31 March 2011

Doctor Who


I started painting in late September 2001. I'd been preparing for it with a self-imposed programme for a while, but the sudden start of the resource wars much sooner than I'd expected gave me quite a kick up the bum.

I'd realised since my early teens that the 21st century would be overshadowed by an increasing technological totalitarianism in response to dwindling natural resources and collapsing ecosystems. However, I thought we had more time than this. Which part of 'accelerating rate of change' did I not understand? Idiot.

I recently found the first studies I did then, with the help of my friend Paul Faris:

As I recall, I sketched in the landscape, which he painted in, then I went over it and added the figures. No doubt Paul will correct me in the comments if I've got it outrageously wrong.

It's called The adventures of the young Te Kooti predella cycle. The story comes from Judith Binney's Redemption songs, which I'd helped my dad work on (one day I should blither on about the connections between editing and painting).

The young Te Kooti was a bit of a cunt, you see, causing all sorts of trouble. One day, his father had had enough and decided to get rid of him once and for all. He asked Te Kooti to go down an old well on some pretext that I forget:

As soon as Te Kooti went down, his dad piled rocks in and blocked up the entrance:

However, Te Kooti escaped out a side-tunnel:

He returned to the people, and the tohunga put a stone in his mouth to dedicate him to the war god Tu:

What appealed to me about this story in particular is how archetypally mythic it is – the hero who goes into the underworld and returns with secret knowledge and a new purpose – and yet how modern it is. It happened to a historical person almost within living memory – someone born around the time this happened could've still been alive when I was born.

Sure, it's a minor episode compared to the rest of the myth cycle (and so suited for a predella), but that just makes it more stark.

Needless to say, I abandoned this line of inquiry reasonably quickly. Even though the specifics of the individual culture hero are incidental, they are inevitably the focus of attention.

Leave the nationalism to the knuckleheads, I reckon.

29 March 2011


Both Rose and I are sick. It's ridiculous. We can hardly do anything. Can't even think coherently. I have times when I can hardly see.

I've got fucking stuff to do. This is fucking annoying.

Bollocks. Enjoying the strangely altered state of consciousness only gets you so far.

25 March 2011

Quote of the day

'Pointing Percy at porcelain.'

To refer to pissing.

Something in Auckland to go to

24 March 2011


I had a rather dispiriting meeting with my supervisor yesterday. Once again, they have nothing to offer me except obstruction.

The supervisor hadn't bothered to read the draft proposal I'd sent, and so pontificated off the top of their head instead. I won't go into the ins and outs of the entire conversation, but will highlight two particularly egregious examples.

I started by saying I've got a couple of shows lined up for this year, and I thought the timing fit in well. The response I got to this was the same as I'd had from the other supervisor. It is quite interesting.

Having shows outside of the institution isn't a good thing, apparently, but a problem. This is because dealers require 'safe, middle of the road' work, in complete contrast to the innovative, experimental work produced in the 'laboratory' conditions of the art school!!! These are real quotes, told to me with a straight face! Fucking incredible.

This is pure bigotry: treating an entire class of people as if they were indistinguishable stereotypes.

My experience – actual (though limited) experience not just knee-jerk prejudice founded on an intimidated fear of the unknown – is the complete opposite.

I have no constraints put on me on by dealers. I have had, and expect to continue to have, a free hand. I show what I like, how I like, and have been told that it's quite all right if there's quite major damage to walls etc as a result.

At school, however, there are a whole range of constraints. I've been told what I can and cannot do, because of academic requirements or ethics requirements or what have you, and even such a minor thing as including rude words in a wall drawing occasioned a warning sign at the entrance.

Herein lies the difference: your dealer answers to no-one but themselves, but your academic answers to a whole range of different committees.

Your innovative, experimental laboratory (such as it exists at all) is in the dealer galleries, not academic or public institutions.

But no, the fucking morons at Massey can't see that. Much easier to rely on lazy, complacent, self-serving received ideas instead.

I mean, fuck, if there was even the slightest bit of truth to their assertions, their end of year student shows would be evidence of it. Ha!

Ah fuck this, I was going to go on about the other really egregious comment – being told why having a knowledge of art history that informs your work is a bad thing(!!!) – but I can't be fucked.

Oh, and it was reported back to me that one of my assessors from last year was telling this year's PGDips how 'annoying' it was having me blog about them.

Here's a tip: you don't want me blogging about your really quite shocking limitations? Do something about them then. Stop being so intellectually narrow. Develop an open mind and some basic critical thinking skills. Actually be interested in art.

It's not that hard.

23 March 2011

Massive melons

21 March 2011

19 March 2011

To the Public

6 February 1799

A collection of prints of imaginary subjects, invented and etched by Don Francisco Goya. The author is convinced that it is as proper for painting to criticise human error and vice as it for poetry and prose to do so, although criticism is usually taken to be the province of literature. He has selected from amongst the innumerable foibles and follies to be found in any civilised society, and from the common prejudices and deceitful practices which custom, ignorance, or self-interest have hallowed, those subjects which he feels to be the most suitable material for satire, and which, at the same time, stimulate the artist's imagination.

Since most of the subjects depicted in this work are not real, it is not unreasonable to hope that connoisseurs will readily overlook their defects.

The author has not followed the precedents of any other artist, nor has he been able to copy Nature itself. It is very difficult to imitate Nature, and a successful imitation is worthy of admiration. He who departs entirely from Nature will surely merit high esteem, since he has to put before the eyes of the public forms and poses which have only existed previously in the darkness and confusion of an irrational mind, or one which is beset by uncontrolled passion.

The public is not so ignorant of the Fine Arts that it needs to be told that the author has intended no satire of the personal defects of any specific individual in any of his compositions. Such particularised satire imposes undue limitations on an artist's talents, and also mistakes the way in which perfection is to be achieved through imitation in art.

Painting (like poetry) selects from among the universal that which it judges most appropriate for its purpose. It unites in a single imaginary being circumstances and characters which Nature presents distributed in many, and it is in this unity, skilfully contrived, that true imitation is achieved, by which the good artist acquires the title of inventor and not that of servile copyist. On sale at the perfume and liquor store, Calle del Desengano no. 1, at 320 r. for each set of 80 prints.

12 March 2011


Like everyone else from Wellington I know who has visited Melbourne, we reckon we could quite happily live here. We're having a great time.

Of course, there would be serious downsides to actually living here. It's very hot. It's very crowded. The cops have guns on their hips. Last night, as we were walking through Flinders St Station to head ibnto town for dinner, the cops were 'randomly' selecting young men out of the crowd to search for weapons. There is a very visible homeless presence. It can be a bit grim.

But then there are all the wonderful old buildings and the alleyways packed with the outside tables of the restaurants and cafes that line their sides. And we went a bit nuts in the NGV's bookshop.

The Moreau show is good, but it is a little frustrating. It's all studies for pictures without the actual pictures to compare them to. However, some of the studies are outstanding. I plan to go back a couple of times to look at particular things. Then there's the collection to check out, which we haven't made it to yet.

And Hawkwind tonight.

08 March 2011

07 March 2011

This and that

Yes, I do seriously propose to bore you stupid with a Goya copy every few days. This will go on till either I've done all of Los Caprichos or I get bored and start something else to leave unfinished instead. I'm good at that.

No, there probably won't be much in the way of Massey goss – except for the odd whinge about not being able to organise a simple fucking meeting with my goddamn supervisors (he says through gritted teeth).

I've started in on Proust's In search of lost time. (Why do I capitalise Caprichos but not lost time? Should I change Caprichos to caprichos? Yes, I should. But then I'd have to also change it in that other post from a few days ago, and fuck that. So I won't.) I'm enjoying it almost as much as the Goya.

I've found it very conducive to day-dreaming. You read a bit, then you lie back on the couch (or the sun lounger or what-have-you) and think about it, then you float off on a chain of associations (and mixed metaphors). I normally read books far too quickly, but this I'm enjoying slowly. It's great. I love the attention to detail, the three-quarters of a page given to the colour and shape of the lime blossom twigs with which he's making his aunt's tea.

Apparently, one of the many publishers to reject it wrote back saying 'I don't see why a man should take 30 pages to describe how he turns over in his bed before he goes to sleep.'

Rose and I are off to Melbourne later this week to see the Moreau show.

Rock and fucking roll!

05 March 2011

03 March 2011

01 March 2011

The censure of human errors and vices

A project

One of the best pictures at the Te Papa show was the Ensor. I've been looking at, and reading about, him for the last few days. Apparently, he was a big fan of Goya and, to learn his technique, copied Los Caprichos.

So I thought, fuck, that's a good idea.

And we're off

School started for another year last night with drinks. Most of the MFA class didn't show up, the wankers, so we'll have to wait till Friday to eye 'em up. That's when we have our first proper meeting, and sort out studios and shit.

From the conversations about the class I had last night, I'm a little dubious. But we'll see. It also seems as if the studios will be fairly fucking noisy, with construction work going on all fucking year by the sounds of it.

Once again, my studio at home comes into its own.

The schedule is reasonably imposing. It's a relentless march of deadlines in bold capitals surrounded by asterisks – **SUPERVISION AGREEMENT & EXTENDED PROPOSAL DUE**, **CRITIQUE #1**, **POSTGRADUATE SYMPOSIUM**, etc – culminating early next year in the rapid succession of **FINAL WRITTEN COMPONENT DUE**, **EXAMINATION WEEK**, and the quite rightly no longer deserving of capitals **MFA Exhibition Week**.

I've not actually got much of a clue what precisely my 'research' will consist of. I want to play around with both paintings and wall drawings. Colour will play a big part. But beyond that, nothing. Well, nothing much.

That's all right though. I'm not worried. (We'll see what the supervisors think of this at our first meeting next week.) But fuck it, we've got till 4 April before the **SUPERVISION AGREEMENT & EXTENDED PROPOSAL is DUE**.
visitors since 29 March 2004.