual and 'one-off', unlike other forms of photographic print, some of these images are more than ten years old. A testament to the stability of Polaroid's instant emulsions, they are virtually unchanged in colour since the day they were ejected from the front of the cheap plastic camera I bought in a local thrift store.They represent an unusual glimpse of the process through which I conceived and refined some of my better known early paintings – as well as of the woman I was then.
Better yet, they are available at about three per cent of the price for which the paintings derived from them are now sold at auction.
The following is an abbreviated catalogue of the images offered. The colors might be slightly different from those displayed here and dimensions of the mattes and/or frames are not noted. However, if you're interested, please contact my studio and I'll put you in touch with the seller.
Pola' Auto-Erotica Color, 2000, a set of four Polaroid 600 self-processing prints, each approx. 7.8cm x 7.7cm, individually mounted in white archival rag. $A2,400 for the set, plus delivery ($A3,200 individually framed in perspex, plus delivery).
Too Much, Never Enough, 2001, a set of four Polaroid 600 self-processing prints, each approx. 7.8cm x 7.7cm, individually mounted in white archival rag. $A2,000 for the set, plus delivery ($A2,800 individually framed in perspex, plus delivery).
Pink Bits, 2001, a set of two Polaroid 600 self-processing prints, each approx. 7.8cm x 7.7cm, individually mounted in white archival rag. $A750 for the pair, plus delivery.
Cunning Stunts, 2001, a set of two Polaroid 600 self-processing prints, each approx. 7.8cm x 7.7cm, individually mounted in white archival rag. $750 for the pair, plus delivery.
Dexedrine Nights, 2001, a set of two Polaroid 600 self-processing prints, each approx. 7.8cm x 7.7cm, individually mounted in white archival rag. $A900 for the pair, plus delivery.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Pieces Of Mind

On Monday, 13th September, I will be featured in The Zone, the relatively new, multi-media 'package' edited by Michael Short for the venerable Melbourne newspaper, The Age.
The Zone
is about what Short describes as "the free market of ideas". Each week, it profiles, in print and video, a leading figure in business, science, politics, social activism or the arts and invites the audience to explore further – or argue, or act upon – the ideas they propose. It also tries to get at "the genesis of the ideas".
I will be talking about my own decision to step outside the traditional, commercial and institutional gallery system – the first established artist to do so in this part of the world – and attempt to use new media not just to connect with collectors but also develop and better communicate the ideas within my work. It also confronts both the high cost of this decision and the inevitable contradictions that have emerged since I first committed to the idea, half a decade ago.
A video interview, along with a text transcript and photographs, will be posted at The Zone from midnight (Australian Eastern standard time) on Monday, 13th September. A related feature will also be published as 'hard copy' in The Age. At midday, the same day, I will be answering moderated questions online: details will be available at The Zone.
Incidentally, Michael Short is inviting everyone to submit questions well in advance. They can be emailed to him at mshort@theage.com.au

Monday, September 06, 2010

Resurrection

Distracted by madness, insolvency and the illness of my father, I haven't dared to look forward for the past several months. I have done little new work and until a few weeks ago, I was uncertain whether I'd be able to increase my productivity enough to cope with a backlog of several undelivered pieces let alone have adequate resources to realise new ideas.
But now all this has turned around. I have managed to put together a financial package that will enable me to complete a number of large enamel paintings and I have assembled enough materials from my studio and storage facility in Sydney to be able to produce enamel stencils, acrylics and watercolours on archival quality stock. Thanks to a couple of supportive collectors, I have also been able to get hold of a handful of smaller works and merchandise to sell, the proceeds of which will go towards funding work for my exhibitions next year.
I spent yesterday drawing up an inventory of drawings, paintings, stencils and photographs now to hand. I mapped out a production schedule for outstanding work and started calling collectors. I interviewed assistants and made lists of enamel colours and brushes needed for the large paintings. I ordered more stencils for my Yes/No and If... series. I delivered a couple of works to their surprised buyers and carefully packed a couple more to consign today.
The list of stuff still to do (and calls to make) each day is dauntingly long but for the first time in a year, maybe more, the energy in my studio is palpable. The imaginative and physical tasks ahead are no longer a burden but the source of an infectious and very real buzz.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Art In The Open

The house where I am staying is a small cottage built at one end of a long block of land on a suburban street. From the front, it's so much like every other house on the street that sometimes I walk right past it without noticing.
I've set up a temporary office/studio in the front room. I spend most of the day at the same, small makeshift drawing desk I've used for years – actually an old, paint-stained frame balanced on two adjustable aluminium trestles. Clear plastic drawers filled with art materials are stacked against one wall, blank frames and packs of paper lean against another. The whole studio can be packed up for transport within an hour. Within a couple of months, most of the materials will have been turned into work and sold.
The rest of the house is neat but unremarkable – until you walk into the backyard. There, beyond a small patch of lawn, a formal path leads to a timber-built Balinese hut. It's a
n open, elevated space on a platform the size of two rooms, roofed with hand-laid straw. Passionfruit vines drape down one side. The rest of the garden is a motley but fragrant assortment of sub-tropical ferns, trees with bitter but edible berries, a peach tree, a lime bush, a heavily pruned magnolia, plantings of rosemary, some native lilli pilli and several climbing roses.
In the morning, I drink coffee in the hut, warmed by the morning sun. In the evening, I sleep there under a duvet on a wide daybed, nestled among cushions. I like a shelter without walls, with a breeze on my skin and surrounded by the whispered rustle of leaves and small, nocturnal animals
.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

An Empty Heart

In 2001, when I was invited to join an artist's expedition to Lake Eyre sponsored by Melbourne businessman, David Deague, I didn't need to be convinced that it would be good for my career. I was to be the only artist under 30, as well as the only female, in a group of ten artists that included five of Australia's most eminent living painters – John Olsen, Tim Storrier, David Larwill, Jeff Makin and Robert Jacks – as well as author and critic Ashley Crawford and photographer Hari Ho.
From a base at the William Creek Hotel, on the infamous Oodnadatta Track, the expedition ranged all over the desolate outback of central Australia, from an encampment on the southern edge of the Simpson Desert to the South Australian opal mining town of Coober Pedy and Uluru (or Ayers Rock) in the Northern Territory. It visited aboriginal settlements at Papunya and Kintore and connected with idigenous artists such as George Tjungurrayi, Ronnie Tjampitjinpa and Makinti Napananka.
Of course, being a post-modern sort of expedition, it was all vividly documented in a mix of old media, from a lavish coffee table book, William Creek And Beyond, to a film, The View From Here, directed by Liz Jones, later broadcast on Australia's state-owned ABC network.
The resulting art works were exhibited on a tour of nine Australian regional galleries.
The experience should have been a high point of my career. It gained national awareness for my work and me and opened up a lot of new opportunities. But the cost was high. In my eagerness to be invited on the expedition, I conceded ten large works derived from the expedition to the organisers – even at my prices then, this probably represented more in dollar terms than the expenses my involvement incurred. But the worst part was that I put my trust in a couple of people who were, to say the very least, careless of my well-being. By the time I returned to Melbourne, I was a mess. It took the next three years to restore a broken sense of self and start painting again.
My memories of that time are still raw enough that I was tempted to ignore the upcoming auction at Menzies in Melbourne of one of the ten Lake Eyre paintings. It's also no secret that I have an inimical relationship with the art dealer who is submitting the work for sale. But Bird Of Prey, 100cm x 150cm, painted in high gloss enamel on timber board, is one of the best of the series. It deserves more than its pre-sale estimate of $9,000 - $12,000 – and a good home.
The auction takes place on Thursday, 23rd September at 6.30pm, at 9 Darling Street, South Yarra, Victoria. The painting can be viewed in Sydney from 9th - 12th September, 11am to 6pm daily, at Menzies' gallery, 12 Todman Avenue, Kensington and in Melbourne from 16th - 22nd September, 11am to 6pm daily, at 9 Darling Street, South Yarra.