Art in the community – St Michaels Arch Angel award

Now in it’s third year the St Michaels Arch Angel Visual Art Award is a great way to connect the community to a school.  Although I have seen similar attempts in the past by other schools to connect via  the Visual Arts to the wider community, the team at St Michaels are to be solidly commended for their sterling efforts here, and the fact it has lasted 3 years (and looks like continuing) is fantastic.

Out of a wide range of Contemporary Visual Art works, the team selected 36 pieces to be represented in the Wilma Hannah gallery area.

The aim is to provide their Students with access to high calibre Contemporary works and give the Artists incentive to show works and be in the running for the prizes – the $5,000 acquisitive Arch Angel prize and the Students Choice award.

The main prize was awarded to Lesley Melody for her Painting Lunar Australis with the Students Choice award Going to  Brendon Taylor for his sculpture Memory Lane.

Hopefully we will see many more Archangel Awards presented by St Michaels, giving both students, the wider community and Visual Artists to opportunity to connect. A great example of this was seen as an eager group of Yr 12 Students chatted with Contemporary Visual Artist Bren Taylor about his winning work, followed by many people at the opening taking the rare opportunity to also chat to the Artist Directly.


Brendon Taylors “Memory Lane – Detail

Perhaps next time they will extend the viewing times to cover a longer period, as they have a great starting point to work from and could offer Parents, their Children and the wider community more opportunities to connect with Victoria’s lively Visual Art community.

St Michael’s Exhibition and Archangel Prize
Wilma Hannah Hall, St Michael’s Grammar School
16 Crimea Street, St Kilda

Exhibition hours:
Wednesday 20 July – Friday 22 July, 10am – 4pm
Saturday 23 July, 10am – 1pm.

How have you used them?

People tell me from time to time they have liked the sites (this one and the one… see the testimonials) and occasionally people have told me how they have used them.

Most say there are interviews in here which are inspirational to read and then explore the work of that artist, some who are Art Teachers have mentioned they invite their students to explore the ideas, techniques and creativity boosters especially if they are stuck for ideas.

I spend time wondering about how things are used in here too…. So in the comments I would love to hear what you thought, think etc about the sites and how you use them.

In the mean time here are some of the ways people have used the information.

So, what about  you?

Me – Studio sort time….

I had the chance to do some sorting in the studio, major work has come to a halt post Regionalis exhibition, but some drawings and other media on paper are wanting to emerge. Those familiar with my Harm series will note the cutout effect I used for the text I want to use with symbols etc in future works, should lead to some interesting outcomes… But I digress.

Sorting the studio, ok it’s a garage, but the time had come and so I spent a chunk of time sorting the bits and pieces out… my other work and its various equipment is now vying for some serious space takeover options. Not good but hey it pays the bills!

I wonder how many other artists have to juggle their space with about four other sets of items jammed in their? Things of mine, my works, my equipment and my wife’s bits and pieces, the list is growing!

Sorting should give me the impetus to do the works on paper… draw paint, make it all happen, and save some storage space too!


Steve Gray

Bud Tingwell a tribute.

Iconic Australian Actor Bud Tingwell passed away in May 2009, many of you will know Peter Biram painted his portrait for the Archibald Prize this year and wrote about it exclusively right here. It’s fitting I give Peter a chance to say a few words in his memory.

Remembering my mate Bud

When I heard of Bud’s passing I was greatly saddened, the magic about Bud, was he made everyone feel so welcome and special. He made me feel like I’d known him for a very long time. I feel sadness at his loss because of the things, which could have been.

There has been renewed interest in the painting, and it will be in the Victorian Salon De Refuses (for Victorian Artists works which did not make it into the Archibald prize final selection.) Which will be at the Smart artZ Gallery, 2 Alfred Place, South Melbourne, June 17 – July 12.

Peter Biram with Bud and the portrait.


Here is another link to more info.

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.


If you are new to the site, a hearty welcome, I recently I sent out a heap of info sheets to Secondary and TAFE Visual Art Teachers…. I hope you enjoy the contents as much as I have in putting all this together.

On the right are a range of links and menu options. There is a teachers guide to using the site, links to many Visual Artists web sites I have interviewed and other art resources… Then in the categories you will find Artist interviews and a whole lot more.

If you want to browse the tons of information on offer, simply scroll down the main page and then onto the pages which follow.

Subscribe!!! As I add resources here, you would want to know about it yeah? Well you can get email notification each time I add an article so you can be on top of the art education game. The link to sign up is on the right too.

Also check out our sister site with lots of creativity boosters and other Visual Art info.

Want to say hi… Then drop me an email, I am always on the lookout for new ideas and options to enhance Visual Art Education.


Steve Gray

New photo’s April 09

I’ve added some new photo’s to my website, you can check them out at  click on the album button bottom left of the image area. Here’s a sample.


Art 09 Melbourne

Went, saw got caught up in the masses looking at masses of “art” oh yes there was some, but in amongst the decorator pieces… still lots sold and lots of discussion took place.

I came across a bunch of “emerging artists” in a section at the show, wow some great stuff (and here’s the rub!) lots of business cards with websites, I grab the ones that interested me for later contact… I go to the sites one by one, a number NOT working or STILL IN DEVELOPMENT… Oopsy! I want to see more I go and it “ain’t there” not good.

I have however contacted a bunch for interviews so I hope to see those really soon.

Such is the pace of “Modern technology” I could have looked them up on the iphone live at the opening and ditched the broken ones there and then… instead I did it this morning.

Of note:

Theinert Gallery – Pete Biram – Leonie Ryan, Werner and Ursula Theinert – First go for the new Gallery in Gippsland.

KW Abstract Art – Kerrie Warren and Dragi Jankovic – Dragi’s ceramic work is beautiful… website coming soon he says.

Metropolis Gallery Geelong – Hey I have to send a shout out for my local gallery.

And Emma Hack from Adelaide who painted wall paper and a lady to make the show a real show stopper for the media the Sunrise team was there to film her in the morning, heck she was up at 3am to get ready for a 7am shoot!

Subscribe! and know it all… WHEN it happens.

Have you missed out on a post in the blog here? Want to know about things WHEN they happen and not weeks or days later when you browse your favourite sites…

It’s simple, check out the subscribe button over in the RIGHT hand menu. IF you use RSS you can get it there, or personally I like the email subscription service. Sign up and you will get the articles in your email. You no longer need to miss a thing. 🙂

Environmental Expressionism

A term used by some artists to indicate a link to the environment and expressionistic techniques…

Oh come on, you let me know (in the comments section) if this is a really valid art “ism” or merely a chance to “cash in” some how on a term or two…

Hey I am one, but I figure so many artists are… Fred Williams… how could he not be?

I figure there is some discussion to happen here… Check their site, their info and ideas and comment away.

What if…

what-if-thinking this is a post for all those wonderful souls who went to Trampoline Melbourne and saw my presentation. Enjoy! Oh you didn’t go? Well  you can have a read if you want, any questions, just ask! 🙂


Murray Fredericks SALT an exhibition of photographs – large scale, strong intent, subtle tones… these works grab you , not because of the subject matter (simple landscapes of salt pans etc) but more due to their scale and the high technical quality of the images, simply alluring.


On until the 28th Feb 09

check out the website for a real visual feast… like this…


Time to say a few words

Dear Visual Arts people… (That means you!) In doing research on the Arts, websites, Artists and various other resources. I have come to the conclusion things are not as easy or simple as they seem.

Lets look at it this way, I have tried (and very carefully thought about) how I would set up my sites so the user could get the info they wanted in what I hope is reasonably effective ways. However in flipping about websites and searching, I find others seem to not have the same thought in mind with their sites.

Now I ask, what’s going on here, wouldn’t you want people to find your site or information on you (Artists especially) easily, and then be able to navigate it readily… Ok some are clearly not “offay” with the idea of being found, in fact many seem to want to bury themselves so deep no one can find them or their works.

Some sites have minimal contact details, some have an email login system that does not work “Type in the security code…” When that does not work, what then? (Simple I give up and go elsewhere…)

Many of the artists I have contacted regarding an interview are ones with websites, (I want to be able to send people somewhere and not just a gallery that represents the artist.) and what do I find, many don’t have one, but the USA artists (many with multiple gallery representation) have them, so guess what, they get contacted. and hey most are very accepting of my approach. On the other hand some of the Aussie artists seem somehow “Non-plussed” by the idea and don’t jump on the idea.

Commercial websites for various art organisations I have looked at, some of them have been woeful in being able to navigate and figure out their forums, send them info on linking to us etc…

In short in these times of “let’s be user friendly” I am left to wonder about the state of play…

Artists, get a web site, and make it simple, sharp and to the point, I want to see your work and find out what’s up.

Galleries, thanks to those that make it easy to get in contact with their artists, you are a blessing.

Art resource sites, please, if you offer contact details for an artist via a link, don’t give me an error page saying I need to be a member… I just take the artists name and google them directly so thanks for the barrier… (What were they thinking?) And while I’m at it, organisations handling taxpayer funded $$, cut the fat and the crap and give the money to artists in easily accessible ways, your admin costs are funds that could make a world of difference, instead the barriers and hassles in making application for funds are simply to hard to bother with (go check out some art forums to validate that!).

It comes down to good old customer service folks, sometimes you don’t know what the customer wants, how they want it and what they will do next… end of story.

Interesting resources

I came across a couple of resources which may be of value, can anyone tell me if they are? esp if you are a member…

I found things a little difficult to navigate but the potential seems to be there.

Ok when I sign up to something I expect it to be useable, hell I am reasonably web savvy… So when I get lost in a site trying to figure things out surely others might too, is that good? short answer… no.

Sculptural intent

The guys over at Post Industrial Design have launched their website. It’s great to have a sculptural focus in amongst all our 2D works. If you like quirky steel and other constructions that really are Post Industrial you will find great value in checking out Jos Van Hulsen’s works.

Art Can…

“Soothe the soul • be awe inspiring • relax us • aggravate • communicate • annoy • colour our world • build skills • raise awareness • form ideas • scintillate • shock • inform • make us laugh • show a way forward • tell us about history • imitate nature • give us an outlet • fill a space • cause dissent • create unrest • make us think • create miracles • inform us • teach us • lead us • create passion • build character • be three dimensional • tell stories • build esteem • give us culture • alter our environment • keep us human • infuriate • give us a place to hide • show us how to explore • build our vocabulary • hold us back • light new paths forward • ease our pain • show others our thinking • make the dark light • make the light dark • increase our knowledge • hold us true to ourselves • influence our thinking • manipulate our feelings • teach us about others • show us other views • give us energy • cause us to explore • show us new worlds • cause us to be introspective • make us extroverted • cause interest • build wealth • health • strength • make us sing • cause us to rejoice • mislead us • take us anywhere • drain us • be unconscious • make us incompetent or competent • illustrate • paint • give form • cause us to write • be two dimensional •  massage the mind • brighten the world • make money • build metaphors • break down barriers • build bridges to new experiences • persuade  • liberate • be useful • fascinate…”

Are there more? Of course! Drop a few suggestions into the comments box, take the link below.

Artist Web Sites… 8 Things to consider.

In putting together this Blog site I have looked at probably 50 – 100 sites now, some for art galleries and some for “artists” from the high end contemporary ones to leisure painters and lots in between.

After looking at so many I have come to the crashing reality that my own site is not all it can be (a few more tweaks yet!) however I have found there are MANY sites that are a down right pain in the butt to look at! Simply put they have a few things that annoy the daylights out of me… In this list I highlight a few and give a few pointers you might like to consider yourself.

  1. Splash pages – Don’t waste my time, get me to the site, and give me a good dose of your best when I get there! What’s a splash page? Well it’s like in a  book when you open it up and get the title page, not yet to the text and so you have to flip another page to get started… Usually it says “Click here to enter…”
  2. Flash sites – If your web dude says “We’ll do it in FLASH!” you might think it sounds great but folks unfortunately its not overly useful for search engines to find them (not enough text usually) and they can take a while to load… (anything over a few seconds and I am out of there!) Sure your web dude will show  you some snappy creative bits but hey that’s not always useful for the end user to find and use your site.
  3. Dud’s – You see the small pic, “Click here to enlarge” so you do… “Error image not found” ARRRGH! not good guys, check your site is operational, or if an image has been taken off, take off the link to it. Do this regularly even if you have not added things to it, and don’t think for a minute that your web dude (or dudette) will do it for you.
  4. Failure to make it useful – Do some research on artists websites and see what the “big guys” are doing, Art Galleries for instance are acutely aware (or they should be) of how to market to the end user, and the good sites seem to belong to the good galleries. The same with artists, think big time artists (cutting edge, avant garde, contemporary, edgey, street wise) you can find them via edgey art – culture – type magazines on the web that have a link to the artists site if they have reviewed them. VERY USEFUL, some of the ones overseas are really up there and happening in relation to the latest technology, design and making a decent impact, yet your “web dude” may not know about them. Heck find one or three and show the web guy what sort of look you want and utilise the research others have done.
  5. Blog – This is all about keeping connected to the end user, the buyers, the galleries, the patrons of the arts, students, teachers you name it. Many of the sites I have seen recently have either failed to keep their blog active (if they have one) or have put lame entries about some kids birthday party they went to… That might be fine for Twitter, or a forum, but not so big for your blog. A blog can also show a work in progress, which can be a fabulous way to engage a possible patron.
  6. Fast loading pics – I get there, I want to see it and I want to see it now, not in five minutes time. Have the site checked by people on a range of computers with varying download speeds, from dial up to high speed broadband. Then make sure the images load fast on all of them.
  7. Know your aim – Is the site for selling, your ego, keeping people informed, making comments about the world around you? Know the aim and set your site up to do one of these well (the other things can be a side consequence).
  8. Get subscribers and do the math – My web guy did this early on for my blog, and I can (some how) check to see how many people are following my blog. It lets people know when I have posted a new article or interview on the site. Also have intstalled Google Analytics and know your stats, the best site in the world with only two people looking at it in the last 6 months is not useful, in fact it’s a waste of money. It’s one thing to be able to be seen 24/7/365 but another thing entirely to be found and regularly checked out. If you are not getting visitors, put your marketing hat on and figure out how to inspire people to go to your site. Being active in Vis Art forums and having links to your site from there is one way, look also at social networking sites…

So make it easy on the viewer and easy on yourself. If you are aiming to sell your work, the end user will want to be able to to connect with your site fast, get a look at what’s going on and go from there.

Art Supplies…

As art stores go I am attracted to a few, and the reasons are fairly stand out. Locally Frame Factory (Jenny and John) are always able to handle my framing and bits and pieces fairly well, a bit of a chat, a wander about picking up bits and pieces and I’m off. Parking can be tricky at times as they are on a corner… but hey that’s life. On a bigger scale though Neils Printmaking Supplies in Brunswick (don’t let the name fool you!) has all the quirkiness you could want from an art supply store and good prices to boot on most things.

While in Melbourne, St Lukes Artists Colurmen 32 Smith St Collingwood are up for a chat (check out their KHADI paper! made in India by a few hippies! and their Golden Acrylics, the BEST acrylics under the sun.) it’s like entering an olde worlde apothecary without the old worlde bit jars of raw ingredients etc set off the theme.

It all comes down to service, quality and value, but the big thing for me is the friendliness, heck some of what I buy is tre’hexpensieve anywho… so the friendly chat pushes me over the edge just a tad… They don’t know me from a bar of soap or if I am a big timer or a no timer… so that’s great same service no matter how big I’m not.

Artists and business…

“Many artists enter the ‘real’ world with little to no idea of how to build a practice which can sustain them. So they eke out a living in low-paying jobs while creating art part time. Unsurprisingly, many become demoralised and give up art.” Jane Hayley

Well Jane when I went to art school there were no “jobs” mentioned, promised or otherwise (thoughts of maybe a Sales Assistant in an art shop, a curator, or an Art Teacher bounced around in my head, the latter causing me various ‘conniptions’ at the time…) Oh and what about graphic and multimedia arts, oh they have a separate course for that… The brochure that rambled on about the “Diploma of Visual Arts” talked about expression, exploring, creating, developing… but jobs… nah.. not a skerrick of that. Nor did it mention the idea of a “business” and being self employed and the various ramifications of that. I was lucky and landed a technical assistants role in the print department of the uni I studied at, but that was a go no where role, four years later I was bored out of my nut and went on to another technical role… non art related.

So whats the value of visual arts in career terms? Should it be hailed as purely a device for those “tortured souls” that want to tread the “self discovery” path, or for those few that have the “ability” to get through to the galleries, get a show, and entertain the collectors with articulate intellect and lure them into a spending frenzy, being touted as the next “big thing”? Sure there’s more to a “Career in Art” than self discovery for example the fact you can go into another career and utilise your creative skills, show me  career that values and fully implements the sort of creativity and innovative approach an “artist” can give and I’ll gladly sign up, the fact is most careers along these lines end up being nothing more than an ideal wrapped up in a notion of “a better workplace due to the integration of various intelligencies and creative approaches”, while in reality the HR person that thought that up has since been shafted due to economic rationalistic notions of make money have fun.

So Jane, it’s easy to see that artists can fall for the notion that a “Certificate in Art” is somehow useful and become disillusioned when the “paper” promised so much, but delivered so little. In the race for funding $$ I don’t blame the educators for putting their “spin” on the arts, but somehow the way the Visual Arts is “sold” to students falls short, something must be done to stop the waste, and the demoralization of folks that tread the path of righteousness. Perhaps this is a duty of care issue and the brochures on these courses should come with a stand out disclaimer of some kind…

So many have so much faith, yet over time the faith wears thin and the strength to tackle, create, explore, develop and make anew, fades into insignificance, so much so that the years of study and the investment of time and $$ leave little but battle scars and a sense of worthlessness, as if duped by an investment scam and feeling ones life savings have vanished and never to be retrieved.

Do artists feel dissillusioned by the fact they have a room or three full of “art” that gets them a piece of paper with the illusion of some vague promise… they sure do Jane, they sure do…

Artist sells for millions – Damien Hirst

The news media is all over this guy (English Artist Damien Hirst) and the ongoing success with his work.

If he is making this sort of money I think I’ll become an artist! (Oh I already am…? darn what went wrong?)

It raises the BIG question, what makes an artist successful?

Hi everyone and welcome!

Here it is, my art blog…

Firstly, book mark or RSS feed the blog, so you can come back to it. Then check out what’s here in the categories. Take a good look and email me if there are any things there you can assist me with!

So it’s new, it’s fresh and with any luck it will be hugely valuable to a LOT of people in the visual arts.

Enjoy folks!

Steve Gray

Sculpture prize not given…

The Age Sept 16… Richest Sculpture Prize Scrapped…

Judges decree the Lempriere sculpture prize entries were not good enough to make the award this year.

I guess the big issue about this could be that the entries this year were by invitation only, and in the past it was open slather for sculptors to apply. Perhaps someone felt the invitation only (by a panel of experts in the field) would probably cut down on the work involved in choosing works.

In the end the only winners are the organisers, that save the cash for next time and have kept their workload to a minimum. The sculptors on the other hand have wait and see what happens and will they be “Up To Standard” next time?

Fallen Angel – Brendon Taylor

(Not an actual entry in the scuplture prize but a nice sculpture just the same!)

The Art – Business Conundrum

Here is a link to a bunch of PDF files (resources) artists can use to assist their businesses, this is from the people at the Australian Business Arts Foundation, seems great to me, (the concept anyway, the files I have not looked a yet.) however there is a challenge I have with this, let me explore it.

Artists are artists, not business people (Okay there are a few, but let me tell you I think there are VERY few). I recall watching a documentary on a New York Gallery owner that prepped artists so that when she took collectors and investors to their studio, they would “act” like artists… she would call first on the phone, arrive with viewers in tow, and they would be “pre set eccentric” and acted as “artists” should, creative and unusual. In her terms the artists she represented were often introverted, low sales skill oriented and so needed to be represented by a person with the business skills to present them in their best light. Sales went up as a result, happier artists, happy collectors and investors, and of course the gallery Director.

Artists are creative souls and as mentioned I believe few have (or want to have) the skills to “sell” and all of the files mentioned above are about presenting and documenting your work, maintining a client database, getting shows in galleries (I should read that one…)

In simlistic terms the personality type required to be a business person is clearly different from the “type” required to be an artist.

Perhaps there should be a “scoop” at the end of “art school” to pick up the “artists” and provide them with a business resource support device (read business incubator with mentors and $$) to ensure they have the business “representation” they require, as many will fall out of the “tree of life” having to adapt from an artistic stance to a business based one. Perhaps we should just give them wings or a parachute to soften the blow of the fall…