nicholas nicola etchings


Other ETCHINGS to 2012  

Perhaps, somewhat 'archival' in regards to some prints there is here and in the respective secondary sub-menu webpages a selection of etchings, which along with the landscape prints. go all the way back to the 1980's. Some of the prints may even be considered as 'study etchings' as I considered different ideas and whether I could bring them to some visual fruition. Thus the very mixed variety of styles, subject matter and differing results as I continually 'find my way' with this art form. Below the etchings are comments about many of them - not only of those in this main gallery but in the accompanying sub-menu - in the NOTES followed by catologue PDFs. Thanks.

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Indonesia 

Central America

Lithuania, Russia, Egypt, Germany, Cambodia, Outer Tibet.

Sydney 

Iconography 

Miscellanous /Cross-Cultural

Ancient Greek Mythology

Aboriginal Issues 

Political/Satirical 

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NOTES

INDONESIA

I should note that I travelled in Indonesia in 1996 for four months (with another friend Kristina and partly along with others whom we met up with along the way) as part of a nine month overland trip to Europe going through South East Asia to China and which for me led to taking  the Tran-Siberian Railway from Beijing to Moscow.

‘Nirvana.’  

sepia on cream paper. 6” X 4”. copperplate. Indonesia. Java.

 Mt. Merapi which hovers here above a blanket of mist is an active volcano. I and a male friend from Lithuania spent a night walking up to the summit of Mt. Merapi with the hope of seeing it spout red lava just before sunrise. We did not see any lava but viewing the blanket of white cloud over the surrounding landscape made me feel we had reached nirvana. This experience was accentuated by the feeling that as we climbed this steep mountain - through a windy rainy night - I felt we were akin to the spirits of Virgil and Dante travelling through the Underworld. In the morning we had passed from the cold darkness of Hades to the warm dawn light of Paradise. Mt. Merapi is the volcano on which the nearby grand Buddhist complex of Borobudur is based on. The top of this divine temple is meant to resemble nirvana itself; seeing Mt. Merapi at dawn and its mystical surrounding environ I can well understand how it was from here that the ancient architects of Borobudur gained their original inspiration.

‘The Creation of the World.’

sepia on cream paper. 6” X 4”. copperplate. Ubud. Bali. 

Around July each year in Bali is a big Hindu festival that commemorates the creation of the world. Families go to the temple in the morning to worship this event. Food is brought before the gods who come down to visit earth on this special day. After the food is blessed by priests women usually carry it away on baskets they place on their heads. Families have a big feast akin to our Christmas lunch. In this etching you can see beings that still wait to be fully formed in the shadows of the temple. While in the light are fully shaped women taking the food of the gods to their homes.    

Tree of Life.’

 sepia on cream paper. 6” X 4”. copperplate.  Java. Indonesia.

An Indonesian puppet theatre; on the left side are rows of wooden puppets used during the play. The play was viewed during the day and differed from the usual shadow puppet play which has the puppets behind a curtain. The large leaf in the middle of the stage is known as the tree of life and is displayed before a play begins and also at the end of the play to signal to the audience that it is finished.

‘Pennies from Heaven.’

 sepia on cream paper. 6” X 4”. copperplate. Indonesia

Leaving Flores island Kristina & I caught one of the large PELNI ferries which cruise the whole of the Indonesian archipelago. These ferries usually follow a two-week course stopping at different ports for about two hours giving just enough time to disembark and board their human cargo. These large passenger boats, which hold up to 1,000 people impeccably keep to their timetable. Sometimes there is a carnival atmosphere at the wharf when the PELNI ferry comes in as people wait to meet visiting relatives or farewell departing ones. (I still have a strong memory of two large middle-aged women in their splendid ‘Sunday dresses’ each holding a colourful little umbrella in one hand and waving little hankies as the PELNI left. While we waited for the PELNI to leave Flores several canoes approached the large white ship. I looked far down over the rail to see boys in these canoes call up at the passengers to drop coins; after doing so I watched as they dived into the water to collect their ‘treasure.’  Looking down at these industrious boys from the high vantage point of the top deck one felt like a god; I was so high up I really did feel that I was in heaven dropping coins to mortals below.

‘Adam and Eve.’

 sepia on cream paper. 6”X 4”. copperplate. Indonesia

Travelling through the islands of the Indonesian archipelago can be a real trial filled with many days of tedious waiting for small ferries which had broken down or for buses which only come once a day and so forth. However, there is the occasional magnificent day which makes it all worthwhile. Six of us travelled on a rickety boat to the island of Rinca near Flores to see the Komodo dragons. There is a sense of pre-history amidst the Indonesian islands which can make one feel that you have gone back to the dawn of time. We had a great day looking for the dragons and walking around Rinca and on the way back to Flores on the boat we saw one of those picture postcard sunsets that take your breath away. Amidst us six were a lovely Australian couple; here they are as Adam and Eve on the boat enjoying paradise.

‘Anu Krakatau is Angry.’

 sepia on cream paper. 6” X 4”. copperplate. Indonesia.

Anu Krakatau is the child of Krakatau which blew up in the late 1800s causing thousands of deaths. One guidebook stated the sound of the eruption could be heard in Alice Springs. Thus my travel companion Kristina and I paid homage to this ancient power of nature by going out to it on a small fishing boat. The foredeck can be seen in the foreground. A boy on the craft could speak some English and so was our guide; the volcanic island erupted large plumes of black dust into the sky every ten minutes and so he informed us that on this day ‘Anu Krakatau was angry’. We spent a half hour on the island where we continued to view the blasts of Anu’s temper. It seemed as we touched the warm black sandy soil we had connected with the centre of the earth itself. The trip to a nearby island - where we were going to stay overnight before heading back to the Javanese coast - was very wild, the sky suddenly becoming grey and accompanied by a strong tempest. I feared as the boat steeply swung from side to side in the stormy seas there was a good chance it would capsize. However, we safely reached the sanctuary of the next island which - along with several others - was probably a remnant of the previous Krakatau; during the night we watched Anu Krakatau continue its tantrums - which regularly appeared as small orange glows on the dark horizon. Our eventful sojourn to this volcanic island was another highlight having the same sense of journeying into a world which preceded human time; comparing favourably to our much earlier visit to Rinca.  To finish on a ‘technical note’ I should add that the sky was devised by simply scratching steel wool over the wax which was on the copper plate.  

Borobudur. Java.

B&W. 8”X5”. zinc plate.

These are some of the large bells at the top of the massive Buddhist monument known as Borobudur in Java. This cosmic monument echoes the nearby holy mountain of Mt. Merapi. You have to walk on an ascending pathway of this stone structure which somewhat resembles a relatively square ziggurat; as you do you may meditate on events in the life of Buddha which are carved into the high walls. At the spacious platform-like top you will have reached nirvana and from this open air heaven you can view the splendid surrounding countryside and Mt. Merapi itself – which in the far distance – along a bumpy mountain horizon. It should be stated that within each bell is a statue of Buddha which may be touched and by which I presume the healing power of this spiritual figure may have its effect upon you.

CENTRAL AMERICA

I should note that I travelled through Central America on two occasions  in 1985 (for five months mainly with a friend Julie and mainly to Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras as well as Mexico) and again for three months in 1992 (mainly with a friend Louise through El Salvador - with an Australian based human rights delegation formed by the El Salvador Committee for Human Rights, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Mexico, Costa Rica, Panama, as well as to Cuba, Venezula, Colombia, Ecuador). 

‘Tikal. Guatemalan Postcard.’ B&W. 5.5”X8”. zinc plate. Guatemala

This image is based on a postcard of Tikal I purchased on my second trip to Guatemala in 1992. I visited Tikal in 1985 and being in Guatemala in the mid-eighties was a strange affair as it was a period of severe oppression for the Mayans. Yet wherever you went as a tourist there was a sordid ‘magic realism’ to the way such injustice was cunningly kept out of view. There was a civil war with leftist rebels but it always seemed to be happening ‘somewhere else’; if you were not aware of how vicious things really were, the occasional sightings of army trucks dropping off soldiers – the ‘upholders of national security’ - going into the jungle from the road to out-of-the-way indigenous villages would have been noted as a mere routine ‘army exercise’ - with no malicious intent. While in reality thousands were being slaughtered by the military. Thus, in response I found myself involved in solidarity work for Central America for several years.  

‘Festival. Bluefields.’ B &W. 8” X 6”. zinc plate. Nicaragua. Mosquito Coast. St. Jeromes Day. October 1992. 

‘...devils were running down the muddy street. The heavy rain was not deterring them. Intrigued by the gradually increasing numbers of demons I walked down to the main intersection of Bluefields. Many young men were dressed as old women wearing dresses that came down to their feet and sprawling over large padded behinds. These men were also wearing colourful face masks and carrying long sticks in their hands. From the intersection the road inclined gradually until it reached the market sheds which were beside the wharves. To the right on this last stretch of the road was a restaurant bar which was filled with ‘old women’ and blaring Carib music. A crowd of spectators was building up and hovering over Bluefields was a grey sky spitting water drops. I stood beside the women selling bread on a corner and watched the ‘old women’ who were coming out of the shop. They were running up to the young girls in the crowd and hitting them with their sticks. Amongst these ‘old women’ was the one wearing the dress of the U.S. flag. The crowd, filled with trumpeters, drummers and men shooting off skyrockets which they were holding in their hands, started to venture down past the wooden buildings of the main street of Bluefields. I looked over from where I stood beside the restaurant bar and noticed the lone ‘old woman’ who was tightly gripping his stick and standing to one side of the large stone warehouse which was behind him. Along the front of the warehouse was the name SOMOZA with the part of where the Z of the stone lettering broken away. I thought of the ex-dictator, of the past contra war and of the old woman whose body was covered by the United States flag and who had resumed striking several spectators...’*1  

*Short story excerpt by the artist.

‘Guatemalan Couple.’  

B&W. 4.5” X 3”. zinc plate. Guatemala. 1985.

This is a work based on a small painting in the rustic room of a hostel in Guatemala City which - for purely monetary reasons - also doubled up as a brothel. 

Nicaraguan Boy.’ B&W. 8” X 6”. zinc plate. Nicaragua.

 This image is based on a common scene which I saw during my second visit to Nicaragua: the beggar child selling chewing gum, cigarette lighters or other such small product. Having been to Nicaragua in 1986 when the Sandinistas were at the zenith of their power you could sense the empowerment of a whole nation which had overcome the Somoza dictatorship. Though the contra war was taking a great toll on human life there was a sense that this bloody trial would be overcome and an everlasting peace would soon be achieved. In 1992 a peace of sorts had been achieved but it had come at the cost of a war weary population voting out the FSLN Sandinistas in order to end a conflict which had taken the lives of at least 10,000 innocent people. However, Nicaraguans were no longer in control of their lives having to face up once more to the usual ills of third world impoverishment. Sadly, the FSLN had also become a politically corrupt organization. This is a melancholy portrait of a young boy struggling through his day; yet I hope - through the iconoclastic quality which I have given the work - that I have instilled him with a sense of dignity which he and his people all deserve.    

‘Schoolhouse. Solentiname. Lake Managua.’ 

B&W. 10” X 6.5”. zinc plate. Nicaragua.

There are a community of artists that live in this region of Lake Managua known as Solentiname. However, I also consider this simple image of a schoolhouse rather remarkable in a third world region where education is typically regarded as a luxury. In my first visit to Nicaragua during the Sandinista period one could not help but appreciate the genuine efforts being made to empower the populus after so many years of dictatorship.

‘Fiesta.’ 

black on grey paper. zinc.  5” X 6”. El Salvador.

In 1992 - the year of the 500th anniversary of the discovery of the Americas by Christopher Columbus - I was in El Salvador for several days with other Australians from our little El Salvador Human Rights Committee. We were with an El Salvadorian friend who was back in El Salvador for the first time. As a resistance fighter against the regime he had to leave El Salvador after escaping from a death squad torture centre. It was like being with a dead man who had come back to life visiting his memories of San Salvador street battles he had had with the fascist regime, pointing out spots on footpaths where friends had been shot down; and the notion of a resurrection literally seemed to be the case when he joyfully met other comrades who assumed he had been ‘disappeared’.1 As a delegation we visited guerrilla camps, politicians, government people, NGOs, villages that had been devastated by war, massacres etcetera and essentially like a lot of other international solidarity members at the time were making it felt that ‘international eyes’ were on El Salvador so that the peace process would continue to proceed successfully.  This image is based on an outdoor fiesta the people of an El Salvadorian village had put on for us as well as to celebrate a soccer win over a neighbouring village. In the little square while we were all dancing in the early evening a ‘cloud’ of fireflies descended upon us and created a typically remarkable scene of Latino magic realism. I should acknowledge the dancing couple are directly based on an image by the famous Mexican artist Diego Rivera.

1.Interestingly enough these ‘companeros-in-arms’ still only knew their friend by his cover name which was Raul.  

‘Voodoo Cross. Havana.’  

B&W. 6”X7”. zinc plate. Cuba.

 An Afro-Cuban man asks me for the time; I give it and then end up in his place. A blackout, so candles are lit. The darkness illuminates this tall, wiry man with the flat-top haircut who speaks Creole English, taught to him by his great-aunt. Thus the family does not understand what is being said, the wife the grandparents walk about, prepare dinner. It feels like sitting on a dream stage as the host explains it is his daughter’s birthday; she is turning one, shares it with Havana’s own founding day. In this inextricable way the destiny of a city is seen in the fortunes of a child. He needs help to organise a party. The monthly ration books do not offer enough provisions. The grandmother chooses to show the voodoo dolls behind a door. Black market rum. A black market cake are stealthily organised during the week. Socks with wings for the birthday girl are bought at a U.S. dollar shop. At last in the alleyway outside the house the party proceeds with the neighbourhood children. The neighbourhood gossip asks: is the stranger an angel from heaven? A boat piñata is smashed. A shower of sweets and presents. Reggae music, dancing, voodoo rituals in the late evening,( including touching a wooden cross in a glass of water, surrounded by other glasses of water a fingertip dipped into each one then touching the cross; placing an ash cross on the father’s forehead). The smiling father with his wife beside him proudly holds up his baby birthday girl. Her winged socks a brilliant white. A Caribbean Holy Family.’   *  

*Short story excerpt by the artist.

 ‘The Melbourne Cup was raced on the Mexican Day of the Dead.’

B&W. 8” X 5”. zinc plate.

 I was inspired to do this image when I heard on November 1 a racing commentator confidently state that the whole world’s attention was on Australia’s ‘nation-stopping’ race. I knew in Mexico that on this particular day people had another festivity foremost on their minds. The musicians with the skull heads are based on colourful cut-out designs that are familiarly used on skeleton sugar dolls that are also made for the Day of the Dead.

'Macandel'.

8”X4”. B&W. zinc plate.

A final etching included here of the Haitian resistance leader who - according to  Cuban writer Alejo Carpenter - turned into a butterfly when he was burnt at the stake by the French. This image was produced due to a memory of a one armed young man on the overnight bus from Bogota to Quito

 

LITHUANIA

I lived in Lithuania for a year from March 1998 to March 1999 and revisited 'Lietuva' again for a few weeks after celebrating the new millenium in 2000 with Australian friends living in Lithuania and Germany.

'Sleeping Beauty'.

B&W. 6”X4”. zinc plate .Vilnius. Lithuania.

This etching details the following carved wooden  totem in a little out-of-the-way park in Vilnius by a wide canal.

'Flute Player'.

B&W. 5cm X 8cm. copperplate. Kaunas. Lithuania.

This image of a flute player is based on a statuette outside the Devil’s Museum in Kaunas. Lithuania. There is a small park dotted with statues and this one took my particular attention. Lithuania was only christianized by the Teutons roughly six hundred years ago and throughout the country there is still a strong undercurrent of paganism in its national culture. Lithuania is now a devoutly Catholic country but even on top of the crosses on the magnificent roofs of its soaring cathedrals there are metal circles with swerving sunrays jutting from them - harking back to a worship of the sun from pre-Christian days. The Devil’s Museum itself is very interesting filled only with figurines of the Devil throughout the whole world. It is not surprising to come across such a museum in a country that has a strong sense of nature worship and interest in pagan traditions. It can be said that such a mythic observation of nature is often the case throughout most of Europe but it does seem to me more so in Lithuania. After all, near a coastal town called Nida next to the Baltic Sea (a place where you can visit Thomas Mann’s holiday house) is Witch’s Hill. A forested area filled with large wood carvings of witches, devils, gods and goddesses. However, it is all rather playful. As a Lithuanian woman once cheekily commented to me: “The Devil is our friend. We can ‘trust him’. He always keeps his promises.” The flute player reflects the more mythic, sublime semblance of nature and it is an image I find especially enriching. 

 ‘Winter Trees.’  

sepia on cream paper. 6” X 4”. copperplate. Lithuania.                                                                                                    

This etching is based on a sketch I did of some winter trees in the Lithuanian forest. Druskininkai is a town in southern Lithuania where the national icon of Lithuania - the mystical painter and composer M.K. Ciurlionis (1875 - 1911) - spent his childhood. I could feel the spiritual sense of nature which Ciurlionis himself would have experienced while walking through these beautiful woods On a more poignant level before going to Lithuania for a short stay I had been in Krakow with Kristina - the Australian-Lithuanian friend that I was visiting – another Lithuanian friend and an Australian couple who were living in Frankfurt (and who we had met in Indonesia). We had celebrated the coming of the new 2000 millennium in this Polish city. It had been a great night enjoying the festivities in the large famous town square. However, during our few days in Krakow we also visited the nearby extermination camp of Auschwitz. Amidst the snow we walked amongst the derelict wooden huts, the guard towers and the concrete remains of the crematorium and death chambers. In the museum section were the piles of shoes and other garments of the many victims in small cubicle rooms behind large glass walls. Thus, when I drew these winter trees I was struck by the way the branches were all spread out in the manner of the many pronged Jewish candle candelabras which I had also seen; and which reminded me of the human reality of maintaining one’s faith at a time of insurmountable tragedy.

‘Nida.’

sepia on cream. 2.5X 5.5”  copperplate. Lithuania. 

Lithuania was only ‘Christianized’ 600 years ago and so there is still a strong pagan undercurrent in its culture although it is considered to be a steadfast Catholic country. (For instance, one cannot help but notice how on the very top of the Catholic churches in Vilnius there are positioned metal circles with sunrays in a sort of subconscious veneration to Saule goddess of the Sun). These wooden ‘pagan’ graveyard totems testify to its pre-Christian past. Nida is an interesting place. On the out-of-way Baltic coast the sandhills out of town and the windswept forest terrain reminded me a little of the wild Australian coastline. Nearby is a sculpture park called the Witch’s Hill filled with life size wooden carved gods, goddesses, goblins, witches etcetera.  


SYDNEY

‘Speed’s Milk Bar.’ 

B&W. 5.5”X 8.5” zinc plate. Earlwood.

 I grew up in milk bar for nearly twenty years and my father was known famously as Speedie as he was considered very slow in serving customers. Although it was noted that Speed was very quick whenever he raced off to the TAB across the road. My mother was ‘Mrs Speed’; while myself, my sister and brother were all ‘Little Speeds.’ It was also a never-ending source of curiosity as to why all three siblings had auburn hair. (At school I was sometimes referred to as the ‘rare red-headed wog’). This etching is based on a classic sepia photo of the milk bar which I have since ‘misplaced.’ The milkshake maker in the foreground remains a ‘family totem’ to this day. Despite the very long hours of tough labour it was a very lively, interesting way to spend one’s youth. Yet as my brother recalls the racism was rife (with a few brawls etc) and we bore the brunt of it until Australia finally became a more tolerant society (on the surface at least) when the ‘social accent’ thankfully shifted to multiculturalism. Yet, there are many good memories such as my brother and I playing the Wests brothers in a best-of-five ‘WOGLCON’ pinball series which had all the atmosphere of a Grand Final at the S.C.G. (CON stands for convicts. At the time Space Invaders was also a popular electronic game). The shop was also a little bohemian with a lot of suburban and political philosophy being espoused by a varied assortment of regular customers from all walks of life with even the occasional celebrity popping in to buy ciggies or whatever. I could rave on as the nostalgia always gets the better of me but I should add that although my extremely hardworking mother had to also raise three kids my very temperamental ‘larger than life’ father was definitely the ‘star of the show’ being both ‘tyrant’ and witty ‘comical satirist’ and thus I leave you with the following poem:

ZEUS

 I sometimes envy the family cordiality of the Anglo - American middle classes

 when I compare it to the psychological upheavals of my Grecian family history

 Which nevertheless goes back to the beginning of time

 To the time when Prometheus stole fire for humanity 

To the time when chaos was replaced by the universal order of the gods

 Who fight and debate amongst themselves

                                                                                 shifting the fates of both men and women

 according to their whims

 according to their lusts

 according to their jealousies

 according to their drunken states

 States of mind

 States of body

 States of soul

                         and other Aristotelian dichotomies

                                                                                       (tri-chotemies?)

 States of divine judgement

 States of  human error which do not guess correctly the divine moods 

 To the moods of my father who has the temper of a thunder god

 I understand now he is none other than Zeus

 I his son

 The son of Zeus

                            Doomed to deal with a god who has the gruffness of a Spartan warrior

                            (How I envy the apparent civil manners of Anglo-Australian society)

                             Hey there’s Zeus studying the racing form guide

                                                                                                                      with the discipline of a university academic studying the 

                                                            mysteries  of  quantum mechanics

 Hey there’s Zeus picking oranges and lemons from the backyard

 Hey there’s Zeus taking out the garbage

 Hey there’s Zeus shouting at everyone in sight

 Hey there’s Zeus who feeds my mother whose body has totally been worn down by disease and by the hours of hard work and emotional pain inflicted upon her over the long years

 Hey there’s Zeus watching the footie

 Watching the share                                                                                       

                                     market

 Watching the parliament

                                             debate

 Watching endless episodes of American sitcoms

 Watching John Wayne kill all those bad men

                                                                                 from out of town

 Watching his grandchildren who play in the backyard created from the life force of his soul which contains enough energy to explode and tear apart the known universe from the suburbs of Sydney through to Circular  Quay

It is a mystery to me

                                     as I play with my sister’s twin three year olds

My nephew

My niece

                 on the swings

                                         (There I am pushing them to and fro in time with the rhythm of the universe)

                to think of the push and shove and determination of my father who had his family working for twenty  years in the milk bar

                                                 I’m still on the swing with my nephew and niece

                                                 We are all three silent enjoying the midday sun

                                                 In a paradise made from harsh toil

                                                 Yes it is still a strange realization to me that from the endurance tests foisted upon us by life can sometimes come such tranquillity

 

‘Dancing Puppets. Kings Cross Street Festival’.

B&W. 6”X 4”. zinc plate.

 One time at the Kings Cross street festival I came across this peculiar sight of a dancing puppet on a little stage. (I have considered ‘Sydney Voodoo’ as an alternative title for this print). I did a quick drawing on scrap paper. I asked one of these two women how the puppet could dance and it was cheerfully explained that the mystery would be solved if I bought one – which I duly did. As it turns out a piece of fishing line is strung on a little hook on the back of the puppet. It is a simple matter of lightly shaking this fishing line to make the puppet bounce up and down to make it appear as if it is dancing. Very clever. 


‘Suburban Dream.’ 

B & W. 8” X 6”. zinc plate

This image recalls the Australian past time of watching late afternoon games shows. The Wheel of Fortune was a favourite of mine.


‘Kite flying. Sydney Park. St. Peters.’  

B&W. 11.5”X 8”. zinc plate

In the local area these tall chimney stacks of a now disused brick factory have a very iconoclastic quality to them as they are so dominating. There is a large park behind the stacks which is in regular use by the community. Every Christmas the stacks are decorated by the council. The small rooms within the brickworks are also sometimes used such as for exhibitions or plays. Many years ago I once went here to see a production of Samuel Beckett’s play Happy Days.  


‘Zorba the Greek’.

 B& W. 8” X 6”. zinc plate. Llewellyn.St. Balmain

This image is based on an evening with friends who used to live in this beautiful old house in Llewellyn Street, Balmain. I was driving over to the house one September on a Saturday night many years ago and I heard Zorba the Greek on the radio. At the house one of my friends mentioned Zorba the Greek and it was decided to play this tune and other folk songs from around the world. It is hard to explain but there was a dream like quality to the evening for me as we absorbed ourselves in dancing to these songs. The house had a rustic feeling to it and the magical overtone of the night was accentuated by dancing in the near dark - I think there was only a lamp lighting the room. The work itself displays the cluttered living room of this old house and the composition of the dancing figures - which includes myself and three other female friends - is based on Henri Matisse’s The Dance.  


‘With Water And Courage.’

B&W. 8” X 6”. zinc plate

Roslyn, an old friend, has performed in much street theatre and was a member of a famed troupe named Icarus. I once saw her in a spectacular fire performance outside the Supreme Court at Taylor Square on the Sunday evening of the Taylor Street Fair. At her former place in Darlinghurst - where on the wooden floor was a painting of the sun iconography you can dimly make out in the background - I asked Roslyn how she went about practising her fire breathing (she also often walked on stilts in her street performances). “With a lot of water and courage.” came Roslyn’s understated reply.


‘An Angel At My Park.’

 black on grey paper.  6”X4”. zinc plate. Burwood.

I taught mildly intellectual disabled primary age students for a year and once a week the class – which consisted of anything between five or six kids - was taken to Burwood’s Westfield. The students were shown how to independently shop in a supermarket. Afterwards there was lunch in the nearby park as well as a chance to feed the ducks before going back to school. A friend interested in psychology once came along. She had an immediate rapport with the children in my care – ‘Rain Class’ - not baulking at their ‘differences’. Her calm natural empathy throughout the day led me to believe that I had spent these hours with an angel. This image is based on a photo of her being on a see-saw with the kids. 


‘Resurrection Night.’

B&W. 6”X 4”. zinc plate. Earlwood.

 At the stroke of midnight on the Saturday night of every Greek Easter people light their candles and hold them up and proclaim ‘Christ is Risen!’ It is an inspiring  moment and visually these flames of light overcoming the surrounding darkness accentuates for me the deep mystical quality of the ‘eastern hues’ of the Orthodox faith.


‘Sydney Terrace.’

 B&W. 7”X 9.5” zinc plate.

A particularly early traditional work; this place is where I once lived in Surry Hills. ‘Sally’ in the foreground belonged to my flatmate. 


SPORT TRIPTYCH


The  Curse is Lifted.’ 

In commemoration of Australia’s entry into the FIFA World Cup with penalty shoot-out win over Uruguay. Telstra Stadium. Sydney. November 16. 2005.  

B&W. 8” X 6”. copperplate.

I was with a friend at Sapphos Café in Glebe after the markets and we were commenting about Tufnell Park in North London where I had lived for a short while and where she had grown up in the vicinity. The conversation meandered onto Nick Hornby’s Feverpitch and the film based on the book as we are both Arsenal supporters. Funnily enough I had just bought a book on European & African Witchcraft in this café-bookshop and as the football talk started to focus on Australia’s recent entry to the World Cup I was very surprised to find out that my friend had not heard of the African curse placed on the Australian soccer team; this had occurred when the Australian footballers had refused to pay a witch doctor where they were playing in East Africa after asking him to put a curse on Rhodesia to secure a win. (Australia did win the match). Johnny Warren had told John Saffron that things did start to go a little haywire for the Australian team in subsequent matches. Thus John Saffron placed it upon himself to travel to Mozambique to have the curse lifted. The original witch doctor had died but John Saffron was able to acquire the services of other sorcerers. I have a memory of John Saffron on television dressed in the Australian football uniform being splattered in chicken blood on the very soccer field that Australia had gained its victory all those years ago. (I believe that subsequently Johnny Warren was also splattered with chicken blood in Australia). With this ritual completed Australia could only hope for better things and it is remarked that on the night of the second-leg win when John Aloisi (transformed here into an African spirits man) scored that final memorable penalty goal and ran off with his shirt waving above his head (much like that main central figure in Gericault’s Raft of the Medusa) that luck had finally run Australia’s way. Back home on that Saturday I was in the mood to do an etching that was possible due to John Saffron’s ‘feat.’ Thus this ‘magic image’ based on one of the many incredible newspaper photos of John Aloisi running off down the pitch after the ‘impossible victory’ was secured. It was such a momentous occasion and as the viewer casts his or her eyes onto the sea of endless dots in the Telstra Stadium - representing the thousands of people who each individually and as one massive organism witnessed this grand achievement - one can relive that precious millisecond of pure rapture that was felt when that ball landed into the back of the net. Life as joy. No matter what the future holds for these Australian footballers this fantastic moment - when this once cursed football team had been released from the African spirits - can always be savoured again and again…


‘Shiva the Cricketer.’ S.C.G.

To commemorate India’s innings of 7-750 (declared) at the S.C.G. New Year’s Test.  January. 2003.

B & W.  9” X 5”. copperplate.

As I understand it Shiva ‘the Auspicious’ is the Hindu god of both creation & destruction. It is what is intimated in the words from Rabindranath Tagore’s poem Brahma, Visnu, Siva where he talks of the great Siva awakening to give new form to our bodies that grow weary on a ‘law-fixe path’; Siva to sing of our destruction so that we may obtain new life. This print commemorates India’s 7-750 (declared) at the New Year’s Test. January. 2003. S.C.G. An awesome score by which India’s creativity was destructive to the Australians. I loved it. It certainly seems the Indian team did have this multi-limbed divinity miraculously aiding their batting. The Shiva is based on a bronze sculptural piece called Shiva as Nataraja (The Lord of Dance) which I saw at the Vision of Kings exhibition at the ANG. Canberra. The four dancing dervishes behind Shiva (& the S.C.G stands) are from an Indian image of dancers & musicians also in this exhibition. Shiva the Cricketer In a ‘backdoor way’ also wonderfully commemorates the liberating, exuberant life spirit of Bollywood! A ‘fantastic’ film style which I truly appreciate & marvel.  


'Edmond, Perry Keyes & Bek Between the Posts'.

B & W.  9” X 5”. copperplate.

Over the years I have seen Perry Keyes perform in many places such as at the ‘old Sandringham’ and at the former Broadway Hotel on Friday nights; as well at the Warren View Hotel and the Rose of Australia in Erskineville on  Wednesday nights backing up Bernie Hayes. I always loved the name of his old band ‘The Stolen Holdens’ as I used to own an EH Holden (and yes I used to worry that it would be stolen). However, what I especially love is his song about the day the great South Sydney player Johnny Sattler broke his arm with its ‘signature line’ of kicking a ball between the posts. Perry who has grown up in the working class areas of Waterloo/Redfern bases many of his songs on local life and his ongoing compilation forms a sort of ‘oral history’ of what is becoming a bygone era of Sydney. As we see Sydney go through its present crass development era - with its globalised renovated hotels and so called general ‘gentrification’ with all those brutalist apartment blocks etcetera -  which is displacing old established local communities, Perry’s ‘non-commercial’ songs become more poignant especially for me as I hold onto a nostalgia for the ‘old Sydney.’ However, I have only really got to know Perry well recently. Mainly due to the quirky gathering every school holidays of catching up with him and two other friends for a pub lunch at either a Leagues Club or R.S.L etc (that sort of venue). His taxi driver stories are very amusing and it is easy to see where his strength in writing ballads comes from. Thus in recent gigs I have taken a few photos (such as at the Gladstone Hotel in Dulwich Hill; at  the  Botany  Bay  View Hotel on King Street, Newtown as well as at  the  Carlisle Hotel  off  Australia St, Newtown) and as a result I have produced this ‘montage’ of Perry, Edmond and ‘Bekkie-Jean’ performing ‘larger than life’ at the old S.C.G (note I have included the old hill as well as ‘the Berries’; one player in the background wears the old Newtown Jets emblem) which was the arena for many a memorable rugby league finals game. (The kicker is meant to be Greg Brentnall who struck that spectacular high kick which Steve Gearin grasped in mid-air to dive down on the tryline to score a never-to-be-forgotten last try in the 1980 Grand Final which Canterbury-Bankstown comprehensively won over the more favoured fanciful Eastern Suburbs 18-4). Bek is the drummer in Perry’s present line-up and was in an excellent  band called Eva Trout. Bek is so full of life and has an incredibly beautiful voice; it is always mesmerising to hear her sing. A true Siren. In Edmond’s case he is a very gifted musician and is also adept on accordion and harmonica. It amazes me that such great performers as these three incredibly competent musicians (as well as the likes of Steph from the former Roaring Jack) have not yet achieved great fame. Anyhow, in concluding it can be said that in short this ‘wry image’ is a memento to the Sydney (in many ways what was a more relaxed, less greedy, hospitable city) that Perry Keyes and others sing about. Ciao.   

  

ICONOGRAPHY

‘The Angel.’ 

 sepia on cream paper. 6”X4” copperplate.   Moscow. Russia.                                                                               

This angel is based on one of the three heavenly figures of Andrey Rublyov’s ‘The Trinity’ (c. 1411). Rublyov was Russia’s master iconographer. His icons have an inner spiritual psyche which strongly appeals to my Greek Orthodox sensibilities. Icons are not seen as works of art but rather as religious objects for holy worship. Icons are perceived as open ‘windows to eternity’; thus the spectator meditates on ‘heaven’ so as to allow one’s soul to transcend the mortal dimensions of this physically bound world. Hopefully, an inner revelation of the ‘Divine Love’ shall occur.At the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow I had the good fortune to see Rublyov’s ‘The Trinity.’ Yet, it was in St. Petersburg - at the Hermitage - I was especially intrigued to see a young well-heeled woman meditate and pray in front of another Rublyov icon. I found such mystical reverence quite moving and further emphasised, for me, the sublime spirituality of these beautiful religious images. It is my hope I may have also been able to convey this same sense of a ‘divine serenity’ with this particular image. I should also mention that angels are seen as messengers from God. Thank you.


‘The Redemption.’  

sepia on paper. 6”X4”. copperplate. Moscow.Russia.

This etching of an iconoclast Christ as the redemptive Messiah is based on an icon by the great Russian Byzantine icon painter Andrey Rubylov.


Agape.’

sepia on cream paper.  10” X 8”. zinc plate.   

Agape is the Ancient Greek word for the sacrificial love as displayed by Christ. The print is based on a section of a Byzantine tapestry called the Epitaphios of Thessalonoki.  It shows Christ as deceased in the ‘nether state’ between his lethal suffering on the Cross and to his eventual Resurrection. (I believe that depictions of Christ in this situation are quite rare). Although Christ is dead there is a sense in the original textile that he is more ‘asleep’. Thus the work for me prevails with a sense of hope.


‘Manjustri.’Bodhivista of Transcendental Wisdom’.

sepia on cream paper. 6”X4”. copperplate. Tibet.

Firstly, I would like to state that a bodhivista is an enlightened divine being. A bodhivista serves to lead others to enlightenment in their progression towards nirvana. Manjustri is a bodhivista who is depicted here as a young prince. The flaming sword in the top left hand corner of the etching is used to cut through human illusion.. Manjustri holds a flaming double-edged sword   with   his right hand while in his left hand this diety holds a stem which eventually  leads to a blooming  lotus of wisdom. Manjustri is portrayed as a young man to point out the Buddhist notion that wisdom does not necessarily result from the mere experience of living many years. Wisdom - which is seen in Buddhism as the Mother of all Buddhas - can result from a perceptive intellect which can see right through to the foundations of all reality Why is this mental power known as wisdom so cherished? Because wisdom is seen as the major virtue which can lead a pilgrim to the sort of total freedom needed to emancipate us from human suffering and human desire. These mortal virtues impede us from reaching nirvana. Thus this Buddhist diety is one of the most pre-eminent in the Buddhist cosmos. As iconography interests me I was attracted to the idea of portraying an Eastern divinity. It seems appropriate to etch Manjustri for it surely appears to me to be a worthwhile goal in this life - which many times seems like ‘looking through a glass darkly’ - to seek out the wisdom of the gods. This Manjustri is a detail of an eastern Tibetan image possibly painted in the early nineteenth century. It is entitled the ‘Pure Land of Manjustri.’ My interest in Tibetan Buddhism comes from experiencing Tibetan New Year in the Tibetan monastery town of Xiahe in Gansu province, western China (in Chinese-occupied Outer Tibet). I was impressed by the many mass rituals which I saw as well as by the cheekiness of the Tibetan people; they portray an incredible human resilience which defies both the adversities of nature and the harsh political obstacles which are presently being placed before them. Ignorant of much that I saw I am naturally curious to find out the meaning of these new year rituals. Thus, along the way, to discover such a bodhivista as Manjustri has been enriching.


 ‘African Mask.’

sepia on cream paper. 6” X 4”. copperplate.                                                                                                                              

I have not yet been to so called ‘Black Africa’ but this image is a cursory acknowledgement of my interest in the overall dynamism of its many cultures; a vitality that has had an immense influence on Western modernism. It should be noted that African masks are ‘still objects’ that are infused with life by the spirits and by that ‘organic moving object’: the dancer. I was also influenced to do this work by the fact that a friend who has been to Africa on at least two occasions has left with me a considerable number of her masks and wooden statues for ‘safekeeping.’         


‘Luna Park.’  B&W. 8” X 6”. zinc plate. Bayon. (Ankor Wat). Cambodia. 

This smiling Buddhist face is based on a stone carved image at the temple complex at Siem Reap known as ‘Bayon.’ These temples are in the same area as Ankor Wat - one of the marvels of Khmer architecture When I first saw this smiling Buddha I was immediately reminded of the smiling face of Luna Park and consequently on either side of the face are the towers which can be found on the facade of Luna Park. It was an extraordinary day for myself and for my travel friend Julia as we were in Cambodia in 1990 while the country was more-or-less still closed off to individual travel. A guide T.T. took us and two middle-aged Frenchmen on a tour of the whole Ankor Wat complex. We had flown in from Phnom Penh and would fly out four hours later as it was too dangerous to go overland or to stay. As we enjoyed our tourist day government troops were passing by in a truck convoy on a long winding dirt road going off to fight the Khmer Rouge. In the distance we could hear the rumblings of battle and the ground would shake from artillery fire. A sight that will stay with me forever is two very young soldiers with Kalashnikovs over their shoulders languidly walking beside two Buddhist monks in orange garb walking through the Khmer ruins - as a shortcut to their village - all sharing a cigarette. At lunch one of the Frenchmen explained to us how he had come back to visit Cambodia as he had been there before as the child of a French diplomat father. He explained that on his first visit to Ankor Wat the jungle had fully surrounded it; when we were there it still had a very remote out of the way feel to it. As for T.T. he worked as a guide in the day and the work was good for improving his English and to supplement his meagre income. At night T.T. said he was often a guard helping to stop Khmer Rouge incursions into the local town Siem Reap. I shall also never forget the $US100 Admission Price for our visit to Ankor Wat which also included a lunch at a nearby government restaurant. There was also a $1 photo charge. We had to tip T.T. when we realised that he was going to see very little of the admission money.

phnom penh, december, 1990  

 From the sixth floor of the Hotel Sokhali we had a grand view of Phnom Penh. We could see the hills beyond the outside of the city. We looked down onto a shanty house on the roof of the building opposite us. A lone girl, perhaps only four years old, was brushing her teeth.  I shut the windows. This cuts out the noise. I walked out onto our small balcony. I was immediately reminded that the Sokhali was on a T-intersection. I looked over at the local cinema which was on the other side of the main road facing the front of the hotel. Large billboards of beautiful Indian women and macho guys adorned the front of the building. Cinema crowds continually swirled in and out of the large entrance from which came sounds that ranged from mystical rhythms to cowboy music. On either side of the cinema were flats and units filled with families. Underneath the units were shops which sold household goods, cigarettes, jewellery, food, bottled water, Russian vodka and where black-market money was also displayed behind counter windows. There were barbers, hairdressers, bakeries, stalls, cafes with televisions, restaurants and photography places with the latest Fuji technology. The one constant sound throughout the length and breadth of Phnom Penh was the blare of horns. These came from the many motor scooters and few cars which raced up an down the main road outside the Sokhali. Mingled in between these vehicles were hundreds of bicycles and cyclos, carrying goods as well as passengers, which were invariably always ringing their bells. N.G.O four wheel drives would wound their way through this traffic. I saw a tourist bus which was to me like a bubble protecting its occupants from the filth and noise of the city. Near dusk the dirt of the city would swirl up and cover everybody as the traffic became heavier and thousands of people left their daily chores to go home. Along the pavements would be children playing games which included French skipping, plastic sword fights, hoola hoops, cards and throwing whirling things into the air. Some children along with a few women would beg. One -legged soldiers could also be seen limping along the walkways or trying to rush across the roads. The cyclos, when stationary, would gather outside the Sokhali and other hotels. Many people would always be walking about and at the intersections were guard posts manned by traffic police. A lone green figure on top of a stand would direct the traffic to stop and go from the centre of these crossroads. The bicycles and cyclos would strain in neat lines waiting for the hand signal which would allow them to move on. Women wearing Peruvian style hats would cling to their husbands on the back of motor scooters. I saw a truck filled with large blocks of ice. One cyclo had his seat stacked with line after line of Coke bottles in crates. The driver could just peer over them to see where he was going. I saw before me people who were simply getting on with their lives…the warm air of the hot day shrouded each person as the elongated shadows of the sinking sun connected together to bring in the night. There were no street lights. Light would come from the shops. Light would come from the heads of passing vehicles. The noise permeated on, indifferent to whether the world was light or dark. People’s conversations cluttered the night sounds...*

  *extract from short story by the artist.

 

MISCELLANOUS

'Russian Shaman.'

B&W. 6”X4” plastic plate.

This image is based on a full size model of a Russian shaman from Siberia in the Ethnographic Museum in St. Petersburg. As I see artist as shaman I am very intrigued by the role of the shaman who often serves as a human conduit between the spirit and material. Kandinsky was also very much interested in the ethnography of Siberia and his so called abstract paintings are often filled with shaman patterns and symbols. 

 

‘The Human Spirit Rests.’

B&W. 4”X2.5”. copperplate.

This ‘spirit’ (along with Iphigenia & Achilles in the Ancient Greek Mthology series) are based on charcoal drawings I have made from attending a life drawing class which a friend has encouraged me to go to; while she elegantly draws accomplished likenesses of the model before us I ‘scratch away’ with charcoal but from my less-than-elegant sketches I hope to use them as the basis to eventually do a larger series of etchings mainly using mythological figures as a general theme. I have a strong interest in Ancient History & Ancient Mythology especially as it shows me the consistency of both the folly, horror and goodness of human nature, fate and the gods. I highly recommend reading Meditations by the Stoic Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius In case you are wondering this particular etching is of the back of a female model.


 ‘Angel Seat.’

B&W.4”X6”. copperplate. runswick St. Melbourne.

I quite like Brunswick Street which has a lively, diverse character and so I thought it was rather befitting to spot this arty seat in this great Melbourne road.  Although in Australia when we refer to travelling we often mean going overseas Melbourne - in a way - with its ‘European quality’ can allow a person to pretend that he or she is outside the country.


View from Mt. Sinai.’

 B&W. 6”X 7”. zinc plate.

This rather ordinary scene achieved with scratching steel wool across the wax on the plate belies a night in which a very strange event occurred. There were nine of us staying  overnight on Mt. Sinai (we had all arrived more-or-less individually) and early on we sighted these seven or eight amazing vertical ‘pillars’ of pulsating green light hovering just above the dark horizon line. We had no idea of what they were – and to this day I still wonder about this phenomenon – yet as we also watched hundreds of shooting stars above us it was concluded that it was possible to imagine the many larger-than-life things that happened in this terrain during Old Testament times. An Australian woman kept playing Vivaldi’s Four Seasons on her walkman (she used two glasses to amplify the sound) and as it was the very first time that I had heard this music which I still associate with this very unusual evening.


‘Indian Magicians. Brunswick Heads.’

 B&W. 10”X 4.5”. zinc plate. 

These two Indian guys approached me in Byron Bay at a time when I was staying with old friends in Bangalow. They had spotted me with this clunky SLR camera and asked if I would accompany them to Brunswick Heads where they would be performing magic tricks on the main street. Although I only had black &white film in the camera – I agreed. The photos would eventually be sent to their Newcastle address). Along with taking photos of them performing rope tricks, having silver balls mysteriously coming out mouths ecetera, etcetera I had also took a couple of shots – from the backseat – of the back of their heads and the ‘antique dashboard’ of their old ‘sixties something’ black Valiant sedan. This rather obtuse image which probably doesn’t mean anything but to me is the final result of those two joined photos. However, I thought the whole experience had a tinge of ‘magic realism’ to it which I think most people would appreciate. 


 ‘Berlin Orpheus.’

black on grey. 3”X 8.5” zinc plate.

The well-known Berlin landmark: the Victory Column (made more famous by the German movie Wings of Desire directed by Wim Wenders) is surrounded by a roundabout and there are underground tunnel walkways that pedestrians can take to get to it. I was meandering along the footpath circumference of this road circle when I heard this haunting saxophone sound; it was very clear and crisp and was like a movie soundtrack such was the surreality of this music. (I couldn’t help but think of the worldly black woollen coated middle-aged male angels in Wings of Desire…). It was inconceivable to comprehend to work out where it was coming from; at first I wondered if it was coming from a car circling around the Victory Column and then it became somewhat clear that it was arising from one of the underground causeways. Like some apparition I saw a saxophone player playing in the darkness. It was explained to me that the pedestrian tunnels had excellent acoustics and that ‘Orpheus’ was a regular visitor to these subterranean passages; I was entertained to my own private concert. Afterwards I was driven by ‘Orpheus’ to his flat and I was given a cassette tape of his saxophone music which I still have to this day. Finally, this wistful movie-like travel vignette came to an end as I was driven by my host to the Berlin bahnof where I was catching an overnight train to the east.   


 ‘Circles of Hell.’

B&W. 10cmX7.5cm.sugarlift. zinc plate. 

After an image by Boticelli  based on Dante’s Inferno.

 

Backgammon.’

(After Matisse) etching. B&W. 3” X 4”. zinc plate.

This work was originally made as a birthday present for a guy who likes to play backgammon  - as I do -  and thus I simply chose to copy a small, delightful sketch by Matisse of two figures who in his work are actually playing draughts. I like the fact that the two figures are wearing caps which brings up the suggestion that they may be sailors - re: travellers - as it is a game I have often leisurely enjoyed playing while ‘on the road.’


‘Prayer Wheels.’  

B&W. 2X4”. copperplate. Xining. Ghansu province. China.

This work is based on a photo I took at a far away remote Tibetan monastery in Ghansu province. China. This part of China is actually a part of Outer Tibet and is thus occupied territory. All that is to be said is this monastery was large, very isolated and surrounded by a grand and vast snow-covered mountainous terrain. From what I understand prayer wheels serve the spiritual function of being spun to aid the pilgrim’s prayers rising to the divine; twirling drums which also typify for me the circling life drama entwined in the law of return which is labeled as karma. 


'African Woman.'

 sepia. zinc plate.10”x 6” 

 This withering figure is based on a life drawing sketch from many years ago; reworked in response to how it seems that so many Africans - especially women – are the victims of innumerable war atrocities, hunger and of the deadly disease  A.I.D.S.; millions of Africans are dying from this epidemic; not dissimilar to the horror of the Black Plague that wiped out a large portion of the population of Medieval Europe; yet on the Black Continent the AIDS holocaust is happening seemingly almost unnoticed to the outside world; especially to us in the West.


‘Herr Baker and Frau Bishop on the way to Stalingrad to give Herr Nicola his two t-shirts.’

Commemorative etching to the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Stalingrad. 1943-1993.

sepia on white. 8”X 10”. zinc plate.  

A wry reflection amongst friends on the human absurdities that are within our ultimate absurdity: war. ‘HerrBaker’ owns a Valiant thus its ‘valiant use’ in this ‘rescue mission.’ The two t-shirts which read Free Cyprus & Suburban Boy - is in reference to the Wehrmacht not supplying its soldiers with any winter clothing due to their cockiness that the Soviet campaign would be won before the onset of the bitterly cold Russian winter.


‘Flagpole Skater.’ Cannery Row.’

 B&W. 6” X 5”. zinc plate.

This ‘endurance character’ - as described by John Steinbeck - impresses me. 


ANCIENT GREEK MYTHOLOGY

‘Achilles.’ 

B&W. 10cmX7cm. aquatint. zinc plate

Achilles the hero of the Greeks was the perfect killing machine. A self-absorbed demi-god who it can be argued was compelled more so by battle lust than by any noble cause to wreak his violence on the battlefield.


‘Eurydice Mourns.’

B&W. 4”X5”. zinc plate.

This image intimates Eurydice in the Underworld playing her flute while meditating on love lost - a too common melancholy human reflection. Orpheus is gone, ‘doomed’ to return to the surface without his lover - due to his own careless forgetfulness. What is also forgotten is Eurydice herself as the narrative of this tragic story focuses on Orpheus’s misery. Yet, what is soothing is the legacy of his music for Eurydice which I like to think provides a beautiful solace for her sad, imprisoned soul.   


‘Cyclops.’

B&W.6”X4”.copperplate.

This dignified image of the dreaded, callous Cyclops is based on a photo of an ancient statue in a book that looks at the geography of Odysseus’s travels.


‘Zeus terribilis.’

B&W. 3” X 4”. copperplate.

This image originally started out as a portrait of my father as I often identify him with this lordly Greek god. However, the face – through  a few re-workings – changed itself to a more general depiction of an old Greek man (A ‘spiritual portrait’ rather than a strictly physical resemblance – as an old friend wistfully pointed out to me and who knows my father well - which I agree with…) for many of  these ‘elderly Zorbas’ share the same furrowed dark lines; often so pathologically, obsessively worried with the material aspects of this world and family; (which can be summed up with one word: money). I name him Zeus terribilis due to the fact that this divine Greek patriarch would have much in common with an old Greek man such as my father (who does have the quick temper of this thunder god) and when one reads the old Ancient Greek legends the reader is often confronted by the sleazy, moral corruptibility of these divine beings who - often absent-mindly - bring tragedy, murderous hate, misery, insurmountable suffering etcetera to the mortals they strenuously attempt to overlord; this foul, damning characteristic of the gods stands out as a much stronger feature than any romantic, paternal notion that they may belatedly conjure (& which some of us may also wishfully accentuate ) up of themselves.  


'Hector'.  

1”X2” B&W. copperplate.

 Hector is our symbol of a just humanity against the tyrant. Hector the favoured son of Priam the King of Troy. Hector the noble defender who rallied the Trojans to stand up to the Greek invaders. Hector who would never leave his post and who knew he was facing death when he honourably took on Achilles by himself.  Tragic was his slaughter. No honour was there for Achilles who desecrated Hector’s corpse – refusing to bury it and dragging it around the walls of Troy from the back of his chariot- as further revenge for Hector killing his dearest friend Patrocolus.  In Hector we see that it is surely a worthy cause to fight for freedom even when it may mean the sure sacrifice of one’s life

'Orpheus'.

B&W. 7 cm X  7cm.

This etching is based on a gifted musician who played the bazoukia at a Leichhardt Greek restaurant  where a friend  held her 40th birthday party. This musician was up on a small stage and he played the underground music of rembuka 'the Greek blues'. it was easy to imagine him as Orpheus  pleasing the likes of Hades with his magical sounds. 


‘Iphigenia’

B&W.3”X4”aquatint. copperplate.

Iphigenia was pragmatically sacrificed by her father Agamemnon – the military commander of the Greek army that would attack Troy. - to appease the goddess Artemis so the winds would return to take the Greek fleet to Troy. Iphigenia is seen here tragically awaiting her death; having been lured to this bitter end by her father’s promise that she would be married to Achilles. 


ABORIGINAL ISSUES

Elite Restaurant.’  

B&W. 8” X 6”. zinc plate.

On a trip up the north coast with several friends we stopped off for lunch at this large, elegant café in Taree. I was struck by the paternalistic irony of this image and words on the table napkins; thus this ‘reproduction.’


‘Black Deaths in Custody March. Eveleigh St.’

B&W. 6” X 4”.zinc plate. 

In the late eighties there was a big push for a Royal Commission into Black Deaths in Custody. This Commission finally occurred and although many recommendations were made many still need to be put into practice.  This image is based on a photo I took while this protest march I was in went down Eveleigh Street, Redfern where I was shocked by the derelict condition of many of the buildings.  


‘Neo-Platonic Form’

 B&W 6” X 3.5” zinc plate.

 This image outlines an Aboriginal boy from a stock photo. In Plato’s ‘perfect society’ children would be deliberately separated from their mothers and brought up by the state. A similar attitude was adopted by white Australian government authorities who forcefully separated Aboriginal children from their mothers so they could be brought out of their primitive state to become ‘perfect beings’ once these stolen generations were assimilated into white society. It was officially hoped that the Aboriginal race would die out; it could be argued: a genocide by stealth.


‘White Fella Embryo Technology’.

 B&W 6”X4” zinc plate.  

 Perusing through Judy Watson’s blood language which is an excellent book looking at this indigenous artist’s work I started to read about a massacre carried out by the Native Police on Aboriginal men, women and children at a place in North Queensland called Lawn Hill.  Judy Watson’s great great grandmother was a survivor. I read how the pregnant women were not shot and thought for a mere second that there was at least some sort of moral limit to this bestiality to only then go on to read that these women with yet to be born children inside them were bayoneted instead so as to save on bullets. Taking in what I had just read it was with bitter irony I also considered a government news item on the television at the same time about how there had been a recent medical breakthrough whereby medical science had advanced to the point that a diseased embryo in the womb could be healed to produce a normal healthy child.  Yet, for the unborn indigenous innocents of a hundred years ago there was only the criminal ‘modern science’ of cold steel blades slicing into their yet unformed precious bodies.              

 

POLITICAL/SATIRICAL


‘Australian Cronus’.

 B&W. 6”X4”. zinc plate.

 Cronus (the Greek god who ate his own chldren to secure his control over the universe ) eating an asylum seeker from a detention centre. After all, refugees had become the ‘sacrificial victims’ in the Howard government’s emotional manipulation of an increasingly insular electorate so as to secure itself as the trusted guaranteer of ‘Australian values’; thus aiding the government to keep its hold on power especially in the 2001 election which was held fortiously for the Liberal Party after both the Tampa incident and the devestating  terror attacks on the Pentagon, Washington and World Trade Center twin towers, NY on September 11. I recently read an article about the SIEV X memorial in Weston Park, Canberra; (Arena magazine Feb-March, 2008 Commemorating the SIEV X by Julie Stephens) there are 353 poles set out in the shape of the boat that sunk leading to 353 refugees drowning in the waters between Indonesia and Australia. Obviously each pole represents each life lost and are all poignantly handpainted by different sections of the Australian community such as school and church groups. The article looks at the issue of cultural memory (and perhaps in this case it can be said the memorial allows such an atrocity from succumbing to cultural amnesia). The use of poles is apt as in northern Australia poles serve the function of totems for the spirits of the dead and in Indonesia we came across the scene of dead babies carefully placed inside a tree; in area of Indonesian cosmology (there are so many belief systems in this vast archipelego made up of so many different peoples – under Javanese authority) there is the notion of the cosmic tree connecting earth to heaven. It should be noted that Cronus failed in consuming Zeus who eventually rebelled against his father and took over lordship of the creation. However, under the Gillard government we see a return to Howard era policies as both major parties share a bi-partisan attitude in their proverbial leaderless populist race to the moral bottom on inhuman asylum seeker treatment.


'Dada Lenin.'

 B&W 6”X4” aquatint. zinc plate. zinc plate. 

 Somehow this humorless fellow doesn’t get quite the same bad press as Stalin even though he set up the ‘parameters’ of the totalitarian state that was to be fully developed. While in exile in Zurich he probably went to the Cabaret Voltaire organized by those zany anti-war absurdists the Dadaists as he lived in the same street as the cabaret theatre. I’ve dressed Lenin up as an absurdist Dada performer to mock him and to highlight his own blood drenched ‘theatre of the absurd’: the Bolshevik seizure of autocratic power under the guise of power to the workers. Finally, it should be noted that this etching was done after reading ‘A People’s Tragedy. The Russian Revolution 1891 – 1924.’ by Orlando Figes.


 ‘Comrade Plato’

 B&W 6”X4” aquatint. zinc plate.

 A bust of Plato added to a Socialist Realist statue of a ‘Great Leader’. Although I appreciate some of Plato’s philosophical ideas I find his politics and ‘social engineering’ questionable (bordering on fascism to say the least) after reading his Republic. With that said the rather sardonic title still allows the viewer to visually read the image positively or negatively depending on one’s own approach to Plato’s political writings.

 

'First World Tourist'.

B&W. 4” X 4”. zinc plate.

I HEARD ON THE RADIO THAT IT WAS OBSCENE THAT A BILLIONAIRE WOULD SPEND MILLIONS OF DOLLARS TO GO ON A ROCKET & BE A SPACE TOURIST FOR A COUPLE OF HOURS  BUT I ASKED MYSELF WHAT’S THE REAL DIFFERENCE BETWEEN HIM & US WHO ARE FROM THE SAME FIRST WORLD & TRAVEL TO THE THIRD WORLD WHERE MANY HARD WORKING PEOPLE EARN ONLY ONE U.S. DOLLAR A DAY WHILE WE MAY SPEND THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS TO HOLIDAY IN LUXURY? THUS WE TOO ARE SPACE TOURISTS & THE THIRD WORLD IS OUR LUNA PARK SO ONE MAY GET FITTED UP IN A SPACE SUIT TO BE PROTECTED FROM DISEASE & DUST & GO FOR A STELLAR JOYRIDE ON A TUT-TUT JUST FOR FUN*.

*From the artist's Contemporary piece First World Tourism.

 

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Hello, as noted this webpage deals with subject matter other than that of the Australian landscape - which recently has been a major preoccupation of mine. There are also the following PDF files with many of the above images along with comments and reference photos etcetera. Many of the images in the PDFs are in black and white as it was originally intended to reprint them in a hard copy catalogue without colour before it was decided to simply upload them onto this website. Furthermore, many of the images can be found in other parts of the website but I have 'corralled' quite a few together on this page for easy reference. Thank you for your patience.

indonesia central america lithuania.pdf indonesia central america lithuania.pdf
Size : 10213.179 Kb
Type : pdf
sydney.pdf sydney.pdf
Size : 8254.882 Kb
Type : pdf

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nic_nicola50@hotmail.com 

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