After dance classes I would walk back through the city keeping an eye out for reflective surfaces in which I could record myself as part of the urban environment.
In the absence of a mirror, an ordinary selfie would do.
This small performative exercise developed into more involved photo sessions in chosen locations, which in turn became material for sketches and paintings.
It’s an ongoing (maybe life-long!) project, partly inspired by the whole-body self-portraits of US painter Joan Semmel, where the focus begins to shift away from the face to the expression of the body in response to place.
Images, top to bottom: Mirror Selfie, Wynyard (acrylic on watercolour paper); Martin Place (acrylic on watercolour paper); back arch with cranes, North Sydney (pen drawing in sketchbook); pen and watercolour sketch in art journal
Simple and sturdy with their canvas-textured hard covers and heavy-weight, off-white paper, Daler Rowney’s Ebony journals have served me faithfully for 20 years, as a place to document the process of art-making; to research, experiment and workshop ideas.
Sometimes messy, sometimes elaborate, they hold an eclectic mixture of different media and textures, combining practice drawings and paintings, image designs, reference pics and (more recently) mock-ups of comics.
My early journals (below) bring me back to the excitement of art school days when I was just beginning to grasp what painting methods and subjects interested me, and so much of this knowledge was new.
Note: I’ve used all sizes of the Ebony journal, but for process diaries, I keep returning to the A5. Only four journals are photographed here; I’ve used a fair few more, and in terms of my entire journal, notebook and sketchbook collection, well, this is but the tip of the iceberg…
Pocket notebook drawings from the rare display of this marvellous and mysterious medieval (c. 1500) suite of tapestries at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, on loan from the Museé de Cluny. I have never encountered such a soulful unicorn!
The Beaten Track, 2018, oil on linen, 56.5 x 46.5 cm (detail). An icebreaker to get back into oil painting after a very long period working in acrylics. It was also nice to return to the uncanny bushland of my subconscious.
A woman stood on the back of a flatbed truck looking up at the sky, and the bush was all around her.
A scene, glimpsed through a bus window, that inspired the two paintings below. I will be donating the smaller, red work, Forest (Clare), to a fundraising auction in support of Alexi Keywan, a fellow artist suffering from terrible complications following surgery for endometriosis. There will be 150 works by different artists available.
Bids can be placed in person at the event in Sydney this Saturday from 5.00pm at Theodore Bruce Auctions, 6 Ralph St, Alexandria, or online via bit.do/reflexauctionbid, with more information available on Instagram and Facebook using the handle @ReFlexAuction.
Top to bottom: from late 2017, two self-portraits in journal, 30-45 min each; preparatory sketch for upcoming painting, Jan 2018; 2015 self-portrait sketch in front of studio window
In May this year, I travelled once again to chilly Hobart to cover the 2017 Stranger With My Face International Film Festival for Australian contemporary arts magazine RealTime. Stranger With My Face, now in its fifth year, is a highly respected event focusing on horror and other dark genre cinema directed by women. I stayed in Hobart’s historic quarter, the appropriately gothic Battery Point, just up the cliff from Salamanca Arts Centre, where the festival is hosted.
My festival overview can be read here.
Photographs of Battery Point, Hobart; festival guest, Gaylene Preston, New Zealand director of marvellous thrillers Mr Wrong (1984) and Perfect Strangers (2003); festival display window at Salamanca Arts Centre; festival director Briony Kidd (second from left) with festival award winners (L-R) Kaitlin Tinker, Elizabeth E. Schuch and Gaylene Preston