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Monthly Archives: March 2020

CLASSES POSTPONED

After much consideration and discussion I have come to the conclusion that it would be wise to cease art classes forthwith. To say the least this is a great disappointment but we all are living in unusual times.

Term 2 was due to commence on April 20/21 but this may not happen. We will keep you informed.

Those of you who had paid for a full term will have your money held over and adjusted when we recommence.

A few of you may wish to call in for advice or to pick up work, you are most welcome but please ring beforehand.

Please keep painting!

Until we meet again,

Walter.

BUNDANON TRUST Artist in Residence

During this time of self-isolation OR home quarantine, when cleaning out cupboards and stored paraphernalia, I am coming across all manner of documents, articles, images and books from my history.

The following article was published in The Bridge in September 2004 and the Victorian Artists Society Bi-monthly Newsletter in two parts, Oct/Nov 04 and Dec 04/Jan05.

BUNDANON: artist in residence

In 1993 the properties known as Riversdale, Bundanon and Eerie Park were officially given to the people of Australia.   These properties cover 1000 hectares located on the Shoalhaven river inland from Nowra and the New South Wales South Coast.   Arthur and Yvonne Boyd lived at Riversdale then Bundanon, which includes Bundanon homestead, built in the 1860s and listed on the Register of the National Estate.

The Bundanon properties include vast natural and cultivated areas fronting the Shoalhaven River and climbing the heights of the Shoalhaven escarpment.  The Artist in Residence (AIR) program forms a significant aspect to the education, exhibitions and other access programs organised within the Bundanon trust.

I am immensely honoured to have had the privilege of participating in this program during June 2004. My application was submitted in July 2003, with notification of my selection in December for the month of June. The written proposal was kept broad to allow for experimentation and changes within my artwork.

“My perceived intention with this residency is to respond to the environment. I am particularly concerned with experiencing the various natural environments at Bundanon. This is a unique property with opportunities for me to create artwork relating to aspects of the natural environment whilst being influenced by the geography, weather elements and history of the site.”

I would be away from home for five weeks taking three days with breaks to get to Nowra and four days traveling via Bairnsdale and a friend back to Melbourne.

The little Golf was heavily loaded with all sorts of paper, mediums, tools, clothes and other essentials. I had plans for traveling around the area to visit sites in the district and hopefully enough money to keep me going. Fortunately, I shopped at Nowra before the half hour drive into9 Bundanon along a dirt road not quite sure where I was going, arriving at the property at 2:30pm on Friday afternoon.

I was welcomed at the property, shown my apartment/studio and proceeded to ease the weight from the little car.

Four o’clock saw me with a cup of coffee sitting on the balcony watching the late afternoon sun dropping behind the escarpment and the kangaroos bounding across paddocks for dinner. The arrival of full moon called for my first photographs and drawing. I was very excited the following morning to return to the complex to inform the other residing artists that I had seen a Wombat.

“Congratulations” were passed on. My evening walk to the River had me feeling quite embarrassed over my excitement as I counted seventeen of the grazing, round, brown, furry creatures.

The Bundanon property is open to the general public on Sunday. Visitors came to the historic house and grounds, to walk to the Shoalhaven and picnic under the decorative trees.

I found the first days at Bundanon quite awe-inspiring. Yes, I am an artist in my own right, yes, I can produce whatever artwork I wish, yes, I have the skills, discipline and ability to fulfil my expectations, yet I was humbled in the presence of the spirit of Arthur Boyd. Wherever I walked I saw Arthur Boyd’s paintings, I had an overwhelming sense of the property saturated, with the essence of Arthur. I overlooked his studio from money, famous Pulpit Rock silhouetted against the sky, the cattle, flame trees, river bends, escarpment bush – Arthur had painted it all.

For me this was a time of looking, feeling, wondering, reassessing, much thinking, writing and listening. I realised my privileged position and questioned “Why me?” Why had I been selected? Why did I have this opportunity? What is it that I do that allowed me to be here? What would I do? How could I contribute to the significance of the place? What did I want to say? How would I say it?

Having spent several days allowing, the property to soak into me, process the questions and some personal observations it was time to get on with the job.

The artwork began to develop as two main series. I had wanted to make some drawings for some time, and this was an opportunity to do so. The task was to make six large 700 x 1000mm drawings based on found organic objects relating to a vessel form.

The second project I decided upon was to make cast paper vessels using two large river rocks found on the property. They developed into containers for collections based on the variety of environments and natural elements at Bundanon.

One of my commitments to the residency was to interact with school groups who came to the property. After being at Bundanon for four days and nothing yet but a small paper vessel and a cow’s pelvic bone hanging on my wall I wondered what the students could gain from this interaction.

Fortunately, I had been advised to take hard copy images in support of my residency. This went up on the walls and along with a computer slide show of previous artwork I was able to take the students through a timeline of my recent work and to discuss my thoughts and ideas on the work to be produced during my stay.

During my four-week residency four groups came to my studio.

A very exciting aspect of the residency was having the opportunity to spend time with the Bundanon collection. I was shown various paintings of early Boyd works and many prints that Arthur Boyd undertook.

In the collection is a box of drawings or sketches really. The sketches are catalogued in decades of Arthur’s life, the earliest being a grade four pastel work.

From the sketches I was able to gain an insight into the thoughts and ideas that were the basis for some of his series of prints and paintings. One piece is an A3 scrap of paper covered with oil paint fingerprints and an exquisite sketch in felt tip pen.

I think he was probably painting at the time. An idea came into his head and he had to get the image down before it disappeared. To be able to look at these working sketches very much assists in seeing a complete overview of an artist’s process of making art.

Although Bundanon is only 21kms via road to Nowra the property maintains a sense of isolation. It is the last property along the road, has no passing traffic, no streetlights and visitors come on Sundays.

As a group of artists, we found ourselves quite reluctant to leave the property and I ventured out only when necessary to purchase supplies.

On occasions we had communal meals and some evenings spent with great conversation discussing art, music, books, films and each other’s lives. These were very convivial hours together after fairly long days on our own.

For me every day included walking, sometimes two or three times per day, making immense use of the digital camera to be able to use the images instantly they went onto the little laptop that I took with me. I would collect items for the installation work and collate these in the studio along with making drawings. My reading time was first thing in the morning or evening and perhaps over morning tea and lunch.

I have come away from Bundanon with two satisfactory series of work and many ideas to follow on with.

An artist’s residency at Bundanon for me has been an incredible experience in many ways. As artists we seem to constantly question our worth, our abilities, our skills and the messages we convey. My residency at Bundanon gave me thinking and working time that is a luxury not always available. I feel that the experience has been of benefit to both me and the students who came there. For me the opportunity to spend time and make artwork in the environment of Bundanon was an opportunity I recommend to artists of all disciplines.

 

Living in Unusual Times

We are currently living in a world where self preservation has taken on an urgency not seen in my lifetime.

The toilet roll saga has lead to empty shelves of anything related to soft papers for delicate body areas.

It has expanded to a hunter gatherer mode where shelves that once held pasta, rice, flour, sugar and other deemed staples are emptying at express rates.

Over one hundred countries checking their options to lock down in self preservation against a microscopic bug.

All major venues closing until further notice and/or one month at the minimum.

World renowned museums and galleries are in shut down and most importantly YOU NEED TO KNOW:

Art at St. Francis is closed until further notice. The current significant exhibition namely: Marks in Time – my exhibition on a world scale cannot be viewed. it is with SINCERE APOLOGIES that I advise all that the best way to see my work is via the attached images.

 

Receiving and Giving Blessings through Art Making

I am a member of the Warrandyte Uniting Church and was asked to respond, in a presentation to the congregation, on the theme:

Stepping out into the unknown and the Blessings this can lead to.

Sharing and passing on of peoples’ gifts and how this benefits others.

Below are the notes I wrote to support the presentation.

I spent more than 17 years engaging with China. It became familiar to me almost like a second home, however, there was a time when China was unfamiliar; only known through books and information passed on by a dear friend.

Stepping into the Contemporary Art World of China was exciting to meet and discover other artists; however, it was scary as to how I would ‘fit in’. What did I have to offer as I was fresh out of my Art Studies and came from down under, middle aged with very little communication skills? So many other international artists came from UK, Scandinavia, Europe and USA. I had no grand resume’, publications or catalogues.

So, I got to work making art in response to my experiences.

My first artworks consisted of rice. Rice is a staple food for Chinese, they eat it, they do not make art from it. Very soon I was invited to participate in exhibitions that continue even now. I found that people were interested in what I did, where I came from, how I expressed myself and the way that I wanted to learn from others. I was not only accepted into the world of artists in China but regarded as an equal. I learnt an immense amount about Chinese culture and those around me were willing to teach me. China is challenging, even in everyday activities yet for me during the 17 years of amazing experiences every experience has been a blessing.

Because I have been very fortunate in my engagement with China, I achieve a great deal of satisfaction in sharing my knowledge and skills at all levels.

Working with children is always joyful, watching them discover new ways of creating through different materials and ideas, talking with their parents to assist them to understand how and why children are exposed to a range of educational methods.

I was listening to a programme based on teaching men to cook and the thrill that the men had in knowing that they had the ability to create and coordinate a tasty meal was so exciting for them.

I am excited to know that by passing on my creative knowledge encourages others to have a go. I am excited to know that my knowledge and skills can be of benefit in collaboration and team projects for the broader community.

And then I am excited to know that my skills in creating has assisted others in need. The current Fundraising exhibition at Montsalvat for Fire Relief means that the selling of my artwork will give benefit in a practical form. As of 4 March, $17,640 had been raised from the generosity of artists’ giving.

During the past 17 years I often stepped out into the unknown to discover wonder, to be blessed with opportunities, meeting and making friends, discovering new ways and developing deeper understanding.  I look forward to the future with hope that I continue to have the courage and confidence to step out into the unknown.

I have been blessed with seeing little lights flick on when a child or adult realizes that they can do something or understand something that I have taught or explained. I am pleased that I can offer my knowledge and skills to benefit others, to collaborate and be part of a team, especially in our church where our outreach stretches far beyond the boarders of this plot of land.