Wendy’s Garden in North Sydney is lush and crammed with plants and highlighted with some comic characters. They stand as sentinels along the harbor walk. The City wanted to reclaim the land from the guerrilla gardeners…but the City lost.
Wendy Whiteley lives in a tower (or rather a large house with a tower) above the community garden. Brett Whiteley painted the harbor scene below before he separated from Wendy after 40 years of marriage. Though he died, he left a legacy of work that Wendy has managed. His surreal work remains in his Surrey Hills studio along with photos documenting his friendships with Warhol, Bob Dylan and Francis Bacon.
For an entirely different dreamscape experience, at the New South Wales Museum has a large collection of Aboriginal works. The Spinifex Arts Project Men’s Collaborative piece Watiku Nguru Pulkana stood out since the artists are from the Great Sandy Desert where I worked on a geophysical crew in the early 70’s. The sharp leaf spinifex was everywhere from dune to dune. On one vacation I opted out of the flight to Perth, and chose a week by myself camping near some caves. Along the walls of one cave were several song-lines that included the circular images and dots along wavy lines that this art uses. Outside the caves were piles of sharpened, flaked scrapers. As I walked from the caves to my tent, I remember a bird following me, alighting on each tree I passed until I settled into my site. My crew came for a brief visit (driving several hours on desert tracks) to check up on their crazy crew boss and to make sure I was still alive.
Eubena Nampitjin often collaborated with her husband, Wimmitji Tjapangarti until his eyesight failed.
Check out the difference in her work before and after this collaborative period.