13 Dec 2002
After fourteen days at sea I finally arrived at the ice edge of
Antarctica. Davis Base is in East Antarctica, 68 degrees south or
directly below India on your world map. The voyage across the Southern
Ocean was mostly smooth with the odd seven metre wave. Plenty of
icebergs, seals and penguins to watch as we slowly sailed into a polar
summer with a serious lack of night-time. The sun will not really set
for six weeks and every day the temperature floats just below zero.
My studio is located in the upper heli-hut donga which is a red cargo
container sitting upon another by the helicopter pads on the outskirts
of the station. A verandah and three windows offer views of the ice
berg littered Prydz Bay and the Vestfold Hills.
In the studio I will focus on marrying landscape with my particular
flavour of abstraction. Ice, rock, lake and mountain -scapes will be in
bedded with experiential data, text and Antarctic motifs. I will be
busy with a series of work I call Unmapping. Unlike cartography which
is concerned with location, law, topography and information, I concern
myself with dislocation, experimentation, imagined space and mystery,
all somehow tainted by Antarctica. Over the years art and maps have
enabled me to explore the fuzzy borders of geography and mind. I have
found myself many times in foreign lands hopelessly trying to refold
enormous maps back to their original pocket size. Here in the studio I
will for three months paint and contemplate how to refold or express
the tricky mysteries of Antarctica via my art. I shall eventually get
to someplace or other with this lost cartography or Unmapping of mine.
It is good to know that even when lost I am somewhere. While I am
living at this unusual science driven village I will also endeavour to
find out if this remote region of the planet is really profound or is
it just cold and boring? Where is the sublime bit? Why is this an
addictive continent to many people? Is danger really that sexy? And how
tasty is Antarctic pesto made from hydroponically grown basil?
11 Nov 2002
Finally I begin to head South. Expeditioners for the summer and also
winterers for 2003 involved with the Australian
Antarctic Division programs gathered at Bronte Park in central
Tasmania for an intensive week of field training. Information and
skills ranging from glacier travel techniques, environmental impact and
the meals times on the base were presented, practiced and absorbed by
all. The numerous introduction courses and general chats with
experienced Antarcticans made the rapidly approaching trip south much
more real. Bronte Park was also an ideal environment for cameraman
Matthew Rooke and I to meet the other expeditioners who we will live
with for the next 3/4 months.
Still there is a great deal to arrange and do including the fine tuning
of art equipment I shall take with me. This art equipment has been
kindly supplied by Art
Spectrum in Melbourne whose support has been fantastic as are their
products. It is a little difficult to predict my mode of working and
the quantity of art gear I will need whilst situated at Davis base but
I shall sort this out and if need be I will adapt and improvise down
The remainder of my time in Hobart will be spent preparing this gear
and my head for my second Antarctic journey. My hope is to set up a
studio in one of the unused dry labs on board the Aurora Australis
where I can with luck commence my painting and drawing.
My next intransit text could be sent from such a lab somewhere in the
massive Southern ocean.
10 Oct 2002
Melbourne is in its predictably changeable spring weather mode,
football fever has ended for this year and droughts are on the horizon.
It is a busy city but there seems to be always time for a drink at a
pub or café. The opening of my Intransit show at William Mora's
Gallery was a bit of a reunion as there were many people there I had
not seen for over ten months. This is primarily a work on paper show
displaying drawings done in Antarctica, Asia and Australia.
My preparations for the second expedition to Antarctica are still
underway which includes Medical and psychological tests, collection of
appropriate art equipment, a polar training course, sponsorship and
media negotiations, sorting out a cameraperson and planning some of the
work I hope to create down on the Ice this austral summer.
A cameraperson will join me in November heading 5000klm south of
Tasmania to Davis Base. On the voyage and in Antarctica we will be
making a documentary film with the help of producer Tony Wyzenbeek in
Last week I was busy with the Melbourne Art Fair as my art dealers from
Melbourne, Amsterdam and Hong Kong were all involved. This was a great
opportunity to talk shop and also see a massive amount of contemporary
art from the stockrooms of eighty galleries.
Next jump for me is to relocate to Hobart where the final Antarctic
preparation will occur.
24 Aug 2002
I look out the window today and see Broome but I still have strong
memories of being in Mongolia. Memories like lunch on a hill watching a
rainbow over Ulaanbaatar, dissecting cooked pine cones for their
delicious kernels, sipping rather odd fermented horse milk and meeting
dozens of artists all busy in the studio complex run by the Mongolian
Artist Union. Some form of cultural exchange between Mongolian and
Australian artists will hopefully occur in the future with a bit of
luck and planning.
I managed to complete thirty small Travailogue works while basically
enjoying the capital city and its warm summer days. It would be
excellent to return to Mongolia and see the countryside, more time is
always needed. Heading south was next on the agenda. Back to Beijing to
pack my studio into some boxes and my personal belongings into the
rucksack. Onto Bangkok for a pit stop and then to Sydney to catch a few
exhibitions and friends, finally here in the tropical town of Broome
for my BASE exhibition and quite possibly a long ocean wallow at the
beautiful Cable beach.
30 july 2002
After over two months in the Beijing studio working on my new
Domestic/Exotic paintings, a large Travailogue series and hundreds of
drawings it seemed like time for a little journey north. I am here in
UlaanBaatar the capital of Mongolia. Mostly busy with new drawings and
attempting to get my bearings in this unusual city. Part central Asian,
part Russian communist, part cowboy, and part buddhist. I must look
further to sort it all out a bit.
Soon I return to Australia for two solo exhibitions. The first in
Broome, north western Australia at Short Street Gallery. This show
entitled BASE will run from 22nd August to 5th September. Melbourne is
the next stop as my INTRANSIT show opens 19th September at William Mora
Gallery. This will primarily be a work on paper exhibition of drawings
done on the road (or sea) over the past few years.
In late November I will once again return to the Antarctic with the
Australian Antarctic Division as an artist in residence at Davis Base
this time, staying a few months at least. Another visit to this
frigidexotica will be somewhat of a change from the past six months of
living in hot and excitable Asian mega cities. Here is not so populated
of course. I doubt if my nomadic ways have any similarities with the
traditional nomadic lifestyle of the Mongolians but I shall investigate
whilst I am in the neighborhood.
3rd june 2002
I am currently wallowing in the warm smog of Beijing. A city I visited
eighteen months ago during winter that has now drastically transformed
itself. Climatically of course as Summer is not too far away but also
the look and intrastructure of the city has rapidly changed. Beijing I
liked before and now even more so. The hotel I stay in is roughtly
three kilometres east of Tiananmen Square and The Forbidden City, close
to Ritan park but sadly no intriguing old Beijing style hutong laneways
to stroll through. From this temporary studio fifteen floors high I
overlook numerous embassies all waving their colorful national flags.
This pleasantly confuses my geography some mornings when I awake. It is
here I begin a new body of work entitled Travailogue which begins to
dissect my wanderlust, tumbleweed fever or travel sickness whatever you
may like to call it. Recent experiences in Thailand, Myanmar and the
Philippines I now review, cull, meld and experiment with. Other
journeys will be thrown into the mix as well as the good and bad of
living here in Beijing for a few months. Lots of art to do and many
ducks to eat whilst here....
3rd may 2002
The mish mash of the Philippines I found both pleasing and confusing.
As a country highly influenced by Spain and seriously peppered with
Americana it somehow sits comfortably in S. E. Asia. After trying to
rapidly orientate myself in Manila John Batten and I hung the Antarctic
exhibition at the Australian Centre which is located in the Australian
Embassy. Forty-seven paintings and One hundred and eighteen drawings
all rather icy works strangely looked out onto a hot and smoggy city
full of the most gaudy taxi/bus vehicles one will ever see.
The formal opening went well, TV, cable and press interviews were done,
John flew back to his Hong Kong gallery and I jumped on a bus to
Baguio. During the five days I spent in this interesting mountain city
I began a new series of works, visited the Green House Effect gallery
and met a number of the artists connected to the Baguio Arts Guild.
Santiago Bose was my host who exuded hospitality and warmth. The people
and places I briefly got to know in the Philippines all made me
strongly consider returning sometime in the future. Next text could be
12th apr 2002
I have returned to Bangkok after an intense studio period in Myanmar.
Yangon the capital is a large and attractively shabby city that made
strolling about its wide streets and meeting the many polite and
graceful people most enjoyable. Burman, Mon, Khmer, Shan, Thai, Chinese
, Indian and others all somehow construct this land called
Myanmar(Burma). The numerous black or brownouts in town seemed to
shrink Yangon considerable also making portable generators noisy and
necessary for those able to afford them. There is a busy little art
community there surviving under the awful weight of poverty, strict
censorship, lack of materials, teachers and support. I found it a land
of enormous beauty and potential unfortuntely run by a highly disliked
military regime. I would have liked to see more of Myanmar but the
studio was operational and too enticing to escape from. Work made there
dealt with stopovers, dislocation, foreigness and travelsickness in all
its forms. All very homely topics for me. Strangely my brain is still
wandering about the Antarctic ice floes but my body is enjoying the
extremely hot tropical dry season. I guess that makes me some sort of
geographical deviant or perhaps just another globally lost fool. For
those in the Philippines my Antarctica exhibition at the Australian
Centre, Manila opens 6.30 pm Tuesday 23rd april and runs until the 7th
June. Part of this show will then relocate to the Green House Effect
gallery in Baguio (the summer capital of Philippines.) opening 14th
june. See you there.
20th feb 2002
My Bangkok exhibition at the Rotunda Gallery opened with a fitting
speech by Miles Kupa the Australian Ambassador for Thailand. Sixty
Antarctic works were displayed in this small but very attractive
Gallery. The show generated alot of press including a short TV
interview I did for the popular Thai-Oz talk show which is broadcast
throughout S. E Asia. What enlivened the opening for me personally was
the appearance of old friends arriving from Hong Kong, Singapore and
Bangkok will be a pit-stop for me for the first half of 2002 as trips
are planned to all four directions of the compass. I have returned to
my previous Bangkok studio over the Chao Phraya river in Thon Buri.
Dislocated drawings and preparations for various solo exhibitions have
kept me busy as well as being included in a group show of primarily
Thai artists at the new Chai Sri gallery here in Bangkok. As usual the
excellent Thai food is keeping me happy. Green paw paw salad, fresh
tamarind pods, spicy offal soups and guave juice all served with that
not so delicious side dish of mega-city smog.
12th jan 2002
About to exit Australia after a cool summer in Victoria and a stinking
hot festive season watching bushfires run amock in N.S.W. I intend to
spend three weeks in Bangkok while my AntaRcTic exhibition is running
then relocate to Yangon, Myanmar to set up a temporary studio. The
planned April exhibition in Manila will precede a show in Baguio which
is about 200 kms north of Manila in the hill region of Luzon Island. I
am told Baguio has a large population of artists and a pleasant climate
so I look forward to visiting. If all goes as planned I shall spend six
months in S.E.Asia basically in studio mode but punctuated by three or
four small exhibitions of Antarctic works and perhaps new works done on