A trip to Heide

by stronged

The sun was shining, the temperature was perfect, so I decided to ride to Heide: The Museum of Modern Art in Bulleen. It was Fathers Day so the place was packed. Heide III was exhibiting Stephen Benwell and Albert Tucker; II was exhibiting a compilation of collage works (from Nolan to Gleeson); and Heide I was exhibiting the work of Mike Brown.

Here are some pieces that appealed to me:


Benwell explored the human relationship with nature by presenting a utopian ideal. Reading extensively, he would let his subconscious to the processing of the information, particular theories and mythologies emerging as fragmented vignettes in his work. Using the entire real estate of his ceramics, he painted fragmented scenes from biographical experiences and mythological narratives. He drew upon Arcadia and pastoral iconography to establish a context for his lone figure to reside in. One of these fragments particularly appealed to me: a small painting of a man wearing a baseball cap, head turned so we can only see the back of his head. Writing about it now I am reminded by Yi Yi (dir. Edward Yang, 2000).


An Albert Tucker interview back in the ’70’s (?) where he is describing how being abroad strengthens your National identity. For Tucker, distancing himself from Australia heightened the characteristics that he found uniquely Australian in his work. A large chapter of his work, like Benwell, explores the relationship man has with nature. I saw paintings that differ from his arid, desert landscapes, depicting the lush green dampness of Gippsland. He uses his archetypal “Explorer” figure as a medium that takes on the characteristics of the landscape. Perhaps commenting on man’s adaptability? Or the cancerous nature of mankind, taking over environments to make them our own? Tucker emphasised the veins and arteries of the Explorer in the Gippsland collection to show how man takes on the characteristics of his environment; the rivers and streams. An interesting expansion on the Placemaking research I have been doing, where humanist geographers believe that we “fill in” spaces with our own experiences of them, thus creating places. Our impression of a place is not only internal though, for the external features of a place impact on how we identify and impose meaning upon each particular item.

I recently watched an ABC doco on exploring urban spaces by walking around them. The doco was titled Obsessed with Walking, and it follows author Will Self on a project that “interrogates the meaning of walking in a globalised, industrialised world.” He speaks of the the Situationalists who sought to separate the physical and metaphysical understanding of geography. They would set exercises for themselves to walk around Paris and write about their experiences. The collective of writers combined their pieces together to form a fragmented, impressionable view of the city that opposed capitalism and a stark industralised view of human life. Guy Debord, one of the main spearheads in the movement, established the term “psychogeography” to describe ‘the study of the precise laws and specific effects of the geographical environment, whether consciously organized or not, on the emotions and behavior of individuals. The charmingly vague adjective psychogeographical can be applied to the findings arrived at by this type of investigation, to their influence on human feelings, and more generally to any situation or conduct that seems to reflect the same spirit of discovery.’ (Debord, Introduction to a Critique of Urban Geography)

Self also briefly mentions how Wordsworth created the romantic idea of framing the picturesque by writing about his strolls around the countryside; An ideal that the countryside is “beautiful.”

The act of walking through a city releases memory traces, an example Self walks past is the remains of the Ambassador Hotel where Bobby Kennedy was murdered. As Self walks past the demolished structure his memories associated with Kennedy’s death spring back to life. He also speaks of Peter Ackroyd’s book London: A Biography, that views London as a Place, not merely a set of coordinates or spatial measurements.

Self explains how a city has a phonology that you experience when walking through it; bumps and peculiarities that detail it’s character. Much like the contours Bernstein speaks of in hypertext narratives.


Tucker’s archetypal Explorer reminds me of the Easter Island heads. An amalgamation of geological structures and human characteristics.


This little word-play game reminded me of Jess Wilkinson‘s poetry and publications. She uses the page in much the same way, defying the conventions of how literary syntax is structured. This allows the reader a freedom to piece together the content any way they see, actively seeking out patterns that make sense to them. This proactive approach to pattern-making/narrative construction is very much akin to Korsakow.


Felt this pic was an apt representation of Honours at the moment. We are running an academic sprint that involves an enormous input and output of information.


This simple little illustration is beautifully done. It is rare to find a simple piece of communication like this. A great comment on slowly revealing our own mortality as we grow older. At least, that is my interpretation. Many young’ins disregard the fragility of their life – how precious it is.


One of Mike Brown’s collaborative pieces. A fantastic collage of a forest. If you inspect this image closely you will see that each fragment resembles a jigsaw puzzle. Such a great summary of what I am trying to achieve with Placing the Bend. How a chief component of how we create place is by our biographical experiences of each singular element.


Some more sentiments from Mike Brown.


Mike Brown’s “Mindscapes.” I don’t particularly like these pieces, but regard his process a beneficial method of creative and emotional practice.


Also came across this Hockney’esque portrait done by local photographer Daniel Crooks. Love the technique and form of these works. Seems to depict the state of Becoming or constant flux we are all in. Moves against the idea of a still image being one moment in time. Instead, Crooks (and Hockney before him) pushes the temporal barrier to include what Nichols would term a “mosaic.”

 ‘For Nichols, Wiseman’s mosaic structure serves an epistemological function since it “assumes that social events have multiple causes and must be analyzed as a web of interconnecting influences or patterns.’ (Nash, “Modes of interactivity: analysing the webdoc” Media, Culture & Society, Volume 34, Number 2, SAGE Publishing, 2012, pp. 205)

Here are some more from Crooks:




In other news, really keen to track down a poster that maps out when is the best time to plant, harvest and compost.