Day 8 THE GRAFFITI OF BRICK LANE


I went for breakfast in Brick Lane - it was very quiet but I found a little cafe with good coffee and an easy going vibe. 
The cafe's business card stated "proudly getting your order wrong since 1985".

The morning vacancy meant that I could explore the walls and doorways of the street unimpeded - what incredible art is to be found here. I will let the pictures speak for themselves.














DAY 7 MEETING MY HERO



Shaking off last night’s Bellini’s, I awoke early and went for a run (walk) – my time in London is running out and there is still so much to see. I am realizing that I will need to come back.

Top on my agenda today is Tate Britain for a date with my hero. Oh Joseph Mallord William Turner – where do I begin? 37,000 works on paper owned by the Tate! I am perversely fortunate that none of Turner’s major works are in London at the moment (being in Japan on a world tour that I saw in Australia last year). This means that the Clore Gallery has been filled with works that are rarely seen. Works from private collections have been loaned for the period and a great deal of unfinished works have been pulled from the archives to fill the walls.

This is INCREDIBLE for me! I have been given an opportunity to study all aspects of Turners process from the linen stretching and priming process to imprimatura and underdrawings… not that this is in any way methodical – the man did different things every time.

One technique that I observed is that Turner will create a texture in the prime with a course brush, indicating the direction of the torque of the painting – all before any colour or subject is indicated. What this means is that he can come in at the end of the painting and lay down a general glaze which pools in the cracks of the underlying texture and causes fine lines in the paint which direct the eyes towards the focal point. It’s quite simple and quite brilliant!

The Tate Britain has a beautiful airy feel and is filled with wonderful works by many great British painters and foreign painters who associated with, or worked in Britain at some point – there is a loose mandate and it makes sense; creating a palpable connection between the various artworks.

I will avoid going into great detail here but present is Francis Bacon, Constable, Gainsborough, Hogarth, John Singer Sargent, Sir Joshua Reynolds and many women painters who for one reason or another are relatively unknown; Georgina MacDonald and Vanessa Bell stand out for me. There were also some wonderful contemporary works including a series of 305 postcards of stormy seas, sea charts and maps. The work by Susan Hiller is called ‘Dedicated to the Unknown Artists’. There were many scenes from Brighton, a place that holds a special place in my heart, where, when I was 20 years old I met and/or spent time with many of my greatest friends, my husband included.



I have done NO shopping while I am in London – this will NOT do! Emergency retail appointments took me to Harrods for a look… I did make a purchase – a pot of green tea and a bowl of edamame beans in the food court for 27 ($49AUD)… eek! A plate of sushi was 85 (and up).

I had arranged with some friends to go to the theatre to see 1984 in the evening so I raced home where I had a 5 minute turnaround – 3 minutes of which I lay on the bed hoping to gain a miracle resurrection. Leapt up, lipstick, exchanged flats for heels, raced out the door… track work on the circle line! Goods train on the circle line!! I am late for the play as I round the corner to the theatre at top speed, regretting the heels, I see one of my friends waiting out the front. My other friend didn’t make it in time either but two of us slid in as the doors were closing.

The show was really, really good. Confronting and scary as it should be, it was a clever stage adaptation of the novel, employing 21C technology and evoking a 1940s (and futuristic) feel at the same time - suffocating and liberating – complex.

We all reunited after the play went for a pint at the pub. It was lovely to see my dear friends Jane and Gareth – they announced that they are moving back to Oz – so we will see each other soon.


I think I need sleep.

DAY 6 CORNUCOPIA (The National Gallery and later Soho)



I simply cannot fathom the amount of famous artworks that I have seen today. For now I have gathered up my senses and taken refuge in an Italian Restaurant a few blocks from Trafalgar Square.

Cezanne, Degas, Seurat, Van Gogh, Monet, Daumier, Corot, Gainsborough, Reynolds, Constable, Goya, Velasquez, Rembrandt, Van Eyck, Rubens, Vermeer, Caravaggio, Leonardo, Raphael, Botticelli, Titian… and aaah Turner – all under one roof. It occurred to me, as I recall these names that I am mentally walking back through the museum and listing artists room to room as one might think of the supermarket aisles while writing a grocery list.

There is a special exhibition of Veronese (16C) at the moment – It is always interesting to see a large body of a single artists’ work … and in this instance my lessons were in colour. Everywhere I turned there were intensely saturated hues; Teal, Jade, Mandarin, Sapphire, Viridian, Marigold.

What is truly fascinating is the way he makes up these colours on the canvas. For example: the marigold hue is simply made up of ochre, with blotches of lemon tint and antique white highlight. None of these colours are very saturated at all, individually, and yet placed next to each other they emit an intense sun-like glow.  Similarly, a seemingly sophisticated olive hue is simply a raw umber with white highlight although situated next to a bright orange it looks green – such a clever display of colour theory - though I doubt Veronese would have thought of his gift in such terms.

One of my favourite pieces of art in the whole world is Leonardo’s cartoon of The Virgin and Child with Saint Anne and John the Baptist, indeed I have a print of this work on my studio wall (I will post a pic here – this is from the internet as no photos were allowed at the National Gallery). I saw this work today in the flesh! And The Madonna of the Rocks too! I love Leonardo.

My risotto has arrived – now what a fool I was to seek refuge for my senses in an Italian restaurant. How much more perpetual delight can I take?

Later that day (and an attempt to answer question above)…


This evening I met up with wonderful old friends who are London natives – or at least now call London home. They took me to the famous Groucho Club in Soho. The club is named after Groucho Marx, who's celebrated wire to a club requested “Please accept my resignation, I don’t want to belong to any club that will accept people like me as a member." It really is the perfect motto for a club that is the bastion for all sorts of artists. By supporting their members and hosting many exhibitions and private views, the Club has amassed a large collection of contemporary art that is on display on the walls and window ledges everywhere you turn.

Over many rhubarb Bellini’s and a delectable meal at Polpetto's down the road, we talked of many things and whiled away the evening and I fell more deeply in love with this incredible city.

    
c. 1499–1500 or c. 1506–8
charcoal, black and white chalk on tinted paper mounted on canvas
141.5 cm × 104.6 cm (55.7 in × 41.2 in)

DAY 5 LOST IN LONDON



I sorted a timed entry ticket for the Matisse show at the Tate Modern for 10am and set out from my place in Clerkenwell to walk directly south where I would encounter the Thames and the Tate. After 45 minutes of walking I could see no sign of the Thames and consulted my map to try to understand why I was now on Oxford street and it became clear that I had somehow been walking directly west towards Soho. Not a bad place to end up – but not the Tate Modern. I discovered that timed entry is a rough guide and I was cheerfully admitted at 11.30.

Walking around the Matisse cutout exhibition I can marvel at the scale of his projects. For an old man with limited mobility and failing health to conceive of such ambitious projects displays a grand mind. He warns the viewer that the cut out medium will require a reassessment of our criteria of observation - and I try to do this. I realise that I have failed when I round the corner and see two large paintings and my heart skips. Such feeling! Such touch! Such colour! The colour is not any different in hue and saturation to the cut outs but it enters my eyes and my mind more directly. How can I explain this?

I was fortunate enough to see a Richard Hamilton exhibition here too – an English pop artist of whom I was unaware. It was a major retrospective and it seemed to me that his career took a similar trajectory to Brett Whitely (although Hamilton experimented more with assemblage and printmaking). His paintings, when he did do them – are beautiful and remind me a lot of some of Whitely’s figurative works. Hamilton’s lifestyle was equally interesting – hanging out with Mick Jagger and Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe and all the A-listers of his time.

Two other rooms dedicated to Cy Twombly and Rothko respectively made my day complete. I didn’t know that Twombly made sculptures. They are so static and quiet and placed in front of his dynamic large-scale drawings they seem to be the antithesis in mood.

I walked home across the Thames, north – and made it.



Day 4 TREASURES IMMEASURABLE





Flying into Zurich this morning after a 14hr overnight flight from Hong Kong, I was gifted with an amazing sight. The sun had not yet risen but sent a promising glow across the horizon. It was lightly raining diffusing the light further. I turned my monitor to the camera that is mounted underneath the plane and the image was exquisite. I thought it was black and white – it looked like an old daguerreotype with layers of tone revealing an undulating landscape. As we approached the landing strip two lines of light came into view. At first they were little pinpricks but as they grew they began to emit a warm light until they glowed intense gold in the desaturated landscape. They lead nowhere – coming to an abrupt end just below the skyline: the same place where we stopped.

Then Heathrow…!@#%&*!! However – Heathrow is the gateway to London – this Mecca of treasures… another lug across town (refer Heathrow sentiment) and into my apartment in Clerkenwell. This is a great spot – very close to Farringdon station and all sorts of providores and coffee houses.

After a rest and a blessed shower I ventured across town to the British Museum.
I was completely blown away. Completely. I have never seen so many treasures in one place – I never knew I was interested in so many things. What prodigious plunderers the British were and I suppose we should be grateful that this was at least combined with the sense to catalogue and preserve.

I concentrated my energies on the prints and drawings room and the relics of ancient Greece… more than enough for an afternoons wandering. I think that if I lived here I would become a member and explore a few rooms only on each visit.

Germany Divided: Baselitz and his generation was the feature exhibition in the prints and drawings room and focused on the post 1945 works of German artists from both sides of the iron curtain. I was most drawn to the works of Gerhard Richter – who really explored all ways of approaching expression. He had a collection of photographs that he called ‘The Atlas’ – I have posted a picture here as I feel there is an element of observation and aesthetic that I already share with his Atlas.

Ancient Greece – It is marvelous to imagine this time BC and to actually see objects that were made and used by the people of this incredible civilization. Across the vast collection of red and black figured ceramics, the representations of the human body and human emotion is so knowingly observed and all areas of social life are given consideration. It is evident that this was a society actively conscious of their ability to love and fight and create beauty.

In the evening my lovely cousin Georgie took me out to a restaurant called the Tramshed and Cock 'n Bull Gallery where one can dine under a distinctive Damien Hirst installation of a bull and rooster in formaldehyde. The menu is simple - chicken or beef.





Day 3 THE TEACHINGS IN CHINESE PAINTING



The day began with a crosstown luggage lug to the ingenious city check in to handover all the heavies not to be seen again until London (hopefully). Then I was free to explore away until my 11.15pm flight.

I sought out the Gagosian Gallery in the hard to find Pedder Building where I found an exquisite exhibition of drawings and prints by one of my favourite masters of line… Alberto Giacometti. The show consisted of many landscapes and searching portraits but the one drawing that nearly killed me was a landscape consisting of only perhaps 11 lines at the bottom of the page. The blank space on the remaining 80 percent of the page was as informative as these lines. This clever manipulation of reserve space became my lesson for the day as I moved next to the Hong Kong Museum of Art and Chinese ink paintings.

I can learn a lot from Chinese painting. These works are imbued with emotion, vigourous and expressive and yet so cleverly contemplated and thoughtfully crafted. As with Giacometti the paintings carefully balance the subject with the space leaving large areas supposedly unresolved - a gift for our imagination.

I was surprised to find the antique ceramics of great interest – particularly in their relationship with painting and poetry and leadership. I say leadership because many of the emperors were either poets or painters and I wonder how this artistic sensibility would have informed their administration. 

Emperor Qianlong (1711–1799 Ming Dynasty) is quoted as saying “Craftsmen should not gather all their efforts in creating new forms but capture an archaistic sentiment in objects of art”. I believe this wholly in art but perhaps also in life - that we should have one eye on the future and one on the past - to learn from the great body of wisdom and experience that precedes us.

The second photograph I took from the train to the airport later in the evening looking back across Hong Kong harbour - it reminded me of some of my own paintings.

DAY 2 MONSOON IN SHEUNG WAN



I lost two umbrellas today… and was forced to fork out for a third. Not that an umbrella is much barrier against rain that comes at you horizontally in every direction. It rains and rains and then it buckets down. It’s beautiful when you are cozied up in a funky bar on Hollywood road and very wet when you are not.

From my corner in the Blue Butcher bar, I noticed a little boy who was being dragged along by his mother… the boy was almost floating as she pulled him along with protective purpose. His feet lightly touched down in splashes beside her. She was scowling and angled into the rain, her head filled with strategy. He was smiling. Widely. Euphorically. He had nothing but fun on his mind.

Through the deluge I managed to see a few galleries down in the Sheung Wan area. I visited Hollywood Road and Cat Street – but my favourite street was Tai Ping Shan Street where young designers had small shops filled with handmade garments, loads of vintage furniture shops and little alternative teahouses could be seen in every alley. A florist was teaching children how to arrange flowers and a man walked his eight pomeranians – each with a different coloured bow.

The one really beautiful outcome of Hong Kong in this weather is the amplification of light. There are so many lights in this city and in the rain they reflect and bounce and glow. The boy noticed this.


DAY 1 TANG LUNG APARTMENT





Hong Kong out my window is dreary this morning. Grey and humid and quiet. Not so last night when it was truly alive with people everywhere and buskers filling the small gaps between the sounds of traffic and the buzz of humans.

I am staying in Causeway Bay and the entrance to my building is in Tang Lung Lane which is a little alley filled with restaurants and run down buildings. It is literally a couple of hundred paces from the ultra contemporary World Square. From what I have seen so far, Hong Kong is an extraordinary mix of the old and the new. From my balcony I can see the roof tops of nearby residences that look like slums framed by shiny glass highrises with chichi mid air patios and manicured floating gardens.

My own little apartment is in a similar such block although once you come through the security gate on the street and then my security grill and bolted door - it is a little haven. One thing I find quite unsettling is that the only channel I can get with clarity on the TV is a loop of security video of the foyer and lift. I am told, however, that Hong Kong is a safe place to be and I chose to believe it.

As I was waiting for the lift last night I noticed something fluttering on the clothes line outside the window of the apartment on the floor above. On closer inspection I realized it was a long piece of fine washi paper with calligraphy on it. I wish I’d taken a photo but I will check today to see if there’s more.

MY ART QUEST

Much of the art I have studied and come to love as one would a beloved teacher, I know only from reproductions in books. This has thus far been a necessity but as I firmly believe that the entirety of the power of an art work can only be felt within physical proximity of it - I am off to seek them out.

I had planned to write this little intro well in advance of my departure but departing proved to be wholly consuming. So here I am on Day 1 of my trip in my quirky little apartment in the heart of Hong Kong. I was so tired when I lay down last night that I slept the whole night with the light on!

BRING IT ON


How The Light Gets In’ has taken on a life of it’s own: it’s off travelling to destinations that I have only ever dreamed of. Next week it will screen in Reykjavic and Nyheimar in Iceland. If only I could tag along with my screen effigy… 

I have been reflecting on the wide appeal of the film, which frankly, has surprised me. Not to detract from the handling of the film by its makers which was a magnificent thing, but the story itself is only my little one.

Could it be that in moving through life we are surprised by how hard it can be. The idea that joy can fill the cracks left by sorrow is such a heartening one. ‘This too shall pass’ is a motto that should be tattooed behind our eyelids, as we do tend to forget this in times of grief.

The upside of a life filled with experiences wide and deep is that you, by your emotional exposure, become more you. I can’t think of a way to say this without sounding corny… but listening to an interview yesterday, I heard the words I covet from Andrea Molino, composer and conductor from Turin.

Interviewer: Where did the person that you are now come from? How did all of this start to happen?

Molino: I love using the word necessity - which is something completely intuitive, completely emotional… so I don’t have a rational explanation for that. All what I do comes from the feeling that… after a number of experiences; of reading books, meeting people, reflecting, having experiences… that I ‘need’ to do this.

Interviewer: Have you had disasters in your life?

Molino: Oh yes, of course. My feeling is that the amount of joy you are allowed to feel is also related to the amount of pain that you experience in your life… and I am not afraid of pain… not at all.

Interviewer: Aren’t you?

Molino: No, I am not.

I have transcribed this as best I can – Molino’s words have such a resonance for me. They help me to further recognise how my ‘need’ to create allows me to find gifts in life’s darker moments. His final line (imagine Italian accent) was delivered with defiance and daring… it gave me the impression that had he been American, he might have said ‘Bring it on!’

I hasten to add that Molino went on to request a piece of music: Beethoven’s 9th Symphony – otherwise known in part as ‘Ode to Joy’.


So give me all you've got life – Bring it on!

THE DIVIDED HEART




What a rewarding experience The Divided Heart has been for me. The show was a collaboration between myself and a group of talented friends and my first attempt at facilitating a group show. The project was not without its challenges and there were moments for all of us that were deeply difficult but then, most truly good things are hard won.

This show - The Divided Heart, takes its name from a written work by Rachel Power*. Power’s work is a collection of interviews with creative professionals who are also mothers. It reveals the various ways that artists navigate a balance between the two things they treasure most in this world: their ability to create and their families. I must re-iterate that both these precious entities would have a woman's undivided attention... 

Throughout the preparation for The Divided Heart I discovered that we each experienced the relationship between motherhood and creativity differently. For some of us the act of nurturing infuses and informs our work: weaving itself into the themes. For some of us the practice of art is a melancholy, solitary experience that counters and restocks the part of our self that enfolds and offers to others.

For me, one cannot be without the other. The best mother I can be is the one who has been creatively challenged: and the best artist I can be is the one who has experienced the depths of humanity that a family takes you to. And yet the experiences are quite separate; my creativity requires solitude and family is about everything I crave after I have been alone.

Here is a bit about each of us:

Amy Jenkin is one of the most talented people I know. She is also one of the most practical... and complex. She infuses her practicality with such exquisite feeling, beautiful imagery and rich stories... and such immense love for her family and friends. Here is a picture of one of her pieces from 'The Journey Series'.



Petra Timmermann has aesthetic running through her veins - though she will swear that she doesn't. I hope she doesn't mind me saying but she was so full of doubt about this body of work. Now, looking back at the initial ideas, I can see that she realised exactly what she had conceived from the beginning. Her photographs are constructed from her imagination and as a good photographer does... she makes the opportunities happen.


I met Claire Le May only a couple of years ago and I have become such an admirer. Her work seems to me to be such a natural extension of her self. It documents the loving moments shared within a family but does so with such a honesty and daring and quirk. Shown here is her wax 'kisses' included in the show- and her sand sculptures which form part of her process for the show and lasted only until the tide took them.



Megan Paterson is a dear old friend with whom I have always been able to share the arts. When she posted this self portrait on instagram - I knew she would be an important part of this show. Her photographs feel the world around her which, for the moment, is strange. She is a new mother living in a foreign country; exploring and observing and making pictures.



And me: I wanted to use this opportunity outside of the commercial gallery space, to experiment with sculpture... and I ended up with a video. 'The Waves' is about textures and perpetual motion. Swimming in the ocean I feel alive: I feel overwhelmed, alongside a sense of joy. Motherhood is like this - it takes my energy and generates it at the same time.


And this is us Amy Jenkin, Me, Petra Timmermann and Claire Le May (missing Megan Paterson who was somewhere over the Pacific at this moment) ... we are old friends and new friends and artists and mothers... and boy, did we enjoy that vino on opening night!


A BIT ABOUT ART PRIZES





I am happy to report that my success/rejection ratio for art prizes was higher this year! It is such a buzz to find out that you have been selected as a finalist for a prize and that the rationale that you have cleverly devised as a consolation in case of rejection will not be needed after all.

Having said that, I do realise that selection is dependent entirely on the taste of the judges and often there are only a few spots left for emerging artists once the big names have shuffled into position... as such there is a great degree of luck involved in selection.

A small but fiesty painting, Had I the Heavens, was selected as a finalist in the Calleen Prize in Cowra. My family and I drove out there for the weekend and stayed on a farm and fell in love with the place. The painting has now travelled off to its new home in Cullenagh, Laois in Ireland. Would like to follow...

The Hazards of Love, went off to Albany on the far south west corner of this great land. It has been a long time since I have explored the streets of Albany and I would cherish the opportunity again. My painting was purchased and will stay there so perhaps I will get to visit it one day. The exhibition has been a great success with over 4000 visitors expected through. It runs until October 29 at The Albany Town Hall.

Marin, was selected as a finalist in the Paddington Art Prize where it was hung in very good company at Mary Place. It is a painting about a very special little angel who's light can be seen across the ocean. Tim Johnson took out the main award for 2013 with beautiful and whimsical work called Faraway.

I also had two little works selected for the Northbridge Art Prize - so all in all a bit of good fortune has blown my way this year.

Now I have to put my head down and focus on getting myself ready for upcoming exhibitions at Charles Hewitt Gallery and Gaffa - the year is not out yet

THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA



Works are now in situ at POP Art Gallery waiting for the party tomorrow night. Adelaide, Will, Cameron and I have spent the last few hours transforming the upstairs room into a gallery as part of the Manly Arts Festival and it looks very cosy.

When I was invited to be a part of the Manly Art Festival in the Hemingway’s venue, I felt it was the perfect opportunity for a tribute to The Old Man and the Sea. I read Hemingway's exquisite tale a little over a year ago. I knew it had a celebrated reputation as an epic tale… and as such, feared that it might take an epic effort to read. This is far from the truth. It is not a long story although it is an epic one. And it is not an ‘action packed’ adventure although it is packed with adventure… and action. It is quietly paced and reflective although it roars and rocks and reaches to the edges of humanity the extremes of nature. When people ask me what my influences are I often cite literature and music and this is why.The story is everything that I hope to achieve in painting.

Come along tomorrow night at 6pm and see these works plus some extraordinary and beautiful paintings by Adelaide Slater and Will Birkett and Mia Taninaka. There will be live music by James Willing and Tavoi. The bar is serving cocktails and the kitchen is open until 10pm – serving the most incredible food – the chicken nuggets (that’s right) are out of this world.




IN THE OPEN AIR


Plein air painting is none of these things: comfortable, relaxing, pleasant. It's a bloody slog carrying boards and bags of supplies up and down steep bluffs and over the rocks, trying to balance the required materials on uneven surfaces, keeping flying debris out of wet paint, entertaining passing tourists AND dealing with the fluids: sea spray, solvent, sweat and blood. Ok there was no blood... not this time. But, God, the activity is deeply satisfying.

Yesterday I ventured to the rocks at the south end of Turimetta Beach. The place is stunning. The rocks themselves are beautifully carved by the sea... and by artists. I didn't notice at first but gradually around me carvings began to emerge: a bird, an old key, a face.

At the base of the headland, clusters of rocks form channels through which the waves crash. The tide was coming in which seemed to give warlike purpose to the waves... aggressively gaining ground as I respectfully retreated. 

I took some photos which I will post but they don't capture the scene. I realised that being there amidst the spray and the overwhelming noise and the perpetual movement gave me a different impression to the camera. The waves were bigger and more turbulent, they dominated the scene... the rocks lay down in submission and the sky hung back, relieved to be a distant observer. I couldn't capture this with the camera - though I know some that could. I will try to paint what my minds eye saw.

The sketches that I made will become the basis of my work for the Manly Arts Festival POP Art Gallery. It's to be held in a venue called Hemingways and I have been thinking a lot about The Old Man and the Sea. Compared to his hardships, my little adventure yesterday was a walk in the park.




A QUARTET AT DAMIEN MINTON GALLERY



I will never grow tired of the transformative process of ‘The Hang’. Moving paintings from the studio and into the gallery – where they take on new life, new light and new perspective is unsettling and thrilling in the way that all new experiences are.

When I delivered the paintings, Damien and I laid them out and we talked about the general feeling of the works and how they related to each other but we did not discuss the hang… and in fact I hadn’t really thought about it. In the studio I had often situated the individual works in a particular relationship to each other and adjusted their positions along with their development… moves dictated by colour or subject or mood. It was therefore, a curious (and happy) moment to walk into the gallery on opening night and see how Damien had interpreted the relationships between the paintings and how he hung the show. 

The show was a wonderful success – not least due to the energy of the other three painters in the room. It really was very fine to show with Emma De Clario, Emma Walker and Becky Gibson – all such strong and sensitive and energetic painters. It sounds like a contradiction to put those three traits together but I am sure they would know what I mean.

Opening night was a blast – thanks so much to Damien, and my fellow artists, and my wonderful art loving friends who came along. Our little post show celebration at The Eathouse Diner was pretty spesh too.




HOW THE LIGHT GETS IN



A few weeks ago I attended the St Kilda Film festival and more specifically, the premiere of a short film called How the Light Gets In, directed by Siobhan Costigan. It was a wonderful moment as the film, which started out as a small student project, flickered on to the big screen, with a grace and sensitivity that foretells Siobhan’s future success as a filmmaker.

The film is about a mother and a painter: me. It’s about how family and my work as a painter weave together. Naomi and Marlow were very excited to be a part of the film and astounded me with their co-operation (if only we could conduct a school morning with the same success) and Tim’s patience proved, once again, to be boundless. It feels a little strange to say that we might be the subject of a film. Being part of this process has certainly been a very enriching experience, taking me (in the gentlest way possible) worlds away from my comfort zone. I spoke to Siobhan of thoughts and feelings that I have not expressed in conversation before and suddenly there they are – on the screen.

If the film reveals parts of myself that have remained hidden until now, it is largely due to Siobhan’s astute questions, patient listening, gentle coaxing and genuine compassion. There were a few times in our interview together that I noticed tears in her eyes and while I don’t like to make anyone cry – I appreciate her empathy. These unique qualities together with Siobhan’s creative vision and stamina (does she sleep or eat?) will serve her well as a documentary filmmaker and I am certain that we will see and hear many more stories through her eyes.

The film title, How the Light Gets In, was taken from a Leonard Cohen song that I had scribbled on my studio wall. I had heard it some time before we filmed and was so moved by the beautiful lyrics, I wrote them down. I will include the first two stanzas here.
 

"Anthem"

The birds they sang at the break of day

Start again I heard them say
Don't dwell on what has passed away
or what is yet to be.
Ah the wars: they will be fought again
The holy dove: she will be caught again
bought and sold and bought again
the dove is never free.

Ring the bells that still can ring

Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in.

I had the easiest role in this whole process and it has been inspiring to see some very talented people at work. Michael Steel is the cinematographer: patient and thorough and committed to a beautiful aesthetic. Danielle Boesenberg and David Bardwell worked on editing and post-production respectively, and while I understand less of this part of production, I do understand their talent is exceptional.


How the Light Gets In was nominated in the category of Best Documentary at the festival and is dedicated to the memory of my first daughter, Eva Serena, who would have been 10 this year.


I hope the film will be available to watch in full, online, at some point – if so I will post here. 

Until then here is a link to the trailer https://vimeo.com/65141851
and the Facebook page. Siobhan has posted a selection of my paintings there too https://www.facebook.com/howthelightgetsinfilm

ADOLESCENT GHOST


Last week the body of an adolescent humpback whale washed into the ocean pool at Newport beach. It was an amazing event to see such a creature up close. I went down to the beach in the evening as the sun was setting and a full moon rising and the sky was putting on a brilliant but melancholy display to mourn the whale.

I know he was dead but you could feel this mighty presence there. It was almost as though the passage between the two worlds was so diaphanous that you hardly noticed that this massive corpse represented an end and not just a continuation of something.

It was a strange atmosphere and while 'celebration' is not quite the word... nor is 'grief'... and definitely not 'apathy'.

With my children in a Catholic school I am regularly pressed to define my idea of God and mostly I find that difficult... but I think God was there, that night, last week.

The next day, the whale had to be cut up and buried as the currents were not favourable enough to take his body out to sea. As the workers performed this grisly task, a whale appeared off the beach,  breaching and making him/ herself visible to all present. I can only imagine that the whale was there to farewell a friend, or son, or brother and I wonder what grief does to a whale.

I have been given a commission to do a painting with ocean and sky... It is a portrait layout which is not natural to me with landscapes so I have procrastinated for some time now. This morning I worked together some of the photos I took at the beach on the night of the whale and this is what I came up with... I now have my reference for the new painting.... Thanks to my encounter with an adolescent ghost.

DOG

Today its Bukowski... It was tempting to post something about drinking and fucking but I couldn't go past this little gem.

dog
a single dog
walking alone on a hot sidewalk of summer
appears to have the power
of ten thousand gods.
why is this?

I said to Tim yesterday that I couldn't wait for winter to be over ... and he reminded me that it had not yet begun. It has begun today.