Happy Australia Day folks! Ancient and young, vast and small. I am very happy to be here. Enjoy the holiday!


Memories take a more solid form for Australians in 1788. In fact today hardly anyone could forget yesterday. Newly landed settlers can not be bothered to spend the energy in having to re-establish their social identity in Australia. They go about merely trying to convince people of their past proven trustworthiness and charm rather than actually demonstrating it.

Dean Wallis manages his own board of testimonials clearly written for all to see, but only from the vantage point of the ocean – Europe (yesterday). Countess Beckendorff of Berlin writes “Mr Wallis proved to be most enjoyable company at parties which I attended”. W Dawson-Smith of Forthampton House writes “Mr Wallis was regarded as one of the most desirable and fashionable men of our social group”.

In England in 1788 there were no police. Everybody wanted police but the French had already thought of it and the British Parliament could not…

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Mourning, History & Jewellery in Boston

Mourning ring made for John Gray, the infant son of John and Mary (Otis) Gray, who died six days after his birth in September 1763. The ring is made of gold, with three joined enameled scrolls and large square crystal over gold foil skull set into raised, rayed mount flanked by two small round facet-cut crystals. Scrolls contain text in raised gold Roman capitals in black cloisonné enamel.: "J:GRAY OB.17.SEP.1763.AE 6D."

Mourning ring made for John Gray, the infant son of John and Mary (Otis) Gray, who died six days after his birth in September 1763. The ring is made of gold, with three joined enameled scrolls and large square crystal over gold foil skull set into raised, rayed mount flanked by two small round facet-cut crystals. Scrolls contain text in raised gold Roman capitals in black cloisonné enamel.: “J:GRAY OB.17.SEP.1763.AE 6D.”

Before it closes on the 31st January 2013 you must go and visit the exhibition In Death Lamented at the Massachusetts Historical Society in Boston – that is, if you are lucky enough to live close by!

Unfortunately we are based on the other side of the world, but I was wise enough to purchase a copy of the accompanying publication which I had to review on Amazon. I couldn’t help myself, I do that sort of thing.

Sarah Nehama I am proud to say has contributed to this blog. She is a jeweller herself and an avid collector of mourning jewellery, many pieces of hers you will see in the collection. She also authored the book. Here is a fascinating interview with her discussing mourning jewellery and items in the exhibition.

If you have seen the exhibit please let me know what you thought of it below in the comments. As a collector of mourning jewellery I would have loved to have seen it myself!

A narcissistic list of New Year’s resolutions for the superficial self.

The MOLAM blog authors have combined to offer some suggestions for this year’s resolutions. We hope you enjoy them!

1. Wear more lipstick.
2. Reduce sparkling wine intake.
3. Increase champagne intake.
4. Introduce a hat into one’s fashion repertoire.
5. Source the perfect scent to become one’s signature perfume.
6. Research obscure lyrical adjectives to create a more enigmatic vocabulary.
7. Memorise Baudelaire verses and inject into conversation wherever possible.
8. Post complete collection of shoes online.
9. Vocalise the constant internal battle between one’s virtuous and profane selves, as if it somehow makes one’s existence more profound.
10. Refuse to love oneself more for fear it will turn oneself into a hideous dullard.

We wish you a most prosperous 2013 whereby your existence and efforts create a happier and safer world for yourselves, your families, your neighbours, and the future. Happy New Year!!


Merry Christmas!

Illustration from "A Visit From St. Nicholas," 1896 Held in the New York Public Library. Courtesy of Greenwich Village History website, image copyright the public doman.

Illustration from “A Visit From St. Nicholas,” 1896
Held in the New York Public Library. Courtesy of Greenwich Village History website, image copyright the public doman.

We wish you a very safe and happy Christmas, and hope you, your friends and family are all safe and well. Feliz Navidad, Frohe Weihnachten, Joyeux Noël, Merry Christmas!

A Visit from St. Nicholas a poem by Clement Clarke Moore, 1823

Twas the night before Christmas, when all thro’ the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar plums danc’d in their heads,
And Mama in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap —
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters, and threw up the sash.
The moon on the breast of the new fallen snow,
Gave the luster of mid-day to objects below;
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer,
With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and call’d them by name:
“Now! Dasher, now! Dancer, now! Prancer and Vixen,
“On! Comet, on! Cupid, on! Donder and Blitzen;
“To the top of the porch! To the top of the wall!
“Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!”
As dry leaves before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky;
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of toys — and St. Nicholas too:
And then in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.

As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound:
He was dress’d all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnish’d with ashes and soot;
A bundle of toys was flung on his back,
And he look’d like a peddler just opening his pack:
His eyes — how they twinkled! His dimples: how merry,
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry;
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.
He had a broad face, and a little round belly
That shook when he laugh’d, like a bowl full of jelly:
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laugh’d when I saw him in spite of myself;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And fill’d all the stockings; then turn’d with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose.
He sprung to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew, like the down of a thistle:
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight —
Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

Invisible Architecture at Greenwood Street: string, sex-appeal and Sandback

In actual fact I’m referring to the memory of walking into the house on my favourite street in Melbourne. It’s possibly my favourite house in my beloved city. It is a modernists dream,  I was trying to concentrate on the friendly lady inhabitant but the impact of the experience of walking into larger space was almost overwhelming. I’m talking about SPACE. Not walls, rooms, building, home, decor, house, architecture, these all melted away  – that was all completely invisible. All I experienced was being in a space, seeing into other space where I could wander, a flow of SPACE. It was all so fluid – a little invisible architecture waterslide for my visual perception. It was brilliant.

Fast Forward. Add Keanu Reeves. He’s dressed in a black trench coat and looks exotic, super fit and really serious. We are standing next to a Fred Sandback sculpture/thing/idea/installation. This is our matrix. We do black flips, kill baddies, my hair is perfect, we land on our feet and then we pash. Sexual fantasies ensue. Thank you Fred. I figure if a multimillionaire can open a private art museum to meet chicks then poor people can go to art exhibitions and indulge in fantasies. The string hums.

I like art that is cleverer than I am. Because art demands an emotional response before before an intellectual engagement. So it is must more satisfying if it is a challenging destination at the end of the road.

At the moment there is vibrant blue string tautly tormenting me and delighting me, because it is smarter than I am.


However it does have brass fittings. There you go, it has some complexity to it. It zings, it hums, it has created space. No, not delineation, not replication of a room, nothing so literal, it has created a sense of something that suggests to me that one day I might even slightly understand quantam physics. It’s there, it could be there, its next to me and I’m in it, and here again I’m outside of it. For some reason, its also kind of funny.

I am not dedicated to abstraction. I wrote a 25,000 word thesis on erotica in religious art for God’s sake. But you know, I understand the dedication. Some people need God, some people need aliens, some people need abstraction.

Fred Sandback installation at the Fox/Jense & Greenwood Street Project in the left corner. Untitled (Sculptural Study, Two-part Cornered Construction), 2008 (& 1982), Blue acrylic yarn. Fred Sandback Estate number 2566 110 x 140 cm. USD $185,000. Photo taken August 2012.

If you want to experience Fred Sandback’s work in person and you live in Australia you will need to save up for an international air fare, or wait. The only way to see it down here is to keep abreast of Jensen Gallery’s exhibitions. I was lucky enough to have my experiential happening at Greenwood Street Projects during Melbourne Art Fair time. Word on the street is that there is also an installation currently at the Art Gallery of New South Wales. I’m not sure if we really understand how completely cool it is for a commercial gallery to provide access to work of this international calibre. The internet, photographs, books, only go so far. For some work, it’s all about the experience.

Untitled (Sculptural Study, Two-part Cornered Construction) 1982
Blue Acrylic Yarn
Fred Sandback Estate Number 2566
Image courtesy Jensen Gallery

Untitled (Sculptural Study, Two-part Cornered Construction) 2008
Blue Acrylic Yarn
Fred Sandback Estate Number 2566
Detail from Greenwood Street Projects installation.
It just looks like a close up of string? That’s because it is.

Awww. We wear our sunglasses at night…and inside. Photo just for the hell of it and from the public domain. From the Matrix film.

It continues! Hayes’ show at Dark Horse Experiment has been extended so you still have this week to go and see it. It’s attracted great attendance, media attention, academic interest – not bad for a cancelled show! The gallery is open Wed – Sat 12 – 6 at 110 Franklin St, Melbourne.

Museum of Love and Mortality

In 2004 I helped Cameron Hayes put together a publication to accompany his solo show at Ronald Feldman Fine Arts. When I went to deliver some to be stocked at the Arts Bookshop a rather peeved employee there complained: “but you don’t have any information in here about the artist!”

It’s true. I did try, but he refused, genuinely seeing it as erroneous information. “Just show the pictures”, Hayes instructed, “and the only text should be about the stories.” So that’s what we did.  No biography, nor exhibition history, not even a birth date. This time however, I happened to get a bit more out of him. So here goes:

Cameron Hayes is first and foremost a narrative painter. Usually his style of work consists of densely painted large scale canvases filled with figures and scenery, animals and architecture, playing havoc with retinal activity. Have a look at Mathias Ulungura…

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