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.