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.
25 Nov 2012
Electronic whiz-kid James Elliott launched his new album Over Mountains, Through Rivers at The Burdekin Hotel on Friday night, 23rd Nov. to a small but appreciative audience. Elliott is a master of the decks, hammering away at buttons and dials to give a virtuoso live performance. I can't say I understood everything that was going on but I was enthralled.
Elliott was supported by a number of other guys; most impresive was Option Command who pushed the concept of empty space, creating a really interesting structure. A musician friend of mine joined me toward the latter portion of Elliott's set; he was sufficiently moved to comment that Stockhausen himself would be proud. Thanks heaps to the fellas who run Beats Home.
14 Nov 2012
I managed to catch the very last hour on the last day of the Small Sculpture Prize this year and I'm so glad that I did. It's always a fascinating show, with such diverse work from all round the country and this year I found it particularly inspiring.
One is immediately struck on entering the exhibition with the textural variety, the tactile intensity of the works. I think there is a heightened awareness of form that comes about as a result of so many interesting sculptures on a small scale displayed so close together. It would be an etremely challenging task to 'hang' the show but the organisers did a splendid job. The result was stimulating and very satisfying.
There were three glass artists selected for this year's show: Tavita Havea, Kayo Yokoyama and Jessica Tse. Without a doubt Jessica's tiny glass tear was the smallest, simplest and yet most profound sculpture in the exhibition. I had been enjoying the poignant whimsy of Kerrie Cannon's old lady putting on make up in preparation for her departure from this world when I came upon Jessica's metaphor for Time, "based upon Kant's crystalisation theory: Time is the intent and the intent is crystalised in a tear. It is the symbol for love... the contemplation of someone, the waiting and beholding of .. romantic fantasies."
A good exhibition should leave the observer in some heightened state of awareness and this small sculpture exhibition did precisely that. I slowly wandered out into the sunshine and stood for quite some time watching the ocean, contemplating the pinecones on the large conifer silhouetted against a clear blue sky.... and spent the next hour or so lost in Christopher Tsolkas' "Dead Europe". Gold.
03 Nov 2012
Curator Daniel O'Toole has done it again with a brilliant solo exhibition by a young Surry Hills artist named Bennett. Their third show since opening earlier this year, Soldiers' Road Gallery goes from strength to strength, bringing a high level of professionalism to what is essentially an underground Artist Run Initiative on the 4th floor of a rambling warehouse inhabited by artists, musicians and rats.
These mixed media works show a surprising level of maturity for a young artist. They are pared back and beautifully restrained, satisfying yet simultaneously leaving you aching for more. I could live with every one of these images and relish the patina of the burnished surfaces and tiny sgraffito scratchings and minute but spare detail for a very long time.
This body of work represents a paradigm shift for Bennett, with his earlier work apparently brightly coloured and quite 'pop'-y, so it will be very interesting to see where these explorations in cool retro imagery take him next. A full catalogue of the exhibition, which finishes this weekend, can be found here.
02 Sep 2012
Several new commissions feature in this blog: kitchen windows in Surry Hills, an entryway in a lovely old home at Milson's Point on Sydney's Lower North Shore and a private chapel at a country property near Cessnock.
Regular readers of this website might remember images of this project in Milson's Point underway on my ABOUT page, showing the original door as a solid timber door with a fanlight above. The commission called for the replacement of the 4x timber infill panels with glass, which entailed quite a bit of onsite work. The photos were taken just as I'd completed the installation but prior to the stripping and painting of the timberwork. I used a collection of found bevels from old leadlights and while there was a need to respect the original fanlight I was asked to provide something more upbeat and contemporary.
The two photos above show a pair of windows installed as highlights over the back entrance of a Surry Hills residence just three weeks ago. I had a lot of fun with this design; it is intended to pay respect to an existing traditional leadlight in the adjacent bathroom and also takes its cue from the black and white rectangular tiling in the kitchen. Here again I've used some 'found object': an interesting bevel out of an old leadlight and some cast jewels and rondels.
This window was a really enjoyable project to work on. Commissioned by Liz Mullinar, Director of Heal for Life the window sits above a door leading from the bedroom to a chapel and was intended as an inspirational piece for private devotion. The house is situated on a beautiful property in the Quarrabolong Valley near Cessnock, about 2 hours north of Sydney, with panoramic views of rolling hills, farmland and distant bushy ranges.
08 Aug 2012
"Priori Bound: and what's left behind" is the mysterious title to a collaborative exhibition between these two Australian artists which has just finished its run at Kaleidoscope Gallery in Dank Street, Waterloo.
I've been following Wotherspoon's work for some time. He was one of the Founding Directors of ESP Gallery in Marrickville and I've been impressed not only by his prodigious output but by his inquisitiveness and sense of integrity that he brings to his arts practice. The recycling of glass from old cathode-ray TV screens was pretty interesting, though sometimes with mixed results in terms of aesthetics. The same could be said of his explorations with leadlight construction techinique; a certain 'clunkiness' sometimes prevailed.
However the work in Priori Bound pushes beyond previous limitations, taking the idea of three-dimensional leadlight (or copper-foil to be precise) to an entirely new level. These works are among the most successful expoerimental glass works that I have yet seen. The incorporation of mirror as a backing within the picture frame is inspirational and the use of a white frame with lots of clear glass and judicious bright colour provides a pristine quality to the whole. The glass construction leaps out of the frame and commands attention.
As Founding Director of Platform 72 (Darlinghurst) and Kaleidoscope, this is Sam Mitchell-Fin's first solo show in his own space. Apparently there was some angst to overcome in order for this to happen.
I've not yet spoken with either artist concerning this body of work but I can see that the collaboration has been extremely fruitful. There was only one actual major work in which the two artists collaborated, "Nude Ascending Self with Light", but the whole exhibition hung together well with the pieces speaking to each other and the leadlight work often reflecting the neon.
The three figure sculptures above are by Mark Wotherspoon. "Visualisation" is a construction of copper tubing, an interesting extension of the sorts of techniques employed in leadlighting but with voids where there would be glass. The glass components are the cast head and pillow: the intention here is clear. Less immediately clear is the meaning behind the glass construction bursting from the heads of the dark, brooding figures on plinths. These are cast in recycled TV screen glass, looking very un-glass-like and on first impression what are intended as 'auras' appear as a kind of improbable head-dress.
It all becomes clear of course once you read the titles and statements and Wotherspoon is to be congratulated in attempting to render into sculpture something so intangible.
01 Aug 2012
Daniel O'Toole, AKA ears, has leased a space on the 4th floor of Hibernian House, renovated it beautifully and opened a gallery called Soldiers' Road. On Thursday night, 26th July, he staged a solo show of his own work. It's a great show and was well supported with a big crowd of fans.
All the works were portraits of soldiers of one kind or another, all rendered in ears' characteristically enigmatic style of showing multiple views of the subject blended into one. O'Toole has been a prominent figure in the street art scene around Sydney for several years now, first coming to notice with paste ups of hand-painted faces built up from vigorous squiggles and line work. He is also a producer of contemporary music, responsible for Free the Beats.
In addition to the large paintings was a delightful collection of small works, several of them bas-relief constructions, continuing the theme of the soldier.
Coupla days ago I managed to engage Daniel in an interesting discussion of the ideas presented here in this body of work. He tells me that the resonance of the subject matter with the gallery name is actually pure coincidence: Soldiers Road comes from the street he used to live in. But there is an undeniable fascination with uniforms and what they represent and the enforcing of rules and regulations as a means of ensuring freedom.
His statement reads as follows:
The themes of uniformity and isolation offer a chance to consider the idea of freedom and identity, as we all at some point, have been institutionalised and held captive by false freedoms.
The uniform represents security and the comfort zone, and the idea that 'the institution' be it self-governing or external offers this comfort. The sense of empowerment of freedom within these constraints is an illusion; a false freedom.
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