Al Mutanabbi St

September 28th, 2012

In 2010 I began making an artist’s book forĀ An Inventory Of Al-Mutanabbi Street.

I don’t think we need books that are about war and peace in a general way, we need books that say to people Come And See what happened here…How do you create a book that is a lament and a celebration of the idea of books, at the same time? How do you take what is essentially a personal and interior art and use it to make a social statement in very public venues?

Beau Beausoleil, 2011

Progress was slow because I wanted to make a pop-up book. A joyous explosion of paper flowers. A new beginning. Many, many exercises in paper engineering later – I realised I had it all wrong.

Art-making is personal. It is as much about the state of mind of the artist as the physical thing being made. I began this project seeing the potential for a fresh beginning, like flowers blooming after a drought. Then, autoimmune, my body began to attack itself. I looked the same on the outside but my mind became a dark place. In 2011 I stopped, thought again and started over.

My Altered book for Al Mutanabbi St is about the emptiness of destruction and the inner void of depression. It is about not judging a book by its cover.


Altered book for Al Mutanabbi St
23cm x 15cm x 4.5cm
Book, bookboard and cloth with acrylic paint

Altered book for Al Mutanabbi St

Altered book for Al Mutanabbi St

Altered book for Al Mutanabbi St

Altered book for Al Mutanabbi St


Once upon a time…

March 6th, 2011

Another short animation – this one just 36 seconds long but 100+ hours in the making. Seriously. I’m still plodding on with my Curtin BA (Fine Art) majoring in sculpture but squeezing in a bit of film whenever I think I can get away with it… The brief for this project was, in fact, stop motion animation so no squeezing required. Ahhh I’m my comfort zone. Unfortunately not. The difficulties were that it be around 30 seconds long and use really cruddy software… something that any student might have access to. I used Windows Movie Maker because if you have Windows – you have MM. It was a horror – regularly locking up and losing my work and only one “layer” each for audio and video. An NLE it ain’t! Fair enough – its not the software that makes the film – it simply makes it more or less difficult than it need be. What this meant in practical terms was a series of photos… no green screen, no layering, and no special effects.

Animation set up

To make it more interesting to make I tackled it as a “flat” animation rather than puppet and set (because I’d just finished my part of Hollow City Chronicles and wanted to try something completely different). I also wanted the ability to move the background as well as the “puppets” – which were in fact cut up photos – lots and lots of cut up photos…The solution was to break up an old a set of home-made shelves – replacing the timber with the pieces of glass I use when while raising seedlings. (Just borrowed them – no seedlings at this time of year here!) The camera was on the tripod which was gaffa taped to the top so it could look down through the glass. I used the EOS software that comes with the Canon 450D to remote control the camera.

Animation photos

This style of animation is “replacement animation” the image pieces themselves have no flexibility so to change them they have to be replaced with a new piece – very carefully, in the right spot, over and over again to get the effect of movement. Lots of fun but slow.

The other challenge with this was to create some sort of narrative in around 30 seconds. The end result is a mixed up fairy tale – which depends on the viewer recognising Red Riding Hood, Goldilocks (who doesn’t even appear), Snow White and the three bears. You are left to decide for yourself who or what is for lunch at the Teddy Bears Picnic. Its all a bit dark.

The bottom line is that forests are dangerous places. And bears are not to be trusted…

Making of… : Part 2

February 12th, 2011

As promised: part 2 of the making of The Bystander Effect (a short film which was part of the Hollow City Chronicles).

The set for the animation was intended as a sculpture rather than a set. The decision to use it for a film came later.

Making of

The puppet was made using the ever-popular wire and cushion foam technology. (Nick Hilligoss has a fantastic series of how-to’s on Picturetrail) The puppet, then, was too big for the set (and couldn’t, workably, be much smaller with that method of construction) so she was filmed against a green backdrop – made by painting some cheap canvases and a piece of 3mm MDF.

Making of

The canvases stand up with the aid of small clamps.

Making of

While the puppet stands up with help from a magnet – a small but powerful rare-earth one from an electronics store.

Making of

The series of photos were then fed into Cinegobs a wonderful freeware utility which removes the green and spits out an AVI file ready for editing with an NLE such as Adobe Premiere. (Yes, Premiere does do chroma keying but, strangely, not as well as Cinegobs!)

Making of… : Part 1

February 10th, 2011

The Hollow City Chronicles exhibition has opened and the web site is officially launched. The sets and other forensic evidence will be showing at Midland Polytechnic until March 4, 2011.

I thought I’d take my short film “The Bystander Effect” apart and show how it was made. It’s all low budget (no budget!), learn-as-you-go stuff. I make no claims to be an expert, just curious and crazy.

The opening scene shows the city from above.

The Bystander Effect set from the Hollow City Chronicles

The city isn’t real, of course, it’s a sculpture and it was too big to just lean over the ladder and snap the pic. The lamps are ordinary desk lamps on stands (hope no one in the house wants to read…). The green curtains weren’t needed for this shot – they were there from other filming – we’ll get to that.



The camera used for the film is a Canon 450D which comes with software that allows it to be controlled from a PC (including seeing what could be seen through the viewfinder). It made it possible to clamp the camera to a roof beam above the set and still be able to use it! Just add an extra long USB cable… It’s not a dedicated “animation camera” (is there such a thing?) it’s the one the family has – four of us share it (unless one of us is hogging it to make a film… in which case it’s probably bolted to the ceiling!)

Tomorrow I’ll introduce the puppet and show how she got into the picture.


January 27th, 2011

Hollow City Chronicles


The Hollow City Chronicles

website and accompanying exhibition

will be launched on Wednesday 9th Feb, 6pm-8pm

Open 10th Feb – 4th March 211
Mon-Fri 9am – 4pm

The Junction Gallery, N Block
Polytechnic West, Midland Campus,
Lloyd St, Midland, WA

Participating artists
Patrizia Tonello, Graham Taylor,
Stuart Elliott, Peter Dailey,
Amanda Williams, Richard Heath,
Merrick Belyea

Hollow City Chronicles

Rembrandt in black and white

November 22nd, 2010

There are fabulous resources to be found at Internet Archive. How about this 1936 classic directed by Alexander Korda? Too real to be a popular hit in its day but then and now an entertaining way to bolster your art history if you’re a serious student trying to remember too much! Enjoy.

City of Swan Awards

October 31st, 2010

City of Swan Art Awards 2010

It’s that time of year again.

The City of Swan’s annual art awards are opening on Friday 5th November 2010 which means it’ll be a busy week behind the scenes. I am, again, one of the curating team which means longs days, sore feet and a meaningful relationship with a ladder… since there are over 200 works to be sorted and hung so that they are all looking an absolute picture (groan… sorry about that, couldn’t resist).

If you want to attend the opening you’ll need to RSVP by Wednesday.

The exhibition then runs until November 21, 2010, 10am to 4pm daily.
It’s at the Midland Junction Arts Centre
276 Great Eastern Hwy
(Cnr Cale St), Midland

More details on the event page at their website.

Short film

October 31st, 2010

Camera trick
There’s a small dam near where I live that I’ve often walked to at night, in the cooler months of the year, to listen to the frogs. A few weeks ago I had cause to visit during the day time and was appalled at the rubbish. A lot of it was alcohol containers and included a fair bit of broken glass. I simply hadn’t seen it in the dark. Can you imagine a kangaroo landing on that glass… I resolved to clean it up.

And made a short film while I was at it. This one is a proper film rather than animation but still made with a digital camera. The trouble was I was working alone so I was film crew as well being the actor… How do you pick up rubbish and film it at the same time. Also, being a bit camera shy, I didn’t want to be seen.

The solution was to rearranged the tripod so the camera was sitting upside down, between it’s legs. It gave me a handle to carry the camera, legs to safely put it down and, with care, a bit of a steady-cam effect so the home-made film didn’t look too home-made. It also only shot low which solved my problem of not wanting to be seen. While filming the big issue was to watch where the shadow of the tripod was falling!

The rest was in the editing. A couple of hours raw became six minutes of finished film and a wry comment on being the idiot cleaning up someone else’s mess.


June 5th, 2010

Nice surprise… I’m newly informed that I’m the feature artist on and will be until next Saturday. Neat.

Underpass Motel

December 22nd, 2009

Study for Reflection
OK, finally got around to putting up some of my work from the Motel project. All in all there were 22 paintings and three 3D pieces as well as the film.

Right then, better go do something about Christmas… before it all begins again.

Hope yours is a good one,