INTRANSIT 2010
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December  2010


Don’t tell anyone but even very well travelled characters sometimes enjoy simple domestic chores. Yes I have been constructing a small herb garden, planting a pole for a creeper to grow over, weeding in the cactus garden, cutting grass, making garden tables from old bits of wood, washing and hanging out the clothes, burning wasp nests, designing a lounge room couch and cooking up storms in the kitchen which includes cleaning the mess after each such storm.

I have also completed a short film titled DUMBSHOW which compresses a year of Antarctic beard growing activity into a four minute and 56 second long movie.
Please go to – http://www.vimeo.com/16277406.  
On this same site you can also find the documentary  - HUNTING LANDSCAPE IN KALLAALIT NUNNAT. This short doco looks at our residency in Upernavik Greenland last May. http://www.vimeo.com/16732989.

On a recent trip to Catamarca, Cordoba and Santa Maria we went cactus hunting in the landscape to add to Carolinas succulent garden. Cactus forests in Catamarca are impressive and well worth strolling about one afternoon if anyone is in Northern Argentina. Highly recommended!





Summer kicks in with the occasional wild Zonda mountain wind blowing dust about and suddenly dropping the temperature down 25 C. Drastically turning summer back into winter for a few days. Bad news for the fruit trees as the last Zonda that blew in managed to freeze 40% of the Malbec crop. The beauty of farming!
The festive season has landed and its time for most people to indulge in feasts, family, frivolity and fun. The southern summer makes me parched so its time to open a bottle of rose, always a fun thing to do. I must admit I have not drunk any beer for months so I am feeling rather un-Australian but I am sure this minor problem can be rectified over some summer dinner party. I count on a Swedish friend soon to visit who shall help with this particular cultural trauma of mine.

Over the past month I have been working on a travel book that has actually been cooking for some time now. Yes another book to add to those bursting bookcases labelled ‘travel’ to be found in many bookstores. Who on earth would scan over my wandering verbiage and who would actually buy a copy? Who reads this blog? Why do I write it? What is the point? Who cares! OOhhh the pain…the birth of a book is often difficult.





Seems like another trauma coming on so I best restock the fridge with beer and the cellar with wine.
Last year at Mawson station I was able to collate, collect my thoughts, construct and clobber many words together into a literary form that made some sense to me but now my desire is to make that form sensible to others. This will take some time.
To all who read this I wish you a happy transition from year 2010 to year 2011 with enough good things arriving on your plate to keep you busy and as happy as a dog that digs up a mammoth bone.






October  2010

Moving south from Broome to Perth was fast and simple. I locked-up the tropical green shed studio, jumped on a plane and then in a few short hours I walked into the Old Customs House studio in Fremantle. After another few hours the “Freo” studio was set up and I was ready to work. (www.artsource.net.au) I highly recommend this large and very well located studio to any artists heading to Perth. Western Australia.
On the way to the Artsource residential studio I dropped into Turner Gallery in Northbridge (www.turnergalleries.com.au) where my final Australian show for the year is up on the wall. A GOOD DAY TONIGHT displays a large selection of the Wintertime work produced at Mawson station during 2009.






The Artist in Residence program run by Turner Gallery enables foreign or interstate artist to spend time in Perth, create work and to hold an exhibition all during a period of four to six weeks. In this studio I shall ensconce myself in new work that floats somewhere between Mawson station, Broome, Mendoza, Fremantle and the back blocks of my mindscape.  I will definitely need a detailed map to locate such an ethereal location. I will also do an artists floor talk during my exhibition and probably jog about the dock area of Fremantle to use the body in a good way for a change.





Before I flew across the Pacific one more time I dropped into Melbourne to say hi-bye to family and friends. One function that brought together many old mates together for some form of celebration dinner was held in St Kilda. A group of fresh fifty-year old gentlemen ran amuck as they got nostalgic and blurry attempting to recall or forget many passions and pastimes from the recent past, plans for the future were also thrown about. It was a long night and sadly the next morning I smelt and felt like an old and unwell hyena that had accidentally fallen into a vat of single malt whiskey. Luckily the pleasure of our shenanigans outweighed that evil day after.





Weary from the six solo exhibitions presented over the past five months, it is time to head eastwards as Carolina waits for her lost husband. There is also a hammock under the Andes at La Consulta that has been reserved for my pleasure.

The busy buzz of reunions and farewells, plus the trepidation and excitement of airport life wafted around me. Security, alerts, warnings, delays, lines of queues and paranoia all placed me in a ponderous mood even with the noisy never ending construction so normal to most large airports these days. What did I ponder as I watched large jets take off and land? Just the usual cerebral goo like -  I wonder where my wife is now? when do I die? should I buy more single malt whiskey? will I allocate some time to learn Spanish? what is the weather like in Albania in October and how shall I neatly plonk all these words together?

Then all of a sudden there were pink flamingos, red wine flowed and kooky roadside shrines decorated by the faithful with plastic water bottles were seen.  I must be in Argentina now.  I am not too sure about faith but I do believe that we are all made of liquid and to that I will toast!










August 2010

We landed in Broome with sore heads from the far too many functions attended. Now I must gather a little more energy and somehow celebrate the fact that I have been alive for five decades. Is this a milestone? Must I write a speech? Will it be just another boozy evening? Shall I feel unwell for a few days with post birthday depression, dehydration and the shock of discovering half my life is gone? Probably but that’s life. Carolina managed to acquire a brilliant birthday fish-cake to help ease the pain of celebration. As I have a strong love of these Thai savoury cakes and not being a sweet tooth kind of guy this was my ideal cake.






Next amusement will be the infamous Broome Cup event where horses run around a red pindan dirt track and people run around the horses wearing hats, sweating, laughing, screaming and drinking galore. I can do that surely!

 





My Broome exhibition at Short St. gallery titled SECRET GEOGRAPHY takes a peek at a number of locations I have visited around the planet from high up in the Andes to way down on isolated sub-Antarctic islands. Please visit the website www.shortstgallery.com.au




An informal dinner party was arranged in my studio to meet and entertain an excellent mob of roaming artists who were in the middle of a road trip across the NT and the Kimberly region. Tour maestro Steve Eland along with artists Sam Leach, Cang Xin, Tony Lloyd, Shi Jingsong, Ben Armstrong, Wu Daxin and writer Ashley Crawford all survived my Roo Randang (Kangaroo coconut curry), Chinese dried and steamed sausages and a slab of beer. Over dinner the group prepared themselves for more bush camping then much more kilometres onwards to Beijing and to Lhasa for the second leg of this collaborative Aussie-Sino trip.  Their visit was a great break from my sweaty regime here in the hot green shed. The Shinju Matsuri festival is also on this month celebrating the multi-cultural aspects of this town along with the interesting pearling industry, which basically built Broome.



Carolina has slipped back to Argentina in order to resume work at the Bodega. Our separation will be far less than last year but still a separation. We both work hard at our individual chores as we watch the weeks slop along.








July 2010


I miss the cinnamon crispbread for breakfast, the icebergs cruising by just outside the window, the howling husky dogs, the noisy flutter of helicopters overhead moving to and from the settlements and even Carolinas unique Greenlandic seal soup. The very cute Upernavik retreat was really a great spot to be for a month. I suggest some exploration about that part of the globe. Carolina and I managed to adapt to that midnight sun lifestyle rapidly but now we are back to nights, crowds, mobile telephones and assorted big city chaos.





Nine hours spent at Dubai airport waiting for a connecting flight was less than fabulous after which we fell into Hong Kong through a mountain of hot misty tropical cloud. Hong Kong is a grand city that is always pumping and it certainly was for the six days we stayed there. Hong Kong Island is a very different island to Upernavik but similar with its array of strange smells and odd food, each morning the pungent stink of gingseng floated from a nearby import shop to where we stayed. I drank a lot of iced coffee called “Mr Brown” and attempted to acclimatize fast from an Arctic climate to a tropical one.







In Chinese the expression for landscape is shan shui which roughly translates as ‘mountains water.’ Hong Kong has both these things so qualifies as a fabulous landscape as long as brown vile clouds do not conceal the beauty of its mountains and water. Next up was Queensland.

Brisbane was a rapid and jam packed visit involving the showing of my 70 KNOT paintings at Milani gallery, a lovely dinner or two, friends to locate, a dog called Chilli to look after and attempts were made to find time to take a relaxed stroll around this culturally active city that expands rapidly as I write this blog.





Now Melbourne my hometown surrounds us and I have family and friends to see, art exhibitions to prepare for, some interviews and many things to sort out as usual. I cannot complain but busy-ness can be rather draining after the very mellow polar social structures I have recently situated myself in.
The Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery exhibits a body of my work under the title -  An UNSTILL-LIFE. This is a short stroll through fifteen large works and nine small works of mine with the hope of displaying a few years of my wanderings via these works that were all spawned on the road.
At William Mora gallery I hang another body of work from my travels in Antarctica during 2009. This BLIZZ-LINE show is a selection of works produced at Mawson station in the Wombat Studio/science building. Soon after this show opens and the farewell drinks have been drunk then Carolina and I jump on a plane to find some heat and some Broome-time.







May 2010

I’m sitting in the middle of Mendoza with a short black coffee and a glass of water on my table. The café sits on a busy cross-road so thousands of vehicles cruise by along with the odd protest march, business suits and one crazy person talking to someone that is not there. On my table is a book – ‘The cloudspotters guide’ by Gavin Pretor-Pinney, above me there are no clouds at all but smog and thick dust swirl around making my eyes water. These ‘clouds’ are not in the book and I certainly wish that they did not exist at all but they do. Far too many of these clouds which I will name – ‘Stratus nubulosus translucidus venenum’ or the more filthy ‘Stratus opacus toxicus’ varieties cover our planet. Here I sit waiting to board another jet aircraft hypocritically smoking a cigarette, adding considerably to this sad brown cloud surrounding me. We humans make such a great mess.



To get from La Consulta in Argentina to Upernavik in Greenland took some time. First there were friends to see in Buenos Aires, a pit stop in Sao Paulo, across the Atlantic to London Heathrow airport and then a night in Copenhagen. Luckily the Icelandic volcanic activity at Eyjafjallajokull had ceased enabling flights to resume in northern European airspace. Many years ago I walked over that very same volcano that lay hidden under a glacier. Besides spitting out massive plumes of ash and smoke it has also instigated a bit of ‘jokulhluap’ an Icelandic word referring to the rapid melting of ice due to geothermal activity. A situation where a glacier rapidly turns into a river then the river turns to lava. Nature can also be messy.



We flew over Iceland but no grey smoke was seen then suddenly Carolina and I found ourselves in the Arctic. Below the Arctic circle as we crossed borders customs-security people felt the urge to weigh and search though our bags then internal flights in Greenland or Kalaallit Nunaat required both the weighing of our bags as well as our bodies before we could board the DASH 7 shuttle planes.  Light aircraft and heavy cargo don’t mix I believe. The flights between Kangerlusssuaq, Ilulissat and Upernavik were all smooth and seriously scenic, extremely grand but far from green.
The population of Greenland is only 56,000 but the area of land (80 % which is ice covered) is a massive 2,166,086 sq. kms. The last time I was here was in 1993 and since then the climate has indeed changed as according to local Greenlanders last winter the sea ice around Upernavik failed to freeze over to a suitable depth which ruined the hunting season and limited winter travels.  More human mess I am afraid!





I bought a bottle of Linie Aquavit as it’s a favorite and is flavored by travel so I have a connection with this particular spirit. Marketed as “taste that really travels” it is a very good Norwegian brand that sails from Oslo to Australia and back again in oak sherry casks. The changes in temperature, humidity and the roll of the ship all play a part in the maturation as the booze twice crosses the equator during its production. For a travel addict like myself this seems logical, is fitting to my taste and as a popular bald cartoon character once said - “Alcohol, the cause of … and the solution to all life’s problems”. Carolinas selection at duty free heaven was the marvelous Bison grass flavored Polish vodka with a delicate green coloring and a not so delicate 40% alcohol content.





The little “retreat” we stay in sits on the outskirts of the village. Connected to the small museum here that houses historic local relics, artwork and a shop. For further information about this residency visit <www.upernivik.gl>. Upernavik has a population of 1200 people and many yelping husky dogs. It is expensive to get here, live here and to move around but well worth it if you have the desire to spend time in the high arctic. To some degree hunting and fishing still play a role in most of the inhabitant’s lives but things change fast as they do everywhere. Hunting is the act of searching for something specifically pursuing game. I am here hunting views and translating these into small Travailogue paintings. That is my game. A small exhibition titled Isikkivimmik ujaasineq (searching for views) is to be held at the Museum to display my new works along with Carolina’s photographs. 



Denmark laid the foundations for this now self -governed nation, which is the largest island in the world and possibly the most beautiful as long as you don’t equate beauty with fresh coconuts, heat and lots of verdant vegetation.
There will be no reindeer, narwhal skin or seal soup to be found at our next port of call but plenty of other exotic dishes to be found under hazy hot neon Hong Kong smog.






  March - April 2010


Over the past two months Argentina has performed mostly warm nights and hot dry days with the occasional wild storm blasting through complete with marvellous cloudscapes. Big rains wet the grape vines and wash away the dust with electrical storms strobing the sky every so often. The horrific earthquakes over the Andes in Chile were certainly noticed here via numerous rumblings, tremors and after shocks. We sit a long way from the epicentre but the primary earthquake did wake us up by shaking the whole house but no damage occurred in La Consulta. Such tectonic plate movement reminds us all of our fragility and puts many things rapidly into perspective.

Way above this geological activity on the green surface of earth, all around our house grapes are being plucked and will soon head towards massive vats. Later the fermented juice is bottled and finally arrives onto tables surrounded by people dining or perhaps friends just sipping the transformed fruit while chatting, laughing, seducing, arguing or just babbling on with a mixture of juicy gossip and local information.



My time has been spent putting some order into a book draft that will probably take another decade to complete but all the words and ideas seem to be there it’s the order that’s lacking any order.
These past months I have also been slogging away at the computer preparing for my five exhibitions in Australia as well as making a rough cut documentary dealing with my time at Mawson station last year. I quickly discovered that editing and culling a year of experiences into ten or even thirty minutes is far from easy.




Please go to {www.youtube.com/user/saintonion} to see the 9-minute self-made documentary  - WINTEROVER.
I wish to especially thank Steve Heather in Berlin for the superb soundtrack.





To stop getting any computer typing cramps or laptop addiction I hunt for large rocks and move them from one location on the vineyard to another. I think this is some form of landscape gardening but others would just call it “strange behaviour.” It is definitely exercise and the selection of rocks that have tumbled down from the Andes during the past eon or so are most pleasing to toy with. I construct rock pavements, cactus gardens or just build up piles of rocks for my amusement. I sometimes wonder if I should I seek professional help regarding this pastime of mine and I don’t mean a qualified landscape designer or stonemason.




 
During the middle of the year I will be moving around Australia showing Antarctic works and possibly drinking a beer or two. My 2010 Australian solo exhibitions are as follows -

70 KNOTS
@ MILANI GALLERY.
Brisbane. Opening July 01.
www.milanigallery.com.au

UNSTILL LIFE  
@ MORNINGTON PENINSULA REGIONAL GALLERY.
Victoria. Opening July 10.
www.mprg.mornpen.vic.gov.au

BLIZZLINES
@ WILLIAM MORA GALERY. 
Melbourne. Opening July 22.
www.moragalleries.com.au

SECRET GEOGRAPHY
@ SHORT STREET GALLERY.
Broome. Opening   August 25.
www.shortstgallery.com

A GOOD DAY TONIGHT
TURNER GALLERY.
Perth. Opening September 17.
www.turnergalleries.com.au





Before these shows in Australia I travel with Carolina about 11,800 kilometres northwards to the north west coast of Greenland.
My next blog will therefore be sent from an Arctic village called Upernavik located on a small island where no penguin has even been but there is a very large icecap nearby. We will soon pack our bags with some thermal underwear, fluffy socks and other fashionable items of clothing. It’s not the most direct route to Australia from Argentina but who says direct is the best way anyway?


Jan - Feb 2010


I believe I am in Argentina now and the southern hemisphere summer festive season is in full swing, Carolina and I are getting to know one another again after our rather long separation due to my Icy desires.  Many normal things still seem a little odd and surprising to me but the unantarctic pace, activities and views I now run around in will soon be totally natural.  



Hobart, Melbourne and Sydney were blurry and fast stops with a great deal condensed into 17 days. I could not see everyone I wished to but I did my best. It was difficult as I was still running on a very strange nameless time zone that just did not dovetail with my frantic movements. I flew over the Pacific Ocean just before Xmas and got sweaty in Buenos Aires for a day then Carolina and I jumped on to a large catamaran in order to reinvent our marriage after all this time. A mini second honeymoon was implemented in the cute town of Colonia del Sacramento on the banks of the massive Rio de La Plata in Uruguay. I can recommend the Posada Plaza Mayor for such an activity. I slowly wind down and rearrange my brain as Carolina and I tumble back into our La Consulta lifestyle. Heat and a form of domestic comfort that I have not felt for a long time now surround me. “All good” as they say.



 
In order to control my belly’s expansion plans I jog some nights around the vineyard with our three farm dogs; Rahael Ricardo who hunts armidillos, Tinta who just wants to eat and Negro who makes strange pig noises for some reason are all pretty good guard dogs hopefully protect us from corrupt politicians, dirty police, bandits and occasionally large frogs that jump through the windows.




It is now well into 2010 so I wish everyone luck and fun for this new year. Our celebrations were perfectly minimal and predictably involved a classic Argentinean asado-bbq with a bottle or two of superb Malbec wine from Carolinas winery. www.aconquija.com.  Salud!







INTRANSIT ARCHIVE
2009
2008
2007
2006
2005
2004
2003
2002
2001
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