I regarded myself as a writer rather than a visual artist until I joined Richard Neville’s OZ Magazine in London in 1968. I soon realised I was more interested in the OZ artists than the writers, who were Richard’s main passion. We became a good double act, with Felix Dennis already the business man, handling advertising and design. We survived the six week seminal Conspiracy and Obscenity Trial of 1971 at the Old Bailey, but two years later, we closed OZ down and went our separate ways. In 1975, I settled in Bolinas, an alternative (counter culture) coastal town in northern California and became the Monday editor of the local newspaper, the Bolinas Hearsay News. As well as writing a weekly column about local affairs - plenty of those, Bolinas at that time being a renowned political and creative hothouse - I had to come up with a weekly front cover. Thus began my life as a photographer and collage artist. My multi-layered collages (now digitally created rather than cut and paste) have been exhibited frequently in both California and back here in Sydney after I returned to Australia in 1993. Lampoon, an Historical Art Trajectory 1971-2011 at the University of Sydney’s Tin Sheds Gallery summed up my career in both image and word. Lampoon was also the title of an illustrated book accompanying the exhibition, which was under the aegis of that year’s Mardi Gras Festival. My series, Landscapes of Survival and Reconciliation was part of the HeadOn Photo Festival 2020 at 107 Projects Redfern. My most recent exhibition, Over-Development – A Question of Balance at Rogue Pop-Up Gallery May/June2023, was all about the high rises going up above the Waterloo Metro. That exhibition has inspired an off-shoot, Keep On Trucking - Sydney Modern which you see here in the Golden Grove/Abercrombie Street Window Gallery.
I enjoyed exhibiting in the unique setting of the Golden Grove/Abercrombie Street Window Gallery a couple of years ago, and when curator and art maven Angela Stretch said she had November free, I jumped at the chance to exhibit again. I even had a series of amusing and satirical works already in train, and now, beautifully printed by Dark Star Digital, here are the 12 that I have managed to finish. No. 13 (Window Cleaning) is still a work in progress.
I love all of them equally but am glad I graced the terrace of the Sydney Modern (also known as the Art Gallery’s North Wing) with the Hank Williams Teapot rather than the White Elephant I had originally planned (it remains unfinished). Another key image is Mules and Men, which gently indicates a certain nostalgia for the past. I apologise for placing one of my photographed local trucks over Katashi Murakami’s painting, which was down on Level 2, leaving only the decorous eyes of the central cats visible. TankTruck meets the Spirit World adds ancient wisdom to Sydney Modern’s brilliantly illuminated underground basement, (a welcome triumph for the layer-cake, ultra-new building). For me, the angle of the ancient form is redolent of Rodin’s famous statue of Balzac. Viewers can hardly miss the fact that two of the images feature man’s best friend, dogs. I hear that they are allowed inside some supermarkets now, and with all the meat on sale wrapped in plastic, why not? Wishful thinking on my part, I guess, but certainly, there is more than plenty of room in the Modern for a few well-behaved, well-beloved canines.
In conclusion, I note that some of my archival prints are interlopers. For example, the afore-mentioned Mules and Men is not situated in the Sydney Modern at all but on Elizabeth Street near Martin Place, while Romeo and Juliet’s balcony has been inserted into a canyon wall of rapidly constructed buildings along Botany Road in Beaconsfield.