Pineapple II

Pineapple II (Jingdezhen Jar)Pineapple II (Ming-A-Ling), 2018. Acrylics on wood panel.

I collaged an actual tissue paper underglaze decal from China onto the jar…so the image of boys playing chequers is not paint or ink, at all, but blue clay sealed under layers of acrylic medium…

Tissue paper decals are designs made from coloured clay (underglazes) that have been silkscreened onto tissue paper. The tissue designs are laid face-down on unfired clay, moistened on the back, and then the paper is peeled away, leaving a crisp design on the clay, which is then fired in a kiln.


Frai-Pan (Entrée The Dragon), 2018. Acrylic, pencil and ink on wood panel.

My love for the Southeast Asian kitchen was expressing itself in this one…painted in a playful rush, I never meant to show this one to anybody. But I had so few paintings for Tropical Gothic that I gave it a varnish and threw it into the exhibition at the last minute.

Frai-Pan (Entrée The Dragon)


An old one, Sopa de Sirena, painted in Venezuela in 2015, but it has never been shown, so I included it in the Tropical Gothic exhibition.

Sopa de Sirena (Mermaid Soup) is a commentary on the difference between affluent countries, and non-affluent ones. In Australia or the US, a mermaid is a whimsical creature that exists for no other purpose than to be enchanting and to decorate a lot of pearlescent, sequined, glitter-encrusted or holographic merchandise.
Where I was born, and then in Venezuela where I made this, a mermaid would probably have been seen as just one more thing for hungry people to eat. A big fish with lots of meat on it.
As one Mexican visitor to the exhibition opening commented knowingly, “Hay que comer…” (“One must eat…”)

Mermaid Soup


This last painting is called Mouth Wash. I have tried to photograph (and even scan) it several times, and it never turned out. Finally settled for a strangely blurred and milky shot…like there was fog inside my phone’s camera lens, but at least you could see the painting. So then I tried to sharpen the blurred image in a photo editor, and this is what I was left with after I clicked the ‘SAVE’ button: digital distortion. I had saved over the original photo, and accidentally deleted the copy that was on my phone.

Maybe this painting is jinxed. It can hardly be haunted…I used my own mouth as the model for gums and lips (but not the teeth, thank you very much). If it makes it back from the exhibition in one piece, I will try to take another photograph. In the meantime, I rather like this bizarre, striped version…

Mouth Wash, 2018. Acrylic on canvas.

Pineapple I

UntitledThis small painting came out of me in a rush. It took two days, with the idea of the snake replacing the idea of eyes on the evening between the two. It’s good when something is so compelling that the work just flows, and before I can become bored or exasperated with the subject, it’s done.
UntitledIt’s not really as ‘dark’ as it seems…to me, this painting is humorous. I love snakes; I think they’re beautiful and I don’t associate them with anything sinister, biblical, or superstitious. They’re graceful, muscular little reptiles, like lizards, and many have beautiful markings and colours.
Untitled

This, and a few other small works of mine, were created for the group show Tropical Gothic: A Selection of Dark Works for Warm Climates. If you’re in Darwin around the time of the festival—and the lights are too bright, the smiles seem mocking, the hubbub is alienating and the town’s party vibes are filling you with a strange sense of weltschmerz—consider yourself invited to our group show. Pineapple I will be hanging in the company of works by my friends Marita Albers, Sandra Kendell, and Sonia Martignon.

Opening night’s on Thursday, August 9th, at 6PM, at Mayfair Gallery in Harriet Place, Darwin CBD.

Tropical Gothic invite

More vevé paintings

Vevé wooden spoons
I painted a few vevés onto wooden spoons last year for a group exhibition. You find vevés drawn in powdered pigments (flour, gunpowder, ochres) on the streets of Haiti…they represent a loa (or lwa…spirits or gods of Haitian vodou) and are used in rituals. I really enjoyed adding colour and texture to these—normally monochromatic—designs; but the wooden spoon format proved a bit unpopular.

So I always meant to do them again, featuring a greater variety of the sigils, on canvas. Another group show coming up in August of this year, Tropical Gothic, has given me the opportunity to do this.

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#erzuliedantor #lwa #loa #veve #haiti #vodou #tropicalgothic

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I’m also learning to shoot time-lapse videos, with my phone wedged into a can filled with short pencils (thank you, Linda Joy, for this punk-rock DIY solution!) so bear with me.

Dave’s Desiderata

Desiderata for Dave
Commissioned by a friend.
Don’t look too closely at the writing, it’s all over the place!
I loved doing the watercolour eucalyptus leaves, though.

Max Ehrmann’s Desiderata is still a beautiful piece of writing. It’s funny that almost everyone I know (myself included)remembers reading it behind the bathroom door…what a strange place for such a lofty piece of writing!

Still, when you consider that the bathroom is often the only place in the house where we can be alone and have time to reflect on philosophy, perhaps this is where something like Desiderata can make a real impression. Who would stop to read it, otherwise? It’s worth letting its message sink in…still relevant, perhaps more so, nowadays, than when it was written in 1927…


“Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons.Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexatious to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.

Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.

And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be. And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.”

Desiderata by Max Ehrmann

Jungle Book

Jungle Book

The last of the 10 handmade journals commissioned by my friend Riitta had this on its cover. It was a book and it had jungle plants, hence the name (I’m often stumped what to call each design).

The image is a mishmash of river and island memories…of which there are many, because I have been living in or near water since I decided, at 25, to spend the rest of my life with a salty sailor (who keeps the sea as a mistress).

I was inspired by the limestone islands of El Nido, the jungle surrounding the Essequibo, the tepuys of Venezuela, the birds of the Orinoco and the Rio Dulce, and the green mangrove water of Sadgroves Creek in Darwin, though I kept the design light and simple, no grand or profound truths in this little illustration!

New Print: Three moons & a tropical sun

3 moons and a sunA new illustration in my Society6 shop. In it, three jellyfish ‘moons’ float around a tendrilled and petalled discus that glows like an underwater sun. Striated coral bommies fill the lower half of the frame.

The themes of sea, marine life, ships and the saturated colours of the tropics, feature a lot in my life and, therefore, in my illustrations.

The original is in acrylic (paint and ink) on canvas, and is destined to become the covering material of a hand-bound journal that was commissioned earlier this year.

Premium quality art prints on fine rag paper are available at Society6. I’ve also enabled the design for printing on selected items. Enjoy!

three-moons-a-tropical-sun-prints