Thursday, September 29, 2016

John Olsen, Jesse Jones, St Patrick's Cathedral

I've spent the past week or so contending with inflammation of major tendons in both feet, which left them with a burning sensation. The doctor couldn't tell me why this has happened, but it may be due to the fact that I undertake so much walking. I've weeded, swept up seeds and been Spring cleaning after a fashion. Thank goodness for art.

You've got to love John Olsen's expressive, colorful, kinetic, large-scale paintings. I was mesmerised when I saw the 'You Beaut Country', a major retrospective of his work on the ground level at NGV, Federation Square on the weekend. Although I appreciated all the works on show I was particularly drawn to two paintings that seemed to defy his style, namely a fish head that appeared to emerge from dark, murky waters, and a shower head positioned over a large old fashioned bath with decorative legs abandoned on red earth. I spent about 45 minutes sitting in front of his works and at one stage I attempted to plot the trajectory of the many lines that traverse each canvas. It turned out to be an impossible task.
Still from 'The Other North' RMIT. Photo: Julie Clarke 2016

This afternoon I was just as enamoured with Jessie Jones 'The Other North' video installation that forms part of the Radical Actions exhibition now showing at RMIT Gallery (and on show until 22 October). It was unnerving, but fascinating to see and hear the words of North Korean actors who were re-enacting scenes from a conflict resolution session in the 1970s, which addressed conflict in Northern Ireland. More engaging was watching their different facial expressions and body language, which exhibited evidence of boredom (one woman plays with her hair and looks at her nails, frustration (another takes a cigarette and smokes it), indifference as well as engagement.

Earlier today I met up with Leonie and we took a long, slow walk through St. Patrick's Cathedral. The excursion was less to do with religion and more an appreciation of the light flowing through the golden leadlight windows, the exquisite gold-leaf adorned paintings and the peacefullnness that's engendered just by being inside such a beautiful place. We walked quietly past a few people who were clustered together in the front seats, however as we passed we discovered they were not praying or engaging in quite solitude, their were heads down and they were engrossed in their mobile phones, which seemed to match the fact that the only other people in the church were Asian tourists taking selfies.The wind was fresh outside and the hot soup for lunch was welcome. Vicky, if  you are reading this it was lovely to pump into you today. Please do contact me for that well overdue coffee catchup.

Thursday, September 22, 2016


In 2015 I purchased a set of original 1950s colored Cuisenaire rods in a wooden box, similar to those I used as a child to make small buildings. Even though George Cuisenaire developed the rods as a mathematical aid, I used them last year to construct a couple of designs on a flat surface. These designs inspired me to bring forth small aspects of photographs I'd taken of the city, Docklands, St. Kilda and Richmond. I reduced these units to their basic structural form with an emphasis on the rectangular in the Cuisenaire rods. I am interested in the proximity and distance of urban structures, as well as their fixity and fluidity. Below are some exampes of the eleven paintings I'm currently showing at Boheme Cafe in Richmond. They were completed at the beginning of this year prior to me doing the pixel paintings.
High Rise in the fog
Acrylic paint on canvas 40.5 x 30.5cm
Julie Clarke (2016) $300

Acrylic paint on canvas 30.5 x 30.5cm
Julie Clarke (2016) $300

Acrylic paint on canvas 40.5 x 30.5cm
Julie Clarke (2016) $275

Twin Towers Bolte Bridge
Acrylic paint on canvas 40.5 x 30.5cm
Julie Clarke (2016) $275

Under the bridge
Acrylic paint on canvas 61 x 40cm
Julie Clarke (2016) $550

Wednesday, September 21, 2016




Acrylic paintings of the urban environment now showing at:

368 Bridge Road, Richmond.

Thanks to Gina for her support and encouragement.

All paintings, eleven of them, are for sale. Works will be shown until end of October.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

MARCO LUCCIO at fortyfivedownstairs today

Marco Luccio at fortyfive downstairs. Photo: Julie Clarke (c) 2016

Lindsay, Suzette and I helped Leonie celebrate her sixty-fifth birthday today by seeing the extensive Marco Luccio New York Mythic exhibition now showing at fortyfivedownstairs, at 45 Flinders Street, Melbourne. I was pleased and honored that Marco not only remembered me, but he particularly remembered the lengthy conversation we had about Joel-Peter Witkin's work fourteen years ago in 2002. The conversation we had was at LaMamma. I'd been carrying around the book on Witkin that I'd purchased in 1996, together with my observations in a piece of writing that would form part of a large chapter in my PhD thesis on amputees and cyborgs. I was rather passionate about my interest in Witkin's work and in particular his interpretation of Velasques Las Meninas and was happy that I'd met someone who shared my interest not only in Witkin's use of a female amputee, which I likened to the borg queen in Star Trek, but in photography. I must say after viewing Luccio's works this afternoon I was thoroughly entranced by his intensely dark, almost Gothic etchings, drawings and large scale paintings. He's an important artist and such a talent. Actually, overwhelmed is perhaps closer to what I was thinking as I perused the black and white works, which occupy both rooms in the gallery space. My favorite was New York Mythic 15 because although the extensive panoramic views of New York were compelling I appreciate this particular work because it appeared as if the city was disintegrating perhaps to rise again amidst the rubble. Luccio's work may be located at or see his work, which is on show until the 8 October.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Julie Clarke acrylic paintings August/September 2016

Firstly, I am pleased to report that 434 people clicked on the link about Enza Benincasa's paintings. Secondly, although I haven't been well over the past few weeks I've managed to do a few paintings myself. They are acrylic on stretched canvas.The paintings reflect my recent interest in the grid, pixilation, and borders, and are a continuation of paintings that I completed earlier this year that centered upon various structures. A more articulate explanation will follow at a later date. Anyway, here are the paintings.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Enza Benincasa in her studio Sunday 4 September 2016

Enza in studio. Photo: Julie Clarke (c) 2016
Enza and Julie with Enza's work in progress. Photo by Enza's sister.

Julie in front of Enza's paintings. Photo: Enza Benincasa (c) 2016

I was luck to be able to catch up with two friends this week. On Friday Leonie Osowski and I saw a well curated exhibition at the Centre for Contemporary Photography, which focussed on landscape and afterwarfds we had a delicious vegan lunch at Gluttony in Smith Street.
Today I visited Enza Benincasa in her studio at Shakespeare Grove, St. Kilda. In her large-scale paintings on paper the night sky, with its myriad of stars and electric lights is a conduit from the earthly to an other-worldly or spiritual plane. City buildings, sentinals of iron and steel are transformed under her hand into structures of fantasy. Draped with small jewel-like fairy lights, the metropolis wears a delicate crown. This emphasis on the precious is reflected in her recent small works; as opals or other rare gems are recalled in the strong colors that blend effortlessly on canvas as though they have been plucked carefully from the earth. The phallic woman, represented by the iconic Madonna of Christianity features in many of her past works and speaks of the power of feminity and spirituality, a hallmark of her work. In some paintings Mary stands alongside or enveloped in the city space, which she protects. References or influences on Benincasa's work lie unashamedly on top of her work bench. Large tomes of Olsen and Catapan to name just a few. Olsen's strong, yet fluid mark making is reflected in Enza's work through a soft, delicate hand that creates a calligraphic line tracing a path over a colored ground. Enza's view of the city as we Melbournian's know it differs from Cattapan's dark vision, for her view of the city posit it as veiled often in discrete pastel colors.

I really enjoyed seeing Enza's work in the studio and I equally enjoyed walking through the community garden; the flowers were in bloom, the chickens were happy. If you would like to see more of Enza's work please visit:

Tuesday, August 30, 2016


It was Melbourne's 181st Birthday today and I attended the celebration at Federation Square alongwith several hundred other Melbournians. The two hour concert included vocals from Lisa Edwards who sang John Farhnam's Your the Voice and trumpeter and singer songwriter from Hunters and Collectors went down well with the audience who stood in the rain to listen.

Many, including myself were singing along and dancing as best we could on the uneven surface of Federation Square walkway. However, the best aspect of the two hour concert was the eight or so songs sung by Ross Wilson, Mondo Rock, who ended by singing the now famous, Eagle Rock.

I really enjoyed myself and was fliting here and there to take photos. At the end of the concert audience members were treated to a cup cake to celebrate the occasion and shown on the large screen were Australian archive footage of early Melbourne's Flinders Street, St. Paul's Cathedral and Collins Street. The whole experience was just lovely. Happy Birthday Melbourne, we love you!

Sunday, August 28, 2016


Rephotographed photo of Australian Islamic Centre. Photo: Julie Clarke (c) 2016
When I was a teenager I attended a catholic girls school and in the vast distance we could see the outline of the Altona Oil Refinary. The siren would periodically sound and the noise would be carried on the wind creating a certain anxiety within each of us about the possibility of impending disaster. Today I went to the NGV at Federation Square where I saw the large wooden sculptures by Bruce Armstronng, but I also saw the drawings, photographs and ground floor plans of the Australian mosque and Islamic centre at Hobson's Bay, which is nearly complete. I noted that although the amazing building designed by Glenn Murcutt is a fine example of 21st century architecture, females who attend this mosque will still be separated from male worshippers; they will be required to pray upstairs. When I saw the photograph of the mosque with the oil refinary in the background it looked futuristic, like the still from a science fiction film.  I considered the juxtaposition of these two structures hinted at their possibly incendary nature and how the siren sound and the call to prayer will instill fear in some who remain ignorant of the workings of both establishments.