From Blog Posts

Sydney Ball: supreme colourist

Sydney Ball (Australian, 1933-2017)

Ball was a leading Australian abstractionist who worked across hard-edge and geometric abstraction through to abstract expressionism. He was always preoccupied with the formal qualities of colour, and this is why I love his work so much: I immensely admire his use of colour and the way Ball created rhythm and movement in deceptively simple compositions in his paintings and original prints (especially in his geometric and hard edge styles in particular).

I’ve handpicked a couple of examples which resonate with me:

Isfahan (1967), screen print on paper, (Art Gallery of NSW). The interplay between negative and positive space is strong in this work, as is symmetry and balance. There is a quiet energy to this work, and the use of two tones of yellow creates a central inward pull of focus.  Isfahan is one of Ball’s Persian series of prints, there is a mystical quality to these works which I really respond to.

Isfahan (1967), screen print on paper, 45.8 x 91.2 cm. Image source: Art Gallery of NSW

One of Ball’s later works I would love to see in person is Chromix Lumina, (2017-18), as I would hazard a guess that the sense of space would be continually contracting and vibrating due to the interplay of colour relationships.

It is very clever, and again a deceptively simple composition which is alive with energy through the use of colour. The colours are more contemporary in contrast to Ball’s earlier works of the 1960s, a reflection perhaps of the advances in paint technology.

Suitcase #1: Sydney Ball. A discussion of Ball's beautiful formal compositions.
Chromix Lumina, (2017-18), (automotive enamel on aluminium, 240 x 260 x 5 cms. Image source: Sullivan + Strumpf

I aspire to create works such as these: spare, technically beautifully in their execution, energetic and joyful. Meditative. An essay in formalism.

Thank you Sydney Ball, one of the giants of Australian Modernism.

The Ikara-Flinders Ranges series

I would like to acknowledge the traditional custodians of the Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park, the Adnyamathanha people whose rich connection to country dates back many thousands of years and continues to this day.

img_4927School holidays, October 2016, we embarked on a family camping trip to the Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park. In addition to towing a 4WD camping trailer, we were also towing along two fairly reluctant teenagers. Ho hum.

I purposefully packed art supplies and made sure our camera had a cleaned memory stick in anticipation of the many sketches and watercolours I would make and numerous photos I was sure to take. And wow, what an amazing place I was constantly reminded this ancient mountain range is. So glad I took my sketchpad and camera.

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It is now February 2017, and sufficient time has passed for me to have processed the visual experiences (without my memory getting too blurry) that I have embarked on a new significant body of work, The Ikara-Flinders Ranges landscape series.

Over the last five or six weeks I’ve made numerous watercolour studies exploring the colours and forms to be found in this special place. I’ve also started two larger oil paintings which I am confident is only just the beginning of many.

Oil paintings are below. I felt very confident returning to these luscious paints yet again, and understood how I can get the most out of them, particularly with my penchant for glazing. These works are not yet finished, but I’m loving the forms that are starting to develop.

So excited about this series, I can’t wait to get into the studio whenever it is possible to keep working. I’m also currently looking for exhibition opportunities both here in Adelaide, but also interstate, for this series later on in the year, as I look forward to showing them to the broader public.

So, despite the whinging teenagers, the riches of that 2016 camping trip are beginning to pay off!

Blue Thumb: curator visit

Today I had a meeting with the lovely Vanessa Glennon, a curator at online Australian art gallery, Blue Thumb. She visited me in my home and we spoke at length about a variety of issues such as marketing, the changing nature of the art world and my work (as I was showing her around in my studio).

Vanessa is keen to work with Adelaide artists to put together an exhibition for Blue Thumb during SALA in August.

Very excited to be involved in this project. Stay tuned.