Saturday, July 22, 2017

Port Melbourne Beach, another artwork, Tracey Lamb and Baby Driver

Maiden, Mother, Crone. Oil pastel & acrylic paint on A3 Daler Rowney 200 gsm paper.
Julie Clarke (c) 2017
I began the week by seeing Baby Driver at the Kino Cinema and really enjoyed the concept, music and acting until the last ten minutes when there was a flood of loud music and frenetic action that I just couldn't tolerate. Generally though I'd have to say I enjoyed the film.
During the week I went to the home of Melbourne artist Tracey Lamb and enjoyed lunch and some much needed general repartee and stimulating intellectual discussion, which focused primarily on female artists and the writings of Elizabeth Grosz. Best of all was seeing Tracey's recent sculptures, one of which is wearable and her beautiful photographs. It's so much more rewarding seeing artworks in the flesh so to speak.
And on the front, yesterday morning I did another oil pastel and acrylic paint drawing, which I've posted above. In late morning I headed off to Port Melbourne beach. The welcome mid-winter sun was smiling and the sea was calm. The Spirit of Tasmania was docked.
Photo: Julie Clarke (c) 2017
After lunch - my usual portion of fish and lemon at D'Lish Fish, I took a short walk along the beach and collected a few shells and then decided to walk to the right of Station Pier along the foreshore pedestrian walk, adjacent to the apartments that line the route . Much to my surprise I discovered the new Princess Bridge and at the end a graveyard of pylons from the original Princess Bridge built in 1912. It was a wonderful sea of worn wood and rusty nails. Almost eerie. It stood silent, like an army of sentinels in a watery grave. I loved it.
Photo: Julie Clarke (c) 2017

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Three new drawings (colors aren't quite accurate)

Old rag and ruin. Oil pastel & acrylic paint on A3 Fabriano Bristol. Julie Clarke (c) 2017
Citadel and Squid. Oil pastel & acrylic paint on A3 Waterford paper. Julie Clarke (c) 2017
Untitled. Oil pastel  & acrylic paint on A3 Daler Rowney 220gsm paper. Julie Clarke (c) 2017

Sunday, July 16, 2017


Medusa. Oil pastel and acrylic paint on A3 paper. JC 2017
Emergence. Oil pastel and acrylic paint on A3 paper. Julie Clarke (c) 2017
I caught up with friends Dave, Tony and Herbert this week (on different days of course) and whilst I was in the State Library of Victoria I had a brief conversation with Alison Lemoh, mezzo-soprano who was in the ladies at the same time as myself, deciding whether to place her luxurious locks on top of her head or leave them flowing for her rehearsal in Chapel Street later in the day.
I've now read two chapters of Liz Grosz's book Chaos, Cosmos, Territory, Architecture and must admit that it is so much like a restatement of the ideas of Deleuze and Guttari in A Thousand Plateaus that I briefly looked at their chapter on the refrain. The partial and fragmentory interests me and the potential of its becoming - hearing someone sing in the distance and then break off, the sound of a car driving by, the Magpie call so early in the morning and the hum of my heater, all refrains, all markers for memory recuperation.
I struggled most of the week with symptoms from a vestibular migraine but managed to do two oil pastel drawings and continue to think about how this Old Knitter of Black Wool project might progress. I have a couple more ideas and yesterday over coffee outside Short Black cafe in Bridge Road I met an interesting artist/dancer/community arts woman called Mahoney Kiely who, after hearing about my project said I could have her (found) black petit pointe shoes to do with what I will. They fit in nicely with the theme since the petit pointe shoes make the feet of the dancer conform to its design and are an ideal metaphor for the way women are bound to their duties and can become disfigured over time by certain psychological and physical restraints. I reference this in the images I've made with threads of black wool wrapped around my head and the wool and dried rose stem corset.
Since part of this project involves photographing the hands of women over the age of fifty (hands are the most expressive part of our body/ women do so much physical labor with them/hands tend to show our age), I began by taking photos of Mahoney's hands and that of two librarians in the Richmond Library, who were so willing to be part of a project. One mentioned that Australian writer Helen Garner had written something about the way older women are treated in our society.

Thursday, July 13, 2017


Chaos. Oil pastel on paper. Julie Clarke (c 2017
After going to the gymnasium yesterday morning I noted that friend and Melbourne artist Tracey Lamb was reading a book by Liz Grosz called Chaos, Cosmos, Terrigtory, Architecture. I rang a few bookstores and searched libraries and discovered it was held at the State Library of Victoria. I went in and photocopied the first chapter, which I read last night. Im going back into the SLV today to read more so that I can have a half-decent conversation with her next week. It's a Deleuzian text so I won't be entirely out of my depth. I finished the above drawing this morning and thought I'd post it here. It certainly belongs with the Old knitter of black wool series. I may see a film prior to going into the library as I have a desperate need to balance my life between theory, art and cinema.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017


Those who came out of the film Lady Macbeth (William Oldroyd, 2016) believing that the female protagonist Katherine (Florence Pugh) was the only guilty party in this Gothic tale should be reminded of one of the opening scenes in which her cold and detached husband, twice her age, commands her to remove her nightdress and stand facing the wall as he remains dressed sitting in a chair. He proceeds to masturbate whilst viewing her naked buttocks and when she turns towards him after hearing his altered breathing, he demands she look away. It is obvious from this scene that he has the power to command, that his desire has primacy and that she must submit her will. Paradoxically it is not her vulnerability but his that we note, for he appears unable to touch or approach her and doesn't wish to be seen whilst engaged in pleasure. In an early scene Katherine excuses herself through tiredness from an all male dinner gathering and her father in law instructs the maid to ensure Katherine remains awake to receive her husband at the end of the evening. It is obvious that she is to be always ready and able to comply to his sexual needs.
Although compliant in the household Katherine is reminded that her husband, a rich minor's son, purchased her along with some land and as such IS his possession. The fact that she wears clothes made of luxurious fabrics, has a maid and lives in a lesurely manner is evidence of her husband's wealth, power and status, however, we are alerted to her lack of status and that of her dark skinned, mixed race maid Anna (Naomi Ackie), who brushes Katherine's hair, laces her corset way too tightly, and watches her every move, by the fact that both have subserviant roles to play in this household. Race in this context underscores the obvious class differences. Indeed Anna is considered less than human and in a very telling scene is straddled and hung in cloth in an outhouse on the husband's estate. The male servants who have stripped her naked and strung her up, refer to her as a pig. When Katherine happens upon the scene, she demands that they release Anna and adopting the master's voice (in his absence), mirrors his words to her in the bedroom by telling the young men to 'turn around, face the wall and stop smiling'. In a later scene Katherine's father in law who believes Anna is responsible for wine that's gone missing (it was actually consumed by Katherine whilst he was away), demands that she walk on her hands and knees as she leaves the room because she has behaved irresponsibly, lied and behaved like an animal.
The film takes a somewhat positive turn for Katherine when her husband is called away on business and being free for the first time to venture outdoors instead of being confined to the large, empty home, where she does nothing but sleep and look out the window, she takes Sebastian, a stable hand as her lover. It is the first instance in which female desire is expressed and Katherine is insatiable, since she's had no love, attention or sexual relations with her husband that wasn't solely about his desire.
Suspicion befalls Katherine when her father-in-law who reminds her that she has not fulfilled her wifely duties of producing an heir, dies of mushroom poisoning, even though the stable hand sees Anna picking wild mushrooms in the forest. In a short exchange she advises him that the master will not be happy if he discovers Sebastian has been having sex with Katherine. Later, when the master returns and declares his knowledge of Katherine's infidelity she blatantly drags Sebastian out of an adjoing room and begins to caress him in front of her husband who attacks Sebastian causing Katherine to use a fireplace iron and furously beat him he lies dead in a bloody mess. Two facts are obvious here, firstly she attacks her husband in defence of Sebastian and secondly her desire to hold onto her agency occasions her to takes advantage of the opportunistic event of her husband's early return. Both Katherine and Sebastian dispose of his corpse and Katherine shoots her husband's horse to conceal evidence that he has returned to the estate.
Katherine's life is complicated by her pregnancy and the arrival of her deceased husband's ward Teddy. Although she bonds with the young child he absconds from the estate and is located on a cliff edge by Sebastian who carries him home. He confesses to Katherine that he considered killing the child, presumably because the child was not his, would most likely have a financial claim on the estate and would be taking much of Katherine's attention away from him.
Whilst the near death child was lying on the couch, Katherine, obviously intimidated by Sebastian's desire to rid them of a child that was not his, smothers the child whilst Sebastian holds him down. Unable to contain his remorse Sebastian confesses to the doctor that it was he and Katherine who murdered Teddy, however Katherine denies this and accuses Anna and Sebastian as the culprits who murdered the child, her husband and her father-in-law. The pair are hand-cuffed, arrested and carried off to their ultimate fate.
We may read this culmination to the film as underscoring the view that mixed raced individuals are less than human and more likely to commit atrocities, or we could view this as an indictment of an upper class white individual whose very status affords her credibility over inferior subjects. On the other hand we may consider Katherine's actions as a woman very much in survival mode, looking after her own interests and that of her unborn child.
At the end of the film Katherine sits quietly alone in her blue satin dress on a chaise longue staring out at the audience who no doubt perceive her as monstrous. However, her defiant pose challenges our perceptions about her actions and the circumstances surrounding them, which makes me recall that singular image of Emily Dickinson (Cynthia Nixon) in A Quiet Passion (Terence Davies) sitting in her deep blue dress in quiet contemplation considering her lonliness and unrequited love of a married man and Rachel in My Cousin Rachel, who is suspected of murdering her cousin's guardian. All three women are represented in these films as aberrant female entities of the 19th Century.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Threads of life.

Threads of life. (Two views) Julie Clarke (c) 2017
Small, sculptural piece composed of 18 (11 x 22cm) black envelopes, cut up photographs of self-portraits from the Old Knitter of Black Wool project, printed text (from my unpublished memoir entitled Seven Years a Child) and black wool.
The envelop in the context of this project is the rectangular shape of the Guillotine where particular women of Paris would sit and knit as the amputated heads of the aristocracy rolled past. It is a casket or the vertical black & mysterious monolith in the science fiction film 2001: A Space Odyssey. Turned horizontally the monolith is the wide cinema screen or the blank, black screen of the iphone. It is an inversion of the white space artists confront before they begin to create a drawing or painting. It is a void.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Black envelopes

I began the week planning to walk along the beach, any beach, but the temperature was so cold that being outdoors inhibited any desire I had to be near water. I've been reading two books this week: Memorial Mania - Public Feeling in America by Erika Doss, an amazing book, which charts public outpourings of grief by Americans in the aftermath of tragic events, and The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks, a book I'd heard of but never read.
Last Friday I saw the best film I've seen in a while. A Quiet Obsession is compelling and incredibly sad. I think I cried three times throughout the film. And, talking about period dramas I saw My Counsin Rachel, but just didn't associate with either the male or female protagonists. I am however looking forward to seeing Lady Macbeth.
On Tuesday I found a pack of twenty black envelopes in an op shop in Malvern and have begin thinking about what I can do with them in relation to my theme of Old Knitter of Black Wool. Inspired in part by the scene in A Quiet Obsession in which Emily Dickinson is sewing her poems together to form small books, I've decided to print out some of the poetic prose I've written over the years and incorporate them into and onto the envelopes that I will form into a book. The working title for the work is: threads of life. I've always like envelopes, the notion of wrapping, the fact that when sealed they contain a secret, when opened there is a hint that something has yet to be secreted inside or that something has been removed. Envelopes are a vessell and as such they represent the body; itself a container of secrets. I'm hoping that the small book will be completed to show my readers by the weekend.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Partial erasure and Atrophy

Partial erasure. Julie Clarke (c) 2017
Atrophy. Julie Clarke (c) 2017
A3 digital prints of the photograph entitled Winter Solstice in which I have erased part of the face and head by using a silver or black permanent marker.