Living in Madeleine’s World
True artists by their very nature live in a world apart from the rest of us mere mortals. They fail to understand why others attach so much importance to mundane activities like sleeping and eating and they classify money and time as boring and irrelevant and largely tend to ignore both. Perhaps that’s why so many of them starved to death in garrets on the Left Bank.
Madeleine says she wants to be famous. Being an artistic philistine I keep suggesting that it would be much better to become rich and famous, or just rich would be fine. I’ve decided that I’d be quite happy being a kept man in the full sense of the word, as opposed to being kept around to stretch canvasses, hang frames and try to fit 6 foot pictures into 5 foot cars.
Living in Madeleine’s world has to be experienced to be understood. One would like to be able to describe the life as stimulating, uplifting, a daily excursion into the delights of contemporary art. Whilst all these expressions may well be true the phrase that readily springs to mind is…. “Unbelievably messy”. Once she switches into “painting mode” it’s a case of take cover, incoming, all hands to the pumps for the next few days. She spreads. There’s no other word for it. In the blink of an eye forty odd square metres of back patio can disappear under a deluge of frames, half completed paintings, pallets, easels, brushes, tools, floodlights etc.
We built a studio to try to contain all this devastation, all to no avail. The only living being in the house not tarnished with paint is the gold fish, and he’s taken to diving deep apart from feeding times. We have a multi-coloured dog and, thanks to him, have a matching bedroom carpet. Unfortunately we don’t have a benevolent cleaning lady to say, “Oh Meeester Hart”, and clean up all the mess, though I did recently purchase a high-pressure wash down gun.
I rather doubt if there’s a single piece of clothing in the building that hasn’t got paint on it, certainly not in my wardrobe, and every flat surface is covered with paintings, sketches, art books, photos, leaflets and scribbled reminders. Soon the house will be full and I fear for the neighbours. I have a mental picture of a man from the council knocking on the door and saying, “Sorry Mate, your missus has been declared a noxious weed, we’re going to have to spray her before she destroys the whole of South East Queensland”.
During these periods Madeleine paints up a storm, sporting a vague smile and gazing distantly through smears of Naples yellow and Prussian blue, totally oblivious to the children trying to keep paint off the computers and play stations, or the husband sheltering in the garage with the dog. Pity the poor wretch who picks up the phone after her, or accompanies her on some vital shopping safari, only to find shop assistants looking enviously at her purple elbow fashion statement or the paint splattered shoes she’s forgotten to change.
Once the fever abates and the artist condescends to return to the land of the living then life can resume some semblance of normality. The debris is tidied up, the participants cleaned up, including the dog, and we all go into damage control mode.
It is only then that we have the opportunity to see and appreciate the results of all her efforts and realise that once again it’s all been worthwhile and that the end result really does justify the means. Our heroine may have created a whole new meaning to the term interior decorating but she has this wonderful talent that must be allowed to express itself. We love her dearly and await her next burst of creativity with bated breath and plastic ponchos.
Why the Pizza logo?
It’s all to do with a recent trip out West
by Madeleine Ekeblad and Desley Rolph
If you have a few spare minutes you can read a slightly tongue in cheek daily report that was posted at the time by some scurrilous, and hopefully anonymous, reporter.
An exciting and challenging outback painting adventure or a dastardly cover up?
What has become of the 32 missing pizzas? Will our two heroines actually travel across a thousand kilometres of inhospitable terrain in order to create their artworks, or do they intend to hole up in a Warwick motel quaffing Clancy’s Red and eating pizza for a week? Stay tuned as the saga unfolds!
Hot off the press comes the news that these two well known Brisbane artists are planning an expedition out West in order to create a series of outback related paintings.
‘So what?’ I hear you say.
Well this will be a trip with a difference. They’re off to stay with another artist, Annabel Tully, travelling to Quilpie, via Roma, a distance of about 1000km. This will involve 12 hours driving over two days. Couple this with the fact that both of them have the capacity to talk under three feet of wet cement there’s a very good chance they’ll have lost their voices by the time they get there. So as not to miss any pearls of wisdom a voice recorder has been purchased with 160 hours of available recording time and three dozen batteries. Should be just about enough for the seven day trip.
Because of space constraints it was decided that any paintings would have to be small and easily stowed. The problem of storage was solved when Dario’s Gourmet Pizzeria on Macleay Island kindly came to the rescue and donated over 30 large pizza boxes. The artists swear the boxes were empty when received but the author has his doubts and plans on baggage searching any eskies.
Doubtless these suspicions are totally unfounded and I’m sure we all wish them well on their expedition and look forward to seeing the results in a few weeks time. Meantime I intend rushing home and putting a large padlock on the red wine locker.
Our two intrepid adventurous artists are finally ready to set off on their expedition. Departing Brisbane they’ll drive to Roma at their usual speed, finally circling the town and landing on the local football field. Those of you unfamiliar with Madeleine’s driving habits should consider yourselves lucky. Anyone suffering from turgid bowel syndrome or the like can rest assured that after five minutes as a passenger in her car their problem will be solved, for ever. Sorry I digress. I was just remembering how the teeth marks got in the dash board.
Anyway, they’re all loaded up with luggage, painting gear and pizza boxes, after an esky baggage search which failed to reveal any trace of the missing pizzas. I am still somewhat at a loss as to understand why they needed to take a three cubic foot insulated fibreglass beauty case with them. Something about how it will be hot out there and makeup should be kept cool. Maybe it’s there to help cool down the voice recorder.
After spending the night in Roma, where I imagine some anaesthetic throat lozenges will be of great help, they’ll take off again, bound for Quilpie, another six hour trip.
Meantime a touch of the Sherlock Holmes for me as I investigate how a burglar managed to get into our house, remove the lock from the wine locker and replace all the bottles with empties. Curses Moriarty!
Well, they got away OK and, despite the rear wheel arches dragging on the tyres, managed to get to Roma without too much drama. Traffic reports highlighted delays on the Warrego highway due to drivers slowing down to listen to the words of wisdom from some west bound van, but being busy talking they failed to notice that.
The report from my private investigator reveals that not only did they take pizza box size canvases but each also took a few full size ones as well. Typical artists, give them an inch and they’ll pinch the ruler!
A pit stop at Dalby and a visit to the Regional Gallery there and the local Op shop.
Madeleine is probably the only person from Australia to go on a South Pacific cruise and discover an Op shop in Port Vila. I’m sure that when she eventually falls off the perch in about 40 years time half the Op shops in SE Queensland will go out of business. Sorry; once more I digress.
On to Chinchilla for coffee and sticky buns and a chance to smell the country; well there was a strong bovine smell, possibly introduced by a passing road train full of potential hamburgers.
Final stop for the day was Roma. Another visit to the local Regional Gallery where an impressive exhibition of bronze busts on tour from GOMA was much appreciated. If anyone’s confused by that statement I’m talking about busts of Gaugin, Rodin etc etc.
The afternoon was pleasantly rounded off by a visit to a private gallery called Brown Gully, where the owner, Alistair Brown, a captive audience if ever there was one, was fortunate enough to be regaled with all the details of the trip.
So tomorrow, in the style of Burke, Wills, Simpson, Blaxland, Lawson, Wentworth and Livingston, actually I just threw that one in to see if you’re paying attention, our Dynamic Duo head off to Quilpie and points West. Bet your boots that’s going to be a culture shock!
The local Private Investigator advises me that the two broads arrived and departed Quilpie and were still fleeing west. Unconfirmed reports of frost bitten kangaroos adjacent to the highway, suffering from acute wind chill factor exposure, indicate that their flight was certainly rapid.
Anyway it’s up, up and away to take advantage of Annabelle Tully’s kind invitation to stay at her outback station. They’ll be residing in the shearer’s quarters. Our dynamic duo are not country types, more like expanded suburbanites. They don’t need a McDonalds in the area to feel at home but do like to be within 30km of a supermarket. Since I have it on good authority that they’ll be about 85 km from anything we all have to hope that both the toilet paper and the booze hold out.
Can’t you just imagine some of the fun and games that will be required to organise outback rest stops. Such as deciding who holds the flashlight and keeps the branches to one side, and who checks out the weird wildlife calls and mysterious rustling in the undergrowth after dark.
No it’s OK. Really I can wait, you go first……!
Well I guess you can expect a media blackout for the next few days as our intrepid artists settle in, get established and actually do some painting. (Plus I haven’t yet managed to organise a spy drone for surveillance reports………..do you know how much it costs to get elint out past Quilpie?) I would dearly love to be one of the many flies on the wall out there but will have to rely on the occasional phone call report and my imagination……just pretend I didn’t say that.
I guess that painting in the outback will be just like painting at home, with the addition of legions of extra flying things and crawling things and hairy bouncing things and long, winding, hissing things and billabongs full of crocodiles and vast expanses of nothing where the sun beats down and……….Woops, sorry, getting carried away there! I’m sure they’ll have a ball and I’ll be sure to let you know how they get on.
Success! They have arrived. Despite the fact that there’s no mobile coverage out there I’ve received a couple of smuggled emails. They must have hacked into Annabelle’s computer in the middle of the night or something.
The trip out past Quilpie was quite something and apparently the van may never be the same again. Should have rented an Abrams tank or something similar. Desley is convinced that “loading the van up with everything but the kitchen sink” made the ride easier. Amazing what thirty two frozen pizzas and a 20 liter jerry can full of red wine can do isn’t it? Mind you I’m just speculating here of course! Not casting any stones, just a small pebble or two perhaps. Burke and Hare had nothing on these two. (For those of you who haven’t a clue what I’m talking about, either ignore me or Google it).
So, avoiding Emus and wild pigs, they arrived, both of them tired and safe. (The emus and pigs I mean). The station owners, Stephen and Annabelle, being rightly concerned about our heroines’ total lack of experience have put both of them on training leads, with instructions not to go more than 10ft away from anywhere. OK, I slightly exaggerate but you get the picture. They’re probably worried about Madeleine wandering off in search of the local St Vinnies.
I hear that the wine they pinched took with them is sampled at sunset and, quoting from one of Madeleine’s emails, “the mobiles are not working and are nearly out of cheese, we blame the wine”……..Yeh well I’ll say no more!
The flies have been a problem, possibly attracted by the wine, No, I didn’t mean that, and they have to doll up with masks and bits of paper hanging from their heads to try and deter them. Bet you don’t get a picture of that when they return. “The Mummy goes Down Under”.
With only 180,000 hectares to paint in they’ll probably run out of subjects about 2030 but are painting up a storm and taking LOTS of video clips. So be prepared. If you drop in to see the “Pictures from our Trip” you’d better bring a sleeping bag and enough food for about a week. Personally I’ve got a potential trip to the Bay of Bengal lined up.
Apparently the sunrises and sunsets are absolutely spectacular. I’m really impressed that they’ve seen them. Madeleine sports a nightgown saying “I don’t do mornings”, and never was there a truer word spoken. Poor Desley.
Life is really tough for them, having to slaughter and dress their own kookaburras and kangaroos and fossick for emu eggs just to survive ………. well not exactly. The main problem is they don’t have an egg flip and have to use a spoon and tongs, and the lack of a toaster means the bread gets browned in the frypan. Let’s hope the poor dears survive, maybe another glass of plonk will ease the pain.
Home is the sailor, home from the sea, and the hunter home from the hill and our dynamic duo home from the Outback.
Sorry to say goodbye to their kind hosts, but looking forward to returning home, they left on Wednesday morning. Once they got to Charleville, Oh Joy! the mobiles came alive and they were able to call home and find out that the rest of the civilised world was under water. Having been out of mobile and radio range where they were they had no inkling that they were coming back to some of the wettest weather SE Queensland has seen in the last 20 years or so and it must have been a bit of a shock.
Not such a shock as a certain kangaroo got when he suddenly became so artistically motivated that he just had to leap out where angels feared to tread. As the van sped away, white knuckled driver more or less in control, they left behind a sadder, hopefully wiser, definitely artistically deprived, but intact marsupial. (Try saying that quickly after a couple of glasses of Mother’s ruin)!
Back in phone contact was marvelous but I guess that finding out that a certain partner was intending to send away for “Build your own Ark” plans and diagrams, 5 easy payments of $49.95 + $99.95 P + H, must have been a shock too. I never realized Madeleine knew such expressions!
Anyway, arriving back at Roma, they stayed once again at the Hotel Carnarvon where they were royally looked after, getting an upgrade to a deluxe room. Considering that their budget called for something along the nativity style of accommodation that was a real bonus. I have my suspicions that the fact that the manageress there is also an artist and that there also was an impromptu exhibition of everyone’s art might indicate that a certain amount of back scratching may well have taken place. But that’s just me, Miss Incurable Cynic 1979.
The next day, fording flooded creeks, motivating errant crocodiles, onward ever onward they pressed until finally they reached Brisbane and were within cooee of home. Wouldn’t you think that after a week outback you’d come home with less than you started out with. I mean, just the grog alone! But no, disregarding the pizza boxes full of paintings, there was so much stuff it was unbelievable. I hear that several Op shops out west are frantically seeking stock. I hope Annabel checked the teaspoons before they left, and the furniture, and the farm machinery.
Having years of experience I managed to load 5 cubic metres of Madeleine’s stuff into a 4 cubic metre vehicle and we creaked and groaned our way home to Macleay Island.
She admits that she was happy to be back. The Outback was great, something she really enjoyed, but she’s definitely not an Outback Bunny, more a Sea Urchin.
With a refreshed palette and rejuvenated motivation she’s hot to trot. Look out art world and OMSA artists, brace yourselves.
I know many people are concerned about how they can survive the dreaded lockdown. That’s fair enough but none of them really have my sympathy, apart from the very few who are actually living with an artist.
Living with an artist is an experience that can normally be enjoyed but under lockdown conditions tends to occasionally create some friction as the average artist is easily bored when not up to their elbows in paint and canvas 24/7.
They aren’t like normal people, could possibly be alien, certainly can act like it. It’s a bit like living in a bag with a ferret. Not sure if it’s going to cuddle you or bite you.
They can’t switch off their art, have to be “doing something”. Being restricted to home/studio, even though they may well happily have stayed there and painted for weeks normally, is not the same as not being permitted to go out.
I call my pet ferret artist “The Duracell Bunny”, because she can’t really relax and just has to keep on keeping on.
I’m retired and supposed to be living a life of quiet contemplation, good book, cigar, slippers, glass of port………….yeh, right. At least the pandemic has reduced the amount of time I have to spend stretching and packing canvasses and making travel arrangements to art shows; but artists don’t seem to think that way and have to keep working. I think her next set of batteries might have to be low powered and include an on/off switch.
I guess I’m fortunate in having very few creative bones in my body. I can easily resist the call of the Muse and happily immerse myself in a good book or jigsaw puzzle and a glass of wine.
However those of us living with aliens, oops, artists find that their ferret, oops, partner, requires significant artistic stimulation and jigsaw puzzles just don’t cut the mustard.
Thank the gods for IPTV and Netflix. I don’t do Facebook, but assume that must work as I’m going to have to book my ferret/wife into surgery soon to have the phone separated from her hand and the plug extracted from her ear.
Quality output in the face of adversity has to be admired but artists can’t stop producing. Remember the Sorcerer’s Apprentice ? All those brooms producing buckets and buckets of water! No wonder I’m not sleeping well and have a pathological fear of the laundry where the brushes are kept.
Hopefully international travel will resume and my darling alien can fly overseas and meet up with all the other aliens and compare lockdown dramas.
As for me I’m just going to relax. Might even take up painting.
IN MY STUDIO
After the year of 2020
Three weeks ……! Every morning for the last three weeks I have walked into my studio, paused, and slowly looked around at the paint pots, brushes and palette knives. My sad slow gaze takes in the unfinished canvases leaning up against the wall and, with tentative anticipation I pick up a blank white canvas. I then heave a deep sigh, replace the canvas and slowly walk out.
I reenter the living room, pick up my mobile phone, sit down and put my feet up on the chair next to me and log into facebook videos. Reruns of The Big Bang Theory, dash Cams of near accidents, brides looking for that dress. I’m caught in a viral trap because I’ve no motivation.
Every day the same thing! I’m in a country in ‘Lockdown’. Living in Malaysia as an Australian Expat through the 2020 Covid 19 virus has had an unusual impact on my Art, something that I can’t quite understand.
For as long as I can remember I’ve always had an artistic idea in my mind. Painting, Sculpture, Ink drawings, reading bio’s of wonderfully interesting artists, walking through galleries. Art has been with me every day until three weeks ago. Artist Block! Writers Block! Creativity Block!
NO! It is purely ‘boredom’. I’m bored after the year of 2020.
My mind is used to going ten to the dozen with ideas, even when I was cooking dinner I was still thinking about the painting on the easel in my studio. Two days ago I cleaned out my Tupperware drawer finding and matching the lids. How Sad!
You know that as artists, we don’t ‘clean’. We tidy up and make sure the kitchen bench is wiped down, but we don’t ‘clean’. Just writing about it I’m depressed, but at the same time, slightly invigorated that I can still feel that way.
OK! Time for a glass of wine!
‘A pause in life’, because sometimes we need to just look away and focus on what is in our peripheral vision.
I am an artist! I am an Artist! I AM AN ARTIST! WHY CAN’T I PAINT?
Back to Earth again. Take a deep sigh!
I’m also a writer! Ummmmmm?
I’m also a movie maker! Nope not today!
All these thoughts went through my mind in a matter of minutes. My husband and I were having a light lunch with a crisp white Chardonnay wine. I said ‘I’ve just thought of the first paragraph of my next book’. I cleared my plate, retrieved pad and pen from the office, grabbed my glass of wine and sat down on the balcony and wrote the first two words. Three weeks.
As artists, we need to create, recreate, slash canvases, tear up papers, cry for joy, shout hurrah, or laugh out loud at a finished piece of work. Walk around in paint splashed trousers or just sit back and enjoy a cup of tea or a glass of wine while browsing through art books.
WE ARE NEVER MEANT TO BE ‘BORED’!
My studio has had many forms over the last 50 plus years, from the simple desk in my room at my parent’s home where, as a young girl, I sketched and doodled arty ideas, to a rented three bedroom house that I used as gallery and studio, but I have found I love working in my own home because I can comfortably have a glass of wine and not worry about driving home after a day in my studio.
In my 30’s and married with children I had a corner of the living room. This progressed as we moved house. An outside larger area with an old door on trestles and this time I had an easel my husband made for me. I had a low bench to stand all my brushes and palette knives on. My paints and inks sat in several baskets at my feet. Renovations gave me my first large room where I used the walls to hang finished paintings. This spoiled me for life. I would always want a whole room as my studio.
This morning, I deliberately dressed in my painting gear and tackled something simple in my studio. I sorted out all my brushes into sizes and replaced them in old ceramic jars, and my palette knives into old biscuit tins.
I haven’t painted yet but just doing something in my studio has broken through my negative mindset. I did do some scribbled drawings of ideas that I will paint.
Tomorrow I’ll tackle something else
In My Studio