Friday, March 24, 2017

Brief message because I'm sick

I'll keep this brief. 
I've seen the Bill Henson photographs twice, they're amazing. I particularly loved his landscapes. The sky in one of them looked on fire.
Walking across Princes Bridge yesterday I noticed Red Symonds, I think I pointed to him mischievously in order to indicate I'd recognized him. He smiled and waved.
I've been rather sick the past few days. Ran a temperature of 39C degrees for 48 hours and no amount of paracetamol made it reduce. I couldn't sleep because of body pain and have been trying to help my students, when I'm essentially running on empty.
I wrote this poem a few months ago - cheerful little number it is, but it seems to sum things up because I still feel rather ill.

All of life
we avoid this
unfathomable hole
only to be
eventually swallowed by it. 
The long boredom
stretching ad infinitum
no longer affected or
determined by our own will
remains a voracious
gaping mouth
without boundaries.

Saturday, March 18, 2017


I haven't written anything for a while, but I promise to get back to it as soon as I am able. I struggled through that really hot week, but have been enjoying the golden sunsets and mauve sunrise skies.I had an amazingly hyper real colorful dream last night of fireworks, spirals, swirling letters, numbers and shapes. I felt like I was half awake and whilst all of this was occurring I did wonder whether I was experiencing a migraine aura in my sleep. I guess I'll never know. Sorry, I hope to have something a little more interesting in my next post.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Crazy, crazy week

It's been a bit of a crazy week. I began casual/on-call tutoring at Melbourne University and had to reorient myself to walking through the frenzied city crowds and catching trams full of students. Luckily, many kind people offered me their seats. I'm reading a wonderful book called Josef Stalin: Man of Steel by David W. Cole, Rich and Cowen Ltd., London (1942). Nothing at all to do with my tutoring, I'm just interested in the history of such people. The book is a first edition, but I'm underlining important passages in it anyway. What can I say? I'm looking forward to Autumn and cooler weather. I don't do well on hot days. Oh, 91 people have viewed the Naomi Bishop post, which is encouraging.

Sunday, February 26, 2017


Aristophanes at Studio 28, VCA: Photo: Julie Clarke (c) 2017
Still from a video by Dadang Christanto. Photo: Julie Clarke (c) 2017

It was interesting to hear Aristophanes in conversation on Wednesday afternoon at Studio 28, the Victorian College of the Arts, part of the AsiaTopa Festival.

Aristophanes, a Taipei-based hip-hop artist, who fuses poetry, electronica and jazz, spoke of her attempts to negotiate the male dominated area in which she has chosen to perform her craft. Amidst a myriad of diverse voices (Chinese as well as Western Rap artists) she continually strives to discover her identity closely linked with her own culture.
It was not surprising that she had struggled with sexual harassment and other difficulties associated with being female as well as being a performance artist. She spoke of an ideal, that of being able to see more females working in the industry. When asked whether singing in Mandarin might alienate English speaking listeners, especially her feminism and political stance evidenced in her lyrics, she explained that music transcends language.

Prior to this event I saw videos and amazing still photographs that documented the work of performance artists in Southeast Asia. Political Acts is at the Arts Center until 21 May and the most compelling image for me was from Dadang Christanto's Tooth Brushing (2017). With his coughing up or spewing forth of crimson matter from his mouth he references the bloody anti-Communist purges in Indonesia during 1965-1966. I was reminded in part by performances by the Australian artist Mike Parr, particularly his 'The Emetics' 1977 and 'Cathartic Action' 1977.

Thursday, February 23, 2017


I've been watching Naomi Bishop's work for a while now and have pleasure in presenting some of the paintings to you. An explanation in her own words follow the images:
Forest Rocks, 2016
oil on linen
100 x 90 cm 
Geomancy 2015
oil on birch panel
50 x 40 cm
Karsikkopuu ( memorial tree ) 2016
oil on linen
100 x 90 cm
Sentinel 2014
40 x 30 cm
pencil, ink and gouache on paper
Threshold Wall
Witch Sticks I2016
40 x 30 cm
gouache, pencil and ink on paper
Pyre 2015
oil and pigment on composition board
61 x 61 cm
Birch Wand 2014
pencil ink and gouache on paper
40 x 29 cm
My practice centers around painting and works on paper, which explore the mysterious, space and atmospheric phenomena, and landscape and ritual. I am interested in the way environments shape our understanding and experience of the world around us, and the hidden meanings that are derived from plants, landscapes, seasons, and celestial phenomena.

Travel is an integral part of my practice. My work is informed and enriched through experiencing different environments and cultures, with periods of placing myself away from my home in order observe and gain fresh perspectives.
Most recently I have been focused on developing photographs, drawings and small paintings I have made over the time spent at the Arteles Creative Centre Residency in Finland, into larger bodies of work. I spent a month in winter in 2014, followed in 2015 by a month in summer, observing and exploring the forests, lakes, rocks and megaliths, and wilderness culture.  From these observations I have continued making many works on paper and larger scale paintings.  
I also became fascinated by rituals particular to Finnish nature worship and have continued working with mysterious symbols, imagined ritual objects and substances. I made images of memorial stones, forest burial grounds and illusory thresholds, objects and places might be used for conjuring supernatural forces, and contacting or remembering departed souls. Elements of rock, bone, wood, earth, and salt are interpreted and developed into imagined sacred objects. I have made my own objects for burial rituals, inspired by objects I found on the residencies in Finland, a trip to Volcanic forests near Taipei, and mysterious trees and rocks I have found closer to home in the Australian rainforest.
Chance plays a part in the creation of the images, from initially finding a shape with which to work, through to the movement of the paint and the fall of light and shadows across works on the desk or walls of my studio.
More information may be found at this link

Monday, February 20, 2017


Lila Seewoosurrun-Sadaful, NGV International. Photo: Julie Clarke (c) 2017
I spent a couple of thoroughly enjoyable hours today with Lila Seewoosurrun-Sadaful at the NGV International. Lila is in Melbourne for the next two years undertaking an MA by research in Urban Planning at The University of Melbourne and I met up with her at the Gallery in order to introduce her to one aspect of Melbourne under the Welcome to Melbourne mentoring scheme arranged by the University Alumni Association.
Lila is married with two children and has been a town planner in Mauritius for over a decade. She has a strong work ethic, has experience working with engineers as well as being in charge of building inspectors, which she herself has undertaken. Her MA in Urban Planning will augment her extensive skills base and has equity at its core; for much of existing land in Mauritius is currently used to construct high rise buildings, whereas many living in poverty on the island's flat land will be at the mercy of floods due to the affect of climate change on the small island. Lila hopes that her study will enable her to improve the future housing conditions of those in need.
Lila, NGV International. Photo: Julie Clarke (c) 2017
I took Lila to the National Gallery (International) because I wanted to share my interest in contemporary art, however the gallery was in the process of setting up new exhibitions. Instead, Lila and I spent time looking at Mexican and Egyptian stone work sculptures and 17th - 19th Century paintings. I don't remember ever seeing Rembrandt's self portrait and portrait of an old man together, so that was a highlight for me. Lila was impressed by the intricate attention to detail of the clothing and she especially liked a painting depicting two young children surrounded by dogs.
Lila, NGV International. Photo: Julie Clarke (c) 2017
We had coffee outside the Arts Centre because the day, which had begun in typical Melbourne style - cold, grey and overcast, was finally sunny. I have to admit that I could have spent much more time listening to Lila's beautiful French accent and feel honored to have meet such a gentle soul.

Thursday, February 9, 2017


Last week the beautiful, but diseased tree in my courtyard was cut down to a stump. The noise from the chainsaw was horrendous and I had a migraine for two days. Nevertheless at least I don't have to worry now about whether it was going to fall. Unfortunately the tree was providing much needed shade from the burning sun and so my courtyard, which was once a haven is like hades. The birds that I feed everyday - a couple of blackbirds, some doves and sparrows adapted to the fact that the tree was missing and use the tree stump as a jumping off point to the top of the fence. I think they grew accustomed to the absence of branches and leaves faster than I did and I figure that's because they didn't see the tree as I did, being more enveloped within it, whereas I absorbed its entireity.

After reading Hitler's Mein Kamf I've moved on to Arthur Shopenhauer's The World as Will and Representation and although I'm dipping into the large tome, rather than reading it word for word I have to say that I enjoyed the chapter on Aesthetic Pleasure, especially in relation to the sublime. The following quote regarding the sublime character is particularly interesting:

He will observe their faults, and even their hatred and injustice to himself, without being thereby stirred to hatred on his own part. He will contemplate their happiness without feeling envy, recognize their good qualities without desiring closer association with them, perceive the beauty of women without hankering after them. His personal happiness or unhappiness will not violently affect him. For, in the course of his own life and in its misfortunes, he will look less at his own individual lot than at the lot of mankind as a whole, and accordingly will conduct himself in this respect rather as a knower than as a sufferer. (206-207). I'm wondering whether this may be akin to Nietzsche's Ubermensch for it appears to be a spiritual quest?

Over the course of the past week I've been involved in administrative tasks associated with becoming a casual tutor in the Indigenous Tertiary Assistane Scheme at the University of Melbourne. It's a job I held between the years 2009-2012. I'm not sure at this stage how many hours a week I'll be working as it really depends on the students who select me. It's still a week or so before Orientation Week so I'll know soon enough. I also joined up as a Welcome to Melbourne mentor with the University and have been matched with a female town planner from Mauritis who is undertaking an MA at Melbourne University. I've decided to welcome her to Melbourne by taking her to the NGV International in a couple of weeks time.

I feel rather trapped by this hot weather. I generally do domestic things, gymnasium and the like in the morning and then home in the afternoons. I'm really looking forward to Autumn's cooler days. Still, one should not wish their life away.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017


Half an hour before the tribute flowers were removed by SES and Red Cross volunteers from the steps of the old Melbourne General Post Office, corner of Elizabeth and Bourke Street, Melbourne yesterday I went to look at the gifts and cards left by Melbournians to honor those who died after a man in a car rampaged through streets of the CBD and killed pedestrians on 22 January this year. Tragically the death of the sixth victim of the attack had only just been announced.
It was cool and overcast when I arrived at about 9.55 am. The mood amongst those present was quiet and sombre. Visibly upset Melbournians were being comforted by Red Cross volunteers and a female member asked if I was alright because after taking about twenty photographs I stopped to read one of the messages left by a nine year old. Her message began with the words 'Melbourne used to be a happy place...' and it was these words that brought me to tears. For the Red Cross volunteer it was seeing a small soft toy of a pengin with one of its socks missing. A young man standing next to me was crying and I pointed out to him how beautiful the tribute looked, because the sun had finally broken through the clouds and its light was reflecting off the cellophane wrapping on the flowers. The whole scene was aesthetically beautiful and after recognising what I said he stopped crying and smiled. Even though I had seen reportage of this tragic event on television, this event was made more real by the overwhelming tribute, the photographs of the victims and the knowledge that this had indeed happened. All I could think of was 'not our Melbourne'! The flower tribute has been removed but the memory will remain.