The Cave Project
Wednesday, 19 July, 2017
I continue to work on a project which falls into the 'Art for art's sake' category. I am making a series of glass objects which I am placing in caves around the country. It is inspired by Plato's Cave and Saramago's book "The Cave", Chinese mythology regarding sacred caves, Schrodinger's Cat and various other diverse ideas. This is both a celebration of the bush and the art it inspires and a commentary on art itself. I shall expand on this in an essay to accompany the project.
The plan is to photograph each piece in the general area of the cave which is to be its sanctuary. The glass will be left in areas I love and which I know well from bush-walking, canyoning and climbing over many years. I hope the end result will be a book showing an image of each glass piece, an image of it in the bush and an image of it in the cave where I will leave it.
What happens to the glass pieces from then on is out of my hands. They may be discovered and subsequently taken away or they may be knocked over by a wombat or eventually buried when the cave collapses. This is not a treasure hunt and I do not really want people going out to collect them, but if that is what happens, so be it.
My idea is to place pieces inspired by nature into environments which I love to visit. Glass is non-polluting and virtually indestructible so should do no harm. My bush experiences to now have worked on the principle of leaving nothing behind but one's shadow. I hope this project may be accepted as a corporeal extrapolation of that philosophy.
As each piece is placed in the bush an update will be posted here, from first to latest.
Update: April 16/2012
The first piece has been placed in a beautiful little cave on an escarpment above the Hawkesbury River. A purely serendipitous discovery, the cave has a unique suspended lattice ceiling of eroded white sandstone which is quite extraordinary. I am researching the site for number two.
Update: July 10/2012
The third piece has been deposited in a small cave near Blue Gum forest in the Blue Mountains. No.2 was left in an excellent cave in the Budawangs, South of Sydney.
Update: November 2012
After two attempts, No4 has been placed on Russell's Needle in the Nattai. This one was seriously hard work and quite tricky.
Update: January 2013
No5 has been left in a crevice of a most beautiful headland on the Bay of Fires in North-east Tasmania. This was followed by a return to Sydney on a Sydney-Hobart racing yacht as Tasmania erupted in flames.
Update: March 2013
With the enthusiastic co-operation of Jenolan Cave management I have been permitted to place piece No 6 in the caves. This is likely to be the only one in a visible position: next to the path in the Diamond Cave, well lit and under a slow drip so it will eventually become part of the cave.
No 7 has been placed in a small cave near the top of a pagoda in the Gardens of Stone National Park, after being carried through Tiger Snake canyon to get there.
March has been an extremely busy month. No 8 was placed in a granite cave in the vicinity of Bald Rock at Tenterfield. The following day No 9 was placed into a lovely sandstone cave, inhabited by micro-bats, in the hills behind Casino in Northern NSW.
Update July 2014:
An exploratory trip was made in July to investigate another placement. This will require a very long rope, a good torch and nerves of steel, but it will be a unique location. Watch this space. It really was a bit too cold to be camping and further activities will have to wait until the weather warms up.
Update January 2014:
No. 10 is the season opener and a walk to the summit of Mt Jagungal yielded a splendid little cave not unlike a neolithic tomb. Brushing aside some of the Bogong moths, another piece has found a new home.
Update August 2014:
Winter is the perfect time for a visit to Central Australia and piece No.11 is now in a secure spot in a pass in the West MacDonnell Ranges. I walked the Larapinta Trail for my 50th Birthday and this has been on the list from the start.
Update September 2014:
A piece inspired by magma is now in a cosy hole on the rim of a volcanic crater on Mt Kaputar, sitting sentinel at the junction of the Liverpool Plains and the Pilliga Scrub.
Update June 2015
A piece from the rainforest series is secured near the highest waterfall in Australia: The Wallaman Falls in North Queensland.
Update May 2017:
Following several visits to the area and attempts to place a piece in a huge sinkhole and a nearby cave system, a niche was found in a limestone cavern in the vicinity of Marble Arch near the upper reaches of the Shoalhaven River.
Wednesday, 27 July, 2016
I have been working with glass now for 35 years and it has taken a physical toll. Despite just starting to get the hang of it and feeling moderately comfortable using the descriptor of 'craftsman', my hands are wearing out, my back is sore and breathing in glass dust is doing me no good, so for those and a variety of other reasons I have reluctantly decided to close my studio. This has now happened.
I have retired, although I intend to maintain a keen interest in both contemporary and heritage glass.
Re: Online exhibition
Sunday, 6 December, 2015
The Contemporary Glass Society in the UK has once again organised an online exhibition of 20 selected Australian glass artists and I am again represented. Given the demise of so many galleries in the real world, this is the future:
Friday, 21 August, 2015
My old friend from University, Robert Forbes is the primary force behind a progressive rock band called Tramtracks. Inspired by the legendary group YES, they have released a series of compilations, mostly on CD. I have done the cover artwork for the last three and now they have launched a re-vamped website with all their music and lots of images derived from my art glass. Have a look here.
Volcano Art Prize 2013
Thursday, 7 November, 2013
The second Volcano Art Prize has been announced by the LEAD Group which I have supported as member of the Technical Advisory Board. I am once again a finalist. Having won the People's Choice last year my work will feature on the cover. My work "Liminal Eruption" made me Mr January. Have a look at: Volcano Art Prize. I have since become a finalist in the Third Volcano Art Prize.
In the fullness of time
Tuesday, 6 August, 2013
It just goes to show that if you wait long enough, someone will say something nice. This has to be the best review of my work that I could wish for: The best public art in Sydney you may have missed.
National Glass Collection
Tuesday, 9 April, 2013
The National Art Glass Collection at the Wagga Wagga Art Gallery has accepted two pieces of my work, to be added to the permanent collection. I am honoured and pleased to have some of my glass join that of many of my colleagues, in such a prestigious collection.
Back in the fold
Friday, 14 December, 2012
A piece of my kiln-formed glass, most recently exhibited at KIRRA Galleries in Melbourne, has been featured in the Medical Art section of the December issue of the Medical Journal of Australia. It is a finalist in the Christmas Art Competition. The work is titled Yipwon
A new art feature called 'What's this art about' has debuted in the February issue, with an image and description of my 2005 piece Nemaline Blues
The August issue has also featured a cast glass block titled "Heart and Soul" as part of a feature on Cardiology.
Genesis in Chicago
Friday, 18 July, 2008
EB Smith, founder and patron of the Smith Museum of Stained Glass Windows on Chicago's Navy Pier, has commissioned a panel of fused glass for the collection. It is the first piece from an Australian glass artist to join the contemporary collection. I am most honoured to have been asked to make a piece to hang alongside those of my mentors, such as Poensgen, Shaffrath, Shreiter, Klos, Buschulte and the other post war modernist pioneers of contemporary stained glass with whom I studied in the 1980s. The piece specifically requested is an interpretation of my Genesis: The First Dreaming design. It was exhibited at the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry under the title: "Genesis: The First Discovery".
The Chapel of St Francis at Garangula
Friday, 11 July, 2008
Ten years ago I completed all the windows for a Chapel in rural NSW. It has finally been blessed. In conjunction with World Youth Day, H.E. Cormac Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor, Archbishop of Westminster officiated. During the service he made an interesting observation regarding my windows, of which I had not been cognizant. He said there is only one other Chapel in which the whole Christian story is told, from Creation through the Old Testament to the story of Christ and the final Judgment and that is the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican. That's as close to Michelangelo as I am likely to get.
Friday, 24 August, 2007
I came across a two page glossy advertisement for a plasma television which claimed that if you bought one you would never need 'another' work of art. This really made me angry, but if it is only art when it's on television I figured I might as well go with the trend. This is my offering.