Sketches of Venice

I am back now about 4 weeks and evaluating the incredible impact Venice has had on me and my art making. Part of this process is to make an online record of the work I made

The Page of this bog called  Scarlatta shows how I am making photo-montage arising from my Venetian experience.

Scuola Internazionale di Grafica, Venezia really encouraged me to get my hands dirty making art they had the most amazing collection of paper and materials that really inspired me  Check them  out at

I also sketched most days, often in the company of my friend Morgan and on one memorable morning with Morgan and Maite at San Giorgio Abbey and island at the mouth of the Grand Canal

Many of the sketches have become damaged/altered in the process of completing other works in the sketchbook and as a result of subsequent travels, so I have begun  to scan them and put them on line

My trip to Venice was entirely self funded and I would like to recoup some costs by selling limited editions of the best of these works- I would really appreciate your advice as to your favourite

Here is the first crop
Canal scene near San Maurizio 

Santa Lucia corpus church from Grand Canal 

Olympic theatre stage Vicenza 

Basilllica Padova 

Pilgrim Chapel Madonna della' orto 

San Simeon  Venice 

Interior Santa Lucia corpus 

Apartment opposite Rialto fish market 

and more including one from Genova and two from Budapest 
journal cover Santa Maria della Salute dome 

Maria della Salute from San Giorgio  

Cathedral door Genova 

View of San Giorgio from biennal gardens 

cathedral bell tower Budapest 

Church f the holy hand Budapest 

The great congregation meets daily, and you are someone's angel today

My curator has suggested I explore Angels as they are an import part of art history especially of the counter reformation and then of the french catholic symbolist painters and pre-Vatican II folk piety

In my childhood we were told we each had a guardian angel, mine lived in a picture in my Aunt Peg's house that I used to love to visit

I told Domi the subject was so cliched that I wouldn't bother exploring it but a few things have happened to change my mind

I came across this quote by  Tennessee Williams

Everything that is tearing us down today will become a memory, and that memory will be shared as an anecdote or a story or a poem or a play or a warning . It will be shared with another human being , who will then understand that he is not alone in his sadness 

This is why we show up for others and tell our tales and listen to others. The great congregation meets daily, and you are someone's angel today 

I found a redundant angel in the Abbey San Giorgio on an island at the entrance to the grand canal in Venice - he seemed so sad in a grungy sort of way. He is made of wood patched with bronze sheets you can see this more clearly from the back view.

I think he has been removed form active service on top of the abbey where he guarded the grand canal for many, perhaps hundreds,  of years  

he is part zombie in his impassiveness and magnificent decay - he inspired my first monotype

and I hope to include him in some ways in my upcoming Scarlattta exhibition

Correr museum Venice 

I am really interested to know why angels, well at least the good ones are pale, either feminised transgender or sexless while Lucifer is often naked muscly butch  red and attractive ! We humans clearly project a lot on to them

A fond farewell to Venice after one month at
Scuola Internazionale di Grafica, Venezia

Here is a picture where I handover a piece I created in Venice for the Scuola's Collection 
Eureka (Michae lO'Hanlon )Julia Kennedy-Bell, Roberta Feoli Rupi

and a close up of the donated image which will feature in my upcoming Midsumma show Scarletto at the Abbotsford Convent Melbourne. 

more images and text to come a I  digest the profound impact that living in Venice with other artists has had on my life and practice 

Old age and grunge beauty

I finally saw Bronzino’s portrait of Admiral Andrea Doria as Neptune at the Pinatoceca Brera  in Milan today – an inspiration for several works especially those of my favourite older model Ben taken in the Oratory at the Abbotsford Convent.

The subject of the Portrait has a portly stomach but is not afraid to pose semi naked with pubic hair and some penis length implied.  Apparently the subject was almost 60 when he posed for the picture -even given a painter’s license he is a handsome man.
How can I assert my handsomeness when I have an expanding belly as well?
Women, though judged more harshly on their appearance have, or at least use a greater armoury in presenting themselves. An older woman of indeterminate age sits opposite me wearing a cornflower blue dress comprising some netting over a similar coloured base. There is a black bra strap showing underneath the girlish cut of the dress. Her skin, though wrinkled, is beautifully tanned and she has simple jewellery- a very large amber ring, a blue mosaiced bangle,and gold dragonfly earrings that perfectly capture the essence of a mid-summer’s day.
Her hair is dyed blonde but there is also grey and black colour coming through …she is reading a book held with blue painted fingernails that match her dress . She orders from the menu in fluent Italian although it is not her first language .. the total effect of her presented self is confident and pleasing

Maybe I can use my own appreciation of the grunge aesthetic to honour and acknowledge my own ageing. I have to feel OK about myself now .. not when, if ever I lose this weight because there will be other cruel tricks that nature will play as she ages us all. I have decided to celebrate my remaining assets including my art making skills, my education, my own beautiful children and the volume and colour of my hair 


saw these wonderful paintings in Musee Correr Venice today all the more beautiful because of their


Sublime Churches of Hungary


I found a terrific variety of churches in Budapast alone, from a very grungy but devout baroque church with peeling frescoes everywhere to the superbly restored St Anne’s where I attended a baroque music concert

St Anne's concert church 

grunge church 

However my most favourite was in Sztendere a hamlet outside Budapest on the Danube where the orthodox church had the most beautiful icons  and they had music in the background which reminded me of the music my boys Conor and Lloyd sing in the Georgian choir 

Hundertwasser Museum Vienna

Today I visited the museum of Friedensreich Hundertwasser (1928 –2000) in Vienna today
I know he is old hat to many architects and artists but I have only just discovered this amazingly talented man  who lived in Vienna, Aotearoa and Venice

 The building itself, formerly the Thonet furniture factory, was architecturally remodelled according to Hundertwasser's own designs.

I am totally charmed by the building, his unique vision, his

philosophy and inventiveness.. i'ts like visiting slice of

Eltham on acid !

Here are some facade views

there were two features that appealed to me in particular.. the gently sloping floors that were really playful and the way that light
boxes with trees came right into the house almost like the way a fireplace enlivens a room.

  The artist spoke for himself in a film that also documented his life in Venice.. where he owned the Garden of Eden apartments after a time living on his yacht. He talks of man having three skins .. his own , his clothes and his architecture and he lectured nude to demonstrate the importance of design that was sensitive to human needs and restored his relationship to the natural world  .. his artwork was Klimt like in the sense of mosaic style patterning and luminous colour and he said that painting is a religious act  full of mystery and surprise.

overall a very inspiring visit

Summer Reflections on The Life of an Artist

An artist's life is a challenging one, akin to an old testament prophet  -most of the time we are striving to make known the unknowable, uncover the invisible and say that one word that most want silenced.. meanwhile dancing with empty pockets !

 our popularity is random and fleeting  and criticism flows freely when we upset established boundaries 

Overall it is a life of close observation and intense reflection

Here is the light  coming from a stain glass window on to a rug in the old convent hallway

and again on the cloister floor .

Occasionally it is our time to own achievement  take charge and like Jesus having his feet washed, accept those small moments of grace 

Here is a picture of me at the Opening of my exhibition and proudly in front of sold work

When the exhibition is over for another year you have to  to hold on to these moments to sustain you through the long months of observation art making and preparing...