From Hot Winds to Hayricks, its a Garden Idyll

[Mrs. Conder (Portrait of Stella)], [Garden Idyll (ca.1906) 65.2 cm x 75.5 cm], [Hot Wind (1881) oil on board 29 cm x 75 cm] and [Hayricks in Giverny oil on canvas].

English-born painter, lithographer and designer Charles Edward Conder was born in Tottenham, Middlesex, on 24 October 1868. He emigrated to Australia and was a key figure in the Heidelberg School, a distinctive Australian expressionist art movement.

With a fond interest in art, Conder left school at 15; due to his very religious, non-artistic father; who decided that the young Conder should follow in his footsteps, as a civil engineer. In 1884, at the age of 16, Charles Conder arrived in Sydney, Australia, where he worked for his uncle, a land surveyor for the New South Wales government. However he disliked this work, preferring to draw the landscape rather than survey it. By 1886, Conder became an artist for the “Illustrated Sydney News” and joined the Art Society of New South Wales.

Two years later Conder moved to Melbourne where he met Australian artists including Arthur Streeton, and Tom Roberts.  He was a fun-loving man who painted with an often humorous touch; and along with other painters such as Frederick McCubbin had been influenced by Whistler. Conder left Australia in 189o and spent the rest of his life in Europe, mainly England, but visiting France on many occasions. He became fully involved with Aestheticism and mixed with leading artists and writers of the day including Henri Toulouse-Lautrec, Oscar Wilde and Aubrey Beardsley.

Conder continued to paint, but his output was severely affected by continual poor health, including paralysis and a bout of delirium tremens. Thus, his later works are not as critically well regarded as his earlier Australian paintings. He married a wealthy widow, Stella Maris Belford at The British Embassy in Paris on 05 December, 1901, providing him with financial security.

    • He spent the last year of his life in a sanatorium and died on 09 February, 1909 in Holloway Sanatorium of “general paresis of the insane” (tertiary syphilis).
    • Satirist Barry Humphries is a major aficionado and collector of the artist; and at one time had the world’s largest private collection of Conder’s work.

Clearly a Conder fonder from near yonder!

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How Many Kinds of Sweet Flowers Grow In an English Country Garden?

[Peter Abraham Sunday Teaparty’ Duke of Wellington Art Gallery, Mosman, Sydney, NSW.]

Born in Queensland in 1926, Peter Abraham studied at the Brisbane Technical College in Queensland and later at the National Gallery School, Melbourne, Victoria.

  • Abraham became a graphic artist, illustrator and painter and held solo shows in the eastern states of Australia from 1960 – 1962.
  • He was awarded with a number of art prizes and his work is represented in a number of Australian galleries within Brisbane and Melbourne.
  • Peter Abraham died in 2010.

Daffodils, heart’s ease and phlox
Meadowsweet and lady smocks
Gentian, lupine and tall hollihocks
Roses, foxgloves, snowdrops, blue forget-me-nots
In an English country garden

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Adam and Eve or Suzanne and André?

[Adam and Eve (1909) Oil on canvas (162 cm x 131 cm)]

Suzanne Valadon (23 September 1865 – 7 April 1938) was a French artists’ model and painter born Marie-Clémentine Valadon at Bessines-sur-Gartempe, Haute-Vienne, in France. She was also the mother of painter Maurice Utrillo (born 1883).

The daughter of an unmarried laundress, Valadon began working from the age of 11, including a stint as a factory-hand making funeral wreaths. By the age of 15 she became a circus acrobat but a year later, a fall from a trapeze ended that career. For the next 10 years, Valadon modeled under the name “Maria” for many artists including Pierre-Cécile Puvis de Chavannes, Théophile Steinlen, Pierre-Auguste Renoir; and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (who called her “Suzanne“); and was thought to have had many affairs with the artists she modeled for. Valadon was also known to be good friends with Edgar Degas, whom she befriended in the early 1890s. He became impressed with her bold line drawings and fine paintings, purchasing some of her work and encouraged her efforts. In fact, she remained one of Degas’s closest friends until his death.

Valadon’s paintings feature rich colours and bold, open brushwork often featuring firm black lines to define and outline her figures, emphasizing the structure of the body. Her first models were her family members, often her son, mother, or niece. Her first exhibitions held in the early 1890s, consisted mostly of portraits, including one of Erik Satie’; with whom she had an affair in 1893. In 1896, Valadon married a stockbroker Paul Moussis.

  • By 1909, at the age of 44, Valadon began an affair with 23 year old painter André Utter; a friend of her son. Adam and Eve, (pictured above) was painted the same year and is said to be a depiction of Utter and herself.

After divorcing Moussis in 1913, Valadon married Utter the following year. During their marriage he managed both Valadon and her son Maurice Utrillo’s art careers. Valadon and Utter worked and exhibited together until they divorced in 1934.

  • Valadon produced around 300 drawings and over 450 oil paintings.
  • Many of her works are among the collections of the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, the Museum of Grenoble, and at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
  • Suzanne Valadon died of a stroke on 7 April 1938, at age 72, and was buried in the Cimetière de Saint-Ouen in Paris.

A small square at the base of the Montmartre funicular in Paris is named Place Suzanne Valadon.

Adam and Eve or Suzanne and André?
Apple of her eye? – Couldn’t give a fig (leaf)

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I Don’t Know About You But … I Decline Myself

[‘I Decline Myself: ABNbookwork” Cottles Bridge, Vic. ThisTooPress, (2009).]

Lyn Ashby was born in 1953. Ashby has a PhD (Studio-based, arts research) from Monash University in Melbourne, the London College of Communication (Master of Arts, Typo/Graphic Studies), the Victorian College of Arts (Graduate Diploma in TV/Film), the Sydney College of Arts (Bachelor of Visual Arts – Photography) and Adelaide University (Bachelor of Arts – English Language and Literature).

Ashby has also won awards in film:

  • FFICS, Tokyo for the animated film Under the Weather, in photography
  • Lady Fairfax Award for Photography, open section, for Peripheral Vision
  • The Southern Cross University Acquisitive Artists Book Award (for The Ten Thousand Things) and;
  • received several grants from the Australia Council for the Arts.

Ashby’s art tends towards exploring existential breaking points which is perhaps where the real inquiry begins. From his book, I Decline Myself, (featured above) he investigates the idea that we are formed by language; a concept reflecting the ongoing importance of literature in Ashby’s oeuvre. In working his way through the various decisions of a noun, Ashby literally constructs a self-portrait out of words.

His decision to print the text and images on transparent paper allows the reader to view simultaneously what has come before and what becomes after, though in a purposefully occluded way.

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Is the Scalpel Mightier Than the Pen?

ELK aka Luke Cornish is an Australian born street artist who has created unique, powerful images from handmade stencils from Canberra, Melbourne and Sydney. His rise within the contemporary art world has been meteoric, becoming the first artist to be nominated for the Archibald Prize with a portrait created entirely out of stencils.

A former blue-collar worker from Canberra, Cornish’s apathy and boredom during his early twenties encouraged him to start experimenting with Stanley knives and spray-paint cans. Fast forward a decade and a bit; and Cornish has literally carved his name into the general public’s mind.

  • Sometimes using up to 1000 separate layers of carefully hand-cut acetate, Cornish sprays layer upon layer of aerosol paint until his images bear a striking photographic resemblance.

After a few small exhibitions across Australia, Cornish’s abilities began to attract public attention. Over the past ten years he has been granted many awards, including:

  • Winning the coveted Holding Redlich People’s Choice Award, Salon de Refusés (2017),
  • Churchill Fellowship (2013),
  • Metro Art Prize finalist (2011),
  • Winner of the Australian Stencil Art prize (2010),
  • Melbourne Stencil Festival – Most Popular Stencil  (2008),
  • and creating a shortlisted Tropfest film on the making of his Archibald portrait as well as winning the Archibald itself.

Cornish’s portrait of controversial Catholic priest Father Bob Maguire achieved a new auction record for a work by an Australian street artist selling for AU$34,160 during the Bonhams Australia Important Australian Art auction in late 2013.

Now living and working in Sydney, Cornish has continued to refine his art and in early 2017 co-founded the ‘For Syria’s Children‘ Charity organisation, raising much needed funds for Syrian children affected by the conflict.

Further information on ELK is available at his website or follow him on Twitter @ELK.

Cornish has shown the art world that even if the “pen is mightier than the sword”, the “scalpel might win out overall”

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Ha-Ha | ‘It’s better than sex’

Ha-Ha the street artist is also known as Regan Tamanui. As a street artist he has been using spray can and stencil art in and around Melbourne since 2001. He is also a professional artist and gallery curator with several gallery shows under his belt.

Ha-Ha began his street art back when he used to work as a ‘garbo’ for the cities of Whitehorse, Moreland and Glen Eira and took hundreds of stickers to work each week and stuck them up all over the neighbourhood. Now he mainly uses stencils in and around the Melbourne CBD, Fitzroy, Collingwood, Brunswick and Richmond areas close to home.

  • Ha-Ha often depicts pop kitsch art. He is fascinated by conspiracies, robots, Dystopian future, underbelly sub-cultures and anti-corporate and anti-government campaigns. He claims his inspiration came from another stencil street artist Psalm.
  • Ha-Ha once said that: ‘The risk of getting caught is the ultimate thrill. It’s better than sex’.

Further information is available at his website or you can follow him on his Instagram account @regantamanui

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Hutton’s Hamming It Up

Hutton’s Hams and Bacon (Pine-Apple Brand)

During the 1860s the suburb of Preston in Melbourne’s north saw the introduction  of a bacon-curing factory. Following its opening in 1862, came a tannery in 1865. These original establishments would be followed by several larger factories, including Hutton’s Hams and Bacons and Zwar’s Parkside Tannery.

Mel B. Spurr seen in this Hutton‘s poster, was a short plump pink-faced fellow with a jaunty comedian’s facade and an air of deceptive innocence, but he never left much of a mark on Australian history, but maybe it’s marketing tagline had greater success – “No, no, no, –  I must have Hutton’s”.

However, I don’t eat meat, so Hutton’s Means Nuttin’ To Me

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Wowed By the Cloud

The Cloud (1900) by Charles Douglas Richardson.

Victorian Heidelberg School artist and sculptor, Charles Douglas Richardson (7 July 1853 – 15 October 1932) trained at the Artisans School of Design, Trades Hall and the National Gallery School, both in Melbourne; before he began studies at the Royal Academy School in London. During this time he shared studios with fellow Melburnians, Tom Roberts and Bertram Mackennal.

Richardson was one of the most gifted sculptors working in Australia ca. 1900. His cast ‘The Cloud”, a bronze nude female sculpture, consists of a 167cm life-size bronze casting which was unfortunately damaged after it was exhibited at the Ballarat Art Gallery in 1977.

  • The current bronze cast (1986) stands in the centre of a lily pond as part of the Bayside Town Hall gardens which was originally planned for the City’s Centenary Celebrations in 1934; before the plans were scrapped. However, 52 years later, ‘The Cloud’ finally  lifted and the statue emerged.

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Here Comes the Bride

Australian crepe wedding dress (1953) made by Violet Cocking (nee Dowey) who had resided in North Street, Castlemaine, prior to her marriage to Stanley Cocking in 1924. The dress was inspired by the gown worn by Queen Elizabeth II upon her Coronation in June 1953; which depicts emblems of the Commonwealth; similar to those which were stitched onto the Queen’s gown. [Castlemaine Museum – gift by Pat Cocking, 2003].

Jean-Paul Gaultier:

  • The Bride [La Mariée] from The Hussars Collection haute couture Autumn-Winter 2002-2003. The Indian-style feather headdress and train is covered in ivory silk tulle. The dress has a jewelled bodice and an ivory silk faille skirt decorated with fastenings from a Hussar coat. The ensemble is worn with draped ivory tulle gloves.
  • The Bride from the Tribute to Africa Collection haute couture Spring-Summer 2005. This fan-pleated chiffon shield gown and marabou-lined tulle veil took 140 hours to create.

Chinese Wedding jacket and skirt (c 1932). This fully-lined jacket and skirt is made of red satin with a Mandarin-style collar and three-quarter length sleeves. The jacket zips up at the front and has two short slits at the sides. The entire jacket is covered in sequins with special beaded patterns on the back, down the sleeves and along the front opening; depicting two phoenixes. It was worn by Mrs Kit Lee on her wedding day on 20 November 1932 in Guangzhou, China, when she was aged 17. Mrs Lee came to Australia after WW2 arriving with five children and made a living from farming, as her husband died when their youngest son was two years old. [On view at the Melbourne Chinese Museum].

  •  ‘Signing the Register‘ – by Edmund Blair Leighton [City of Bristol Museum and Art Gallery]. Edmund Blair Leighton (born in London, 21 September 1852 – died 1 September 1922) was an English painter of historical genre scenes, specializing in Regency and medieval subjects. For further information on Leighton, see my earlier post.

Arthur Boyd (1920-1999) four artworks from the Love, Marriage and Death of a Half Caste, more commonly known as the the ‘Bridegroom‘ series, Bridegroom Waiting for His Bride to Grow Up (1958); The Frightened Bridegroom (1958), The Bridegroom Drinking From a Creek and The Wedding Group.

  • The series was painted between 1957-1960, after Boyd travelled to Central Australia and earned him critical acclaim. The paintings gradually dispersed across public and private collections around the world. In recent years many of the works have returned to Australia, providing an unprecedented opportunity to reunite them at a special exhibition curated at the Heide Museum of Modern Art. Held during 2014-2015, the exhibition presented the core paintings of the series along with related drawings and ceramic pieces.

Like these images? – I Do!

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Walk Softly Witch! You Are Wanted by Carter Brown

The 1950s were a golden era for Australian pulp fiction and one of the main attractions was its striking cover art. With import restrictions on books and magazines from the United States (US) in the 1940s and 1950s; opportunities arose for local publishers to meet a growing demand for ‘American style’ fiction.

  • Despite their local production, the stories were still set amongst the mean streets of America.
  • With the introduction of television and the lifting of import restrictions in 1959, the demand for locally produced pulp fiction declined.

Australian publishers Horowitz and Cleveland from Sydney, led the way, putting together a multitude of writers capable of producing books to order; such as the ‘Larry Kent’ series which ran to over 400 titles; while Alan Geoffrey Yates, writing under the pseudonym ‘Carter Brown‘, issued some 300 crime novels between 1954-1964.

Yates was born in England on 1 August 1923, and later settled in Australia in 1948. He began his working life as a film technician, salesman and in public relations for Qantas airlines before taking up writing full-time.

  • A writer under many pseudonyms, Yates wrote westerns as Todd Conway, and science fiction as Paul Valdez.
  • He even found the time to write books under various versions of his own name as well as other pseudonyms, including Dennis Sinclair and Sinclair MacKellar.

The phone rang.
I eased the dame’s arm from around my shoulder.
‘Business first’, I said.”
– Larry Kent

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Hop To It | The Tale of Aurora and Tithonus

[Aurora and Tithonus by Francesco de Nura ]

Francesco de Mura (21 April 1696 – 19 August 1782) was an Italian neo-Classicist painter of the late-Baroque period, active mainly in Naples and Turin. He was a pupil of Francesco Solimena, then later Domenico Viola, where he met his contemporary, Mattia Preti.

  • While still in his teens, De Mura painted frescoes in San Nicola alla Carità in Naples (1715); and ten canvases of the Virtues and an Adoration of the Magi for the Church of Santa Maria Donnaromita (1728).
  • His other works include frescoes of the Adoration of the Magi in the apsidal dome of the Church of the Nunziatella (1732).
  • De Mura also painted portraits.

About the painting – Aurora and Tithonus.
Aurora was the Goddess of Dawn and was inspired by the love of mortals. Her favourite being Tithonus, son of Laomedon, King of Troy. Aurora stole him away and prevailed on Jupiter to grant him immortality, but forgetting to have youth joined in her wish, realised to later, to her great mortification that he was growing old, instead of remaining young and youthful.

When Tithonus’s hair turned white, she left him. However he was still allowed to remain in their palace. After a while Tithonus lost the power to use his limbs and Aurora locked him up in a chamber where his feeble voice was sometimes heard.

  • Finally she turned him into a grasshopper.

As you do!

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Somewhere Over the Rainbow Bluebirds Fly…

Australia Fair, performed on the 73-key Belgian built Verbeeck Concert Street Organ.

Australia Fair’ is the name of this beautiful street organ made by Johnny Verbeeck, built from the Verbeeck’s Organ Works (Est 1884), in the city of Antwerp, Belgium.

  • The ‘Australia Fair’ travelling concert organ entertains crowds throughout Australia, bringing happiness to thousands who listen to her music. This isn’t hard, because its mission is to entertain and delight generations of Australians in street organ concerts.
  • It is the only travelling Concert Organ in Australia. It has entertained extensively at all levels from local functions to “Yarralumla” – the residence of the Governor General of Australia.
  • All Australians are encouraged to support ‘Australia Fair’, as it is self-funded and reliant on personal donations to ensure her continued future.
Somewhere over the rainbow bluebirds fly
Birds fly over the rainbow
Why then, oh, why can’t I?

Further information for the Australia Fair Grand Concert Street Organ is available on this Facebook page.

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What Are We Hanging Around For?

[Sea Country Spirits (2015-2016) consists of 32 sculptures of spirits, of takorra (sky) beeyak (land) and warri (sea); from Wathaurong country, which Jenny presents as a rhythmical dance of animated spirit forms of different scales, made from copper wire, tree grass, driftwood, kangaroo bones, feathers, wood, synthetic polymer paint, seaweed, grass roots and resin].

  • Australian indigenous artist, Jenny Crompton (born in Warthraurong in 1968) lives on the Victorian Surf Coast, the land of her ancestors, the Wadawurrung.
  • Crompton is the creator of Sea Country Spirits which consists of the surreal shapes of birds and their nest crustaceans, shellfish, fish, shells and macropods, displayed together to create an ethereal sensation of different living creatures.
  • These are gathered to tell a story about the life cycles of Crompton’s Country and to express the continuous rhythms the land has been echoing for millennia.

Crompton’s focus on themes explore the environment and indigenous culture of her country. Part of her process is walking the land and respectfully gathering natural materials, which allows her to reconnect, listen and interpret an essence of her culture through the making of sculpture and paintings.

  • Crompton won the Deadly Art Award at the Victorian Indigenous Art Awards (VIAA) in 2014 and was a finalist in the 2015 VIAA awards.
  • She also won the 2016 Lorne Sculpture Biennale, Sculpture Trail Award.

You can follow Jenny Crompton via her website.

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Hey, Flick That Chip Off Your Shoulder

[“Flick That Chip off Your shoulder” street art mural by Indonesian artist Eko Nugroho in Hosier Lane and “Dilema Generasai #2″, oil & synthetic polymer paint on fiberglass steel, at National Gallery of Victoria].

Eko Nugroho (b. 1977 in Jogyakarta, Indonesia) is a contemporary Indonesian artist. Nugroho belonged to the generation of artists, who joined student and youth political activism movements called Reformasi, the ‘2000 Generation’;  which were active in the late 1990s. Their political messages were based on observations and daily impressions of socio-political issues which occurred at that time.

  • Nugroho’s works cross many art disciplines including public murals, paintings, drawings, embroidery, comics, video animation and contemporary wayang kulit (shadow puppets).
  • Like many of his peers, he has managed to merge ‘high art’ with popular and street art, to become a successful contemporary Indonesian artist.

In 2012, Nugroho’s contribution to the RALLY: Contemporary Indonesian Art exhibition saw time for him to paint a mural which he completed in one day on a wall in Melbourne’s famous Hosier Lane.

  • Entitled Flick That Chip Off Your Shoulder, it contained his signature creatures and playful elusive forms for which he has become known for.

Dilema Generasai #2 [translated: Generational Dilemma] (2012), features one of Nugroho’s helmeted figures, which reference his concerns for political and social issues affecting Indonesia’s younger generations.

  • Both of these examples showcase Nugroho’s questions about humanity’s existence and ironic nature; including frivolity and dysfunctions; and the absurdity of life; which are all addressed through his comic-inspired universe populated by hybrid-aliens and bizarre narratives.
  • The masks and headgear worn by his protagonists are symbols of protection and concealment, which act as metaphors for different psychological states such as detachment, isolation and indifference.

You can visit his website or contact him directly by email or via his studio.

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The Village Life of Hendra Gunawan

Hendra Gunawan was an Indonesian artist, poet, sculptor and guerilla fighter who was born in Bandung, the capital of West Java, (former Dutch East Indies), on June 11, 1918 and died in Bali on July 17, 1983.

  • Gunawan was best known for his combining of Western painting techniques and traditional Indonesian aesthetics.
  • His oeuvre spans a vast array of subjects including (but not limited to): fishermen, fish, water buffaloes, nude women, masked men, guerrilla fighters and abstract forms.
  • Gunawan fought against the Dutch colonial rule as a guerilla fighter; and later as an activist against the ruling government; for which he was incarcerated from 1965–1978.
  • It was during this period that he continued to paint, creating works on small scraps of rough canvas made available to him.

Today, his work can be found in the Neka Art Museum in Bali, the Singapore Art Museum; and the Ciputra Sundagese Heritage Museum in Jakarta name but a few.

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