It’s time …

bundeena_xmas… for a change!

Being on leave from my day job (in educational design) – so that I can focus on my creative life in a way that I haven’t been able to for some years – has inspired me to begin building a new website after seven years with WordPress.com. But, I still love WordPress, and now have my own hosted site at http://belindaallen.com.au/

I’ll be posting all updates there, and posts from this site have already been migrated, so for all my art and exhibition updates and latest news, please head over to the new site.
Thanks to all!

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A pilgrimage

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Taylor’s Lake, Grampians, Victoria.

In late November I reluctantly abandoned my convalescing husband, and travelled to Adelaide to visit my Mum and rest of the family in commemoration of my late sister Kate’s 40th birthday. Mum and I enjoyed a long-planned trip to visit the Grampians in Victoria – staying in Mt. Zero, a location where she and Kate had stayed many years ago. In spite of some wild and windy weather we had a poignant time revisiting the places she had been with Kate. Here is a record of the trip, including some images taken in another of Kate’s favourite places, the Belair National Park.

We visited several lakes in the area – Lake Lonsdale, Lake Natimuk, and Taylor’s Lake. The last was the only one with any water, in spite of the promises of tourism websites. The last day of our stay had wild 35º winds and dust storms, and the effect of prolonged drought upon agricultural (wheat cultivation) areas such as the Wimmera was clear. Water management and environmental conservation is a critical issue in Australia, particularly for regional areas, yet it does not often appear in the headlines of our media.

I love to get into rural Australia and get a feeling of the ‘real’ country, away from our comfortable urban fringe. Here’s a gorgeous country store in Dimboola, selling all kinds of crafts, cakes, jams, plants, second-hand books and remaindered stock of toiletries – a school fete all in one shop 🙂

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Mum is buying a cake for our dinner; check out the guy in top hat and steampunk goggles 🙂

Blast from the past

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Belinda Allen, Manifesto/Self-portrait, 1981, hand-coloured silver-gelatin print, 50 x 60 cm.

The internet is amazing! While holidaying on lovely Magnetic Island in July I received an email from Sally Northfield, an organiser for the AS IF Festival, celebrating the Women’s Art Register based in Melbourne. She had dug up on old (I mean oooold!) picture of mine and wanted to use it on the website. How amazing that she was able to find my image, find my email address and contact me while I was holidaying 2000 kilometres away! The festival is on now with events until November 7 – here’s the website, and here’s my pic, promoting the Art+Feminism Wikipedia Edit-a-thon on October 31 🙂

Chris and Murray River

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So thrilled to have one of my portraits again selected for the 2015 Olive Cotton Award. This time it’s Chris and Murray River.

Friends and family will know that I and my artist husband, Chris Lawrie, have done many inland camping trips in recent years, and the mighty but much-degraded Murray River has been the focus of several of those. For Chris, whose Scottish ancestors were among the first settlers in South Australia, travelling around the country they settled back in the 1830s and 40s is poignant. European settlement, as well as crucial stock droving routes, depended heavily on this river. And so did local indigenous people. This portrait ponders what constitutes ‘belonging’ to land, a question that continues to resonate.

My exhibition “Too much ask …” back in 2011 was based on both the landscapes around the Murray River in Victoria, NSW and South Australia, and the journals of early explorers and pioneers in the region.

Gunyah mandalas

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In 2006 I experimented with video using the technique I had already been using to create photographic nature mandalas. Gunyah mandalas videos were shot down at my local beach, and composed in Adobe After Effects. I expect that it’s all much easier now in iMovie etc 😉

This set was exhibited in the Blake Prize in 2006. After all this time I’ve finally put these online, in anticipation of having creative time over this summer to revisit video play 🙂

subtext (delhi-kashmir-ladakh)

road workers and prayer stones

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Travelling in India you can’t help but be struck by the social inequities. The caste system is alive and well. As ‘wealthy’ tourists we are served by many Indian workers, who cannot imagine the lifestyle options that we Westerners enjoy.

Major monuments, old Mughal palaces now open to tourists, are still maintained by an army of low-caste (and minimally paid) labourers, gardeners and construction workers – it resembles modern-day slavery. The roads of Kashmir and Ladakh traverse steep and barren terrain, and road crews camp alongside the roads and perform the necessary maintenance work, in all weathers. What are they thinking when I wave as I ride by?

In these images, taken in Northern India (Delhi, Kashmir and Ladakh), pictures of workers are juxtaposed with local found texts – plaques describing the rich Mughal history, graffitied pavilions and tombs, Buddhist prayer stones and election posters.