I have located a large space in Broome North Western Australia where I
shall produce a new body of work. The day temperature is usually above
35 C inside the studio so it is hot and occasionally it is cooking! I
don't mind sweating too much as long as the studio is stable,
functional and cyclone proof. This cyclone season five storms are
expected to hit the area. Besides the possibility of 250 kilometre per
hour winds, massive rains and storm surges I must also be aware of
poisonous jellyfish in the ocean and large estuary crocodiles that
sometimes cruise by the beach. Last week one was spotted at the popular
Town Beach. This makes jumping in the water to cool off really not the
best option. Mango and coconut trees are just outside the studio door
with the accompanying flocks of fruit bats flapping about at night and
the geckos singing their little tunes as they hunt insects. There has
been almost no rain for the past two years so everyone is waiting for a
good wet season. Broome-time is the local term used to describe the
relaxed pace of the town but for myself I plan a busy and intense
period of studio time.
I move about on a bright orange bicycle fittingly branded with the name
"Gypsy". Peddling over red pindan covered roads and paths I am focussed
on the art in my head as a dozen paintings are aching to be realized. I
also attempt to be in one place for a change, which is no simple matter
for me. It is my fifth visit to this fairly remote desert / tropical
Kimberly region so it is familiar to a degree but also rather exotic
compared to the more populated and temperate south.
In late October a day trip was made to the Bidyadanga aboriginal
community just south of Broome, which was interesting to see a group of
artists working away painting patterns, and stories that are much older
than the nation of Australia. In fact the themes and marks used in most
aboriginal artwork is 40,000 years older than even the notion of
My tenth TRAVAILOGUE exhibition was held at SHORT STREET GALLERY here
in the Chinatown sector of Broome. This gallery shows aboriginal
artists from the Kimberly areas that were nomadic many years ago but
now adapt to a very different manner of living. It is a rough
transition period for most. Strangely I exhibit work made on the road
that depicts restlessness and asceticism with a neo-nomadic flavour.
Wether my art or some elements of my images last a few eons like some
aboriginal symbols is very unclear at this stage. 40,000 years is made
up of a lot of weekends! Before I think about a time in the distant
future it is probably best to first try to understand this concept of
There are whales out there in the water along with sharks, dolphins,
rays, large turtles, jellyfish, plenty of fish and soon a lot of
surfers who will invade the Island next week. School holidays have
arrived in this part of the world and North Stradbroke Island is a good
place to escape school and city life in general. I contemplate Island
life and the possibility of working here for an extended period. Sydney
was also considered but its cost of living makes everything just a
little bit more complicated. At this point of time I think it is
certainly best to locate myself in a small town to minimize costs and
big city distractions but where is best?. A studio in the tropical
northern part of Australia seems to be the answer as I have found hot
and humid climates rather stimulating and productive studio
environments. I must admit that icy polar studios are also to my
liking. It seems I am still very climatically challenged or should I
say just confused? Thanks to an Australia Council grant I will be able
to focus on a series of large paintings so I hunt for a spacious and
stable studio. The Visual Arts and Craft Strategy, an initiative of the
Australian, State and Territory Governments, have assisted this project
The GO COME BACK? Brisbane exhibition opened on a warm Tuesday evening
in the suburb of Woolloongabba at the Bellas Milani Gallery. Six large
paintings along with a series of nine tiny Polar garden landscapes were
I am travelling with Carolina Furque a photographer from Argentina who
slowly learns English, Australian slang and the strange, mostly relaxed
Australian way of life. As always Brisbane has been both interesting
and relaxing to spend a little time in. After the exhibition we shall
fly to Darwin for a few days. This I look forward to, as it has been a
few years since my last visit to the Northern Territory. I have fond
memories of this small capital city that I first visited in 1984.
Besides observing the growth of Darwin I will make preparations for my
eleventh TRAVAILOGUE exhibition to be held at the 24HR ART contemporary
art space next March. So it is time to head up to the tropics where the
demanding humidity of the build-up season is just about to build-up.
I head north now to Queensland where I shall recover from Melbourne’s
winter festivities, which are usually a funky mixture of football and
beer as well as coffee and culture. An exhibition in Brisbane lures me
northwards but on the way I shall drop into Sydney and perhaps also
stay in a small town on the east coast of Australia to break the
journey. The fruitful chaos of my dislocated life seems to flow along
as I weave here and there together to make elsewhere cosy.
This movement of mine often places me in the position of a voyeur or a
witness. Making only enough contact to interact in a minimal way but
somehow I do manage to befriend people as I travel. Juggling long
periods of time alone with noisy social hoopla is tricky but necessary
In many circles I play a fuzzy social role which I do not see as a
troublesome role but how fuzzy do I want to be and to whom besides
myself do I wish to display clarity and depth? Meeting thousands of
people around the world is fine but who are the close friends? Where
are they? How often do they need me around and how often do I need
them? If I stay still I presume I would not be asking this question so
I plan to attempt to set up a studio in Australia in one place for
longer than the usual three month time span I usually operate in. Lets
hope I can manage it.
The idea that some artists are outsiders from the norms of society may
explain this comfort that I find in wandering about the planet. Perhaps
this is the easy way to describe my lifestyle. I am indeed, outside the
home as I do not have a home and I always move. Strange locations are
excellent studios to me and getting to these places is always an
experience. My artworks could be the maps that get me pleasantly lost
or does my artwork help to locate me in this inexplicable thing called
the world? Where are the philosophical geographers when you need one?
To be always intransit or on the way to somewhere else can make life
very soft and light. Too light and you just float away into the ether
of otherness over there someplace or other which is really not such a
bad feeling at all.
Where am I? Oh yes…in Sydney on my way to Brisbane and then Broome it
seems. …I really must find a studio..
I could have stayed in one place and discovered that the world is a
harsh, beautiful and perplexing place but by travelling you can confirm
without a doubt that these qualities are both abundant and universal. A
larger view of the planet paradoxically shrinks the globe and situates
everyone in the same boat paddling through the same waters. Admittedly
sometimes the water is hot and wild other times its freezing and flat
and other times it is something else.
I now work in a fresh aired and relaxing country environment on the
outskirts of Melbourne. Large noisy cockatoos fly above searching for
food and especially water. There is a drought on this continent so
water becomes more and more scarce as it does across the entire planet.
The night sky is clear and velvet-like and the big smoke of Melbourne
is in reach for big city fun and galore. I have been catching up with a
number of friends in Melbourne and this usually involves a lot of
laughs and the loss of a few brain cells. Well worth it I believe.
Besides rekindling friendships and family events I also delve into a
new body of work. A primitive form of embroidery that I laboriously
stitch together embellishes the paintings on linen that I currently
work on. These works will be shown in Brisbane later this year. I too
will head north with my artwork to the warmer climes. Before this trip
a small TRAVAILOGUE exhibition will be held in Melbourne. This will be
the ninth show of this type of work done on the road, small scale, all
painted and stitched on medical bandage. A kind of travelogue of images
that trace part of the journey I undertook in 2004/05. Below was my
primary routing over this period.
Melbourne --> Sydney --> Bangkok --> Taipei --> Hong Kong
--> Bangkok --> Helsinki --> Murmansk --> Franz Josef Land
--> North Pole --> Murmansk --> Helsinki --> Hong Kong
--> Bangkok --> Phnom Penh --> Siem Reap --> Angkor Wat
--> Bangkok --> Amman --> Dead Sea --> Petra --> Amman
--> Amsterdam --> Berlin --> Amsterdam --> Madrid -->
Buenos Aires --> Ushuaia --> South Shetland Islands -->
Antarctic Peninsula --> Ushuaia --> Buenos Aires --> Mendoza
--> Santiago --> Auckland --> Sydney --> Melbourne.
A garage has been commandeered as a country studio space and very
functional it is proving to be. Each new work recalls various
experiences and views collected during the past eighteen months. A
Khmer haystack, a Russian arctic ghost town, a Jordanian gate made from
a salvaged oil tanker, the tip of a short range ballistic missile from
Taiwan, peaks and vales from Antarctica and other bits of oddness.
Collecting experiences on my travels and translating them into
paintings is what keeps me busy. This rabid lust I have for more exotic
observations is fodder for my artwork so after collecting the raw
material it is then time for the tricky process of whittling down the
ideas and images to construct art from this jumble of excitement. A
venture that is pleasurable most of the time.
4 Apr 2005
After my visit to the tourist side of Antarctica I returned to Buenos
Aires for a wander around the rather gaudy La Boca sector of this fine
capital city. The many colourful tin homes made a strong visual
contrast to the minimal palette of the Antarctic Peninsula. Returning
to busy city life with its push and shove, human order, bus fumes and
frantic fun was different but not too bad an experience. Argentina is
famous for its meat and indeed the BBQ or Asado is a high art form here
but it is the little empanadas that I adore. These savoury pastry
snacks come in a variety of shapes with a variety of fillings. All over
South America they can be found and I eat them by the dozen. Meat,
chicken, cheese, ham, olives, eggs, spinach, sultanas, tomato whatever
is in them they are delicious any time and keep them coming Por favor.
I am back to a summer mode now after those rather wobbly and chilly
voyages across the Drake Passage. The Antarctic Peninsula that creeps
up towards Patagonia like a plant searching for some warm sunshine is
really an extension of the Andes. I now look out the window and see
that mountain range, nearby sits Cerro Aconcagua at 6962 m. It is the
tallest peak in the Americas. I am in the province of Mendoza where
most of the viticulture action occurs. I planted myself in La Consulta
c/o the excellent Bodega Aconquija that sits 1100 meters above sea
level and makes a seriously good Malbec red wine. The Mountains act as
a topographical weather barrier as well as a stunning backdrop to the
vineyards. Very little rain here, lots of sun and fresh water from the
melting snow make it excellent for grapes except for the occasional
hailstorm. It's a very pretty part of the world.
One afternoon I was picnicking with a friend below these snow-capped
mountains by a channel of melted snow under Pine, Gum and deciduous
trees on thick green grass watching things move. Before siesta I
watched the insect population plunder our crumbs and busy themselves
with miniscule missions of urgency. Thinking back to the icy and rocky
terrains of Antarctica where life is somewhat lacking I realized that I
was now sitting on a layer of living blanket. Organisms galore were
beneath me, all alive and all hungry for life. It was not only my
friend and I who wanted to picnic. It was everything around us. Sadly
there was only one bottle of tinto vino to share with the plethora of
organic life I had just acknowledged. The Ice in Antarctica I had
befriended in some kind of conceptual way but here in the temperate
climes the party of life is very think indeed. Sadly I must leave this
continent and flutter across the Pacific.
It seems I will be spending the rest of 2005 in Australia, as there are
people and places to see. It is time to set up a studio on the
outskirts of Melbourne as I have plenty of new work to make. Future
exhibitions planned during 2005 are as follows -
|April. 1 - 24
Plimsoll Gallery. Hobart.
Tasmania. Australia. Antarctic group show of Australian artists.
|June 25 - July
William Mora Galleries. Melbourne.
|Jul. 29 - Oct 2
||Breaking the Ice
- Re-visioning Antarctica.
Adam Art Gallery. Victoria Uni. Wellington.
New Zealand. International group show of Antarctic work.
|Sept. 27 - Oct 15
||Go come back?
Bellas-Milani Gallery. Brisbane. Qlds. Australia.
|Oct - November
Short St. Gallery. Broome.
I don't get seasick not even in the Drake Passage when we chugged
through 13 metre high waves caused by the southern oceans cyclonic
winds. I do get an illness quite the opposite, which could be called
still sickness. This pleasant dis-ease is basically itchy feet
multiplied by many kilometres. One day I will try to estimate the
amount of kilometres I have travelled, as I am sure it will be a
surprising figure. I move all the time it seems even on this little
ship I have moved in and out of 4 cabins. Admittedly moving a few
grubby clothes, art equipment and some personal belongings is not the
same as moving a full household. I have read that moving is extremely
stressful but if this is so I should be some kind of blithering
neurotic, wobbling mess of tension. Last time I looked in the mirror I
was a tad shabby and had a little bit of cabin fever but I didn't look
It has so far been a very wobbly voyage on the M.V. Lyubov Orlova but
this was expected. My faith in the Russian crew is large and this 100
metre long ice class ship is a tough little vessel. Made in 1976 in
Yugoslavia with a crew of 56 and maximum speed of 14 knots the Orlova
is named after a famous Russian actress. During the windows of OK
weather we have managed to visit the South Shetland Islands landing at
Telefon and Whalers Bay on the bleak and actively volcanic Deception
Is. Even managed to wallow in Antarctic waters that were warmed by the
thermal activity. Then on to Fort Lockroy on Weincke Is, Petermann
Island, Neko Harbour, Paulet Island, Cuverville Island, Half Moon
Island and some hours were spent cruising about the stunning Paradise
Historic sites, grand scenery, icebergs, penguins, seals, whales, sea
birds, scientists and tourists are all to be seen in this part of
Antarctica. There is even a Post office surrounded by thousands of
I have turned cabin 607 into an active studio with about 60 little oil
stick paintings scattered about the cabin attempting to dry. Works on
paper and a series of new Travailogue works are all cluttering up this
space that is my floating home for a few weeks.
It is a very exotic part of the world to be in. I am situated right now
at latitude 64 deg. South and longitude 62 west or somewhere in the
I have been accused of being addicted to the exotic which is true as
the exotic is usually described as …strikingly unusual, often colourful
and suggesting distant Countries and unfamiliar cultures. It also
suggests the unknown. Not the normal or nearby. Which all sounds fine
by me and certainly not a bad thing to be addicted to.
This fondness for the exotic or the Other has another side. In foreign
lands I am rendered exotic or maybe just culturally barbaric by the
locals that is if there are any locals to make comment on my behaviour.
This is usually a pleasant feeling, as I become special or really just
a strange stranger. This predicament is refreshing as it comes with a
slice of freedom. By placing yourself outside your usual habitat,
customs, laws and tastes you are able to reinvent yourself somewhat.
This is why people holiday and this is why many expatriates cannot
return home easily.
The final voyage is at an end as the lights of Ushuaia can now be seen.
Last memories of the voyage were a soaking wet and rather rough zodiac
landing at the Russian Bellingshausen station on King George Island
where I swallowed a wave-load of freezing salt water about the same
time that I was thinking about visiting the tropical bits of Australia…
The first month of 2005 was spent waiting for snow, completing some
artworks, and preparing to head far south once again. Most of this was
done in a studio I was able to sub-rent at W.G. Plein in the old west
sector of Amsterdam. This complex was once a hospital but for some
years now it has been used as artist studio spaces and assorted offices.
January felt a bit like a holiday period but it was not as I worked
many days. In fact to differentiate between holiday and work is
extremely hard for me. Visiting dozens of cities and landscapes each
year as I work on the road gives me little time to relax on a deck
chair reading a good book. What a poor, poor fellow I hear you say! I
always seem to be keeping myself busy with some art or travel related
Unlike the traveling salesperson that normally has a home to return to
I have not. No counter-point to balance and compare time away with time
at home puts me in a position where I could be seen as living the life
of someone with a never-ending job or someone on a non-stop vacation.
It is brilliant and extremely lucky that I am able to see many lands
but if I paint, plan, prepare and participate in exhibitions as I
travel then I really am not on holiday.
I force myself to cease working and relax but this really only happens
during the New years period or when I am sick but even then I am a
little busy with my "job" as an artist. What kind of job is being an
artist? Its obviously more a passion or calling than a method to gather
money. Lets just call it a very odd job.
I guess going to a bar/pub/café and getting a bit sozzled is my
holiday. If I get more than a bit sozzled it is in fact a holiday from
myself. This is escapist behaviour, a little like an extreme holiday
whereby you leave yourself behind thinking (or should I say not
thinking.) that it may be more fun to holiday without yourself.
Speaking of drinks …I had a small farewell gathering in studio14 on the
30th January which was a pleasant goodbye to Europe party and now it is
back to the journey. The journey is work and the work is the journey.
Hello South America. A few days in Buenos Aires was more than good as
it is a city that reeks of style but a sort of old fashioned style not
found elsewhere. I found it very likable. It feels good to be back in a
summer climate but it is a brief blanket of warmth as the good ship
M.V. Orlova is heading to Ushuaia and I must board her very soon.
Before I do I shall stroll around Ushuaia as I do like the colourful
dwellings that make up this cute town located at the end of the world.
Ushuaia has become the gateway town for the growing Antarctic tourist
industry. Each year more and more ships move between Tierra del Fuego
and the Antarctic Peninsula creating a fairly large tourist industry. I
will be operating as Artist in residence on three Quark tours heading
down to Antarctica. I will also occasionally be wearing my
Polar/Hawaiian shirt on the deck of the M.V. Orlova which is even more
silly than it sounds.