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Tag : denisekeelebedford

Arts Manningham FAIR (Fellowship & Artist In residence)

In 2020 I applied for a Creative Industries Small Fellowship with Manningham Council.

I was successful in Phase 1 and currently awaiting the outcome for Phase 2. A future blog will be written when I know the outcome. In the meantime, this link introduces the project: https://www.manningham.vic.gov.au/row-row-row-your-boat

Pleasantly surprising was a call to ask if I was interested in being part of an artist-in-residence program. Manningham Arts, as most organisations, had to rethink programs, utilizing spaces and public engagement due to the pandemic, public restrictions and various lockdowns.

The three Fellowship recipients were invited to prepare public workshops and take up residence at the Manningham Arts Studios.

In 2021 I was the first artist -in-residence, 22 February to 21 March. Day one was orientation discussion with Staci Mariolis, acquiring a pass to the studio, basics of studio access, parking and facilities. I spent time photographing the building architecture, interior designs, shapes and colours. My access time was 2-7pm Monday to Friday, although it soon changed to 6:30 due to regular classes starting up for Term 1. The last week overlapped with Michel Tuomy, when we both used the studio. I was finishing off, packing up and he was just contemplating what the residency would offer him.

I have undertaken many residencies over many years and not one has been similar. Every residency is unique in its own way, we weigh up the pros and cons, find a happy medium and work with what we have. At least it is the principle I work by each time. I have said before that as much as possible I do not have a predetermined plan for a residency. I may have some basic ideas of what the residency might offer and allow the situation to guide the work production.

The images and descriptions show the fantastic architecture of the Manningham Arts building, the studio and several of my artworks in progress.

Manningham arts are currently calling for applications that close on 30 May 2021. Below is an introduction and links for information on applying.

About the Arts Manningham FAIR

In 2020 we launched a new program of small fellowships to support local artists research and develop ideas for new arts programs, installations and performances.

The program provides recipients up to $6,000, over two phases, to develop and implement projects that provide engaging arts experiences for the Manningham community and encourage visitors to the region. Recipients also receive a short residency at Manningham Art Studios during their fellowship. This allows them to facilitate artistic collaboration and run supporting public programs, such as workshops and artist studio talks.

To apply please read the Arts Manningham FAIR (74.5 KB) information sheet in full before submitting the Arts Manningham FAIR application form

For enquiries, please contact Manningham Art Gallery on 9840 9367 or email gallery@manningham.vic.gov.au.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks for Resilience

 

Two months on and a fresh perspective on my world.

Well actually it is three months on. Wow that went fast.

With ups and downs, cans and cant’s, sudden restrictions on again and off again our lives have been in a state of questions.

Do we make plans, buy tickets to a show, arrange dinner with friends, book the restaurant etc. for if we do will it be postponed, cancelled or become a non-event?

Here I am three months since the last blog, festive season come and gone, Walter in treatment for six weeks, come and gone and moved into 2021.

We are living within a freedom of movement that can be restricted at any time.

As always flexibility is the key. Yes, we make the plans, buy the flight tickets to South Australia, organise a night with friends and book a restaurant to celebrate the end of Walter’s radiotherapy treatment.

Somethings we can do, somethings we cannot do. With a sudden five-day lockdown recently, we cancelled five different activities, movie ticket purchase reimbursed, just sneaked in the new studio shelving, new worktable delivery postponed, Church service back to Zoom, Gallery visits cancelled and postponed meet up with friends.

I was due to start an artist-in-residence with Manningham Arts on February 22. Would it happen, would it not happen?  Fortunately, restrictions lifted and life continued.

In the past three months I have managed to attend some exhibition openings, covid safe environments are a bit spasmodic and I do set my own criteria.

I have managed to start an exercise class, just skimming either side of a five-day lockdown.

I have entered Art Shows and actually taken artwork to the framers.

I have rearranged my studio, had new shelving installed and had a new worktable delivered.

I do not know what is normal anymore and continue my mantra of flexibility. Activities and events that pre 2020 were part of everyday life take on a different significance.

Strange experience today to walk around the supermarket and choose products, so different to online ordering and having groceries delivered to my car boot.

I went to Bunnings, physically walked into the store and asked where I could find certain products. I enjoyed the time sifting through the storage bin shelves. Just a little exciting.

As we hover at the edge of March and look at a twelve-month anniversary of the first restrictions and cancellation of my exhibition at Art at St Francis, we can thank our own resilience and personal strength that has carried us thus far.

 

 

ARTS MANNINGHAM FEBRUARY 2021

Exciting to be featured in the latest Arts Manningham eNews.

Art e-facts

We asked our Arts Manningham Fellowship recipient Denise Keele-Bedford to let us in on some of her “art e-facts”…

What is your most memorable art experience?

With just on 30 years of art practice and many exciting art experiences along the way, like my first solo show and international artist-in residencies, the one significant and influential experience was my time at Arthur Boyd’s, Bundanon.

The residency was the first time that I had a studio to myself, where I only had to consider one entity, myself.

It was an opportunity that taught me how to operate in future residency situations.

Sixteen years later I still follow the principles of discipline and process that I learnt at Bundanon.

Where do you see yourself in five years’ time? 

The future, we know is an unknown.

However, to follow an arts practice pathway, five years is not too far ahead.

Within the next five years I intend to finalise shipment of my artwork from China to Melbourne, complete and exhibit current unfinished artworks. By 2025 I will have had at least two solo exhibitions and undertaken at least two Artist-in Residence programs.

I am interested in mentorship and believe by 2025 I will have enough experience to mentor younger emerging artists.

I will also continue with public and community projects, where relevant and continue my studio art practice.

Why do the arts matter?

Arts matter, because life matters.

Since time immemorial humans have wanted to express themselves and record the ebb and flow of life in a visual form.

Art is a language for communication. Like learning a foreign language art gives an opportunity to study and engage with ‘the other’.

Due to diversity in the arts, there is always an art form that one can connect with at all levels of interest.

Between February 22 – March 23, I will be Artist-in-Residence at Manningham Arts.

 

Traveling North Part Two

My immediate environment of my studio and the Dapu Art Centre design influenced A personal Perspective, Lines and Light and He Cha artworks.

In Part Two we go outside, further afield to Daqing city and beyond.

Daqing city was established through the finding of oil. The city is literally built on top of an oil field. It is China’s largest oilfield, discovered in 1959 and today is home to a museum in celebration of Wang Jinxi, deemed to be the responsible person drilling in the area.

The city built up around the oil drills and named Daqing, translated as Big Celebration has become one of the wealthiest cities in China.

As it is a young city with basically no history it has become a famous industrial centre with oil and petrochemical as the primary industry.

In 2011 I was fascinated to see hundreds of portable oil rigs in an amazing array of locations across the city.

Located in parks, schools, apartment blocks, on the roadside and in the road median strips they reminded me of a child’s toy, The Drinking Bird, that has a weighted tail that causes the bird to rock back and forth as though it is drinking. The Daqing Oil Rigs continuously rocked back and forth pulling up the ‘golden liquid’ from beneath the surface.

A report on the 70th anniversary of the Daqing Oilfield on September 26th, 2019 states that it: “had an annual crude production of over 50 million tonnes for 27 consecutive years and over 40 million tonnes for 12 straight years. Its annual crude oil and gas output still remains over 40 million tonnes of oil equivalent, with proven oil reserves at 6.48 billion tonnes. Its annual natural gas output has exceeded 4 billion cubic meters.” (Xinhua/Xie Jianfei) Source: Xinhua 2019-09-30.

North of the city towards Qiqihar are the Zhalong wetlands. The Zhalong nature Reserve covers an area of 2,100square kilometres and is home to the Red-crowned crane that breeds in Siberia and migrates South in Winter.

In Daqing I saw many of the other type of crane, ubiquitous to construction. In an effort to ‘catch up’ to the rest of China construction was at a peak. The Dapu Art centre was still under construction when the group of International artists arrived.

Our residency co-ordinator Zheng Xuewu drove three of us from Beijing, with an overnight stop in Harbin. The residency program varied for each artist. Mine was for two months split by negotiation for July and September. Walter was having a retrospective exhibition in August that I attended.

It was a great gathering of artists several who I had met before. Jin Nanwu from Korea, Emily Orzech (USA), Peter Kocak (SLOVAKIA), Rieneke de Vries (Netherlands), Hayoon-Jay Lee (USA) and myself.

With long daylight hours we had no concern to be back from outings before dark at about 11pm and sunrise at 3am, sleep could be difficult at times.

Several Chinese artists had day studios in the centre, a few teaching rooms for students building up folios for the exams and an IT centre that was good for me.

I created an installation in response to the Wetlands that was suspended in the lightwell over three levels of the five storied building. Three University students assisted me at times as they were on Summer break and could use the extra money.

At the wetlands I took heaps of photos, designed a stylized flying bird that was laser cut in acrylic. The IT guys helped by making a file of selected wetland images into the shape of the acrylic bird. The installation consisted of photographic images on acrylic and coloured cut-outs.

Jin Nanwu instigated an interactive artwork using a stack of bricks in the grounds of the building. Artists were invited to participate in building a tower to heaven. Unfortunately, I did not see this finished as I returned to Australia at the end of July for Walter’s exhibition. In September the bricks had all been used for paving.

Also, unfortunately for me when I returned in September, A crew of workmen started concrete rendering the building outside of my studio window. Although I had not had an attack for many years and actually thought I was no longer an asthmatic, the concrete dust caused a recreation and after 2.5 weeks in residence I had to be flown back to Beijing for medical treatment.

All in all, I was extremely pleased with the work that I produced in Daqing. Part One shows the crate works and apart from Flight I produced a series of works on paper based on the stylized bird. In September I produced one piece in a Chinese concertina watercolour book.

It is based on the Red-crowned Crane, wetlands and Chinese traditional costume.

I thank Zheng Xuewu for the invitation to create artworks and interactions with Chinese artists in the far North of China.

 

 

World Environment Day

Today is World Environment Day, Friday 5th June. During our isolation time much of our Earth has been celebrating, undertaking some healing showing us the outcomes. Clear waters in the Canals of Venice, Views to the Himalayas that had been hidden in smog, a decline in Greenhouse gases and wild animals roaming city streets are just some of the positive results of us staying indoors.

As the sun shines outside, though, it is difficult to not want to be out there engaging with nature.

I reminisce about making artwork in the great outdoors and celebrate today with posting an artwork from Flinders Island. One day I walked to a rise and stood overlooking a vast stretch of white sand. The stunning view was like and immense canvas just waiting for interaction.

Spiral from the Sea is the result of spending time on that vast canvas of sand, walking barefoot and feeling the coolness under my feet.

 

A Walk to Contemplate

I wonder what strategies our community and the broader global community are embracing, to assist in managing their well-being these days.

We all know that the time we are living in is temporary, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. However, we are not accustomed to Government Restrictions in Australia, even though we know they are the best strategy for us.

Much of the reading and information flowing my way is that people seem to have settled into a rhythm; after a period of shock, anger, rebellion, confusion and acceptance.

For me, I am certainly aware that today is my two month celebration of going into isolation on 22nd March. I have traveled through a range of emotions, including a fear of going out that brought back strong memories of when I had agoraphobia.

Fortunately, I have had great support from family and friends, through social media, Zoom get-togethers and Facetime calls. Loving technology today.

With restrictions lifting and being able to have some short periods of time with family we can see the glimmer of light shining through darkness.

I am contemplating on how this has been for our mental health. With external activities such as reading, watching plenty of YouTube, SBS on Demand and the fabulous programs from arts companies I have managed the surface layers of my need to interact.

I am half-way through an online study course that has encouraged learning self-awareness, as a base to Leadership Development. Within this I started revisiting past writing and study that has assisted me with reflection, introspection and contemplation.

The quiet thinking of contemplation can be stimulated by meditative, repetitive actions.

Walking a Labyrinth assists to relieve stress, helps calm the mind and settle anxiety.

The practice of slowing walking a Labyrinth into the center, then returning to the outside, concentrating on each step and following the guided pathway; allows the mind to slow down, to slowly contemplate each movement of both physical and mental activity.

A labyrinth walk is a journey in a secure, guided environment; it is a personal journey with individual experiences.

Labyrinths are one of the ancient symbols of humankind, found on rock carvings, petroglyphs and ancient inscriptions. Still relevant today, take some time to walk a Labyrinth, the slow journey of the unicursal single pathway continues to function for the act of contemplation.

The attached are images of the construction and central painting of the Labyrinth at the Warrandyte Uniting Church.

The Labyrinth was Blessed and opened to the Community to use at their pleasure in April 2015.

The Labyrinth is continually accessible, and waiting for all to take a walk

Thank you Ken Keam for photography of Denise in action.

Other Photos by Denise

An Introduction to the Warrandyte Uniting Church Labyrinth.

Labyrinths are pathways to walk. Labyrinths are not like mazes or puzzles in that they have a clear path with movement inwards and outwards from the centre. To walk the labyrinth is to engage in a meditative, healthy practice that can link you to what is valuable and sacred in community with others. For, even if you walk the labyrinth alone, you are engaging with others who have walked it before and engaged in a communal practice.

This labyrinth built by local volunteers is set in a community interactive space. The centre of the labyrinth is painted and designed by artist Denise Keele-Bedford to portray an image of peace; re-imagining the central image from the nearby mosaic peace wall and using indigenous colours.

There are many ways to walk a labyrinth. Some choose to take their concerns with them while they walk, whilst others choose to leave them behind. Some wear shoes, some walk barefoot. A suggestion as you walk this Peace labyrinth is to pause as you begin, and choose an option which could be:

  • a question on your mind and heart
  • a hope for your community, the world
  • contemplate the beauty of this place
  • a desire for peace and wellbeing

Then, slow down enter, and walk into the centre of the labyrinth and out again, open to what might come, as you perhaps find some meaning and peace.

Walk in the Park

As I enter the eighth week of required isolation and have again taken a glorious walk in my Warrandyte Bush, I am reminded of a Walking Challenge that I undertook last December when life was hectic and squeezing in even ten minutes of walking time was a challenge.

Last December I decided to commit to a Five day Walking Challenge under the following criteria:

For five days, we challenge you to walk for at least ten minutes a day and to document the process of walking aimlessly – with no purpose in mind – for five days in total. This ‘walking’ challenge is not about exercising, or losing weight, but is about walking for the sake of walking – for thinking things through, for boosting creativity, for fresh air, and to observe the world around you. Walking has been a popular pastime for philosophers, writers, painters, and poets for centuries – and has been used for idea generation and stress relief.

In this challenge we ask you to keep a diary of your ‘walking’ habit for five days, including such aspects as the difficulty of finding time in a short day, the different paths you take, and how walking alters your week.

Below is the Diary that I kept at the time and so interesting to read it now that I have mentally many more hours in my day. A quick walk during isolation is a twenty minute loop, basically around the block, a standard walk is thirty-five to forty minutes and a Saturday or Sunday walk up to one and a half hours. The attached images are a mixture taken from various walks during the past seven weeks.

Wednesday 11th December 2019 18:12 – 18:27

A well- worn pathway for the first time.

In the early evening light of this early Summer season I walked the pathway carved through the bush land more than 40 years ago, when my husband built our house. I have followed the meandering pathway multiple times; however, this is the first day participating in the ‘Walking’ Challenge which offers an opportunity to consider my process of activity.

The breeze is gentle, and the sun is warm, I hear the songbirds then find a Yellow crested cockatoo feather; the ear-piercing screech of this bird call long dispersed since early morning.

My thoughts turn to the history of this area when in the mid 1800’s ordinary men came to search the hills and creeks for gold. My pathway wanders past the undulating man made hollows and mounds where once the sound of digging, scrapping, grunting and occasional cheering echoed along the Yarra River.

I walk the rise and fall of the landscape to catch a glimpse of my studio in the distance. This is my sacred place, where I go for solace, for inspiration, for creativity, for me.

I remind myself to take care of me in a current environment that is focused predominately on a husband recovery from surgery, unable to drive to the many appointments required for his well-being. I remind myself to indulge in the walk, to take note of small findings along the way; an old wombat burrow, cobwebs softly glided across the pathway, the little enclosed area for native orchids, the sound of trickling water as it drops down through the rocky raceway created in past days of gold.

As I end the walk, exit bushy scrub onto my roadway my neighbour, talking with her visitor, nods my way and I am again back in a world of people and expectations.

Thursday 12th December 20:47 – 21:06

A Common Road Journey

It is almost dark as I hurry to don my sneakers and a jacket to get out of the door for this walk. I struggle with the guilt thinking that I should stay and listen to my husband’s stories.

However, I explain that I want to take a walk and he wishes me a good time. There can be a dilemma at times as I do not know if I am required to listen, for these days there is an urgency with most of what he wants to tell me. I am accused of not listening and perhaps at times I do not for often I am told that this very message is very important. It is, in his mind but in reality, it is a simple resolvable issue.

So, I go out the door along the driveway onto the common unmade road, the Kookaburras laugh in the late evening light and I relax. I think about misinterpretations; messages passed between myself and others where I am sure I misinterpret some messages and yet another will misinterpret mine. Text messages, for instance, are so often thought to mean one thing for the message sender and the receiver reads it in a different way.

My dear friend who uses English as a second language explains to me that perhaps her words are not always the best. We forgive and correct each other and continue the friendship knowing that often the written word has a range of interpretations.

I am pleased that I can walk the slope of my common road on this walk, no need to stop and take my breath. As I reach the summit, I decide to extend the walk down the other side to then walk up the slope again. This is good for the heart rate.

Friday 13th December 09:35 – 10:30

Scheduled Weekly Walk

Each week a group of women take the bridge to bridge walk along the winding pathway beside the Yarra River in Warrandyte, on the South side.

I have been walking with this group for many years and look forward to our weekly gathering to take the return loop from main road bridge to Anderson Creek bridge to the reserve and do not forget to circle one of the large rocks placed to prevent cars driving into the reserve.

As we walk, we talk; sometimes it may be two of us or, like today, eight of us. The number vary depending on who is out of town, who is unwell or who has another commitment.

Over the years new women have joined us and some have left us, perhaps moved to another town or sadly passed away.

We are a vibrant group and walk in all seasons, some pace it out, some meander, some rest along the way and wait for the group to walk the return.

The talk is varied on a wide range of subjects, after health and family inquiries, we can branch into travel, books, films, politics, religion, all things local and all things international.

When the walk is completed, Food for all Seasons cafe is our watering hole for good coffee, the occasional edible treat and more chatter with the non-walkers who have arrived.

Next Friday is the last walk for the year, we will not join for coffee at the cafe but meet at the house of one of the group members.  We take a plate of food to share, invite our male companions and celebrate two birthdays that fall on Christmas Day.

Saturday 14th December 16:47 – 17:15

Along the clifftop to the CFA

The table is set, the drinks are cold, vegetables in the oven and guests will arrive at 18:30.

The Festive Season is one of Joy, friends, family, baking, preparing gifts and so on. However, pressure also exists to fit in all of the activities I feel obliged to attend, to entertain family who will leave for Christmas Interstate and to continue the household as is normally undertaken. While I have some spare time to uphold my commitment to the ‘walking’ Challenge I go. Out the back door and up the ascent behind the houses walking the pathway that is crown land high above the river. The surface grass is drying and on hot days the snakes come out to bake in the warmth of the sun, the kangaroos laze in the cool shade of the eucalyptus trees, at this time in the early evening the heat has gone from the day and a subtle breeze drifts up from below. I think of the gifts that will be exchanged this evening and to be grateful for what will be received. The grandchildren will be given small tokens from our recent international journey and vouchers to assist those in need in 3rd world environments. I am not concerned if they are pleased or disappointed for, they are well in abundance of ‘things’ and their birthday is two days after Christmas so they will receive more. I hope that they learn that giving has much more to offer than receiving.

I pass our local Country Fire Authority (CFA) station and think of those who have lost all in the current fires, those who are currently homeless and those who have lost friends and loved ones in the devastation.  I think of the firefighters, their dedication and commitment to the service and how much they give of themselves to serve others.

Sunday 15th December 17:20 – 17:40

A loop in the bush

I realize that my walks for this challenge have occurred in the evening except for the regular walk with my group. Is it the time of year I ask myself, as I generally prefer to walk in the morning?

I am assuming that it is the time of year, this time of Festive Season, that doubles as the ‘silly’ season. We celebrate throughout December and sometimes late November depending on the many interests that one has. Taking care of my husband, recently out of hospital, keeping up with regular demands in life and endeavouring to keep a ‘normal’ flow I notice that it is not. What is normal? It has different meanings for different folk. To enjoy this meander in the bush, crossing the creek, walking a path that I have not walked for a long time I thank the challenge for re introducing what I have achieved this evening. I watch the wild ducks on the river, I listen to the gentle sounds of water falling over and among the exposed rocks, I hear the birds and see more of my local surrounds. It might be that I need to take out the rubbish bin, cover the car that was driven today, fold the washing and return missed telephone calls; yet here I did it. Some walks were short and the writing thoughtful, however, I took up the challenge and completed the course.

 

LOVE IT AND LEAVE IT: Australia’s Creative Diaspora Part Two

LOVE IT AND LEAVE IT: AUSTRALIA’S CREATIVE DIASPORA

Is the publication to accompany the Exhibition of Photographs by Nathalie Latham

Held at the national Portrait Gallery, Canberra May – July 2007

Below is Part Two of the Transcript of Interview Nathalie Latham (NL) with Denise Keele-bedford (DKB)

at the Confucian Temple in Beijing China on 30th October 2005.

NL This time you have rented a studio here.

DK-B  Yes it is rented, it is not a residency.  I have a contract to rent that studio for five years at this stage with the option of taking it on for ten years or more.  Last year when I was here, I was introduced to these studios and decided to take one up and have it internally constructed; I am currently living and working there.

NL Can you tell me a bit more about the studio as it is quite a particular part of the community?

DK-B  Suo Jiacun village and the Beijing International Art Camp (BIAC) is out on the North East of Beijing heading out towards the airport, it is an area where there are little pockets of groups of artists studios. BIAC is on the edge of Suo Jiacun village.  There are approximately 100 studios where artists live and work.  Some use them as day studios and there are several internationals who also have studios.

NL A lot of people live there too, don’t they?

DK-B  Yes, many, many Chinese artists live there.  Laetitia, a French lady who is director of Imagine Gallery, lives there with her Chinese husband Xiao Rong, a musician.  The complex is a mixture of day studios; artists’ homes and there are also some galleries.  It is a great hub of artists, of various disciplines.  A lot of different work is being produced there.  BIAC is a compound and as an Australian going there I feel very safe and secure in knowing that I can be there really without any concerns.  It is comfortable, I am interacting particularly with many Chinese artists and of course other internationals coming in and doing the same thing.  Originally the developers were growing grass here to sell.  Li Gang who I mentioned before, along with his wife and the developers designed the whole centre and Li Gang introduced me to it when I was here last year.  I was with an Argentinian artist and a New Zealand artist who were having residencies here and we decided to take up studios at the same time and design the interiors.  Mine was not even built at the time.  Simon’s was built and he was well into designing the interior. Gabriella’s was halfway through being built and mine was a dirt plot and I was asked if I wanted one spot or the other spot so I just picked one.  Eventually He Ying, Li Gang’s wife sent me photos of the studio and what it was looking like.  I was in Australia at that point, had made up a design, sent it across and asked her opinion.  She liked the design and overlooked the erection for me.  I returned in June to furnish and finish it.  Now it is up and running.

NL  It was interesting because we were walking through that hall and there was a strong sense of design

DK-B  Yes, we were talking about the studio before and I was saying how I really enjoyed designing the interior of my studio.  It was kind of like here is my big moment in architecture to design the interior of my art studio.  Yeah so, I guess it is the love of the buildings or the way things are designed that still all comes into it.

NL It is also the fact that you are interested in places of worship

DK-B  Yes, and I was just thinking that looking over here and the way these buildings are designed, and all based on a grid.  It is very interesting when you look at Chinese architecture very much based in grid forms.  Everything is very precise and in line. I was talking before about Feng Shui and the good Feng Shui of how a building is set and the place.  The Imperial palace for instance had to have a mountain behind it because that is Feng Shui.  So they made a mountain, it is a man made mountain that is why it has a moat; something had to go in the hole.  They dug the hole to make the mountain at the back of the Palace, then filled the hole with water.

NL       So what does this mean to you as an artist? What does it mean to you being in this place called Beijing?

DK-B  It means many things actually.  My studio is a large space of 90 square metres, so it physically has floor space, has height and great light.  For me it is an ideal space to be able to produce work. I have a great trough, which is very important for water, washing brushes etc.  So there is that part to it.  Another part is that I can come to the studio here in Beijing; I can focus on a particular body of work that I want to produce.  I don’t have to think about the everyday things that I think of at home, like driving a car.  I don’t drive a car here I ride a bike.  I don’t have to worry about maintaining a car, maintaining a garden or the bills, all of those things that come with everyday living at home.  I have so much more time, so much more thinking time, so much more time to be able to produce and that is extremely important, especially the thinking time because we can get tied up with life and all that is going on around us, with family and all.  When I am here I have a concentrated time to be able to think and to work.  Another factor too, is that it is a different place to work.  I like to work with different environments and when I come here I can discover different environments.  Once this exhibition is in the gallery (see Footnote) and open I already have another project that I am working on here.  Access to materials and access to assistants are also reasons for being here. To get materials and to get things done here can be frustrating and can seem like it takes a long time but then all of a sudden it all falls together.  Even during my time here this time I have days of extreme high and other days of questioning what the hell am I doing here and so there are those extremes.

I find China very challenging but what it makes me do is slow down.  I have to slow down, I have to listen, I have to be prepared if I am going out for the day.  Like coming here this morning becomes a journey.  It is not just jumping in the car and whipping down the street.  Yesterday we went to the art supplies.  It was not just a matter of jump in the car go to the suppliers get what you want and back home.  It is quite a journey to do it because of the language, planning what else I can do while I am out, and these sorts of things.

NL       It is also difficult to get around Beijing, it takes so much time

DK-B  But then on the other hand, I wanted steel curves for the work that is going up next week. So the questions, where do I start? How do I find somebody?  So I get on my bike and head off down the road, go in and out of all the little factories and shops and here is a man making stainless steel balustrades with curves.  I ask him can he do something like this for me, okay so I’ll come back.

So I went back to the studio, did a drawing, took a piece of work that I needed the curves for and returned.  Every time I have a discussion like this it draws a crowd.  The shop was quite small and we had about ten people in there and I was the only female.  I was really quite pleased because I was able to go through the whole negotiation with only one phone call to Li Gang to help me translate.  I went back the next day and he had a sample for me to look at, he asked if I was happy, and is it what I want.  I went back yesterday and here they were all finished, perfect, just what I want.    So things can happen very quickly too.    That work was done in 3 –4 days.  Again another reason for being here is that access to what I want is available.  It seems that it is matter of slowing down, looking, talking to people.  Another reason is the interaction.  Beijing is a hub for internationals, I am not just interacting with Chinese artists, I am also interacting with others, like you.  International artists come flooding in, some come, stay a little while then go, others I suppose like me, fall in love with the place and keep coming back.

NL       So how much of the year do you plan to be here?

DK-B  It is getting that way that two months at a time doesn’t seem long enough.  I do have commitments at home, I have a family, and I have a husband.  He is extremely encouraging; he survives quite well by himself.  At this stage he has been to China with me, he came last year for a couple weeks while I was on residency.  On my first journey he said “No it is not a place for me”.  But when I asked him to come last year, his brother had been here and he said, “Walter, you are mad, you must go, just try it”.  He really loved it, he enjoyed the art scene, coming in and meeting artists, seeing what the art world is like here and one day I hope he will come back when he could stay much longer.  But for me there is a tug of the commitment in Australia and wanting to be here.  I could stay several months at a time.  It is early days yet because the studio is only very new and it is here whenever I want to come and it is here for other people to use.  Yeah so there is… I don’t know if you know, that pulling.  There are also such great opportunities here.

NL       So in terms of your practice – how has it effected your practice?

DK-B  The culture, there is still a sense of the historic, not so much the modern for me with China it is the historic.  I go back to the belief systems, significant places.  I mean even the project that I will be working on once the exhibition is up is still based on history and belief systems.  So is using Chinese materials, papers.  I have worked with paper a lot; I love some of the papers here.  The paper that we used for the ‘tuo’ is just a gorgeous paper.  So those sorts of things are coming more and more into my work.  I was talking earlier about the illuminated manuscripts and vellum, I went through a whole process of working out how to get paper to have the same sense of vellum.  I was very pleased at getting to a particular point where I felt that I achieved it, with beeswax actually.  When I was here a couple of years ago the work that I made was casting some very big cooking pots.  I was at the Pickled Art Centre that had been a pickling factory and I was casting some of the old cooking pots that were used in pickling.  I was using rice paper then filling those bowls, the castings became bowls, with different coloured rices.  The colours came from a particular banner that sits in the Lama Temple and the colours are in a particular order. So the bowls of coloured rice mimicked the order.

When I went home I made an installation using rice and paper again. Red and yellow, which are very significant here.  Multiples of nines, in the installation there were 81 bowls, nine being the highest number in the culture here.  It just kind of keeps coming through, I see these things all the time.  It keeps continually flowing through.

NL       And where did your original interest for illuminate Scripts come from?

DK-B  We were talking earlier about when I started my art practise.  As I said photography had been an interest of mine, which then went onto video.   My parents used to bred Maltese dogs and went to shows with the dogs.  The Maltese Dog Club wanted to have their shows video taped so they came to me and suggested that I make videos of their dog shows.  That was all very well but how was I to do titles, so I learnt calligraphy.  I took myself off to calligraphy classes.  I could make little title cards for the films.  It actually became quite a good little business.  I was doing more than just the Maltese, I would go out to the Royal Melbourne Show and film a lot of the different breeds, tell people about myself and make films for the dog clubs and sell videos to the members.  I enjoyed the sense of the writing, the mark making and then made discoveries.  On my first major trip overseas I was introduced to different cultures.  I went to Thailand, onto Italy, France and England and I was seeing different cultures and different places of worship and through this came upon illuminated manuscripts.  I am not exactly sure where or how.

The discoveries were about the sense of one God, but how different cultures see what we call God or energy or spirit.  There is some kind of energy that we can never quite put our finger on, so different cultures put different names to it and I find it really intriguing.  Illuminated Manuscripts are part of the story telling.  In my history, going back to the Celts and it will be interesting for me because I have been coming here now for quite a few times and next year my husband and I are going to Scotland and Ireland.  There is a little island off the coast of Scotland called Iona where the Book of Kells was written.  The book is an ancient Illuminated Manuscript.    I am kind of in being with China and Chinese culture and how that has been influencing my art practice, so I am interested to see how going and revisiting aspects of my cultural history will affect me, because it has been China for sometime now.  How that melds together in the future I don’t know.  There are things like the stone circles, not so much Stonehenge because it is so commercialised now that in a way the spirit of the place has been scattered, so I am looking forward to going up into Scotland visiting some of those stone circles and just walking on the ground.  This year when I went to Central Australia walking on the ground around Uluru just literally brought me to tears.  It was a shock to my system that I had that reaction.  We were driving, my husband was driving and I could hardly see the place because the tears were just pouring.  I was overwhelmed by the sense of the place, the age of this rock and how people have abused it.    They have climbed on it when our indigenous people are saying “please don’t climb, we prefer you not to”.  Yes, yeah I was very, very surprised at how it affected me.  Again, Uluru is a significant place.  But I don’t know whenever that emotion is going to strike me.

NL       Going back to the interview and the reason for the photograph – many people don’t know their favourite place, but for you, you came straight out with the answer

DK-B  I think because, even though it was a year ago and a year can be very short or it can be very long depending on whom we are and how things work for us.  In some instances it can be a long time.  It felt like a long time coming back here but now that I am here it is like it feels like it was only yesterday.  I think because so much happened in this place for me.  I still don’t know if it was a major shift within me or what it was.   Because of the opportunity to be here, as I said before I felt very privileged.  Here I was a Westerner being taught this craft by this man who is acknowledged in his position.  The crowds coming the interaction and then just being able to spend time by myself in the hall and just working away there in the quiet.  There was a great sense of solitude and occasionally people coming in.  I remember there was one German guy who had been studying Chinese writing and he had been here for about three years with his study and he said, “I am just amazed at what you are doing, I would love to be doing what you are doing”.  He again was a bit blown away that here was a Westerner in this place doing this.  There were many, many Chinese people coming in and questioning me.  Laoshi Ho was working in a room at the end of the hall and I would point down the hall and say there is my teacher.  I could not hold great conversations because of the language.

It still has a lot of those memories, it is a very quiet place, and you can see it is a lovely place, quiet, peaceful surroundings.  People like to just come and sit.  When we were working on the stones out the front there was a Westerner coming in each day and just sitting and watching.  I went over to him and asked what was his story.  He said “It is so hectic, it is chaos outside of these walls, I come in here it is so quiet and peaceful. Watching what you people are doing is my thing.”    I think it is probably the memory when you ask, “What is your favourite place”.    For me it is probably still that memory and the experience of last year.

Footnote:

  1. The Exhibition mentioned in the Interview was the first that became an ongoing series of seven Cultural Art Exchange Touring projects. Nv Yishu: Series One with Melbourne based artist Liliana Barbieri was held at Imagine Gallery November 5, 2005 – January 15, 2006.

LOVE IT AND LEAVE IT: Australia’s Creative Diaspora

LOVE IT AND LEAVE IT: AUSTRALIA’S CREATIVE DIASPORA

Is the publication to accompany the Exhibition of Photographs by Nathalie Latham

Held at the National Portrait Gallery, Canberra May – July 2007

Below is the Transcript of Interview Nathalie Latham (NL) with Denise Keele-bedford (DKB)

at the Confucian Temple in Beijing China on 30th October 2005.

(DUE TO THE LENGTH OF THE INTERVIEW the Blog will be uploaded as two separate blogs.)

NL What’s your title?

DK-B Visual Artist

NL Where were you born?

DK-B Adelaide in South Australia.

NL Where were your parents born?

DK-B  Both in Melbourne.  My father was born in Carlton and my mother in Fitzroy, so I am very much Australian.

NL When did you start practicing your art?

DK-B  I started formal studies about 15-16 years ago.  I have three children and growing up with the children my interests were mainly photography and various crafts.  I did a lot sewing making my children’s clothes.   When the opportunity came to do formal studies I grabbed it.  I started with private lessons and got to appoint of wanting to do institutional studies.  I did a Diploma of Arts, Bachelor of Arts then onto Masters.  I finished my Masters in 2002.  That was at RMIT (Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology), since then, well I am still learning, I continue to learn, will always be learning, researching and making art.

NL When did you actually start painting or start doing art as a child?

DK-B  I always liked to dabble but one of the things I mainly remember as a child was that I loved to design.  If I was sick at home in bed I would have big sheets of paper and I would be designing houses and streets of houses and towns.  It would grow and grow.  I remember doing that and thinking, oh one day I would really love to be an architect.  Then when I went to High School I had to decide on what stream I would take.  In those days you had a choice of academic or commercial stream.  My parents asked what I wanted to do and I said I wanted to be an architect.  Their response was that girls don’t do that.  I am one of seven children, most of my siblings were factory workers and they had one girl go into an office which made them very proud.  If I wasn’t going to be an architect what would I do so thought I should become an office worker, so that was the stream that I took.  My parents were very happy because their last three daughters became office workers.

I think as soon as the opportunity came for me to do some study I did. I loved school even though I had nearly been expelled at one point.  I loved the fact of learning and then as years went on and the opportunity did arise I took that up.  I had left school at fifteen.  I had a breakdown about 1989 that caused a whole shift in my life.  When my therapist asked was there something that I had ever wanted to do and I said architecture, she told me that I could, that anything was possible.

I also loved the idea of drawing and painting, my school art teacher had been the influence, and so I decided to take up lessons in drawing.  It really leads from there.  I also returned to study and undertook an ACRACS course (Advanced Certificate in Residential and Community Services – Intellectual Disabilities)

NL In terms to your relationship with Beijing. When did that actually start?

DK-B  In 2002. I had an interest in the age of the place. In Australia as we are aware indigenous people have been around for some 40 – 60,000 years but white Australia is so young and I am interested in seeing different cultures and looking at their places of worship, like this, and belief systems.  I was intrigued to come to somewhere that was vastly different to the country that I know and looking at its history.

A girlfriend of mine was coming to China with a group to do Feng Shui studies so I decided to come with them.

NL Can you describe the journey in a bit more detail?

DK-B  On the first journey we had to do some prerequisite studies in Feng Shui.  When I travel I also like to do some research, to find out a bit about where I am going and what I will be doing there.  We were only going to be in Beijing for a few days and then travel.  We went to Guilin and Yangshou in the South.  I knew that in Xi’an there is a museum of stone tablets and I have an interest in calligraphy, mark making.  Illuminated Manuscripts have been a big influence in my art making as well.  Because that is all on vellum, I was interested to see how the Chinese put calligraphy into stonework. When I went to the museum   I was blown away with what I saw and the mark making on the stone.  That was the end of that particular trip.  It was very moving for me to be in that particular museum.  I could have stayed there for so long.

The opportunity happened for me to come back, so I did.  I had a residency in Beijing with Red Gate Gallery in 2003.  While I was here for that residency I discovered the Confucian Temple, the stone tablets here and what is called the craft of ‘tuo’ that I had first seen in Xi’an.   It is an ink rubbing of imagery and text of the stone.  I applied to the Australia-China Council for a residency to come back again. Then in 2004 I came back for two months.  Again I had a fantastic experience in learning that particular craft.

I was talking to a lady last night that did her studies in Chinese Art History and she told me that there are some other terms for that particular process.  I said that there was a lot of discussion at the time of what the correct word was and ‘tuo’ seemed to be the correct word for what I was doing.  When I took some private lessons my teacher Laoshi Ho invited me to come to the Confucian Temple and work with him.

NL How did you find this teacher?

DK-B  I found him through a dear friend of mine who I had met in 2003.  Li Gang is an artist. He is a sculptor and has a place at Bei Gao called the Pickled Art Centre. It is a hub where many international artists come for residencies.  He also has a foundry and does a lot of bronzing for people.  He seems to be a central contact for artists here.  If you need information about a particular form of art making, Li Gang is the person you go to.  If he doesn’t know he will find it for you.

When I approached him and said I wanted to learn this form of craft he found my teacher and then said that he hadn’t even met him, himself.  He knew that Laoshi Ho was the top ‘tuo’ craftsperson, and is the head here at the Confucian Temple, so Li Gang said, “he is the person I have approached and he will teach you.”  He does teach the craft to Chinese people.

NL How many foreigners has he taught?

DK-B  None.  Just me.

He has had modern stones made, based on old designs and they are the stones that we learn on.

‘Tuo’ is a very involved process and perhaps if you walk around here today you will see some of the stones where, throughout the ages, people have tried to make rubbings of the mark making but haven’t known the process.  So a lot of the stones are very badly stained with ink and the concept of the process is to be able to take a rubbing of the markings on the stone without leaving any residue of ink.  That is why we worked on new stones.  After my lessons at his home had been completed, he then invited me to come here.

NL How long was that?

DK-B  It went over about five or six lessons.  It was always quite a journey because I was living in the North East of Beijing in Chaoyang district and he lives on the South West district, so to travel there was quite a journey.  I travelled mostly by taxi.  Sometimes I would catch a train across town and then take a taxi the rest of the way.  I’m learning Mandarin that I call survival Mandarin.   The first time I went there a Chinese friend of mine, who lives in Beijing and speaks English very well, came with me so that he could translate.  Working with another artist, I think, is a beautiful process because you can learn so much without language just by showing and looking.   My teacher knew about six words of English and most of the time it would be NO because I was doing it wrong and then take me through the correct process.  Because we had the lessons in his home, quite often his small daughter would come in to have a look and we would interact.  We had many cups of tea and worked on the stone tablets.  When we got to a particular point that was the end of the lessons, he asked if I would like to come to work with him at the Temple and make some rubbings here.  So I did. I came in and worked for several days on the big tablets you would have seen as you came into the Temple.  Those tablets are listings of scholars.   Next-door is the old university where people from all over the country would come once per year and sit for exams.  The best, then the people who came second, then the people who came third would be listed on a stone tablet.  They were the tablets that we were making rubbings of.   That system of examination ceased in 1904 because it was deemed to be a bit on the corrupt side because some of the examination would be whether you were beautiful.  If you were good looking of course you were given a better position of work.  For me, it was again a fabulous experience working with him.  We always drew a crowd and had many people around us asking questions and looking at what we were doing.  We always took the opportunity that if we had a person who could speak English and Chinese we grabbed that person and he would say can you tell my student this or I would say could you ask my teacher this.  So this was another way for us to be able to communicate.

NL Were you actually doing this in the gardens?

DK-B  Yes, out in the front area that we just walked through.  Bus loads of people come through and many, many Chinese people.  This temple is a very quiet area.  The Lama Temple is very popular and many people go in crowds there and this place is a beautiful place.  Some of the trees here are believed to be some 700 years old.

NL Please give a background of your teacher and how does he become the head copier.

DK-B  It seems that this particular craft is passed on like most crafts.  It is a bit like our indigenous people and the story telling, how artists pass on particular symbols onto the next in line.  It doesn’t seem as though it is something that is vastly popular.  I think because there are limited stones and limited stones that they will now make rubbings from.  In the history of these stones people would take rubbings and then they would destroy the stone so that their rubbing of it was all that was left and that would become the famous piece of writing.   He was taught from somebody else who retired and passed on and he has been at the Confucian Temple now for ten years with this craft.  This has made him the head person and he now passes onto others.  In a section that is now being renovated there were a couple of people who, for the tourists, would make rubbings of modern stones.  I’ll explain the process a little more.    If you know anything about brass rubbing, copies or facsimiles are made of, say church, brasses that people could then do rubbings from.  It is the same with the stones.  There is the old original carved stone.  They make a carving into a new stone as a facsimile, which then becomes the stone that student’s make rubbings from.  That is how I learnt.  There is a particular set of new stones here that the students use and sell the rubbings to tourists.

Talking with one of Laoshi Ho’s students I asked how long she had been a student and she said “four years”.  She is still not at a point of being able to take rubbings from ancient stones.  She takes rubbings from the modern facsimiles.  Laoshi Ho does the rubbings from the old original stones.

I was asked why. What do they do with all of these rubbings?  They are generally passed onto other museums.  He will make copies that then go to other museums and people can purchase them.  There is a set of stones here called ‘Da Xue’ which is Confucian writings and perhaps we can walk down there and have a look at those.  While I was embossing he was making copies of these stones and they were to go to other museums.

NL So he physically sculpts them out himself.

DK-B  No. No, he does the rubbings.  These stones are hundreds of years old and he does rubbings using ink onto paper.   So when I talk about a rubbing I am talking about a rubbing on paper made with ink that then goes to other museums or is sold to the public. The rubbings are for the museum archives.  This is his main job here.  It is interesting one day I walked in and he was digging in the garden.  So even though his main job is the main printmaker or rubbing expert he does other things also.  When something else needs to be done he gets involved in that as well.  For him to do a rubbing of the ‘Da Xue’ stones it would take him one week, a good five days for one rubbing of this set of stones.  This is where I say it is quite an involved process and I felt extremely privileged to be here.  Because as I say he had not taught another weiguoren, anybody outside of the Chinese, this craft before.  So I was in a very privileged position.  It is very hard to put into words because I felt……. it is overwhelming to recall the experience that I had because when we had finished the formal lessons, he had invited me here to work with him, which I did and then after that because the first process of the rubbing is a form of embossing.

Embossing is using paper.  You could put paper onto the cobblestones here and wet the paper then the paper is pressed into the indentation.  When it dries the pattern of the indentation stays in the paper and that is an embossing.  When we make a rubbing, a ‘tuo’, the first part of that before you put the ink on is an embossing.  You ink the paper on the stone when it is still damp but if you just allow the paper to dry and remove it from the stone the mark making or the incisions in the stone stay on the paper and that is what an embossing is.  Because I was so very new at the ‘tuo’ craft I was not allowed to make ink rubbings but was allowed to make embossings.  In the Forest of the Thirteen Classics I was basically given free reign to be able to make embossings where ever I wanted to.  We would discuss different stones and a lot of the stones have images of dragons and clouds and so forth in them apart from the text.  I spent about the next two weeks or so in the hall making embossings.

When I applied to the Australia-China Council for the residency to learn the craft, I wanted to be able to take knowledge of the ‘tuo’ craft and put it into a contemporary practice.  The way I was going to do that was to go to the Dashanzi Art Centre, which is a major contemporary, art centre here in Beijing and make rubbings of the ground hole covers.  The ground hole covers are beautifully designed with patterns and have text in them to explain that the cover is for, electricity or for water or sewerage or whatever it might be.  Many of them have dates on them.  One of the oldest at Dashanzi has a date of 1953 because that is when the ammunitions factory was built there.  Between working at the temple here, depending on the days, I had to watch the weather because it was starting to get cool.   The drying time is influenced by the weather.  I went to Dashanzi and marked on a map where the covers were that I wanted to make rubbings from and check that it was possible.  I then needed to buy a hammer, a chisel and sandpaper to be able to clean these things down.  I endeavoured to find groups of them so that rather than just working on one and having to wait around for a few hours for the thing to dry I could work on three or four in an area.  It limited in a way specific covers.  That was to do with time restraints.  Next time I come here to do it I would come in the summer because the drying time is quicker but getting towards halfway into October and into the weather we are having now, it takes much longer to dry and so I was working between the two.  Coming here to the Temple and going out to Dashanzi.  I now have a lovely body of work of embossings from the Temple.  I don’t have as many of the rubbings from the ground hole covers at Dashanzi but have some embossing of those.  It is because I was too late with the weather, it was getting very cold and things were not drying.  I did put the process into practice and it is one of those things that I will revisit next time or maybe another time when I come back.

To be continued……….

Thanks to the image takers, Walter Magilton, Jennifer Kearney.

 

 

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.