Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Two new artworks

I completed these two small works last week.
Prismacolor on Fabriano paper. Julie Clarke (c) 2015
Acrylic painting on canvas board. Julie Clarke (c) 2015

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Another small painting

Another non-representational artwork. I made this one last week, quite small.
Acrylic paint on Linen board. Julie Clarke (c) 2015

Tuesday, August 4, 2015


Two weeks ago I knitted this Golly Doll or Golly Wog, which is what it was called when I was a child. I chose the 1956 Women's Weekly pattern because I figured it was probably the one that was made for me. Golly was the first toy I remember being given.

Knitted Golly Doll by Julie Clarke, 2015

Last week I knitted this more sophisticated Goth Doll from a 2012 pattern by Fiona MacDonald. Both these dolls took about 15 hours of knitting - very labor intensive, but satisfying in the cold weather we've been experiencing in Melbourne.

Back to drawing or painting very soon.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015


Yesterday I attended a seminar at the Richmond Town Hall, which was entitled Death Matters: You Only Die Once. It provided an opportunity for those present to debate, question and hear about death and dying. The keynote speaker Molly Carlile, a qualified nurse, palliative care specialist, grief and loss counselor began by reading a poem that will be read at her own funeral. It was from Afterwards by Thomas Hardy (1917) and the sentence that captured me the most was: 'that I have been stilled at last'. Death comes to each of us and one of the main messages from this seminar is for all of us to become 'death literate', for, as Molly said 'we live in a death denying society'. We lock dying people away, smuggle their body away to a mortuary, engage the terminally ill in futile treatments, encourage them to keep surviving although they may be in extreme pain, all in the name of trying to appease relatives who continue to hang out hope for a miraculous cure.

Death must be reclaimed for the individual,  it is not the providence of the medical profession, death is a reality for all of us and we should not be forced to die in a way that is contrary to our wishes  but rather, in the service of the medical profession. We should, it was suggested,have in place what is termed an Advanced Care Plan and a nominated decision maker who will carry out duties and make necessary decisions about our 'good' death. This list can be written on paper and can be carried out by a trustworthy friend or member of the family. Remember, your good death will ultimately provide comfort to your family, because they know that your end of life desires have been satisfied.

Part of Molly's ACP, which she has discussed at length with her family is her desire to be buried in a biodegradable burial shroud and be placed in a simple timber coffin that has been decorated by her family and friends. I personally love both of these ideas. After much discussion it was agreed that the ACP should be as specific as possible and should include strict instructions, for instance, if you survive a massive stroke, but cannot walk, stand, feed yourself or wipe you own backside or communicate you may order a  Do Not Resuscitate notice. Being specific about such things is important for it takes the burden off family members whose emotional state of being may make it extremely difficult for them to make such a decision.

A range of subjects were discussed and they varied from individual to individual. I personally raised the question about Digital legacy and the fact that individuals need to provide updated login details for virtual sites such as Facebook, Twitter and blogs so that they may be claimed and archived. I discovered interesting details such as the fact that you do not have to employ a Funeral Director if you can organize cartage of your loved one to the crematory, bearing in mind that you can by law only keep someone at home in a cooled environment for five days.  Many people attending did not have formal 'funerals' for their family and had engaged in other kind of celebrations and internment. You are unable to bury a naked person and you cannot bury them in your backyard, though I personally think that the notion that a naked person imparts some kind of toxin into the soil is absolutely absurd and this is more likely to happen if you or your relative is embalmed. By the way you don't have to embalm a corpse!

As I listened with interest I realized that there is much we don't know about death and dying and that the suggestion of having a central website that contains all the information is not only ideal but necessary.  For too long it seems the care of the dead has been left in the hands of funeral directors who have had it all their way. It is possible to make change so that a person's end of life wishes allow them to have control. Strangely enough with all the in depth conversations had during the day Euthanasia and organ donation was not discussed. Perhaps these topics could be included in the next seminar? 

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Vintage suitcase, drawing #10

Completed mid last week.
Vintage suitcase. Watercolor and coloured pencil on Fabriano A3 paper. Julie Clarke (c) 2015.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Poem 1992

I was looking through a folder last night and found this poem I'd written in December 1992 and since I've not produced any artworks over the past week to show you I thought I'd post it here.

She is inside the folded curve
the sea shell breathes
silent water laughs beneath the stream,
trickles cold, the soft caress
an empty cave away, away
into the darkened sky
the clouds burst full
cascading drapes
an envelope of dreams and sighs.

She folds her skin
into herself
wrapping each part carefully, as though for final resting,
the creases mark the place & so
they disappear neatly, piece by piece -
the limbs and all external features
as though erased
& misty gone, a voice
so far away and barely known or understood
among the clatter and clogging dusk
befalls the hidden hall
a narrow gauge of this emotion
& all is failed & all thought shadows
time does not diminish action -
the shell, a folded place.

It is just that -
the wail, a ship that's
tossed and skin is gashed
the flesh so torn and bled on rusted
aftermath of wreck, with no survivors'
cries to haunt the water's edge.

Julie Clarke (c) 20 December 1992

Friday, June 26, 2015

DOPA-KINESIA Pezaloom and Kim Anderson

Pezaloom's experimental self-portraits entitled Dopa-Kinesia, beautifully photo-documented by Kim Anderson and currently being shown at No Vacancy Gallery, the Atrium at Federation Square, Melbourne are evocative to say the least. The subject of each photograph is Pezaloom's (presumably naked) body immersed in 160 kilograms of petroleum jelly, which represents 'the heaviness, slowness and restriction he experiences' as a person diagnosed with early-onset Parkinson's disease.
Since we are privy only to the still images and not the performance we must imagine what it would be like to be covered with such a heavy substance that no dout rendered Pezaloom's gestures more cumbersome than usual. I immediately recalled Joseph Beuys's works from the mid 1960s with fat, namely 'Fat Corner elongated with a wedge' 1962 and 'Fat Chair' 1964, and his obvious influence on the later work of New York Performance artist Matthew Barney who used petroleum jelly in a number of his performances in the 1990s to point to the protective element and use of Vaseline on a wound after sports injury and more than a nod to Beuys's narrative about Tartars rescuing him and covering him with fat and fur after he was wounded in a plane crash on the Crimean front. (This may or may not be true, but Beuys certainly was inspired by this idea).
At a local level I remember seeinjg Mike Parr's performance at ACCA (when it was located in Dallas Brooks Drive, the Domain) in which he lay prone and barely moved in a Wedding dress; for in one of the photographs in Dopa-Kinesia,  the frothy off-white jelly, flowing outwards from Pezaloom's body evoked the whiteness of a Wedding Gown and the icing on a Wedding cake.
Pezaloom photographed by Kim Anderson
It was in this way that notions of masculine and feminine, institutions and the social mores attributed to them, the fragility of Pezaloom's self, obscured by a substance that defines and obliterates his self came to the fore.
An erasure of sorts of the head and face of Pezaloom suffocating under the jelly, is akin to some of the self-portraits of the Austrian artist Gottfried Helmwein who creates a monstrous image out of personal identity, which we naturally ascribe to the face and who invariably evokes injury in his oeuvre.
In all the photographic self-portraits Pezaloom's face is barely seen and so the petroleum jelly is a mask that threatens to dissolve him and remains glued to his body, whilst simultaneously threatening to spill out beyond corporeal space.
The sticky, sensuous gelatenous matter, akin to a glorious ejaculate, suggests that his interior body has erupted in a passionate plea to be seen rather than merely heard (the artist is also a musician), and this speaks volumes, for in this almost erotic vision of self evolution, albeit one that is corrupt and deteriorating, the body is transformed into something else, a spiritual endeavour evidenced in photograph #15 in which the pose of the artist is decidedly angelic, the jelly appears to form small wings on the artist's upper spine as light from the window forms a criss-cross dark shadow onto the floor beneath him. Drama is achieved in many of the photographs which reveal the artist surrunded by a black background, however a different narrative is created when the Pezaloom is photographed in the empty space of the Yallurn Power Station. Its noticeable derelection of surfaces reflecting the unseen deterioration of the artist's body.

Dopa-Kinesia may be viewed until 5 July.

Julie Clarke (c) 2015

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Oil pastel drawings

Photograph of my work space and photographs of the oil pastel drawings that I completed on Monday and Tuesday this week. All drawings on A3, Fabriano 300 gsm, 25% cotton rag paper,

Section of my lounge room where I paint and draw.

Julie Clarke (c) June 2015

Julie Clarke (c) June 2015

Julie Clarke (c) June 2015

Julie Clarke (c) June 2015