Exhibiting three Detroit pieces from study trip in 2015 from 3 to 28 February at MetroWest Gallery , at 138 Nicholson St, Footscray.
I am going to Brightspace Gallery, St Kilda, to see an exhibition called “Punk Journey, St Kilda + Beyond . I am excited. It was a movement I first encountered in London in 1979, where it spawned a vibrant and dynamic art, and music culture . At home in Melbourne, and as a Stkilda resident of the early 80’s, I loved going to the now defunct Crystal Ballroom, in Fitzroy st, part of the Seaview Hotel. It was seedy, distressed, dirty, dingy, but with exhilarating music, and outlandish costumes, I loved it. Heady times, exuberant passions, and visually stimulating art, I was part of a movement. It was a movement without peer, its like not seen again, and it spawned many talented Australian artists eg Rowland. S .Howard, and Nick Cave , from the band, “The Birthday Party”.
Fashion was sublime in this period, and dress sense was avant garde, and personal, anything goes, with safety pins, studs, chains, and tartans abounding. In the UK, Vivienne Westwood ruled, and as one time partner of Malcolm Mc Laren, original punk god, she had her finger on the pulse, of all things punk! In Australia, Jenny Bannister officiated, and I was disappointed I was unable to book into a free workshop, at Brightspace, to punk up an item of clothing. It’s booked out by all the dormant punks in StKilda.!
I hope to meet Lauren, my ex VU Buddy, and we will enjoy the exhibition together.
Swaggering down the narrow aisle of flight H1273#, from Leipzig to London, came two large drunken examples of german manhood.
Flinging themselves into two seats opposite, they began a loud conversation with the little blonde fraulein, cowering in her window seat.
Nestled in each giant paw was an oversized can of German beer offering 5 % gratis. They began a loud, guffawing, drinking session extolling to all, in loud German, their travel plans. Dressed in top to toe camouflage gear they were ready for anything, but were we ? their fellow travellers.
For the next forty minutes the cacophony of guttural sounds, brought forth from their beer lubricated vocal cords, was deafening.
With our eardrums ringing, the refreshments trolley appeared, being dragged along by a harried, Celtic beauty.
You cannot bring your own beer sir, she politely admonished. Nein nein, they responded, as both gallantly purchased a token Heineken, from the diminutive lass. Having quickly scoffed that down, the bavarian boozer deftly produced yet another jumbo can from his seemingly endless supply, stashed in his leather coat pocket.
The musical backdrop to our flight became the ripping sound of rings pulling, loud exclamations in german, farts, belches and rapid beer quaffing noises. Spill overs were rubbed into seats, cheeks and apparel, as a thick acrid beer film formed a barrier round our seats, and gave my fellow passenger, residual hiccups .
Astride the aisle seat Rolf, refused to be constrained by a mere seatbelt. His assault on the overhead locker, during landing brought gasps of disbelief from his fellow seated passengers, and feeble admonishment from the cabin crew.
Upon landing, the two belligerent, and by now extremely intoxicated, bavarians staggered down the aisle , careering into anything that crossed their path. They drunkenly charged down the flight steps, tore through airport arrivals, and blundered out into the cold London night, oblivious to the havoc they had wreaked on their fellow Ryanair travellers, and staff.
Following much cajoling by vigilant VU teaching staff , I reluctantly agreed to submit a piece of work for the annual VU 2014 art prize.
Gazing forlornly around the studio my eye rested on “Cans ” , a watercolour and oil sketch of rusted spray cans , washed up on stkilda beach . Housed in an op shop frame I marched it around to the events office .
The 17 th floor gallery space , was swiftly adorned with a vast range of splendid entries .
Nestled in between a beautiful photo of a young girl , and a skilful rendering of a desert scene , “Cans ” looked right at home .
Thursday night arrived . The gallery hosted hopeful bands of visual and graphic art students , clustered around grazing cheese platters , and sipping apple juice .
The VU Bright Star prize was announced first . A mispronunciation of my surname couldn’t alter the fact that it was my name they were calling . I staggered valiantly to the stage , dazedly agreed to have my photo taken , and wandered back to the throng clutching my certificate and prize voucher .
Yay ” Cans ” , you didn’t let me down !
Now what to spend my prize money on ?
Perhaps , a new set of derwent pencils ? Or start saving for a painting by Adam Cullen , hmm only $ 84, 900 to go !
Thank you VU !
Budapest is a city of contrast. Divided by the Danube River,Buda is the West Bank and Pest, the East. Originally begun as a Celtic Settlement, it has endured many historical, cultural,ethnic and religious upheavals to become one of Eastern Europe’s most beautiful and enduring cities, and certainly one of its most interesting.
Where else can you buy $2.50 tickets to the Ballet Giselle at the Budapest Opera House? of course the 22 year old daughter and I had to enter via the back stairs, so the patrons in expensive seats could be seen making a grand entrance, via the front stairs! A night time ghost walk around the cobbled streets, revealed a bloody and gory past, buried beneath the grandeur and opulence, of old Budapest.
Taking a commuter ferry ride down the mighty Danube, revealed the olympic training school of the Hungarian rowing team, a mix of old and new high rise housing, and ended at a defunct shipbuilding yard, and abandoned, industrial estate.
A favourite memory was shopping at the local flea markets. Most had good quality goods, and were keenly priced. One, in a far flung suburb, revealed old folk art pattern rubber rollers, genuine nazi war badges, vintage tin toys, and a jumble of retro clothing. It was cheap, musty, and housed some dilapidated merchandise, but was worth the complex trip out of town to get to it.
Other memories include, walking across the Liberty Bridge spanning the mighty Danube, using the funicular ( cliff railway) running up to Buda Castle, visiting the Budapest Art Museum, and feeling chagrin when the student daughter was invited to a private viewing of Warhol pieces. Watching the same daughter get her hair cut for her 22nd birthday. Me agreeing to a haircut by a non english speaking hairdresser, at the same salon. Drinking vast quantities of home made limonetta ( lemonade) for $3 a litre in local restaurants, and visiting Margaret island, to ride bikes, and eat ice cream and fairyfloss, as part of the birthday celebrations. Friday night saw us floating around the Rudas Baths, a thermal hot springs with magical restorative powers, needed for two world weary travellers, and trying to avoid gazing at the plump male, tattooed, ponytailed, patrons.
I went, and yes it is truly one of the most beautiful cities in the world. My memory was hazy from a trip taken thirty five years, previously. I had forgotten the opulence of the Boulevards, the silent majesty of the Louvre, and the sheer breathtaking beauty of the city spread out before you, from the Sacre- Coeur de Montmatre Hillside.
A highlight was the trip out to Versailles Palace, including a ride around the grounds on a bicycle. Others included the Musee d’Orsay, Centre Pompidou, Pantheon and Grand Palais. The Seine River flows through the heart of Paris and the Eiffel Tower, can be seen from many areas of the inner city. Undeniably chic, Paris is classy, engaging and the art is sublime. The Grand Palais, was showing a retrospective exhibition, of Monet’s work, and the luminous colours, simplistic composition of the waterlily ponds, and the deft brushstrokes were a joy to behold.
Veiled in mist ,shrouded in rain
It weeps for those who,ll never come home again
Carries an air of mystery , of turmoil and deceit
A city held to siege
Mothers , daughters , children , all brought to their knees
Now she strides into the sun
Resettling a proud life no longer afraid of the gun
Homeless dogs ,flower pedlars , market traders , gypsy beggars
All in the mix
It’s a city rebuilding , restructuring , struggling on
Against the age old battle of who,s right and who’s wrong
Gentle , sad , lonely face
She struggles and subsides , with a weary grace
Nestled in hills , beauty abounds , an uneasy truce , mortar holes litter the ground
Pockmarked buildings , ravaged countryside
They look to the east and draw them onside
A proud nation divided in three
It has always been rich in a troubled history
Mostar jewel of the mount
Speeding bus drivers bring you in
Sluggish Swedish trains take you out
It carries an air of sadness, of trouble and woe
And seems to be a nation tottering on the abyss
Not quite sure where to go
” The Tunnel Museum “
Swaggering down the airport forecourt came the three denizens of animal print couture .
Three mighty examples of large , round , forceful , Hungarian womanhood , strode strode toward me adorned in top to toe animal print , fake gold , black or tight denim .
They were a force to be reckoned with , this majestic trio , trailing gargantuan suitcases
in their wake .
They literally didn’t shut up , and their assault on the Wizz Air drinks trolley , only served to rejuvenate their well developed vocal cords.
I loosely termed them the ocelot triplets .
Life giver , saver , wrangler and tamer that I am , I could hardly be termed squeamish , but they scared the hell outta me .
I voyeuristically gazed on , totally enthralled , & trapped in their spell as they gabbled , burped , farted , and transported themselves from the Hungarian to Ottoman Empires.
Silence was banished from Budapest departure gate 3 , until Istanbul passport control , where they presented a tri edged assault on the quaking Turkish customs official.
Number one was dressed in gloriously distressed stretch denims , black and gold emblazoned skintight tshirt , gold lame jacket Liberace would,ve been proud to own , and the piece de resistance , a pair of black fake leather storm trooper boots , strapped with three trapdoor size fake gold buckles across each.
Number two had the black version of the jeans , black top with indecipherable Hungarian quip ,all in gold of course , and fake leather black biker jacket sporting gold and ocelot embellishments ,looking like a latter day Michael Jackson impersonator.
Number three , a woman mountain , clearly the leader of the pack , was bedecked in head to toe black , and 100 variations of animal print .
This lady was not to be messed with , and clasped an animal toned handbag big enough to house all of Central Europe , to her vast bosom .
Muffin topped, peroxided , blinged up , 50 plus ,
foundation encrusted , they sported enough black eyeliner to ring the entire Australian coast line .
Fluoro orange talons gripped the headrests of our seat upon arrival in Turkey , and jointly they uttered the only words of English I ever heard them say ” who dares wins ”