Back in the early 2000’s was an exciting time to be kicking around Melbourne, trying to make things occur. I’d been working in film & tv for around a decade. I’d witnessed the ferment and excitement of ‘big’ Movie productions, bumping into the Fox Studios in Moore Park in Sydney, where thousands of dedicated people were working their butts off thinking this was the beginning of a motion picture revolution in Australia, and they were snug inside the golden gates. I remember sitting on the edge of a roadway inside that dream factory, sharing a cuppa with the fabulous Ewen McGregor, who pulled off his motorbike helmet, and squatted in the gutter next to me (a total nobody at the time), and we chewed the fat for a while. He was in between takes as ‘Obi Wan’ and due back any minute at Sound Stage 2 for his green screen pickups on ‘The Phantom Menace’ where he would be required to parry an onslaught from a grip with a tennis ball on a stick. He was in no particular hurry to get back. It was a golden time, for sure. A few years later, when the ass comprehensively fell out of the pants of the local film industry, I found myself flogging hand-made screen printed tees from the back of my XB panelvan, at one of the first Meredith music festivals, and decided that I was not going to the next Sergio Leone, Philip Noyce, William Friedkin or even Dario Argento, and decided I’d give the world of ‘independent streetwear’ a crack. At least I knew I’d be able to get my stuff seen. It was the now legendary FAT emporiums that made this possible for more fab designers than just myself. We ended up in ten independent design stores nationally, before a chance encounter with Laki from ‘First Floor’, on Brunswick street presented another challenge for us as visual communicators. Laki owned the Veggie Bar, across the road, and had done very well with his augmented baked potatoes over the years, so was now branching out as a nightclub entrepreneur. He was having a problem with his dance floor and ‘chill out’ area though. No-one seemed keen to go in there, and stay there and it clearly wasn’t working. So in a chat over a few strong drinks, we decided to have a crack at mural art. Laki was very enthusiastic about the idea we presented a week later. An idea that remained in situ for around eight years, outsurviving several owners and re-fits. Inn fact, it became synonymous with the club. Anyway, the scene was taken from Alan Pakula’s movie ‘Klute’ which starred Jane Fonda, Roy Schneider and Donald Sutherland. The moment in the film takes place in a nightclub. At one end of a dance floor we see a stoned couple on couch, with a shot-reverse of Donald on the opposing wall. The moment this happens is only a few frames, which are intersected by the limbs of patrons across a dancefloor. We blew this moment up XXL big as digital print, 24 square metres in total. Anyway, we were really proud of our first furtive attempt to capture the imaginations of an audience and make them feel something, when it was not really being done anywhere else. Now mural art is inextricable with inner city Melbourne. The city has got got full glorious sleeve tatts, now, but at that time it was still quite on the cusp. Good one Laki. Good one Fat. Great times.
#recollections #fatemporium #klute #dondeestan #isidorapazlopez #mosaicinterventions #visualart #publicart #muralart #firstfloor #janefonda #donaldsutherland #alanpakula #melbourneart #brunswickstreet #creativevictoria #tprojects #metrotunnelproject #legacyartprogram #handsolo #coiledspringsstudio
It’s the end of Summer, apparently. Here’s a few beach recollections, I thought I’d share with you….
I admit to harboring mixed, childhood feelings about Lorne. Lorne was the rich cousin who had everything. We were Wye River blow-ins, from around the bend, where the coastal road rises, unleashing a series of deep and treacherous chicanes, to finally ease into the treated pine barriers of the beachside general store. This is not really fair, though. Lorne also meant: four flavours in a double wafer cone; racks of Okanuis; Big M girls cavorting on the 3XY fun bus; rainbow thongs; and shoeless backflips over the paint-faded, mesh cross of the foreshore trampolines.
Lorne was a safe base station, but only ever a brief pit stop for the likes of us. We’d answer the call to pile back in the stationwagon and prepare to tackle the high, winding, mountain pass beyond. The next section of the Great Ocean Road is beautiful as it is dramatic: A Big Sur, or slice of the Amalfi. In those days, it was not to be taken lightly.
The next stanza required an intense concerto of gear changes to remain safely adhered to the contours of the cliff face and away from the abyss. Nothing any driver should attempt with a milkshake wedged between the legs, or elbow steering to finish a hamburger (cheerio, Dad). This was a serious business: A sudden dip, a steep climb with another sweeping arc, repeat and stir. Past the bluestone lookout, and across the Cumberland. A feat of engineering (and an ironic reward for fealty), it was hewn by brave Diggers for Wayne Gardner, but not for me.
With the burnt stench of brake fluid from the rear passenger window, and mono repeats from one of two Neils (‘Diamond’ or ‘Sedaka’), the melting asphalt mixed a cocktail that inevitably forced further unplanned stops, even a change of clothes. Too much to keep it all in. It is unfair to associate Lorne with spew, but it’s Siren song always chided about the toughest leg to come.
The weather often broke over the Otway ranges between us. When we were rained out, Lorne was boogie boarding in sunshine. We had a fibro shack on stilts among Eucalypts, with marchflies, redbacks and blue tongues. They had peeblemix driveways, carports and town water. We had seagrass tiles, which tattooed your hide in geometric reminders of an afternoon session of Cluedo. They had bright mansions, shag pile and a proper cinema. They also had a fish shop, with a proper restaurant on the pier.
It wasn’t Lorne that made me sick. That’s not right. It simply had a bad habit of making us feel a bit jealous.
It’s the end of Summer, although it doesn’t feel like it. But officially it is, this weekend. So I thought I’d walk you down memory lane with the genius eye of Aussie snapper legend Rennie Ellis. When I think of growing up in Melbourne, trips to the beach and a first glimpse of the blue line on the horizon, getting brain-freezes sucking the colour out of a Samboy, and hoping for a gold ticket, dodging the march flies, copping bindies from a lawn sprint, the smell of reef oil and zinc, sand in your cup, deep and reckless tanning on a plastic li-lo, jumping backwards off shoulders and into the foam and getting water up your nose, board shorts with a money pouch at the front to spend at the shop, waiting in line at the beachside general store, staring up at the pouting chiko roll girl astride a harley, or trying to avoid the revolving rack of paperbacks with the picture of Jaws on the front cover, failing at that, and thinking twice about going back in, even between the flags…I think of the fabulous images of Rennie Ellis. Here are just a few, slices of a time and place for the larrakin flavour of the aussie vernacular - sunburnt, carefree, and democratically irreverent. Hail Maestro.
Enjoy xo HS
Here already? Strewth! I think it was Simon Tedeschi’s piano teacher who offered up this pearl, for whenever he prepared to approach the stage and play in front of a live audience. It also works for many things, including staring at a blank canvas, with brushes and paint, or even for dealing with the many curveballs life throws our way. Best wishes to you all for the New Year and all the good things it’s gonna send your way…
Three little rippers. Chicas es Fuerte! Cheers & Seasons Greetings from CSS everybody! Bring on the NY…
I love it when the energies of two keen parties come together to make a sweet deal. Check out where Moonshadow’s Dream has lately taken up a residency…In pride of place in the dining room of the fabulous Red Hill Hotel, in Chewton… Boom-tish. A perfect fit, if I may say so. After all, we believe art is made to be seen, and we couldn’t be happier with these fine people becoming the custodians. Frankly, it feels like it was made to be there. Gentleman James and his fab team have built quite an establishment in Chewie since they took over on the hill. Their delicious, food, wine and hospitality, has been drawing the punters in for some time now and long may they continue to flourish. We are so lucky to have them in our hood. So when he asked the question, our response was naturally a resounding ’yes’. Even better that we’ll be able to see it there often. Enjoy it guys :) You can as well, on weekends, from Thursday thru to Sunday. Don’t forget to book…
Red Hill Hotel
Open Thursday to Sunday
163 Main Road, Chewton
(03) 5416 1133
Greetings artlovers and followers. The update reads like this: After the first two weekends ‘Flight’ has virtually sold out, which is a delight and a great relief… Thanks for all your well wishes, they must have worked! It seems like people enjoyed our take on native birds in action. In any case, Coiled Springs has jumped out of the blocks. Come down and check out the show before we close, and she flies away to the homes of the good people who stepped up and nabbed the originals. We’re open this weekend (Saturday/Sunday) from 10am till 4pm, and final weekend next week. We’re hoping to do a run of prints and cards from this series, so if you’d like to purchase any of these, in the lead up to Chrissie, I’ll keep you posted here. Promise.
Here I am back in the old studio in fabulous Flemington. I loved this place and had some grand times there. The studio was situated above an internet cafe on the main road. It was a long narrow open space, with plenty of natural light - perfect for painting. The best part was its flat tin roof which we could access via an old ladder and squeeze through a high window in the foyer It gave us wonderful 360 views of the whole cityscape. One summer we hauled a load of plywood, on ropes, up the full height of the building to make a roofgarden, with pot plants and deckchairs. We’d sit up there in canvas deckchairs, and sunbaked our cares, drinking sea breezes with the radio on…
The guy behind me, on the wall, is Mustapha. Some people thought he was Theo from ‘The Cosby Show’, but he wasn’t…I was wandering around the front of the Tate Modern in London, a few years earlier, when I noticed this guy sitting at a portable card table he’d set up near one of the entrances. His table was covered in hundreds of postcards of all the same image - 9x5 photo portrait of himself. I recall picking up the card and turning it over. It read simply in the top left corner “Mustapha…La Nouvelle Sensation” ‘But what do you do Mustapha?’ I enquired. ‘I mean, are you an actor, or performance artist…?’ He shrugged, and simply sat and smiled the same wide grin. I must have bought a stack of these cards, as I remember us laughing and hugging it out. So, that’s how he ended up on the kitchen wall at the studio, blown up to XXXL. A massive smiling buddha, trying to teach me something simple, I had yet to comprehend.
I must have that postcard somewhere…
Here’s yours truly, sitting on the throne of the WC, after papering the walls with Eddie Van Halens. I wanted to make something for the visitors - Eddie’s unbridled energy always did the trick.
Recollections: The Clay Duck
I remember sitting cross-legged on the floor in primary school, and staring up at this strange lady who breezed into our art room. She would remain with us for an entire week, moving from easel to easel, and around our workstations, with the lightness of a rare, colourful bird. I must have been in Grade 4. A few of these types of people came through from time to time, each showing us different methods and techniques. We had no idea how lucky we were, for on this occasion the visiting artist was Mirka Mora. Through the haze of early memory, this became a recollection where time stilled, as I became thoroughly impassioned and utterly absorbed in the process of making art.
Normally when the bell rings, everyone scrambles to pack up their brushes, paper and easels, and race out of the building with blue and red stained hands, into the noise of the tanbark playground. This time was different. For the entire week, I was somehow granted permission to spend lunchtimes and breaks working in the art-room on a particular sculpture, a clay duck. I recall paying attention to forming its shape, crafting its wings with special attention paid to carving the detail and flow of its feathers. I distinctly recall Mirka’s exotic accent, her clucks of approval, and her expert hands guiding my furtive attempts to bring this duck into being. I can remember us both sitting together on wooden stools in the empty art-room with the sounds of kids playing foursquare against the walls outside, and the strong smell of staffroom coffee on the edge of Mirka’s breath as she guided my process with the deepest solemnity.
I remember her joyous aura and the broad bloom of her fabulous smile, which banished any doubt that making art and midwiving the imagination was the single, most important work a person could ever do in the world. It is only later, in recalling this, that I realise it was the wonderful Mirka Mora, who had disregarded her designated staffroom lunch breaks, to help encourage an earnest youngster embrace a passion that, despite the u-turns and diversions, has held me in its thrall and never let me go.
Canta libre, Mirka.
Canta mi Corazon.