Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Artist Linda Dement - Catching Light ISEA 2013 - INTERVIEWS

Digital Artist Linda Dement speaks to Paul Andrew about ISEA 2013, feminism, photography and the power of digital collaborations.

Linda is there an early memory of an artwork, artist, person, place or experience when you knew you needed to make art, to become an artist?

When I was four I was trying to cut out something from cardboard but the scissors I had were blunt kids’ scissors and wouldn’t do the job well enough. My father saw my frustrations and brought me a razor blade that he covered on one sharp edge with many layers of band aids. He showed me how to cut with it, stood back and let me proceed. For a four year old to be allowed to use a razor blade I knew was a very risky and unusual thing. It was from this I learned that art was worth taking a risk for, that it was worth doing properly and that I was up to the job.

Then when I was a bit older, probably about eight, my mother saw what I was painting with kids water based paints on buckling paper, went away and came back with her own much loved set of oil paints and a piece of board. This experience completely reinforced the razor blade episode for me. Art is worth sacrificing for. Art is worth taking risks for. Art is worth pushing ahead outside what is expected for your age.

Somehow though I didn’t quite understand that one could just decide to be an artist until I was in my late twenties.

I was fascinated to hear both you and digital artist Sarah Waterson talking about studying photography together as students in the 1980's - can you tell me a bit more about this time, and what studying darkroom photography mean't to you at the time? 

I studied at City Art Institute in Sydney from 1986 to 1988 and majored in photography. Sarah Waterson was in a few of my photography classes. At that time classes were no more than ten students and ran for I think four hours. It was so valuable and substantial.

We would usually have some kind of group feedback session in a classroom then head off to the darkrooms to print. I studied with George Schwarz and Jonathon Delacour and honestly don’t know where I’d be today if not for them. Amazing technical skill, intense and wide ranging knowledge of the arts and daring open personalities. They were both. in different ways, very demanding and extremely supportive of whatever we as students wanted to pursue.

Sarah and I had a show called Fruits of the Flesh down at ArtHaus the student gallery. My photos were of naked girls and offal. Sarah’s had bondage elements with fruit. I was in some of her images – I seem to remember hanging from a rafter in her garage beside Kurt who had a pineapple hanging from his dick- wonderful work. Friends of mine came to the opening dressed in thinly sliced calves liver dresses. Someone complained but they let the show run. 

Terrific, all this way before Lady Ga Ga. What was it that you adored most about photography as a medium?

I totally loved the strict technical precision of it. I ended up mostly working in the studio with medium or large format cameras and studio flash. I could concentrate on light meter readings and the beauty of expensive well engineered equipment, the maths of exposure and let the art take care of itself. 

It was freeing to have the mind obsessively ticking away with the technicalities and the wildest art could slip through almost un-noticed.

Also I loved the darkroom.

I loved being in the dark printing. I could easily spend ten to sixteen hours in the dark making tiny adjustments in colour and tone that probably no one else could ever see. I once re-printed an entire show the day before it opened with a microscopic change to the amount of red. Only I and my lecturer at the time could tell the difference.

During the eighties was also a cultural moment when women were working prodigiously with photography in contemporary art - postmodernism afforded women a measure of/sense of agency with photography perhaps because it was a medium and an art historical language less entrenched, less codified by patriarchy than other art historical tendencies?

Regarding the numbers of women photographers at the time, I remember hearing that whenever the real power has gone out of an area, the women move in. 

Also at that time there was some push for women to be priests and the same was said there. Religion was waning and so women were allowed a few positions. I wonder how that is going now that religion is popular again?

Photography is an interesting media for women given the much discussed position of the viewer - apparently encoded as male. The gaze. Who wrote all that theory back then? Laura Mulvey?
There was something so satisfying about working with precise machinery, with technical skill and with this position behind the camera constructing the world of the image.

And for me to do this and do it in order to produce work that was sexual, violent, fragmented, punk, disturbing -i.e the opposite of precise & technical- was so satisfying. Something to do with being extremely proficient in all these measurable ways but then pushing this fuck you out of control imagery through at the same time.

In turn during the nineties, perhaps for the same reason, the internet, the digital realm and new technologies presented opportunities even more enticing - almost completely unmapped cultural topography then (at least from an artist's perspective) and once again, a sort of unentrenched cultural terrain - is this something that you found challenging vivid , indeed vital and necessary at the time?

Yes, I felt that with computing and didn’t really feel it with photography. I remember often saying that it was important and urgent for those on the periphery of mainstream culture to put their stories, their presence, into digital culture while it was still forming. There was a window. The space was in ways unformed, unmarked and open. The window’s pretty much closed now and the space is thoroughly rutted and fenced.

Tell me about the proportion of women in the ISEA Catching Light exhibition currently at the Campbelltown Arts Centre?
Catching Light has five older artists paired with five younger artists. I am the only older woman and there are two younger women - Kelly Doley and Pia van Gelder. Kelly and I collaborated on the work entitled, 50BPM.

It’s a difficult thing. I saw that there were seven men and three women early on in the process and kind of felt an internal slump: Oh, of course. Oh well. 

But the artists chosen are all fantastic and cover a good range of digital arts history. Really you couldn’t ask for better company – Steven, Tom, Troy and Wade. Awesome. The project devised by Michael D’Agostino and Megan Monte is a great idea and has been really successful I think, in terms of process and outcome.

The collaborations have been fascinating. 

I honestly can’t say enough good things about the whole experience. The 7:3 thing niggled at me though, largely because in the early days of digital arts in Australia there was a predominance of very strong female artists. And, it was an internationally recognised fact.

Women from overseas actually came here to study because there were so many strong female new media artists. Cyberfeminism itself came from Adelaide’s VNS Matrix. It was born here. There was an extraordinary kind of groundswell uprising of strong, often angry, often sexual, new media art from women. 

I felt that this needed to be acknowledged somehow in Catching Light because it is a show that references past Australian new media. It was fairly late in the day by the time I worked out I had to do something.  It felt disproportionate and inaccurate without it.

All I had time for by that stage was to gather a list of names and set up an augmented reality around CAC. (You can view it on your iPhone or Android through the app Layar and search for Catching Light).  Kelly suggested I have the list of names as a video in the gallery as well.  I told Megan and Michael what I wanted to do and they were totally wholeheartedly supportive. Megan suggested the three screen installation.

I have always wanted to ask you why you worked with CD Rom in your early works Linda rather than internet-based practice?

(Laughs) Paul there was no internet to speak of when I started.

I remember being in some little uni room somewhere while working on Typhoid Mary and some boffins were transmitting one image to other boffins in the US.

It took about five minutes and there was clapping and cheering when it was received. Technology has changed blindingly quickly. 

Even by the time I was onto my second screen based work, that kind of image and interaction simply wasn’t possible online. It was a struggle to get rich text working.

I also think it’s a mistake to get caught up in the delivery mechanism. CD ROM is a storage and delivery mechanism. 

Also if I was to do an online work, now that that’s more viable, I would want to use the connectivity and information mash that online entails. 

It’s all about connection; information and data and input. The three early interactive works are not at all about connection with the world of information. They are quite tightly controlled narrative character studies. 

What I loved about being able to make interactive work is the ability to interweave different kinds of information - image, animation, video, stories, theory, medical info, audio. And to craft connections between them that might make sense to someone using the work in any possible direction. I love working with some weird shifting fragile structure of cross connections that reassemble as you go. 

The complexity is wonderful.

Tell me about how your collaboration with Kelly Doley came about?

Kelly and I had never met before being put together for this show. We met up in cafes and talked and found that we had feminism in common. 

Sometimes I get quite tired and disappointed looking at the state of play for women today. I can’t believe the rise in popularity of misogynist religions, I can’t believe there are still abusive christians on the street outside the abortion clinics, I can’t believe that the statistics for rape and incest haven’t changed, let alone the statistics for income, promotions, positions of power etc etc. All that work. All that energy. All those battles apparently won that are now sliding back to horror.

Having said that though I know that there have been huge real changes, in legislation, in popular attitudes. I was on a train out west the other week and three young hyper masculine thugs sat opposite me. They were talking about how they would feel if one of their friends came out to them as gay. One said “He’d still be my friend.” The others all grunted agreement & that was it. Twenty years ago boys like that would have beaten the gay friend senseless and dumped his body in a ditch. 

This is a generalisation, but I see such a difference in my male students.  They are more likely to be easy and human and actually a pleasure to be around. In my first years as a teacher in this very technical field it was extremely difficult to be believed, to have male students take direction, seek advice, make mistakes. The need to prove themselves and their position as dominant male was grindingly boring and ever present. The improvement over just one generation is remarkable. 

Anyway, I digress. 

But this is the kind of thing I was talking about with Kelly, who is very interested in feminism and has an initiative going called JANIS which includes exhibitions and forums. One of which was a forum at Artspace called If Not Why Not which was :
“… an intergenerational selection of artists, curators and academics come together to talk about the misconceptions, meaning and relevance of feminism in contemporary art today.”

So the work evolved from this kind of discussion. 

We wanted something uncontrollable, fluid, hysterical, uncontained. With the hanging bag in the work 50BPM there is a massive and once explosive presence, leaking its life blood out onto floor. Helen Reddy’s song is stretched and slow. The tiny screen flashes angry phrases of warning. 

Kelly came up with the idea for the song and did the audio work. I came up with the phrases on the tiny screen and together we formed and constructed the leaking bag. 50BPM presents a worn down possibly dying presence. Will it sag, leak and die, will the too small warnings be heeded, will the once optimistic anthem wind down and stop?

We did actually take a few diversionary paths - we were looking at interactive algae, sensor activated lights and audio, fermenting liquids, rotting fruit. I still have two tanks of beautiful deep green algae growing. 

We didn’t do the mentor / mentee thing. We just collaborated. Probably I learned more from Kelly than she from me anyway. She’s a truly impressive person.

Digital Artist Sarah Waterson made a lovely observation at the exhibition opening, that the explosives bag hanging on the bar in the installation 50BPM reminded her of the iconic cover art for Germaine Greer's The Female Eunuch, was this intentional?

OMG it does too! No, I didn’t think of that at all, but I like it.

50BPM ( Detail )

PHOTOS (top): Untitled, 2013, Artist: Linda Dement - I loved seeing this three screen based work at ISEA 2013 in Campbelltown, a paean to cyberfeminism.

For more info:


For more info about film maker, film theorist Laura Mulvey on the male gaze:


Sunday, June 23, 2013

Gina Czarnecki - Nascent - Reel Dance Film Festival Best Film 2006 - INTERVIEWS

Archive Copy 2006

Artist Gina Czarnecki works with film and installation her focus- human relationships, disease, genetic research, evolution. Paul Andrew speaks to Gina Czarnecki about her award-winning Reel Dance Entry Nascent 2005, which was awarded Best Dance Film in 2006 and features Adelaide based Choreographer Garry Stewart and the Australian Dance Theatre dancers.

Gina, I believe you "fell" into dance film, how?

When I was developing Infected (2002) I went looking for a contortionist and found Iona Kewney. [Who, by way of interest, went on to work with Ultima Vez].

Initially, this work was about - in really brief terms -the line where the physical possibilities end and the digitally manipulated start - an ongoing exploration of mine about notions of truth and construct, perception, illusion and belief.

In its draft stage I met David Metcalfe, now FORMA ARTS AND MEDIA
(www.forma.org.uk) whose background is presenting, touring and producing performance/ sound,/dance. David suggested that I applied to the Capture scheme (UK's Art Council dance on film scheme) - this was successful . I was introduced to Christian Fennesz and we commenced our work together on this - the micro editing techniques he uses really paralleled what I worked with in the visual image.

The piece was both funded and toured by the capture scheme both as a single screen piece for cinema and later in its real intended form - the circular projection installation that has been shown here in Australia at ACMI and EAF - this started my work in the dance film world.

So, yes, I happened upon it on an unintended way but in reflection much of what I'm interested in conceptually can be expressed through the depiction of the human , the extreme physicality and explorations in composition and structure over time - watching choreographers work, is to me, like listening to an orchestra-  creating oneness through the union of many different parts.

Ultimately my interest is the human and this is the internal external body, psychology and society too.

What is the concept behind Nascent 2005?

I never know what something is going to be like when I start it.  I do know what my fundamental concerns and questions are and a very broad idea of a plan. This all changes in the making. It is process led and driven through experimentation, Nascent is a visual and visceral journey through and about being. A hybrid
film that exists between visual art, experimental media, technology and dance. In Nascent there is raw footage of improvised and choreographed performance by Australian Dance Theatre dancers is confronted with compositional techniques applied in the post-production stage.  

Images form a complex and dense rhythmic structure, stretching, smearing and distorting 'real' time.  

The dancers' gestures and bodies, poised and isolated, gradually become intertwined, indistinguishable and frenetic - turbulent, mutated fragments that form and reform.  A few frames of internal body image blast in as subliminal interventions or as momentary abstractions, leaving fleeting impressions of parallel structures - organisms, mutant animals, ghosts,mechanical insertions.  The image processing creates new traces of movement that appear as blips in transmission or digital 'vibrations' where the body
and its image tune-in, momentarily, then become 'unplugged' leaving behind traces of skin-print as after-images.

Ultimately the image remains recognisably human, but only just.

The score is specially commissioned music from
Fennesz, whose own computer manipulation and processing of 'analogue' source sound echoes Czarnecki's approach to the treatment of image.

I have designed and (with Stephen Dixon) developed numerous bespoke expressions for this work that have stem from my  single frame manipulations, specifically for Nascent and its sister piece 'Spine',  these have included string vibration and field flickering String works the image like the pinging of a guitar string with variation in anchor points and frequency and field flicker makes it possible to see 50 fields of image- twice which our PAL eye is accustomed to seeing in video/television  and
rather than seeing 2 image cut together as we would see if single frame edited in  1/2/1/2/1/2/1 method - instead we see two continuous streams of real time apparently uncut motion blending together.

The image of two dancers is repeated by another set of two dancers performing an identical phrase and these are then mapped onto one another , rescaled, shaped masked from the background and rotated and are then spread in 3d space to form the first grid structure which is hundreds of layers of uncompressed footage reworked, reshaped and re-timed.

'Spine' is part of the nascent series that is a
large scale vertical outdoor public projection installation Sound by fennesz/czarnecki/verhargen Public Art Projects Whiich will be shown as p[art of the Melbourne City Council Laneways
Commmissions this year and will be on in the Winter in Union Lane. Sound by Christian Fennesz, Czarnecki and remixed by Darrin Verhagen Produced by forma www.forma.org.uk and commissioned by AFF 05, supported by Arts Council England

Apart from your recent success at the 2006 Reel Dance Festival tell me about the interest in
Nascent so far?

There's been really good feedback and interest - it's being shown all over the world thanks to the hard work of my producers, Forma in the UK and Erin Brannigan here in Australia, Nascent won the delegates award at Dance screen Brighton/IMZ early this year and it seems that many curators were at this conference/festival  and have subsequently booked this to show all over - and as you know Nascent won the Australian Dance Award 'Best Film' Category this year (2006) that made me very happy.

Are you working on another dance film at the moment?

No - I m not working on another dance film as yet.
I have just worked with ADT again using fragments and clips from the Nascent work  for a new work Devolution, made with Louis Philippe Demers - this was developing the sequences in order to project them onto black scrim behind which the performers and robots all lived.

My work currently in production Contagion is a large scale interactive installation -  Its an  international collaboration with five leading epidemiologists and micro-biologists that explores notions of purity and infection.  Using existing knowledge of the epidemiology of SARS and Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza, Contagion correlates the spread of image and information with the spread of biological infection.  It draws parallels between the biological transmission of infection, the mathematical transmission of data and the spread of ideas and understandings.

The performers in this sense and the participants - the people in the space will participate in the development and spread of 'infection' by their movement and actions in the installation space.  Combining the sensory data of viewers' actions with environmental fluctuations, the work will address attitudes towards surveillance, bio security and human interaction.

Contagion is innovative in its format and experimental in its approach and outcome.  It will be accessible to a diverse audience and aims to engage the public in the philosophical and ethical issues that surround contemporary biomedical science.

The behaviour of infectious disease, the spread of information or the
introduction of new elements into a system that cause change or mutation translates metaphorically into notions of perfection and purity and how these are defined.  This project will explore peoples' perception of disease, their engagement with surveillance devices, and social responsibility in relation to the spread of information representing biological infections.

Funded by the Welcome trust sci-art production awards
Melbourne City Council arts projects awards Arts Victoria art and Innovation award Supported by the State Library of Victoria Experimedia And the University of Technology Sydney
And a BIG THANKS to them too!!

A bit of a biog and backstory so far?
Okay, I am a British artist of polish origin now living in Australia and hoping that this will be permanent -my work intersects multiple genres and platforms.  Developed in collaboration with bio-technologists, computer programmers, dancers and sound artists, my recent works confront issues surrounding the convergence of biology and technology and the possible corruption of the human genetic mix.  Through sampling, generating and re-processing image and sound, I create contemplative spaces with strong visual aesthetics.

My work has been exhibited in public spaces and leading galleries
internationally including Arts Electronica, Austria,  The Natural History Museum, London, International Symposium of Electronic Art (ISEA), and The Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI), Melbourne, Australia. I have won  major national awards including the Creative Scotland Award 2002 and Australian Dance Film Award 2006. A Fleck Fellowship with the Banff Centre, Canada in 2004 and a Wellcome Trust Sci-Art Production Award in 2005 for
production of Contagion. 

Amongst other works, I was commissioned to create Versifier; A large scale multi-video projection (1998) that explored concepts of  genetic selection, and deconstructionalist ideology in relation to the body and the image,  and Silvers Alter(2002) working with the Human Genome Mapping Project to use DNA profiling of identified individuals to explore complex issues questioning the location of this information in the public realm and also provoking concerns relating to genocide, individuation, empathy, intimacy and sexual selection.

ARCHIVE Copy - 2006

More info-

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Artist Peter Cooley - At the End of the Archipelago - INTERVIEWS

As a kid growing up on the Gold Coast in the 1960's and early 1970's on the cusp of the Real Estate Boom that continues today Artist Peter Cooley had a very different experience of the place we have long associated with as the mecca of Australian surface culture, for a young boy cutting his teeth on pinch pots it was a coastal place to contemplate nature, birdlife, theme parks and the possibilities of menageries.

The Blue Mountains have long been an inspiration for your work Peter?

Yes and these new majolica works are a continuation of my fauna and bird themes. Although, my last two shows haven’t been all about the birds of the Blue Mountains, the subject matter is a little more open – ended, the Cassowaries for example.

I think now I am looking further afield now for inspiration, but for ten years the Blue Mountains have been a major influence. Also an influence in this shift was the 2010 NGA exhibition Life, Death and Magic which I liked a lot, particularly that it explored ancestral art of SE Asia.   

It was interesting to see how in many of the artworks the three dimensional and the two dimensional became intertwined and the influences from India & China became localised. 

For me this idea of referencing Australian birds and marsupials and acknowledging the broader influences of “Life Death & Magic” to my way of thinking at least, this exhibition of work considers what we have at “the end of the archipelagos “ here in Australia.

How did this major Blue Mountain’s influence begin?

I first spent 18 months in Katoomba in 1996-1997; I had the caretaker’s flat in the old Guesthouse on Katoomba Street which is a Youth Hostel today. It was great, so different to living in Sydney,  and anyway it went up for sale and then I moved to Melbourne. I had good friends living in Melbourne and was ready for new surroundings. Melbourne was dynamic at first.

When I moved to back to the Blue Mountains to live in 2003 – after living in St Kilda for five years - I had the opportunity for a house with a studio. I was ready for a tree change, I didn’t like the way St Kilda had changed, lost some its character and charm. Being in the Blue Mountains felt good, open, I had a large studio suited to making ceramics and large paintings. I was fascinated by the many birds and animals I noticed while walking.

I did lots of walking, long walks and I noticed the Cockatoos, the Black Cockatoos which are a bit rarer, the Gang Gangs, Kites and of course the variety of different landscapes, plateaus, clifftops, canyons, cascades and so on. I began working in ceramics immediately and birds became the focus. In fact moved back here because I wanted to make ceramics again. I had the space to do this which I didn’t have in Melbourne; you need space to make ceramics and an electric kiln.

Majolica. Tell me a bit about the fabulous glazes you use ?

For the last three years I have been using Majolica glazes. Tin glazes invented by Arabic artists for earthenware. They invented it because they wanted to make false porcelain. This was in the Middle Ages. China had porcelain which the Arabs coveted I guess and they wanted to imitate it, the tin glazes allow for a fine white base, a whiteness you could then paint on and that the Arabs liked. 

It’s an on glaze rather than one of the traditional under glazes; it really just means you can paint over it. That’s one of the qualities I like most about working with Majolica glazes, the painterliness, you can see the brushstrokes. 

Sometimes I miss painting, oils, I haven’t painted for ten years now, you can get pretty fed up with ceramics at times, but with ceramics I feel like I can push the boundaries a bit more and make things on my own terms. That’s to say I can combine sculpture and painting and as a result a product that is much more intimate.

And with these glazes I am painting all the time on the earthenware paper clay, clay you can push around a lot, it can take a lot of handling, its the only clay that can handle this, so it is very satisfying. I make works which look handmade, both the way I fashion the clay and with the on glaze and painting layers amplifies this handmade aspect. I like that a lot. 

I also like that ceramics unlike painting is much more physical, it’s VERY physical, I enjoy all the touching, shaping, handling, the intimacy with the materials, the lifting and the kilning, and making so the larger scale works don’t get too close to the kiln element. The Cassowaries for instance, they are large works made to measure, that is they are the largest works I can make with the electric kiln I have.

Yes and one of the regular techniques I notice about your work is the pinch pot technique taken into a different league, on a grander scale if you like? They so remind me of the raku pottery that was so commonplace when we were kids growing up in the 1970’s, it seemed like everyone was making Raku pottery, pinching pots and plates and vessels and firing them in backyard kilns made out of recycled bricks?

Yes, that’s true, and in fact I have been thinking about Raku of late and this is the intimacy I am talking about, handmade and I like them to look raw, pinched, and a little hideous, they are hideous.

Hideous, it’s interesting you say that Peter, the other thing I like is the quality of naive art /folk art to the way these works are made that and they are almost uncanny, almost monstrous, almost childlike. When you say hideous do you mean terrifying?

Yes, they are hideous, you can print that. I like that quality about my works. Some of the works I push this even further, into kitsch, but sometimes the works which are more kitsch in manner require a greater leap of faith, kitsch- that is terrifying for many people. The swans for instance.

I remember looking at one particular swan work and feeling it looks like a tyre swan, remember those swans cut out of old tyres and planted into gardens as decorative features, decorative planters?

Exactly, tyre swans are a classic of Australiana, and this is very conscious on my part.

Raku, you say you’ve been thinking about Raku again of late?

Yes, I have maybe because I like the finish it has, it is different to the glazing method it has all the elements of earth wind and fire, and these elements make it look quite raw, the firing produces a very different finish that I like.

Yes, one of the things I remember fondly about making Raku as a kid, was how the fire could singe and burn the clay into interesting colours even though it was just one type of clay depending in where it was located in the kiln, how hot it was an how long it was fired for. When did you take up ceramics?

I started ceramics when I was 12 years old. I went to Saturday afternoon classes in Tweed Heads where I grew up. The woman who used to teach the classes was an artist with a studio, a kiln and ran classes for anyone interested. Her name was Helen Moffatt and she made earthenware.

Thank heavens for the Women's Weekly, it is a little known fact that many an Australian boy has grown up with a penchant for the Weekly. I understand there is a particular Women's Weekly magazine you have had since you were a kid that continues to influence you?

True it's the 1959-1960, The Living Bush, it is a Women’s Weekly publication. I loved the colour photo reproductions and the printing technique they used, it’s like technicolour or kodakchrome, vibrant saturated colours and the design too, very 1950’s. 

The main thing I liked about the publication was all the Australian animals it depicted. We had rosellas and greenies growing up in Tweed Heads, they liked the berries on the Queensland Umbrella Trees, but I was fascinated by all the other animals in other areas of Australia, the ones that seemed exotic to me. 

As a kid I was fascinated by things that were exotic. I still use this publication as an influence in my work today. I think the Women’s Weekly put out a version every 15 years there was one in the 1970s and one more recent again.

Exotica, yes I was the type of kid drawn to exotica. The Living Bush has all sorts of fauna and birds, most Australian Species in fact, like Gang Gangs, Eastern Rosellas, and Cockatiels and so on. 

One of my favourite places where I could see some of these different species locally was at the Currumbin Bird Sanctuary; it’s still there today on the Pacific highway. There was also David Fleay’s Sanctuary close by as well. Theme parks were everywhere on the Gold Coast,

I liked the Currumbin Bird Sanctuary because there were so many colourful birds. And much closer to home than the bird sanctuary on the border of Queensland and NSW at the time was the Natureland Zoo which first opened in the 1950’s. We were neighbours, and we would go there lots as a family to see the lions and big cats, the deer. The back of the zoo was near our house so each night we could hear Rex the lion roaring it was amazing sound to fall asleep to.

The zoo was a menagerie which I didn't like, it had changed since it first opened and was a lot of animals bunched in together. But it had leopards, monkey’s, peacocks roaming around and pheasants too; the Golden Pheasant was one of my favourites as a kid and those Black Cockatoos which I love seeing up here in the Blue Mountains, they seemed happy, freer in the Zoo and not as badly treated as the big cats, that was something I liked.In the Blue Mountains you see Black Cockatoos flying in pairs or threesomes rather than flocks like the White Cockatoos and they have a very different call to the white Cockatoo and they seem to like the Radiata Pines that are everywhere in the Blue Mountains now, they like eating the radiata cones.


 Peter Cooley | Through the Archipelago II 30 May - 23 June 2013

Photos: Top- Kites, Middle- White Tailed Cockatoos, Bottom- Gang Gang Tea Cups, Courtesy Peter Cooley and Martin Browne Contemporary

See Peter's influences:

Peter was also influenced and inspired by various 18th and 19th Century Earthenware Majolica works held in the National Gallery of Victoria collections. Peter has visited the NGV during the last four years to study these works including, for example, this 1874 Monkey Teapot pictured in the link below.


Life, Death, Magic


Currumbin Bird Sanctuary