Tuesday, December 14, 2010

This is the full size charcoal cartoon for a new commission underway: a gable window for the Congregational Church of Samoa in Sydney, based on a design I made for the North Transept of All Saints Anglican Church, Tumut in 1997. At 6.5 metres in length the drawing is too big to lay out flat in my workshop. It is shown here onsite at the Church in Lugarno.

The client is delighted with the design and so I will be drawing up the cutlines this week and beginning to cut glass immediately after Christmas.

If you're looking for some unusual Christmas gifts, At The Vanishing Point in King St Sth, Newtown, is staging their Demolition Sale now. I have 3x mirrors and 2x glass Flower Boxes as a part of their show.

I also have 6x small works, including a new stained glass mirror, on display at TAP Gallery in Darlinghurst as part of their Christmas Miniatures Show. Opening night (and the Christmas Party) is this Saturday, 18th Dec.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

World Aids Day

I read with interest in the Sydney Morning Herald recently that Pope Benedict had said the use of condoms in cases where men have sex with other men may be condoned as an effective method of prevention of sexually tranmitted diseases. I gather this is because contraception is not an issue in such instances and therefore not a mortal sin. Curious. No mention of homosexual sex still being considered a mortal sin. Apparently the Vatican back-pedalled very soon after the announcement, saying that Il Papa didn't really say that at all, he meant something else. Which kindof brings into question that old infallibility issue as well.

All very strange. The more so given that the highest incidence of transmission of AIDs in the world occurs between heterosexual couples in Africa. But the Catholic Church still forbids the use of condoms in such circumstances and conservative elements worldwide, including Bishop of Parramatta Anthony Fisher and Archbishop of Australia George Pell and have reinforced this teaching over the last couple of weeks.

Should I be discussing these things in my blog, when the Catholic Church is one of my major clients? I find it impossible to ignore such issues and at times am moved to speak out.

It's been 23 years since the death of my brother Colin due to AIDS-related diseases. We were close, and while I remember him with fondness, I thought I had let go the grief. For the last few years I have given his name for rememberance at the Sydney ACON Candelight Memorial and had a bizarre experience when I volunteered 2yrs ago to assist with cataloguing the AIDS Memorial Quilt at the Powerhouse Museum's Castle Hill facility.

On my second day there, as I walked into the room where all the other volunteers were busily listing names and details, someone called out the name "Colin Hamilton" to be recorded. I froze. It was quite an emotional moment for me to actually see the quilt panel put together by Colin's friends and workmates at Telecom Pitt Street Excange. I have never seen the quilt in it's entirety... in the early days of the epedemic when the quilt was regularly displayed, the grief was just too raw for me to go through that. I will definitely be getting in to Sydney Town Hall House next week, where the Quilt is currently on diplay until Dec 7th.

Sometimes some unrelated news article will push the loss and sadness to the front of my consciousness with a vengeance. This happened just a few days ago. And by a strange conincidence that night I rented a DVD "Prayers for Bobby" starring Sigourny Weaver as Bobby's mother. What an emotional ride that was! I didn't realise how devasting a movie it would be.

Based on the book “Prayers for Bobby” by Leroy Aarons and directed by Russell Mulcahy, the movie only deals with the spectre of AIDS obliquely, as God's vengeance against the sin of homosexuality. It is more focussed on the disastrous efforts of his family, particularly his mother, Mary Griffiths, to "heal" her son from this abominable affliction and save him from eternal damnation (and avoid unbearable shame herself). After Bobby's tragic suicide, Mary eventually comes to see through the bigotry of her Church and goes on to become a leading figure with PFLAG, working tirelessly for acceptance of gays as valuable members of the fabric of human society, as deserving of love as the next person, speaking out against their vilification and condemnation by much of the Christian Church.

Weaver puts in a sterling performance as Mary Griffith, totally convincing. Her speech to the legislative assembly supporting a vote for a local Gay Pride march is truly inspiring. Definitely recommended viewing.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

I breath a big sigh of relief as today I received verbal acceptance of my quotation for a stained glass window to St Augustine's Anglican Church in Merwether, a suburb of Newcastle. I'd already put a considerable number of hours into developing the design for this window and was not at all certain that the donor would accept the price but my fears were groundless; he is very happy with both design and price.

Costing a window is always a difficult and treacherous task: the client requires a quote up front yet one can never be certain exactly how long a project will take, even when a design has been approved, because each job is a new project, presenting new challenges. Making art is not an exact science. One tries to cover all the bases and also make a profit but it's never guaranteed. At just under half a square metre in area $6,000 is somewhat above the market rate (in this country) but I feel this window will be an important artwork. It's also quite an intricate design with a lot of painting and decorating to achieve the desired result. It will be an interesting development in my oeuvre.

Out in the street yesterday I got into a collaborative artwork with my friend Sallie Portnoy, a fellow glass artist. We had several comments from passers by, congratulating us on adding some fun and livening up the street environment. While I've been painting construction hoardings for some time now, this was my first collaboration and I really enjoyed the experience. It certainly pushed the work somewhere else.

Those who know Sallie's work will recognise her familiar motifs of winged objects. There may well be more appearing in the coming weeks, if the artwork stays up for a while.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Waldron Window

Drove to Canberra on Monday to install the private commission that I've been working on for the past month. Everything went very well and Bob and Diane are extremely happy with their artwork. They had seen my work at the Austrlian Designers and Creators Expo in Old Parliament House in May this year. While I sold very little from the floor at that show it is commissions such as this which make participating in such exhibitions worth all the effort.

Arriving at a design solution which satisfied the desires of the clients turned out to be surprisingly difficult and rather protracted but I feel that they have pushed me toward achieving a brilliant result, one that I am very excited with myself. So here are a couple of details of the window:

You can see in these details that I've added a fair amount of decoration using glass paint fired onto the coloured glass, both black and also a lovely green black, a new paint I've been experimenting with from Reusche. Loving this paint! Have also incorporated a couple of lenses, some rondels, a fasceted jewel and a slice of agate from the clients' mineral collection. Lots of little bits of old etched and decorated glass also.

On another subject entirely and not about me at all, Wayne Pearson has been nominated Artist of the Month on the website Art Alliance for Contemporary Glass. Go check it out!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Open Studio

As part of Art and About I'm opening my studio this weekend along with 90 other artists around Sydney's inner suburbs, with Start Studio Art Fest.

Also I've just created a new Calendar for 2011 available via the Red Bubble website for $29.00 +postage. But if you're quick and would like extra copies as Xmas presents, Red Bubble is offering quantity discounts for just a few more days!

The collaborative project for Kurrajong Catholic Church, with Salvatore Zoffrea is proceeding, though it's still in the early stages of development.This is the trial piece I am making, based on one of Zoffrea's watercolours. We just had a meeting to discuss the work: moderately successful at this stage. The image on the left shows the glass cut and waxed up. The right hand image shows the piece painted with the first layer of glass paint, though as yet unfired.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

It's Me!

You have just two weeks left to check out the Wayne Pearson portraits of glass artists, reverse painted on large slabs of 10mm clear glass, now hanging at the Glass Artists Gallery. The photo above was taken at the opening night. None of the works are for sale as they form part of Wayne's Masters presentation at Sydney College of the Arts, but the Director of the gallery invited each of the five artists whose portrait is displayed to show examples of work they are known for. So I have two of my new Square Mirrors in the gallery(and these ARE for sale!)

The other artists represented are Shar Morman,Marc Elliott, Richard Clements and the Director Maureen Cahill.

The next exhibition, Full Circle, opens 26th October, a joint show of work by architectural glass artist Paddy Robinson and her daughter Bridget Thomas who has just completed a degree in glass at ANU Canberra.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

About Art And

The fence along Prince Alfred Park is looking truly splendiferous! I especially love the dancing girls: extraordianry detail. And across the road I've made my own contribution to the visual scene

And further on toward town, another boring beige construction hoarding has been saved from the ravages of graffiti tags... well, at least for a few days. This one was covered in tags before I started. I've spent the last week painitng the site over three successive nights and overnight there would be additional scrawls across the fresh paint. No respect...

You can probably see that the aim with the Belmore Park site was more architectural in concept. The Chas Clarkson Building above was, by contrast, quite spontaneous. although exhausted when I was done down at Belmore Park, I had quite a bit of paint left in the pot and really felt the site was crying out for attention, especially with such creative work going on across the road along the fence. Well worth a walk!

Monday, September 20, 2010

About Art And

It's that time of the year again: Art and About has hit Sydney. Quite a number of historical sculptures around town are currently under wraps, being dressed for the occasion by the crew of Tendril and associates. Very much looking forward to seeing them unveiled.

And up the other end of town, where Prince Alfred Park has been getting a landscape makeover for the past few months, Jess Cook and her team have done a number on the safety fence. It's looking fantastic.

I'm making my own contribution to the Festival also, but more about that later...

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Vale Mandy Rollins

The news of Mandy Rollin's apparent suicide has sent shock waves throughout the GLBTQI and dance club community. I'm still realing from the news, only discovered last night via FaceBook. I can't claim Mandy as a personal friend but she was a close member of our very close and connected community and I held her on the highest regard. On more than one occasion she has carried me and thousands of others to the edge of ecstasy through magical combinations of dance beats, taking is all to a place where we lose ourselves in the rhythm and pulse and "become one with the music". Sounds clichèd but that IS how it happens and it is amazing when it does. Mandy was a master.

Her partner DJ Feisty published a statement in this week's Star Observer

This is a quote from her website:
DJ Mandy Rollins, Sydney / Australia, percussive, tribal house moulds with hands of technical wizardry and spine-tingling accuracy to produce the sound dominating the Sydney underground. Headlining residencies and events including the unique, intimate underground, Oxford St venue Phoenix, the internationally famous Hellfire Club or Sydney Leather Pride's Inquisition, Australia's largest Leather event.
Playing music that has stimulated and mesmerized crowds for over ten years, Mandy Rollins has created her own distinct movement in the Australian dance music community. Her unforgettable sets have been heard in the most respected and desirable clubs around Australia.

So long Mandy. Such a waste. Such a sham when someone takes this course of action. It strikes at the core of our reason for being here and doesn't really make it any easier.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

News Flash

Finally my new webite has been launched. A huge amount of time has gone into its preparation with much thanks owed to Cam McGuinness for his patience in walking me through the CMS which underpins the site. Check it out now: www.stainedglass.com.au The most exciting aspect for me has been the inclusion of images of international stained glass artists such as Lutz Haufschild, Judith Schaechter and Ludwig Schaffrath to illustrate the Links pages. Very grateful for their permission to use these images. There's more to do of course and I'll be updating and adding images as time goes on. Let me know your thoughts.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The proposed collaborative project between myself and the artist Salvatore Zofrea took a major step closer to being realised this week when I delivered the first trial panel, leaded up and framed, to Salvatore's Seaforth studio. He will now show it to the priest at St Gregory's Catholic Church, Kurrajong and also the donor and other members of the Parish. If the reception of the work is good then we'll be underway!

Both Salvatore and I are very excited about the project. For me it has been a privelege and a joy teaching such a competent artist a new medium and seeing him push it around to his own ends with confidence amd panache. Salvatore sees this project as following in the footsteps of other great masters of the modern age such as Picasso, Matisse, Chagall and Leger, all of whom created beauiful stained glass windows in collaboration with various ateliers.

It is Salvatore's intention to glaze the whole of the Church with his work, to create a jewel, a celebration of colour and light. If all goes well over the next couple of weeks at least we will proceed with making one window and then see whether there is a general enthusiasm to continue.

Just a few more days to catch the exhibition Myth and Memory by my friend Rhett Brewer, showing at Depot Gallery in Dank St Waterloo. Rhett and I grew up together in Georges Hall. He has been a practicing artist since 1981 with many substantial solo exhibitions under his belt. I've managed to get along to quite a few of them and every show is a departure from the previous, exploring a different path and expanding his oeuvre. This show,"Myth and Memory", examines aspects of personal and social history around Georges Hall as well as the broader Sydney scene, particularly the underground and criminal element, of the 1940's, 50's and 60's.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Back in the Studio

Still a bit knocked out; the work involved in setting up an exhibition in another city and then bringing it all back to the studio is kindof enormous. Especially being on the first floor of a run down building in which the goods lift is seldom operating. But the Australian Designers and Creators in Old Parliament House, Canberra was a good show with some very strong interest in my work and 2x definite commissions ready to start.

While the days were long and hard my friend assisting me on the stall, Victor and I were treated to real Canberran hospitality: dinner with Robyn Spencer and Jeremy Gregson Friday night; dinner with Judi Elliott and her husband Bob Saturday night; dinner on Red Hill care of Rozlyn de Bussy and her partner Chris on Sunday night then breakfast at Deli Marco with Ann McMahon, artist and independent curator, before heading back to Sydney on Monday.

And so it's back to work: I'm currently involved in the restoration of 3x windows for St Jame's Catholic Church at Forest Lodge in Sydney. Only one of the windows in the Church shows a signature: Radeke, 1932. The ones that I'm rebuilding are considerably older than that. The Church is very fortunate in having a very active congregation. One of the members is currently researching all the families who are mentioned in the dedications of the stained glass windows. I expect the restoration project to be completed by late August.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Right Now

Opening tonight from 6pm for a very brief showing: Friends of Mils @ Mils Gallery, 15 Randle St Surry Hills just up from the Devonshire St tunnel at Central. The Director Adriano has selected two of my drawings for the show, one of them a very early work from 1984! To close the show on Sunday evening there will be a live performance by Broken Chip whose music is described as "eclectic and experimental, electronic yet organic" and visuals by Joel Burrows.

These two paintings are my latest work: Urban Square No.9 and No.11. They are part of an ongoing series of collage and mixed media works studying the randomness of our urban lives, employing the junk mail, advertising material, the flotsam that percolates through every individual's everyday life. New meanings arise, questions are posed, by the unexpected juxtaposition of images, particularly other artists'images, when reduced to advertising.

As well as collage these works employ a variety of techniques that I use out in the street from time to time such as spray enamels to stencil found object, spattering and splashing of paint. They are lots of fun to make; very absorbing. And while there is a freedom at play there is also considerable restraint exercised in the decision made as to what works and what doesn't, what is deemed aesthetically pleasing and what might be plain crass.

However you won't be seeing these two works at the Hunters Hill Art Exhibition opening this Friday night: they were not accepted. People have commented how meticulous and well-finished my collage work is when I've shown at other galleries (ATVP @ Newtown, TAP @ Darlinghurst), so its not the presentation which is the issue. If you can offer an explanation I'd welcome your comments. Naturally there is no commentary from the selectors and no correspondence will be entered into. I am left wondering whether these works are simply too avant-guarde for the Hunters Hill crowd? According to the selection list there are other collage works in the selection so it cannot be a bias against the medium. Are they worried about the infringement of copyright by pasting up other artists'images, chopped and mutilated? But this is surely a part of the dialogue of the works.Very puzzling, not to mention frustrating.

Incidentally, three earlier pieces are from this body of work sold in February this year at the Linden Centre for Contemporary Art, St Kilda.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Two wonderful new exhibitions just opened at Damien Minton Gallery in Redfern: Di Holdsworth's Fly Me to the Moon and Daniel Wallace's Enquire Within. Both shows continue until April 3rd and are so funny and clever, the work so beautifully crafted that you really should get along to see this exhibition.

Di Holdsworth's found object assemblages are minutely detailed, fully functioning music boxes complete with little handles to animate the characters within. There is a Superman glove puppet, a racetrack with galloping horses, ballerinas which pirhouette and the clown (above) learing suggestively toward his paramour, the cupie doll, who looks just a little concerned.

Daniel Wallace has constructed a large temple within the gallery space which on opening night provided a wonderful sanctuary for all the kids to chill out, lounging around with their game consoles and leaving the adults to view the art. Daniel is a master of deception. His finely crafted timber sculptures play around with metaphor and perspective and cleverly incorporate branches and twigs to convey everyday domestic objects transformed into fascinating objet d'art.

Just two doors away in Great Buckingham street, at Smith and Hall Gallery, I happened upon another exhibition the same night: Matt Dive Gold, various artists portraying the gorgeous Matthew Mitcham. Matthew is one of the very few international Olympic stars to have openly declared themselves as gay, and having won gold at Beijing he has consequently become a Sydney Gay Icon, a role he appears to embrace with both pride and humility.

I enjoyed William Yang's photographs very much, with his diary notes scrawled across the surface of the image. Unfortunately this exhibition, which included such greats as Tom Bianchi(USA), Tracey Moffat(Aust) and rising star Craig Ruddy(Aust), came down today. But keep an eye on this Gallery as they are clearly carving out a distinct niche in Sydney's exhibition scene.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

It was chilly on the steps of the Sydney Opera House at sunrise last Monday morning, with not a stitch of clothing. But the sense of comaraderie, optimism and excitement amongst the 5,000 other participants in Spencer Tunick's "The Base" was palpable. Waves of body heat would waft through the throng and a delightful, subtle but pervasive perfume permeated the event. With a 3.30am start for most of us we knew that everyone there was equally keen to be a part of art history in the making.

All shapes and sizes, every conceivable body type, was present though one thing that struck me was how few coloured people were there. It was without a doubt mostly a white person's event, at least from where I was standing, which surprised me considering the diverse population of Sydney. There were certainly some very beautiful people and some very beautifully decorated people, amongst the crowd; straight couples, gay couples and lots of individuals who seemingly had no trouble making intimate aquaintence with a stranger when Spencer requested a shot of everyone kissing, or at least embracing, the person next to them.

But it was the ordinary-ness of the event which really struck home. How completely relaxed we all were with our nakedness, with our sameness amidst the apparent differences. When we were asked to raise both hands high in the air it was like being in a dense forest. I left feeling inspired and uplifted but mostly just very calm. It was also empowering insofar as images of masses of naked humans has always, since first seeing such films as an adolescent, taken me to the Nazi gas chambers of WW2. Being a part of The Base has totally transformed that experience.

Late in January this year I took part in ESP Gallery's "New Work:New Decade", creating a piece related to my street artworks on-site at the Marrickville gallery, more or less completing it during the opening night, as a performance piece. At the close of the exhibition I continued working on Large Untitled No2 (Urban Landscape) in my studio until I felt it was complete and ready to submit for the Wynne at the Art Gallery of NSW. Judging is next week.

Friday, February 19, 2010


I have 5x new glass paintings featuring in Studio Dome's Wings and Horns, part of the official Mardi Gras arts program, opening Tuesday 23rd Feb at 6pm.
UPDATE:If you have viewed this post previously and are wondering where the image has gone, I decided to delete it in deference to those who may not be prepared to view such blatantly erotic imagery in there workplace. Sorry.

The Glass Painting Weekend workshop held a t Finn's Art Glass (Feb 6th, 7th) went very well, with 10x happy students walking away with a good basic knowledge of the techniques and processes involved in painting on glass. We covered a lot of historical aspects as well and everyone was given a list of world-renowned glass painters to research, including Ellen Mandelbaum, Judith Schaechter, Richard Millard (who was in Australia recently, teaching at the Geaoffrey Wallace studios in Melbourne), Patrick Rentiens and Albinus Elskus as well as the Australians such as Paddy Robinson, Gerry Cummins, Klaues Zimmer, Philip Handel, Stephen Moor, Kevin Little and Martin ven der Toorn. Martin is still alive but well and truly retired; Kevin is perhaps nearing that stage (he keeps talking about it!) while Paddy and Gerry are still actively working. Moor passed away about 5years ago now, Zimmer in 2008 and Handel died in July last year.

With two students already enrolled there will most likely be another glass painting class sometime in April.

The next workshop I'll be taking with Finn's will be "Designing for Stained Glass" (March 20th, 21st) in which we will cover sources of inspiration, drawing from life, generating a 'cartoon' or design sketch, preparation of the cutline, structural considerations such as framing, wind loading, reinforcement, weather proofing, longevity and installation methods. We will also discuss building codes and licensing issues. For this workshop I hope to give a slide show of some of the great contemporary stained glass designers.

You can enroll in this weekend workshop by calling Renèe on 61.2.97711522.

Friday, January 22, 2010


If you're interested in checking out some of my exhibition glass work, I have two large wall works on display at Australian Stained Glass Supplies at their new premises in Leichhardt. It's a big space, a large industrial unit, but they hold their own; in fact they look the best they ever have as they are both strong pieces and really do demand a lot of space .

Also on display at present is a new work, "Glass Painting No.5", which won second prize for glass at last year's R.A.S. Arts Show at Homebush. It now graces the window of Penrose Glass' grand new factory in Kogarah.The Easter Show has only included glass as a section in its own right for two years: worth supporting!

Two of my earlier painted stained glass panels can be seen at Finn's Art Glass at Milperra. I will be teaching a glass painting workshop there on 6th and 7th Feb, followed up with a weekend workshop in Design for Stained Glass, where I will be covering such topics as cartooning, placement of structural support and advanced cutting techniques. It is so important to develop excellent technique because without that your designs will be limited in thier scope with little chance of stretching the medium or your expression.

For further details 9771 2355 or email learn@finnsglass.com.au

For those who happen to be in Western Australia (I've not made it over there yet myself: it's a very long way from Sydney!) in the next week or so Ian Dixon will have two of my exhibition pieces on display at his premises in O'Connor, Perth Art Glass. One of them, "Mesh No.1", also won a prize at the Royal Easter Show in 2007. This piece incorporates expanded metal mesh in the lead matrix: hence the title.

Closer to home (Marrickville) and on a non-glass note, I will be creating a new work on-site at ESP Gallery as part of their exhibition "New Decade:New Work". This piece will be made on found substrate dragged into the gallery and closely follows what I've been doing in the streets around the inner city over the past couple of years. The exhibition opens Thursday 28th Jan at 6pm and I plan on continuing to work on it during the opening.

You can check out some of the street artworks on my Red Bubble site. The only street piece still up is in Crown Street, Surry Hills; been up for almost a year now.

If you're still looking for a special calendar for 2010, Red Bubble sell them! I've put together a calendar featuring some of the best of my stained glass pieces from the past couple of decades, both commission and non-commissioned work. Check it out.. only $30 +postage.