Monday, May 31, 2010

RIP Dennis Hopper

I was saddened yesterday, when I heard that Dennis Hopper had given his final performance. To many, he was one of my more unexplainable crushes in my late teens and early twenties... but those who knew me well, and appreciated his work, understood why.

He was intelligent, charming, mysterious, alluring, passionate and talented... at least that's what he projected as a figure in the public eye.

Sure, he had his demons... don't we all? In film he played crazy and bad to perfection, but he had the versatility to play a great 'funny guy'.

Above and beyond a fantastic career as an actor and director, Hopper was also rather fascinating to me because of his passion for art. Though probably better known for his photography, he was also a painter, poet and sculptor, as well as an avid art collector, who possessed works by artists such as Basquiat, Warhol and Schnabel.

To me he was rather inspiring.

Rest in peace 'Mad Dog'. x

Friday, May 28, 2010

Home is Where the Art is... sometimes

My flight from Perth arrived in Melbourne just after 10:30 on Monday night. C picked me up from the airport and we got home around midnight.

It took me a while to fall asleep, despite being dog tired and xanaxed. Once I did, I slept until close to midday.

I didn't do any shopping whilst away, all I brought back with me was a cold, but I certainly enjoyed catching up with some old friends in Perth; some I had not seen for over 10 years. It always amazes me how you can often reacquaint with someone from your past, know nothing or very little about the last 10 or so years of their life, but feel totally comfortable in their presence and converse like it was only yesterday or last week that you last hung out. It's a nice thing, and somewhat comforting when you are in a new, strange or foreign city, away from home and it's comforts.

Speaking of home, it was nice to come back. Whilst I enjoyed Perth, I was more than ready to come home on Monday. Five days was more than sufficient. I was not there as a tourist, nor to see any sights or sites, nor was I there for a cultural experience, I simply went over there for the exhibition opening and to actually, and finally, see the gallery my work has been, and is being, exhibited in. Catching up with a handful of lovely people was a bonus, and certainly made my visit to the West far more enjoyable.

I returned a little exhausted but full of fresh ideas to blend with some older ones for a new body of work. There is a part of me that can't wait to get started - to head back into the studio and get busy painting... but there is another part of me, right now, that just cannot be bothered - not just yet. Partly, I suppose, due to having this cold and feeling a little run down, but other than working Wednesday and Thursday, I have very much enjoyed a couple of days doing pretty much NOTHING. I'd be bored if the nothingness were to continue for too long, but there is no chance of that happening with everything that needs to be done... but for today, it suits me JUST FINE!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

There's always (at least) one...

I awoke feeling a little less cloudy today, despite the weather turning in Perth.

As the rain falls outside I sit up in my double bed and wonder why all motel beds leave me with such a sore back. I open the blinds to see a grey city. I can hear the sound of Saturday morning traffic, made louder by tyres on the wet roads.

I reflect on the past few weeks and in particular, opening night of the exhibition.

It was a good night, but why does there always have to be (at least) one tosser who unknowingly tries to make it not so.

I didn't catch his name, purely because I lost interest very early in our conversation. He was around 60 I suppose, quite rotund, balding white hair and a bulbous nose - the type worn by a number of aging alcoholics. His rosacea of course, may not have been caused by excess drinking, but the bullshit he was spinning caused me to believe it was a real possibility. Either way, his appearance was not the offensive part, but as he kept talking, he became ugly in my eyes.

I'm often in two minds as to whether I should attend my own opening nights. Whilst I used to enjoy the attention, I now feel a little more awkward about being in the spotlight. It's my work on show, not ME. There is a part of me that wants the work to speak for itself. The other part is a little more curious and wants to see people's reaction to the paintings, and even eavesdrop on their conversations about the work - although the comments are not always complimentary, it still always fascinates me. I must say, I also do enjoy and appreciate those people, whom after the speeches have pointed out my identity, put a hand on my shoulder and say "thank you" and smile. Such a simple gesture can lift my spirits and give me hope, unlike the words of the aforementioned tosser.

I happened to be standing near 3 of my works when we crossed paths. We were introduced without the exchange of his name. I was prepared to talk to him and smile as he asked me questions about my work. That quickly changed to wanting to roll my eyes and walk away as he started up about seeing me across the room and thinking I looked like an artist and some other bullshit about being pretty. I let those dimwitted remarks slide and continued to answer a few of his questions until his comments just became too fucking stupid to listen to anymore. He'd picked up on the fact that I was the model for some of my pieces and one in particular, of me and a bear, which just so happens to symbolise my late Russian grandfather. In the painting I am naked, but all you can see is my right breast. This man proceeded to eye off the painting, raise his eyebrows then look back at my bust, (and I certainly do not possess a rack of great proportions), and say "well Simone, I wouldn't mind getting to know you better".
Now, whilst I have painted naked, and clothed, women in a sensual and/or sexual light before, what was kind of funny, and what this man failed to see, was that in this particular piece, the nakedness of the figure actually represented innocence, vulnerability and a sense of purity. Regardless of his words being said in jest, (or not), it was such a fucking stupid thing to say to an artist, or any woman, let alone someone you have never met. It's NOT funny. I am not a prude by any means but that sort of talk from someone I have just met is just fucking stupid and I can't be bothered.

I walked to the back of the room and engrossed myself in conversation with someone I did know, (and had not seen for about 14 years), and despite a few attempts from him to get back into a conversation, I managed to pretty much ignore him for the rest of the evening.

I had to laugh when he came up in conversation the next day. The gallery directors took us, (the artists) out to lunch and he came up as we discussed 'last night'. They asked if he acted inappropriately, to which I responded yes, but said I could handle it. I did say that it was probably fortunate that it was me he'd spoken to like that and not another, perhaps more 'easily offended' or younger artist, and as much as I thought it was inappropriate, I knew to just walk away from him and not engage in anymore of his bullshit. It's not the first time and won't be the last. It was nice that the guys were concerned though, as some of those 'tossers' in the past have actually been the ones in their position.

Lunch was enjoyable and I am so grateful to be dealing with people who know how to treat their artists well and truly believe in the work. The effort that they, and their team went to in preparation for this exhibition is a testament to them and the fact that there are still good guys on the other side of the art world!

So whilst there might always be (at least) one tosser, the good guys outweighed them this time!

Friday, May 21, 2010

The Aftermath

I never have many words on the morning after an opening night. My heads always feels heavy and my brain goes kind of numb. It was, however, a good night, and a very large turnout.

So while words fail me, I'll talk in pictures...

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Notes from the West

So... I'm in Perth.

The flight was surprisingly pleasant and time flew (pardon the pun) much faster than I thought it would. I assume half a xanax and two gin and tonics assisted in making it a good flight, but I was also fortunate enough to have noone sitting next to me, so after requesting the aisle seat at check in (in case I needed to make a quick exit), I was able to move over to the window seat without feeling confined and anxious. It's weird - I seem to get worse, or more anxious, every time I fly... You'd never believe I've traveled all the places I have when you hear me talk about how flying turns me into an anxious mess... The worst of it is the prelude to actually taking off, I think that's the most anxious time for me... I seem to calm myself down once the take off has been successful and there's no turning back - it's all out of my hands so I have to just go with the flow of the flight.

Despite the xanax kicking in fairly early, I managed to force my eyelids open long enough to watch Crazyheart. Becoming engrossed in an in-flight movie always helps me forget I'm up in the sky. I think being at the very front of the plane helped the flight feel a lot smoother too.

The taxi ride from the airport was another thing... whilst my driver was a pleasant chap, and quite chatty - asking questions about Melbourne in comparison to Perth and telling me he was originally from Bangladesh... we then moved on to talking about small bingles and larger accidents that he had had in the cab... not sure if that's the best thing to talk to your passengers about unless you want them to start feeling unsettled... either way, I contributed my five cents worth to the discussion.

The funniest or perhaps even ironic thing was that he proceeded to tell me how Perth cab drivers have to sit something similar to an exam when going for their cab licence to ensure that they know the city well enough and know the quickest routes from A to B etc... He seemed pretty comfortable with my desired destination when I first got in the cab and said 123 Hay St, Subiaco (the address of the gallery) and headed off with confidence. It turns out Hay street is MASSIVE and passes through several Perth suburbs. Of course, as someone who has never been to Perth, I had no idea of this, but after telling me he had passed his 'exam' and saying "yeah, yeah" when I told him where I wanted to go, I had assumed he might have some idea. We ended up a little lost as he and 'Tom-Tom' were in disagreement as to where we should be heading.

I ended up ringing the gallery as we were parked outside the WACCA and getting directions - we were quite a ways away from where we needed to be...

So - in a city full of one way streets, we were forced to take a much longer route than we had hoped. I had to laugh. He was a nice guy and I could tell he actually felt a little bit unsettled that he had gone the wrong way. We ended up in the tail end of peak hour traffic where he apologised to me and said he would stop the meter each time we were in traffic because he felt guilty. Bless.

We made it - finally - and he helped me carry the last of my paintings into the gallery. I think he even knocked a little more of the final meter reading, and as we parted I said "now we both know where 123 Hay Street is". Funny.

The gallery is a lovely space. It was nice to finally see the place that has been home to my work in WA for over a year now. Whilst it was good to see the show almost completely hung, it was also nice to walk away and take some time before coming back to see it all again at the opening.

I was tired when I got to my hotel room. Probably more so due to the 2 hour time difference. I though I might've enjoyed a sleep in, but despite being so tired, I still woke up on my Melbourne clock.

The weather predicts a sunny 25 degrees here in Perth today.... best get out and enjoy it!

Thursday, May 13, 2010


The bulk of my work arrived safely in Perth today. I spoke with the gallery and was pleased to know that the works arrived unscathed. I had been concerned since letting them go off on their own in a big truck last Thursday. I was even beginning to have dreams that they had arrived completely ruined.

As carefully as I can wrap my works with bubble wrap on top of more bubble wrap, cardboard and packing tape, it is always incredibly daunting when works that you have spent hours upon hours creating are handed over to someone else in the hope that they will be handled with care and arrive safely at their destination.

I have only ever had a few minor incidents with bad handling of my work in gallery storage and in transit, but I have heard some incredibly awful stories from other artists - enough to have left me full of anxiety for the past week.

I breathed a huge sigh of relief when I learned they were safe and in tact.

Monday, May 10, 2010

For the Love of ART

I love painting, though sometimes I have a tumultuous emotional relationship with it... always with intensity, and, some days, I just feel like screaming in the studio.

Once I have, it's easier to work.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Tick, tick, tick...

It's just after midnight... 12:24 to be exact.

I am procrastinating. Keep painting until I can no longer keep my eyes open, then possibly not respond to my morning alarm... or go to bed now and get up at around 5am and start painting again.


I'm incredibly concerned about being able to get all the work needed complete in time for the courier this week. I wish Perth was a little closer.

I used to be able to paint all through the night, into the wee hours of the morning, then all of the next day... but I need sleep a lot more now than I did back in those days. I don't function too well without it and no longer even contemplate taking any substance that may allow me to.

If only I could paint in my sleep.