July 7, 2013

Lermontov Wisdom

"It's far more disheartening to have to steal than it is to be stolen from."

- Boris Lermontov, The Red Shoes

October 23, 2012

A Gnostic Odyssey

Since I keep mentioning on this blog that Shaun and I had been planning/just arrived back from a big adventure overseas, and since we arrived home from said trip several months ago, I thought it was high time I elaborated on what that entailed.


Starting on the Autumn/Spring equinox, the former in the Southern hemisphere where we left off, and the latter in the Northern hemisphere where we were going, Shaun and I embarked on a journey best described by the great Julian Cope as a Gnostic Odyssey. Our main objective was to connect with our ancestral heritage by visiting various important megalithic sites, and though I couldn’t tell you exactly why, the opportunity to experience them first-hand meant more to me than words can possibly describe.


The Menec Alignments, Carnac.

As Shaun and I are both of European descent, and as we live about as far away from Europe as you can possibly get, we have felt for some time now a profound desire to visit the land that our families hail from; particularly sites that were of importance to our pre-Christian ancestors. Having only a month to do so, we planned our journey with the aid of Cope’s wonderful guidebooks to Megalithic Britain and Europe, and made sure we saw as many of these magical places as we could. We also wanted to make sure we could spend time at each site rather than drop in or drive past, so we arranged accommodation within walking distance of them where possible. Beginning our trip with a few relaxing days in Barcelona, where we saw a breathtaking Gothic Cathedral and an equally breathtaking live show by Earth, we headed over to Paris where we would be taking several trains and buses to reach our first megalithic destination: Carnac.

imageThe Kermario Alignments, Carnac.

IMG-20120324-01361 The Kermario Alignments.

Carnac is a remote coastal town in Brittany with a particularly large number of well-preserved standing stones and other pre-historic sites, many over 6000 years old. It’s an extremely beautiful place and we were lucky enough to have arrived there while the weather was perfect, but tourist season hadn’t quite begun. The whole town was practically deserted and we had the megaliths to ourselves for the most part. Rather than being overly commercialised, the sites in Carnac were mostly just part of the landscape, with some discreet ropes and fences in place for protection. Nothing can describe the feeling of seeing them for the first time, as we rushed from our hotel to beat the sunset on the day we arrived, but Shaun attempted to on his blog and said it better than I ever could. His photos are also better than mine, naturally.

Lann Mane Dolmen The Lann Mane Dolmen

We spent the better part of a week in Carnac, and since there is nothing except the stones there and little in the way of public transport, the majority of that time was spent walking the length of the alignments, which extend for about 3.5 kilometers from the Menec stones through the Kermario stones and Lann Mane Dolmen, to the Kerlescan stones and Dolmen De Kerlescan. We experienced the stones in cold misty mornings, clear spring days and beautiful sunsets, each of which lent them a different atmosphere. Other sites we managed to see along the way were the magnificent Kercado Tumulus, Le Geant Du Manio, the Manio Quadrilateral and the Christianised Tumulus Saint Michel.  (For the uninitiated, a dolmen or tumulus is a prehistoric burial mound with an internal structure of heavy stones, and many have been found to contain human remains and various other artifacts).

Kercado  The Kercado Tumulus.

Kercado in some ways was one of the most  profound sites we saw in Carnac - not as visually spectacular as the towering rows of giant stones at Kermario or Menec, but incredibly old and well preserved, with its original cairn still intact . We were also able to walk inside the eerie stone chamber, which had been fitted with a small light;  arrowheads, pottery and axes were among the artifacts discovered in there and some primitive carvings remained on the walls.The setting was quite remote and beautiful, and we didn’t see a single other person during our two visits.

Kercado dolmen 1looking out from inside the Kercado Tumulus.

Tro Braz Alignments The Manio Quadrilateral.

At the end of our long days of hiking we collapsed into chairs at local Creperies, which had cool names like the Magic Potion, and enjoyed some of the best food we ate in all of Europe, as well as the best hospitality.  After an overwhelming first week that we’d hoped would never end, we bid Carnac farewell and headed to London for the next leg of our trip. After a few days enjoying the comforts of a big city, delicious warm beer in pubs without TVs or pokies, the company of some dear old friends and the delights of the British Museum, we jumped on a train once more and headed towards Wiltshire where Stonehenge, Avebury and other wonders awaited us…but they’ll have to wait for another post. In the meantime, here are some more photos from our trip to Carnac:

menec34The Menec Alignments

shaun kerlescan The Kerlescan Alignments.

Shaun and Dolmen du Mane Rethual The Dolmen du Mane Rethual

Shaun and Tumulus Saint Michel Tumulus Saint Michel (Christianised tumulus).

Le Geant Du Manio Le Geant Du Manio

dwarf trilithon Les Petit Druides! (with actual megalith  Le Geant Du Manio in the background)

And if you’re not bored out of your brain already, you can see more of these on my Flickr page.

October 21, 2012


So I just got to see my favourite band in the whole world play in a pretty intimate venue, and it was absolutely magical. I’m still high as a kite from it and wishing I’d spent every last penny I could find to see all the shows on the tour. The core four members of the band, Emil Amos, Alex Hall, Zac Riles and William Slater, were joined by two friends Jesse Bates and Jay Clarke, who lent their talents on a range of additional instruments and were completely essential to the live experience. I’m rather incapable of being objective about this band, so I’m not even going to try…if you want a review of the show instead of an unabashed outpouring of affection, you might need to look elsewhere.
For those who haven’t heard them, Grails are an instrumental band from Portland Oregon, who draw inspiration from a vast array of eclectic music that ranges from Pink Floyd and Sun City Girls to Italian film soundtracks and library music. Their sound changes from song to song and album to album, and is sometimes dark,  sometimes exotic, but always beautiful, atmospheric and amazingly descriptive.
It was pretty great to see each musician up close and get a better grasp of their individual styles, as most of them play a number of different instruments both live and on the recordings. Standing right up the front with only a couple of people occasionally blocking my view, I watched Zac work his magic on 12-string guitar, William lay down his distinctively mellow bass-lines whilst juggling a few keys and even some vocal texture, and blood pour out of Emil’s left hand after some over-exuberant drumming (if you’ve seen Emil play with Om you’ll know this isn’t particularly uncommon).
Jesse Bates (lap steel), Emil Amos (drums) and Bill Slater (bass):jesse bates smiling
Zac Riles (12 string and guitar):
zac closeup
zac riles 2
Sitting quietly to the side of the stage, Jay contributed melodica and other keyboards as well as some samples and extra percussion here and there, while Jesse proved to be an incredible lap steel player who sat up the front and played many of the familiar lead guitar lines throughout the show. He also added some extra percussion here and there, and played drums on several songs including the wonderful ‘Almost Grew My Hair’ which was possibly the highlight of the whole show for me.
Jay Clarke (melodica):
jay clarke
Jesse Bates (lap steel):
jesse bates 
Alex Hall (guitar) and Bill Slater (bass):
bill slater alex hall
If my memory doesn’t fail me, the set was opened with the semi-spooky ‘I Led Three Lives’ from their latest album Deep Politics, and then proceeded through a surprising catalog of my personal favourites from every album after and including the Black Tar Prophecies collection.  We were treated to a synth-driven re-imagining of ‘Back to the Monastery’ that gave it an awesome futuristic prog vibe, the majestic ‘Silk Road’ and ‘Origin-ing’ from Burning Off Impurities, ‘Reincarnation Blues’, ‘Immediate Mate’ and ‘Acid Rain’ from Doomsdayer’s Holiday, ‘Take Refuge’ from Take Refuge in Clean Living, and also from Deep Politics was the gorgeously cinematic ‘All the Colors of the Dark’.  I couldn’t have really hoped for a more perfect set-list, and every track sounded even bigger and more intense than I expected.
Emil Amos (guitar), Jesse Bates (drums) and Bill Slater (bass):
Not many people were filming or recording, which was actually a nice change from the majority of shows I see these days, so I doubt many videos will surface of this show, but someone did catch the second half of ‘Take Refuge’ which you can enjoy below (bummer they didn’t get the first). If you ever get the chance to see this band live, do yourself a favour and go. They don’t tour often, and when they do it’s a rare and special experience.

Thanks Grails, you’re the best!

July 30, 2012

Ink Dots Black Spots

Once again I have neglected my blog, and as with my last post I have dusted off my keyboard to tell you about a group art show I have a piece in. This time it’s a Melbourne based show conceived by lovely local artist Simple Sime, involving 50 artists from 15 different tattoo studios around Australia and New Zealand. All artists were instructed to create a piece of art in plain black ink on white, which would then be screen-printed by Dangerfork for the exhibition.  A limited edition of 20 signed and numbered prints per piece will be for sale, and a portion of the proceeds will benefit the Cancer Council of Victoria. An impressive list of the artists involved  and other relevant details can be found on the website here.


I really enjoyed the challenge of creating a piece without the smooth gradients I usually employ to give depth and tone. I’ve always wanted to try plain ink work for the purpose of screen-printing, but have shied away from it for that very reason – I still think I’m better at drawing and painting in my usual style, but I think having tried this method I’ll experiment with it some more. I will happily admit to being strongly influenced by gorgeous poster artist David D’Andrea with this piece, one of my favourite illustrators whose prints I have hanging both at home and above my bench at the tattoo studio. As he works almost exclusively with black ink I thought of his posters often for much needed guidance. 

passionflower nest small

(click to enlarge)

The concept was something I’d been planning for a while, and that I felt could be re-imagined fairly well for a detailed, line-heavy drawing. Passionflowers are by far my favourite flower and a treasured herb in my personal pharmacopeia. I fell in love with them after their gentle sedative effects saved me from crippling anxiety as a teenager, and have used them ever since (though these days it’s mostly for insomnia). They are truly beautiful and amazing flowers, rather like strange organic space ships…and as if that weren’t enough, they also give us sweet, delicious passionfruit! For some reason I can’t discern, I’m infatuated with portraying fruits that have been torn open by birds, exposing their flesh and seeds. So…without wanting to delve too deep into what that’s all about, that’s how my disorganised ideas about those things managed to become a halfway organised drawing.

Some close-ups of the detail in the flowers and nest:

passionflower closeup nest closeup

Hopefully some of you will like the print  (or someone else’s) enough to buy one and help out a worthy cause. The exhibition opens on Thursday August 16th at The Vic Bar in Abbotsford, and all prints are reasonably priced at $60. Would be great to see some of you there.

April 20, 2012

Empty Night Skies

So I've been overseas for a month and haven't posted since. I have many stories to tell and pictures to show,  but in the meantime I wanted to post about Empty Night Skies, a bat-themed art show in Philadelphia that I have a piece in.

It's opening happens tonight I believe (I'm not good with the time-zone thing) and is being organised by a particularly awesome and talented lady named Jeanne and her (also awesome) partner Mike. The show is a benefit in aid of bats, as the poor critters are dying rapidly in that part of the world and are in dire need of help - you can read more about the plight of bats and Jeanne's reasons for doing this show on her own excellent blog here. You can also see the humbling list of participating artists, which includes the rather incredible Paul Romano whom some of you may know from Mastodon's first four album covers.

I really loved the idea of doing something a little more artistic with this piece, but knowing my rather time consuming working habits and having a really strict deadline before I left for Europe, I figured it might be best to stick with graphite pencil and a straight scientific study from a real bat - a style of drawing I feel comfortable with and that can be chipped away at over a number of weeks. I also figured the chances of someone else having done something similar were slim...here's hoping. You can click these images to enlarge:


This piece and many other excellent artworks will be for sale at Empty Night Skies, with all proceeds going to Bat Con, and I believe some artists will have prints to buy both at the show and perhaps online. I wasn't able to get prints ready in time for the exhibition, but I will make prints at some point soon and will donate a percentage of each sale to Bat Con. If you're interested in a print, keep your eye on Lepus Luna, and check out Empty Night Skies on Facebook.


March 1, 2012


Got to do these fun mehndi-style pieces today on beautiful Indian dancer Kajal, one of the Underbelly teachers and performers who works alongside my belly dance teacher Mel. Not my usual style, but I really enjoyed doing them. Thanks Kajal.

(triangular design on centre of wrist by another artist)

February 28, 2012

Lilacs and Champagne

This new project by Emil Amos and Alex Hall - roughly one half of Grails who are definitely my favourite band of recent years - is ruling both my turntable and my iPod at the moment. I've always loved sample-based music, and in fact one of my first musical obsessions as a young teenager was Pop Will Eat Itself, a band with a philosophy of recycling music (hence the name) that consisted of live instruments and vocals coupled with layer upon layer of samples, some impossibly obscure and others as blatant as the vocals from Mel & Kim's Respectable which they used in Hit the Hi-Tech Groove (their song from 1987 that describes the aforementioned philosophy)....but I digress. Lilacs and Champagne bear no resemblance to PWEI and have more of a spooky instrumental hip-hop vibe, which is better described and reviewed here. Below is one of the neat videos Emil made to promote the new L&C record:

LILACS! from The Fact Facer on Vimeo.

I think what I love about sampled music is the juxtaposition of soundbites both new and familiar, arranged in unexpected and harmonious ways to create mood and texture and narrative unobtainable by conventional instrumentation or vocalisation. Perhaps it's partly to do with referencing or capturing someone else's sentiment and re-framing it to say something different, or to emphasise something that would be difficult or awkward to express more candidly...either way, it's fun and I hope L&C have more like this to come. If you're into it, order the CD or LP from Mexican Summer here, check out the L&C Facebook page here, and check out more of Emil's effed-up videos on Vimeo here.

February 26, 2012

Amanita print.

Not sure if I posted about this painting on here when I first did it, but it's my first finished watercolour painting of an Amanita muscaria mushroom, and Shaun and I have just made prints of it. You can read more about it and order them from our paypal store over at Lepus Luna

February 25, 2012

More Monty.

Can't get enough of my new Lumix camera, a hand-me-down from Shaun after he treated himself to the camera he mostly uses now - a Fuji X100 (which he won't stop talking about). Of course I pretty much only take photos of the cats with it, but I see that as a perfectly valid thing to do with an expensive gadget; and Monty does so love to laze around the house being precious and photogenic...

February 24, 2012

Bat drawing

Started work on a drawing for a group exhibition that my friend Jeanne is putting on in Philadelphia. The show is a benefit for bats and hence carries a bat theme...I don't want to spoil things by showing the whole drawing, so I'll show you my little studio set-up instead, and a little sneaky peek at the progress on one of the wings. More about this soon.


February 23, 2012

More tattoo fun.

Lily Munster portrait in progress, soon to be surrounded by morning glories:

 More poppies on Kate:

Tiger and Samurai sleeve, in progress for over 2 years now!

and waratah on Peta, healed photo to come.

More Angel's Trumpet

 From Sue's beautiful garden.

February 8, 2012

Live to work, work to live.

Ok, so I'm pretty much a complete workaholic: I derive most of my pleasure in life from work-related activities, be they actual paid work or extra-curricular activities like botanical drawing. Even when I'm not working, my idea of a relaxing evening is writing about said work in this blog...sad but true. Still, even I have my limits and I think last week I nearly reached them.; in a single week I spent about 60 hours in the tattoo shop, 18 hours at my plant dissection workshop, and another 10 or so hours at home drawing for my appointments. Still, if I hadn't done all that work, what the hell would I post about on here? Besides, I'm working this hard to save funds for a very exciting trip to the UK that I'll write in detail about on here soon. In the meantime, here are a few pics of what I've been working on lately.

Poppies around Kate's zebra:

 Some lotus flowers for Katherine:

Anthony's pirate ship...what's kraken?

Vampire lady for Maddi...will look a bit nicer healed. The text says 'cursed beauty':

 A tribute to the lovely Anneke, on her also lovely husband Ryan:

A six-armed dingo goddess back-piece for my fellow belly dancer Briohny: final design is a little different but didn't get a photo.

And...an homage to the mothership for the epic photo-collage album cover that Shaun and I are working on for our good friend Ishan. More on that soon.

I have a bunch of other new photos on different cameras around the place, but have been lazily using my phone camera for most stuff lately. More pics coming up when I get around to it.