My brillant, beloved uncle, William Priest, passed away in 2006. Today is his 92nd birthday. Bill was the closest thing to a father-figure I ever had (my own father passed away when I was an infant). He was tall, smart, funny, loving and had a killer hand-shake – what more could a kid want?
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It seems a little hard to believe that I recently spent two hours with Edwin Wilson, septuagenarian painter and poet, talking at length about his life and art, wholly unaware that he carried with him a terminal cancer diagnosis.
About four years ago, portrait artist Dana Lundmark began playing with clay.
‘I’d had no training at all,’ she explains. ‘I was just sort of playing with blobs of clay. Pretty much straight away a human figure formed. I guess that happens a lot, do you think?’
I shrug my shoulders.
While this blog may at first seem a bit tangential to the matter of artistic expression, it’s actually pretty close to the core. We’re talking about living a life with enough space to step away from stress, let the mind roam free and bring imagination and creativity back into play – and without guilt. We’re talking about the problem of work. And who better to guide us than Bertrand Russell?
My first encounter with pianist David Miller was from the depths of the bass section of Sydney’s Taverner Consort of Voices in a suburban church hall in the early nineties.
He was attacking a torrid passage when one or two ivories – possibly stuck down specially for the occasion – came flying off the piano’s keys and clattered to the hardwood floor. But he was unfazed, leaning forward, eyes glued to the score, with a half-smile, equal parts concentration and joy. It was as though the disintegration of the piano was half-expected, almost necessary, in order to magnify the thrill.
Waking in the wee hours with the feeling that I don’t really fit a human world whose agenda seems to have nothing to do with me, nor humanity. The phrase ‘lost boy’ comes to mind.
[Harmonious proportions] arouse, deep within us and beyond our sense, a resonance, a sort of sounding board which begins to vibrate. An indefinable trace of the Absolute which lies in the depth of our being. This sounding board which vibrates in us is our criterion of harmony. This is indeed the axis on which man is organised in perfect accord with nature and probably with the universe.Le Corbusier
Artists turn up where you least expect them. They’re hiding under rocks. In this instance she was right next door, visiting her family, when we dropped in for a barbie (pre-COVID, of course).
My solo exhibition Yunta Landscapes happened only four months ago, but it feels like another age. It’s as though we’ve all passed through the eye of a needle since then. Or a cyclone. Priorities upended. Only now does it feel like the dust is settling and we’re venturing out to survey the damage.
A few minutes into our conversation, Nate Gilkes gives me a solid-gold clue as to what drives his artmaking.
“I was playing second violin in the school orchestra. It was Shostakovich’s String Symphony. It was extremely dissonant, there were these long string sounds – the strings around me, my own violin, even the bow – the sounds went right into my body. Something awakened in me. I was emotional for days after.”