Who gives a Zach for this Street Artist?

Lithuanian-born Street and gallery artist Ernest “ZACH” Zacharevic combines fine art techniques and his passion for creating art outdoor, using and oil painting, stencil and spray, installation and sculpture; to produce dynamic compositions both inside and outside of the gallery space. Many of his pieces and installations are in Penang, Malaysia where he lived and the proud locals refer to him as Malaysia’s ‘Banksy’.

Zacharevic has street art installations and murals around the island of Penang. Many of them are from the Georgetown Arts and Culture Festival in 2012 which was his first constructive public art project, with  6 walls created over 3 months in a town with no public art or graffiti whatsoever. The public response was phenomenal.

His distinctive style includes children, sometimes accompanied by props such as a chair or supermarket trolley or an old bicycle which he attaches on walls of aged buildings and shop houses along Victoria Street, Perak Road and Joo Chiat and the adjoining alleyways. The two most popular are Children on a Bicycle and Boy on Motorcycle; a combination of installation and painting which allows the outside community to interact with the works. Zacharevic found the motorbike abandoned on the street and every single bit that could be stolen from it had been stolen. He put some bits and pieces to make it look like a motorbike and stuck it to the wall. Since then many locals have replaced the seat, headlights, and petrol tank, (which kept getting stolen) and was probably replaced two or three times. In fact, the locals spend much time and effort maintaining and preserving his street art murals..

  • In 2013 he also worked in Johor Bahru as well as painting a series of murals in Singapore, including Children in Shopping Trolleys .
  • In 2014 Zacharevic opened his second solo show in Barcelona at Montana Gallery. The collection saw a juxtaposition of more figurative works featuring characters from different cultures in all forms of dynamic poses and actions.
  • Recent projects include Scope New York and a painting commission at the Ritz Carlton, Singapore; a Mondrian inspired piece composed of a series of framed canvases all hung together.

In May 2016, Zacharevic went to Christmas Island, an Australian Territory in the Indian Ocean at the invitation of Christmas Island Phosphates and the local Shire government for a scoping trip to beautify the island landscape. He left behind his first ever Australian art installation with ‘Forklift Boy,‘ near a local tavern. An abandoned forklift adjacent to a shipping container provided the canvas for the piece. It is similar in aesthetic to his Boy and Girl on a Bike and Boy on a Motorbike art installation in Georgetown, Penang.

Posted in Art, SprayCanArt, Stencils, Street Artists A-Z, StreetArt, StreetArtists | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

No Idea On Kohei Nawa Red Deer

Kohei Nawa was born in 1975. He is one of Japan’s new generation of high-flying young artists. Over the last several years he has exhibited at the Saatchi Gallery, London, the Joan Miro Foundation, Barcelona, Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, and in 2011 was the subject of a large survey show titled ‘Syntheses’ at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo.

Nawa has a B.A. (Fine Art – Sculpture) from Kyoto City University; a sculpture course (Exchange student program) from the Royal College of Art, London (1998) and a Ph.D. in Fine Art – Sculpture, from Kyoto City University (1999). He is currently based in Kyoto; where he is the Director of “Sandwich,” a platform for creative minds, established in 2009 which operates out of an old sandwich factory in Fushimi, Kyoto.

  • The National Gallery of Victoria’s (through the Felton Bequest) acquired Kohei Nawa’s PixCell-Red Deer, from his ‘Beads’ series. (2012), which challenges traditional perceptions and interpretations of three-dimensional objects and sculpture.

PixCell-Red Deer is a visually captivating work in which Nawa has completely covered the entire surface of a taxidermied red deer with resin and clear glass beads, transforming it, in Nawa’s words, ‘Into a shell of light’. The process fragments the object’s entire surface into countless cells; a collection of image elements; image cells or; in other words, ‘PixCells’. The large and small glass spheres covering the animal produce an effect of viewing it through many small optical prisms. While the beads of different sizes seem to interfere with a precise reading of the subject, they function as lenses that not only magnify sections of the subject, but also accentuate its colour, form and sensation in a way that seduces viewers and invites them to interpret reality with a new and previously unimagined awareness. PixCell-Red Deer enchants viewers with the natural grace and balance of its stance, the elegant, outstretching form of its antlers and its uncountable number of lenses reflecting micro-visions and translucent light. Further details available through at Kohei Nawa’s website.

  • The use of the deer in PixCell-Red Deer is symbolic to Japanese culture and history. Since ancient times, deer have been believed to be the messengers and vehicles of Japan’s indigenous Shinto gods, and revered as sacred animals. In the deer park surrounding Kasuga Shrine in Nara, and at the shrine island of Itsukushima in Hiroshima Prefecture, the deer roam freely and are worshipped as sacred beings.

Oh deer, what can the matter be,
I’ve seen the PixCell-Red Deer’s anatomy
Oh how shiny and spatter free,
Kohei Nawa’s glassy game.

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Diane Arbus – To Go Where I Have Never Been

Above: Aldous Huxley – author of Brave New World (1936) by Diane Arbus

American photographer/writer Diane Arbus was born Diane Nemerov on 14 March, 1923, to David Nemerov and Gertrude Russek Nemerov, a Jewish couple who lived in New York City and owned Russek’s, a famous Fifth Avenue department store. Post-retirement, her father became a painter. Her younger sister was a sculptor and designer; and her older brother, Howard Nemerov, became United States Poet Laureate and the father of the American art historian Alexander Nemerov. In 1941, at the age of eighteen, she married her childhood sweetheart Allan Arbus. Their first daughter, Doon, was born in 1945; and their second daughter, Amy, was born in 1954. Diane and Allan Arbus separated in 1959, and were divorced in 1969. Doon became a writer, and Amy a photographer.

Diane Arbus became a photographer for magazines such as Esquire, Harper’s Bazaar, and The Sunday Times Magazine in 1959. Starting off with a 35 mm Nikon camera, she moved over to a twin-lens reflex Rolleiflex camera and by 1964, Arbus began using a twin-lens reflex Mamiya camera with flash in addition to the Rolleiflex. She liked to establish a strong personal relationship with her subjects and re-photographed some of them over a period of many years. She was noted for her photographs of marginalized people or any others whose normality for that period, was perceived by the general populace as ugly or surreal.

  • Her first major exhibition was at the Museum of Modern Art in 1967, where her work was described as being typical of “a new generation of documentary photographers”.

Arbus experienced “depressive episodes” during her life similar to those experienced by her mother, and the episodes may have been made worse after contracting hepatitis. On July 26, 1971, while living at Westbeth Artists Community in New York City, Arbus took her own life at the age of 48, by ingesting barbiturates and slashing her wrists with a razor.

  • In 1972, Arbus posthumously became the first American photographer to have photographs displayed at the Venice Biennale.
  • During the 1970s millions viewed the traveling exhibitions of her work which toured from 1972–1979.
  • The book Diane Arbus: An Aperture Monograph, edited by Doon Arbus and Marvin Israel was first published in 1972 which accompanied the tours and exhibitions.
  • It has been named the best-selling photography book ever, and is still in print.
  • Between 2003 and 2006, Arbus and her work were the subjects of another major traveling exhibition, entitled: ‘Diane Arbus Revelations.’

 Diane Arbus was once quoted as saying – “My favourite thing is to go where I’ve never been’. 


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Apples of Temptation are Bonza!

Above are some great examples of Apple Case Art and Australiana. Labels began to appear in large numbers on wooden crates around 1920 and were only superseded in the 1960s by cardboard cartons. Although the designs were for the most part basic, and amateurish, they have been described as ‘industrial folk art’, as well as Australian historic ephemera.

  • Australia’s first apple case label was printed in 1913 in the US for Geo. Heatherbell & Sons and the early labels were heavily influenced by the designs of California’s orange crates.
  • Over the years there has been an abundance of variety of fruit art labels and designs featuring animals, birds, landscapes, maps, people and typography. There was even a Boomerang brand label which urged people to return for more!

These decorative labels often provided Australian orchardists with a distinctive edge on the competitive overseas market. Many export agents believed that fruit wholesalers overseas were attracted to cases decorated with the best looking labels. However, some designers dared to be different, such as the Rooster Brand label designed by Max Angus in 1952, which was heavily influenced by the work of French painter, printmaker sculptor Henri Matisse.

Extensive collections of apple case and pear case labels are on display at the Huon Apple and Heritage Museum, in New Norfolk, Tasmania. The Museum showcases Tasmania’s apple industry which dates back to 1804, when apple trees were planted at York Town in the state’s north. By 1915, Tasmania boasted about 4,420,000 apple trees, however over the years there has been an unfortunate decline in apple orchards – not only in Tasmania, but in other apple growing districts around Australia.

  • Tasmania often called ‘The Apple Isle’ is home of Tamar Valley Co-op ‘Wombat’ brand.
  • Its standardized fruit label is Australia’s second known registered apple case label and originally printed ca. 1919.

And remember – An Apple a Day …. Keeps an Orchard Going

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It’s Not Easy Being Green, But We Can Try

John Olsen – ‘Tree Frog’ 1983 watercolour pastel on paper 49cm x 37cm and Victorian Goldfields Petrified Frog [Unknown]

Acclaimed Australian artist John Henry Olsen was born in Newcastle, New South Wales on 21 January 1928. His family moved to the Sydney suburb of Bondi Beach in 1935 which began his lifelong fascination with Sydney Harbour. He went to the Datillo Rubbo Art School in 1947; and from 1950-1953 he studied at the Julian Ashton School and the Auburn School in Sydney (1950-1956).

He then travelled to London and Paris where he studied print-making in 1957, followed by two years in Spain. Returning to Sydney in 1960, he began painting the Australian landscape. In 1972-73 he painted ‘Salute to Five Bells’, which currently hangs inside the Sydney Opera House.

  • He is well known for his paintings of frogs, and for including frogs in many of his works, such as ‘King Sun’ (2013); an 8 paneled artwork, featuring the Sun and three frogs (6m x 8m) Collins Place, Melbourne Docklands.

Olsen has served on the boards of the Art Gallery of New South Wales and the National Art Gallery in Canberra. He published his diaries ‘Drawn From Life’, in 1997.  He has been awarded an OBE (1977); Order of Australia and the Centenary Medal (2001 ) and the Archibald Prize (2005); for his controversial self-portrait entitled ‘Janus faced.’ Olsen currently lives near Bowral, in Central New South Wales.

The other image is something I found in my storage bag after buying some apples and pears in the Victorian Goldfields region, north of Melbourne some years ago. After picking, much of the fresh fruit is put into cold-room storage before it is sold. According to the website Frogs of the Goldfields it could be one of possibly 11 local frogs habituating in this region. They include:

  • Southern Brown Tree Frog, Growling Grass Frog, Verreaux’s Tree Frog, Eastern Common Froglet, Victorian Smooth Froglet, Eastern Banjo Frog Pobblebonk, Striped Marsh Frog, Spotted Marsh Frog, Common Spadefoot Toad and Bibron’s Toadlet.


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From Backstage Girl To Lucky In Love

Pulp Fiction paperback publishing did not only happen in America. In the second half of the 20th Century an Australian pulp scene burned brightly with tales of jaded gunshoes, valiant servicemen and women, daring spies, violent youth gangs and bikies.

  • The swathes of  lurid cover art, were designed to make the books stand out at newsstands and bookshops.
  • From sex workers and witches, to juvenile delinquents and hippies – they were  all mainstream society’s conscious and subconscious obsession and fears and essential for all pulp fodder stories.
  • At its height in the 1960s pulp fiction titles were pumped out at a great rate, producing print runs of up to 20,000.

The demise of pulp publishing began around early 1970s, with the introduction of the ‘R’ (Restricted: Containing adult material and unsuitable for those under the age of 18)classification in 1971 meant more sexually liberated material began to appear on both television and the movies. With this new visual content, people didn’t have to read a book to get their thrills.

Today there are many pulp fiction collectors, trawling second-hand bookshops, garage sales, charity shops and internet sites.

  • Gone are the days when ‘The Long Night’ transformed from ‘Beyond Desire’ and ‘Fatal Intimacy’ to ‘Death at the Nudist Camp!

Now, where did I leave that book-mark?

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Hisashi Tenmyouya | From Passive Moon To Vibrant Sun

  • Above Left: Nine Kamakura Samurai (from Contemporary Japanese Youth Culture Scroll) August 2001, acrylic on wood (60cm x 42cm)
  • Above Right: Archery 2008 acrylic on wood (90 cm x 70 cm)

Japanese contemporary artist Hisashi Tenmyouya was born in February, 1966 in Tokyo. He is a Saitama-based artist who infuses traditional Japanese art with non-traditional media (mostly acrylic paint) using images from modern life. He calls this work “Neo Nihonga”, which seeks to renew the relevance of Japanese-style painting by portraying old motifs through a modern lens.

In 2010, Tenmyouya proposed a new art concept called Basara, referring to and applying the aesthetics of defiance, extending from the “outlaw samurais” of the Nanboku dynasty era to the youth sub-cultures of today’s Japan. Basara is also a response to the influx of Western media and culture which has greatly influenced Japanese life.

As written on his website, Tenmyouya seeks through his art to bring back the vibrant “sun” in Japanese art, where before it was relegated as the passive “moon”.

  • Tenmyouya created the Official Art Poster for the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany.

His artwork is held at the following international museums and galleries: The Museum of Fine Arts (Houston, USA), MFAH, Chazen Museum of Art (Madison, USA), Takamatsu City Museum of Art (Takamatsu, Japan) and Sakura Crey-pas (Osaka, Japan).

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Chloe and The Grasshopper – Two of a Kind

Above Right: “The Grasshopper” (La Cigale) 1872 oil on canvas 186.7 x 123.8cm. This is considered one of Jules Lefebvre’s classic female nudes. It was first exhibited at the Paris Salon in 1872 and was accompanied at the Salon’s exhibition with the following quotation part, “When the cold north wind blows“, which is part of a fable by Jean de la Fontaine, about the ant and the grasshopper.

  • The Grasshopper” precedes the arrival of Melbourne’s famous “Chloe”, by three years.

Above left: “Chloe”  (oil on canvas 260 x 139cm)  is a life-sized nude painting which resides at Melbourne’s famous Young & Jackson’s Hotel (aka Y&J’s).  Chloe was first exhibited at the Paris Salon exhibition in 1875 and became the gold star winner. The model was a 19 year old Parisian named Marie who is believed to have taken her own life just two years after posing for the painting; heartbroken over unrequited love for Lefebvre.

Chloe” arrived in Australia in 1879 for the Sydney International Exhibition and the following year, travelled south to Melbourne for the 1880 International Exhibition where the painting was bought by Dr Thomas Fitzgerald.

  • The doctor put Chloe on public view but she raised the ire of the Ladies Branch of the Anglican Social Purity Movement.
  • She was transferred to the front room of the doctor’s home where she could clearly be seen from the street; but  this was short-lived and she ‘retired to a wall somewhere to the rear of the property.
  • Together with his New Zealand mining partner, Norman Jackson, Henry Young purchased a hotel on the corner of Swanston and Flinders Street, Melbourne, in 1875 and called it Young & Jackson’s. Still existing today, it is also affectionately known as “Y & J’s”.
  • In 1909, Henry Young bought “Chloe” and promptly hung her in a prominent position in the Pubic Bar area at Y & J’s.

About the artist: Jules Joseph Lefebvre was born in Tournan-en-Brie, Seine-et-Marne, on 14 March 1834. He entered the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in 1852 and was a pupil of Léon Cogniet. He won the prestigious Prix de Rome prize in 1861.

Between 1855 and 1898, he exhibited 72 portraits at the Paris Salon. In 1891, he became a member of the French Académie des Beaux-Arts. Later on, he became professor at the Académie Julian in Paris.

  • Lefebvre died in Paris on 24 February, 1912.
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Grainger’s Toweling Fashion Changer – Has a Dry Sense of Humour

  • Percy Grainger & Ella Grainger: Towelling Tunic shirt, leggings, belt, shoes worn by Percy Grainger c. 1934 (Cotton bath towels, plastic, leather and metal)
  • Dr Kaare K, Nygaard  (1902-1989) Percy Grainger, 1955 (Bronze) Grainger Museum of Melbourne, University of Melbourne.
  • Towelling outfit c1934. The inspiration for these outfits was Maori and South Sea Island cloths and fabrics.

About these clothes, Grainger once commented: “Around 1910 my mother mooted the idea of clothes made of Turkish towels, ‘cool in summer, warm in the winter and washable at all times’. I leaped at the idea, seeing therein a chance to return to something comparable with the garish brilliance of the ‘skyblue and scarlet’ garments of the Saxon and Scandinavian forefathers. In the 1930s, he and his wife Ella Strom took up this idea of toweling clothing.

Percy Aldridge Grainger (8 July 1882 – 20 February 1961) was an Australian-born composer, arranger and pianist, responsible for the revival of interest in British folk music in the early years of the 20th century, such as the popular  folk-dance tune “English Country Gardens“. He was born in a house in New Street, Brighton and home-schooled by his mother Rose. Grainger left Australia at the age of 13 to attend the Hoch Conservatory in Frankfurt. Between 1901 and 1914 he was based in London, where he established himself first as a society pianist and later as a concert performer, composer and collector of original folk melodies. Grainger then moved to the United States where he lived for the rest of his life, although he traveled widely in Europe and in Australia. After his mother’s suicide in 1922 he became increasingly involved in educational work.

  • In the 1930s he set up the Grainger Museum in Melbourne, as a monument to his life and works and as a future research archive. He began collecting and recovering from friends letters and artifacts, even those demonstrating the most private aspects of his life, such as whips, blood-stained shirts and revealing photographs.

In October 1953 Grainger was operated on for abdominal cancer. In September 1955, he made his final visit to Australia, where he spent nine months organising and arranging exhibits for the Museum. Before leaving Melbourne, he deposited in a bank a parcel that contained an essay and photographs related to his sex life, not to be opened until 10 years after his death.

  • By 1957, Grainger’s physical health had markedly declined, as had his powers of concentration. Sensing that death was drawing near, he made a new will, bequeathing his skeleton “for preservation and possible display in the Grainger Museum”. This wish was not carried out.

Grainger died in the White Plains hospital on 20 February 1961, at the age of 78. His body was flown to Adelaide where, on 2 March, he was buried in the Aldridge family vault in the West Terrace Cemetery, alongside his mother, Rose’s ashes. Ella later married a young archivist, Stewart Manville. She died in 1972, aged 83.

  • The museum did not open to the general public during Grainger’s lifetime, but was available to scholars for research. The Grainger Museum is now open to the public Sunday-Friday 12.00pm – 4.00pm
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Is This the First Picture of a Young Street Artist at Work?

French painter, poster artist and print-maker, Etienne Maurice Firmin Bouisset was born to a working-class family in the town of Moissac in the Tarn-et-Garonne département in south-western France on September 2, 1859.  He specialized in painting children and did a number of illustrated books such as La Petite Ménagère (The Little Housekeeper) in 1890. Firmin Bouisset died in Paris on 19 March, 1925.

At a time when posters were a popular form of advertising, Bouisset created posters with enduring images for a number of different French food companies such as Maggi and Lefèvre-Utile (where he used their LU initials as an ad logo as part of a 1897 poster image for a line of butter biscuits featuring “The Little Schoolboy” – of which a variation is still used by today.

  • However, Firmin Bouisset is more popularly known for his posters for the French chocolate manufacturer, Menier (see above).
  • Contracted by the company in 1892, Bouisset used his daughter Yvonne as a model to create what became an iconic image of a little girl using a piece of chocolate to write the company’s name.
  • The drawing was featured on many of the Menier’s advertisements and on its packaged products as well as on promotional items such as creamers, bowls, sugar dishes, plates, canister sets, ashtrays, thermometers, key chains, and even children’s exercise books.

Today, many of his posters are very popular with collectors and because they are no longer copyright protected, they are being duplicated and sold on the Internet and in retail outlets in many countries.

Yvonne Bouisset, the scribbler, the graffiti artist, the street artist, the defacer, or the innocent – you be the judge.

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Bathroom Blues? Let Freddie the Frog Come to the Rescue On Demand

  • Arkie by Brett Whiteley (1967) oil mixed media on canvas on board (Bendigo Art Gallery, Victoria).

Australian Avant-garde artist Brett Whiteley (born Sydney,  7 April 1939 – died 15 June 1992) is well represented in many Australian galleries and was twice winner of the Archibald, Wynne and Sulman prizes. In 1962 he married Wendy Julius and their only child; Arkie Whiteley was born in London on 6 November, 1964.

  • While in London, Whiteley painted works in several different series: including bathing, the zoo and of the murderer John Christie (who had committed murders in the area near where Whiteley was staying at Ladbroke Grove).

Many of his ideas and themes were influenced by his his experiences with alcohol, marijuana, and other drugs. Over the years, Whiteley became increasingly dependent on alcohol and became addicted to heroin. As a consequence, his work output declined, whilst his market value climbed. He made several attempts to dry out and get off drugs completely, all ultimately unsuccessful. In 1989, he and Wendy, whom he had always credited as his ‘muse’, divorced.  On 15 June 1992, aged 53, he was found dead from a heroin overdose in a motel room in Thirroul, north of Wollongong in New South Wales. The coroner’s verdict was ‘death due to self-administered substances’.

Their daughter Arkie became an Australian actress who appeared in television and films. She died from adrenal cancer on 19th December, 2001, aged 37. According to her obituary in The Times newspaper, when living with her parents at the Hotel Chelsea in New York as an infant, her babysitter was Janis Joplin.

  • Featured in the ‘Arkie’ bathing portrait is a vintage Avon product – Freddie the Frog Soap Dish  (See image 1).
  • However, if you are more interested in the navy blue bath tiles in ‘Arkie‘, you might like image 2 by Thomas Demand, entitled ‘Bathroom’ (1997) Type C photograph on transparent synthetic polymer resin (160cm x 122cm).

German sculptor and photographer, Thomas Cyrill Demand was born in 1964, and lives and works in both Berlin and Los Angeles and teaches at the University of Fine Arts, Hamburg. Demand is known for making photographs of 3D models that look like real images of rooms and other spaces,- hence this bathroom scene. He thus describes himself not as a photographer, but as a conceptual artist for whom photography is an intrinsic part of his creative process.

  • It’s not everyday one comes across a Tom, Brett or Freddie when one draws a bath but I have left you with something to toy with.
  • Perhaps ‘Rubber Duckie‘ is not always the one; even though he makes bath time fun; ‘cos Freddie the Frog I’m awfully fond of you!
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Compare the Pair #17 | The Tale of Two Fridges

Above: Left: Leda and the Swan fridge by Arthur Boyd; Above Right: Decorated fridge by Anon. at  ANA Hall, Harcourt, Victoria.

  • What separates these two beautifully decorated fridges? – About 31 km via the Midland Highway (A300) in  Central Victoria – that’s what!

In 1958, 11 Australian artists were invited by The Australian Women’s Weekly and Kelvinator to paint the surface of a fridge as if it were a canvas. One of these artists was respected Australian artist Arthur Boyd, who was known for his involvement in pioneering movements such as the Angry Penguins and the Antipodeans. Each artist was provided with a Kelvinator Magic Cycle refrigerator on which they painted.

  • The idea was inspired from a similar exhibition held in Paris.
  • The Australian exhibition was entitled “Art in Everyday Life“, which opened at Sydney’s Legacy House.
  • It then travelled to Brisbane, Melbourne and Adelaide, after which the appliances were auctioned in aid of Legacy.

Boyd’s painting, Leda and the Swan was inspird by the Greek mythological tale in which the god Zeus, in the form of a swan; seduces Leda. According to later Greek mythology, Leda bore Helen and Polydeuces, children of Zeus[ while at the same time bearing Castor and Clytemnestra[ children of her husband Tyndareus, the King of Sparta.

  • Of the 11 fridges, commissioned for the exhibition, Boyd’s is believed to be the only one still in existence. It was bought in 1996 by one of Victoria’s oldest galleries – the Bendigo Art Gallery.

The other fridge is painted by an unknown artist, but unlike Boyd’s, it is still a working fridge. It can be seen at the ANA Hall in Harcourt, where Devonshire tea is served every year at the annual Harcourt Apple Festival. (To be held on 10 March, 2018).

Unlike the Leda and the Swan fridge, you will see bottles of chilled milk ready to be served with your Devonshire tea; unlike the Boyd fridge at the Bendigo Art Gallery, which sets of an alarm if you are curious and want to open its fridge door.

  • Truly two amazing and cool ridgy-didge fridges!
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Bali Hai! This is Why

Belgian painter Adrien-Jean Le Mayeur de Merpes was born in Brussels on 9 February 1880. He left Europe in 1932 and travelled to Bali where he remained for the rest of his life. Le Mayeur De Merpes was fascinated with the Balinese culture and the Hindu traditions including the Balinese people’s traditional way of life, the temple rituals and the performance of their local music and dances. He was also impressed with the luscious greenery and surroundings of Bali’s tropical climate.

Initially renting a house in Bali’s capital city Denpasar, Le Mayeur de Merpes became acquainted with a 15-year-old legong dancer, Ni Nyoman Pollok, aka Ni Pollok, who became the model and muse for his paintings.

A number of Le Mayeur De Merpes’ Balinese art works were exhibited in Singapore in 1933, which increase his popularity. Due to this success, he purchased some land and built a house and studio at Sanur beach. Ni Pollok and her two female friends worked every day as models for Le MayeurDe Merpes; and by 1935 he and Ni Pollok married.

  • During the WW2 Japanese occupation of Indonesia, Le Mayeur De Merpes was put under house arrest by the Japanese authorities. However, he continued painting often on rice sack cloth or any other surfaces he could find.

In 1956, Post-Proclamation of Independence, the Indonesian Minister for Education and Culture visited Le Mayeur De Merpes and Pollok and recommended that their house, studio and all its contents be preserved as a museum.  Le Mayeur De Merpes agreed and on 28 August, 1957; a Deed of Conveyance was signed, and the property and its contents were gifted to the public; as a museum.

  • In 1958,  De Merpes was diagnosed with a severe form of ear cancer, and accompanied by Ni Pollok, returned to Belgium to receive medical treatment. After two months in Belgium, on 31 May, 1958, the 78-year-old painter died and was buried in Ixelles, Brussels.
  • Ni Pollok then returned home to take care of their house which had become the Museum where she lived until her death on 18 July, 1985, at the age of 68. Visitors today can still see up to 80 of his works on display.

Terima Kasih,  M. Le Mayeur de Merpes – Makasi!

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Enter the Dragon – How Clawsome

Melbourne’s Dai Loong (Big Dragon) has particular significance in the history of dragon making from China. Processional dragons are handmade out of silk, bamboo and wire. Historically it is a folk craft which originated in Foshan, in the Guangdong Province in southern China.

  • Due to the suppression of traditional culture, the production of processional dragons in Foshan ceased after 1949.

However, in 1978, samples from Melbourne’s early processional dragons were given to a descendant of a traditional parade dragon-maker in Foshan; and before long, Dai Loong was created. This prompted a revival in Foshan’s dragon making industry; after a period of almost 30 years.

The Chinese symbol of the dragon first appeared during the Yin and Shang Dynasties (16th-11th Century B.C.), as inscriptions on bones and turtle shields. They depicted a horned animal with teeth and scales. Unlike western representations of the dragon, Chinese dragons are good-natured and are believed to bring happiness, immortality, fertility and ward of evil spirits.

  • Through the dynasties, the five-clawed dragon has also represented the emperor and some Chinese refer to themselves as Loong De Chuan Ren (Descendants of the Dragon).
  • Every Chinese New Year, (aka the beginning of the Spring Festival) is marked with the appearance of the dragon, who rises from his slumber into the sky where his breath produces rain clouds.
  • If you are interested in becoming part of the Melbourne Dai Loong Association Inc. you can contact them directly via their website.
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To Light a Candle is To Cast a Shadow

French Baroque painter, Georges de La Tour (March 13, 1593 – January 30, 1652)  spent most of his working life in the Duchy of Lorraine, which was temporarily absorbed into France between 1641-1648. He was given the title “Painter to the King” (of France) in 1638, and he also worked for the Dukes of Lorraine in 1623–1624, but the local bourgeoisie provided his main market, and he achieved a certain affluence. 

Born at Vic-sur-Seille, France in 1593 he established himself at Lunéville around 1620 where he received many important commissions from the Duke of Lorraine. He also was involved in a Franciscan-led religious revival in Lorraine. Heavily influenced by the art of Caravaggio, La Tour mainly concentrated on religious subjects; many of which were rather sombre with large areas of dark shadows and muted colours subtly illuminated by a candle to create dark, dramatic and essential realistic scenes. La Tour’s art belongs to a school of art known as Tenebrist, from the Latin “Shrouded in Darkness“. 

In the portrait Penitent Magdalene, (Above Upper Right) Mary Magdalene is depicted with a human skill in her lap. (A traditional symbol for someone who is trying to be “dead to the world and all its false pleasures and temptations“). The candle serves a dual purpose lighting up the picture while also symbolizing Christ (Mary’s new master and the light of the world).

La Tour often painted several variations on the same subjects, and his surviving output is relatively small. His son Étienne was his pupil, and distinguishing between their work in versions of La Tour’s compositions is difficult. Georges de La Tour and his family died in 1652 in an epidemic in Lunéville.  La Tour’s work was forgotten until it was rediscovered by Hermann Voss, a German scholar, in 1915.

“Just as a candle cannot burn without fire, men cannot live without a spiritual life”.

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