Guerilla Gardening

15 May 2021

I've live in an apartment in a very nice suburb called Hillsdale, near Maroubra and Matraville. But apart from pots on my south-facing balcony I don't have a garden. So, over the course of 3 years I've totally transformed the neighbourhood by rescuing throw-away plants while driving around Sydney, and gathering leaf trash from the streets of Surry Hills to mulch what was very poor, very sandy soil. This is what it used to look like:

Previously....Previously....

Left of driveLeft of drive

Right side of driveRight side of drive

Bromeliad in bloomBromeliad in bloom

Bromeliad in bloomBromeliad in bloom

Much of the gardens are still a work in progress, with juvenile native shrubs establishing themselves and ground covers gradually taking over. The wire fence shown below will eventually be covered in jasmine and a native vine further along. Growing on another fence, not shown in this essay, is a very productive choko vine, though its not looking so attractive now as the leaves die off, but still bearing fruit.

Back yard to the unitsBack yard to the units

Along the lanewayAlong the laneway

Open space along the boundaryOpen space along the boundary

Beside the garageBeside the garage

The best aspect of this endeavour, apart from the sheer pleasure I gain from doing it (great therapy to counter the stress of running a business as a creative) is the way the neighbours are so supportive and rallying to help out. Several people have been inspired to make their own green patch, adding colour to the streetscape.

Fully refurbished and reinstalledFully refurbished and reinstalled

Mid-March found me and my site team in the large country town of Tumut, in the high country, Southern NSW, re-installing two 150 yr old windows which we had removed last October. They were in a rather dilapidated state, with large gaps appearing between the lead came and the glass, and many repairs carried out over the years.

Commencement, inside viewCommencement, inside view

Commencement, outside viewCommencement, outside view

Fortunately Tumut Catholic Church has its own aluminium scaffold, so that was set up ready for us, and the external steel scaffold was erected by a local contractor. First job was to remove the plywood covers we had installed previously for weather proofing.

Half cuts to timber beadHalf cuts to timber bead

Foil at apex installedFoil at apex installed

In some ways timber frames are even more tricky than masonry installs. For the top foil and the arches we used a very old but simple and effective method to bend the timber beads, making small half-cuts to the timber and filling these afterward with "builders' bog", later sanded off and painted.

Filling saw cutsFilling saw cuts

Sash clips to hold leadlightSash clips to hold leadlight

At the bottom of the window set were a pair of ventilating steel sashes: these present their own particular issues. In this case we used traditional sash clips to hold the leadlight panels in place. In the photo above you will see small holes in the side of the steel frame to accommodate these clips. The rebates are then puttied up, burying the clips and keeping them safe from corrosion.

Ventilating sashes completedVentilating sashes completed

Reinforcing rodsReinforcing rods

Replacement of damaged glassReplacement of damaged glass

As is often the case with refurbishment of old stained glass windows, there were quite a few pieces that had been repaired previously. With such an important piece of glass as the Sacred heart of Jesus I deferred to the Parish committee for a decision on whether to replace or no, given that there was a break right across the top of the heart. I knew that I could make a fair facsimile of the original and although it took two attempts, that was what was done in the end.

REQUIEM:RESCRIPT

29 Jan 2021

Grounds of the old ReservoirGrounds of the old Reservoir

In the evocative environs of an old water reservoir in Sydney's Paddington this January a most unusual event took place. Curated by Janet Laurence, it was a part of the Sydney Festival and comprised art installations, musical performances and a durational performance piece by my good friend Julie Vulcan Balmoral Village in the Southern Highlands of NSW was hit particularly hard by the fires. Julie and her partner's house was fortunately saved but their property was largely reduced to ash.

Bags of ash from Balmoral VillageBags of ash from Balmoral Village

Hanging of fragmentsHanging of fragments

You can see more of the performance, as well as a visual diary documenting the regrowth on Julie's Instagram: mzvvv.

Photographer Robert Knapman (Insta: robertknapmanphotography) has documented one of the other performances which took place Jan 27th in the same space, that of the Sydney Red Rebel Brigade

There were also quite a few art installations scattered around the rather majestic space, including a collection of charred branches with ceramic inclusions by Juz Kitson and a a large faggot of burnt branches inscribed in white with comments about the the devastation wrought. At the conclusion of the two week event these were gathered up and carried through the streets of Sydney

Installation by Juz KitsonInstallation by Juz Kitson

Installation by Dirt WitchesInstallation by Dirt Witches

Participatory work by Tony AlbertParticipatory work by Tony Albert

Water bar by Janet LaurenceWater bar by Janet Laurence

Janet Laurence created a Water Bar for the event with multiple glass pieces containing ash water collected from many areas affected by the December/January/February fires. Tony Albert's piece invited guests to select one of the many bird species decimated by the fires and draw their version in white on a black ground. The Reservoir itself is such a strong architectural entity that it did take some effort to appreciate the depth and gravitas of the artworks installed. I only managed the one visit but it was definitely worth that effort.

A portion of the historic reservoirA portion of the historic reservoir

It was such a treat to catch an exhibition of new blown glass forms by Clare Belfrage at Sabbia Gallery early October. Vieing objects online in virtual shows is a very poor cousin to the experience of being with the work in person, sensing its scale, the relationship to the self and the relationship of one work to another, particularly when grouped together.

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The subtle depth achieved within the surface decoration of the vessel is captivating. Clare's forms carry such gravitas, they are a joy to behold. Being with the work seems to engender a state of meditation.

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This piece was actually my favourite in the exhibition. Many of the works take the form of large pebbles. This is even more obvious when viewed from above:

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The video accompanying the exhibition was most informative and gave a good insight into Clare's creative processes. The influence of the Australian bush is quite evident when viewing the works. All in all a delightful exhibition. Congratulations to both Belfrage and Sabbia.

On Monday 3rd February me and my team headed out of Sydney toward Boorowa, a medium-sized country town about 130km west of Goulburn. We were booked to excavate two stained glass windows from St John's Anglican Church. I'd looked at these windows about 12months prior, to make recommendations as they were clearly in need of remedial work. It took some time for the Parish to gain the necessary funding for the work but its very good that they did; when I saw the windows again the other week, they had deteriorated significantly in the intervening time. In the Good Shepherd window the buckling of the lower portion had reached a stage where glass was about to break.

St Johannes Window

External scaffold: commencing workExternal scaffold: commencing work

Top arch removedTop arch removed

Cutting out the sacrificial borderCutting out the sacrificial border

Lifting out the next panelLifting out the next panel

Hacking out putty to free overglazingHacking out putty to free overglazing

Lifting out the overglazingLifting out the overglazing

Removong the last panelRemovong the last panel

Lifting out the inscriptionLifting out the inscription

The Good Shepherd Window

Overglazing removed from the archOverglazing removed from the arch

Removing timber beadRemoving timber bead

Arched panel removedArched panel removed

Removing next panelRemoving next panel

Separating panel 2 from panel 1Separating panel 2 from panel 1

Boarding up the openingBoarding up the opening

Like all such events this was a real mixed bag. There was some terrible art on display, I mean really bad, but also there were many brilliant pieces on display and some truly outstanding new artists. As would be expected, it is a very eclectic mix in terms of genre and technique, with probably something like 50% very attractive and affordable abstrsact and realist paintings.

The Australian-Russian artist Yulia Pushtoskina was there with her beautifully rendered works of fantasy; there was a special display of contemporary ceramics, an intereactive light wall and see-saw by ENESS, and a plastics recycling factory shredding, melting and moulding rings and other objects.

GrammaGramma

When I spotted Shaelene Murray's name amongst the art news that comes across my desk had to make an effort to see this show. I knew Shaelene many years ago, through Ausglass Conferences in the '90's. And then saw a delightful and surprising work bearing her name at the Art Gallery of NSW Wynne Prize, which includes both landscape and sculpture, in 2013. The trustees generally select just one outstanding sculpture to represent the genre and there was Shaelene's "Blossom", a woven or knitted or knotted wire (actually sewn I have since discovered) skirt suspended in the middle of a large room, just above the floor. It had a powerful impact.

ScallywagScallywag

Scallywag is, exactly as the name suggests, tearing away from the family group below.

Mamma, Toddle & BubbieMamma, Toddle & Bubbie

All the works carry many layers of meaning, with stories woven around them. Mamma's right leg is stubbornly restraining Toddle from wandering off. And with Bubbie's outstretched arms we can almost hear her screaming.

ConfectionConfection

Sookie ChookieSookie Chookie

On the side wall opposite the main family group there is a series of small studies, bonnets mostly, each with a particularly idiosynchratic title. Small contemplations of detail and patience.

Gramma, detailGramma, detail

While somewhat media-shy, Shaelene does have a website where some of her earlier work in glass can be seen. Stanley Street Gallery is a treasure trove of fresh new artists and established names, showing a diverse array of media, with a strong representation of jewellery and sculpture. Murray's show continues through until 2nd November.

Still- like water

The CreekThe Creek

Snow Gum 1Snow Gum 1

Snow Gum 2Snow Gum 2

Still PresenceStill Presence

Presence RemainsPresence Remains

Opening address by Francis Lindsay, AMOpening address by Francis Lindsay, AM

Presence Remains

Alison at a glass painting workshopAlison at a glass painting workshop

New South Wales lost an enthusiastic and talented practitioner this month. Alison was much loved within the community, always bright and cheerful, full of energy and passion for all things glass.

Discussing her work at a recent exhibitionDiscussing her work at a recent exhibition

Kiln-fired wallpieceKiln-fired wallpiece

An avid collector and intrepid traveller with her partner Michael, who she referred to as the "world's best roadie", Alison attended several Ausglass Conferences and continued to broaden her skills with many workshops, including glass painting in Italy

Kiln-fired wallpieceKiln-fired wallpiece

With Peter Whittaker @ the Leadlighters' Xmas Picnic 2017With Peter Whittaker @ the Leadlighters' Xmas Picnic 2017

With Grace Cochrane & myself @ the Leadlighters' Xmas Picnic 2016With Grace Cochrane & myself @ the Leadlighters' Xmas Picnic 2016

She worked from a home studio in Jilliby, an idyllic bushland community on the NSW Central Coast. Probably Alison's best work is a beautiful commission for St Cecelia's Church, restrained and elegant. An image can be found in the Gallery section of her website Creative Moods Stained Glass

With MichaelWith Michael

Guard of Honour, Saturday 14th September 2019Guard of Honour, Saturday 14th September 2019

The SentinelsThe Sentinels

Australian artist Rhett Brewer showed a new collection of landscape and seascape paintings in oils and acrylics at Project Gallery 90, Oxford Street Paddington for a three week stint in July 2019. I enjoyed the show very much; it was refreshing with many vigorous works full of energy, firmly rooted in the geometry teased out of rock formations and fault lines, juxtaposing mass and horizon.

Faultilines 2Faultilines 2

The HikersThe Hikers

Faultilines 1Faultilines 1

Rhett and I go back a long way: we grew up together in Sydney's Georges
Hall and subsequently attended Condell Park High School. He then
vanished into the Public Service until we crossed paths once again while
Rhett was teaching Fine Art at the University of Western Sydney

Rhett Brewer at Project GalleryRhett Brewer at Project Gallery

Heavy Weather & Drift

The Edge

Heavy Weather & Drift

The Edge

These paintings hover between opacity and transparency and in addition to the spatial geometry I think that's what's so intriguing about them. Rhett's masterful handling of water is clearly evident in Bays entrance. The transparency he achieves in Floating Wall is arresting. And it is literal as well as metaphoric: in the midst of the standing wave, about to break, we are actually looking through a kind of glaze to the under-painting beneath.

The Small FreighterThe Small Freighter

Bays EntranceBays Entrance

Floating WallFloating Wall

As the title of the exhibition implies, all of the paintings are of or around Cape Banks, a very easterly promintory at Sydney's Little Bay. Covering bright sunshine and cold and gloomy days, Sydney's sandstone coastline lives through these paintings.

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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 jeffreyhamilton.blogspot.com