Saturday, May 10, 2014

Water, air and light

I recently spent some time in Fiji, trekking in the forest and hills, and wandering along the coast. Many of the people I met lived directly from the land and the sea: gardening, hunting, gathering and fishing. I became intrigued by the lagoon environment near the village I stayed in. The folks there lived as part of an environment, not on top of it as we do here in Australia. It was far from idyllic, in case you're thinking I'd had one too many kava bowls, but it was certainly more integrated into the surroundings: to the pigs and tavioka in the forest, to the fish and coconuts on the coast and to everyone in the village, and the neighbouring villages.
Reef V 2014, Acrylic on linen, 82 x 82 cm

The calm water of the lagoon contrasted with the distant booming of the surf on the reef several hundred metres away. The vast and powerful South Pacific reduced to a thin sliver of horizon. I made sketches, standing waist-deep in the water, fish nibbling my legs. On the days when it rained, the world turned silver and grey. I found that I would often lose my balance as the horizon was so faint that the sky and sea seemed to merge into one. I was a landscape painter in a landscape with almost nothing in it. What to do?

Reef III (Quiet Day) 2014, Acrylic on linen, 82 x 82 cm

Reef 6 2014, Acrylic on linen, 102 x 102 cm

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Kids eh?

A friend remarked that my paintings were like my babies. Well, maybe so, except they don't rely on me for anything, don't wake me at night, don't need me to change their nappies, and they never cover my shoulder in milky sick. Mind you, they are a bit like grown up kids though. The successful ones are scattered across the globe; they never call or write, not even a birthday card, and the, um, less successful ones (although equally loved of course) hang around the house, cluttering the place up and generally getting in the way. When will they go?
Go out and get a f**kin job, the lot of you.

Friday, August 12, 2011

What a Riot

While England recovers from its latest night of broken glass and the traditional finger-pointing begins (bad parents, laziness, computer games etc. etc.) I thought I'd share a quote from a fellow Fifer. Book one, chapter one. Something that's been in print since 1776 and which surely one or two of our millionaire cabinet members will have read.

"It is the great multiplication of the productions of all the different arts, in consequence of the division of labour, which occasions, in a well-governed society, that universal opulence which extends itself to the lowest ranks of the people."

Adam Smith, The Wealth Of Nations

A friend of mine made the observation that pretty much any civilisation's golden age (Roman, Egyptian, British, French...) begins with massive industry, productivity and "universal opulence", and ends with an enormously rich and powerful elite that have normalised their own corruption and have become far removed from the society they were chosen to govern. It seems to be the nature of things that, rather than trickling downwards, wealth and power gradually percolates to the top.

The corruption of the elite becomes so engrained that we begin to accept it as the truth by which we all must live. So we accept being robbed by well-groomed, smooth-talking men and women in expensive suits, but we are somehow shocked and angered when a tiny minority of hoodies and chavs take control of large parts of the country for a couple of days.


Rioting for Fun and Profit. A practical guide to the redistribution of wealth. This photo was looted from the Daily Mail, a self-styled "newspaper" with right wing leanings, printed in England.

"What improves the circumstances of the greater part can never be regarded as an inconveniency to the whole. No society can surely be flourishing and happy, of which the far greater part of the members are poor and miserable."

The Wealth Of Nations, Book I Chapter VIII

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Preview of new artwork


Artist Lars Stenberg talks about his latest art project.

House, a site-specific, time-based work will take shape in two phases. The first phase, a collaborative sculptural project between the artist, Westpac and Bunnings, explores the tension between the empty, unfinished volume of the building and the unceasing monthly mortgage repayments. The second, performance-focused, phase will involve selected members of the public who will “live” in the space created in the first phase, interacting with the work and contributing to it by fortnightly electronic transfer.

“Like my last work Car, House is a truly post-modern exercise,” said Stenberg, “as it employs self-knowing irony to explore the banal and uninteresting concerns of a middle class, middle aged man, and cleverly fuses the most popular contemporary method of expression, financial accrual, with traditional techniques such as painting and nailing things together.”

House builds upon the success of Stenberg’s most notorious work Personal Pension, a 45 year performance in which the artist burns an ever increasing sum of money every month, and which was shortlisted for the What Investor? product of the year in 2006.


Tuesday, December 21, 2010


My partner, her 10 year old son and I were having one of those morning-cup-of-tea-in-bed type wandering conversations about how our TV watching was policed when we were kids and how much harder it is now to do that. We wondered if, indeed, there was a point to policing TV (but then, last night's family viewing was Tim Minchin's Ready For This) or was the policing of TV in our youth similar to how early motor cars couldn't be driven without a man with a red flag walking in front to warn people.

The boys in this house are more aware of certain - mostly sport-related - aspects of the world than we were as kids. Which is great. The down side of all this TV razzamatazz however is that often the real world fails to live up to the TV experience. Compare sitting way up the back of the crowd at a major basketball game with the coverage on the TV. Sure, there's atmosphere, but many folks - and young boys in particular - often prefer the autistic feast of stats paraded across the screen to the ambience of the stadium.

This made me think of those nature documentaries with David Attenborough and the like that the BBC used to make back when it wasn't crap. We swam with whales, flew with geese and buzzed through fields of flowers with bees. Nature made the stuff of spectacle. So awesome was the footage that real contact with nature - simply going out into your back yard and listening to a blackbird - seems utterly pointless. Lame as, bro. Reality just isn't as interesting as TV even though TV doesn't give you anything like the sensory richness of the real world. I held forth on this subject briefly. My partner's son nodded wisely:

"That's why we need 3D TV."

Not in my back yard


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Worrying developments at the kennels

Left Jim the dog at the kennels last weekend. Think there's been some sort of change of management.

Friday, December 10, 2010

UN Security Council to Dismantle Internet

A spokesman for the US-owned United Nations Security Council confirmed last night that telecommunications workers around the globe would be drafted in to complete “the greatest disarmament programme since the Second World War”.

The Internet was invented in the 1960's as a fault-tolerant communications network for military and private use. The unforeseen explosion of personal computing, mobile communications and the World Wide Web, however, has meant that ordinary people have accidentally been given access to more information than at any time in history. Some of this information is also correct.

Roy Hobbs, Minister of Branding and New Media in Her Majesty’s Government, described the Internet as “a complete fucking nightmare.”

“There have been no international protocols, treaties or test bans to limit the Internet’s proliferation. With the exception of parts of rural Scotland, every country in the world is now part of what is probably the most dangerous weapon the we have ever known.”

“The threat to ordinary people of unfiltered ideas, lunatic beliefs and unmanaged information has to be countered. Allowing this sort of thing to go unchecked will erode the very bedrock of our democratic freedoms. We must act now.” - the future of web browsing
 “Here in the UK we were pursuing a more moderate approach, a Third Way, if you like. We have already redirected Wikileaks to a list of 24-hour emergency plumbers. Our next step was to give everyone really high-speed internet so that they could spend their time downloading the latest series of Desperate Housewives and watching dancing cats on YouTube rather than reading news items or, dear God, sharing ideas.”

“It’s an approach that has worked well with television.”

“But we have realised that as this is the UK we couldn't possibly deliver a high speed broadband network any time within the next twenty years. So we are following the Security Council resolution and dismantling the whole thing. The Internet was a colossal miscalculation. Demolishing the infrastructure will save hundreds of innocent lives, and will create dozens of much-needed jobs in Reading.”

“Interruption to your daily lives will be kept to a minimum, although you will no longer be able to send or receive email, or call the emergency services. Or anyone else. You will, however, still be able to use your iPhone to play Angry Birds.

He added, “What about that level thirteen, eh?”