Tuesday, January 03, 2023


 Not everyone wants to be on Instagram. But I post a lot of photos there of my travels (which are 98% on foot just around Hobart). And a few tiny drawings and paintings of similar landscapes. Here’s the last few months as teeny thumbnails. You can find me there @4boat4boat.

Tuesday, December 27, 2022

Final thoughts on the World Cup Final

I haven't watched it and maybe never will. I did watch highlights of the Argentina v Netherlands quarter final. It was a pulsating game full of incident and spite, but one thing will rankle with me forever (over and above my general Qatar ranklement). 

The world’s greatest player, Leo Messi, handballed deliberately in clear sight of the referee and did not get a yellow card.

He later did get a yellow, which if it had been his 2nd would have seen him sent off and miss next game. Argentina went on to win the game, putting them into a semi against Croatia which they won, thanks enormously to the not-suspended Messi.

On the other side of the draw, the heir to Messi's crown, Kylian Mbappe of France, helped his side beat Morocco in the other semi to set up a dream final, Argentina v France.

The evidence of my eyes, and the deeply contrived nature of this whole World Cup convinces me that referees were instructed to miss anything that might bring about suspensions to the superstars. I believe that the Qatar WC committee did what they needed to do to engineer the ideal final.

And – the final which played out has been described as the greatest final ever, maybe the greatest match ever. I have read a match report, it was certainly a ding dong battle. Played in a stadium that owes its existence to cheating and human rights abuses. 

This is probably the biggest win ever for sportswashing and a huge incentive to others with the cash to do the same. For me it's a dark day and another nail in the coffin of my love for international football and sport generally.

Wednesday, December 14, 2022

AITA on Facebook?

There’s a popular website called Am I The Asshole where people relate stories from their life to establish who, in the story, is the asshole. Invariably the teller of the story does not think they are the asshole but is open to the possibility that maybe they are, after all.

Now I am wondering AITA on Facebook. I have an account, I have Facebook Friends but I rarely read and even more rarely comment on what everyone is doing. My main purpose is checking to see if Sunday's kickabout in the park is on and confirming I'll be there.

To everyone that I have worked with, shared rentals with, and been to school with that’s on Facebook but who I am not in touch with – I hope everyone is doing well. We’re all pretty much in our fifties or older now and our parents are getting old and frail; our kids are getting their licences and moving out of home; our cats and dogs are reaching their natural life spans and leaving us completely legless with grief without their unconditional love.

Weirdly, I am happy to write about this stuff here. I'm happy to make a pissweak passing joke about it on Twitter to an audience of strangers, who have become friends over my 12-or-so years on there. But I just don’t have any urge at all to share it on Facebook. Am I The Asshole? I don't know.

2023 marks 40 years since my cohort finished high school. There’s a reunion but I don't have any real wish to be back there. High school was pretty horrible at times; although I found some amazing friends, and we have walked alongside one another ever since.

This is my Grade 7 soccer team from 1980. I remember the names of all these guys. If I bumped into any of them I’d drop what I was doing to spend time with them, and I'd help them out if they needed help. But there is no way I am walking into a room full of 90 people from high school 40 years ago.

And no, I don't know why the soccer team posed with a volleyball.

Friday, December 02, 2022

World Cup Boycott Exemption

I decided a few years ago I would have to boycott the 2022 football World Cup in Qatar. For all the reasons that are quite well-known. My main reason is that it was awarded fraudulently to a nation completely unsuited to hosting the event that was put out to tender. And all the other scandals, injuries and deaths that followed flow from that. 

Once awarded the summer World Cup, Qatar said "oh it will be too hot so we'll do it in winter" and FIFA said oh sure, we'll just get every league in the world to have a massive mid season break. So Qatar imported thousands of guest workers to build eight stadiums in their small country.

My boycott has been pretty hard, especially missing Australia's games - they have won two out of three (I expected one draw at best). I'm avoiding the football podcasts I would usually listen to, not reading about it; just denying FIFA my eyes and ears as much as I can.

Does this do anyone any good? It's just a line in the sand for myself really. The absence of this massive quadrennial event in my personal memory will be a reminder of what is important to me. Football has been very important since I started playing as a kid but integrity and human rights have to come before football. That's my personal standard and I do not mean to impose it on anyone else.

But – I have been imposing it on my family. Marcus is going away in March, and chances to do things together are precious. He has been watching Australia's games on his own; and now we have our biggest match since 2006 he wants to watch it with me. He went off and did some research on who is doing good work on human rights in the Middle East, and he suggested we both donate to Amnesty International, then watch the game.

So that's it, for as long as Australia continue in the World Cup I will be treating it as pay-per-view. We play Argentina on Sunday morning our time – go Socceroos!

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

Boa Vista Road

This is Boa Vista Road in New Town, five minutes drive from the centre of town. 

I catch a bus up this way in my lunch hour sometimes and walk back into the city. The bushy hill is the Queens Domain. This road corkscrews up, over, down and around to the right to meet Park Street. A few metres beyond Park Street is the busy Brooker Highway. Then above that Cleary's Gates Road runs through the bush (lined with parked commuter cars). And even further up the hill is the jogging loop track.

I like doing these urban landscapes and like most artists I shuffle the cars out of the scene because they spoil it. 

I took these progress pics as I went. The red and blue one is the source for the animation below.

In the finished painting above, an old homestead snoozes in a quiet street with apparently untouched bush in the background - a total lie! I like an uncluttered landscape. But at the same time I really love the way the movement of a car across the surface of the earth can highlight the topography. 

I don't know where I am quite going with these experiments. This may just be too noisy with too much squiggle. My boss years ago said one project coming up "might suit your 'crappy style'" and I've always thought fondly of that. At least I have a style.

Cement mixer on an overpass, 1991

 When I lived in Melbourne in 1990-91 I went out to Sale on the train to visit my friends Phillip and Andrea. It was about a three-hour trip. I must have been in a particularly visually suggestive mood because I saw two things that have stuck with me.

One was Loy Yang power station. I had it etched on my brain afterwards. I cranked out a series of drawings and paintings and eventually had an exhibition in 1996 of variations on the theme of a simple scene: land, sky, monolith with lit windows, and four chimneys belching steam. (It wasn’t etched in my brain very accurately because Loy Yang does not have four chimneys).

I can safely say I've got that image out of my system now. The other thing I saw was a cement mixer approaching the train line on an overpass. Its barrel was revolving as it drove along. As my carriage went under the overpass, the cement mixer passed overhead. That’s it. But … it was beautiful. It was like ballet.

I don’t have any interest in making narrative film but I have a real itch to film and animate scenes like this. It has only just occurred to me that I can literally Blutak my phone to the car window and capture reasonably smooth and useable footage for projects like this.

In 1998 I had a second exhibition of drawings and two short film clips. I shot this footage with a borrowed video camera riding in a car with Mum (North West) and in the tray of Nick’s ute (North Hobart). It's painful to recall how ignorant I was and so how work-intensive my methods were.

I feel ready to throw myself into some new experiments in movement.

Friday, November 11, 2022

After Twitter

I spend a lot of time on Twitter; I post maybe 5 times a day on average. Just little observations in the main. I don't know how many followers I have, but I have good friends I met there and in most cases have never met in real life. The ones I have met; Josh and Sean and John and Craig and Dugald and Andy and Andy and Cheryl and Sue and Christine and Belinda and John and Dave and very briefly Ryan – all lovely people. All add value and meaning to my day.

It's a last day of Grade 12 vibe in there at the moment as everyone exchanges addresses, and we’re nervous and excited and sad. Elon Musk has purchased Twitter and rapidly driven it out into a paddock where it’s got four flats, smoke coming from the engine and the diff ripped out on a tree stump. Who saw that coming?! [Everyone].

The good thing if Twitter dies is I will maybe spend more time here expanding thoughts into larger forms and getting more practice actually communicating an idea in writing. The bad thing is communities will fracture, many people and groups and organisations and movements will lose their main or only voice.

Australia's soft plastics recycling industry has just gone public with the fact that they stopped recycling 6 to 9 months ago and have just stockpiled every bread bag I have given them since. This is dreadful news but it has also made me look at yesterday-me from before the news broke and say to him "oh you thought it was that easy eh? Buying everything in plastic is fine because the recycling fairies will turn it into park benches for old fellows to sit and play chess".

Similarly this rapid disintegration of something I had come to rely on too much for news, friendship, ideas and novelties has got me thinking "Oh you thought it was that easy eh? One website for touching farewells to beloved pets and news snark? And interacting with your favourite musos? And jokes?

A lot of us are going to have to work a lot harder to stay connected, stay informed, stay amused. But hard work is good, right? And Elon Musk, who in many ways is a world-historical idiot, is down $44 billion. Worse things happen.

Monday, October 31, 2022

A couple more paintings/drawings

So I am continuing to bang out these very small drawings and paintings. I have finally reached a lull in the freelance work (that has been a surprisingly big thing in the last 6 months). So the time is there, and the motivation(s).
  1. Gifts for friends. I can slot these into the little 7cm square books I found at Artery, with some ephemera and nonsense.
  2. Instagram. I think some of these are nice and they tie in (and are often based on) the photos I post all the time of landscapes and buildings and weird corners. And I love to have a nice Instagram profile to scroll back through but I also enjoy the positive comments which are nice without being too gushy. I don't think I'd ever make a thing of posting art on Twitter or Facebook – which are places for arguing (T) and getting rid of furniture (F).
  3. It just feels good to be making art, and this is low-stress, low-cost and very portable. Work is quiet at the moment and because the whole kit takes up hardly any space I can easily squeeze in a bit of a paint at my desk. Living the dream! 
I am trying not to second-guess the whole posting-to-Insta-and-enjoying-approval thing. Whatever gets you making art is good, right?

The wide paintings below are about 130mm x 65mm, designed to be cut in half* or folded and slotted into the little square scrapbooks.

Bowen Rd, Lutana and Mt Direction

Opposite All Saints, South Hobart

Liverpool Street, West Hobart

T&G and SBT buildings from Trafalgar car park

*I can't really imagine now cutting them in half

A nice things about the tiny scale is when you scan/photograph the work and look up close it paradoxically seems quite loose and free, thanks to my shaky hands and being out of practice.

Bagpipers in the precious sunshine

 It's been raining cats and dogs in Hobart, as it has been up and down the east coast of Australia. We have been spared the serious flooding that has occurred in northern Tasmania and in other states - but the Hobart Rivulet near our house has been a mighty brown torrent.

Yesterday was Sunday, and appropriately the sun came out for the first time in a week. I genuinely didn't know what to do. There were various house things that needed doing, washing to get on the line etc. But maybe I wanted to read a book in the sun? Then there were a couple of DIY things to sort out. I actually got myself into an anxious state, upset with myself that I didn't have a plan in place to make best use of the sunshine. 

It seems ridiculous, but I confessed it to a workmate this morning and she said she had felt the same. The rain is coming back for the rest of this week, and we both felt "oh no, I have a small window of precious sunshine and I MUST NOT WASTE IT". That anxiety is ridiculous but when you are in it it's very real.

In the end I went off to Bunnings Hardware. When in doubt, just pretending to be a normal Australian man for a while is not a bad strategy. On the way I went past the soccer fields which are not in use now it's spring, and two bagpipers in plain clothes were bang in the middle playing at top volume. I think that was when I started feeling better. I bought some timber and drain plugs and solar lights and non-slip stuff and solvent and had a sausage and onion in bread.

I also had a walk in the sun around the old Showgrounds behind Bunnings, which is a very odd place indeed these days.

I got home, made an extension to the front yard handrail and put non-slip strips on the steps. Then I sat down to watch the Richmond women's team qualify for their first finals series with a thrilling draw. And I am back on the rails.

The floodlights for the Showgrounds' greyhound track

Last time I sat here was to watch diving pigs in 2011