Sunday, June 15, 2008


This is my first Post on Blogger, and mirrors the Latest News just updated on my own website, This is my general plan for the posts, though others may well creep in, particularly if I am moved to verbal ingenuity by current events.

Busy, busy, busy in the studio with several projects running simultaneously. I am nearing completion of the restoration of damaged stained glass from St Brendan's Catholic Church in Annandale, with only one window, the Baptism of Christ, remaining to be done. I've left the most challenging till last: there are no remnants of the original glass and apparently no photographic record either, so with all of Christ's head and upper torso missing completely, it's going to really test me, given the high standard of painting in the windows generally.

The Designers and Creators Expo held in Canberra at the beginning of June went off fairly well, with enough sales on the floor to cover costs and thus far two confirmed commissions. While there I had an interesting experience: one of the visitors introduced herself as the great gand-daughter of John Radecke, whose signature appears on the Annandale windows that I've been working on over the past month. Apparently there was a monograph on the artist published some time after his death: one I will have to search out. Jenny Zimmer discusses Radecke in her book Stained Glass in Australia, published by Oxford University Press in 1984; she also talks about John Ashwin and Co., for whom Radecke was chief designer and painter.

Further research is definitely called for, as I met a Bob Radecke during my tenure in the Lane Cove studio. Already in retirement, his new girlfriend encouraged Bob back into stained glass and they would come into my shop now and then to purchase supplies. I gather Bob must have been John's younger brother. In fact, while I was working as Staff Artist for Taronga Zoo I would see the Radecke signature on old illustrations there. Bob had been engaged as an illustrator for the industrialist John Halstrom's range of enamel stoves. It was Halstrom who founded Sydney's Taronga Zoo.

I've had a wonderful afternoon today: got down to the S.H. Ervin Gallery at Observatory Hill to catch the last day of John R Walker's retrospective. What a wonderful exhibition! I had not been aware of this artist's work until reading a review of the show by John McDonald in last Saturday's Sydney Morning Herald (Spectrum). McDonald's writing is almost always inspiring; he cuts to the quick of the subject matter at hand and brooks no fools. This article was no exception and was sufficient to inspire me to make the trip into the city despite the horrid weather (it's been absolutely pouring and blowing a gale out at Maroubra, for days now).

I was not disappointed: John Walker's paintings are a delight. Many carry the same evanescent light that one would find in a Lloyd Rees and true to McDonald's review, echo the lyrical Fred Williams and the magnificent Arthur Boyd.

An additional delight awaiting me at the gallery was their regular Sunday afternoon event: this week's being a reading of new poetry by the group DiVerse, featuring poems written especially for this exhibition and read by the authors. John Walker and his wife Anne attended the function, so I not only acquainted myself with new artwork but also met the artist. I was particularly impressed by the poems of Louise Wakeling: I found her words to be as strong, inspiring and moving as those of Judith Wright's, a former resident of the Braidwood region where John Walker now lives and works. Louise genuinely added something to the visual works to which the poems spoke, the whole experience providing a fascinating access to the paintings, one which I would not otherwise have had.