THE EXHIBITION THAT WAS

Opening Day – The A.Fox Collective – Amelia, Joy, and Ant.

You know, it takes a lot less time to take down an art exhibition than it does to hang one.

The Slow Hanging


We sold a few pieces, more than enough to cover our direct expenses.
But was there an overall profit?
No, nothing like it.
Of course the experience could be classed as a “profit” even though no money changed hands.
The knowledge that I have sold more paintings in my lifetime than Van Gogh managed has to be priceless!

Gone

We took our time over the deconstruction.
We could have driven there in the morning, taken it down, and driven back that evening, but somehow the overnight stay seemed the better option.

Really Gone

Mind you, it was a fairly expensive option.
The hotel room was comfortable and fairly well appointed, but the price was a bit steep for a room in a small country town.
Yes, the room tariff was less than we paid on our last stay in Sydney, but not all that much less.
In Sydney we stayed on the top floor of a tall hotel in the centre of the city, where we had stunning views of high-rises, sunsets, and the road heading to the harbour.
In our small country town hotel, we were up one flight of stairs with a walkway balcony outside our window and a view of the drive through bottle department.
Still, the bed was comfortable, the food in the dining room was OK (if not wonderful), and the wine was great.

The start-of-winter journey there and back was picturesque, through country we love, tinged the faintest of greens by the breaking of the drought.
The wrapped paintings in the back of the wagon muted road noise and any rattles, and the roads were quiet.

The Skies of Winter
Way Home Tree

It was a good exhibition we are told.
It was fun to set up.
It was a buzz to listen to the praise at the opening.

5 paintings – 3 (centre ones) sold

But … I think I have come to the conclusion that my paintings might be a bit – well … boring.
I’ll work on a new direction for inspiration … perhaps I’ll look back to the 1980s when it almost (almost) felt like I had something.

Me and Two of My Works


But for now now, two months after the hanging,
the A.Fox Collective “Abstracted Landscapes” has left the building. 

The Exhibition That Was

The Exhibitionists!

There has been some low-level scurrying and snuffling in the Fox Holes.
We threatened to stage an art exhibition, and now we are.
The two Vixens (Amelia and Joy) and the old worn Dog-Fox (Ant … i.e. me) have got together under the guise of A.Fox Collective.
Our exhibition “Abstracted Landscapes” will hang for two months at the lovely Rain Moth Gallery in Waikerie by the River Murray in South Australia’s fruit-growing Riverland.

We call it “Abstracted Landscapes”, but perhaps that is slightly – just slightly – misleading. Some works are more like “abstracts landscaped”, some are “fibrescapes”, some “buttonscapes”, some “lightscapes”.

Amelia captures, in fibre and photo, the subtle light of landscape and experience.
Joy repurposes buttons from the past, some mundane some flashy and fashionable, bringing wearable hints of history.
My paintings attempt to show what landscape feels like, rather than record exactly what it looks like.

Mother and Daughter Hanging – Amelia and Fibres

If you are passing through the Riverland, pop in – supporting the rural art scene is a good thing, and supporting us Foxes would make us very happy.
We are friendly and house-trained!

Up North (oil on canvas)
Buttons
Openings
Selectings

Cottage Memories

The Horsnell Gully Cottage

It was a good house, sitting on a few acres of steep ground.
The front was 1880s dressed stone.
The back part was dug into the hill and cool.
The clothes line was accessed by climbing stairs to one side and walking onto the flat roof section at the back.
Fruit trees surrounded it.
The vegetable garden was black aluvial soil above the creek.
The chook sheds were concrete cells that were once kennels for dog breeding – while we were there they held nesting boxes for red hens, and some housed the orphaned and injured owls that we fostered.
The front door was reached by crossing a footbridge over a permenantly flowing stream, and then climbing more than twenty steep steps that passed through the garden.
These steps were a favourite sunning place for red-bellied black snakes and tiger snakes that lived in the creek vegetation.  
The snakes were no trouble – we just needed to watch where we walked.It was a good house, of fond memory.
It wasn’t big, but it was cosy and comfortable.
It was the place where our son Huw was conceived, and the first place he lived – born on our tenth wedding anniversary in 1983.

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An Arty Shot – Joy and Baby Huw in the Horsnell Gully House, 1983

This was the fourth place Joy and I lived as a couple.
I came down from Lobethal in the hills in 1972, and Joy and I had a flat in Norwood.
We were married in 1973 and lived first in a century old house in Hyde Park just off the now very trendy shopping strip on King William Road.

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13 April 1973 – When I Still Had hair and Joy’s Was Red

From there we went to Fullarton to a house with a big garden and orchard out the back.  Thence we headed for the hills and dwelt Hobbit-like in the Horsnell Gully cottage, known locally as “The Dogs’ Home” or “The Kennels” … a dog’s home with two Foxes living in it – strange!We lived in that house for quite a while, playing loud, loud music (there were no immediate neighbours to complain), drinking chilled Bolly on the verandah (especially on Saturday and Sunday afternoons).
 People with musical instruments popped around to relax, and Joy catered lavishly.
 We hung out with the arty set and spent a lot of times in galleries and dimly lit clubs and bars.

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Joy and Our Friend Catherine in the Early 80s

It was a pleasing lifestyle.
… the bright front rooms and the cool gloom of the semi underground back rooms 
 … reclining in the bath on Saturday afternoons with the lorikeets hanging in the pear branches outside the open door
… the wild fox walking across the back roof to pick the olives
… the echidnas walking up the steps by the kitchen window
… the possums yelling for jam sandwiches on the verandah
… the choruses of frogs
… and the constant singing of birds.It was a good house that had seen much in its 100+ years, but wasn’t telling.
It held the drama it knew close to its breast, but sometimes there were echoes.
 No, it wasn’t haunted but some nights it sounded as if it was.
 Strange beasts dwelt between the ‘new’ ceiling and the original wood ceiling above it.    Wraiths squirmed about in the sealed off bedroom chimney.
The iron roof moved and creaked in the heat.There were physical threats as well as those imagined spookings.
The cottagey rural charm was spared from the Ash Wednesday bushfire horror.
Flames skirted around it.
The fire, roaring like daemons from Mordor came straight down the valley, dark at 3pm, to within not all too many metres from our door where it changed course and went up the hill and behind the back of the house.
 Emergency services ordered me and my heavily pregnant Joy to evacuate – it seemed a very wise idea. A week or so later a “rain event” swept black ash down the flooded creek, over our gardens and poultry sheds, and through the two Humber cars I had parked in the lower area.When the baby started to crawl, and looked like toddling wasn’t far away, it became apparent that a house sticking out of a cliffside, infested with snakes and all sorts of bities, with a precipitous stone and concrete stairway access, probably wasn’t the place for us.We reached into our pockets and purchased a house in the ‘nice’ end of Prospect and became almost respectible suburbanites.

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Art in the Suburbs – The Kids, Huw and Amelia, in the Prospect House Back Room.

But we missed the Gully.
Bits of that cottage still circulate in our blood.

Morning on the Highway

The Road

A January Dawn.

The sun is up and the air is hot already.
We are 160 kilometres from home – time to change drivers.
Yumali sits quiet and warm by the highway.
I have often travelled this Adelaide – Melbourne road and, thinking back over the last half century or so, I don’t remember Yumali being anything but quiet … but not always this quiet.

The air is beautiful.
The quiet is beautiful.
The light is beautiful.

The traffic is very light at this hour of the morning, but this stillness serves to make the noise of passing trucks all the more intrusive.
Distant magpies carol, singing honeyeaters make the songs singing honeyeaters make, and a very stroppy Willie Wagtail scolds this bald, bearded intruder.

Mrs and Mr Wagtail have claimed the old Yumali hall as their territory. They have a nest secreted away from the world in its dusty eaves.

The hall isn’t really “old” so far as “old” goes. It was built of concrete block work in 1960.
Even though this building is nine years younger than I am, it has an older, perhaps “timeless” authority than I could ever manage sitting there by the Sherlock Road intersection with the highway.
It looks old with an old kind of charm.
It is plain but lovely.

Yumali Hall Morning.

The weathered doors and woodwork make the building look a little bit unloved, but I am sure it is loved.
Its silence holds quiet echoes of the life and love it once held and felt.
I am sure that life and love lives in the hearts and memories of people living not far from these doors.

And peeking through the gap in the wooden doors, holding my phone camera to the hole, I can see an echo of that life.
I can take the photo and keep a wee trace of that lovely echo for myself.

Peeking Through the Gap

Something in me wants to stay.
Part of me wants to keep the silence for my own.
Part of me longs to be wrapped in the quiet.
Part of me wants to stop in Yumali and love this hall.
But we have roads to drive, journeys to make, promises to keep.

Yumali Hall is safe under the gaze of the Willie Wagtails.