Let’s Celebrate ’88 – All Over Again

(Above: Literary Heights by John Underwood)

early 30 years ago, Australia’s north-eastern state of Queensland hosted World Expo (aka Expo ’88),  in its capital city of Brisbane. World Expo ’88 was celebrated over a six-month period from 30 April-30 October, 1988 and its theme was “Leisure in the Age of Technology“.

The Expo fair was the largest event of the 1988 Bicentennial celebrations and attracted more than 15,760,000 visitors who bought tickets worth A$175 million. The event also helped promote Queensland as a tourist destination and it spurred a major re-development of the South Brisbane city site of South Bank.

A part of this Expo were the series of 90 life size sculpture forms which were created and commissioned by local artist John Underwood.  His statues, made from coated fibre-glass and plaster-of-Paris; depicted the thin line between reality and various moments of life, captured and frozen in time.

Some examples of Underwood’s sculptures which appeared in little nooks and crannies around the Expo site at South Bank included:

  • a photographer,
  • a couple sitting on a park bench,
  • men mending fishing nets,
  • a young girl climbing a palm tree,
  • a boy scout,
  • lifesavers,
  • an acrobat riding a bicycle on a trapeze,
  • another acrobat balancing on some stools; and
  • a drover and his mate, (to mention but a few).

(Above: The Drover and His Mate by John Underwood).

At the conclusion of Expo ’88 many of Underwood’s works were purchased by private collectors as well as the Brisbane City Council and private enterprise.

Two of the sculptures still reside at South Bank – one is hanging in Stanley Street Plaza and the other is located in the South Bank Visitor Centre.

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This Proves That Hele’s the Real Deal

The Pink Dressing Gown’ (1962) oil on board 90cm x 59.5cm

Australian artist Sir Ivor Henry Thomas Hele, (Ivor Hele) was born on 13 June 1912. At the age of 15 he studied drawing and painting in Paris and Munich. By the age of 20, he married Jean Berry. By 1957 he divorced his first wife; and married June Weatherly.

  • Hele was severely self-critical and only ever held two exhibitions of his work; (1931 and 1958) and often burned paintings he was dissatisfied with.

He was the first appointed Australian WW2 artist, serving in New Guinea and North Africa. He also served as a war artist in the Korean War, therefore becoming the longest serving war artist for the Australian War Memorial.

  • During the War years, he completed more commissioned works than any other Australian artist in the history of Australian art.

Contemplation‘ oil on board 29×59.5 cm

Hele was also one of Australia’s most prestigious portrait prize winners, winning the Archibald Prize five times, including portraits of:

  • Laurie Thomas (1951),
  • Sir Henry Simpson Newland (1953)
  • Rt Hon R G Menzies (1954)
  • Robert Campbell Esq. (1955); and
  • Self Portrait (1957)

Hele was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 1954. This was upgraded to a Commander (CBE) in 1969. In the New Year’s Honours of 1983 he was named a Knight Bachelor for his services to art.

  • He died on 2nd  December 1993.

Through his art, Hele be remembered by all.

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The “Sage of the Wilderness” was born in the Kitchen

Above: William Mack, “The Sage of the Wilderness“. (Photo by Diane Arbus).

At the time Diane Arbus took this photograph of William Mack (aka “The Sage of the Wilderness“) he was a 72 year-old, German, ex-merchant seaman living on his Pension. His day began at 5.30 a.m. walking down Third Avenue, New York, in the freezing dawn picking empty bottles out of garbage cans and loading them into his baby carriage. He would then stop off at select bars which were very like private clubs, for  breakfast; and the early morning special extra free drink. He claimed that ‘Life wasn’t supposed to make sense’. 

  • Mack lived on Third Avenue in a room which was 7 feet by 8 feet. He filled it with his belongings which included:

46 rolled up pieces of string, 38 cigar butts in a bowl, 35 empty bottles, 20 rings, 19  brushes for hair, 18 shopping bags, 11 bracelets, 10 screwdrivers, 9 pliers, 9 umbrellas, 9 belts, 8 augers, 7 paint scrapers, 7 pairs of scissors, 6 saws, 6 necklaces, 5 hammers, 5 segments of broken mirror, 5 canes, 4 watches, 3 earrings, 2 pin-up pictures of Sophia Loren and one each of Brigitte Bardot and Julie Newman.

Other items included: a cowbell, a Hopalong Cassidy gun and holster, wagon, pink doll carriage with a sort of under-slung hammock, toy ukulele, jar full of plastic umbrella tips, some Blue Seal Pomade, a jar of Maraschino Cocktail Cherries,  a medicine dropper, squashed coffee pot, pair of brown children’s shoes hanging by the laces, a bogus detective badge, a plastic carnation, fox tail, one copy each of The Koran and The Holy Bible, a 1959 horoscope, ladder, guide to sexual harmony in marriage (Mr. Mack was never married), an English-Arabic Dictionary, a pair of white lady nurse’s shoes,  Guidebook of US Coins and some Breath O’ Pine all purpose cleanser.

  • When people asked him why he collected so many things his favourite answer was “It’s good for my rheumatism and when people ask me where I was born I like to say – I was born in the kitchen“. – He could tell because he heard the water running.
  • The last time Arbus saw him he said: “It’s a great life if you don’t weaken, but you are bound to weaken one day”.
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Dreams are Ten a Penny for Thomas McKenney

Thomas McKenney served as the United States Superintendent of Indian Trade in Georgetown, Washington, D.C. and later as the head of the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA). He initiated the government’s commissioning of portraits. Like many others at the time, he believed that the indigenous American people were nearing extinction; and he sought ways to preserve their history and culture.

McKenney first tried to collect artifacts from various indigenous tribes, then thought of having portraits painted for the government. About this time, he met Charles Bird King, whose talent he appreciated. King painted the subjects in his own studio, as McKenney easily obtained the consent for the portraits from Native American leaders coming to Washington to do business with the US through his new department.

  • King’s portraits gained widespread publicity beyond Washington, as McKenney broadened his project by publishing a book on Native Americans.

In 1829 McKenney began what would become many years’ worth of work on the three-volume work, The History of the Indian Tribes of North America. The project featured the many portraits of Native Americans, containing mostly King’s lithograph forms, accompanied by an essay by the author James Hall.

After the administration changed and McKenney left,  the agency donated the Native American portrait collection to the National Institute, but shoddy care and displays kept them from the public eye. When the National Institute deteriorated, it gave its works in 1858 to the Smithsonian Institute.

King’s portraits were displayed among similar paintings by the New York artist John Mix Stanley in a gallery containing a total of 291 paintings of Native American portraits and scenes.

  • On January 24, 1865, a fire destroyed the paintings in this gallery, though a few of King’s works were saved before the flames spread.
  • Representations of many of the lost paintings have been found in McKenney’s lithograph collection that supported the book (as featured above).

If you want a greater ‘King hit’ see bio info for Charles Bird King.

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Have You Met ‘The Met’ Yet?

The Metropolitan Museum of Art (aka: “The Met”) is located in New York City. It is the largest art gallery / museum in the United States and one of the 10 largest in the world. Its permanent collection contains more than 2 million works, divided among 17 curatorial departments.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art was founded in 1870 by a group of American citizens. The founders included businessmen and financiers, as well as leading artists and thinkers of the day who wanted to open a museum to bring art and art education to the American people. It opened on February 20, 1872, and was originally located at 681 Fifth Avenue.

  • The main building, located on the eastern edge of Central Park along Manhattan’s ‘Museum Mile’, is by area one of the world’s largest art galleries.
  • There is also a much smaller second location at “The Cloisters” in Upper Manhattan that features medieval art.

Represented in the permanent collection are works of art from classical antiquity and Ancient Egypt; paintings and sculptures from nearly all the European masters; and an extensive collection of American and modern art.

  • The Met‘ also maintains extensive holdings of African, Asian, Oceanic, Byzantine, and Islamic art.
  • The museum is also home to encyclopedic collections of musical instruments, costumes and accessories and antique weapons and armor from around the world.
  • Several notable interiors, ranging from 1st-century Rome through modern American design are permanently installed in the ‘Met’s‘ galleries.

If you have not yet met ‘The Met‘ you better get set to do so – for this, you will not regret!

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The Foreman of British Illustration

British author and illustrator Michael Foreman was born a month before his father died, on 21 March 1938. He grew up in Pakefield, near Lowestoft, Suffolk, where his mother kept the village shop. He studied at Lowestoft School of Art, and later in London at the Royal College of Art, where he won a scholarship to the United States.

  • He married his first wife, author Jane Charters, in 1959.
  • Their son Mark was born the following year.
  • A travel scholarship took him all around the world, drawing landscapes, architecture and wildlife.

Foreman learned to draw for the newspapers and for the police, drawing female suspects when Identikit only catered for men.

Foreman won the 1982 and 1989 Kate Greenaway Medals for British children’s book illustration.

  • For his contribution as a children’s illustrator, in 1988, he was a U.K. nominee and again in 2010 for the biennial, International Hans Christian Andersen Award; the highest recognition available to creators of children’s books.
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Callooh! Callay! for Calouste is Okay

Above: Dragonfly brooch once adorned by Sarah Bernhardt to whom it was lent by friend Calouste Gulbenkian. A corsage ornament which consists of dragonfly with griffon’s paws and green female torso whose face is supposed to be of Sarah herself. One of Lalique’s finest pieces. Gold, enamel, moonstones and chrysoprase stone (from Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation).

Sarah Bernhardt’s friend, Calouste Sarkis Gulbenkian  was born on 23 March 1869 in in Üsküdar, in Constantinople (now Istanbul), during the Ottoman Empire. He was the son of an Armenian oil importer/exporter. His father sent him to be educated at King’s College London, where he studied petroleum engineering, and then to examine the Russian oil industry at Baku.

In 1896 Gulbenkian fled the Ottoman Empire along with his family, as a result of the Hamidian massacres. They ended up in Egypt, where Gulbenkian met Alexander Mantashev, a prominent Armenian oil magnate and philanthropist. Mantashev introduced Gulbenkian to influential contacts in Cairo. Still in his twenties, Gulbenkian moved to London where he arranged deals within the oil business. He became a naturalised British citizen in 1902. In 1907, he helped arrange the merger of Royal Dutch Petroleum Company with “Shell” Transport and Trading Company Ltd.

As a British businessman and philanthropist, he played a major role in making the petroleum reserves of the Middle East available to Western development.  His habit of retaining five percent of the shares of the oil companies he developed earned him the nickname “Mr. Five Percent”. By the end of his life he had become one of the world’s wealthiest individuals and his art acquisitions considered one of the greatest private collections.

Gulbenkian amassed a huge fortune and an art collection which he kept in a private museum at his Paris house. His four-storey, three-basement house on Avenue d’Iéna was said to be crammed with art, a situation ameliorated in 1936 when he lent 30 paintings to the National Gallery, London and his Egyptian sculpture to the British Museum.

  • He left France in late 1942 for Lisbon and lived in a suite at the luxurious Aviz Hotel, until his death on 20 July 1955, at the age of 86. He is buried at St. Sarkis Armenian Church, London.
  • At the time of his death, Gulbenkian’s fortune was estimated at between US$280-$840 million.
  • After undisclosed sums willed in trust to his descendants, the remainder of his fortune and art collection were willed to the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation (aka Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian).
  • The Foundation was to act for charitable, educational, artistic and scientific purposes; and the named trustees were his long-time friends Baron Radcliffe of Werneth, Lisbon attorney José de Azeredo Perdigão, and his son-in-law Kevork Loris Essayan.
  • Its headquarters and the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum (Museu Calouste Gulbenkian) in Lisbon display his art collection.

O frabjous day – thanks to Gulbenkian’s philanthrop(a)y!

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Re: Deeming – Not Redeeming!

Above featured: Death mask of Frederick Bayley Deeming (plaster and paint head 30 x 18.5 x 22 cm) State Library of Victoria. The Library also has the cast of his hand, courtesy of 1967 donation.

Frederick Bayley Deeming was a serial murderer who was hanged at the Melbourne Gaol (Jail)  in 1892. At the time, his trial and subsequent execution captured the attention of a nation. His killing of two wives and four of his own children earned him only revulsion.

  • Born in Leicestershire, England in 1853, Deeming ran off to sea aged 16 where he spent a sporadic life over the following 23 years committing a series of crimes over three continents and used at least 20 aliases during his life.
  • He was a bigamist. In 1881 he married Marie James and had four children.
  • His first police arrest was in April 1882 when he was convicted of stealing 8 gas burners in Sydney.
  • By 1887 he was convicted of perjury and by 1888 he was involved in a series of successful frauds and theft in Johannesburg.
  • In 1890 and 1891 he married again on both occasions under different names.

By 3 March 1892, the enormity of Deeming’s life of crimes was revealed. Police were called to a house he had been renting in the inner Melbourne suburb of Windsor to investigate a foul smell coming from beneath a hearthstone. There they discovered the body of Emily Mather, the woman he had married in England the previous year; under the alias of Williams. She had been dead for about 3 months. Her throat had been cut and her head bashed. Through a torn luggage ticket they found in the house, police discovered Deeming’s identify and alerted authorities in England to investigate the house in Liverpool; occupied by his first wife and their four children.

  • On digging up the floor, the UK police discovered all five bodies. Their throats had also been slashed.

On 11 March 1892, Victorian detectives arrested him for murder. He was in Southern Cross, Western Australia, seeking work as a mining engineer. He was engaged to another woman at the time. Following a two-day inquest in Melbourne in April, Deeming hit the press as they described the prisoner as ‘The criminal of the century and a human tiger.”

  • Deeming was tried under the name of Williams in late 1892, as it was the name he used to marry his second wife.
  • He was defended by a young lawyer Alfred Deakin; (the future Prime Minister of Australia) who valiantly made the most of an impossible case. Deakin’s papers are in the National Library of Australia collection – and he revealed that he thought Deeming was insane. (Deakin was most likely correct).
  • Deeming had an unnaturally strong relationship with his mother and when she died in 1873 he was said to have become emotionally unstable; for he claimed that his dead mother had ordered him to commit the murders.

Deeming was found guilty and sentenced to death. He was hanged on  23rd May 1892. An attendant crowd of more than 12,000 people lined the street outside the jail and cheered wildly at his public demise.

Looks like Deeming’s schemings were not exactly redeeming!

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The Very Model of a Tudor Village

The Fitzroy Gardens “Model Tudor Village” in Melbourne was modelled in cement by English artist Edgar Wilson, a 77 year old pensioner who lived in Hamilton Road, Norwood, London, England and carried out the task as his hobby.

Over a period of years, Wilson built three villages, including six houses for Vauxhall Park; and a set for Brockwell Park in Lambeth. The other he presented to the City of Melbourne, Australia through the City of Lambeth; in appreciation of Melbourne’s generosity in sending food to Britain, during the WW2 food shortages.

The Tudor Village  in the Fitzroy Gardens was officially opened by the Right Honourable Lord Mayor of Melbourne, Councillor Sir Raymond Connelly, on 21st May, 1948.

  • The model buildings represent a typical Kentish village built during the “Tudor” period of English history (1485-1603).
  • The village is composed of various thatched cottages, a village church, school, hotel, barns, stocks, pump, and all public buildings which make up one of the delightful villages.

Also included is a scale model of Shakespeare’s home (featured above) and Anne Hathaway’s cottage.

  • Here’s hoping that you may adore Tudor, as a miniature – to be sure!
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The Artist of The Court Ball at Hofburg is no ‘Gause-ing’ Game

German-Austrian painter Wilhelm Gause was born on 27th March, 1853.  He studied at the Düsseldorf Academy and in 1888 exhibited his work in Vienna. Gause died on 13th June, 1916.

  • Gause’s most famous work is “Court Ball at the Hofburg.” Created in 1900. It is part of the  Wien Museum Karlsplatz, in Vienna, Austria. 
  • The painting depicts aristocrats crowding around Franz Joseph I of Austria at the Hofburg Imperial Palace.

On January 28, 2011, another painting of Gause’s –  “Party on the Ice” (1909) was sold at Sotheby‘s in New York for US$13,750.

I ‘Gause’ that’s why his works are so popular.

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Are you thinking that Fafi is fluffy?

Fafi is an early adopter to street art and is currently living and working in Paris. Through her art, Fafi has been exploring her femininity through stereotypes, using them to her advantage. Fafi not only knocked her male colleagues and competitors out their socks, she also locked toy manufacturing deals with Sony and Medicom.

fafi-2Fafi has also contributed to countless press stories and illustrations for Commons & Sense, Vogue, Elle and The Face, as well as big market collaborations with Adidas, M.A.C, Hennessy, Swatch, Samsung and Le SportSac, not to mention many solo and prestigious group shows in the most respected galleries around the world.

Her presence during the Miami Art Basel at Wynwood walls “Women on the walls” curated by Jeffrey Deitch, brought her back to the art world with two art pieces showcasing her usual “Fafinettes” and a flower “SALOPE” installation opened to new mediums.

  • Becoming a mother, her next natural move was animating the ‘Fafinettes’ in music videos like Lily Allen and Mark Ronson’s ‘Oh My God’ or her co-directed ‘Do Do Do’ for Ed Banger act Carte Blanche. She also directed full-Kno videos for Mademoiselle Yulia and Azealia Banks, the latter becoming real-flesh characters.
  • Her last but not least director’s job was to shoot live M.I.A for the first Youtube Music Award in New-York in November 2013 along with Spike Jonze’s team.
  • Her first comic book ‘The Carmine Vault” released in April 2012 on eminent Rizzoli Books and Alternatives.
  • Now not only the Fafinettes are fly girls, they also run a whole universe of creatures, homes and vehicles. It’s a dreamy and peculiar place.

It just shows, there’s nothing fluffy about Fafi!

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Whoop Oop De Boop

Betty Boop is an animated cartoon character created by Max Fleischer, with help from animators including Grim Natwick. According to Wikipedia, the caricature of a Jazz Age flapper, Betty Boop was described in a 1934 court case as:”combining in appearance the childish with the sophisticated — a large round baby face with big eyes and a nose like a button, framed in a somewhat careful coiffure, with a very small body of which perhaps the leading characteristic is the most self-confident little bust imaginable.

Despite having been toned down in the mid-1930s to appear more demure, she became one of the best-known and popular cartoon characters in the world.

  • Betty Boop made her first appearance on August 9, 1930, in the cartoon Dizzy Dishes the seventh instalment in Fleischer’s Talkartoon series.
  • Although Clara Bow is often given as being the model for Boop, she actually began as a caricature of singer Helen Kane.

Betty’s voice was first performed by Margie Hines, and was later performed by several different voice actresses, including Kate Wright, Bonnie Poe, Ann Rothschild (also known as Little Ann Little), and most notably, Mae Questel. She began voicing Betty Boop in “Bimbo’s Silly Scandals”(1931), and continued with the role until 1938, returning 50 years later in “Who Framed Roger Rabbit”. Today, Betty is voiced by Tress MacNeille, Sandy Fox and Cindy Robinson in commercials.

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Down For a Ride With the Girl On a Slide

Australian painter, sculptor and teacher John Stuart Dowie was born on 15 January 1915, in the Adelaide suburb of Prospect. He was one of South Australia’s most respected sculptors and his works appear all over Adelaide. One of these include:

  • Girl on a Slide,” a bronze sculpture created by Dowie which appears in Rundle Mall, Adelaide.

Dowie studied architecture at the University of Adelaide, as well as painting with Ivor Hele and Marie Tuck. During World War II, Dowie worked in the Military History Unit of the Australian Imperial Force, and as an assistant to Australia’s official war sculptor, Dowie was nominated for Senior Australian of the Year in 2005, and was made a Member of the Order of Australia in 1981 in recognition for his service to the arts as a sculptor and painter.

  • Dowie died on 19 March 2008, aged 93 in an Adelaide nursing home, after having suffered a stroke the week before.

As for Dowie’s Rundle Mall sculpture – all I can say is  it’s: “Down For a Ride With the Girl On a Slide.”

Wee Hoo!

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Is a Room With a View Better Than a Room With Chairs?

Pictured above: “A Room With Chairs” (1972) charcoal on paper and canvas. 

William Delafield Cook (1936–2015) was an Australian artist born in Melbourne, who was known for his stark landscapes. He taught at the University of Melbourne. He had long divided his time between London and Melbourne. He died at the age of 79 after a brief illness in London on 29 March 2015, where he had been preparing for an exhibition.

  • In 1980 he won the Wynne Prize for A Waterfall (Strath Creek).
  • In 2013 he was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia for “significant service to the visual arts as a realist painter of Australian landscapes”.

Interestingly, his grandfather, was also William Delafield Cook, who was also a painter and had links to the Heidelberg School of Australian painting.

The example above is least likely to have been part of his usual genre, but needless to say is intriguing in its overall composition.

So my quandary is, “Is a Room With a View Better Than a Room With Chairs?” – It might depend on where you sit, but for me it’s Sofa So Good!


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It’s Ben Hall of a Life for This Bush-Ranger

ben hall19th Century Australian bush-ranger Ben Hall was born on 9th May 1837. Operating mainly in New South Wales (NSW), he was known as part of Australian folklore as “Brave Ben Hall.

Ben carried out many brave raids, some of which were intended to taunt the police. Unlike many bush-rangers of the era, he was not responsible for any deaths, but was nevertheless shot dead by police on 5th May, 1865, who were acting under the Felons Apprehension Act (1865), which allowed known bush-rangers to be shot and killed rather than taken to trial.

The legality of his killing remains controversial. Ben Hall’s body was taken back to the town of Forbes, in NSW, where an official inquest was held followed by his burial at the local Forbes Cemetery on Sunday 7 May 1865.  A headstone was later  erected in the 1920s.

A number of folk songs recount Hall’s life and exploits. The most notable include:

  • Streets of Forbes, which has been recorded by numerous singers and groups; and
  • The Ballad of Ben Hall’s Gang, The Death of Ben Hall and The Ghost of Ben Hall.
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