Night Visions

21 August - 19 September 2009
Preview: Friday 21 August, 6-pm
Kaliman Gallery
56 Sutherland St, Paddington, Sydney

This latest body of work relates to Jon Cattapan’s recent visit to East Timor where he was researching an Australian War Memorial commission. The night vision equipment used by the Australian soldiers became a focus of his research. The result is a series of blue and green toned works, reminiscent of the visual perspective and representation night vision equipment employs. Soldiers in combat gear, army vehicles and army equipment populate the surfaces of the paintings. Jon Cattapan submerges these figurative elements in the patterns of weather maps and night vision data so that they are woven together as part of a brilliantly coloured nocturnal fabric.

               (cover detail, but the red is wrong, too orange here, my old scanner)

Chris McAuliffe’s monograph on Jon Cattapan, Possible Histories, reviewed by Ian North in Artlink.

ABC1 TV Artscape: Artists At Work: Jon Cattapan
10:00pm - Tuesday, August 25

Over the last 30 years, Jon Cattapan has established a reputation as one of Australia's most significant and prolific painters. Often described as 'the poet of the floating metropolis', much of Cattapan's work responds to the notion of what it means to be a human being in the 21st century urban environment.
He is best known for his large cityscape paintings which reveal the shifting dynamics of the metropolis - charting the endless flow of information and mapping the psychological trajectory of its inhabitants.
In July 2008, Cattapan decided to take a risk and step outside of his urban milieu. After years of deliberation he finally agreed to become an official war artist for the Australian War Memorial (AWM) and was deployed to Timor Leste. To his surprise what followed was an experience he describes as "one of my luckiest breaks in my life".
Artscape: Artists At Work follows Cattapan's journey to Timor Leste and then back to his studio, in an outer suburb of Melbourne, where he creates a series of art works for the AWM, based on his unique experiences as a war artist.

(Artscape: Artists At Work: Jon Cattapan will be repeated on ABC2
Sunday, August 30 at 7pm http://abc.net.au/iview/)


                              Vale Willy de Ville

                    Obituaries :


The reviewer I mentioned last weekend might be able to answer his perplexed question regarding Les Murray and Lionel Fogarty by reading Lyn McCredden’s The Locatedness of Poetry in the latest issue of JASAL (Journal of the Association for the Study of Australian Literature)

Here’s the abstract :
This essay argues that understanding the locatedness of poetry is crucial as a measure by which to sift the high rhetorics of national, cosmopolitan, globalising discourses. In an analysis of the poetry of Indigenous writers Tony Birch, Sam Wagan Watson and Lionel Fogarty, and of the Federal Government's Apology to the Stolen Generations, we can see more clearly the role of literature, and particularly poetry, in debates between the local and the global.

Click HERE for the index and scroll down to the article.
It’s there as a pdf.

Here's the question :


criminal daze

Yesterday I went to see Matteo Garrone’s film of Roberto Saviano’s novel about the Camorra syndicate in Naples and Caserta, Italy - Gomorrah. It’s a powerful exposé of corruption and of the brutal methods used to recruit young men who become so entangled in the web of crime that they have no choice but to continue living in a truly violent world. Only a few can even contemplate escape. Mattone deftly mixes and melds five stories into one. An extraordinary film of a cruel and frightening aspect of Italy that tourists only hear, read or see films about.

This afternoon I went to hear Peter Doyle give an illustrated talk on his cultural history of Sydney in the 1920s via records of criminals of the day. He has just published another book Crooks Like Us, after having spent many, many hours delving into the forensic photography archive at Sydney’s Justice & Police Museum.

Peter Doyle curated an exhibition of photos and published an accompanying book City of Shadows in 2005.

                                                Peter Doyle

Many Sydneysiders also know Peter as “Peter ‘Rockin’ Doyle”, the amazing guitarist from the bands Wasted Daze, The Magnetics and The Bopcats that played around the inner western suburbs in the mid-late 1970s.
Since then he has completed a PhD, written a novel, The Devil’s Jump, and finically researched the police archives to write the criminal history books and he is now an academic teaching media at Macquarie University. Of course, he still likes to boogie - the Doyle-Bongers Downhome Quartet – a roots blues jazz funk steel guitar and saxophone combo was getting into the groove as I left the event.

     Click to enlarge -Assembled bands The Bopcats, The Layabouts, Ratbags of Rhythm
      Peter Doyle in white shirt fifth from the right

I like this perplexed question from a review of a new blockbuster anthology of Australian literature in today's Sydney Morning Herald.


Rehab for Everyone

hands so cold
fingers cold
tucked under legs
sitting in insect hiss
low white noise
gas heater undertone
no other sound

almost asleep,
a car pulling up the hill

a currawong
does that shrill thing
into pink air

a huge open yawn
almost breaks my jaw

the pen that makes the marks
alters the angles of the letters

a patch
of yesterday’s chocolate
stuck to my corduroy sleeve -
a signal
imagined and interpreted

we look back
at the years in the tops
waiting to be taken out of time

red brick
wall map of Australia
grass green carpet
mustard coloured plastic chairs
clumpy piling on the mittens

mitts on the keyboard
pushing thoughts and jingles
to Dublin to Seattle,
Adelaide, Kane`ohe,
Faversham, Glebe

sadly notating dim trivia
outside community

literary festivals
can’t help anyone
like a rehab book sale

making mistakes,
so different
from being morally wrong

in an unsettling world
it‘s a rabbit life,
built the walls from Castrol cases

black tyre ribbons
like a giant’s licorice
under the striated cutting
siding on the highway,
say goodbye
to the Woodford bends

sometimes the clunky
can incandesce
but I want to know
how to vitalize gawkiness,

I’m in my no-mind sometimes
in a technological mindlessness
sometimes nowhere near limber,
although that’s unusual

some people
just float along all the time
accumulating the placid

when you think you’re going down
you’re not,
you’re going straight ahead
to a utopia of modernity.