Sunday, December 6, 2009


Kicked off yesterday at Rose Terrace, Paddington (just off South Dowling, near Oxford) with a mixed collection of drawings, glass assemblage, bricollage, stained glass and mixed media works on paper to much acclaim.. a small but delightful and delighted gathering of friends. The exhibition continues over the next two Saturdays: 12th and 19th, from 10am - 5pm. Come along. Bring friends! Everything is marked at half price: you seldom see quality artworks at these prices! An opportunity for you to acquire a piece of my work without breaking the piggy bank :-)

And while we're on the marketing platform, you will have noticed I use Red Bubble a lot; it's a great site and one of the brilliant products that are available as a print-on-demand item on-line is this wondeful calendar for 2010 featuring some of the best of my stained glass work for the past couple of decades.

I've put together two other calendars as well, so you have a choice: one featuring some cracker examples of Sydney street art, and one showing a collection of my artworks in other media. Orders for delivery by Christmas close 17th December. Two things you can be sure of with Red Bubble: the quality of the product and the care they take in packaging the items securely. So what are you waiting for?

I look forward to seeing you at Rose Terrace (I'll be there myself both days)

Thursday, November 19, 2009


My major restoration project, the Chapel windows at Concord Repatriation Hospital, is now complete with all windows re-installed into lovely new timber frames, courtesy of Claremont Joinery at Bankstown. They did a splendid job on the Tasmanian oak frames; sturdy construction and accurate openings with precisely fitting beads. And all for what I thought was a reasonable $6,500 for 4x frames.

Unfortunately not all the windows are restored at this stage: there was insufficient funding to cover the repainting of two of the Stephen Moor windows. One of the two smaller windows was repainted and completely rebuilt by my colleague and friend Grant Kennewell. Grant and I often work together on large projects and he put his hand up for this one, as he had just completed the restoration of a smaller Moor window, featuring African elephants, for a private client. He was keen to take on the larger challenge and the results are certainly admirable.

As Marc Grunseit noted in conversation once, it is a rather unfortunate legacy of Moor's that not an insignificant number of his windows are suffering extreme paint degradation. The reasons for this are probably complex and by no means certain but it is my considered opinion that, while Stephen was a brilliant designer and I owe him a great debt, much of the glass in his windows was not fired to a consistently high temperature. Further, the application of paint was hurried with many layers of wet on dry, consequently increasing the chance of blistering which will reduce adhesion of paint to glass.

I have found that those windows installed into northern and western facades suffer more and given the harsh conditions of the Australian climate, this is not surprising. The process seems to be one of exfoliation, similar to the effect of expansion and contraction on granite tors. However there is convincing evidence that microbial action is at work also. The windows in question were removed from the old Chapel when it was virtually destroyed by storm apparently in the late 1980's. They had been re-installed into the new chapel in rather dreadful aluminium frames which swayed and flexed terribly and so all the windows have suffered over the years. To add insult to injury whoever installed the windows back then removed all the steel reinforcing rods from the leadlight panels.

By contrast the large window "I Am The Vine" by David Saunders, while still requiring to be re-built, was beautifully fired with the glass paint completely intact. The same is true of the Phillip Handel window which recognises the sacrifice of the Services and Military Nursing Staff during WW2.

For me it was a great experience getting close and personal with the work of such fine stained glass artists. When one pulls apart a leadlight window and tries to put it all back together again, one comes to understand in minute detail the design ethos of the original maker. Saunders, Handel and Moor were all mighty figures in the Sydney stained glass industry of the late twentieth century.

Sadly Phillip Handel died several months ago after a long battle with cancer. In order to complete a repair on the Chapel window I met with his widow Elizabeth who showed me round the studio beneath their house in Beacon Hill and was able to assist with a suitable piece of glass. His studio still carries a wonderful sense of calm and order with some beautiful old furniture and the original bench and kiln from Lyon and Cottier, the firm where Phillip's father Alfred was apprenticed. Elizabeth is currently searching for a suitable institution to archive the substantial Handel heritage in a suitable manner where it will be available to the public.

Geraldine Doogue introduces a superb documentary available on the ABC's Compass website. It was screened on TV just before Anzac Day this year and is a moving account of the production and dedication of the windows which Phillip Handel produced for the Anglican Church at Sandarkan on the island of Borneo, where many Australian POWs died.

Saturday, September 26, 2009


Getting back into some reading of late: Tim Winton's "Breath" (Penguin 2008) is a thirlling read. I've never got across to W. A. but somehow I can utterly identify with the Australia and the youth that he evokes. "Cloudstreet" did the same for me. I know his stories have a habit of twisting into unexpected disaster and one third the way thru this one seems to be setting itself up for just that.

Equally engrossing and with just as much verissimiltude was Christos Tsolkas' "The Slap" (Allen and Unwinn 2008). Although the context here is Greek, I was right there at the family barbecue with my Italian (by marriage) heritage and could so relate to all the familial intrigue and misunderstanding. What delighted me most in Tsolkas' novel was his use of the parenthasis, describing the character's thought processes, completely at odds with what was being actually said. His skill in taking us inside the head of a different character so convincingly with every new chapter is mesmerising.

Nice to take some time out: been very busy of late, meeting a deadline for restoration work on the stained glass to the Chapel at Concord Repatriation Hospital. work is still underway but last week the first of four windows was re-installed. These were two Stephen Moor panels, both quite deteriorated with significant paint loss. Unfortunately the Hospital only had the funds to repaint one of the two but now that they have the old and new together for comparison hopefully funding will be found to carry out the necessary re-painting of the second panel in time.

Paint loss is a significant issue with many of Moor's windows. From my experience of working with him I know that standards were not rigorously maintained and firing was at times haphazard. Also his method of applying several layers of paint one after the other prior to firing, relying n the amount of gum in the paint to secure it to the glass surface, did lend itself to blistering and apparently in time eventual failure of adhesion. I have seen perhaps a dozen of his windows with much of the trace line disintegrated and the matt beginning to disappear. There are many reasons given for paint loss in stained glass but it is generally held to be the case within the trade that underfiring is a major cause.

Exfoliation is what actually happens, with the the glass painting losing it's adhesion under the stress of constant expansion and contraction of the glass due to temperature variation. consequently such loss is frequently more evident in East, North and West facing windows than in southern windows. Also at play, according to some, is organic decay though I've not researched this aspect.

By contrast, a window from the same Chapel by David Saunders, "I Am the Vine", executed oughly around the same time, is beautifully fired and showing no sign of any paint loss at all. David ran Eroica Studios in Sydney's Argyle Centre at The Rocks for about 20 years until he retired from glass about 1986 or so.

Restoration of a stained glass panel is a great way to become intimately aquainted with an artist's work. In the re-leading process one needs to first record all the relevant information, taking rubbings of the existing metalwork, noting lead sizes and location of reinforcing bars. David has a tendency to use big leads: "The Vine" is made entirely of 9.5mm and 12.4mm leads, often molded into quite tight curves- rather difficult and strenuous work. But I've been impressed by the vigorous line and the strength of his design. His paintwork is equally strong, bold and confident with much use of dense black.

Thursday, August 27, 2009


Two excellent exhibitions well worthmaking the effort to see, both finishing in a few days, one very beautiful, the other simply exraordinary! And both at the Dank Street Gallery complex in Waterloo.

Showing in Depot11 Gallery is Aña Wojak's Four Quarters. Sumptuous, shimmering surfaces of richly coloured oils over brushed steel sheet. Oriented to the four cardinal points, each wall is devoted to a season, or perhaps more accurately an element. The 9x panels of East are so gorgeous you could float into them.

Next door at Dominik Mersch Gallery is a stunning exhibition: photographic constructions by Isidro Blasco. The major installation was featured in the Sydney Morning Herald and received a glowing review by John Macdonald. To my mind Blasco has pushed photography far beyond whatever it has been till now. And in the process has added immeasurably to the sculptural lexicon.

Blasco is playful, willfully so. With a knowing nod to Post-Modernism's deconstructivist ideas he has stripped bare the matte board of one of the wall sculptures, destroying the photographs (and they are beautiful photographs, it has to be said), leaving tantalising remnants of images in the crevices and creating an almost completely white artwork which speaks volumes.

The main piece in the centre of the gallery presents such a complex story that one cannot help but walk round and round the work analysing it from all angles. What at first appears a mad conglomeration of artists' easels reveals itself to be an incredibly detailed and complex constructivist sculpture supporting a whole cityscape on its 'face'.

Of course Art is so much more than beautiful paintings and amazing sculptures. If you feel the need to upset your complacency go visit Gallery 4a in Haymarket. "Survivor" by Dadang Christano is a gut-wrenching exhibition discussing the impact of human disaster, in particular the tragic mud catastrophe in Sidojardo region of East Java.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Vale Cherry Phillips, 1945 - 2009

This article was published last week in the Ausglass Newsletter. Ausglass is our National Association of Glass Artists, comprising some 360 members Australia-wide and overseas and including not only practicing artists but also Museums, Colleges, Libraries, academics, curators and collectors. .


By Jeffrey Hamilton
In the ‘early years’ of the late 70’s thru the 80’s Cherry Phillips was a shining light amongst stained glass artists. Her design skills, her sense of colour and beauty, the finesse of her lead-line and the immaculate finish of her work set her a cut above the field. She was there right from when I first began exploring this new medium of stained glass, working at the cutting edge along with Warren Langley and David Wright.

Cherry was at the very first Conference, before there was an Ausglass, when we became known as PIGS (People In Glass). She went on to hold successive Committee positions and curated more than one exhibition at the then Paddington premises of the Glass Artists’ Gallery. Cherry was also one of the exhibitors at the first Craft Expos run by the Crafts Council of Australia.

For me the most striking thing about her was her humility. Not exactly self-effacing but not the least bit egotistic: rather a warm, friendly person gracious in sharing her knowledge. Retiring from glass quite some years ago Cherry became something of a recluse. She died in Brisbane 16th February after a long illness.

The following words are from several colleagues who shared her life:

It was 1977 when I first met Cherry. I was working with David Saunders in the Argyle Arts Centre in The Rocks, Sydney. David had advertised for an artist/craftsperson and Cherry was the successful applicant. My first very clear memory was of her drawing a cartoon of Dorcus from one of David’s designs: not an easy assignment, as David had a very distinctive way of drawing and painting. His use of the lead line and arrangement of shapes is instantly recognisable. Luckily Cherry survived this ordeal and the drawing and the eventual window were beautiful.

Cherry was a very talented designer with a great eye for colour which resulted in difficulties between her and Saunders. Leaving Eroica Studios after a year she undertook all sorts of menial jobs, including cleaning motel rooms and we tossed around the idea of opening our own studio. I had already left David and was working on my own in The Rocks. After a bit of agonising by Cherry over the direction she wanted to go, Sydney Stained Glass was born in late 1978.

Business was brisk and the phone would ring 3 or 4 times a day with enquiries for work, a lot of it repetitive with no designing required, something Cherry longed to do. Whenever a new commission came along she tackled it with relish. However, the more commercial side of the business was not something she embraced and Cherry left in 1980 to set up her own studio. Relocating several times, she eventually moved to Taree, NSW.

My fond memory of Cherry is a woman of a sweet nature, a great designer/craftsperson and someone that put more than 100% into every job she undertook. Through her work she has left a beautiful legacy and those lucky enough to have a window of hers will rejoice in that.

Cherry Philips was one of the loveliest people to have ever graced my life. I have spent 30 years wishing to reconnect and to enjoy her serenity, her gracefulness, her creativity and her love. In 1979 Cherry and Rodney Marshall gave me a job at Sydney Stained Glass which then overlooked the construction site of the Sydney Entertainment Centre. I had only begun working in the craft a year or so earlier and so I was so thankful for such an opportunity. We all immediately became friends and Cherry opened up her heart and soul to me, sharing her personal experiences in love, family and her difficult early years. She was pretty much always quiet and dignified and so gentle.

I continued to work for Cherry when she established her own practice in Burwood Rd, Croydon Park in 1985. A true Pisces, she was sensitive and compassionate and possessed a beautiful imagination that seeded the many inspiring works she created. What a joy it was to witness such wonderful works being made: windows for Parliament House, restaurants, clubs, hotels, churches and domestic works far and wide. Cherry’s gifts to the world will live on for many years to come as will her memory in my heart.

For years Cherry I have wished there was a book of your works so that I could see all the beauty you created since I knew you. Perhaps someone can enable that to occur sometime. We’ve all benefited from Cherry’s presence in one way or another, her family, her friends and the world at large. Cherry my dear you will be sadly missed.

Cherry Phillips made a significant contribution to contemporary Australian architectural stained glass. Her training in fine art, design and appreciation and her understanding of the unique qualities of colour, transparency and texture of glass gave Cherry's windows an unmistakable dimension that spoke of quality, refinement and originality. Her windows in the Australian Parliament, Canberra, are fine examples of her later work.

Cherry was a complex and multi-talented woman. Her gentle and friendly nature masked a power, authority and understanding that only come to those who have experienced personal difficulty, challenge and the extremes of great joy and sadness. Maybe that's what made her work so memorable, so beautiful. She will be much missed; however her work will continue to be admired for generations to come.


Rodney Marshall continues in private practice in Blackheath, in Sydney's Blue Mountains. He is hoping to retire shortly. You can find examples of Lance Feeney's work on his website although Lance is now happily involved in Health Administration and no longer takes on commissions. Brian Berg also retired from active glass making some years ago. He lives and works in Clunes in the far north of NSW.

Sunday, April 5, 2009


After working 18days straight in the last half of January I completed and installed a new stained glass window for the Narthex of St Bedes Catholic Church, Pyrmont. I had been working on the design for this window on and off for over a year, with much thought, research and consultation to get it looking just right. Everyone, including myself, was happy with the result.

Since completing the St Bede's window it's been all restoration work in the studio, with work underway for Burwood Baptist Community Church, Burwood Presbyterian Church, a couple more windows for Holy Family Catholic Church in Largs, near Maitland NSW and a lovely old stairwell window for one of St Vincent de Paul Society's buildings at Rockdale.

New on the horizon will be an 8x week session teaching glass painting for the Eastern Suburbs Community College, starting Tuesday 5th May at Dover Heights High School. While I have taken many students through the intracacies of painting on glass privately in my studio I haven't taught at an institution since the late 80's so I think it's going to be fun

And on the exhibition front, I have a new glass work entered in the R. A. S. Easter Show at Homebush which opens to the public 9th - 22nd April. Titled "Glass Painting No. 5" the work incorporates a central square of highly decorated glass from the 30's called Optima, painted in gestural sweeps of Reusche tracing black and various enamels and stains. This is only the second year that the Easter Show has sponsored a special section for stained glass in their Arts Competitions: I think it's important to support that. Besides, last year I won 2nd Prize and $300! :-)

Over at the McGrath building in Sailors Bay Rd, Northbridge, Steve and other artists from the Gallery26 collective have just hung a new exhibition. My contribution is one of my "Drawings For the New Millennium" (a series of 8x pastel drawings on paper made in the year 2000) These mixed collections are rotated each month. And after Easter the Mill Gallery in York, Western Australia is taking "Primal Gesture", a dramatic square stained glass, also comprising a central painted panel, as a companion to "Mesh No. 1" which they have on display already.

I've never been over to W.A., but if you happen to be doing so or live not too far from York, the Mill Gallery appears to be a delightful addition to any itinerary. Call in and please, let me know your thoughts.

Very sad news: Cherry Phillips, one of Sydney's finest contemporary stained glass artists, has died after a long battle with emphasema. Cherry retired from active commission work quite some years back but will be fondly remembered by many in the industry. I will be writing at some length in my next update.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Numero Sei

"Run Lola Run" played last night to a packed crowd out in the open on a beautiful night at Darling Harbour. The film was accompanied by an improvised sound track produced live by The Bays who delivered a faced-paced, scintillating performance, complimenting the movie superbly.

Sydney certainly knows how to have a good time and the crowd was packed in on the forecourt of Tumbalong Park, but pervaded by a warm, friendly mood. I met an interesting German architect, Matt, whose firm is currently working on the rebuilding of St Barnabas Church, Ultimo, destroyed by fire some years ago. And for me the evening was made doubly enjoyable with the delightful company of Jennifer, my youngest daughter.

It may well be the only Sydney Festival event that I get to this year: I'm well on the way to completing the new window for St Bede's Catholic Church at Pyrmont, but there's not a day to lose. I've promised installation by the end of this month and the parish priest has booked the blessing for Sunday 1st February! The window is an image of Christ in Majesty surrounded by the Four Evangelists, based loosely on a wooden altar frontal from the early 12th century, now in the Musee de Arte de Cataluna, Barcelona. You will find an image of the full-size charcoal cartoon on my Red Bubble site

Also on that site is an image of the ventilation panel I've just completed for Barmedman Catholic Church Although only 70cm x 50cm, this was a major restoration project with over 75% of the original glass destroyed by vandalism. The face was particularly difficult as you will see the original paint work is quite fine.

I was sub-contracting on this job to Kerry Anschaw of Dove Stained Glass in Wagga Wagga. And my thanks go to Clive Hillier for his assistance: after I'd completed the painting, Clive took care of the fabrication while I carried on with the St Bede's window..

A little before Christmas I was in Springwood to help my friend Owen Thompson, the watercolourist, celebrate his 50th birthday. While in the Blue Mountains I took the opportunity to re-stock one of the very few galleries which carry my work: the Hartley Valley Teahouse, which incorporates the former Aldgate Gallery. If you're travellig over the mountains this is a delightful place to take a break.

Located on the corner of the Highway and Baaners Lane, just to the west of Victoria Pass, the establishment also boasts a well stocked nursery. The restauranteurs Duncan and Barbara serve some of the best food to be found in the area and the gallery features a wide variety of 3-dimensional objects and wall art from all around the country. As well as stained glass, the gallery is aslo showing a number of my pencil drawings and abstract works in pastel.

Up the mountain at Blackheath is a new glass gallery, Keith Rowe Glass. Intially located in Glebe in Sydney's inner west, Keith has been established in Blackheath now for many years and has a wide following. Some 6months ago he took the bold step of opening a retail outlet in the local shopping centre. His partner Kayo has a glass engraving studio at the new premises, where she keeps an eye on the shop.