This site began as a complement to  my formal study and practice in visual arts.  I have always been a writer, writing for a living as an academic for many years, and now writing fiction and memoirs (visit my companion site here). I have  written and published about art – drawing, painting, photography, as an observer and analyst. I also write about my own art practice, mainly in journals which I intended to be jewel-like with illustration a kind of art-making in their own right. This didn’t happen, instead they have become a  mish-mash of colour notes and random writing.

Writing about art only makes sense if someone wants to read about it. Many practicing artists have little or no interest in anything written about art, theoretical or academic. People who love art like to know more about it, but their main interest is often in the artist’s life. Biographies and biopics are enough for them. It is hard to find much written about the technical and practical experience of art-making.

I write the occasional book and film review for this blog, not as often as I would like. Recently I have been working through  writing  about techniques of landscape painting, as I re-develop my landscape work.

The philosophy of art is an abiding interest. Right at the beginning of my art explorations I started thinking about the idea of the Void, a powerful meme in recent philosophy related to concepts such as Black Holes and other way-out stuff in modern physics and cosmology.  I have described some of the ways in which the Void can be explored through contemporary art in my  prize-winning essay on the work of Anne Judell here.

Anne Judell Void 2
Ann Judell, Void, 2014.

Although I published several academic studies and reviews on art – especially my paper on Neo Rauch* which was published in Germany and is widely cited – see below – I wanted to have an experiential knowledge of painting, and not just to write about painting. In 2014 and 2015 I undertook formal study in the Advanced Diploma in Visual Art at the Nepean Art and Design Centre. As part of my studio work I began an extended meditation on the role of time, memory and history based around my family’s house on the Hawkesbury River. I started a series of monochromes which I called The Drift, a meditation on  movement through space and time, from generation to generation. I finished up angry with most of these paintings because I could not get them to  support my vision. I have never shown them outside the student context and recently destroyed many of them. It was a major mistake to paint in 20 x 20 inch square format. Squares are awful. I have thought of starting the series again, still in monochrome but using other media in different formats and maybe on different supports.

When I first started landscapes in oil I was obsessed by Central Australia. The challenge of the Red Centre was overwhelming. Two years living in Northwest South Australia and many months spent working on Land Claims around Alice Springs had made this environment feel totally familiar, and yet the possibility of painting it seemed increasingly unachievable. A few of these paintings have survived, strangely terrible though they are. It seems impossible to paint the Centre without the shade of indigenous art-making overwhelming any image or approach.

I wanted to keep my main focus on art as it intersects with history and ethnography. But  technical elements involved in painting realist Australian landscapes in oils have been compelling me more and more I’ve been taking landscape workshops with John Wilson, Robyn Collier, Luke Sciberras, Robert Malherbe, and others. Visit my developing art practice site for more at This work is also feeding into my current writing, on Australian landscape.

rowboat 1
Annette Hamilton 2015. Dad’s Rowboat, Bar Point. Oil on canvas, 50 x 50 cm. From The Drift 2015-2016.
Waratah St half way
Working Sketch: Waratah Street Katoomba 2014


* NEO RAUCH is usually identified with the Leipzig School. Rauch present an astonishing body of semi-realist highly technically detailed large-scale paintings unlike anything else in recent Western art. I have written a long essay on Neo Rauch, published in a book on Collective Creativity, available in English on at


Rosa Loy and Neo Rauch in front of his work “Kalimuna” 2010
artistic couples Rauch and Loy painting
Rosa Loy (left of panel) and Neo Rauch (right of panel)  in a Couple Collaboration. See discussion of their joint projects here

Australian Perspectives