Then

Looking back, I realise I’ve always followed my nose. No Plan. I must have a very good guardian angel because somehow it’s always turned for the best.

After a stint of school teaching, I ran the Institute of Contemporary Art in Sydney in the mid-1970s. Then I returned to academe, teaching in the post-graduate English as a Foreign Language Programme at Sydney University, running it for some years and hauling in a Master in Applied Linguistics along the way.

All the while – nearly 20 years – I lived a double life. From 1985 to 2002 I was Visual and Performing Arts Critic for the Australian Financial Review. In the mid-1990s I was a producer and presenter on SBS TV’s arts show, Imagine as well as writing books and essays on the visual arts and the theatre. I managed to fit in a PhD on ritual in 20th Century theatre, focussing on the work of Australian playwright, Jack Hibberd. Post-Sydney University I taught in undergraduate and post-graduate visual arts and design programmes at the University of New South Wales.

Then architecture entered the picture. I edited Monument magazine (twice!) before becoming Editorial Director at Indesign Media. Here, over more than 12 years, I edited Indesign magazine and was founding editor of Habitus magazine in 2009 – collecting a Master in Architecture in the process just to prove I knew what I was talking about. And so as not to waste my television experience, I made a number of videos on architecture and the visual arts.

… and now

I’ve published 17 books – on the theatre, the visual arts and architecture, especially residential architecture in S-E Asia.

But writing books and holding down a full-time job is tricky. So, I decided to work for myself. For some time I was Consulting Editor back to Indesign and Habitus magazines – strategising, mentoring and writing – with occasional forays into corporate writing for architectural practices.

Apart from finishing my second novel, Difficulty, I have now also finished Slow Reveal – The Nude in Australian Art. This is a survey of the history and many manifestations of the nude in Australian art up to the present day. The story of the Australian nude is put in the context of international art, socio-cultural developments in Australia, and the many issues thrown up by the nude such as the life class and the naked/nude distinction.

I am currently looking for a publisher for Slow Reveal, but for a kind of sneak preview have a look at my article, ‘Birth of Venus – Australia’s First Nude’ in Artist Profile 52. Slow Reveal is pitched at a general readership, but I am now working on another book on the visual arts which applies frame theory to painting, photography and architecture.

All the time I continue to work with Dr Bob Jansen on the Cultural Conversations project, an online oral history archive of Australian and South Korean visual artists. Using customised software, the archive offers extensive video interviews with the artists, a parallel transcript and still images of work referred to in the interviews. Recently added is an interview with sculptor, Ron Robertson-Swann, while interviews with Australian painters, Kevin Connor and Dick Watkins are the most recent and will be uploaded soon.

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