Tuesday, April 10, 2018

From the Bower at the Johnston Collection: Update #1

The watercolour miniatures I've been making for the forthcoming show, Patterns of Collecting/From the Bower at the Johnston Collection, have been accumulating at a faster pace than I've had time to post here. (The exception is Love Knot, directly below, which was previewed on 14 February in our Valentine's Day post).

To make amends, this is the first of a series of posts documenting the remaining works in the series.

Completed works, L-R: Untitled, 2018, 12 x 9 cm and Love Knot, 2018, watercolour, 9 x 7.2 cm

Sunday, April 1, 2018

A Big Show of Small Works

I’m eagerly anticipating joining forces with an extraordinary lineup of artists in the upcoming Small Works: a Survey, including the inestimable Julie Keating and Debbie Hill, who also curated the exhibition. 

Included on the invitation is a detail of my painting Pirate Queen, seen below in its entirety:

Pirate Queen, 2012, acrylic on canvas, 9 x 7 cm
Photo credit: Tim Gresham

The show, which opens next Saturday, 7 April, from 2 - 5 pm, will be launched by David Coles, founder of Langridge Artist Colours. 

Small Works: a Survey
Red Rock Regional Theatre and Gallery
520 Corangamite Lake Road
Cororooke 3254.
Open weekends 11 am - 4 pm, or  by appointment.

Small Works runs to 29 April.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Happy Easter and some good news

I always look forward to the Easter break; it brings brief - but nonetheless welcome - respite from an already hectic year that, despite my best laid plans, has begun to seriously accelerate.

For me, Easter has always been associated with new beginnings. Entering into this spirit, I've begun work on the first of a new series of paintings, a project I've been planning for some time. Previews of the new work will feature in future posts.

Meanwhile, I'd like to share some super news from our sister blog, Moth Woman Press. My artist book Leaves of Absence is one of 75 finalists in the 2018 Libris Awards at Artspace Mackay. A page view, snapped in our study at Abbotsford, is below. For further views of Leaves of Absence, visit Moth Woman Press HERE.

Monday, March 26, 2018

New work from the bower

Untitled (Pearl) 2018, watercolour, 12 x 9 cm 

The newly completed watercolour miniature pictured above was specifically made to fit the vintage frame on its right. Since planning began for the latest iteration of From the Bower at the Johnston Collection in East Melbourne, I’ve amassed a sizeable assortment of vintage frames, sourced from antique shops and markets, thrift stores and trash and treasure markets.This one was a lucky find at Ballarat Sunday Market. It's rare for me to know anything of a frame's history, but this one is an exception. The elderly woman from whom I bought it told me it once held a photograph of her grandmother. 

In a reversal of the usual order, it’s the frames in this project that come first; I relish the challenge of tracking them down almost as much as making the works to fit them.

Untitled (Pearl) progress view

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Melbourne Art Book Fair 2018

Captured in the above snapshot by Jill Kellett is a memorable moment from yesterday's visit to Melbourne Art Book Fair 2018 at NGV International. Pictured L - R are Shane Jones and I with our friends Louise Jennison and Gracia Haby.

Shortly afterwards I took part in Regional Arts Words (RAW), a panel discussion hosted by Regional Arts Australia.

L-R: Mary Jane Warfield, Angela Rivas, Lindy Schneider and myself snapped during yesterday's RAW panel
discussion during Melbourne Art Book Fair 2018 at NGV International. (Photo credit: Louise Jennison).

Two of my books, Fallen Women and There was once... The collected fairy tales are available from the Regional Arts Victoria stand at the book fair, which runs until 5 pm tomorrow.

For more about RAW, go HERE. For more pictures of the event, visit Moth Woman Press HERE.

Friday, March 9, 2018

LEAVES OF ABSENCE acquired by the State Library of Victoria

I’m delighted to announce that my artist book, Leaves of Absence (2017), has been reserved by the State Library of Victoria. The book, a limited edition of 10 plus one artist proof, is pictured in our study at Abbotsford.

Leaves of Absence is the first work to draw its subject matter entirely from my regional work base. Next Friday, 16 March, from 2.30 - 3.15 pm, I’m taking part in Regional Arts Words (RAW) a panel discussion Regional Arts Australia is hosting during Melbourne Art Book Fair 2018 in the Great Hall, NGV International. My contribution will include a show and tell of Leaves of Absence, the seeds of which were sewn in 2015, during a forest walk in the Victorian goldfields town of Newstead. 

For full details of RAW, visit Regional Arts Australia HERE.

Monday, February 26, 2018


My drawing The Secret Plait has been included in HEADS & BODIES at Charles Nodrum Gallery. The exhibition, which will span the entire gallery, explores the body in art through extensive contemporary and historic examples.

Accompanying the show is a lavishly illustrated catalogue of selected works. A fully illustrated catalogue can be viewed on the gallery website HERE.

Deborah Klein, The Secret Plait, 2016-17, oil pastel and chinagraph on paper, 76.5 x 56 cm
Photo credit: Tim Gresham

HEADS & BODIES exhibition catalogue. Cover art: Russell Drysdale, Half caste woman, 1960.
Page view: Deborah Klein, The Secret Plait, 2016-17 (top); bottom: Jan Murray, Grey Jacket (Puff), 2015

Charles Nodrum Gallery
267 Church Street
Richmond 3121

Tel. (61 3) 9427 0140
Hours: Tuesday - Saturday 11 am - 6 pm

HEADS & BODIES opens on 1 March and continues until 17 March.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

More watercolour miniatures

As the second month of 2018 nears an end, I remain primarily focused on the ongoing non-portrait miniatures for Patterns of Collecting/From the Bower at the Johnston Collection, a group exhibition opening in early June. It's such a pleasurable and satisfying project to work on, although with several other commitments hovering, I'll soon need to start multi-tasking a lot more.

Untitled watercolour, 2018, 9 x 7 cm

Untitled watercolour, 2018, 12 x 8 cm

As in its previous incarnations (at Warrnambool Art Gallery and the Art Gallery of Ballarat in 2017), Patterns of Collecting will comprise objects from the private collections of Loris Button, Louise Saxton, Carole Wilson and myself, together with a selection of our artworks.

The works featured here are a response to the portrait miniatures held in the museum's permanent collection. Each miniature is made to fit one of the decorative frames I've sourced in antique shops, markets and thrift shops. This is an equally enjoyable component of the project that brings some balance into my life by getting me out of the studio from time to time.

Inspiration for the series is also drawn from mourning and sentimental jewellery. I have a small collection of my own, and all of it will be included in the show.

This morning my friend, Arizona-based artist Deborah McMillion, sent me a link to The Curious Victorian Tradition of Making Art from Human Hair, a fascinating and enlightening article by Allison Meier, in which she reviews Woven Strands: the Art of Human Hair Work, an exhibition currently on view at the Mütter Museum of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia. It's the first show solely devoted to this subject, at least that I'm aware of. Would that I could see it. To read the article, which is handsomely illustrated, go HERE.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

A Valentine

Love Knot, 2018, watercolour, 9 x 7.2 cm

A tiny token for this Valentine's Day (and eventually for Patterns of Collecting/From the Bower at The Johnston Collection in June).

Monday, February 12, 2018


L-R: myself, Gracia Haby, Theo Strasser and Louise Jennison at FOTP2018, Melbourne
  Town Hall. Photograph by Shane Jones, courtesy of Gracia and Louise.

Yesterday afternoon's Sticky Institute Festival of the Photocopier 2018 was bigger, brighter and better than ever, but, like many eagerly anticipated events, it was all over far too quickly. This year Sticky Institute received an unprecedented number of applications from zinesters (around 250 in the end, I believe) so all but zine distros were required to share a table. When your zine neighbours are Gracia Haby and Louise Jennison, with Theo Strasser on the adjoining table, this can only be a good thing.  We had a fabulous day. For me it was the best zine fair ever, which is saying something. I for one can't wait to do it all again next year.

Meanwhile, for an overview of FOTP2018, go to Moth Woman Press HERE.

Friday, February 9, 2018


The renowned Sticky Institute Festival of the Photocopier is currently under way and, as always, will culminate in a ginormous zine fair. In recent years it’s been held at Melbourne Town Hall, a venue well suited to accommodate the ever-growing number of stall holders. This year it’s anticipated that they'll number over two hundred.

Moth Woman Press will be among them, with three new zines made especially for the event, namely Fallen Women, The leaves, like women, interchange and Alice’s Wonderland (see below). We’ll also be carrying a a goodly selection of zines from our back catalogue.

Do join us if you can.

The complete list of FOTP2018 events is here:

Festival of the Photocopier Zine Fair 2018
Melbourne Town Hall
Sunday, 11 February, 12 - 5 pm

Fallen Women, 2018, 16 pages, signed and numbered edition of 100

For more about Fallen Women, visit Moth Woman Press HERE.

The leaves, like women, interchange, 2018, eight page zine with poem by Emily Dickinson. Signed and numbered
edition of 100

For more about The Leaves, like women, interchange, visit Moth Woman Press HERE.

Alice's Wonderland, 2018, eight page zine, signed and numbered edition of 100

For more about Alice's Wonderland, visit Moth Woman Press HERE.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

TWS Small works exhibition and fundraiser

This Wild Song (TWS) is a visionary project instigated by Melbourne-based photographer Ilona Wilson that shines a light on contemporary Australian women artists.

In an exciting new development, a plan is afoot to show TWS in Singapore. Towards this end, a fundraising exhibition is currently underway at Gallerysmith, featuring works by over 40 TWS artists, including my phemograph, Fallen Woman 1, 2017 (pictured above).

Works can be purchased via an online silent auction. To view the exhibits and place a bid (or even more) visit the event listing on the TWS website here:

Exhibition at Gallerysmith: 30th January – 3rd February

Curator tour: 1st February 12:30 - 1:30pm

Closing event: 3rd Feb 1 - 3pm

Silent auction ends: 3rd Feb 3pm

Exhibiting artists: Kirstin Berg / Hannah Bertram / Sophie Bottomley / Celeste Chandler / Danica Chappell / Filomena Coppola / Yvette Coppersmith / Ella Dreyfus / Nanou Dupuis / Michele Elliot / Megan Evans / Belinda Fox / Minka Gillian / Wanda Gillespie / Erika Gofton / Jennifer Goodman / Michelle Hamer / Freya Jobbins / Kate Just / Dena Kahan / Justine Khamara / Alicia King / Deborah Klein / Sue Kneebone / Anita Larkin / Emma Lindsay / Ilona Nelson / Indigo O’Rourke / Becc Orszåg / Valentina Palonen / Polixeni Papapetrou / Caroline Phillips / Cat Rabbit / Natalie Ryan / Pip Ryan / Kevina-Jo Smith / Jacqui Stockdale / Abby Storey / Adriane Strampp / Merryn Trevethan / Charlotte Watson / Stephanie Wilson / Susan Wirth / Gosia Wlodarczak.

The exhibition is proudly sponsored by Gallerysmith and The Art Room.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Three progress views

Image 1: 
Two works in contrasting stages of completion, part of a steadily expanding collection of miniatures to be exhibited mid-year in PATTERNS OF COLLECTING/From the Bower at the Johnston Collection

Image 2: 
Propped up on the lid of my watercolour set, a treasured postcard of Portrait of a Lady  by Renaissance artist brothers Antonio and Piero del Pollaiolo, purchased many years ago at the Uffizi, never ceases to delight and inspire. Also on the worktable, A Thing Apart, a catalogue focusing in fascinating detail on the Johnston Collection’s fine collection of miniature portraits, is an invaluable source of background and technical information. 

Image 3:
Two newly completed non-portrait miniatures (12 x 9 cm and 9 x 7 cm) ready to be inserted in their respective frames.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

A growing collection of miniatures

Recently completed miniature watercolours (L-R: 12.5 x 8.5 and 7.5 x 4.5 cm)

On the drawing table: a further two miniature watercolours (including the smallest so far) intended for the mid-year show PATTERNS OF COLLECTING/From the Bower at the Johnston Collection. 

For full details of the exhibition, scroll down to my previous post.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Starting here, starting now

Progress view of Non-portrait 1 and Non-portrait 2, miniature watercolours, together with the vintage
frames in which they will be displayed

I haven't made too many New Year Resolutions, but at the top of my short list is a solemn vow to take things a great deal more slowly than I have in past years, particularly in 2017. Towards this end, I've become extremely selective about taking on new commitments, particularly those that constantly interrupt precious studio time, with each disruption not only taking me further away from achieving my goals, but also leaving little time to pause and reflect, let alone spend quality time with friends and family.

There are, however, a handful of side-projects I'm particularly excited about, doubly so, as all of them are adjuncts to the longterm project I'm about to undertake.*

One of these is PATTERNS OF COLLECTING/From the Bower at the Johnston CollectionLouis LeVaillant, Director/Curator of the Johnston Collection in East Melbourne recently invited Loris Button, Louise Saxton, Carole Wilson and myself to exhibit a site specific version of From the bower - patterns of collecting at the Johnston Collection in 2018. The show enjoyed long and successful runs at Warrnambool Art Gallery and the Art Gallery of Ballarat during 2017.

The majority of our artworks and collections will respond to facets of the museum's wonderfully diverse permanent collection. Along with selected pieces from the show's previous incarnations, we've all elected to exhibit previously unseen collection objects and artworks, with most of the latter made specifically for the show.

For example, taking the museum's superb collection of portrait miniatures as a basis, I've begun a series of miniature watercolour paintings. True to the Bower Bird spirit, I have also amassed a substantial collection of vintage frames recalling those in which traditional portrait miniatures are housed. Progress views of the first two watercolours and their matching frames are pictured above and closeup views of the paintings are shown below.

The following information is from the Johnston Collection's website:

PATTERNS OF COLLECTING | From the Bower at The Johnston Collection

Monday 4 June 2018 - Tuesday 18 September 2018

An installation led by guest curator and artist, Carole Wilson as part of our ongoing ‘house of ideas’ series

PATTERNS OF COLLECTING presents artwork and items from the personal collections of four contemporary Victorian artists: Loris Button, Deborah Klein, Louise Saxton and Carole Wilson.

The artists, who make the Bower, are linked by their studio practice, their regional locations and connections, and their love of gleaning. Their studio collections range from curiosities, natural history specimens, memorabilia, discarded books and china, domestic textiles, carpet and linoleum, and old tools of trade.


L - R: Non-portrait 1, watercolour, 9 x 7 cm and Non-portrait 2, watercolour, 13 x 9 cm (progress view)

Non-portrait 1, slightly enlarged. (Progress view)

Non-portrait 2 (progress view)

In 2017 I was invited by the Melbourne Athenaeum Library to be their Artist-in-Residence for Melbourne Rare Book Week, which runs from 29 June - 8 July, 2018.

During that time, my limited edition artist book, Leaves of Absence, which was launched at the library in December, 2017 and subsequently acquired for their permanent collection, will be on view in the library, along with selected copies of Moth Woman Press books and zines.

Throughout the two-week residency, which commences in the week leading up to Melbourne Rare Book Week, I'll be working on a new artist book. Like my project for the Johnston Collection, it will revisit the Knots and Braids imagery that for many years has been central to much of my work. The artist book will also mark a return to linocutting, following a brief hiatus.

Needless to say, I'll have my head down preparing for both of these events.

Meanwhile, I'm delighted to have been invited by Charles Nodrum Gallery to participate in Heads and Bodies, a group exhibition exploring the depiction of the human head and body. Kate Nodrum has selected my oil pastel, The Secret Plait, for inclusion in the show. Full details will be supplied nearer the time.

Heads and Bodies will run from 1 - 17 March, 2018.

*In brief, my intention is to take up where I left off at the end of last year's short but fruitful residency at the Art Vault.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Out with the Old, in with the New (and so say all of us)

We've just arrived at Ballarat, where we'll see in the New Year.

I must admit we weren't looking forward to the journey. In the past week Alice, our rescue cat, has settled into our Abbotsford home with astonishing rapidity. Shane and I didn't want to traumatise our new family member any more than she already has been in her young life. But, happy-go-lucky kitten that she is, she took it all in her tiny stride, despite not being impressed with having to travel in a cat basket.

The only time I've seen a new pet settle in quicker than Alice did at Abbotsford was today, when she made herself instantly at home here. She's also been as good as gold and hasn't even attempted to fell the Christmas tree - at least, not yet.

Whether you're a party animal like our Alice, or plan a slightly more sedate evening, much like Shane and I, we wish you all a fun, happy and safe New Year's Eve - and may it roll over to more of the same in 2018.

New Abbotsford workspace

Our place in Abbotsford has been a virtually constant work in progress since we moved here. (I've just asked Shane to remind me how long it's been and he tells me it will be twenty years ago next May. Goodness - where did that almost-two decades go to?) Aside from getting an air conditioner installed upstairs in recent weeks (heaven knows how we survived without one for so long) the other exciting - and considerably more aesthetically pleasing - development is the latest transformation of part of the downstairs area, which, over the years, has variously been used as a studio, an office and a spare bedroom.

It's now a small studio again, an adjunct to the sizeable work table I have upstairs. Shane has done a magnificent job of plastering its ceiling, which continues into the adjoining entrance area, as well as installing art deco ceiling roses and light fittings (the latter sourced in antique markets in the Victorian Goldfields). 

Not shown in these views are the storage cupboard to the left of the bookshelves and two wooden plan cabinets directly opposite. The remainder of our books are now stored on bookshelves in the entrance hall; there's a partial view of them in the above photo. After a recent flood, one of several we've had over the years, numerous books had to be rescued from Shane's studio, the entrance to which is behind the art deco door, in the top photo, right. Fortunately, this time the damage, which at at first looked horrendous, was relatively minimal, and all of Shane's artworks were miraculously unscathed.

Shane also built the heavily laden bookshelves which fill the entire back wall of the revitalised space. A section of them can be seen directly below.

I spent the better part of yesterday tidying up the space, particularly the books, with a little help from Alice. She is seen taking a well earned rest in the following two photos.

On this sunny New Year's Eve morning, it's a good feeling to have the space ready and set to go for 2018.

Artworks on the wall are by Shane Jones, Paul Compton, Priscilla Ambrosini and
Jenny Nestor. The small sculptures on the top shelf of the cabinet are by Shane.
The moth masks on the bottom shelf are by me.

Alice, sitting on the lap of my cushion doll, Elsa (named after her lookalike, the
great Elsa Lanchester. See also below).

On the wall, right, are some of my celluloid and theatrical heroes, including the
Marx Brothers, Margaret Dumont, Charles Laughton, Elsa Lanchester,
Angela Lansbury and Ethel Merman. 

Thursday, December 28, 2017


Shane Jones and I found ourselves running hopelessly late with our Christmas preparations this year. Here's the reason why.

Meet little Alice, who is all of ten weeks old. She had a very rough start in life before being rescued by our friends Gracia Haby and Louise Jennison and taken to the Lost Cat's Home (part of the Lost Dog's Home). No longer lost, she has just found her forever home with us.

The following photos don't quite convey how tiny she is, or how adorable.

Directly below, Shane enjoys a pre-Christmas coffee and slice of Panettone with our new family member.

Below: on Christmas Eve, Alice and Shane read in bed, while visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads.

Below: if you're having trouble unwinding in the aftermath of Christmas Day, let Alice show you how.


She's a huge distraction, but as you will have already gathered, we're absolutely besotted. A rescue cat she may be, but it feels very much like she's the one who has rescued me.