Bacon not Bakin’?

An interesting post on one of the worlds most influential Visual Artists. Was he not what we thought he was?

Interview survey

Dear valued Reader and or Viewer. We have managed to put up a number of Visual Artist interviews with lots more to come. Many of you have provided very positive feedback thus far which is great, however I am aware there may be others who take a “look but don’t touch” approach. They’re often the ones with thoughts on ways to improve things but glance by and keep on going.

So folks with all this in mind can we get some feedback please.

These are a few starting points to utilise when you respond (use the comment button below this post.

If you feel  you want to keep things more anonymous then drop me an email at

Thanks in advance Steve Gray.

Debbie Hill

Debbie Hill is a Contemporary Visual Artist from Ballarat, Victoria and chats about her art with Amanda Van Gils.

How long have you been making art?
My art practice began like many others at home, primary school etc…I have been doing it ‘seriously’ for nearly 10 years.


What are the main medium/s you work in…
As a drawer my work is mostly charcoal, but during the last 5 years I have been moving between charcoal, oil pastel and now mostly conte. The charcoal drawings were predominantly done on drafting film which I sometimes had printed first and then worked over the top. I love drafting film as I am able to achieve a ‘velvety’ texture to the charcoal…the one downside is that it is difficult to frame. My current body of work is conte drawings on stretched black cotton which is sometimes stretched over a ready made canvas.

Artist’s statement…
This body of work is a foray into the realms of what we don’t know or understand of events that play out whilst we sleep.

Informed by the ‘bumps in the night’ of childhood and more recent events associated with the greater political world, I have explored the notion of home as both haven and an environment of uncertainty and sometimes fear.

The use of night vision especially in the fields of military action allows others to ‘see’ through the darkness to locate a target, using this idea I have given substance to those childhood fears, while also acknowledging the fears that others face while we sleep.

How do you describe your work, realistic, stylised, abstract, narrative, symbolic, other?
My work covers a range of these descriptors; whilst realistic I also use narrative and symbolism within my work. I try to give my work a number of layers so that the viewer can return and look at my work and see something they haven’t seen before.


Does your work have social, political, cultural and or personal messages?
Of course, I don’t think there are many artists who don’t have at least a personal message in their work; it would be quite lifeless otherwise. I have described my work over the last 5-6 years as a juxtaposition of imagery to create a new commentary, with particular reference to current events both religious and political.

What are you currently working on?
I am working towards a two person show that I have coming up at the new SUB 12 Gallery in Newport Victoria. These works are quite different in content to my current show at Red Gallery, they are not as overtly political, but concentrate more on the insecurities of just being.


How important is art for you?
It’s the most important obsession in my life….after my husband and kids. It enables me to find out more about the world and me.

What did you do before or during becoming an artist?
When I left school, no one ever told me that I could be an artist, so I went into something that I thought would keep me involved in art to some degree. I attained an apprenticeship at G.A.F (Government Aircraft Factories) and became the first female to complete a spray painting apprenticeship in Victoria, I loved this job…I painted military aircraft including F111’s ,F18 Hornets, Mirage’s and my biggest claim to fame was painting racing driver Larry Perkins Cessna! I was in this job for 8 years until the recession of the late 80’s and they began to close down government facilities, in one day I along with 600 others lost their jobs.

After that I worked in childcare, moved to a small country town, worked in a dress shop, the deli at Safeway, moved to a bigger country town trained as an Integration Aide working in Primary and Secondary schools. The last 5 years I have been the art technician at a secondary school and doing sessional lecturing in 2D studies at a University.


Is there any one thing that has given you a big buzz in your art career so far? (Seeing your work in a particular collection etc…)
It’s impossible to select just one, buzzes happen for different things on different occasions, but the ones that immediately come to mind are my first exhibition outside of art school and the first time I got selected for the Robert Jack’s drawing prize.

Some say the lifespan of many “artists” post educationally is about five years, any thoughts on that?
I remember that one of my lecturers said that if you were going to ‘make it’ then you had to be still making serious art in 10 years.


If you could have any piece of artwork in your personal collection, what would it be and why?
A Joseph Beuys blackboard drawing, an Annette Messager artist book, a Kathe Kollwitz drawing, Andre Serrano’s Piss Christ, any Gerhard Richter, Christian Boltanski, Durer, Carravagio or Casper David Friedrich…sorry you said one! They all have something to say.

All artists seem to have struggles, tell us about any you have had.
Self Doubt! That I can achieve in my field especially when I have family who don’t doubt anything I do, I don’t want to let them down, so each day is a struggle to convince myself.


What sort of research and or reference material do you do for current works and has that changed over time?
I do a lot of research, I am forever buried in books, magazines or on the computer trying to find the material that triggers or solves a problem with my work. I do my research mostly at night, so that it doesn’t interfere with my studio time. I have folders with images, stories, poems and other text that I use for inspiration and that can inform my practice, I have always done this and can’t see myself stopping.

Do you hope the viewer will “get” what you are trying to communicate or do you feel compelled to spell it out to them?
I do what I do, if they get it that’s great, if not…well that’s the way it goes. I will if someone asks, give them an idea, but I try not to ‘spell it out’, finding out what they think is part of discovering for them, but also for me.


If you stopped doing art right now would you miss it?
I don’t think I could ever stop…they will put a stick of charcoal in my casket…but then again my casket may end up that stick of charcoal!

If you have been working as an artist for a while, how do you feel about earlier works that are in people’s collections / ownership?
I think most artists dread seeing some of their earlier works, the learning phase you go through from home, University, emerging and beyond will always throw up issues about ‘style’ what you were thinking at that time etc…There are times when I cringe when I see some of my ‘old’ works, but those that have them still enjoy them, so I shouldn’t complain.

I had a work purchased a couple of years ago by the Art Gallery of Ballarat, of the series it was taken from, it was the work I liked least, possibly because I really struggled with it. I was a bit embarrassed because I thought it was rubbish. Last month that work was hung in the Ballarat Artists Gallery, I went to see how it looked on the wall in a different environment than I had seen it…I was surprised it didn’t look as bad as I remembered and there were parts that I actually quite liked.


Name a book or books, which may have inspired your work as an artist?
Dante’s Divine Comedy – I’m still getting through it

Is your work process fast or slow?
Slow! Sometimes I wish it could be quicker.

Do you have a connectedness to other art forms?
I love ceramics and sculpture…I’m that person who ALWAYS touches, there is something about holding, touching, feeling the form that makes it special, it’s also why I have an interest in artist’s books.


What is more important to you in your work, content or technique, concept or product?
They are all important in one way or another. Content can be defined by the technique, the idea and the final ‘product’ while sometimes leaving one another, I think require each other to get there.

Have you won any awards?
I haven’t won any awards, but I have received an Honourable mention in the Robert Jack’s drawing prize and a Highly Commended for the Dominique Segan Drawing Prize. Being a finalist in any major prize is great.

Technology (websites and social networking sites to name a few) has become an important marketing tool for many industries and individuals, what are your thoughts from a “You Inc” perspective and your art sensibility.
I think it’s probably becoming quite important to have a website. Now I must go and get one up and going! Seriously I think it is a great tool it enables the artist to have control over how you want to market yourself, it’s also a good tool for generating a larger audience to your work, including galleries and collectors.

Do you work from life, or from photographs or from imagination or some other method?
All of the above, my imagination is not developed enough to draw directly onto the paper (this is a skill I wish I had), yet it’s able to construct thoughts and images into compositions that I then photograph or set up before I start to draw.

Have you ever made an artistic pilgrimage? If so, where did you go and why?
I was fortunate to have won a travel award in 2004 which enabled me to travel to Europe and meet and live with artists for 5 weeks in West Germany. I was so excited because I was going to see the works of some of my favourite artists Beuys, Kollwitz and Richter in the flesh. I went to K20 Gallery at Dusseldorf to specifically see LOTS of Bueys works, only to be told it had all gone to London for a retrospective!

Fortunately they had a huge Richter retrospective on so I was able to immerse myself in those delicious black and white paintings. I also visited K21 where they have whole rooms set aside for artists such as Christian Boltanski, Nam June Paik and Raymond Pettibon…I think the women thought I was nuts when I wanted to sit in the middle of Boltanski’s room!

I went to Cologne to visit the Kathe Kollwitz Museum only to be told it was closed for refurbishments. Although I got to see the amazing Dom which helped to ease the pain.

I did get to see the Beuys, I travelled to London to the Tate Modern, and it was one of the most amazing exhibitions that I have seen. One of the most unexpected and delightful outcomes came from the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square, I had become the artist (at that time) who only wanted to see contemporary art…old stuff was just so yesterday, but my passion for the past returned with a vengeance to see Vermeer and Van Eyck in one room and the mesmerizing Peter Paul Ruebens, Massacre of the innocents was fabulous. I also got to Amsterdam –Rijeksmuseum closed for refurbishments; I was doing well on this front! – and the Vatican museum to see the wonderful Carravagio’s. Seeing these works in the flesh has helped to mould where my practice is going.

Did you have an inspirational teacher, and how did that affect you?
I have had a couple of teachers I admired for their artwork, for their teaching style but mostly for their honesty. I believe that if you’re always told what a ‘wonderful artist’ you are, especially at school/uni you can become inward looking and not explore or challenge your abilities. I still rely on one of these teachers, whom I now call a friend, to critique my works or explorations, but this doesn’t mean I necessarily listen or take on board everything they say. They have helped me to be me.

I understand you are involved with the Art Gallery Ballarat, can you tell us how that came about?
As the majority of my time as a practicing artist has been in Ballarat, I decided I needed to be part of a larger art community. Being in your studio by yourself all the time can be daunting and there are artists who you may never meet if you stay locked away. I was already a member but knew little of the machinations of how a gallery was run and what goes on behind the scenes.

My first step was to join the Association Council and become involved with a sub committee (in my case the openings and lecture series committees), after a number of years I was elected to the executive committee where I now have the position of Vice President, in 2007 I was elected the Board representative for the Gallery council. I am also now involved with the magazine put out by the Gallery on a quarterly basis and take on the editorial role every third publication.

What benefits, if any, do you think there are for artists getting involved with their local regional gallery? (e.g. in terms of knowledge, exposure, their own artistic practice)
Being part of a larger community is a great way to expand your knowledge, understanding and your own art practice. Moving out of your comfort zone to meet and interact with other artists, collectors, and galleries can give you confidence to pursue your art vigorously.

I am sure had I not gotten involved with my Regional Gallery, my understanding of the complexities involved with the ‘art world’ would be much more limited and possibly I may not be as driven, although some may say too much knowledge is a bad thing, I think it’s slides and roundabouts. I found that getting involved with the openings sub committee allowed me to meet a lot more people; every one wants a chat if you’re giving them a drink! As a result I have met some fabulous artists I may never have met otherwise and whom I can rely on for advice and support.

Sourced and Edited by Amanda Van Gills for Steve Gray © 2009+

Meika Loofs Samorzewski

Meika Loofs Samorzewski is a Sculptor living in Tasmania, you can check out his website at and also his blogs

meika at the vice

Interests you have other than art you feel are important to mention?
I write flash fiction for a number of paying based e-zines. Basically I’ve moved from poetry to sculpture in the last few years.

What are the main medium/s you work in…
Poured metal, bronze and pewter, I’ve done the odd audio compositional poetry installation in the past. I like metal because it has a heft few words can balance. I liking making things other people can appreciate with their hands as well as their eyes.


Artist’s statement…
I prefer artefacts to art. I shape according to the symbolic logic of the history and context of an object. I like to carve my way in between to people’s cognitive crannies and the political considerations.

How do you describe your work, realistic, stylised, abstract, narrative, symbolic, other?
I’ll use all of these, currently the symbolic predominates; the other descriptions in the list are the symbolic’s handmaidens. Everything is symbolic of something, even the symbolic, because the symbolic points towards the unknown. If art points towards the known then it is just another road sign.

Bronze Spacehead

Does your work have social, political, cultural and or personal messages?
All of the above. I’m looking at deep culture, currently the ancient use of “Art” as it has come down to us in archaeological contexts, in doll like votive figures has allowed me into a certain space where questions of rites, auspices, and naked want allow me to interrogate, in a metallic physicality, a human propensity to imbue meaning into objects and so share them.


What are you currently working on?
Consorts to the Mountain Goddess, a whole series based on male Cretan votive figures, dolls more than statues, but re-devoted to the mountain in Hobart, Tasmania. These should be finished with sometime this year. I am working on a life size ginger bread man possible escaping a fire regime of whale try pots, or something. A concurrent text project is a series of medals in pewter and aluminum.


What fascinates you?
I find it fascinating that I can be fascinated by something and not others, and while we all have an instinct for beauty we do not agree exactly on what that is.

One word or statement to describe your current works?


Why are you an artist?
I have no choice.

How did you get into art?
When I was childminding our oldest child as a small baby I started carving sandstone with a cheap chisel. I discovered I could actually carve what I saw, I was pushing the chisel into what I saw and it was made manifest. A couple of years later I spent 2 weeks googling images of a bronze figurine I saw in Trier Roman Museum, or a Treveri, I decided to re-make one for the Art From Trash exhibition It sold. It sold as a wedding present and I thought I can do this. At that time I had never sold any of my writing, but was a real sculptor by following a needling want-to.


How important is art for you?
Not very. I prefer artefacts. I hate arty things, shiny things, things stolen from time. The only art I love is public art, it is the only real art. That’s why I do sculpture, I want to do public art.

What is it about Visual Art you find compelling?
It maps a space into a territory, and thus a terrain into a landscape.

Your art education was…?
Living too long with bitter and twisted art students, thus becoming depressed. The cure was to marry a scientist and craftsperson.

Bronze Spacehead

The craziest thing you did at art school was…
Help create the Resource Work Co-op which runs the tip Shop in Hobart and the Art from Trash exhibition by using the, then rare, laser printers in the UTAS Fine Arts Library.

Have you always been interested in art?
I guess. Science is more interesting though. They are both problem solving, but science does not make up problems the way art does.

Trevor, a Gallo Roman God, 300AD

What did you do before or during becoming an artist?
I was a failed poet. Writing is a mug’s game.

Do you remember your first painting or artwork?
In grade four, at St thomas Aquinas Primary School in the Blue Mountains, NSW, I drew a charcoal sketch of a gumtree and when we came back from outside and hung them up on the walls, my teacher went and got the other teachers to show them, particularly my gumtree, which looked just like the gumtree.

Was art a “thing” that was encouraged in your family?
Not in an arty way, just in an imaginative play way.

What or who inspires your art?
Excellent artefacts. I don’t fetish the shiny, the object d’art on its plinth but the artefact with it history in its very fabric, surface, patina in it’s case. The history is more important than fame.

What caused you to choose the medium you currently work in?
Metal is heavy and that figure of a Treveri farmer was lost-wax and in bronze, but I first worked by directly carving in sandstone. I am not so keen on modelling.

What can you tell us about your planning and making process for making art, and has that altered over the years?
In sculpture, pieces lie around waiting for their next stage of processing. There can be nearly ten stages before a piece is finished. Planning involves asking the question, what can I do today while I wait for X? And a lot can go wrong at each stage, just technically, so, it’s like working on all of them, and none of them at the same time.

Does the “creative process” happen easily for you?
Yes, finding time is not.

Creative streaks do they come in waves for you?
No. It happens all day long. I daydream a lot (see Brain’s problem-solving function at work when we daydream )

How important is the clarity of concept to you, prior to starting an artwork?
Only important in the speed it can give to the process.

Do you have a personal description of “Art”?
Art solves problems that Art creates. Science solves problems that are given or discovered. Technology is somewhere in between. And design is between tech and art.

How important do you think craftsmanship is to artistic creation?
It can be hired so… I support slow art, the studio workshops with twenty underlings are not for me, at least right now, I love the direct physical connection with materials, the few seconds involved in actually pouring molten bronze at 1200C is incredibly intense. And so I wouldn’t give it up to others, nor entirely over to digitization. This may change with easy 3D scanning and 3D printing (the end of the world as we know it).

Does the sale of your work support you?
It breaks even with my expenses, time is another matter, but as I am emerging this is to be expected.

Do you get to other artists exhibitions, openings etc?
Occasionally, parenting takes precedence, the children don’t like the interruption to their dinnertime routine.

Do you have much contact with other artists?
Always have as an adult. One of the reasons I took up sculpture was the realisation I have always been surrounded by artists, and writers not so much. As we are only limited by the people we know, I decided to take advantage of the boundlessness of the people I have met.

Some say the life span of many “artists” post educationally is about five years, any thoughts on that?
I started after 40, nearly a decade after my Master in Applied Science, but yes an un-used degree.

What has been a turning point in your career thus far and why?
Finally starting.

If you could have any piece of artwork in your personal collection, what would it be and why?
That original bronze of the Treveri celtic farmer in the Trier Roman Museum, Germany.

Can you name a favourite artist or three… and why?

I can name them but they don’t need the linkage anymore.

Do you keep an Art Journal or Visual Diary of some kind?
I blog a little, a slow diary and I twitter.

What happens to works that “don’t work out”?
After hanging around in the limbo of “yeah-I-can-fix-that” they eventually get melted down for scrap and re-poured, reborn as a new figure.

One thing you wish you had listened to from an art teacher or lecturer?
When I was 19 someone told me to go to New York. IMMEDIATELY. I never have and I sometimes wonder what I might have done if I have taken that “uncool” advice.

Do you aim to break the rules of basic composition, layout etc or do you ignore the “rules” and just create?
The rules for using symbols are socially constructed and thus continually subject to negotiation, The rules of basic composition etc are symbols too, of natural order and artistic expression, and can also be negotiated, though to a lesser extant as their neurological basis is a little more strict than the obviously symbolic.

What sort of research and or reference material do you do for current works and has that changed over time?
Visiting museums has been replaced by googling images.

What sort of depth or meaning is there behind the work you do?
I use symbols in an exploration of human experience of (social) consciousness in the made world. (I don’t use symbols like some dream dictionary. I don’t use them to decode a universal matrix or structure. I don’t use them to deconstruct current excesses and futilities.)

Do you hope the viewer will “get” what you are trying to communicate or do you feel compelled to spell it out to them?
Oh they get it alright. But curiously in my writing, my failed poetry, where I explore very similar things (place, positons. symbols) they very rarely do. Sculpture is a complete liberation.

Art is about entertainment, experiment, inventiveness or shock for you?
Experiment, both in creating problems and in solving them. It’s research. This research is a balance to my symbolist interest. Research subsumes the other intentions, the other what-art-is-about. E.G Shock is an answer to a certain problem of complacency. Invention is how you create and answer the art problem. Entertainment is an answer very similar to shock, but more indulgent.

Respond to the notion “Art is a device for exploring the human condition”…
The human condition is about to change so the exploration is about to get very interesting indeed. I try conveying this in my writing but it was too out there, I hope my sculpture will do better.

If you stopped doing art right now would you miss it?

What discourages you from doing art?

Is motivation to work an issue for you and how do you overcome it?

Do you have a challenge knowing when a work is finished?
No. It is finished when the answer, or the problem, is complete. Knowing when the answer is finished is another matter.

What about the role of titles with your work, some hate them others revel in them, what about you?
As a (failed) writer the roles of titles is easy, fun and a definite part of the work.

The business or marketing side of Art can be a challenge to some, what are your thoughts?
Keep making. Keep talking.

Metaphors, analogies, symbols, stories, how important are they to your work?
Metaphor is everything. My other metaphor is a kangaroo, a symbol for the uncaring researcher.

Is your art, “art for art sake…” or a matter of “art for commercial viability?”
It’s just art for goodness sake.

If you have been working as an artist for a while, how do you feel about earlier works that are in people’s collections / ownership?
It feels fantastic, they are in good homes.

If someone says to you “Oh your work is decorative and lacks any meaning…” your response would be…?
A decoration is a symbol too, though perhaps not a strong answer to its ‘mothering’ problem.

Tell us about your studio environment (too big, too small, enough storage or not, the light, the position, how you found it etc)?
My studio is shared with the bike shed, the storage shed, the garden shed, the tool shed… so I work in the garden and the lounge room a lot.

Otto Dix the German artist said (in part)… “All art is exorcism…” Is that the case for you? If so how…
No, but I don’t think I have his problems…

Do the seasons affect your work or work habits?
Less light in the Tasmania winter means I work less on close work, and less overall. But generally the light easily makes up for this at other times.

Some say a measure of an artwork is the ability for it to hold a persons attention or cause the viewer to come back after an initial glance and become captivated by the work, is that so for your works or an intention of yours?
I hope so. It needs to be fascinating in order to work. If they don’t want to steal it, it’s not art.

People around you (family friends etc.) what would they say about the way you work, the moods you have, your life as an artist etc?
“Shhh, I’m working.” “Sorry, what was that, I was working.”

What is more important to you in your work, content or technique, concept or product?
The problem created and solved in a substantial form is most important.

How important is society, culture and or history to your work?
These problems are everything.

Technology (websites and social networking sites to name a few) has become an important marketing tool for many industries and individuals, what are your thoughts from a “You Inc” perspective and your art sensibility.
I think everyone should have a personal website in order to back up their online identity. It need not be anything more than stable contact point.

Do you work from life, or from photographs or from imagination or some other method?
I combined the museums’ documentation and identification with imagination.

When you create your work is it somehow an emotional relief as you do it or at the end?
No, it’s an intelligible rush.

How many artworks do you produce in a year?
20-30+ Started. 10-20 finished, so far.

How often do you work in the studio?

How long do your works usually take to complete?

What did your prices start off at?

Can you respond to this quote “Anyone who is half assed about art should get out.” (Janet Fish).
My arses are the artefacts best feature.

Compiled and edited by Steve Gray © 2009+

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Artists market

Substation Artists Market
The Newport Substation
Held on the first Saturday of every month from 10.00am – 4.00pm

Showcasing works of art which are both unique and of the highest quality. The Substation Artists’ Market is about to explode onto the local art scene. 

With the potential to host up to 120 stalls in this iconic local building. The Substation is ideally situated to become the home of the next big artists market in the west. Artists will be exhibiting, demonstrating and discussing their work with the visiting public. 

For more details and stallholder applications visit 

Newport Vic… Near the Train Station.

Black Saturday – A Tale of Two Artists

Art provides us with many journeys, opportunities and challenges, however few would have been expecting the tragic situation which occurred in Victoria on Black Saturday and would be thinking of it as a driver or motivator for art works. Two Contemporary Australian Artists Ursula and Werner Theinert were caught in the fire and lived, and are now able to share their harrowing experience with us.

I am pleased to say they have seemingly come out with only a few “scars”, (For regular readers you will know Ursula as one of our interviewees and also her contribution of a story on her first solo exhibition.) Both Artists will be part of at least two exhibitions later in 2009 – 10, Regionalis and Fields of View, you can track those shows via each website over the coming months.

Now, their incredible the story…


ursula-at-callignee1  werner-at-callignee1

My name is Ursula Theinert and my husband Werner and I are artists who live in Callignee.  Callignee was one of the areas which suffered terribly in the Black Saturday Fires of 7th of February, 2009.

We stood and fought this dreadful fire and managed to save our home, though badly damaged, but lost our studio, workshop and garages and all that was stored within.  This meant of course all the tools and stored treasures, but most upsetting of all were the many paintings, etchings, sketches, photographs and sculptures and five years of art materials.

We love our little mud brick home way up in the hills south of Traralgon Victoria.  Our farmlet is surrounded by farms, quarries and plantations.  The area inspires our art and as Environmental Expressionists, we feel passionately about the environment and believe art is an important vehicle to encourage insights and discussions into the many complex issues which are confronting us all.  I mostly paint and Werner photographs.

As you can imagine we were deeply shocked by this frightening experience, but have managed to begin rebuilding our lives with the great help and support of many kind and generous people who have helped us emotionally, financially and psychologically deal with this trauma.

The sharing of this story is to help others understand the events of that day and even though we feel, and are incredibly lucky and fortunate to have survived it will also assist us in coming to terms with our experiences and loss.

Our day unfolded….. Everyone knows what a terribly hot day that Saturday was, and we were expecting Werner’s brother’s family from Tasmania and had the house in readiness for a fun weekend.  The temperature climbed and we asked  them  to stay in Melbourne because the heat was causing rail problems and there were dangerous fires in the Bunyip area (to the west).  Indeed, we were intently listening to the A.M. radio station 774, and watching the weather satellite and CFA websites because we were concerned for our friends near this ever growing fire.

Our hearts sank when we heard there was a new fire coming from Churchill and heading towards Mt. Tassie, which is only a few kilometres away from us.  When we heard there was a wind change coming, we knew we were in serious trouble.  We had always planned to stay and fight a fire, but we felt very tense and frightened when we realized all our fears were becoming a reality.  We silently went into setting our ‘Fire Plan’ into the final stages of readiness, preparing ourselves we started the pumps and began watering. 

The smoke turned the day into night and then we heard IT!!!  The sound of the fire approaching was like a 747 airliner coming into land.  The wind was gusting and we found it very hard to breathe.  We had torches in our pockets and had to use them because even though it was only about 5 o’clock, it became pitch black.  Well until we could see the glow off in the distance.  The power went off but we still had the petrol fire pump and kept on watering.  

Then we saw the glow grow brighter and started back towards the house.  The embers came for only a few minutes and then we had to make a desperate run for the house as the fire ball struck.  The flames were like a giant blow torch blowing past our house.  Embers came through the door gaps.  Smoke and flames crept into our study roof and we began the fight with wet towels and buckets.  We lost the fight at first with the smoke driving us out of the study.  We stood in the kitchen and witnessed the fire exploding all the surrounding trees.  Our workshop and studio and our neighbours house were all being devoured.  Night turned into a horrific searing daylight!

We were becoming quite frightened now, because the smoke was filling the house and it was too dangerous to go outside.  It was a dilemma, but we were choking and had to leave.  Luckily, we had a small alcove outside in our entrance area and it was that little space, which saved us during the continuing firestorm.

When the fire eased a little Werner ran to the fire pump, but it had been destroyed, as were all our fire hoses.  Our outside buckets had melted down to the water line, the bungalow was now on fire and the water inside the house and the bungalow could not be reached because of the acrid smoke.

We had felt again in terrible straits but then realized that our swim spa’s 6,00 litres of water was our only hope.  We gathered together some buckets and began the long and difficult task of putting out several fires with only the water from the spa.  We had many moments of fear that our efforts would fail because the fire was so stubborn and resisted our efforts.  We continued to bucket water and do continual checks around the house and bungalow until 3 a.m. we were physically and mentally exhausted! 

We will never forget watching the fires all around  in the early hours of Sunday, holding each other’s hands and realizing how lucky we were to have survived this harrowing  ‘Black Saturday’.

In the smoky dawn we saw the aftermath of that night and we fell into a kind of shock as our minds came to terms with this experience and the losses of most of our artwork, art materials and tools.


It takes quite some time to actually realize what has been lost and feel rather overwhelmed to think about beginning from scratch.  Of course, many things can be rebuilt and bought anew, but many other things cannot!

Werner was terribly upset because he was just about to retire and had been working extremely hard to prepare his workshop and finish all of the house projects.  He had lost his extensive collection of tools, and nearly all of his photographs. 

In the following weeks he had some good fortune and managed to retrieve his saved photographic files on his computer hard drive.  He was particularly fortunate because the fire had seriously damaged the study and destroyed all of his back-up drives.  It was a happy day when on newly bought computers he could save some of these files and have his photographs reprinted.

In the days following the fire good people overwhelmed us with their generosity and gave us the support and encouragement to start again.

We have rebuilt our garage and have begun gathering together tools to help us begin again.  Werner has reprinted most of his photographs, and we both have begun on a new series of work inspired by the devastation and regeneration of both nature and humankind.

Our artistic journey continues and has in some ways been strengthened by the Black Saturday Fires.  We were determined to carry on and exhibited in Art Melbourne in April.  I have completed my first painting after the fires called ‘Ashes to Ashes’, and I have just begun another painting.

Werner and I are only a small part of the whole of Victoria affected by the Black Saturday Fires.  We all felt under siege and suffered stresses and hardships, each to their own circumstances.  What was also shared was the bonding of that terrible summer and the soul searching caused by the events of that day.  Out of the darkness of the fires came the great spirit of the community and our country to help and heal each other.

The Black Saturday Fires were life changing events and Werner and I feel incredibly lucky and will never forget all the support and kindnesses, and will carry all of these incredible and touching experiences into our future.


Ursula Theinert 2009

Here is one of Ursula’s works, post Black Saturday called “Ashes to Ashes”.


Thanks Ursula, for the graphic account of a day many of us will struggle to forget, Steve Gray.

empty shop – space – gallery!

This is an interesting Visual Arts initiative… well worth a look

Artists & Makers


Great for places wanting to cut through the recession relics (empty shops!) and add cultural depth to the community.

The A5 show – “Right Here, Right Now…”



“Right Here, Right Now…” A show of contemporary art works created by you, and you! It’s easy, put your thinking caps on… consider the theme, “Right Here, Right Now…” It could mean so many things to so many people.

Here’s the page to view the works.


  1. Create a contemporary artwork (any medium) in an A5 size 148.5mm x 210 (half an A4).
  2. Scan it, digital photo etc. Make sure it’s a great quality jpg file please.
  3. Clearly label it, write a few lines to give us an idea of how you interpreted the theme, then Email it with the details, (Artist’s name, where from and medium, to )
  4. I will add it to a page of works people can view on line and you can link to.

Closing date: 23/5/09 Be quick!

Conditions of entry: 

Kerrie and Angela were first up. Thanks!

Hey I like the idea of online exhibitions,  you can write it up on your CV when you have contributed… Why not? So help me out here, and give me some ideas for a theme or three we can use. Jot it in a comment and I will put the ideas together and see what happens next.

New Art Space

Michael Despott has run and managed a previous art-space and numerous other art related projects. His Latest project in Launceston Tasmania will provide artist in residency spaces.He is interested in shaping the facility around the needs of others and their input, etc.

In a nutshell, it will be like a little home away from home for artists, somewhat of a little sanctuary, where Artists can hang out, make create and exchange ideas… emphasis on a working space though, mentoring, and producing work… Awaiting photo’s etc to explore the space and the concept a bit more.

We wish him well, for info on residencies etc, contact Michael on michaeldespott – at –

I want a volunteer or three…

No not a volunteer from the audience, this is not a comedy or magical act (although some of you might think otherwise :))

I want a few people to find Contemporary Artists and send them an email on behalf of this site. Perhaps your an Art Student, or a person with an interest in the Visual Arts… Either way I would require someone to source suitable artists and simply email them to check out their interest in being interviewed (I supply the text and you would simply cut and paste it…)

It will take some time (heck you could do 1/2 an hour every other week and get results). I have been doing it myself but run out of time to chase more.

Think about it, take a look at some of the artists interviewed thus far and let me know if you are interested. 🙂 The artists can be from any country, (they need to handle english and their web site the same please, it’s just easier.)

ALSO! I want a person who writes about contemporary Visual Arts who wants to see their articles show up in here.