Thursday, December 31, 2009

My Little Reflection

Another year.... almost over.
Another decade...almost over.
Tonight, a full blue moon will see out 2009 and welcome 2010.
The year of the Tiger. My Chinese zodiac sign.

Reflecting on 2009, on a personal level; the hardest thing this past year was watching my grandfather pass away. The easiest thing, was telling those important to me that I love them.

The smartest decision I made this year was to stop working nights.

The craziest decision, was to buy a house.

Consequently, I am happy with both.

My main regret, (and perhaps only one for this year), is not having produced enough art this year. (The two aforementioned decisions had a bit to do with this I suppose). However, I am very happy with the path my new ideas and work are taking, and grateful that I now have a proper studio to work in.

My head, of course, is much busier than this blog entry; unvoiced resolutions dance around threatening to leave me disappointed (in myself), so I keep them there. Pressure does not nurture positive actions.

Positive thinking, however, does. So I welcome 2010 with open arms... and an open mind!

Monday, December 14, 2009

On The Road... Again.

Food and Desire - Conflict 1 (above) has been selected for and is now hanging in the Prospect Portrait Prize in South Australia's Prospect Gallery.

It can be voted for it in the People's Choice Award here.

This piece was also recently a finalist in the 2009 Corangamarah Art Prize, and also, as previously posted, in the 2008 Kilgour Art Prize.

This piece is part of a body of work titled 'Food and Desire', and to me, these works tell more than just the story of my personal battle of wills. Each piece in the series explores the conflicting interests between the somewhat mundane necessity and creative passion, ( also a necessity), and how one must feed the other, as well as the frustration along the way - the 'fight' to create.

This piece visually narrates the conflict of my everyday world and the means in which I need to meet to be able to paint, as well as the NEED to paint. It also explores the mysteries and emotions of the, (my), two personas involved in this ongoing conflict.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009


Just a few recent shots from the studio.
A little stagnant of late but after the ebb
...comes the flow.

Friday, October 02, 2009

My New Models

I finally managed to fit in a visit to my parents a couple of weeks ago. It was so lovely to see them and despite my mother still coming to terms with the passing of her father, the visit was a reassuring and comforting one.

On hearing my new ideas my grandmother had given my mother a gorgeous set of matryoshka dolls to give to me. The face on the doll reminds me of my mother and is now the model behind the first work in what I imagine will be quite a large series.

I am beginning to feel that anxiety I get when I am overwhelmed with new ideas and don't know where to start. Some weird sort of panic sets in, perhaps a fear that I may not get to bring all the ideas to fruition. I do hope I can. This body of work will be, in fact it already is, so very important to me.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Let's Knife!

Last Thursday night I had the pleasure of attending Shonen Knife's Melbourne performance. May I just say they were so much fun and reminded me why I was allured by their bizarre and 'happy' ways when I was just a young and confused teen.

I first saw this all girl, Japanese, 3 piece, Ramones inspired, punk-pop band on RAGE when I was 13 or 14. I was at a 'slumber party', and as I so often did in those days, I would challenge myself to see if I could stay awake all night - (nearly always on my own as one by one my adolescent comrades would crash out in their sleeping bags around me). RAGE assisted me in my feat as I have always had a passion for music.

It must have been around 2 or 3am when a rocket launched on the TV screen transporting three cute Japanese girls in matching love-heart mini-dresses, singing in English with thick Japanese accents about riding the rocket. I thought it was the coolest thing I had seen in ages!

I was delighted when I first heard they were touring Australia. I had tried to find out if they were still performing when I was living in Osaka, Japan - their hometown - but like most things, getting legible information for those not so apt at reading, or fluently speaking, Japanese was always an almost impossible task. My broken Jap-English served me well enough to remain a vegetarian and find an art supplies store whilst over there but that was about it.

Despite Naoko Yamano being the only remaining original, (and founding), member of the band, the girls did not disappoint, and at 48 years young, Naoko is still as kawaii and youthful as ever.

It was just another reminder for me that Japan, and many things Japanese, have been major influences of mine since a very young age and although I am experimenting with other ideas in my art at the moment, I have a feeling the underlying Eastern influence will always play a large part.

The night also made me miss Japan somewhat and was made more enjoyable by a pre-show bowl of Udon at a very cute and authentic Japanese eatery with my dear friend Ayls - also a self confessed Nipponophile. For a minute, we both thought we were back in Japan... or perhaps it was just wishful thinking.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Little Package

Today in the mail I received a lovely little surprise package. I opened up the padded envelope to find a cute little matryoshka doll (aka babushka dolls), and opened her up to find two other matryoshkas inside her.

With the recent passing of my grandfather, (who was Russian), I have been slightly fascinated with that part of my heritage and have been sourcing images and information that have now become a major creative inspiration for me. I had come up with several ideas for new works that strongly feature these crafted wooden dolls, however, I did not possess a set of matryoshkas. My grandmother has a number of them but she lives some distance away, and I had not had a chance to head out to the city and look for my own. I had contemplated buying some online, but was still deep in procrastination when the parcel arrived in my letterbox.

It was possibly the kindest gesture received since my grandfather died and it brought tears to my eyes. The doll came with its packaging from the shop, Babushkas, along with a small gift card that simply read 'thinking of you. C'.

It was very unexpected but so very much appreciated.

Thank you Cat.

Draft (it's all Greek to me)

I have been contacted by an Arts/Culture magazine in Greece about doing an interview.

I received the questions today and have been toying around with responses today.

I'm going to copy and paste the word document here so that I can come back and review what I have written at any time, on any computer should I need to access it... or feel the need to try and make (more) sense of it...

It always just feels like drunken ramble when I write stuff like this...

How would you describe yourself?

Intricate and Complex yet somewhat simple at the same time. A lot like my art. For me – it is simple – I just want to paint… I need to paint… but getting there or ‘the journey’ is often far more complex and the work I do is rather intricate and time consuming and requires an awful lot of patience. Like a number of artists I am certain I accommodate several personalities, but all of them share the strong desire to make art.. At times, my passion for art, and the making of it, has been mistaken for selfishness – I refuse to believe that following your dream is selfish. I now surround myself less with people who think this way, and more with people who encourage this ambition not only in me, but in themselves and others.

Tell me some things about your life/status etc..
Art has been a major part of my life since the age of 3 when I professed to my father that I was going to be an artist and sat down to draw him a picture – which, he still has today! My father was a big influence for me as a child and also in my art. He is a wonderful illustrator and my mother is also a painter (abstract), so art has always been around me, some say it was bred into me. It was certainly nurtured in my family. I am fortunate that my parents supported my desire to pursue art from a very young age and thus allowed me to leave school at 15 to do so. I started working for my father as a Graphic Designer and continued working in that field for over 10 years. I am often told that my work has a strong graphic influence, no doubt stemming from my fathers illustrative influence and my time in the graphics field. I moved away from the computer generated graphic world when I started exhibiting my paintings. Like all but a select few artists, I still needed to source an income from somewhere outside of my art and found that hospitality was flexible enough, (even though at times incredibly frustrating), to support my pursuit both financially and time wise, whilst ultimately striving to get to artist’s ‘NIRVANA’: being able to live solely off the income of one’s art.

Tell me about your work. Past exhibitions, studies.

I attended Melbourne School of Art part time for around 3 years after leaving school, but just like high school, I never completed any type of certificate course – I was always a stubborn student and just wanted to pursue my own thing.
Aside from my time as a Graphic Artist I had a strong interest in drawing animals when I was younger and traveled through Africa at the age of 21 studying the wildlife in its natural habitat and producing a series of highly detailed illustrations as a result of my time there.
My work has morphed and evolved into something completely different now.
For a long time I had been rather fascinated with Japanese art and culture and first traveled there in 2003. Prior to that, my first exhibition of acrylic paintings was based on the subject of Geisha and my fascination of the ‘floating world’ in Japan. I have since traveled there a number of times and also lived and worked, (painted), in Osaka for 4 months in 2007. The women I painted slowly began to come out from behind their painted masks over the following years, becoming a lot more personal and revealing more about myself in the process.
My latest exhibition was actually a series of self-portraits, exploring my own ‘battle of wills’: my two lives, the artist vs. The waitress. the battle between necessity and passion – and how one feeds the other, as well as the frustration along the way – ‘fighting to create’. It also explored idendity and asked questions - Where would I rather be? What would I rather be doing? The painting waitress: the waitress who paints or the painter who waits…. Waits to create… waits to paint.

The work explores my everyday world… the means in which I need to meet to paint… as well as the NEED to paint. It also explores the mysteries or other persona of the waitress… such a personal yet non-attached job… an intimate yet generic job or role. Serving an audience. What does a waitress do when she is not waiting? Looking at the idea that she is more than just a waitress… the notion that she could be anyone or anything outside of her waiting job. Of course it is well know that many musicians, artists and actors have done this sort of job. Often it’s a way to make ends meet whilst waiting for a break or recognition or respect in their chosen field of the arts…. Waiting to be noticed? People have no idea of what else she, (the waitress), can do other than carry multiple plates and pour champagne with one hand behind their back and a smile on their face… In a sense they, themselves are actors, for the job is role-play.

There is also the personal and sensual element to the food itself and its appeal to our senses of sight, smell and taste. ( My partner is a chef, and when we met he confessed to me that he possessed no artistic talent... I soon enabled him to see otherwise – we were more similar than he thought, the difference being that his canvas was a plate, and food was his medium.)

What did you do before you started to paint?
I have always drawn, since the age of 3 (as mentioned earlier). When asked the question “what do you want to be when you grow up?” at school, my friends would change each year, from vet, to policeman/woman, doctor, pilot and so on, whereas my answer was always ‘an artist’. As mentioned, my parents were very supportive in nurturing my dream and working for my father Graphic design provided me with a great opportunity to do so. It was a foot in the door so to speak. After 7 years with my father I actually started my own Freelance Graphics business, and later began working in and even managing Commercial art galleries in and around Melbourne, eventually becoming a freelance art consultant - and it was during this time that I began to get serious about my own painting.

How come you chose to do that?

(Possibly answered this and the previous question in the above text???)

What is it that you love about pop art? How does it express who you are?

As mentioned, I have a strong background in graphic art – and obviously this show through in my paintings. I have always been quite technical in my approach and application, even when drawing, with fine line work and acute attention to detail. This style of work often looks so simplified, yet is actually so very intricate and time consuming to produce. I like the contradiction in this. The work I do seems highly structured – almost formulated – at first glance, but it is far more complex than just a bunch of clean lines. Pop culture is something I, and many others of my generation, have grown up with and can associate with. I like to use a ‘familiar’ medium and put different spin on it, be it through subject matter or humour for example.
Evoking any sort of emotion or response (sometimes even negative) for me, as an artist using a visual language is great. It is a known fact that when people are walking through an exhibit the average time they look at each piece is less than 3 seconds… so to capture someone’s attention beyond that is incredibly rewarding.

How come you prefer to depict women?
I believe it is important to be able to relate well to my subject and as a woman I can closely do so. To some degree I see a self-portrait element in most art, deliberate or not. For me it’s a way to express my femininity and an array of thoughts/emotions through my (or a women's) eye – or perspective - without always having to be completely obvious. At times it is almost chameleon like. Art allows me to experiment outside the realms of reality – there are no boundaries. I obviously identify with women; therefore I explore the art of visual language using a female figure as my platform and ‘voice’

What are often just seen as pretty or sexy images – have an underlying mystery, deeper meaning, darkness, story or message. However, I am happy either way with how people view the work – it’s a win-win… if people see beyond the image itself, that’s great, if they just love the image for the aesthetic image itself that’s great too…. I don’t see that as shallow – I see that as interpretation and personal choice.

Tell me about the characters of your paintings.
They explore the realms of sensuality and sexuality as well as often possessing a sense of fun or humour – I like to have an element of humour in my work, be it subtle, sarcastic or obvious. Its not essential that people ‘get’ the humour or even the idea behind each piece – as I believe strongly that art is open to interpretation but when they do see it or ‘get’ it – it is certainly a buzz for me.

Is there one that you particularly like?
(pls include it in the images you’ll send me)
I often look at many finished pieces and ask myself how I could improve it or if I could have done it better but each one breeds new life to the next piece and the journey is never dull. I am very partial to my recent Food and Desire series, as it is possibly the most intimately personal work I have created. Do I like everything I create? No. Is everything I create necessary? Yes. It’s an ongoing process and for me making art is essential.

Who are your influences-favorite artists? I am influenced by far more than imagery of other artists; this includes a lot of writers, such as Haruki Murakami, Jeanette Winterson, Jack Kerouac and Tom Robbins; and also musicians, among them are Leonard Cohen, Tom Waits, Radiohead, Patti Smith, PJ Harvey and Bjork. As far as visual artists, to name a few, Basquiat, Hokusai, Egon Schiele, Gustav Klimt, William Kentridge, Karel Appel and Frida Kahlo, as well as a number of contemporary Japanese artists.

You also enjoy blogging. Have you been always writing? What’s the story here? I have always loved to write, be it short stories, poetry, journal or blog entries, even just stream of consciousness. I see it as another way to express myself. It is a very raw, quick and honest way to expel my thoughts, feelings, frustration or emotion. Writing can sometimes also help me with artists block because it is much more of a free flowing medium for me than painting. It is also, in a sense, a documentation of my life, which allows me to continue to look back and reflect.

Describe a typical day. How is your life as an artist different?
No day is typical as an artist. Just like each painting, every one is different and unpredictable.
I am not sure how different my life is to other people or other artists. I do know that as an artist, I am always taking situations or experiences and asking how I could interpret that through a work of art. I do have an extremely over active mind and I see art in everything… almost!

What are you working on right now? What are your plans for the near future? Do you have any exhibitions planned?
My dear grandfather recently passed away and he was a big inspiration for me as a child. He also used to paint. He was born in Russia and I have recently become fascinated with exploring my heritage through my art. I am not going to give too much away but you can definitely expect to see a shift from the Japanese influences, (at least for now), and a focus on the Russian ones. I am currently talking to my gallery in Perth, Australia about a solo exhibition next year. There are also a number of group exhibitions on the cards for 2010, including one in the U.S.A. For more information and updates people can check out my website. (

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Posting for Posting's Sake

Is it possible to feel inspired and yet so un-inspired at the same time? Maybe it's inspired but un-motivated. Perhaps that's tautology. Or just some form of an excuse. Either way, I feel like doing nothing, and it feels O.K whilst I am doing it, then after a few hours of doing nothing I start to feel incredibly guilty and frustrated.

I don't really have much to write about today, but I am using this as some sort of outlet, creative or not, and to break this vicious nothing circle of the day.

My mind is on some sort of heavy duty spin cycle but nothing seems to be getting clean.

"Are you writing a book?", the waiter asked me on Monday. "No, I am writing my thoughts down to help me stay sane". The reply was said with a little tongue in cheek, and I got a laugh, a nervous laugh. We are all telling some kind of story, whether they ever become a book or not is another matter.

Sometimes I think if I was to ever have a book, I'd just like it to be filled only with images.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Post Mortem and the Meaning of Life...

I spoke to my grandmother this morning. I called her as soon as the thought of calling her entered my head, without any hesitation. In the past, I have procrastinated, delaying several phone calls. I am sorry for that now. I had my reasons I suppose, even if some of them now seem selfish, but it saddened me when I called today and did not hear my Opa answer the phone. It saddens me even more knowing that I'll never hear that voice on the other end of the line again.

He never spoke for long during phone calls, but there was some sort of security, or stability... normality I suppose... with just the knowledge he was there, at home, with my grandmother. It was somewhat of a comforting thought I guess, for I had never known it to be any other way. Today when I called, it was so apparent that he was no longer there; that my grandmother is now all alone. She is being very strong and possibly more reasonable and rational than I have ever known her to be. She seems to now have far less demands and expectations of the world and her family. This makes me both happy and sad.

After speaking with my grandmother, I phoned my mother, who is still terribly sad about the loss of her father. Of course, I did not expect her to be anything but this, I too still find myself bursting into tears on occasion when I look at his photograph. The other day I asked C if it gets any easier, or should I just put the photo away for a while to avoid some of the sadness. He suggested I leave it up until I can look at it without having to well up; until I can look at it and smile and remember all the good things... the happy memories. I have many of those.

My grandfather was a lovely man. He adored his two children and two grandchildren. In return, he was adored by all four of us. His story has now become a huge inspiration for me.

( Weird. I am sitting at a favourite cafe, outside in the light rain, and I just smelt his smell; the smell I remember so well from sitting in his car. Now it's gone again.)

I want to paint. I need to paint. I want to dedicate my next body of work to his memory. After all, I have him to partly thank for my creative passion and artistic talent.

I have found myself becoming more and more curious about his heritage and his homeland of Russia. I found myself ordering a book of Russian fairy-tales online last week. It is the same book that was given to me as a child but I could not find it in the house. I remember loving it as a child, so I see no reason why I won't now, in fact I will probably get more out of it now, as an adult, than I did as a child.

I already have several ideas for new works. I tried sketching some of them the other day but I was so anxious and eager to get the ideas out and the images/works completed that I could not even draw. It was very frustrating.

I have also found it a little bit hard to write lately, on screen or paper. When I see the words appear it makes everything seem so much more real and right now I am having a bit of trouble dealing with reality.

I've often been called a dreamer... and I am O.K with that. Sometimes, in that world, everything is much nicer. Being a Piscean however, I am also part 'realist fish'. Some days I swim with the tide, other days against it. Part optimist, part pessimist. Sometimes I feel I am an expert at being both happy and sad at the same time. I don't always get to where I set out to go, but the journey is always interesting... sometimes even surprising, even in a good way.

I accept that the world we live in is far from perfect. My glass is neither half full or half empty... but it does exist.

It was a struggle and a surprise last week when my mother, (a normally optimistic, vibrant and happy person), turned to me and asked me the meaning of life. "I just wonder... what's the point of it all? Life? When one day 'poof'! you're gone." I stared back at her blankly for a good 3-4 seconds, frightened of what might come out of my mouth - and although my initial thought was, 'oh mum, you are so asking the wrong person' - I found a strange sense of comfort in my words.

After my few seconds of stunned silence, I felt calm and confident enough to provide some sort of answer... or at least a response. After all, is there really an answer to that question? Sometimes I wonder if we, (humans), ever find out - if not in life, then in death? It's a daunting thought for most to think that we don't - I suppose it just seems somewhat cruel... unfair... but then again, how do we measure fairness or even purpose for that matter? It makes more sense to me why people choose some sort of faith, in order to hold onto some sort of belief that there is something else... ?

Maybe this really is all there is. Am I O.K with that? My answer, I suppose, is 'does it matter'? My answer, or response to my mother was something along the lines of... "remember telling me how happy and proud he was when he received his diploma? His joy at becoming a grandfather for the first, and second, time... and then a great grandfather?" Words were just coming out of my mouth and we both just listened. "Mum, do you ever get excited about things? Do you ever, even if only for a second, feel such an overwhelming sense of happiness... pleasure... excitement that you forget about everything else?" I continued to suggest that perhaps it was these things, these moments, these feelings or intense emotions that gave our life on earth some sort of meaning or purpose. "I suppose so... Yes", was my mother's reply... and with that, it was like we both just accepted, (or not), that this indeed was a good enough answer to THE question, for better or for worse - and even if it wasn't, it was a good enough solution for now.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

My Opa - Part 2

Yesterday was my grandfather's funeral. Saying goodbye is such a hard thing to do.

It still all feels a little bit surreal. Someone I have known and loved my whole life, is now gone.

I guess in one way I am lucky to have only attended one funeral prior to this, (that of an ex-boyfriend's grandfather whom I got along with very well); and in 35 years that seems to be quite rare. I have been fortunate enough to have my loved ones with me all this time... until last week.

I got the call from my mother early on Tuesday morning. In fact I was still in bed. As soon as I saw it was her calling, I just knew it was bad news. I was told that my grandfather had suffered a massive stroke on Monday night and it was worse than they first thought, with untreatable hemorrhaging from the brain - he was deeply unconscious and not expected to last the day. My uncle and grandmother were at the hospital. I called my uncle who suggested I just go to work and do all my normal daily things as there was nothing I could do that would alter the outcome. I felt confused after that call. In hindsight I can understand where he was coming from but I could not just pretend it was not happening. I phoned my mother back to get some perspective. Unfortunately, she was in Coffs Harbour on holiday with my father and would not be able to get to Melbourne that day. This, I know, was a devastating thought for her. Knowing that my mother could not be there, I HAD to go. I then called my partner and he confirmed that I should get in the car and head to the Austin, even if hesitant, at least get down there and make a decision then.

I got in the car, and from that moment I was on auto-pilot. I drove for nearly 2 hours, arrived at the Austin, ignored the 'Car Park Full' sign and drove into the underground car park, parked the car and proceeded to ask directions to my grandfather's room.

I thought I would be ok, but as soon as I opened the door and saw him lying there I burst into tears. This was the last time I would ever see him. The reality smacked me in the face as soon as I entered the room. It was a feeling I have never felt before.

I hugged my uncle, embraced my grandmother, then walked over to my unconscious grandfather and held his head and kissed his temple and whispered words of love from my mother and from me, and I then sat with them for around 2 hours before I had to call my mother to let her know her father was about to draw his last couple of breaths. "How do you know? How does anyone know?", she frantically shouted into the phone. I just knew, we all did. It was the hardest phone call I have ever made. A moment later my grandfather drew his last breath.

We see and hear stories of death every day. They never fail to sadden me in some way, but, with no disrespect whatsoever, there is often an element of disconnection when you are not directly involved with that life. It makes it no more or less sad than my loss - in fact, my grandfather lived a long and eventful life and was fortunate to have endured and experienced 87 years on this earth. Many are not nearly as fortunate and I acknowledge that. Still, I feel a sadness in relation to his death and our family's loss. I still cannot look at his photo without getting teary. He will be greatly missed.

Though I have little funeral attendance experience, I will say the service was pleasant. I'd even go as far as to say it was a 'nice' service - under the circumstances. My grandfather would probably agree.

My mother had asked me not only to write the eulogy, but to also read it at the service. I agreed instantly, however, prior to the service I had become quite nervous and anxious about the whole thing. I honestly did not believe I could get through it without falling apart.

I had words with the celebrant prior to the service to discuss proceedings and formalities. I also had words with my grandfather in the bathroom just before the service started, asking him to give me the strength to get through this tribute without bursting into tears - I told him if I cried it would set everyone off and that would not be good because I had a story to tell - HIS story!

"Hello", I think is what I started with. Anything that was not written down is now a bit of a blur. "Not a bad turn out for an old fellow", I do remember saying... but I don't remember hearing anyone laugh. My grandfather would have. I needed to use some of his dry humour to get me through this delivery. It worked and I proudly told his story, and eventually even got a few smiles and chuckles from a very tough crowd.

When Lara's Theme was played at the beginning of the service, I saw my grandfather, dancing and smiling, as if to say it was ok... HE was ok.

Lara's Theme is the name of a piece of music written for the film Doctor Zhivago (1965) by composer Maurice Jarre. It then became the basis of the song - Somewhere My Love. I thought the words were quite fitting, as though my grandfather was saying this as he danced off the stage...

Somewhere, my love, there will be songs to sing
Although the snow covers the hopes of Spring
Somewhere a hill blossoms in green and gold
And there are dreams, all that your heart can hold
Someday we'll meet again, my love
Someday whenever the Spring breaks through

You'll come to me out of the long-ago
Warm as the wind, soft as the kiss of snow
Till then, my sweet, think of me now and then
Godspeed, my love, till you are mine again

Someday we'll meet again, my love
I said "someday whenever that Spring breaks through"

You'll come to me out of the long-ago
Warm as the wind, and as soft as the kiss of snow
Till then, my sweet, think of me now and then
Godspeed, my love, till you are mine again!

I received much praise at the conclusion of the service, but I gave all the credit to my grandfather - after all, it was his life that made the story I told so remarkable.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

My Opa - Part 1 (re-edited 31.7)

Yesterday I paid $15 to watch my grandfather pass away. It was a shit day. The parking fee afterwards was like rubbing salt in a wound. I laughed awkwardly at the ridiculousness of it, as I imagined the machine saying, "thanks for coming, hope you enjoyed the show!"

The handsome figure above is that of Boris; son, brother, soldier, saviour, survivor, nomad, husband, father, migrant, builder, provider, grandfather, great grandfather and a truly great man. He was born in Smolensk, Russia on the 3rd of March 1922 and sadly passed away here in Melbourne, Australia on the 28th July 2009. He lived a remarkable 87 years.

My mother, pictured above centre, and below left, has asked me to write a eulogy and speak at the service as she feels she cannot. I of course agreed and am using my blog as a bit of a first draught.

Boris was one of five children and at the age of 16 he left whatever known comforts family living had offered and marched off to military school as a cadet where he spent the best part of the next two years, with the occasional visit home to see his family. At the age of 18 he marched away from the school and his family for good and marched off to fight in World War II. He never saw his parents or siblings again.

World War II ended in 1945. Fortunately my grandfather survived. Unfortunately, returning to his birthplace of Russia, was not really an option for him. Instead, he walked from Poland to Germany, where he was taken in by the Americans and declared ‘without a country’, therefore a nomad.

It was in Germany, that same year, he met my grandmother, Kate. No doubt she swept him off his feet with her good looks and flamboyant nature, just as I am sure she was smitten by his dashingly handsome features and masculine charm…. Eventually! For as I only recently found out – there is a little more to the story than the boring old ‘love at first sight’. My grandmother tells me they met at the house of the local tailor. It just so happened that one day whilst my grandmother was there, Boris walked in to have a new pair of trousers altered. Apparently he took one look at Kate and asked “who are you?” Not wasting any time, he then smugly professed that he would come back the next day and take her out!

He did come back the following day - however, Kate was nowhere to be found. Determined to win this frauline over, he managed to find out where she lived and marched on over to her house, only to be greeted by Kate’s stern, and not so impressed mother, who promptly told him to go away.

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. And that is exactly what Boris did. He even went as far as to place oranges that he’d purchased from the black market on Kate’s windowsill and would write on them “from Colombia”. Fortunately for Boris he had somehow already won over Kate’s father with his desirable American cigarettes, but Kate and her mother were yet to be convinced that this nomad could offer them anything of substance. Eventually however, whether it was the oranges or not I can’t say, Kate gave in and went out with this persistent man. The date can’t have gone too badly because she continued seeing him after that – with or without the oranges.

They married on April 22, 1947 in a tiny church in my grandmother’s hometown of Gunzenhausen.

In October that same year my mother was born. This makes me laugh. I imagine that alone made them somewhat rebels or non-conformists for their time. It explains a lot about the following two generations. (My guess is that they really were good oranges!) Good on them I say, for that unity of their marriage lasted an outstanding 62 years!

Two years later, in October, my grandparents and my then one year old mother boarded a ship to Australia. The journey took them one whole month, during which time the men were separated from the women and children. My mother not only had her 2nd birthday as they crossed the equator, she was also very ill whilst travelling causing my grandmother much distress. Fortunately however, the three of them arrived on Australian shores safely and in good health in November 1949.

The family were positioned, along with many other migrants of that time, at Bonegilla Migrant Reception and Training Centre, where I believe again, the men's quarters were separate from those of the women and children. The men were sent off to work in various factories like the power station and the sugar factory, without any particular trade. With a little money under his belt, he set out to find accommodation for his young family, during which time my grandmother and mother waited in anticipation at Bonegilla, for around 2 weeks, for the news of a new abode and a new beginning.

After Bonegilla, my grandfather was contracted to Newport Power Station for two years. The family moved in with an Australian fellow in somewhat of a ‘communal’ bungalow-style dwelling and continued to learn and adapt to their new culture and environment. Determined to throw everything he had into this new life, full of new opportunities, my grandfather spent his weekends laying the foundations for a new family home on the of land he had managed to buy in Altona for around 100pounds.

On April 21, 1950 my uncle Harry came into this world – one day before my grandparents 3rd wedding anniversary. This addition now completed the ‘household’. All he had to do now, was complete the house.

After many laborious weekends, he did just that, and I am proud to say, the house still stands today.

Once settled into their new family home, Boris decided to study via night time correspondance, whilst continuing to work days, with a view to becoming a draughtsman. He officially achieved that goal, which made him proud as punch, in August 1960 when he received his diploma from the British Institute of Engineering Technology. After completing his contract with the Power Station and working various factory jobs, he gained employment as a Draughtsman with a company called Gerard, where he worked for over 25 years, until he retired at the age of 65.

Each year after his retirement brought a little more gentleness to his character, though his spirit remained as strong as an Ox.

He was a loyal family man, with a dry sense of humour and a strong sense of pride. And we, his family and all those who loved him were, and still are, so very proud of him.

And in closing, four lines that he would often recite, from the novel Spring Torrents by Russian author Ivan Turgenev

Days so happy
Years so gay
Like spring torrents
Have passed away.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Lady Bug

‘She was already a star in my eyes. She was manic, passionate, obsessive, miserable, even a little bit neurotic - the stuff I always believed artists were made of – the stuff I could so easily relate to. I loved her from the word go. She had a frantic energy that allowed you no other choice but to notice her and pay attention. She could also paint. Her work was great and possessed that same frenetic energy as her personality – and why wouldn’t it – it was HERS.’

I thought about her yesterday when Tom Waits' Swordfishtrombones started playing on my i-pod whilst walking to the bus stop. I had a vision of her dancing in her bedroom like some kind of praying mantis-like Goddess.

I have not had a car now for 18 months – (since a man in a ute drove into the front of my car and the insurance company declared it a write off – they handed me a cheque for some measly amount but by the time it finally arrived, after all the stuffing around, the money had already been spent) – I’ve since realised just how much I took having a vehicle for granted – mostly for the simplest and closest of tasks.

I very rarely ventured too far from home even when I had a car, especially since my parents moved to the N.S.W border. My main reason for heading into the city used to be to visit them… or my Melbourne gallery, who I left last year after a six-year relationship, of which 2 or 3 were quite tumultuous. Most of my work is now exhibited interstate or overseas so I have even less reason to travel to Melbourne.

So, back to my walk yesterday. She entered my thoughts and I wanted to write about her. The words just began to arrange themselves in my head and I was so disappointed I did not have my pen and notebook with me. I used to always carry them with me but have slacked off in recent times due to a lack of inspiration. I find it so much harder to write now than say, 2 years ago… so when I do get the urge it is frustrating to not have the utensils I need to make them permanent.

I drink a lot less than I used to. I often wonder whether this plays a part in me writing less now than I did then. I pretty much wrote every day back then. Whether it was poetry, short stories, diary/blog entries, random obscure emails or just stream of consciousness, (which later got labelled psychobabble by a reader) – whatever it was I was always able to write easily and freely. Perhaps my consumption of alcohol allowed me to be less inhibited – who knows. I do know that whilst walking to the bus stop yesterday and having all these thoughts race through my head, I felt like running back home and opening a bottle of wine and Microsoft word. Instead, I went to work and lost my mojo.

It’s weird; I struggle with the same inhibitions when it comes to my painting. The first word is like the first mark on a blank canvas. Intimidating.

I paint for myself, just as I write for myself – FOR ME… and I don’t hide my work because I feel there is nothing to be ashamed of. If others choose to view or read it is their prerogative. So why do I feel this intimidation? Will I be 40 before I finally say, “I don’t give a fuck! I’m just going to do it!”? What am I really afraid of?

I’m writing this morning. On an empty stomach. No alcohol has been consumed. I had an awful, broken sleep… it’s an effort to find the words but I am determined.

‘We met in Sydney. The meeting was for business but quickly became a pleasure. We fast became ‘friends’ and I religiously travelled to Sydney for a number of her shows. I even purchased a work of hers, a self-portrait, on my second or third visit. It hangs proudly in my living room.

I stayed at her place a few times – every trip it was a different location. We’d talk about art and pain. We’d drink tea and I’d passively smoke her second-hand tobacco. She introduced me to the likes of Louise Bourgeois and we would write sad and beautiful prose whilst listening to Tom Waits. If we ventured out we would walk the streets of Paddington weaving in and out of galleries.

She had the ability to force answers out of me to questions I did not even realise existed within me – about myself, and about my art. My head would always spin after our conversations – but it was invigorating.

I was always a little bit in awe of her though I never really knew just why. She openly expressed so many things that I seemed to suppress, and I am hardly a shy or introverted person. I looked up to her, even though she was tinier than me. She was like a ladybug on speed… always feminine and always frantic. Her energy made me both happy and sad at the same time.

She would sometimes disappear. She could often never explain.

If I was her lover, I just know she would have broken my heart.

I miss her. I often look at her painting and wonder how she is. I hope she is ok.’

Perhaps I’ll write her.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Come What May (go what WAS May)

May came and went like some kind of whirlwind. I can't remember much of it other than work. It's now June, the month that has seen me get back into the studio after a reluctant absence. I'd be so much more productive if I had an extra 3 hours in every day - (preferably with daylight).

I am finding it harder and harder to paint under artificial light. I have tried a variety of globes/wattages, lamps and flood lights - nothing compares with natural light, but with shorter daylight hours over Winter, my window of opportunity is currently limited.

I recently managed to complete my 8 weeks of boot camp. It was like nothing I have ever done before and as much as I struggled with certain parts of it and found it a huge physical and mental challenge, I enjoyed the overall experience and despite ongoing body 'soreness', I feel I have benefited from my efforts. So much so that yesterday saw me run 10km without stopping. I surprised even myself with that effort. I must thank Naomi for suggesting it and motivating me to do it. Running with someone else really does make a difference - in one way it pushes you harder than you might push yourself, yet on the same hand it somehow makes it feel easier... maybe because someone else is feeling the same pain!

My increased physical exercise has certainly helped my creative mind. It has provided me with some much needed clarity which has allowed some fantastic and exciting ideas for new work. Now it's just a matter of finding the time to apply myself.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Day 35 (Finale)

Today is the last day of Project 35 but was only the second session of boot camp.
As one project finishes... another is just beginning.
7 weeks to go and counting.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Day 34 (1 Down, 15 to Go)

The first session of bootcamp yesterday morning was hard, but despite the body aches and exhaustion it is somehow managing to motivate me. I never realised it would be such an emotional experience.
8 weeks of this. Every Tuesday and Thursday morning at 5:50am. Thursday will hurt.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Day 33 (Bootcamp ain't no Bandcamp)

Monday, April 13, 2009

Day 32 (Numb)

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Day 31 (Pick Up This)

I didn't have a very good day.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Day 30 (Masquerade)

Friday, April 10, 2009

Day 29 (Keep Your Eyes on the Road)

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Day 28 (Wash it Out)

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Day 27 (Anxiety)

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Day 26 (Taking Time to Reflect)

Monday, April 06, 2009

Day 25 (Lady With the Spinning Head)

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Day 24 (Fair's Fair)

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Day 23 (Blah Blah Blur)

Friday, April 03, 2009

Day 22 (Outside the Square)

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Day 21 (Two, One)

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Day 20 (Didn't Fool Me)

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Day 19 (Hey La Hey La)

Monday, March 30, 2009

Day 18 (Reunion)

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Day 17 (Forget About the Working Week)

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Day 16 (Silence)

Friday, March 27, 2009

Day 15 (Distraction)

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Day 14 (Creative Constipation)

I sat in the studio
for a good part of the day
I pushed and pushed
but nothing