Uncertain Times

Firstly I hope all of my followers are safe and well at this difficult time and I wish you all the best.

It is looking likely that my next exhibition, due to hang at the end of May will be postponed. I hope to have more definite information soon, and will keep you updated. In the meantime, here are a few paintings which I hope will be in the exhibition WHEN it happens!

Also I have a new item in my shop – my latest book Swanengesang. More on that later. Please do keep following my blog and instagram, where I shall try to give you beautiful things to look at. Art can be a great comfort and fulfillment for the soul as well as keeping the brain active, so I shall try to do my part the best way I can.

Gethsemane, Dye and acrylic on canvas, 160 x 140 cm
Transfigured Night, Dye and acrylic on canvas, 162 x 140 cm
Refugee, Mixed media on canvas, 100 x 75 cm
Illustration from Winterreise, Mixed media on paper, 36 x 55 cm
Pigeon Post, Illustration from Schwanengesang, Mixed media on paper, 27 x 76 cm
Still Life with Ginger Plant, Mixed media on canvas, 100 x 76 cm
Archipelago, Mixed media on paper, 38 x 28 cm

Past Controversies!

‘Those paintings, how they arouse people’

Back in 1973 I won a prize at the North Shore Arts Festival in Auckland. My painting was considered by some to be quite controversial at the time and it has certainly been eye opening (and perhaps shocking!) for my assistant who has been reading and copying the old newspaper clippings and articles from that time.

As yet I have been unable to locate a colour image of the painting, but the colours would be similar to those in this blog post about some other works of mine from that period, which are still in the collection at the Auckland Art Gallery Toi O Tamaki

Below are a few of those newspaper articles and clippings which I have kept in a scrap book for many years, but which my assistant insisted must see the light of day – she seemed to find it fascinating and thought others would too.

Note the wonderful composition of this photograph with the head of Festival President Ron Forbes covering the ‘offending’ area!
The article is from the North Shore Times, February 1973.

It seems I caused rather a stir, some of the opinions written in to the papers are hilarious – or infuriating – depending on your viewpoint.

This – signed ‘Not a Prude’ – is a particularly ugly example (the original clipping is rather damaged so I will quote a section):

Two ugly, course, grotesque figures, sprawled out, one in a most disgusting attitude, and not in any way pleasing to the eye…. why not paint two nice young girls (nudes, if he likes) with lovely long flowing hair, throwing a beach ball.

From the opinion s section of the North Shore Times Advertiser,
February 1973

I feel that the author of this letter has said a lot more about himself than the painting – and not in a good way!

Here is a more positive one though:

In fact there were many positive responses, and the painting was bought by Grahame Chote, collector and director of the International Art Centre, Auckland. I recently got in touch with his daughter Fran Davies who is now the director, and she was able to provide me with this image of the painting in their downstairs gallery in the early ’70’s.

Image supplied by International Art Centre, Auckland, New Zealand. 

The following article is Grahame’s response in the Auckland Star, to the controversy surrounding the painting.

And from the newsletter:

He was not the only interested party:

I would love to know who those ‘American tourists’ were! [Ed.]

However, the controversies continued:

You never would have thought I was such an enfant terrible in my youth… would you??!!

Albania

A tall tale from this ancient Adriatic gem.

Here I am in Albania, going off to set up my big show. (Racy pants)

Just locked up my Albanian studio…

Spotted at the opening of my show!!

The gallery is impressive!…. a bit draughty though…

Lovely Roman ruins….

Lovely gracious rococo hotel with panoramic views…

A review of my show! Seen in the Corfu Chronicle, (hence the Greek.) Still, as you see, it makes good reading.

DISASTER! Artist falls down dis-used mine shaft!

This is my fave AIR B and B so far….

My new best friend Alesia. She is an absolute gem at I.T. ….And publicity for my Albanian show! What a find!

Tasmanian Travels

Map of Tasmania, from Lonely Planet
Stunning!

Words cannot describe the beauty of this place, so I’ll just leave these few images for your perusal.

Nine Mile Beach, Frecinet Peninsula.
Harry, the Tasmanian Tenterfield Terrier.
Bay of Fires, Binalong Bay, nr St Helens.
My 5 star hotel at Bruny Island!!

Greetings from Tasmania

Part 1

I have taken a trip back to my native Tasmania for a few weeks and have been with my old art school mate. He has unearthed some ancient stuff… all done around 1964/5. A mixture of painting, linocuts and chalk sketches. Some of it’s not bad, if I do say so myself!


Snooker Player; 180 x 150cm

Somewhat reminiscent of our old chum Bacon? Who was a huge influence on me can you tell?!!


Towel; linocut; 100 x 70

Caged Bird Singing; linocut; 100 x 70

Fence; linocut; 70 x 100

Wrestlers; chalk; 40 x 20

The above sketch was a study for a painting which was acquired by the Dunedin art gallery. (A few years ago!)


Life study; conte; 40 x 20

Vietnam; chalk; 30 x 20

Momento Mori. Goodbye Francis.

OK, so he eventually drowned in his own polish, but he was way ahead of whoever  was in second place.

Memento Mori / Goodbye Francis. Acrylic and dye on canvas. 108 x 87 cm. David Armitage.

Studio Shows 3

Becoming an ‘artist’ is so simple. Get out of bed, down to the art shop, get loads of gear, make some marks, and there you have it. BINGO!
Of course you could have called yourself a brain surgeon, an airline captain, a chess grand master, a computer programmer, a Michelin starred chef, a cabinet maker, a concert pianist, a lawyer or an infant teacher. Spot the difference with the latter disciplines. They can take years to develop and master, and in many cases the applicants fall by the wayside.
So art arrives in one bound, not only that, the idea is so seductive (an artist, wow!) the illusion takes root. And guess who supplies the nourishment for this little hot house plant? There is gold in them thar hills. The circling online art sites and paying exhibitions are legion, they will get your work seen everywhere, provide loads of collectors itching to get hold of your output.

A celebrated painting by British artist David Hockney has been sold at Christie’s in New York for just over $90m.                                                –  https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-46232870

Believe that and you would believe anything.

Occasionally, of course, by dint of sheer numbers, the quality of work can rise to pedestrian, but that’s about it. To provide some kind of contact from all this stuff, the trick would be to herd them all into some mega compound, set fire to the lot and create the biggest barbie in history. A bonfire of the vanities. Next week you could probably do the same.
It’s one abiding virtue? It can be fun and therapeutic, of course. Quite right too. 

I used to take adult art classes for many years and thoroughly enjoyed it.…AND, so did my students! We still keep in touch.

The lure of ‘artspeak’ or ‘art bollocks’ is irresistible, the pretentious and obfuscation of the words generally being in an inverse relationship to the threadbare quality of the image.
Let’s finish with a little gem I spotted the other day:

‘Her critical eye casts outwards as well, challenging contemporary mores and identity politics through the medium of the ‘old masters.’ She examines ‘otherness’, intimacy and indeed masculinity via the tropes of the Elizabethan court; a metaphor for our own times.’

Love it.