Glen Eira City Council Gallery, 3–20 November 2016

Where the rivers run was my childhood environment. The Campaspe, Loddon, Goulburn and Murray rivers spread their meanders and billabongs to the anabranches Edward and Wakool when the paddle boats with barges of red gum thrashed and hooted their way to the sawmills. My octogenarian story follows a similar pathway so the range of my creative energy since RMIT in 1960 meanders its current through Geelong and Jeeralang Junction to Brighton and Moorleigh Co-op via Heusden in Holland and the Leighton Artist Colony in Banff Alberta, to Boise Idaho, Goldsmiths, College University of London, and Japan. Many meanders and billabongs have contributed to this artist’s life now encapsulated retrospectively.

I have not fired familial or repetitive ‘Hedley pots’ at these far flung addresses but have enjoyed the freedom to be inspired at every horseshoe bend, finding new ways of seeing, feeling, thinking and firing soft clay into hardened objects and statements. I have been privileged to draw, paint and fire flippant thoughts of fun and action, yet also witness and respond to the harsh-life realities of the vulnerable and speak without reproach in a society where you may disagree with me, but you will jealously guard my right of expression.

There are two of us involved here – the clay and the artist. In 1960, like everyone in the RMIT beginners’ class, I struggled to ‘control the clay’. It was like a Dickensian factory where a row of great heavy clunky pottery wheels were operated by flapping drive belts, strung up to a noisy ceiling driveshaft, the machinery asserting ‘total authority’. Years later I discover the ‘mind of the clay when set free’ can dominate when I allow it to surprise me, and I am amazed.

What’s it all about? Many of my sources will be quite obvious in my exploration of narrative figuration simply anchored to the Australian culture in which my life has occurred. There have been major changes over these eighty years and I am a person of my own time and place. There are trends and fashions I have avoided and influences that were unavoidable, but mostly it has been an idiosyncratic personal path I have chosen, only unified by an absolute engagement with the plethora of expressive opportunities available in clay. My hope is that my clay will be ‘read thoughtfully’ to uncover the wide ranging content and references and my intense enjoyment of the medium.

“Let everyone else decide if it’s good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.”{1}

1 Andy Warhol paraphrased by Alexander Ekman.

Glen Eira City Council Gallery, Corner Glen Eira and Hawthorn Roads, Caulfield VIC 3162; Mon to Fri, 10am – 5pm; Sat & Sun, 1–5pm