Three score and ten now
That means scanning old slides and saving them as jpeg files in the hope that they will last “forever”
Remember when “colour photos” were all slides.
I was a Pentax SLR man from Way Back, and I took 35mm slides of most of my paintings.
The slides came back in little boxes of 20 or 36 slides. The processing people did them up in cardboard or plastic mounts (whether they were good photos or not). We needed a projector or “viewer” to see them properly. We had soporific slide evenings.
Then we stored them away somewhere safe.
Twenty five years ago I had thousands of slides including slides of most of my paintings stored in a big masonite box on the concrete floor of my studio at that time.
Termites move quickly. One very wet night when the water table rose, several million of these incredible creatures built a new nest to escape the rising waters, in amongst my slides (after eating the bottom of the masonite box away; after marching through a crack in the concrete below).
They began eating the slides and mounts too. They even got into those clear plastic boxes with yellow lids from Kodak.
Some time later I discovered the problem and began separating the slides from the mixture of earth, faeces and saliva that termites make their incredible nests from. About 60 percent of my slides were gone. So quite a lot of my photos of my early paintings are forever lost, (unless the owners contact me, so I can photograph them again. Back in those days I sold just about everything I painted)
I have finally got myself a reasonably good slide scanner and I am scanning those slides that were spared.
I found 68 in reasonable shape and here is the first instalment of an “online exhibition” of termite escapees.
Just that. A small Acacia hakeoides was growing at the side of our track in. I set up the large canvas and worked on it at a certain time every morning until I felt I could finish it in my studio.
It was a finalist in the Wynne Competition in 1979. That year I had two finalists in the Archibald as well:
Self Portrait and Neil O’Reilly, Journalist.
Acacia Portrait 2
I had another go at it about a year later.
The first one was a bit mystical and austere; this one more urgent and frenetic, and one may wonder why.
Anna was our firstborn and I wanted to put her in a painting.
Here she is about three and holding a dead Yellow Robin, and sitting amongst tree stumps. So its about a three-year-old’s perception of life and death; if you want to look at it that way. More importantly its Anna in the bush, backlit…
Another Storm Passing
Anna again. Back in those days before Gorby we really were very close to nuclear self destruction.
I really believed that my kids would die very young in a Nuclear World War, so we took the kids to Nuclear Disarmament marches in Wagga and Albury on Palm Sundays.
It paid off. Enough people protested world wide and politicians had to act and reduce their Nuclear stockpiles… and the cold war ended…
I like to remember this. If enough people protest they (politicians and bureaucrats) have to do something…???
Anna’s T shirt has a picture of an Inter-continental Ballistic Missile coming to Australia.
A small carnivorous marsupial that can be found in Big Bush (where I live) I did him much larger than life size here.
Some years they are very common. Supposedly nocturnal, actually they can be seen any time scurrying up and down tree trunks looking for spiders etc under the bark. They are fearless predators; even eating house mice, or their brains anyway, after they tear away the front of the skull. They can get into our house, and become tame very quickly. Females carry up to five babies on their bodies when they are too big for the pouch. This painting could be called a “portrait”; though its pretty close to an “illustration”. Is that OK???
Hey, this is an oldie. Early sixties. The Barry Stern days.
After my first trip to North Queensland in my ’52 Ford Prefect.
Emus and Ibises
Another oldie. Back in those days I was a country boy in the city. I felt ambassadorial, introducing country imagery to the city slickers. Not glamorous coastal bush, nor legendary bushrangers, explorers; just the semi arid bush around Temora NSW where I grew up.