14 Dec 2013
Greville Wilton, of Golden Wattle Studios in Glen Innes, NSW, would be the first to declare he is no artist. He is an excellent leadlighter. But making that statement denies the brilliant design skills on display in this exhibition. Together with Tanja Robertson-Cunninghame they make an awesome team. This whole exhibition at Maitland Regional Art Gallery is predicated on close collaboration. Tanja has produced an enormous body of exciting new canvases referencing the Australian modernist abstract canon and it is these which form the basis of the 16x stained glass panels on display.
Greville's design and engineering skills also came to the fore in setting up the show and making full use of the space available in the atrium of the gallery's main entrance. A welded steel frame is attached to the ceiling and from this the stained glass works are suspended on steel cable. Each panel is cleverly framed in a welded steel frame comprising a fin of metal into which the lead came is inserted: this provides an essential foil of darkness to separate the glass from its background and allow it to live in the ambient space.
I particularly enjoyed the placement of stained glass panels in the stairwell and installed over the glass of the back exit. And the surprise pieces in the balconies also delight the senses. All in all a great exhibition, one which should raise the profile of Golden Wattle immensely but also go a long way to furthering the somewhat marginalised artform of contemporary stained glass.
06 Dec 2013
The Centaur was an Australian hospital ship sunk by the Japanese off the coast of Queensland during WW2. A tragic event. But the window commemorating the lives lost is beautiful. It is located in the front entry foyer of Concord Hospital in Sydney NSW.
I'v been writing up an Assessment Report for the stained glass of St Mary's Catholic Church Concord and needed to visit the Church once more. It happened that my good friend Bronwyn Hughes, a stained glass historian from Melbourne, was visiting Sydney and expressed a desire to see the St Mary's windows on her way to visit the Centaur window. And so it came to pass... I became tour guide for Bronwyn and was able to shoe her not only the Centaur window but also the Armed Forces Memorial windows in the Concord Hospital Chapel: a bonus, since Bronwyn's current research subject is War Memorial stained glass windows.
This window is not only beautifully designed but exceptionally well painted. Its certainly a very traditional window for Martin van der Toorn, who sometimes works quite loosely, but its a fine piece of work and a fitting tribute to a horrific event.
Later I showed Bronwyn around Hibernian House, as she is also quite interested in public art and 'street art', of which there are some excellent examples on the roof of my building. All in all a great day
16 Nov 2013
The Director of Head On photo festival, Moshe Rosenzveig, delivered an excellent opening address, describing Garth as an engineer, which I found very interesting. Moshe went on to discuss the dichotomy between 'real' and created or manipulated imagery and, ultimately, the validity of both. Garth's manipulated images depend completely on the real: to create 100 Breaths (illustrated above and below) he wrote a program, took 100 photographs of smoke from burning insence and applied that program to all 100 images. The variation in the results is stunning; the beauty of the geometry breathtaking.
The exhibition was curated by independent curator Angeline Collings
24 Oct 2013
I've been extremely busy over the last few months, undertaking a specialist cleaning project and assessment of stained glass at St Mary's Catholic Church, Concord, pushing on with a new window for St Edmund's Anglican Church in Maroubra and developing a design for St Andrew's Presbyterian Church in Bowral (see progress shots in my ABOUT page) However during this time I have also managed to complete two new abstract stained glass panels.
Splash Dance is a richly textured work, as much for the play of texture as the necessity for privacy: it is window to a toilet which backs onto a courtyard used for entertaining. And naturally some ventilation is also required. The stained glass replaces a pair of double-hung timber sashes which had a fixed vent installed at the top. I proposed to the client dispensing with the vent and instead incorporating expanded metal mesh within the artwork. This idea appealed immensely and allowed me to 'give vent' to my desire for found object: there are antique pieces of Meccano, metal mesh and a stainless steel drainage sieve leaded into the work which all provided a degree of ventilation as well as playfulness. The residence is located in Darlinghurst, NSW.
Also relying heavily on found object, Lyrical Work is to be installed early November in a front door of a residential extension at Weston Creek, ACT. No ventilation holes in this piece, as outside temperatures around Canberra can fall below freezing at times, but a similar need for privacy and so much use of heavily textured and obscured or 'mechanical' glasses.
The lyricism of this piece is derived from classical string and piano works- Vaughan Williams, Debussy, Liszt and (a particular request of the client's) Scottish Airs. So as the design developed I found a need to incorporate floral and naturalistic elements: the painted acanthus leaf from a Church window, a treasured remnant of one of my painted rondels, some pressed "flannel flower" glass. Also there is quite a lot of iridised glass employed to enliven the work at night. A similar approach was used in Splash Dance, with the iridising both inside and outside.
Nov 10th: I've just returned to Sydney after installing the door panel yesterday. While the install didn't quite go according to plan, I have to say I'm very impressed with the quality of the timber joinery by Gino Monteleone of Select Custom Joinery in Hall, ACT. In fact the whole extension is quite impressive in its detail and finish. Its being built by Canberra firm ABC Constructions
Sat 10th saw the opening of Isidro Blasco's new Sydney exhibition, his 2nd at the Dominik Mersch Gallery in the Dank Street gallery complex at Waterloo. And what a treat! I fell in love with Isidro's work 2yrs back when I happened upon the show (I'm a regular visitor to the Dank Street Galleries).
I wrote at the time that I was very impressed with the freshness of the work, the raw expressive quality of the construction showing through and felt that this artist was taking photography to a totally new place, invigorating the two disciplines of sculpture and photography. This new body of work builds solidly on that foundation. The colours are more high key than I recall and there is also a great sense of fun in these new works.
Brenda May Gallery
A the end of the corridor in the Dank Street complex is Brenda May Gallery. I'm SO impressed by the consistently high standard of diverse and intelligent art produced by Brenda's stable of artists. The moths of Marguerite Derricourt, illustrated below, are poetic in their beauty. There is seemingly suspended action here, a gathering or coalescing of forces to create something hushed and wonderful. I don't know whether I like the cut-out sheet metal or paper constructions more...
One of the artists I discovered at Brenda May was Tanmaya Bingham. I stood there absolutely gobsmacked by the fine detail, the lyrical storytelling of these diminutive but totally captivating images. And then Brenda told me they were done in coloured pencil!
You can be guaranteed of finding something stimulating and generally quite left field so make sure you visit Dank Street Galleries and wander up that corridor.
06 Jun 2013
Well not actually a new class but a new one for me: I've taken over from the previous tutor who had to disappear overseas at short notice. And it's going really well! We've just finished the 4th week and I'm thrilled with the student's progress. All 5x are beginners (though one chap has some experience with foil work) and they are taking to the craft with enthusiasm and dedication. I get home very tired of a Monday night but I do enjoy the teaching process.
Each of the students have been able to spend time on their projects at home, which really helps with their progress. And being a small class I'm able to spend quite a bit of time with each person. As well as their individual projects I bring in items for discussion each week such as the Maroubra Anglican Church commission currently underway and magazines like Stained Glass Quarterly for them to borrow.
We have one more week to go, then a two week break. Another 8x week Session begins 22nd July. Several of the current students will be re-enrolling to tackle more advanced work but there is plenty of space if you are considering learning the craft. Enrolments can be done online and all relevant information is available on the Sydney Community College website
05 May 2013
As well as window to the guest bathroom, fronting the approach to the new house, Ruth and Steve Lambert also commissioned me to design a three-light door and sidelights to the entrance. Ruth wanted soemthing with high impact, providing a real 'wow' factor, nd chose Lambert's mouthblown glass to fill the sidelights.
Thanks to Greg Piper for the beaut photos: I asked him to stop by on the return journey from the Ausglass Conference in Wagga Wagga where he delivered a paper on the merits of good photography. Wamboin is located between Canberra and Bungendore: from Wagga you can drive across country through Queanbeyan. Greg has been photographing my installations for many years now; I'm extremely happy with his professional approach and his attention to detail. He's prepared to go the extra distance to produce the best results.
While this is very much an abstract work there is substantial reference to landscape, in particular the bush surrounding the house and the wider environment. The interesting angles of the architecture and the architectural finishes were also considered in the design of the glass for the door.
18 Feb 2013
Have just installed a new contemporary commission for a private residence at Wamboin in NSW (between Bungendore and Canberra). I installed the front door and sidelights late last year; this is the bathroom window. The images below show, from left to right, the full-size charcoal cartoon, the glass all cut and laid out over lights and the installed window. Extensive use has been made of Lambert's mouthblown glass, the same glass that was installed in the sidelights (laminated to comply with Australian building codes) and used in the front door stained glass panels.
The artwork describes my wonderful two hour walk through the 600acre property where the house is nestled, facing west, and also refers to the music of Australian composers
Peter Sculthorpe and John Antil. Having completed the work for the front
door a few weeks prior I needed to steep myself in a musical response to the Australian
landscape for inspiration in creating the imagery for this window.
21 Jan 2013
Thanks to a referral by Seraphina Martin, a regular teacher at Camp Creative, I took a class of beginners in leadlighting this January. We were in one of the woodwork rooms at Bellingen High School and I had 15x very keen students, most of whom had never cut a piece of glass before. The results by week's end were nothing short of amazing.
It was pretty warm most of the week and for me very exhausting: with 15x students I was on the go constantly. But I did manage to enjoy the ambience of Bellingen, heading down to swim in the waterhole at beautiful Gleniffer late in the afternoon or chilling out in the excellent cafes and restaurants. And my gracious host made me breakfast each morning which was very welcome and a great start to each day.
There is lots of interaction at Camp Creative between the various courses being run and the whole town gets behind it. The wife of one of my students was learning ukulele; my billet was studying solar printing with Seraphina; there were concerts at lunchtime and evenings and on the Friday students are encouraged to wander through all the classes to see the results on display. The whole shebang finishes with a huge concert on the last night
Rather than dash back to Sydney in one hit I drove as far as Forster/Tuncurry and stayed the night there. Enjoyed a stroll along the sea wall Sunday morning, watching fishermen, pelicans and dolphins play, followed by pancakes overlooking the lake: heaven! The cool, rainy weather was no doubt a God-send for all the firies battling blazes around the State but it put a damper on my plans for a surf along the way back home. But I did take time to explore Cape Hawk in Booti Booti National Park (under an umbrella) and enjoyed the drive through the forest to Bulladelah.
Since I was passing Newcastle anyway I decided to detour and drive along the foreshore to Merewether, a short distance inland from Bars Beach. Now that the Wamboin window is complete I'm ready to launch into "Holy Orders", third in a series of 5x small windows for the side chapel of St Augustines Anglican Church at Merewether. This was actually the first time I'd seen the two windows together, since it was dark and I was exhausted by the time I'd finished installing Baptism and Confirmation, the left hand window.
01 Jan 2013
We buried my Dad two weeks ago. He was ready to go, he'd had enough. And luckily we'd had the chance to say goodbye to each other a few weeks before that. So on the first day of 2013 I'm taking this opportunity to pay tribute to the man who has been a major influence in my life.
At the graveside my mother Betty, just a few days out of a hernia operation, spoke strongly and passionately about the man she still loved despite everything. Following is an edited version of the eulogy I delivered during that service:
L. E. Hamilton lived a large life. While he struggled for many years to achieve his goals he was without doubt a Captain of Industry, earning the respect of many, making enemies of some but also making significant contributions to the industrial and household cleaning industries.
Laurie was a driven man: driven to achieve, to succeed, to do more and to be more than people thought him capable. And he ruthlessly set about achieving those goals. Firstly he put himself through Technical College, attending night classes at Ultimo Tech over many years while working fulltime at Century Batteries, eventually graduating in Chemical Engineering.
With assistance from his parents he purchased a property at 13 Ruby St Guildford and began the long process of building a chemical manufacturing plant specialising in cleaning and cosmetic products. The main company was Unisolvent Chemical Company but there were many other business names such as Bayswater Chemicals, Unikleen, That's Chemicals, Stanlee and House of Hannaford cosmetics.
And there was a long succession of business advisers, associates and partners: some of them well-intentioned and successful, some not so. One of those associates particularly worth mentioning was Kit Anthony, a key figure in the development and promotion of the cosmetic line of Hannaford products. Laurie and Kit (who passed away some years ago) both spent much time and energy at salon trade shows, with Kit's artistic flair at the forefront; her presence in our lives was a particular influence in my own creative development.
Like many businesses Unisolvent was beset with problems and lurched along from year to year barely making a profit until the big break came with Hurricane Laundry Powder and the advent of the generic supermarket concept such as No Frills and Home Brand. A large bulk hopper was installed and soon enough a semi-trailer of raw material arrived every day while another full trailer of finished product would be shipped out.
Laurie obtained his pilot's license at Bankstown Airport and with the success of the business came some extravagant purchases: firstly the Daimler and later M.V. Coolibah, realising a long-held dream of sailing the open seas... He was a member of both the Aero club and the Cruising Yacht Club.
There was a simultaneous growth of the liquid line and Unisolvent expanded into the newly built factory next door. This was all a far cry from the days when Dad would bring home kegs of detergent for me and my two brothers to fill bottles after school, on weekends and during holidays.
During the early years we boys spent a lot of time at the factory; my first paid job there was switch board operator but also lots of washing of drums with degreaser which Colin especially hated. Graham ended up in Laurie's employ for many years, eventually becoming batch controller and later a driver. But the relationship was fraught. At pains not to appear to be showing favouritism he tended to steer to the opposite path. And while Laurie could be exceptionally generous at times he could be a hard taskmaster, expecting a lot from those who worked for him...
Like many men of his generation Laurie was not given to displays of affection, although certainly prone to outbursts of anger and, rarely, physical violence (though he would never admit to that). As Betty has pointed out it was with the grandchildren and great grandchildren that he allowed his softer emotional side to show.
When Colin declared his homosexuality he was completely cut off with no contact for years. However Laurie did manage to overcome his extreme homophobia and he and Colin became close- but then we lost Colin to AIDS and Laurie's dream for him to take an active role in the development and promotions of Unisolvent were dashed.
While the reconciliation between Laurie and Betty not so long ago was short lived it did offer them both the opportunity to come to terms with the deep grief they both suffered from losing a son...
You couldn't say he was a terrific father but I do believe he did the best he could. Locating the family home at Georges Hall, on the banks of the Georges River was a stroke of genius. And I am enormously grateful for his support through my own College years and his strong encouragement of my creative endeavours.
As hard a man as he was, Laurie travelled a great distance in his twilight years, embracing humility and sometimes graciousness. The moments of intimacy I shared with him when he needed help dressing or being fed are precious moments I will cherish. Contained in those moments are reciprocal forgiveness, acceptance and love.
Your legacy Laurie Hamilton is to have the courage of your convictions and the strength and dedication to see those dreams through to fruition despite the odds. For that I am forever grateful.
The Latest Happenings in my World
This blog is where you will find my latest news. It can range from posting images of progress of the current commission to art crit to political or social commentry, both national and international. Anything, basically, that's commanding my attention and I feel is worth sharing with you, my reader. Enjoy. My previous blog can be found at jeffreyhamilton.blogspot.com