Monday, January 28, 2013

Vignettes, rocks, Nock and Naz

Life is woven by hand with threads that are spoken, felt, heard and remembered.  The fabric is strong but fragile, random yet inter-connected.  It is the woven fabric of time, and I have always thought of time and space as the spirit of us.  We are separated just by time or space, within the fabric of time-space. It is the universes most incredible invention.

I like to think that the universe decided everything had to touch to be real, and without touch, cannot be real.  I am an atheist but if there was a mastermind who dreamt this shit up, we don't even have the language to begin to understand that kind of greatness. 

In my evolving blog posts I am speaking more broadly, I know. I make no apologies, because I really do want to spend more time exploring life, and what better way than by reflection on people's stories. Their multiple stories told and twisted into that magic quilt of life.

Where is this sentimentality coming from?  My Scottish roots, obviously.  Also, I just had a guy comment on my post about Nock.  I posted the comment, but I loved it so much I want to quote it here so you don't miss it:  

I was at a bar with my lady when a gent offered us his seat. We sat with him and spoke of life, travel and graffiti and then realised we grew up painting and creating right next to each other on neighbouring farms in WA. I remember driving past his farm on the way to school and admiring his artwork adorning any possible wall or surface. This fine gentleman was Nock. What a champion! Love this post FF. Thanks for sharing...

Time and space.  

I have a story of my own that I would like to share with you. I collect rocks and minerals.  Love them.  I was at a wee place in Tasmania called Stanley in 2011.  I found a shop that was obviously owned by an enthusiast, so I went in.  A woman stood silently behind the counter.  I asked for a closer look at a relatively huge chunk of Crocoite.  It's not an overly abundant mineral. It is fire engine red and the crystals look chaotic. It is stunning.  

Assuming the woman to be the shop owner, I asked her if it was local.  She attempted an answer, desperately fumbling with the tag, but then she choked on her own half formed words.  Her eyes welled with tears, and her hands shook.  She slowly looked away from the tag and into my eyes and said "I don't know. My daughter is the one who knows about this stuff, and she died last week”.  She looked away again, waving her hand at the shop “this is hers and I just don't know what to do with it".  I hugged her, we both cried, and I left with more minerals than I meant to.   But I will never forget that woman, standing in her daughter's store, shocked and scared. It was one moment in space, where we connected in time as well. A week earlier, her daughter would have sold that rock to me. A week later, the shop might have been closed.

Bringing this back to street art, that being my focus and your interest, I bring you my final vignette. Those of you not friends with Ben Naz on Facebook, he is this awesome street artist, going through a massive fight with oesophageal cancer.   Because he is so engaging, talented and awesome he has a massive following and street artists from around the world send him their art and well wishes.  He has roots in the East (Philippines) and is living in the UK (born in France), so he straddles the East and West.  As some of you will know, my recent journeys  spurred my interest in street art in Eastern Cultures. 

I can't help thinking artists who straddle that divide have so much more to say.  Anyway think of this post as something of an Arc.  I hope to bring you much more of his story. He has agreed to an interview, so more to come.   Like Nock, I hazard a guess there are a thousand people out there with a story to tell about this guy they met...I can't wait to be one of them.

Saturday, January 26, 2013


Grass the colour of straw and the smell of honey.  Wind between eucalypt leaves. Tony Greig on the ABC.  Snags crusty with charcoal debris.  Peeling my thighs off the black vinyl of a Kingswood.  Screeches as the sprinkler hits hot skin.  Paddle Pops and Gay Times. Backyard cricket and red stains on cricket whites.  The Aussie flag.

Or not? I have become scared of that flag, and its hate. 

 Aussies.  We love dick, apparently.  Drawing Dicks on the Herald Sun takes me back to the 663 to Ringwood.  But I have friends who immigrated here, what is their Australia?  I have met many solid indigenous folk, what is their Australia?  

I may share a white history, but my Australia is not the Aussie Flag up high in Cronulla.  It does not bash a Lebbo.  It does not hate Mussies.  It's learnt so much from it's Asian colleagues and African friends.  It respects Gays, and I'll be fuct if it turns its back on the boat people.....

Anyway, with mixed emotion I say to you, Happy Australia Day, and earnestly I simultaneously apologise for all we have done to this land and the indigenous people who understand it so much better....

Monday, January 21, 2013

The Inner Depths of Nock

He is an unassuming genius, I have concluded.  This lad that is Nock.  I first set out to interview him following my Nock and the Spotters post.  I am still waiting for a promised piece of graft ... but I will follow that up...  Anyway I pursued an interview and was pleasantly surprised by the total lack of ego from someone so adept at his craft.  This guy is not one for blowing his of his own metaphorical.  Rare in this world where we broadcast the slightest achievement.  Well, let's just say I am a fan.

Q: You seem to have covered the mainland of Australia, left to right, where do you actually hail from?

A: Started out in England but grew up all over the place.

 Q: You have done a heap of stuff in Fitzroy, do you think the Roy still has it or is it losing it a bit?

A: Yeah it’s definitely going down hill, too many people with no respect and no idea of so-called graffiti laws.

Q: What got you started and who do you admire?

A: I grew up with a few massive abandoned silo's nearby it kind of became my playground from a very young age, all the people who helped me get started really Nore & Rifs and many of the ol' crew members  Note from Flash: maybe Silo's in Fremantle? don't quote me I am just fishin'

Q: I see from your blog on Tumblr ( that you have engaged in a bit of travel, tell me about painting in Viet Nam?

A: Yeah a bit here and there, hahaha that was an interesting one the language barrier stopped me from procuring any legal walls, but I came to the conclusion that if I went out with enough cash for a bribe it would be ok. Note from Flash: I can't find the images right now to link to but they are awesome!

Q:Where do your characters come from?

A: The inner depths of the neural caverns

Q: The piece you were involved in on Fitzroy St at the start of this year blew my mind and I know it blew the minds of a lot of popular artists. Do you have any favourites of your own work?

A: Ahh not really. I usually cant stand anything I've done until like a year later, when I can look at it in a different light.

Q: Writer or Street Artist?

A: I don’t know how to answer that, I don’t think I'd class myself as anything in particular.

Q: You are a hard man to research, how many Aliases do you go by?

A: Hahah a few over the years, too many to count .!

Q: Have you got an opinion about the age old issue of walls and respect?

A: Yeah don’t touch a wall when you cant do something better..!

Q: You use everything from watercolour and ink on paper to aerosol and acrylic on board, do you have a preference?

A: Nah not really its good to mash everything up.

Q: Tell me about the shows around town and do you have any plans for more soon?

A: Yeah I've had a few here and there this year, yeah I'm working on a big body of work at the moment..

Q: What’s next for Nock?

A: Moving to Japan is on the horizon...Note from Flash:  I reckon you may have better luck negotiating commissions there lol - looking forward to seeing them, and following up with a further interview.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Absolut Bloody Good Art (Fuck Mr Brainwash)

This post is difficult for me.  For one it has all been said before.  Second it isn't said enough.  Third I cannot grasp any reasonable thought inside my head to say it.  You see, I lost my Bali virginity recently.  It wasn't what I expected, some things were awkward, some felt really good and I can't wait to do it again, because I know I will get better at it.

Like Joel in Wish You Were Here (thanks Krys, awesome film) I was the idiot and the innocent, at once.  I didn't know the trodden paths I stepped on. I was a walking cliche and faux pas.  I found myself taking it all in and struggling to keep up.

The same went for the art.  The graffiti, art and street art of Seminyak, where I spent my time, was familiar with an extra dimension.  Straight up throwies, life size paste ups and clever political messages reminiscent of those captured by Rennie Ellis years ago were scattered between temples and shops.  It spoke of what I was observing, which was validating.

The symbolism around the Absolut Vodka bottle goes beyond the 'Absolute' Bali, the bottle is used to carry petrol for the bikes that represent the most utilized mode of transport, and is mixed with home brews, because the taxes are so prohibitive...

I think the reason the graf and street are so political in Bali is the obvious thing that the subject is richer.  Literally, the subject is richer. Wealthier nations infiltrating. Tourism has both precipitated an industry and on the periphery, desecrated a culture.  Shop after shop has not a single thing to do with Balinese culture. Entire areas devoted to Western indulgences. Quint, below, is a Javanese artist I am now watching intently. He trades in the Paradoxical.

Unfortunately, some of the 'art' merges with advertisement, such as this Magali Pascal piece below but in many ways this is poetic

 What I believe is lacking within us as tourists, as well meaning and informed as we might be or wish to be, is an appreciation for the complete economical, social and cultural difference.  We arrive, we soak up the cacophony of sounds, smells, sights of this Island culture that has embraced the tourism that has evolved.  Maybe we just want to relax.  We feel the heat and fiercely challenge it. We dodge the traffic and do not give in to it's constancy. We eat meals that surpass the familiar. We walk past the dogs and hope they are well cared for. We shop and cannot believe the prices.  We don't inquire about the offerings and prayers that constantly surround us. We drink the beer because it's good, the coffee because it is outstanding.  We smile and greet those serving us. We smile and greet those passing us. We don't dwell on the hired help.  We don't wear much because it is hot and we think that is okay. We drink too much. We experience sun, servitude and bargains and it makes us feel good.

But there is an undercurrent and it is reflected in the street art.  It's cautionary and poignant.

Dedicated to Mark Wearne, fighting it hard right now, everything crossed for your recovery mate x


Monday, January 7, 2013