Archive for the ‘ Exhibition ’ Category

“Great show… but have you seen my jumper”

Last Thursday Brisbane had it’s coldest day in several decades with the Temperature topping 7 degrees during the day and getting colder that night. That said, a whole bunch of folks rugged up and came down to Nine Lives for the opening of my show with Murdoch. It was a great night and a great turn out.

Local Photographer Stuart Arrowsmith stopped by and took some shots for project 4000. Thanks Stuart!

The show is open till this Sunday 19th June.

So what have you been up to lately?

Fair enough question when you think about it. One friends ask friends all the time. To be honest I feel like I’ve been saying the same answer for a long time now. This isn’t a bad thing because next week I get to show not only my friends but other people exactly what I’ve been up to.

It was June last year when my good friend Murdoch sent me his ideas for a collaborative piece he’d titled ‘When The Demon Knife Weeps’. Murdoch did the initial illustration and the idea was that I would adapt it to a woodcut. I really like Murdoch’s skills at drawing and illustration and so I was looking forward to the challenge. I was also looking to try something I had not done before with this medium, I wanted to see what would happen if I tried my hand at a large scale woodcut.

At the very start I didn’t really know what I was doing and almost every part of the process of making this woodcut has included me having to research and problem solve to get the desired outcome. Firstly, I have taught myself to make woodcut prints from hardwood. Hardwood doesn’t come large so I had to try a different timber source and many people on lots of different blogs were saying they used plywood. So off I went to the hardware store to buy some plywood sheets. I found the largest piece I could fit into the car (around 85cm by 120cm) and literally stood there in the store for an hour carefully inspecting every sheet they had for imperfections – all while tradesmen and handymen gave me strange looks.

Finally after some scaling issues and a week of drawing, I got Murdoch’s image onto the first sheet and started carving

Plywood is much more fragile than hardwood and required a careful and steady hand. I found myself spending around two or three hours a day, most days of the week working on the block and slowly the weeks went by. In fact almost three months went by (as work and life kept interrupting me) until I finally finished what was to be part one of a three part image.

Now I only have a small book press in my printing room. Most of the time I make prints by hand. I did try this with a test print of this block but that ended badly so I knew I needed help. I called, emailed and finally was put in touch with a wonderful Polish man named Jacek (phonetically pronounced: Yart-zeek). He had a printing workshop called ‘Under The House Of Art’ and he was in possession of the largest, manual etching press in the southern hemisphere. It just so happens that he was 15 minutes drive from my house – a lucky break in no uncertain terms!

In the weeks leading up to finishing the first part of my woodcut, I started to get quotes on paper to print on and what it might cost to frame such large woodcut prints. Needless to say, these aspects of the project were going to cost me much more money than I had and so I needed to rethink how this was going to work. Thinking specifically about the subject matter of the prints and some of the oldest forms of Japanese Ukiyo-e, I decided that the answer lie in making scrolls. It was my girlfriend however that suggested I use linen cloth instead of fragile cotton rag paper. And so then it was a trip to the fabric store to by around 20 meters of finely woven linen cloth.

So, arriving at Under The House Of Art with my plywood woodcut and my roll of cloth, I set about using the smaller of the two presses Jacek owned. I tested my first panel and breather a huge sigh of relief when, by the second print got a great looking relief print.

The woodblock itself looked pretty impressive too!

So by now it’s mid September and I’m starting to wonder if I can get this finished by the end of 2010. Filled with more confidence the second time round, I started on the next panel of my collaborative triptych image. This one was the same as the first and the days and the weeks slowly ticked by. Days off were spent not leaving the house. Weekends were spent bent over with fine carving tools giving me callused hands and all the while I learned new techniques to shade areas, how to use my tools for specific effects and generally enjoyed the meditative task of carving out the images characters.

Soon November came to a close and I contacted Jacek (that’s him in the corner of the photo) to organise another printing session and in early December, I made final prints of the first two parts of ‘When The Demon Knife Weeps’.

During this printing session it would take around one to two hours to get a good print. Much fussing had to be done and checking and rechecking and inking and aligning so as not to waste the fabric. Truth be known… about half the fabric I bought ended up on the reject pile (now hidden in the back of my wardrobe). After two days of printing the downstairs area of my house looked like an overcrowded laundry and I had locked in two artists proofs and an edition of one for display/sale. I was now two thirds of the way through this piece.

2011 didn’t start the way most of us in Brisbane had planned. On the 11th January I was sent home from work as the Brisbane river rose an rose and eventually flooded my workplace. After a week of helping my friends and others with the aftermath of the flood, I was told that I wouldn’t be going back to work anytime soon. A problem on one hand and gift on the other as I sat down and decided to start the final part of my triptych. Where as the first two had taken a few hours a day over several months. I shut out the world and in a workman like way, sat down from 9-5 every day for three weeks and carved. My forefinger and thumb bruised in the first week and by the second the indent from the tools became an easy groove to sit them within. Either way, by February I sat at my kitchen table with the completed woodcut in front of me. I felt happy but manly I think I just felt relief at, seven months later, not screwing it up but in some small way I was really proud of having the perseverance to complete what was becoming the most remarkable piece of art I have attempted to create to date.

However, even with the prints physically made, I still had a lot of work ahead of me. Now I needed to make ready for public viewing. More trips to the hardware ensued and with the help of my Japanese Bookbinding book, I set about turning my large pile of fabric into scrolls. I have to at this point send out immense thanks to Eileen who foolishly said “I’ll help!” and set about pinning and hemming the sides of the cloth and working with me to finish them off. You’ll find her personal textile creations here. Neither of us realised that this task alone would take another two months as no less than 40-metres of sewing occurred. Yep, every part of the process was another lesson learned. Come April however I had this to show for all the hard work and… well to be honest I stopped counting the hours after the first panel hit 100 hours.

The final part of the puzzle was what to store the finished scrolls in? After investing so much into making them, I wanted to make sure the elements, dirty hands or accidents didn’t ruin them. More research ensued and again following the example of traditional scrolls, I enlisted the help of Naut from Naut Cases to custom make me storage/display cases. Made with beautiful birch paneling and a sliding (cigar case-styled) lid – I picked three of these up last week. This week I am spending my nights lining the cases with gold satin-backed shantung and with any luck this weekend the project will come to a close and next week I’ll get to show you in person what Murdoch and I have made.

WHEN THE DEAD HEART BEATS is on at Nine Lives Galley from Thursday 9th June, kicking off from 6pm. It will feature over 20 new works on paper by Alex Gillies & Murdoch Stafford.

When The Dead Heart Beats

That’s the title of the art show that I am a part of in a few weeks. I’ve organised it with my good friend Murdoch and he and I will be both showing our latest creations. It’s going to be at Nine Lives Gallery in Winn St, Fortitude Valley.

While the show has not been a long time in the making, some of the ideas have. Around sometime in October 2009 Murdoch asked if I’d want to work on something together with him. I couldn’t get the words “hell yeah” out of my mouth fast enough. Murdoch is an amazing artist in his own right and has shown overseas as well as several times in Brisbane. His subject matter can often be macabre, though I wouldn’t pigeon hole him to just that. Either way I really admire what he does with a fist full of pens and paper. We spent some time tossing around ideas and in the middle of last year I started the woodcut below. The image originated from Murdoch’s hands and I adapted it as a woodcut. I didn’t tell Murdoch at the time that I was also taking the image from A3 size to what you see below.

Needless to say, It’s taken me seven months of carving the triptych image. Another month of printing and then the last three months of hemming and preparation to get my edition of three finished. As you can see the prints are on linen cloth instead of rag paper. One, because I couldn’t really afford the paper and secondly, I really, really couldn’t afford the framing. I’m happy with how they turned out and I’ve adapted the prints into scrolls so that they can be easily stored when not hung on display (or draped up in my lounge-room).

Murdoch is stoked on the outcome too. It pretty much is the center-piece of our show together and by far the largest woodcut I’ve tried my hand at to date. I put myself in the photo just so there was no confusion on scale.

And so while this was going on last year, I also turned my attention away from the subject matter of birds and animals and antiquated artifacts of technology and created some war-related prints. As with most things, one thing led to another, one Goya book turns into another Otto Dix book, turns into a Sandow Birk series of prints about Iraq and so forth.
I found it really hard last year to sit a table for days and carve out of the block, the face of a murdered person. Someone who I couldn’t know if they were innocent or guilty, right or wrong. From all this the challenge of late has not been the beautification of my work or the level of detail in its execution. My goals have been to articulate the things that troubled my mind. The inspiration that didn’t make sense. I tried not to overthink things but eventually the themes of violence, murder, suicide, nightmares, loss and even just the idea of belief came to encompass the last six months of work.

None of it in my mind is gory or particularly graphic. That’s not where my interest lies. It’s all interpretative to an extent. I have to admit that it has also been rewarding.

And so in a few weeks time Murdoch and I will get to show all our friends what we’ve been up to. The last time I had a show, a lady told the gallery owner that some of my images were repugnant and shouldn’t be hanging on public walls. I liked that, I liked that something I wanted to say illicited such a strong response.

My next artshow…

More details coming soon. Stay tuned…

Exhibiting In Record Stores

I have lots of fun hobbies, most notably here being the woodcuts I make. Some others include collecting records from my favourite bands and playing drums with my friends in our band. The band is called No Anchor and over the last few months we’ve been making our own record (our third studio album). All of my hobbies recently converged when we decided to turn our album into a double LP release. After a few failed attempts, everyone in the band responded positively to my design idea and cover image which you can see below.

It has been one of the most rewarding pieces that I’ve created even though it was most certainly not the hardest or most detailed piece I’ve attempted. We’ve now made up 150 copies of the LP (50 copies in each colour) and a good friend of mine hand screenprinted the artwork in the most glorious silver ink. To be honest, I’m glad I didn’t have to print 150 album covers, I don’t think that would have been fun.

This is the original print below. The edition is of 30 and the first 25 copies of the album come as a deluxe edition with a trimmed version of the print included with the record. Considering the deluxe version is going to retail for $40 (Aus) and the standard $25 (Aus), I guess that’s a pretty good deal for the people (mostly our friends) who buy the album.

The image is titled ‘Salute #2′ with the first in the series being this one:

The No Anchor album goes online to order from tomorrow morning (Wed 27th April) with release date two weeks later and an album launch on 13th May. If you’re interested in seeing/hearing/finding out more, you can head over to where we’ve put up more details.

Woodcut demonstration at the Home Festival


Next Saturday I’m going to be at the Home Festival as part of the local printmaking collective Impress. Click on the image above to go to their website and read the full program of events and workshops happening on the day.

As for my part in all of this, I’ll be showing how woodcuts are carved, giving demonstrations of the printing process and letting people try their hand at printing a woodcut. I’ll be there all day – I’d love to see you if you get a chance to drop in.

I’m currently going through my prints and will most likely have a few available for purchase on the day.





In other news of coming events. I’m in the process of organising an upcoming art show which will be me with my good friend Murdoch Stafford. This will be happening early June at Nine Lives Gallery in Fortitude Valley. It will feature new works of a very different nature from me as well as a woodcut project that I’ve been working on since June last year. Stay tuned over the next few weeks for more details!


High Water


As the flier explains, High Water is an online action organised by the terrific people at Nine Lives Gallery in Fortitude Valley here in Brisbane. There’s some amazing artists in that list and I’m chuffed I can help out some more for those folks in our state who have really had a hard time of it this year. Every cent raised through the auction will go towards our state governments flood appeal fund. So not only do you do something charitable and wonderful, you get something beautiful in return! That’s a win in my book :)

Here is the piece that I’ve donated towards the action…


It’s called Lost At Sea (Pt.2) and I’ve had it framed up for the wonderful person who eventually will receive it. The framing is of conservation standards and done by the good folk at Doggett St Framing

You can find out more by going to the Nine Lives High Water Website and clicking on the image or by going straight to the Online Action here.


Next up…

The Doggett Street Studio Christmas show that I will have five new pieces in…

Whoever said December was the busy/silly season was pretty much right!


A Night With Friends Not Wasted

I turned on my camera today to find only nine photos from the group art show I was a part of last night. That’s most likely because I was having such a good time and catching up with lots of friends who came to see everything on show.

Held at Burst City, usually a DIY venue where many a punk rock show is held, yesterday was a lot of fun turning the room in to an art gallery. The rain loomed over us day but held off for a few hours, long enough for the show to be a great success. While there was no official premise for the show or the artists involved, the fact that really creative people with obvious talent but fringe cultural tastes were given the chance to show their work was great to be a part of.  That’s right, there wasn’t one painting of a vase of flowers to be seen anywhere in the room.

With everyone happy and possibly a little talked out, the night ended with a few snaps of some of some of us and our work…

Michael Fullard:

Jade Green:

Murdoch Stafford

…and me:

Left to right: Jade, Murdoch, Mikel, me, Michael, Damien

I’m sure you’ll find more accounts of the night over the coming days here:

Murdoch Stafford:

Mikel Voidhanger:

Jade Green:

McKenzie Briggs:

Here are the works that I had on show, two photographs and nine woodcuts. I made five sales and so really, I’m totally chuffed with how things went.

Seeing as the show was for one night only, I guess I should say that if there’s anything in the above photo that you want to know more about or want to see in person, then let me know here or through an email and I’ll be happy to fill you in!

I have to thank Will who runs Burst City for letting us put the show on and Especially Mikel who’s idea it was to have an art show in the first place and really, made it all happen. I’m hoping this is but the first of more shows of this kind!

A Sneak Peak and the word on Wasted Dream

Here’s the word on the Group art show I will be a part of in a few weeks time. It would be great to see as many folk here as possible. Burst City really, truly is my favourite music venue in all of Brisbane right now!

Here’s a sneak peak of one of my new woodcuts. I will have a bunch more new and some revisited woodcuts as well as some of my photography and other creations.

And here’s the official word…

Combining the talents of seven Brisbane-based underground artists who have played at, attended, supported and gravitated toward Burst City, WASTED DREAM shows that this city’s visual artists are as diverse and vital as its music scene.

In 2009, as Fortitude Valley continued to decay with its soup of mainstream culture and nightlife, the doors were thrown open to a new underground venue called Burst City. Since its inception it has become associated with DIY punk and hardcore gigs for both local, touring and international bands. As the venue grows to bring into its fold independent and underground bands and music of all persuasions, Burst City will open its doors to its first art exhibition on Saturday 4 December.

This one-night exhibition will showcase a plethora of talent, including the latest extreme and macabre illustrations by Murdoch Stafford, fresh off the plane from exhibiting in Los Angeles. A new batch of woodcut prints will hang alongside photographs by No Anchor’s Alex Gillies. Disturbingly beautiful embroidery will come care of Jade Green and Mikel from Australia’s best new hardcore band Teargas will cover the walls with his visuals of a shattered hell!

WASTED DREAM will also feature the diverse talents of artists Michael Fullard, McKenzie Briggs and Damien Noise – again highlighting Burst City’s determination to provide a platform for artists unknown to a wider audience but just as compelling.

WASTED DREAM is on for one night only on Saturday 4 December at Burst City, 69 Grey St, South Brisbane (directly across the road from the Qld Museum of big dead things).

We highly recommend that you bring your own wine and cheese!


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