Monday, 26 June 2017

Dark palms, Santa Monica, oil 20 x 15cm, 2012
Several of my small oil paintings can now be seen (and are available for sale) at two places in Fremantle, FOUND at the Fremantle Arts Centre and The Literature Centre (the latter only accessible to the general public on their open days or by appointment).

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Sketchbook page, 'some religions only last a single afternoon', pencil & ballpoint pen

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Monday, 22 May 2017

Exhibitions and events

NEVER BE LATE FOR A PARADE: An exhibition of book illustrations by Shaun Tan - on now

16 May - June 15, Parkes Library, Parkes (regional NSW).
This exhibition features a collection of limited edition prints from best-known picture books including The Arrival, The Red Tree, The Lost Thing and the Singing Bones. More about this here:


Currently the terrific exhibition put together by ACMI (Australian Centre for the Moving Image) about the development of the short film The Lost Thing, is on show at the Perc Tucker gallery in Townsville, the eleventh and final stop on its national tour. The exhibition will close there on the 2nd July. More about it here.


I’m appearing in the #mwfschools program this year on a panel, dicussing art and the perils of teenage-hood. It's at ACMI, Monday August 28, goes for about 45 minutes. You can view the general program here There is usually a book signing table with other authors after every event so you are welcome to meet me here if even you don't attend the event.

RADIUS - November

Later this year I will have another exhibition of small oil paintings in the artist-run Brunswick gallery Tinning Street Presents. Following on from previous shows 'Little Brunswick' and 'Every Place is the Same Place', this exhibition will feature 100 scenes restricted to landscapes found within a short walking radius of the gallery itself, observing all things which might normally escape notice: lanes, footpaths, clouds, chairs, kitchen sinks, train station pedestrians etc. 

The show runs from November 6 - 26. Tinning Street Presents is located in the middles of Ilhan Lane, close to Anstey Train station, and the intersection of Albion St and Sydney Rd in Brunswick. More info about the show, plus examples, as November approaches.

The Faery Handbag, pencil A4
An older illustration for the Kelly Link collection Pretty Monsters. You can read the story here.

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Monday, 3 April 2017

Rocket Clock

Who (among Australian readers) remembers the Play School rocket clock? What a weird and glorious thing it was, first introduced in 1975 with the arrival of colour TV on the ABC's pre-eminent show for pre-schoolers. Ostensibly a way of teaching children to read the time, the highlight was always finding out what mysterious thing would be hidden below the fuselage – an animal? a toy? a household object? – all strangely revolving to a soundtrack worthy of Doctor Who. 

A TV screen shot of the original rocket clock

Recently I was asked to help redesign a new rocket clock, given it's been 50 years of Play School on air, with many various clocks in between: train, flower, hickory-dickory and more. A great privilege given that, born in 1974, the rocket clock became attached to my subconscious, no less so than a vinyl bean-bag to the seat of my tiny corduroy pants. Of course, while its impossible to surpass the iconic original, there's still a chance to hypnotise a new generation of toddlers more used to wide-screen aspect ratios and digital clocks (for which the original might now lack both proportion and currency). 

Initial sketch for a rocket clock with 'sky wheels' and wings

Mine is an homage to the original, retaining its simple cones, cylinders and carnivalesque abstraction – decidedly non-aerodynamic, not really a rocket. I also wanted it to seem like something a kid could easily build themselves out of cardboard and paint. Two new kinetic elements - wings that can open and close, and a turning milky-way behind the rocket, add interest and better fills the widescreen format of digital TV. This wing-and-dial design actually descends from the 'lift balloon' in The Arrival, which distributes new immigrants throughout a city: the wings indicate flight, the dial time.

detail from The Arrival, Lothian Books, 2006

 Paper model of the rocket clock (using foam-core board), about 50cm tall

Digitally coloured model, testing out a red and blue scheme (one of several)

The final clock, courtesy of Play School and the ABC workshop, wings in 'lift-off' half-turn

Where the original rocket clock turned around to reveal a small diorama behind its skirt, this one has sliding doors that open an close. In part, this is because as a kid I always longed for a sense of literal closure in the Play School rocket clock, that the little toys and other objects inside were actually being sent on an adventure in space. Maybe they will one day be found by alien anthropologists, who will marvel over toothbrushes, teddy bears and tea pots, these sacred miracles from the planet we call home.

Many thanks to the ABC and the Play School team for giving me this opportunity to work with them, and for the fine attention to detail in construction and shooting. It's very fulfulling to contribute something back to a program that was such a fixture of my own childhood, and which continues to fascinate my three-year-old daughter, who always wants to know what's under the clock. I hope other parents of my generation will enjoy this too. You can see the rocket clock from April 3 on ABC Kids (22)

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Studio floor: waste paint on concrete, walked over hundreds of times: some of my best work.

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Albion St blue, oil 20 x 15cm

If you happen to be in or near Ballarat, this weekend is the last chance to catch the exhibition Whisper at The Lost Ones gallery, with fellow painters Harley Manifold and Nick Dridan. If you can't physically visit, you can still peruse the online catalogue (it's probably the last time I will be publicly exhibiting many of these works):

You can also listen to a panel discussion we had at the gallery a couple of weekends ago, here:

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Monday, 13 February 2017

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Saturday, 4 February 2017

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Sunday, 29 January 2017

Thursday, 26 January 2017

Sunday, 22 January 2017

Black cat and cypress, oil 20 x 15cm

One of 50 small paintings currently on show at The Lost Ones gallery in Ballarat, with work by Harlely Manifold and Nick Dryden until February 26. You can view an online catalogue here:

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Gathering of trees on a Saturday night, oil 20 x 15cm

Sunday, 8 January 2017

Thursday, 5 January 2017

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Post box, wall and pole, Union St. Brunswick, oil 20 x 15cm

Monday, 2 January 2017

Life Goat, pencil, A3

Happy New Year from the Life Goat! And many thanks to everyone who has supported my publications, ramblings and exhibitions throughout 2016, commented via this blog, offered advice or just borrowed a book. Wishing you all the right balance of inspiration, doubt and perserverence for 2017: let's all step into the fray with a rational heart, listening with our eyes and fighting every shadow with a well-sharpened pencil.

Sunday, 1 January 2017