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The Internationally significant Powerhouse Museum or MAAS (Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences) is to be moved to Parramatta, the building demolished and the land sold off to developers for residential accommodation. I consider this nothing short of State-sanctioned vandalism. My opinion is shared by many of my colleagues and friends.

NSW Premier Mike Baird announced the move in February this year as a political stunt (I believe) to garner votes in Western Sydney. Now I'm all in favour of a new Museum in Western Sydney, where over one third of Sydney's population resides. Definitely, let's build more museums and art galleries. But it is patently absurd to demolish a fully functional world class institution for a return of maybe $500M, no matter how dire the need for more residential accommodation in our burgeoning city. A city is soulless without its cultural institutions. And to claim that the demographic centre of Sydney is Parramatta while building more apartments in Ultimo is completely misleading.

Alex Greenwich, Independent member for Sydney is hosting a petition (scroll down to PLANNING) requesting a Parliamentary review of the decision. If we can gather 10,000 signatures, on paper, with a NSW residential address (no email addresses) then the NSW Parliament will be forced to debate the issue. Democracy in action. the tally stands at 3,000 so far; Greenwich is wanting to submit the petition to Parliament this October, so downlaod and sign it now. Take it to your workplace, encourage your family members to sign. Let's keep this dynamic, historic and architecturally significant building.

Interstate and International residents who would like to add their voice in supporting the Museum can sign one of the several online petitions.. these will definitely add weight to the cause. Jamie Parker, Member for Balmain, is hosting an online petition to save the Powerhouse Museum.


For almost twelve months the MAAS has been hosting a spectacular exhibition of jewellery with over 700 exhibits drawn from public and private collections, beautifully curated by Eva Czernis-Ryl, Senior Curator at the Museum. Craft Arts International magazine's current issue #94 carries an impressive review of the show

Contemporary workContemporary work

Peter Tully costumePeter Tully costume

Contemporary workContemporary work

In the ante-chamber to the main exhibition was a selection of work by students of Jewellery and Design Colleges around NSW. Classes were invited to view the Museum's collections and to make work somehow inspired by or related to a particular piece.

Students workStudents work

Students workStudents work

Students work at Powerhouse Jewellery ExhibitionStudents work at Powerhouse Jewellery Exhibition

UPDATE NOV 1st 2015:

Over 10,000 signatures were presented to Parliament during question time mid-October, petitioning the State Government to revere=se the decision to move the MAAS to Parramatta. Consequently a full Parliamentary debate will be held, although it is unclear exactly when that will be. for more information check Alex Greenwich's website

I missed the annual Sculpture by the Sea exhibition this year, being rather busy finishing and then installing my window for the Bowral Presbyterian Church last Friday. I always enjoy the show: such beautiful location, always interesting and artistically stimulating and invigorating. And its wonderful that this exhibition is so well attended: many thousands of Sydneysiders make the walk from Bondi to Tamarama (or in reverse), not only to look at the view, but to look at Art!

However this is not the only sculpture show in town. Running more or less concurrently, in the beautiful old Waverley/Woollahra Town Hall on Old South Head Road, is the Woollahra Small Sculpture Prize. A strongly contested, selected exhibition, the Small Sculpture Prize is an intimate show, similar in many ways to the Ranamok Glass Prize. While the latter tended to favour plinth-based works, the former is exclusively such, with each work restricted to a maximum size of 80cm x 80cm x 80cm.

HO-ZUKI by Yasuke TakemuraHO-ZUKI by Yasuke Takemura

SERAPH by Peculiar AnnesSERAPH by Peculiar Annes

The diversity of ideas represented in this show always amazes me. What this means is, being such a small show with only 40x sculptures, it almost doesn't work as a cohesive exhibition. The observer bounces from one extreme example of creative thought to another. There are some links however, some threads to follow and works to compare. In this year's show there were quite a number of figurative pieces, each one of them very powerful and expressive. Henry, for instance, by Miraslav Kratky is almost talking to you. He stands there full of attitude and wisdom, espousing his particular philosophy on Life. Stephen Bird's Ancestral Figure, by contrast is almost impregnable, teasing you with so many unrelated symbols and references (like English Toby Jugs) that the artist seemingly defies you to make sense of the work, delighting in making something both arcane and beautiful.

Henry by Miraslav KratkyHenry by Miraslav Kratky

2014 Winner2014 Winner

Puppy by Natelie ThomasPuppy by Natelie Thomas

Triplex (detail)Triplex (detail)

Triplex by Morgan ShimeldTriplex by Morgan Shimeld

Ancestral Figure by Stephen BirdAncestral Figure by Stephen Bird

Several of the works are laden with humour, some of it quite wry. The winning sculpture for instance, Form for Modern Living #2 by Natalie Guy, is a suavely tongue-in-cheek dig at Interior Design, the mores of contemporary fashion, Modern Art and sophisticated consumerism. It somehow encapsulates all of this in a pithy statement of bronze Barbara Hepworth.

And with an hilarious take on Jeff Koons' giant Puppy, Natalie Thomas takes us back to those ultra-kitsch souvenir shops of the 1950's and 60's beachside holidays where you would find all manner of artefacts made of seashells.


by Freja Jobbinsby Freja Jobbins

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A constructivist steel sculpture which caught my eye was Triplex by Morgan Shimeld. I know of Morgan as a stand-out graduate in glass studies from SCA, making really interesting work. Clearly he has pushed on to great heights and moved beyond glass.

But Freja Jobbins' Anthropomorphism #1 surely takes the prize for Absolutely Creepy. Is it just me? I find these conglomerations of baby doll parts very disturbing (while also, admittedly, decidedly funny). There are unexpected echoes here with both Bird's Ancestral Figure but moreso with Thomas' shell-encased Puppy. All three share a strong sense of the absurd.

My personal favourites were Yusuke Takemura's Ho-Zuki and Seraph by the Peculiar Annes. Totally unrelated and appealing to completely different aesthetics, yet both works share a highly developed sense of finesse in both craftsmanship and concept. Take's work celebrates the beauty of materiality and technical virtuosity while the Annes' magical figure possesses such power and spirit that it can transport the observer to another place entirely. And that surely is the achievement of Art.

The 2014 Sydney exhibition of the last Ranamok Glass Prize drew to a close on Sat 18th October with 5x of the 28x finalists presenting talks about their work: myself, Ben Young, Paddy Robinson, Mark Elliott, Lee Howes and Yusuke Takemura.

-hale by Richard Whiteley-hale by Richard Whiteley

Farewell to the King by Christian ArnoldFarewell to the King by Christian Arnold

Blue world -Polar by Emma VargaBlue world -Polar by Emma Varga

Forest Fungi 2 by Rodger BuddleForest Fungi 2 by Rodger Buddle

There is nothing more expensive by Yusuke TakemuraThere is nothing more expensive by Yusuke Takemura

Last Supper by Evelyn DunstanLast Supper by Evelyn Dunstan

The Magpie's Hoard by Rob WynneThe Magpie's Hoard by Rob Wynne

Mount Selwin by Holly GraceMount Selwin by Holly Grace

Te Kahu by Te Rongo KirkwoodTe Kahu by Te Rongo Kirkwood

Three Painted Vessels (foreground) by Jeffrey HamiltonThree Painted Vessels (foreground) by Jeffrey Hamilton

for health and assurance by Nick Wirdnamfor health and assurance by Nick Wirdnam

Philumeny by Lee HowesPhilumeny by Lee Howes

Over the weekend of 28th, 29th, 30th March I took part in the Designers On Show exhibition held each year in the Turramurra Masonic Centre on the Pacific Highway at Turramurra. The centre has two exhibition halls accessed via a common entry foyer. It was my task to design and hang the entry foyer exhibition and then play host over the weekend, meeting and greeting visitors as they arrived.



Craft Arts MagazineCraft Arts Magazine

View from the elevatorView from the elevator

The entry foyer was my exhibition space; I didn't have a display stall in the show as did the other exhibitors. In this way I was able to integrate my work into the building and take advantage of discreet spaces not otherwise utilized. It made for a strong impression when entering and also when leaving the Show.

Last (and hopefully lasting) impression exiting the ShowLast (and hopefully lasting) impression exiting the Show

Other exhibitors in the Show included Mark Jones [leather], Carol Page [bespoke shoes], Alice Leda Pettirosso [merino woollen garments], Denise Smith [lampworked glass beads], Jane Stapleford [watercolours], Bob Taber [jewellery], John Hablitschek [jewellery], Jane Slicer-Smith [hand-knits], Lyn Hart [ceramics] and many other former exhibitors from the former Australian Craft Show run by Bibby and Shields from 1984 thru to 1999 at variou svenues but primarily the old Sydney Showgrounds at Moore Park. We were also supported by Craft Arts International who had a stand displaying their magazines in the foyer.

Frozen KimonosFrozen Kimonos

Jones leather and Ken and Susan FlowerJones leather and Ken and Susan Flower

Lyn Hart ceramicsLyn Hart ceramics

Alice Leda PetrossinoAlice Leda Petrossino

Marion Matthews quiltsMarion Matthews quilts

Signature HandknitsSignature Handknits

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.

Liz ShreeveLiz Shreeve

Titania HendersonTitania Henderson

Maria Fernando CordosaMaria Fernando Cordosa

Susana StratiSusana Strati

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.

Wona BaeWona Bae

Tavita HaveaTavita Havea

Kerrie CannonKerrie Cannon

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."

Aly AitkenAly Aitken

Ian MundayIan Munday

Jessica TseJessica Tse

Kayo YokoyamaKayo Yokoyama

Dominique Sutton: Sea of WordsDominique Sutton: Sea of Words

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.

Exhibition title with bespoke bookcaseExhibition title with bespoke bookcase

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.

Don't Shoot the MessengerDon't Shoot the Messenger

Section 311Section 311

Face ValueFace Value

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.

Straight From Third to Fifth (detail)Straight From Third to Fifth (detail)

In DexIn Dex

I've Got my Eyes on the Queen of Hearts (detail)I've Got my Eyes on the Queen of Hearts (detail)

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.

Recent Installations

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.

New door panelsNew door panels

The main panelsThe main panels

The two lower panelsThe two lower panels

The full entrywayThe full entryway

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.

Pair of highlights in Surry HillsPair of highlights in Surry Hills

Looking out to the gardenLooking out to the garden

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.

Highlight to a private chapelHighlight to a private chapel

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.

Australian-Turkish artist Aziz Ulas died 22.05.12, losing his battle with lung cancer. He left a huge body of work and a young son, Joscha, who is living in Berlin with his mother. On Saturday night (July 21st) Tap Gallery in Darlinghurst hosted a memorial exhibition celebrating Aziz's life and work. Proceeds of sales are to benefit Joscha.

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Aziz embraced life fully. He was one of those characters that makes an impression on everyone he meets. And his work demonstrated this passion. He explored his chosen medium of resin casting with admirable dedication but was continually frustrated with a lack of acceptance amongst the 'Art Establishment' in Australia, despite being well-recognised and supported in Germany where he lived for some years.

Gifts from AzizGifts from Aziz

wordjammin MCwordjammin MC

Lesley DymickLesley Dymick

Lifelong friend AlexLifelong friend Alex

After several warm and uplifting addresses on the night the MC announced that a box of studio experiments, photos and paraphernalia were available free for guests as a momento of the artist. I now have a beautiful little resin piece in brilliant scarlet and cerulean blue to remind me of Aziz.

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Tap Gallery's resident keyboardistTap Gallery's resident keyboardist

Guests at the exhibitionGuests at the exhibition

Guests at the exhibitionGuests at the exhibition

Guests at the exhibitionGuests at the exhibition

Last Sunday turned out to be the perfect sunny day for a viewing of my recent stained glass commission, the Breath of Compassion. Hung on the southern wall of the main stairwell, the brief for this work called for maximum reflection of sunlight so lots of iridised and silvered glasses were employed in the design.

me with my patron Paulme with my patron Paul

Breath of CompassionBreath of Compassion

I was much photographed that dayI was much photographed that day

Michael Ryan and Paul andrews were very generous in hosting the event and it was terrific to be able to share the work with a good number of friends: a very rare opportunity. Regular visitors to my website will recall seeing progress shots of the Breath of compassion on my ABOUT page last year. The work took a year to come together and was installed in November 2011. Claremont Joinery did a brilliant job of the framing; getting the work hung was quite a trick.

guests with host Michaelguests with host Michael

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Down the Rabbit Hole

11 Jun 2012

White Rabbit Gallery is Judith Neilson's gift to the poeple of Sydney. And what a rare and wonderful philanthropic gesture it is! John McDonald writes glowingly of the establishment in the Sydney Morning Herald, and not for the first time. In an exerpt from the Director's statement Judith says: "We wanted to share with Australians and the world the best of Chinese contemporary art since 2000—a turning point that I think of as the Big Bang. I hope all visitors to the Gallery will experience the surprise, delight and fascination that the White Rabbit Collection's artists and their works have given the Neilson family."

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Housed in a converted industrial warehouse, the gallery boasts 3x floors of the most diverse and fascinating artworks you could imagine. Every few months the owner, Judith Neilson, travels to China on a buying trip, collecting work from both well known and entirely unknown Chinese artists creating excellent work. Down the Rabbit Hole is a mix of mostly new pieces and work from the collection and is aptly named, as McDonald points out. It really is a journey into wonderland.

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Sunday 10th was my third visit to Down the Rabbit Hole; I've been a regular visitor to the Gallery since its opening in 2009 and I'm now recognising some works in the collection. I found the current hang particularly uplifting. The 3x light sculptures are beautiful, lyrical works, engaging the attention for long periods of time. One in particular, which could not be photographed, produced quite profound images simultaneously evocative of planets and microscopy. And the workings of gradually shifting lenses and folded wire mesh were entirely exposed, immediately debunking the mystery of the whole artwork.


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Scripting is accompanied by a meditative piano score, perfectly suited to an entrancing artwork.

I will finish this blog entry by quoting a rather poignant statement from the work of artist Liao Chien-Chung: "Part of aesthetics is getting rid of ugliness, reek, grime: art and life both depend on cleaning up." This accompanied the work Garbage Truck, mixed media, 2011- a full-size replica without the garbage.


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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 commentary, 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