Monday, October 31, 2011


At The Fiery Gate Gouache on paper 30 x 42 cm

I am continuing to explore ideas of Mother Nature with paintings that behold the feminine essence of our earthly, cosmological and spiritual lives. This exploration expands on my concerns for our immediate environment and my interest in the distance between the vast and nano, whether it be spatial or temporal, physical or spiritual.

At The Fiery Gate suggests that Mother Nature is suspended at the gate to Eden/Paradise? Have we sacrificed her? She is us, she is all, past-present-future. What do we need to do to pass through the gate to return to Paradise? Fire, as a purification symbol 'speaks' of change, which can be either forced upon us or actively sought. Surely the financial mayhem, climatic and environmental turmoil we are experiencing at the moment, screams for the need to make fundamental changes to the way we live and operate.

North South East West Gouache on paper 30 x 42 cm

North South East West is titled without commas between the words, because I want no borders or barriers to exist by implication. Punctuation can subliminally suggest border/boundary and thus difference. Yet, each point around the 360 degrees of the compass is a direction. In this painting the female figure, Mother Nature-the feminine life force- extends her reach in all directions, with the vascular-like tree-of-life pulsing within and beyond. She is connected to her physical world, as well as her inner world. She is me, she is you, she is us.


Please have a look at my latest e-update at this link:

FOR EVERYONE: Words and Paintings

Available as a book or e-book!

My book FOR EVERYONE is available from Balboa Press at:
or from Amazon and other online stores, plus ask your local bookstore.

And, there's a GOOGLE PREVIEW where you can see some of the inside of the book


UNDER $1000

My entry into the Blake Prize, was shortlisted by the judges but was not chosen as a finalist.
The Directors' Cut Exhibition is a selection of those works which were shortlisted.
The exhibition is online until 31 January.
You can see all the paintings at:


Sunday, October 23, 2011


Breath Gouache on paper 30 x 42 cm

I am enjoying working with gouache on paper, continuing with the kind of paintings I wrote about in my last post QUIVER.

These new paintings are inspired by a few things...the age-old transcultural/religious tree-of-life, the female figure, my concerns for the environment, my interests in finding ways to visually seek out the potency of symbols so they have 21st century relevance and beauty. Regular readers will know of my interests and how they inter-connect to create paintings which are multi layered and often surprisingly political.
The painting above Breath places the figure of a woman, representing life giving, at the centre of a vortex or spiral. Have you ever played with a spiral? They quiver. It is this quivering, which reverberates back and forth, that makes me think of life forces, across time...past, present and future.
In Breath my much loved tree-of-life is depicted a number of times, with the red trees appearing almost lung like. The tree's capacity to mirror vascular systems and viscera excites and inspires me.

Signs of life ie: pulse and breath, do not recognise colour of skin, religion, sex or culture. We all share these fundamental signs of life, and as we feel our hearts beat and our breath's inhalation and exhalation, it reminds us of larger forces, earth's pulse and breath, and indeed, those of the multiverse. But, maybe we don't listen or take notice of these forces within us and around us? This question leads to the next painting called Montetizing Mother Nature, which has a more noticeably political intent, going beyond the reminder to notice which is implicit in Breath.

Monetizing Mother Nature Gouache on paper 30 x 42 cm

The three female figures are connected to earth via trees-of-life, as they are connected to the heavens. These vascular-like trees seem to pulse with life. The women are representative of nature, with the figure on the right is inspired by me! Yes, I have a very long plait, which reaches well past my hips. When my children and I went to see 'Avatar' we all thought I must have been the inspiration for the blue people, the ones with long plaits that could be connected to the life forces in the ground.!!!

Anyway, moving on...the women are 'decorated' with small $ signs. The 'landscape' is also painted largely with small $ signs. Regular readers will know that I often use small $ signs, initially not discernible when viewed at a distance, but clearly seen when the viewer is up close. I am 'asking' the question 'Have you noticed?'. I am also interested in the idea that a painting seen from a distance can be a different painting when viewed up close. This is a metaphor for the life we lead today ie: we live locally in an increasingly globalised world and we need to be able to 'see' multiple perspectives simultaneously in order to negotiate [I prefer dance] across the 'stage' which exists between the local and global.

In Monetizing Mother Nature I am thinking about the commoditisation of natural resources, the monetry value placed on carbon, water, wind and so on. Will a carbon tax eleviate global warming? That will be something we'll know in time, but I am sure there will be people making a lot of money carbon trading. Regular readers will know of my concerns about coal seam gas extraction and mining here in Australia and overseas. Huge amounts of money are being paid for exploration, mining, production, and foreign companies buying land and Australian mining companies. But at what real and ongoing cost? There is a vocal and growing community anti-CSG movement here in Australia, asking this very question. Without adequate scientific analysis of impacts on above and below ground water resources, potential soil degradation, plus social and health issues what might we ultimately lose? People are very concerned, frustrated, angry and anxious...all potent ingredients for social unrest.

Regular readers will know that I grew up on a farm on the Darling Downs and that I also lived, as an adult, for 18 years further west in the samll rural township of Goondiwindi. I understand the concerns people have about water and soil. I also understand farming practices and how CSG, and increased open cut coal mines, can affect production and efficiency. After reading a number of reports and articles, and attending forums on CSG I have been, and continue to be, deeply concerned about the haste of CSG activity, and the government's inadequate pre and current monitoring of the industry.

If one steps back from the close view ie: money money money to be spent and take a view of the bigger picture as seen from a 'distance', the money to be spent and made now pales against the potential massive 'value' loss caused by a plethora of issues ie: the potential for loss of food producing farm land due to aquifer water cross contaminations, introduced contaminations, depletion, plus soil degradation; erosion of farming IP due to farmers leaving or forced to leave the industry plus subsequent unraveling of rural social fabric; the fact that methane is a more dangerous contributer to global warming than carbon dioxide..I could go on because the picture is BIG.

In Monetizing Mother Nature I am playing with the word monetize. It's a word I see on my BLOG backpage where I have opportunities to monetize it. The opportunistic nature of the commercial world is fascinating, but not so when the mindset erodes how we might 'value' things by monetization when their 'value' goes way beyond money.

Please see below a list of other psots where I write about my use of small $ signs.

Now for something a bit lighter!

What I Think About Whilst Planking/Bridging Gouache on paper 30 x 42 cm

This is me planking. Yes, my long plait, mentioned above too, has a gravity defying life of its own! I started planking, to keep me trim and tight, a while ago when a friend spoke glowingly about its affect on his waist line...and it was discernible! But, it is so incredibly boring. I count in tens, sometimes in 20s, just to break up the time, to get to around 40- 80 seconds, depending on how bored I am. But, when I start to imagine, as in the painting above, the time goes much more quickly.



My entry for the BLAKE PRIZE whilst not a finalist was  in the group considered for the finals. AND, from that group the directors select works for what's called the DIRECTORS' CUT EXHIBITION. And, my entry COMPASSION is in it!
This link will take you to where you can see the list of selected artists.
The DIRECTORS' CUT is an online exhibition and the images are live from 26 October - 23 January.


Sunday, October 16, 2011


Mother Nature Gouache on paper 30 x 42 cm

My exhibition PARADISE at Purgatory Artspace in Melbourne finished last Saturday. Great feedback from the gallery and visitors. I am very happy and am planning another exhibition for early 2013.

I will admit to being somewhat exhausted though. Having an exhibition is both physically and emotionally draining, not only leading up to the event, but also while it is on.
However, after a number of failed attempts to paint...yes lots of tearing up paper and over painting...I feel I'm now back in a creative flow. I've been painting with gouache on paper, plus I have prepared three canvases, which are sitting in my sudio [aka garage] willing me to spill out the images in my head.

Let's just say that whilst it is frustrating when the creative flow seems impeded, the ripping up and over painting become a kind of 'play'...and that's a good thing. I let it happen. Out of this 'play' some ideas started to gel in my mind and flowed onto the paper.

I've been wanting to explore more ideas of beauty. As regular readers know I have written about beauty before. For me, beauty is a reminder of what we lose if we do not nurture our planet and all its living creatures, including us. Beauty is not ignorant or simple, as its underlying pathos is an understanding of the existence of ugliness, which it consciously elides. The conscious elision is the element which differentiates beauty from mere prettiness. However, I think that many confuse prettiness with beauty, and in doing so skim across the surface of potential. The cult of celebrity, the fickleness of fashion and the vacuuous drama of reality shows seem to me to perpetuate the slippery slopes of superficiality, resulting in a tourist-like experience of life, rather than an absorption in life.

Beauty has a capacity to touch our hearts deep inside us, triggering resonances that quiver with the past and the future, reminding us at a core, or DNA, level of life's purpose. In these new works on paper I found myself taken to places within and compelled to explore the quiver, the resonance.

Quiver Gouache on paper 30 x 42 cm

The body of a woman is present in these four new works. She is the conduit of life, the essence of life revelling in life. She is not a separate entity placed outside the 'scape'. She, is absorbed into the patterns of life, she is part of the pattern, the rhythm. I use the word 'scape' to encompass all environments from those bound to Earth, to those deep within the human psyche, to those in the outer reaches of the cosmos, as well as those that 'speak' of history, past, present and future.

                                    Threshold of Time Gouache on paper 30 x 42 cm

Regular readers will identify my much loved transcultural/religious tree-of-life motif. The tree just keeps inspiring me! In these paintings it seems indivisible from the female figures as it erupts from their limbs and hearts, connecting to the distance beyond and within.

Firmament Gouache on paper 30 x 42 cm

Here are some links to previous posts where I write about beauty: [I write about beauty at the end of the blog post] This is a short segment from a recent 1 1/2 hour presentation I gave for the C.J Jung Soc of Queensland. In this segment I talk about beauty.

My entry for the BLAKE PRIZE whilst not getting into the finalists was apparently in the group considered for the finals. AND, from that group the directors select works for what's called the DIRECTORS' CUT EXHIBITION. And, my entry COMPASSION is in it!

This link will take you to where you can see the list of selected artists.
The DIRECTORS' CUT is an online exhibition and the images are live from 26 October - 23 January. I'll keep you informed!


Please check out my website where I have online 'galleries'. Details such as prices etc can be found there.


Saturday, October 08, 2011



Today ie: 8 October is the last day of solo exhibition at Purgatory Artspace, 170 Abbotsford St, North Melbourne.PH: 61 3 9329 1860 11 am - 5 pm TODAY!!!!

Here are a few of the paintings.

Meeting Place Of The Mind oil on linen 100 x 70 cm 2011
$3900 AUD*

Infinity Oil on linen 100 x 70 cm 2011
$3900 AUD*

Knowing Stillness Oil on linen 85 x 150 cm 2011
$5300 AUD*

* The prices are current as of Octoner 2011 and do not include freight.

The entire exhibition can be viewed at

The individual paintings are at the bottom of this page. You can click each image to see a separate page with all the details, including prices for particular images.



My entry for the BLAKE PRIZE whilst not getting into the finalists was apparently in the group considered for the finals. AND, from that group the directors select works for what's called the DIRECTORS' CUT EXHIBITION. And, my entry COMPASSION is in it!

This link will take you to where you can see the list of selected artists.

The DIRECTORS' CUT is an online exhibition and the images are live from 26 October - 23 January. I'll keep you informed!


And you can vote for my portfolio which I have entered into a competition called ART TAKES MIAMI. There's an independent judging process.... as well as a 'people's choice'. You can vote for me @


Sunday, October 02, 2011


This post has been formulating in my mind for a number of years. It stems from my experiences exhibiting my paintings overseas. Firstly in London in 2002, Dubai 2004, Abu Dhabi and Dubai 2005, Seoul 2007. The Queensland Government's Trade office, Austrade and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade [DFAT] have all assisted me in various ways. The latter through the Australian High Commission in London and the Australian Embassy in Abu Dhabi. There were minor interactions with the Embassy in Soeul. My interactions with these various entities involved my own art practice, on behalf of other artists, and also as an attendee at other Australian cultural events.

                                   Photos from my Abu Dhabi exhibition opening in Gulf News

The Deputy High Commissioner opened my solo exhibition in London, and the Australian Ambassador opened my solo exhibition in Dubai in 2004. The Queensland Government's Minister for Education and the Arts, at the time Hon Rod Welford, opened my exhibition in Abu Dhabi. I did not go to Seoul for the group show I was involved with, however the Australian Embassy, Austrade and the Queensland Government's Trade Office were involved. The Australian Ambassador was meant to open the group exhibition of Queensland artists I was involved with in Dubai 2005.

Mr Khalfan Asst Undersecrety Abu Dhabi Cultural Foundation, Hon Rod Welford Qld Minister for Educ & Arts, Kathryn Brimblecombe-Fox, Alan Lindberg GHD Abu Dhabi, Mr Al Amri Head
Opening of my exhibition in Abu Dhabi- I did not know there'd be a ribbon cutting until I got to the door!
I received an Arts Queensland grant for this exhibition. Also, Australian engineering company GHD provided some sponsorship.

As an artist, I have also had dealings with various Australian diplomatic and trade entities in the US and Canada. I have been a guest presenter at Austrade, Queensland Government Trade Office and Arts Queensland forums, on the topic of creative industry export. For 18 months across early 2006 to 2007 I was Chairman of the Queensland Chapter of the Australia Arab Chamber of Commerce and Industry [AACCI], a member organisation representing Australian businesses with interests in the Arab League countries of the Middle East and North Africa, as well as supporting business interest from the Arab League in Australia. As Chairman I had interactions with DFAT, Austrade, affiliate organisations, other Chambers of Commerce, as well as foreign Embassies and Consulates.

I certainly appreciate the assistance I have been given, from VIP presences at openings to grants which contributed to funding a couple of my international activities.

But, particularly my experience in Abu Dhabi, has left me with a feeling that Australia's diplomatic entities miss many opportunities to extend, enhance and enjoy relationships with others, through  cultural activities. I am talking about missed opportunities with regards to art's potential to contribute to  what's called 'cultural diplomacy'; to shift the borders of difference to reveal new perspectives, not only of others but of ourselves. Often called 'soft power', present day cultural diplomacy seems limited to a 'show and tell' attitude, where the flurry of opening night celebrations and photo ops cast aside very real opportunities to generate meaningful conversations, ie: the type of conversations that are not agenda driven, therefore often revealing new pathways for relationship and understanding. [I call these conversations agenda-less, but not direction-less]. The cultural activity or event seems to become a mere backdrop... something nice to do... but from my own experience art [all arts] holds catalytic potential to propel people past superficial and/or self-interested agendas, to places where discovery of similarities cause differences to become less different.


In Abu Dhabi in 2005, I held a solo exhibition at the Abu Dhabi Cultural Foundation. In 2004, whilst my solo exhibition was on in Dubai, the Third Secretary, a remarkable young Australian woman, at the Australian Embassy introduced me to the the Foundation's Director of Arts. This first meeting was a great experience. The remarkable young woman spoke fluent Arabic, plus both she and I knew the protocols for such meetings. When I presented the Director with my business card, which I had had translated into Arabic, he smiled broadly, commented appreciatively, and over cups of tea my exhibition proposal was accepted.

The exhibition was held just before Christmas 2005. I was very grateful to have received a grant from Arts Queensland plus some sponsorship from engineering company GHD. Unfortunately, the remarkable multi-lingual young woman from the Australian Embassy had moved on to other parts of the world, so she was not able to see the show.

I sat with the exhibition each day. This gave me incredible opportunities to engage with people who came to see the exhibition. And, there were lots of them! On a daily basis I had conversations with people from all over the Middle East, Africa and Eastern Europe, plus a few westerners. These conversations, triggered by my paintings, have profoundly influenced me and my work.

As regular readers know, I use the transcultural/religious tree-of-life motif as my visual guide through distances both close and far. I use it to suggest literal and metaphoric multiple perspectives. The -tree-of-life needs no is transcultural and religious after all....and the conversations I shared in 2005 in Abu Dhabi, very quickly bypassed superficiality and mundane commentary, because there was something to propel us beyond these locked gates. Men and women told me about their hopes, dreams and fears. I had men and women return a number of times to share stories with me and introduce me to other family members. I had a teacher who visited my show, return a few days later with her class of school children, and then a couple of these children returned with their parents a day or so later.

                                I had to give an opening talk at the Abu Dhabi exhibition.


What did I learn? I learnt that conversation is a key element of any relationship. I learnt, that these people, who initially seemed so different to me, shared the same fundamental hopes and dreams for peace, environmental sustainability, friendship and understanding. I learnt that as we recognise the humanity in others, the 'other', seems less different. Signs of life, pulse and breath, do not recognise race, colour or religion. The urge for identity flourishes in a diversity of cultures and religions, yet the urge is shared human trait. I realised that prescribed agendas for hoped-for outcomes, limit possibility. I learnt that art is a powerful catalyst to enable open-ended conversation where possibility is limitless. Additionally, the power of age-old symbols, ones that are shared across cultures and religions, still hold potency in the 21 st century - if we pay attention.

                                Unlimited Oil on linen 120 x 160 cm 2006 This painting was in the Abu Dhabi exhibition.

I also learnt that people who value their culture, look to see how others value their own cultures. So, for example, I discovered through conversation, that the people who visited my exhibition wanted to see westerners value their own cultures. It was in the valuing or loving of culture that they look for a connection with others, not necessarily, or only, in the manifestation of performance or exhibition. I suspect many westerners don't really understand this. I suspect, also, that our 'show and tell' attitude, confuses those we aim to impress. Indeed, why do we need to impress? And, where does this need sit with regards to loaded terms like 'soft power'?


Many cultural activities, exhibitions, performances see individual artists and/or groups forge relationships with people in hosting countries. These activities are achieved with or without government funding, but often with sponsorship and normally with significant financial and time outlay from artists and/or their representive/s. Yet, from my own experience, and comments from other artists, the potential for broader and sustained cultural exchange, which could assist in building all kinds of relationships, is lost through a lack of understanding of the arts' potential to provide encounters, beyond the opening night, that lead to new possibilities. And, I don't mean just a lack of funding, because sometimes it is not just about money, but more about listening and thinking divergently. Artists and arts organisations can and do think divergently, but they need assistance to build upon relationships initiated in early exchange. By this I mean that whilst the internet may mean communication continues, the physical ability to return to perform or exhibit...and thus stimulate conversation.... is not be so easy. Often financial returns will not manifest for a number of years, yet relationships cannot have a 'value' placed upon them because their 'value' goes well beyond the monetary.


In this day and age, where we live locally in an increasingly globalised world, it is important to understand varying points of view with compassion for ourselves and others. Invigorated cultural diplomacy that, embraces meaningful and sustained exchange, explores partnerships and connections outside the norm, and expresses to others our love of our own culture, will confidently invite sharing rather than 'showing and telling'. This kind of cultural exchange is not about 'power', neither is it 'soft'. Rather it is confident and compassionate...and exciting!

Forever Connected Oil on linen 120 x 80 cm