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Monthly Archives: February 2020

Pulling Apart the Fabric of Montsalvat

The following article in today’s Age by Carolyn Webb brought back my memories of the Residency that I undertook on site at Montsalvat in 2014.

Whilst at the residency I wrote an article for Res Artis: Worldwide Network of Arts Residencies based on the question: What constitutes a great and satisfying residency? Website: https://resartis.org/

Here is an extract from that article:

“My current residency is at a place that I am familiar with. I have been to the location many times. Although it is a place that I am familiar with I want to know it intimately, so my proposal read as:

“My project Marks, Makings and other Memories will be investigating those environments, places of history, of beauty, of intrigue, of mystery and the relationship between site, structure and memory. Taken from the concept of Barbara Triggs: Scats, Tracks and other Traces, I propose to look for and express what I see as mapping Montsalvat.  Under guidance, like the naturalist, I will discover Montsalvat icons – be it a specific site, shadow, structure or story that will influence the artwork development, materials and production.

I will look at what has been, what is left behind and what is now.”

This type of proposal allows me to make whatever artwork I want.  Think of any art discipline and it could be done using this proposal. So always keep it broad.

A great residency for me is one that challenges and inspires me to create new works. A great residency makes me think about the site, my relationship with that site and how I will interact with it.

A satisfying residency should allow an artist the freedom to develop, create and present the resulting artwork even if incomplete. In all my residencies I have found that I continue themes or techniques developed during the residency.

AIR is an appropriate anagram for often starting a residency has the sense of air; nothing is solid, decided, consolidated or yet thought out.

A great and satisfying residency is one where the artist needs only think of his/herself and his/her developing artwork. It is a residency where life outside of these two things is a world away.”

What can one say about the changes occurring at Montsalvat after the fact that it was rescued from going under then gifted to the people of Victoria. I empathise with those Jorgensen family members who, for some reason, believe they have the right to live on the properties ‘rent free’ and wonder how many generations that term related to. So sad that the two brothers Sigmund and Sebastian passed away within weeks of each other, it is an end to an era.

I would hope that the Arts are kept alive and ongoing and the history stays significant within the organisation of Montsalvat. It is a worthy site to Victoria and Australia.

‘Pulling apart the fabric of Montsalvat’: Artist colony cuts family ties

By Carolyn Webb

February 26, 2020 — 11.30pm

The family that founded Melbourne’s famous bohemian artist colony Montsalvat has been ousted after three generations involved in the institution.

Rhiannon Jorgensen, granddaughter of the colony’s late founder Justus Jorgensen, has been evicted by the Montsalvat board from its satellite arts venue, a farm at Christmas Hills, 45 kilometres north-east of Melbourne.

Ms Jorgensen has until now lived rent-free at the Christmas Hills farm. But six months after the death of her father, classical guitarist Sebastian Jorgensen, the Montsalvat board has decided to sell the Christmas Hills site.

The running of Montsalvat was taken out of the families’ hands, with a new board appointed, after a state government rescue package 14 years ago when it fell into debt.

Raphael Kilpatrick, son of the late, long-time Montsalvat resident artist Matcham Skipper, slammed the latest decision, saying it was “like pulling apart the fabric of Montsalvat”.

He said the Jorgensens, including Rhiannon, had maintained the farmhouse and barn for more than 40 years, hosting art exhibitions and poetry and music festivals.

Mr Kilpatrick is a member of the Montsalvat Meeting Pool, which is calling for reform of the Montsalvat board, saying a commercial culture is destroying Montsalvat’s artistic focus.

He said it was wrong that no one remained on the board from the founding families or their associates.

Montsalvat was created in1934 and the artists built a series of properties with a group of friends. Mr Kilpatrick’s aunt, Helen Skipper, was Justus’ long-time partner.

Mr Kilpatrick said Montsalvat “was established on a community of people living and working and contributing to that place”.

He said there were now three artists in residence, but when he lived there more than a decade ago there were about 16.

The Meeting Pool group says Montsalvat’s constitution should be altered to mandate that the board include at least two artists or people connected to founding families.

A spokeswoman for the Montsalvat board said the proceeds of the Christmas Hills site sale would be invested “in the future of Montsalvat” and that no part of Montsalvat’s main hub in Eltham – 20 kilometres away – was being sold. The spokeswoman said the Montsalvat board had allowed Sebastian Jorgensen to live at the Christmas Hills property for his lifetime, at no cost. After his death, “his daughter has remained at the property at no cost to her”.

“She has no entitlements to the property. The board has advised her of its decision to sell the property and [she] has been given notice to vacate.”

Local real estate agent Ian Mason, from Mason White McDougall, said the property on Eltham-Yarra Glen Road was “a very pretty block of land” with pasture and a bush section abutting a creek, and it could fetch $800,000 to $1 million.

A Montsalvat source said the board acted according to Justus’ 1974 will, which left the estate to a trust “and didn’t include any family members as beneficiaries”.

“He left Montsalvat as a gift for the people of Victoria, not for his family’s financial benefit. The trust’s job is financial governance, looking after the proper running of Montsalvat,” they said.

On the board, “we don’t absolutely have to have a family member, it isn’t the royal family, it’s not a situation by inheritance. It is a merit-based board.”

An original – but not current – trustee, media identity Phillip Adams, said any suggestion that any board members “have ever had anything but the best interests of Montsalvat at heart, are bullshit”.

Mr Adams said there was “a huge amount of activity going on at Montsalvat, still, despite all its problems, which are artist-related. And looking at the endless amount of bitching over the years, at my 80-plus age, I feel incredibly irritated by it.”

Fourteen years ago, the then-board including brothers Sigmund and Max Jorgensen sold part of the Christmas Hills land to help pay a $750,000 debt.

The Jorgensens agreed to a state government rescue package, including Sigmund being replaced as CEO and chairman by arts bureaucrats.

In 2014 he told The Age he was pleased Montsalvat was in better shape, and that it derived $600,000 a year – more than 50 per cent of its income – from weddings on the grounds. He said it was a practical way of supporting Montsalvat.

Featured Image: Denise with Indigenous Artist Rachel Shields with a collaborative Project titled Flag Montsalvat 2014 for Reconciliation Week.

36th Annual Warrandyte Art Show

TODAY I submitted my Entry for the Annual Warrandyte Art Show. The rotary club have undertaken to Fundraise through an annual art show in Warrandyte for 36 years. It is a fabulous achievement and well supported by local and broader living artists. Read the information for entries; and do come along to see the show 20 – 22 March 2020

Dear Artists,  The Rotary Club of Warrandyte Donvale extend an invitation to exhibit at the 36th Annual Warrandyte Art Show, to be held on the 20th, 21st & 22nd March 2020

The Rotary Warrandyte Artshow is run in conjunction with the Warrandyte Festival. This attracts thousands of visitors to our unique tourist centre from all parts of Victoria.

20th – 22nd March 2020

Total Prize Pool of $7,500.

  • Best in Show      $2,000,
  • Best Oil or Acrylic $1,000,
  • Best Work on Paper $1,000,
  • Highly Commended  5 Prizes of $100 each,
  • Best Small Painting $500,
  • People’s Choice Award $250,
  • Emerging Artist Awards – 3 Prizes of $750 each (Entry by invitation only)

Entries Close   Monday 2nd March 2020

ONLINE ENTRY FORM CAN BE FOUND HERE >>https://www.warrandytedonvalerotary.org.au/online-entry.html

A PRINTABLE ENTRY FORM CAN BE FOUND ATTACHED TO THIS EMAIL. Please fill in this entry form and post before Monday 2nd March 2020

Contacts:      Judy Hall (Chair)

artshow@warrandytedonvalerotary.org.au

Venue:                  Warrandyte Community Church                                                           

57 Yarra Street, Warrandyte,  Vic

Again this year’s Art Show will be held in the Warrandyte Community Church Complex in Yarra Street Warrandyte.

It runs in conjunction with the Warrandyte Festival which attracts thousands of people to our unique tourist centre from all parts of Victoria.

Please note no photographic or ceramic prizes.

Artworks personally delivered by the artist will be received on Friday 20th  March 2020 only between 8.30am and 12noon at the Community Church, Warrandyte,

Delivery by couriers is available from 2 to 4 pm on Thursday 19th March 2020.

Any unsold works may be collected on Sunday 22nd March 2020 between 5-00pm to 6-30pm.

Couriers may collect artwork Monday morning after 8 am 23rd March 2020.

One complimentary invitation to the opening night will be offered to each exhibiting artist to enable them to promote their art.

Please indicate on the application form if you will be in attendance for the Friday evening Art Show Opening. This will assist us in our catering arrangements. You will be aware that the majority of paintings sold are on opening night. Should you wish to invite extra guests to the opening, additional tickets are available at the door for $25 per person. Tickets are all inclusive & include entry, catalogue, entertainment, and supper. All proceeds go to support Rotary community activities. We look forward to receiving your application and assisting to showcase your art.

Marianne Mooney: 0429 879 970

Judy Hall: 0419 201 231

Art at St Francis’ Exhibition

Denise will be showing recent artworks in an exhibition titled MARKS IN TIME at Art at St. Francis from 3 – 36 March
Address: 326 Lonsdale Street Melbourne
An open invitation for all to visit and view the work is extended and for a Personal Viewing with Denise please contact her through the contact page on this site.
10% of Sales, after Commission to St. Francis, will be Donated to Bushfire Relief
Artist Statement:
The term “shanshui” meaning mountain and water is the traditional form of Chinese painting using a very thin paper.
Whilst traveling to China I was introduced to the ink wash paper, particularly Anhui Red Star paper and calligraphic practice papers. They are tissue thin, can tear easily when wet, yet strengthen when dry from absorbing ink.
I have incorporated these special papers in my artwork for many years, experimenting with different mediums and manipulations to create contemporary artworks. I have used many layers of the papers, using staining and cutting methods to produce the artworks in the Marks in Time exhibition.

Warrandyte Diary Review of Bushfire Relief Fundrasing Exhibition

On Page 27 of the February issue of the  Warrandyte Diary read Sandi Miller’s write up on Montsalvat Arts & Events current exhibition: Destruction, Beauty and Hope. Featuring works by both Denise Keele-bedford and Walter Magilton, money from art sold at the exhibition goes to the Victorian Bushfire Appeal.

Walter was interviewed on site at the exhibition: “Walter was a member of the North Warrandyte Fire Brigade and fought the Ash Wednesday Bushfires and his family have been caught up in the recent fires.”

Page 27 of the February 2020 Warrandyte Diary

 

 

ROCK, PAPER, SCISSORS

Denise was encouraged to submit an entry for the upcoming exhibition at Red Gallery.

It was lovely to receive the below email from the Gallery Director Elle Rusch Drakos.

Good Morning.

With over 300 submissions for our popular annual group show; Rock, Paper, Scissors we are delighted to have selected you as one of our 30 innovative artists with work that we feel express the overall theme and narrative of the exhibition.
Diarise the date:
Opening Event: 6th May 2020 6pm – 8pm
We invite all out artists to participate in our opening event, inviting your nearest and dearest for drinks and socialising amongst all the talented works and artists. It is a great atmosphere and a fantastic networking opportunity. Not to be missed. We will also be running a series of collage and paper workshops which we will announce closer to the date.
After much discussion with Elle I have decided to exhibit my artwork Beneath the Surface Revealed.
Keep watching for the exhibition promotion and updates. Denise

Is the Hosier Lane attack vandalism or street art?

Melbourne’s iconic street art venue, Hosier Lane, has been targeted with a spray-paint attack. Was it a retaliation for the lane’s commercialism or vandalism?

Gina Fairley

Tuesday 11 February, 2020

Over the weekend, Melbourne’s iconic street art venue, Hosier Lane, was targeted by a gang armed with spray-paint.

Purportedly, six people wearing balaclavas used spray guns to ‘paint over’ aerosol and stencil artworks.

A video of the event was posted to Instagram on Sunday (9 February), which went viral.

By Monday, Melbourne City Council was in clean up mode. Melbourne Lord Mayor Sally Capp has said the historic cobblestones in the laneway were damaged in the act.

Capp told media: ‘We see this as vandalism and intend to pursue the people who have perpetrated this crime.’ Capp added, ‘That balance between street art and graffiti is sometimes difficult to define.’

The attack drew a storm on social media.

Opinions were divided, many saying the action was not in the spirit of the laneway’s ethos, while others have drawn attention to the very transient nature of street art – it is often quick, irreverent, against authority and largely ephemeral.

Channel 7 reporter Nick McCallum described the event on Twitter as ‘A culture war between radical graffiti and more commercial street art.’

Chinese-Australian political artist Badiucao has had work in the lane in the past. He said of this week’s activities: ‘For me it is more like a stunt. If they having the same uniform; if they do it properly and with a public announcement right after, then it would be much easier to read into.’

‘It’s unfair work has been destroyed, but I think of it like a bushfire – new branches come after a severe bushfire – and the lane will completely shift and changed. We have to not just see as a disaster, but to see as bringing a renaissance to the lane,’ Badiucao told ArtsHub.

What seems to be missing in this conversation is a level of understanding of the history and role of street art.

Melbourne artist Rone told the ABC that the tone of respect shifted about ten years ago, when the entire laneway was painted blue as an art project.  ‘Nothing was sacred after that. Nothing was important,’ Rone told reporters, adding that the lane had already been trashed as a tourist trap.

In an earlier ArtsHub article Emily McCulloch Childs writes about the blueing of Rutledge and Hosier Lanes.

Childs wrote at the time: ‘The late 1990s to late 2000s were significant in Melbourne art: for it was really the time the street art movement was born. Graffiti had flourished in the 1980s (in Melbourne); while there are still some decent practitioners left, the golden age is over.’

Like Rone, it is a view that it is a cyclical practice and one that is forced to recalibrate itself regularly – this is yet another iteration.

The lane has become famed for its street art to the level that it is now a major tourism boon for the city. It is the norm to catch a fashion photo shoot, buskers, artists selling their wears, and of course selfie addicts … all of whom are using the art, rather than engaging with it.

ArtsHub spoke with Zoe Poulsen, Festival Director of the forthcoming Melbourne-based urban art festival, Can’t Do Tomorrow. She said: ‘Artists know that their work can be there one day, gone the next. I think the lane will continue to be a space for provocation. Interesting to see what comes up next.’

Poulsen continued: ‘The lane has always incorporated art of various genres, its temporary and transient – it’s the life of the lane. Motivation frames what it is.’

Opening just a week after the Hosier Lane action, Can’t Do Tomorrow will be held 20-29 February at The Facility, and is all about a new generation of talent coming through our urban art scene. ‘Ultimately, we’re keen to question the very nature of art itself,’ said the festival organisers.

About the author

Gina Fairley is ArtsHub’s National Visual Arts Editor. For a decade she worked as a freelance writer and curator across Southeast Asia and was previously the Regional Contributing Editor for Hong Kong based magazines Asian Art News and World Sculpture News. Prior to writing she worked as an arts manager in America and Australia for 14 years, including the regional gallery, biennale and commercial sectors. She is based in Mittagong, regional NSW.

Twitter: @ginafairley
Instagram: fairleygina

Photo Credit:

Tourists taking photos of the street art in the hidden laneways of Melbourne, 2019. Image shutterstock.com Photo Wade Machin.

 

Art Basel Cancels Hong Kong Fair

Amid Coronavirus Scare and Ongoing Protests, Art Basel Cancels Hong Kong Fair

An article by Alex Greenberger

Senior Editor, ARTnews

After a tumultuous period in Hong Kong marked by continuing protests and fears of a coronavirus outbreak, Art Basel has called off its fair in the city. The fair had been due to run from March 19 to 21. In a release about the fair’s cancelation, MCH Group, the holding company that owns Art Basel, said that the coronavirus and “severe logistical challenges” limiting travel were among the “numerous factors” that had influenced the decision. The ongoing protests were not mentioned in the release.
“Our thoughts are with those affected by the recent coronavirus outbreak all around the world,” Marc Spiegler, the global director of Art Basel, said in a statement. “We are acutely aware of the important role that the fair plays within the region’s cultural scene and for our galleries, both in Asia and around the globe. Our team dedicated extensive time and effort to ensure our show in March would be a success over the course of the past year. Unfortunately, the sudden outbreak and rapid spread of the novel coronavirus radically changed the situation.”

Adeline Ooi, Art Basel’s Asia director, promised that the fair would return in 2021. Next year’s edition is currently slated to run from March 25 to 27.
Shortly after Art Basel called off its Hong Kong fair, Art Central, another event of the sort in the city, followed suit. “The uncertainty has made it increasingly untenable to guarantee the safety and well-being of the public,” Art Central said in a statement. “Acting on its obligation to deliver a successful event which is ever dependent on a strong audience, the fair’s organizers today concede to the simultaneous myriad challenges.”
The Art Basel cancelation comes after the fair tried to console exhibitors worried about showing in Hong Kong while protests raged on. The fair had previously said in December that it would offer discounts on shipping and lodging because “we deeply value our relationship with our gallerists.” A representative for the fair said exhibitors would get a 75 percent refund on their booths.
The discounts offered originally by the fair in January proved to not be enough for some of the fair’s 240-plus exhibitors. Luxembourg & Dayan, SCAI the Bathhouse, and Tyler Rollins Fine Art dropped out of Art Basel Hong Kong in January, and days later, 24 enterprises with plans to exhibit there called on the fair to do more to alleviate its exhibitors’ concerns about a volatile market in the city. Dealer Richard Nagy followed with his own letter to Art Basel in which he said that the fair was “now commercially on artificial life support.”

Getting there was also proving increasingly difficult for exhibitors, due to travel restrictions put in place amid the spread of the coronavirus. Cathay Pacific and British Airways were among the airlines that had canceled flights over the course of the coming month, and U.S. officials urged people to avoid traveling to China for non-essential reasons.
An unlikely combination of factors has led art spaces to close for varying periods of time over the past month. In November, with protests taking place in Hong Kong’s streets, Hauser & Wirth postponed a planned opening of an Annie Leibovitz show; the exhibition still has yet to go on view in Hong Kong. And in January, public art institutions shuttered in the city as officials worked to contain the coronavirus, which has sickened more than 4,600 in China alone. At the time, Art Basel said it was “closely monitoring” the situation.
Last week, two Beijing institutions also postponed major events that were set to occur there. The CAFA Art Museum postponed the opening of its CAFAM Techne Triennial, which had been slated to open in October, and the X Museum, a new private museum founded by collector Michael Xufu Huang and businesswoman Theresa Tse, called off its inauguration. This week, the He Art Museum followed suit and delayed its opening, scheduled for March 21, for an as of yet unannounced date. Beijing Art Weekend postponed its 2020 edition to April, leaving open the potential for cancelation if conditions did not improve by mid-April.  And on Thursday, February 6, with the death toll exceeding 500 from the coronavirus in China,  the UCCA Center for Contemporary Art said three exhibitions slated to open in February and March would not open on their expected dates.
Some have cast doubt on whether the protests had impacted the art market in Hong Kong. Dealer David Zwirner, whose mega-gallery operates a space in Hong Kong, told ARTnews in December that the market in the city remains “alive and well.” He wound up canceling a Luc Tuymans show that had been slated to happen at his Hong Kong gallery this year.
This is not the first time Art Basel has canceled a fair. In 2001, following 9/11 and an anthrax scare, Art Basel postponed the inaugural edition of its Miami Beach art fair. The deposits paid by exhibitors that year were put toward the following edition.

Go to:  ARTnews.com

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Vincent Yu/AP/Shutterstock (10169553d)
People stand around an artwork created by South Korean artist Lee Bul at Art Basel in Hong Kong . Art Basel, one of the world’s most prestigious modern and contemporary art exhibitions, is returning to Hong Kong in its seventh edition. The prestige art fair is hosting 242 galleries from 35 countries and territories
China Art Basel, Hong Kong, Hong Kong – 27 Mar 2019

From SARS to nCoV-2019

 

My first journey to China was in September 2002. My friend Lesley invited me to go with a group to study Fengshui. At that time I was finishing my MFA at RMIT in Melbourne and said yes as the journey was to be in April 2003.
Mid 2002 Lesley contacted me to say that the journey had to be brought forward as we could not travel in April 2003. She did not know why, however, spirit had told her to take the group in September 2002. I was in a dilemma as it was a crucial time in my studies and had to ask for dispensation to take the trip.
The university was not too pleased, however, obliged.
I mention this journey in the Changing Directions blog.
As it turned out in March 2003, China basically closed its doors to foreigners due to the SARS epidemic. When I spoke to Lesley on this she said that she receives the spirit messages and very strongly needs to follow the directions, hence the outcome and reason for our changed plans was SARS.
The World Health Organisation declared the SARS outbreak contained in July 2003, at which time Brian Wallace from Redgate Gallery contacted me and asked if I would like to take a residency with him in August. After four months of lockdown China was accepting foreigners again.
When I arrived at the Shangrila studios in Feijiacun, early August, the road to the studios was barricaded by a boom gate with a guard. Apparently we were the first artists to enter the studios after the opening up after SARS. A knock on the door and Li Gang introduced himself, an artist living in the same compound who spoke good English as he had studied in Australia. Li Gang accompanied us on a walk into the local Feijiacun village. He explained that the villagers knew him well and as we were with him we would then be accepted into the area and they would not be nervous of us.
I spent just under a month at the residency, working in the studio, had my first exhibition, met many artists, saw the famous 798 Art District, a converted munitions factory built in 1953 by Germans and engaged on many levels with all sorts of people.
The Redgate Residency is a superb way for artists to experience China and the very vibrant Art Scene Beijing had to offer.
Here I am late January 2020, GOSH!!! Nearly seventeen years later and about to leave Beijing due to concerns regarding the Coronavirus.
A virus that had its inception in Wuhan Markets in late December and spread rapidly with nearly 2,000 confirmed cases and 50 people dead has caused, as of today twelve Hubei Province cities to be locked down affecting some 62.8 million people.
With the great Chinese New Year migration of people travelling to be with family, many will be caught in areas unable to return to work and school. Wuhan streets are virtually isolated with only service vehicles able to traverse the city, airport and public transport is at a standstill and stores are being emptied of food without replacement.
On 24th President Xi Jinping declares that it is a grave situation and two new hospitals are currently being built in Wuhan to cater for the casualties.
Any place where crowds would gather has been closed, meaning the Chinese New Year Temple Fairs, Imperial Palace, Shanghai Disneyland, a section of the Great Wall, Starbucks and McDonalds cannot be accessed.
Based in Beijing, and arriving on Wednesday 22nd, I am currently staying at a friend’s apartment in downtown Beijing where I have internet access and a grand view across the city from the 25th floor. My friend Anne Hastie and I in a way have isolated ourselves, keeping a store of the necessities like beer and pasta. As I look across the cityscape I can no longer see the old CCTV tower as ‘haze’ impinges us and the AQI reading of 170 recommends masks, staying indoors and no outdoor activities. We are waiting for wind, as is usual in Beijing, as it will take the ‘haze’ across to the East towards Shanghai, which here is not our concern.
I have followed the reports on the Novel Coronavirus and today decided that it is time for me to depart. As an asthmatic and a disposition towards Bronchial issues it is wise to leave. As I write Anne tells me that Beijing has stopped all Tourist Groups and Buses from coming into the city.
My ticket is booked and paid for to depart on Wednesday; I am sorry to leave a place that has been good to me for the past seventeen years. In this year of the ‘rat’ I quietly feel like the rat deserting a metaphorically sinking ship.

Written on Sunday 26th January 2020, as I watch the night lights brighten an otherwise grey sky.

Post Script:
On Monday (27) Fabio returned home to Beijing, called back from a holiday with his family in Italy and San Diego. He is the chief of WHO in Beijing and walked into the apartment to prepare himself for a meeting with Chinese Health directors and President Xi Jinping on Tuesday. All Taxi and Didi(Uber) transport has been closed within the inner-city of Beijing but Fabio managed to get one from the airport. I walked to Dongzhimen Station where men in white coveralls checked my temperature; the train was virtually empty on both Line 13 and 15. I then took the No. 32 bus and was the only customer. Upon arrival at my apartment in Xi Mapo my friend Jingjing contacted me to advise that the apartment tenants have been urged not to meet people, to stay inside and not to socialise. She tells me that if someone knocks do not answer the door as they are the Community Carers and want to ask questions.
I had planned to go to my storage on Tuesday (28) before departing, informed Hongmei and suggested for her comfort that I do not interact with her while at her house. On the bus going to the site I was informed that Hongmei’s village had been sealed off to people entering and leaving, that I cannot go inside the property. On the walk from the bus stop back to the apartment all restaurants and stores are closed except for the cigarette and alcohol shop. Jingjing reserved a 9am taxi for my trip to the airport, although the flight was at 13:30 I prefered to get there early to avoid any hiccups. Wisely Anne has decided to also abandon her time in China and leave on Monday. Unfortunately her commitment was for three months with a paid for studio, power, water, etc.
Wednesday Morning (29) I received a message to say that Carrie Lam is restricting transport between Hong Kong Island and the Mainland, citizens cannot travel across Hong Kong harbour.
I had arranged to meet friends in the four days of my stay in Hong Kong, however they all live on Hong Kong Island. I do not think it wise to stay in Kowloon for four nights; after a call to Cathay Pacific, in Sydney, I was able to change my flight to leave Hong Kong on 30th January. At the airport many people were wearing masks, I needed to complete a health information form and surprisingly no temperature checks. At Hong Kong Airport arriving passengers needed also to complete a health information form, also much mask wearing and pump containers of sterilising hand wash are everywhere. The hotel manager checked my temperature after we spent a lot of time going through a procedure with booking.com to waiver the three nights that I will not stay. Staff at the Panorama Hotel are most obliging and it is a very comfortable hotel. I sent emails and messages to family and friends advising my situation and that I am well. My dear sister Carol replied to say “Thank God, I was so worried about you.” Friends and family made contact to check on my travel progress with Karin in Hong Kong ringing on Thursday morning to check that all was going smoothly.
It is not always known to me the impact across many countries and people of the life style that I choose to live, it spreads widely. One does not simply move through this life as a single entity, a life has tendrils that reach far out into the ethers of others lives, that link us inextricably. It is now 3.5 hours until my arrival in Melbourne, I am zooming above the clouds, speeding through the blueness of space in a plane that has no spare seats and an aura of calmness seems to hover within.

The attached Images by Bruce Connolly based in China, look up his Facebook Page.

Changing Direction: From Melbourne to Beijing and Beyond

I was introduced to China through an old friend, who passed away about 10 years ago.
Whilst living with June and Hugh Antonoff, in their very quaint cottage, June opened her heart and photo albums about her love of China. She had traveled to Middle Kingdom many times and often was accompanied by her daughter Lesley.
Lesley who also became a long term friend had arranged to tour a small group of Fengshui Students into China and I was as invited to attend. That was in the Chinese Autumn of 2002.
I was smitten. I have since traveled to the country every year, sometimes two or three times per year and now write this Blog whilst sitting in my friend Jia Jingjing’s apartment on the outskirts of Beijing in the developing area of Shunyi.
After two residency stays; in 2003 with Redgate Artist-in-residence (AIR) and in 2004 supported by the Australia China Council AIR Program, I rented a studio in the newly built Beijing International Art Camp (BIAC) of Suo Jia Cun in 2005. the studio became ‘Yellow Flower Studio’ named after my favourite part of the great Wall.
The excitement of being in China and especially in Beijing at that time was mind-blowing, artists from across the globe were pouring into the city for their ‘China Experience’. Chinese artists were pouring into Beijing from the many provinces endeavouring to ‘make a success’ with their artworks.
An immense amount of interactions, engagements, collaborations, creations, invitations and exhibitions were about to unfold for me.
The BIAC studio compound in Suo Jia Cun consisted of about 80 studios, where international and Chinese artists lived and worked, sometimes exhibited and performed in the thoroughfares and studios.
I moved in mid 2005 until suddenly just before Christmas 2009 was informed that the compound was to be destroyed to make way for the new Subway Line 15.
January 2010 found me in a heavy snowfall in Beijing packing up my goods and chattels in a freezing studio while searching for another place to go. I am ever grateful to Photographer Gao Yuan opening her home for me to stay for the two week duration.
My dear friend Zheng Xuewu, now living in New York, was at the time restructuring his AIR Program in the Art Village of Songzhuang. He offered me a studio at the 60 Art Area compound.
I had first been introduced to the Art Village in 2003 through the Chinese Cultural Centre a Tourism Company offering a wide range of experiences for internationals. It was a bus tour to visit artists in a district that seemed to take forever to arrive.
Beijing currently has 6 Ring Roads, 1st is the perimeter of the Imperial Palace and the 6th skirts the outside edge of the Beijing International Airport. BIAC was located North East of the outer edge of the 5th Ring Road. 60 Art Area is located South East of the outer edge of the 6th Ring Road. By public transport a distance 3 hours OR 25 Kms as the crow flies.
Warrandyte is approximately 25 kms from Melbourne CBD and I can take a 50 minute bus ride into the city. Songzhuang is approximately 25kms from Beijing CBD and I could take a 1 hour bus ride into the city. I rationalised my shift in this way as many people found Songzhuang to be ‘too far away’.
The ebb and flow of life in a Beijing studio continued and being located in a smaller compound of about 20 studios allowed for a greater focus on production and being more selective regarding city and gallery visits.
In September 2018 I was advised that the studio roof needed replacing due to a few incidents around Beijing of poorly constructed roofs. Fortunately I could bypass Beijing on my return from Gwangju in Korea to cover and shift artworks and furniture to minimise exposure to the elements.
The roof had not been replaced when I returned for my Winter residence in January 2019 and the other artists were unsure when it would occur. Being due to leave on 17th March I was informed on 10th March that my contract would not be renewed and was asked to leave. Now that was a surprise. My good friends Lu Si and Jia Jingjing negotiated with the owner for me to have at least 3 months to move out. Seems the owner had decided to reconstruct the interior of the building while the new roof was being installed. He had plans to create small apartments for rental and “it is all about the money” he said. As I had been one of his best tenants I was given 3 months grace.
Many friends asked, “where to now”. My reply, “nowhere”. I made the decision to close down the studio, give away as much as possible with regard to furniture, fittings and equipment, find storage for the artwork, then decide on the next step.
For two weekends in May and June 2019 a team of friends assisted me to clear all but the internal shell of the studio. Ten years in a studio amounts to a lot of ‘stuff’. I was AIR in Wuhan in South of China and was given leave to pack up the studio but had to return on Mondays. We all agreed it was absolutely exhausting.
Lu Si stayed on in the aftermath to coordinate the finalization of the clearance.
Yesterday I returned to the scene. Lu Si has set up an AIR Studio across the street from 60 Art Area and it was such a pleasure to see many of my ‘things’ having a new life, even the timber flooring from my mezzanine. My old studio is now four apartments, each apartment will cost the tenant the same amount that it cost me per year. So the owner now gets four times the money, when he gets the tenants, of course.
For this China trip Jingjing offered for me to stay in her new apartment in Shunyi area, I am sitting here on my old lounge suite, looking at my old bookcase, eating at my old table and using my old fridge with contentment.
My artworks are secure, dust free, damp free and waiting patiently for shipment to Melbourne.
I look forward to my Survey exhibition of Chinese works in 2021 and look forward to returning to China with a changed direction.

Written as the warm sunshine melts snow.
21st January 2020